Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Borderline's Campaigns of Denigration

I love my child to the deepest part of my heart and soul. My child is a blessing who amazes me every day of my life. I would do anything possible to support my child, shower my child with unconditional love, and provide security and safety for my child. If we ever have a disagreement, I will do everything possible to understand my child's point-of-view and create peace. I am my child's biggest cheerleader, biggest supporter, and biggest admirer. I love my child beyond words.

My mother, on the other hand, has treated our relationship with such disregard and with so many conditions. She has treated me as an adult when I was a child, expecting me to react or have viewpoints as an adult. She leaned on me as an adult 'friend' when I was a child, confiding in me with things that are inappropriate for a child's ears. She completely disregarded my feelings, emotions, and perspectives from childhood to the beginning of our last estrangement in 2004. She has discredited and denied my childhood memories and even has gone so far as to say what we experienced as a child doesn't have any bearing on our adulthood. And what is so disgusting is that she will spend an inordinate amount of time talking disparagingly about me to other people.

First of all the campaigns of denigration are despicable because she is my mother and I am her daughter. She **should be** one of my staunchest supporters, someone to always be on my side. She **should be** someone who thinks I hung the moon, talks admiringly of me, and is my cheerleader. And if we have personal issues, those issues should be resolved between us. I cannot fathom ever speaking of my child the way my mother speaks of me. I cannot fathom making up myths, lies, and misconceptions about my child the way my mother does of me. I know how deeply I feel for my child-- and this truly makes the pathology, dysfunction, toxicity, and pure evil of my mother's illness stand out even more.

If my mother spent as much time and energy trying to work-out disagreements with me as she does with her campaigns of denigration against me, we would have resolved disagreements long ago. The topic that started the last estrangement isn't what threw me over the edge (the fact that my mother said she was out of my wedding because I didn't want all 3 of my fathers attending the same ceremony). What threw me over the edge was the vile, mean, and demeaning things she said to my friends, work and school colleagues, my in-laws, and more. She went so far that I cannot ever trust her again. Let's put it this way-- would I still be friends with someone who attacks me, spreads lies about me, tries to turn people against me, and attempts to destroy relationships of mine? Heck no. So why would I still honor a relationship with my mother?

When we were estranged in in the middle 80's and then again in the middle 90's, she talked smack about me. When we reconciled, I try to put the past in the past and give her credit for being 'changed'. After our middle 80's estrangement ended in the early 90's, she promised me that she had changed, that she had gotten professional help, and that she wouldn't do anything like that to me again. I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Then when we reconciled after the middle 90's estrangement, I thought I had my life so solid and together that she couldn't hurt me again. Wrong again.

Anyway, one of the classic behaviors of a person suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is the campaign of denigration. The target is the person against whom the perpetrator BPD conducts the vilification, which the target happens to be me.  The intent is to destroy my reputation and thereby destroying my relationships with family and friends, co-workers, and others. How can someone who loves you, do this to you? They can't possibly truly love you and then try to destroy your reputation and relationships.

As with so many aspects involving BPD's and their typical inability to understand or respect boundaries, no limits exist to their campaigns. They will use any means available to cause damage to their target, including denigration, endless disparaging remarks, fabrication, false accusations, and even teaching others to lie on their behalf as part of their vilification campaign. My mother has used all of the means listed and even taught others (my ex co-worker (Enlisting Allies Against Her Target of Rage) and half-sister (Seriously Demented: BPD Mother Replacing Daughter) to take part in her campaign. She tried to organize them to 'crash my wedding' ... we had to have security at our wedding ceremony for protection. How very sad. Is this the behavior of a loving, supportive, and **normal** mother?

The campaign employs lies, exaggerations, fictions, partial truths, and other reality distortion techniques. Campaigns of denigration are often done behind the scenes.  They may start months or years before the target is even aware of the campaign. By the time the target is aware of the distortions, people around the BPD may have been hearing for a long time that the target is some evil, horrible, cruel person as part of the campaign of denigration. What is so powerful is the thought from outsiders that a mother couldn't possibly be lying like this about her very own child, could she!?!?! And thus, the mother has power, and the child is vilified. Peg Streep talks about this in "Mean Mothers" that the child is the one on trial in the court of opinion when against a mother.

The BPD is likely to make extreme false allegations, distortions, and varied lies to defame and harm her target. The BPD is also likely to involve many other people in the campaign of denigration. Many are passive participants who will listen and believe the BPD’s lies. Others become actively involved in spreading lies further. The target may find dozens of people, many whom have never met him / her, who believe and repeat the lies of the BPD. I know that my mother will try to talk to anyone who will listen (she loves pity as she is the hurting victim) so I am sure there are many people out there that I am unaware who have heard many false allegations, distortions, and lies about me. And you know what? I don't care. If any of these people chose to believe my mother, so be it. I can't be a politician to try to convince them otherwise. Que sara, sara-- what will be, will be. What I do know is that I am truly blessed with a wonderful group of family and friends who are my family. And those family and friends are who I concentrate on... not the nasty evil makings of my mother.

What lies do BPDs tell? BPD's tend to pick false accusations that are difficult to disprove. Although we supposedly live in a society in which people are 'innocent until proven guilty', the reality is, people are not treated this way. The victims of the campaign of denigration often are treated as outcasts or even criminals, assumed to be guilty without any evidence whatsoever. A pitiful point is: just because she's my **mother** many don't require evidence to deem me guilty--  why would a mother falsely accuse her daughter who she claims to love so very much!?!?

The perhaps surprising aspect of many of these defamatory statements is that they are not about the target at all. Often BPDs are aware at some level that they themselves are doing these bad behaviors. So instead of taking responsibility for their own problems, they blame them on others. This behavior is known as “projection.”  The BPD lies by partial truth and distortion. BPD's excel at this. They are believed and seldom questioned because of their emotional intensity and conviction they exhibit while they repeat their lies. My mother is very smart and very clever. She can build lie upon lie, and she sounds so very convincing... and she is convincing because she believes her own lies. And as far as projection, she has always saw me as an extension of herself. Therefore, when she is saying the lies, she fully believes them because she thinks of me as an extension of herself and these lies are actually truths of what she feels about herself. 

BPD's have trouble knowing what the truth is due to a combination of problems. Sometimes they may experience cognitive dissociation in which they temporarily break from reality and may honestly experience reality completely differently from any observers. My mother seems to cycle in and out of reality, which also corresponds with our estrangements. Her sense of reality is skewed on a certain level consistently but manageable for our relationship to remain active. However, she becomes completely irrational at times, typically spurred on by fears of abandonment or rejection, which throws her out of reality. She is transformed from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, and our relationship is cut off. She has always been very careful to show the public only a sweet and smiley side. The public doesn't see the irrational, unreasonable, and destructive person that I experience and see.

I have tried to talk to her about our past estrangements, and her reasoning behind why they occurred is completely off-base from what actually happened. She claims she doesn't remember some of the events, and she even stated that she instigated the estrangement just to make sure that I could make it on my own if she were ever gone. Say what!?!? A mother would go for FIVE YEAR STINTS away from her daughter just to make sure that she could make it on her own when her daughter was already living independently!?!? Irrational and illogical. And when I confronted her about the 'smack' she said about me, she flat-out denied it. But reality does not matter to BPD's. What matters is the ability to convince other people to take their sides during conflict and to protect themselves from “threats” such as being alone or being held accountable for their actions.

Why don’t people see the BPD's who conduct campaigns of denigration as the liars they are? Often BPD's tell varying lies to different people who don’t talk to each other and so the obvious deception is not apparent. My mother's relationships are predominately with people who live out of the state and have no contact with each other. Additionally, often the BPD’s emotional intensity and ability to play on people’s emotions makes them master manipulators. When my mother and I first became estranged in 2004, my step-grandmother was ill and subsequently died. My mother didn't call to inform me of her death but cried to others around her that I am heartless because I didn't know my step-grandmother died. How convoluted and illogical is that!? And when she declared she was 'out' of my wedding, I asked her in several emails and voice messages if she really meant what she said or was her declaration simply a threat.  She never responded but actively spread the lie that I kicked her out of the wedding and ripped her heart out.

People tend to “just believe” because the BP can come across as very charming, warm and friendly. Untrained, uncritical listeners are particularly susceptible at being duped by their lies. Eventually, they may believe the lies so completely that even when confronted with evidence such as writings, photographs, recordings, 3rd party versions of events, and other evidence, they refuse to accept that they were duped into believing lies. Even many mental health care professionals fall for the campaigns of denigration for a while. They get sucked into false sympathy and emotional alignment with the BPD rapidly. They fall for false stereotypes, such as “all men are abusers”, that BPD's use to their advantage.

The campaign of denigration also tends to damage many people around the BPD.  Divorce situations in which the children are taught by a BPD parent to hate the other parent based upon lies is very common. This is also known as “parental alienation”. My Dad was very adept with Parental Alienation as well as my mother. Each parent attempted to have my brother and me chose between parents. And if we lived with one parent, we didn't have a relationship with the other parent. I wrote more about of Parental Alienation in Adult Children of Parental Alienation as well as other areas of my blog. Parental Alienation is a form of emotional child abuse; therefore, BPD's or others who do this to children are child abusers.

Bottom-line, my mother has not fought to have me in her life-- she has fought to denigrate me and keep me out of her life. And she compounds estrangements with campaigns of denigration furthering my mistrust of her. I would fight TOOTH AND NAIL to NEVER allow ANYTHING to get in between my child and me. My mother would rather spend her time and energy talking terribly about me. Who needs this in their life when life has so many loving, caring, and kind people in this world? So when people ask me if I will ever reconcile with her, I respond with the fact I don't trust her. And at this point, the trust cannot be repaired after the extensive damage my mother has created.


  1. How wonderful would it be if there were a mother & father store where you could trade your own disordered parent with painful memories for a parent with typical issues and happy, loving memories?
    I feel like becoming a mom while being an adult child of a BPD mother is the hardest thing in the world. I look at my daughter and like you cannot imagine doing anything to ever hurt her intentionally. The few times I have gotten frustrated with her I instantaneously feel great remorse for my thoughts or actions.

  2. I would love to trade BUT the reason why I am the person I am today is because of what I went through... so I am at peace at what I have learned from my past (thankful as a matter of fact) because I became such a fiercely independent and a strong willed person. I would love to have that warm relationship with a parent that is filled with cozy memories but that's not my life. I have awesome friends and a wonderful husband / child who fill my memories and give me warmth :)

    I understand what you mean about being frustrated with your child then immediately feeling remorseful. I believe all mothers are like that :) Patience is a hard attribute to perfect ... and children can really test one's patience.

    All my best to you ... hugs! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Once again, thank you so much for your blog! I consider myself SO LUCKY to have escaped becoming BPD myself. I realize how fortunate I truly am. I have no children but hope to someday, and as I always have, I VOW to never inflict the pain on that child that was inflicted upon me, up until age 37, when I finally cut my BPD mother out of my life for good. You explain everything so well, THANK YOU!!

  4. Kori, you are so very welcome. I am pleased that you are finding my blog helpful... and I appreciate your support. I, too, vowed to never inflict the pain on my child(ren) like my parents did... and having that vow with our insight and revelations, we certainly will be much better parents :) Again, you are welcome-- and thank you so very much for taking the time to stop by and comment. Hugs!

  5. I was using my smart-phone when trying to publish Kori's comment when my arm got knocked by my little one-- and oops, I accidentally clicked 'delete'. So, here is her comment:

    Kori has left a new comment on your post "Borderline's Campaigns of Denigration":

    No, thank YOU!!! I find a lot of inspiration in your posts, and just posted something on my own blog about your "Gaslighting" entry. I don't have a lot of followers, but that is only because I don't share the blog with people I know, for obvious reasons - they can only see it if they understand where I come from.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your personal stories. I am the daughter of a woman with BPD, and a sister to a BPD woman as well. Growing up I thought I really was evil, bad, wrong, and should feel guilty because she constantly told me so. I am getting married in June 2012 and still am struggling with the "guilt" I couldn't erase in therapy.

    The funny thing is you compare how she is a mother to how you are a mother, and when I was trapped and alone at home in my teenage years I thought I could never possibly do the things she had done to me. How could someone do these things to their children? My mother tried to kill me at least twice when I was a child, and when I was 10 and watching an Oprah show with her(it was talking about the woman who drove her kids into the lake) she told me she "hid knives from herself so she would kill me, my brother, and my sister" This still haunts me today.

    I don't know if I'll ever get closure.

  7. You are so very welcome. And I totally agree with your comment, "How could someone do these things to their children?" And I want to add that it's not just to the child when they are a youngster but even as an adult child-- the dysfunctional treatment doesn't stop. And the BPD feels justified, rationalizes her behavior, and doesn't see how she's treating her own children even into adulthood.

    Closure may come with time-- especially the easing of feeling guilty. Keep working at it. I pray you find peace. Thanks for stopping by. All my best to you.

  8. Yes! This! All of it. Perfectly said. Not to be weird but if we lived closer (i think you are in TX?) I would so ask you to meet me for coffee. There are days when I wonder if I'm the only one out there with such a crazy mother and just by finding your blog today I've got my answer-and more!

  9. Thank you for describing your feelings so clearly. You've helped a lot of us understand what it feels like from your point of view. I have been split out of the life of a loved one and am experiencing the pain of estrangement. Your post has helped me a lot. I wish you all the best!

  10. Thank you for this post, as it gives me hope that I'm not the crazy one. Please share other resources on how to deal with a high functioning borderline.
    I'm 40 and married with children, and live far away from my parents. But my super high functioning, "super wonderful" & extremely clever mother won't stop her antics.
    Facebook is one of her weapons, and she's hurt that my wife won't "friend" her. She's upset that we moved far away without telling her first (though it was a fit of rage over another issue that caused me to decide not to tell her we were moving). She's alienated most of the extended family from me, saying that I'm divisive and withholding her grandchildren from her.
    I want her out of my head. I've held her at a distance for over a decade so as not to let my children get sucked in to her twisted ways of thinking and acting.
    She and my dad (non BP but totally sucked in) say they love us and then gossip to family in such a way that it speaks nothing of "love". They say they just want a "normal" relationship, but I know that means an enmeshed, unnatural relationship in which I and my children are "brainwashed" by her.
    I've read Kreger's books and several others, but they barely address the high functioning, clever, and seemingly normal borderline that I must deal with in my mom, and apparently as with you, in your mom.
    It is so hard, because they can be, and have at times been fantastic grandparents, (but I'm not going to expose my children to her demonic BPD nature). The situation is further complicated by our sharing of a common faith (which my mother often uses against me...Fear/Obligation/Guilt).
    I am so sad... for my dad who is a victim of the BPD and for my children, who have such a shallow relationship with my parents, and will continue to as long as my mother continues to behave this way.
    Please let us know of other resources to help us cope with this.

  11. I just posted a link to this blog post on my Facebook page. My mother is doing it again. I'm finding out that she is saying the most horrible things about me. Furthermore, she helped to orchestrate, with my ex-husband, to get my son away from me and into HIS custody. The irony is that she always hated my ex when I was married to him. Now all she does is reminisce about what a wonderful man he is and how I really blew it by divorcing him. She also keeps mentioning how much money he makes and how stupid I am for not staying with him for his money. She and my ex are all over my son, who is 18 and high functioning autistic. He's easy to manipulate and they've completely poisoned him against me. The irony is that I'm the only one who has never once tried to manipulate his thoughts or emotions.

    When I posted the link to this post, I added THIS comment:

    "My own mother's campaigns against me have included (but are not limited to) the following accusations: I'm a drug addict, I am a nymphomaniac, I cheated on my ex-husband repeatedly, I abused my children, I neglected my children, I abandoned my children, I stole money from her (in the tens of thousands of dollars), I stole money from my ex-husband, I have a psychiatric disorder and need to be institutionalized, as a teen I got in trouble with the police constantly, I used my son's child support to support the lazy lifestyle of my deadbeat (current) husband, I've been fired from most any job I've ever had because I'm combative. None of these accusations is even remotely true. If any of you who are "friends" of my mother's have heard these lies, or any other defamatory statements about me, then I suggest you speak to me personally about it rather than accepting anything she says on face value; and beware, because I guarantee to you that just as she speaks about me in this manner, she is indeed speaking about you as well."

    I know what the result will be: everyone who reads it, who has a relationship with her, will believe that I am the one who is running a campaign of denigration against her, whom everyone believes to be the SAINT of the family. "Poor poor victim, beautiful martyr. Her daughter is just awful, isn't she? Just like Queen B warned us!"

    And the ultimate irony is this: most (if not all) of her accusations against me are based on things that she herself has done.

  12. This is *the* one classic response from a CB "Parent" I wish I had been aware of all those decades ago when I terminated the relationship with my CB "Mother." These targeted, malicious (and in my situation, continuing for decades until her physical death) Campaigns indeed had significant negative consequences for me in terms of my career. I was absolutely dumbstruck to learn how she used her PIs to not only find out where I worked, but to get the direct phone number of the new District Director whom I had not yet met. Her lies, repeated phone calls etc. ensured this career, which I loved and was recruited to prior to completing undergrad was completely TANKED. In certain professions there are allegations/lies which will have significant negative implications for one's ability to secure Promotions, Transfers etc. Through their Slime and Malign Campaigns they ensure you are isolated and left essentially without recourse: "After all, I'm her *mother,* (CB family member) I SHOULD KNOW!" Loosing extended family, being smeared in your own community are indeed painful and I'm not in any way minimizing these losses at all. However, the loss of your career, particularly one in which you were very successful, deeply invested and loved reaps havoc with your financial stability resulting in material losses.
    Because of the targeted and INTENTIONAL manner in which she systematically dismantled my personal and professional credibility I have no doubt she knew exactly what she was doing. Never underestimate the vindictiveness of a CB "Parent." Ever.
    If I had to do it all over again, I would initiate NC with a Cease and Desist letter from an attorney that would cover *all* possibilities from contact with friends, other community members/neighbors *and* employers by ANY means from phone calls, electronic media, Private Investigators/Third Parties etc. and included my little polite 4 line note telling her I did not wish to have any further contact with her.
    Initiating a Legal paper trail with advice from an attorney would have been very instrumental in leaving open the door to redress through the court in the event it becomes necessary.
    And it very well may. Geographical distance may afford some protection but a determined, vindictive CB "Parent" can thwart that advantage, now even more easily with the proliferation of technology.
    I agree these Campaigns are often Projections and in that respect give some insight into their awareness of their own perfidy, moral bankruptcy etc. Nonetheless, I truly did not require confirmation of her CB to initiate NC. All of her behavior post NC served to confirm my decision. Feeling powerless over a Slime and Malign Campaign reinforces one's sense of powerlessness in all areas of your life. Where you can thwart their Agenda, consider doing so in what ever manner available to you, proactively if possible.
    Another great Post-Thanks!

  13. Thank you for posting this. It is helping me stay sane. My wife is currently trying to destroy me and I don't know why. It must be even harder when the BPD person is a parent. Because of this I worry about my son, who is not my biological child, and will have to contend with this for a long time. *hugs*

    1. I am so very sorry to hear. Stay strong. All my best to you and your son. *hugs* back to you!