"The gift that keeps on giving"

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all4peace

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"The gift that keeps on giving"
« on: July 19, 2018, 11:27:40 AM »
I saw this quote from daughter in a recent thread, and it hit a chord with me. It has been low times in my world lately, and I'm feeling all the cracks and holes again. I'm reminded of how other people appear to be living their lives with more ease, steadiness and emotional stability, but maybe that's a mirage.

I wonder if anyone would be willing to share what you struggle with as the child of a PD and how you've filled in those gaps in adulthood.

Here are things I find myself struggling with, over and over. Some of them heal for good (sense of boundaries) and some keep recurring (sense of "normal")

*what does "normal" look like? What is my place as a mother, as a wife? I still really don't have a good concept for the purpose of marriage, or what my role is as a mother as my children grow into adulthood. Where do you find the answers?

*anxiety. I think I have to accept I will struggle with this for my lifetime. It is better than it used to be, but I will probably need to be attentive to self care more than other people, and more careful with boundaries than some need to be, to manage this.

*what do I owe others? Even the PDs? It would be more comfortable for me to avoid them entirely, but it doesn't fit with my view of the world, or myself. So what do I owe other humans?

I'd love to hear your answers, your questions, and how you navigate these parts of life when you weren't raised on a solid foundation.

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bohemian butterfly

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2018, 11:48:25 AM »
What I've struggled with and how I fill in the gaps.

1)  anxiety - Several years of therapy, reading books, practicing mindfulness, and going to DBT
2) hypervigilance (Although sometimes this is a gift.... and I'm great at emergency preparedness - thinking of scenarios that others might not think of/see)  Therapy, checking the facts (DBT)
3) being passive and letting others take the lead (then getting mad because I feel "controlled") - Therapy, reading books, communicating with others, erecting boundaries, taking risks and saying "no"
4)  trying to figure out what is normal - watching other people, reading books/articles/blogs/Facebook comments, opposite action (if I realize I'm reacting to old patterns, being automatic)
5)  push/pull, black/white in relationships - therapy, check the facts, communication, waiting 24 hours ("sleeping on it") before I communicate/make a decision/etc.  Actively try to get more information
6)  avoidance - opposite action, questioning why I am avoiding.  If fear, take the time to explore.  Remind myself that I am not a child and that I am an adult and capable.  Avoid avoiding.

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Starboard Song

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2018, 12:28:30 PM »
I'm reminded of how other people appear to be living their lives with more ease, steadiness and emotional stability, but maybe that's a mirage.

It is in part a mirage.

Everyone has struggles. And we don't have to have survived the killing fields of Cambodia for our struggles to deserve respect. You don't have to have struggled the most. You feelings are self-justifying. They are a part of your experience.

One helpful trick is to observe yourself having a feeling, rather than being the feeling.

"Oh, look, there I go getting self-conscious again. What about that?"

I see my wife struggle with insecurity: if you ask her why she did something, she figures you are telling her she did it stupidly, or that in any case you are dissatisfied with her. If you make a suggestion, she sometimes feels attacked.

I see her struggle with social anxiety. She doesn't like making phone calls. Not to anyone. Not even to dear friends. Taking away visual cues adds too much anxiety to the already high stress of social performance.

I see her struggle with feelings of inadequacy. She is an outstanding wife and mother, a great neighbor, friend, and DIL. But if -- because she is so thoughtful -- she thinks of an opportunity to serve too late to execute it, she feels like a bad person for failing to think of a service opportunity earlier.

Mindfulness and Self-Compassion meditations have been a tremendous help. She now detaches from the feelings more, can see them at a distance and accept them, and move on. She will say, "I'm feeling like _______, and so I may _______. But what we need to do is ___________."

I cannot recommend more highly the books in my signature. My mother observed that my DW was more at peace than before. Maybe our crisis and NC has lead to a positive change, by requiring it to survive.
Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
Healing From Family Rifts, by Sichel   |  Stop Walking on Egshells, by Mason    |    Emotional Blackmail, by Susan Forward

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2018, 01:59:22 PM »
One of the things that helped me was in the working on us boundaries sticky who's a post about an exercise on defining our core values. it helps bring me a sense of wholeness and answered for me many of the questions you're asking.
Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
Individuation is one key to emotional freedom
It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
my Empowered Growth blog

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daughterofbpd

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2018, 02:20:11 PM »
*what do I owe others? Even the PDs? It would be more comfortable for me to avoid them entirely, but it doesn't fit with my view of the world, or myself. So what do I owe other humans?
This is a big one for me. Truthfully, I struggle with all of the things you've mentioned.
How starved you must have been that my heart became a meal for your ego
~ Amanda Torroni

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daughter

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2018, 10:07:59 AM »
Post-NC, I spent two years in weekly therapy sessions, then twice a month for third year, and subsequently return for a "tune-up" every summer.  I'm feeling need for such "tune-up" now myself, given on-going stressors.

I realize I've relatively low expectations from the people that I engage with, being a "low-maintenance" kind of person, which translates to me being both a tolerant "willing victim" bullying-target, because I'll ignore it and continue to engage, and responsive to slightest attention or call for help.  I am often "nurse-aide" for friends and family members, the "good listener w/good advice", without it being reliably reciprocated.

I've failed to truly assert myself in my career; too much self-doubt and anxiety.  I'm the hard-working go-getter (as in "go get her" to get it done) that person who reliably gets tough jobs done, "who doesn't suffer fools" (backhanded compliment), with little true career-advancement reward or genuine (financial) recognition, the "little lady behind the big guy".  I'm in a male-dominated profession. There are very very few "top women" here.  Of my generation, my female friends with consistent professional success have all found themselves in those #2 supporting #1 by doing all the work" job-positions.

And I find myself frequent target of aggressive people, who view me somehow as threat to their own position and stoked self-image, folks who perhaps feel I'm exposing their incompetence and unprofessionalism.  Some people are very threatened by "smart women", and will attack to maintain their sense of superiority and control --- starting with my NBM.  It's as if I experience my childhood again, over and over, within context of adult life-experiences.  I internalize these attacks as "maybe they're right? maybe I'm a horrible person?", even as I logically understand that these PD folks are the problem.

Six+ years NC, struggling with the non-family PDs currently in my daily life, I'd prefer to AVOID the PDs altogether, to simply not engage.  Unfortunately, that's literally not possible at present, and I'm due for a "tune-up" with therapist on coping skills.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 10:19:06 AM by daughter »

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KeepONKeepingON

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2018, 08:11:18 PM »
I struggle with taking care of myself. As a child, everything I said was contradicted or criticized. I was physically neglected too and I never learnt that I had any value except when I did things for others. No one ever took my feelings into consideration so when I grew up I never really took myself into consideration too.

I go to therapy once a month now and I have for over a year. That has helped a lot.

I have had to learn that I need 8 hours of sleep and 3 meals a day. I need breaks, I have started putting my kids in 1 hour of childcare a week so that I can have a small break. I feel guilty about this but I know I am happier and calmer if I have a little break.  Going outside with my kids and enjoying the beach or a park helps my mood.

I also really enjoy watching Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt on Netflix - it's funny and quite sweet while tackling quite dark issues. I really enjoy watching someone with a horrific past cheerfully take on new challenges, grow and try and deal with life.

Starboard Song mentioned the book by Mark Williams: Mindfulness: Finding Peace In A Frantic World. This book is amazing, it comes with a CD of mindfulness meditations and I do one or more meditations daily. One of the messages in the book is being kind to yourself and acknowledging it's ok to make mistakes. I used to really get angry at myself, feel like I had to be perfect and feel like I was always substandard or just wrong. This book has helped with this.

Saying no  :no: , I am still not good at this. I find it hard to say no. Somehow it is easier for me to do something that does not benefit me at all or actually is more work for me than saying no. I find it very stressful to say no or to stand up for myself.  :-X :(

Work - I work in a very male dominated profession. Overtime is expected.  I am currently taking a break from this while I focus on my kids. My previous boss is a workaholic who expected everyone else to follow his lead. While pleasant, he had no appreciation or understanding that not everyone can constantly do overtime.  :doh: He would work like a maniac and then clear off on holiday without telling anyone for a few weeks to his cabin.  He was an improvement on a previous employer who made inappropriate comments about my appearance, behaved very strangely when I announced I was pregnant and who fired me when I was on maternity leave.  :o I did get compensation from that office as his actions were illegal.

Currently I am a bit apprehensive about returning to work. I don't want to do overtime as I want to spend time with my family and I do not want to be exhausted all the time. I do generally enjoy my profession. I hope to find an office with a generally pleasant atmosphere with supportive employers. It's just hard, I feel like sometimes I have a sign saying, 'Kick Me!' on my back. It's hard for me to be strong and confident and stick up for myself.  :(

*anxiety. I think I have to accept I will struggle with this for my lifetime. It is better than it used to be, but I will probably need to be attentive to self care more than other people, and more careful with boundaries than some need to be, to manage this.


 :yeahthat:

My DH is great but I can find mt ILs, particularly my MIL nosy, overbearing and bossy. I do think that if I came from a normal family I would find it easier to say no, establish boundaries and to ignore or deflect her when she tells me what to do or gives me her very traditional views on parenting.

I realize I've relatively low expectations from the people that I engage with, being a "low-maintenance" kind of person, which translates to me being both a tolerant "willing victim" bullying-target, because I'll ignore it and continue to engage, and responsive to slightest attention or call for help.  I am often "nurse-aide" for friends and family members, the "good listener w/good advice", without it being reliably reciprocated.

 :yeahthat:

I think I have managed to drift away from the type of friends who just take all the time, but I am so wary of that "nurse-aide" role with my ILs.  I really want to please people and be liked but no longer at my own expense.


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all4peace

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2018, 05:06:47 PM »
bohemian butterfly, mindfulness keeps coming onto my radar, so it's time to explore that. Thank you!

starboard song, correct me if I'm misreading, but what I hear you saying is that we become more observers of our feelings rather than overwhelmed feelers of them, at least those that we know are related to trauma/neglect. Again, mindfulness keeps coming up!! I wish for more self-compassion for DH to himself, but perhaps I need more also. Interestingly, when I went to my next podcast, it was one by Kristin Neff about self-compassion. I've put 3 of your recommended books on hold. Thank you! I'm thankful for your wife's sake that she has a partner who can see the cracks and appreciate her anyway.

Maybe my lesson is that some things will always be harder, but some things will also be far more beautiful and joyful for those of us who didn't come from good-enough childhoods. I wouldn't trade one for the other, so maybe I need to embrace them both.

spring butterfly, it's so simple and yet so powerful. MY life won't look like everyone else's. I wouldn't have chosen it, but one of my core values is showing itself to be "safety." I thought I could be someone whose arms were wide open to the entire world, but unfortunately life handed me some people who haven't done their work and are harmful to me and my family. So rather than living "as if", I need to start fully living "as it actually is."

I also appreciate that your point makes something else clear to me--when I look to others for what "normal" is, their "normal" could be based on completely different core values. If I blindly tried to copy "normal," then I'd end up with a life that isn't true to mine. What you're not outright saying, but what I'm sensing here, is that we need to learn to trust ourselves. If we learn to listen to our own selves, our own values, our own gut and intuition, then we can find a healthy life.

daughterofbpd, I know I'm not done with this one yet. I do believe I need to calmly and clearly offer our parents a path forward, with very clear boundaries and self-regard in place, but a path forward nonetheless.

daughter, I appreciate what you offer here--a reminder that we can heal, and do so much better, and STILL need tune-ups from time to time. I realize that recently I have let our schedule get overwhelming, with almost no alone time, on top of unwelcome family contact. I don't believe that life can be 100% manageable all the time, but it is good to be reminded that when it is trending downward it is time to take stock, look inward and figure out what needs help. I'm glad you continue to get help as needed and am just sorry that having the parents you had installed "it must be me who's wrong!" so deeply inside you.

keeponkeepingon, I am going to watch that show! Thanks for the recommendation! What I'm hearing in your response is a lot of attention to self care, even if it makes you feel guilty. I'm glad you're taking time for you. It's like the "put on your own oxygen mask first" metaphor. Again, self care is a good reminder, including pure entertainment and laughter to rejuvenate. Thank you!
« Last Edit: July 22, 2018, 05:08:36 PM by all4peace »

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Starboard Song

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2018, 10:20:08 AM »
starboard song, correct me if I'm misreading, but what I hear you saying is that we become more observers of our feelings rather than overwhelmed feelers of them.

That's exactly it. We often try to attach ourselves to feelings of pleasure and joy, while distancing ourselves from pain and sorrow. It is not uncommon for people to self-criticize for the fact that they are sad: "I shouldn't be sad. I am weak and stupid. Strong people aren't sad. I am a screwup. This sucks."

Mindfulness and Mindful Self-Compassion suggest accepting that it is all real and all part of life. If you've read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, he does the theological/intellectual version of this, when he said that the grief now is part of the joy then.

Your goal is to very much feel and experience everything, but to do so as it is, and not filtered or judged, or with blinders on. It can start with just physical things, like realizing this time of year how nice it is to have your morning cup of coffee outside in the garden. Ultimately, you can get to where you think ""I am feeling sad. This is hard. Everyone has hard times and this is one of them. I deserve to feel a little sad. And now I deserve a little peace." And then move on to "what's for dinner? Is there wine in the fridge?" without getting into self-recrimination, rumination,and self-criticism.

I engage in this very differently than my wife. My upbringing gave me a good many of the tools "out of the box," without working on it. But I see what it does for her and for me as well. 
Radical Acceptance, by Brach   |   Self-Compassion, by Neff    |   Mindfulness, by Williams   |   The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama and Tutu
Healing From Family Rifts, by Sichel   |  Stop Walking on Egshells, by Mason    |    Emotional Blackmail, by Susan Forward

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sandpiper

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2018, 09:12:23 PM »
My T insisted that I read two books.
'the happiness trap' by Russ Harris
'Change your Thinking' by Sarah Edelman. (ABC books, it's on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
I did a lot of group support therapy, as well as one on one therapy, and we did some workshops on how to create positive change in our life.
One of the things I hadn't realised is that having a PD family is a lot like growing up in a system where there's an alcoholic or an addict.
You don't actually learn to plan your life. You spend your days waiting for the next storm to erupt and working through scenarios in your mind of how you are going to handle that.
You spend your life reacting to the circus rather than actually taking charge of it.
I worked my way through a book called 'The artist's way' by Julia Cameron and it helped me to identify who I was, where I was, what I was feeling and where I wanted to go.
I felt so lost before that.
My T said that it's natural for us to feel like we are rudderless on a storm-tossed sea, and that once you escape the storm you basically have to repair the ship. Mend the torn sails and the smashed posts and attend to the leaks, and you need to fix the rudder and your internal compass so that you can get where you want to go, once you work out where that is.

My T had us all sit down and work on planning and goal setting. Small things - the things we'd like to achieve in a day, a week, a month, and long term goals. And then work out how to get there, setting reasonable goals and often taking baby-steps, as we do get so over-whelmed if we take on too much to begin with.
She also talked about 'planning happiness' - and how every day, it was important to plan something that you could look forward to. Whether that's a walk with your dog, coffee with a friend, a cup of tea and a good book, or a dance class - it's about building the positives so that they become part of the fabric of pleasure and satisfaction that you have in your life.

Sometimes I think I'll be stuck on the organisation and planning grid forever, I just don't seem to be able to get this one to take, naturally, the way that friends from normal families do.
But at least I know now that it's just another skill that I didn't learn in my family of origin and I can work on it, and working on this is what has helped to shift my trajectory over time.
And my T said that was the really important thing - shifting our trajectory.
And that's about taking small steps, doing things a bit differently, and working towards some goals.

One of mine, five years ago, was to take up stand-up-paddle boarding. I love the water & as I'm in Australia we have access to a lot of it :) - but my balance sucked. I had a few lessons, hired boards & persisted. Five years later I have my own race board and it's introduced me to a really lovely group of people who just chill out & nobody is interested in any drama. Well that's a lie, you find those people everywhere, but I've gotten better at working out who they are & quietly drifting off with the mellow folk. And that's led to a lot of other social/friendship opportunities which has been really enjoyable.
So that would be my advice.
I've done all the reading and learning stuff too but I think I kind of overdid it, feeling like it was a class I'd missed and I couldn't get anywhere without it. I think sometimes it's important just to try something different and put yourself out there, doing a new sport or hobby, and just let that work it's magic over time.

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practical

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2018, 11:11:01 PM »
I have been following this, much sounds familiar and I don't have much to add.

Stubbornness: I'm stubborn, obstinate, have stick-to-itveness, grit, endurance whatever you want to call it. What I'm trying to learn is when it is healthy and when it isn't. It is a good quality when learning a new skill, dealing with a longterm project, little and large frustrations of every day life. It isn't healthy when it means I hang onto unhealthy relationships because I think I have to fix things, make things work, everybody deserves an umpteenth chance or I'm the problem, I'm not getting it. With FOO I had no choice but to hang in as a child however dysfunctional, now I'm no longer depended on others.I'm trying to make myself stop and evaluate instead of keeping my head down to get through it. I'm getting better at seeing it earlier and walking away. This also applies to social settings or group activities like classes where I used to stick it out to the bitter end.

What do I owe others? I have come to realize very little. A kind word, listening within reason, and if I'm asked for help, evaluating whether it will work for me. My first impulse used to be to jump in head first without looking when it came to others, leaving my own life behind. Now, if I have the impulse to do something nice like bake cookies because somebody is stressed out, volunteer my time and energy, I sleep on it first, and most of the time I end up just saying a few words and that is all, and it is enough. Just like others I have been the help-mate way too often.
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)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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practical

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Re: "The gift that keeps on giving"
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2018, 02:40:22 PM »
I'm reminded of how other people appear to be living their lives with more ease, steadiness and emotional stability, but maybe that's a mirage.
It is a mirage, sometimes it might be true but you cannot see it from the outside. My parents were considered nice people, good parents and not just by acquaintances but close friends and relatives too. Hence I got accosted "All your M ever did was love you! She spoiled you and that is what she gets in return." love, spoiling = enmeshed, parentified.

And then there is the self-lie, where people create the fiction for themselves that they live a perfect life and are able to project it. F thinks of himself as upstanding citizen, and somebody who always gives and helps. There is some truth to this, if you only look at the surface  :roll: and so outsiders believe it.
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)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)