I have already written articles about the effects a mother with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can have on us. These were Effects of Mothers with Borderline Personality on Their Children (click here to read) and Four Types of Borderline Mother (click here to read). However, in this article I wish to concentrate upon how the borderline mother may have made us feel as children (and, very possibly, continue to make us feel).
A BPD MOTHER MAY HAVE MADE US FEEL:
– used by her to fulfill her own needs
– that it was impossible to predict her emotions/behaviour
– constantly on ‘red alert’ in case we may inadvertently do or say something to anger her
– alternately idealized/demonized by her
– that we were her caretaker
– used to provide her with emotional support
– that she demands unconditional love, approval and admiration from us, but seems unable to love us unconditionally
– confused by her unpredictable behaviour and treatment of us
– controlled by fear (eg of her rages if we do not comply with her wishes to the letter)
– deeply hurt by her cruel teasing
– that we are not permitted to show anger, regardless of how provoked we may have been
– overly confided (as if we were a partner or parent rather than her child)
– burdened by responsibilities we are too young to be expected to cope with
– that our own feelings are belittled/undermined/dismissed as trivial/denied/ignored
– that we are expected to achieve standards that are impossible to meet
– deprived of displays of physical affection (eg hugs)
– as if we are constantly receiving ‘mixed messages’ from her (this can lead to finding ourselves in an emotional ‘double bind’ which is very distressing – click here to read my article on this).
– as if we are a ‘bad’ person (click here to read my article about how we are, insidiously, made to believe we are ‘bad’ people).
NB. Obviously, diagnosis of BPD needs to be left to a professional. Just because a mother makes us experience some of the feelings above does not mean she has BPD. Mothers with other conditions (eg depression, anxiety, PTSD, drink/alcohol addiction) may make us feel some of the things listed above, as, from time-to time, may mothers with no psychiatric condition.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).