THE BORDERLINE PARENT
BY SHARI SCHREIBER, M.A.
This article is for survivors of a relationship that's had toxic consequences for them. It is not intended for anyone with BPD traits! If you suspect you have borderline personality features, what follows could feel injurious to you! Please leave this site immediately and seek alternative web content that may be more congruent with your personal views and needs.
The 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.
When 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.
Once 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.
With 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.
THE BASIS OF DESPAIR
Core 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!
There 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?
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