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Living with a Borderline narcissist mother
Hi I’ll apologise upfront for the length of this post but I’m hoping to find someone in the same situation as me. I’m married with a child in my mid 30s and have a very volatile relationship with my mum to say the least. She has many mental health problems but refuses to seek help. As a child, I grew up in a violent home with lots of screaming and some physical violence but not towards me. I believe this has left me with anxiety of loud noises. My mother always told me all about her problems, from her mother to her work issues and my father and their relationship (they’re still married). When I got to high school my mum was always upset that I would spend time with my friends and not her, this has continued into adulthood.
My mum has regularly sent me texts basically unloading all of her issues with me often when I’m at work and she knows I’m at work. Whenever I receive these texts it completely ruins my day. The texts usually come about from something she perceives I have done wrong. For example if I dare tell my dad I love him and I don’t say the same to her. I’m here writing this as they often cross the line, the latest being this week when she has sent 7 texts within 2 days saying things like she never wants to see me again, she wants everyone to know she hates me, I’m a despicable human being and that I’m the nastiest person on earth. Prior to these texts I had sent her text wishing her a happy birthday. I think this is emotional abuse and it’s not the first time she has been awful to me. I have attempted to set boundaries with her that included a request that she not just show up at my house. I did this as when she does show up she stays for hours and if I say I’m busy or need to do something or have plans, I get the above kind of text messages or passive aggressive ones saying she knows I don’t have time for her and she won’t bother me ever again. Anyway after setting this boundary she showed up at our house drunk so I guess my point is that I don’t feel as though setting boundaries work.
She has also contacted all of my friends behind my back if we’ve had a disagreement to tell them her side of the story because she thinks that I talk about her to them which I don’t until they contact me to tell me what she’s said to them.
What do I do? I have honestly tried everything, including seeing a psychologist with her which she took nothing from and went back to her bad behaviour quickly.
Thanks for reading my essay!
we are in the midst of learning to support a family member who suffers from borderline personality disorder, amongst other things. We are still learning but I believe their may be some similarities between bpd and borderline narcissist.
in our research we have discovered the below services to support family and carers of those with bpd (not those suffering with bpd). Perhaps it’s worth contacting them to see if their programs would be helpful in your situation or if they can point you in the right direction.
I hope just talking about it has relieved even just a slither of the anxiety caused by your mothers behaviour. And I hope you find some clarity around when it’s ok to draw a line in the sand with your mother around what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour so that you can have a smoother functioning relationship moving forward.
A good reply from 10.05
From what I've read of your post the future looks bleak. Th reasons for this is that 1/ she wont get professional help (and many dont with BPD and if they do they often pull out weeks later) 2/ That in my experience with my own undiagnosed BPD mother its likely to get worse the older and more independent you become. Note- those with BPD reading this take heart- if you are receiving treatment then well done.
I'm 65yo and up till I was 55 and my sister 50yo we tolerated a train wreck of a family. Our father (he passed away when I was 36yo) was manipulated against us, used as a weapon in fact. Yes, we also had the screaming and the threats, the blackmail and the guilt put onto us.
At 22yo I tried to break off from her. It lasted 12 months. Yes she rang my boss and told him about our personal issues. I was then a prison officer and was left emotional- hardly a position to be in when working in a jail. Yes, friends would be contacted and she's rubbish me. But there was worse to come.
At 29yo I was getting married. 5 days prior to the wedding she threw a tantrum. Honestly there was no justification at all. I banned her from the wedding but relented. She ruined it. Sour looks, tears, photos that we ended up throwing away as her face was - well, not nice. In my view she ruined it. That was 1985. In 2011 I was getting married a second time. I thought it would never happen but yet again she threatened to ruin it 3 weeks out. I took control and sought a court injunction to keep her away. Best thing I ever did. I had a great wedding.
Back to you. I was amazed at a web site that made things so clear to me about this condition. Google this-
Queen witch hermit waif
My mother is imo all four!.
So, what do you do? That's a decision only you can make however at the bare minimum firm boundaries is a start. You told her not to visit- she came drunk. In that case dont answer the door. Be that firm or, like a child she will keep trying knowing you'll buckle. In our case my daughter when a baby had cholic and other issues, she tried to over ride the doctors and nurses. "Back in my day......." We had to set boundaries and we did. But alas it didnt work. Permanent separation was the only way.
You are a human being that has rights and choices. Your right to set boundaries should not be violated in any way. She has no right to ring your work nor contact your friends. It's all about control, the queen....
We can chat more if you please.
Thank you for the reply and the links I will definitely go and look at them. It’s such a complex situation and mental health issues are complex on their own. I do feel a bit relieved, I have really always tried to keep it to myself out of loyalty I suppose.
Goodluck with your family member I hope that you can find them the help they need, it’s no easy task that’s for sure!
Well our mother’s could be the same person, I’m sorry you have had to go through this although it’s nice to know I’m not alone! I don’t think people understand it if they haven’t lived it. Yes I stumbled across the witch queen hermit waif and I believe my mother is all 4. One important thing that I forgot to mention is that I love my dad and want a relationship with him which is why I have tolerated and persevered with my mum but as you said the future does look bleak.
I have accepted that she will never change but I won’t accept the abuse. She hasn’t at this stage contacted my boss but she has become clueless about where I even work aside from knowing it’s a government department and ‘I’m one of them’ as she recently put it. Given that she contacts my friends and also my in laws behind my back I never tell her anything as there is no trust, a couple of years ago she threatened to tell one of my friends everything I ever said about her.
I can really relate to everything you said, after all important events in my life, drama follows. She confronted me the day after my wedding, which she also cried through and was then upset by how she looked in the photos, to say she knows my husband doesn’t like her. After my son was born she posted a photo to fb and announced it without our permission. And yes I often get the back in my day and I managed to keep you alive to which I always think alive but damaged.
My main goal is really to ensure that I am a good mum to my son and don’t turn into my mother as I know that these things can repeat themselves in the children of BPD parents. After the awful things she said I have no plan on having contact with her for sometime as I’m really too hurt by it even though by now I should just be used to it. I have warned her many times that I won’t stand for verbal abuse but again boundaries broken. I am lucky that my husband supports whatever decision I choose to make.
I believe that we are heading for permanent separation and I do know that she will never understand why. That’s part of the difficulty with BPD they just can’t see past their issues and it’s never their fault.
Yes, I think you have more clarity now and I have to say you seem quite articulate and capable.
Living with the fear you'll end up like your mother is no joy. My sister has more of our mothers genes so she lives with that fear more than I. Better to accept that you cannot help it if you do have some traits and simply try to not be like her. But dont waste sleep.
One suggestion is to list the boundaries you set. Such boundaries should, in your fathers eyes, be reasonable eg not to contact your friends, respect your privacy etc. If she violates them then refuse to see her for "X" amount of time etc. It sounds like you would be dealing with a child, well you are. I read that such people 5:1 in favour to women, usually have a problem in their own childhood between the ages of 6-9yo where they feel discriminated against or mistreated. In my mothers case and older brother on a farm meant he was favoured and the daughter would eventually take anothers family surname. We can all sympathise with people like this but when they refuse to get help then we are the receiver of their tantrums and games.
At 28yo my mother disliked a girl I was dating. She demanded I split with her. "If you dont break it off I'll go up to the country for a few weeks, to which I replied "do you want me to help you pack"?. So wit is a handy tool
Yes totally agree.
keep talking about it. Not everyone will understand, but find your safe network and it at least gives you an outlet. The 12 sessions of counselling for carers of bpd in the link I sent has been a god send for me.
There is some relief to finally having a diagnosis as I guess it gives us hope again that there may be a way to improve the situation.
Until now, it has been 6 years of suicide attempts, depression, anxiety, continued changed medication and changes in diagnosis (previously told it was bipolar) and the torment of an extremely unhealthy manipulative (although I understand not deliberately) relationship.
Now that we have a clinical diagnosis of bpd, which reads like an auto biography for my family member, it is certainly assisting with reconsidering how we communicate and support.
It is clear over the years our own behaviour has, to an extent, helped grow their bpd as we would ignore the inappropriate nasty behaviour instead of calling them out on it, to make sure we didn’t upset them further.
But in the end all we have done is confirmed in their mind that it was acceptable behaviour and it is now the normal for them to be nasty when they are seeking confirmation that we still love them. I understand this is the illness and we are not responsible, but I guess there are things we feel we could have done differently. We do understand though, that it is better to focus on the road ahead.
The most important thing I have learnt, is my mental health must always come first for me (I also have young children to think about). And only when I am in a good place can I consider working with them and having a relationship.
For now this is transient on their behaviour, but in the end I can not fix this for them, my role can only ever be to support in their journey to recovery where I can.
Sending strength to you.
Sending strength to you too 10.05 I really admire and respect the effort and work you’re putting in to help this individual, it is not easy and does take a toll on you. Yes, your mental health is important and you have your own family to care for so you need to put yourself first in this situation. That doesn’t make you selfish or a bad person.
I’m a bit of a newbie to the BPD, my mum was actually diagnosed with manic depression 20 odd years ago so this diagnoses is fairly new in itself. I’m unsure of the road to recovery but it looks like you have done your research. I know it sounds awful but given my mother’s trauma level I believe she is beyond repair and there is no recovery. In saying that if she would seek the right help I think she could improve from where she is now but she is of the opinion that there is nothing wrong with her and that she can’t change the BPD. Frustrating!
It is definitely not your fault or responsibility I understand those feelings because BPDs are so good at making you feel that way.
If you ever need to vent/chat I’m happy to listen but definitely look after yourself and family first this is something I have focused on the last two years. It makes my mum incredibly unhappy but I’ve learnt that I can’t sacrifice my happiness for others, especially when I know that it wouldn’t matter what I did it would not make her happy.
Thanks TonyWK, it certainly isn’t but having insight is a positive.
That’s a great suggestion about the boundaries and setting consequences, I’ve never tried setting consequences. And yes I will definitely get told that she is not a child.
Thank you, the funny thing is after an hour or so with my mum, my brain feels foggy and like I can’t articulate my thoughts or feelings at all to her. Did you ever have this problem with your mum? I often walk away wondering if I’m the crazy one.
The links are very helpful too, thank you.
My mum had a lot of childhood trauma and a bad relationship with her mum but she was the only child. I think she had to grow up quickly but to give you an idea, she still brings up her hate for her mother pretty much every time I speak to her or see her and often in the abusive texts she tells me I’m like her mother or I tell her how to live her life like her mother did. That’s usually when I tell her she needs to seek medical help for her issues. To add some context her mother is no longer alive and she had no contact with her for the majority of the last 10 years of her life as she was in a home with dementia.
It sounds like your mum was also controlling then, all great qualities..
There is two ways to approach this to remedy or rather counter her comments e.g. "you're like my mother"
Some would say, don't be like her, be the bigger person and lead by example. That's fine in a common atmosphere of regular conflict but doesn't work with a narcissist. They see such introverted manner as weakness and go in to dominate.
That leaves counterbalancing by confronting her. This can be done with wit as mentioned in my link already listed or by speaking your mind without any abuse of course.
Speaking your mind should only have the risk of drifting apart from your mum, however it isn't that simple. Narcissists don't like being challenged and so if you speak your mind regardless of your tact level, you most likely will get conflict.
To overcome this you might need to develop something you have been suppressed with- your rights. You have the right to think for yourself, to disagree, to not apologise if you don't believe you're wrong, to be free to live your life in private...you act in a manner that you are not "owned". All the while showing love and compassion when required.
That's the theory, my theory based on my experience with my mother.
It didn't work for me though. She'd hang up in my ear, throw tantrums and revenge became her hobby.
As for feeling crazy. To be continued