Will showing vulnerability make things worse?

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MyLifeToo

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Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« on: October 20, 2017, 08:10:55 PM »
As the daughter of an enmeshed ubp/nM I've learnt to bottle up my own emotions to such a degree that I often don't even know what I am feeling. It's exhausting, maintaining these high walls.

Dh left me three years ago. The Marriage had just faded away gradually and he decided he wanted to try to get a new life for himself. In the meantime he was happy for me to stay in the house if I wanted to, until...well I don't know how long. Even though m didn't like him it affected her deeply  and she even spoke out loud that she suffered more than I did from him leaving. WTF?? She really doesn't know me at all. I tried to accept my situation as calmly and in as dignified a manner as I could, to the extent that most people, including m, didn't even realise I was grieving. On top of the grief I'm trying hard not to be angry that she should have been supporting me and not the other way round!

Anyway, that's just a bit of background. But I've bottled up the hurt and the worry of what will happen when he wants a divorce/settlement, and I've been dealing with her pd and trying to be mc about it all.  I can sense that the strain deep inside of me is building up and getting worse.

So, I suddenly thought...what will happen if I'm just honest, and stop trying to be wonder woman? If I let my vulnerability show? It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders to think that I could just let down my guard. I emailed DH and told him I was feeling really anxious about the future, instead of pretending that I was fine, and was liberating too. He replied briefly thanking me for my honesty, and will reply more fully later.

Now, the crux of the matter is that next week I'm visiting M for a few days. How do I act, can I maintain this new (to me) emotional openness? I always try to be cheerful and prop her up especially when she's in waif mode. It's draining, and it doesn't even work, but I still prefer it to being dragged down and miserable too. I realise it's a facade, and I've been trained to do it since childhood. Going against that training is harder work than being ME though. And if I am genuine and honest, will that earn me any respect or give her more ammunition? Or perhaps she'll even be pleased that I'm showing vulnerability. It might give her a sense of having the upper hand. It's a scary thought.

I think I know what will happen...I'll walk through her door and slot straight back into the role of dutiful daughter.

I hope you can make sense of these ramblings. I'm really trying to clarify my own thoughts on the matter by sharing. I welcome your thoughts and advice.

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Zebrastriped

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2017, 08:22:28 PM »
To quote a commercial, never let them see you sweat.  If you need to hash thru your feelings about the separation, do it with someone else, not your mother.  You asked the question if you would get respect or give her ammunition.  If you have to ask, then obviously you do not feel safe.

There is currently an issue in my FOC that my parents will have to know about sooner or later.  Its not death or terminal illness, so don't worry.  It would be something where they would want to beat the dead horse endlessly and I'd have to listen.  Currently, I'm practicing telling others, so when it comes time to tell them, I sound calm and confident in the next steps.  Just so you know you are not the first person to realize your parent is not a safe place for emotional information.  Hugs to you.

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practical

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2017, 09:23:18 PM »
Being open with your H is one thing and might be helpful as part of emotional separation and grieving. With your M it is another story. If it was me, I wouldn't share. My M would have used it in some way against me even if it was further down the road, like when I would have started a new relationship. Or she would have wanted to talk about it "to help me" till the cows come home and all the while it not being about me, being hurtful rather than helpful and a new chapter in enmeshment. Or would have ignored it to talk about her life and how I need to do X, Y and Z, making me feel even more lonely. Like Zebrastriped said, if you have to ask the question, it isn't a good sign.

Actually my suggestion would be to shorten your visit with your M, if you can. Maybe even cancel it? "M in light of the current situation I have to move my visit. I'll come another time." You don't need to JADE, just keep repeating it. You have enough to do with self-care right now and need your energy to prop yourself up, not trying to fill an endless void of neediness and play the role of dutiful daughter.

Do you have any friends, a counselor, a religious figure, any person you trust whom you can share with what is going on and maybe get support from? Somebody whom you don't have to be superwoman with but can just be you?

Remember the airline instructional video about putting your oxygen mask on first, this is what you need to do right now, take care of yourself.
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If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2017, 10:49:49 PM »
Quote
Now, the crux of the matter is that next week I'm visiting M for a few days. How do I act, can I maintain this new (to me) emotional openness? I always try to be cheerful and prop her up especially when she's in waif mode.
is this a good time for you to be spending time with someone who in the past has not been supportive? What is good and beneficial for you at this particular time? Regardless of what plans have been made or promises uttered, what do you want or need to do for yourself?

If you choose to go ahead with the visit there is something between emotional openness and cheerfully propping someone else up. Medium chill means you are completely disengaged and the other person is consistently receiving the message that you are not responsible for their emotional health and they are responsible for themselves. It is neither emotionally vulnerable nor is it cheerfully enabling. It's flat and completely neutral, discussing only the weather and neutral, safe topics. Nothing personal is revealed or shared. Similar to transactional analysis you maintain adult to adult interaction, taking neither a parental (propping) or a child (vulnerable) voice.
Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
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daughter

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2017, 11:33:41 PM »
I think many of us "dutiful daughters" have come to realize that our emotional well-being and stressful situations are largely irrelevant to our pd-disordered parents.  So long as our "distress" doesn't challenge their self-image, so long as our personal problems "stay from their door", they will largely ignore our life-situations no matter how life-changing and significant.  Our pd-parents seem incapable of demonstrating empathy and compassion.  I've never experienced either empathy or compassion from my own (otherwise high-functioning) NBM; her only response to my 1st divorce, at that initial separation, was: "now don't you blame me" - yes she also didn't like DH#1, but likewise was disinterested in helping me through that traumatic period. (And yes, this divorce was outcome of us unable to navigate our two sets of equally-demanding dysfunctional high-maintenance parents.)  Several months into separation, the one time I began to cry in NBM's presence, she promptly shut me down with "I just can't take this anymore!!"  Likewise, NBM refused to accept our oldest DS' diagnosis of autism, refusing to provide emotional support, constantly rebuking me with "you're making this up; he just needs to spend more time with grandma!"

In your current emotional state, given your mother's demeanor, noting that you're obligated to "dutiful daughter" her doing these visits, I'd cancel trip, (brave act, I know) and tell her: you're feeling unsettled and upset about your future, and unable to visit at this time.  Honesty is good.  Honesty begins at home, at addresses your personal needs and feelings first, which precludes "duty-runs" to mom.  And take this found-time to locate a competent therapist, and begin talking-out your feelings and fears with an empathetic person who can provide you with good counsel.  You've no obligation to sacrifice yourself to your mother's sense of self-entitlement to "waify-ness".   

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WomanInterrupted

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2017, 04:47:07 AM »
You have an unBPD mom?

I'd say postpone the trip until YOU feel more emotionally settled - and I suggest staying in a hotel, just to give yourself breaks from having to maintain a constant Medium Chill facade.

You may even decide to end your trip a bit early if it's too exhausting, via, "Something came up and I have to go."

It's easier to go if you're not in her house.  :)

I think being vulnerable with any unPD is a bad idea, but a catastrophically bad idea when it comes to an unBPD.

SHE is the only one allowed to have emotions!  The rest of us are just periphery beings, who fetch, go, do, bring, carry, chauffeur, clean, cook and FUNCTION for her.

We're not allowed the luxury of the wealth of emotions she's privy to - no highs or lows for us!  It's even keel, all the time - and don't have any problems because they're all your fault, anyway.  :roll:

Our emotions are ignored, discounted, minimized, invalidated, twisted to mean something they're not, or ALL ABOUT HER - if you've ever done that thing where you're pouring out your heart and suddenly, you're consoling your mom, when you're the one who is hurting - you know *exactly* what I'm talking about.

And there's the possibility the mask might slip and you get to see the bone-chilling reality beneath it, just for a second.

I don't know if you've ever had this happen to you and thought you must be losing your damned mind, but you're telling her something sad and she's *smirking* this inhuman, evil smirk, or you're telling her about something happy, something where you're successful, and you're getting a look that could kill, a look that could burn you to cinders or the instant deathray stare of DOOM.

Your brain says, "Did that actually just happen!?"

As fast as you can process it, the mask is back in place, the words/actions/facial expressions all match up again - but it's something you'll never forget as long as you live.

If this has ever happened to you, you might want to reconsider visiting her sometime around spring or summer, when you've had a LOT of time to process everything going on in your life.

Or just not go at all.    :yes:

They don't value us in the same way we value them.  In spite of everything, we see them as people - they see us as tools and as a means to an end.

 :hug:

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eternallystuck

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2017, 08:00:55 AM »
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I think many of us "dutiful daughters" have come to realize that our emotional well-being and stressful situations are largely irrelevant to our pd-disordered parents.  So long as our "distress" doesn't challenge their self-image, so long as our personal problems "stay from their door", they will largely ignore our life-situations no matter how life-changing and significant.

Daughter - I second this & everything said above. I do really sympathise with how you're feeling, I've been there many times. You are feeling overwhelmed & naturally as a human you are thinking this emotional openness you've expressed to H might work with your PD M too. It may get her off your back & besides you. I can bet it won't & that's not your fault.

I had made the mistake a few times of expressing to my NPD M how much she is hurting me, how overwhelmed I have been from other people disrespecting me. She didn't show any empathy. It made me feel worse. I did it to try garner some respect for my boundaries. In fact I think she was pleased I had expressed vulnerability & she very much enjoys people disrespecting me as these people become her allies in arguments. She knew I was weak & fragile. That is the last thing you want to show to a control freak with a PD. I think we do this because we are desperate to connect with someone, not because we truly think our M will care.

Woman interrupted- you summed up that disturbing realisation very well
Quote
I don't know if you've ever had this happen to you and thought you must be losing your damned mind, but you're telling her something sad and she's *smirking* this inhuman, evil smirk, or you're telling her about something happy, something where you're successful, and you're getting a look that could kill, a look that could burn you to cinders or the instant deathray stare of DOOM.

M's with PD's are not capable of being a normal loving M. The fact we challenge their behaviours casts us in the role of sworn enemy/scapegoat. They are up in arms the minute you object their abuse, it doesn't matter if you are their offspring. They are secretly happy when anything aligns with their view of us. If we fail, SEE look we can't do anything right, its our fault because we aren't like them. We do something RIGHT- jealousy or belittlement, 'well X,Y,Z might go wrong' .

My advice would be to confine 75% of your current emotions in a therapist & the other 25% in close trusted friendships. When you are feeling like you're about to explode, you need to let it out but for your own well being, don't confine in someone with a PD.

 :bighug:

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all4peace

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2017, 09:59:03 AM »
I believe that we should save our vulnerability for the trustworthy.

Sometimes it helps me to think of these things in terms of the animal kingdom. A wounded or weak animal does NOT expose itself to dangerous predators. It hides, it gets protection from a group, or it runs away. Vulnerability is showing another our weak/scared/tender spots. We only do this to safe people.

I have shown all my vulnerability to both sets of PD parents. Never again. Not because it was so excruciating to be ignored, denied, lied to and generally not cared about, but because it's incredibly pointless. It's a waste of energy I will never get back. And for sure it does give a PD something to work with, twist, distort, remember and regurgitate.

These days, I focus on their behavior. I don't talk about how it affects me, I simply give my expectations. For those who were never once able to hear what I said, or to empathize in any observable way, I don't talk to them at all anymore unless accidentally running into them in a public space, and then the conversation is incredibly short and only about banal topics.

There's a biblical phrase about not throwing your pearls before swine. It's just a waste of pearls, and the swine can't appreciate them. Same concept here.  Can't even tell you how many times I used to confide in my M, just to have it come back at me much, much later in an embarrassing and humiliating way. I was a pretty slow learner. Finally stopped around age 40.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 10:01:43 AM by all4peace »

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carrots

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2017, 12:27:51 PM »
Can't even tell you how many times I used to confide in my M, just to have it come back at me much, much later in an embarrassing and humiliating way. I was a pretty slow learner. Finally stopped around age 40.

Me too, slow learner too. Finally stopped recently, over 40 years old.

So MyLifeToo, I can only agree with what has been said, showing vulnerability to the wrong people makes things worse.

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MyLifeToo

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2017, 12:33:43 PM »
Thank you all for your replies. It never ceases to amaze me how much there is in common between these PDMs. I still wonder whether mine has an actual pd because she is not as bad I most that I read about, but these common factors add to the evidence for sure.

All4peace, thank you, I will try to focus on behaviour instead of justifying to myself why she is being the way she is and therefore enabling her. She had a bad upbringing, made terrible choices as a young adult, but you're right, she made them, not me, and she is capable of switching her bad behaviour towards me on and off if someone comes into the room for example.

Daughter, our experiences were similar but different. The very first words to leave her lips when I first told her H was leaving was "what have you done?" Nice one mom, blame me, and then make it all about you. WI, I knew she would make herself the center of attention, I'd even warned my H that she would. As predicted one reaction to the break up was, "is it because of me?"  :sadno:  Every time I tried to talk to her, and showed any vulnerability, she turned the conversation back to her experiences and her pain, even after I pointed this out to her.

You all think I should not go, and I agree with you that I need time to myself, but I will go nevertheless. I'm not Out of the FOG enough, and I would feel terrible every day, causing me more harm than if I go. I love the bit of her that is not pd, and want to be kind and caring and help her with things she can no longer do alone. But I do know now, that if she gets nasty I can just walk away for a while. Baby steps, but it helps. And yes, seriously thinking about finding a therapist - when I find the time  :-\

I'm so glad I posted this, I needed all your reminders - I certainly won't be showing any vulnerability if I can help it. Medium chill all the way!





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all4peace

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2017, 12:41:19 PM »
Thank you all for your replies. It never ceases to amaze me how much there is in common between these PDMs. I still wonder whether mine has an actual pd because she is not as bad I most that I read about, but these common factors add to the evidence for sure.
A couple things:

--many of us will never know if our parent a PD or not, since they will not go get professional help
--I think PDs may be on a spectrum, so some of the PDs referred to on this forum seem to be on the really dysfunctional end, while maybe some of our parents are on the more functional end.

Either way, we're allowed to protect ourselves and keep ourselves emotionally and physically safe.

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MIB

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2017, 02:09:44 PM »
In my experience, trying to get emotional support from a PD parent is like trying to get blood from a stone (then having the stone chucked at you when they're in a rage at some point in the future). Better to share here, with a therapist, religious leader or close friend.


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Shockwave

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Re: Will showing vulnerability make things worse?
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2017, 08:34:57 PM »
Never let your mortal enemies have the keys to the fortress. As someone with a uBPD/uNPD mother,  I can relate to you wanting to let your guard down but trust me.  This will be used against you in the worst possible way at the worst possible time in the near future if you do that with her. Unfortunately,  I speak from first hand experience. Make no mistake,  a uPD is a predator,  and a predator has tricks it employs to catch prey. Don't fall for them.
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