She is like the sun in the picture below. She looks as though she has warmth to give. And yet I am freezing to death.
What does a Borderline Waif Mother look like?
A borderline waif's prevalent internal state is helplessnes. Christine Ann Lawsen describes this easily comprehensible in her book Understanding the Borderline Mother. The waif is prone to deep despair and feels the omnipresent need to be rescued from her internal misery. Talking about imagined knights in shining armour is not uncommon. When faced with constructive solution proposals the waif stays passive. It is very likely that she uses manipulation to guilt trip others into rescuing her. She sees herself as a failure and a victim and is therefore incapable of problem solving on her own. As all borderlines do, she feels an intense fear of abandonment at her core which might erupt in sudden rages. She often treats her children negligently or indulgently. Her children then might go on to internalize her helplessness and see themselves as worthless. As a borderline waif does not have a concept of boundaries, her children may also become enmeshed with her and have a hard time separating from her. It is worthwile to mention, that not all borderlines abuse drugs or alcohol, however many do. My mother did never use substances to self soothe.
Blowing the whistle
Does any of this sound familiar to you? And if so, what do you do with it?
The very first confrontation with the truth was the hardest for me. I could hardly contain my emotions. The rejection, the twisting of the truth, the mind games, the lack of responsibility. Her indifference. She was consumed by her own fragile self. But if it is her, and not me, what can I do to change our relationship?
In fact, there was one thing, I haven't tried before: Writing a confrontation letter which containted everything she'd done in the past to hurt me. Most psychologists and therapists do not recommend doing this. And there are reasons for this. Mom is not going to be thrilled to read this letter to begin with. She is probably going to reject any accountability for her actions. Because borderlines have such a fragile core, they cannot accept any criticism whatsoever, no matter how gently it is presented. Believe, me I had tried every gentle eye opening technique from the textbook! For a borderline any wrongdoing is not a mistake that can be corrected by making amends. A mistake means that she is wrong at her core. And this would completey crush her.
Guess what? I did it anyway! I couldn't help it. I guess I needed to be sure, that I really have tried everything. That there was really and entirely nothing left I could do, to make her understand. Can you imagine what happened then? She wrote me a brief text stating she wanted her miserable life to end. This is a textbook example of a borderline reaction to criticism. It is designed to guilt trip me into silence. It is her way of telling me to not rock the boat. I didn't take the bait. Instead, I cried and surrendered into another anxiety attack. My mom really was a borderline. There was no doubt about it.
Giving up - The liberating Power of Acceptance
Being the whistleblower in a system full of liars and people who are in denial about the truth, feels like the lonliest thing in the world. There is just nothing to hold onto. There is no safety. There are very few people who understand.
Depression hit me so hard, it felt like the darkness was eating me alive. Like I wasn't even allowed to live. And instead of fighting for my life, I just hoped it would be over quickly, so that I won't have to feel any more despair. I didn't feel any rage over my mother's abuse (which I probably had supressed decades ago). Some days where so bad that I really hoped I could just drift off to sleep and never wake up again.
I remember begging my mother to go to family therapy with me. Yes, even after her manipulative reaction to my confrontation letter. I couldn't comprehend, why any mother in the world would just throw her child away like this. How could she not try to fix our relationship? Why would she do that? I guess, I needed to run back into the proverbial knife until I was completely ripped apart. Until any hope was completely shattered.
It was a long way, but eventually, I gave up. I finally accepted, that my mother never was the mom I would have needed. And she never will be. There is no fixing our relationship. Ever.
Strangely enough, even though it hurt like hell, this acceptance directed me to the path that leads freedom. It didn't free me from pain, but I ruminated less about why my mom did what she did. Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Abuse is not okay, any day of the week. No matter the reasons. By the time we become adulds, we are responsible for our actions. All of us.
I stopped looking for a way to help or fix my mother. Finally I could start looking for a way to heal myself. In the darkest of times, we sometimes find gifts. If we just sit with our pain long enough. What I realized was, that I didn't have any power over what my mother did or didn't do. I could continue to run after her and waste my time. Or I could choose to go down another road. My road. Away from her.
What was left, was intense grief. I felt as though I had just lost my mother and at the same time as though I had never had a real mom. I grieved the happy childhood, I missed out on, the healthy friendships I couldn't built. I grieved the creative and strong woman I could have become, had I received the necessary love and guidance. I grieved my lost trust in the world.
How different could all this have been, if I just had a loving, caring and strong mother. How lucky all the little girls and boys must feel, who have a supportive mother. Who do not get parentified and invalidated. Who can just be children and trust their mom, because they know, she will be there and catch them if they fall.
The deepest feelings of grief and loss are not even about what happened and who did it. They are about what could have been - and about who could have been. About a mom I wished I had.
It is crucial to let these feelings be. At a time when I had no choice, other than feeling the grief over my losses, I discovered that darkness and despair, even if they seem unbearable, in fact, do not eat you alive. They somehow pass through you. Even if it feels like they are about to swallow you. They won't.
I can promise you, I do not have any special super power. Once, I was convinced, death could be a way out.
Now, I don't believe this anymore. I survived the darkest times of my life with no one in my life who understood what I was going through. My hope and my dream is that we raise awareness about these issues. We do not have to suffer in silence. We can be there for each other.
I am in therapy now, working on my trauma with a great therapist (which by the way wasn't easyto find). I feel so validated and supported by him. A total new and foreign feeling. Finally someone is by my side, guiding me towards healing. Even if we talk about difficult stuff, my therapist holds space for me and makes me feel seen and heard. And this feels amazing. Therapy is definitely worth a go.
Thank you so much for reading! I would love to hear what you think! Please, drop me a line in the comments!
Sending you hugs... till next time!