Borderline Personality Disorder,  Lying,  Parenting

A Daughter with BPD who Lies

A Daughter with BPD who Lies

This was my response on WTO to a woman who was very angry with her daughter for lying to her and for having friends over to her (the mother’s) house all night when the mother specifically prohibited it. The mother felt very manipulated and angry – she felt the daughter was disobeying her to hurt her. FYI, the daughter is 23 and was diagnosed with BPD when she was about 16.

Hi. Yes, I thought that your daughter was in a situation like that – around 21-25, diagnosed with BPD and once in a residential facility. The reason I asked those specific questions is that I have seen other young women in the exact situation as your daughter and acting exactly the same way. I could further speculate that your daughter has trouble keeping a job (even a very menial one), has difficulty getting up in the morning, smokes (or once did) or does (or did) rely on drugs or alcohol, etc. – typical BP behavior for young women her age.

I think I can help explain the motivation behind her actions. After you read this you can choose to believe me or not, but these comments are based on my experience with several BPs from a support group (a physical one) that I attended. I met many parents of BP daughters and spoke with them about their daughters behaviors and, after several weeks, their feelings. It took some time to see through the behaviors to the feelings. What I am giving you here is sort of a “short cut” to the underlying feelings of your BP daughter. It may be hard to believe at first, but I would encourage you to consider it carefully.

First of all, it totally stinks to have your daughter not heed your requests. It’s got to be extrememly frustrating to have a daughter who seems to sepcifically disobey you and lie to you on a daily basis. It also must be infuriating to see her “buffalo” the doctors that she goes to see.

However, I think I can explain all of that. I have found that BPs pretty much all feel the same way inside. So, I am going to speculate that the reason that your daughter lies to you and disobeys you to have her friends over is twofold (but inter-related):

1) She is too ashamed of herself to say “no” to her friends. She doesn’t want them to know that she’s “crazy”. She feels that the consequences with her friends to say “no” to them are greater than the consequences she will incur by lying to you. Meaning, her lying is not specifically to hurt you (although it DOES hurt you a lot, as I can see); instead, her lying is about her feelings of shame and her inability to say “no” to her friends because of it. It is VERY common for BPs to overcommit themselves to other people because they are desperately seeking approval from their peers. They feel that to be a good friend (and, for them, a good person), they have to give everything to their friends (at first). When this doesn’t make them feel any better inside, they withdrawl suddenly from friendships in anger – they split the friends black. But ultimately this behavior of valuation and devaluation is rooted in their inner shame about who they are. Why do they feel that way? Well, that could lead to a much longer discussion, but let’s just say that they ALL DO.

2) At 23, she is desperate to be “normal” and not be “crazy”. The stint in the in patient facility and the diagnosis of BPD has put a big red “C” (for crazy) across her chest. She’s terribly afraid that her friends will see that she is crazy and will run away from her (fear of abandonment). This fear is also rooted in shame. She is ashamed that she is not just a normal young woman like all of her peers. She’s 23, so she thinks “isn’t it ‘normal’ to be able to have friends over to your house all night?” The problem is she doesn’t know how it actually feels to be normal. And that she is not normal enough to have her own place yet (that probably also deeply embarrasses her). She has always (I suspect from when she was a little girl) felt uneasy about her feelings – she has always felt weird and broken inside. She is ashamed of that feeling, because it is not normal. She probably constantly worries about not being normal, about being broken. And then she worries about worrying too much and on and on. They (the BPs) all feel this way too. So she is fighting not really against you specifically, but against her own feelings of being not normal, of being crazy.

Anyway, I understand why you would feel that her actions are specifically designed to hurt you. She “buffalos” the doctors for the same reason. She is ashamed to admit to herself that she’s “crazy” in any way – although deep down she’s always known that she is “different” or “weird inside”. I have verfied these feelings with many different borderline teens, young adults and adults (including my wife and my “pre-BPD” daughter). I used to think that there was malice involved in their actions, but now I believe their actions are sad attempts to try and fill that deep sense of emptiness that they have inside them. They really don’t consider how their actions effect you at all. It takes time and learning before they can see that.

OK, I don’t know if I’m right on the money as far as the daughter is concerned. But feel free to comment if you think I am or am not.