Can Borderlines Share Parenting? Part I
© 2013 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.
In 2010, when my book Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High Conflict Divorce was published, I wrote a blog titled: Can Borderlines Share Parenting? Since then I have had over 50 blog comments covering the range of difficulties and thoughtful ways to manage them, when co-parenting with someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD). New comments are still being posted. The most recent one made some good points that I thought I’d share with everyone below. In a day or two, I’ll re-post my original blog on this topic, if anyone wants to see it and comment.
Hi, I hate always reading negative stories about BPD. I am a father of one 5 year old boy and yes, I struggled immensely with unstable emotions. However, I think each should be evaluated on a case by case basis. I have been seeking help and in therapy for over 2 years and take mood stabilizing medication. I have overcome many of the problems I had and am a full time student in a University who just completed a BA in psychology with a 3.81 GPA.
I was also accepted to grad school as a school psychologist and will be working directly with children. Despite BPD being extremely difficult and an affliction I'll likely live with till I die, there are exceptions and there are people that succeed at parenting. It is the knowledge of what I was missing as a child, the love and unconditional support that makes them especially salient messages between me and my child. I don't want him to go through what I did which makes me all the more invested.
I do worry however that if I lost custody or he was taken away how I would handle it. In my experience that's what makes a BPD vulnerable is that they feel that everyone leaves them, and it can feel devastating and reaffirm deep seated feelings of shame. Shame differs from guilt in that it focuses on the individual rather than the behavior; to feel unworthy of being happy or being loved. Can you imagine feeling like that? That what you most deeply desire as a social animal is out of reach for you? To be loved, needed, accepted?
Just keep in mind this originates in childhood, with parents that are supposed to convey love and security leave you instead associating those feelings with fear and anxiety. UGH! Like the last comment that was on [this original blog on this topic], people are individuals. If someone is an alcoholic, it doesn't mean that they drink till they pass out. It's different for each individual and is affected by environment. Most of the people on [the original blog] seem to have as black and white thinking as I supposedly do. Life is not a binary people, but a spectrum and subject to environment and number of resources. Anyone with BPD should look into Compassion Focused Therapy, as well as anyone seeking a deeper understanding of human emotions and motivations. [June 22, 2013]
Bill Eddy said...
Dear Anonymous, I'm so glad you left your comment and helped explain what its like for someone struggling with managing and overcoming this problem. You are to be congratulated on your efforts to manage your emotions and your successes. You are right that childhood should be a time of love and guidance, not shame and blame. You make a good point about avoiding black and white thinking. We're all learning! Best wishes, Bill Eddy. [June 23, 2013]
Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.