Daugh­ter wants dis­tance from mom

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - Amy Dick­in­son You can con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email: [email protected]­dick­in­son. com and fol­low her on Twit­ter @ask­ingamy.

DEAR AMY » My hus­band “John” and I were mar­ried re­cently. We funded the wed­ding. At our wed­ding, my mother be­haved er­rat­i­cally. She drank too much, gave an aw­ful speech, yelled at John, hi­jacked the DJ for mul­ti­ple “sur­prise” spot­light dances, groped John’s mar­ried un­cle, and was taken home early. I had night­mares for weeks.

We met with Mom and my step­fa­ther. John and I said we were wor­ried and wanted Mom to visit her doc­tor and be­gin ther­apy, but also that she had hurt us. John then asked her to ac­knowl­edge this and apol­o­gize. Mom be­gan scream­ing and phys­i­cally threat­ened him. She said she had al­ways dis­liked him and that she would rather kill her­self than apol­o­gize. We left.

My step­fa­ther later told us that he will take care of Mom, and un­der­stands if we dis­tance our­selves. Her only com­mu­ni­ca­tion since then has been to send short, pleas­ant texts about how to avoid us. I find it con­fus­ing, ex­haust­ing and up­set­ting.

I started ther­apy, read about “emo­tional im­ma­tu­rity,” and con­tacted a lo­cal fam­ily me­di­a­tion cen­ter. For the first time, I’m think­ing about all of her ter­ri­ble be­hav­ior.

I’ve been think­ing about fu­ture mile­stones like mov­ing, preg­nancy and par­ent­hood, and I don’t know what role Mom is ca­pa­ble of hav­ing or what role I want her to have.

Should I be do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent?

What hap­pens when we have news to share?

— Un­re­solved

DEAR UN­RE­SOLVED » You have re­sponded to your mother’s be­hav­ior in a straight­for­ward and hon­est way. Work­ing on a hunch, I sug­gest you ask your ther­a­pist to talk to you about bor­der­line per­son­al­ity disor­der. Some of what you de­scribe sounds typ­i­cal of some­one with BPD, who will have an ex­ag­ger­ated re­ac­tion to per­ceived aban­don­ments. If your mother does have these char­ac­ter­is­tics, don’t hold your breath for an apol­ogy; it will never come.

As her daugh­ter, you will have to find healthy ways to erect strong bound­aries. When/if your mother be­haves well, you can open a door, but you should be pre­pared to close it again. Do not let her con­trol you. Con­tinue to be in touch with your step­fa­ther. Share any and all life­time an­nounce­ments with both of them, and then take your fu­ture with her on a case-by-case ba­sis.

A book that might help you ex­plore this chal­leng­ing dy­namic is, “Stop Walk­ing on Eggshells: Tak­ing Your Life Back When Some­one You Care About Has Bor­der­line Per­son­al­ity Disor­der,” by Paul T. Ma­son and Randi Kreger (New Har­bin­ger Publi­ca­tions; Sec­ond edi­tion, Jan. 1, 2010).

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