Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What is Childhood Trauma?

I have always viewed my childhood as 'traumatic' ... not just as a memory but even when the situations where actually happening to me as a young child. I always knew that what was happening wasn't normal, that I was in survival mode, and that I would have some issues to deal with when all the dust settled. I distinctively remember at 12 years old upon the moment of calling the police on my parents for a 'domestic disturbance' (they were physically fighting each other at the front door) that I was thinking, "Deep-six-ing everything in order to get past the moment will result in something coming out later." I could feel in the pit of my stomach, in the depth of my being, that I was getting eaten up by the stress, the drama, and the trauma. I knew that brushing it all aside and moving forward without truly addressing what happened would later haunt my brother and me.

So, for years, I went about life during my parents' long, drawn-out, and viscous divorce which encompassed custody battles, possession wars, and using us kids as pawns (Parental Alienation Syndrome). My parents remarried very shortly (within a year) after the divorce to 'ready made' families, so my brother and I were thrust into these 'ready made' families without having comprehended or adjusted to my parents actually being separated and divorced. The 'ready made' families immediately had riffs, battles, and conflicts, making life even more strained and stressed.

Although my mother will deny that our up-bringing has any effect on our adult life (read Blaming Parents for Our Past), nearly every researcher agrees that early childhood traumas lie at the root of most long-term depression & anxiety, and many emotional and psychological illnesses. Severe traumas can even alter the very chemistry and physiology of the brain itself. I have continually stated that I feel as if my brother's life as a dysfunctional adult is part-and-parcel of his upbringing. My mother and Dad both think that he is solely responsible for his mental state, lack of ability to manage his life, and his depression, lack of motivation, & more.

I wasn't left unscarred from my childhood either. I have battled insomnia during peak times of childhood trauma. I have battled anxiety through out my life, waiting for the next bomb to explode in my family. I have sought acceptance and attention from my parents that I will never achieve in receiving. I have searched, researched, dug, and sought understanding of my past, with which my parents have never assisted (my mother is irrational when speaking of the past, and my Dad 'doesn't remember' because he 'doesn't want to', which neither helps when trying to gain peace with the past).

So what exactly constitutes childhood trauma? Did I actually experience childhood trauma? A seminal 1992 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report defines childhood abuse as "a repeated pattern of damaging interactions between parent(s) [or, presumably, other significant adults] and child that becomes typical of the relationship." In addition to physical, sexual and verbal abuse, this can include anything that causes the child to feel worthless, unlovable, insecure, and even endangered, or as if his only value lies in meeting someone else's needs.

Examples cited in the report include:
  • "belittling, degrading or ridiculing a child; making him or her feel unsafe [including threat of abandonment]; failing to express affection, caring and love; neglecting mental health, medical or educational needs."
  • The AAP also includes parental divorce in the list of potentially harmful events which can traumatize a child.
  • Moving home frequently is traumatic for a child (it has been linked to suicide in older children)
  • Disruptive home life, including having to adapt to a parent's remarriage and being part of a new blended family (perhaps several in the course of childhood).

Given the information above, my brother and I indeed experienced childhood trauma, namely (1) the repeated pattern of damaging interactions with my parents, (2) parental divorce, and (3) 'disruptive home life' with having to adapt to a parent's remarriage and being part of a new blended family (two in the course of our childhoods). The results are also blatantly clear with my brother who is very depressed and suffers anxiety with panic attacks.

Not only can these childhood traumas cause depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, but researchers at the CDC have also found that a traumatic childhood can take 20-years off of one's life. The study, which appeared in the November 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is the latest in the ongoing 14-year-old Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. The study involved 17,337 adults who became members of Kaiser Permanente, a health care maintenance organization in San Diego, between 1995 and 1997. After visiting a primary care facility at the HMO, they voluntarily filled out a standard medical questionnaire that included questions about their childhood. The questionnaire asked them about 10 types of child trauma:
  • Three types of abuse (sexual, physical and emotional).
  • Two types of neglect (physical and emotional).
  • Five types of family dysfunction (having a mother who was treated violently, a household member who’s an alcoholic or drug user, who’s been imprisoned, or diagnosed with mental illness, or parents who are separated or divorced).
The researchers found that people with six or more of these types of trauma died nearly 20 years earlier on average than those without — 60.6 years versus 79.1 years. In this particular research, neglect was not included. So, a person who has been emotionally abused, physically neglected and grew up with an alcoholic father who beat up his wife would have an ACE score of 4. The significance of the study is that it supports the previous research — that child trauma is an important public health issue, stated David Brown of the CDC.

Research also shows that if a person has one risk factor, he or she usually has another. So, the researchers asked: if risk factors for disease, disability and early mortality aren’t randomly distributed, what influences their adoption or development? In parallel research, the neuroscience community has found that that trauma alters the function and development of children’s brains and nervous systems. Epigeneticists, who study how a person’s experiences turn their genes off and on, have found that trauma can turn on genes that manufacture the chemical stressors that affect the brain.

Traumatized children become hyper-vigilant, edgy, and impulsive with hot tempers. They are unable to focus on their schoolwork, unable to sit still, and regard social interactions as threats. These behaviors can get them in trouble or suspended, and that can lead to engaging in risky behaviors, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, workaholism, eating too much, etc., which can affect their health. Each of those descriptors fits what happened to my brother: hyper-vigilant, edgy, impulsive, hot tempered, unable to focus on schoolwork, couldn't sit still, and engaged in risky behavior (smoking, drinking).

I still believe that one's personality and genetic make-up have a huge effect on who you develop into as a person. Your perspective in life which leads to how you handle your surroundings, thus your stress levels, greatly impacts your health. I recent dove into that topic of Nature vs Nurture And considering that my brother and I both came from the same parents, with the same childhood trauma, and over the same duration, but we both turned out drastically different gives an indication of personality's effect. Regardless of how we turned out as adults and regardless of my mother's and Dad's perceptions of my brother / my childhoods, we did indeed experience childhood trauma: my brother from 7 years old and onward, and for me from 9 years old and onward.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Surviving Childhood Trauma | Nature versus Nurture

So the other day, I read this piece titled "Children Learn What They Live" which lead into an interesting contemplation about Nature vs Nurture regarding how well an individual adjusts as an adult after a abusive / traumatic childhood. So, what does Nature versus Nurture actually mean? This is an essential issue in developmental psychology and describes the association between innateness and environmental influence in terms of the different aspect of development. This is frequently termed as “nature versus nurture” or nativism versus empiricism. A nativist’s view of development is one that is innate, meaning it is dictated by a person’s genes. From an empiricist perspective, development is acquired through an interaction with the environment. First, here's the piece:

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte

A small discussion that proceed on a social networking site between myself & my friend who is also a mother where you can clearly see the viewpoint fluctuate from nurture versus nature:
  • me: Key words are tolerance, encouragement, praise, fairness, security, approval, acceptance, and friendship. May I also add: support (which goes along with encouragement above) and love as additional key words.
  • friend: So true and a great reminder of what we provide as an environment to our children makes them the people they will become.
  • me: My mother always said that the stuff kids endure during childhood does not have a bearing on who we are as adults. She said that we have a choice as an adult to be whoever, which to an extent is true; however, I do believe that an unhealthy environment has long-term consequences on who we are as people and how we deal with the world around us.
  • friend: I do have to agree with your mother also. My childhood was not the best and if I lived by the statistics I should be an abusive alcoholic. But thank goodness I chose in my life to be a much different person. So with that being said you could also say that an environment can have extreme result the other way. We can nurture all we want but in the end our children will decide what type of person they wish to be.
  • me: I know of people who came from the same parental / childhood experiences (nurture) and both turned out different. Personality (nature) plays a huge part in the equation, just as you said.
My friend's first comment reflects how nurture influences a child's upbringing whereas her second comment supports how nature takes over in who we are. After this little thread of communication, I started to think once again about the effects of both nurture and nature. Do children learn what they live or live what / who they are? First of all, I think Nature versus Nurture is much to simplistic thinking to what molds a person into who he / she is. I also think that both Nature and Nurture are influential as you can read in my post Blaming Parents for Our Past

How my brother and I have adjusted as adults after having the same upbringing is an interesting little case study. We were raised by the same parents but have starkly different lives. Our parents, an NPD Dad and a BPD mother who had a nasty divorce when I was 12 y/o and my brother 10 y/o, have been conditional with their love, selfish parents, and wielding of guilt. We were latch-key kids, thrust into ready-made families when our parents re-married shortly after their divorce, and basically left to fend on our own as our parents engaged in their new lives with their new spouses. Both parents were very selfish, focusing deeply on their own lives rather than raising their children. Both parents also placed the children into situations where they expect us to chose one parent over the other. Our mother was continuously emotionally abusive and our Dad was continuously selfish, pushing us aside on a whim.

As far as my personality and my brother's: I am optimistic, happy, and motivated; my brother is pessimistic, depressed, and highly unmotivated-- these traits could be seen from an early age. I have always been a high-achiever, one who aims to please, and an organized perfectionist. My brother? The complete opposite.

So where have our lives led us?
  • I have a Masters degree; my brother didn't graduate from high-school.
  • I lived independently as a single business woman until my mid-30's when I eventually got married and had a child.
  • My brother on the other hand has never lived independently, married young, divorced young, has had four children, and is still struggling to manage his life.
My personality definitely supported me through the abusive, challenging, and tough years. My self-confidence, optimism, and motivation kept me focused on getting an education, realizing the situations were created by my parents (not me), and that life will change (and I can make that change happen). Certainly I was affected by my parents selfishness (I have always sought their approval and love), guilt trips (I have had to overcome feelings of guilt throughout my life, especially inflicted by my parents), anxiety (worry and fear of what they were going to pull out of their hat of tricks next-- what situation will be created that I am the fault of?), and defensiveness (immediately being defensive when my Dad would come at me, which I found out I treated situations outside of my relationship with my Dad the same).

My brother, on the other hand, has always exhibited anger issues, depression, lack of motivation, and a defeatist attitude. Compound this personality with self-absorbed parents and traumatic experiences at a very young age, and this child who was seeking approval, attention, and unconditional love from his parents, spiraled further down into a bad spot. He should have had intensive therapy from a young age but he didn't. Then add the trauma of his parents divorce and the emotional torment of Parental Alienation Syndrome, and you have a nasty mix of bad nature and bad nurture.

I had many talks with my mother about my brother, which she gets very defensive saying she did all she could for him when he was a child. My main point to her is that he desperately needed stability and therapy. Her response is always that the stuff my brother endured in his childhood should not have any bearing on who he is as an adult-- that who he is as an adult is his choice. Well, in my opinion, the situation is not that simple. My brother needed medical attention as a child and didn't get it. The medical attention (therapy) would have provided tools and mechanisms that my brother could have used to manage his life and deal with the idiosyncrasies of family life and more. Additionally, both my Dad and my mother did not offer unconditional love and support for my brother during his teenage years. Rather they cast him aside when his behavior became too tough to handle.

So, on one side you have the biology (nature) of the child: personality, genetic psychological disorders, emotional disorders, and drugs / alcohol effects from the mother's pregnancy. On the other side, you have children effected by nature: emotional & physical abuse, divorce, Parental Alienation Syndrome, being latch-key kids, parents with personality disorders / alcoholism / addictions, and more.
  • A child could have positive nature with negative nurture and turn out okay (me).
  • Or you could have a child with negative nature with negative nurture and turn out not okay (my brother).
Or you could have negative nature with positive nurture and turn out not okay as seen in the case with California case: a few years ago a case in California was a headliner and was profiled on the show "60 Minutes". A teenage boy was adopted as a baby, and his adoptive family was very loving and stable by all accounts. The boy had a happy and normal childhood but, unfortunately, when he was 18 y/o he snapped. He raped and murdered a 7 y/o girl, which completely shocked his adoptive parents. From background research into the boy's biological family, his parents suffered from schizophrenia and other severe psychological disorders. The adoption agency hid this from the adoptive parents. Even the boy admitted in an interview that his upbringing or his parents was optimal and that he just had something wrong with him. He blamed himself 100% for the crime.

Some psychologists agree that Nature and Nurture are both major influences to behavior development. Psychologist Robert Plomin said, "But the genetic influence on traits and behaviors is only partial: Genetics account, on average, for half of the variance of most traits. That means the environment accounts for the rest." Nurturing and our environment can alter the effect of our nature (our genes we inherited) if the influence is strong enough. Nature and Nurture mingle and influence traits of everyone. Our genes are important because what we have inherited is essentially the basis of what kind of person we are, but the environment can alter and develop a person even more.

In my opinion, without positive nature (meaning the child is negatively effected by nature), enduring and coming out okay after negative nurture is going to be a very challenge battle. However, if the child has a positive nature, developing into a productive and well-adjusted adult is less of a challenge. And as you saw in the example of the adopted boy in California, nature has a significant impact even if the nurture was positive.

With as much as my parents think that my brother can just make a choice to turn his life around, I believe his mental illness combined with post-traumatic-stress-disorder from the childhood trauma make managing his own life virtually impossible. And on the flip side, people are always asking me how I came out so well-adjusted, happy, and positive after all the trama I have been through with my parents, and I always answer that I have been happy since birth... and that I thank God for allowing me to know I was not responsible for my parents' actions.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What Happens After No Contact ?

I think some good information has been given already about HOW to go no-contact. I want to address a different question: "When all is said and done, what will life look like, now that I'm not in a relationship with the BPD?"

When the emails finally stop coming, when the notes on your car disappear, when the phone finally stops ringing, and any necessary restraining orders are in place, what happens next?

I've been NC for nearly four years now. I speak from the experience of being a child of a uBPD/uNPD marriage, so your situation may be different. However, I think these tips can help anyone who's returning from Oz and trying to re-adjust to life on Earth.

1) When the BPD relationship goes away, don't expect YOUR habits of reacting to go away.

Eliminating the harsh, difficult-to-navigate relationship with the BPD will bring a lot of relief to your heart. However, all of us as nons developed habits to allow us to cope in these relationships. These include, but are not limited to:

a) being hyper-sensitive to other people's moods
b) rescuing
c) apologizing all the time
d) tiptoeing around others (being afraid to offend others, not voicing our own opinions, changing opinions so that others
will like us, etc.)
e) continuing habits that they ingrained in you ("the cabinets should be organized this way." "Why do you make your
bed that way?" )
f) feeling bored without all the drama that a BPD relationship causes

All of these habits can be conquered, but it will take time, therapy, and practice to do so. You will fail a time or two, and that is completely normal. Just don't expect them to go away simply because the abuser is out of the picture.

2) Perfectionism does not equal "normal"

Now that we have the freedom to pursue healthy relationships, it's only natural that we will want to avoid unhealthy patterns at all costs.

However, we must resist the temptation to fit everything into the mold of what we perceive as "normal." Homes, friendships, relationships, and families cannot fit into the idealized pictures we have in our heads. After being away from "Earth" and in "OZ" for so long, we may be a bit disillusioned when we discover that Earth is not paradise.

For example, my uBPD was my mom, so therefore I try to be a "perfect mom" so that I won't continue in the BPD family tradition. "If the house isn't magazine-perfect, or the clothes not ironed, or the baby not totally happy, then I MUST be just like my mom." That's a lie, but it's still easy to believe.

The truth is that all people--even the non-crazy ones---are imperfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and we will too. In our pursuit of a normal, healthy life, we must not worship perfection. As we return from Oz, we must be gentle to ourselves as we re-adjust to Earth's gravity.

3) Be prepared for "The Nag"

Being in a relationship with a BPD can put you under a pile of negative comments. Both my momster and the other BPD in my life (an ex-friend) had a particular gift for words. They knew exactly what to say that would hurt. LONG after they were gone, as I went about my daily (imperfect) life, every time I would fail, I would hear this little voice pop up and say,

"See, you didn't return that girl's phone call, you really are a lousy friend."
"Your husband isn't home YET? I told you he would leave you someday."
"Oh god, have you not lost that baby weight yet? Your husband's eyes will start roving."
"You're just like your mother--see? Your daughter's crying and you can't make her stop. She won't even eat right."

These awful words do not disappear with the person. I envisioned a witch (with a long, warty nose) who would follow me around and wag her finger at me, telling me all the things I was doing wrong. I named her "The Nag," and I've come to understand that she can stay with me long after uBPD momster and ex-friend have hit the highway. Again, just like #2, I have to understand that no one is perfect,and I am not perfect, even if my uBPD's expected me to be.

We must learn to recognize the lies, and consistently counter these lies with truth. That means saying positive, affirming things to yourself when these lies come at you like flaming arrows. Yes, it feels hokey at first, but as nons, we're often not used to believing positive things about ourselves. We have to start somewhere.

"My husband has not left, he's just at a meeting, and he'll be home soon."
"All kids cry sometimes, and all kids have foods they don't like. That doesn't make me a bad mom."

If you can't turn the lies into truth, at least write them down, and ask yourself, "Would I say this to another person?"

4) Expect others to not understand, and have a plan.

Pastors, neighbors, well-meaning relatives, and perfect strangers may be dragged into your life by the BPD. After hearing his/her sob story, these innocent bystanders will all be more than happy to give you their opinion on your choices. They can spend endless amounts of time and energy trying to persuade you to re-establish contact. After being controlled by the BPD for so long, the words from the others can deeply hurt, and make you doubt your own decisions and sanity.

"But she's your mom. You can't cut her out of your life."
"I saw her, she wasn't that bad."
"Why don't you consider the good times too?"
"Well, there's two sides to every story....." (with the implication that part of it must be YOUR fault as well.)
"The Bible says honor your father and mother."
"I think she might commit suicide if you don't talk to her."

Any suicide threats need to be taken to 911, not to YOU.

As the Non, you must remember that BPD's can present different sides of themselves to different people. DO NOT, under any circumstances, allow someone else's perception of the BPD to influence your decision. They may see a completely different person than the one YOU see.

For your own sanity, document everything. Write down memories in a journal, record conversations if possible, and give yourself the gift of TRUSTING your own perceptions.

If a friend or family member is persistent (and therefore harmful) in their attempts to reconcile the two of you, you should consider going no-contact, or extremely limited contact, with that person as well.

5) Have plans for holidays, family occasions, etc.

The one good thing about holidays is that they typically don't change. smiley Christmas doesn't sneak up on us. Thanksgiving is always in November. Religions that follow the lunar calendar know at least year in advance when they'll be facing a potential family-get-together.

That gives you plenty of time to plan. What will you do? Who will you see? Who will you not see? Who will be attending? Where will we go? And the most important question why are you doing all these things?

It's all-to-easy to subject yourself to unnecessary stress, or even break NC, because:

"It's Yom Kippur, we're suppossed to forgive each other, right?"
"Let's have a little Christmas spirit!"
"This is the way we've done it every year---how dare you make us change it around YOUR needs?"

Family traditions are great, but in BPD-enmeshed families, they're often a dysfunctional dance on eggshells. Take the time to seriously evaluate if you will participate, why you want to participate, and what the consequences will be.

Every year since going NC with my mother, every Thanksgiving has been a no-holds-barred "Get Taylor to talk to her mom" pseudo-therapy session. I finally decided that holidays were suppossed to be celebrated in joy, not obligation and guilt. I decided to spend holiday with my friends and immediate family, and was amazed by the peace I felt.

6) Allow yourself to grieve.

Even though the BPD is gone, the pain and the memories can pop up at the most random places. Just like grieving a death, so many things can trigger memories of your relationship. Processing through this pain allows you to heal. Stuffing or denying the pain also denies you the opportunity to heal, just like ignoring a broken bone. Expecting the pain can make the experience less of a shock to your system.

The first Christmas I spent at my husband's house, I noticed how his mom had made displays of all the awards he had earned in high school and college. There were photos and notes about his accomplishments, and smiling pictures of my husband with his family.

I sat on the bed and wept like a child. I knew that there was no house anywhere on the planet where my accomplishments would be treasured like that, except as a source of narcissistic supply.

At the time, I allowed myself to think, "Aw, maybe I'm grieving because I should be with my BPD." No, that's not true. Grief is a response to a loss, not an indicator that you did the wrong thing. Grief should be looked on as a natural part of this process. Experience it, learn from it, and continue to grow. But do not allow the grief to carry you back into the relationship.

7) Understand that you WILL second-guess yourself....

....but that is NOT a reason to break NC.

Distance from the BPD is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it allows us the freedom to think our own thoughts, feel our own feelings, and live our own lives. On the other hand, without the constant reminder of the BPD's presence, it also allows us to forget many of the reasons why we went NC in the first place. Good memories of our time together with the BPD can bubble up to the surface. We can find ourselves wondering if we were intolerably cruel to the BPD, if we were bad children/lovers/friends, or if we were, in fact, the crazy ones.

This is where the journaling in step 4 becomes invaluable. Whenever you start wondering "Should I re-establish contact?" the first thing you need to do is re-read your records of why you went NC to begin with.

Has anything changed? Has the BPD admitted that she has a problem and needs help? Will the relationship be any different, or will the BPD simply use your period of NC as further evidence that you did, in fact, abandon her/act disloyal/break her trust, yadda yadda yadda....?

I was very fortunate. I went NC before I knew anything about BPD, so I was totally navigating in the blind. About every three months (especially when I was pregnant) I would long for my mom with such a deep intensity that it was physically painful.

By the Grace of God, right as I was about to re-establish contact, my mother would pick that exact time to do something stupid. I'd get 5 messages on my voice mail that ranged from friendly (like nothing ever happened) to psychotic--in the space of two hours. I'd get re-engaging phone calls from family members saying that, "Something is wrong with your mom, she needs you right away." No, she doesn't. She just called me chewing me out. She's fine.
This happened five separate times. My husband used to say, "Hey, you're due for another family crisis, it's been 3 months since the last one." :smiley

You will doubt yourself. Count on it. Heck, if it helps, write it on your calendar two months from now: "You'll probably wonder if you should break NC. Don't."

8 ) Take care of yourself.

In her book "Understanding the Borderline Mother," Lawson shares that survivors of concentration camps would shower regularly, even though they knew there was a chance they could die that day. The survivors later said that they could tell who had given up hope, by whether or not that person showered. Lawson goes on to urge people that have survived a relationship with a borderline to "bathe themselves in goodness and light," by taking care of their bodies, minds, and spirits.


My friend found this piece as a post on BPD Family: Facing the Facts. The tid-bits of wisdom and guidance that Taylor provides are spot-on, insightful, and has advice that each one of us BPD survivors (or others estranged from family members) can extract. Hope you enjoyed!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Borderline Personality Mother Charged with Aggravated Murder and More

I have been following the story of this poor little boy (Ethan Stacy) who was 4 years old when his father (Joe Stacy) had to turn him over to the estranged mother (Stephanie Sloop) for visitation rights-- part of the court order of their divorce. Ethan didn't want to go with his mother as he didn't want anything to do with her-- he was scared of her and he thought she had abandoned him. The father had to make him go or else he would go to jail for contempt of court. Ethan flew from Florida to Utah to be with his mother on April 30, 2010. He was reported missing 2 weeks later, and then the mother confessed that her new husband (Nathan Sloop) beat and abused him to death. To top it off, they used a hammer to beat the boy's face so that the police wouldn't be able to identify him.

This story has captivated me as my heart has cried out for the little boy and the father. And I am blown away that a mother could sit back and watch her new husband literally beat / abuse her child to death for two weeks, and then help the new husband to hide the boy (they hid the boy in their house when they ran off to get married, the mother didn't seek medical help when Ethan was vomiting all day and non-responsive, and the mother didn't report the any of the abuse including the burns that her husband inflicted on poor little Ethan). PLUS she got the materials necessary from the store (along with Slushies for herself and her husband) in order to conceal the boys identity when they buried him in a far off location.

Anyway, charges were finally filed against Stephanie and Nathan Sloop for the crimes at the end of May after several weeks of gathering evidence. The Sloops have been charged aggravated murder as well as second degree felony child abuse, second degree felony obstruction of justice and third degree felony abuse or desecration of a body. They are going to be facing the death penalty.

HERE IS THE KICKER>>> I have been following this since mid-May and have been SICK (literally) over what happened to the boy. I followed the boy's funeral and even joined two Facebook groups in support of Ethan Stacy and his father. Now today, during my reading of the case against Stephanie and Nathan, the fact that she was diagnosed with BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER when she was 13 years old was revealed! WHOA! My heart skipped a beat! They also said she was highly narcissistic, a pathological liar, and listed a bunch of typical BPD things she has done in the past. Here's an excerpt from The Salt Lake Tribune:

Stephanie's former friends say she has always been difficult. As a teenager, she would sneak out at night with boys. She once brought a physical abuse charge against her stepfather, a false accusation, according to an ex-friend. The charge was dismissed.

Joe, her ex-husband, says Stephanie's mother once told him she had been diagnosed at age 13 with borderline personality disorder. She often bragged that her purse was a pharmacy, say former friends. "She had a lot of prescription pills from doctors," says Joe. "She'd always know just what to tell them."

Stephanie enlisted in the Air Force, but was other-than-honorably discharged during basic training, says Joe. After a brief early marriage, Stephanie met Joe in Orlando via a mutual friend and married when she was 21.

Over the years, Stephanie sometimes worked as a dancer at strip clubs in Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach, according to friends. She also dabbled in modeling from a young age, she says on her Model Mayhem website. She claims to have been a Bud Girl and a Jager Girl in bar promotions, and was trying to get into the "Playboy Hot Housewives" special edition last year. But whether that was a real possibility is up for debate. "She is a pathological liar," says Carla Jones, a former friend.

Rodriguez, the mother of Joe's two older children, had a ringside seat for the drama that surrounded Stephanie. Her children lived with Joe and Stephanie for four years; a flight attendant, Rodriguez visited often. Stephanie pulled all kinds of shenanigans to try to make Rodriguez's life miserable, she says. She tried to get her fired, falsely accused her of neglect and bad parenting in custody court and with child services; and cracked into her employee account at Continental Airlines, as well as her MySpace, Facebook and eBay accounts. "Stephanie is not a stupid woman. She's very clever," says Rodriguez. "She always seemed to cover her tracks."

Stephanie insisted Destrian and Alisa call her "mom" and their real mom by her first name, says Rodriguez. She monitored the few phone conversations she allowed between Rodriguez and her children. "She always had to be Number One," says Joe. "She was so narcissistic." Rodriguez says she didn't know, until much later, how much her children disliked their stepmom. Destrian says Stephanie expected him to take care of baby Ethan from the start. Their father was often gone for two weeks at a time, working as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. "She really never changed his diapers," says Destrian. Stephanie would spank Destrian and Alisa with a metal spatula, and whack the backs of their heads with the back of her diamond-ringed hand, the siblings say.

"We felt we were back in the slave days," says Alisa. "She used to make us make her alcohol drinks, clean the pool, clean the bathroom until it was spotless white." Alisa went to friends' houses rather than invite them to her own. "I was afraid she would yell at me in front of my friends," says Alisa. "She yelled for stupid reasons. "She threatened my dad so much it got me mad." When a relative gave Destrian and Alisa laptops for Christmas, Stephanie sold them, says Rodriguez. When their mother sent clothes, Stephanie threw them away. When she sent cash, the kids got empty envelopes. Stephanie wanted people to think of her as the perfect mother, Joe says. "But behind closed doors, it was a whole different story." "I tried to get her to be more of a mother," he says. "But she was not cut out to be a mother....She just is a person with no patience."

After Joe slipped on an oil rig in late 2008, a fall that required surgery to insert two titanium rods in his neck, things got rocky, he says. Stephanie began commuting to Las Vegas to dance at a strip club, and eventually moved there in late spring 2009. Joe intended to move the family to Las Vegas in August, but Rodriguez fought the move because she could not easily fly in and out to see her children.

Joe returned to Orlando with Ethan, and late last year to his home state of Virginia. Destrian and Alisa went to live with their mother in Illinois.Joe filed for divorce in October, and in a motion for temporary custody in November he said Stephanie had abandoned Ethan and was "unstable," and that he feared she would take Ethan and never return him.

For an excellent time line of sorts with details of Stephanie and Nathan Sloop:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dealing with Estrangement

I consistently receive questions from readers asking when will they be free of the confusion, anger, sadness, control, and all of those other negative feelings surrounding the abusive parent. No easy answer is available for that question.

You may have wanted to have that loving relationship with your parent your whole life. You may have been seeking that acceptance your whole life. You may have been trying to achieve closeness with that parent, and now, through introspection, research, or some other method, you realize that your parent is unable to give you what you have been seeking. That's a tough pill to swallow.

Another tough pill to swallow is that you really want to be surrounded by loving parents, and the disappointment and emptiness that surrounds you when you either get treated poorly by them or are estranged from them only compounds as time goes on. Our parents were our role models as kids. Our mother is supposed to be our first 'true love'. Our parents are deemed almost perfect in our innocent child eyes. So when we finally come to terms with the fact that our parents are not who we thought they are or that we can't take the treatment anymore and estrange ourselves from them, a hole is left that they used to fill. That hole is very noticeable during holidays, our birthdays, and times when having that family relationship is very welcoming.

As time goes on, the pain eases but I don't think one ever 'gets over' not having a parent in their life who is walking around on this Earth. Let's face it-- those who have loving relationships with their parents don't simply forget their parent when their parent dies. So why would we, who are estranged from our parent, simply forget? We won't-- and we will have to struggle with those times where the wish... the memory ... the what ifs pop into our heads. And at that time, we have to love ourselves enough to know that we have done what is right for ourselves and our loved ones and have faith that we are leading a happier, more peaceful, and more fulfilled life due to our choice.

Having a solid and loving support group around you is so vitally important. During the times of questioning, having these folks around helps to keep your feet on the ground, thoughts in the correct direction, and emotions in check. These folks have your best interest in mind-- unlike the one who from which you are estranged and the estranged's cronies.

So, my answer to those who are just venturing into estrangement or who have been grappling with the pain of estrangement and ask me when will I get over this-- when will I forget -- when will this be easier... I will answer that time eases all wounds, but you will never forget. You will understand and accept-- but you won't forget. This person is one of your parents. You will have to deal with these thoughts, emotions, and circumstances throughout your life, whether the parent is here on Earth or passed on. Seek acceptance-- and keep love in your heart for those who support and honor you.