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An Invalidating Childhood

Narcissistic Mother and Borderline Personality Disorder This is hard for me to write.  Mostly because I fear how my mother will respond.  So it’s worth saying I’m not accusing, but instead suggesting a possibility, and it’s effect on my life and mental health.  If all has gone as planned, I have already had this conversation with my mother semi-privately, in a joint therapy session where she got all the validation she could be offered as to how she is a good mother, and the many things she has done right.  She has done many things right, and nothing is specifically or generally her fault.

But the fact remains, my mother is not the most validating of people.  She in fact has a wide spread history of saying things that aren’t just hurtful, but are also downright cruel.  There is every indication, though no confirmed diagnosis, that my mother is in fact a narcissist.  This is by no means her fault, or her choice, just as Borderline Personality is neither my fault nor my choice.

The reason I bring this up?

It took me a long time to realize this about my mother.  For years I thought I was a rare case of Borderline Personality Disorder with a great upbringing.  And you know?  It was a great upbringing.  I wasn’t abused.  I wasn’t neglected.  There was no lack of love.

I just wasn’t validated.  Even as an adult, I hear a lot more about what I do wrong as a daughter, mother, person, that what I do right.

As it turns out, a lack of validation goes a long way towards encouraging someone towards BPD.  I will always argue that because of my DNA, I would have been mentally ill either way, but I’m finally willing to face the fact that my mother’s inability (as I don’t think it’s a choice, but a skill she can’t help but to lack) doesn’t help.

And who knows.  Maybe finally sitting down and talking this through with her will have gone a long way towards helping to make her aware of the problem.  Knowing there is a problem, and admitting it to yourself, is half the battle of fixing it.

What do I want from all this?  That’s exactly when my therapist asked when I asked her for the joint session with my mother.

Well, I want to be able to write about it.  Writing about my experience with BPD and not writing about my mother to some degree, would be like writing about lung cancer and not owning up to 30 years of smoking.

I also have hope that my mom cares enough, as I know she does, to take this knowledge and use it to help her think before she speaks.  A skillset we all need.  But now she’ll know why.

I love my mom.  I don’t doubt she loves me.  I have hope this can better our relationship and not bring it harm.

A side note:

For the rest of you with mothers like mine to any degree, I highly recommend reading Will I Ever Be Good Enough by Dr. Karyl McBride Ph.D. as it is far more than helpful. It’s 9 dollars that helped my open my eyes, gain insight, gain courage, and start to heal.  And no, I was not paid to tell you that.  That comes from my heart.

3 Comments

  1. Ping from Joyce:

    Another good book is Running On Empty by Jonice Webb, about Childhood Emotional Neglect. It’s all about not outright physical neglect but just invalidation, and how insidious it can be.

  2. Ping from puffyclouds:

    Have no fear. I think you have every right to express the way you feel. I’m confused as to why the therapist may not have validated you, and considered the possibility that parental invalidation may be a factor in your relationship and illness. I certainly feel that parental invalidation along with abuse (though my siblings feel and see things quite differently), along with trauma and biology got me to where I am today.

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