God Rest Her Soul

My mother and her mother dont speak, she jokingly refers to her mother as "god rest her soul" a title which i am now passing along to her, if this was a happy story, you wouldn't be reading it here. My mother was never officially diagnosed, but I have had two different therapists (one who has met her and one who has not) independently suggest that my mother is borderline.

Perhaps the best example is a story from my childhood, it's difficult to choose just one. I am an only child so I have cycled through being the good child and the bad child constantly, often on the same day.

I was in a hurry to get ready for school, mom was getting ready for work, my bedroom door flew open, the sound it made as it bounced off the wall echoed in the now silent room. It's kind of funny to view that moment from the outside, the tableau of me frozen, and her looming in the doorway, an expression of rage distorting her features. "Where are my earrings?" She demanded. "You're always touching my things, why can't you just put things back? Everything you touch disappears, you're so careless." I looked back at her, and did the worst possible thing; I shrugged. "I didn't touch your earrings mom, I'm sorry but I need to leave I'm going to be late for school."
She took a deep breath and shrieked "you're a liar! You had better help me find that earring before you leave this house, I am so sick of your sneaky behavior!" At this point I believe she pulled my lunch money out of her pocket and threw it at me, I remember the dollar bills floating slowly to the floor, and my face burning with shame, my eyes full of unshed tears. She threw me one more murderous glance and slammed my door, but not before saying "find your own way to school"
I was to call her to let her know I had gotten home after school, I was old enough that I didn't need a babysitter. She came to the phone "yes? What do you want?" She demanded. "I'm home from school mom." Silence. A breath. "Good for you." Then the click as she disconnected the call. She arrived home an hour later, pointedly not talking to me, until "get in the car, we're going to your aunts house." She barked this at me while smoking a cigarette and looking at anything but me. At my aunts house she is the perfect guest, smiling and laughing with my aunt and cousins while ignoring me even when I asked her something directly, she paused only to give me a filthy look. Later that evening, we are in the living room, watching tv, not speaking, I am on the floor. I happened to turn my head and see underneath the tv, in the carpet, her earring. I picked it up and placed it in front of her, on the side table by the couch. She picks it up and smiles at me. It is late so I start getting ready for bed. I go out to the living room to tell her goodnight. She looks at me, confused, "aren't you going to give me a hug and a kiss goodnight?" This question stuns me, and not wanting to anger her, I start mechanically walking towards her. She stiffly wraps me in her arms, not for too long, never for too long, it's clingy she always says. "Sweet dreams." She breathes as she smiles she reminds me of a crocodile. I cry myself to sleep that night, outside, in the living room, the volume on the tv increases slightly.

This is merely one story from my childhood, I could tell you several others along the same lines. For now, I am 25 and we are not speaking. This is easier for me, and I am finding myself furious at her, we tried counseling, to no avail, she called me to tell me she wasn't going back after I attacked her like I did. What actually happened was that I paid for her to sit there for 40 minutes of her trash talking my father, they're divorced, and talking about how sneaky and selfish I am. I didn't get a word in edgewise and the therapist was lucky she did. I can only work on me, and try to unlearn what I learned. This freedom from her feels like finally taking a breath after nearly drowning. Right now, I hate her for everything she did, I feel compassion for her that she is the architect of her own worst nightmare, being alone. She treats her friends like she treats me so, as you can imagine, friends are in short supply until she ropes the next sucker in with her charming behavior and innocent smile. She gives with one and and keeps score with the other and God help you if the score is in your favor instead of hers.
Naplesnurse Naplesnurse
8 Responses Jan 15, 2013

Good for you for 'getting out' at the age of 25. I am 53 and still at the beck and call of mother. That part about behaving perfectly in front of relatives made my stomach turn over. I tried moving away , but she moved house to be close to me - but it's never close enough. She started to groom me to live WITH her from the age of 14. Ive come through 15 years of chronic fatigue syndrome, a divorce and am now subject to many phobias and anxities myself but she is still hanging on in there at the age of 82, demanding, manipulating, crying. Her selfishness knows no bounds. She ruined two marriages and is all alone in the world expect for me. I am trying to get medical help into the house for her but it is often refused - she prefers to expect all the answers from me.Sending love - thank you for sharing your story. It has really helped me to know that Im not alone.

I was deeply moved by your story. Thank you. You paint a picture from your memory that is so crystal clear that i found myself right there in your shoes, feeling so much of what you must have felt as a child. Your writing is exceptional. It is heartbreaking, however, to say the least...and you have my deepest sympathy for the pain you've experienced.

I've found myself at this website in a time of deep concern and desperation in my own life.I am a father of two children under 4 years of age. My wife displays much of the classic behavior i read about with BPD's. She displays a LOT of anger, is extremely moody and unpredictable, impulsive, very poor at handling normal life stresses, self-absorbed (though thinks the opposite), extremely defensive...and so on.

I am exhausted from repairing the damage she is surely doing to my son,tired of trying to avaid situations that trigger her anger (impossible), saddened at the absence of a spouse i can connect to, resentful of having to work so hard in my life to deal with her problematic behavior, worried about all of our futures.

I'm finding it hard to have faith and keep my head up. As others with BPD relatives can relate to, my wife is utterly resistant to anything that smells like therapy. She doesn't see a problem, feels attacked by the slightest dissatisfaction from me. Including her in a solution feels fruitless.

I found myself reading these accounts so i could see that children of bpd's survive...and i'm trying to find clues to how i can be the most use to my children and help them grow up with mostly good feelings about themselves. What is a father to do when caught up in this awful mess? Is there any effective tool when working with a spouse/mother who is extremely defended and in denial? I feel ashamed to be in this situation, but here i am.

I again thank you for your post. I haven't yet read the rules of posting and if i haven't followed a proper format forgive me.

Thanks so much for your kind words. The advice I have for you is no where near professional advice so please consider it for what it is, one persons experience. I think that what was, in hindsight, the best thing for me was that my father left. He left and he married a woman that I consider a cross between a sister and a favorite aunt. That relationship model, of a functional relationship saved my sanity and my faith in people and love. Maybe the marriage wasn't necessary, but the message was- that my father was taking care of himself so that he could be there for me. My mom got involved with another man as well, this was an extremely dysfunctional relationship, but he stayed, they fought, it was toxic and awful. I blamed him a lot when I was younger but looking back, I can see he made the best of the situation he was put in. Your kids need stable role models. Your kids need someone to constant reminders that they are not grown ups and that they don't need to take care of their mom. Another crucial thing is that my father never, ever spoke badly about my mother to me. I knew the things she did upset him, but he never called her names or said she was a bad mother. What your wife is doing to your kids must make you feel so angry and helpless, counseling for you might help. You're doing the right thing by talking about your feelings. I'm sorry if that was kind of rambling, but there is the best advice I could give you. If you ever need to vent, you can always message me.

I know how she felt. I, too, have lived and survived a BPD mom. I am 47. But I have some major problems with my dad for trying to clean up her messes and side with her lies and not with the truth. He thinks he is helping but he is really causing more damage than he knows. Please be careful. You will never be able to fix her. Get counselling for yourself and your kids. There comes a point when you have to protect yourself and the kids from the problem because according to her there is no problem.

Please read "Stop Walking on Eggshells". It will teach you how to set limits for yourself and shield your children from her behavior. I feel for you. Good luck.

Please don't feel ashamed. The woman you love, and the mother of your children needs help, and you are in a very tough and very rare situation, with your beautiful children involved, and the woman you married, unable to see what you know. Powerless to help you, the man she loves, help her. As though she's on the opposite side the glass, and you cannot reach her. As a daughter to 2 parents with BPD I can tell you now that you, as their father, are enough. You are enough. You will help your children, you are protecting your family, and you will find for them a way to gather strength around one another, to find not only a simple understanding of what their mother is experiencing but also what you as her family, will experience because of it. This understanding will provide your kids with the peace of mind within themselves, that will sustain them, as they face the struggles ahead. It won't be easy, it will take bravery, strength, and unconditional love. But these are the things that build beautiful families. You can do it. I believe in you all. Good luck, wonderful father.

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This could've been a page from my own life story. The sick, see-saw dynamic. The "find the thing" game, I called it. Lightswitch emotions, your value solely dependent on her mood. The empty hugs that make the genuine [from anyone] actually painful to me, still. I understand my mother better than I wish I did, sometimes. I can't be angry at her. I just don't have it in me. All I see is a very broken woman. A broken, angry confused child in a 50yr old woman's body. I'm so tired, though. I can't be her appendage, forever. <br />
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My father died when I was 9, my brother (2yrs older than I) died suddenly when he was 20. On top of the shame/guilt the BPD mother will systematically inject into a child's developing psyche, my own sense of pain and loss has always been stuffed down. To look after her, because I needed her love, because I was indoctrinated to believe her emotions had higher intrinsic value than my own ever would, on some level. The more I understood how her mind operated, the more I was able to rationally recalibrate my expectations of her, emotionally, on some level. Hurt less. But still, deep down, her rages, her invalidation, her empty, gracious thank you's and nonexistent apologies still tug at my heart, somewhere. I think I forgot I even had one, for awhile. Just to get by. I wanted, needed to try to help her. That drive was there. Perhaps it was an attempt to deal with my own grief, as well. Make sure she could have some kind of ideal, peaceful life. I knew she wanted it, she just didn't know how to find that peace, lacked the psychological toolkit.<br />
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But, I had to come to terms with that, too. You cannot help those who can't/won't help themselves. Her mind's a haunted, distorted mirror funhouse, and she truly thinks that's the world. I cannot show her anything different, because she doesn't want to see. And I'm already scraping at the core of myself, to function moment to moment. Running on empty. If I keep going, I'll die here, and I don't mean figuratively, nor am I implying I'd ever take my own life. The constant stress, and physical/emotional attacks I've dealt with over the years. <br />
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I ran away at 17, and lived on my own until 3 years ago, when I required bone surgeries that left me unable to walk for almost a year. I moved back in with her, not realizing how long the recovery was going to take. I had nowhere else to go. The time spent exposed to her volatile temper, threats, physical and mental abuse took a toll on my health. I kept internalizing it, holding out, "I'll be well soon." "Not much longer." I was living on my savings, and helping where I could, and serving as the emotional trashbin again. At some point I developed life threatening infections, likely in part due to suppressed immune system, being exposed to near constant stress. I was hospitalized a few times for sepsis, even getting angry, crazy calls from my mother while nurses set me up with vancomycin IVs. <br />
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The infections reoccurred- I'd be running a constant, low grade fever, and wake up to her pounding my door, shouting about how worthless I was. How she wished I died instead of her son. Then an hour later, sweetly texting me from across the house to go get the mail for her, oh, and maybe some tea [with a happyface emoticon]? I'd need to take breaks in the hall on the way to the kitchen, too dizzy to walk. It did not occur to me to go to the ER, for so long. I really just kept tuning it all out. Losing me. I think part of me started wanting it to be over, my thoughts were so.. clouded and fatigued. How did I ever let it come to that.<br />
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Couple reconstructive surgeries later [trauma/disfigurement from the infections], and I'm finally packing, have a place set up- across the country. Went to visit in the fall, to prepare. God, I loved it there. I forgot what peace felt like. Even that, I will have to adapt to. The whole month there, I felt myself constantly braced for impact- for someone to freak out at me, even when I was around stable people. Then I'd feel guilty and anxious about making others uncomfortable- or worse- compassionate with me, if my baggage happened to spill open a bit when they were around. The compulsive apologies tumbling from my lips. Apologies for basically existing near anyone, daring to do so. All I want is to live. There are still so many little pathways of shame and guilt I have to sever in the back of my mind. So much of my life has been on pause. I just turned 28 last week. It's time to truly live, and if that means completely letting her go, & accepting any fallout that may[will] ensue [my dad's immediate family only know her public "Lady" act.. cutting contact may mean losing them, as well, when I'd wanted so badly to get to know them, be close to them]. In the end, I'll still be more whole than I am now. I'll have the free headspace to finally face my own demons, instead of ducking for cover as she projects her own onto me, & anyone else close to her. This got really long.. it's past 4am.. 'm tired/rambly, (sorry.)Your well-written recount of your own experiences, mirroring my own in some ways, so intensely- offered some affirmation, with regard to how I will deal with my own situation. Everyone deserves a little peace. We are not the terrible people we've been brought up to believe. We exist. We are more than the fear, rage, or pain.<br />
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Cliche as it sounds, I found your story at the most opportune time, I think. And your courage, and strength in your resolve, really is inspiring.Be well.

Thank you so much for your comment, I find that writing about it and talking about it with the people I found here really helps me. Also counseling, which I'm fortunate enough to be able to do through the wonders of health insurance. I really hope that your health continues to improve, I'm sorry you had to suffer so much as a child. Looking back at what you have done, what each of us has done is really amazing. The strength of our spirit to survive is truly amazing, good luck with your move : )

That story happened to me in middle school, sorry if that wasn't clear. Luckily, I did get out, I'm in my own apartment, with my own car,working a full time job living my own life. Without her in it. We tried counseling, but it didn't work. It was stabilized for a while, but since I started dating my boyfriend, she's decompensating, her behavior got more and more outrageous, so since I was moved out anyways it was way easier to end communications with her.

you know, sometimes you never know what you got until it is gone. and maybe you are the "it" within that statement. Live your life, you're 25 now, and you have your own living to do.

I know this will probably come off harsh, but she is not going to change. You are better off without her. Let her go walk away. Like bellaella says, let go of the hate and work on your inner peace. And this works better when you stop going back for more punishment. If you ever have children one day, she'll go after them too like she has you. The same guilt and shame will be their fate. Take your power back and go find out how amazing life can be when you aren't getting manipulated constantly.

I totally agree with you, you have every reason to hate her but don't hurt yourself with hate. Hate is not good for the soul. Your mother has a disorder and I bet it is hard on her too. I think you need to work on yourself, not saying it's your fault but rather saying that you will never change her. Work on your inner peace, don't let people control your feeling and emotions, be strong and as God to give you lots and lots of love for your mother even though she drives you crazy. I myself learned that I will never change my very important people in my life but I myself had to change the way I felt for them regardless of what they did to me. I got on m knees and prayed every day to God to give me love, the same love He had for me an imperfect, rebellious person. And little by little my perspective has changed.

my daughter

Your daughter has bpd?

no,she hates me 2

I don't think I'll hate my mother forever, what I really hate and resent is her behavior, and her telling me she did the best she could, when her best was considered emotionally abusive by anyone's standards. A child doesn't deserve that, and if that is her best she could have chosen to get counseling and she could have chosen to work on it. Instead she wants to blame everyone else for her problems and continue on exactly as she is. Dealing with her is exhausting emotionally and psychologically, I am burned out. I'm sorry you're having a difficult time with your daughter, if you're anything like my mother is, help yourself first and you will see benefits from it. I can't have my mom in my life because she abused me to the point of clinical depression and full blown panic attacks, she literally made me sick. She is not an evil person, she has amazing qualities and I'm sure she loves me in whatever way she is capable of love. she suffered greatly in life and I am very sad about that, she deserved better than what she got but the difference between us is that I am getting help. I pray for her, and I hope we can speak at some point, but now is not the time for me. Now I need to grieve, and process, and come out healthier. Best of luck to you and your daughter.

I only hv an onscreen keyboard..Bless you honey,&amp; i love you
4 who you became ~because of experiences [its hard to type

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