What to say when...

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daughterofbpd

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What to say when...
« on: July 12, 2017, 04:08:31 PM »
I'm trying to anticipate some of the things my BPDm might say in order to try and hoover me into more contact. My goal is to not be rude or hurtful in my responses but I also want to avoid JADEing or any promises of change.

What would you say to:
  • What can we do to fix this?
  • We'd like to have a closer relationship with you.
  • Why are you pulling away?
  • You don't like spending time with us anymore. You don't love us. You don't care...Any other variation.
  • I'm sorry I let you down as a mom (usually with a touch of sarcasm)

I think my T suggested saying something like "I also wish we were closer" or "maybe we can be closer one day" but I think that implies a willingness to work on the relationship (parents' response: well then put down your boundaries so we can be closer).

Suggestions very much appreciated :)
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moglow

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 04:37:45 PM »
I've heard those same things from mine in the past, and honestly could use some help on this one as well. It's incredibly difficult to answer what feel like leading questions, knowing we just gave them an opening to pound away again. So it keeps coming up over and over again - no recognition that this has been going in for *years/decades* and they just now became aware that we're "different."

Mother and I both need to learn to let go of the past and move forward, but at the same time that past brought us where we are now. Any attempt I've made to talk things out and tell her "THIS hurt me, I didn't deserve THAT" (I.e. calling her on her behavior throughout my life), is met with disdain followed closely by anger because I dared call her on her treatment of me. I'm supposed to just let my feelings go while she pounds away and demands explanation for specific incidents in the distant past - many of which I neither remember not had any hand in whatsoever. But she needs to "vent."

I've turned the other cheek, sucked it up and tried to ignore sooooo much, and I can't hold that front anymore. The complete lack of respect and basic common courtesy for me, when she demands absolute subservience? No. Nuh uh. Not any more.

Here's the thing - and how the hell to tell them: There isn't "a fix." You can't slap a bandaid over it or you would have. If you had an answer for how to have a relationship, you'd have done that too. If yours is like mine, trying to address lifetime behavior patterns / treatment of you, just leads to get another "incident" where you're the horrible daughter who won't let things go. They don't seem to see that if you never voice the problems, they don't just go away - and you've BEEN trying to ignore and/or excuse it for decades already. It's a double bind.

I've found I can love but not like a person. I can love but not want an all or nothing relationship with that person. I can care and still not share my life, secrets, dreams, thoughts etc with that person. I can -and do- have different boundaries with different people, and I don't have to explain them. They just *are* and will remain unless/until I decide otherwise. Me pulling away is me being an individual who knows she deserves better. If past behavior us indicative if future behavior ... I'll keep on, thank you.

Can I say any of that to mommie dearest without her having a Class A four-alarm meltdown? Not a chance. She doesn't want to hear it, not if it means I'm an individual doing my best for myself. So I don't say it, and the distance grows. She still doesn't see that her failure to listen got us here, and will keep us in this position going forward.
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Bloomie

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2017, 05:15:35 PM »
daughterofbpd - I did a bit of back reading of your posts to get a sense of where you are coming from in terms of contact and am thinking you are in contact and wanting to move to LC because of the shaming and emotional harm directed at you when you fail to fall in line with your parent's agenda for you. Am I getting that right?

Whatever questions or manipulations may come if you can think from the perspective of keeping yourself and your safety as the goal it might help. You are not responsible for your parent's emotions or caring for them they are adults. You are only responsible for your own emotions and caring for yourself. And the other thing is - you don't have to answer any question you do not want to, don't feel ready to, ever. I wish so badly someone had told me that earlier in my life.  :yes:

Part of thinking this through in my own experiences with my uPD parents (never NC, but when I moved to LC for my own safety and got the push back from that similar to what you describe with a dash of religious righteousness and spiritual shaming as well) is accepting that I cannot change their worldview. There are no words in any language that will break open healthy self awareness and contrition within them and set right their unrealistic expectations that I would please them and fall in line that they had been placed upon my neck, like an anchor my entire life, and was taking me down. I was throwing off the anchor and they knew it and didn't like it. Not one little bit.

I don't know your nature and what is more comfortable for you - directness or deflection (or a combo of both like I am) - but what I would encourage you in is to be true to your own nature when/if you choose to respond to provocative or demanding statements from your parents. When I am true to my own nature and core values I am at peace no matter what. I have just found that to be a place to dig my toes in and stand strong that I want to pass along.

My parents had an external locus of control... they expected everyone else to make things okay for them. So, as I moved to medium chill and LC I was the problem and I was expected to explain myself, do penance, and fix it as I had done for oh so long in my life.  :sadno: So, relinquishing that role as the fixer, the scape goat was key for me and it began with how I viewed my own rights to have a voice or to be silent. It began with facing my fears and refusing to answer to them when they so demanded it.

Quote from: daughterofbpd
What would you say to:
What can we do to fix this?
What do you see is broken? or That is a good question. What have you thought of that may be helpful?
Quote
We'd like to have a closer relationship with you.
Thank you for telling me that. or Help me understand what a closer relationship would look like to you?
Quote
Why are you pulling away?
I am not ready to talk about this until I feel safe and heard in our relationship.  or That is a very personal question.
Quote
You don't like spending time with us anymore. You don't love us. You don't care...Any other variation.
I don't allow others to speak for me. or It is very sad and hurtful that you view me this way. or Is there a question in there?
Quote
I'm sorry I let you down as a mom (usually with a touch of sarcasm)
Are you wanting to acknowledge something specifically? or I'm not going there with you.

And to any single one of these questions and any others there is my very favorites:

hmmm...... a shrug... or dead eyed stare and complete silence....

Your feelings and needs, your very valid reasons for moving into a more limited relationship are your pearls of wisdom that you have painstakingly through much tribulation and pain gleaned and gathered to yourself and are highly personal and fragile to hold on to when under direct attack from parents who have dominated us our whole lives and attempted to control even our thinking. Be very mindful if or when you offer those to others, especially your parents. It may not ever be a time when you feel it is in your best interest to respond to any of this type of thing, but to avoid it at all costs as much as you can. Only you will know that.

Whatever you do - do it from a place of empowerment and health with the goal of self protection and healing. My thoughts on this. :hug:





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practical

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2017, 05:26:57 PM »
Here is a feeble attempt at answers. They might be white lies or not if you say them, but they are based on what I observe with my now adult children. It is normal for them to form separate lives, with their own jobs, friends, and then families at some point, but unfortunately this is exactly what many PDparents don't understand. I separated from my parents way beyond what would have been the normal age, as any degree of separation was interpreted as abandonment.

  • What can we do to fix this?
- I don't think there is anything to fix, it is a normal development of where I am in my life now.
  • We'd like to have a closer relationship with you.
- I think it is natural our relationship has shifted as I have gotten older, am no longer a child and so our bond is different now. This is right for me.
  • Why are you pulling away?
-  I'm at a different phase of my life now with a different focus, which seems natural and healthy to me.
  • You don't like spending time with us anymore. You don't love us. You don't care...Any other variation.
- Mom, this is your interpretation, it isn't what is happening.
  • I'm sorry I let you down as a mom (usually with a touch of sarcasm)
- SILENCE - there is really nothing you can say to a self-pitying and -victimizing statement like this. I have tried to reassure my M when she would say things along those lines and colossally failed. Depending on how it is said, it can actually be passive aggressive and a challenge to you, who is such a bad daughter.
[/list]

Another problem is, that you will hurt them most likely however careful and gentle you are, as any answer that isn't the one they want to hear is going to cause hurt. So you are stuck in a lose-lose scenario and the best you can do is take your loses and take care of yourself. You cannot control their feelings, however much you may try, and at least with my parents a rational argument didn't carry very far, like separating from you parents is normal at a certain age would most likely have elicited an "But we used to be so close, we used to have a special bond, so it isn't like others" without any understanding that the so called special bond was one of enmeshment.

In the end I resorted to "I don't want to talk about it" because I wasn't going to get anywhere anyway. This way I at least wasn't going to be stuck in a circular argument or with some melt-down. It is really a classic no-win scenario.  :(
“If I’m not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when I’m only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel)

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WomanInterrupted

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2017, 02:08:30 AM »
Hi Daughterofbpd,

I have to agree with Practical - any answer she doesn't want to hear is going to hurt or make her angry - even something as simple as, "I can't do that - I have scheduling conflict," or a simple, "I'm very busy."

Most people say, "Oh, not a biggie."

BPDs can see it as rejection and *defiance.*  (Weird how that one works - you were parentified as child, but as an adult, you're expected to be an obedient child.)

And I want to give you a heads-up about the trick, trap question:  What can we do to fix this?

That's not what she means.  What she means is, "What are YOU going to do to fix this?"

If she lobs that one at you, I'd look startled or sound startled (if on the phone) and say, "Wow...I really don't know what to tell you.  I honestly have no idea what you expect me to say," - and try to change the subject.

We'd like to have a closer relationship with you. 
Why are you pulling away?
You don't like spending time with us anymore. You don't love us. You don't care...Any other variation.

All of these can be answered with variants of, "I'm sorry you feel that way - I've been extremely busy/it's a madhouse around here/you know how things around here can go from zero to foom in under 10 seconds/I've been swamped at work, etc..."

Those were the standard answers I gave to unBPD Didi, because they seemed like the least-inflammatory.

Also, without deets, there are no holes to poke or nits to pick.  They're all JADE-free and give no hope or future promises of anything.

I'm sorry I let you down as a mom (usually with a touch of sarcasm)

Some would suggest silence - I used to say, in a teasing, light tone (and maybe a touch of a giggle or laugh), "Now you're just being silly..." - and change the subject.

Okay - why?

You're not laughing AT her, but to diffuse the situation and act in a manner you've never acted before - in the past, if you're like me, you either sighed in resignation or tried explaining you don't think she's a bad mother (even if you did) - which was essentially digging yourself in even deeper.

Even saying, "I didn't say that..." is adding fuel to the fire - so don't add fuel.  Pour water on it instead with a lighthearted, "Now you're just being silly."

Practical wrote:

In the end I resorted to "I don't want to talk about it" because I wasn't going to get anywhere anyway. This way I at least wasn't going to be stuck in a circular argument or with some melt-down. It is really a classic no-win scenario


I tried a different variant of that - I weakly chuckled, "I don't want to talk about it because of reasons."

I don't know how your mom is, but every now and then I could make Didi laugh by saying something unexpected - that was one of those times.  She actually laughed and said, "Reasons?"  I laughed, "Yeah, reasons..." - and the subject miraculously got changed.

So...you know her best.  Maybe give something like that a try?

These area all gentle, non-inflammatory responses, but they're still going to go over about as well as a fart at a wedding - because none of them are, "Yes, mom!  Right away mom!  I'll do it now, mom!  Whatever you say, mom!"

The only thing that will make her happy - or as happy as anyone with unBPD can be, which is to say not very - is to go back to the way things were before, but now with more groveling from you, because you dared...here's that word again...defy her.   :roll:

If you haven't visited the Toolbox and looked up Medium Chill, it's pretty comprehensive and may give you other ideas to riff on.

You're doing great - and you've *got* this.   :cheer:

 :hug:

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gratitude

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2017, 02:18:13 AM »
When my mother asked me what was wrong and how we could be close, I told her to see a Therapist and then have the Therapist contact me. I received a scathing letter from her back telling me what an awful person I was and how my father, who had very recently passed, had always been disappointed in me and other nasty things.
So it was easy to go no contact after that.
I am pretty sure that if you do not play the game the way your NM wants, she will not react nicely...
Best wishes for an outcome that will give you peace.
Grat

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Sojourner17

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2017, 02:41:25 AM »
This is such an interesting thread.  I have had all of those questions said to me by my mom and id have to say i didnt handle them that well. 

The biggest thing for me right now is i freeze when posed with questions/comments like this.  I KNOW that if i say something it will probably be the wrong thing/too much/ fuel the fire.  I also find that my mom seems to out maneuver me almost like she is playing a game of chess and knows what her next five moves are before i even get my first move in.  She totally knows where she is going when she asks things like that. 

daughterofbpd,I wish i could add some ideas...i think im kind of at the same place as you right now in regards to coming OOTF. 

Thank you for posting this though and I hope that the suggestions given can help you if/when those questions are posed to you.  Youve got this!!! ;D
"Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it..." - Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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jennsc85

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2017, 08:38:08 AM »
The biggest thing for me right now is i freeze when posed with questions/comments like this.  I KNOW that if i say something it will probably be the wrong thing/too much/ fuel the fire.  I also find that my mom seems to out maneuver me almost like she is playing a game of chess and knows what her next five moves are before i even get my first move in.  She totally knows where she is going when she asks things like that. 

This thread is really interesting/helpful for me. Sojourner, I feel exactly the same way!! My mother will ask a question similar to the ones mentioned here and I'll freeze. I'll try to think of how she will respond to what I say and get so overwhelmed that I end up saying completely the wrong thing. She always has something to say and it's always meant to disarm me (and it does!) No matter what I say, she already has her response planned. She's so good at that and so manipulative. I've tried changing the subject to things that I know she'll carry on about long enough to forget about the original question and that (sometimes) helps. You are so right that it's like a game of chess.

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daughter

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2017, 11:40:16 AM »
By my mid-40s, fully OOTF, veteran of several bouts of therapy, and resigned to my assigned SG "safe-target" role, I'd default into factual truth: "you reap what you sow, mom; you've created this situation[/i]".  Not that it helped, but it was a honest response.   

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stasia

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2017, 12:18:41 PM »
The biggest thing for me right now is i freeze when posed with questions/comments like this.  I KNOW that if i say something it will probably be the wrong thing/too much/ fuel the fire.  I also find that my mom seems to out maneuver me almost like she is playing a game of chess and knows what her next five moves are before i even get my first move in.  She totally knows where she is going when she asks things like that. 

This thread is really interesting/helpful for me. Sojourner, I feel exactly the same way!! My mother will ask a question similar to the ones mentioned here and I'll freeze. I'll try to think of how she will respond to what I say and get so overwhelmed that I end up saying completely the wrong thing. She always has something to say and it's always meant to disarm me (and it does!) No matter what I say, she already has her response planned. She's so good at that and so manipulative. I've tried changing the subject to things that I know she'll carry on about long enough to forget about the original question and that (sometimes) helps. You are so right that it's like a game of chess.

+1. I feel this way too. I recently got "I don't even feel like we're related any more" and I had absolutely no idea how to respond so I just stayed silent.

In the past I would backpedal and apologize and say I didn't mean that - but of course none of that is true so then I felt angry at myself for lying and stepping back into the role she wanted me to play. Now that I don't want to do that any more, I literally have no idea what to say in response. I like a lot of the responses given here, especially this one:

    • We'd like to have a closer relationship with you.
    - I think it is natural our relationship has shifted as I have gotten older, am no longer a child and so our bond is different now. This is right for me.
    • Why are you pulling away?
    -  I'm at a different phase of my life now with a different focus, which seems natural and healthy to me.
    • You don't like spending time with us anymore. You don't love us. You don't care...Any other variation.
    - Mom, this is your interpretation, it isn't what is happening.


I've also considered saying "I don't like it when other people tell me how I feel" in response to that last one, but M would probably find that too inflammatory. (I've said that to BF before when he's told me that I feel things that I really don't - which thankfully happens pretty rarely. And it did help, but he is not PD.)

For M, "I want us to be closer" translates as "I want you to do more for me" and "I want you to spend more time listening to me wailing about my problems and comforting me." That's not closeness. That's slavery, and is completely one-sided. I can't believe I never saw that before. [/list]

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bopper

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2017, 12:19:03 PM »
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."
"So you hate us!!"
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."
Just because they are incapable of loving you, doesn't mean that you are unlovable.
Anything makes the false self appear real is supply.

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stasia

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2017, 12:23:13 PM »
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."
"So you hate us!!"
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."

Broken record technique. I like it! Of course, the response I would get is not accusations of hatred, but "But who's going to help me?"  :stars:

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daughterofbpd

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2017, 02:22:43 PM »
That's for all the helpful comments. I'm sorry to hear that I am not the only one in this situation but it is nice to have others who understand. I also tend to freeze when asked difficult questions, and sometimes I just don't answer at all and I spend so much time thinking that BPDm just goes on talking. I always thought I was a freak for doing that, but maybe it is a survival tactic. lol.

Practical - I always admire your ability for wording! I didn't even think of going that route.

I have to agree with Practical - any answer she doesn't want to hear is going to hurt or make her angry - even something as simple as, "I can't do that - I have scheduling conflict," or a simple, "I'm very busy."

Most people say, "Oh, not a biggie."

BPDs can see it as rejection and *defiance.*  (Weird how that one works - you were parentified as child, but as an adult, you're expected to be an obedient child.)
Yes! So true. I think your "busy" responses seem the most natural to me.

gratitude - I'm sorry you received such a scathing letter. I have received those too, always telling me how I've done wrong by my enDad but suprise suprise whenever I mention anything to him, he acts like he doesn't feel that way or never said such things. Speaking for others is just another dirty trick to deflect the attention off themselves. I hope you also find peace in NC.

"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."
"So you hate us!!"
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."
I'm pretty sure you were being serious, but this made me laugh. Such a typical PD conversation, isn't it?
“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego”
~ Amanda Torroni

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Terichan

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2017, 03:26:17 PM »
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."
"So you hate us!!"
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."

Oooh, this is a good one, bopper! I'm sure my en-stepmother will ask me some variation of this (I've gone VVLC wth her in the last year or so) and I think I'll use this answer if she ever does. Love it!

As to this:

I'm sorry I let you down as a mom

My uNPDf tried this one with me about 10 months before he died, it was his last Father's Day on Earth, he knew it and I knew it. He said "I know I haven't always been the best father to you." The very first things that sprang to my mind for a reply were "You're sure right about THAT" or "Yeah, well THAT'S the understatement of the damn century".

But just as I opened my mouth to answer, my kids came running into the room, I didn't want them to hear that conversation, so I just said "Yep." That was it, he never addressed the topic again.

I also got the distinct sense that it wasn't about how *I* felt as his daughter and how much he'd hurt me and he was apologizing, it was about how *he* felt, I think he wanted me to say "Yes, but I forgive you now, I love you, daddy" or some variation thereof so he could complete his life believing he'd been absolved of his sins. Right up to the end, it was forever and always about him and his feelings. 

He was an appalling, cruel, abusive father to all 4 of his children for more than 5 decades and him saying one sentence in the last year of his life wasn't going to fix a single thing. Sorry, dad, it doesn't work that way.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

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Totallytickedoff

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2017, 01:50:39 PM »
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."
"So you hate us!!"
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."

This is really brilliant.

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SoManyPDs

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2017, 01:36:11 PM »
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."
"So you hate us!!"
"At this point in time, this is the level of contact I am comfortable with."

I love this response, bopper! Thank you!

BLOOMIE, your wise words are exactly what I needed.  I desperately want to get to a place in my life where I can internalize all the wisdom and confidence that you express.  For now, I still need constant reminders.  Thank you so very much.

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gratitude

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Re: What to say when...
« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2017, 01:25:23 AM »
It honestly amazes me how similar our parents' questions/responses are! I have been asked all of those questions and in some cases, there was no correct answer - the question was asked simply to set off a rage. I could have answered in Chinese and my mother would still have begun seething and spitting. I used to be terrified when we got to that stage.
So many people deal so well with these questions! Simplicity and repetition does seem best...