Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.

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peaceinthepines

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Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« on: June 09, 2020, 04:39:31 PM »
Hello, I'm new to this forum and so glad to have a support and information about going through life with PD parents.

So sorry this is so long. Please bear with me, as I badly need advice or at least an unbiased perspective. If there's information that seems to be missing, let me know. Maybe it will be helpful to try to decode this.

My father has BPD and is generally a manipulative, lying, moody, aggressive man with some random bouts of happiness thrown in there to keep us (my sisters, mom and I) roped in. I've witnessed him being physically violent with my mother and emotionally and mentally abusive to my sisters and I.

Recently, my sister, husband and I were hanging out together at home having a few drinks and enjoying our evening together. I am in my late 20s. My father was uncomfortable for some reason, and told us to keep quiet because my mom "didn't like the noise" we were making. He was lying instead of just asking us to move to a different location or quiet down. He blamed my mother, who has stage IV cancer.
I'll admit the way I reacted wasn't something to be proud of. I was very angry and asked him why he always has to lie? I asked him why he abused me my whole life. He stated that he never hit me. I told him that there are other forms of abuse, not just physical. He told me I was always playing the victim and mocked me.
My husband, who was watching the fight unfold regrettably threw a crumpled up napkin at my father. My father then lunged at my husband, knocking a chair onto my husband's shin and cutting him. Then my dad called 911on my husband for the "assault" of the napkin.
It was resolved, the police were annoyed to be called out to our house for something like that. My husband is finished with my dad, and I have also decided that No Contact is the way to go.

A week or so later, my mom gave my older sister and I a journal to read where my mom documented all the things she went through with my dad. It was horrible to read, not only because it was someone's personal journal, but also because it made me realize that my mom has wanted to leave him since the moment she married him. She detailed physical abuse, emotional abuse, manipulation, how her children were being deeply affected, how much she loved her children, how she hated him, how she was ready to leave but she was too afraid, etc. She cited the reasons she couldn't leave him-- for her children, for social reasons, and for financial reasons (she was afraid my dad would take everything, including her kids since he had brainwashed us into thinking she was awful and he was the better parent). She became bitter and fell out of love with him, but stayed. I was deeply moved by reading it. I feel so bad for my mother-- she was stuck in a situation but didn't know how to leave. For all of her marriage. She's now in her 60s with stage IV cancer, like I mentioned before. I told her that it was important that I read it and she said "well, don't forget, that's only the bad stuff that happened." That made me scratch my head, but I didn't respond.

So here's the part that I'm really confused about: I told my mom that I'm not comfortable letting my father watch my young son alone, and especially now after reading her journal. She and my older sister (who has always been able to "see" my father's side of the story-- and justify and defend his anger) said they don't understand why I wouldn't allow him to watch my son. They said nothing has *really* changed since I read the journal and I said, yes, it has. I have more information to further confirm why I am not comfortable speaking or interacting with my father, and now I can truly see it through the eyes of my mother. My sister said she was "worried that would happen" about me reading it and reaching those conclusions. My mom--trying to defend my father for some reason-- said that the last 10 years have been so much better, though, and that the 911 situation with my husband has only refueled her old feelings. I am so confused. What was her reasoning to let me read that if she didn't think I would hold anything against him? Why is she gaslighting me, pretending like my father is a trustworthy person? Am I to forgive and forget? I don't understand, but I feel so guilty because she is sick with cancer and I feel like I'm making her life worse because I've decided my father has crossed the line. I asked why I have to compromise my own life in order to "keep the peace" with someone who is trying to damage me and my family? My sister keeps saying "there are two sides to every argument," defending him.

How? How can they defend him after re-reading this journal and seeing his current behavior. They only reason I can think of is that my mom wants to live out the rest of her life in blissful ignorance and expects her kids to do the same, despite his damaging behavior.

In another thought, which makes me uncomfortable to confront, is that my mother only wanted me to read it to justify why she never left him. She did say on mother's day that she's a "bad mom" and she "should've left him when she had the chance," which was apparently never. I don't want to jump to that negative conclusion, though.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 04:48:17 PM by peaceinthepines »

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PeanutButter

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2020, 05:21:27 PM »
Welcome! Im so sorry to hear of your M's illness.

 Im sorry to hear about all you've went through. It sounds to me like your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes towards your D are well founded. Really I think you intuitions about what is motivating your M and S are sound and not just negative assumptions at all.

 Please do not sacrifice your son's well being to in support of your M's continued ignorance. It is not worth it. One of the problems may be that your assessment that your D isn't safe for your child makes your M feel guilty imo.

 :hug:
If there is a hidden seed of evil inside of children adults planted it there -LundyBancroft  Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong good or bad -DebbieFord The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none -Thomas Carlyle

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Starboard Song

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2020, 05:30:48 PM »
So here's the part that I'm really confused about: I told my mom that I'm not comfortable letting my father watch my young son alone, and especially now after reading her journal. She and my older sister ...said they don't understand why I wouldn't allow him to watch my son. They said nothing has *really* changed since I read the journal ....

I am so confused. What was her reasoning to let me read that if she didn't think I would hold anything against him? Why is she gaslighting me, pretending like my father is a trustworthy person? Am I to forgive and forget? I don't understand.... I asked why I have to compromise my own life in order to "keep the peace" with someone who is trying to damage me and my family? My sister keeps saying "there are two sides to every argument," defending him.

How? How can they defend him after re-reading this journal and seeing his current behavior. They only reason I can think of is that my mom wants to live out the rest of her life in blissful ignorance and expects her kids to do the same, despite his damaging behavior.

In another thought, which makes me uncomfortable to confront, is that my mother only wanted me to read it to justify why she never left him. She did say on mother's day that she's a "bad mom" and she "should've left him when she had the chance," which was apparently never. I don't want to jump to that negative conclusion, though.

Oh dear. There is so much to unpack, here. But first: welcome to Out of the FOG. I wish you so much strength and support.

We went NC with my in-laws 4 1/2 years ago, and when we did, we announced that they were no longer participants in our household, meaning no further engagement with our DS.

You are spot on correct: if any human other than a close family member had such an extensive negative history, nobody would doubt that they should never have unsupervised time with your child. Your F is not immune from the same judgment. Because you are now aware of his history, he has lost the privilege of unsupervised visits. Please register to yourself that your are correct, and that is the end of that matter. You needn't be angry about it, nor are you being vindictive. You are not punishing your father. You want him to enjoy time with your son. But it will be supervised time.

We all have a cultural norm that screams out "but it's your father!" We all bend over backwards to respect that cultural norm which leads us to protect family, and accept from them behaviors we'd never accept outside the family. It is good that we do. This cultural norm provides for social stability, and intergenerational connections and security. That is humane and wonderful. But norms are not universally applicable, and they are a privilege that can be lost.

I don't think you need to go further than that standard cultural norm to explain this behavior in other family members. I truly think they don't mean to gaslight or even to shame you. They, after all, never acted on what they saw, and you are acting. So they don't know what to make of you. It makes them uncomfortable. We got some of the same from family when we expelled my in-laws. My own parents pushed back: "but that's your son's grandparents. He will resent you one day!" But what matters in the end is your wise judgement about what is right for your family. You have chosen wisely, and you can calmly, strongly go forward.

You need not persuade, only to inform.

I'd suggest two things: go easy on these secondary folks, and act as though they mean no harm. There is no need for more love to be lost here. You deserve more love, not less. But also, do not bend or waiver: there is no need to even discuss the matter with them: "I'm sorry, Mom. I know it is upsetting. I'll try to be as generous as possible, and I appreciate you understanding. I won't discuss it any further."

You are sweetness and light. You are acting of love. Be proud of yourself and ever so strong. You're a great mom, and we are all proud of you.
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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PeanutButter

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2020, 05:51:44 PM »
 Posted by: Starboard Song on: Today at 05:30:48 PM
Quote
"...They, after all, never acted on what they saw, and you are acting...It makes them uncomfortable...You need not persuade, only to inform...I'd suggest...act as though they mean no harm...do not bend or waiver; there is no need to even discuss the matter with them: "I'm sorry, Mom. I know it is upsetting. I'll try to be as generous as possible, and I appreciate you understanding. I won't discuss it any further."...You are acting of love. Be proud of yourself and ever so strong. You're a great mom,...
 we are all proud of you."

 :yeahthat:
If there is a hidden seed of evil inside of children adults planted it there -LundyBancroft  Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong good or bad -DebbieFord The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none -Thomas Carlyle

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peaceinthepines

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2020, 05:59:13 PM »
Welcome! Im so sorry to hear of your M's illness.

 Im sorry to hear about all you've went through. It sounds to me like your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes towards your D are well founded. Really I think you intuitions about what is motivating your M and S are sound and not just negative assumptions at all.

 Please do not sacrifice your son's well being to in support of your M's continued ignorance. It is not worth it. One of the problems may be that your assessment that your D isn't safe for your child makes your M feel guilty imo.

 :hug:

Thank you for that perspective-- I never thought about the fact that she might feel guilty that she's still with someone that I would be uncomfortable watching my son, so she's trying to defend him to deny it, in a way. I appreciate the validation with my feelings towards all of it. There is a certain way that this type of situation makes me question myself in so many ways...so exhausting!

Oh dear. There is so much to unpack, here. But first: welcome to Out of the FOG. I wish you so much strength and support.

We went NC with my in-laws 4 1/2 years ago, and when we did, we announced that they were no longer participants in our household, meaning no further engagement with our DS.

You are spot on correct: if any human other than a close family member had such an extensive negative history, nobody would doubt that they should never have unsupervised time with your child. Your F is not immune from the same judgment. Because you are now aware of his history, he has lost the privilege of unsupervised visits. Please register to yourself that your are correct, and that is the end of that matter. You needn't be angry about it, nor are you being vindictive. You are not punishing your father. You want him to enjoy time with your son. But it will be supervised time.

We all have a cultural norm that screams out "but it's your father!" We all bend over backwards to respect that cultural norm which leads us to protect family, and accept from them behaviors we'd never accept outside the family. It is good that we do. This cultural norm provides for social stability, and intergenerational connections and security. That is humane and wonderful. But norms are not universally applicable, and they are a privilege that can be lost.

I don't think you need to go further than that standard cultural norm to explain this behavior in other family members. I truly think they don't mean to gaslight or even to shame you. They, after all, never acted on what they saw, and you are acting. So they don't know what to make of you. It makes them uncomfortable. We got some of the same from family when we expelled my in-laws. My own parents pushed back: "but that's your son's grandparents. He will resent you one day!" But what matters in the end is your wise judgement about what is right for your family. You have chosen wisely, and you can calmly, strongly go forward.

You need not persuade, only to inform.

I'd suggest two things: go easy on these secondary folks, and act as though they mean no harm. There is no need for more love to be lost here. You deserve more love, not less. But also, do not bend or waiver: there is no need to even discuss the matter with them: "I'm sorry, Mom. I know it is upsetting. I'll try to be as generous as possible, and I appreciate you understanding. I won't discuss it any further."

You are sweetness and light. You are acting of love. Be proud of yourself and ever so strong. You're a great mom, and we are all proud of you.

Thank you for giving me an idea of how to express that I've made up my mind while not being hard on my mom and sister. I do love that advice. I will keep in mind that acting on this information is as new for them as it is for me, and since they're not the ones acting, they might feel like they have less control, which is understandably scary.

My mom is definitely one to hold onto keeping up appearances and holding onto the idea of that "social norm" of "but he's your father!" I will be more forgiving of it, though, but I will still stand by my decision to keep him out of mine and my family's close life.
I think it's natural for me to be skeptical and nervous that they have underlying motives due to the prevalence of those feelings growing up, but I want to change that.

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PeanutButter

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2020, 04:12:19 AM »
Quote
I think it's natural for me to be skeptical and nervous that they have underlying motives due to the prevalence of those feelings growing up, but I want to change that.

I 100% agree! Maybe you can give them the benefit of the doubt while simultaneously accepting that you do need to be on guard just in case it does escalate to manipulative. Imo take everything they say at face value. Pay closer attention to actions instead of words. You are doing great.
If there is a hidden seed of evil inside of children adults planted it there -LundyBancroft  Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong good or bad -DebbieFord The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none -Thomas Carlyle

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Bloomie

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2020, 12:28:06 PM »
peaceinthepines - welcome! You are in the midst of a lot of complicated layers with the family system dynamics you describe. I am glad you have joined us here and can share and get good support. I am very sorry to hear your mother is struggling with cancer and all that entails.

You are rightly prioritizing your child's health and wellbeing over anything else. You are refusing to allow your child unsupervised contact with your father who is unstable and unsafe. You will never, ever, ever regret doing that as your first and sacred responsibility.

In thinking through your mother giving you her journal... my own mother did/shared things that were terrible about my own father. I honestly do not know if they were accurate or true because her word was not always to be relied upon. So, there is that to possibly consider as well.

I often felt, in my own case, that my mother was so at odds within herself in her relationship with my father and at those times was seeking reward or praise for how good she was to keep us all together despite his abusive behaviors. (in my case she was abusive and neglectful as well) I honestly wished they would divorce many times in my life because together they were a cataclysmic storm brewing.

And then she would flip - and strangely go back to cleaning up my father's messes (enabling behaviors) and she held the expectation we would go along with her and continue the one big happy family motion picture starring my larger than life parents.

In my own case, there was something so unhealthy and unspoken between my parents that they both inexplicably benefitted from and we were burdened with painful supporting roles to play. Until I stopped playing along.  :yes:

You are going against the very strong tide of a family system that has been in place since before you were even born. That is not easy I have found. I needed a support group like this, the toolbox is so great, a savvy therapist, a few mentors, and a lot of boundary work and hard personal discovery.

A really great book is Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay Gibson if you have not already found it.

Keep coming back and sharing with the community. It helps lighten a heavy heart!
"You can understand and have compassion for someone and still not want a relationship with them."
Amanda E. White, LPC @therapyforwomen

Bloomie 🌸

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peaceinthepines

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2020, 06:11:25 PM »
@PeanutButter--
Maybe you can give them the benefit of the doubt while simultaneously accepting that you do need to be on guard just in case it does escalate to manipulative.
thank you, I'm trying so hard to stay positive and realistic through all of this. I'm almost 30 and only just now facing all of this with a critical eye. The biggest problem is that I'm worried that it's hard to trust really anything that my family says to me. I feel very truly manipulated with almost every interaction. I'm starting to think that staying very "surface level" with them and "shallow" is the safest route to take.


@Bloomie
peaceinthepines - welcome! You are in the midst of a lot of complicated layers with the family system dynamics you describe. I am glad you have joined us here and can share and get good support. I am very sorry to hear your mother is struggling with cancer and all that entails.

You are rightly prioritizing your child's health and wellbeing over anything else. You are refusing to allow your child unsupervised contact with your father who is unstable and unsafe. You will never, ever, ever regret doing that as your first and sacred responsibility.

In thinking through your mother giving you her journal... my own mother did/shared things that were terrible about my own father. I honestly do not know if they were accurate or true because her word was not always to be relied upon. So, there is that to possibly consider as well.

I often felt, in my own case, that my mother was so at odds within herself in her relationship with my father and at those times was seeking reward or praise for how good she was to keep us all together despite his abusive behaviors. (in my case she was abusive and neglectful as well) I honestly wished they would divorce many times in my life because together they were a cataclysmic storm brewing.

And then she would flip - and strangely go back to cleaning up my father's messes (enabling behaviors) and she held the expectation we would go along with her and continue the one big happy family motion picture starring my larger than life parents.

In my own case, there was something so unhealthy and unspoken between my parents that they both inexplicably benefitted from and we were burdened with painful supporting roles to play. Until I stopped playing along.  :yes:

You are going against the very strong tide of a family system that has been in place since before you were even born. That is not easy I have found. I needed a support group like this, the toolbox is so great, a savvy therapist, a few mentors, and a lot of boundary work and hard personal discovery.

A really great book is Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay Gibson if you have not already found it.

Keep coming back and sharing with the community. It helps lighten a heavy heart!

Wow, I feel like I could've written what you've experienced in your family's dynamic. My mother is very easily manipulated, and I'm beginning to understand that she has had years of abuse which affected her greatly (possibly her own father was abusive as well). I believe that leads her to either dissociate and pretend like things are either better or worse than they actually are. She also likes to indulge in her own fantasies about how things "should" be and talks about her own childhood more than her own children's childhood. I think you may be on to something-- the wanting some sort of praise with keeping the family together and maintaining a "normal" image to other people. I think by letting me read her journal, she was hoping for praise of her endurance.

As an update, I hugged my mother and told her that I was so sorry that she had to deal with all of that for so many years without another adult to talk to. I told her she didn't deserve it. She cried but seemed distant and nervous because my older sister was around. I believe she may be afraid of my sister's judgement because my sister tends to "side" with my father, or at least find ways to excuse his behavior. (E.g. "But he's been SO GOOD this week! We cleaned out the garage together!" or "You know, I think he struggles with depression.")

There's something else-- my sister explained to me what I saw in my dad's eyes when we fought a few weeks ago. I saw blankness, almost like he turned his brain off. I asked her about it and she said she can do the same thing. She said she "decides she was right regardless of the situation and then holds it above the other person, consciously. Then, no matter what, you win!" I didn't know how to respond. I didn't know people do this, and it seems to strange to me that she would brag about explaining something like this AND sharing that trait with my father.

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Andeza

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2020, 06:44:07 PM »
So much of what you're drescribing sounds as though your mother and sister are essentially enabling (or were) the bad behavior of your father. It is a part of their reality, and unless they too come Out of the FOG, this is unlikely to change. Additionally, it sounds like your sister at least picked up some major fleas from your father. Essentially, some of his bad habits and actions became her own. You can find much more information on these aspects in the toolbox, where it explains it much better than I can.

I was 29 and pregnant when I started coming Out of the FOG. Surface level and shallow as you describe it are medium chill and gray rock in the toolbox. I employed those tactics with my uBPDm first and they helped me get head clear and see things for what they were. It's never too late to grow and protect ourselves.

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PeanutButter

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2020, 09:23:34 AM »
So much of what you're drescribing sounds as though your mother and sister are essentially enabling (or were) the bad behavior of your father. It is a part of their reality, and unless they too come Out of the FOG, this is unlikely to change. Additionally, it sounds like your sister at least picked up some major fleas from your father. Essentially, some of his bad habits and actions became her own. You can find much more information on these aspects in the toolbox, where it explains it much better than I can.
:yeahthat:
If there is a hidden seed of evil inside of children adults planted it there -LundyBancroft  Self-awareness is the ability to take an honest look at your life without any attachment to it being right or wrong good or bad -DebbieFord The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none -Thomas Carlyle

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peaceinthepines

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Re: Please help me decipher this, I'm so confused.
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2020, 12:16:28 PM »
So much of what you're drescribing sounds as though your mother and sister are essentially enabling (or were) the bad behavior of your father. It is a part of their reality, and unless they too come Out of the FOG, this is unlikely to change. Additionally, it sounds like your sister at least picked up some major fleas from your father. Essentially, some of his bad habits and actions became her own. You can find much more information on these aspects in the toolbox, where it explains it much better than I can.

I was 29 and pregnant when I started coming Out of the FOG. Surface level and shallow as you describe it are medium chill and gray rock in the toolbox. I employed those tactics with my uBPDm first and they helped me get head clear and see things for what they were. It's never too late to grow and protect ourselves.

Thank you, that's very helpful and it's nice to be able to put words to the tactics I can use with them. This site is so incredibly helpful with all of this. This week, I have started to come to terms with the rest of my family never coming Out of the FOG, but I'm so thankful that I'm working on it, despite how difficult it is.