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My Undiagnosed Borderline Father (please Read)

I am a 19 year old psychology major living with an undiagnosed borderline father (who happens to have a Ph.D in psychology. Oh, the irony!)
I remember walking into my first session with a psychologist at my university. One of the first things I said to her (the counselor) was, "I'm crazy. I think I'm bipolar." It turns out that I was no where near being bipolar, but rather the chaos of my family life was constantly biting at my sanity. [so this is a little side note to all of you lovely readers: YOU are NOT crazy; you just happen to be from or are currently in a situation that has some crazy-making abilities. You are a beautiful human being covered in the unfortunate dirt of your parent(s). Believe it or not, counseling might provide you with the dirt and shovel you need to dig yourself free. But it takes time and it's not easy, no matter how much I wish it was.]
Basically, I believe my father is "high-functioning", which means he tends to be more subtle and conniving than other borderlines. But nevertheless, his love was still conditional, his insults were just as painful, and the crazy-making was just as potent. The pain -- all of the anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies -- that I experienced from being emotionally abused has made remembering my past just as hard as forming a picture out of a black dot on a piece of printer paper... I remember near to nothing -- it's quite scary. I just remember feeling hurt, yet always striving to want to please my father. I remember all of the control, all of the lies. He would love my mother one minute, and then scream names at her the next second. I sensed his hatred for himself which was displaced onto me, and then I hated my own self. And still do, unfortunately.

The hardest part is realizing that I have never had a true father, and never will as long as his denial persists. The truth is that it's not about us (the children), it's about our parents and the past they have yet to deal with. Their hatred stems from their own hatred of themselves. Please don't believe what your mom or dad say. Don't let them teach you to hate yourself because your relationship with you is the most important one you'll ever have. Don't let him or her scare you into thinking that you are one in the same. Don't let you're dark side become what defines you!... Please do what you need to do for YOURSELF. Think of what YOU need. If your past is anything like mine, then you've probably already spent too much time thinking about their needs and everything them-related.
But it's so ridiculously hard and painful. These people are our parents. And we will try to love them and do all we can. And we will continue to hurt inside. But please know that you are not alone. Every time you hurt, I am there with you, and so is He.
This is from one tortured soul to another...
I love you all very much.
lovepsych lovepsych 18-21, F 6 Responses Jan 9, 2013

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I used to think I had bipolar.. so much of this is relatable, though it was my mother, not my father. How awful for him to be in psychology. :/

I am not a native speaker so forgive mistakes please.

This story sounds exactly like my situation. I thought I might have bipolar, or a tendency toward BPD, my dad is 'high-functioning', even psychology-researcher etc.
I am currently trying to overcome low self esteem and destructive behaviour and giving up after recent 'conversations' with my dad.
He is 80 years old, I am 25.
What screwed me up the past fifteen/twenty-five years is that I had unconscious needs for my dad's happiness, love, presence, guidance, acceptance.
This led me into situations where he would excite these needs by hinting at their fulfilment, but then hurt me emotionally by verbally destroying my confidence while giving nothing that I need(ed). I also have had a fear that he might die any time soon the last ten years. Which led me to stay and endure these verbal abuses because I didn't want to leave in a fight. I stayed as long as it took to make me able to leave without conflict, but in exchange leave with sadness about my relationship with my dad and low self esteem.

I think my dad became much more abusive in my teens, although he taught me some counter-productive beliefs when I was younger (like: "you are a dime now, and you might be able to become a quarter, but never more"). I think he is 'more charming' with girls (I am a boy) and small children because he can get them to like him more easily.

I clearly remember him calling me disgusting over the phone for not opening a savings account when I was fifteen. This screaming voice pops up in my head when I feel bad. Many other situations I just blocked out.

A few weeks ago, when I made the mistake to try to talk to my dad about an internship that I didn't get. He told me that he knew I wouldn't get it and that I have no skills, so practically nobody would want me.
A few days ago I decided to see him again because he asked me to help him with something. Within a half-hour after I helped him he started telling me that "I must admit that I am a financial moron". For the first time I told him, "I do not want to hear this" and just walked away instead of hearing the abuse until he calmed down. He told me stuff like "If you leave now, you never have to come back. You are just as untrustworthy as your mother!". It felt good to walk away. But I also felt sad that I don't have the father that I feel I need.

My father does not tell me anything about his past except some 'cool' stories. So he is an enigma to me and many others. I can’t imagine he has deep/honest relationships.

I have shed the responsibility I have always strongly felt for my parents happiness. All I want now, is to have the confidence to do the things that my heart desires. But I don't, and I am very vulnerable to any mistake I make. I do not dare to take on the important things in life, like moving to city that I want to go, applying for internships, taking responsibility in general. Often I am too insecure to even clean my room, or do anything productive. I feel worn out even though I put my masters degree on pause already 6 months ago to rest from these stresses.

Currently, I do not know how to cope. Accepting my dad is pathetic and that I basically have no safe confidence-filling father/home is very hard for me to accept. Especially because - I think - the lack of a good example caused an inability to provide these positive experiences to myself. At small setbacks or mistakes, I can start mentally breaking down my self (esteem) in my head rapidly. Like I am not safe with my dad, I am not safe with myself.

A contributing problem is that, when I tried to talk about the shortage of a father that I felt during my childhood with my mother (my dad always lived somewhere else, parents never married), she couldn't handle the pressure and told me she didn't have time for 'this'. This made me feel very hurt (my face was scarily-sad, unable to cry, when I looked into the mirror after that situation) and it left me unable to express my deepest empty needs after the anger, extreme-frustration, mental screaming, etc were gone (half a year ago now). So now I can only be alone.

I do have many friends, but I can't really be happy around them as they are. They confront me with my loneliness, so I avoid them. Also, I just know they can't help me, and I do not want to burden them too much.
Again, I want to produce music, learn computer programming, move to another city and find an internship there but I don't have the trust in my self that I can do these things. I know these things are in me, but knowledge has no emotional impact on my sense of self. The 'feeling' of self-esteem just leeks out of me. After a succes, I barely enjoy it for an hour. I do not enjoy life, and I am afraid that the lack of a father will make me the same as my father, or blind for whats going on inside me. I wouldn’t want such a life.

How do I prevent my self-esteem from leaking away?
How can I discover how to build my own self-esteem?
How should I interact with my father?
Will I ever be able to do things that people with a supportive father can do?
How can I deal with the half-conscious self-destructive images and tendencies?

Sorry for the long story.


I am the soon to be ex-wife of an undiagnosed BP who is also quite high functioning and deep in denial (and one of his favourite movie quotes is from American Beauty: "Never underestimate the power of denial" – talk about "oh, the irony"!!! I just want to tell you that you only tried to do all you could for your father because you are a kind and good person, by the sound of it. I hope you make it out of the fog and into the light – I think you will. I have a young child with this man, who still likes to come round to my house and abuse me, then act like nothing has happened (yawn!). the "yawn" makes it sound as if I breeze through it, and while I am very bored of his rubbish, i get high blood pressure before he comes, or everytime the phone barks (the ringtone I gave him) at me. Can you tell me if your father was always like this to you, or if he became more BP towards you (rather than sparing you) as you became older? He seems OK so far with our child, but I'm worried about their contact times.

I can feel your pain, I hope you can find a happy place for yourself just as I too hope.

I joined this site because I needed an escape and I just keep seeing stories from people who are going through exactly the same kind of thing as me. He doesn't shout at my mother but she's always on his side anyway. I'm trying to move out tomorrow.