As an adult-child of a parent (or in my case parents) with Borderline Personality Disorder the love that is so scarce is toxic and the relationship is enmeshed as the child exists to serve the endless emotional needs of the borderline.
The adult-child of the borderline parent experiences the toxic love of what is a betrayal bond or in many cases a trauma bond that is born out of a lack of nurture and unmet needs and the emotional unavailability of the borderline parent. Whether one goes on to develop BPD or not, being the adult-child of a borderline parent usually results in various degrees of an abandonment wound and subsequent abandonment issues.
In my experience as an adult-child of a borderline mother and a borderline father in a family emotionally ravaged and broken due to the inter-generational legacy of Borderline Personality Disorder I had to choose to go no contact in order to heal. Yes, I, too, had BPD. But even for the adult-child who doesn't end up having BPD no contact may be what you need to take your life back.
Whether you make the same choice that I did to go no contact with a borderline parent or not you do need to do whatever you have to in order to find your way to peace, health and happiness.
Often the legacy of the adult-child of a borderline is the legacy of toxic love. A legacy of enmeshed codependent concepts about love that lead us straight into significant other relationships with personality-disordered partners.
Many adult-children of a borderline parent only understand love to mean no boundaries and love to be the way it was experienced in childhood. The emotional unavailabilty of a borderline parent can lead to a pattern of being attracted to partners who are emotionally unavailable. Many adult-children of a borderline parent have learned to relate to others from a foundation of rescuing and trying to help – a trying to help that while well-intentioned can become abusive in its own over-controlling way.
It is difficult, if not impossible, in childhood, and for some, way beyond, to individuate from the borderline parent often. The attachment, if one feels attached, to the borderline parent, is often very dependent. Sometimes it's mostly about the borderline's dependence on the adult-child and sometimes that over-dependence (codependence) goes both ways.
The ties that bind are often those of shame and blame, manipulation and guilt. Adult-children of a borderline parent (or parents) are shamed into remaining complicit. This is a toxic betrayal bond. One that many play out in their adulthoods as non borderlines who end up in relationships with borderlines.
We tend to gravitate to what is familiar. We tend to feel most comfortable with what is familiar. What is most familiar about all that toxic codependent relationships offer is the pain of love. When the fact is that healthy love doesn't hurt like toxic love hurts.
For many who are the adult-child of a borderline if can take years to unwind this reality. It can take years of painful relationships to come to know that you need to get some help yourself to understand what is going on in your relationship with others and often to learn how to disengage and/or detach from the toxic betrayal bond that is experienced when a parent has BPD.
I have just done my first video about my own experience as an adult-child of borderline parents. It is a 2 part video you can watch on YouTube called Adult-Child of Borderline Parents And No Contact in which I talk about my experience of no contact and how I didn't find out my father had died until 8 months after the fact and the reality that closure with a borderline parent (still in the active throes of BPD) is nowhere to be found.
What I have learned as an adult-child of borderline parents is that I have had to find my own closure and do my own emotional work to let go of what was otherwise a lack of closure with my father and the impending and continuing lack of closure that I am currently facing with my borderline mother.
The adult-child of a borderline parent needs to quite purposefully take his or her own life back.
© A.J. Mahari, August 31,2008 – All rights reserved.
A.J. Mahari is a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with BPD and adult-children of those with BPD along with non borderlines generally. A.J. has 5 years experience as a life coach and has worked with hundreds of clients from all over the world.