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For the child of a mother who has Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, life can be a roller coaster ride.
Except it’s the scariest ride of your life, it’s almost impossible to get off, and it never seems to end. I’ve written about what it’s like to have a Bipolar mother, and how my Bipolar mother continues to affect my life.
Over the last several years, I had become more and more skeptical of this diagnosis. Knowing she diagnosed herself years ago, I started to wonder if this was something else. More recently, I realize I don’t have a Bipolar mother. I have a Borderline mother.
Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is one of ten personality disorders. Symptoms include intense mood swings, impulsive behaviors, and extreme reactions. I recently learned there are also 4 subtypes of BPD.
I found an article that breaks down the four subtypes, which are:
- The Waif
- The Hermit
- The Queen
- The Witch
These are the four Borderline Mother Types. Usually there will be one main type that stands out more than the others, but they possess traits of each subtype. In my own words, I would describe it as cycling between these subtypes. I don’t know exactly how it works, or how it’s supposed to work, but my mother seems to cycle between these rapidly.
I had a hard time singling out my mother’s main type, because all of these describe her behavior. After doing more research, I now know my mother is the self-destructive borderline, or “the witch”.
Clinician Christine Ann Lawson, Ph.D, describes these four personality subtypes in her book, Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship (2000).
The Self-Destructive (Witch) Borderline –
This most definitely describes my mother’s borderline personality type. Source: Outofthefog.website.
Unconsciously, Witches hate themselves because they grew up in an environment that “required complete submission to a hostile or sadistic caregiver” (2000). They continue the cycle by acting cruelly to others, especially those who are too weak, young, or powerless to help themselves.
They feel no remorse for nightmarish acts, showing more interest in their own well-being than concern over the way they’ve hurt others. The Witch’s triggers include jealousy, criticism, betrayal, abandonment, feeling left out, and being ignored.
Typical Actions and Central Dilemma
Most BP parents do not physically abuse their children. Those who do probably fall into this category. However, the abuse usually occurs when other competent adults are not present. Thus, family members can live in fear while all seems well to the outside world.
Witches want power and control over others so that others do not abandon them. When someone or something triggers the Witches’ abandonment fear, these BP’s can become brutal and full of rage, even punishing or hurting family members who stand in their way (2000). These types of BP’s are most resistant to treatment: they will not allow others to help and the source of self-loathing is very deep.
Typical Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions of Family Members
- “I will comply with what she wants. Resistance is futile. I will be assimilated.”
- Fear in victims.
- Denial on the part of those who could protect the victims.
- Tries not to trigger the witch. But her behavior is not really about the non-BP, so this strategy doesn’t work.
The Effect of the Witch’s Behavior in Children
- Children live in terror of Witches’ capricious moods; they are the “collateral damage” of a secret war they did not start, do not understand, and cannot control.
- Attacks are random, intense, and cruel. Children automatically think they’re at fault and can become shamed, depressed, insecure, dissociative, and hypervigilant.
- As adults they may have multiple difficulties with self, relationships, physical illness, and even post traumatic stress disorder.
After doing a ton of research, and finding all of this information, it became clear. My mother has Borderline Personality Disorder with the self-destructive subtype.
I also spoke with two separate counselors, and after describing her behavior, they also emphatically stated they are confident she has a personality disorder.
I have tried several times over the course of the last several years to talk to my mother about this. It only caused her to explode in anger and rage. She does not want to talk about it, she insists she has Bipolar Disorder. Not a single drug she’s been prescribed over the last 25 plus years to treat Bipolar Disorder has helped her.
In the last few months, she has had several “episodes” of anger and rage. During one of these “episodes” (I’m not sure what else to call them) what started off as an argument quickly escalated.
She began screaming in my face, spit in my face, and grabbed my arms, digging her nails into my skin. She then pushed me against the kitchen counter, and started hitting herself in the head with my hands. I managed to break free, and when I did, she proceeded to knock things off of the counter, breaking glass and creating a mess. I walked away to calm myself down, while she laid in the kitchen floor, breathing heavily. Once she calmed herself, she went to bed.
It was extremely upsetting, and I stayed away from her for around a week. When I saw her again, she blamed me for the incident, and while laughing, told me my oldest daughter told her she spit in my face. She continued to laugh, saying she didn’t remember doing that.
I didn’t find anything funny about it at all.
The effects my Borderline mother has had on my life –
My mother stole my childhood from me. I’ve struggled with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and C-PTSD. She damaged my self-worth and self-esteem. Her manipulation is so extreme, for years I had no idea she was even doing it. The things she has said and done to me over the years are things I may never be able to forget.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember doing any of these terrible things. She has a very selective memory, and only remembers what she chooses to remember. She’s an expert at gaslighting, she’ll have you believing you’re the one with the problem, not her.
Her behavior has filled me with self-doubt and guilt. I isolate myself from others, and have trouble with trust. I’ve always felt like I was different from everyone else, which can feel very lonely. There have been times where I’ve hated myself, and times where I wished I would fall asleep and never wake up.
Since her most recent episode, I have cut off contact with her. I broke, I couldn’t take one more moment of her behavior. I couldn’t listen to one more hateful or hurtful word from her mouth. It is not safe or healthy for me to be around her. I don’t know that I will be able to have a relationship with her ever again.
The hardest part is my other family members. They don’t understand why I feel the way I do about my mother. She also tells them horrible lies about me, and then they question my version of events. It just compounds the hurt, anger and resentment I now feel for my mother, knowing how easily she can manipulate others into believing anything she says.
She hides who she really is from others, and plays the victim role to an extreme. But I know exactly who she is. I know every horrible thing she’s said and done over the course of my life.
She is the Self-Destructive Borderline Mother.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, share your experience in the comments below if you’re comfortable doing so. I know how alone this can make you feel, and I’m sharing this information so you know that you ARE NOT ALONE.