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Readers Respond: What's Life Like in Your BPD Family?

Responses: 18


Updated April 28, 2009

From the article: The BPD Family
Having a family member with BPD is a very difficult experience, and one that is hard for other people to understand. What is one thing about what it is like to live with someone with BPD that you would want outsiders to know?

BPD Children

My mom has BPD and it has seriously effected me and my siblings. When I was younger she made me believe that I was an ungrateful, selfish child and that I was lucky to have her as a mom. I blamed myself for her roller coaster moods and anger outbursts. It was just her and us kids and we were constantly targets. No matter what we did nothing was good enough. Her behavior is the reason I struggle with an anxiety disorder today. I watched growing up and she hurt everyone around her. What angered me the most was the facade she put on to the rest of the world. As an adult I still live with the guilt and a feeling of responsibility for my mom. I love her and forgive her for everything she has ever done although my contact with her is minimal. For children it is the worst growing up with a BPD parent. Parents are supposed to help with problems, not be the cause of them.
—Guest guestalice

I Once Was Blind But Now I See

My childhood was so dysfunctional and I thought it was normal. My mother suffers from BPD and always had issues with friends, family and us kids. Her splitting the kids up as "good kid" and "bad kid" has caused a lot of problems. We are all now adults and two of my sisters also suffer from BPD. Not understanding what the disorder was, I allowed my older sister to move into my house so I could help her out after her 5th divorce. I told her she could stay with us for 6 months. When the 6 months was up she refused to move out. When I was insistent, she launched an all out Distortion Campaign against me. She contacted my other two sisters and fed them a ton of lies about me and my whole family. She played "Tag You're It" and my sisters actually fell for it even though she is the one that has made a mess out of her life, abandoned her son, has never kept a job, is a pathological liar, gambler, steals and is promiscuous. I am so glad I found the book "Stop Walking on Eggshells" I finally get it!
—Guest Non-BP Sister

Healthy Personal Boundaries

I have a 14-year-old daughter, diagnosed with emerging BPD; she was diagnosed at age 12. The one thing that I was able to do that was most helpful and set us on the road to recovery was setting healthy personal boundaries for myself and ALWAYS followed through with the consequences. It did not change her behaviors or thinking errors but it gave me back my sense of personal power and control over my life. Once I got that back I was then able to replace fear with compassion and make wiser choices for her care. Currently she is in a residential treatment center and doing GREAT! Early intervention with the right kind of therapy is KEY to a chance at recovery. The greatest improvement I have seen in my daughter is that she accepts and believes that she is loved and cherished and tells us she loves us too.
—Guest lbjnltx

Difficult for all

I have been diagnosed with BPD, I am a male aged 21. I find that I genuinely try to be kind and to get on with my family but it never seems to work out and I end up alienating them. Mostly when I lose my temper and fly into a rage, that at the time seems so reasonable but afterwards seems insane. I find it hard to keep track of what's happening... It makes things hard for everyone around me, I know that. I also have Crohn's disease which makes things alt harder.
—Guest Kieren

It hurts more than you know

Marsha Linehan describes Borderlines as the emotional equivalent of third degree burn victims. Do you know how much pressure it puts on us when you blame us for not getting better? I have been in counseling since I was in first grade. I didn't know I had BPD until I was 19 years old. I have worked so hard over the years and made so much improvement. You people seem so angry at them as if they don't try hard enough. I put out an intense effort to do simple tasks. Everything hurts everyday and all the time. I just have days of less pain. Don't you think it would be tiring to do that all the time. I actually avoid my family so I do not hurt them. I barely talk to them. It hurts them that I do that, but when they see me it hurts them too. I hate being close to people because it makes things harder on me and them. I always want to convince them that I'm bad so they'll leave me alone. I want to escape from my pain. When I'm in a relationship all I see is my illness reflected in their eyes.
—Guest I am borderline

Mom abandoned us

My bpd mom made my childhood miserable. She was constantly causing family problems with her splitting behavior - someone was always doing something wrong to her and there were always accusations against various family members but never any actual proof to back them up. I was a frequent target of this bahavior, being labeled the bad kid and my brother the good kid - even as adults. Finally my brother recognized this stopped believing her stories. She almost ruined my marriage. When my children were young, she babysat for a short period of time, but her constant irrational demands and interference in our personal lives made it impossible, so we made other arrangements. I finally asked her to go to family therapy so we could set some boundries, in an attempt to salvage what was left of our relationship so she could have some kind of relationship with my children, her only grandchildren. She became enraged and hasn't spoken to us in 5 years. My life has never been more peaceful.

20 year of marriage and 4 children later

My husband has BPD and my children and I have suffered greatly due to his emotional roller coaster rides, frequent suicide attempts and the many rage sessions he has had over several years. As the children got older, my husband was unable to handle simple child rearing responsibilities and would threaten and/or over-discipline leaving me in a panic to leave the house just to go grocery shopping. We are legally separated and haven't lived together for 1 1/2 years. My children and I had to give up our beautiful home and neighbors because of the financial devastation BPD has done to us. My children and I live a peaceful life seeing dad once or twice a week. We all love him, but are safer, more stable and happier not living with him. It's very difficult and sad when you love someone with BPD, yet realize you can't have the fulfilling life you so desire to have with him. My children's and my heart are broken knowing we will probably not be able to live together as a family ever again.

Seeing the Light

I just recently started learning about BPD. In a strange way I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one in the world who has lived this. My parents divorced when I was seven. My mother always said my dad didn't want to be with her anymore. Now thirty one years and seven husbands later, I know what the problem is. She lies, she cries, she tells people they don't love her. Then you see her and she acts like nothing ever happened, or worse nothing happens and she makes something up, calls anyone who will listen, and spreads vicious tales of how we can't forgive her for our childhood (me and my sister). The craziest part about that is that her mother, brother, and sometimes sister call us to convince us to forgive her, even after we say nothing has happened and we are not mad. It has pushed me to the point of complete withdrawal from her and her family. PS. Last night just two weeks since her most recent divorce she showed up at my sons football game with a new friend!
—Guest seeingthelight

The blame is always there

Seeing a loved one going through hell is one thing but with BPD everyone that comes in contact is drawn in. The black and white or idealization devaluation response. I have read the comments above and can understand each and everyone of them. Last year I had the police beating on my door demanding to know where my daughter was. I have seen the destruction that comes with BPD along with the rest of my family in their own incidents. I can understand why so many people distance themselves when they become the focus of the love-hate complex. I shut myself off from my daughter for my own sanity. Do I still care? Yes, but I hope there is some help for the BPD sufferer because it is like a cancer on everyone's lives. I have done the guilt trip and thanks to "About" I am a lot wiser.

Children of BPD

Not once in your article have you mentioned the greatest victims of BPD- the children who have parents with BPD. In addition, your article assumes that to give up on the caretaking of someone with BPD is due to mental issues of one's own, when it might take a lot of mental health to give up on someone with BPD who is abusive and unwilling to get help.
—Guest Tsitsi

what to do

Years ago my father was diagnosed with BPD but nothing really came from his being diagnosed other than the fact that the immediate family can now understand why he acts the way he does. He has never received proper treatment. Me and my siblings are adults now and have tried to distance ourselves from him. The main issue now is that we are no longer concerned about how he interacts with us but with the harmful things he does to himself. We are at a loss of what to do as confronting him on his multiple risky behaviors is a very scary idea. The last time he was confronted on things he attempted suicide. How can we allow him to continually cause harm to himself? What are we supposed to do? How do you help someone you love receive the treatment they need?
—Guest sally


I stopped communication with my BPD mother 19 years ago in the midst of my divorce from my first marriage in which her BPD behaviour was an integral part of the breakup. Having mothered her for much of my childhood my adult life is finally calm and content and without incident. I found out recently that she is homeless having burned down her rented accommodation and I am now locked into a daily guilt trap of feeling that I am foresaking her. I understand her illness and forgive the behaviour that led to an often traumatic and totally disrupted childhood passed from care homes to relatives and back again with attempted suicides by her and all of the associated drama and mental torment. My life is calm and happy now but I feel so terribly guilty that I am not doing anything to help and support her now she is totally alone and helpless. I doubt I will act on it and I don't feel that I owe her anything but the basic feeling of responsibility for her never really goes away.
—Guest pgtips

Life in a BPD family

Since childhood, life with my sister has been a roller coaster ride. Her behavior made me feel anxious and confused, and lead to bouts of depression and impacted my self esteem. I had to eventually retreat from our relationship in order to protect myself and my own family. This was not easy, and also lead to feelings of guilt as the accusations of abandonment flowed. Now that my children have grown and I finally discovered the cause of all this turmoil (thank you!!), I am currently able to maintain a peaceful and mutually respectful relationship with her. I have learned to not 'buy into' her dramas and stay a little emotionally remote. I have set myself limits on what I will tolerate instead of being a 'sponge' and am sure my sister is aware of this and therefore more careful in her behaviour. This may sound harsh, but after many years of trying to help her I have learned to instead look after myself. This, strangely, appears to have had a calming effect on her as well.
—Guest Hanging in there

Guilty but gone

Two sisters and I have spent over 20 years supporting--emotionally and financially--our younger BPD sister. This last year with the decline of our parents health and admission to nursing homes, we have collectively spent thousands of hours and dollars trying to mitigate the effects on "Rose." She is truly suffering and we know that, but this last round of "help me-hate you-punish you-forgive me-hate you-show you" has been devastating as she sent a barrage of emails, phone calls filled with threats, accusations, ugly and hurtful repudiation of our past efforts to help and our families, husbands and adult children, were exposed to her "dark side" in full for the first time. Each of our families have begged us to cut all ties with this woman. As "Maggie and Julie" and I began talking we realized that our relationship with our BPD sister was hurting us in ways we can't tolerate anymore and we have cut off all contact with her.

Mothers with BPD Toxic to Kids

I was raised by a mother with BPD and she was too unstable, harsh, angry and perfectionistic to have been allowed to raise children. Both my sister and I have PTSD, low self-esteem, depression, and have never been able to have normal, long-term adult relationships. I think that some kind of screening program or intervention needs to be done to remove children from the care of parents with Cluster B personality disorders. Abusive, inept, narcissistic parenting does more harm than good.
—Guest Annie

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