+#1 SYMPTOM OF BPD = CANNOT PARENT CORRECTLY

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Possibly the most useful service my book can provide is to illustrate what is probably the WORST symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD):  The inability of a BPD mother to adequately and appropriately mother her own offspring.  This #1 symptom can very easily and possibly usually DOES lead to a BPD mother neglecting and/or abusing her children FROM BIRTH.

I realize this might be a controversial conclusion that I will be making in my book, but given the profound damage a severe BPD mother can cause her children including SUFFERING nearly beyond belief these possibilities HAVE to be faced by a society who — by their own blissful ignorance — is harboring these mothers.

I fully believe that the Trauma Altered Development that a BPD suffered in their own earliest and most important stages of body-brain growth happens to improve a BPD survivor’s chances of survival to childbearing age.  If this is true then there is ONLY ONE WAY to intercept the patterns of neglect and abuse that these same BPD survivors can inflict on the children that nature has enabled them to live long enough to produce.

This ONLY WAY is for the people who surround a BPD mother and her children HAVE to intervene on behalf of the children.  These trauma-caused changes have been included within human DNA potential from our earliest beginnings to ensure survival of a species that needed all the offspring it could produce.  That is obviously NOT still the case, but BPD survivors do continue not only to produce offspring but to also live long enough themselves to torment, torture and traumatize their own children.

Without intervention and treatment I do not believe that the most severely abusive Borderline parents have ANY CONSCIOUS CHOICE not to — on an unconscious and physiologically-programmed level – to be in direct competition for survival resources with these same offspring they have created.  In the ‘olden days’ this simply related to a mother’s ‘natural mammalian right’ to kill offspring within an environment that was so malevolent and deprived that enough resources simply DID NOT exist to support ‘them all’ and ensure survival – mother included.

Of course in today’s world all these physiological survival-of-the-species patterns are worse than obsolete.  They are abominations.  These are the same patterns, I believe, that are at the core of the Medea story I mentioned in my earlier post today where this mother hacked her own children apart with a gigantic butcher knife.  ‘The public’ and the father were given fair warning that this was exactly what Medea was going to do – and they did nothing to prevent the tragedy — not even while the butchering was happening as ‘society’ stood around outside the house listening to the screaming of the babies.  These are the same patterns that operated on the deepest, most hidden levels within my mother’s interactions with me — and within the society that allowed them to happen at all.

If we are a more highly evolved species, then we need to act that way.  Allowing these kinds of mothers to abuse and neglect their offspring IS A SOCIAL PROBLEM and only within this bigger picture will the solution to these problems be found.  Again, neither these BPD mothers nor their offspring can resolve these difficulties alone.  The physiological forces at work are very powerful, very ancient, and very, very dangerous to infants and children.

Previous posts today:

+THE WARNING THAT WILL GO WITH THIS BOOK WHEN IT’S FINISHED

+’BORDERLINE’ – TREATABLE BUT NOT CURABLE – FROM CHILDHOOD

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26 thoughts on “+#1 SYMPTOM OF BPD = CANNOT PARENT CORRECTLY

  1. i’m a single mother of two who’s just been diagnosed with BPD. i am not going to say i am perfect, most of the time i beat the hell out of myself because i don’t feel i am doing enough for them. i have them in young carers’ organisations so they have an outlet, they are doing well in school, they are emotionally healthy. they’ve never been injured in my care. i agree that growing up with me is difficult, i’m the first to admit it, and i am the one who fought to get the help.

    i don’t know why i am writing this, i just want you to know that there are many of us who are living in mental hell but still doing the best for our families. please don’t generalise us all. it must have been terrible being raised by an abusive person with a mental illness. not all people with a mental illness are abusive, tho. i say this for my sons. i don’t need my diagnosis or label hurting them any more than it has. thanks.

    • Hi and thanks for writing here! The most critical stage of development is conception to age 2 – a critical growth period for little ones while their extremely fast right brain hemisphere is growing that regulates emotional – a period in which the entire nervous system and body is growing in response to the conditions of the little one’s attachment relationship environment. For this attachment relationship to be healthy the parent must be capable of true empathy with offspring – something that is very difficult if not impossible for BPD.

      This fact does not mean that all later stages of development are not very important – but it will always be those first 33 months of life that matter the MOST.

      It sound like your sons are older than this already.

      I would hope that your family has help and support in monitoring parenting conditions on an ongoing basis. If your diagnosis of BPD is an accurate one, it means your body-brain is not ‘normal’ – which to me would mean that you are not going to be able to realistically or accurately judge/assess/evaluate your own parenting abilities.

      Abuse can be many things – and most fortunately very few suffer the kind of abuse that I did. I believe that the number one positive and necessary requirement for safe and secure attachment parenting is that children must always come first to a parent. If parents have needs of their own (which all do in one way or another) those needs must be met in healthy ways so that the children are not harmfully impacted by parental disabilities.

      The most accurate book on parenting I know of is this one: Parenting From the Inside Out

      It is a most essential place to begin the study of how to overcome the influence mental illness causes in parenting relationships.

      I wish you all the very best in your healing journey!!

  2. I recently ended a nearly 3 year relationship with a BPD woman due to a lack of empathy and physical and emotional abuse on her part. 2 weeks later she calls me and tells me she is pregnant with my child. I get back together with her for two weeks and two doctor’s appointments, during which time her demands got crazy and her abuse continued. I decided to file a protective order against her (which got thru the courts 100%) and am fighting for full custody of the child.

    Am I doing the right thing?

    I am in my 40’s and have joint custody with my ex wife (married 19 years) and love being a dad. Life throws us curves, but I need to do the right thing.

    • Time will tell if this woman is actually pregnant — and I am not any kind of expert except for the horrific time I spent being raised by my own abusive BPD mother. There is no room for even thinking about being candid about the truth as I see it about what you are describing. I don’t know that it will be possible, but by all means save that child!

  3. I am deeply honored that you feel my writing and thoughts have merit. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. The work you are doing on this blog is invaluable and if I can contribute in any way, then some tiny portion of my life’s work is being realized.

    I thank the universe that I found your work. Thank you Linda for what you are doing for humanity…..

  4. However, THEIR patterns influenced the patterns upon YOU. I can no longer tease those threads apart because I understand that due to my mothers childhood, she invested everything she had into my father as her savior, and when he couldn’t quite reach that brass ring her disappointment rained down on me. I strongly suspect that is a prevalent pattern in these types of relationships. I would imagine if that purple dress was what she spent her $50 on and he threw it away, she had a good bit of internal discord to discharge. She naturally couldn’t discharge it toward her safety (your father) so who else was left? Hmmmm. Did anyone ever say you resembled her? I have photos of my mother and myself at similar ages……they look like the same person only different hair styles etc.

    • Every stress in Mother’s life was taken out on me.

      By keeping me in her place in her inner Borderline matrix of hell she was as free as she ever got to be to pursue her OTHER Borderline life, her outer one that contained everyone else in her universe but me (I was in that special place!).

      I have the shape of Mother’s eyes and the color of Father’s. Because I believe there is such a difference between what I term ‘neurotic’ versus (Mother’s) ‘psychotic’ I can use very little of that ‘ordinary world’ logic to understand my mother.

      As I just put in newest post I believe your perspective, knowledge, wisdom, experience and writing form a bridge — you on one side with your severe neurotic and me on my side with my severe psychotic!

      Oh, GREAT!! lol

  5. I don’t know that my mother was BPD. She was never diagnosed, never saw a therapist. I don’t know what she was like with my siblings….not really. I truthfully can’t remember my childhood with her aside from a handfull of events but I don’t remember her beating me or throwing things. I toed the line too well, made sure I stayed out of trouble and out of her way. The only thing I know for sure is she had a terrible childhood, one I wouldn’t even want to guess at the horrors of from the fragments of things she has told me (they weren’t trauma events either, just normal life).

    I don’t see any way in the world she could have grown into a normal person given the childhood she had. But grow up she did, as we all do, whether we want to or not. Her body grew and she got married and had children. Women in her day where she lived had little other choice. She found she had married an abusive man and had three children she couldn’t control. I suspect she didn’t really want them but had no choice in the matter to her thinking. I think she did the best she could with what she had, as damaging as that was it was better than her nuclear family (if her nuclear family were “right” she would have never married this man in the first place!!).

    She finally left him and married my father. Short time later……pregnant with me. Oh boy. She DID NOT want another child. But I came anyway and was an almost carbon copy of her. At that point she decided that I was not going to “go wrong” like her other children and I was under her complete control until I moved out of their home. I was going to be perfect, or else. So perfect I was, in all the ways my siblings REFUSED to be. I know she was under alot of pressure and I was her pressure valve.

    When her brothers took the same interest in me that they had had in her, she turned me over to them. Not consciously but by turning a blind eye at family events, ensuring that my childhood would be as similar to hers as possible. And just like with herself, she refused to believe those things happened to me. How can there be healing from events you refuse to admit happened or are simply too traumatic to remember???? These people do not see what is happening in or around them because they simply can’t handle it in my opinion. They are barely hanging on anyway.

    Linda’s work on the vagus nerve and trauma are wonderful resources, they should be read and understood by all trauma survivors for understanding and as she says “informed compassion”. Are their behaviors right? NO. Absolutely not. But if a small dose of compassion can help you understand your parental unit’s behavior any better, turn and search what little you know of their childhood for the clues to the mystery you are trying to solve.

    You might find, like I did, that they weren’t really your “parent” at those moments in time, but another severely wounded human being trying to get along in a difficult world. Looking at them in this fashion rather than as the horrible abusive parent who cared nothing about you and only wished you harm provided me with the mental space I needed to process my mother in a different way. I’ve stopped hating her so much and started seeing her as another human in need of understanding and compassion. And as an oddball who believes in reincarnation, I believe I CHOSE her as my mother before I was ever born. That will really twist your noodle. I chose her, knowing exactly who and what she was. And no matter what she did to me, or refused to see and stop, I came out sorta ok. Better than she did maybe.

    So maybe she did do a better job than her parents with the limited skills and abilities she had. No she wasn’t perfect, far from it. But when I came to the conclusion that she didn’t actively hate me (anymore than she hated herself) and HAD done her best (not good enough, but you can’t get blood from a turnip) given what she had to work with, was an huge gift to me. I could stop seeing me as not good enough for her to love and parent properly and start seeing her as the messed up, flawed, maybe worthy of some compassion human that she was instead of MY OMNIPOTENT MOTHER who was supposed to love and protect me above all else.

    At some point I started to see her as the fellow survivor of childhood abuse and trauma that I was. Yes, she was my mother and as such she should have done a better job of protecting me, but I came to understand that she COULDN’T. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to, she couldn’t. However wrong and damaging that was. I finally decided it wasn’t worth my time to try to decide why she didn’t love me enough to do the right things (child’s perspective) and started seeing her as the traumatized adult/child she is (adult perspective).

    That changed things for me radically. And before you say my childhood just wasn’t bad enough……….well, I’m not going to go there right now. Suffice it to say…..it was horrible. Bad enough that I can’t tell the stories to people because they blanch and tune out. They can’t take it and telling them traumatizes them which is unfair. When I realized my mother had suffered this and more was when I could let go of some of the hatred I had for her and see her more clearly.

    It was also when I decided I was not going to have children because that was the only way I knew I could break the cycle. By not becoming pregnant and having children. I didn’t trust my abilities to be any better than hers and I didn’t trust that I could keep my children away from my uncles so I chose not to participate. Could my mother have aborted me? Yes. I would have been grateful if she had but she “did the right thing”. Contraception wasn’t the same back then as now. Women didn’t have the control that we have now. We are told that we must bear and raise children, that is all we are good for………what about the ones who don’t want to, but find themselves pregnant anyway and not mentally competent?

    Where is the family to support and help her? Generally, they are the same ones who are/were abusing her…..not a lot of support there. Women have a lot of stress and a lot of expectations on them. They are expected to caretake the entire world, often without help. Andrea Yates was clearly deeply disturbed, but her husband left her in the home alone with the children despite being told not to but I don’t remember him being put on trial for that. Or for impregnating her against doctors orders………..it takes two to tango.

    I guess this long, rambling post is simply to say that perspective is needed. I think that perspective is what every survivor searches for but it is an elusive critter. Study the vagus nerve studies Linda has posted, try to understand what they are saying. Trauma changes you on a physical level. Everyone. Even your mother. They aren’t superhumans even though they are the most powerful things in our personal universe……..

    “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment” Lao-Tzu

    • Bad enough that I can’t tell the stories to people because they blanch and tune out. They can’t take it and telling them traumatizes them which is unfair.

      To varying degrees I believe this is a common link for everyone who has an insecure attachment disorder due to inadequate bonding in safe and secure earliest caregiving relationships. The primary contributing causes to child abuse stem from those earliest interactions before the age of two that determine the physiological direction our body-brain takes in the beginning (hence building insecure attachment to others, self and world right into our nervous system/vagus nerve system — or not). (Google search: stop the storm vagus nerve)

      One of the keys to unlocking the door of adult healing is to admit to ourselves there are things that happened to us in our early life that we either cannot remember because we – well, CANNOT remember by fact or by choice. Either physiologically the memories are outside the range of conscious retrieval or we simply cannot EMOTIONALLY afford to remember — just as so many people cannot afford to hear the stories we are able to tell.

      I encounter this fine line continually as I work on my book writing about my childhood. How often I allude to trauma and abuse and then turn away immediately without crossing this line. My own line I tell myself is, “Who in their right mind would want to hear this?”

      I will probably leave some readers angry at my refusal to recount graphic descriptions of abuse. Those accounts are not what I am after. I am searching for my own self as I followed my own life path anyway, in direct opposition to what Mother would have wanted. But though she profoundly impacted how I felt and what I knew as her abused child, she could not touch ME — my essential self.

      Cinderella, my guess is that if your mother had been Borderline you would have known it. How she endured what she did and DID NOT end up with this illness might be a mystery — but to me it’s always a matter of being so limited, in the end, no matter how much we try to understand another person or even our own self — of not having enough of the most important information.

      This has to do, most simply, with beginning to understand clearly NOT ONLY the risk factors that early trauma creates but also the RESILIENCY factors that allow life to continue on in the face of overwhelming odds.

      Perhaps what can be seen with Borderline is this: When all other possible resources are used for an infant-child to cope with and survive early severe trauma are used up, then the last line of defense is that physiological development will reach for the genetic tools in a survivor’s DNA and use them — sacrificing conscious awareness and creating such an alternative brain functioning that a twisted mind that lives in an alternative reality is the end result.

      Borderline Personality Disorder creates an additional level of horror for children being raised by one because of this special kind of twistedness that happens on the level of the MIND itself. Many patterns of abuse and torment done against infant-children can be the same between Borderline and non-Borderline parents, but I believe it is the bizarre and twisted MENTAL level of the abuse — as it is happening in a universe of absolute and true insane MADNESS — that can complicate the healing work for Borderline parent abuse survivors.

      This just means that, as you say, the perspective needed to heal just needs to include the right information for the right ‘crimes’.

      I am happy to read your words and know that there are others that comprehend the value of looking at the much bigger picture of child abuse and trauma. Doing so in no way ‘excuses’ or ‘justifies’ any abuse of any kind perpetrated against children. But humans are members of a social species and none of us live in a social vacuum. Neither do we miraculously appear on this earth to raise ourselves Scott-free of any parental influence — be it wise or wounded.

    • I would also like to thank you for the concept you introduced that I am already finding myself using in my thinking: “parental unit.”

      Readers of my material, probably flowing all the way forward into the readers of the book my daughter and I are writing, question my lack of ability to begin to address my father.

      I don’t foresee myself making much progress on that front. I only have so much energy for my work, and I seem to lack what it would take to apply my investigative curiosity much in his direction.

      At least thinking about Mother and Father as a ‘parental unit” allows me to now think in terms of a new level of wholeness about them and about how they BOTH interacted within the social environment of my family of origin TOGETHER so that so much trauma and abuse could occur.

      I also realize that exactly where I ended my book-writing work yesterday is where I jumped over and left out a very small — but probably important example of how those two interacted with one another. Today when I go back to that writing I will choose NOW to include a small reference to the small example I skipped yesterday.

      My mother wrote in a letter to her mother that she took $50 out of the family budget that could NOT be afforded and bought herself a maternity wardrobe for the unplanned pregnancy of their 5th child. She wrote that her husband ‘freaked out’ (my words, will find her exact words when I go back to the letter).

      I have a memory and I am not at all sure this was the exact moment in time that my memory is attached to, of my mother once buying a purple dress. My father hated purple. This man who so RARELY EVER directly expressed his own feelings including anger, took the dress away from her and threw it in the trash.

      In light of the insanity and abuse in my childhood this seems like such a tiny event — and it was. But in light of your words ‘parental unit’ it enlightens me. Yet it also interests me that I am so unwilling to invest any more thought than a simple mention into what this kind of a pattern of interaction might have indicated. That was THEIR stuff and I so far can’t make myself care.

  6. Your post and all these responses remind me so much of my experiences with my own mother. I don’t beleive she has ever been diagnosed with BPD (we rarely talk and if we do its always of the small variety..) but all the signs seem to be there… I suffer with depression and anxiety because of these experiences and am yet to be diagnosed with further illnesses as I have only just come to terms with it all.
    Thank you for giving me more of an insight into what could of caused my lack of childhood. x

    • My heart goes out to you!! And to know nobody intervened on our behalf just makes matters worse. Hope to hear from you in the future, and thanks so much for stopping by, and for your comment!!

  7. Isn’t it commonplace for a BPD mother to pick one child to abuse while treating the others like gold? They choose one child to funnel all their resentments into while idealizing the other children. It’s part of their black and white thinking. I do feel these types of personality disordered people need to funnel their rage out of themselves and into another target. And they need to feel good about themselves so they delude themselves into thinking their victim derserves it. BPD mothers need to feel good about themselves. They can’t handle their inner demons, so they unload it onto the nearest target. Then they feel better. Then they feel empowered. At the same time, feeling good about themselves is central to their personality…therefore they act wonderfully nice and pleasant to everyone else, because they want to maximize people’s positive perception of them. They need that reflected back at them. They save all their wrath for a chosen few. The rest of the world would never know the deprevity and cruelty they are capable of.

    Interesting that no one else has commented yet on the BPD mother classic pattern of abusing only one child. It’s funny, one tends to assume an abuser is so out of control and angry that they would show their nature to everyone. But this is not the case with BPD.

    Any children of BPD parents wish to share their stories?

      • It gave me hope for accomplishing this book writing to completion to realize as I posted this that I am six months away from being half way through my childhood in my explorations today. Once I cover material up to my age 9 1/2 I will be half way through exactly and on the down hill slide.

        In addition, perhaps the simplest way I know of to think about a severely abusive Borderline – especially one that abuses one child of several — is to picture a chess game.

        The Borderline brain does use a ‘board’ like the rest of us do (for example). The ranges of what a human brain consists of and how it operates are this board.

        However, a Borderline such as my mother was, rearranges the entire game. On the board, the borderlines separating the spaces on the board are changed. The identity of the pieces on the board are changed, and nearly all the rules for how the game can be (must be) played are changed as well.

        When considering a Borderline’s mental grid and the pyramidal matrices that operate on this grid — we have to stretch our own thinking out of the range of ordinary into the range of — like it or not — of the extraordinary.

        That is the power that early traumatic stress can have on an infant-child’s earliest trajectories of body-brain-mind-self development. I firmly believe that while Borderline Personality Disorder is not curable, it is manageable — and most importantly — IT IS PREVENTABLE! (This does not mean to me that Borderlines such as my mother was are ever safe to parent their own children without serious intervention and continual monitoring.)

  8. I agree that the BPD clearly has control of their behavior and chooses to abuse. Because they do tend to abuse in secret, and perfectly in public. That’s not a coincidence.
    While its obvious they are aware of their abuisve behavior, I question whether they are deliberately lying about what they’ve done. I do question whether their denials are pure brattiness and manipulation, all in a childish, cruel attempt to shuck responsability off their shoulders. Abusers of every kind exhibit the exact same behavioral patters. They too abuse, vent, blow up, then promptly deny it, blame the victim, re-write history, blacken the victim’s reputation so that no one will believe them should they ever speak out against the abuser. All seemingly purposeful, manipulative, unspeakable cruel behavior. And all done with the purpose of effectively covering up their abuse. No one would believe the victim if they ever did come forward and seek help. This is denial and manipulation with a purpose.
    I question whether BPD parent would deny for the above reasons because it is so hard to believe a parent would do this to any child, let alone their own. My mother’s denials are so deep and convincing. She acts like she truly doesn’t know what she did, and has no recollection. She is always extremely convinced she never did anything she has to answer for, and is righteously enraged by anyone who threatens her sense of infalliability. She will deny all. Yet these relapses into insanity only occurr when she is asked to account or address her behavior. At any other time her memory and thinking is perfectly normal. Interesting.

    This makes me question whether abusers believe their denials as well. Abusers say, act, and behave exactly the way a BPD person does. They react with emotional and often physical violence, extreme rage, manipulation, but then they deny it. They twist reality and find some way to justify their anger directed at a child or loved one, they’ll invest a reason. Often they pretend away their abuse as if it never happened. They’ll re-write history. Even if it happened 5 seconds ago. They always deny their selfish or abusive behavior, blame their victim, project, claim things were said or done that obviously weren’t. All to cast themselves as unblameable. All to point all their negativity squarely on the shoulders of their victim. It’s never their fault. And they seem so self-righteous with their denials and ridiculous accusations. It’s as if they truly believe the opposite of reality happened, they flip reality on its head and claim their victim behaved inappropriately instead of themselves. They are so convincing, even when people know they are lying/denying/or otherwise full of b.s. wonder if they don’t believe the crap they’re spewing. Crap that has no basis in reality and is so ludicrous to claim, that one wonders if they aren’t in fact crazy. Perhaps they really do believe the b.s. the spew out against their victims? It’s true that abusers choose to abuse. Its proven they are perfectly capable of controlling their volatile outbursts when it suits them. Abuse often occurs in secret. Abusers also famously claim it wasn’t their fault. They deny it. They blame the victim. BPD mothers do the exact same things. So I wonder, if abusers know full well that they are lying about the abuse to save their reputations and to avoid consequences….Does the same apply to BPD parents? I see no reason why it wouldn’t. I see no reason why we should believe their lapses from reality (denial, amnesia about the abuse) are true brain lapses from reality and not simply intentional denials to avoid consequences.
    Is there any evidence to support that the classic abuser or the typical BPD have a brain disorder that kicks in and circumvents reality for insanity ONLY during those times when the topic is their abusive behavior? Because these people are perfectly okay to function normally in public. It’s only their chosen victims that experience the abuse and subsequent denials. I am starting to believe that these denials are not real emotional or brain disorders, they are merely choices selected to be used when they don’t want to admit what they’ve done. Some actions are so shameful, I’m sure letting people think they’re insane or a wild card of crazy is better than acknowledging they’re evil abusers, doing unspeakable, indefensible acts.

  9. Sarah, it’s interesting. My mother has BPD and she exhibited the same attitude you did in your post. Even exact words. She’d always deny the pattern of abuse, but once we were grown she would admit to occasionally losing her temper or doing something wrong to us kids but should would deny it was abuse, play down the reality of the severity and long standing pattern, and all in the most self-pitying and resentful tone. She always threatened suicide when any of her kids would attempt to talk to her about her behavior. This is an improvement though from when we were little kids. If we dared to speak about what she was doing to us then, she’d slap, smash dishes at us, and rage until she exhausted herself. Now that we’re grown, she threatens suicide instead. Both served to end all discussions and resolutions to a healthy way of relating to her family. A way that wouldn’t damage them. It was like she simply could not face accountability for her actions. Like she was incapable of conceiving she was capable of doing the things she did. Yet she obviously was on some levels. She was capable of knowing right from wrong and that abusing your family is something to deny and keep secret because she would treat us like gold in front of an audience. In public. She would project a “normal” personality in public. But once we were home, she’d let it all out and vent at us abusively. She hid her raging, tantrum throwing, emotions because she knew it was wrong. I still wonder though if she blacks out during her rages and can’t recall the details of what she’s done. Perhaps she wasn’t aware that she was hurling dishes at her child, slapping her, stealing money, swearing at her the most foul insults. Perhaps she blocked all that out and only realized she was angry and raging. What she actually did during those rages, she has no clue. Maybe that’s why she can so easily deny it all. Then again, maybe she denies it for other reasons. Maybe she was spoiled growing up and never learnt to be accountable for her behavior. Maybe she knows what she did, but just won’t admit it. Maybe she denies it all just to screw with her children’s heads. These are questions I’d love to know the answer to. I do know that she wasn’t full on crazy, because she could choose to behave properly and sanely when it served her best (in public). I’ve always wondered if her denials and lies were also a choice, serving to protect her image of herself as a proper mother and good person. All I know is that her unveering script is NEVER to acknowlege what she’s done. Certainly there is no understanding on her part as to how her emotional rollercoaster of a personality inflicted abuse and pain in her children. She doesn’t care to hear about it either. And will only rage her children in silence or self-pity them into silence complete with suicide threats. They aren’t real threats. They are only put out there to manipulate and guilt us into overlooking her actions, letting her off the hook. She feels many emotions. Rage, jealousy, self-righteous rage or self-pity. But never guilt. Self-pity, yes, but not guilt. Never responsability. Never any caring toward her children. Never concern or shame and a desire to make things right. There are no feelings for her actual children. Instead she turns her feelings inward (as always) to herself. It’s all about her. Her emotions matter. Not her children’s. She doesn’t care about how her kids feel, she cares about how awful her kids are making her feel. She feels herself up with rage, or poor me self-pity. Why me, why me, why don’t I just kill myself? What mother does this??!!! What normal mother would drown herself in selfish self-serving emotions to feed her ego at a time like this??? A normal mother would take this moment to feel for her children at a time like this, the ones who need her genuine concern, guilt, apology. A normal mother or any person would feel for their children at a time like this. Of all the times in life to feel for your child, this would be the time. Weirdly, shockingly, at a time when a child most needs a mothers love and understanding…..the BPD mother directs every attention to her own emotions at the exclusion of all else. She thinks “MY kids make me feel so bad. How DARE THEY! Poor me, it’s my fault, everything in this world is my fault, Why don’t I threaten to kill myself in front of my kids! Then they’ll be sorry!” Thats what a BPD mother thinks instead of “Oh my god, look what I’ve done to you kids. I’m so sorry. I was stressed out, I took it out on you and blamed you. That was so wrong. I own what I did and am deeply remoresfull. Never again. It will never happen again. I did those awful things, but I own my part. I was the parent. I should never have abused my power. I’m so sorry. It will never happen again.” You see the difference? A healthy person admits what they’ve done, is genuinely remorseful and guilty and wants to make it right. A BPD mother doesn’t care about what her kids feel. She only cares what she feels. Her concern is all directed to herself in a sick, exaggerated way. She plays down the extent of her abuses, any admittance on her part is done with a self-pity or resentful tone against her child. And she will wail about “poor me” instead of “my poor children.” Poor me, I can’t admit wrongdoing, I can’t be that bad, poor me. If I kill myself, then they’ll be sorry!
    It’s all about her wanting to make her children sorry (for failing to keep mum about her abusive behavior) instead of her being sorry for what she did to them. That’s the difference between a genuine apology and acknowlegement and a BPD’s version of an “apology.” Self-pity is self-pity. A very selfish emotion. It is not guilty. It is not the way people own up to their actions and change them for the better. It’s the opposite of that. It leads to self absorbed grandiose feelings about oneself, not others. It protects the BPD person from looking at other people’s feelings and what they’ve done to them. How can a BPD care about other people if they are so wrapped up in ME ME ME. It’s all about them. All the time. That’s what keeps the cyle of dysfunction rolling. They can’t ever stop to consider anyones feelings but their own. Certainly they can’t acknowledge their actions and how they damage others.

  10. I’m intrigued by the comments here. I too was “raised” by a BPD mother. I too wondered how much of her behavior she was oblivious to, how much of it was out of her control. I wondered about this because she was so skilled at hiding the abuse. She never abused me in public or raged at my father in public. The stabbings, dish smashing, slaps, rants, suicide threats are always in private. Always behind closed doors. And always denied. Then she would put on a smiling sweetness and light act for the public. All of which points to the fact that she KNEW what she was doing was abusive and horrendous. Otherwise, why try so hard to hide it? Why keep the abuse a secret? It proves she KNEW behaving like a hysterical maniac was wrong, and that people would shun her or report her if they saw her doing it. So I do believe it points to the fact that these people are in fact in control of their volatile emotions, they are aware that they behave like monsters to their nearest and dearest. They just don’t care to stop. They’ll control themselves just to the point where they can get away with it. Thus the monster at home, the “normal” smiley mother in public. If that doesn’t prove it’s a choice, a choice they control, and a manipulative control at that, I don’t know what does.
    Yet, as a child, I would still debate with myself whether she knew what she was doing. No child wants to believe that their parent knowingly harms them and has no intention to stop, It’s unfathomable for a child to believe their parent’s primary concern is not their wellfare, or that a parent can be cruel, or lie, or purposely choose to cover up their abuse. Yet the evidence points to that and only that. At lease in my case. So I’d like to ask the rest of you if the BPD in your life had the pattern of abusing or “losing it” only behind closed doors, only with significant others, family. Did outsiders have no idea about the hysteria behind closed doors? If thats the case did you ever ask yourself why that was? Didn’t this show you that your BPD mother did in fact know what she was doing, that it was wrong, and worked to protect her image instead of her children’s wellbeing? If someone abuses at home, behind closed doors, in secret, and is capable of behaving perfectly fine in public. It proves that they KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING and that WHAT THEY ARE DOING IS WRONG. IT PROVES THEY CAN CONTROL THEIR TEMPER, THEIR BEHAVIOR. THEY JUST DON’T WANT TO. THEY ENJOY IT. BUT THEY’RE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW IT’S WRONG, THAT PEOPLE WOULD RESTRAIN THEM. SO THEY DENY IT AND HIDE IT.

    I’d like to ask the BPD mothers here for their input as well. I’m not interested in shaming or hurting anyones feelings, only the truth. I tell it like it is and like it when others do the same. The pattern with BPD is they will explode, behave abusively in some fashion, take it out on their kid, then completely deny what they’ve done. They often lie and invent reasons afterward to explain why they raged at someone. I wonder if it is an intentional lie or if they truly do “snap” out of reality and believe the imagined justifications they hurl at people to justify their outrageous behavior. Most people assume they are lying to manipulate, to hurt their victim further, to avoid taking responsability for their behavior. Shunning all personal accountablility is a MAJOR theme for them. They blame their child for the mother’s tantrum. They scapegoat and project. All to avoid facing what they did to their child. Yet, I wonder…if it’s possible they are so engulfed by rage that they cannot think clearly, cannot see what they are doing and how it hurts others, and thus they “block out” the acts they commit in their rage. Does their rage manage to “block” their ability to perceive themselves? It seems all my mother could care about was her feelings. Truth didn’t matter. Reality didn’t matter. What she did and said didn’t matter. All could be denied. The only thing she cared about, the only thing that was real to her are her emotions. What she feels is all that matters.
    I ask everyone: Do you think they block out what they do during a rage episode? Is the “I don’t remember” “I never did that” and fabricated lies only a self-defense against admitting the truth, is it all about their believe that they can do no wrong? Is it a choice, a manipulation tactic, or a true break from reality? Can rage cause someone to actually go crazy and deny reality? I wonder. I note that the only time BPD deny reality is when they’re asked to face what they’ve done. At no other time does it occur. And they can function quite “normally” in public. But after they behave atrociaciously, suddenly they claim it never happened, and invent fabrications against their victim from thin air. All of these momentary insanity breaks only occur when they’ve done something wrong of course, and they always serve to cast them in a good light, and their victims in a blackened one.
    So….Do they KNOW what they are doing or not? Is it just the usual denial and lies and blame the victim projections OR…do they really go insane during and after their rages? Thus, they are incapable of accounting for their own actions, and always will blame their victims. I’m hoping it’s a choice for them to abuse, and that they know fully what they’ve done and are just denying it out of childish, selfish ego. Otherwise, there’s no hope for any relationship with them, and they’ll never change. They’ll always abuse you, they’ll never know it, thus never change, and will always blame everyone else for things they and only should be responsable for. You can’t change what you can’t acknowlege. And I fear these people are incapable of acknowleging their abusive, damaging actions. Whether it is a choice or true brain damage that doesn’t allow them control of their emotions and then conveniently edits out their unpleasant behavior (erases it from reality) I don’t know. But it does sound ridiculous to hold onto the “They can’t control it, they don’t know what they’re doing” attitude, when the evidence to the contrary is so abundant. There is no evidence that they can’t control it. It’s just our hope. Because people can’t fathom why another human being would abuse another this way, and deny it, again and again, nor can we grasp an abuser blaming the victim. They must be sick, we say. Especially when its a MOTHER doing it. Mother’s want the best for their children. Well, that’s an illusion. Not all mothers. Some mothers put their own interest above the wellfare of their children. Some mothers think their feelings are all that matter, even it comes at their childrens expense. Some mothers know what they are doing is wrong. That’s why they hide it. That’s why they do it behind closed doors, at home. And put on the sweetness and light mask in public.
    I would like to hear other’s experiences and whether or not they feel the BPD’s behavior is “out of their control” or not. Do you believe they believe their denials that they did nothing wrong? When they blacken their victim’s reputation and lie about things you never said or did, do you believe she’s doing it because she is deluded…or is she doing it to manipulate others into believing her story, so her abuse is effectively covered up and no one would believe you should you speak about her behavior?
    Thoughts?

  11. dear Sarah,
    As a grown up daughter of someone just like you I feel that it is essential that this kind of information is out there. First off, if you read any of Linda;s writing she is very clear in stating that the BPD brain is lacking certain essential ingredients that make for a healthy parent. That means that she is fully aware and has acknowleged that the BPD mother doesnt have the insight to see what they are doing and acting and how their behavior AFFECTS their children. My mother had the same rollar coaster experiences that you describe and I know she did not have a good life. She was miserable inside. I acknowlege that! It must be horrible to feel so out of control of your emotions.
    But she was also OBLIVIOUS to how her behavior was affecting me. And from that kind of childhood ..I live with the consequences of “the storm she left”.
    The good thing about your commet is that it sounds like you realise and have remorse over your behavior, That is great.

    My hope is that you get some help for yourself and your children.In my area we have social services that offer group support for both children and parents with borderline.

  12. Dear Sarah,
    I truly hope that you are parenting correctly and stopping the cycle. Since you know the pain please do not have your children suffer the same pain. Get professional help if you have not already.
    Simone

  13. I don’t get how yo can say such nasty things about mothers with BPD, as if we are monsters just waiting to hurt our own kids!!

    You only see one side of the disease and not how it is to actually live in this f-cking emotional rollercoast. I love my children so much and can just sit hating myself and punishing myself for days if I behaved badly to them…

    Should I just kill myself, in your opinion??

  14. This is an excellent post. Perfectly describes my mother. I agree with you one hundred percent. So many people sat by and did nothing.

    • By the way, please forgive me – I find myself sometimes being envious of your gift with words! I will always smile at your word choice LOOPY that describes so succinctly the experience I could have used a thousand words for the other day and never hit THAT nail so squarely on its head!

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