By Shari Schreiber,
trouble with growing up with a dysfunctional parent, is we have
no other frame of reference for what's normal.
Aberrant behaviors within the home happen on such a frequent basis,
a child accepts these as commonplace, and naturally presumes all
kids face these kinds of challenges.
this child feels sad, lonely or empty, there's a tendency to talk
himself out of these feelings once he's become old enough to have
words, and form cognitive thought. The anguish he feels however,
has already existed for the first two to three years of his life,
with no language skills to understand or describe it.
he has acquired a vocabulary, he goes up into his head to sort out
the terrible confusion and torment he's lived with since he can
remember. As soon as he begins asking himself why he's
so sad, empty, lonely or scared, he's distracted himself from the
pain he feels inside his body, and talking to himself becomes the
balm that eases the terrible aloneness he often experiences.
this regular practice, emotions are automatically converted into
thoughts. They're analyzed, obsessed about and turned into faulty
narratives, which are self-critical and destructive, shaming or
guilting, and most importantly, inaccurate and untrue.
BASIS OF DESPAIR
trauma means our sense of Self has been damaged. You live with the
feeling that it's not okay to be You. You're always on the outside,
observing yourself through others. If they're smiling at you, you're
comforted. If they're frowning, you worry that you're at fault~
even if it has nothing to do with you!
is one inalienable truth when it comes to core trauma in childhood.
As we grow to adulthood, the relationship we have
is the one we believe we deserve. In short, your partner echoes
how you truly feel about yourself deep down, beneath all
your successes and accomplishments. Don't believe me? How hard are
you on yourself? Do you address yourself kindly when you have time
on your hands, or are you harshly critical and abusive?
is a learned response to overly-critical and strict parenting
in childhood. In essence, you left home to get free of abuse from
your folks, but you've carried on the same injurious tradition toward
yourself, and you're a compulsive perfectionist. No good ever
comes from this behavior, and it has to be fully eliminated, in
order for you to get
well and stay well.
THINKING IS ADULTHOOD
always a relational template in childhood, that drives our attachment
to a borderline disordered individual.
child who experiences deficits in nourishing affection and attention
from a parent presumes it's his fault, and that he must
not be worthy or deserving of these vital supplies. The love he
feels for Mom or Dad is not reflected back to him, and so painful
yearning and longing for that which is seldom if ever returned,
becomes this child's definition for what 'Love' feels like. These
painful sensations associated with loving an unresponsive
parent influence our entire existence. They set us up for poor relational
choices, and prepare us for lives defined by wishful thinking and
intense cravings for that which we can never actually have; hence,
our fascination with Borderlines. In short, we grew up loving a
parent/caregiver with personality disorder traits, or we'd never
be able or willing to tolerate them in a romantic partnership.
primal needs of infancy and early childhood always take
precedence over our adult needs. Primal needs involve receiving
loving touch/holding, positive mirroring, attention to our feelings
and concerns and tender care (all that you might get at the start
of a relationship with a BPD lover). Satisfaction of these primal
needs is vital, as it shapes how we grow up feeling about and relating
worked with male clients who stayed with highly abusive partners,
only because their primal needs were met in bed.
Outside of the bedroom, their lover was a rageful, castrating monster~
but they lived for those moments she was physically loving
number of us experienced warmth and nurturance from our mom for
awhile after our birth~ but when the novelty of having
a new baby wore off, she lost interest in maintaining the connection
with us. This wasn't our fault. We naturally continued
to want all that former closeness, and we experienced the shame
of rejection when it wasn't forthcoming. Some of us never
got that early care, and have been needing it since infancy. Whether
we had this loving initially and it vanished, or we never received
it, core trauma resulted, and left us with the sense; "I'm
not lovable, not deserving of affection, not worthy of care, not
good enough," etc.
sensation that we're "not good enough" spawns and perpetuates
These behaviors reflect our need to compensate for the
painful lack of worth we've had to endure, since before we could
walk or talk. They also help us run from, or numb our emotional
these injuries to our sense of Self were subtle, but they've left
us with deep scars just the same. Our parent might have compared
us to a sibling or another family's child, in terms of pointing
out 'right' mannerisms or scholastic achievement. In any event,
the message conveyed to us always carried a tone of disapproval
or disappointment. For the kid who feels he's a disappointment
to his parent, self-loathing can last a lifetime.
shame which emanates from this early programming drives a deep need
to 'buy' another's affection and approval, by being indispensable,
and placing the feelings and needs of others before one's own. The
term which describes this brand of psychopathology, is codependency.
Codependents Anonymous or CoDA meetings can bring helpful awareness
to this issue, but it's seldom resolved without specialized core
of early abandonment trauma and attachment issues which resulted
from it, it's impossible to avoid acquiring self-protective defenses
which may have left you with BPD traits.
MOTHER TO MONSTER, AND BACK AGAIN
clients have reported; "my mom would scream at us, call us
names and beat us, and then later come into our bedroom crying,
saying how much she loved us." Sure~ and gorillas have wings.
sends totally confusing messages to a child, and skews their definition
of Love. They might feel sorry for the mother and want to forgive
her, but given these repeated assaults, trust evaporates from the
foundation of this maternal connection. It's not unusual then, for
an adult child of a Borderline parent to perpetually re-enact this
scenario with a BPD lover, who may act contrite and beg to be forgiven
after heinous episodes of abuse or betrayal.
recipient of this type of behavior allows wishful thinking to override
rational thought and previous/past experience, which inevitably
insures an unending cycle of domestic violence to men and women.
In short, the cyclical nature of these events and the emotional
scars they inflict are eerily parallel to those of spousal abuse
in adulthood, for both perpetrator and victim.
hard for the parent of a Borderline to assume responsibility for
their kid's dysfunction. Nobody wants to believe they fucked up
their child, and plenty of parents write me, asking how they can
help their BPD son or daughter, or get them away from a borderline
disordered partner. It's not possible to be born with Borderline
Personality Disorder, nor "inherit" the attraction to
a lover who has it. BPD is an environmentally produced set of emotional
wounds, that are typically passed along to successive generations
through learned behavior. It is not a mental illness
or 'genetic disease.'
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