Some people may think it’s a good thing to have two mothers. When both of your mother’s have traits of BPD it is nowhere near good. This may very well be the most difficult post I write. I mentioned at the beginning that I was adopted at three days old. I was taken home directly from the hospital by my adopted parents. They were always very honest about me being adopted, I had children’s books about adoption, a Precious Moments figurine of a child and parents holding an adoption certificate, and they were always willing to answer any questions I had. I was told constantly that I was special. Unique.
Growing up I was a Daddy’s Girl. I loved my dad more than anything. My mom and I never quite clicked though. I truly believe that even as a baby, there was a part of me that knew she wasn’t my mother. It was like an imposter was standing there. I love her, yes, of course I do, but there is something fundamental that is missing from our relationship. She has always claimed that I hated her, and I admit I do have a lot of anger towards her. And I suppose that I did hate her at one time. I think it was both good and bad that they were always honest about the adoption. I couldn’t imagine learning about being adopted at age 13 or something, but being told from day one had it’s own repercussions. I knew I wasn’t “theirs”, that I was different from my cousins and other family members. I have always known that my brain works differently than most people as well, which didn’t help the situation. From a very early age I thought that was the reason my biological mom gave me up. I was convinced that she knew I was no good and that’s why she got rid of me. Of course I was told over and over that she loved me so much that that’s the reason she put me up for adoption. She wanted me to have a better life than she could provide. I was told the amount of love needed to do that was more than I could imagine. My brain could not, would not, accept it. While my parents were in the process of adopting their second child, my sister Kit, they became pregnant with my youngest sister Ann. Kit and Ann are about 9 months apart in age. I don’t really remember, but I think Kit was brought home shortly before Ann was born. Now that I am an adult (chronologically anyways!) I understand how hard that must have been on my adopted mom. She was basically raising twins since they were so close in age and came home at about the same time. She started to suffer from severe panic attacks and I believe depression. That was the 1980’s, so the drug given to most patients at that time was Valium. So here I was, a big sister to two younger sisters that to me showed up out of nowhere. I am 4 years older than Kit, and 5 years older than Ann. Just stop and think about this for a moment. You have a 5 year old little girl who already knows she doesn’t fit in, she feels as if she doesn’t really belong, and out of the blue two more little girls show up. I felt as if I was being replaced. Here were my parents, telling me how special I was, but yet they bring home two more kids. The thinking process of a 5 year old…
Because my mom’s anxiety and depression was getting so bad I was often left to watch my sisters. By the time I was 7 years old I was a pro at changing diapers, feeding babies, and taking care of them in general. Kit and I were particularly close while growing up. Ann had my mom’s temperament and was prone to severe tantrums. It was not an easy atmosphere to live in. Kit and I always viewed it as Ann being our parents favorite because she was their biological child. Looking back, it is easier to understand how much energy Ann demanded. My adopted mom began to show more traits of BPD around this time. She would be so loving and supportive one moment and the next she was blowing up and screaming in your face. Two minutes later she would be in tears apologizing to you. My adopted dad said she would be in a good mood, and he would run to the store, by the time he returned she would be extremely mad at him for apparently no reason. There were a few times that she would become angry with a neighbor, friend, or even a family member, and she would cut them out of her life completely. There are still three people that to this day she has never spoken to since the mid to late 80’s. It wasn’t like these people did anything wrong, but to her, some horrid offense had occurred. One was our neighbor, and was my mom’s best friend for years and years. This neighbor had children close in age to my sisters and me. We practically lived over there, especially when my mom was on the Valium. For whatever reason, my mom decided this lady had wronged her, and she never spoke to her again. Our neighbor was completely and utterly baffled.
By the time I was in high school I had given up trying to understand my adopted mom. I would walk in the door and be verbally assaulted with some crazy reality she had convinced herself of. She isn’t psychotic, but she can convince herself of things that just aren’t true. The emotional abuse was almost unbearable. What am I saying?! It was unbearable. I was very lucky in the fact that when my parents divorced I was allowed to choose who I lived with. My sisters had to live with my mom, but since I was old enough to choose, I chose to live with my dad. But I still had to have visits with my mom, and since she lived right down the street from my school I’d often walk there and go home to my dad’s later. I had a LOT of freedom living with my dad. He was always at work or at Ann’s softball games, or whatever else he had going on. A sophomore in high school who wants nothing more than to escape her misery and has little to no supervision gets into trouble easily. The drugs, drinking, skipping school, failing grades, running around at all hours. It was a recipe for disaster, and believe me, disasters happened.
My dad was so naive. He has never even smoked a cigarette before. The way he was brought up was so… typical middle class. We literally had a white picket fence for Christ’s sake! I would be smoking pot in my room, tell him it was incense, and he never questioned it. Once Kit became old enough, she chose to move in with my dad and me. She began acting out as well, and that’s when my dad was finally clued in to the trouble we were getting ourselves into. We would throw some massive parties while he was out of town with Ann for her damn softball, and cops would be called. He began hearing complaints from neighbors and so he really had no choice but to start paying attention. It really didn’t stop us.
The emotional and verbal abuse from my mom became even worse for Kit and me. I think she was hurt that Kit decided to leave and live with my dad and me. But she would never admit to it. To this day, Ann takes up all her attention. She babysits Ann’s children everyday, and when she’s not babysitting, she’s still over there helping out. They live on streets right next to each other. Ann does not exhibit traits of BPD unless you consider the outbursts of extreme and inappropriate anger. I am not positive what her actual diagnoses are, but I do know BPD is nowhere near being one of them. Kiy also has a diagnosis or two, but no BPD. While my adopted mom has never been diagnosed with BPD, when you look at the traits of a borderline, she fits at least 5 of the 9 criteria.
Fast forward about 20 years. I was about to turn 37, and the state where I live changed the law where closed adoptions became open. You could request your original birth certificate, and after sending the required information and payment to the Dept. of Vitals and Statistics they would send it to you. I had been waiting for this day for as long as I could remember. I had done some searching before, and twice, two years in a row, right before Christmas both years, I thought I had found my biological mom. That was a very bitter pill to swallow to find out that both were dead ends. But here was my chance to find her for real. When I received my birth certificate in the mail I cried. It even had my bio mom’s nationalities. I was told many times that I looked Irish, and looked like I had some sort of Native American in me too. It was always speculation. Turns out I am Irish and Cherokee, with a couple others mixed in. I was over the moon. My questions were finally going to be answered. It took only two, maybe two and half weeks, to find my bio mom’s current address. I wrote to her, asking for medical history at a minimum, but letting her know I was open to a relationship if she was too. I told her about my son who has autism, and a little about my anxiety and depression. I did not mention my diagnosis of BPD, I had only found out less than a year before. I knew it had a stigma attached to it, and I wasn’t about to scare her off. Not many people realize there is a spectrum regarding BPD, and fewer still take into account the base personality of the person being affected. Plus, this woman I writing to had never really met me. Sure she carried me for nine months, but as soon as I took my first breath I had been taken away.
I think I waited about two more weeks after sending my letter when curiosity got the best of me. One of my friends who is always down for road trips drove me down to the address I had for my bio mom. We got out of the car about a block away and just walked around, passing the house a couple times. We didn’t see anyone, and I knew she was living with my aunt and grandma from the research I had done. My friend and I went to lunch and we were going to head home when she suggested we drive by one more time. Of course as we pass, there is my mom walking up to the house. I hadn’t seen a picture of her yet, so there was a small chance it was my aunt, but I knew it was her. She looked directly at me as we passed, I think she might have suspected it was me because I got a reply to my letter about a week later. She never mentioned my drive-by, and I’ve never mentioned it either. When I got her letter in the mail I was shaking. I called my husband and just started bawling. I couldn’t open it until someone was with me. He drove home from work early so I could read it. It was the longest hour of my life waiting for him to get home. We noticed it appeared to be a greeting card with a letter tucked inside. I figured it couldn’t be too bad if she was sending a greeting card. She seemed very sweet and caring. She seemed supportive. She wanted to try to have a relationship. It was everything I could’ve asked for. We wrote back and forth a couple times, and progressed to email pretty quickly. It was about two months later that we officially met face to face. I guess I should’ve had my first clue when we made plans to meet. I have PTSD from a severe car accident that caused me to have almost 90 stitches across my forehead. The accident was in the late 1990’s but it still affects me to this day. I had told her earlier how much I hated to drive, about the accident and PTSD, and that freeways were off limits unless absolutely necessary. One of my more persistent traits of BPD is that I can not say “no” to people. Even when it’s to my own detriment. She had me come down to her part of the city (we are about as far away as you can get in our city, I’m at the extreme north eastern side, while she is at the extreme south western side). I was freaking out needing to drive that far and on the freeway, but I would’ve flown to the moon in order to meet her face to face. We had a great first meeting. It was easy and comfortable, and on my end I felt no awkwardness. She claimed she didn’t either, and I believe her. When we started texting, maybe 3 or 4 weeks after her first letter, we texted every single day. We still text every single day. In the past 2 years, there has not been a single day where we haven’t sent texts. This was my second clue, although it took me awhile to catch on. I have tried to let her know that I have things going on, or was sick, or whatever, and she will say “no problem, I’ll talk to you tomorrow”, but will always end up texting later that same day. She also needs to send the last text. For awhile I would fight against it, just being stubborn, but I noticed if I sent another text back, even if it just said “Night!”, she will text back again. Eventually I just gave up, if she needs to send the last text, then by all means, send it.
As I’ve gotten to know my bio mom over the last two years I have noticed how freakishly similar she is to my adopted mom. Their personalities are so close! My psychiatrist noticed it as I would talk to her, and my psychologist has most definitely caught on. My psychologist is even sympathetic about it. She will call me out when I am being paranoid or not seeing reality clearly, but in this case, she knows it is accurate. My bio mom has the same kind of temper as my adopted mom, and while it has never been directed at me (yet), I have seen it directed at others. Again, just like my adopted mom, my bio mom is very much a “typical” borderline. She has more traits than my adopted mom, which includes self harm and threats of self harm or suicide. She becomes very distant and/or cold when I don’t match her mood or disagree with her about something. There is an excuse for everything and anything, and nothing is ever her fault. I love her, and I do not want our relationship to end. When she is having a good day she is funny, charming, so supportive, and it is fascinating to learn about the family and our history. Plus I’m still holding out hope that through her, or with her help, I will locate my biological dad. That’s not looking so good, his last name (and first name) is so common. He may as well go by John Smith, that’s how common it is.
This post has taken me 19 days to write. I had to keep taking breaks. There is so much more I could go into regarding my moms. I find it darkly hilarious that both my moms happen to have BPD. I never had a chance. I have the genetic and the environmental factors on all sides. I work very hard everyday to not put my son in the same environment I grew up in. I think the fact that I’m a “quiet” borderline helps tremendously. But I still worry about him, terrified I will pass on this curse of a disorder to him or his children. He already has the hurdles of dealing with autism, depression and anxiety. While he is incredibly high functioning, he still struggles. I know everybody has limitations that they need to overcome. Some have it easier than others, and I am aware that others have much more difficult struggles than I do. But this is the life I know and have to live in. I work on what I can to improve it to the best of my ability. I suppose that’s all any of us can do.