"I Hate You, Don't Leave Me!" A Letter to The Children of the Borderline Mom on Mother's Day


Here is is again: Mother's Day.

I see you lying there in bed, gathering strength to face this most horrible of days, second only to her birthday, and directly before Christmas and Thanksgiving on the list of holidays that are doomed by expectations before they even begin. 

I want you to know it's her, not you.

She is the one who will wreck this day despite her accusations that it is her family who are not good enough, not thankful enough. Bring her flowers? They won't be the right ones. Bring her coffee in bed? It will be too hot/cold/full. Make breakfast? It won't taste right (read: she didn't make it). Heaven forbid you leave a crumb on the counter or dishes in the sink. Bring her/make her a card? Upon reading it she'll set her mouth in a grim line, no matter how hard you struggled to find right words. Alas there is no Hallmark line of cards for those who should love us but can't; for those moms who demand praise and affection whilst dishing out abuse. (Cards for the Wire Mother, they should be called; the HARRY HARLOW Line.) 

Some Borderline moms are weepy and weak and fragile. Some are full of rage and eventually there will be yelling, hitting, storming, crying. Either way, she'll finally disappear into bed or shut herself up in the bathroom or go for a drive leaving in her wake a trail of sadness and guilt and another shattered holiday.

Please understand: it is her, not you. 

I know you blame yourself. You think that you've failed in your one job: being her child. You aren't smart enough, pretty enough, strong enough, loyal enough. You somehow came between her and your father, or failed to protect her from your father. She put all her hopes and dreams on you and you let her down. Or, maybe she looks at you and sees every single black and tarry bit of herself she hates. Maybe you're a "slut" and a "whore." Maybe your body has begun to change with hormones. How dare you? You're a "liar." You're "dirty."

Hell, you probably wouldn't love you either.  She's right: you are the monster child who made her physically/emotionally/sexually abuse you. It hurts her more than it hurts you, after all. It's a tough job but someone has to punish you.

Oh, baby. It is her, not you. 

You still think you can change and make her love you, I know. I was once there, too. I deserved all the soap pumped down my throat and mashed into my braces, the belts against my backside, the slaps and kicks and pulled hair. I asked for every single insult and all the shame that rained down on me. If I could just do more/be better then she would be like my friends' moms. It had to be my fault that we were not friends like they were. My friends actually wanted to be around their moms. Their moms actually smiled at them, hugged them, laughed with them. It was my fault my mom didn't look at me this way. 

I tried to be better but no matter how small and quiet and invisible I tried to become, her rage always found me. Even after I moved out, I continued to live in terror of her. 

Until one day years later.

One day after a particularly grueling string of suicidal threats and actions that had my whole family held hostage (I remember my dad begging me call her periodically from my office to ensure she was still alive when he ran to the grocery store for milk), I looked up a therapist near my work and went on my lunch break.

"How can I save my mom?" I asked, desperate for the answer to this riddle that had haunted my adult life. If A, then B

She, this kind woman who was not too different from my mom in appearance and age, leaned forward in her chair, her elbows on her yellow legal pad. "What would it look like," she said gently, "If we saved you instead?"

And so began a long, harrowing journey away from my toxic mother that would take years and years and cause much heartbreak between me and my dad and brothers who didn't understand why I was doing what I was doing. I was like a little fish who turns around and swims against the school: it sucked and it was hard and it sure would have been easier to go back to swimming with the family, but I'm here to tell you, dear one, it is possible to save yourself. And it is necessary.

I eventually grew strong enough and believing enough in myself to break up with my mom. I cut contact with her: I stopped taking her phone calls, I blocked her emails. I didn't see her when she came to my door. Eventually I moved and did not give her my new address. I ignored the emails from her therapists, the ones she duped into believing her lies about me. I didn't take the bait when I learned she was planning my wedding for me. 

For the first time I learned about BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER and was shocked to find the diagnosis was like reading a manual to my mother's behavior. I found an online forum for children of Borderline parents, others who were not only victims of child abuse but also understood like no one else the many troubling shades of the BPD personality.

I wish that I could say that in the process of saving myself my mother got the help she needed. Instead my mother grew more and more unhinged as my brothers and I flew further and further from her nest of control, and our dad began to pull away from their toxic marriage. One evening after years and years of threats, she simply and quietly shot herself in the head, ending a lifetime of grief and rage and sorrow...

Oh, honey. Mother's Day sucks. It's hard for those of us who have/had difficult mothers. A lot of people don't get that, but so long as you do you will get through this day. I promise. It's her, not you.

Notes: Here are a few resources that may help you if your mom sounds like my mom. The caps are links: FORUM for adult children of Borderline parents; UNDERSTANDING the Borderline Mother; STOP Walking on Eggshells; Will I Ever Be Good Enough -- Healing the Daughters of NARCISSISTIC Mothers. 

I'd love to hear from you! At the bottom of this post you can click the heart to send me some anonymous love, or you can join the convo by leaving a comment, which would be awesome!