Other Mental Illnesses and Disorders

My Borderline Mother | The Self-Destructive Borderline

My Borderline Mother The self-destructive witch
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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.


Typical Thoughts

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.

Typical Emotions

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.


My Borderline Mother The self-destructive witch


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.

~ Jess


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15 thoughts on “My Borderline Mother | The Self-Destructive Borderline

  1. Holy shit Jess, I’ve never read something I can relate to more. Not just about thinking my mom was bipolar, or that my significant other was bipolar, I realize both are BPD. I’m going to do some more research. Message me if possible. Thanks and as always, love and good vibes your way

    1. I’m always around anytime you need to chat! It took me a lot of time & research to figure this out. It’s very difficult to deal with someone with this type of BPD.

  2. I could have written this.
    I too, tried to maintain a relationship with my mother. Eventually my health was becoming severely affected . I went no contact when she was 88 years old. The final straw was her being angry with her sisters…. she told me to “ fix it “!!!
    When I would not intervene ( I don’t have a problem with them)… she proceeded to tell me I was not a very good mother…. and when I did not respond to that, she told me that also I was not a very good wife! …and a lousy daughter as well.
    I felt so despondent…. I just wanted to leave this world…. after this kind of behaviour for all of my 58 years, I quit.
    So sad.
    I wish I had done this years ago.However, I was always hopeful that if only I could be good enough, smart enough, kind enough, pretty enough….that she would love me ( or even like me ).
    I think that I was always so preoccupied with trying to keep her happy… that I missed enjoying my own life.

    1. It amazes me how much it affects me when someone shares their story with me…and it hits so close to home. I’m so sorry, I understand that need for love and acceptance, and the emptiness and hurt you receive instead. I hope you will allow yourself time to heal, and know that you deserve peace, love and happiness. Her behavior is not your fault.

  3. Being a witness to BPD reactivity is like being bulldozed by the stochasticism of an unregulated limbic system. It’s a paradoxical horror that rivals the chronicles of science fiction. You can watch with fascination and fear, but it must be done from a distance (both spatially and psychologically).

  4. My mother is identified as an alcoholic, but I’ve been in therapy for nearly a decade initially to help me cope with my father’s death (they were never married and had shared custody) and some sexual abuse I encountered during my childhood. It was pretty clear almost immediately, however, that the reason I would continue to seek therapy and my original onset of depression and anxiety would all be traced back to my mother, slowly but surely. I can relate to so much in the article, it’s almost soothing. My mom remarried and had my little sister when I was 12, and I knew she would never stop drinking..let alone allow herself to seek any help for her underlying issue that she is still ignorant of to this day. I was finally able to brave a disconnect with her when my sister turned 18… She was very fond of using is against each other to hang onto her sense of control over me. She had no limits when it came to saying or doing anything and all she could to make me feel guilty for being “a bad big sister”. I caught on quick and knew there would be a light at the end of the tunnel as my sister grew older and wiser. I always let her calls go to voicemail (to see how intoxicated she was of nothing else) before deciding if I would engage in contact with her. My sister was stronger than me in a way, thanks to my wonderful stepdad who may have suffered manipulation, but remembered to stay wise enough to know he could better protect my sister remaining as one household than he ever could if he were to allow a divorce and leave her alone with my mother with even more extra fuel that would have resulted from anybody else “leaving” her. While in college, I did the best I could to ignore my mother’s taunting and threats… but when it came to my sister, l I could do was go straight to the source and ask her if she was really feeling the things my mother was telling me I was making her feel. She never did..not a single time. And I’m thankful for my sister’s strength because looking back..I needed her support more than anybody else’s to succeed in college, focus on find myself through therapy and gain my independence.

    Long story short, my mother divorced my stepdad and fled back to her hometown within the first year of my sister being an adult. She isn’t doing well, and is facing a lot of the demons that began her mental abuse. My sister and stepdad keep contact with her in small doses, and the conversations the three of us have had since her disappearance have been life changing to say the least. We have all basked in the chance to regroup, heal, and take full advantage that we can now only think/talk about the past of we feel the need to talk through what memories we have of my mother’s abuse and her attempts to maintain her false sense of control in a large variety of horrible manipulation. My sister and I are stronger than ever, and even though I have very little hope.. my sister still does but only in a healthy, nonvulnerable way. Thank you very much for this article!

    1. Wow. Both of you are amazingly strong for going through what you did. I’m so glad you’ve been able to do what is healthiest for you. It took me a long time to truly understand that my mother would never change and would always be toxic. It’s just who she is. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it helps me with my healing as well to know that you truly can move forward.

  5. After 41 years I finally let go. I let go of a mother/daughter relationship that never really existed. I couldnt take the stress of walking on eggshells anymore. Although, I still have to at times if I want to continue talking to my father (God bless him for sticking around as long as he has!) and not “get him into trouble” with her because he spoke to me. Growing up wasnt bad as a young child. We took lots of vacations, she was an excellent nurse when we were sick, we were fed very well and had an extremely well kept home. As long as we were old enough to “control” life was good. Once I became a ‘tween’ and a teenager, shit hit the fan. She could no longer control my growing, independent mind. We became oil and water. Screaming matches, overbearing attitudes towards me, making sure I was bogged down with chores sho I couldn’t go anywhere. It was pure hell. Holidays?! Psh… it would be the 4 off us. My parents, my younger brother and myself. By my teens, my mother had managed to alienate 90% of our small, extended family from us. Christmas? Would be my brother and I quietly opening our gifts hoping not to make her mad (which never worked out for us). In the end, we would witness a meltdown as she ran to her room sobbing and spent the rest of the day in bed. We would have our gifts neatly boxed up and in our rooms by breakfast wondering what we did wrong to cause her to act that way so we would know not to do that again next year. Never worked. By my late teens, my brother who by now I realized could do no wrong in her eyes, had gotten his girlfriend pregnant at 16. Despite him being hee “baby”, I loved my brother and protected him. So when it came time to tell her about the pregnancy (I brought our minister for backup – didnt work) I orchestrated the event to keep it as kosher as possible for her. In the end, I was told “you’re 18! Why couldnt this be you?!”. To which she still denies ever saying ro me. I knew later on in life once I figured out through my own counseling that she had BPD that she totally blocked out anything hurtful ever said to me. Once I was in my 20s, married, with 3 babies if my own our “relationship” was somewhat bonded by the fact she knew I needed her help therefore the “control” was back in her court. I allowed it because I didn’t have much else of a choice. I was shotgun married to an alcoholic and I needed help with my boys if I was ever going to make it out of my horrible marriage. Fast forward to the present, I’m now 41, still not remarried, 2 badly ended relationships, living on my own with an ex who is still an alcoholic and doesn’t pay child support, I have full custody that I fought hard for for 4 years if 3 now teenage boys who are so close in age that they’re all going through the hormonal/mental phases of life that can wear on a mother raising them alone. Yet I’m still worthless in her eye . My kids have the manners to make an old lady delighted, smart adds in all A’s and B’s, mechanically amazing and athletic beyond belief and I’m still a worked person/mom. Although I’ve tried very hard throughout the years to just go with it and make her happy, I finally realized nothing will make her happy and I’ve lived my entire life for her and not me. I suffer from multiple autoimmune issues and have hit a low with them this year. I came to the conclusion that in order to move forward I had to focus on myself. So I forgave her and left our “relationship”. It hasn’t been easy not being close to my dad like I used to b . After all, I am a daddy’s girl! But it was necessary to rid myself of negativity. I was glad i stumbled upon your story. I felt as if I was the only one out there that knew what it was like to live and grow up this way. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and helping me to realize im not the only one.

    1. I’m so glad, it helps me just as much to know that I’m not alone either. Unfortunately it’s not our fault, nothing we can do will ever change who our mothers are. I understand so much more now that we have done nothing wrong, and we didn’t deserve what happened to us.

  6. Hi, Jess, I just recently started reading the Lawson book and its like reading my story that someone else wrote. I just found your book and i do intend on getting it. My mother is the Waif borderline. I am going to be 50 this year and i have had it with her and the abuse. We lost my sister 25 years ago to cancer and we only have each other so its been rough but i’m in therapy and have been for the last decade but its only been the last year or two that I finally knew about BPD and that that is what is wrong with my mother, while it is a relief, it can be overwhelming with all the information and very lonely because my friends don’t understand. I am just learning how my feelings, emotions and decisions in my life are so intertwined with my being raised by a BPD single mother. for the last couple years she has been calling 911 in her desperate moods and the EMTs all know her by name as well as the nurses, its embarrassing and she abuses prescription meds. Its a lot to realize that my life could have been so different if only people had known more back then. She gave up custody of me when I was 12 to DSS and never got it back so i spent my childhood going from place to place. I have decided that 2020 is my year for me and taking care of myself and maybe going for some of my dreams i had and to learn and overcome as much as I can from all this and help other young women out there being raised by BPD moms and maybe they can not wait 50 years to do something about it. I look forward to reading your book. Thank you Roni.

    1. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through that. It’s definitely very difficult and very lonely, because it’s hard for others who haven’t lived a life with a Borderline mother to understand. I’m glad to hear you have help in healing!

  7. Yup I’m 36 and just finally realized I had been brainwashed. Walked away forever. I can’t help her. What we had wasn’t real. I think it’s alcohol in my moms case. If she wants to approach me in a real manner, I’ll take it. She had my whole family programmed including me to think I molested my sister, I am a psychopath, I was diagnosed, that I am crazy, and on and on. One day I was sitting in front of her, listening to her repeat these things over and over to me after I had calmly said that I wish I was more comfortable in the family. And all of a sudden I realized none of it was true. Hah! I remembered how she started telling me this eight years ago after I confronted her about her abusing me as a kid. I just started to believe I had done all of these criminal acts. The moment I walked away I remembered she made it all up, and I felt free and I could be myself again. And I could remember my whole childhood, abuse and all, and none of it was a big deal. I’ll do my job to be a healthy parent, and that’s all I need to do. My mom doesn’t need me. She needs honesty and sobriety. Only she can choose that. I find a replacement family in ACA groups.

  8. It’s amazing what happens when we wake up to the truth. Only then do our lives begin to change. I’m so glad you were able to see it for what it was and break free from the brainwashing & manipulation. Not everyone is able to.

  9. Iv had enough of it I’m so lonely I just want to sleep and never wake up…. How can these people have kids and treat them the way they do I’m absolutely broken

    1. I’m so sorry, don’t feel that way. I made it through it, and I’ve worked extremely hard to get to where I am now. It’s made me who I am today, I don’t know who I’d be without my experiences.

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