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Hendrix, cont.

We know that people with BPD often invest all their hopes and emotions in a single relationship; they latch on to someone, idealizing the new partner/savior and expecting unconditional love. They’re destined for disappointment, of course, because no partner is perfect.

Unwittingly, however, they have also selected a friend or lover with the same exact flaws as their childhood caregivers, if Harville Hendrix’s theory has validity. The relationship is fated to be rocky. The person with BPD may have even less predisposition to adjust, to perceive the patterns, to recognize their own part in the problems than the rest of us.

I wonder if it would help patients to point out the pattern. You, like all the rest of us (we could say), have deliberately but unconsciously fallen for someone indisposed to provide what you need. Complaining and accusing are the least effective means to change that person. Only by recognizing the patterns from childhood and not blaming yourself or the other person can you address the problems in the relationship.

My mother, for instance, maintained a cool distance with people outside the home. She was friendly and pleasant, but never invested anything of herself in these relationships. She put all her eggs in her husband’s basket, and then her kids’. We were supposed to make her happy, but we didn’t.

I can’t say whether my dad possessed her parents’ flaws, a al Hendrix. She maintained a high regard for my dad, despite his disappointing her by becoming a paraplegic. She spoke highly of him but not so highly to him. Instead, she was often critical and impatient. Then we daughters let her down in turn, merely by being ourselves.

None of these essential close relationships worked for her. She seemed unable to adapt. She couldn’t accept us as we were; each of us missed an invisible and unattainable mark.

One Comment

  1. Mary wrote:

    This is an extremely powerful entry. That you let your mother down “merely by being” yourselves is an excellent description of my experience as well, the lifelong pain I have felt in being the daughter of a mother whom I believe suffers from BPD. Thank you for expressing this so perfectly.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

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