If you have personality disorders in your family, including difficult child...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by MidwestMom, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I found a good site to address this issue. Very specific to personality disorders, but it sounds so much like our families of origin along with many of our difficult children I thought I'd offer you the site. Has lots of reading info too. In my case, I know Dad is NPD, mom had many borderline traits, and sister seems more Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) than anything. They are the people who made us think WE were crazy and have had influences over our difficult children, some who also have personality disorders.

    Have a look. There is good reading there and a support forum. Many people have gone no contact with their relatives...parents, sisters, brothers, kids, everyone in some cases.The guilt on the forum is palpable. It is so hard to cut off those we love or are supposed to love because society says we should.

  2. Terryforvols

    Terryforvols Member

    I ordered the Hungry book, looks good.

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  3. tishthedish

    tishthedish Active Member

    Good Terry. I think the title is somewhat misleading but it is great. One I'll refer to over and over.
  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I don't know what to think about labeling ourselves or one another, MWM. My sister likes to do that...to her husband.


    She likes to rattle off the names of things he is.


    To me, it seems like it would be a good thing to understand that the behaviors we have been exposed to through trying to love those in our lives who just keep turning on us are nothing personal. I mean, it is a healing thing to understand that the person who keeps hurting you is doing that not because of anything wrong we have done (and therefore, would have the power to reflect upon and change) but because he or she has not done the work of self examination and so, is acting out in a certain way that, though it is hurtful to us, ultimately has nothing to do with us, or with any way we are or with anything we do or have done.

    Abuse is always that way.

    It seems so to me, anyway.

    Abusers, so they say, abuse because they are reenacting something wrong that happened to them.

    If we are hurt by it, it is only because we were there, in their sphere of influence.

    It is nothing personal.

    That is why we cannot fix it, or help them to see it.

    We can only help ourselves, and even that is a pretty tall order, sometimes.

    So, I am not sure I want to affix alot of names or initials to the behaviors of those I love. I do want to see what they are doing, instead of always and forever trying to be nicer, or excuse it, or pretend it could not possibly have been meant to hurt or humiliate me. Or worse yet, come to believe their take on me is legitimate, that I am who they want me to believe I am.

    That would be very wrong. It happens sometimes though, especially if the abusive person is a parent, because children are new to the world, and have no frame of reference.

    I think I believe that ultimately, healing my own vulnerabilities will take me to a strong enough place (There are those boundary issues we are all wondering about, again!) that I will be able to address the wrongnesses as they happen and let it go. I will come to a time then, when I am so much who I am that mistreatment will be obvious and I will just go and find something else to do instead of trying to figure the whole world out every time someone is rude or hurtful.

    What the other person does with that is their freedom, their right, and has nothing at all to do with me.

    I think that is how I see things, this morning.

    As I have continued working through the things I have recently been able to reinterpret where my family of origin is concerned, that is what I think I see. There have been so few times ~ maybe none ~ when the interactions were healthy. We have all been hurt, have hurt one another, continue to be too malnourished ourselves to trust ourselves to withstand the hurt of betrayal.

    And the way we see one another, at least in my family of origin, can only be about betraying the other guy to get what we so desperately need.

    Brene Brown describes this dynamic as the dynamic of scarcity. People who have been hurt have come to believe there is not enough of what is good and strengthening to go around.

    Maybe, like a spiritual gluttony? You just keep having to have it all, and more. Anything, any good thing at all, that the other guy has takes the shine off whatever it is you have selected for yourself. So, you disparage the other guy. If the other guy is a pretty nice guy, and cannot be discredited?

    Then, the dysfunctional family gangs up on him. I think this part is where the family secret stuff comes in. The rebellious one (that would be you, MWM ~ and me too I suppose, though I would have sworn I did not have a rebellious bone in my body) has to be discredited.

    Or the family would have to take a look at what they are doing, to themselves, and to one another.
    But they can't, because if they did, the patterns, the old, hurtful ways of believing and interacting would be shown to be empty of meaning.

    Unclear as this all is, that is what I am working through this morning.

    So I think I do not want to know the labels for their behavior. I think that, whatever our diagnoses are, it all started in some cruelty, in some spiritual pinching, and it can only end with the unlocking of some spiritual generosity.

    Ha! Even I don't know what I'm trying to say here, this morning.


    How are you feeling about everything now MWM, as you work through all this with your sister and your mother?

  5. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I always wonder how many of our difficult children are writing in forums like that about their narcissistic/other personality disordered parents...

    Of course narcissistic personality disorder has been so trendy around my neck of the woods in recent years, that it has long ago become a total joke, so that clouds my judgement and makes me very wary with this topic. Official diagnosis are the same they have always been, but unofficial, self-made diagnosis of other people have sky-rocketed. Every ex (especially if male) who doesn't behave just like you would like, has NPD, so does a boss who dares to ask you to do your work or isn't nice in other ways. And your dad, who cheated your mom. And brother with whom you are fighting about inheritance. And neighbour who complains about too loud music.

    Especially when one person has more than one close person with officially undiagnosed NPD, you start to wonder who actually is the one with personality disorder.

    Allegations of personality disorders are extremely easy way to make someone look bad. One can not defend themselves against those allegations, because whatever one says or does to defend themselves, can be just dismissed as lying and manipulation and superficial charmingness and being good at conning people.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2014
  6. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    thanks for the link MWM, quite a bit more info then i have time to read today so bookmarked the page for when i can spend more time with it. What i did have time to read was really hitting my "needs further investigation" button. thank you again and i hope you're having a good weekend.

  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think personality disorders are not something to play with lightly. Once you get that label it changes how everyone thinks of you. I found out I was Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) back in 05 and I almost lost it. I was so upset. Even now I dont tell anyone that I think could use it against me. Its bad enough for people to think you have bipolar but if you had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) to it then no one believes a word you say. Personality disorders are also quite difficult to diagnose. Just because someone is difficult doesnt mean they have a disorder. Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    If you have been diagnosed with a disorder then it is wonderful to seek out resources and learn all you can. I did that years ago.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cedar, I feel as if my entire life has been a lie. It feels as if I let them scapegoat me and make ME the bad guy and I felt guilty and played that role so well. It's like waking up in an alternate reality. What I thought was, never was.

    If I could tell my sister how I feel and then be done with it, I think it would help me. But I know she won't read anything I write to her, because that's what she does. It frustrating to me not to explain myself. I am working on it hard.I did try writing a letter I will never send, but it didn't do the trick. Maybe it takes time.

    Suggestions welcome.
  9. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    MWM that is a great site and I spent some time on it. Personally, a diagnosis helps me better understand, I don't feel so alone in dealing with it all, and I can better accept the reality of the person's behavior. I don't take it personally when the diagnosed person does what he does. It's the disease.

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  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Good point, COM.


    MWM, in the fullness of time, your sister will come back. They always do. But it doesn't matter whether she does or not.

    This is not about her.

    This time of self discovery is your gift to yourself, MWM.

    I think it is more important for you to become firmly rooted in this new identity that is opening for you as you choose to let go of the roles you were forced into in your family of origin than it is for you to tell your sister how your feelings for her have changed.

    It just isn't about her, MWM.

    That feeling that we need to check out our feelings with someone else before we can believe we saw what we saw is how this whole thing started in the first place.

    Just sit with everything for a time.

    Journal about it, post about it. Thank your lucky stars (like I do, too) that you did not have to live your whole life believing that what they taught you was true.

    What a blessing to see in this new way, MWM!

    And what I am finding, and what you will find too I think, is that as you let go of those old, constricting beliefs your family of origin somehow managed to find a crazy kind of legitimacy in, that energy released will belong to you. You will be stronger, more alert, happier.

    That's how this works, I think.


    It isn't an easy thing to do at all, MWM. But you are worth it, and so am I.

    Who knew our families of origin could have been so mean, so cheap and chintzy and wrong? We believed they were correct, MWM. That affected who we thought we were. We thought WE were the ones somehow out of balance.

    Turns out, it was them, all along.

    Now, we are choosing to see clearly. It isn't easy putting all those little puzzle pieces together correctly.

    But oh boy, is it worth it.

  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It has. And it is good to see and be so angry about that betrayal. But you can see it now, Pam. And you will never, ever unsee how weirdly, pointlessly, stupidly, painfully dysfunctional your family of origin seems to have been.

    You win, MWM.

    This part pretty much sucks. It seems like the anger, the betrayal as you realize the layers of what they've done, and of how that affected your life, will never end.

    But it does end, Pam.

    And when it does, you will be your own in a way you never even imagined existed.

    I may not be hearing this just right, MWM. But it sounds like you might be turning this in on yourself, feeling foolish for not having seen it sooner.

    That is a normal part of healing, to feel that way. That, this feeling, is the cost of the clarity you have not let yourself see until now.

    This feeling will pass, MWM.

    When it does, if your process is anything like mine has been, you will feel tired, open, free.

    And then, it all begins again, as you go deeper and deeper. But, because you have freed yourself as you went through those upper layers, you are stronger, you are strong enough, to incorporate the deeper layers, and free yourself.

    At the end, MWM, the prize IS ourselves.


    Something we don't even know the taste of, now.

    It is an alternate reality, MWM. Every single thing is different than you knew it to be. THAT IS WHY EVERYTHING SEEMED SO CRAZY WITH YOUR FAMILY. AND MINE.

    Because literally...it was crazy, MWM.

    There was no sense to be made of it.

    That's why you couldn't figure it out.

    Pam? You no longer need to explain yourself to your sister. Do you have someone there (for me, it's my long suffering husband) who can listen to what you need to say to your sister?

    Edit and post it here, if you like.

    It takes time, but at the same time, it feels like you are whooshing through something so fast you cannot see what it is.

    Those emotions that are so bothering you now are freed energy. YOUR energy, MWM. That curiosity, that inability to let go and stop thinking about it is what will blast you through and set you free.

    You never were who they told you you were, MWM.

    When I was in this part? I didn't know who I was, anymore. I felt so different. It was scary. I wondered whether I was going to feel mean forever.

    I thought maybe I'd changed in all the wrong ways. How else could I be thinking this way about my own family?!? I was like, "Can't you think of anything good? What in the world is the matter with me?"

    And do you know Pam that the more I thought of things that I could remember that were good?

    The more bad things showed up.

    It was mind blowing.

    But here I am, and I still seem to be myself, so there you go.

    I haven't changed so much as to be unrecognizable Pam? But I've definitely changed enough that people are responding to me differently.

    Finally, I am hardly thinking of my family of origin, other than to wish they cared more for me than they do. COM posted once about a sister who was not careful with her.

    I feel like that, too.

    My family is not careful with me, is not tender or honorable or even honest, with me.

  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cedar, thank you so much for your wonderful posts that are so kind and helpful.

    I did something today for ME. It was only for ME. This Sister thing was bothering me too much and I know that it's because when she was not scapegoating me we often had an understanding that only one who grows up in a loonybin can share.

    But our memories of the loonybin are way different. She thinks she can't pick a good man because our dad was her first male experience and he is definitely a Narcissistic. She understands our mother and found her sympathetic and was not the least bit bothered at how she treated me. As I thought about this, I thought about how we were both so damaged by our parents, but in such a different way as to not REALLY be able to comfort one another. She is six and a half years younger than me so maybe it changed for her when I left. I don't know. But I see my mother as the problem, she sees my father as the problem. He's no peach, but he was never worse to me than anyone else and at times he was there when I needed him to be.

    Sis and I have no interests in common...hers being fashion, gardening, cooking (although she is anorexic) and other such stuff. I have little to no interest in any of that...I like reading, writing, politics, kids animals, The Packers....except for having the same parents and living in the same loonybin we have nothing in common. So we spend too much time talking about the loonybin.

    You know what? The only way to resolve this cycle of her contacting me and then going no contact for trite reasons and maybe even calling the cops on me (to me this a dangerous risk I take whenever I talk to her), I decide to take the decision whether or not to contact me out of her hands. I do not know if she read it, but I texted her. I can not remember word by word, but it went something like this. And since she claims she can't read long texts, I made them one/two liners.

    I write to you with love, and you may not read it. But I did it for ME.

    My serenity is very important to me. I can not have it when we are in touch.

    I can not play the games of cut offs and cops anymore. I am done.

    Please respect my boundary and not contact me again.

    If you text me back, I may read it, but later, when I am able.

    I think it is best for us both. I know it is for me. Wish you well.

    I have felt better since I sent it. She has a habit of actually not reading stuff I send, but maybe she will. I said what I needed to say. I need to know she will not test my resolve or call me again. The games are over. I'm tired of them. If she does text, I am not going to respond. If she calls, same thing. And if per chance I accidentally don't check whose calling and it's her, I am going to say only a few things. They are taped to my computer, where I usually lput my phone.
    "My serenity is important to me. I think it's best if we stay apart." *click" as she has done to me so many times.

    The fear of wondering when she'll call next is gone, although I know I need to be on guard. But I'm not going to let her mess with my quiet life ever again.

    Cedar, I can't help but be angry at myself. This is so simple. Why was I blind to it? At any rate, I'm attempting to put an end to it now. I never talk to my brother and I don't miss him. I'm sure that with time I won't miss my sister either.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2014
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It's Happy Hour here, MWM, and husband is waiting. I will try to respond later tonight.

    You did great.


  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'll drink to that!!!!!! Cheers!
  15. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    That took courage, MWM.

    Good for you!



    If your family of origin is anything like mine, you have been chosen against a million times, betrayed a million times, ridiculed or shortchanged in some way a million times. That is why it is important that you revalue yourself, now. It is going to feel strange, at first, to cherish and care for and respect and believe in yourself.

    But the person you are MWM, all those times you picked the "right" thing? All those times you felt good because you worked hard and things looked and felt "normal"? That will never be wasted on those who take your openness for vulnerability and strike to the heart, again.

    Our families are not normal, MWM. There is something the matter, in the heart of them.

    I'm so sorry.


    It's like we are resetting our internal compasses to true North, MWM. And in this new direction we are taking? They are being left behind.

    That's all this is.

    No more believing their picture of who we are.

    In a way, it's as simple as that.

    We do matter, MWM. So do our families of origin, of course. But when someone is sick or twisted in some way and we can finally see what it's doing to us, then we have to put those old belief systems about how life works away.

    I am not sure how to interact with people who I trust to love and want the best for me, but who seem really to hate me instead either, MWM.

    The difference is that I now understand they know better than to do what they're doing.

    And that they may have known better, all along.

    That is such a surprise to me, MWM!

    All this time, I had thought we were all trying to do the same thing: heal ourselves and one another, learn to cherish everything about our families, and change all that for the generation coming along.

    What a shocking surprise to get it that these things were never true for them. (It isn't so surprising in a way. I had to struggle to see that there was another way to think about myself, my family, purpose in the world ~ all that stuff. They didn't really do anything wrong. They are only following what feels natural and right to them. I am the one who has changed. At the time I learned to set some boundaries around what I allowed with my children, or with husband...those boundaries against what I had allowed in my interactions with my family of origin changed, too.

    I think that is what you are going through now, MWM.

    I was so angry too, when I realized just what kind of toxicity I had allowed in the name of relationship. I didn't know any better then, MWM.

    Now I do.

    And so do you.

    The more I look? The more bad things I see.

    And I am so surprised.


    But as time passed MWM, and I gave myself time and honor enough to keep at it...I began to feel differently. I began to feel so deeply fortunate that I did not get stuck, there in that sick, hate filled mindset.

    I did not get stuck there MWM...and neither did you.

    And as I've already done everything I knew to change what went on in my family of origin ~ and it didn't work, I don't have to do that anymore or ever again.

    It's pretty freeing.

    I am telling the truth to them now.

    And they don't much care for it.

    That is what you've done too, MWM. You've started telling the truth.

    And your sister doesn't much care for it. She would like to stay sick. She would like to play "Let's make Pam look really bad."

    It's very cruel, what our families do and how they justify it.

    It is what it is Pam, and it's important to know how the hatred has hurt you, where it has changed you, how you can heal from it ~ but none of this is your fault. It isn't their fault, either. Dysfunctional relationships hurt.

    We aren't here to judge our people, only to heal ourselves.

    This has nothing to do with them.

    You are doing really great, MWM.

    It's hard, I know.

  16. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Bet you a quarter she will, now. She thinks you are still who you were.

    She is wrong.

    If your sister does call, MWM, I think you are going to be surprised how changed you are.

    And so is she.

    I am tired of the crummy payoff for so much hurt.

    I always thought I enjoyed my family of origin. I just thought really weird things kept happening to all of us. Then I realized that whatever they are getting out of the really hurtful things they do?

    It seems like a pretty crummy payoff to me, given the pain it cost.

    I love this.


    Remember my posting about husband giving me: "I told you what I expect."

    That was perfect, too.

    That's okay. How could we not be? THESE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ABUSING US, BODY AND SOUL.

    We have to love ourselves away from them.

    They are too ill for us to know how to help or change them. They seem committed to our destruction. (Remember the duck pecker story.)

    We have to love ourselves, now.

    It looks like no one else ever really did.

    How sad, for us and for them.

    It is what it is.

    I could not bear to acknowledge that they never loved me. I don't know whether what I felt for them was ever love, either.

    I felt responsibility.

    I felt guilt.

    I felt nostalgia for something I never had, because of those stupid Hallmark cards.


    But I don't know that I love them either, MWM.

    I think I love the idea of them.

    It's just the reality that stinks!

    It is all part of your story, Pam. It is my story, too. It's fascinating, horrifying, sad and so unbelievably beautiful and happy. I still can not grasp my good fortune in breaking out of what I now see the toxicity in. Well, maybe I always saw it, but I felt hooked in, somehow.


    We are free, at the middle point of our stories, Pamela.

    There is no telling what we will do now, with the energy we poured into our sweet, savage, dysfunctional families.

    There is just no telling.


  17. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    MWM, I see this action you just took as valuing yourself, waiting, determining what you need to be at peace, and then acting.

    You handled this with grace and maturity.

    You said, please, you ended with "wish you well" and you were clear, specific and cordial in your words.

    It is never a bad thing to be cordial. Never. Because regardless of what the other person does or says, we are building our own self-esteem when we respond (not react) with grace and dignity. Like you did.

    Now, you can go forward clear-minded, meeting your own eyes in the mirror because you did the next right thing for yourself.

    It is truly sad that we in families hurt each other so much. It's hard to understand and to accept.

    So we keep trying and trying and trying. That is why it's taken until now, MWM. You kept holding out hope that something would change with your sister.

    But it hasn't. And it has continued to hurt you. I just posted about setting boundaries (on another thread) and how we have to do it with people who are bad for us and people who are good for us. It's healthy behavior to have boundaries and to erect them with respect, gentleness and kindness.

    We also can't get it until we get it. There is no timeline here. You have changed, and continue to change, and now you are ready for this action.

    I pray your sister respects your boundary and also that something good comes from this, in time, not just for you but for her.

    We never know about a person's journey, and what will happen next.

    Hugs to you MWM. Enjoy your day today! Do something great for yourself.
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  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I especially liked the paragraph about something good coming from this, not just for us, but for our families of origin, too.

    And COM is right ~ we never do know where the journey leads, for any of us. But this new direction feels very different, very clean, clearer.


  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cedar, thanks again for your heartwarming and true pep talk. However, I don't think Sis will call me. This is a game to her, one she must win. She needs to get the last word in and if she feels I may not answer the phone (thus making her feel humiliated) or not respond to her texts, she will not risk the chance that perhaps she won't "win."

    My only fear is that she didn't read my texts, although they were not sent back to me undelivered. But even if she did not, it felt good to me. And I am still in control of my own life. And I have had my heart broken by her too many times to trust her again. She has a lot of anger in her heart and she did not admit the degree of her dysfunction to herself so her life is now a mess. I hope she gets the therapy she needs. She has ony just started at age 55, but I believe anyone can change if they wish to.

    But you have to be honest about yourself.

    Cedar, you are a great friend to me. I appreciate it more than you will ever know.
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  20. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MWM, have you read The Sociopath next door, by Martha Stout? I'm reading it now and it is quite good and explains a lot about that 4% who are among us.......it's well done.