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When a loved-one has traits of Borderline Personality

Monday, April 12, 2010

Acceptance, when your parent has Borderline Personality Disorder

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Our possible attachments to our BPD parent(s) are many. They include the obvious ones, such as love, obligation, fear, guilt, habit, hurt, financial and other sorts of dependency, pity, affection, and more.

But they also include ones that are not so obvious, such as anger and hope. Anger at the abuse a BPD parent inflicted on us and the self-centered parenting many of us endured is natural and part of the process of recovery. Hope that our parent will change and become the mother or father we have longed for is deeply woven through us. We may not realize how much hope and anger we're holding on to and how those attachments may be holding back our own recovery. Ironically, it keeps us attached to our past and in some cases, to our parent.

What is acceptance and the different meanings and related emotions to those raised in an abusive environment. Acceptance may anger, frighten, or free you.  How you choose to regard and/or act is very personal.

Step 18 of the Survivors' Guide found in the right hand panel at Coping With Parents, Relatives, or Inlaws with BPD Board reads as follows:

HEALING (Step 18)

This step involves making a decision about resolving the issues left over from your childhood abuse with those who abused you and/or failed to protect you: your parents/abusers. The important task in this step is to resolve the abuse with your family in a way that is acceptable to you. You have the right to choose how to do this. It is not mandatory to confront your parents, family or abusers, although many survivors find confrontation valuable. However, you want to maintain a relationship with your parents/abusers without hiding your recovery efforts or denying your new identity as a recovered survivor, you probably will need to do something. And, if there is to be a continuing relationship, your parents/abusers will need to accept you as you now desire to be accepted: with respect, consideration and acknowledgement of the burdens you have overcome.

You must remember that, because you are dealing with people who may never have faced or changed their own abusive behavior, the degree of resolution will depend on the extent to which they can acknowledge the abuse. For this reason, there is a wide range of possible resolutions which, ultimately, will determine whether you can still have some kind of relationship with your parents/ abusers. If you decide to confront them, it is critical that you go into it fully prepared for whatever responses or consequences follow. If they do not want to hear your experience or accept the person you are becoming, then you must face the question of whether ongoing contact will be healthy for you.

This step presents the big issue of whether to forgive your parents/abusers. In a sense, resolving the abuse means coming to terms with what was done to you and accepting the feelings you have toward the people that did it. For some people this means forgiveness, but not necessarily for you. Those who were very sadistically and severely abused may never be able to forgive their parents/abusers. Accepting that the abuse occurred and putting it all behind you once and for all may be the only resolution that makes sense and feels right. Deciding whether to forgive or accept is your choice and no one else's. 

Author: BlackandWhite, Skip

© The Norma J. Morris Center, San Francisco, California provides support, education, tools, and perspective to individuals with a loved one affected by Borderline Personality Disorder. BPFamily is a non-profit, co-op of nearly 75,000 volunteer members and alumni formed in 1998. We welcome you to join our free 24 hour on-line support community with its nearly 3 million postings and grow with us as we learn to live better lives in the shadow of this disorder. For more information or to register, please click here.

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  1. For many adult children of BPD parents, accepting that the parent they have always longed for will never materialize is among the hardest things they will ever do. It is through letting go of that fantasy that healing can truly take hold. There is a great deal of support for the healing process at the Coping With Parents, Relatives, or Inlaws with BPD Boar at

  2. came upon this website by accident while looking for some parenting help for a challenging child. Saw the headlines for symptoms of a bpd mother and was shocked at how accurately it described my own mother. A childhood and adulthood filled with the longing for a properly nurturing mother and complete sadness when I realize that isn't possible. I wish I could talk to a specialist about this with my parents! I just hope I don't repeat the same terrible symptoms to my own children.

  3. I have been undergoing therapy since a nervous breakdown last year. I am just starting to accept the recent memories from the age of about 10 yrs old when my Mother first invited me into her adult world by exposing me at such a young age to her very personal fears, upsets and concerns. Things that any mother should protect her children from became a regular occurrence for me. I felt confused, worried and responsible to 'fix' whatever was happening 'to' her. This has continued. Thanks to this website I recognize my mother's bpd and sadly what has rubbed off on me as learned behaviour but this website is helping me hugely with coming to terms with living with myself and managing my mother without continued trauma from her.

  4. I am 32 years old, and have 3 children of my own, and am just now realizing the effects of my mothers BPD. Thank you, thank you for sharing your stories and making me feel as though I'm not alone.

  5. Now that my BPD mother has past,I am retracing the path I walked as a teenage when I had to remove myself from her life and start a normal one of my own. The "dream of the perfect parent" has not faded even though I am nearly 50 now. I envy women who have mothers to turn to for advice and support. I've never known what it was like to have a mother invite us over for dinner, join us on a family vacation, or even call me on a Sunday afternoon to have a soft, friendly chat. I have to let go completely now. Death is pretty final. Mom is never going to be able to love me. I'm having a bit of a pity party and feeling very cheated. While longing and anger are part of the grief process, it's hard to deal wih it. All my friends seem to think that because I was estranged from mother I have no, or should have no, feelings resulting from her death. No one wants to talk about it so my poor husband has to listen to me re-hash every few days. It's been 2 months and 2 days now. I'm reaching the "when does this end?" stage and feeling very exhausted.

  6. I had a nervous breakdown too because of my mother. I thought I was alone.

  7. I have known something was wrong with my mother for about 20 years now, but I never could get her to open up to getting help. I am 34 now, have a family of my own (3 year old little boy), work with her at a family business, and live across the street from her. I've always told my husband that my mother doesn't like me, and that she could fly off the handle just by me saying hello or how pretty the weather is. But, I've always managed to keep the peace because I would agree with her, and do pretty much anything she requested. But since I have a child to take care of now I can't say yes to all of her requests because of the safety and well-being of my son. Which normally ends up with her going into a rage, and even using my little boy as a pawn against me.

    Last night I asked her if she would like to come over and see Grayson (my little boy) and have dinner with us. Within 2 mins of being here she went from being just fine to asking if she could take him to the city to watch a movie. I told her that tonight wasn't a good night, but maybe we could make plans for the weekend. The next thing I know she has grabbed up my son, started screaming profanities at me, and heading towards my back door with him. I asked her to please calm down and give Grayson back to me, but she refused to give him back. Then started trying to hit me while holding him. My 3 year old son was so scared that he couldn't even move! It took 10 mins (which felt like eternity) to get him back from her. Then she started throwing things at me, and finally started heading towards my back door again (by herself this time). She slammed two doors going out, and I ran to my back door and locked it, because I was scared of her. She then turned around and started beating on the glass trying to get back inside to rage at me some more. Luckily my back glass on the door is plexiglass and can't be broken easily. But, I am so scared of her when she gets like that! I don't know what to do, or how to get through to her to calm her down. She keeps telling everyone in town that I keep her grandson from her, but I don't. I do ask her to leave if the rage starts... I haven't ever talked to anyone about how she gets when I don't do exactly as she wants, because I'm usually left confused and replaying the events to try and figure out what was done to make her so upset.

    I decided to do some searching this morning and came across this website. It matches my relationship with my mother to a tee! I'm hoping that I can learn some strategies to help me with interactions with her so that maybe she can have a relationship with her grandson. But, I cannot allow him to be in the middle of such behavior all the time. I don't want to cut off my relationship with her, but I honestly don't know what else to do right now.