Recently it has come to my attention that my father’s mental illnesses are far more major than previously expected. Having grown up with the knowledge that he suffered from Depression and anger issues, it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I learned of his struggle with dysthymia. Up until this recently– I am now twenty– I was under the assumption that those were the only things that plagued my father, I was unfortunately wrong. I was informed of my father’s much more drastic and influential diagnosis that is borderline personality disorder.
This was a game changer for me. I am now able to look at my childhood and understand things clearly. Why my father had the episodes he did and how I learned to read the emotional standing of a room by becoming hypervigilant at a young age.
The other side of this knowledge comes with the connection he has to the trauma that I am still struggling to acknowledge. I think that with many children who have parents, or a family member who are mentally ill, you never wish to make them feel bad for having what is out of their control. However, this concern can turn into never speaking up for yourself or pushing your own boundaries to avoid conflict– ultimately scarring you and leading you to struggle with your own self worth.
The emotional manipulation of a man who would cry on his knees and hold my legs when I would express a boundary that he was breaking– which would lead to me consoling him and apologizing for expressing myself. I now look at these memories and realize that with many of our interactions led to manipulation.
There are many levels to my relationship with my father as I find most have, but it is made exceedingly more complicated thanks to his mental illnesses. I never wanted to hurt him or make him sad for having a mental illness, even if it made him borderline violent and emotionally abusive. As a child I did not understand why my dad would have these episodes where he no longer acted like the man who loved me but a man who saw me as an inconvenience.
To anyone who has a parent or family member that has bpd, know that you are not alone in this journey for balance and boundaries.