Life in a Bind – BPD and me

My therapy journey, recovering from Borderline Personality Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I write for , for Planet Mindful magazine, and for Muse Magazine Australia, under the name Clara Bridges. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by

Memory Monday – “The pain of mother’s day”


This is a day late – but I wanted to share again the post I wrote for Mother’s Day last year. Re-reading the post, where I quoted from two articles by psychologist and writer Terri Apter, her words on estranged families and difficult mothers struck me just as much now, as they did last year. I still feel as though they describe my own experience, very accurately indeed:

In the post I also talked about the fact that I was going through a particularly tough time in therapy – as is the case now as well. A few days ago I posted a poem that I wrote, trying to capture the impact that some words from my therapist (in the form of an email) had on me about ten days ago, when I felt worthless and hopeless and was struggling with suicidal ideation and with holding on to the therapy relationship. I would like to write about what led up to those feelings, but I think I need more distance from them first.

My therapist’s email provided reassurance at a time when I desperately needed it and my attempts to locate it deep within myself had been briefly successful, but then quickly faded. A couple of days before receiving that email, and a few hours after some very strong suicidal ideation, I wrote a mother’s day poem for my therapist. It poured out fairly quickly, and then I read it and re-read it multiple times. The act of writing it – of recalling how I feel about her, what she has done for me, and then putting it down on paper and reading it to myself – reconnected me to her and helped me to feel close. It gave me – at least temporarily – the reassurance I was craving, and a sense of her presence.

Since I wrote it (and gave it to her), I have repeated it to myself, internally, many times. But on Mother’s Day itself,  though I thought of my therapist many times, it was hard to bring the poem to mind. Inevitably, as happens during other occasions which are ‘family’ celebrations, the joy of having a ‘therapy-mother’ has to be held alongside the painful acceptance of not being able to enjoy the same sort of physical and emotional space in those celebrations, inhabited by her daughters.

I had a yoga class tonight, and as I sat in stillness and in silence, and in the discomfort of holding seated poses for a few minutes at a time, I tried to will my body and my mind to find a way of working together to somehow try and ‘deal’ with that painful position. To let the discomfort in my body mirror to some degree the much more intense discomfort of accepting separation, and boundaries, and difference. I wasn’t sure what ‘dealing’ with things might mean, in that context; I wanted to feel the pain, rather than dull it, but perhaps in a way that felt more tangible and therefore more manageable. Perhaps I was hoping that the way one ‘breathes into’ the aching muscles in yoga, which helps with accepting and sitting with the discomfort of the pose, would also work for heart-ache, for emotional strain.

I’m not really sure if it worked – I think that idea is still a work in progress. But as I sat there hoping that it might work, I was also aware that I needed it to work, not just for now, but for later. It’s only a matter of time for me (and usually, very little time at all), before feelings around boundaries and exclusion turn into thoughts about the eventual end of therapy. And so as I sat there hoping that by some miracle, breathing into the discomfort in my muscles might bring acceptance and peace with the way in which my ‘daughterhood’ was circumscribed; I was also desperately hoping that one day it would be part of helping me to deal with one of the biggest losses I can imagine going through. I’m hoping I still have a good – long-ish – time to practice my ‘skills’, both in yoga, and in acceptance; but it’s very hard not to have an internal awareness (and hyper-vigilance) over that ‘ticking clock’ that is counting down, and to wonder  – how many more ‘therapy-mother-days’ and ‘therapy- mother’s-days’ do I have left?


6 thoughts on “Memory Monday – “The pain of mother’s day”

  1. Ah I feel the pain and sadness in this post. I could have written it myself. Yesterday I thought about my T several times and wanted to wish her a happy Mother’s Day until I thought that that wouldn’t be “normal” because she isn’t my mother – and won’t ever be….

    Because of my situation with my mum, I couldn’t bring myself to buy her a lovely card and so I found a jokey card… she wouldn’t have liked that… I also couldn’t bring myself to write a gushy Facebook post like most people I know did…. yet I could have easily written T something to thank her.

    I hate it when I have the realisation that she can’t ever be my mum. I often move the grief I’ve yet to fully feel and transfer it to her – keeps it much more bearable doesn’t it?

    Sorry, that was longer than I anticipated! Anyway, I understand how you feel and send you hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment, and I’m so sorry this was so hard for you too. I tend to buy and write very bland cards too -it’s hard actually being able to find one that isn’t gushy……as for your therapist, there is always next year, and there is always the possibility of telling her how you feel, and what you wanted to do, but couldn’t. I remember one year I told my therapist I really wish I could have bought her flowers, and she was wonderful about it and told me that knowing that I wanted to do that, was what mattered. That was lovely, as it felt as though I’d actually managed to give her the gift I’d wanted to give…..take care….


  2. I am near blank now about Mother day hype because I don’t think it is at 38 that I’ll ever have even a semblance of the relationship longed for with my biological mother. It’s summed up as I see it as one of: I hate you…please don’t leave me!!! To put it simply, I want to leave her at this rate which is getting more paranoid as the years pass and wreaking such emotional and psychological havoc. And, I don’t have a T (had one very briefly last two years specifically for Mother-daughter relationship which sure didn’t work out); and so I have never dealt with the intrinsic complication of my ‘relationship’ with my mother. I summarize it plainly as: I have all my life wanted only a hug but the most I get out of courtesy is a firm handshake…
    You are therefore not alone dear, ah life…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your comment Marie, lovely to hear from you again! 🙂 I’m sorry for the pain of this – mine is similar but different, in that my own mother is far too intrusive and anxious, while also wanting me to be a particular way and not fully accepting who I am or how I think and feel. When I first came into therapy I pretty much told my therapist that the ‘parent box’ was not up for opening and there was no way I was ever going to have a relationship with my parents! We have opened the box, it has been open for a while, but I still don’t think I will ever have that relationship with my biological parents, and to be honest I do not want it. Like you, I wish I could just leave…’s a painful day, mother’s day, but there are enough of us that feel that pain, that we can help each other through it….take care Marie, I always love hearing from you and am so grateful for your continued reading and interaction x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My therapist is male, and one of the reasons for that is (at least it seems that way now) that I didn’t want another mother-figure in my life. He is wonderful and doesn’t let me get away with avoiding the issue, and in any case the pain will always finds its way out to get me. My best wishes to you, and to all of us who live with the terror of losing the one person who understands and cares.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your comment – ironically, when I decided I wanted an older female therapist, it was on the grounds that I thought I was least likely to ‘fall in love’ with an older woman! It never even occurred to me to think an older woman might become a mother figure, so sure was I that I didn’t need one – I’m glad my subconscious knew better 🙂 ‘Terror’ is just the right word to describe the prospect of losing that one person – the thought is unbearable, and yet we must bear it and not just that, but learn to live fully and well with it, being open to the good things the relationship brings, and to the grief it will ultimately bring too……so so hard….hugs x


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