Being raised by a mother with Borderline Personality Disorder, I learned early on that love=chaos. It was a normal occurrence in my home to be verbally and/or physically abused, followed by a trip to the mall to pick out a new outfit. My mother would try to teach me how to cook, but if I was not assisting to her liking, she would yell, “I do not need an audience!” while breaking dishes. If I folded towels incorrectly, she would proceed to throw the laundry on the ground, kicking me repeatedly. In public, she was mother of the year. Strangers were always commenting on what polite children she had. Inside, I was struck with fear and anxiety. I grew to dread holidays and vacations. If there were any imperfections, my mother would act irrationally. Sometimes canceling a trip half way through or returning every single Christmas gift we bought her. My mother would encourage me to be her best friend, divulging my anger, fear, and confusion to her. These conversations were then used against me. My mother would leave for days at a time, abandoning me to think about the words I had said to her, manifesting extreme guilt. My parents started sleeping in separate rooms for the last ten years of their marriage, and I thought this was perfectly normal. This was love: stressful, abandonment, disrespectful, manipulative, abusive and involved zero communication between partners.
I vowed to never let anyone get close to me, for they would surely abandon me. I chose my partners wisely, gravitating towards partners who needed to be fixed. Some were very kind and some would replicate behavior from my childhood, which I felt very comfortable with. As soon as the relationship became more serious, I would sabotage it. I did so through cheating, forcing myself to not care anymore, abusing them, or simply walking away with no explanation. After years of this self-destruction, an amazing soul walked into my life. He did not need fixing. He wanted to love me despite my fears and flaws. We became best friends! He had an amazing childhood and grew up with loving parents, which I resented him for. I would slam doors, break up with him on a regular basis, tell him how worthless he was, and still he would not leave. He continued to tell me that I had a kind heart at my core. Me? Kind? He would not let me leave. After three years together, I left him. Reflecting on his continuous love, despite my horrible behavior, truly moved me. It was because of this man that I decided to change my life. I went to therapy for the first time and decided to divorce my mother. I have not had a relationship with my mother in years, and I could not be happier! I continued to eliminate learned behaviors by going to therapy consistently. After three years, I am proud to say that I now know how to love myself! I have been able to receive love without fleeing!
I am still growing every day. For anyone struggling with an abusive childhood, I promise, you are stronger than you know.