Wish I could be free of BPD parent

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cfe123

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Wish I could be free of BPD parent
« on: July 01, 2021, 09:35:16 AM »
I have a uBPD parent who is extremely overwhelming and controlling. Right now he thinks he can attack my husband behind my back to other family members and write me terribly guilt-tripping emails one minute, then tell me I am a wonderful person and he really wants me to visit the next. I would really like to go no contact with him, but I know he will find some terrible way to hurt me so he can get attention. Going no contact with him would also mean going no contact with my mom and she has already suffered enough. What are some things you have done to keep contact to an absolute minimum and also just to stop thinking about the parent all the time.

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Starboard Song

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Re: Wish I could be free of BPD parent
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2021, 10:30:52 AM »
That's so hard, but a commendable goal.

I think you start with boundaries. Like learning to play guitar, the basic idea of boundaries is childishly simple but doing it very well can take extraordinary skill development.

Read more here.

Boundaries don't control others: they are not limits or constraints on others. They are an expression of what we will or will not do, or engage with. They can be, but do not need to be announced: you just do your own boundaries. The best boundaries can be maintained in a positive and kind way. Good boundaries can be maintained without resorting to nuclear options. When successful, boundaries help maintain our peace by putting us back in control of ourselves. When even more successful, they change the incentive system for others, and their behavior adapts to our responses.

There are situations where boundaries become inadministrable. Some people are too destructive of boundaries for them to work. When multiple interests are thrown together, it can become impossible. In these cases we have to accept the limits of what boundaries can do.

My favorite example of a success story -- changed and mixed up for privacy here -- is someone whose mother was always extremely negative and critical of a couple people at church. It became toxic, every day, to sit and listen to endless complaining about a church friend. So the son started politely saying, in a sweet and sunny voice, "well, I am sure that was frustrating. What good things are happening at the church?" On a return to the same topic, he'd interject in a light and playful tone, "oh, I know there's always stress in a group. What's the best thing that happened this week?" And at last, the boom: "Mom, I really won't talk about the bad experiences at church anymore. I'd like to discuss something else." And -- having stated a boundary, after that it moves to "Mom, as I say, I really won't talk about this topic anymore. I can tell it has you worked up today, so I'm going to let you go, and we can visit another time." After that, it is hang up the phone or out the door.

At his best, he'd never ever justify, argue, defend, or even explain his position (JADE). He said he didn't want to discuss this topic, and that is all that needs to be said. And he remains bright, sunny, and happy the whole time.

Now you see the problem. This truly can mean ending calls and visits on a dime. If a meal is planned, it may mean a statement like, "Dad, I really won't listen to that criticism of my husband any further, so I'm to step into the kitchen to check on Mom."

If he behaves well in front of you, that's a different matter. You have to decide whether to confront a matter that is being said behind your back. That is a tough one. Some people can let it go: it is behind your back, and out of sight. I can't do that. I'd want to tell him, "Dad, I need to correct a few things you are writing to others about my husband," and then stick to positive statements of fact. Think about what you can and cannot accomplish. Think about how to manage this in a way that preserves peace in which you can enjoy your mother's company.

And most of all, so much peace and strength to you and your DH.
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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cfe123

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Re: Wish I could be free of BPD parent
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2021, 10:39:45 AM »
Thanks so much, Starboard Song. This is very helpful and I appreciate your taking the time to reply and your support.

I have tried to set boundaries in the past, but the parent escalates violently and does all sorts of projection "here are MY boundaries."

What I am going to try to focus on is setting boundaries for my own thoughts. When I start to think about him, I will try to divert myself to something else. This is very, very hard. Any advice welcome.

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Starboard Song

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Re: Wish I could be free of BPD parent
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2021, 10:54:08 AM »
Oh, well in that area I am a total failure.  :)

But my wife swears by the resources in the top line of my signature.
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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Cat of the Canals

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Re: Wish I could be free of BPD parent
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2021, 01:29:37 PM »
The way they manage to occupy our minds even when we're low contact or NC is very frustrating! I have pushed what was once a one-a-week mandatory phone call with her to more like once a month. Throughout the process, one of the things I've struggled with is not worrying/imagining what she thinks of my reduced contact.

The main thing that has helped is when I do start down that path, as soon as I realize it, I say to myself, "Nope. Not worrying about that. Not my problem." I've had to do it less and less frequently over time, so I think it's working. Good luck to you.

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Jolie40

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Re: Wish I could be free of BPD parent
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2021, 07:29:47 PM »
What I am going to try to focus on is setting boundaries for my own thoughts. When I start to think about him, I will try to divert myself to something else. This is very, very hard. Any advice welcome.

for those who worry, I've read set aside a designated time to worry
so also with thoughts of him

set aside 5 min/day such as lunch time (maybe not morning as morning thoughts set tone for day)
set timer for 5 min. for thoughts & after that you are done for the day

if any intruding thoughts reappear, think  "no, that's for my 5 min time Tomorrow!"
hope this helps
be good to yourself

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cfe123

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Re: Wish I could be free of BPD parent
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2021, 08:32:01 PM »
Thanks to both of you. These are great strategies. I will definitely try these!

He has waged such a campaign of guilt-tripping over the years that I really struggle with feelings of guilt. Then suddenly I realize - wait, that is the guilt trip! My feelings are valid!

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Duck

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Re: Wish I could be free of BPD parent
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2021, 11:17:11 PM »
I have been watching Jerry Wise videos based on a recommendation here. So far, they have been helpful. He talks about self-differentiation and how if you focus on becoming your own person and taking responsibility for your own stuff and not other people’s stuff, you eventually find you are doing less and less of things like obsessing over a PD parent or worrying.