There is definitely pain on both sides of Borderline Personality. Pain for those who have it and pain for those close to them or those who are partners, friends, co-workers, parents, adult-children, or family members/sibling etc of someone with Borderline Personality
I had BPD and I recovered. My mother and father had BPD and they did not recover at all. I know the pain on both sides of BPD. I was the child and then adult-child of a Borderline/Narcissistic Father (her passed away in 1997) and I am still the adult-child of a 89 year old mother with BPD/NPD. Loved Ones of BPD Video - Unhooking From BPD Chaos Part 1 and Loved Ones of BPD Video - Unhooking From BPD Chaos Part 2
- Adult Child Recovery - Personality-Disordered Parent(s) can find their own recovery and freedom. I help people in my BPD Loved Ones - Adult-Children of BPD Coaching and have been doing so for over 21 years now.
There is a place where the anger, the pain, and the longing lostness of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) meets with an increase in awareness that creates the divine opportunity to make newer wiser and more effective choices. Choices designed to enhance learning. Choices that take the place of the well-worn choices one used to exercise to protect. It has been that very protection that has kept you stuck in the active throes of Borderline Personality Disorder and lost to your authentic self - that inner child that beckons you to find it, face it, and fix it.
However, only the person with BPD can decide to choose whether or not they want to get well. No one can make a borderline seek help, see the problem, or change.
Getting in touch with that inner child will support the taking of personal responsibility. I was able to learn how to exercise choices that were made through an awakening mindfulness that gave way to a radical acceptance that supported and sustained what was the sacred re-introduction of my dissociated from inner child and the reclamation of my previously lost authentic self.
This sacred journey is the journey From False Self To Authentic Self for those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
I remember what it was like to have BPD. Pain was all around. Pain was as palpable as my heart racing as I mustered up the courage to learn to sit with all that I had run from in my life just to survive - just to stay alive - even if when, years ago, that "alive" was so empty that it felt like the nothingness of numbness.
There are no shortcuts in the recovery from BPD. There is no easy way out, unfortunately. It hurts to have BPD. It hurts to recover from BPD. It hurts later, after recovery, to remember how I was, how I treated others, how little I cared about myself though I focused on myself almost exclusively - I guess it could be said I had focused on the absence of that self when I had BPD.
Some do not ever recover because they fail to choose to seek that recovery and/or because they are just not for whatever reason or reasons able to come to any insight into the reality, scope, and nature that is the challenge of admitting to the problems that having BPD creates and entails.
The borderline false self is one self-absorbed being. It lives to encase the borderline in the pain of all of his or her yesterdays. It lives to make sure that you know your place and that you continue to act out that place in your family of origin with anyone and everyone you meet regardless of your chronological age.
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If you have BPD, the borderline false self, in you, rose up to save you when you lost your authentic self - when you were literally separated from your self as I was so many years ago. This borderline false self is only functional in the chaotic nightmare that is often the abusive invalidating soul-stealing dysfunctional family that you may have attempted to grow up in, as I did. After that, when we are chronologically adults, the borderline false self really starts to get in the way and to create a life that isn't worth living in the sense that it obliterates the here and now.
If you are someone living with Borderline Personality Disorder right now, you are likely often being triggered back to the unresolved trauma of your core wound of abandonment and its legacy. Everything now, everything new is so quickly and so intensely old again. Attempts to relate to those you are closest to, more often than not, if not always, send you back to the pain, fear, and the terror, of the original core wound of abandonment. You may or may not realize this consciously right now.
I remember the day I came to this conscious awareness. It was paradoxically devastatingly-painful and amazingly-freeing at the same time. But in order to win the freedom - the freedom of re-connecting with my previously lost authentic self as someone who had BPD - I had to re-live the pain of my original core wound of abandonment. I had to grieve all the loss that was so prevalent in my life. I had to regress in therapy and be allowed to re-work my way to coping in healthier ways with the reality that my mother and I had not ever established a healthy connection or a bond that would have allowed me to experience any secure attachment.
I had to walk away from my family, a family mired in Borderline Personality Disorder, enmeshed, toxic beyond belief really, and a family that saw my wanting to find myself, my wanting to heal, my wanting to individuate if it killed me as the ultimate betrayal of them. To be a good daughter to them meant that I would have to stay mentally ill and be defined by all that has ravaged their ability to think clearly or to take personal responsibility for their own feelings. I was a child who my borderline parents used as an emotional dumping ground for all they couldn't hold, tolerate, or stand to feel.
I was a child who had been emotionally and psychologically abandoned many times over before I ever had the chance to develop a self. I was a child who had been physically and sexually abused as well - the ultimate betraying abandonment. I was a child whose mother not only sexually abused her but whose mother lay in her bed less than 10 feet away from my bed in my room where my father sexually abused me from the age of 8 to the age of 12 and did and said nothing - nothing. I was abandoned by his abuse, abandoned by her failure to protect me. Abandoned.
Can this abandonment trauma and all of the pain of the loss and the grief be resolved?
Yes and no.
Yes it can be resolved to the point where one no longer needs to be triggered back to it over and over again. It can be resolved to the point where one does not have to chase that ruptured relationship in and through significant others anymore. It can be resolved to the point that one re-connects with one's inner-child and allows him or her all the time and space to grieve this most primal and painful loss - the loss of one's "first love" - the absence of secure attachment that plays a major role in what Melanie Klein identified as the "anxiety of the death instinct" - the killing of one's authentic self to this loss to this most profound wound.
I have done this work. I have resolved this abandonment trauma, this wound and I have grieved the loss of that "first love" - a "first love" - secure attachment with and healthy mirroring from my mother - that I didn't ever experience or get to know. I have endured the reality of a broken heart at such a young age there were no words. There was no cognitive understanding. At such a young age that all there really was, was devastation and heart-break that I experienced as abandonment and that shamed me literally to my core.
I have recovered from BPD.
Does this mean all the sadness is gone?
Does this mean that I never feel that pain?
What does it mean then?
It means that I have a healthy self from which to take care of myself now. It means that I have re-parented my inner child to the point where she and I have integrated and are no longer separate. It means that in my humanness I can now cope effectively with any feelings of this loss. It is a loss that is coming up a bit more often right now - years after my recovery - because my mother, now 83, is still herself borderline, and to this day there is no mutual resolution.
I have accepted that there won't ever be any mutual resolution. For there to be mutual resolution my mother would have to have the kind of therapy that I did. She'd have to have committed to this process years ago. Well, first, she would have had to acknowledge there was a problem. She hasn't. She won't. She simply can't. I wonder why. I don't know why. All I have learned in my life and in my recovery tells me that the why is really a matter of choice. We don't all make the same choices. Not everyone makes a choice that supports recovery and wellness and health.
As I grieve yet again, a little more, the fact that there is no way to mutual resolution with my mother, who isn't getting any younger, and that despite all the healing I have achieved in my life, this rift remains and I am powerless to effect any change there, I as a recovered borderline, walk miles in the shoes of the non borderline role with my mother, unable to effect any change in her or even in any way reach her in her learned helplessness, her borderline victim mentality and her own stubborn determination to defeat herself at every turn.
The really sad thing is that each and every time she defeats herself, if I engage her, she will defeat me too. I can't engage that anymore. I have known this for a long time. A long time ago, over a decade ago now I clearly let go and did the work I needed to do to free myself.
Yet, this freedom, freedom like a stone at times, doesn't mean I can't and don't still hurt about this at times. I do. I think I always will. And really, I accept that, I radically accept that. It is okay. It just is, what is.
While I have not had much contact with my mother over the years I am now at a point where I know that I am done. I have to be done. It hurts. It is so sad. I grieve yet again. I grieve some more. The tears roll down my cheeks. No, I am not borderline anymore. I haven't been for over 10 years. But, I am human. And did I hope that in all my work to recover from BPD that one day my mother and I could come to some mutual resolution. You bet I did. I hoped against all hope really.
Recently, that hope in a healthy way, was laid to rest inside of me. I have chosen to let that hope go. It is not healthy for me to hold out hope against all the odds any longer. The evidence in my mother's borderline life is such that there is no sign of any change, no seeking of help, no actual congruent or consistent engagement of "shared reality". She lives in the past.
My mother lives in the past where I was the scapegoat and the child upon which she heaped all of her self-hatred. My mother still thinks I am the 10 year old little brat that she frequently said I always was. She still sees me in that borderline distainful and devaluing way as the kid to whom she said (when I was 13), "I can't believe that you came out of me" I remember the look of hatred in her eyes. Was I devastated? No. I was so immune to it all by then. I turned to her and said in a low and raspy voice, "I am the after-birth don't you know" Her response, she hit me. At that point in my life with my mother nothing surprised me or hurt me anymore. (Okay back then it hurt but it never surprised)
Actually I have a lot of compassion for this woman who so failed me, who sexually abused me, who was not competent to be a mother, who hasn't to this day ever owned anything she ever did to me (including her denial of my father's sexually abusing me many times over years and she was in the next room and did nothing and it was never spoken about). I understand what it is like to have BPD and to be dissociated from your own personal responsibility as she is. I understand what it means to think that everyone is mistreating you when in fact it is the one feeling so mistreated that is abusing others. I get that.
Here I am just 6 months short of 20 years beyond Borderline Personality Disorder in my own life and my own psyche still feeling the effects of Borderline Personality Disorder in and from my mother as I did some 11 years ago when I had to grieve the harsh reality that my father, also borderline, took any hope I had of mutual resolution to his grave with him. I hadn't spoken to him for seven years before he died. He died one day. I had no idea. My mother didn't see fit to tell me that my father had died until 8 months after that fact. More punishment which left with me more grief. Again, that's okay. It really is. I accept that. I cannot change that. My mother's decades worth of punishing me has for the last two decades for sure been only keeping her stuck, miserable, unhappy, "borderline as ever", and her punishment, which I disengaged decades ago now, is only hurting her but somehow, is it projection?, she thinks she is still hurting me. No, not for a long time.
Now, (at the original time I wrote this) I am 59, my mother is 89. (As of January 2017) And I am finished. Not that we were close ever or that we have been even communicating much for years - we weren't and we haven't. But this is another letting go for me. I feel blessed that I was able to recover from BPD because if I hadn't I know what this loss would feel like - it would feel like abandonment and it would bring back up all that abandonment fear and trauma and leaving me feeling as if I was about to be annihilated. I don't feel any of that now. I just feel sad. I feel sad for myself. I feel sad for my mother. I feel so sad for myself - not sorry for myself.
I worked so hard to get to a place in average mental health where one hopes that things from the past can some how be worked through to mutual resolution in a mature and compassionate way. I can admit to feeling somewhat robbed again. But then I realize nah, not really. It just is, what it is. It is sad. I am finding my own way to the resolution I need. I am letting go.
Not having ever had any kind of healthy (not even a couple of hours at a time) relating with my mother my whole life has been the most educating experience of my life. In that it played a major role in my developing BPD in the first place and that I was able to recover from BPD to come to be where I am today with all of this - it has all been so defining of who I was, who I fought to become, but, it is not going to define or be defining of who I am right now or of who I am still becoming in the sense that we are all continually, when we are open to it, growing and maturing. No, she can't have that. I won't give her any piece of that.
I am turning a corner. My life, though I still very actively write and work in the area of BPD, has not been defined by BPD for over 20 years now. (At the time of this up-date of this post) I will not allow my mother's BPD to in anyway define this chapter of my life. I will grieve until I have wept enough to move on. I have moved on in so many ways through so many things over the years.
Speaking now as a non borderline, with compassion for anyone with BPD, including my mother and my long-deceased father, I don't know about you, if you are non borderline too, but I am not going to allow the way that some with BPD - namely my parents - can truly attempt to hold one hostage to the what is a lack of mutual resolution or any type of resolution from the grave. I haven't let my father do that in my life for 10 years now and I won't let my mother either.
The really sad thing here is that I can't even tell her we have spoken for the last time. It's the "no contact" thing. Sometimes it really is the only way to go.
I did try something one last time. I did try to communicate something to her, one last time. My honest, open, and compassionate effort was met with such an aloof and dispassionate avoidance I realized in those moments there is just nothing I can do.
I have made my choices in my own life. I have been so blessed with being able to break through Borderline Personality Disorder and recover. I can live with the grief of this loss with the grief of an adult and not the abandonment of the wounded child that I was for 33 years of my life. For that I am grateful.
I have healed the shame that my mother would still have me hold and carry and live through - for her. Her attempts recently to re-shame me only served to illustrate clearly to me how much shame she herself still has and still doesn't know how to deal with or cope with. Sad but true.
Sometimes the best we can do is honour our pain. We can grieve. We can cry. We can let "it" hurt until "it" doesn't hurt anymore. We can radically accept our losses surrendering humbly in the knowledge that there is significant importance that will teach us - there is purpose in it all though it sometimes seem so purposeless.
Growing up my mother seemed so unimportant to me. There was no connection there. I knew I couldn't count on her for anything. I let my father's larger-than-life totally controlling persona be my everything. Turned out that "everything" really wasn't anything but what can you do? I tried to overcompensate for not being or feeling in any way connected to my mother.
It took me years to really realize that I was missing this most precious relationship. A relationship I imagine should be a precious one. I have no experience with that with my mother. I chose not to have any children of my own so I am not a mother. Maybe this is what, in part, took me so long to really come to understand what I have actually missed. My life from its inception until I was 40 was totally influenced by this loss by what was essentially the missing of and longing for my mother. I needed a mother. I needed my mother. That relationship wasn't to be. I now realize that my mother had more importance in my life growing up than I ever could have emotionally managed to admit when I, myself, had BPD. I have always missed my mother. I lived in the same house as her for 17 years though we never really connected. I will always miss my mother. I am not a child anymore. I am not a wounded child anymore. I am an adult. I am an adult who has recovered from BPD. I do not feel abandoned anymore. I haven't felt abandoned for years.
I do have a new appreciation for what this loss has meant in my life and for all that it has taught me. As I turn this corner in my life now even though I let go, for the most, years ago, this is a much more final and complete letting go.
I do feel the loss. I am aware of the choice that I am making. We will never speak again. We will never see each other again. This is the same choice I had to make with my father. I know how it ends.
I just feel sad. It is okay to feel sad. It is healthy to feel sad when something is really very sad.
I know how it ends. I understand what it means to seek and find one's own resolution when there just isn't any other way. Borderline Personality Disorder causes pain for those who have it and for those who love or care about or are in any type or form of relationship with those who have it.
If you are non borderline and can relate to what I have shared here I hope that you know that regardless of who the borderline in your life is, you do have the right, if you so chose, to let go.
I have let go. I am moving on. There is no shame or guilt, just sadness. They say the dream never dies, just the dreamer, well, when it comes to my experience of BPD from the non borderline side I disagree. Really this dreamer is still here but that dream of ever reaching my mother has truly died.
So, on I go. On I go knowing that this loss is such a growth opportunity. On I go open to the grief and determined to take this pain and find its purpose in my life. As a student of life I am always determined to learn the lessons to the best of my ability. Then I pay the lessons forward. Everything has its time, its place, its reason. The cycles of life that beckon us to grow, I believe, according to God's plan don't always have to make a lot of sense while we are in the midst of the lessons. This is where faith comes in.
© A.J. Mahari July 2, 2014 - All rights reserved. (Originally written by A.J. Mahari many years ago)
A.J. Mahari is a Counselor and a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with BPD and with BPD Loved Ones and has been doing so since 1995.