we've been overly involved

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Sue C, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. Sue C

    Sue C Active Member

    husband and I read up on Borderline Personality Disorder and on the ConductDisorders website (and I read a book on it), and we truly believe Melissa could have this. We told her so and told her she needs to seek help, but she denies it and will not check into it.

    One of the statements I read is sticking in my mind. It is:

    Quote: Borderline patients who are from overinvolved families are often actively struggling with a dependency issue by denial or by anger at their parents.

    husband and I have always been overly involved with Melissa's life. We want to know what's going on with her and her friends and boyfriends. We want to know how she's doing at work, how she was doing when she was at school. We are too involved and realize now that we have always been. We have a big tendency to make things right for her, to bail her out of situations, etc. How can we expect her to become independent when we are not allowing it?

    It is kind of hard to immediately cut her off, but we have stopped asking questions. If she wants to offer how her day went, fine. If she wants to tell us about her newest boyfriend, fine. If she has a problem, she needs to figure out how to deal with it herself.

    We constantly tell ourselves she is too dependent upon us, but we never thought that she was that way because we've been overly involved. I find this very interesting, and it will help us change...and hopefully will help her become independent.

    Am I finally understanding what detaching is?? Is it not being overly involved??

  2. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Yes. It's not, not loving her or not caring about her. It's not being too into her business, or her being too dependent on you.

    And it is not easy to detach, especially when you have been one way for so long.

    But, it is not impossible.
  3. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Now......go get a life of your own. And maybe.....another kitten. I have several lovely ones to be adopted. lol

    I think that the statement you posted applies to a range of disorders to a point - with our son the best thing I've done to date is let go and hope for the best, and plan for the worst.

    I guess at what point DO you say It IS your life? Especially when you know there are things that aren't ever going to be 'right' - it makes you nuts wanting to protect them and at the same time finding the right balance so you are there for them but not IN their business so they can learn to be responsible for themselves.

    I think you're off to a fantastic start - BRAVO WARRIOR MOM -

  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    You've got the detachment idea.

    But I wanted to add, don't go blaming yourself and husband for Melissa's issues unnecessarily. Okay, so the fixing things for her and bailing her out of situations wasn't a good thing.

    But being an envolved parent and wanting to know what was going on in her life (especially as a kid) is NOT a bad thing.

    I don't bail my kids out of situations, I don't fix things for them. But I still have a kid with borderline. So be careful with the blame game.

  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I think I advocated too much for difficult child as she was moving along in her academic career and that somehow caused her to doubt her own abilities. This is not to absolve her of using the system to get away with little to no work, but yes, I think I was overly involved later on when I should have taken a step back. I don't think it's too late.

    If that's detachment, then yeah, you're doing it. I'm trying to do it. It's a good thing.
  6. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I am walking the walk with you!
    Geez, it is hard!
    I understand - I have totally have been the over-involved, over-protective, over-emotional Mom..........and it has to stop!

    Sending you hugs and support for our shared journey!
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It's realizing you have no power over their bad choices and letting them suffer natural consequences without your help so that they can learn to be independent and good people. It has nothing to do with love--actually, it's a loving act. It teaches them to stand on their own two feet (we can't live forever) and it frees us to have lives of our own, which is good for them to see. Bravo! You're doing GREAT!
  8. Sue C

    Sue C Active Member

    Thanks for the comments and encouraging words. I already "blew it" last night. Gosh--it is hard to change. Melissa had changed purses, and as she was going out the door I asked her if she had remembered to put her driver's license in her other purse (she is notorious for putting it in her jeans pocket or coat pocket or leaving it on her bathroom counter--she does not have/use a wallet). After I asked her, I realized I should not have. Maybe that is a start. The realization of what I'm doing/saying.

    She also should have gotten her depo provera shot on Friday and cancelled it because she wanted to go somewhere else instead. I reminded her yesterday she needed to get it (you have a 2-week window), and she said "yeah yeah." I do NOT want her to get pregnant! But here I am reminding her of yet another thing. (sigh)

  9. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen


    You don't necessarily need to detach from difficult child's, it's just part of any kid learning to grow up. I stopped telling 18 year old easy child son to take a house key with him when he left. After several phone calls (*IF* he remembered to charge his cell phone) to let him into the house, I just started letting him sit outside for a couple of hours. We tried hiding a key, then he'd use it and not put it back.

    Latest was not putting gas in the car. I saw it was BELOW empty. I quickly switched cars. I knew he'd be in trouble the next morning for school. Yep...get this call about 10 minutes after he left. I didn't answer. Let one of his buddies bail him out, which is what ultimately happened. Bet he won't let it get that low again!

  10. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Yeah, I guess there is kinda your answer.

    Copper 9not quite easy child, just a notch or two above difficult child) drove without insurance for awhile. "Better get insurance." Rolling eyes. "Kiddo, you get insurance yet?" "No, MOM, I'm WORKING on it!!"

    Fine. I dropped it.

    When she got pulled over and ticketed for no insurance, I certainly did not help her out.

    Of course, the Depo-Provera shot...I might remind her too...
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Actually, as a borderline person I couldn't agree with this statement more. Now my parents were not overly involved most of the time but when they were I rebelled horribly. This was especially true after I became an adult.

    My mother wanted to keep me completely dependent on her but she also wanted to throw that fact in my face at all times. It was a messed up dynamic. She was all about control. I wont get into the whole drama but...lets just say there were dependency issues and anger and rebellion.

    I'm not saying that is what you are doing at all. Don't take what I'm saying to mean that. I'm just saying that if someone is borderline then they can react in certain ways to certain situations because of the diagnosis. We are complex animals.
  12. Sue C

    Sue C Active Member

    Abbey -- Melissa has run out of gas about 3 times over the years. We never bailed her out on that one (because we remind her enough to make sure she gets gas before running out). She had to find a friend to help her out. The one time, she said she pushed her car herself out of a busy intersection 'cuz it ran out of gas right in the middle of the stoplights. Oh boy. She once told me she does not learn from her mistakes. I find that to be true.

    Big Bad Kitty -- Well, I think I may have to stay on her about the Depo shot. I do not want her having a baby!!

    Janet -- Thanks for sharing about your point of view from having Borderline (BPD). I don't THINK I try to control her, but that is probably what she sees it as. She made an odd statement one day not long ago. She said, "You and Dad just want me to live with you forever, don't you?" I thought HUH??!! No we don't.

  13. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Hi Sue,

    Yes, you are overly involved. Always have been as long as I've known you.

    A few times you tried to be the stronger parent but your husband time and time again usurped your efforts. So I think you gave up a long time ago. I can't say as I blame you really...but I'm sure glad to read this post and hope that both you and husband are ready to make some changes.

    Yes, Melissa is rebelling.

    Yes, Melissa is overly dependent.

    Where I get lost in your post is how you have made the connection between Borderline Personality Disorder, which is a very serious personality disorder, to her actions?

    I guess my thinking is that any kid would rebel against parents who are overly involved...let alone a young adult whose parents are still overly involved. I don't see her actions as necessarily meaning that she has Borderline (BPD).

    Melissa has not learned coping skills because she hasn't been forced to. Heck, the last I heard she's still sleeping on the floor of your bedroom on occasion. And the last I heard husband was still slipping her money when she needed it and after you had said no. So she learned manipulation skills early on. And she is now Master Class at it.

    That doesn't make her Borderline (BPD).

    I hope you don't mind me being so frank; we've known each other for a very long time so I hope you know I share these thoughts with utmost respect and affection.

    She is in her 20's now. You are doing her a disservice if you continue to stay as involved as you were. The most loving thing you can do is to let her learn life lessons the hard way...It is waaaaaay past time. And if she makes your life miserable, then she has to move out. Period.

    When Melissa experiences some serious lows and figures out FOR HERSELF how to make things better, only then will she gain some confidence and skill in managing her life in the Real World. Give her the gift of backing off.

  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Hey Suz...you calling me bad names again? LOL!

    Actually I think someone, somewhere along the line suggested to Sue that Melissa had Borderline (BPD) or Borderline (BPD) traits. And borderline personality disorder is probably going to be removed soon from the personality disorder category and moved over onto AXIS 1 under Emotional Regulation Disorder which makes much more sense because it has nothing to do with the personality of the person. We aint broke!
  15. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Janet, you know I wasn't referring to you. I've never understood your diagnosis of Borderline (BPD) either, to be honest. A couple of docs suggested it for Rob because he was so cold, calculating, disconnected from the rest of us, breaking the law all the time and didn't care, had no sense of "self", without a conscience, etc....characteristics that I've never associated to you...or Melissa.

    I'm sure you understood that my point was that a person rebelling against too much interference doesn't mean they have Borderline (BPD).

  16. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Hi All,
    well,why don't I chime in here too? To confuse things even more, there is research that has shown that a person with Borderline (BPD) will benefit from more family involvement. I am in a support group for parents of kids with Borderline (BPD) and the moderator, who has written a well received book on the subject, says that greater involvement actually can lead to a better outcome for people with Borderline (BPD). However, she is clearly in favor of strong boundaries and not allowing any manipulative type behaviors. She has mastered Detachment herself while being able to give her dtr the support she needs.

    I don't think my dtr has Borderline (BPD) but when I joined the support group she had every one of the criteria I think and it can be diagnosed in someone under 18 if the "symptoms" have been going on long enough. All the professionals said she had Borderline (BPD) traits. I think in her case she really did need to have the parental safety net removed--she would not step up to the plate until we did that.

    I think Melissa sounds a lot like the kids of the parents in my support group so it wouldn't surprise me if she had Borderline (BPD). I am glad you are going to try to push her to independence, Sue. I agree with the others that it is time to let her lead an adult life. I know it is hard, I know you see her as fragile--that is how I saw my dtr. She has toughened up a lot since being on her own but it has been a roller coaster ride. She has a lot of pride in her ability to care for herself now though so it has been worth it. Good luck!

  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Parental involvement is great...parental smothering and controlling is not. They are two different animals.

    Here are the The Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines, Revised
    Gunderson and his colleague, Jonathan Kolb, tried to make the diagnosis of Borderline (BPD) by constructing a clinical interview to assess borderline characteristics in patients. The DIB was revised in 1989 to sharpen its ability to differentiate between Borderline (BPD) and other personality disorders. It considers symptoms that fall under four main headings:

    1. Affect
    * chronic/major depression
    * helplessness
    * hopelessness
    * worthlessness
    * guilt
    * anger (including frequent expressions of anger)
    * anxiety
    * loneliness
    * boredom
    * emptiness
    2. Cognition
    * odd thinking
    * unusual perceptions
    * nondelusional paranoia
    * quasipsychosis
    3. Impulse action patterns
    * substance abuse/dependence
    * sexual deviance
    * manipulative suicide gestures
    * other impulsive behaviors
    4. Interpersonal relationships
    * intolerance of aloneness
    * abandonment, engulfment, annihilation fears
    * counterdependency
    * stormy relationships
    * manipulativeness
    * dependency
    * devaluation
    * masochism/sadism
    * demandingness
    * entitlement

    I have all of them under Affect,all but quasipsychosis under Cognition, all but substance abuse now under Impulse action patterns but as a teen I would have had them all, and under number 4, I have all but masochism/sadism.
  18. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Wow. Janet, I have to say I don't think I've seen it listed that way before.

    I just sit here shaking my head as I click off the ones for Nichole. And to think I didn't want to believe the diagnosis at first.

    I'm gonna copy that list.

  19. Sue C

    Sue C Active Member

    Suz -- Awhile back, someone had said they thought Melissa might have Borderline (BPD) and so I read a book or two about it and checked it out on the internet. husband and I really feel she has it. She has 7 of the 9 DSM criteria. I think if she went in for an evaluation, she would be diagnosed with it but she says there is nothing wrong with her and won't go in. You are right in that Melissa has not learned coping skills because she has not been forced to. No, she has not slept on our bedroom floor since high school (I know that was outrageous); most nights she sleeps on the couch with the light and TV on (or in her bed with the light on). Yes, husband has been slipping her money even when I tell him he shouldn't. Hopefully, that is stopping! Yes, Melissa is extremely manipulating. husband and I will try hard to back off, as you suggest.

    Jane -- You said: "I know it is hard, I know you see her as fragile--that is how I saw my dtr. She has toughened up a lot since being on her own but it has been a roller coaster ride. She has a lot of pride in her ability to care for herself now though so it has been worth it." I think you are right. I do see Melissa as fragile, and it is good to hear from you that your daughter toughened up and has pride in her ability to care for herself. I will look forward to that in Melissa.

    Janet -- You said: "Parental involvement is great...parental smothering and controlling is not." Thanks for that explanation. As far as the symptoms you list in the 4 categories, Melissa has all but 1 in the Affect category; all but 1 in Cognition; all but 2 in Impulse Action Patterns; and all but 3 in Interpersonal Relationships. Was that information from a book and if so, could you please give me the name of it? Thanks.

  20. Sue C

    Sue C Active Member

    Just have to post this happy post. Melissa wanted us to loan her some money (she does not get paid 'til one week from today!). We told her no, that she has to learn how to budget her money. She already owes us money--the IOU's are hanging on the refrigerator, and she must pay back something from each paycheck. She is not getting any further money from us.

    Anyway, she got angry that we would not lend her the money. In the past, husband would have just given her the money to shut her up.....but he DIDN'T!!!!

    She closed herself up in her bedroom all afternoon. This evening she went with a friend to a movie with a free movie pass she got for Christmas from work. She was perfectly fine.

    She left and husband told me how we must stay strong and not give her any money. I do believe he finally gets it!!