For the Love of Mother
By Shari Schreiber,
never met a lesbian who didn't have significant issues with her
mother. This isn't to suggest they don't exist--I just haven't encountered
one during the course of my personal and professional life.
of the most destructive relationship problems that exists in the
dynamic between a Borderline and her mother is enmeshment
(the inability to sense where the mother's feelings, needs and opinions
end--and the child's begin). Crippling enmeshment difficulties keep
the Self from maturing, evolving and finding a viable/healthy sense
of autonomy in relation to a mother who has borderline personality
features. In short, this child is brainwashed to see life solely
from the mother's (warped) perspective from infancy onward, and
her own sense of reality is dangerously distorted and precariously
enmeshed child is unable to forge a sense of separateness, and believe
she can continue to exist past the mother's death. Varying levels
of anxiety are held concerning this matter, throughout her life.
Think of this fused bond as being akin to conjoined twins. The mother
is heavily reliant on her child for sustenance, in terms of attention,
care and mirroring, and a daughter always complies for
fear of emotional repercussions, or somehow contributing to the
increased infirmity or imminent demise of her mother. This guilt
is stifling on so many levels, it has to intrude on one's
personal and professional choices.
mother makes certain her daughter knows that she can't survive without
her, and that she's the guardian of Mom's pleasure and
pain. These early dynamics set a young kid up for very specific
in adulthood, which can propel her into the arms of needy/clingy
Borderlines. On a subconscious level, her valiant efforts to rescue/repair
a partner and fortify self-worth despite the other's abandoning
or abusive behaviors, replicate her girlhood
blueprint for attachment. It's hard to struggle free from this
insidious hook, and many never escape dreaded feelings of obligation,
until the offending parent is dead and buried.
significant part of this reflex is a carry-over from childhood demands
to be a 'perfect little girl' in order to get any nourishing attention--or
avoid severe penalty for displeasing the mother. Borderlines typically
despise and distrust other females (even their daughters), due to
painful, unresolved attachment issues emanating from early relational
experiences with their own mother.
been inextricably entwined with anguish since infancy. Powerful
needs for self-reliance are spawned by attachment difficulties
with the mother, due to inadequate bonding in the first year of
life. Symbiotic deficits during this phase of development are rife
with lack of emotional attunement and missed opportunities for gratification,
due to the mother's incapacity to intuitively respond to her baby's
cries and interpret their meaning as to her infant's immediate
needs. This lack of attunement usually derails trust in others and
Self for a lifetime, and causes one to couple with lovers who echo
these painful early/primal frustrations and sense memories.
lesbians have grown up needing affection, mirroring and love from
a single mother, but had to submerge these needs, as Mommy was too
busy giving the lion's share of her attention to various lovers.
My hypothesis that a little girl's wish to become very like
those who received central focus and vital emotional supplies from
her mom, seems (at least) intriguing, if not viable.
might presume that homosexual couplings aren't as fraught with issues
of mistrust that can be inherent within mixed gender partnerships.
After all, we may readily understand our same-sex partner, because
they're so like us. But this presumption can get us into
hot water, if we're primarily meeting females who have personality
disorder traits similar to the gal who raised us.
tend to throw themselves quickly into high-intensity relationships.
The long-standing joke within this community is; What does a lesbian
bring to her second date? A U-haul. There
appears to be little emotional caution exercised among these females--and
if sexual chemistry is present, that's all they need to plunge in
head-first (you should pardon the expression), before testing the
depths of those waters, and discerning true compatibility.
It's as if they don't want to look before they leap, for fear of
disappointment or at best, delayed gratification. Still, the pain
they fear, is precisely what they've invited.
arrest is a by-product of abandonment or abuse trauma. This catalyzes
a subconscious determination to seek gratification for one's earliest
cravings/yearnings relating to (primal) infancy and childhood needs,
that were grossly neglected, disregarded or overlooked.
Without proper help, our earliest primal wounds remain alive, and
our deep needs to get them met can feel overwhelming. Attachments
motivated by unmet physical needs of infancy and childhood for holding,
touch, soothing, etc., propel the lesbian into fiercely intense
bonding experiences which can ultimately turn painful, confounding
and destructive. When sensual and sexual need satisfaction is compelling
enough, she'll remain far too long, even though her adult needs
for emotional, cerebral and spiritual connection aren't being met.
Until these early deficits are resolved/healed, primal/infantile
needs for instant gratification will always take precedence
over grown-up needs.
isn't terribly uncommon among Borderlines, and perhaps it's part
of their profound need for attention and nourishment from whatever
sources are available and accessible in the moment. In essence,
seduction opportunity is doubled.
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
unresolved rage issues toward Mother could catalyze a Borderline's
detachment from any/all aspects of femininity within the Self, and
spawn bi- or homosexuality, transvestism or transgenderism and sexual
reassignment surgeries. She may continue searching for an external
solution to her despair and dissatisfaction--but happiness is an
inside job. With each attachment to a
new female, her hope for healing the mother-wound is revived. Sadly,
few partners are equipped to provide this soothing, and a Borderline
will usually triangulate
relationships with partners who are--for an available/responsive
lover doesn't trigger painfully intense sensations associated with
unrequited longing for a mother's acceptance, approval
individual with BPD features can push your buttons like nobody else
can. You'll keep trying to take the 'higher road' and intervene
with her as calmly and rationally as possible, but your efforts
are futile. Regardless of how hard you try to problem-solve without
igniting her disproportionately volatile and dramatic reactions,
you fail. She'll do and say things that'll trigger your rage, and
there isn't a darned thing you can do about it. Just like a 3-year
old, she needs to push the envelope with you, to find out where
your limits are.
this darker side of your nature gets activated, you'll feel ashamed
and guilty afterwards. The Borderline might even add to this, by
telling you how deeply you've hurt them (but they're the
one who's lit that flame!). Still, this facet of you could have
gotten drowned and discarded in childhood, because God knows, you
never wanted to be like your rageful parent, who took their
anger out on You. No in fact, you wanted to be just the opposite
you're damned if you take a stand for yourself--and damned if you
don't. Sitting with that debilitating guilt you feel after
one of those bouts, and the ways you punish yourself for
these outbursts, is more painful than numbing-out with booze or
pot, giving in--and just not making waves. And that's the rub
that keeps you with this tormenting individual.
feel compelled to stick around, no matter how critical and diminishing
she is to you, which is tied to an issue called 'learned helplessness'
that you acquired as a little girl--and it's left you with masochistic
A lover who's elusive, cruel,
or just emotionally and/or physically unavailable can trigger painful
sensations that replicate what you may have experienced
as a child, seeking a loving/responsive parent. This emotionally
inadequate, yet dramatically felt type of episode can function as
a powerful catalyst that inspires a tenacious (and vaguely familiar)
pursuit to seduce this object of desire
into reciprocating your attention and ardor.
Since the intense feelings
that are invoked by this dynamic are compelling and addictive, anybody
who awakens them,
seems addictive too! In the rare instance an attachment is successfully
formed, rejection by your lover can set in motion an internal re-enactment
of childhood abandonment trauma, which drudges up excruciating sensations
of inadequacy and shame that are nearly impossible to tolerate.
Punishment of the Self (compulsive, addictive reflexes or destructive,
acting-out behavior) usually accompanies or follows this kind of
JUST THE FACTS, MAM
not terribly unusual for two people with borderline traits to engage--and
regardless of the psycho-babble you may have read elsewhere, anyone
who's done meaningful work with borderlines would be aware of that
fact. Still, this coupling presents a highly combustible mix; their
respective pathology draws them to each other--but the mutual harm/damage
that's sustained by both parties in this type of dynamic is considerable.
It should also be noted, that a person involved with a Borderline
for even a limited time, can temporarily be prone to adopting psychotic
(BPD) symptomology, due to proximal exposure. That's why we call
their behaviors, "crazy-making."
grew up with so much instability and torment, the only way they
learned how to survive, was to block out that pain--or take
control of it. This is why they'll pick fights with you, and
disrupt any loving/positive time you spend together.
a child who's basically grown up in a war zone, life never felt
stable for very long--and as soon as it did, the rug was pulled
out from under them again. This has lead to an adaptive reflex of
always anticipating disaster; it's the only thing that brings them
any comfort, and eases the horrible anxiety of impending disappointment
or trauma that surely awaits, after the calm. For the Borderline,
pain is always
around the corner--no matter what. Being the one to initiate
the pain rather than being at the effect of it, gives them some
semblance of control, which is their payoff for
starting turmoil. It's also why they must abandon you, before you
can do it to them!
to be in control of their pain, is what
actually prompts self-mutilation in Borderlines. Cutting and burning
their skin or voraciously digging at blemishes until there's significant
damage to adjacent tissue, provides distraction and transient relief
from their (uncontrollable) emotional anguish. Watching their physical
wounds heal, gives them a glimmer of hope that other trauma may
ultimately subside/resolve as well. This description is only one
layer of the self-mutilation phenomena, which is tied to self-defeating
behavior patterns. Self-sabotage in Borderlines has become habituated.
It's automatic and reflexive~ none of this is consciously driven
Borderline's perfectionism can drive endless plastic surgery procedures,
which may begin earlier, rather than later in life. Her inner pain,
emptiness and self-loathing dramatically distort how she views her
physical being--and she believes that if she fixes all her (imagined)
external flaws, she can feel happy and lovable. She could also invest
in body ornamentation like tattoos, piercings, jeweled implants,
etc., that temporarily ease her self-hatred and body dysphoria.
Endorphin rush is triggered by these painful procedures, which is
part of their appeal, much like self-cutting, burning or pulling
out hair (Tricotillomania)
temporarily ameliorates emotional distress.
MUST BE FIFTY WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER.
yourself from this relationship is far easier said than done~ and
if that weren't true, you would have left long before now. Perhaps
you're aware of her abandonment issues, health concerns, family
dramas, etc., that have kept you struggling with tremendous guilt
but now it's appropriate to take care of you! Borderlines
are extraordinarily resourceful (survivors always are). She managed
just fine before You came along, and she'll get through
you exiting this relationship, too.
will be inclined to assume your Borderline feels exactly as you
do, about this split--but it's simply not true. Borderline personalities
become proficient at dissociating from pain during infancy
and early childhood. They don't relate to emotional or physical
discomfort like you do, because they cannot hold onto feelings of
any type for extended periods. This is why you've wrestled
with all those annoying come-here/go-away cycles in the relationship!
Sustainable feelings (love, anger, joy) cannot be retained by someone
with BPD--and neither can pain.
now, your real drama unfolds. She may suddenly "want to
talk," whereas before, you couldn't even approach
having an adult conversation, without an act of congress! This has
you thinking; Gee, maybe she really 'gets it' now, and there's a
chance we can actually make it together. Wrong.
simply gotten her attention, 'cause you're half-way out the door,
and you aren't allowed to abandon a Borderline. EVER! At
this point, she'll likely come across as very lucid and mature,
plead with you not to go, promise you the moon--or make it sound
like she doesn't care that you're leaving. In any case, you can't
trust any of it as genuine/true. Yes, I know you'll
want to, but you've probably been here several times before,
and this time will be no different. She may monitor or control her
bad behaviors for a week or so, but the same frustrating/perplexing
patterns won't have evaporated, and you're right back in the soup.
Once again all your hopes are dashed--and you're either depressed
while mourning this loss, or your (inner)
child's optimism and wishful thinking make you wanna give it
one last shot.
attempt at reconciliation resuscitates your exquisite dream that
it might be different this time. You're ready/willing to make special
concessions and adjustments, which side-step all the usual triggers
that have disrupted your harmony before--if you can remember
them. The trouble with a Borderline, is the rules
keep changing--and there's no way to find a solid footing, or trust
that you've finally gotten it right with this person. Does
this remind you of anyone you know? (Mom, maybe??)
airs a reality series which is a spin-off from The L-Word.
"The Real L-Word" acquaints you with the typical BPD drama,
chaos and come-here/go-away behaviors of highly watchable, likable
females who seek love, but push it away the instant it's within
their grasp. It's fun to watch, and educational.
you start letting go of the fantasy of having a functional coupling
with a dysfunctional gal, you'll feel sad, empty and lonely. Grief
is like that--and there's no way around it. Abandonment and loss
issues from childhood get triggered, and you'll need a little help/support
to navigate this phase in a manner that helps you heal
and make solid sense of that relationship (and why the heck you
stayed so long).
may feel a need to rub salt in your wounds by making it seem like
her life is spectacular after your affair has ended. This
feels invalidating to you, and it's her defense against authentic
feelings of loss. Do not believe this rubbish, even if it comes
to you by way of your 'friends' who feel compelled to stick their
noses where they don't belong. She might be rebounding, and in the
Honeymoon stage with another gal, but her outcomes will always
be the same~ it's just a matter of time.
YOU'VE LEFT, NO REPLY IS THE BEST REPLY.
it comes to somebody who's borderline disordered, it ain't
over till the fat lady sings--and walking out that door could
truly prove to be the easiest part of this deal, both practically
she has Waif or Hermit features, her victim/martyr aspects will
get stirred, and you'll feel shameful for "deserting"
such a fragile, pitiful creature. If she has Queen traits, you'll
instantly hear about how easily you can be replaced. If there are
Witch features, she'll make the most vile/abusive statements to
you, which will have you wondering if she ever loved you in the
you're expecting to feel good about having left, because your rational
and logical self understands this is a toxic relationship, you've
got another thing coming. We're programmed from early childhood
to believe that right choices bring favorable outcomes--but
in reality, they usually leave us hurting, which makes us question
the decisions we've made! Right choices are the hardest to make,
because they test our mettle, raise self-respect and help our character
you've found the exceptional courage to break-off from someone with
BPD, and you're bombarded/harassed with texts, emails and phone
calls that feel guilting, cajoling/seducing, shaming and crazy-making
because they're also pleading pitifully to have you come
back, make certain you read this psycho-woman
phone message log to help you maintain no contact! There's
nothing to be gained by hitting this ball back across the net, but
reading or listening to her messages, will keep you swirling in
massive pain and confusion. Delete them as soon as they come in--or
send them to a 'save' folder, just in case you need evidence for
filing a restraining order up ahead. I know you don't think
it'll come to that, and I hope it won't--but you never know how
far a Borderline will go, to harm you or your property.
are not equipped to assist this female. Most trained professionals
even have a tough time working with BPD patients/clients--and avoid
taking them on for this very reason. Borderline Personality Disorder
springs from archaic
wounds that are way beyond your ability to respond to, manage
or mend. I can respect your altruistic
desires--but this'll be like trying to save someone who's drowning--and
in the process, you'll risk submerging/sacrificing yourself.
Borderline continuously searches for affection, acceptance and approval,
due to extreme deficits in childhood. Her needs for closeness and
emotional safety overwhelm her--but while she might seek these elements
in a lover, she's really looking to recover from her primal wounds
from Mother. These profound needs are displaced
onto romantic partners--but as she begins to feel that they can
actually be responded to, deeply entrenched abandonment terror is
invoked. This reaction is automatic and reflexive, and so is her
retreat. Does this perpetual no-win cycle ever end? Not without
specialized recovery work.
you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod this app will let you hear
MY BPD LOVER BE RIGHT ABOUT ME?
may phone with questions, but I
do not offer online/written therapy. Only emails under
150 words are read, due to time constraints. Please
be clear/concise, and expect a straight answer within four to six