Surviving a Parent with BPD

This week has been surreal. It’s been filled with clarity, sadness and confusion. I’ve been conditioned as a black woman to believe that “at all times, I have to keep it together,” so this week I spent a lot of time in my car crying between classes, praying during pee breaks and calming myself down quietly during panic attacks in the hallways. I’m good a faking it til I make it.

I’ve been blessed with the power of discernment. I’d like to think that God speaks to me through dreams, feelings and even others. Last Saturday God laid something on my heart. It was HEAVY. I shared it with my husband. It was the following Sunday afternoon when I received a phone call lasting 45 minutes confirming everything I shared with my husband the night before…

I can’t say that I was in shock about the news. I felt a sense of relief, maybe even a sense of thankfulness. The person on the other end of the phone with just a couple of words had brought forth major healing to my past traumas. I felt slightly selfish for healing in the mist of this person’s chaos but I couldn’t help the feelings that overwhelmed me. This person unknowingly had answered my many questions about, “why my traumas happened to me.” As this person spoke, my mind wandered. I felt like the world stopped.

“My childhood traumas didn’t go in vain. My negative ways of thinking of myself (feeling like I’m nevergood enough or undeserving of good things) wasn’t random and my drama-filled childhood WAS NOT MY FAULT.” One of my parents suffered from BPD (borderline personality disorder.)

I don’t mind being transparent about this because this is something I’ve been dealing with alone for 26 years. I also love living truthfully. Putting it out there means no one can use my “secrets,” or insecurities against me. I’m free.

My parent is in denial and has been apparently for my entire life. Unfortunately my brother and I didn’t have people paying close enough attention to advocate for us. My childhood and most of my adult life have suffered at the hands of this. I could tell you some stories about what I’ve seen or even experienced but I’d like to treat my healing as delicate as possible. This is my ugly and uncomfortable truth.

This week, I’ve struggled with many emotions. I love my parent but that doesn’t erase the pain this parent has caused me. I’m confused. I’m relieved because for months now, I’ve been seeking therapy to cope with this but I too was in denial about my parent’s mental health. (In therapy, your therapist can only diagnose and treat you. In regards to your past, they’re left to only speculate what they think was going on. In my case upon my first counseling session, my therapist felt that it was very likely my parent suffered from BPD.)I struggled with the feeling of feeling violated. I feel like I’ve been lied to. I feel like I’ve been coexisting with a stranger. I feel sad. I love my parent and feel like their support system or there lack of failed them. They needed someone to lean on. On Sunday, I felt like I was meeting my parent for the first time. For 26 years I didn’t know them. I didn’t understand them. I know them now.

This is all so new to me and honestly I have no advice to share. One thing I will say is that, many people lose to the fight against mental illness. They try to ignore symptoms but mental illness lives in the brain. Our brains control our bodies. When the brain is sick, our bodies can’t function properly. Many people have been taught to think that therapy is bad thing. Because of this way of thinking, many parents are rearing their children while fighting mental illnesses.

Writing and sharing this has been both healing and scary. I struggled with doing what’s therapeutic to me while being considerate of my parent’s well-being. It’s like walking a tightrope with the world on my back. In one sense I want healing,understanding and growth but in the other sense, I understand that my parent’s situation is serious and delicate to them as well. My parent is still very much in denial and while seeking and achieving my healing I don’t want to hinder theirs. Writing this and posting this blog post has left me very feeling vulnerable. I understand that some might not fancy this post and others may find it helpful to their healing. I’m ok with this.

I ask that you pray for my family at this time. I started this blog to share and inspire. I’m sharing this because although I’m still unsure of my next move or my family’s, I wanted someone/anyone in this same situation to know that they’re not alone.