Physical reaction to PD parent

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jennsc85

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Physical reaction to PD parent
« on: June 09, 2021, 07:53:13 PM »
I have been low contact with my uBPD mother for over 3 years now after a lifetime of manipulation and abuse. For the past year or so, she and her boyfriend come over to my house on my kids' birthdays and around Christmas and it's fine because her boyfriend is there. Seriously- I hope he outlives her because he is the only thing preventing her from demanding that I take her to appointments and answer her text messages within 10 seconds of receiving them.

ANYWAYS... they came over yesterday and any time that I'm around her I feel very hypervigilant, my heart rate goes up, I feel kind of dizzy... I'm not sure how else to describe it but when she leaves I feel this immediate relief and feel exhausted afterwards. I feel like it's almost an energy that she gives off. It's crazy because I used to feel like this EVERY day of my life before I went LC with her.

I asked my husband after M and her BF left if he could feel the anxious/chaotic energy that my mother gives off and he said, very simply, "No." I asked my 11 year old (who remembers some pretty awful stuff with my mother and we've talked extensively about it) if she felt OK when my mother visited. She said, super nonchalantly "Yeah, why wouldn't I?"

So...even though other people like my husband can obviously tell that she's not totally "normal" in the way she acts, they don't physically FEEL anything like I do.

Do you guys have similar experiences?

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Sneezy

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2021, 08:02:23 PM »
I feel a tightness in my chest just seeing my mom's phone number on the caller ID.  And if I spend time with her, I often don't sleep well that night.  It has to be the physical part of anxiety kicking in.  It's our bodies telling us what our minds already know - we need to be careful around this person. 

I am in hyper-alert mode when I'm with her - medium chill and boundaries take work.  After spending time with my mom, I definitely need some winding down time.  A good book, hot shower, cup of tea, or anything that takes my mind off of her.

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Iguanagos

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2021, 10:39:08 PM »
I had similar symptoms - heart palpitations, couldn't breathe, etc.  I went to Urgent Care because I thought there was something physically wrong with me.  I had just finished a several day, high-pressure, in-person visit with N/B Mom and Enabling Dad.  I didn't connect the dots until the doctor did a barrage of tests on me and couldn't find any obvious physical cause.  When I asked him what it could be, he said "I think it's stress".  A huge light bulb went on over my head.

How could I not realize the connection before?  I think because it was my "normal".  It was all I knew.  I just stuffed the stress down.  But as I've grown older, my body is less able to just absorb the blows of a disordered family.  So the stress finds a way out.  I've developed other stress-related symptoms too - stomach and skin issues mostly.  But finally putting all of that together is giving me courage to put more distance between me and N/B M especially (EnDad died not too long ago).  She really is toxic to me, in the most literal sense.

I hope you can continue to listen to and honor the wisdom of your body.  It sounds like it's trying to tell you something.

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Cat of the Canals

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2021, 11:45:38 PM »
Oh yeah. Even calling PDmom on the phone, I get anxious and fidgety and my thoughts start racing.

When I still lived close and would visit in person, I'd almost feel like bursting into tears as soon as I was in the car alone on the drive home. Never about anything specific that happened, and it certainly wasn't sadness about saying goodbye. It was the relief of this huge emotional weight lifting because it was over... but also guilt for feeling like I somehow didn't do enough (which is what she's always telling me in subtext).

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Andeza

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2021, 12:01:21 AM »
They didn't feel anything for a couple of reasons if I had to guess. First and foremost, you are her target. All that negative nastiness is being directed squarely at you. Second, your body recognized that she is a threat. She is a danger to your wellbeing and it is ready to run for the hills or fight for survival. Every. Single. Time. That's a huge cortisol dump.

For me, that was too much. Every time I felt this physical reaction it was just another notch on the stick of life. I wondered how many notches do I get to have before something really bad happens? Like a long term illness, an autoimmune disorder, landing in the hospital with full blown anxiety requiring treatment.

In the end, it was the threat to my mental and physical health that made up my mind. We are NC with uBPDm.
Remember, that there are no real deadlines for life, just society's pressures.      - Anonymous
Lasting happiness is not something we find, but rather something we make for ourselves.

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wisingup

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2021, 10:14:24 AM »
Jenn - I have very similar reactions.  In fact now that I wear a fitbit with a heart rate monitor, I can see visually what interacting with her does to me.  I too feel hypervigilant, with every guard up.  If I have to call her & anticipate a difficult conversation, my heartrate will skyrocket. 

I agree with Andreza on why the others don't react the way you do.  She's YOUR bpd.  She doesn't have any power over the your DH or DD because you are standing between them and your mom. 

Also, she has been a source of trauma since your earliest childhood & your subconscious brain & body will probably never stop identifying her as a threat. (And they're probably right).


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SunnyMeadow

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2021, 12:03:37 PM »
Jenn, I have physical reactions too. I'm always on guard and anticipating what sort of nonsense she's going to spew. When I observe other people near her, they don't look stressed at all. I have a jittery, on the edge of my seat feeling when I'm with her. I guess that's flight or fight.

I developed an autoimmune disease brought on this extreme stress. The after effects are permanent and I have to constantly manage my stress and anxiety. So now I take Valium before I go to her house, well it's for any stress, dizziness and off-kilter feeling. But the ONLY time I need it is in relation to visiting or talking to her. Imagine that!

Since you have this reaction to her, I say keep up the good work with LC! Reduce contact even more if possible. I sure hope she doesn't mess up the relationship with her boyfriend.  :no:

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Boat Babe

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2021, 07:39:00 PM »
Yeah, same as everyone else. My mother is so bloody difficult and I get all sorts of unpleasant physical sensations around her. Less so these days as she is so elderly now and has lost a lot of her rage energy. And I am much better at managing my own reactions and feelings round her. She can still catch me off guard sometimes though.
It gets better. It has to.

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Hepatica

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2021, 09:10:03 PM »
I am just on the cusp of learning about Somatic Experiencing therapy and my take on this, which I relate to, as I am in total freeze mode when I'm around my uNfamily, is that what is happening is our nervous systems are in overdrive when we enter a space with old abusers. We have learned that person has the potential to hurt us, so we are in fight/flight or freeze mode.

Now I am going to look into re-regulating my nervous system. I'm just about to order Moving Beyond Trauma by Ilene Smith.

I think it is a very common and natural response to be exhausted after a visit with someone that isn't safe. And it wouldn't be the same for your husband and child, because they didn't experience what you did, where you learned, deep in your body, that your mom was not safe for you.
“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's
still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where
there is a confidence and tranquility." John O'Donohue

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D.

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2021, 10:17:23 PM »
Same.  I get headaches and stomach aches during and after the visit, often for a couple of days.  Now that I am "old" (50's) it's started to impact my blood pressure as well.  In fact, that was the final straw for me to go nearly no contact.  It sounds melodramatic but I realized I don't want to die from a heart attack or stroke due to their presence stressing me so much...I haven't told my parents but I am now planning to see them about once per year where it used to be monthly.  And that once will end quickly w/any raging of my father.  However, I've noticed he can often be appropriate about twice per year. 

And I can really relate to what you mention about your husband and kid's reactions - that they didn't feel the same stress.  My adult kids and husband have commented similarly but thankfully are supportive and empathetic of ME.  My kids infrequently have contact w/their grandparents and I no longer join them.  They comment it's somewhat unpleasant, but also say they cannot imagine what it would be like to be a child growing up in the household and essentially validate my reality.  They have some pleasant times w/their grandparents so it is worth it to them.  Same w/my husband.  I think it's almost like "dosage" of the toxic reality.  We reach a point where it is poisonous and there is no going back.  We just have to make sure to not receive any more of the toxin.  Whereas others might be able to get a little and not be affected.  However, over time, they are affected.  My sibling in-law recently went no contact, 20 years and the poison was too strong.  My sibling is the gc so abuse is not directed at her.

And I am in no way saying anyone should ever put up with toxic abuse.  I have just noticed the physical impact on myself and those around me.


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Hilltop

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2021, 03:52:02 AM »
I'm another one.  I went pretty much NC except for a few text messages. I no longer do in person visits because of the stress reaction I was having.  Pay attention to it, it is pretty telling when you finally notice it.  My last in person visit I was driving to see my parents and I noticed I was suddenly angry, I was road raging, my heart was racing, I had a knot in my stomach.  I was hypervigilant during the visit, on edge.  After I leave I am edgy, angry, I overreact to things.  To me its not worth the stress it is causing my body to be in constant contact with that.

My husband doesn't get the same reaction because they don't target him.  Even if they do say something to him he just shrugs it off, it doesn't have the same impact because he wasn't conditioned young to it and they simply aren't that important to him.

I finally came to see that its not worth the toll it was taking on my body.  It would take me ages to calm down and then I was seeing them again.  My blood pressure was high.  That constant stress is so bad for your health.  I no longer feel obligated to sort any issues out, if this level of contact is good for me then that's all the matters.  If they aren't happy with that, I simply no longer care.

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Duck

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2021, 12:13:42 AM »
I have definitely experienced physical reactions to my parent. I have figured out that my body reacts regardless of what my rational mind is saying. I can be using my rational mind to say it’s fine, you’ll be fine, while my body does whatever it wants. It must be listening to a deeper truth.

One time, I felt upset after talking to my PD father. I knew I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it at the time, so I “swallowed” my feelings. The next morning at work, I broke out in hives. I didn’t know what they were. Our company nurse asked me if I changed my soap, etc. I said no, no changes. Then she mentioned stress and I realized the hives were from my dad.

Another time, I had to attend a funeral in another state and I knew my father would also be attending. On the flight, the closer we got to our destination, the sicker I got. My head hurt and I felt nauseous. I think my body was saying, “Turn around!!”

I relied on my logical, analytical mind a lot growing up to survive. I realized I can’t think my way out of everything.

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Hazy111

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2021, 08:26:45 AM »
" The body keeps the score "  Repressed trauma and abuse is being reignited in your body . Its self defense, Get the hell out of here!!!

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CagedBirdSinging

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2021, 01:45:23 PM »
Yes I feel very tense around pdH, it is a very physical reaction. When he leaves, I can feel myself instantly relax.

I can across this podcast recently, this episode on bodies and boundaries is great. Don't be put off by the title- it's actually a good podcast, and this episode would be applicable to men or women

https://beyondbitchy.com/podcast/128-bodies-boundaries/

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jennsc85

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2021, 02:07:50 PM »
" The body keeps the score "  Repressed trauma and abuse is being reignited in your body . Its self defense, Get the hell out of here!!!

This is so true! It's hard for to believe sometimes that I put myself through feeling like that every single day of my life until 3 years ago! Now, 3 times a year feels like it's more than enough!

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jennsc85

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2021, 02:10:19 PM »
They didn't feel anything for a couple of reasons if I had to guess. First and foremost, you are her target. All that negative nastiness is being directed squarely at you. Second, your body recognized that she is a threat. She is a danger to your wellbeing and it is ready to run for the hills or fight for survival. Every. Single. Time. That's a huge cortisol dump.

You're absolutely spot on. I'm the one who's been manipulated since I was a kid- not them, so it makes sense but it's still so weird to me because the anxiety in the air feels almost palpable but I'm the only one feeling it! My husband said the other day "She just talks over everyone and talks about herself... it doesn't make me want to be around her but it doesn't really bother me." But for me, the talking over me, twisting things to talk about herself... it makes me SO anxious and hyper-aware of everything. Those are huge "triggers" for me.

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all4peace

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2021, 11:22:51 AM »
When we're traumatized as children--either through abuse or neglect--our bodies remember the source of unsafety and threat. I cannot to this day--after years of therapy--feel physically safe in my parents' presence. Having talked to others who had abusive parents, they share this feeling. I would like to get to the point of feeling safe, but I'm not even sure that's advisable. Perhaps if our parents had made changes so significant that we trusted they had truly changed, our bodies would eventually feel safe?

I think it's a testament to your good mothering that your daughter doesn't feel unsafe with your mother. She's had a safe childhood and doesn't need to be hypervigilant. I'm sorry for how it affects you, though.

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starrynight29

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2021, 03:52:32 PM »
I get you! Every time my mum’s name comes up as a call or a message I get heart palpitations and I start to panic.

Also when we get into arguments (luckily not in person since I live far from home) I have panic attacks and can’t stop hyper ventilating and crying.

I’m not sure if everyone gets it but I do too!

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MamaDryad

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2021, 01:37:07 AM »
This is true for me as well. I used to have lunch with her every weekend, and I'd be tense and irritable for a day or two before each visit and have a terrible stress headache afterward. This is when I was in my 20s, early 30s. I also became much more allergic to cigarette smoke (she's a lifelong heavy smoker) and now have a terrible itching skin reaction to being around it.
Like some posters above, I reached a point where I realized that it just wasn't safe; in my case, it was during pregnancy. I was having preterm contractions, and they got worse every time I interacted with her. I realized finally that it just wasn't safe for me to be around her. All the negative effects of stress on the body I'd waved off, thinking I could handle it, but when it came to putting my son at risk, something clicked. I've been NC with her since he was a few months old. I still have chronic pain, the result of a lifetime of trauma and stress, but at least I'm not being exposed to it over and over again.

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Kiki81

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Re: Physical reaction to PD parent
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2021, 02:14:15 AM »
 when I was 26, my mom really went after me on the phone, lots of ragey abuse. The palms of my hands broke out in hives/welts. I hung up the phone, went to my doctor the next day.