Boundaries

  • 36 Replies
  • 3686 Views
*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Boundaries
« on: April 07, 2018, 05:02:24 PM »
There is so much talk about boundaries on this forum. Lately I'm starting to wonder if I understand them clearly enough, their purpose, my "space", another's "space." I have seen them as something that defines the rights and preferences of me and my family, as well as respecting another's rights and preferences, a line that demarcates where one person versus another person begins and ends. I believe many boundaries are invisible, or so obvious as to not be spoken aloud, such as "I will not allow myself to be beaten, spit on, or otherwise brutally harmed."

I think a huge problem when dealing with PDs or other difficult people is we find ourselves needing to say aloud things we wouldn't need to say aloud to any other person, like: When you lie incessantly, I can no longer trust you. When I make a polite request regarding my body, my children, my home and physical space, I would expect you to honor it. If you are unable to honor it, we will have relationship problems.

I looked up some articles on boundaries.
Here's one (look for parts 2 and 3 at the end of part 1): http://crossroadsindy.com/counseling-and-mental-health-articles/couples-and-marriage/boundaries-definition-and-types-of-boundaries  (this is an absolutely excellent overview of all the main points of boundaries, their purpose, and graceful ways to define them)

It has super helpful examples like this:
“I know you’re accustomed to (doing… or saying…) but I would prefer that you (do or say…) instead.”
    This acknowledges the fact that they have different norms—but that you have a right to be treated in a different way.

“I’m not comfortable with your (doing… or saying…). I’d appreciate it if you could handle it (give appropriate alternative) in the future instead.”
    This states a reason why you want them to adopt the more appropriate action.

“I’ve been thinking about the time you (did… or said…) and I would feel more comfortable if you could (something else) next time.”
    If you’ve been stewing over an incident they’ve probably forgotten, this is a good way of bringing it up and presenting an alternative so they will be able to avoid doing it in the future.


This one is by Cloud and Townsend (authors of the book Boundaries) and heavily annotated with bible verses, so be forewarned if that's not your thing: http://www.cwjc.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Boundaries.pdf

I will soon face PD parents again. My boundaries in the past have been requests, polite, 2 out of 3 in writing, 1 by phone which ended in being shouted at at length by enF. I am realizing that my format was faulty. Rather than "Please don't talk to my ILs about the relationship issues with ILs," I probably should have said: "The ILs are threatening to speak to "authority figures" in our lives because they are unhappy with our new distance. I want you to know that it would make me feel hurt and unsafe if you (my parents) were to have a conversation with them about my personal business." And then if my parents had done so anyway, and if I had heard about it, I would have to figure out then how to handle it.

After my requests, my parents have characterized me as stubborn, strong-willed, hypercontrolling, uNBPDm feeling like I'm telling her exactly what to say and do, as if she's a puppet and unable to be herself.

The ILs simply were unable to see, hear or remember our boundaries. They were met with rage or repeated violation. When I said to them (paraphrased), "I'm sorry I didn't ask this sooner, as it's not fair to you to do so 20 years later, but I need to ask you to please only come to our home when we've invited you. I feel very startled to have you show up suddenly. It's the same request we would make of my family, and we do make of our friends. Thanks so much!" and then repeatedly showed up anyway... We repeated the boundary, but what actually happened is our relationship continued to deteriorate because they were showing themselves to be people who cared more about what they wanted than what we had clearly stated as our want/need to feel comfortable and safe in our own home. They continue to question this boundary, as it's not how they do it in their house, so why would we?

I'd love to hear how others process this topic, where the responsibility lies, how you handle this, if you are trying to preserve relationships when you set boundaries, or if things have gone on so long that by the time you set boundaries the relationship has already deteriorated.

Also, I want to give myself and other children-of-PDs compassion, as our ability to see, articulate and protect our boundaries is nonexistent by the time we make it to adulthood. (TRIGGER WARNING)  When you've had a parent screaming in your face about what you are supposedly thinking, thrown into walls for disagreeing with a parent, told you have no reason to cry but can certainly be given one!, etc., blah, blah. Of course we don't arrive in adulthood with even a concept of boundaries. In our world, trying to protect even the most basic of boundaries (not being struck by another human) was met with rage and even more violence (when we blocked blows, we were actually accused of actively hitting M).

I want to give myself and others compassion for being clumsy, incoherent, terrified and imperfect when we finally, finally, finally start seeing that we are being violated and start protecting ourselves.

I wish I could go back and say it better. And then I remember that my simple request of enF "Please don't talk about my personal business with ILs" ended in a shouting conversation in which he was shouting, I was shaking and in a full EF, sobbing and hysterical. At one point in the convo, I told enF that I valued our relationship, but it would hurt me if he did this thing and I wanted to tell him that so that our relationship wouldn't be hurt. That's when I was accused of blackmail and it unraveled.

In DH's family, you get 2 responses: Violation of boundaries and/or shunning from the family.

I understand that we don't set boundaries with the expectation that the other person will respect them, or be happy about it. I understand that the act of trying to kindly and gracefully set boundaries will set a chain of events in motion that we cannot undo and may expose the other's view of us in a way we cannot unsee, and that might end the relationship. I understand that their reaction may be very informative of how their mind works. And yet, I do wish I could have been more graceful.

Kudos to you if you made it this far. The length and number of my posts are clearly showing me how unsettled I am to soon be facing uNBPDm and enF. I want to be fair, I want to be mature, and now the settled place I had been living in for 3 months is becoming very shaky again. Ugh. Anyway, I appreciate anything you can add to this conversation!

*

StayWithMe

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 778
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2018, 05:31:16 PM »
Therapists put too much faith in "open, honest" dialogue.

As long as you don't need anything from your parents, I would "tawk" with my behavior.  Yes, with everyone we will give them the benefit of the doubt with most things and ask them nicely once ie "Please something under the glass before you put it on the wood table."  But seriously, to ask more than once.  Instead you could say "well, I won't be keeping you."  If you've got some really moxie, just take the glass and pour its contents in the sink, "there now it's finished."

I've "tawked" to my parents many times.  Sometimes, they would pretend as if they "understood."  Only for the next conversation, it would be obvious that nothing changed. 

To be mean to someone is out of our comfort zone, but think of it more as putting your needs first because no one else does.

*

Malini

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1533
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2018, 06:21:22 PM »
All4peace,

As you quite rightly state, most of us here grew up not knowing what boundaries are, or not imagining that we were allowed to have some.

Quote
"Please don't talk to my ILs about the relationship issues with ILs,"

Is a perfection reasonable request. If a friend asked this of me, I'd have no problem respecting it. I wouldn't ask why, it's none of my business but obviously important to my friend and thus important I respect that.

Quote
"The ILs are threatening to speak to "authority figures" in our lives because they are unhappy with our new distance. I want you to know that it would make me feel hurt and unsafe if you (my parents) were to have a conversation with them about my personal business."
- pure JADE and in the hands of a PD - PURE GOLD. So much information in there that they can twist against you, manipulate you with and you're basically handing them the tools for them to stick the knife in exactly where it hurts.

For years, I tried the 'when you say/do ... I feel ... ' formula with NM, enNF, NFiL and felt like a failure because it didn't work. I kept looking to myself for the answers to why this was, without realising that it was because THEY were lacking the requisite qualities to meet me halfway and share the responsibility of the healthiness of our relationship.

A few years back, I read a post on the friends board, where someone wrote that when a friendship is such hard work and needs so many boundaries to be maintained, one could ask oneself if it was a true friendship? I realised that I didn't need boundaries in my true and close friendships. These friendships aren't hard work, if someone is upset we deal with it, respectfully, with love and with the common goal of enriching our friendship. These friends don't resort to drama, gossip, manipulation, shaming and blaming, don't expect me to be at their beck and call night and day, don't expect me to be their therapist, etc and I don't need to protect myself from them.

Since coming OOTF and learning about boundaries, I now use them to preserve relationships. Some of those pre-OOTF relationships were too toxic to be salvaged. Others are challenging and I do want to maintain them and that is when I use boundaries, not by verbalising them but by living them.

For example, my SGB, who I love, can be wonderful, fun and kind, but sometimes, his own demons or fleas get the better of him and he is hurtful, dismissive and a bit N. Knowing when to take a step back, be less available, communicate by whatsapp rather than face to face, helps me protect myself from his harmful behaviour, until he gets to a better place.

From what you've shared here, I think you have always been extremely fair and mature in your dealings with them, (and I'd add very patient and generous too).

You've worked so hard with your T, and self-help and here too, it's all moving forward for you.

 :bighug:






"How do you do it?" said night
"How do you wake and shine?"
"I keep it simple." said light
"One day at a time" - Lemn Sissay

'I think it's important to realise that you can miss something, but not want it back' Paul Coelho

'We accept the love we think we deserve' Stephen Chbosky

*

zephyrblue

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 264
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2018, 07:38:07 PM »
The only thing I have to add is that the world would be a better place if there were more all4peaces in it.  You're kind, introspective, thoughtful, and compassionate.  Thank you for your contributions here.  :hug:

*

moglow

  • Retired Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 15790
  • >^..^<
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2018, 08:49:31 PM »
A4P, my personal experience has been that I can talk until I'm purple and explain myself and my needs in any number of ways and it truly doesn't matter.  Mommie dearest sees my differing views and suggestions that we/she do things differently as trying to control her, as telling her what to do, as me saying she is wrong.  While I may be doing those very things on one level, in trying to get her to stop talking to and treating me so abysmally, her response has every time been that of a small child who is bound and determined to prove me wrong, and paint me the bad guy.  She's the mother and as such does no wrong.  Contradicting her or asserting myself are the wrongs in her eyes. 

Every time - bar none - that I have pointed out something that bothered or hurt me, where her anger caused harm or where some things were better left unsaid or undone, mother has attacked me.  She's then gone on to share her twisted view of the even with any and everyone who will listen, painting her as the poor lonely widow whose only daughter did thus-and-so.  Keep in mind that mother lashes out violently when upset, and always has. Verbally, emotionally and even physically violent when she thinks she can get away with it. When that fails, she pulls the waif card and tries to get "outsiders" to side with her, as if they have any clue of what she's truly capable.

For most of my life it was simply easier to go along and try to get along, and mother saw that as agreement.  Me saying No and Enough and Stop It is seen as rebellion and disrespect, not me simply asking for the same respect for me that she has always demanded for herself.  Asking her to "please not talk about my personal business to XYZ" would be waving a red flag in front of an angry charging bull, and she'd do it or die trying.  So I don't say that - I also simply don't share my personal business with her.  I stopped giving her ammunition years ago, and she knows only the very superficial about my life.  But at the same time, she's not truly that interested and never has been.  In that, I supposed I'm blessed to have an absent ignoring mother.

The guts of my ramble here?  The responsibility for boundaries is and will always be ours, and we should have been taught that as children.  Allowed and encouraged boundaries as children, so we understood that we are all separate beings and owe others the same respect that we want for ourselves.  What I'm saying is, you may be better to simply not share anything you don't want others to know, any others. If you don't tell it, it's just them/others running their mouths for effect and attention. We shouldn't have to state the obvious, but since it seems to be required, our best option seems to be that we model it rather than say it.
"Expectations are disappointments under construction.”  ~ Cap'n Spanky

Stop Stinkin' Thinkin'!

*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2018, 11:08:17 AM »
Therapists put too much faith in "open, honest" dialogue.
Are you willing to explain what you mean by this, and why you feel this way? I agree that stating boundaries may not change anything. Do you see value in stating them anyway, and in choosing carefully how to do so?

malini, I very much agree that in our healthy relationship even a preference is usually honored. My friends and I don't need to ask each other so many things, but if I were feeling shaky and asked it anyway the immediate response would be one of support.

Still, I know my communication needs help. And even though I know so much damage has come from my PD parents and then decades next-door to PD ILs, I do still have control over how I behave and would like to be a better communicator.

I love the way you interact with your brother, being both respectful of your needs and his fleas. That's lovely.

zephyrblue, that is very kind of you!

moglow, I totally get the thought distortions, the "interpretation" that happens no matter how we state things. I realized how bad it was with both uNBPDmil & uNBPDm when I wanted all our correspondence in writing.


I guess when I put in so much personal detail it's easy to get stuck on that instead of a broader conversation. If people are willing to share, I'd love to hear the ways you see boundaries, how you set them (either verbally or by living them), how you handle it when they're violated, etc.

Another part of boundaries has been me seeing more and more how I didn't respect other people's boundaries either.  A LOT of boundary work has happened inside me, because as I started to see boundaries everywhere I also saw where I hadn't been observing/respecting/honoring them for others.

*

Fightsong

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 703
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2018, 12:23:20 PM »
When you say about finding we have to say out loud things we wouldn’t normally need to say , spell it out loud, as it were. I think this hits a nail on the head. There is something in the PD relational style that doesn’t get non PD relating. It’s part of what makes interactions so disarming. They simply don’t respond as other people do. And I think can’t.

*

StayWithMe

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 778
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2018, 12:43:04 PM »
Quote
Are you willing to explain what you mean by this, and why you feel this way? I agree that stating boundaries may not change anything. Do you see value in stating them anyway, and in choosing carefully how to do so?

Stating your boundaries may be good idea so that the other person can't say "well, she never told me this."  Or "I didn't know that that was important to you." 

Sometimes stating what you want can be used against you.  Oh, she's so sensitive. she's so demanding.  and so on.  And nothing has changed for the better.  You may be diminshed in the process.

What I have found to be interesting is that people react better to non verbal communication than they do to verbal communication.  Tired of someone making requests at the last minute?  Simply don't answer the phone. Either they will get their needs met elsewhere or they will call you more in advance.

Tired of borrowing money and not paying you back?  Don't loan it.  Say you don't have any money eve if you have cash in your wallet.  Who are they to tell you how to spend your money.

My mother did not stop needling me over dead issues until I stopped calling her.  I was careful in what I chose to talk about her.  I ended conversations when she tried to go down that path.  when I was asked why don't I call my mother, I asked whether she needed info on those things she constantly asks me about because I have no new news. Let them take that back to her. Now she doesn't raise those issues in conversation with me anymore.

Therapists, please tell me why when I was direct and wanted to have an open honest dialogue with her, she would not stop.  But when I react non verbally to her, she does exactly what I want her to do?

And so on......

*

zephyrblue

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 264
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2018, 02:34:58 PM »
Therapists, please tell me why when I was direct and wanted to have an open honest dialogue with her, she would not stop.  But when I react non verbally to her, she does exactly what I want her to do?

Great question!

*

peacetrain

  • New Member
  • *
  • 16
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2018, 04:59:05 PM »
I want to give myself and others compassion for being clumsy, incoherent, terrified and imperfect when we finally, finally, finally start seeing that we are being violated and start protecting ourselves.

All4Peace - Thank you so much for initiating this discussion! I have an uNPDm and I have constantly butted heads with her when it comes to boundaries, or even trying to convince her that I have been hurt by her actions and words (which qualifies for the definition of insanity on my part!). I have kept our conversations to a superficial level. I appreciate that quote because I do need compassion for myself for being clumsy and imperfect as I journey along this road to acceptance and a re-formulation of a true self.

However, in the last seven years, my "truth" has collided with her views of perfection and my role of GC. For better or worse, I am now an SG. First of all, since I wasn't able to express myself or fully form my emotional boundaries or sense of self, I came out as gay about five years ago. A very difficult thing to finally accept after a long-term marriage and three DS. Needless to say, that didn't go over so well with her and enF. I was cast as a horrible person who wasn't really gay, but just doing that because of a "fad." I was actually kicked out of their living room at age 48. I took an eight month "leave" of NC. Fast forward to four months ago, finding out accidentally that I have a different bio-F than my three siblings. She and enF went ballistic and lied about it for three months, even though I had DNA proof. Now I am cast as ungrateful and angry. I have said over and over how everything stays the same as far as my family, but that the lies during that three months really hurt me (on top of that trauma). She returns to 50 years ago and how she heroically saved me from bio-dad (he didn't want to marry her, and she was spurned. uNPD's don't do well with that!). I am grateful for that part, which I have expressed over and over.

I have been gaslighted and rendered into states of EF several times in the last few months. Of course, I am now the horrible one that blames them for everything and that I now prefer my newly discovered bio-father (who has given me more love and compassion than I have ever truly received from "parents"). Any boundaries I have attempted are obliterated. I am the designated "angry one" who is being unjust. My wounds going all the way back to childhood have been ripped open.  I think NC is the solution for now.

This discussion has made me realize how keeping this secret from me - something affecting my body, biology, and overall self -  was one big violation of boundaries. To her and my enD, my finding out the "family secret" was an invasion of their past and privacy, and I should be lucky they saved me from a Dickens-like life as a bastard child (my words). Alas, I feel like I am one inch closer to edging OOTF!

The quote below has helped me realize they have shown me who they really are thousands of times. Because of the boundaries I have set for myself, now is really the "first time" I am able to believe them.

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time" --Maya Angelou

*

daughterofbpd

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1219
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2018, 08:46:02 PM »
All4peace –

I am also skeptical that changing your language would have made a difference in these situations BUT I also understand the desire to be a better communicator. We cannot control the behavior of others but we can control our own behavior. It took me awhile to get comfortable with wording regarding boundaries so I find your examples really helpful. I feel really awkward saying things like “I feel hurt when you do ___”.

Quote
After my requests, my parents have characterized me as stubborn, strong-willed, hypercontrolling, uNBPDm feeling like I'm telling her exactly what to say and do, as if she's a puppet and unable to be herself.
I feel like this is just an excuse. I don’t see how your simple requests are taking away your M’s power to be herself. Although…I can see that excuse being used in another kind of boundary violation:
I protest being verbally criticized and my M says [insert sarcastic tone] “she can’t say anything to me”. She's basically saying that I am not giving her the freedom to be herself (however rude, mean, and unpleasant that may be). I suppose, I could make it clear that she is free to be herself, to say whatever she wants, HOWEVER, should she choose to do so, I will not be around to hear it. Actually, although I have never voiced that consequence, my M knows this about me (she's said something to that effect) so it has motivated her to stop.

In that case, I think the crucial part of boundaries are the consequences if boundaries aren’t respected. For instance, I don’t think there was anything wrong with you asking your parents not to share your personal info with in laws. Since that obviously wasn’t common sense to them, they should be told that this was hurtful to you. However, I would also make a mental note not to discuss the in laws (or any other sensitive topics) with parents in the future. If the in laws continue to drop by unannounced then I’d stop answering the door. When they inquire later why you didn’t answer the door, let them know you were in the middle of something important and were unable to accommodate them since you didn’t have prior notice they were stopping by. After a few times of this, they might get the hint. If they still will not or cannot respect your boundaries then they get less and less of your time. Disrespecting boundaries can include: repeated crossing boundaries and/or repeatedly complaining about or making fun of boundaries or treating you badly as a result of you setting boundaries.

Great topic! Thanks for starting this discussion.
“How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego”
~ Amanda Torroni

*

Zebrastriped

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 479
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2018, 08:43:38 AM »
all4peace, if open and honest are getting you hurt, why are you still doing it?  I cannot imagine telling uBPDmom anything even slightly painful.  I never verbally requested my boundaries with her, if she stepped on them, I fled.  Not inspiring in someone who's middle aged, but none of this is uplifting.  I always knew where the nearest exit or excuse was.  To the point of having different interruptions planned out if the going got challenging, similar to ringing your own doorbell while on the phone with someone who you'd like to be off the phone with.

If your inlaws show up unexpectedly, is there something you can do to chase them off?  Nothing like housework to make people flee.  Start vaccumming, pooper scoop the yard, empty the fridge.  Be busy, the way many of us are over the phone so we don't have time to listen to the complaint grind.  If this is not your style, no worries.

I would definately cut down the information train.  If they do bring something sensitive up, grey rock and medium chill the stuffing out of it.  And then onto how the sports team is doing, weather and traffic, latest celebrity scandel.

I skimmed the cloud and townsend article.  They are assuming a rational person at the other end of the boundary.  Certainly, my uBPDmom never understood she would reap what she sowed.  She thought she could live successfully on soda and cigarettes in her old age.  To her, other people were making up food boundaries because that's what she did.  She violated her own body's boundaries and expected no bad consequences.

These articles make me feel like you have picked up a dog training manual and are trying to apply the suggestions to cats.

I think you are doing something remarkable, thinking all this thru and asking hard questions of yourself.

*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2018, 10:53:43 AM »
This thread was brought to my attention, so I hope it's ok with the OP to share it, as it has an excellent discussion of boundaries.
http://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=71691.0

fightsong, "disarming" is a great word. I remember the sense of confusion and befuddlement I used to have when trying to explain things to my ILs, things that our kids understood as toddlers (no disrespect intended)

staywithme, it's a great point that so many boundaries can be simply lived without words. My ILs tended towards intrusive behaviors (rather than seeking) that required spoken boundaries.

peacetrain, I'm so sorry you don't have a parent willing to accept you for who you are and denied you your own history/biology/parentage. What a painful thing to face! Your last paragraph reminds me of the essence (to me) of boundaries--"You get to be you, I get to be me, and how you are being you may not work for me." (at least when relationships are not healthy)

daughterofbpd, part of this is wishing I had done better, but even more I want to clean up everything in my life that is mine to clean up (another aspect of boundaries?) I agree that my uNBPdm is looking for things to be angry about, to fight against, to violate. However, my boundary now is that I don't spend time around people who are dishonest and who think I'm an abusive person. It's not safe for me or them. So she is about to be held accountable for her words, as I'm someone who takes someone at their word (and their history of behavior). a type of psychological boundary?

zebrastriped, we no longer are open with our parents. as T recently suggested, "go in with full armor on." I still think I need good communication, as that's who I want to be, in all my relationships, but I do not share any personal information with our parents whatsoever. My boundary now is that I am vulnerable with safe people, and our parents are not safe people so I won't talk about anything more important than the weather with them.

I still believe it's good to start with open, honest and direct. If someone is unable to respect or handle that, repeatedly, then we know what kind of situation we're now dealing with and we can decide what level of contact to have with that person.

Just my thoughts after percolating on it for  week... I would love to hear more!

*

Pepin

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1609
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2018, 02:00:56 PM »
all4peace -- like you I have struggled with boundaries and I often wonder if it is the wording I chose.  In a sense, it is almost like another language being able to clearly state things.  Even on this forum I have trouble expressing myself at times and have felt worse afterwards.  It is like I just don't know how to get things out that ruminate in my mind in a way that others would understand.

That being said, having been burned countless times by the PDs in my life, I have finally learned to stay quiet about anything personal -- even with my own siblings that harbor fleas.  Being cut down when I am asking for help has been one of the most demoralizing aspects of my life as a survivor.  Naturally I am an introvert but there are times when I want to speak at length about things and I now hesitate for fear of any retaliation.  People that are closest to me: DH and my siblings -- all harbor fleas.  If I am not ultra careful with my wording, there will be negative consequences.  I have a friend that I can open up to sometimes but I don't because she already has a lot on her plate with her own family and FOO.  Our struggles are on differing wavelengths. 

But the concern as I see it as others have mentioned is that if we have to work so hard to set boundaries, then what is the point of having them?  Seems easier just to revert to LC or NC or even to behave like a parent to a toddler: i.e. if this happens (from them), then this happens (from me) -- and this really means that things are taken away when directions are not followed.  I guess to a degree there becomes nothing left for us to "take away" and then it becomes NC, which is what I had to do with NF.  On the flip side, I cannot do this with PDmil because DH has not successfully made his way Out of the FOG, so she gets LC....which actually is wearing on me. 

As I continue to work on myself through the PD mess, it is actions that speak louder than words, over and over.  PDmil whose first language is not English has proved this to me and our children repeatedly.  I have no idea what she and DH talk about right in front of us.  But her body language suggests that I and our teens are third wheels.  Her consequence for this behavior is to be excluded in return with the exception of a few zingers I keep up my sleeve to force her to talk.  I ask her things that I know only she can answer and she squirms because she knows she has no decency to include me at any gathering.  And she sees less of me and our teens; DH has much shorter visits without any buffers. 

What I find interesting is that DH doesn't quite see what I am doing.  He doesn't understand that it is not his mother that I am having an issue with; it is her behavior that I am having an issue with.  To parallel what peacetrain said: how PDmil is being doesn't work for me because it is hurtful.  While DH may see his mother as an individual who deserves respect because of her age and history regardless of behavior, I do not agree.  Holding PDmil accountable for her behavior may seem "not nice" to DH or anyone else that serves PDmil -- but for me it is right.  The truth hurts and people just don't want to see it.     
NPD F (overt) NC
DPD MIL (covert) VLC
FALLEN GC SIB
GC#2 SIB (covert) LC headed to NC

No PD is going to tell me what to do.

People who don't bring joy, let them go.

*

chowder

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 151
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2018, 06:47:07 AM »
It's amazing that we, the ones who try to set boundaries, are the ones who agonize over it.   We try to say it the right way, we wonder later if we said it the right way, and on and on.  The ones violating the boundaries, and putting us in this position in the first place, don't do half the ruminating we do.

I've had a boundary issue with a cousin-in-law regarding her behavior when she would visit us.  She would come in and take over the kitchen and start cooking, checking if this was done, that was done, etc., and I would say something to her.  Of course my requests started out nicely.  Her behavior continued.  And by the way, when you went to her house, you were strong-armed out of her kitchen, and there was no question as to who was in charge.  I would offer once to help, and that was that.  I respected her boundaries.

She comes to my home and it's a different story.   My requests got a little more assertive.  I even put up a good-natured humorous poem I had found about this very issue.  Nothing changed. 

One day she did something again in my kitchen, and I said, "You know, I don't come to your house and do this."  As pointed as I thought this was, she still didn't get it.  I finally resorted to telling husband that I was through, did not want her in my home any longer because no matter what I do, she cannot respect boundaries.   So we would still see them outside socially, had a somewhat LC relationship with them, and she did not come to my home for four years.

This past Christmas H wanted to invite her.  I stood my ground.  He tried every which way, saying he would be in charge in the kitchen, etc.  That was what he said last time and it didn't work.  I maintained my position.  He finally said he would call her and talk to her.  He did, telling her that she had to promise to stay out of the kitchen because it was very upsetting when she did so.

She came and stayed out of the kitchen.  I still don't think she gets it, nor why there was the four-year hiatus.  The relationship is still LC and not what it was, but I don't have any regrets. 

When I was in grammar school, we got report cards with grades on the front for academics, and there were just as many grades on the back for behaviors....respects others' property, respects the rights of others, respects -- fill in the blank.  As kids, we knew we better have gotten all A's on the back of that report card.  My mother told me that what was on the back was more important than what was on the front.  At the time I didn't understand what she meant, but sure do now.

This is so basic for those of us who respect boundaries, and we are at wit's end when someone else does not do so, putting us in an awkward position for simply asking someone to respect our boundaries.   We shouldn't even have to ask for some of these boundaries - showing up announced, for example, should not happen in the first place.

Follow your gut - if people repeatedly violate boundaries, and then do not adhere to your requests (which is a further violation), then maybe LC or NC is the way to go for the sake of your own self.


« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 07:10:34 AM by chowder »

*

StayWithMe

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 778
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2018, 10:55:43 AM »
Interesting @Chowder.  What is this cousin in law like with other people or in her own home.  What is the cousin like that she is married to?

My parents had ingrained in me so much that my only worth to other people was how much I "helped out" when I was a guest in their home.  so, of ocurse, I wanted to get out on front of helping in places like the kitchen that gets used  when guests come over.

As I got older, I started to notice that that "help" wasn't always welcomed so I started to call off.  My mother would still say even as I entered my adult years "when you go over there, you help out."  Back when I was in my explaining stage of life, I would point out that not everybody wants that kind of help.  Some times, I am asked to just enoybeing a guest.  My mother, of course, who had a negative response, mentioned that maybe Iwasn't things right, messing up you know.

I'm very LC with my these days. 

*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2018, 11:21:21 AM »
What's interesting to me in the last 2 posts, as well as places I've really struggled with uNBPDmil, is how "body language" and "requests" are not heard, eventually leading to the need for spoken boundaries, or even LC.

I'm becoming a really big fan of direct and clear communication, but it does require people to have their defenses down and to assume the best of one another. In the kitchen example, the cousin could have said "Is it more helpful to you if I'm in here helping or staying out of the way?" and I suppose if it were my kitchen I could have said "I appreciate your willingness to help, but it actually makes me a little nervous, so please go relax and enjoy yourself in the living room!" In a way, those are boundaries (I think?)

I also was taught to "help." I also have that instinct to want to do so when I'm a guest. But what I see in the PD family members I know is that the script in their head is far louder than what's going on in front of them. uNBPDm and uNBPDmil cannot/will not hear what people are trying to tell them, repeatedly. It's a lack of empathy or ability to listen or read others, and they firmly stick to what's going on in their head instead of what the other half of the relationship is trying to tell them. So after many, many repeats of this, they finally are told in more direct and certain terms, and it hurts them.

The ILs used to come into our home whenever they pleased. uNBPDmil would walk in and watch my kids silently, until I returned from the next room. It was creepy on more than one level. I started with "Oh, I didn't hear you knock", repeated multiple times. Then I started showing more unhappiness when they appeared in our space, plus that line. Eventually, when the anxiety was way too much (due to many other types of intrusions and issues in the family system), I finally said politely "We need you to not show up unannounced. It's the same with all our friends and family, not personal at all. It's startling to us, etc." (very paraphrased). They repeatedly and consistently showed up anyway. They would "announce" they were coming, not give us a chance to respond, and show up. So then we went to "Please do not come to our home unless we have invited you." Every time they violated it, more damage was done to our relationship as we saw this as a total disrespect and lack of caring for how we felt. Now we're at the point where they do not ever show up unannounced and we have almost no relationship with them at all. It grieves me that it is this way. And I still don't know how it could have worked out differently except for if I had not metabolized their boundary violations as disrespectful.

That would be my question to someone who has managed to set and hold respectful boundaries AND not get angry or take it personally when they are violated--how do you do this? Is it possible? What thought model do you have in your head that allows you to frame it this way?

*

StayWithMe

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 778
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2018, 12:03:40 PM »
@all4peace, with all due respect, it does not appear to me that direct and clear communication is working with your in laws. 

I would simply keep my front door locked and take a long time to answer it.  or Maybe not at all. 

As long as you keep telling them clearly directly what you want on your turf, they will continue to ignore you .... consider you a weak person.

*

all4peace

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 8111
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2018, 12:58:04 PM »
I think that when I use specific examples it makes it sound like I'm still trying to find the answers to those specific examples, but I'm really trying to get more to the mental framework of boundaries, how we see them, how they work. My point above is that in that process, I was accumulating anger and bitterness, and I wonder if I should have been seeing boundary "violations" differently, if it would have helped if I could have kept it less personal.


We're at a pretty stable VVVLC point with the ILs, and we're content with that for now, but now I'm using that space to try to really examine and challenge my views on things like boundaries.

*

StayWithMe

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 778
Re: Boundaries
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2018, 01:13:10 PM »
I tried that open honest dialogue thing with my mother.  I found that the more I asked to do / not do something, the more she would do the opposite.

These days, I get out in front of things.  My sister once e-mailed me asking me to call our mother.  I wrote back, if she wants to know about x, y and z, I have no new news about them.  My sister got really angry at me.  Good for her.  That was 3 years ago, my mother doesn't ask about those things anymore. 

Last spring, my brother was in town and stayed with us.  Before he arrived, I told my mother that I hope that he doesn't report back to her how raggedy ass my home looks so that you and he can laugh about it.  She siad, no they won't do that.  As far as I know, they didn't do it.

I have stopped being surprised at how low people can go.  Once you do that, you can take the steps to protect yourself.