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Aaaargh!!!!! Need to vent. I just got blasted by my sister and told I should visit my mother more often and help her more.We both are at a distance but I am the one who visits and helps. Even when my sister does visit she does not help but has a "holiday". I have moved mother twice in the past year and still have a room full of her belongings to sort through from the first move. I, at 73, have my own health problems to look after. I do the best I can for mother, but she is Borderline and I have to set very firm boundaries for my own health. She has a lovely 2 bedroom apartment in a seniors complex, the staff is working on providing her with her some of her food needs as she says she cannot eat in the dining room, she has an ex nurse who shops for her and helps her in other ways, a couple who pick her up and take to to and from church and at 98 is still quite mobile and bright, and yet complains all the time and is unhappy - not that that is anything new. Time for a break from it all!!! Thanks to those who read this - just needed to get the frustration out.
Joan

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It is a safe place which is what we all need. Yes, I am interested in your writing, Crowe. The title has already intrigued me. Is there somewhere that I can share an email addy without sharing it with the world? Try this - you can use my user name here at that "live" place in Canada if that makes sense to you. I am happy to email with members here. I have not seen nor heard of The Blind Side - just looked it up - young man, trauma, recovering with the help of a caring family - Oh My - that would hit home! I am glad you can shed those tears. Someone once mentioned to me "years of tears" regarding recovering from a dysfunctional family. It fits. Just looked up Running with Scissors too - dear me - "the son of an alcoholic father and an unstable mother" - that would hit home - for me as well I am sure. Through these discussions I am realising that in a sense my mother is trying to make me a substitute spouse as I am like my father in some ways (though not an alcoholic) and I am not cooperating. I have my own life and I will keep it and keep it as healthy as I can. Like your mother mine believes that my main job is to keep her happy, to fix whatever is wrong and that it is my fault if all is not well, I was trained into that for years too, Crowe, and it makes me sad to say it. They do have this sense that we are their property and exist to serve their needs, that we owe them and that our needs don't matter. What a way to be brought up!!! I look foward to reading your writing.
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Ted and Joan, sometimes I get rather self-conscious when writing about myself vs how bold I can be when giving advice or commentating, but you are both right that this is a place to vent and a very safe place to vent.

Joan, I'll send you my writing that I mentioned by e-mail if you are interested. I tell ya, gaining insights about one's family of origin is like pealing an onion, one layer after another with more and more tears. Speaking of tears, I don't know if you have seen the movie "The Blind Side" or know about it, but I cried the whole movie and if I'm in a place like Blockbuster and they have it playing, I have to leave because I start crying again. Also, the movie "Running with Sicors," my wife was curious and rented, but I found the movie physically and emotionally revolting plus my Lab did not seem to like the movie either, so we both got out of the house. The mom in the first movie I mentioned adopted the young boy and was the mother I never had. The mom in the second movie was way too much like my mother who even in her second marriage still used me as her substitute spouse for my step-dad was nothing more than an escape ticket from her emotionally distant mother and my senile great aunt where I was supposedly the 'little man of the house', but when we left somewhere around age 11 she assured me that I would always be 'mommy's little man' Dang, she still at times verbally strikes out at me like I belong to her and my main job is to make her happy and fix whatever is wrong and if I don't then it's all my fault. I recognize that and don't buy into it, but that's what I was trained into for years. It was not until I moved completely away after finishing college that I even began to get some freedom and no wonder it took me until after age 30 to get married. While I knew what she was doing was wrong, she was the one in control and so when I complained to her around age 13 to let go of me because she was married now, she did not respond immediately, but waited until we were back in that huge, two story, old southern style, house in her hometown to let me know that I belonged to her and to not complain anymore. Some of us are cursed with puberty at 10. Dammmm!!!!!!
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(((((((((Crowe)))))))) Never be sorry about honestly sharing yourself - to me anyway. I believe we learn and grow by giving and receiving. I was my father's emotional spouse and can relate to the flashbacks. He was alcoholic which is still denied by other family members. However, he was my nurturing parent (no warmth in mother) and for that I am thankful. Back to distancing parents, I believe we are created with a need for nurturing parents. How this messes us up at times but may also account for our survival. Life is a mixed bag. I can accept the good and shed the bad and it is my job to separate them and choose. Regarding your friend with the multiple flashbacks, I have them of my family of origin and also of my youngest son's death. I think PTSD plays a bigger part in emotiomal trauma than most recognize. There are techniques to help. With my son I placed my favourite picture of him on the wall where I could see it from my seat in the living room and when the flashbacks came of him in hospital/funeral home, I forced myself to focus on the picture of him smiling and happy. I have used this in other contexts too. We cannot entirely choose when images come into our consciousness but we can choose what to do with them. The flashbacks have lessened over the years. and are not as disturbing as before. Facing feelings can be tough but is necessary for forward movement, and they are temporary. Vent any time you like!
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Crowe, You know that venting is what do here!
Don't be making apologies for that!
For the most I have been able to put my sister and brother and thier hateful, thieving nonsense behind me, still can't afford the lawyer yet, but when I can i hope to be able to let that go too and just let it all play out as it will.
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Ted, it sounds like you are making great progress with your internal boundaries concerning your sister. Wonderful!!!

emjo, I think my SIL became my FIL "covert" spouse, but I think more in the sense that they worked as a team to keep the family together than in the sense that she really became his emotional partner.

The other type of being the 'covert spouse' is described in the book "Silently Seduced: When Parents Make their Children Partners" This book served as a tipping point in my own journey. I went straight to the chapter about moms and sons. Wow, someone has written about my life.

While this book is small and one would think probably similar to the larger book "The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to do When a Parent's Love Rules Your Life", it was a gold mine for me and maybe because it was written by a man with a chapter for men was what made the difference.

Reading part of that book was like a bombshell which set off an explosion of memories, i.e. events, feelings, thoughts, as well as things my mother said to me which went beyond the book. I shared with Ted a poem that I wrote about being a substitute spouse. At first I thought it was a song because I used a modified title from the song "Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys" to Mamas don't raise up your boys to be substitute spouses" However, fitting it into the rhyme of the song takes a lot from it, It was a powerful experience when my therapist read it out loud to me in his office. It is easier to compartmentalize something painful into a song than it is to face the full emotional baggage of reading that written work with the feelings that are behind each sentence and the painful damage of that experience is one dam life long sentence. Mom's side of the family might be good Presbyterian people, but there is a generational problem there for evidently my uncle became a substitute spouse for my grandmother in place of her alcoholic husband which made his younger sisters very jealous and never like him. I hate it when my wife and I are having some intimate time together and into my head flies some memories of my mother. I know that I'm not alone for I've run into other men who stories are the same. A very good friend of mine experienced such flashbacks when he brought his demented mother to live with his family. He has flashbacks about his childhood experience with his mom and her sister plus Vietnam. Wow, have I gotten off topic this am and vented all about me. Sorry.
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Thank you Ted! I appreciate you and Crowe and Ed too. I have worked hard to get where I am - plus a certain innate stubbornness to be myself not a person driven by others or circumstances. I have been blessed by some wonderful friends along the way. The crowning touch was the loss of my youngest son to assault over eight years ago.. It was/is very clarifying. Sounds like we are a Seinfleld gang - 3 guys and a gal very honest with one another. ;)
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Ed and Crowe, You have both impressed me in one way or another over the time I've been coming here, and now we have JOAN! You are one together lady!
We are all going to have our low times, but I can only hope that each of your insights and strengths are as comforting and uplifting for yourselves as they have been for me.
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TED:

I'm going to use that one. Thanks.
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Thaks again - the guilt/blame (or lack of it) thing is pretty well settled in my mind, I remember once as a very young child-(preschool) having been blasted by my mother by something, thinking that I may have been "bad" but that no one deserved that kind of treatment so she had a problem. That is not to say that I did not suffer over the years - I did, I was a substitute spouse for my father, which incurred my mother and sister's jealous wrath. (an Aha! moment here - just put that together better than ever before). I engaged in therapy over the years and am glad you are benefitting too. One thing that came through strongly was the need to protect myself.
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Thanks Crowe - I believe mother is safe and in a good environment. This is confirmed by her financial advisor who visits her occasionally and is a godsend. I have it on professional opinion that my sister is, if anything, worse than my mother - she just caught me by surprise by being direct. I glanced through the types on the internet and though I would say there are things in all that apply though probably mother is more a mixture of the Queen and the Witch. She does want servants, is very narcissistic, and doesn't hesitate to say cruel things if she thinks it will serve her purpose. I find it helpful to keep reminding myself that it is an illness. Mother would wear me to the bone if I complied, which I did for a few months moving her last year, but I don't anymore and will not do it again. As far as my sister is concerned I keep my distance - she is a manipulator big time.
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emjo,

Try to remember 4 things.

1. You did not cause your mother or your sister to have BPD.

2. You can't control their BPD.

3. You can't fix their BPD.

4. The only thing you really can do is choose a healthy path for yourself and stay there regardless if your mom or sister chose or do not choose a healthy path for themselves.
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emjo, as you already know, I'm sure, the borderline personality disorder has a very strong narcissistic streak in it. Unfortunately, my wife got the brunt of her mother's narcissism because as a twin each parent took one child on as theirs to raise. My SIL was raised by a very nurturing, brilliant, artistic, feminized slave of a man. Thus, she is a rescue type person. I'm very proud of my wife getting all of the help she has since 1988 in dealing with the baggage from this crap. My own mother basically was a more educated version of my narcissistic mom who used me to meet her emotional needs while never meeting dad's emotional needs, my step-dad's emotional needs and much less mine. She chose the type of man to marry the second time who would only serve as an escape ticket, but not threatened her bond with me. Thus, most of my childhood and adolescence is a blur. It's taken the last 4 out of the last 7 years of therapy to begin dealing with the blur. The best thing that i can say about the hell of these flashbacks is that as I deal with them my wife and I feel closer to each other. Frankly, these last three months have been tough for as I go into 'free association of thoughts and feelings' these flashbacks roll like a water fall and other times they just take place. Mother's should not raise up their sons to be substitute spouses. :(
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Frankly, having dealt with borderlines in my family, I'd make sure mom was safe and taken care of, keep up your boundaries like your doing as well as consider possibly that your sister does not want to spend hardly anytime with her borderline mother or it may be that they are two peas out of the same pod. My SIL is wearing her cancer survivor self to the bone trying to do way too much for her narcissistic mother while her sister stays away as much as possible. In light of the book, Understanding the Borderline Mother which type is yours?
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I went throgh te same thing when my mother had bone .My sisters wanted to put her in a nh but she didn't want togo.so I took her home and stayed with her.When she past i was standing by her bed side holding her hand.I told her that I loved her. I miss her very much.
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Love it!
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My favorite clitche lately is;
"What other people think about me is none of my business."
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Thanks Ted - I appreciate your assessment. It sounds like our sisters are similar. It is so easy to stand at a distance and criticise others. "I have found that my own sister seems to blame me for all the things that SHE feels guily about" - so, so true.Blocking her out is good. I am getting better and better at ignoring things. I agree the key is to continue to do what you think is best for all despite what others say. Let her walk a mile in your moccasins before she criticises. No room for her stuff - you got it right there! Let it roll off like water off a duck's back - think I am growing feathers! (and sprouting cliches lol)

Take care
Joan
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Thanks Ed - I think mother is getting enough help but she doesn't, and has a crisis if she doesn't have bananas when she wants them etc. I can't (won't) call the residence every time things don't go exactly as she wants them. A lot of it, IMO, is attention getting. As for my sister, she won't lift a finger to help mother so no hope for sharing responsibility there. Every time I have asked her I get an excuse or the guilt tripping. "Dope-fiending" - new phrase - works for me. As for guilt trips - BTDT got the t-shirt, wore it out and threw it away and not getting another one. When you grow up with a Borderline mum you can learn pretty early. I know my sister won't meet me half way. She has always been angry at me and expressed it covertly. This time she took me by surprise and expressed it overtly - in a way it is kind of freeing lol.

Thanks again for the boost.
Joan
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Joan, Sounds like you are doing everything just right! So try to just ignore your sister. I have found that my own sister seems to blame me for all the things that SHE feels guily about, so I just block her out and continue to do what I think is the best thing for my mom and myself. I just don't have the room for her stuff.
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JOAN:

Sounds to me like your Mom is getting more than enough help. As for your sister, all I can say is try to work out a schedule where both of you can share the visits -- and the responsibility. She's just trying to flip the script on you and make you feel guilty about her not doing enough. As they say at the residential treatment facility where I work: she's "dopefiending."

At 73, I don't blame you for enforcing the boundaries consistently. It keeps you from getting sick ... and getting "played" by the people whom you thought would meet you halfway.

Take care of yourself lovely lady, and keep us posted.

-- ED
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