Facing My Past: What May Have Caused My BPD

May 7, 2013 Becky Oberg

I recently received some bad news. My maternal grandmother's husband, who stepped in as a grandfather after mine died, was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. This brings back bad memories for me, not only because my paternal grandfather had it and in his last days didn't know me, but also because when my maternal grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, my mother took on extra responsibilities. The problem is, she took the stress from this out on her kids and became emotionally abusive. I believe this is why I developed borderline personality disorder (BPD). So how am I to handle this?

Deja vu? Not necessarily

As my family faces this new challenge, I'm reminded that although this feels familiar, it's not necessarily a repeat of my traumatic childhood. I'm an adult; I no longer have to depend on my mother and can leave if she turns abusive. I have access to a therapist who can help me process my feelings in all this; in my childhood there was no one to talk to. I have more coping skills as an adult than I did as a child, ranging from playing video games to meditation. So while this may feel like deja vu, it isn't necessarily a repeat of previous experiences.

As a child, I had very few coping skills. I was constantly suicidal because to me, the world was a hostile and unsafe place. But now I know that there are friendly and safe places and people. I know now that I can cope with stressful situations in a healthy manner. I don't have to be a victim of the hand Fate dealt me.

I can rewrite the story of my childhood as a healthy adult.

Understanding the pain

Although my mother could be emotionally abusive, I don't believe that she intended to hurt me or my brothers. I believe that she simply did not know how to deal with an overwhelming stress in a healthy manner--think about it, how would you feel if your father were dying a slow, painful death? And how would you feel if in addition to caring for your father, you had three young children, including one baby? How would you handle grieving a death that seemed so cruel?

To be honest, I'm not sure I would have been able to handle the situation without cracking. This insight helps me to understand why the abuse happened and to make peace with it. This helped me to forgive my mother. I could understand her pain--and as a result, heal from my own.

Does it still hurt? Yes, at times. But I don't have to stay trapped in my past. I can move forward and heal.

Moving on

In college, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the emotional and sometimes physical abuse I endured. Later on, borderline personality disorder was added to the list, and the abuse was suspected as the cause. It took years before I came to terms with these diagnoses, and even today I'm still working on overcoming them. Therapy and medication have been immensely helpful in my recovery.

It is possible to move on. It is possible to live without self-hatred and self-injury. Recovery is a reality.

Facing the past hurts like fire, but it is vital to healing.

APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2013, May 7). Facing My Past: What May Have Caused My BPD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, January 30 from

Author: Becky Oberg

Sandra L. Flaada
May, 9 2013 at 1:49 pm

Becky-I have a similar past and am in the same place presently that you are. Thank you for sharing to let others know there is a time where everything will be easier. Not gone, but easier. Happiness to you. Sandy

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