How Do You Cope, As An Adult Child Of A Bpd Mother?

A couple months ago I was given a copy of the book Understanding the Borderline Mother, which I'm sure many of you here are familiar with (and if you're not I would recommend it). I was absolutely blown away by this book. So much of it hit so closely to home. After all these years (I'm 30), I finally had a name for what was wrong with my mother and some validation that there's really something wrong with her. It truly felt like she was the subject of many parts of the book. It sounds weird, but I was excited. I had always felt like my sisters and I were alone with this problem.
It's been a year since I've spoken to her. I just couldn't handle the nastiness, the anxiety I felt, dreading holidays, dreading listening to voicemails, any of it, anymore.
It's fascinating to be a part of a board where so many others can relate. It's incredible how similar the stories are to my own. I'm curious to hear some feedback from others who have cut their borderline parent out of their life. It's a bit of a struggle for me at times. Sometimes I feel guilty. It's also sad for me to look back on my childhood and struggle to call up any truly happy memories. I suspect I will go through my entire life feeling this way. I've contemplated going to a therapist, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for. Growing up with this person has always made me feel like I could never completely relate to people around me. I feel slighted, knowing that I will never get a normal happy childhood. I'm not angry, just saddened. Any advice?
llrrcc llrrcc
26-30, F
24 Responses Aug 22, 2012

Wow. I just found this and it's been incredibly therapeutic to read this post and everyone's responses. I'm 30 and have gone back and forth with cutting my BPD mom out of my life multiple times. I'm an only child, so I feel guilty for ending our relationship since she doesn't have any other kids, but have also acknowledged that I'm happier with out her. Growing up she exhibited the "witch" and the "queen." Now that I"m an adult and have learned to set boundaries, she sees me as an abuser and shows more "waif" and "hermit" characteristics. Like so many here have mentioned, those outside of my immediately family think my mom is amazing. Only those inside the family know her true colors and how hard living with this disorder is. I've done extensive research and have tried to learn as much as I can about the disorder. I try to have empathy, but it's so hard. The hardest part for me as an adult is the rejection I feel. You'd think after 30 years I'd get used to it/over it, but being rejected by your own mother is never easy.

My bpd mother died two days ago at the age of 90. She had slipped into dementia in her last couple of years and no longer recognized me as her daughter. Thus, I got to experience the personality she put on for people who were not close to her. She was quite personable. But her caregivers said she gave them a very difficult time. It helped validate my childhood memories when they told me how she would be sweet and kind one moment, and a raging ***** the next, spitting food, kicking them, scratching them, verbally abusing them. One of the most difficult things for me when I was a child was when people would tell me what a sweet, wonderful mother I had. I'd be thinking, "Like hell she is," but there seemed to be no point in trying to tell anyone. My paternal grandmother certainly knew something was wrong and tried to talk to me about it, but I recall perceiving this as a threat to my mother. I wouldn't open up to my grandmother. Despite how mean my mother was to me, I loved her and wanted to protect her. Unfortunately, borderline disorder was not recognized in those days. My mother knew something was wrong with her, and she sought help from a series of psychiatrists who prescribed the crude antidepressants of the time. Her drug of choice was morphine. She was quite pleasant to be around when she was on morphine. But it was not readily available. She had to claim severe back pain to get prescriptions for it. Her life must have been hellish almost all the time. Many years ago, I realized that nothing I could do for my mother would ever be enough. Not even to lay my life down at her feet would have been enough, as she would have accused me of not being immortal and dismissed me as a failure. I made sure her physical needs were well taken care of and decided I would only call her or go to see her when I wanted to, which was not very often, maybe twice a year. Interestingly, she was much nicer to me under these conditions than she had been when I tried to meet her demands. I thought I had pretty much resolved my feelings about her, but a lot of old stuff is coming up after her death. As one person said, I am grieving not only for my loss but for what I never had. I feel a great sadness for me and my brother and for all the potential that was there for my mother at the start of her life. Great sadness for how painful her life must have been. I remember her coming to my room in tears after yelling and beating sessions when I was small, begging for forgiveness, telling me how much she loved me. I imagine she was truly, truly sorry for what she had done, but as a small child I could only turn away. Who wanted a love that involved being yelled at and beaten? Despite the emotional damage, I do recall many happy moments from my childhood, when I would go for long walks alone, or hang out with friends; and although my young adulthood was difficult and sometimes excruciating, it too had many happy moments, and life as a whole became pretty good once I figured out I had the power to make my own way in the world. The advice I have for young people who have been through the meat grinder of childhood with a bpd parent is: realize that you cannot fix your parent and the emotional health of you parent is not your responsibility. Realize you can never satisfy them, not because you are flawed, but because your parent is not capable of sustained satisfaction. Don't feel guilty about feeling anger at the way you were treated as a child. Acknowledge that it sucked to grow up with a badly damaged and damaging parent. To pick one's self up from such an ordeal and go on and find happiness is heroic. I was with my mother at the end. The hospice people said it looked as though she waited to die until I got there. I said to her, "Thank you for giving me life. Everything will be OK. You did the best you could. You did well. God will take care of you." They said it seemed as though she needed my blessing before she could die peacefully. I meant what I told her. I believe she did do her best, with what she had. She did give me life, and in the end I managed to find happiness. I'm sad that she never seemed to find happiness for herself, but at least it seemed as though she was able to die in peace.

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I am a 34, mom has BPD, I diagnosed her at 16 from my high school psychology book. She is high functioning, but has an endless string relationships/friendships/work issues that have crashed and burned throughout her life. She's retired now, lives alone, and has simmered down a bit in her 60s partially due to failing health and low energy.

I still struggle with the fallout of a traumatic childhood with her, but I have come a long way from early adulthood. Looking back on most of my late teens and 20s, I can't believe the level at which I let her manipulate my emotions. Like many adult children of BPD parent(s), I have an endless amount of stories of her throwing tantrums at me in public, showing up at my work/apt unannounced, stalking me via phone, social media, email, through relatives, and being verbally and physically abusive. For most of my 20s, I went through repetitive cycles of tolerating this bad behavior, then cutting her off after a particularly bad rage, then slowly allowing her back in out of guilt, and looking back....because I was more innocent and believed she would change. Nowadays, the first sign of her "bad behavior" and I'm off running for the hills. I won't tolerate it on the phone, via email, and her and I never spend more than 1 consecutive day alone. I am completely non responsive, and she knows that she has lost her power to be incredibly evil towards me. And because she still wants a relationship with me, she does it on my terms. I think being older myself has helped. Compared to 10 years ago, I am more grounded, I know what I want out of my relationships, and I am a lot more "no nonsense" in other aspects of my life aside from relationship w/mother (partner, career, friends). I think what has also helped is that I'm a lot busier now compared to my 20s when I had the time to engage in endless drama. So now, I frequently use the excuse "sorry I haven't been around been too busy with (work) (house) (dog) (in-laws)" I also split my time between two families now for holidays, and visits, and generally keep my distance from her this way.

Like many borderlines, mom is highly intuitive and can "smell" or sense weakness and strength in people, and can tell how much manipulation someone will tolerate from her. My best advice for adults struggling with their BPD parents is: Set boundaries. Set them high. Because people (particularly those with BPD) will treat you how you allow them to.

What I've learned in my 30s that I didn't quite get in my 20s is that even though mom is important to me, she's only one person in my life. And there are too many people and not enough time to spend with everyone. So why waste a disproportionate amount on people who treat you terribly? If mom wants to be in my life she better at least meet me a quarter of the way in terms of showing me some level of respect. This is true of friends as well, but particularly true of toxic relatives.

It's great you figured this out at a relatively young age, sschleanon. You're so right -- having your own busy life helps a LOT. The bpd mother is only a small part of your life, not a major focus. I think what helped me the most was realizing how strong I was and how capable of taking care of myself.

My biggest fear is turning into my mother. I'm terrified of treating any children I might have the way she treated me but having no idea I've done this. What if I think I'm justified the way she did? What if I do these things and then have complete memory loss like she did? My mother was diagnosed last year (I was also excited and cried tears of relief when it happened, you're not weird) and whilst talking about past episodes I explained that when I discussed things she had done and she denied all knowledge it made me feel like she was trying to make me go crazy. She replied that when I told her these things had happened she felt exactly the same. This shocked me into seeing things from her perspective but also terrified me, I know my mum isn't a bad person, she didn't decide to have a child so that she could abuse them, she is just Ill. All my close family know that I want them to tell me if I ever get like her, I constantly try and evaluate myself, am I right to be upset about something or angry, have I been wronged or am I being unreasonable. One quote that I saw that really helped me was "you are looking for logic where there is none". It isn't our fault that our parents are like this, we haven't don'e anything wrong and we can't reason with them, whether we talk calmly or cry and beg. I've had to cut my mum out of my life a few times but I'm never happy when I do this and in fact I'm just filled with guilt and bitterness. I'm trying my best to forgive her and Come to terms with the fact that I will have no closure. I love my mother and I always will do, when I'm angry at her I just feel sad and full of poison. Since I've decided to forgive and let go I've been much happier overall and I do beleive this is the healthiest option for me. I know it's hard but maybe try to focus on the good instead of the bad, I know these may be far and few between but I like to focus on good memories instead of bad ones, I also like to remember she is ill. I wouldn't be angry at her if she had a physical illness. I wish you luck and love and I hope you find something that works for you.

perhaps counseling will help you find what your looking for. I think counseling helps a lot , once you've found the right councellor. A lot of kids are dealing with a parent with BPD. Perhaps you can help someone else understand their situation. I understand how unfortunate of a situation this can be. I have two girls and a borderline ex. What a nightmare. Good luck.

The joy I feel in knowing my siblings and I are not alone in this is… it's just amazing. To read everyone's stories, to know there's others out there, I feel like I found my long lost siblings. I'm so terribly sorry we have all had to go through this, but praise God we can find comfort and support! I am 28 and haven't been in communication with my mother with undiagnosed BPD in 4 1/2 years. I always, always thought there was something wrong with me. I never felt I fit in, always felt different, thought no one would understand. And though our situations are all unique, you guys get it. I am reading the book "Surviving a Borderline Parent" and it's helping! I've been through counseling, and pray a lot… I have come to find peace in letting my mother go, but to find answers is something else. Happy to have found this network. I'm in northern California if any out there ever needs to meet for an in-person support group!

Hi -- I am in the Bay Area, if you want to meet up for support!

I feel exactly like you. The same book I read, the same feeling of relief and also, yes, excitement. It is normal and healthy! It's so amazing to know that the cure was given before the disease. If you check the date the book was written, it was probably a few years before you were even born. This, my friend, proves that we can just be stronger. Stronger than a lot of other people. Obviously they are lucky to have grown with healthy parents, and I aspire to be a healthy mother one day soon, but it just comes to prove how amazing our personalities can be now that we realize that we are survivors. I'd recommend to go to a warm therapist that will help you sort out your deep sadness and yes, also anger. My therapist is teaching me that healthy relationships are not ruined by anger expressed in a healthy way. We, as children of BPD are so afraid of being angry because it reminds us of the outbursts of our BDP parent, but you have to know my friend that it just accumulates. You WON'T become your mother, you CAN express anger in a healthy way and most importantly LEARN how to do it
I wish you a lot of strenght. I support you and I'm with you and I have so much respect for you!

I feel exactly the same way. I wish I could go back to that little girl and tell her to cut Mom out of her life a LOT sooner than I did (a little over a week ago...and I'm 50) The years of abuse are in no way comprehensible to someone who has grown up in a normal family.

OMG I just turned 50 also and I can't handle the abuse any longer. I have put up with it for so long and now I feel I am too old to shoulder it and emotionally drained ! I had a panic attack recently when being "questioned" by my mother and she threw me out of her house for expressing why I was hurt by something she did. I tried to explain it to her in a calm manner as my heart was beating out of my chest. I felt the blood leaving me and getting weak but I stood there barely breathing to say what I needed to say and she became that ANGRY MONSTER again screaming and cursing me in front of my young teen and she threw me out of her house. Now she has my brother calling me and demanding me to call her. We haven't spoken since Jan 1 but I have dropped off my daughter to see her and have sent her Valentine chocolate and a card, 2 texts without responses. Her birthday is next week and the palpitations and anxiety are starting again because my brother is pushing me to call her and I feel the expectations. I mailed her a birthday card with tickets to her favorite show yet she did not even respond to that. I am not sure what to do...I really don't want to be abused anymore and especially in front of my daughter. So I can understand you and I am not sure what to do as a "good person"?

Honor yourself. Remember that there is no reasoning with crazy. what makes you a good person has absolutely nothing to do with what your mother thinks. We can't take what borderlines think of us personally.

I was just reading an article a few moments ago that talked about how we need to start living for ourselves and making ourselves happy, and stop trying to please the borderline. Why? Because the borderline will never be happy with anything that we do. Their expectation is perfection and nothing less than perfection will be accepted, which is of course impossible to achieve, so no matter what we say or do they will still find some fault in everything. These people are eternally miserable and nothing that anyone says and does will help them. They only get better when they decide to help themselves (if they are even able to recognize their problem). They love to play the victim,and will twist their view of reality to make themselves out to be the victim and us the bad guys. And sadly a lot of times they don't even realize that this is why they are doing. My suggestion? Don't stress yourself out over your mother. Nothing that has happened or is currently happening is your fault. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. YOU ARE NOT A BAD PERSON. Love your life and show your daughter an example of what being a happy, healthy adult woman is and don't let your mother walk all over you. You have no reason to do that. Yes, your mother is ill, but that does not justify you being abused for your whole life. You deserve better and deserve more than this. If she can't appreciate what you're trying to do for her and she can't see the value in you as a person, then that's her problem, not yours. You tried being a good daughter. You're not doing anything wrong by cutting her out of your life to prevent further abuse and torment for yourself. Borderlines will only treat you the way that you allow them to treat you, not the way that you deserve to be treated. Set up your boundaries, don't let her cross those boundaries, and stop trying to hard to please her, because it will only lead to further pain on your part, and she won't respect you.

I've finally reached a breaking point. My mom was raised by an emotionally abusive mother. When she was young, many times when her mother was mad, she would ignore her and leave sticky notes all over the house. When she got older, they would go for quite some time not speaking to each other. I'm 39 years old and I don't know what to do. During the past few years, about every 9-12 mos., I've been given the silent treatment for things she's blamed me for, such as my grandma's will, her grief over my dad's death to name a couple. I live 2 hours away and she complains about the distance. She has never approved of any decision I've made, such as buying a car, where to live, where to send my children to school, etc. The most recent is that she paid for my daughter and I to go to Disney with her in Dec. 2013. In June, my husband's family did a week-long vacation at a beach for a cousin's wedding. She's been ignoring me for weeks and today I finally was told the problem. She feels that her Disney trip was upstaged by my family's 1st vacation. She was about to start another silent treatment and I asked her this time to explain her reasoning and she gave me demands: 1st demand - apologize to her for not calling her on my trip, belittling the Disney trip (which I never did), and not missing her on my vacation. (She took a vacation in April and never called me.) Vacations get busy and when people get home, you catch up with each other. 2nd demand - delete all my family vacation photos from Facebook or she will defriend me, which she did. 3rd demand - find a way to take her to Put-N-Bay Island on Monday because she wanted to go today and never asked me to come (can't read her mind). I just couldn't take another fight and as much as it pains me, I gave in to all her demands. I don't know how to deal with this. My brother recommends a therapist. He's been seeing one for the past 2 years to help deal with his anxiety with Mom. It's like you walk on eggshells with her. You never know when she's mad and when she's mad, you never know what the problem is. Most of the time it's for things I can't control, like blaming me for her lack of communication with her mom during her mom's last years because they had a fight at my baby shower that my mom threw for me. Because they had a fight at my shower, my shower was to blame. Not to mention she blames me because I live so far away and can't help take care of my grandpa. So now I've become an adult who's scared of her mother, has little self-esteem, and has social anxiety issues. I always sacrifice myself to make her happy. My brother calls me the "peacekeeper" in the family because every time there's a conflict, I'm the one to try to patch it up. My children are young and they are very outgoing. I want to do everything in my power to make sure they are not afraid of social situations and to have the freedom to make their own choices as adults. She's my mom and I want her in my life, but today I've felt like I've been chewed up and spit out. I will never look at her the same.


I totally get where you are coming from. I didn't learn that my mother was BPD until recently (last year actually, and I'm 35!). I always knew there was something wrong with her, as did my siblings. As and adult she makes me feel as though I am nothing with out her help and guidance. Her and I do not have a close relationship, although she doesn't understand why. There are parts of my childhood I can't remember or when I do, I wish I hadn't.

She has many demands in order to receive her acceptance, love and help in life. As you stated, there were many times when I felt I had no choice in the matter and did what she wanted me to do. Now, I am in a relationship and live several thousands of miles away from my parents (my father simply enables my mother and her behaviors). They still have a huge impact on my life, but I am learning what I need to do in order to put distance between them and me, both emotionally and physically. I am in a situation right now where I am in need of financial assistance and I am getting stipulations from my parents in order to receive their help. These are no where near reasonable or logical. Some of them include me moving back home with them, looking for a job in my field (not many calls for an entomologist or conservationist), and to walk away from my relationship with my current BF who is a wonderful and supportive person.

All I can say is be strong and realize this is a long and difficult process. You can do this! You are not alone and you deserve to be happy. We all do.

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I am only stuck with her today because I am not working right now, I don't have a car, I don't have money, so I have to tolerate her abuse. I hate who she is but I love her because she is my mother. She doesn't know who and what I am. She's clueless, she has a very low I.Q. she cuts me down so I can feel low about myself when in reality I am very sharp, bright, inspirational, motivator and very creative. She doesn't see that in me. She is jealous of me, she hates on me, she makes me cringe when she tries to wrap her arms around me, or even in the car, if our elbows touch, i get sick! I feel like I am developing ulcers..
She nit picks a lot. Gives me attitude, if she doesn't get her way! I don't like to be around someone, family or not, if they have a very toxic and negative energy. Because it's starting to wear off sometimes. Today, i just don't have a choice...
She just thinks she's better than everyone. All my family members and anyone i know around her are scared of her, and in reality, if I did have money, and settled, this would never happen, i would take care of her financially but I would never live with her. I only have one life and I want to be happy and being under one roof with her is not my ideal. So not fair for me when she had taunted and haunted me for many years of my existence. I don't want to feel dead every day of my life here living with her & my step father. She's not good for me. I don't want to be scared of her anymore.

the best advice I received in therapy was you're not equipped to know how to care or deal with someone with a severe mental illness (would you take on someone with schizophrenia? It's put it in a new perspective for me as my mom always tries to move in with me when she is raging against her boyfriend. She will force things to get as bad and dramatic as they can ...until there is no choice that he must ask her to leave as he lives in a duplex with other family members. Then she calls me to move her with all of her stuff on the lawn unpacked. I move her in and then she demands all kinds of ridiculous things and makes herself at home not like a house guest but as though I'm her guest then she rages at me and leaves doing the same to the next sibling or bystander willing to help. The chaos of this disorder is overwhelming if you aren't careful you can literally get absorbed into their existence and lose any life you've tried to create for yourself (if you've been able to do that with the handicapping that has gone on) I've decided not to let her live with me again ... as hard as that will be even if she has to go to a shelter next because consequences are the only thing that will teach someone with bpd that their behavior has them. To help them out of their self created dramas only enables them to make more of them... they lack the normal wake-up call mechanisms and ability to fix their own lives because they manipulate everyone into fixing them. Ultimately if they can't see the turmoil is self created then they won't seek real help. They may go to therapy but won't ever get better.

I feel so relieved to read this, I have a mother with undiagnosed bpd. She has continuously hurt me and my two siblings to the point where we have all cut contact with her, all for different reasons in which she is the 'victim'.
I also made the decision to stop my 7 year old son from seeing her due to an incident involving him, which I have never done before. this decision along with family illness and bereavement has caused my son to feel anxious (he has seen a counsellor at school) and I completely blame myself for him feeling like this, i have intense feelings of guilt as I never wanted this for him and always question if I am doing the right thing.
As an adult child of a mother with bpd I have feelings of worthlessness, not being good enough, inferior to everyone else (which impacts greatly on my performance in my job) I have been on antidepressants for 9 years to deal with anxiety and depression. My anxiety is always worse when I have contact with my mum (and her mum) as I feel as though im on edge waiting for them to reject me again or blame me, or another family member for something trivial.
I find that I try to be the complete opposite as a parent and always tell my son how much I love him, and give him the best of everything, overcompensating for my mothers bad parenting in fear that I may be like her.
I suppose its reassuring to talk to people who have experienced this with their parents, and if anyone has had similar problems/feelings raising their own children?

yes you can't have your kids around them unsupervised - it's just not healthy. Would you let your child alone (again hate to keep picking on this illness - schizophrenia?) It's not much different - they can't control their own behavior and though they can seem normal - they are volcanoes awaiting to erupt and when they aren't erupting they are scheming to make you feel bad and do things for them. I also feel like it's a controlling disorder this intense need to control and make other people act as you want them to. That's pretty dangerous for someone with no adult capacities to be fending off let alone adults (as we know) You know it won't stop - you know this... the sad part of this is you can see that side of them that you love very much and you think it's still there (and maybe deep down it is - the same way it is for someone with again schizophrenia) but that person you love is being controlled by the disease ...they can't live in that place - they can't stay there without intensive dialectic cognitive behavior therapy and medication. To convince yourself they will isn't fair to anyone not the bpd sufferer, not your son, and not you. You have to accept it. Growing up with this we are always self-analyzing to make sure we are normal (we've spent year with ourselves in intensive therapy in our own brains trying to deal with the negative messages and chaos and bad feelings) It's also easy growing up to pick up certain behaviors and conflict resolution that can be similar - but the difference you were able to step back and self analyze and stop it and now look how great you are with your son. You will never be like your mother because you don't have her illness, even though it has done its emotional damage and if you're like most of us you still struggle with being or feeling "odd" or different from everyone else. Stop trying to fit in - what makes you unique is all that you've overcome you have a lot to share with the world now... don't try to hide who you are. Time to stop believing the shame and perception of a mentally incapacitated person.

I highly recommend a therapy with a therapist who is familiar with BPD. I am lucky I found a therapist who diagnosed my mom with BPD, I can finally give her behavior a name. As I am working through my childhood trauma, I am finding myself and am able to get rid of guilty feelings, depression and anxiety. It is well worth the time and effort. it is hard to open up to a stranger, but you will receive compassion and the tools to deal with your experiences and to find peace within yourself.

For me seeking therapy was difficult part of it was she always called me the crazy one growing up ... she even told me she wanted to have me committed. So to step into that arena was in some way validating her beliefs about me. It took a lot to overcome that fear (I was only able to do it after I found her illness online and realized that it was what I had grown up with) It made it easier to go in and say please help me I grew up with a mentally ill parent and am damaged other than to say I have a mother who hates me and I am damaged and something doesn't feel right. Your perception of normal is the illness because you didn't grow up another way - in many ways, you don't know it's not normal until someone else later on in life points it out - a spouse or a friend, or finally you start looking around the internet after another drama fest makes you sick to your stomach.

I am having the same experience as you. Do you feel or felt like you finally opened a jar full of anger, guilt, depression that was at times so overwhelming? I would like support from other people that went through the same thing to know that hopefully it will pass and I will be healthy. My therapist is helping me a lot, and at the same time I would like to have opinions and knowledge of the experience of people that went through similar processes.

I agree with reading 'Walking on Eggshells'

I cope by trying to stay neutral. My mantra through my separation (my children's father also has undiagnosed BPD) has been 'Don't engage' if I refuse to argue, defend or justify myself, I usually am able to maintain my own equilibrium.

I also take 'breaks' from her sometimes...the longest has been for several weeks,

I think the distance can also breed feelings that they'll be ok next time you see them - you have to know it won't ...if you let hope build that you can have a normal relationship - you'll get sucked in again, and be let down. It creates these highly charged emotions and trauma that bpd's are famous for inducing in others. hmm - maybe the cia should start using them to interrogate people ;-) in many ways it is emotional torcher. It's easy not to get drawn in especially as adults now with our new-found insight we want to defend and protect that child we once were. It's there so strong isn't it? My adult self wants to go back and protect the child I was from her... especially since they still tend to treat you the exact same way now. But I do think equanimity and detachment is best here - playing the hero will not NOT help you. Do not try to take that role, it serves no purpose other than intense disappointment. They know all your switches and they are always pushing them - as long as you prepare yourself for it ... may be able to make them less volatile. Don't put your switches out there either. I know it's hard you want them to be proud and react different and not hit the switch (but they can't resist it) it's their catnip. They won't ever let you see they are proud unless it's to fake you out and also deliver a slam later or to try to get something.

I would also suggest a web site called bpd central and a book called "Walking on Eggshells". Lots out there on the subject. I hope it helps.

Don't feel guilty guys. It is about survival. You are not responsible for any one else's happiness or their illness. As long as they deny their illness and do cruel things to those who love them these people must be avoided even if it is your own parent or spouse. Trying to help will only result in trauma for you, which no right minded parent would want for their children.

You are neither unkind nor uncaring. You are doing the right thing. I have been there too and my heart goes out to you all.

Yes if you look up ambiguous loss - it's a struggle isn't it? to let go of the person inside of the disease knowing you may only ever see glimpses of them every now and again. That is another hard part of it - you know it's a disease and yet they can be so cruel. There is a definite struggle of wanting to cut them off verses being there to help them.

It's interesting for me because I walked away from the relationship I had with my mother about 4.5 years prior to learning she had BPD. The guilt before I knew that she had a problem was really difficult to manage. Especially in my case where she had a number of friends with whom began contacting me through social media sites and telling me how awful I was and how I was doing such a horrible thing but not interacting with her (this excludes mind you all of the correspondence I ignore from my mother as well--she has never stopped trying to contact me or threaten me.) My mother ( I grew up an an only child in a single parent household) has huge rifts within the family but is able to maintain some friendships. Although I have frequently questioned the "health" of the people that have chose to befriend her. I remember at first I felt horrible inside. But there was also this feeling that if I stayed in relationship with her, I was never going to really be able to do what I was meant to do in this lifetime...and I didn't want to do that anymore. There was a sense that something was missing in my life, and exposing myself to the situation with her was far too damaging. Last fall was when I determined that she had BPD through stumbling upon articles I had read online. When I did, I felt so much better because I was finally able to see that the ways I had been feeling, weren't because of me, nothing was wrong with me. I still had to work through the pain of realizing I had been in that type of situation as a child, and that's definitively a process. But I had already started therapy a number of years prior, and so I found this realization to be quite liberating. For me I had been involved with a basic talk therapist for years (from about 18-23 years old.) But I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere just telling the painful stories over and over again. So I stopped for a bit until someone gave me a referral to a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist which happened to be right around the same time I began studying Sufism and Qigong meditation with teachers. I will say the combination of the two worked WONDERS for me. CBT therapy helped me to identify the moments I'd begin to feel anxiety from the landmines I'd experienced during my childhood manifesting themselves in my current life. And meditation gave me a better outlet for handling the emotions associated with the distortions I was experiencing. Now CBT does help you put in place a way to process the emotions you feel with the trigger, but it didn't work very effectively for me, meditation worked better. I've been studying meditation ever since (from about 24-to currently 28 years old.) I will say that I am starting to feel "normal" for the first time in my life. And not only that but there's a much more profound sense of happiness, nothing like I've ever known before. It is a process a difficult one at that, I do not undermine the work you and I (or anyone in our positions) has to do in order to achieve a sense of peace and fulfillment in their lives. I'm glad I had already begun that before I knew she had BPD. Because now that I know it just put everything into perspective for me and I was able to really leap off further and faster once those key pieces of knowledge fell into place. I will say though that while I did have a few "happy memories" from childhood that I could recall. They are nothing like the happiness I feel now. There's a fundamental difference in the capacity for happiness in my life, that I don't feel I would've achieved had I not, and continue to, develop though my desire for self discovery.

What I need to know is how do you heal, break the cycle or pattern from childhood victimization and helplessness of abuse from a BPD mother as an adult?

By: Victimized

I know that sadness and the guilt you are feeling. I was recently contacted by my father after a few years of estrangement again. I’m an only child and of course he has managed to alienate everyone leaving himself aging and completely alone. I have been through this cycle of estrangement and reconciliation many times over the years with him. I’m almost 40 and over the years I have managed to make amends with my childhood experiences and I believe I’ve been able to separate myself from negative patterns of behavior I learned growing up with a BPD parent, for the most part. However, I still struggle with idea of cutting him out of my life completely. It’s hard for me to see someone I love suffer and then turn my back on them. However, I have come to realize that I really have no productive role to play in my father’s life. He has never sought any treatment for the disorder. If I return to being a part of his life he will continue to use me as a prop in his illusionary drama. If I am with him he will suffer, if I am away from him he will suffer. I’m not really any kind of determining factor in the situation. It’s so strange for me because I don’t employ black or white thinking in my own life. I don’t hold grudges; I don’t seek revenge or hold on to bad feelings about negative experiences or situations in my life. I’m not the type of person who "cuts people out" of their lives. But, I am the type of person who chooses to surround myself with people who treat my feelings with kindness and respect and that is why I have decided not to engage in reconciliation any longer. I’m sorry for his suffering, I love him for the good things and I hope he will find peace. Thank you for sharing. It is a revelation to read about everyones experiences.

Everything I read about BPD tries to explain how to live with the borderline person. What about the person trying to hide all the secrets, protect the borderline and keep peace in the family? Who helps that person? I wish I could find info that says it is ok to walk away. Is it fair for the borderline to ruin another person's life just because they have a "mental illness". There is so much guilt about hurting the borderline and trying to protect them from being upset. It is a lot of work.

It is a lot of work. I tried keeping peace until this week actually. My BPD mother called DCS on me with all of these crazy and twisted accusations. I cut her off this week and wouldn't argue or fight her, she started saying how people have been poisoning her and a bunch of nonsense. So I tried reaching out to my in deniAl step dad saying she needed help bc she is not well, so as a result that sick woman tried to hurt me. Since she involved my 3 mo old baby and DCS, things just got really personal. The lady from DCS couldn't even believe it, my mom called in anonymous saying she has bruises on her head that she saw with a magnifying glass. I asked if I could press charges for filing a false claim, but she filed it anonymously.

yes how can they be simultaneously so vulnerable at times and so controlling others - it's a perplexing dynamic isn't it? They don't know they are ruining your life - they think you are ruining theirs. They can't look inside themselves - they can only reflect upon themselves through others. They need to see themselves as victims and when you try to pick them up it also makes them feel worthy of your love like you care... which is why they love you and hate you - that even while you are a bad person (which makes them feel better about themselves) you will do anything to get their approval and still seek out their love - it's like a double fix - you are less than them and you love them unconditionally... that's the illness - they need that. So they will always make you out as a bad guy and they will always give you the chance to prove you love them by apologizing and "making it up to them" ... It is a lot of work (which is why therapists would rather make money on easier clients because they even do it to them). If even a mental health professional has difficulty dealing with this - then how are family members supposed to. Still the lack of resources and knowledge and diagnosis of this is awful - I just wonder how many of us out here are struggling with this completely on our own??!!!

I recommend the book Understanding the borderline mother.

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I am in my early 30s and can relate to many of your feelings. My dad is BPD, us siblings always knew something was wrong but we've only recently realized it was a personality disorder and that other people have the same experience.

I have pretty much cut him out over the last 2 years, only seeing him at large family events. It's bittersweet. I think I've needed the physical separation to help get mental separation. My dad has also molested children in the past so I struggle with boundaries as I plan to start a family. Believe it or not, I still struggle with those feelings of "should I be helping him? What can I do? Can he be helped?" as well as fear and anger. The answer I'm finding is to work on myself as a first step.

I think I have more work to do in therapy, but it HAS helped me to find people who have had similarly challenging family situations and can understand that hurt, and who are looking for ways to build healthy relationships and family for themselves going forward. It's hard because some people who are this injured really struggle and have a lot of issues.

I've found I have to do a lot of grieving... for my childhood; for the parents I wanted my parents to be; for ways I was hurt and things I lost. But there is hope.

I think I know the feeling you mention, of being different or having a hard time relating to others. The more you share and process your experiences, it can get easier. I know it's painful and disorienting. You have done an amazing job surviving, now you get to learn, explore, and to build the life you want. Therapy can help!

Hi. I have a mother with BPD as well and can really relate to many of the feelings you described in your post. Though nothing can completely remove the pain, sadness, and frustration of a lost childhood, you can still utilize therapy to process your feelings better and help you move on from a troubled childhood. It took me time to find a therapist that really worked for me. When finding an effective therapist keep in mind that the first one you meet might not be the right one for you. It wasn't until I met my third therapist that I was really starting to see progress in myself. It was because she took the time to ask me questions, validate my concerns & doubts, as well as making me feel comfortable to fully confide in her. If you don't feel comfortable with a therapist for any reason find another one.

I have chosen not to completely cut ties with my mom (thought I do live in a different state than her), but the help of therapy has let me deal with her much better and not feel so guilty and terrible after I talk with her. I think researching BPD and understanding what goes on with it is extremely important to learn since it largely attributes to the person you are today. You have been through a lot and it's unfortunate you had to go through this. It's a long road to recover from the traumatic experiences, but you are capable of regaining your life back and find happiness. I wish you the best of luck.

Hi, I found your information very helpful.
have a mom with BPD/NPD too and do maintain a relationship with her.
I have met 2 therapists and neither seems really right. How does one find a therapist that is a good match? Is it more important that they be an expert in personality disorders or that you feel very comfortable with them? Also does gender make a difference in a therapist?

Hi and thanks for sharing your story. I am the child of two borderline parents. I am really sorry for what you would have gone through in your childhood. I found that it really is helpful to put a name/label to the strange and often abusive behaviour exhibited by our parents. I encourage you to go to therapy as it may well be the first time you will feel heard and validated, something borderline parents are incapable of doing. If you are raised in a household where your parents are borderline and you are not, you did not fit in and could not relate to them. Therapy has taught me that this is a feeling left over from your childhood. You can get over it with a lot of work and determination. Good luck.

Thank you for your response - I appreciate it. I may eventually try therapy out. I'm not sure where to start looking for one. I think it would be helpful in clearing my mind and getting things off my chest. You're right, being able to put a label on my mother has been extremely helpful. It's funny, researching this further is not something I've been doing for her, but for myself. I don't know if I should feel like helping her get help, but honestly, I don't. Thank you again for your response.

I can relate. Diagnosing my mother at age 20 was a liberating experience. I am profoundly grateful to the author Christine? (I don't have the book with me now) who wrote that book. It has helped so many people separate themselves and see the situation as it really is.
As far as therapy goes, it can take a while till you find the right fit.
I have found certain books gave me the tools to deal with my "ghosties of the past" and become present, something that a child of a BPD parent struggles with.
Look up Core Transformation, (You can also look for therapists who practise this method)
Or The Presence Process By Michael brown
I am beginning a blog shortly where I will be reviewing these books in depth and other methods that helped me. If you want further details please pm me.

The journey begins with you, and each step you take to separate yourself from the past, will be the stepping stones to true freedom and inner peace.

Hi Lara how can I find your blog? Thank you

Not sure if you are based in the US, but has a great online listing of therapists-- tells you what they specialize in, whether they accept sliding scale, and often their personal statement/philosophy about their practice. I found mine on there. Good luck!

To all BPD sufferers that have sought help I applaud you. But alas, I am an adult (58) male that has an undiagnosed mother (82) that me and my younger sister stopped seeing 4 years ago. It was a decision of survival, survival in respect to a stable family atmosphere without extreme disruption, guilt bullets aimed at us unpredictably, childish behaviour, sympathy seeking from relatives that turn on us for "treating her badly" and the list goes on.

When a parent goes undiagnosed us children cannot do much about the situation. We cant force the parent to attend a doctor when the parent says "there's nothing wrong with me" and "its you kids that need the help" (we do and we got it for various mental illnesses caused by her behaviour) So outsiders that think we the children (often the direct sufferers) are off on the wrong train with treating someone without diagnosis- you are wrong in that we have had no choice in the end.

Lawson's characters Waif, Queen, Witch and Hermit are spot on in my opinion. She has come into lots of criticism for using 'fairytale' and cruel wods of descriptions, I beg to differ. For me her words express my feelings about my mother.

As children we endured all 4 characters. The hermit was the least of them likely due to our mother being strong through the strength of our father. The witch would crush us with cruelty, the queen would control us like a possession and never let us grow emotionally- she owned us, the waif would appear prior to our father arriving home, the tears would fall "I dont know what I've done to be such a bad mother"...we often ended up getting a belting from our dad.

As adults the issues got worse. In 1992 our father passed on and I, being the eldest child and a man took on the role of protector. Then my sister became the focus of our mothers wrath. Even as an adult man I didnt see it. I received the glory, the pedestal treatment- I was "a perfect son". This lasted 7 years until my sister returned to the family and in a short time I was the "evil son" and her the perfect daughter. We woke up to the triangulation. For the health of my relationship with my sister we made a pact. That our mother would never come between us again. Soon after, our mother tried to do just that. The routine- argue with me (often over ghostly doctors telling her she had a heart attack, losing her eyesight or other terrible thing). Simply asking to accompany her to the doctors led to her yelling and hanging up on me. Immediately she'd ring me sister to tell her what a terrible son I was. 4 years ago it didnt work. The result- we both decided she would not be in our lives. This is only the tip of the iceberg. I had my first marriage ruined by my mother and the second one was risky. I was forced to get a restraining order on her to make sure she did not attend and spoil it.

I have bipolar2, dysthymia, anxiety and depression. My sister has similar issues. I have social issues often falling out with long term friends, am slowly withdrawing from society and have guilt that I've disowned my mother. This guilt comes mainly from the fact that one side of my mother was good. The nurturer, the mother that loved her child. But it was rarely felt because it was 'all about her'.

By far the biggest issue I have now is getting on with others. And dwelling on issues. I recall countless hours my parents would sit at the kitchen table talking over and over about the 'person of the time', the relative, neighbour or one of us children that was in my mothers sights for condemnation. The exaggerations, the plan to revenge, the control. There was a trail of destruction left all the time. My sister and I still cant get used to a life without the clouds closing in without notice.

Children of a BPD parent have the right to live their life how they choose. We as humans all have that right. If the parent didnt create such a toxic atmosphere and allowed the love to be the base of the relationship we wouldnt have made that decision. If our mother even made an attempt to seek help we would have had her out of our lives. Hope this helps others. Grayknight

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