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Author Topic: It’s all about my mother  (Read 228 times)
Katoomba

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« on: March 16, 2019, 07:30:25 AM »

Hi, this is my first post and I really am unsure how to go about it. I am 50, female, married, no kids. Well educated, had a good career until poor health got in the way. I consider myself fortunate and treat each day as a gift. I try to be compassionate and to support those around me. However, every single day I fight an internal battle and put on a brave face to keep going.

I believe my mum has undiagnosed BPD. I’ve only known about the disorder for a week and that week has been spent alone with her, out of town, to help her ill friend. So I’ve been in survival mode and much too shut down to consider the topic. Now I’m home again and I have a safe place to think.

My mum has loved me and hated me almost to my end. She has smothered me with affection and torn my soul to shreds.
It’s been like walking in the park on a beautiful day and then, WHAM, cricket ball to the head. Never knowing when it’s going to hit, or from which direction, but it knocks you off your feet every time and each time another little piece of you breaks.

I now hate her, but still love her. The resentment, bitterness and guilt can be unbearable.

I now find myself rambling in this post and really don’t want to sound self pitying or needy but these are the facts:
I have no self esteem, poor body image, am untrusting of others, have chronic depression and anxiety. Also diagnosed with fibromyalgia and cfs for 10 years, although believed to be present since childhood.
I am disassociated from my father and step-mother who also emotionally abused me as a child. My step-father enables my mother and my brother treats me like a stupid, over emotional dependent. My brother has not been treated the same way by my mum. My step father puts up with it, so I am unable to discuss her, and her behaviour, with either of them.

The verbal abuse, manipulation and chaos over the years has been exhausting. But at least she stopped her suicide attempts after the 3rd try.

Psychologists have been a part of my life for 10 yrs. My new psychologist has just told me about BPD.

So this week I learned about BPD. This week I learned I am not alone. I learned about exit strategies and shutting down rages. I started the walking on eggshells book and I learned about this group and all of you. Thank goodness for small mercies!

I would like to walk away from my family. My mother and brother upset me enormously every time I see them. They hurt me deeply and often and my mum never remembers any of it. Everything is always my fault.  Mum is 78 and will never change. Nor will the rest of my family.

Hubby and I don’t really want to move as we have a beautiful group of friends and like where we live.
In which case, How do I get past this? How do I accept my family, love my mum, overcome the resentment, continue to be in her life but at the same time- completely divorce myself emotionally from her?


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Kwamina
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2019, 04:44:16 PM »

Hi Katoomba and welcome to our online community Welcome new member (click to insert in post)

You are dealing with a lot here, your own health issues are already quite hard and the situation with your mother only makes things more difficult. In your post you also mention several other family-members who have proven to be rather challenging to interact with.

When dealing with disordered family-members, the ability and willingness to set and eforce/defend boundaries is crucial. Is setting boundaries with people something you generally feel comfortable with doing? Is setting boundaries with your difficult family-members something you've ever tried to do?

We have several resources here about boundaries that you might find helpful:

Setting boundaries and setting limits

Boundaries - Examples

The Board Parrot
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Katoomba

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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2019, 06:35:49 PM »

Thanks. I don’t know how to set boundaries. I’ll read the links.
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Katoomba

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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2019, 06:43:23 PM »

Last night I rambled on in my first post. Sorry about that.

I have just realised my mum has UBPD. Instead of feeling better knowing this, I now feel totally defeated.
50 years of emotional abuse and she couldn’t help it. I have no strength left for compassion or forgiveness. I feel resentment, guilt, sadness and defeat.
Any suggestions on how to deal with this?
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Turkish
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2019, 08:31:19 PM »

What,  specifically,  is hurtful that she does? Maybe it will help to share a few things at first.  Like what happened when you were with her visiting the sick friend?
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Katoomba

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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2019, 09:38:23 PM »

Racist comment and crude language below
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She tells me I’ve had an easy life. That I’ve been given everything and never worked a day.
She’s says I’m fat, stupid, ungrateful. That I’m the only person she can’t talk to and I always argue with her. That my older brother had it really tough and deserves more than me, especially financially.
This trip, she again said I had it easy because they were living in Africa for work, and I was sent to bording school in Australia at 15. I’ve been on my own since then.

The most common language is “you’re a F... wit”, “you’re dumb or stupid”, “you’ve had it easy”, “you always argue”, “I hate you”, “ I wish I’d never had kids”. All that interspersed with “i love you, I’d die without you, you’re the most important thing in my life.”

Then on the plane home, instead of saying thank you for helping during the week- she said it was like having her own slave and I should be black. She couldn’t stop laughing. I’m disgusted by her racism and cruelty. She offends my values and hurts me.

She is also negative and critical about everything. Nothing is ever good enough.

I thought I was on top of my emotions about her. However  since seeing her friend so sick, she has an expectation that I will look after her if she gets sick too.
I feel terrible guilt, but I’m simply not going to be able to do that. The thought of seeing her at all right now makes me feel physically ill.
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Turkish
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2019, 09:55:14 PM »

That's horribly abusive language, attacking you as a person, communicating that she hates you.  This interspersed with Splitting behaviors, telling you how she couldn't live without you.  What the hell?

If this is all you've ever known from her,  no wonder you want to cut yourself off from that cruelty. 

Did you get a chance to read the links Kwamina posted? If so, do you see anything helpful? 
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CautiousHopeful

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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2019, 10:05:32 PM »

Dear Katoomba,

I feel really sorry that you have to deal with these messed up and contradictory messages from your mother. I think there is a grieving process when discovering that a parent seems to have BPD. I've recently come to this realisation about my own uBPD mother and it has meant a lot of troubling emotions, processing past childhood events, and trying to understand how such opposite extremes can exist in the one person - e.g. they say something overly hateful and then something that totally contradicts it.

You are definitely not alone in these kinds of experiences, so I hope you can feel supported by other people here. I have only just joined this board and it has already helped me a lot to process experiences and work my way through things. After a rage explosion at me at the end of December my mother then suggested that I could come and live with her because I din't have much money at the moment, so I know that feeling of someone acting out in a hateful way towards you and then offering to do something for you, but that offer is tied up with their own loneliness and neediness and wanting you to meet their needs.

I also have fibromyalgia, and I'm pretty sure this is at least partly related to growing up in such a stressful environment, that it basically messed up my nervous system early on. I've been trying to practice a kind of letting go, a kind of breathing out (if that makes sense?) of all the bad stuff I've had dumped on me, that none of it is mine to carry.

Is there anything that currently might help you, that allows you to kind of breathe easier and let stuff go? I find spending time in nature really helps and I went down to a lake near me yesterday and there were all these waterbirds and it was lovely to be there at sunset. I find these things can be an antidote to trauma - just being aware of the sensory environment around me in the present moment, the sights and sounds etc in a peaceful environment, can provide some balance.

My mother has also treated my brother as the special, golden child and me as the 'bad' one, so I know what it feels like to be excluded in this way. It is really painful when a mother does this, but sometimes just processing that they have a form of illness and they are not balanced helps to kind of create some distance from the situation.

Most importantly, take care of yourself, and it is really good you are reaching out to others to help work through these things.

Take care  Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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Katoomba

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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2019, 02:20:37 AM »

Thank you all so much for your replies.

Turkish, I found the links useful about understanding my own values and setting boundaries to protect these. I’m going to write down a few things to help me become more proactive and less reactive.

CautiousHopeful, your post touched a cord- we seem to have experienced similar situations and the gyms as well. I also find peace in nature and enjoy the small things such as bird song.  I haven’t done this much lately and appreciate the reminder. I will give this more time from now on.

I have found it difficult to understand how my brother and stepfather have not seen the abuse or done anything about it. Perhaps ignoring it was their way of dealing with it?

I hope you are getting through your grieving process and are coming through the other side.
 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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Notwendy
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2019, 07:19:23 AM »

Those are some pretty awful words your mother says.

It was helpful for me to learn to not take my mother's words personally. Understanding that pwBPD don't manage their own bad feelings well and tend to project them on to others helped me do that.

When a little kid has a stomach ache, he throws up. After that, he feels better and may even run off to play as if it didn't happen. My mother throws up feelings- as "word vomit". She says horrible things. Then, once she does, she feels better and acts like it never happened. We are the ones who feel bad about the word vomit. She doesn't.

Her words are more a reflection of her, her poor self image and bad feelings. She doesn't recognize them as being a part of her. She assumes it is someone else's fault.

Feelings to a BPD are fact, but feelings pass in the moment sometimes. In the moment, she may not be feeling loving- and that's fact to her. The next moment, she is and may then say the loving things.

The "pink elephant" idea helped me. If someone called you a pink elephant, would you feel hurt? Probably not because you are absolutely certain you are not an elephant, you know you are a human being. You also know that even if this person says you are an elephant, saying it doesn't make it true. This is actually a boundary. We all have some boundaries and most of us know we are not elephants, no matter if someone says it or not.

A boundary comes from our own sense of self. The better yours is, the less your mother's words will have meaning for you. We've grown up letting our parents define us, but they don't. We do. If you know you are loving person, your mother telling you otherwise does not change this.

You can also decide if you are available to listen to her or not. Being on a plane or in a car makes that tough, but if she starts saying horrible things, you can say " I don't want to hear this" and walk out of the room. First though, it may help to substitute something like elephant for her insults. It helps to detach from them.
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Joha242

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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2019, 05:09:16 PM »

My goodness, this is heartbreaking. I will be blunt, friend: I would end that relationship as soon as I could. You are not her punching bag and you have done nothing to deserve such language, treatment, and the wrenching turmoil that she cause (and likely she knows she causing it). You, my dear, were born good and pure, and you, my dear, still are.  You deserve loving kindness from a mother, as we all do.

I feel horrible for the people that wish to cause harm to those they love, but this is not your cross to bear (in our cases, mothers who wish to harm their daughters).  If you saw someone being treated this way, you'd step in and make it stop, right? So do it now, FOR YOURSELF. Step in and save yourself from this horrible woman. Make her go away. Love yourself more than you pity her.
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Harri
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« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2019, 06:37:07 PM »

Excerpt
In which case, How do I get past this? How do I accept my family, love my mum, overcome the resentment, continue to be in her life but at the same time- completely divorce myself emotionally from her?

Hello!  You get through this by learning to detach emotionally.  Learning about boundaries and the other tools will help you significantly improve things for yourself.  Self-differentiation is also vital and will come in time as you learn more about yourself, learn to define who you are and your value independent of your mom and by changing the way you interact with your family. Part of the latter involves accepting that they are who they are and setting appropriate expectations about what they can do and what your relationship will look like.

Excerpt
The thought of seeing her at all right now makes me feel physically ill.
Pay attention to this.  If having contact at this point will make you sick or is something you can not handle then don't have contact with her.  Setting boundaries around when you see her and for how long is about protecting you.  The guilt is something that will diminish as you learn to differentiate and see how she is responsible for her own feelings just as you are yours.

Excerpt
I have just realised my mum has UBPD. Instead of feeling better knowing this, I now feel totally defeated.  50 years of emotional abuse and she couldn’t help it. I have no strength left for compassion or forgiveness. I feel resentment, guilt, sadness and defeat.  Any suggestions on how to deal with this?
This is a lot to unpack.  Just finding out about BPD is a huge shift in perspective for you.  Finding compassion and forgiveness within that is going to be difficult and may not ever happen and that is okay too as long as your guilt, sadness and defeat do not make you miserable and change who you are at your core.  Healing is possible.  There are many here who have started the journey before you and many who are at the beginning.  We all support each other and work together to get to a better place.  sometimes that involves limited contact with our pwBPD, sometimes no contact and sometimes full contact and anything in between.  You get to call the shots here.  Getting to the point where you believe that, where you know you have agency, will come in time.  Trust that if you work at recovery and change things will get better.

As for your comment about your mom not being able to help the fact that she abused you... I am not so sure about that.  My current T tells me there is no disorder that causes one person to abuse another.  Even if you believe she could not control herself, does it change your experience?   Does it mean that the abuse you experienced was something other than abuse?  That you are wrong to have been affected by it?   Does it really absolve your mother of responsibility or the rest of your family?  Those are questions you have to answer for yourself but I think my opinion is obvious!  Frustrated/Unfortunate (click to insert in post)

Excerpt
I have found it difficult to understand how my brother and stepfather have not seen the abuse or done anything about it. Perhaps ignoring it was their way of dealing with it?
I am still so angry and hurt by my ad not protecting me!  Grrr... He was an adult.  My brother however, was a kid just like me and while he had a different relationship with my mom (in some ways a better one and in some a worse one) he too is damaged and was caught up in the dysfunction just like I was before I found out about BPD and started working on my own recovery.  I cut him some slack.  Actually a lot  of it.  I could be him still severely tied to my mom who died back in 2007.

The choice of how much contact you want is a personal one and not something you have to rush into.  Nor is is etched in stone.  You can change things as you continue to work on you if you choose.

 Virtual hug (click to insert in post)
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zachira
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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2019, 12:39:09 PM »

My heart goes out to you.You are grieving so many losses right now: discovering that your mother has BPD and how that affects your life both now and in the past, and losing hope that you will ever feel in any way comfortable being around your mother and brother who treat you so badly when you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. With time you will figure out whether you want to have low contact with your family members or no contact at all, and how to do so in ways that provide you with ongoing relief. I discovered my mother and my two surviving siblings had both BPD and NPD and it has caused me a lot of pain yet has helped me to deal with my losses and create a better life for myself, though there will always be sadness and anger about being so badly treated by my immediate family. You have been in therapy for 10 years which shows you have the courage to face how being affected by such an abusive family environment affects you, which is something most people who come from terribly abusive families never have the courage to face. You now have an explanation for all the cruel behaviors of your mother and invalidating family environment, and wonder what is next. Sometimes getting an explanation for their bad behaviors can be more overwhelming and upsetting than helpful in the beginning. With time, patience, and continuing to face all the challenges, you will feel better though right now you may be wondering: What am I going to be blindsided by next? How can I ever have a happy life being so overwhelmed by so much pain and sorrow? You will get there, and there is hope. Do read the posts of others on this site who have similar stories to yours. Every one who posts is in a different stage of recovery. Some have just discovered that their family member has BPD. Others have known for quite a while that they have a family member with BPD. There are many members despite all the challenges of having a family member with BPD, particularly a mother, now have happy lives, though they will always need to take time to grieve their losses. We hear from people of all ages who have discovered they have a mother with BPD, many of them quite a bit older than you are. There is so much light at the end of the tunnel, and it is a long journey, with lots of hard work facing the pain and losses. Keep us posted on how you are doing. There are many members who will help you. We welcome hearing from you at any time. Let us know how we can best support you and be the most helpful.
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