Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries

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Socialsunshine

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Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« on: March 30, 2020, 04:24:19 PM »
Hi everyone! Iím the 33 year old daughter of a uBPDm and have been in therapy a couple of different times in my life and found it very helpful. This past week I was doing some reorganizing and found my copy of Stop Walking on Eggshells and was automatically triggered and have been on edge ever since. Iím really struggling with certain books (Like SWOE), other forums, and other blogs putting so much emphasis on the non-BP having empathy for the PD in their life. Iím feeling this huge weight of responsibility to respond to her in a certain way so that I wonít trigger her feelings of abandonment. An article I read and another forum I was lurking on even mentioned being very mindful of their fear of abandonment and rejection so the non-BP doesnít make it worse. This is SO hard for me to wrap my head around. Iím already on edge when interacting with her, I canít add all of the doís/doníts or communication outlined in SWOE. Do you guys have thoughts on this when it comes to how you communicate? Do you try to have empathy and avoid making them feel rejected? I just feel like Iíve spent my whole life trying to help her NOT feel rejected and Iím the worse for it.

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2020, 04:54:29 PM »
Personally I believe I'm not responsible for worrying about someone else's response *as long as* my communication is firm and with kindness, no attitude or irritation. Verbally my tone is flat, matter of fact, stick to facts, zero editorial. Empathetic and kind without playing into the drama.

Karla Mclaren has some really good stuff on what empathy is and what it is not that helped me so much.

https://karlamclaren.com/start-here/

See topics:

The Difference between Empathy and Enmeshment

The Difference between Healthy Empathy and Martyrdom

The Difference between Deep Empathy and Niceness
∑ 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
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Socialsunshine

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2020, 05:07:12 PM »
Spring Butterfly- thank you so much for your response and resources. Iím going to check those out ASAP! I think Iím just struggling with feeling like her response depends on me. Like, obviously I want to be caring, kind, etc. but if she is being verbally abusive and Iím fed up with it, I feel like I have every right to be more stern and forceful. Iíve also realized that she and I have very different interpretations of ďfirmĒ. I can be ďkind and firmĒ and she takes it as me being disrespectful and unloving. I canít help how she interprets something (right?!)

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2020, 10:43:46 PM »
That's correct. As long as your words and how you convey yourself match the situation that's fine. We aren't responsible for how others feel about our boundaries. They're our right to have and enforce.

BTW boundaries are always from the perspective of you and don't tell others what they can't do. Check toolbox topic on boundaries.
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Socialsunshine

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2020, 11:45:35 PM »
Yes, that makes sense about boundaries. Boundaries also seem (to me) like something you implement for larger issues. I guess what Iím really struggling more with then is just talking to her/communication in general. Sometimes she says things that are just ridiculous or passive agressive. Most of the time I donít respond as it would cause a lot of added conflict and not resolve much. I think just remaining MC is probably what I need to practice more in non-confrontational interactions. She just seems to always be looking for validation and my GCsis just totally plays into it. Itís sickening really. So I feel like there is no ďnormalĒ interaction.

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2020, 07:12:06 AM »
Well, no, you're right there it's not a normal interaction. When you're dealing with someone who is emotionally or mentally unstable there's little chance of healthy interaction. With someone who is PD we need to plan ahead plus make time for self-care after because we will come away damaged with every interaction. Have you seen the top 100 traits and the topic on passive-aggressive? There's some tips at the end for do and don't. Yes MC is your best friend and the best way to minimize the damage.

Boundaries are for all the time it's all people whether they are healthy or unhealthy to interact with. Growing up in a toxic PD environment often we are not taught about boundaries. Others having boundaries do not serve PD interests so often children of PD are not raised to have them. You might also want to check the Working On Us boundaries sticky post.
∑ 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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Rose1

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2020, 09:50:09 AM »
I think the focus of swoe was for those who intended to remain in a relationship and how to survive that. I got some good points out of it, especially trying to deal with my exbpdh and parallel parenting, but realistically when you're at the stage where you get physical symptoms from the thought of being with the pd, then the situation is different. I'm trying to implement MC and grey rock with my updm.

After years of trying to please I found I needed a different strategy if I wasn't going to be upset and brooding about it for days.

Baby steps

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treesgrowslowly

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2020, 12:07:49 PM »
Hello and welcome socialsunshine,

I am the adult daughter of an NPD mother. I have been NC for over a decade now. The struggles you write about are real to me.

I don't know as much about BPD mothers as NPD mothers but the thing they do have in common is that neither NPD or BPD mothers are reliably, emotionally available to their daughters.

As you said, dealing with her 'eggshells' has left you worse off. I hear that.

The book SWOE had good points and resonated with a lot of people when it came out, over 20 years ago. But a lot has been updated since then and I consider that book out of date. Forums like this didn't exist yet and it seems like codependency was discussed with families of addicts, not families with PD parents.

The books published more recently about emotionally unavaialble mothers are more informed and if you google borderline personality psychology as I just did, a lot of articles are from 2014 and onwards.

That said the 2020 article I found on psychology today website focuses (as many do) on compassion for the BPD parent. I feel your frustration about this focus.

I wonder if they are writing about BPDs who are in treatment vs those who refuse to stay in counselling. I have heard that some BPD folks enter therapy.

There is a significant differece between someone seeking treatment and someone who is not. Someone who is able to follow their treatment may be able to function in their relationships in some limited way but a PD who isn't seeking any treatment at all is not getting help for their condition. Consider the difference that makes when we talk about other conditions.

To me, a BPD mother not seeking treatment or counselling, would continually struggle with the symptoms of their PD. They would have good days and bad days but the underlying PD would limit the quality of their relationships.

When my mother was having a bad day as an NPD I had to deal with the same sort of damage you describe. Being told I had to make her feel better, being yelled at, being criticized, being ignored, being forgotten, dealing with denial "I didnt say that', dealing with her distorted thoughts about how victimized she was (by me), ugh I shudder just remembering all that. That was my life as a daughter of a PD mother.


You asked about how to improve communication. In non-PDs this can be done with books and videos and therapy sessions.

For the communication issues between my mother and I, there was no reality to going to counselling with her (to learn better communication together). When NPDs enter counselling it is almost never with an actual intent to address their own narcissism. They will start out agreeable to that, but then use the counselling space to impress and love bomb the counsellor, and gaslight the person who "dragged" them there. (They blame others for making them so unhappy).

With a BPD mother I am not sure how that goes as I don't have that experience but I would suggest that unless they are in ongoing counselling, a person with BPD won't likely get an handle on their symptoms. Thus making it a real challenge for you to simply "communicate better" to fix the relationship (which is what the PD person tends to sell- the notion we should treat them better and 'all the problems go away').

I agree with Bloomie that your boundaries are about how you agree to things and what you do with your time and your attention. Children of PDs are not allowed to have those boundaries as children because as Bloomie points out, it doesn't serve the PD parent.

To answer your question about how to communicate with your mother, empathy isn't really the best word, its more about insight. Knowing her condition, when she starts to argue that you are making her feel upset, or that you shouldnt upset her or that she's upset and it's your job to make her feel better now, notice that she's upset. My mother liked to argue and criticize when she got upset.

What you say should be informed by knowing she has a PD. That's you, living Out of the FOG. It doesn't address the pain of having a PD mother, which is why it can be so hard to do.

I got to a point of not arguing with her anymore. No matter what she said, I rarely responded or reacted.  That went on for a while and it was so hard on my health. She was extremely enmeshed with me and my health suffered.

I got to a point where I couldn't locate any sanity in my interactions with her.

I had my own adult life going on that needed my attention and energy.

In the last years before I went NC, my communication with my mother became 'detached'. I protected myself from her by not JADEing. It was both liberating and miserable and maybe only other adult children of PD parents can understand that. You've come to the right place.

There are people here who are MC and VLC and LC. We have lots to share about how we came to understand our options with our PD family members especially parents.


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Socialsunshine

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2020, 12:17:24 AM »

That said the 2020 article I found on psychology today website focuses (as many do) on compassion for the BPD parent. I feel your frustration about this focus.



Rose1 and Treesgrowslowly- Thank you SO much for your thoughtful responses.

 I 100000% agree that dealing with someone in therapy would be different than someone (like my uBPDm) who refuse therapy. We did try family counseling about a decade ago and we only lasted 2 sessions. During the second session the therapist said (in front of my m mind you) that I would never be able to do enough to make her happy. That was so validating for me but obviously frustrating for my mom....  But yes, those articles that say things about having compassion for them are the exact things I'm talking about!!! Maybe as Rose1 pointed out they're for people who are in chosen relationships and are wanting to stay/make it work. I just have to believe that it is a different situation than one that is verbally and emotionally abusive. I can't ever imagine telling an abuse victim to have compassion for their abuser.

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Rose1

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2020, 01:01:51 AM »
I guess compassion is different to tolerance too. I can have compassion for a crappy upbringing and personality damage. That doesn't mean I have to put up with the fallout

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2020, 09:21:50 AM »
You mention never being enough. I can relate. That's how it was for me - eventually so enmeshed and complete sacrifice of self and still not enough.

Another thought is personally I can *feel* the emotion of compassion in my heart without it meaning I have to choose their peace and happiness over my peace and happiness. That's what it came down to for me - having to choose between my needs and their wishes and non urgent matters. Seriously things like my medical appointment or lunch with them.

NonPD persons understand things like "that sounds really nice but I can't make it today" when invited to go shopping. Or "I can do x for you but only on x day if that works for you" being grateful you can do x at all even if you can't make it on their exact day and time at their convenience.

NonPD persons may not particularly like our boundaries when it means they won't get what they want but they don't scream and yell about it or any of the other Hoover's either. If by odd alignment of the planets a nonPD person were to get irritated and start yelling about it surely they would understand you saying something like "I know you're upset but I don't believe I deserve this thrashing over it" and might even offer an apology.

I have soft feelings of pity, sadness for them bringing upon themselves their deepest fears of abandonment. Even though they're far from abandoned since I'm still in contact, anything less than enmeshment met with every hoover in the book, anger, rage, silent treatment, crying, waiting, made up medical emergencies, etc.

I'm not sure if any of this relates to your situation. My therapist recommended saying things like "I love you and it would be great to spend time but I can't make it today" and the truth is it didn't matter how gently worded I could not control their reaction and ultimately that's not my job anyway. It's just my job to be mindful, kind and aware of other humans and be as gentle as possible but in the end often with a PD person it doesn't matter how gentle their abandonment wound is triggered because they're looking outside themselves to fill a deep chasm of emptiness instead of doing the hard work of looking within and healing their own selves.
∑ 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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Blueberry Pancakes

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2020, 01:06:15 PM »
You state "Do you try to have empathy and avoid making them feel rejected? I just feel like Iíve spent my whole life trying to help her NOT feel rejected and Iím the worse for it." 
When you are the worse for having to be in contact with someone, when you are the worse for having a relationship with them, when your focus in the relationship is about how the other person feels all the time, you feel like you are responsible for this person's happiness and you cannot be who you are as an individual - then the price you are paying for having this relationship is you. That is a very high price to pay.   
In short, my answer to your question is no. I do not try to have empathy for them and I do not try to make them not feel abandoned. I used to, and that is what got me in very bad place. What I believe more than anything now is that you are not making your PD parent feel or think anything. They are responsible for their own feelings. If they have issues of abandonment then they are the one solely responsible to address it. If your parent feels sad, angry, lonely, unloved, etc., they are the ones that have to resolve it - not you. Perhaps try to detach from feeling responsible for your parent's level of happiness or status. It is difficult growing up with a PD parent because they frequently "train" us as kids to take ownership of all their bad feelings. Do not do it. Instead, focus on your own wellbeing and do what you need to have peace of mind. Detach from taking ownership of your PD parents feelings.  If you are going to have empathy for anyone, have empathy for yourself. Practice self care. You do not need to explain it to anyone. 

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Ilovedogs

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2020, 02:53:15 PM »
Hello socialsunshine,

I also find swoe triggering sometimes, it causes some panic in me. I think it's mainly due to having so little space left for trying to accommodate her, my empathy has almost been used up I think, I get so tired trying to give more of myself when I am so so exhausted by the abuse and the energy drain. I feel I only have just enough energy to focus on me and as I've never done that before it is just too difficult and genuinely exhausting to keep trying trying trying to be compassionate with my uBPDm. I also find at times I get very cptsd triggered when she's actively gaslighting or giving silent treatment and this causes emotional flashbacks to childhood. At these times it's as much as I can do to get myself grounded and I can suffer panic attacks if the abuse gets very triggering. I really felt for you reading your words, it sounded like you were just all out of energy to deal with your mother's sad but difficult/(abusive?) communication at the moment? I think for me I'm just having to try to distance myself until I can heal enough of me to deal with her. Much compassion to you.

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Rose1

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2020, 08:26:14 PM »
I believe there is a difference between dealing with a partner with bpd and a parent. With a parent there are buttons installed from childhood and a very long history. When we finally come out if the fog it can be quite a strong reaction and you are really over it all. But it can suck you back in for years.
There's the inner child and the need for approval that never happens.

I'm my case my exh was bpd and his mother ubpd. Over a 20 plus year marriage he slowly got worse and eventually became like his mother. She triggered me early in the relationship and a lot of our issues were because the exh took her side and never protected me from the crazy.

Years after we split I started to realise that my mother is something (maybe covert narc) and I'm having a lot more trouble with that issue. Probably also why exmil triggered me more than exbpdh initially.

I'm in my 60s now and still trying to sort out the issues relating to a parent with pd.

I think swoe would not be helpful with that. It seems to me that it was written for chosen relationships rather than parents. IMO

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Ilovedogs

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2020, 05:55:05 AM »
I believe there is a difference between dealing with a partner with bpd and a parent. With a parent there are buttons installed from childhood and a very long history. When we finally come out if the fog it can be quite a strong reaction and you are really over it all. But it can suck you back in for years.
There's the inner child and the need for approval that never happens.

I'm my case my exh was bpd and his mother ubpd. Over a 20 plus year marriage he slowly got worse and eventually became like his mother. She triggered me early in the relationship and a lot of our issues were because the exh took her side and never protected me from the crazy.

Years after we split I started to realise that my mother is something (maybe covert narc) and I'm having a lot more trouble with that issue. Probably also why exmil triggered me more than exbpdh initially.

I'm in my 60s now and still trying to sort out the issues relating to a parent with pd.

I think swoe would not be helpful with that. It seems to me that it was written for chosen relationships rather than parents. IMO

Just wanted to say I absolutely agree.

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freedom77

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2020, 11:21:58 PM »
You state "Do you try to have empathy and avoid making them feel rejected? I just feel like Iíve spent my whole life trying to help her NOT feel rejected and Iím the worse for it." 
When you are the worse for having to be in contact with someone, when you are the worse for having a relationship with them, when your focus in the relationship is about how the other person feels all the time, you feel like you are responsible for this person's happiness and you cannot be who you are as an individual - then the price you are paying for having this relationship is you. That is a very high price to pay.   
In short, my answer to your question is no. I do not try to have empathy for them and I do not try to make them not feel abandoned. I used to, and that is what got me in very bad place. What I believe more than anything now is that you are not making your PD parent feel or think anything. They are responsible for their own feelings. If they have issues of abandonment then they are the one solely responsible to address it. If your parent feels sad, angry, lonely, unloved, etc., they are the ones that have to resolve it - not you. Perhaps try to detach from feeling responsible for your parent's level of happiness or status. It is difficult growing up with a PD parent because they frequently "train" us as kids to take ownership of all their bad feelings. Do not do it. Instead, focus on your own wellbeing and do what you need to have peace of mind. Detach from taking ownership of your PD parents feelings.  If you are going to have empathy for anyone, have empathy for yourself. Practice self care. You do not need to explain it to anyone.

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freedom77

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Re: Would love thoughts on communication and boundaries
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2020, 12:22:31 AM »
I'm in my 40s and just recently realized how utterly, completely exhausted my BPD/N mother made me. Since going NC a couple months ago...the clarity comes equally with shock.

I cannot believe what I put up with, what I went along with, and how saturated my life was with hers, and how thoroughly enmeshed she was in every single aspect of my life. I mean literally, if I went pee she knew.

Like others have pointed out, these buttons were installed during our infancy. We were raised, groomed, and programmed to serve the N.

Even in light of the realization that we're abused, we still feel compelled to have these PDs in our lives. That's a big part of the FOG, the O part especially presents in this realization. I always knew I was a terribly abused child and a very mistreated adult, and often made a fool of by her, but still felt obligated to have her presence in my life. 

I haven't read SWOE, but doubt I ever will. I am not interested in the PD sympathizers. Like Blueberry Pancakes said, have empathy for yourself...it's long overdue. I also find it very frustrating how the compassion is supposed to be aimed at the PD, who is often if not always, abusive to the non-PD.

Don't let it be lost on you that PDs are far, and I mean far, far away from being naive. Most know all about their disorder. They know they are not right in the head, and often will seek info on what's up with their behaviors. Many are aware of forums like these and will lurk. Many have read the books too.

My mother would remind me that she "can't help" her disorder, or the accompanying behaviors and that I should have more compassion, more sympathy, more empathy for HER. She would also refuse to acknowledge the damage her PD caused me, and refused to apologize for the unbelievably hurtful things she would toss at me without hesitation. All in the name of her "disability", and her PTSD from a bad childhood, her scars, her feelings.

It was as if I not only did not have any feelings, but I also was not entitled to any. I was not allowed to be myself, to enjoy anything that did not directly involve her (and she'd always manage to put a damper on it regardless of how focused the attention was on her). I was not allowed to have any sort of ache or pain, or illness without comparison by her of how her ailments and maladies were so, so much worse.

Basically it was as if my very existence was but a shadow of hers, and I was expected to be grateful for it. When confronted about her abuse, she would get extremely difficult to be around or even text with. She would pendulum back and forth between rage, waif, accusations, blame, guilt, more rage, vengeful, threats....I realize now those were training methods. To keep me in line, and toe the line.

If you're looking for advice, I would say that if you desire to remain in contact, maybe try weaning toward LC to VLC, and definitely employ MC and GR. (gray rock--another form of MC). For me, MC and GR didn't work with my mother, because she is of the malignant sort. Very, very enmeshed and demanding, and relentless.

She would text me all day long, every day, and be super involved in everything I did, every day. To think we are NC now is not something I would have believed just a few short months ago...though looking back, I think I knew subconsciously it was coming. Especially when I realized she was beginning to start in on my DD.