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Borderline Personality Disorder Mothers

 by Patty Fleener M.S.W.;
comments by Richard Moskovitz M.D.

I was discussing the children who have had difficult childhoods with  mothers who have the borderline personality disorder (BPD) with Dr. Moskovitz, author of  "Lost in the Mirror" recently. Actually I was discussing myself - the borderline mother.

I believe it is especially important for your children, small or adult, to get into recovery and when you are able to, to be able to apologize for anything that may have hurt your child unnecessarily and help them to understand that it was not their fault. It is very important in their healing to have a witness that yes, such and such did happen, etc. Verify their experience. Verify their feelings.

Other than this however, I was still left feeling powerless, guilty and ashamed. To continue to hear your adult child's pain and anger even after you have done all you know to do feels not only overwhelming but totally unbearable. 

Mother nature kicked in and if there was a way I could trade places with her and take her pain, I would gladly do that. 

So I discussed this with Rick Moskovitz M.D., author of "Lost in the Mirror: An Inside Look at Borderline Personality Disorder." In fact, this is the very first book I read, having the BPD, where I realized I was not a bad, terrible human being. It was the very first time in my life that someone actually understood me. They spoke my language and understood my universe. Everyone else in my life previously that tried to help me spoke a whole different language that I didn't understand.

Dr. Moskovitz said "One thought that occurred to me was that the best thing that we can provide for our children is an example of how to overcome adversity. It is not important for us to succeed at all, or even most, of what we do. It is important that we never give up when things get tough and find our way out of the deep holes.

If our children see us solve very difficult personal problems, the lessons will find a way of sinking in, without explanations and without apologies. And hopefully they will some day appreciate having participated in the experience

I cannot tell you how much his response helped me. It was true. I never ever gave up. In fact I remember telling myself that I was a warrior, that no matter what happened, I kept going and I did. After seeing the movie, "The Stand," I used that phrase. I would tell myself during especially hard times - "Stand!"

I remember many times while raising my child feeling that my life was out of control that I wish I could freeze time so that when I could get my life together, she could still be young and would not have to endure my crazy life. 

My daughter states that she wishes someone would have intervened during her childhood.

I wrote out what my advice was to other borderline mothers based on my own personal experience. However I had difficulty piecing it together for others to fully understand. 

Here again, I received a very helpful letter from Dr. Moskovitz saying "Here is a summary of what I think you are trying to say: Parenting requires striking a balance that provides your children with as much good parenting as possible while protecting them from the damaging effects of out-of-control emotions and behaviors. Therefore, be with them when you are feeling strong and capable and have alternative resources waiting in the wings for when you are too busy facing your own demons to provide the nurturing they need. Pass them as lovingly as possible to your partners in parenting, while reassuring them, as much as you are capable, that you still love them and will be back when you can."

Yes! That was what I was trying to say and I couldn't have said it better than that.

There were many times where I was too busy facing my demons as Dr. Moskovitz says and having my daughter around me during those times was toxic for her.

I remember one day being in bed all day, crying nonstop. My daughter was young and I remember her making me a "get well" card with her crayons with a big happy sun and lots of bright pretty pictures. That broke my heart.

If your child is taking care of you, you must know that this situation is extremely toxic for your child. You are the parent and they are the child.

Due to the tremendous psychic pain this disorder brings, it may be very difficult at times to "get out of ourselves" and become aware of others feelings and needs around us. 

There are no two borderlines alike. Do not let anyone convince you that because you have the BPD, that you should not raise children, or that you should give up custody merely because you have the borderline personality disorder. 

In my particular case however I did give up custody of my child to her father when she was 11 years old and it was the hardest thing I have ever done. 

As I look back I wish I would have done it sooner in her life. I was unable to see back then just how much damage my illness has caused her. I was in lots of denial and I used my profession as a social worker to prove to myself that I was "on the other side of the fence." 

By the way, I later learned that there is no such thing as a fence.

Comments are compliments of Dr. Richard Moskovitz 

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