In my teenage and early adult years, I was so consumed with my own suffering, that I didn’t realize how my suicidality and self destructive tendencies affected my parents.
Having tunnel vision, I was hyper focused on my own emotional pain
I have to admit; at the time I didn’t really care how they felt.
After all, the trauma I experienced while in their care was the cause of my developing BPD in the first place. Right?
Having grown up in chronological age, as well as, emotional age, I now see things much differently.
Also, now having a child of my own who was recently diagnosed with a mental illness, has hit me hard and given me. new perspective. Struggling with my own mental health challenges is hard. Watching my child struggle, has been even harder . . .
How do I find balance between the two of us? Especially when often times his struggles are my triggers and vice-versa? how can I give my child co-regulation If I’m dysregulated myself most of the time? (which every child needs until they develop self-regulation skills that hopefully you’ve provided)
He and I often just end up in a tsunami of emotion. Having a rupture in our relationship and once again calm, we work on establishing the repair of the relationship.
I was talking to a friend who has two boys, also with neurological disorders. As we shared stories of our children’s diagnosis and their Mental Health struggles, she said to me, “there is a grief process.” She was referring to, the life you thought you were going to have, and that they were going to have.
I’ve been grieving my own childhood for some time, the one I hadn’t received, but would have liked to have had.
I’ve grieved the absence of the parental relationships I didn’t have, relationships that I see others have with their parents.
I grieve now for my son’s losses – his biological father abandoning him for drugs and also for the emotional baggage with which our son has been left.
I often feel guilty for the resentment, grief and disappointment I feel around my son’s mental health struggles. These emotions come and go for the most part. Deep down, I know I need to reach a place of acceptance.
Stuck in a place of self defeat, I cried to my psychiatrist, “someone else could be a better parent than me for my son and his difficulties, not me – because I have BPD it’s so much harder for me to cope”.
She disagreed and instead explained. It was not because of BPD I was having difficulties; it was because of my past experiences. When I was a child I went on in life having my needs unmet. Like traffic on a one-way street, it was a one-way relationship with my parent, with the traffic all going in the wrong direction (child meeting parental needs). She said, “Now as you have grown and have a child who demands a lot from you, once again you are putting your unmet needs aside to fulfill his, and this is a trigger and a reminder for you.” – I have to put away my own dysregulated inner child to deal with my living dysregulated child.
This made me have an “Ah-ha” moment. I was letting my past dictate my future due to familiar patterns triggering old wounds. Bringing this into awareness helped me to see that while I was previously consumed by my own mental wellness challenges, I was now so completely consumed by my child’s, that no matter which way I looked I had become overwhelmed, grief stricken and unable to find which direction to take in order to turn off this one-way street.
This insight has enabled me let go of the hyper focus on my own pain and blaming it on my parent’s failures; instead seeing them as fallible human beings – that they they too were parents coping with their own inner dysregulated child whilst raising me. This has helped me find a place of acceptance of ALL aspects of the imperfections in my life.
Next time you find yourself in a roadblock, instead of focusing on how stuck (emotionally) you are, try asking yourself “what past experience does this remind me of?”. A seemingly simple approach, yet perhaps it too, can give you your “Ah-ha” moment and help navigate out of your past into the present effectively.
Keep healing, keep growing, keep finding your truth