Only child raised by BPD mother

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stormyandbright

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Only child raised by BPD mother
« on: October 23, 2015, 07:31:25 AM »
hi all...

i'm fairly new to this forum and was hoping to connect with some people who maybe relate to what i am going through.

i'm an only child of an undiagnosed borderline mother. i always knew something was "off" about her and our dynamic, but i never seriously considered that she could be mentally ill until my mid-20's (i'm 30 now). after researching borderline personality and reading a couple books (surviving a borderline parent, understanding the borderline mother), i've come to the conclusion that she very likely has it. i also have a friend who HAS been diagnosed borderline and she often reminded me of my mom (she lives in a diff city now so i don't see her anymore, maybe for the best).

my dad is pretty much absent from my life and i dont know him very well. we're not on bad terms, necessarily, and we stay in touch, but on a very surface level. my parents divorced when i was 9 years old & my mom & i moved across the country, so i rarely saw my dad growing up and even as an adult, 2-3 years often go by without us seeing each other. he sometimes exhibits npd traits and i've read that borderlines often end up with npd or co-dependents so it's possible that he has it, but as i said, i don't know him well and am rarely around him.

my point in mentioning this is that he's never been a support to me and i was raised by my mother alone. she treated me more like a sister or a friend and parentified me big time. she was also physically and verbally abusive on and off my entire life. we actually had a physical fight just a few years ago, which was the breaking point for me and what made me look into borderline personality and try to make some kind of change in our relationship - at least on my end.

another thing that has made me more aware than ever of my dysfunctional upbringing is the loving relationship i have been in for the past 4 and a half years with someone who was raised by a well adjusted family. his family is obviously not perfect as all families have issues, but seeing them interact without constant conflict alone was initially kind of mind-blowing for me. since children who are raised by pd parents are often attracted to/attract other pd or at least co-dependent people in their lives, most people in my life were/are also from abusive families and i rarely saw an example of a mostly stable family environment.

anyway...before this gets even more ridiculously long, let me get to the point...

my bf has been incredibly supportive and helpful and continues to be, but i feel bad burdening him with all the negative emotions i feel about my mom and my childhood all the time. i also feel like because he doesn't have pd parents, he doesn't relate and sometimes doesn't know how to navigate the situation. not that everyone with pd parents DOES know what to say or do, but i feel like they at least understand the hole you feel in your heart from mourning your childhood, and feeling like you don't really have parents.

i also have some great, supportive friends, but sometimes i feel like they think i'm exaggerating about my mom (they've met her and mostly think she is nice), or they downplay it. i have one friend who often says "all moms are crazy" and claims that her mother was difficult as well, but has never shared any stories of serious abuse. all moms might be neurotic, but not crazy...

i also understand that everyone has issues with their family and so they maybe feel like everyone goes through similar growing pains with their parents. i haven't gotten too detailed with most friends about a lot of the things i've gone through because not only is it difficult, it's also embarrassing. so i suppose that could also be why they don't grasp the magnitude of the situation. i definitely wouldn't expect them to be surrogate therapists anyway. i was often playing that role to many people in my life (including and esp my mother) so i personally know how exhausting it can be. i suppose what i'm getting at is that i wish i had more people in my life who understood what it's like to grow up with a pd parent and that it's an ongoing struggle to move on from it. most of my friends who grew up in dysfunctional environments are still living out many unhealthy patterns themselves, so it's not helpful to speak to them about this either. i am looking to progress and evolve.

i've never done therapy and would really love to, but i can't afford it right now so i am hoping that reaching out to others on this forum may help a bit until i am eventually able to get professional help.

i sometimes become terrified that i might also have bpd because i do have a lot of unresolved anger issues (which only manifests with my bf and parents), but i am pretty sure i am just suffering from depression and anxiety. the only real trait i exhibit is the irritability/anger, and maybe sometimes hypervigilance around people, though that could easily just be PTSD. it's pretty much impossible to come out of a childhood raised by a pd parent without some kind of emotional problems, i guess...

i am trying very hard to work on all of this and part of that is keeping as much distance as possible from my mom. i feel too guilty to cut her out of my life completely (she's alienated almost everyone else in her life), but i have been able to finally create some space, and it is helping for the most part.

thank you to anyone who actually reads this freaking novel. i'd appreciate any comments, advice, or would love to even just hear some of your own experiences with your parents or family members.

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SchrodingersDaughter

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Re: Only child raised by BPD mother
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2015, 08:02:25 AM »
My situation is different from yours in that I have siblings, but we do share some common ground with having a "normal" SO. Also, I've gone NC with my entire family of origin an the vast majority of my friends from my old life, so I can understand a bit of that lovely feeling. I only have two friends that have known me for longer than a few years that have also met my parents, and they've been on the receiving end of some of the crazy, so I do at least have that understanding.

The part of your post that really struck me was about your boyfriend trying to be a support to you. My SO is in the same situation with me. I know you said you can't afford it right now, but couples therapy has been invaluable to us. We initially thought we couldn't afford it either, but we researched options in our area and found a few places that operated on a sliding scale. We met with a few counsellors before we found one that worked for both of us. She has really been able to help him see where I'm coming from and why my reactions are sometimes out of proportion with, or don't make sense in a given situation. She's also been able to help me talk to him in a way so that I can effectively communicate my needs to him, even if that need is simply taking a break from the situation to get back into a productive frame of mind.

I wish I could offer you more advise, but I'm still too new at this stuff to be of much help. All I can offer is solidarity. It's really weird sometimes to watch his family function. Last year we went to his mother's for Christmas and much of the extended family was there. They were all happy and enjoying each other's company. There weren't any blow ups or passive aggressive digs. It was weird to me, and honestly a little unsettling. I didn't know how to handle it. When we got home I cried because I began to realize just how much I missed by having such a dysfunctional family. Then I felt guilty for subjecting my kids to it for so many years before I finally started to come Out of the FOG. My poor SO had no clue what to say or do.

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stormyandbright

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Re: Only child raised by BPD mother
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2015, 04:19:02 PM »
i'm sorry to hear you had to go no contact with your entire family. were your siblings also PD?

thank you for the advice/info about the couples therapy. i should look into it. do you do individual therapy as well?

i can definitely relate to what you mentioned about watching your SO's family function. i'm very grateful that i'm part of their family now, but it does feel lonely sometimes when i'm around them because like you said, it often reminds me of what i've lacked in my own family life.

he has 1 brother and 1 sister and both of them are coupled up with people who don't have divorced parents, they both have siblings, and both come from seemingly normal families. i'm sure they all have their own issues, but i can't imagine it's anything like what i experienced/experience (i've met their parents too). this sometimes makes me feel like i can't relate to them too much, but the funny thing is, both of my SO's parents come from very dysfunctional families and they branched off to create their own island in peace, and don't have a ton of contact with their families. so i actually feel like i relate to his parents more than his siblings and their SO's. it does give me hope to see that his parents were able to overcome what they went through and give their children a good life. if i have children, i hope that i can do the same.

if you don't mind me asking, was it difficult for you to decide to have kids because of your experience with your family? i do want kids but it scares me sometimes to think i could subconsciously repeat similar patterns.

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SchrodingersDaughter

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Re: Only child raised by BPD mother
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2015, 11:28:42 PM »
I don't think my sisters are PD, but they're at various stages of coming Out of the FOG.  They agree that my parents have issues, but disagreed with me on going NC.  One even said that I had no right to keep my location and my children from them.  Ha!  Maybe they're healthier than I am, and can establish better boundaries while still staying in contact, but I'm not them, and for me, this was the best solution.

Here's the funny part of the whole ordeal:  The reason I had the strength to do what I did was because of the therapist they tricked me into seeing.  I have two siblings that are still minors (my siblings and I range in age from mid-40's to pre-teen).  The two that are still at home are adopted from the foster care system (they present a great face to the outside world, and are extremely well off).  Those kids have major issues.  When I moved back in with them after I lost my job and my house, they told me that they were starting with a new therapy group for their kids, but that the program required that all members of the household participate.  The therapist they assigned did some whole family sessions, and also did some individual "sub-family" sessions.  It was those sessions where I really gained a lot of strength.  I found out that the bit about the entire household participating was a bald-faced lie, but it didn't matter at that point.  The therapist was one of the few outside people who saw through my parents' facade and really helped me gain the inner strength to strike out on my own like I did, and not look back.

And I really do feel your discomfort in dealing with your SO's family.  It's just all so weird.  I really think that finding a low/no cost therapist would be the best thing for you guys as a couple.  Some of the arguments my SO and I have are over my weird reactions and my parenting decisions, which are somewhat based on attempting to not recreate in my kids what my parents created in me. Sometimes I go to far to the other side, which isn't good either.

Oh, and on that note, I think that you probably don't have to worry too much about hurting any future kids in the same way your mother hurt you, simply because you're cognizant of the fact that that sort of behavior is not okay and you want to do something to change it.  I certainly have problems with fleas from time to time, but I have open communication with my kids, and I'm not afraid to apologize to them when things go wrong.  One of the strongest indicators to me that I'm doing a pretty good job, is that when their friends are having problems, they drag them to me to help them out.  My guest room is often filled with a wayward teen for an overnight or two while I help them work things out with their parents or hook them up to community resources (I've had a few kids whose parents kicked them out for one reason or another...all but one of them for coming out as LGBTQ).  I figure if my kids trust me to help their friends, then in spite of our occasional problems, I'm on the right track.

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stormyandbright

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Re: Only child raised by BPD mother
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2015, 07:52:15 AM »
wow, that's a huge age gap. i hope those kids get the help they need. i don't blame you for wanting to just stay out of it/not be around it. when you are trying to evolve, it's not helpful to be around people who are stuck in unhealthy patterns and environments.

how funny that you were tricked into going to therapy but it ended up being a great thing for you. it sounds like you came across a therapist that fit you well and understood your situation, which i hear is rare, so that is really wonderful. it is also very sweet that your children bring their friends over to receive help. that shows that they trust you and see you as a supportive and loving person!

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firefly1

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Re: Only child raised by BPD mother
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2015, 03:02:57 PM »
Hi DreamingMoon. Your experience is very similar to mine...only child raised by BPD mom, father who was absent...divorce at age 5. You are different in that you married a normal guy. I married a sociopath and thus continued the madness until age 40. I have one son, and think that I was the exact opposite of my mother in motherhood. My son seems to be well adjusted despite his unhealthy father (the father died when my son was 17 but we divorced when my son was 12).  We did try counselling but there were so many issues, plus we didn't have much luck in therapist. Lately I've been thinking that it might help me to try again, but going LC is working so far. My mother is 80 and we are 2 hours apart, thank goodness. I also have no one who understands. Yesterday I was talking to a cousin about my mother. She asked me what my mother did and it is so hard to explain. It's just impossible to put into words.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 09:00:50 AM by Spring Butterfly »

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Gujoro

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Re: Only child raised by BPD mother
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2015, 03:43:24 AM »
Hi Dreaming Moon,

I relate so so much to what you've written. It actually made me cry to read because I relate too much.

It's frustrating when friends think "oh yeah, everyone's mom is crazy." When people tell me that, I say, "Yes -- but borderline people are particularly f'd up, and they really f up their children." I usually then go into at 1 minute explanation of how BPD people are, and people usually get it right away. They're like, "OH. Wow. Omg. I didn't know."

I think that we create lots and lots of subconscious coping mechanisms and explain away symptoms we have as a result -- the last ditch effort explain-away I would say that I did is I decided that my anxiety was inherited. I had it my entire life, but I didn't worry about it or think too much about it because I decided it was inherited.

It wasn't inherited! Not genetically anyway. It was the result of being raised by a BPD mom and having no clue that I was raised by a BPD mom.

My amazing boyfriend was married to BPD, so I will say that it does make it easier to feel fully supported and understood. But the fact that your bf comes from a stable family doesn't mean that he can't support you well. Would he ever read the books you've read? That would be amazing. Some things still come up that my bf doesn't understand. I've talked about these things with my therapist, and essentially, she will tell me, "He may not understand. And he may not be able to support you with x or y or z. But that doesn't matter. You can still take care of yourself."

You say you can't afford therapy -- I don't know what your financial situation is. Mine was not good when I started therapy. But basically my coping mechanisms (that I didn't know I had) stopped working -- and at 34 years old, I suddenly felt horrible. I couldn't pick myself back up anymore.

And I decided: if my arm was broken, it wouldn't matter what my bank account looked like. I would do absolutely anything to get it taken care of. And I need to treat my mind and my mental health the same way.

Therapists will give you sliding scales. So if you have no money, they will charge you the least amount.

If you're in the US, then you definitely have health insurance. Find a therapist in your network. And let him or her know of your financial situation.

I'm a huge huge huge proponent of therapy! It has been a crazy journey into the dark, but I've come out the other side, and there is nothing more loving I could have done for myself than to find a way to go to therapy even on my quite meager salary.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 03:45:12 AM by Gujoro »

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stormyandbright

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Re: Only child raised by BPD mother
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2015, 04:56:32 AM »

And I decided: if my arm was broken, it wouldn't matter what my bank account looked like. I would do absolutely anything to get it taken care of. And I need to treat my mind and my mental health the same way.


you're so right about this. i know i should try harder to find one. i think part of the reason i'm hesitating is because i'm afraid of "wasting" my money on someone who isn't a good fit or is just not good, period. i know that that's just how it works - you have to try it to even get to the point where you can decide if the therapist is right for you. i've just heard a lot of friends say that it took them awhile to find one that worked for them and i feel like i don't have the funds to jump around like that if i need to. i suppose there's a chance i could find a pretty good one right away, though, and any extra step toward healing is good. i'm definitely going to do it at some point. for now i am researching as much as i can on my own, and have been for the past 2 and a half years.

thanks so much for your comments!
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 07:54:53 AM by Unda »

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stormyandbright

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Re: Only child raised by BPD mother
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2015, 04:58:06 AM »
Hi DreamingMoon. Your experience is very similar to mine...only child raised by BPD mom, father who was absent...divorce at age 5. You are different in that you married a normal guy. I married a sociopath and thus continued the madness until age 40. I have one son, and think that I was the exact opposite of my mother in motherhood. My son seems to be well adjusted despite his unhealthy father (the father died when my son was 17 but we divorced when my son was 12).  We did try counselling but there were so many issues, plus we didn't have much luck in therapist. Lately I've been thinking that it might help me to try again, but going LC is working so far. My mother is 80 and we are 2 hours apart, thank goodness. I also have no one who understands. Yesterday I was talking to a cousin about my mother. She asked me what my mother did and it is so hard to explain. It's just impossible to put into words.

i'm really sorry about your ex-husband, but that's great that your son is doing ok. thanks so much for sharing!
« Last Edit: December 02, 2015, 09:17:49 AM by IDK »

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Selfmademe

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Re: Only child raised by BPD mother
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2020, 11:19:11 PM »
Your story is uncanny similar to mine.  I read this and felt like I was reading my own story.  I recently within the last 2 years found clarity on the subject and identified the problem was my mother...not me.  Its been a rough road but with therapy I have grown so much. I'm not sure if this thread is active anymore but dang...we could learn so much from each other. The similarities are uncanny!