Having a parent with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

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The legacy of having a BPD parent - Mark Ettensohn, Psy. Sacramento therapistTreatments such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) have brought renewed interest in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and, indeed, personality disorders in general. There is greater public awareness of these complex mental health issues and considerably less stigma surrounding a diagnosis of BPD than in decades past.

However, less attention has been given to understanding and treating adult children of BPD parents, many of whom struggle with depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress.

Key Features of BPD:

People with Borderline Personality Disorder experience significant emotional disturbance that revolves around an unstable self-image and deeply held fears of abandonment. They struggle with emotional regulation and may have unpredictable outbursts that can cause distress for those around them. They may also engage in self-harming behaviors such as cutting/burning themselves or threatening to commit suicide. BPD is a chronic issue that is often associated with substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and complex trauma. To learn more about BPD, see this article: Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder.

Children of BPD Parents:

People with BPD often rely on those around them to help maintain a stable sense of self. This places considerable demands on loved ones, who come to dread being blamed for the person’s bad mood, recent work disappointment, or fluctuating body image. While such relational demands can be difficult for adults, they are frequently overwhelming for children, who require caregiving that is both stable and consistent. Perhaps most importantly, children need to internalize a sense of self that is basically good and deserving of love, care, and attention. This sense comes directly from caregivers, and it becomes the bedrock on which a child’s future emotional and mental well-being are built. When caregivers are preoccupied with maintaining their own internal equilibrium, they are unable to provide the emotional sustenance that their children require.

Dr. Cynthia Neuman (2012) writes more on the developmental and relational dilemmas faced by children of BPD parents:

…mothers with BPD struggle to stay afloat. They cling to whoever is near, and they pull their children into their blackness. Mothers with several children may perceive one child as all-good and another as no-good, as they project the contradictory feelings that they have about themselves onto different children. The mother’s differing presentations cause the child to become anxious, confused, fearful, and untrusting, as she is never sure what to expect. Thus, she grows up believing other people are inconsistent and not to be trusted. Trapped in a world that others cannot see or understand, the child of a severely disturbed borderline mother comes to feel hopelessly lost….The borderline mother’s fear of abandonment and her tendency to experience separation as rejection lock her and her children in a struggle for survival. Children must separate to survive, but separation threatens the mother’s survival. Regardless of how outrageous the mother’s perspective may be, she may punish or vilify her children for disagreeing…. Shame extinguishes the child’s sense of entitlement and can trigger self-destructive fantasies…. Without structure and predictability. children have no reality base upon which to build self-esteem and security.

For many children growing up with a BPD parent, necessities like care and positive regard are commodities that appear on an unpredictable schedule – based not on the child’s behavior but on the parent’s internal state of being. As a result, children of BPD parents tend to grow up feeling mistrustful of others. They have trouble with intimacy because they are constantly fearful that the other person will unpredictably turn on them. They may become very good at reading other people’s feelings and attempting to predict what they want. Simultaneously, they are often clueless as to their own wants and feelings.

Children of BPD parents tend to struggle with feelings of shame, because their normal and developmentally appropriate needs for attention and positive mirroring may have been abused by the caregiver’s jealousy or the caregiver’s own shame. Such children learn early that their main job is to reflect the caregiver positively in order to avoid unbearably painful abandonment and retaliation. When the BPD caregiver lashes out, he or she may later rewrite history and deny any wrong-doing in the first place. This is due to a psychological defense called “splitting,” which causes people with BPD to see themselves and the world as either all good or all bad. Children must learn to adapt to their caregiver’s use of splitting and may find it difficult to trust their own sense of past events. They may come to feel that they are not entitled to feelings of anger and may be very fearful of attempting to hold others accountable for their actions.

Children of BPD parents often develop very strong feelings of guilt and of personal responsibility for the actions and feelings of others. This is due to the BPD caregiver’s continual need to blame others for his/her feelings and actions. BPD individuals often have something called an external locus of control, which means that they tend to see their lives as out of control and their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as depending on external factors. When a person with untreated BPD flies into a rage or threatens self-harm, he or she will often place blame on others for those actions. This becomes very confusing for children, who require caregivers to model personal responsibility and to teach healthy interpersonal and emotional boundaries.

Mason and Kreger (2010, as cited in Neuman 2012) list six issues frequently associated with BPD parenting:

  1. Difficulty separating relationships with their children from problems with others – BPD parents may not be able to allow their children to have positive relationships with people that the BPD parents dislikes (such as between separated parents).
  2. Inconsistent parenting – BPD parents may treat their children in inconsistent ways (i.e. over-involvement vs. neglect)
  3. Unpredictable love – BPD parents may have difficulty providing children with a consistent feeling of being loved.
  4. Feeling threatened by a child’s normal behavior – BPD parents may have difficulty allowing children to be angry with them without retaliating, or allowing their children to indivuate without feeling abandoned.
  5. Inability to love unconditionally – BPD parents may withdraw love when their children do not obey, or when their children express anger or disappointment with them.
  6. Feeling threatened by a child’s feelings and opinions – BPD parents may defend their fragile sense of self by punishing their children for expressing thoughts, feelings, and opinions that they do not like.

If you feel that you were raised by a parent with BPD, then talking to a therapist can be very helpful in the process of recovery. Adult children of BPD parents must learn to trust others, to develop a more stable positive sense of self, and to learn appropriate interpersonal boundaries. These lessons are best learned within the context of a healing relationship with a trained professional.

If you have been diagnosed with BPD and worry about the effects your illness may have on your children, the best course of action is to seek therapy. Untreated BPD can be very destructive to all parties involved. But with treatment, it is possible to learn new ways of coping and new ways of relating to loved ones.

Works Cited –

Neuman, C.T. (2012). Impact of Borderline Personality Disorder on parenting: Implications for child custody and visitation recommendations. Journal of Child Custody, 9, 233-249.

 

The role of the therapist is to reflect the being/accepting self that was never allowed to be in the borderline.”

― Michael Adzema

34 Comments

  1. Karen Dever
    July 11, 2016

    I am curious about how to deal with my niece who has bpd. She has a 3 year old son who is currently living with his grandmother. Every time my niece gets upset ahe threatens to get her rights back. My nephew already has huge tantrums and will pinch, hit, and kick when he is mad. Would it be a good idea to get him in therapy now. I worry that he will end up with bpd as well. What can we do to help him deal with his mom and her issues so they don’t effect him too much. Thanks so much.
    Karen

    Reply
    • raindrop
      November 24, 2017

      Play therapy might help. However tantrums are normal for that age, though not ones of that severity. Good parenting strategies should help, and a high level of consistency, stability and unconditional love should at least help a little in the healing of his early attachment issues. It’s good they got him away so early.

      Reply
    • Genn
      December 26, 2017

      I found something that has been really effective for my daughter. Hand in Hand parenting. it might work – the idea is that you be very present with them while he is throwing their tantrums with boundaries (he can’t hurt you physically but can hit a pillow or the floor). With a Borderline parent, he has not been allowed to have real emotions in a safe space. He doesn’t know how to express them without freaking out probably. Also, putting him in the bathtub is really helpful. It was amazing, actually. He really needs to see that his needs are just as important as everyone elses’. Don’t hesitate to tell him you understand that he is hurting and angry and it is ok to be angry. And then tell him that there are safe ways to express himself. He will understand, but he probably has some pretty deeply ingrained ways of dealing with anger and fear already. I am really glad to hear you are involved. It will make all the difference for him.

      Reply
  2. Bianca
    September 20, 2016

    I’m a parent of an adult child who suffers from BPD, she’s a cutter, post partum depression dx and possibly bipolar. Alcohol and drugs are a problem but I do not know the severity of it. She’s attempted suicide atleast once. I’v been raising her daughter for the past 7 Months (9 months old) but do not have any legal means to keep my daughter from taking her daughter.

    I’m concerned about what will happen to her daughter of she removes her from my home. I fear if I take legal actions for custody of my granddaughter and that i would cause my daughter to commit suicide.

    Reply
  3. Jill
    September 23, 2016

    Dr. Etterson, The lightbulb went off for me in my late 40’s when my lack of boundary-setting was getting me over-involved and over-responsible in my personal, spiritual, and work spheres of life. There were patterns that I finally saw and realized that I could keep blaming, as I was taught by my BPD parent, or take my part of the personal responsibility for the wreckage and set goals for wholeness and integrity. Five years later, with the help of counseling, reading, and forging healthier relationships – my life is now mine. With my BPD parent, I learned that the “locus of control” wasn’t mine to possess. Initially taking full responsibility for my decisions was frightening because I didn’t trust myself to make thoughtful, loving and firm decisions. All of those self doubts, mistrust of my feelings was a hard won battle because my childhood ingrained those beliefs in my heart and mind. By God’s grace, I’m on the other side. Articles like yours help me to continue the process of recovery. Thank you for helping me regain what I believe to be lost.

    Reply
    • sarah
      December 8, 2017

      Thanks..a hope giving comment for me to read.im 36 and struggling big time on the journey of recovery from emotional abuse during childhood and in marriage. My mother and ex husband i believe are bpd. Now divorced and iv had help like u with reading and counselling. Problem is, i dont want to spend time with them right now and they say they do. They also say im unfair for not letting them see my 5yr old precious daughter whom i dont want exposed to their dysfunction and potential harmful impact on her I do feel guilty but at the end of the day it must be false guilt.
      So im wandering how u manage to either not have or to have contact with ur family?? Im finding it hard to move forward whilst im dealing with them wanting to see my daughter and claiming rights to doing so.

      Reply
      • Frankie
        December 11, 2017

        Oh I feel your pain. I have 4 children, and I only recently began to suspect my mother has BPD. She has always been eccentric and a bit erratic. She doesn’t have all of the symptoms. She is actually a very compassionate person, very giving, but very volatile. She is unpredictable and wreckless (especially behind the wheel). Because of her tendency to dissociate she was also quite inattentive. She also enables and protects dangerous men—sexual predators and violent men, substance abusers. She “helps” them. I began to fear for my kids safety in her hands. I wanted to protect my kids from the dysfunction and eliminate the exposure to these people. I began distancing myself—cue her frantic and desperate sense of rejection! I didn’t want to cut her off completely, I just wanted some space and some healthy boundaries. This triggered a massive year long guilt trip. So I gave in and went back—and sure enough, one of the men in her life wasted no time and harmed one of my children. I was exposed to a lot of substance abuse and sexual abuse. Things I grew up thinking were normal. Meanwhile, I developed agoraphobia in middle school and PTSD in adulthood. My anxieties were a nuisance and a joke and I was never taken seriously. But now that I am recognizing her symptoms, I see things differently. I have struggled for over a year with guilt and shame, and boy does she make sure I don’t have a second of feeling otherwise. She won’t listen to reason—the splitting is intense with her. She calls me hateful and says I’m loving being hateful and that I’m isolating her by keeping my distance. I’ve offered repeatedly to let her see the kids but she cancels, I suppose expecting me to beg. But I am protecting my kids by setting boundaries and sticking to them and I’ve finally learned (well…somewhat) that I’m not wrong for doing so. I do struggle with guilt and I feel sorry for her. It is a constant struggle honestly. But it is too much…

        Reply
      • Brandi
        December 13, 2017

        I’m a 34 year old mother to 2 young boys. My own mother shows all the signs of BPD. I’ve been in therapy for 4+ years to help me deal with all the problems. And I’ve finally grown strong enough to set boundaries for my mom.
        Your mom may want to see your daughter, but you are allowed to set boundaries for that. And if that means she (your mom) doesn’t get to see your daughter, that is ok. You don’t owe your mom any time with your daughter, no matter what. My mom tried to guilt me, tried to threaten me, threatened to harm herself, was verbally abusive to other family members because of the boundaries I set. I tried to explain her actions weren’t helping, but she turned it around and claimed I don’t love her, and I’m stealing her grandchildren from her. So now it’s to the point where if she does not seek mental health care, my family and I will not be around her. I am protecting my children and myself from being hurt by her. It’s scary at first, but you can do it. You’re way stronger than you realize, I’m sure of that.
        Regarding your ex husband, I have no advice on that, because I’ve never been through it. But know your legal rights, regarding keeping y’all’s daughter from him. Good luck mama. I promise, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. ❤️

        Reply
      • Genn
        December 26, 2017

        You are doing the right thing! I completely cut my parents out for almost 4 years while my 3 were babies and toddlers. you don’t owe them a chance to know your children. My dad is very unpredictable, a corrupting personality, and, I believe, worse than that as well. I truly believe that I have protected my children by not allowing him to have an influence on them.
        it is so hard to trust yourself when you have been raised by a Borderline Parent, but protecting your kids will teach you when it is time to block them out.

        Reply
        • Joanna
          March 1, 2018

          What happened after the 4 years? Did you start seeing them again? Allow your kids to see them? How was that? Was it awkward? Had they changed their behaviors? Thank you for sharing.

          Reply
  4. Borderline vs Narcissistic Parents | What happens to their children?
    December 30, 2016

    […] Having a parent with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) […]

    Reply
  5. Kyla Ardoin
    January 21, 2017

    This explanation is exactly what I needed today. At 36 years old, with a child myself now, I am letting go and separating myself from my BPD mother. 36 years is a long time to have self-hatred brought on by never being allowed to be happy and never being continuously loved. For years, I have thought I was crazy. Nope. Just a whipping post for my mother. Luckily, my extended family validates that my mom is emotionally abusive. She has “punished” me for the last time for being myself. It’s still heartbreaking because I love her. She is my mother. And there were good times, but the mental anguish is not worth it anymore. I have a son who deserves all the magic and happiness in the world. I am thankful that she has carried a cross of misery so that I know what true happiness is like.

    Reply
    • Sarah Thompson
      March 8, 2017

      Thank you for your post. It describes my situation exactly. I’m 37 and I have a son. I only just now discovered the reason for everything my mother does. All the time I spent trying to find what was wrong with me, why am I not normal? Well I am normal and simply responding to the dysfunctional parenting I received. I always thought my nontraditional upbringing was cute and quirky. No it was a lie. A play we all acted out to keep things calm. I love her but she is not capable of giving real love to anyone. I feel lucky for the times she just left. I can’t imagine if she was forced to stay… the kind of hell fire it would have unleashed.

      Reply
      • Mehran Nia
        March 27, 2017

        I am a father two daughters who have a mother with MPD.

        I have left my cooperate world just so that I can take care of my kids half the time and I am still worried to death for them. They are 12 and 15 old girls and I have through reading and understanding trying to make my girls aware that their mother is not well and they have choices. Their choice is to live a life free of drama and negetivity. But my younger daughter is not doing well and I am so worried. She protects her mom regradsless of all the harm she does. Any thoughts for someone who has gone through this?

        Reply
      • Frankie
        December 11, 2017

        Oh my G—I can’t believe how much I am relating to other people. I always thought something was wrong with me. I’ve only recently began to suspect my mother has BPD, but reading these stories from others (who also are incidentally around my age, 38), I find myself going, oh yep, that that and OMG THAT! Same here—I too thought my upbringing was quirky and cute. My mom remarried 25 years ago and has persistently enabled my drug addicted dad all along. Constantly giving him money and driving him here and there. He even lived with them (mom and stepdad & younger brothers) off and on. My friends used to ask about it and it was just never weird to me. I never had any structure or expectations, there were no boundaries (though I put up pretty strong ones early on), I dropped out of school and it was just *shrug*. I just had a different life than them, I thought. It wasn’t until recently that I started to recognize the dysfunction, and that I had always been emotionally stifled. I had endured sexual abuse. I was subjected to emotional and physical abuse. But I didn’t recognize it, growing up I would explain it casually to my dumbfounded friends, who now admit to me they always thought i was growing up under very unhealthy circumstances. I feel so very guilty saying that. My mom can be such a sweet loving well meaning person, but she really does place the responsibility of her happiness onto me and it’s too much.

        Reply
  6. Aatam
    March 12, 2017

    Omg wow at 29 throught therapy and i learned of this and like
    The two commentetors above omg wowowowowowowowow?!

    Its like i found the missing lines but i always knew the dots and now i feel complete i grew up with a single mother with bpd and all i have left to say is wow im so glad i learned this at 29 through therapy.

    Reply
  7. Ella Linwood
    April 1, 2017

    Hello,
    My sister’s and I found this article very helpful and insightful. Ages 26, 23, 19. I am the middle and the (Good child) My little sister’s words were “We’re not alone.” Thankfully we have grown up assuring each other that we are not crazy, but this article made it perfectly clear. We have a mother who is undiagnosed, and just functioning enough to be perceived as normal to the outside world. I myself moved states away to gain some clarity and I am doing better now. I have been successful in establishing some boundaries, but I would like further possible tools in dealing with a mother who would never admit to having a problem let alone a diagnosis of any kind. My sister’s and I are pretty well versed in behavioral therapy.(I would discuss that further over email) Is there a way to coexist? Is there a way to react to her outbursts that has proven effective? Please email me whenever you have time. I think you would find our particular case interesting. 3 Girls who reacted differently to the situation. Also, if you have anyone to recommend to us who is well versed in this in MN I would be very interested in contacting them.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • kevin
      December 28, 2017

      i am one of three brothers. i am the youngest and was the favorite. this article and comments resonates with me so much. our mother raged at us at all times and at all hours of the day and night. called us names if we ever disagreed with her awful depictions of people we loved, such as our father, whom she was divorced from. we each came out different. each with distinct traits of our own which are responses and defense mechanisms to her rage and splitting. neither brother has s relationship with her. she manages to cloak her bpd professionally by cecoming a litigator. most people just thought she was angry and passionate for her clients. except she would never settle a case. she could never concede a thing and could never hear another’s point of view once she was locked in to her black and white narrative that she manufactured. i speak with her some but am about to have no contact. she was good at keeping it away from me but all it takes is one episode and she is off to the races- raging and enlisting everyone possible in her distorted perceptions. she is incapable of seeing moderation. she only sees and acts in extremes. and when she has some cause to promote. she never stops. she will eviscerate the person whom she has targeted. and she will demean those who disagree with her. anything less than 100 percent support of her anger, and her righteousness is met with vilifying you. disagreeing is not an option. i think her life blood is conflict. where it doesn’t exist, she will create it. almost as of she needs it to live. almost as if she can only identify herself by labeling another person as bad and evil. i spent so much of my life trying to understand the nuances of her rage behaviour. i tried to temper fix and understand the accusations and destruction. i naively believed that nobody could feel so much without some truth to the feelings and stories. but i’m realizing and have come to realise that it’s all a product of her bpd. the extremism is awful. and it’s not mine to fix. it’s my role to stay away from that behaviour. over the years she has lost every son, friend, professional colleague and others. the only people in her life are those she pays, such as her maid whom she has an odd relationship with and encourages to sleep over. also she has a contractor and she is constantly doing work on her house. these are her sole outlets. i have a 6 year old who she knows. she is having an episode now and i am inclined to remove him from her life. though she seems to be good with little kids, something feels wrong exposing them to someone who i know will engage in toxic behavior sooner or later. and something seems inconsistent about someone who rages against a parent being rewarded by being with that persons young child.
      well. that the first time i’ve ever posted anything in a forum. never felt so comforted as i do (though it’s Unfortunate) by others who have walked in my shoes. after decades of qualifying and rationalizing the most irrational behavior ever, I now feel comfortable calling it by its name. and i feel comfortable allowing myself to heal. thank you all for your posts. each one is an elixir of insight and validation.

      Reply
  8. Marta Deangelis
    April 14, 2017

    I was raised by a beautiful, but I am sure borderline mother. I am 65 now and I felt guilty that I felt relief when she died. She favored my brother, who now at age 60 is schizophrenic and lives on the streets. I copied my dad, throughout my life,became an RN. I married a borderline man at age 19 to get away from her. When I grew up, there was no borderline diagnosis. My father had his doctorate in microbiology and I modeled myself after him, not her. He, I feel, knew something was wrong with her, but just coped, like me. But she was harming me. There are no baby pics of my mother holding me, only my dad seemed to take care of me. Her words were devastating to me, as I grew, and I didn’t know why she was like she was. She seemed not to like anything about me and I never felt loved .When I met my future husband, he blurted out to me that he had been molested by his 17 yr. Old brother at age 7. Little did myself or anyone know how this would affect him. It was an abusive marriage( on his part) for 23 yrs., When I finally understood what was wrong with him. He would not stay in treatment at age 30, our marriage was a , his hurricane of him suddenly hating me and leaving me, abusing me instead of confronting his abuser., and crying to me,,about his abuse when he would return home after his affairs, his continuous use of drugs. , His quitting, or getting fired numerous jobs, etc. Finally, I left after being called fat, ugly and stupid every other day. I believed him for a while even when I was away from him, but with therapy I realized that I was NONE of the the things he said. But now I see how my children were damaged. Oldest son has been in trouble since about age 20, has 4 children that their mothers have raised. I at age, 55, with a new, loving husband, adopted my son’s son at birth. At least, he is being raised in a good environment. My daughter , is also a RN, has a 2 unstable relationships with men like her dad, but began to understand what was wrong with her dad and her boyfriends, she is married to a very stable man. My youngest son married a borderline personality, at age 19because she was pregnant. He finally divorced her, bot he allows her to still be entwined with his life and I can see how it is affecting his young daughter’s, but he refuses to believe what is wrong with her,still loves her., Even though he knows he was raised by a God himself and can set boundaries with his father now, but not her. I finally realized what caused my mother to be like she was, when at age 80, she blurted out that ‘ my uncle molested me and they sent ME away.’ Living and coping with BPD is awful, so tiring, and they cannot get well without long periods of intense therapy which they don’t think they need or even want to do. They destroy and upset so many people with their words and actions!

    Reply
  9. Diane
    August 22, 2017

    My partner’s ex is diagnosed with BPD although she refuses to admit it and blames everyone else in the world for being crazy. He has twins with her and I sometimes struggle to understand why they behave the way they do. Could someone please shed some light on this?

    Yes they have the characteristic lack of trust, lack of self worth, failing in school, lack of hygiene and feelings of guilt associated with BPD. When they are with us, they see how a normal relationship functions and I can see them reflecting on why it is so turbulent at home. The last time they saw their mother in a violent rage with us, they said they couldn’t believe it because she is always so lovely! They go home and within days it is back to mother is queen. They know what she says and does is wrong, I can see it in their eyes but they do not believe it and always defend her. They make excuses for her behaviour and lie to us openly about events that we know have happened. What I do not understand is, if there life is so rotten with her and things are as a bad as they are made out, then why do they constantly defend and protect her making us be the bad people constantly?

    Reply
    • StephanieS
      December 2, 2017

      Because she’s their mother. That’s why. It is VERY SCARY to stand up to a BPD as an ADULT. It’s not something a child can even fathom doing. Their mother has made herself The Big Kahuna. She made the rules and they better agree with her or face consequences. You don’t know what that mother is doing to them when you are not around. It is an EXTREME form of emotional abuse. I am 46 and was only able to cut off contact from my mother two years ago. It took me SO long just to understand what was going on. I knew our family was not normal, but I didn’t have a “reason” or a name for it. It seemed like my mother enjoyed the constant chaos, the drama, the yelling, screaming, hair-pulling, face-slapping, shoving, punching, beatings. It is VERY FUCKING SCARY having a parent like that. I recommend your partner does the right thing and tries to get full custody. If he cares about his children’s well-being, he should. The mother will fight this tooth and nail, of course, but if you want to prevent these girls from becoming BPD themselves, it is extremely important.

      I hope this helps with understanding. An email from my mother can still send me into a shame spiral. Abusers don’t stop abusing. They simply change tactics. This woman will manipulate and control her children as long as she is alive.

      Reply
      • Frankie
        December 11, 2017

        Oh my god I’m so glad I found this page. I want to reach out to all of you. It is just so validating to find people who’ve had these experiences. I have been wracked with self-doubt and shame and guilt. I’ve tried to establish boundaries. Every time my mother texts me I too experience the shame and guilt and doubt. It’s a cycle too, for the last year, roughly every other week or so. It starts with, I love you and miss you, then she begs to see me and my kids, I agree to it, then she cancels, and when I don’t beg her to come over, she starts telling me how hateful i am and how I have broken her heart and how her misery is all my fault. It triggers awful anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, I even find myself dissociating from time to time. I am trying to find a support group for adult children of BPD parents.

        Reply
      • Frankie
        December 11, 2017

        Ah I didn’t finish before I hit send. So the doubt—I’m constantly doubting I’m right about her being incapable of having healthy relationships and start questioning myself. She calls me a mean hateful bitch, and I start asking my husband, maybe she’s right…am I wrong? Am I the one who is being cruel? Am I a mean hateful bitch? It’s such an awful feeling to have someone constantly tell you you’ve wronged them when you haven’t, but it really makes you feel as though you have. :'(

        Reply
  10. Sarah
    September 30, 2017

    Like so many of these posts, I, too, have a BPD mother–never diagnosed, but meets all the criteria–and now at age 96 still displays BPD! As her adult child/daughter, now 60, I’ve had to engage in very limited contact with her for the past few years. I don’t live around her for a good reason, but phone calls from her can still be very distressing. While I do long for a ‘mother,’ I know it is not her, and will never be her. While I’ve tried many times over the years, to ‘be nice,’ and communicate, and visit her, it always results in an episode of criticism, against me, and/or my husband (who she called ‘he’ for many years). Nothing is ever good enough. It’s always about her—her needs, and her aches and pains. But looking back, it’s been like this my whole life. I know what loving mothering looks, and feels like, and it’s not her. So, I meditate, work on self-compassion, compassion for others-that includes her. But at the same time, I am in an ongoing state of recovery so I have to protect myself. If this is any indication of who she is–she just sent me a birthday card. She did not write my name in it. She signed it “Love, your Mother” with a note on the side about how she called me several times and left messages, I have not returned her calls, and that she doesn’t feel well. Anyways, like all of you, I’ve experienced lifelong, and ongoing grief, as well as the loss of never having a loving, unconditional parent. Most importantly, I’ve had to teach myself how to love myself unconditionally…work in progress. Peace to all.

    Reply
    • Frankie
      December 11, 2017

      I have panic attacks every time my mom texts or calls me. I felt so guilty about it but now I understand it entirely. I’m so very glad to have found this page. It is sad and heartbreaking but reassuring to know we are not alone. Hugs to everyone.

      Reply
      • Zambra
        February 25, 2018

        I understand you so well, that’s exactly how I feel every time I get a text or a call from her. My stomach turns and I wish she hadn’t contacted me. It’s all about her, her past experiences, her pain, her feelings. The people around her do not feel anything, apparently. It’s so destructive.

        Reply
        • Joanna
          March 1, 2018

          This is so true for me too! I’m 39, have two young children, and anytime I get a text, email or voicemail from my mother it sends me into major anxiety mode, shaking and upset stomach, instantly. I am considering blocking her from contacting me, but scared of what that would do, or enrage in her. Also, my father and brother don’t seem to see or understand or feel the same way about her inappropriate, emotionally abusive behaviors that I do. I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone. Like doesn’t anyone else see what’s going on here!? Don’t you see this is NOT normal!? I personally feel all I can do is cut contact with her, but feel that’s not fair to come in between my parents relationships with their grandchildren, they are very close. But I don’t know how to handle that, I don’t want them to be alone with her or ever experience her irradiated behavior. However, I feel it’s just targeted at me specifically.

          Reply
  11. Me
    October 4, 2017

    My father has BPD. He did, indeed try to make others feel responsible for his problems. A lot of spouses of those with untreated/unmanaged BPD stay with their spouse but please don’t, especially if kids are involved. Document, leave, and take the kids with you.

    It doesn’t matter how good the person with BPD are when they are good. It doesn’t negate abusive or neglectful behaviors towards the kids.

    Sometimes the most beautiful things in nature are also the most deadly.

    Reply
  12. Domina
    October 29, 2017

    It was a psychotherapist I went to see many years ago, for being suicidal with severe depression, who said I didn’t need psychotherapy as it would be damaging to me and pointed me to a lot of information, regarding my description of my dad, as personality disorder and emotional personality disorder. Through other knowledge and knowing someone else a while ago with both, he is also typical of Gender Dysphoria too, having dressed as a woman and tried to deny he liked it. He is also a sexist, woman-hating, woman-bashing pig who has treated my mam and me like a slave (growing up), my little sister tells him off but has so much destructive anger in her. My three younger brothers, (the two oldest), have been subjected to his lies, manipulation, conditonal love and a life crash course on woman-hating so now the two oldest in their mid twenties are abusers with severe aggression and mental health issues.
    Luckily as I’m just over 30 my mam and I have been able to save a good chunk of my youngest brother who at 19 is severely depressed but is gentlemanly, caring and protective towards women and girls getting hurt.
    When I was younger my dad lied constantly like he still does, manipulates his family against each other and plays everyone like pawns in his twisted game of sides and attention-seeking as well as how “everyone hurts him” when it’s the other way round. He even punched and strangled me as a child as well as constant emotional and psychological abuse where I grew up constantly suicidal. He still refuses to this day that there is anything wrong with him and still emotionally abuses and tries to control, even though my mam has just told him she wants a divorce after 33 years of his abuse.
    My point has been to say how destructive these people are and their selfishness knows no limits. Do not waste your love on them because underneath it means nothing to them and you are just a pawn in a game!
    Good Luck..

    Reply
  13. Ngaio Hanlon
    February 23, 2018

    I have a lot of empathy for the suffering of the people on this site. However I don’t support the discriminatory attitude some of them express towards people with BPD.
    These comments further society’s discrimination and prejudice against people with BPD which makes it much less likely they can gain insight and access help before the damage to their children is set. They want to have good family relationships and to have a kind loving effect on their children just as much as the people on this site do.

    Reply
    • Reader
      March 6, 2018

      I don’t hear any discrimination about people with BPD. I hear anger towards specific people only, and specifically towards their behavior, not their disease.

      Reply
    • Me
      April 4, 2018

      Ngaio:

      One of my issues with many people with BPD is they try to derail support venue for victims of people with BPD and make it a support venues for themselves. That is an inappropriate thing to do. I find that one of the primary manifestations of BPD is a profound disrespect for boundaries. Parent-child boundaries, friendship boundaries, other interpersonal boundaries, legal boundaries, ethical boundaries, moral boundaries. And the justification seems to be a sense of entitlement of emotional precedent. The person would BPD seems to feel that they are the most emotionally needy person in the room, therefore their emotional needs should be served above everyone else’s. No, you don’t always get to take. You must leave spaces for other people in this society. I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are sites out there for relatives and loved ones of those with autism spectrum disorders and some of the people post very nasty negative things about those on the spectrum. Sometimes I even feel they mischaracterize people on the spectrum as a whole to the point of libel. But I do not intrude upon those spaces. I do not go there and demand empathy for people on the spectrum or claim that it is wrong for them to talk about their experiences and suppress their own emotional need for the benefit of those on the spectrum. Those spaces aren’t for me to seek support. In fact the spaces aren’t for me at all. At best, for me, they are just places where I can learn the perspectives of the other side, take notes, and try to improve myself.

      So take notes here if you want and try to improve yourself, but this space is not for you or others with BPD. You need to let others have a turn at having some emotional support.

      Reply
  14. Kira
    May 9, 2018

    I’m so excited to find this very useful source that enlights my entire life. I found out that my father has BPD during my own therapy session yesterday. I got really emotional since then because now I can name it and there are many people suffered from their BPD parents and it is really really unbearable. Thank you all!

    Reply
  15. A survivor
    June 1, 2018

    Got a threatening letter from my mom I took it to a psychologist who read it & said she thought my mom had BPD. I’ve had 4 yrs. of therapy. My mom was neglectful as from age 9 I had to take care of myself, & my 7 yr. old sister before & after school alone w/no adult around to babysit. We started a fire in 4th grade, mom hid the firemen’s visit to tell on us from dad. I tried cigarettes in 4th grade. My sister got caught shoplifting, stuck in a jail cell until dad picked her up (mom wouldn’t give us any money). I walked in on sister having sex in 8th grade in our room & she got pregnant & miscarried in 10th grade. We smoked pot in the house in high school as no one was home. We made our own meals. Mom wouldn’t make dinner. When we visit her house she’d tell me to bring my own food. She doesn’t cook for us. She hasn’t bought me a birthday present since I was 13. Mom wants everything for her yet she does nothing for me. I have taken care of her during 4 surgeries. I have been respectful to her. She started leaving my family out of her b-day parties only inviting my siblings & their kids hurting the feelings of me & my kids. Last year she hit a teen who was in her way & my daughter & I left to walk away. We told mom we wanted to leave. When we got to mom’s house she was on the phone w/the cops telling them we were still there. I panicked & told my daughter lets go! Mom lied to the cop & told them we locked her up in her room, took her phone, & she was trapped. Well then she lied to my brother & told him I was sorry the next day & cried & apologized to her. This was all a lie! Calling the cops on us was the last straw for us. She just is addicted to the drama. My daughter said she’s never going back to grandma’s house again. I haven’t been back & have cut off contact w/mom. She has threatened to cut me out of her trust. My sister has turned against me & tried to get me kicked out of my family. My brother is the only member I have contact with as he’s nice to me as was my dad. If I hadn’t had a wonderful dad who never left us, who didn’t do anything bad to anyone ever I wouldn’t have turned out so well. I knew something was wrong w/mom. I am the only one who’s had therapy. My brother still caters to mom, lets her babysit his kids which he shouldn’t, but he sets boundaries, & she doesn’t treat him as badly as she does me. I am now the “bad’ child, emotionally disturbed as she told the cop! She’s emotionally disturbed. I don’t want my life consumed by her any longer. I find it hard to make a decision as she undermined all my decisions growing up. I also have anxiety, but I mange it & function well. I find it hard to trust people. I also find it hard to not try to perfect myself. It all came from her. I also am kind, thoughtful, a good mom to my kids & I’ve been present. It’s been a long struggle, but you can reclaim your own identity, sense of self, & trust in your own decision making. I just take longer to make one. That’s OK! Life is too short to have the mean people out to destroy your self esteem. Hang around with the good, kind people in the world & it will be OK.

    Reply

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