Thursday, September 29, 2011

Overreactions to Illness and Hysteria with Borderline Personality

Borderline Personality Disordered (BPD) individuals may display dramatic or hysterical behavior as well as overreact to illness and accidents. These behaviors leave family members "sucked in and emotionally depleted" (Lawson, p 15).  Although all BPD's are prone to hysterical reactions when stressed, the Hermit BPD feels particularly threatened by illness. She is intolerant of discomfort, inconvenience, and pain. She may moan and groan, scream and cry primarily out of fear, not pain. When frightened, she becomes hostile. Her exaggerated responses confuse those who care for her. Family members may be unable to distinguish minor injuries from major emergencies (Lawson, p 93). Additionally, the BPD Waif may suffer from chronic or recurrent illnesses with frequent medical visits (Lawson, p 64).

Each of these statements above depicts very clearly my BPD mother and her ever expanding list of illnesses and ailments and her dramatic and hysterical reactions to them. To be fair, she has been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease in 1995. However, besides my mother, I know many people with her type of autoimmune disease, and my mother is the only one who is as crippled mentally and physically as she. She has claimed to be effected by a host of diseases, conditions, and illnesses in addition to the autoimmune disease; however, most of them have never come to fruition. She scours the Internet and the PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) in order to self-diagnose herself. Then she dreams up these horrible possibilities which she then communicates to family and friends. As Lawson mentioned, family members have a challenging time distinguishing between fabricated, minor, and major health claims.

Recently the reports have gotten more and more dramatic per emails that my brother has forwarded to me from my mother. Just this year, she has claimed to be losing her kidneys and may need a kidney transplant (even went so far as to ask my brother if he would donate one of his), claimed to have polymyositis (widespread inflammation, loss of, and weakness of the muscles which she stated would ultimately effect her heart and be terminal), and claimed to have heart disease. Each of these claims did not get diagnosed after tests by her doctors. She has always been the victim-- whether she's the victim of something one of her friends did to her or something that one of her family did to her (ie: me, her sister, my brother, her father) or with these medical issues.

In regard to her health, she always had a weak fortitude since as far back as I can remember. She has always been tired and rarely physically active. She smoked a lot, never exercised, and was always sedentary. But above all-- she was always fatigued. Additionally, she has displayed the inability to handle discomfort, inconvenience, or pain. She would tell me stories of the dentist, gynecologist, and other medical visits from her childhood to present that were uncomfortable, inconvenient, or painful. And now, through experiences of my own with the same procedures, I have not felt the same. In fact, each of the experiences has been built up with anxiety due to what she had said, and then to my surprise, the experience was pleasant and comfortable.

In regard to her health, she had strange ailments pop up through the years such as 2nd degree burns at the beach in 1976 and toe nails falling off in the 1980's. Then starting at the end of the 1980's, she started to gain weight and hurt when moving. By the early 1990's she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  By 1995, she had surgery (hysterectomy). 

While she was in the hospital, she had fits of extreme hysteria. Her behavior was completely erratic, wild, and, well, crazy. She would say one thing, scream another, cry & plead, and was out of control. "Borderlines are prone to hysterical reactions. She is intolerant of discomfort, inconvenience, and pain. She may moan and groan, scream and cry primarily out of fear, not pain. When frightened, she becomes hostile. Her exaggerated responses confuse those who care for her" p 93 Lawson. I definitely didn't know what to do. I was confused and looked to my step-father for guidance. He seemed as bewildered as I was.

When she first came out of surgery, she asked for and looked to her friend for comfort. She rejected my affection, including holding my hand, having me caress her, and merely sitting next to her. I was ignored and eye-contact was avoided. I was puzzled as to what I had done to deserve this treatment. And then when it came to the evening, although I was supposed to stay the night in the room, she asked her friend to stay. I gathered my things and began to leave with my step-father. That's when the hysteria peaked. 

She went completely hysterical with yelling, screaming, and crying. I truly didn't know what to do as she was irrational and seemingly psychotic. My step-father had her friend and myself step out of the room so he could talk with her. We could hear her screaming, bawling, and freaking-out at him. Her behavior was bizarre. When he emerged from the room, he advised me to leave with him and for my mother's friend to stay.  I was still completely baffled as to why she was pushing me away but upset that I was leaving. My step-father was equally confused as we spoke about it on our way out to our cars. "Overreaction to pain or illness is a consequence of the inability to sooth or comfort herself. When she feels vulnerable, she is incapable of containing anxiety" p 93 Lawson.

I had observed this type of behavior when I was a child. When she had sun-burn at  the beach, I found her crawling on the floor, hysterical and yelling at my father (1976). When she went to the hospital when I was in high-school (1983), she was irrational and confusing: requesting one thing then scolding you for doing that, insisting she meant something else. The worst was the incident in 1995 mentioned above, but her behavior in 1999 was equally as scarring to me (mentioned below). Her hysteria was not limited to illnesses / ailments. A few examples are when she went hysterical when my Dad went on business trips (throughout the 1970's), went ballistic in the house (tearing it apart with my Dad ultimately restraining her on the living room floor- mid-70's), and threw herself down (hysterically crying) on the door-step of a family's home that I was babysitting (my Dad was awarded custody at the time- early 80's).

Now back to the mid-90's: I was very frustrated with my mother during the years of finding a diagnosis, as well as after the autoimmune disease diagnosis (1995). She wasn't doing anything to help her cause. Equally dysfunctional is the BPD completely neglecting her health as my mother did during these years (Lawson, p 64). My mother remained sedentary. She ate terribly. Although she had claimed to have stopped smoking, she was sneaking cigarettes whenever she could. She was very negative and not finding the positive in life. I would try to motivate her to exercise-- walk, stretch, get out-- but my ideas were always greeted with excuses. During this time, she would actually avoid going to the doctor and dentist. She was skipping follow-up treatments and taking herself off of her medications. She completely neglected her health.

She wielded the guilt-trip weapon during this time too. I was offered a position at a company across the country from where we both resided. She was dramatic, firm, and clear when she stated, "You wouldn't think of moving away when your mother is this sick... would you?" I ended up not taking the job. Ironically, we ended up estranged shortly after that due to  a package I recieved in the mail from my Dad that she went bonkers over: Here We Go Again 

By May of 1999, my brother and I decided to break the silence between our mother and us. We called her on Mother's Day. She carried on as if nothing ever happened. In July 1999, she ended up in the hospital for a pulmonary embolism. The condition was truly serious, and she wanted to see my brother. So I flew him down, got him from the airport, and had him stay with me. My mother wanted him to spend the night in the hospital with her, but he didn't feel comfortable with that. I don't blame him (it had been 9 years since they had seen each other and only a few months into the reconciliation). 

My mother, again, exhibited inappropriate and aggressive behavior while she was in the hospital. Keep in mind that this was the first time that my brother, mother, and me were all together in the same room in almost FIFTEEN years. My mother was acting like Mr. Hyde. I don't know what got into her, but there she was in the hospital bed, being very boisterous, pushy, and rotten. She became angered with my brother for not staying at her bedside day and night. She ranted that she didn't leave her mother's side when she was in the hospital- so she expected the same treatment. She was so angered with my brother that they ended up estranged again shortly after she was out of the hospital. Additionally, a topic that was never brought up in the past that she brought up out-of-the-blue was that I have a different father than my brother. She kept emphasizing that my brother "is ONLY" my half brother. Her behavior was not only dramatic but also inappropriate and out-of-place and with purpose. But what was that purpose? More about this period of time: In Through the Out Door

In regard to overreacting to illnesses: since her diagnosis of an autoimmune disease in 1995, my mother has claimed to have Rheumatoid Arthritis (inflammation of joints / tissues), Cushing's Disease (pituitary gland releases too much adrenocorticotropic hormone), Hashimoto's Disease (thyroid gland inflammation), Raynaud's Syndrome (vasospastic disorder causing discoloration of the fingers / toes), Sjogren's Syndrome (immune cells attack and destroy the exocrine glands that produce tears / saliva), chronic heart failure, polymyositis (weakness and/or loss of muscle mass in the proximal musculature, particularly in the shoulder and pelvic girdle), bladder dysfunction (went through an extensive battery of tests), kidney failure, heart failure, and more. Again, I have to stress that she DOES have an autoimmune disease; however, these other claims are above and beyond the autoimmune disease diagnosis and haven't been diagnosed by her doctors although she claims to be suffering from each. 

"Sucked-in and emotionally depleted" is how Lawson described the family of a BPD who overreacts and is dramatic with illness and accidents. Indeed, caring for a BPD mother who is ill yet lashes out and is purposefully hurtful and rejecting is challenging: on one hand, you feel sympathy and empathy, and then on the other hand, you feel the need to protect yourself from the abuse. The irrational behavior is incomprehensible, and the bizarre and hysterical behavior is frightening. All the way around, being a child of a BPD mother who exhibits these behaviors is terribly confusing, perplexing, and disorienting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Borderline Mother's Perspective | The Other Side of the Equation

The perspective of my blog has always been from my point-of-view: my experience with my personality disordered parents, namely my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) mother. I have written at length what I feel like or how I have perceived the actions of my mother compared to academic studies and more. 

After contemplating the subject for my next entry as well as being truly touched by a comment that a BPD /  new mother of a 15 month old baby left me, I started pondering the other side of the BPD equation: the BPD mother's perspective along with the struggles and successes of daily life.

Two sides to every story exist, so why not explore the other side of BPD. I emailed a contact that I have through Facebook who runs a page called Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder I asked her if she would like to provide a piece on what BPD feels like. Here is what this mother of 3 wrote about a typical meal at a restaurant with her kids: 

my most vivid description of what it feels like in a day of BPD

panic is always there. frustration as well. I expect too much from people, I think. 

my girls are good kids. really great kids. I am lucky, and yet I still find their flaws and get upset. 

I don't want them to act like that in public. their voices are too loud. they are too excited. they are too.....what? happy? why am I getting upset that they are overjoyed to be having dinner at IHop with me? 

I dont know but it doesn't change the fact that I am now frustrated and panicky. 

breathe, I think. Holly, just breathe. remember your girls are amazing little beings that are so much more well behaved than most. breathe. oh fudge, she's laughing too loud again. darn it. chew with your mouth closed! I think, fudge! how hard is that?

I have to get out of here. I have to get them out of here and back home where no one can see their misbehavior. where no one can judge me. where no one can look at me. 

I know what they are thinking. she's too young to have 3 kids. I bet they arent even with one guy. they probably all have different dads. whore. worthless whore. can't she control them? pathetic. what a horrible mother. why do they let people like her have kids? sick. get me out of here I am screaming in my head. 

trying to keep that fake smile on my face. trying to at least let the girls have a good time. hurry please, I say to my youngest. hurry. you need to eat. we are waiting on you. oh my gosh, we are leaving now so better finish your FOOD! 

oh fudge, Holly, calm down. you're being ridiculous. please calm down. fudge, here come the tears. I didn't mean to raise my voice. I didn't mean to. I AM a horrible mother. oh shoot, I can't do this. this was a stupid idea. what have I done? we have to leave. please hurry. please eat faster. fudge, I'm going to have a panic attack. fudge fudge fudge. shoot, I'm not smiling. 

just get everyone to the car, Holly. you'll be safe there. no one can see you there. it's too dark out. go go go - now go! please! 

darn it, I ruined it again. why am I like this? fudge, Holly, get out of your head and pay attention to the freaking road. darn it. just calm down. breathe breathe breathe. turn the music up, then you won't be able to hear them and when you can't answer their questions, they can't get upset, right? 

shhhh. it's fine Holly. you're fine. it's ok. right? you're fine. just listen to the music. oh thank goodness, Led Zeppelin. yes, listen to that. I think I might be sinking. throw me a line if I read you the time....yes, just sing along Holly. ok. ok. I can do this. I can do this. ok. it's going to be ok. it will be. it has to be. please let it be. fudge.

Here is a bit about the struggles with marriage & BPD: 

I have recently had a set back though. where as I have been able to pull myself from the situation and evaluate my emotions and thoughts and decipher which ones are only my BPD and which ones are true and valid ones, recently it has been getting rougher to do. I am beginning to question myself again. wondering if I am truly "seeing" the full picture. or am I only convincing myself that the BPD thoughts and feel ARE the valid ones?

the blurred lines have been running through my head for the last couple weeks and with them comes doubts on many other decisions that I have made. questions such as "am i feeling this way mainly because of the holidays?" (which are always a time of general upset for me) and "why am I suddenly doubting when I was so proud and sure before?" "is it time for therapy again?" "what about medication?"

to be completely honest, these worries come from upsets currently going on in my marriage. I refuse to go into detail about any of this, but my husband and I are at a point where it seems like neither one of us are satisfied with the "solutions" that the other has come up with. I feel that I am reverting back to the norm of being the one who is wrong in the relationship. I have almost always been the one at fault. this is 100% honesty. most of our marital problems have come from the way I process life, due to BPD and other factors. I have been very lucky to have a husband who is very accepting, very calm, and helps when he can.

so what is the problem? it boils down to this. I believe that in the current situation we are both somewhat at fault, and I feel that he is not willing to negotiate. I feel that he says he will (possibly to shut me up for the time being, but that could very possibly be a BPD thought), but never actually follows through with the negotiations. so now I am doubting even those feelings. am I being my over-dramatic self when I feel this way? or am I validated? I can't give an honest answer.

The final writing explores the ability to function on a daily basis: 

it shakes my whole being to think that something I was so sure of can be so suddenly put into question. by my own head. so who needs the therapy? me? us as a couple? him? all of the above? none of the above? and if we do need therapy how can I convince him that it is not a shot at his masculinity to seek therapy? (I believe a lot of men are brought up to feel that problems should be kept within the family) ugh. maybe I have not come as far as i made myself believe I had.

ready go. ready go. motivate motivate motivate! come on Holly, the house needs cleaned. you need to finish washing all the bedding at least. yeah what a brilliant idea that was to do. grr. do "normal" people feel this fatigued? ever? I just want to sleep. all day, all night. nope, can't do that. 3 little girls depend on you. 

did I cook dinner yet? fudge. what time is it? I know they just ate some strawberries....yeah, nice try Holly. that doesn't count as dinner. fudge. ok, you can do this. it's just dinner and laundry, right? why does it have to be this hard? 

when is my husband coming back? what day is it? ok, he will be here tomorrow. wait, he will be here TOMORROW! fudge, I have to clean this house up. I swear I just did this, like, yesterday. or was it the day before? or longer? darn it. 

wow, I suck at life. when do people get to start enjoying this crap? or do normal people enjoy it already? fudge. oh well. frozen pizzas, I guess. it is Friday, right? no big deal....I'm a freaking failure. who am I kidding? they all see it. I know it. fudge.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Silent Treatment by Borderline Mothers

The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse in which contempt, disapproval and displeasure are displayed through nonverbal gestures while maintaining verbal silence. Additionally, the silent treatment is the cold shoulder, complete silence, distance, feigned apathy, and being ignoring. The goal of the  punishment is to make the victim feel unimportant, not valued, and not cared about. As a form of non-physical punishment and control, the abuser believes if she doesn't physically harm then she is not an abuser; however, the silent treatment IS emotional abuse. The silent treatment is a form of erasing someone from the abuser's existence without the benefit of closure or a good bye or a chance at reconciliation.

The Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) mother may rage when angry, but many times she may use silent treatments. The BPD mother uses the silent treatment to torture the child(ren) that she professes to love.  The silent treatment is a very narcissistic example of the lack of emotional regulation of the BPD. The silent treatment is control, and a safe means for them to avoid any  'uncomfortable' topics, issues in the relationship, or issues within herself; therefore, the silence is an abdication of personal responsibility. 

Kimberly Roth, the author of Surviving a Borderline Parent, encountered many children of borderline parents who said they felt crazy growing up. "They experienced a lot of inconsistencies—an action or statement that earned praise one day would touch off a three-day, stony silent treatment the next—as well as sudden outbursts and overreactions." So they never learn to trust their own judgment or feelings. The most important element to recovery, she says, is to accept that you're not crazy and that "it wasn't me."

Throughout my life, my BPD mother has used the silent treatment as well as other ways of ignoring me as a way of 'punishing' me. Starting as a small child, she would lock herself in her room for up to days at a time. She would not speak to my brother and me unless absolutely necessary. Thankfully we had my Dad with which to communicate and to care for us. She continued this pattern into my adulthood-- with the worst episodes when I lived with her as a teenager. The pain and shame and feeling of isolation was overwhelming. I tried to reach out to others during this highly emotionally abusive time (my step-father, my friend, my friend's mother) but was only subjected to my mother's retaliation.

As a teenager, I was banished to the basement for 90 days, only allowed to leave to perform house and yard work. During this time, my mother wouldn't speak to me. I was completely ignored and isolated as I wasn't allowed to use the phone. I tried to appeal to my step-father's common sense, but in the midst of telling my point-of-view, my mother arrived in the basement and told him not to speak to me. She called me a bitch, and they both left. So, not only did I not have her speaking to me, but she prohibited my step-father from speaking to me as well as my ability to talk on the phone to others.  

She also used notes to communicate during these silent treatment times. She wouldn't talk to me for a long period of time. Then she would start leaving notes for me around the house. Each note would get further and further off-base from the issue-- very bizarre writings. The notes would truly make me sick to my stomach as her illness was clearly apparent in these surreal and bizarre writings. Those outbursts and over-reactions that Roth referred to above were very apparent in these notes. More about this period of time: Run Forrest Run

When I went off to college, she became enraged because I didn't come home one weekend to see her. I tried to talk to her about the situation but she repeatedly hung-up on me. Instead, she used letter writing to communicate. She wouldn't talk to me on the phone (silent treatment), but she would send letter after letter-- each letter getting further and further from the truth and the issue.  She eventually wrote that she didn't want me home for Thanksgiving ... then Christmas... and then ultimately she put my possessions on the street. I never responded to the letters; however, the letters got so upsetting to my then boyfriend that he confronted her about her fabricated and distorted views. More about this period of time: Out of the Nest

By the time the information technology age arrived, her methods shifted from letter writing to emails. She wouldn't call me or my then fiance (now husband) back on the phone (silent treatment) but she would fire off a series of emails to anyone that she had an email address. Her lack of emotional regulation was very apparent as she fired off inappropriate and delusional emails to my work colleagues, collegiate colleagues, future in-laws, friends, and more. More about this period of time: Little Women 

Regardless if she gave me the silent treatment, left notes laying around the house, mailed me letters, or sent me emails, my mother has been incapable of honestly and openly discussing the issues at hand. The issues root to her fear of abandonment and rejection as well as her hypersensitivity to the topic of my Dad, her divorce from my Dad, and those she feels have hurt her. She has chosen time and time again to alienate herself from those around her by estranging herself from her daughter (me), her son, her sister, her father, and countless others. Rather than working through challenges, she claims the victim stance and retreats. And with the retreating, she comes ruthless with her words on paper.  

So, my mother's silent treatment was not merely the absence of speaking. She added the element of note writing, letter writing, and sending emails as a form of control. With these methods she was able to refuse to communicate until she was ready to stop punishing-- and then she was able to one-sidely present her compoundingly and exponentially distorted, convoluted, and fabricated point of view. She was vicious with her words-- and still is as my brother is still in communication with her and received some very scathing and ruthless emails and texts from her. When she disagrees with him, she will not speak to him on the phone, but she will send him texts with harsh profanity (telling him to "f*&k off" repeatedly for example) and telling him how horrible he is.

Her silent treatment has always made me feel not valued by her... unimportant to her ... and easily discarded. The fact that she can stop communicating with me so quickly and flip to denigrating me is amazing and tragic. She sings my praises for years to completely change her tune in a matter of seconds-- her over-reaction leading to estrangement, the ultimate form of silent treatment. And her outbursts switch from notes / letters / emails TO me ... to notes / letters / emails ABOUT me. My mother, with her silent treatments and estrangements, has left no ability to have closure-- ever-- with any of our issues through the years. Even after a silent treatment or estrangement ended, nothing that transpired ever was discussed.

For those of you suffering from the silent treatment, please do not internalize the abuse. Remember that the silent treatment is passive aggressive and by no means resolves any of the extenuating issues. Remember also that you are worthy of being recognized, acknowledged, respected, and dignified with a response. And remember that you are not crazy ... and that it's not you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Daughters of Madness | Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Adulthood

Continuing from my discussion about Daughters of Madness: Infants, Early Childhood, Middle Childhood, the last sections of Susan Nathiel's book covers adolescence, young adulthood, and adulthood. 

Adolescence: The adolescence section covers how very controlling mothers search through daughters' possessions in a violent and intrusive way (p 85). Specifically, personality-disordered mothers undermine privacy and do so in a demeaning way -- and my mother was no exception. And after the violation of trust, she would make the situation out to be my fault. Equally confusing, which this section also covers, is the silent treatment. My mother used the silent treatment often which led to her leaving crazy notes around the house. Once she was over her anger and rage, the incident would never be spoken of again. As one of the women cited in the book stated, "I could never figure out what I could have done wrong. I was a straight A student. I tried my best at everything. I never knew what she was thinking was so bad about me" (p 86).

Further, the adolescence section covers how the personality-disordered mother makes dating difficult, seemingly on purpose (p 86). My mother was very inappropriate around boys who arrived to take me on a date. She would flirt, strut, and wear revealing clothes. She batted her eye lashes and engage in inappropriate conversation. All of this was an attempt to be "cool." Nathiel further explores the mother in public, which experiences can be embarrassing and shameful. My mother attracted attention by being inappropriate. One episode particularly stands out: we were  dining at a very fine dining restaurant with a large group of people. I didn't know any of the people, and my mother only knew one. During dinner, which was very formal and filled with dining etiquette, my mother spoke loudly and fully about her hysterectomy. I remember feeling very embarrassed and wanting to crawl under the table and hide. Horrified dinner guests stared back at my mother as she continued to tell the gruesome and gross tale.

An evaluation of the Borderline in regard to Emotional Intelligence: The Borderline and Emotional Intelligence

Young Adulthood: Predominately through my adolescence, I set my sights to get through high-school so I could leave for college on my own-- to break free. Nathiel (p 114) tells of Pat who also "got out of there as soon as I could." I kept telling myself that if I could survive those high-school years, I would be out on my own and taking care of myself-- no more confusion, manipulations, fear, anxiety, and craziness.

Although I made it out of the mess, I felt terrible leaving my brother behind. I stayed in touch (coming home for weekends) but an estrangement instigated by my mother shortly ensued. With my brother still in high-school, I managed to stay close and in-touch with him during the weekends. On p 123, one of the interviewed stated that she felt really guilty about leaving her younger sister alone with her parents. Although we were free, we still didn't find that happiness and peace knowing that our sister / brother was left in the midst of the craziness. And my brother ended up homeless shortly after as my mother kicked him out.

Nathiel also discusses resilience through this period, which I definately found solace in my running, writing, and music. Many of the people Nathiel interviewed also had similar tactics to survive these years (p 114 - 118). Young adulthood features going out into the world-- and the need to create boundaries. Nathiel talks about the establishment of appropriate boundaries, and with my mother, once we repaired our relationship after a 5 year estrangement, my mother began to press those boundaries. 

Regardless, I didn't let anything stop me. I was a business woman, single and on-my-own, and enjoying all facets of life. My mother would say how she would have loved to experience how I was living but she had to raise two kids at my age. She would attempt to make me feel badly when I planned a trip away with friends-- always stressing the fact that she had to raise kids. A reminder from my childhood: my mother told my brother and me that if she had a chance to do life again, she wouldn't have kids. So, these words continue to resonate, even into young adulthood.

Another point that Nathiel makes is that the young adult goes as far and as fast as they can, without looking back (p 124). I completely understand this statement as I lived this. I went out into the world, full gusto, and became the independent person. I didn't rely on anyone but myself, and I didn't look back. I actually didn't start to analyze my childhood / adolescence / young adulthood until my 30's when I was in the midst of another estrangement brought on by my mother. I was completely confused at this point, debating where I could claim responsibility and where my mother was responsible. I would discuss and analyze with my dear friends until the wee-hours of the morning. No matter how I assessed the situation, being rejected by my mother was not an easy situation to rationalize. 

Adulthood: Into adulthood, I had a relationship with my mother but a very superficial and not authentic. Nathiel expresses that by this point, "someone with so many layers of nonverbal and verbal memory, and so much early instability and deficit, can come to integrate all of this into some coherent whole sense of self without having a good therapist at some point" (p 139). My saving grace, my huge fortune in life, was my friends who opened their ears and hearts to me. I spent countless hours discussing with my friends about my relationship (or lack thereof) with my mother. I also bought book after book after book, reading to try to understand my mother and to figure out what I could do to have a healthy and happy relationship with her. 

We had been in and out of estrangements from my childhood up to this point of adulthood. Nathiel talks about cutting off contact. She states that no-contact is powerful and establishes a feeling of adult equality. If the parent is powerful enough to reject and wound the child, the child grown up may need to retaliate, powerfully, when she is strong enough (p 143). Interestingly, the estrangements with my mother have been started by her. Her fear of abandonment and rejection result in a self-fulfilling prophecy with her cutting ties with me then claiming to be the victim (primary characteristic of BPD). Nathiel has some poignant observations about no-contact in this same section, mainly regarding boundaries and stopping chaotic situations that the parent has pulled the adult child into. 

Some powerful passages are contained in this section regarding elderly mothers and mothers as grandmothers. The one that really struck me was when one of the interviewed was by her mother's deathbed. She couldn't hug her but was able to say that she was happy her mother isn't suffering anymore. The strength that this daughter exhibited is amazing. Another powerful passage is where one of the interviewed talked about having a child and with that child she realized all the things her own mentally ill mother had missed. I can totally relate. She continues by saying, "I never felt sorry for myself, and I never saw how much I missed. But I saw how much she missed as a mother-- she never made that kind of connection to me at all. It was overwhelming" (p 161). These are very profound statements that I have felt reverberate through my experiences being a mother. 

After-thoughts & More: The book closes with some after-thoughts, what do we need to learn, and an appendix of the interviewed biographies. The after-thoughts wrap the book up nicely, noting that many of the mothers are unwilling to change-- which I feel is the case with my mother. She not only doesn't want to change but she doesn't want to talk about any of it and doesn't want to claim responsibility.  She would rather continue the facade of being the victim. Additionally powerful is the discussion of violations of trust. The crux of my issues with my mother at this point are trust. I cannot trust her-- she has attacked and rejected me repeatedly through my entire life. She is a known danger that I cannot trust around my daughter. And I also don't want my husband or myself further hurt by her. As many of the interviewed stated, the worst part of being a "daughter of madness" is not having a mother. I can say that is true for me too. And in regard to the best part of being a "daughter of madness" is having resilience. 

Overall, this book was very insightful, rich with interviews of daughters of madness. The sections were effectively woven together and synthesized into a powerful narrative that speaks for daughters of mentally ill mothers. I learned a great deal of how emotional abuse and experiences while we are infants effects us into adulthood. I also appreciate how our experiences with our mentally ill mothers mirror each other-- just as if our mothers had a physical ailment that manifested itself with the same symptoms, our mother's mental illness manifest themselves with similar symptoms. Daughters of madness have this common bond.