TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses emotional abuse.
Call me disingenuous, wishy-washy, pathetic. Why not? Remember that happy post from Thanksgiving? How wonderful it was to bring my family together?
The glow of joy for that event quickly turned and festered, and I’ve wrangled with the reasons for this for months.
Perhaps it’s being INTJ, or perhaps it’s being an adult child of a mother with Borderline Personality Disorder, but it literally takes me weeks and weeks to sort through my emotions. So frequently, someone will say or do something that strikes me as not quite right, but I’m unable to discern the cause. Only upon reflection and analysis can I uncover the source of my discomfort.
About two weeks ago, I happened to be looking in the mirror, and I saw my mother’s face looking back at me, and the panic that coursed through my body almost brought me to my knees.
Backing up to Thanksgiving, part of the reason I agreed to host it was that my home is ‘neutral ground’. My parents are divorced (it was painful: my mom attempted suicide several times but refused therapy), and my mom never made an effort to be involved with my husband’s family before, so this was THE opportunity for her to connect, build bridges, mend fences.
I pulled out all the stops to make this a phenomenal day, and it was.
And then my mom told my husband and boyfriend in front of me how much she’d wanted to travel when she was younger, but then she had a kid. Which was only slightly less hurtful than when she told me she didn’t love me when I was child.
This is life with a Borderline parent: Don’t leave me, but I hate you.
I was four years old again, being yelled at because I cried in my first – and last – ballet class, which humiliated my mother. I was eight years old again, trapped in the car while she ranted about my father and threatened to leave him. I was fifteen, with zero self-esteem, utterly confused why I couldn’t form relationships with anyone. I was the unlovable child, the horrible daughter – the one who was always so difficult, so demanding – despite being an introverted, ‘A’ Honor-Roll student who did her chores.
I cannot be her victim anymore. I need to have as much compassion for myself as I do for her. I have to remove my mom from my life. I need to stand between my mother and my inner child, and say, ‘no more’.
I’m less concerned about the consequences to me as I am the people around me. A BPD woman faced with abandonment is volatile and highly irrational. There’s likely no one she’ll not reach out to in order to keep this relationship alive. Her desperation will drive her to do outrageous things, and frankly, no one else in my family needs that kind of drama right now.
So this becomes the trap with a BPD parent, in particular, one who refuses therapy. There is no good time to sever the relationship, because it will always put them in a downward spiral. There comes a time, though – at least there has for me – when you have to commit to your own wellness, whatever that takes.
Doing this horrifies me, but I’ve already suffered one nervous breakdown and hospitalization because of my mom. I won’t endure another.
Sometimes, we have to love ourselves first.