It just goes on....

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by marlboro, Feb 27, 2018.

  1. marlboro

    marlboro New Member

    I am an adult survivor of an obvious Father with Borderline (BPD). If he were alive today he would be 97, as I am 68.
    23 years ago my father orchestrated a shunning of me, my wife, and my two children. I suspect he never believed that I would not fail to come crawling back as I did every time he did one of his totally unreasonable demands for 46 years. But I had reached the endpoint. My mother is still alive but has some form of dementia and doesn’t know me. Two of my siblings will communicate politely if I make a huge effort; the other one has continued the shunning. I have not heard from any of them in 7 years.

    Moving into the present.... I have a 38 year old daughter who has obvious Borderline (BPD), though undiagnosed, except by her. I know recent new information has shown a genetic connection, but she was also the second diagnosed case of Lyme Disease in the state we lived in and was never fully treated for that, plus she was seriously affected by the abandonment of her grandparents and cousins, and shortly thereafter began the cutting behaviors.

    She has been estranged from us already for a period four years, came back into our lives three years ago, and now has lost it again. We had just begun to trust her again, and believe that perhaps the previous crazy years(back to early middle school) were gone. But the mentally ill daughter is back. She is married to a wonderful man who brings her back down if they are in public, but closes his office door at home, when she goes off the deep end there.

    Recently my son, who was never diagnosed with anything(but may have an alcohol problem), sometime after he got his PhD 6 years ago, began bullying us in a way much like his sister. And then he and his wife had our first and only grandchild. Immediately he started using access to the grandchild as a way to demand that we do things he wanted. But we weathered that; and try to just smile when he makes the bullying comments. However, now his sister, the clearly mentally ill one, has decided to be the surrogate Aunt/Mother of the child, and has manipulated her brother into treating us the same way she does, and convincing him that we were and continue to be horrible parents to them, and will soon make the grandson crazy too. Rationally this would be kind of hard, since they live 1000 miles away, and we only see the kid maybe 4 times a year for a few days. Typically, this happened very close to the time that we gave(free and clear) him a substantial sum to buy a house.

    So...now we wait out an estrangement from both of our children, and wonder if the mentally ill sister will turn on her brother at some point and he will realize what is going on, or if we’ll die before any of that actually happens.

    The fact that I understand this having lived it as a child, and having spent 40 years as a professional counseling psychologist, means that I know what to do, and how to advise my wife. I have essential meditative and CBT techniques to stop this from overwhelming me, and I have to use them continuously.

    But is so hard to not get into tears sometimes.
     
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  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Marlboro, welcome. Your post brought tears to my eyes......you've been thru the mill in every way, I am so sorry.

    I understand the tears, these are our kids, mental issues and all. I have much mental illness in my family as well, parents, siblings, cousins, daughter. it's been a lifelong situation.......(in some ways more like a curse). I am also 68, so we are at a point where our lives are OUR lives, our grown troubled kids have gone way beyond our parenting...... but never beyond our heartache.

    I have to use many tools continuously as well, this is not for the faint of heart! You have all the knowledge and information at your disposal, perhaps what we can offer you here is empathy, compassion, understanding and that deep sense of being seen and heard.

    I've been here for 6 years now, arriving when my 45 year old daughter went completely off the rails. It's helped enormously to write down my story, get support and guidance and offer back what I can. I hope you stick around, it really is a safe place for battle weary parents, and it sure sounds as if you fit "battle weary"...........

    I'm so sorry for your heartache Marlboro.......if you've read some of our stories, you can see you're not alone...there's a whole 'tribe' of us here......we're pretty good at supporting each other.....hang around and continue posting, it helps. We'll circle our wagons around you.....I'm glad you found us, glad you're here.

    Hang in there. This is so hard. I know.
     
  3. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    As you probably know, Lyme Disease can cause mental illness to some degree. It can cause depression and a multitude of weird physical symptoms. I wonder if the physical symptoms cause the emotional behavior. I had to get tested for Lyme Disease about nine years ago.
     
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  4. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Marlboro and welcome. I am so sorry for your need to be here and for everything you have suffered.
    Tears are more than understandable, (even a primordial scream now and then) I feel that it is important to recognize our own emotions and allow them to flow when the need arises.
    Shunning is a terrible weapon, to have this manipulation put upon you by your own father, and years later your adult children is unfathomable.
    What is one supposed to do?
    I am glad that you are able to use positivity and meditation to help you through this. I find that movement helps me too, focusing on self care.
    It takes a lot of work to get through this, but I feel life is too short to let the actions of others, including my own adult children, keep me from seeking peace and enjoying life’s blessings.
    Acceptance of what is, is. So simple a concept and versed upon by philosophers of ancient times. So hard to put to practice.
    Sigh.
    Who knows why some of us have to deal with what we do? The unanswered question of the universe. But, here we are.
    You have come to a good place here at CD, where you can safely share your feelings, folks understand the pain of it and support one another in finding our way through.
    I think what is key is realizing we did the best job we could in raising our kids.
    Whether it be mental illness, drugs, or just the times we live in, where there seems to be more adult children going off the rails and blaming parents for their woes, here we are.
    Trying to make sense of it all.
    Sometimes answers are hard to come by.
    The thing is, we are people who have given a lot to our children. Sure we made mistakes, we are only human. Not many of us imagined being in the position we are in, when the kids were younger.
    I am so sorry, that is a big kick in the gut and heart. It made me angry reading that. Really? Using your own grandchild for bullying and manipulation is a huge blow as well.
    I am sorry.
    You will find that is a common denominator with some grandparents posting here. Our adult kids know how to tug at our heart strings.
    It is unacceptable.
    Completely unacceptable.
    We are not things to be manipulated and used.
    You have value and worth as a human being.
    You matter.
    My two daughters are out there living their lifestyle and blaming me for their choices. They paint me as a horrible parent too. I fell into that trap for a while, then realized I did the best I could.
    I refuse to enable them, so they are estranged as well. It can be challenging to deal with, but I have found that through prayer and switching focus, I am managing. I am thankful for the time I had with them under my care, try to focus on the blessings we shared. They are adults now and will choose as they wish. I have no control over what they do, or how they view me. I have learned through the years that I don’t need to see myself through their eyes.
    You have found a good place to come and share your feelings Marlboro.
    You are not alone, we are here and we understand the pain of it.
    (((Hugs)))
    Leafy
     
  5. marlboro

    marlboro New Member

    Thanks for the supportive responses. Many times my responses to them have been disengagement. While that works for me, I am surprised they have not begun to define me as having a schizoid personality disorder!
     
  6. marlboro

    marlboro New Member

    I don’t have any problem believing I’m alone. I surely spent enough time explaining to others that they were not alone. I spend more of my time trying to get my wife to deal with it, since a) she was the best mother I ever saw and I wished she had been mine, b) she lived in a childhood that was compared to me, fully supportive of her, and c) she doesn’t have all the tools that I learned or developed to address the issues, and tends to internalize it as a failing on her part.

    She would also be highly unlikely to show up in a forum online. And, although its never mentioned, going to see a 20 something therapist when you are pushing 70, when the therapist is a child in your eyes, is very very very difficult to do. There are very few therapists out there in TV Land who are even close to our age.
     
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  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Marlboro, I found a therapist who is my age, which then lead me to a support group, which then lead to 4 of us continuing after the group ended, we are all the same age. What has made the most difference for me is to be with others who are open, receptive and able to be present for another's pain. It's made a significant difference in my ability to let go and accept what I can't change.
     
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I found a therapist in her late 40s and she is extremely helpful. She may be 50 by now and just look good!!!
     
  9. marlboro

    marlboro New Member

    I wasn’t really looking for therapist. I have intimate knowledge of what they do after DOING IT MYSELF for 33 years. I was just commenting that its difficult for an older parent to be seeing a therapist who is actually younger than their children. I had a boss one time near my retirement, who would say my name in exactly the same tone that you would say “Dad”. He was about 1/2 half my age at the time.

    My wife may yet go somewhere. Any technique a therapist could use, I can and do use myself.

    Onward.... I guess we are not going to get an invite for the grand kid's 2nd birthday. Of course my son, did tell his mother never to contact him again until he said so. But he will forget he said that, and then call us three days from the birthday and ask use when we will arrive. Of course, to do that we would need to get the car ready for a 22 hour trip, make reservations for two motels along the way, get house coverage for our cat, make arrangements to stay in a motel where he lives since he has no room in his house for us, and pack. When we tell him that its not enough advance notice for us, we will get another round of “you never loved me-you don't love your grandson---followed by another, “never contact me again until I say you can because you are just plain toxic to my health.” AND THEN....of course we will have a similar disgusting email from our daughter who flies out twice a month to see the nephew---at about $12,000 a year.

    Mark my word..... I am. In a macabre way, I find it vague humorous. It would make another great episode of “SHAMELESS”.
     
  10. marlboro

    marlboro New Member

    Wonder of wonders, the son actually replied to his mother’s self debasing apology letter for trying to be the mother she has always been at Xmas. Of course, rationally the letter was a landmark of put downs, but it did have an invite to visit the 2 year old birthday party in April. So we will go and try to set boundaries if we can, or at least disengage if it gets too hard.
     
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  11. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    I am sorry for you and your wife’s issues with this. As you have posted, you are able to use your knowledge and training to work your way through, even seeing a “macabre, vague humor” about it.
    To state the obvious, it may be harder for your wife.
    I am appalled at the disrespect. I shouldn’t be I guess, because it seems to be a thing now a days where adult children find blame with their upbringing on parents.
    It is harder still with grandchildren in the mix, dangled as a sort of ransom for involvement.
    I don’t know Marlboro. Not telling you what to do, but if it were me, I would send a card. I have developed kind of a thick skin after years of dealing with two daughters off the rails. Husband passed at 61, nearly two years ago and that taught me how short life can be. I am working at not allowing toxic people to invade my peace. What’s the saying? “Your opinion of me is none of my business.”
    Trying to channel my Dad’s stoiscm
    You are way more patient than I.
    Sounds like a good plan. Best wishes to you and your wife. I am sorry for the heartache of it. Ugh.
    Leafy
     
  12. marlboro

    marlboro New Member

    Oh.... given to me I would simply refuse to engage. But my wife did send a letter at Christmas. Probably he has a narcissist personality disorder, as a direct result of my father’s shunning, his sister’s Borderline (BPD)(inherited from my father), and our failing to support him, and being the luckiest person I ever ran into. We spent most of his childhood putting out his sister’s fires, and he got the short end. He used to say that his sister was high maintenance but as his NPD has blossomed, he doesn’t seem to remember this anymore. The luck factor has supported the idea in his mind that he must be special.

    But my wife did send a letter which I told her not to do, which “invalidated him”. Basically she should have told him what a magnanimous and wonderful son he was for understanding that we couldn’t drive for 3 days in snow at Christmas with 5 days notice to visit him and stay in a motel. Any disagreement with anything he does or says means that we are invalidating him.

    Problem is that I do accept partial blame for his problems. Most certainly it was my actions of refusing to crawl one more time to my father, and then being totally out of it for a year(and almost committing suicide) when my entire family shunned me(while I also had to deal with the Borderline (BPD) daughter’s cutting behaviors). And of course, while its not really my fault, we did have to spend a huge amount of time walking on eggshells with the daughter.

    So its clearly the wife that I am doing this for. And on the side I try to continuously coach and deal with her total bewilderment at their actions toward us, and get her to realize that my son has zero empathy, no gratefulness, be a continuous bully, and needs to be continuously told how wonderful he is to us and everyone around him.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
  13. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome to our little corner of the world. You sure have been through a battle with your adult children.
    I'm sorry for all you have been through but from what you have shared, you have gained wisdom and strength.
    I do hope your wife will be able to let go and come to understand that she was a good mother and that she is not responsible for the actions and accusations from your son and daughter.
    Our difficult adult children can be very cruel but one the cruelest things is to use a grandchild as some type of bargaining chip.
    I'm glad to hear that you have been invited to the 2 year old's birthday party and in a timely manner. I think it's good that you will be staying in a hotel and not with them. I do hope you will be able to have a nice visit.
    For me, when I communicate with my son I have found it best to keep my comments and responses very generic. My son is a master at trying to engage me into arguments. When he says something I do not agree with I usually respond with something like "that's an interesting outlook" by being generic I'm not agreeing or disagreeing. Just some food for thought.

    I'm glad you are here with us. Please let us know how things are going.
     
  14. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    This is so utterly exhausting Marlboro.
    I usually don’t get to post so often, but am home with a bout of strep.
    You know Marlboro, I was thinking that with all of your knowledge of conditions and disorders to decipher what is going on here and the crazy situation you grew up with, I am sure it does not make it any easier to deal with.
    To sort through.
    Knowing what’s going on helps, but it doesn’t fix it.
    You were extremely brave in putting up boundaries with your father. Geez what toxicity. I am sorry the resulting shunning brought you to such a low point in your life where you considered suicide. Who wouldn’t be knocked off their axis?
    I was there too, feeling desperate and helpless. Hopeless. Bullied relentlessly by my siblings, then married hubs who had a really toxic upbringing, abusive father, domestic violence. You can probably picture the history of our relationship, lots of issues, it’s pretty textbook.
    It was a real struggle while the kids were growing up. We did our best to get through all that stuff and provide for them. There were some real rocky stretches, but, I have reams of photos of happy times and smiling faces.
    Did I mess up? Hell ya, I am only human. Did the best I could with what I had at the time. Did I blame myself for the kids issues? Yup. Did they? Oh, they grabbed on to my guilt and ran with it.
    Then I thought wait a minute, life is hard at times, but there are good moments sprinkled in between.
    Then I finally realized that :poop: just happens.
    We don’t have much control over any of it at all, just the way we react, which is inevitably human, when we do make mistakes (which is often) figure it out and do better the next time.
    Sorry, I’m preaching to the choir.
    I have five kids. Two off the rails, the others reasonably sane for now. I spent a lot of time putting out fires with my two. In between that, paid as much attention as I possibly could to the others. Trying all the while to figure out who I was.
    The “stable” kids seem to be doing okay.
    They understand that stuff just happens.
    A simple explanation, but hard to deal with as it all hits the fan.
    You stood up for yourself with your father.
    The result was totally inhumane and unfair.
    The struggles you had to overcome, your daughters illness and the eggshells you walked on.
    Tough, tough stuff.
    Your story is off the charts, Marlboro.
    You are a survivor.
    Be kind to yourself.
    Kids grow up and make choices for themselves. For as many posts as I have read here, where kids had a “good” life and upbringing, some still went off the rails. It didn’t matter where they came from, they chose.
    The fact that you have the patience and wherewithal to help your wife through this is awesome. We all process this stuff in our own way.
    I am at the point where I am trying hard as I can to live the best rest of my life. Lord only knows how long that will be. I have been slowly returning to my art, and have always known that I have to be by the ocean. So, I get out on a canoe as much as I can. It’s a few years before I am able to retire and I am looking forward to that.
    Do you have hobbies that you enjoy? In the midst of dealing with toxic adult children, it is so important to try to switch focus somehow. Do something fulfilling for yourself.
    When you take that long trip in April, are there other things you will do? Interesting places to visit?
    Something for you and your wife in addition to the birthday party?
    Sorry for the babbling, I’m a little delerious with fever.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that we matter. Despite what the kids grow up and choose, we matter.
    Leafy
     
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  15. marlboro

    marlboro New Member

    I have come to the conclusion, that while my son may not have a full blown Narcissist Personality Disorder, he has enough characteristics to make it problematic. And certainly, its viable response to us spending most of his childhood putting out his Borderline (BPD) sister’s continuous drama. But as such, he sees using his son as a bargaining chip as a valid way to bring the family together. However, what that means is “making him number one”. As an NP, he has zero empathy for anyone, and his Borderline (BPD) sister and him are playing off each other.

    Yes... I know what to do. I can use elements of Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, a subset of cognitive behavioral therapy that I used for many years. But the reality is that I’m just too tired of the splitting behaviors and finding myself as the constant Great Satan, to work much at it anymore. High Functioning Invisible BiPolar (BP)’s and NP’s never get therapy since they don’t believe that anything is wrong with them, and that its always everyone else’s fault. So nothing will ever change.

    And both can be very very charming, when they choose to be.

    So my solution is pretty much to limit contact, have contact only when they ask for it, and set boundaries that I refuse to violate. But like I said, its much harder for my wife. She won’t stop enabling custodial behavior until it gets horrible for her.
     
  16. marlboro

    marlboro New Member

    That was actually 23 years ago. The good thing about that whole process is that my two kids(the one who inherited the Borderline (BPD) from my father, and the one who developed justifiable NP as a result of his Borderline (BPD) sister) have little real effect on me. There is not much that they can do to me that was not already done in 46 years of living with a Borderline (BPD) father and probably NP mother, followed up by a full court shunning by the entire family 23 years ago.

    I just struggle to not be held hostge to demands and expectations from the dead past or the imagined future---and I’m actually pretty good at that.
     
  17. Leana

    Leana New Member

    Being a grandmother myself, I can understand where your wife sits in this conflict. We just want to hold that grandbaby.
    You have experience and pain from your lifetime dealing with mental illness. Borderline (BPD) and NP are very difficult to deal with as I'm learning they have a weird codependacy.
    NP know where to punch at your heart.
    Easy and safest route is to not talk to them.
    Maybe a neutral area, say a vacation spot,
    where you could enjoy the grandbaby and not engage with so much conflict. Just a thought. Love and peace to your family.
     
  18. Sam3

    Sam3 Active Member

    It seems equally, if not more, difficult to know so much as to know so little, when we're challenged to make a difference.

    But you're both hurting parents and that will probably be true even after your wife accepts the grim realities.

    Maybe it's better to let yourselves grieve in your own ways. After the fog clears, I think a lot of us find ourselves upright for our troubled kids, if and when they are ready.
     
  19. marlboro

    marlboro New Member

    Its probably harder since I have no interest in doing the activities that are defined in Shari Y Manning’s book LOVING SOMEONE WITH BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER. I spent 40 years of my life doing this. Someone who doesn’t have this experience will be more open to trying a set of techniques which have research showing they work. I’m too worn out to bother. This is partly because I know both of them can be charming if they want to be; so in the short periods of time I actually spend with them now, I figure they should be able to be charming.
     
  20. magnolia26

    magnolia26 ... the sound of an iron trap door closing ...

    Hi. I'm new here too but wanted to send my support to you. I appreciate what you say about your children but also, that even you, a therapist equipped with a toolbox of techniques to help you cope, feel challenged by all of this. You do not deserve to be treated badly by anyone, including your children. Being treated badly is not something that warrants your support. I hope you find a way to be able to assert your worth to them, not because they'll suddenly believe you, but because they'll understand that you know they're not fulfilling your bottom line criteria of who gets to be in your life. xo