Friday, May 25, 2012

Lucid Analysis – Trials in Therapy: A Good Day

I don’t have a lot of good days in therapy, but every once in a while I do. Honestly I think they’re kind of a waste of a therapy session. Good days mean I’m in a rare good mood and Therapist doesn’t like to bring me down from those. She wants me to recognize and feel those positive emotions so I can connect to them more easily and hold onto them better.  Shockingly, I’ve been doing pretty well at this.

I didn’t have my usual depressive crash this year! I think it’s safe to celebrate this. Every year since I was 12 (maybe earlier but this is as far back as I can remember) in late March/early April my depression becomes even blacker, more consuming, an eternal void sucking me down into the darkness. This year happened to coincide with a visit to Psychiatrist. I had him up my Pristiq dose to 100mg to try and pre-empt this problem. That coupled with therapy and my decisions to kick out the dramatic influences in my life have made this the first season I can recall where my depression hasn’t consumed me. In fact, there are even days where I have content and *gasp* happy. Or what I suspect happy is supposed to feel like.

It’s bizarre.

It’s good, but it’s bizarre. I’ve been depressed for 19 years. To have days at a time where I don’t feel like the world is waiting to crush me with it’s weight is delightfully foreign and pleasantly off-putting. It’s like I’m relearning how to experience the world sometimes. Before it was always just a matter of time before something devastating happened and my hope would shatter. Now, I often find myself in a state of present contentment. Being in the moment, enjoying the moment, and not tearing my mind apart with anxiety about the next moment to come. It feels strange to me to not have this constantly occurring. I’m not incredibly sure how to react to feeling good. I’m not sure how to comprehend a lack of fear of someone abandoning me. I mean, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but that it’s starting to hold true for some is major progress.

I’m starting to hold a connection with certain people more. Especially Roommate.

As per usual, Therapist asked about my relationship with Tech Boy. He invited me out to a huge family gathering for his mother’s birthday. I met all the family, friends of family, and neighbors. His mom did the picture taking thing and I was included. It was a really great night (except for the ridiculous amount of food I binged on – which I’ve been very diligent about correcting all week).Everyone was very warm and welcoming. Of all the crazy things that happened that night one thing stood out. Tech Boy used the ‘G’ word.

Girlfriend *blink*. It’s okay to squee a little.

Therapist usually pushes me to talk about our relationship. This makes me really uncomfortable, but I couldn’t really pinpoint why until I was talking to Roommate about it last night. She made a comment of, “Because talking about it makes it real.” Real. Solid. Tangible. Something I can hold onto. Something that I can lose. Some of my outer defenses have been coming down, but my inner fortress is still firmly in place. I’ve let the drawbridge down for  now, but I’m still not able to completely discharge my protective forces. I’m a little closer, but I have such a strong core of self-preservation and protection that the act of accepting someone as part of my life is no an easy achievement. It’s not for lack of wanting to. I do want to. I don’t know how. I don’t know how to make myself. I don’t know to disengage this defense mechanism that is a naturally ingrained piece of my psyche. I don’t think about having this barricade. It’s just there, always at the ready. It’s as if at some point my heart told my brain, protect me with your life, even if I tell you not to.

Remember that scene from Young Frankenstein when Frederick is going in to talk to the monster and tell his crew, “Whatever you do, do not let me out. If I scream, if I beg, do not let me out.” And then of course, the monster wakes and he begs, pleads, and screams to be released but the wall won’t budge. It’s just like that. I need to find my violin to sooth the monster within.
The monster just needs a little love.

I suspect my violin is the journey I’ve been on; my meds, my therapy, my writing, and the way I’m trying to approach my relationships now.  I’m building my violin up from scratch, but that’s why it will be tuned to my life. What I need.

Man, I’m all metaphorical and symbolic today aren’t I.

So what else. Impulse. I have my impulse spending like mad lately. I can afford it and all my bills and whatnot are taken care of first, but if I see something I want, I need to have it. I’ve bought some super cute shoes, shirts, jewelry, dresses…. Money, money, money, spend, spend, spend.

Speaking of dresses. I’m obsessed with finding the perfect maid of honor dress for Zoe’s wedding. She has vague guidelines of colorful with some accent of pattern (very bohemian) but otherwise it’s up to us and we can pick out whatever we want to wear. I wear black. If I wear color it’s solid and as an accent. A colorful dress with a pattern? Fuck. And it can’t be any dress. It has to be the perfect one. It must be suitable for her theme, her idea of her perfect wedding, whatever will make her day feel like the dream day she’s always wanted. Of course, she doesn’t actually care which dress I pick, but I do. I need it to be “perfect”. I have looked at thousands of dresses. Thousands and thousands and thousands of  dresses. I collect the few that I think she will like, a few that I like, a few that I think overlap and keep track of them all in one place. I can’t stop. I can’t make myself just pick one. Does anyone use Pinterest? Well, I do. I can’t make a decision on things like this. I need her input and I need Roommates input. I won’t be able to make an acceptable decision until they tell me what they think. I need their opinions.

This happens with a lot of things. I have a really hard time making some decisions. Bills, work stuff, mundane bullshit, nah, not a problem. Bigger purchases? Fancy dinners? Event themes? I have to organize, collect, categorize every single option and I need input on all of it to make sure that I’m not making “the wrong” choice. I’ll create polls and lists and pages for people to vote on or contribute their input before I can make a decision. The funny thing is, after I have everyone’s thoughts and information, I often choose something entirely opposite or what I wanted in the first place. But I can’t come to that conclusion until I am as informed as I can possibly be.

I get stuck. I feel like I’m in a loop of never ending what if’s.

I need to know how things will be perceived before I can make an accurate assessment on my own. I have an intense amount of energy and anxiety that I pour into things like this all of the time. Cognitively I know that no one cares but me. That these things don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I have this need to do things “right”. But how do I decide what’s right if I don’t ask? I gather up what everyone else perceives as “right” so I have some basis for comparison. Ultimately I may decide that they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about and go my own way altogether (this seriously happens 4 out of 5 times), but I feel safer, steadier, in my decision when I know how other people think of something as well. Even if they think a different way than I do. And of course, as soon as I make that decision, all the anxiety goes away and I’m done. But the process of getting to that point is an ordeal.

Maybe I just like to brainstorm. I suspect it has to do with not trusting my judgment. I seek criticism and validation at the same time.

All the while rebelling against the social norms that entrap me and ultimately embracing whichever way my brain decides to sway. Oh brains. You’re such funny bits of squish.

You know what else helps ease the anxiety? Video games. Diablo 3 to be precise. **swoon** I’ll be doing a little write up on my opinions of that over in my Asylum blog. FYI, for anyone that doesn’t know, that’s my other blog where I  leave the Borderline bullshit behind and just talk about whatever is in my mind and life at the moment. Religion, politics, food, Star Wars, art… you know, the rest of the stuff that makes up my life. Because *shocker* I’m not just my BPD. That’s over there. I don’t update that as regularly as I would like, but it’s there if you’re interested.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Characterizing Borderline Behavior: The Hermit

Today we're moving onto the next characterization of Borderline Parents as discussed by Christine Ann Lawson in her book Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship.

The Hermit
Typical Thoughts
"It's a dog eat dog world out there and I'm a cat. Everyone out there is for themselves and no place is safe. Since people will always end up betraying me, I must be alert for hints or hidden meanings in things others would consider innocuous."
Typical Feelings
Terrified of not having control, fear of engulfment keeps them from obtaining comfort. No wonder they see potential disaster everywhere. Hermits take criticism as a global condemnation of themselves and depend upon work and hobbies for self-esteem. Their inner shame is expressed through continual criticism of others.
You had me right up until the continual criticism of others. I can put myself down, but in another vein I know how hurtful it is for me to hear criticism from others so I don’t want others to feel that way and won’t criticize unless it’s a constructive critique and specifically asked for.
Typical Actions and Central Dilemma
The hard shell makes these Borderlines appear confident, determined, independent, and even socially graceful. But it's a veneer. Like many Borderlines, hermits show one face to the world and another to everyone else. Close family members experience, "distrust, perfectionism, insecurity, anxiety, rage and paranoia" (2000). They hold everyone to same ideal of perfection, punishing others by raging or shutting them out. Hermits fear losing themselves, which translates into possessiveness about their belongings.
This sounds so much like me with one glaring difference. I am so incredibly hard on myself, I hold myself to these perfectionistic standards, but easily accept the “flaws” or “imperfections of others (unless they’ve been devalued, then they’re just awful in general). I put the words “flaws” and “imperfections” in quotes, because these things that I judge about myself, don’t register as unacceptable for other people.
Typical Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions of Family Members
·         "Like the Borderline says, the world is unsafe and I should not risk trusting people."
·         "I need to protect the Borderline from the terror of the outside world."
I become incredibly resentful of anyone challenging my independence and trying to “protect” me.
·         "I am a faithful, loyal person and would never leave the Borderline to fend for herself."
·         "I feel trapped and isolated by the Hermit's fear."
·         "I have trouble trusting and making mistakes because I know the Borderline will say, 'I told you so.'"
·         "I'm giving up my social life because it's too hard to maintain one and be a helpful person to the Borderline, who doesn't want to go out or make friends."
·         "I will make excuses for the Borderline so no one will suspect the real problems."
The Effects of the Hermit's Behavior on Children
During adulthood, they suffer from many maladies stemming from trapped feelings such as panic attacks or phobias.
Children not encouraged to explore and learn can become anxious when faced with new situations. They may not learn appropriate coping skills, give up control too easily, have a hard time trusting, and be less capable of naturally moving away from the parent. [source]
Dr. Lawson writes :
"The borderline Hermit seeks solitude but paradoxically longs to belong." p. 81
            Geez this is already starting to sound like me.
Like the Waif, the Hermit also often has trouble sleeping at night ruminating about the safety of her children, her husband, her job, her heath, and any number of other things. Hermits can be extraordinarily sensitive. She looks for hidden meanings in greeting cards, gifts, invitations, and innocent comments.
This sounds like a problem of hypersensitivity coupled with paranoia. I know I’ve definitely had my share of, “What did she really mean by that,” or, “Is he doing that just to spite me or make me uncomfortable?” The problem is, often for me it’s been true. But definitely not always.
The predominant emotion of the Hermit Borderline is fear and so they often shut out the ones they claim to love. It's as if they have been hurt so much in the past by people who were supposed to love them that they have made a pledge to themselves not to let anyone ever hurt them again. They, therefore, protect themselves by putting a wall around themselves which can be cold and stoney or accusatory and wrathful.
In a similar vein, to project an exterior of invincibility, the Hermit borderline will never admit she is wrong, never say she is sorry, never apologize or take responsibility for her part in hurt and injustice. She dreads being understood by others because it indicates a loss of protective seclusion and so usually refuses any psychotherapy or counseling.
I’m pretty good at apologizing and admitting I’m wrong. It hasn’t always been this way, but I don’t usually have a problem with this.
Hermit borderlines can be relentless in their criticism and denigration of the no-good child because there is tremendous fear that the child's imperfections will reflect on her. To bolster her self-esteem, the Hermit borderline will often cling to the “all-good” child giving the “all-good child” a sense of being trapped, drained, and upstaged.
For the Hermit borderline suicide often will be seen as a victory rather than a defeat because it is a way of maintaining control. This type of suicide is characterized as the Queen of the Mountain type because the person looks at life as something like "If I can't have it the way I want it, then I'd rather not have it at all." It is in the loosing of control, or in the feeling of being boxed into a corner that the suicidal behavior will manifest in its most deadly forms.
The Hermit borderline is often depressed and filled with a sense of impending doom. Her view seems to be, "People are out to screw you, and if anyone can take advantage, or anything can go wrong, it probably will." This view often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and the family gathering is not over until the fight has broken out or some sort of high drama has occurred. If nothing negative happens there is an increase in tension because, as one client told me, "It's only a matter of time."
It’s a funny contrast to fear something occurring, but at the same time, there’s a sense of relief when it has happened because at least it’s over.
With a Hermit, there is rarely a happy holiday. Children are filled with anxiety hoping that Mom will be happy and "nothing bad will happen to ruin the holiday." In a similar matter, vacations become difficult with invariable snags and problems which can quickly escalate to abort or change plans at the last minute.
            Hm. Family gatherings create the most tension for me. My family is very triggering because I’ve never felt accepted. I usually try to literally hermit away. My explosions and break downs usually occur before the gathering though. I’ll have a full on, full blown panic attack in anticipation of a gathering. At the gathering I can usually put on a pleasant face though and just try to stay as quiet as possible.
Plans are difficult to make with the Hermit Borderline because she is constantly changing them or finding reasons why they are no longer viable to being carried out.
            Hm. I’m saying “hm” a lot. I often back out of social plans but not because I don’t think they’re no longer viable. It’s usually a response to my social anxiety or my body dysmorphia.
For example: One husband said that he and his wife and their 5 children planned to go camping with another couple and their two children. Plans were made to meet this couple at the camp ground about 200 miles away by mid afternoon. After working all night, the husband said he arrived home at 8: 45 AM expecting things to be packed and everyone ready to go. The wife had let the eldest daughter go baby sitting and she was to arrive home at 11:00 AM, but then was delayed and there was no way that they could rendezvous with the other couple successfully at the camp ground. When the husband brought this to his wife's attention she became outraged and blamed him for being inflexible, nonsupportive, and always ruining everything. She told him to take the other four kids and go by himself. Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting to stand up the other couple and disappoint both his and the other couple's kids, he took his four kids camping by himself for a week. When he returned home, his wife seemed happy to see him and the kids, and acted as if nothing unusual had happened.
            Ah, the blame game; turning the situation around on the other person and placing the blame on them. Subconsciously the person knows they weren’t right, but at the same time is terrified of rejection for messing up so can’t imagine that accepting that they’ve done something wrong won’t result in a rejection or abandonment.
Dr. Lawson says that the motto of the Borderline Hermit is: "Life is too dangerous." [source]

Ok, I see a few of these traits in myself. However, I also see a lot of differences. I don’t trust the world, so I’m independent, not a dependent shut in that needs others to take care of me. I don’t trust others, so I learn to step out on my own. I’m not stopped. I keep going and trying new things. I can’t imagine holding someone back and not allowing them to pursue their interests or try new things. My own heart is too adventurous… just not when it comes to people I guess. So while I may have some Hermit traits that apply to me, I don’t externalize and project those issues onto the people around me. That’s good at least.

Usually when I find resources like these I do exactly what I did with this post… compare and contrast what I agree with and don’t agree with, or note what applies and does not apply to me. I haven’t done this with The Witch or The Queen so much because there just isn’t much there that I relate too. YAY! By seeing what I’m not, it brings more into focus the things that I are applicable to me and I can learn to fix that stuff. Or not.

Because frankly, there are some things that I’m not willing to give up. It runs counter to my brand of common sense to not be mistrustful of people in the world. That doesn’t mean people can’t earn my trust, it’s just not something I’m going to give away freely. I could not imagine myself ever teaching a child to just be trustful of anyone either. Hell, growing up one of the first things your parents teach you is to not talk to or take candy from strangers. The fact of reality is that there are bad people and bad things in this world and it’s important to be aware of those dangers. I guess the trick is to not apply that mentality to those people and things that don’t deserve the mistrust. Find an appropriate balance.
I don’t think my independence and skepticism are necessarily bad. This begs the question where does the Personality Disorder end and where does the part that is just your Personality begin? Because I don’t think these things have anything to do with my BPD. They’re just me.
For me: Life isn’t too dangerous, people are dangerous. Too dangerous to trust completely and completely rely on… but that doesn’t mean some of them aren’t worth letting into your life. I’m learning that some of them can even deserve that trust. Maybe this is a contradiction, but I’m not afraid of people. I’m afraid of the heartbreak and devastation that comes with trusting people. If I don’t trust them, I won’t place that power into their hands. If I get hurt, I feel responsible; I hurt me, while at the same time being pissed off at the other person that “caused” my hurt. It’s a complex mix of internal and external loathing.
So maybe what it all boils down to is I’m afraid of me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Characterizing Borderline Behaviors: The Queen

Today let’s talk about the Borderline Behaviors that create the cluster of characteristics known as:

The Queen

Typical Thoughts
"I want more attention. I deserve more attention. And, by the way, what have you done for me lately?" Also, "My children should fulfill my needs, not the other way around. They don't love or respect me if they disagree with me, go against my wishes, or have needs of their own."
Typical Feelings
These include entitlement, deprivation, emptiness, anger, frustration, or loneliness from the deprivation they felt as children. Queens are impatient and have a low tolerance for frustration. They also push others' boundaries without regret or recognition.
Typical Actions and Central Dilemma
Driven by feelings of emptiness and unable to soothe themselves, Queens do what it takes to get what they feel they so richly deserve--including vindictive acts like blackmail. Initially they may impress others with their social graces. But when "friends" can no longer deliver, the Queen cuts them off without a thought. Queens are capable of real manipulation (vs. more primitive BP defenses) to get what they desire.
Typical Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions of Family Members
·         "I can't meet this person's needs; my best isn't enough."
·         "Don't I ever get to have any needs? (Better not say that or the Queen will leave me.)"
·         "Why is everything always about her?"
·         "If people only knew what an act the Queen puts on, they'd sure be shocked."
·         Family members who the Queen shames, ignores, or gives superficial attention learn that their worth depends on external things (cars, important titles).
·         Non-BPs' self-esteem also suffers--especially among those who become isolated or who had a Queen parent.
·         Over time, non-BPs feel used, manipulated and angry--anger at the BP and at themselves for capitulating so much they no longer recognize themselves.
·         Non-BPs give in to her wishes because it's easier than maintaining personal limits.
·         Less assertive non-BPs are vulnerable to distortion campaigns, unwilling or unable to protect themselves or their children.
Consequences to Children with a Queen Parent
To the Queen, children are a built-in audience expected to give love, attention and support when the Queen needs it. Children feel confused and betrayed when their normal behavior is sometimes punished (according to the Queen's needs of the moment). Since Queens don't allow or help children become individuals (autonomy is discouraged--even punished) kids mimic the behavior they do see: the Queens'. Thus, a new generation of BPs is born.
As kids grow, conflict with the Queen increases. Underneath, these kids long for approval, recognition, consistency, and to be loved unconditionally for who they are, not what they achieve. [source]

Dr. Lawson writes that Borderline Queens are driven by feelings of emptiness, and that they seek special treatment because they felt emotionally deprived as children. The Queen has learned how to win special treatment through persistence and intimidation.
Dr. Lawson writes:
She can be intrusive, loud, inpatient, and flamboyant. She is easily frustrated, often bursting into rages than can terrify her children. She can be disingenuous and may lie in order to get what she wants." p.104
Dr. Lawson points out that giving in to the Queen is easier than resisting, and Dr. Lawson further points out that those who dare to confront the Queen may be treated as infidels and, as such, may be banished for their disloyalty. In this way, the Borderline may create new borderlines in their children by terrorizing them with rejection and abandonment to punish them for not following her will. Husbands of Queens learn that any peace and equanimity that can be obtained in the relationship with her will require that they acquiesce to her demands or arguments will ensue that will escalate until the Queen gets her way. For similar reasons, the Queen will be right about everything and never take responsibility for her own mistakes or problems. She will never apologize or say she is sorry or seek forgiveness. The Queen is sovereign and expects all to serve her faithfully and compliantly or there will be consequences to pay.
Dr. Lawson writes:
"The darkness within the borderline Queen is emptiness. Emptiness and loneliness are distinctly different emotional experiences. Whereas loneliness results from loss and evokes sadness, emptiness results from deprivation an triggers anger. However, not all Queens experienced loss in early childhood. The common denominator among borderline Queens is emotional deprivation. As children they felt robbed; consequently, they feel entitled to take what they need." p. 105
It is this sense of deprivation which gives the Queen her sense of entitlement. This sense of entitlement allows her to justify her exploitation, lying, steeling, and deprivation of others.
The Queen can be very charming and seductive pursuing attention to fill the void of the underlying deprivation. The Queen can be quite competitive and envious of others and devalues others who are a threat to her or who do not provide gratification or special treatment. This sense of deprivation often impairs moral judgment and the Queen can be vindictive without feeling guilt or remorse. The Queen will rarely give credit to others unless there is something in it for her. People quite attracted to the Queen initially, because she usually has quite a charismatic personality, will sooner or later get burned by the Queen when they realize that for the Queen everything must be about her and if possible they will avoid her.
Dr. Lawson writes:
"The Queen relates to others with superficiality and an air of detachment. She may perceive others, including her children, as a threat to her own survival unless they relinquish their needs for hers. Queen mothers compete with their children for time, attention, love, and money. Superficial interest and a lack of attunement to the child's emotional needs are typical of Queen mothers." p.108
The borderline Queen motto is: "It's All About Me!"
Dr. Lawson points out that although Queen mothers emotionally sacrifice their children, their children may go to their graves protecting her. [source]
To me there sounds like there is a lot of Borderline Narcissism and Punitiveness going on here. Amusingly, while I’m reading this, the person that I most identify this behavior with is my Evil-Ex. There are a lot of narcissistic qualities here. Everything is me, me, me. Self-worth and self-esteem are entirely dependent on the reactions and attention that can be derived from those around them.
In many ways I’m relieved that I don’t seem to have this kind of problem with my interactions. My interactions are more directed with taking care of others so that they stay because they need me, will love me, and in that way fill the emptiness and loneliness I feel. I try too hard for other people to avoid abandonment. But I don’t have kids.
I underlined something above that I do have as a real fear. I worry that if I were to ever find someone that I cared so much for, loved so much, that we got married and decided to spend our lives together, that any other source for that person to direct their love, would be a kind of competition. I have a hard time grasping the idea that love isn’t limited. That it is possible for someone to love many people without having their love for me diminish. It is a concern for me that my partner might love a child so much that I would no longer be of such importance. Even as I type this it sounds like a monstrously selfish thought, but there you have it. I have intense abandonment fears and I’m afraid that any loss of love would open the door to being replaced.
What’s really silly about this is that I grew up in a household where this line of reasoning is the epitome of not true. My parents so very clearly love each other. They very, very clearly love us. Love me, despite my psychotically atrocious behavior growing up. But I still have these fears that despite everything, it will be different for me. Because I’m different.
As you know, I don’t have kids, so it’s really hard for me to research these descriptions of what a Borderline parent can turn out to be. More than anything I would not want to be this kind of person… and that’s something. Obviously not all Borderlines turn out in these ways; everyone presents differently, but being able to recognize what behaviors could come through, is important to counteracting them. I also can’t say from experience that these are true states of being, but my goal for this site is to collect as much information on BPD in one place as possible to understand this condition, raise my awareness of how this condition presents in myself, and be prepared for what this condition is capable of. Knowledge is power {insert G. I. Joe theme song}.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Characterizing Borderline Behaviors: The Witch

Let’s do something fun this week and talk about different classifications of Borderline Behaviors. Ok, so maybe my idea of fun is different than your idea of fun but I like to classify, categorize, and organize. So this week I want to talk about the 4 kinds of typical behavioral classifications discussed by clinician Christine Ann Lawson in her book Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship.  The book is about “mothers” but I think you’ll find that it applies more generally, after all, mothers were single at one point and their personality is a accumulation of their whole lives, not just who they became after motherhood. And of course, it doesn’t just apply to women, men fit these ideas as well.

I’m interested in this book (which admittedly I haven’t read yet) because families of Borderlines and those raised by Borderline parents are even closer to the disorder than most people. You may have dated or married a Borderline but these people grew up alongside it or were raised with it their entire lives.  Especially for kids I imagine it must be incredibly confusing and hurtful to not understand what is going on with your parents or siblings who are affected with BPD.

I know just how disruptive and explosive I was. At the time I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I know my parents and siblings didn’t either. All they knew was that I was intensely angry, depressed, and avoidant. It would have been extremely helpful to have a diagnosis and an idea of how to deal with me at the time.

Christine Ann Lawson discusses 4 character profiles that describe different symptom clusters that include:

1.      The Waif {Mother}

2.      The Hermit {Mother}

3.      The Queen {Mother}

4.      The Witch

I think it’s useful to take a look at these because as one reviewer put it, “Dr. Lawson shows how to care for the waif without rescuing her, to attend to the hermit without feeding her fear, to love the queen without becoming her subject, and to live with the witch without becoming her victim.”

You’ll find as we explore these, that while you or the Borderline you know may display a primary character class there will probably be some overlap with secondary characteristic found in others. So without further ado let’s take a look.

The Witch

Typical Thoughts

Unconsciously, Witches hate themselves because they grew up in an environment that "required complete submission to a hostile or sadistic caregiver" (2000). They continue the cycle by acting cruelly to others, especially those who are too weak, young, or powerless to help themselves.

Typical Emotions

They feel no remorse for nightmarish acts, showing more interest in their own well-being than concern over the way they've hurt others. The Witch's triggers include jealousy, criticism, betrayal, abandonment, feeling left out, and being ignored.

Typical Actions and Central Dilemma

Most Borderline parents do not physically abuse their children. Those who do probably fall into this category. However, the abuse usually occurs when other competent adults are not present. Thus, family members can live in fear while all seems well to the outside world.

Witches want power and control over others so that others do not abandon them. When someone or something triggers the Witches' abandonment fear, these Borderlines can become brutal and full of rage, even punishing or hurting family members who stand in their way (2000). These types of Borderlines are most resistant to treatment: they will not allow others to help and the source of self-loathing is very deep.

Typical Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions of Family Members

·         "I will comply with what she wants. Resistance is futile. I will be assimilated."

·         Fear in victims.

·         Denial on the part of those who could protect the victims.

·         Tries not to trigger the witch. But her behavior is not really about the non-Borderline, so this strategy doesn't work.

The Effect of the Witch's Behavior in Children

·         Children live in terror of Witches' capricious moods; they are the "collateral damage" of a secret war they did not start, do not understand, and cannot control.

·         Attacks are random, intense, and cruel. Children automatically think they're at fault and can become shamed, depressed, insecure, dissociative, and hypervigilant.

·         As adults they may have multiple difficulties with self, relationships, physical illness, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.


This just sounds terrifying.  I could be completely off base here, but often people respond to abuse in a limited amount of ways: They turn inward and become closed off and protective of themselves, they become stronger and become the opposite of their abusers, or they become the abusers themselves. Add BPD into the mix and this sounds like the kind of person that was abused, developed BPD because of such a traumatic environment, and became the abuser themselves because this is what they knew and had beaten into their personality. That doesn’t justify it, but it helps me understand it.

I can only imagine how frightening it would be to have a parent like this. Especially when to the outside world they appear quite normal. Trying to convince people of a problem they never see would allow the parent to deny anything going on and turn the cry for help into blaming the child for acting out and crying for attention. How isolating.

One of the important characteristics of the Witch type of borderline is what Dr. Lawson and others call "the turn". Dr. Lawson describes "the turn" as follows:

"One of the most devastating experiences for children of borderlines is "the turn." The Turn is a sudden attack, the abrupt withdrawal of love and affection, and razor-sharp words that can pierce the heart as painfully as an arrow. The messages aimed at the children include, 'I want you out of my life,' 'I'd be better off without you,' and 'I should never have had you kids.'"

Some of the possible triggers for "the turn" on p. 133 in her book Understanding The Borderline Mother.

  1. Showing affection for someone other than the mother.
  2. Disobeying, or expressing independent thought.
  3. Diminishing the mother.
  4. Differentiating from the mother.
  5. Disagreeing with mother.

The Borderine herself is often not aware of what motivates her feelings and behavior. In her mind, her actions seem entirely justified and appropriate. It is as if she has been so traumatized in the past that she promises herself that she will not allow anyone to hurt her again, and so she is not only defensive but pre-emptively attacks to mitigate any perceived threat, possibly real or imaginary. The mother - child relationship becomes not one of trust, nurturance, and reliability, but one of attack, rejection, unfair accusation and blame leaving a child or partner emotionally stunned, bleeding, hurt, sometimes devastated, and distrusting.

Dr. Lawson points out that the borderline Witch is the least likely to seek treatment. She doesn't want improvement and happiness, but revenge. She will avoid situations where she fears that her suffering can become known and exposed and used against her. Witches will never apologize, say they are sorry, take responsibility for their harming and hurting others. To do so would make them vulnerable and in their mind expose a weakness that could then be taken advantage of by others.

It’s scary to contemplate, but this isn’t just a Borderline problem. Many abusive people have similar motivations. As you can imagine, recognizing this behavior can be very validating for someone that has been victimized and doesn’t understand why. Realizing that it is not in fact, the victims fault, and that they don’t deserve to be treated that way will help them break the cycle and potentially get help themselves.

I don’t have children. Not yet, maybe not ever. There are a lot of reasons why, but being Borderline and potentially passing on my mental health issues are a big concern (despite everyone telling me I’d be a great mom and nothing like the witch). Even the best and most well-meaning parents unintentionally screw up their kids. The thought of bringing someone else into the world that could potentially have as unhappy an existence as I’ve had? Life is supposed to be a gift. That just seems like a punishment.

**As a complete aside, I don’t like that they use “Witch” as a classification term. Growing up pagan I find this to be demeaning and a poor stereotype against a generally earth centric spiritual belief system.
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