Archive for the ‘BPD Family’ Category
Personal Change and facing your fears to gain control of your life and/or recover or get well from challenges in your life means learning to cope with the process of change and the how to stop fearing your fears. It involves learning how to soothe yourself, be kind to yourself, take good self-care, love yourself, and becoming more aware of how, what, and why you think what you think. What you think creates how you feel. How you feel determines your experience in all areas of your life.
We’re all human and therefore we all have fears. Some of us fear death, others fear being alone, and others fear social situations. If you can think of it, there’s someone somewhere that’s afraid of it. But fear is a normal part of life. It’s what protects us and keeps us safe. There are times, though, when fear can hinder us and stop us from enjoying life and experiencing new joys.
All fears have their roots somewhere inside based upon negative thoughts and association with past experience. It is how you have internalized and perceived those experiences that dictates how much fear you have right now and how you may be doing some extreme things in your life to avoid that fear. Things that really are not healthy and won’t help you but will only cause you more pain and actually increase your over-all negative experience and your fears.
When your fear starts to limit what you do in life, you need to conquer that fear. Does your fear of flying stop you from traveling to visit family members or prevent you from taking the vacation of your dreams?
What about socializing with coworkers after work? Have you turned down social invitations simply because you were anxious about not knowing anyone in the group? If your fears are stopping you from taking advantage of the new opportunities in your life, then it’s time to regain control of your life and disallow your fears from paralyzing you. After all, you can’t live in a bubble! It’s time to start living your life instead of watching life passing you by.
To help you gain control of your life, here are a few tips on how to get over your
First, identify your fears. Get a piece of paper and write down exactly what you’re afraid of. It doesn’t matter how long the list is, whether it has one thing or 15 things on it. And it doesn’t matter if these fears sound irrational. No one needs to see the list other than you. This is about you taking control and getting over your fears.
Next, figure out why you have the fear. Try to remember a specific incident that might have caused the fear. Maybe your fear of flying intensified because you’ve been on a turbulent flight. Or maybe your fear of dogs stemmed from being bitten as a child.
If you’ve blocked out these memories because they’re too painful to remember, a professional can help you reach those memories and decipher their meaning. A professional can also advise other forms of treatment, such as hypnosis or the emotional freedom technique (EFT).
Now the hard part begins: overcoming or conquering these fears. Be patient and be prepared to do some work because, just as the fear took time to manifest, it will take time to
- Personal Change and Coping Audio and Workbook
- Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life – 19 Coaching Exercises – End Negative Thought Patterns
- Developing Self Awareness and Creating Personal Life Change
- A.J. Mahari’s Coaching Guide/Ebook/Workbook – Quest For Self Awareness & Creating Your Story of Success Audio
- LONELINESS – Its Challenges, Lessons, Purpose and Meaning Ebook
- The Power of Gratitude – Nurtures Healing, Recovery, Self Improvement – Ebook and Audio
- The Importance of Observing The Moment Mindfully – Effective ways to Cope with Stress
- Unresolved Abandonment
- 1 – 60 Minute Life Coaching Session
- Audio About Borderline Personality
- Audio For Loved Ones of Someone with Borderline Personality
All content of all Ebooks, Video, Audios, and Workbooks are © A.J. Mahari and Phoenix Rising Publications/Life Coaching
Take Baby Steps
In the movie What About Bob? there was a therapist who had a patient who was afraid of everything. The therapist used the baby step approach with this patient, which simply
means taking small steps, one at a time, to gain more confidence and eventually overcome the fear.
What would your baby steps be? It depends on your fear.
- If you’re afraid of social situations, slowly start going to different events. Start with small groups, perhaps in very open environments, then transition slowly into larger gatherings. The purpose here is to prove to yourself that there’s nothing for you to fear.
- Socialize with a small group of friends you already know. Polish your social skills among people who already know you. You have less to lose and won’t feel as if you must say the right thing at all times.
- If you’re afraid of dogs, take this same approach by visiting a friend who has a dog. Small dogs are much less intimidating (although they might bark more frequently). If your friends don’t have dogs, ask your local vet’s office or animal shelter if you can visit.
- Fear of flying is much more difficult to conquer because of the expense, but you can look into hypnosis. Also, some airports or flight schools might have classes in airplane simulators that help you feel like you’re in an airplane. That type of plan will take more research but will open the world to you.
By facing your fears and finding a way to overcome them, you will open up your life to many more opportunities. Take control of your life and take action and change what has you depressed, change why you aren’t in a relationship or a healthy relationship, change how you feel about yourself and others. Facing fear, in and of itself, is the way to make a new choice for personal change and learning to cope with it today. The only thing there is to truly fear is fear itself. That can take over your life if you let it. If you feel like fear has taken over your life, like you are blocked and stuck and want more out of your life, then it is time to embark on a journey of personal change.
© A.J. Mahari and Phoenix Rising Publications/Life Coaching, February 4, 2012 – All rights reserved.
BPD and BPD Loved Ones Coach, A.J. Mahari talks, in this 138 minute audio, about what people on the other side of BPD – Loved Ones of BPD really need to know and understand to understand more about what is going on in the relationship with someone in your life with BPD and how to not lose yourself. Or if you have lost yourself, how to find yourself again.
There are so many growth opportunities for Loved Ones of BPD – so many lessons you can learn that more about yourself than your loved one (or ex-loved one) with BPD. BPD Loved Ones need to stop focusing on trying to rescue the borderline and need to focus much more on what is going on with them, that is what they have control over and that is what, as a BPD Loved One can empower you to regain a sense of self that many feel they’ve lost to the confusion, chaos, drama, and difficulty of splitting in and by their loved one with BPD.
This audio will help you get back in touch with yourself and guide you as to what you really need to do in your own personal situation whatever the relationship is with the person in your life or who was in your life with Borderline Personality Disorder. In this audio A.J. Mahari also explains a lot about Borderline Personality Disorder and why you need to learn to practice Radical Acceptance Skill so that you can gain more clarity and understanding of what is actually going on and what you are experiencing and why and what to do about it, how to cope with it. There are hooks, blocks, and aspects of what people with BPD struggle with that draw Loved Ones in, back in, over and over again and/or cause them immense pain and disappointment and even rage.
Being aware of what really is through Radical Acceptance will help you to begin a journey of reclaiming yourself, not living just for the person with BPD and finding out how much you are losing of yourself, your happiness, and your time and life to what is for many an over-focus on the person with BPD in their lives that for some reaches the point of being obsessive and all-consuming and exacerbating already existing and often increasing pain. Without Radical Acceptance you may also be less yourself and becoming more isolated all the time.
To purchase this audio please CLICK HERE
©A.J. Mahari, December 10, 2011 – All rights reserved.
Life Coach, BPD/Mental Health and Self Improvement Coach, A.J. Mahari has a 63 minute audio available called, Embrace Mistakes & Roadblocks – Learn To Overcome Challenges in Your Life .
Designed to help you to learn more about effective coping with change, growth, and continue self improvement as well as changing worry, anxiety, and depression, into goal-setting, task setting, journaling, to learn and grow in ways that will create more opportunities for you to identify and achieve your goals.
We really do create our reality by how we think. Learn how to change negative self-talk into positive self-talk and negative thoughts into positive thoughts so that you can learn to ask yourself the questions that will help you gain awareness and confidence in facing whatever is challenging you in your life.
Even if you have Borderline Personality Disorder, are in recovery from Sexual Abuse, or depression, anxiety, other forms of mental illness or just wanting to know more about yourself and what you want in your life this audio will inform and inspire you to empower yourself to get into action and create the change you want and need in your life.
To purchase this audio and the worksheets and checklist please CLICK HERE
This audio also includes with it an overcome your challenges checklist and worksheets PDF’s.
© A.J. Mahari, December 4, 2011 – All rights reserved.
Life Coach, BPD/Mental Health Coach and Self Improvement Coach, A.J. Mahari, has added to her Coping Tools Skills audio collection with this Audio that is 59 minutes long and a wonderful journey that will help you learn to cope with triggers whether they are from Borderline Personality Disorder, having been Sexually Abused, Childhood Neglect or Unmet Needs, generally, or unresolved abandonment wounds from childhood that can leave people with issues of Depersonalization, Denial, Derealisation, and/or Dissociation – feeling unreal, not connected, not grounded and/or not present in the here-and-now. Listening to this Grounding Relaxation Exercise is a way to build coping tools and skills to effectively deal with triggered emotional dysregulation, distress, discomfort, feeling unreal or disconnected and with the scary feelings that can explode from your past right into your here and now and be re-experienced as if they are happening all of over again.
Daily practice with this grounding relaxation exercise audio can and will help you to build here-and-now presence, connectedness, safety, and grounding skills that you will be able to extract from practicing with the audio and use in your daily life.
To purchase this audio please CLICK HERE
© A.J. Mahari, November 26, 2011 – All rights reserved.
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Or could the purpose of any vilification of your borderline loved one really just be more about justifying your own feelings of being a victim? Does it fit with the frustration and pain and endless conflict and/or emotional chaos and drama that you experience with the person with BPD in your life? Do you feel like a victim of all that your borderline parent or borderline adult-child or borderline sibling does? Do you feel like a victim of all that they just don't seem to be able to be aware of and understand in ways that leave you feeling desperate for them to make some change?
The change that those with a family member or with family members of BPD really need isn't the change that may or may not ever come from the person with BPD. It isn't the change that you so try to control of shape in the person with BPD.
What family members of those with BPD need most is to better Understand Borderline Personality Disorder so that you can begin to learn how you can Break Free From the BPD Maze rescue and take care of yourself.
For many who have Borderline Personality Disorder seeming evil or acting in ways that are cruel may well make it easy for you to come to the conclusion that the person is evil. However, thinking that way is polarized. Those with BPD are stuck and trapped in incredible suffering at the hands of polarized thinking.
For family members of those with BPD it is much more important to separate out the person with BPD from what you may identify as evil or cruel aspects of their relating to you and/or their behaviour. So much of everything manifested as borderline behaviour by those with BPD truly does come out of incredible pain.
And in as much as even incredible pain does not justify abuse or punishing cruel behaviour it is important to realize that it is this pain – the pain of the borderline's core wound of abandonment that has him or her trapped in what is an absence of self that blinds them to much-needed awareness of who they really are and what they are acting like and what effect their choices and actions have on others.
If you are hurt and angry, which is quite understandable and very common for family members of someone with BPD, continuing to vilify or demonize the borderline will in fact just keep you stuck engaged in everything borderline with your borderline relative. Judging someone with BPD as evil further involves you in a toxic attachment that you will benefit most from not engaging.
Family members of those with BPD need to learn how to disengage the borderline in their lives to whatever degree that may be necessary. Judging a borderline as being evil will keep you focused on that person and all the pain that they are (to some degree) causing you.
Anger is a natural response to pain. Family members of those with BPD, are often angry because they are so hurt and hurt often by someone with BPD in their lives. Rather than act from a place of anger and feeling like a victim of the pain one feels in response to the borderline in his or her life the way to find relief and healing for yourself is through disengaging the emotional roller coaster of the borderline.
From pain and anger one must find more understanding of and about BPD in order to develop compassion and forgiveness for your borderline relative. A compassion and forgiveness that doesn't necessarily mean staying in an active relationship with him or her and that doesn't mean making excuses for his or her borderline behaviour either. A compassion and forgiveness that does free you from any vilifying of the borderline as evil and that does mean you finding your way to breaking free through understanding the facts about BPD. Facts that do not include or support justifying your own suffering and pain on the other side of BPD by characterizing the person with BPD in your life as evil.
? A.J. Mahari, November 1, 2008
This is the journey of a man who is the father of two daughters. One, his oldest, had Borderline Personality Disorder. His youngest daughter does not.
All names have been changed at the request of the writer.
Where to begin. Perhaps at the beginning at about 10:00 p.m. at Mary Immaculate Hospital located in Queens, NY. It was May 14, 1975. ?Joan? arrived after a difficult and induced labor. My new wife Marg was 18.
Joan came into our lives 24 years ago. It was a difficult birth, but not extraordinary. Of course this is so easy to say because I was not the one heaving with labor pains or pushing my guts out.
Perhaps we should have known that Joan was not going to be an easy child. But she was the first and we were young and full of energy. I certainly had no clue in the early years that ?Joan? would bring incredible emotional pain to our lives. I do remember having to get in our old beat up car and drive Joan around the neighborhood before she would fall asleep. But, this was in infancy. She was a colicky baby, but Marg was patient.
The years whirled by and our second daughter Alice was born in 1981. There was some natural jealousy of a 6 year old already on board toward the new arrival. Alice got chicken pox at 3 months old and I followed with a case of adult chicken pox. Alice came away easy in that most of Marg’s immunity protected her from a bad chicken pox experience. Me, well it was a bad two weeks for sure. This is about me to a large extent, and unfortunately so.
No I don’t have BPD. Joan has it. I suffer and Marg suffers. Anne, my six year old granddaughter suffers, Alice suffers. We suffer in different ways and spaces. We suffer the brunt of a daughter, mother, and sister who is often "out to lunch".
Joan?s world is fantasy and boredom, tattoos and cutting her own flesh (at least we know in her younger years she cut.) We cannot tell now. Joan is unable to deal with reality and lies to herself and everyone else as if her lies can change reality to make it what she wants or needs it to be. I guess it does change Joan?s reality, but not ours. We see much more objectively the terrible toll BPD exerts on Joan?s daughter Anne. It is a double hurt for Marg and I. We watch Joan throw her life away and concurrently watch her screw up her own daughter’s existence.
As if this weren’t enough. We threw Jessica out at 16. Bought a house for her and Anne and Anne?s father to live in. I had to throw them out of the house because they were systematically destroying it. We took Joan and Anne into our home again. The home Joan was thrown out of at 16. And on the saga goes.
I could outline 100 episodes of experiencing her BPD. What good would it do now and here? You all know what I am saying. You know of the push away I hate you and the pull toward you I love you. You know of the magical thinking and fantasy life lived by your own BPD kids. Joan lost her license for 6 months for speeding several years ago. Two of the 3 tickets were in the very same spot. Tell me BPD behavior doesn’t cry out for notice.
What good does it do to tell you Jessica repeats the same behavior over and over again without taking any meaning from the bad outcomes. She has lived with two men, one Anne?s (my granddaughter) father. The other just a bum, from a white trash family. Neither has a driver’s license.
Who can live with garbage all over and cat excrement? Who, in their right mind, could not bathe for more than several days or leave their teeth rot in their own heads? Who could associate with only those with no way to succeed in life. My Joan — a beautiful blond, blue eyed child of slight build–now much heavier — never had a job and blames everyone else for what goes wrong. She never takes responsibility for her own conduct or the very bad choices she consistently makes.
Joan makes me very unhappy and sad. I could have let her go her own way if it were not for Anne. Actually, it was Marg who said we must try to save Anne. I simply had to go along for Marg’s sake. I could have put both Joan and Anne on the mental shelf to protect my own fragile emotional world.
I could have cut them both loose from my world. Oh, I would have paid a large price in guilt. I would sleep better though. I try to live one day at a time and remember not to be too angry about having to raise another child. I wouldn’t mind raising Anne if Joan left us alone to do the right thing.
Counseling you wonder?. Oh sure, we have tried and tried. Joan says there is nothing wrong. She says that she is normal. We are just uppity people who don’t understand her or the downtrodden people she chooses to associate with.
At this point, the bottom line is: Anne, is my granddaughter. I cannot help Joan anymore. I cannot even kiss her goodnight when I leave for work. I can’t stand being around her. I do indeed walk on eggshells and don’t like that feeling when it is my house, my income and my sanity.
I searched high and low all over the internet, in support groups and through research trying to find practical suggestions on how to best grow my granddaughter up with Joan being a Borderline. I would throw Joan out again tomorrow if it were not for Anne.
I’ve been working in state prisons for 18 years. It’s a very tough environment. But I can tell you BPD is much, much tougher to deal with. My wife Marg worked with small children in a daycare setting until a neuropathic injury ruled that occupation out.
Marg handles this BPD situation much better than I do. I am the one who has sought support online.
About My BPD Daughter and Her Daughter
I guess I want Joan to be the perfect parent. Much like the idea of a white picket fence life, a fantasy, I am falsely thinking Joan could and should be the best parent ever.
I am angry that Joan thinks more of herself than her child. I think the child’s needs must always come first. But, then I look at how I have lived my life thus far. I cannot say I put my children first all the time. I know my limitations and have lived by them to a large extent.
I often escape when conflict arises. The escape, years ago, used to be physical. Now my escape is primarily mental. I simply tune out. Why should I expect so much from Joan?
When you become a parent, the primary focus is the child. Concretely speaking, a parent should:
1. Provide the basics of life. Included among these basics are: Clean and wholesome living environment. Plenty of nutritious food. Clean and properly fitting clothes and foot wear. Several play areas i.e.–school playground, backyard, friend’s house. A place for the child to call home (a room, a space, something that is the child’s domain completely. A daily routine that engenders security in knowing what will happen and enough flexibility to adjust to life as it comes. Routine and flexibility will prepare the child for life.
2. Provide basic emotional stability. (which is impossible if the parent is not emotionally stable) Real parental love must show through. Parents must love a child enough to be firm with discipline. Affection must be ongoing. The child must feel valued and wanted. The child must feel secure enough with the parent to separate from the parent. The child must know the parent will always come back. (Much like the early years of peek-a-boo and hide and seek) This idea must take root as the child grows into adulthood.
Eventually, the child must learn the parent is simply another human being with faults, with foibles, with strengths. Balance must be learned. "Moderation in all things" is a hard won battle to learn and abide.
Spouting off is easy. The right words, the ones that sound good, have always come easy for me. Living the words, a far greater challenge. How could I possibly think Joan would be the parent I want her to be? How totally unrealistic to think this could be so. Children don’t come with a book. Marg and I only learned these fancy words over much time and thought parenting–trial and error.
I think what drives me bonkers is not seeing the love expressed for Anne often enough. I don’t see a lot of affection between mother and daughter, but I do see some. When Joan is having a good day, the love and affection towards Anne is more noticeable. The turning away part is difficult to see. You sense when Joan begins that fade out. Then, the big push away. How can a child understand this behavior?
It is hard enough to be a single parent. It is hard enough to raise a child and make the common mistakes so many make. It is even more difficult when you have BPD.
A central conflict for me concerning Joan as parent is my basic idea of parenting. I say this: You must love your child enough to lay down your life for your child. I don’t see this fierceness of purpose in Joan.
One demonstrative way to illustrate this observation is to discuss the ongoing lice infestation problems we have experienced over the last couple of years. You do not keep on exposing your child to known infestation conditions if you love your child.
I have many examples of Joan putting Joan’s needs first rather than Anne’s needs first. This is not to say that the child’s needs must always come first. Balance is key. I think I see too many lapses of motherly love in Anne’s rotted teeth, not knowing how to tie shoelaces, coming home late when Joan wants to be out and than rushing the bath and bedtime routine so Joan can leave again, and more etc.
Where does a parent’s right to some small happiness begin? The fact that Joan leaves for the night to be with her boyfriend is objectively justifiable. Emotionally, I just cannot accept the fact a loving parent would do this. Joan does have a beeper we can ring in an emergency. By the time we contact her, however, we would have had to act on the emergency anyway.
Here is an actual example of what happened in a semi-emergency situation one night. Anne had a terrible episode of projectile vomiting after her mother had left for the night. My brave wife Marg had vomit from head to toe as I ran for the garbage can. Of course, Marg bathed Anne and got her teeth brushed. I took of the bedding and scrubbed the mattress with bleach water. We settled Anne back down and she slept with us for the rest of the night. All this unbeknown to Joan.
What good would it have done to call Joan here? We would have had to supervise her in doing what we already knew and were there to do. So, Joan gets to play while Marg and I get to be parents all over again. And yes, I resent that we are put in this position all the time. If I am going to be a parent, I want full custody to raise the child the way I see fit. Then, I will be a full time parent and tell Joan to leave and stay wherever the hell she wants to except here, at home with Anne.
I AM WORRIED STIFF
The greatest harm can come from the best intentions. If we fought and won custody for Anne, would this really be in Anne’s best interest? I have read that children, no matter how badly they are treated, want to remain with mom. At this point, Joan is not being abusive to Anne — at least during the hours Anne and Joan are home with us.
Would raising Anne be in our best interests? Yes, to alleviate any guilt we feel about what we perceive to be Joan’s parental failures. No from a practical life cycle view. I would like to be less responsible rather than more responsible.
What happens if Anne turns out to be Borderline too or creates very substantial problems like her mother? Then where is the light at the end of the tunnel. I shutter to think I will have to repeat all of the intense emotional pain I went and continue of suffer through with Joan.
Some people have BPD in the family whereas I came from a family of BPD. Children do learn what they live. The effects of Borderline Personality Disorder on family members is far-reaching and profound.
Both of my parents had Borderline Personality Disorder. It is also believed that my maternal grandmother also had BPD. I was also diagnosed with BPD at the age of 19. I recovered at the age of 38. I am sure that if someone were to go through my whole family history, sadly, what has been defined in the last 20+ years as BPD would likely be found throughout many generations of my family.
In my unfortunately rich experience with Borderline Personality Disorder – on both sides of it – I'd have to say that despite any genetics involved the perpetual abandonment, lack of nurture, lack of mirroring, lack of validation, constant criticism, anger and rage, abuse, and so forth really lays the foundation for each generation to be as afflicted as the one that attempts to raise them.
Borderline Personality Disorder can definitely be accurately described as a relational disorder. It manifests in and through relationships in chaotic, crazy-making, intense and very unstable ways. In the sea of family BPD there is really no such thing as being or feeling connected. The experience is one of broken mutuality (Bradshaw), enmeshed family dysfunction, and a love-hate that the word toxic barely begins to describe.
The unresolved abandonment trauma and its legacy sets up an on-going intergenerational dynamic of an astounding lack of affect synchrony (Viviane Green in her book "Emotional Development in Psychoanalysis, Attachment Theory and Neuroscience") that is so needed by a young developing infant if one is to have a chance at developing a relatively healthy personality.
When one lives in a BPD family one learns that love is war and that connection represents a primal threat to one's actual or perceived survival. Nothing is real. Nothing is. Everything goes. Everyone takes turns taking hostages. Punishment is as common as the air that one needs to breathe. Oddly enough it becomes equally as sustaining.
- Purchase all 3 of ebooks for NON BORDERLINES packaged together with or without audio.
- Non Borderlines – You can purchase 6 ebooks packaged together with or without audio.
- Those with BPD and/or Non Borderlines can purchase A.J. Mahari's 3 "Core Wound of Abandonment" series ebooks packaged together with or without audio.
Life in a BPD family is a nightmare. There are no boundaries. Boundaries are not understood. Boundaries are not allowed. The BPD family relies on the enmeshed and toxic bonds of perpetual betrayal. Betrayal teaches the young developing borderlines how to manage the split reality of "I-hate you, don't-leave-me" and "get-away-closer". It helps one navigate the crazy-making duality of aloof-closeness and/or intimate-distance.
Life in a BPD family teaches one that emotional availability is a powerful tool with which to manipulate, punish and control. It teaches that helping others really means controlling them to be the way that you need them to be for you. It teaches one that they only exist in and through the existence of the other and that when the other is disapproving, distant, or maybe just not paying enough attention, one is invisible, non-existent and absolutely not ever safe.
There is nothing to trust in a BPD family. Really the only thing that there was to hold onto, aside from false hope against all hope that one's needs might someday be met, was the full-on raging chaos. The raging chaos of utter despair disguised as want, dangled as the rarity of recognized need, was the salve that soothed the absence of a self that was so dissociated from yet so palpable as to be the pain filled numbness of a living death.
? A.J. Mahari July 8, 2008 – All rights reserved.
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.
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.
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 distaining 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. 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 over 10 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.
Now, I am 50, my mother is 83. 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 10 years now. 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, 2008 – All rights reserved.
A.J. Mahari is a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with BPD and with non borderlines. A.J. has 10+ years experience as a life coach and has worked with hundreds of clients from all over the world. A.J. has learned how to pay forward the blessings of her own recovery and the pain that has taught her on the other side of BPD as well.