Learning that your mother has borderline personality disorder is a difficult emotional process, and you may be feeling a combination of sadness, fear, and even relief to finally have an explanation for things that have bothered you for years. It is important to take good care of yourself and your own mental health during this time. Here are three tips for coping as an adult child of a borderline mother:
Practice Compassion and Empathy
A mother with borderline personality is often difficult to have a relationship with, and can engage in harmful behaviors including emotional outbursts and manipulation. One way to navigate this is to focus on compassion and empathy for both your mother and yourself, instead of succumbing to anger and frustration. Realize that your mother most likely lives in a state of emotional chaos and pain, and that chances are she experienced serious trauma in her childhood.
By finding it in yourself to show your mother empathy for her pain, you may find it's easier to have a relationship with her. At the same time, it's also important to show compassion for yourself, which may mean processing painful memories of your childhood and any abuse your mother inflicted on you, and practicing good self care as an adult.
Seek Your Own Counseling
Even though you are not the one with a personality disorder diagnosis, as a child of a borderline mother, you have most likely experienced a lot of emotional and possibly even physical abuse. Counseling can help you process these painful memories in order to reduce the power they have on your life. Counseling can also help you learn practical skills for communicating with your mother more effectively.
Work on Setting Strong Boundaries
One characteristic of most people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder is that they lack respect of personal privacy and boundaries. As an adult, you will need to work on creating and enforcing these boundaries yourself. This may mean spending only a limited amount of time talking to your mom on the phone and keeping in-person visits short. In some cases, it may mean limiting the amount of personal information you divulge to your mom or ending interactions as soon as your mom has an outburst or insults you.
In some families, the only option may be to cut ties with your mom. Your counselor will be able to help you decide if that is necessary and help you through the process if so.
By following these tips, you will be able to navigate the challenges that come with finding out your mother has borderline personality disorder in ways that are healthy and constructive. Visit places like Dr. Stephen Brown & Associates for more recommendations.