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Difficult Moms

Medea, a Difficult Mom

Whenever I talk about the subject of my book, at parties or with other groups, a few women around me begin to nod and then chime in with stories of their own mothers. I hate to malign moms, being one myself, but it seems that a number of us had challenging relationships with mothers who may not have had borderline personality disorder but at least exhibited some of its traits.

This is not so surprising. Studies have shown around two to three percent of Americans suffer from BPD (most of them women). A 2009 study, in fact, indicated that a whopping six percent are so inclined. That amounts to three times the number of Alzheimers patients, an astounding 18 million people. If these figures are true, a lot of us had borderline mothers. I’ve written about this phenomenon before (here and here).

When people hear my experience, they want to share their own. The dialogue begins with horror stories, but after some venting, it can move gradually toward understanding and even forgiveness. The more you know about the disorder, frustrating and infuriating as it can be, the more you realize that the sufferer struggles more than you do. I’ll admit this is an easier realization when your mom is gone, you have time to reflect, and you’re dealing with painful memories rather than ongoing anger and judgments.

Even unpublished, my book has begun the dialogue on a small scale.  Maybe you can relate. If so, what stories would you share?


  1. Annie Kachurek wrote:

    I have often said I should write a book about my childhood memories though my situation was a bit different. My father had bipolar disorder and was an Immigrant from Italy. Mom ran interference for him and tried to make life “normal” for us. Many of my dad’s manic moments have taken on a caric..ature like quality in my memory as I found that humor was the only way to deal with the pain

    Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink
  2. Brigitte wrote:

    Well, you already know my story. I have to say though that my mother’s borderline tendencies may have actually saved her (and us). If it wasn’t for her suicide attempt and subsequent stubbornness that caused her to quit taking her blood pressure meds she would never have gone to a nursing home. She quickly discovered that her manipulative ways would not be tolerated by anyone, and she eventually mellowed. She has been doing very well and is quite popular at the nursing home.

    Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  3. Mary Mudler wrote:

    My mother was an emotional cripple. She never learned that love shared grows and love horded or denied shrivels the soul.

    Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink
  4. Kathy wrote:

    My sisters and I make jokes, too, Annie, because sometimes that’s all you can do. Humor as a coping device is the subject of that Merrill Markoe post I mention.
    My mom did pretty well in a nursing home, also, Brigitte. Sometimes people with BPD fantasize about being hospitalized, because they feel the need for the caring and attention. And, Mary, I’m still being surprised how many of us there are with this experience.

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink
  5. Mary Mudler wrote:

    There is a good ending tho, I gave my kids exactly what I did not get and what I wanted from my mom-love and affection!

    Monday, August 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

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