Advice needed

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socalgal

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Advice needed
« on: July 21, 2021, 09:12:24 PM »
I suspect my significant other has BPD (undiagnosed), and I'm trying to figure out how to protect my son, who is still a toddler. I recently realized that I can't live in the same house with his father any longer, and I was looking to just do a trial separation, but my SO was so wounded by my decision that he has been an open wound for days. The reason why we were together for as long as we were was because he was very good at hiding his BPD for the first few years, and it has slowly revealed itself over time. Now that I've caused him such emotional injury by moving out, it is really showing how tumultuous his relationship is with his ex, and the repercussions on their children. I met with the ex wife today, who I had not really spoken to much before, hoping that we could forge an alliance to try to make things easier when dealing with him, but she got really defensive, and said that he needs to "do his job as a father."

I'm really worried about my son. He is only 16 months old, and he is such a beautiful ray of sunshine. I want to provide him as much stability and validation as I can, but I don't know how we can do that and have him forge a relationship with his father. I do most of the caretaking, so I'm really worried about his father having to do anything - as something exerting or mentally taxing can put him into a terrible mood - moods that impact the kids. Any advice? I want to arm my son to survive, and have a successful life. TIA.

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Jsinjin

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2021, 11:53:44 PM »
I can't really offer a diagnosis.   But I can state that if the ex and her children were affected and the sympts.of bpd are showing up as more than just stress or depression and you and your sun are potentially going to be emotionally harmed then I would say look at the separation.

Thoughts and prayers



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Bunnyme

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2021, 02:39:30 AM »
 Welcome!  I'm sorry you are in this situation.

First, remember that you arent causing injury to your SO by deciding to leave.  You are doing what you need to do for your own health and that of your child.  If he acts injured, that is on him.  I know that may sound cold, but you cannot take responsibility for the reactions of others when you are not being malicious.  That was a hard one for me.

Second, you are also not responsible for the relationship between your child and their father.  You can want, wish, hope that he will be the father your child deserves, but whether or not he lives up to that is also on him.  I would compensate a lot for my stbxh and would pester him about visitations, invite him to things just so the kids could see him, even made birthday presents and such be from "us" at first...all in an effort to shield my kids from the crappy dad hand they've been dealt.  But that can only last so long, and eventually, my son started questioning things.  It left him so confused.  All I can do is love them and validate them for being the wonderful people they are.  They are resilient and I will be there to support them when they deal with their dad if they need me...mind you, never speaking badly of him.

What are your fears with regard to their relationship?  Are there safety issues?

 

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socalgal

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2021, 04:11:30 AM »
His oldest son who is 11, is depressed. He is withdrawn and spends nearly all his time playing computer games. He has trouble sleeping, he doesnt eat very much - he has plunged from 40% BMI to 10%. He has falling outs with friends, and has had outbursts at school where he said he wanted to die, resulting in him going to the ER. He is the scapegoat. He sees a school counselor, psychologist and psychiatrist regularly. He is on anti depressants and ADHD meds. He is deeply unhappy. 😢

Ive tried to help, but part of my SOs issue is he will no accept help and gets mad at any advice. So Ive had to watch his son in tis downward spiral.

My partner often says our baby reminds him of his oldest son at that age. And it really freaks me out.

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CagedBirdSinging

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2021, 11:24:38 AM »
Do you mind me asking, does your stepson live full time with his dad? Or what age was he when his parents separated? I have little kids too. I'm trying to figure out how best to protect them. Everyone says leaving is best. But in some ways I am better able to protect them by staying, and I'm able to make sure he has very limited time alone with them. If we split, he gets unsupervised access, overnight etc. I'm sorry for what you're going through xx

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socalgal

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2021, 03:06:49 PM »
He lives 50% of the time with his Dad, and was about 4 or 5 when they separated. For me, I don't think the actual separation has hurt him as much as the circumstances surrounding it, and the age he was at. His parents were fighting around him a lot, and he still thinks he shares some blame even though they have told him it's not his fault. But part of it, and this is only what I see from the dad side because I have no idea what is going on at his Mom's (except that she loses her temper frequently at little things), is that I see he's on the losing side of some favoritism, his dad doesn't validate his emotions, and he gets in trouble for speaking the truth - I think because it sometimes invalidates his dad, which is a major issue with BPD'ers and their kids. Because, let's face it, being a parent is about hearing stuff you sometimes don't want to hear from kids, right?

I think these things go on whether the parents are together or not. I guess the big question is whether they can be counteracted, whether I should try and convince my son's dad that he should have custody less than 50% of the time due to the heavy burden childcare is for him, or...I don't know.

How old are your kids? I think the younger they are, the better they probably can cope with it. The younger stepbrother is doing ok. But he also has a tougher constitution than his older brother.

« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 03:08:38 PM by socalgal »

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CagedBirdSinging

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2021, 03:57:42 PM »
They are 2 and 4, and so far I have been able to completely protect and shelter them from their dad. If we divorce and they are with him unsupervised, I will not be able to protect them. But then, as they get older, living with him full time could also be damaging. It is so difficult to know what to do. Everyone here says leave. I just want to protect my kids. Thanks for sharing x

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socalgal

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2021, 04:52:37 PM »
I've also struggled over the decision for the past few months. I think when the kids are toddlers, it's definitely easier to shield them, but as they get older it will become more difficult. For me, the main reason why things are ok for now is because my son is too young to be sassy or defiant in any real way to offend his father. The other reason is because he's still small and adorable, and his father loves showing him around like some sort of trophy. His dad makes a big show that he's involved in public, and in private he participates mostly just when he's in the mood. My son may not notice yet that his parents are unhappy with each other, and unhappy in general, but he will pretty soon. My feeling is I should get out before it starts to imprint him. I do not feel that we are a model of a healthy, loving relationship for him, and even if I can maybe manage my partner's emotions, it will never be the example I want to set for our kid. I think the other issues of BPD will come into play when he's older. I'm reading a book called, "Stop Walking on Eggshells," and the author points out that children are constantly invalidating, and people with BPD's find this to be their biggest trigger. Unless our partners get serious about getting treatment, it's probably going to get worse with the kids. Sorry to say. :-(
« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 04:54:22 PM by socalgal »

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CagedBirdSinging

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2021, 05:36:29 PM »
Thank you so much, I really appreciate the chat.  :bighug:
Yes you are right. At this age they are so cute, he loves showing them off on Instagram. As they get older they will potentially be more defiant, definitely less compliant anyway. And yes they will see how unhappy we are. My H has been diagnosed with BPD and NPD by different psychologists. This always puzzles me- how can you be both?! But I think he is bpd and covert NPD. He is very manipulative. He will definitely attempt to manipulate the kids in the future. What pisses me off at the moment is that he presents a completely different face to the children- smiling, happy and chatty. Then he is sullen, moody and emotionally manipulative towards me. Its Jekyll and Hyde.

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socalgal

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2021, 06:44:37 PM »
Mine seems more BPD than NPD, but that's what I think it is, since he has only officially been diagnosed with depression. It seems like it might be more of a spectrum since BPD and NPD are both Cluster B. Mine is more on the BPD. He exhibits a combination of the BPD and NPD symptoms, but he's not really manipulative at all. Just mostly angry, and incredibly two-faced, much like what you describe in your partner. It pisses me off how nice he is to random strangers or the neighbors. Unfortunately, he often fails to hide his Jekyll side from the kids, sometimes getting mad at them directly, but mostly mad at me - slamming doors, stomping around, loud sighing, glaring, passive aggressive remarks under his breath. He also doesn't hold back from arguing with me right in front of the baby.  :sadno: Wow. Thank you for the chat as well. Thinking through this helps me feel more confident about what I've decided to do.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2021, 06:48:56 PM by socalgal »

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Lauren17

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2021, 12:43:48 PM »
I wanted to chime in with the perspective of someone whose kids are older.  I have one early teen and one late teens.  H is undiagnosed, but I strongly believe he is a covert narc, with an avoidant attachment style.  CBS, you describe exactly the relationship between H, myself and the kids.
One thing I've observed is that when the kids were little, he played with them, talked to them and in general, participated in their lives.  That changed as they got older.  As the kids got to be about 7 or so, he slowly started pulling away, and he started manipulating them.  It was little things, like insisting they go golfing with him when they really wanted to see a movie with a friend.  The older teen recently made a decision that hurt H's ego, and she got the silent treatment, silent anger, sighs, etc. just like he would have given me. This has been talked on another thread here, and others have had similar experiences.
I think there are two things going on here.  One, is that the kids aren't as fun (small and adorable).  The second is that I think H's condition is getting worse.
I was very much determined to stay until the youngest was out of the house in order to protect her, just as you describe.  I made it 5-6 years.  Then I started seeing that I wasn't protecting them.  I was protecting him by covering up his behaviors.  At the same time, I was losing my sense of self.  And I was demonstrating unhealthy behaviors for my kids.  I can now clearly see the negative effects of that in the actions of older teen. 
Here's what I've realized.  There is no "good" outcome to this.  He will always be their dad.  So I can stay, and keep them living in this dysfunction 100% of the time.  Or, I can leave and provide them a healthy home some fraction of the time.  That's where I'm headed, with the hope that the healthy home time will be greater that 50%.
This is really hard. I wish you both courage and toughness.
Im no quitter, but I finally quit living on dreams. Im hungry for laughter and here ever after, Im after whatever this other life brings.
-Kenny Rogers

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CagedBirdSinging

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2021, 02:17:51 PM »
That is so helpful thank you Lauren. It is a totally different story when they are small and cute. Your perspective is so helpful. Thank you so much x

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escapingman

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Re: Advice needed
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2021, 07:24:28 AM »
I am also having older kids than you, mine are in their preteens. I can vouch for things getting worse the older they get and the more they fight for their independence. My uNPDw needs to control everything and she can't anymore, this leads to constant rage and battles between her and the kids (and me). To her they are an extension of her, she loves when she can put them on facebook and brag. When doing activities the most important thing is to get great photos for facebook, not how much they enjoy them. She also compare herself with the children and very much sees herself as one of them, if I get a present or a special treatment for my kids she expects the same. She doesn't work, but she believes she is working hardest in the family. I wish I could roll back the clock and left her when the kids were little, but I am doing my best to get out now before the damage to them is too bad. Stay strong and good luck.