"Children with borderline mothers adjust to the chaos of their lives by learning to expect the unexpected. They associate love with fear and kindness with danger. Craziness becomes normal, and life without chaos may seem boring. They may grow up without recognizing healthy love." p.28 -29.
A little further down on page 29 Dr. Lawson writes further, "Children of borderlines may tune out by dissociating and disconnecting from their environment." p.29
It is a comon experience for people in relationship with a person with borderline disorder to wonder who is crazy "me or them?" Attempts to please, placate, clarify, correct are often met with an escalation of conflict not resolution. The person in relationship with the person with borderline disorder then attempts to mollify or submit which sometimes brings resolution or at least a subsiding of the intense emotion in the charged situation. The constantly changing emotional climate, seemingly unconnected from external events, brings about the sense of a surreal environment fraught with tenuousness, danger, and a lack of predictability. After a while, a child, or partner living in this situation comes to expect the unexpected and when the person with borderline disorder is absent for awhile life seems boring and too plain.
Children who grow up with borderline parents are often attracted to people who "have problems", who tend to be eccentric in some ways, or volatile. They have learned since they were small children how to manage the emotions of others, how to bring order from chaos, how to stabilize crises, how to act "normal" when things are out of control or on the brink of "going over the edge."
I have been quite struck with how the adult children of borderline parents often come for counseling because they are confused by some conflicted situation at work, in their neighborhood, in their church or some other sort of club or organization they are in, or in a friendship, and they are using the counseling as a sounding board to determine "what's normal and what's not normal" because they genuinely do not know. They have no reference point. They didn't grow up in a "normal" situation so deciphering and understanding situations is experienced as "flying blind."
This is post #9 in a series based on Christine Lawson's book, Understanding The Borderline Mother.