Growing Up Unstable And Dysfunctional

Growing up for me was never a walk in the park. From the time I was born to now an adult life always seemed unfair.

I was born to parents heavily into the religion “The Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Though as time would tell, neither of them would take it too seriously. My father had an affair, which would eventually be the demise of my parents relationship. My father went on to sew his wild oats, and my mother would turn out to become an alcoholic.

My father eventually remarried, my mother stayed single. Where do I fit in you ask? Well, I would eventually become the adult in both relationships.

My father and I saw each other usually during the summers, and occasional weekends until I was about 13. Though when I visited him, I usually cooked for him. Yep, at the ripe ole’ age of 8, I was handed down the responsibility to care for him when I visited. As of now, he is remarried with two other daughters of his own. He has chosen to push me aside for his new family and his religion (I ‘am not a follower of his religion, which caused a rift between us).

I grew up living with my mother. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the best of parents. Not that I don’t love my mother, but her lack of parenting skills was anything to be admired.

From the time I was cognizant to now, I have always taken care of my mother. At the age of 5, I was preparing my own meals and often for her and my older brother. I always loved watching cooking shows and learned a lot. So this task wasn’t as daunting as some other responsibilities I carried.

Jumping ahead a little. My mother was diagnosed in her late 50’s with Borderline Personality Disorder. This diagnosis gave me the explanation I desperately needed with how my mother was when I was growing up.

My mother feared the world, just shy of being agoraphobic she kept to herself a lot. She was often paranoid, and would train this into me and my brother. Not your everyday teachings of “Don’t talk to strangers” type of paranoia but “Close the blinds, and look through the peep-hole to see who’s at the door!” To this day I have a hard time trusting people, and if I do it’s usually the wrong people to trust!

I paid all the bills (mind you she made the money, but would hand me her pay to handle), did most of the grocery shopping, and dealt with remotely stressful in her life. For all intent and purpose I was the grown-up, and she the child. When I turned 16 and got my driver’s license she stopped driving, and that became my job. I drove her to work every single day until I moved away on my own at the age of 20.

My mother had rather frequent dating schedule. Along with that, she was an alcoholic. She would put me and my brother on the back burner with every new man in her life. If she couldn’t find a babysitter for us she would bring us along. To parties, bars (mind you we stayed in the car), etc.

She never quite got the whole parenting thing down. Maybe because she was a single parent? Maybe because she was BPD? What I do know is my life was no picnic, and she offered us little to enjoy growing up!

Today, I am a wife and mother myself of three beautiful children. I’ve learned growing up how NOT to be like my mother to my kids, and how to raise my kids in a supportive, loving, functional, and structured environment. About 3 years ago I myself was diagnosed with a Mental Disorder. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Bipolar Disorder, and PTSD. But that roller coaster is another story.

Some of my diagnosis is due to the way in which I was raised, they call it “environmental.” My mother wasn’t the only source of my dysfunctional upbringing. There was also the influence from my grandparents who were also alcoholics and belligerent. I watch my grandmother physically fight with my mother, I saw my grandparents physically fight amongst themselves while drunk, I saw my mother pass-out drunk on many occasions, etc.  I think you get the gist.

There was a lot of “life” for me to take in at a very young age. My mother was very unstable for the most part. She would get tired of where we lived and moved us around a lot. I grew-up never really making true friends because of all the moving we did. I never experienced what it was like to have a BFF, to have someone I could truly talk to or experience childhood with. Now, some of you may be wondering about my older brother. Well, long story short, he acted out in his own way. We never really got along. To this day we are not on speaking terms for no other reason than he choose life away from our family. Not that I can blame him.

Now, as an adult I’ve had my own issues with my bipolar disorder but have found management, therapy, and support. Though, my patience is often still tried due to my mother. She is unfortunately a major trigger for me. It takes me a month to three months to recover from a week-long visit. Seriously!

My mother is 62 years old now. She lost her boyfriend 3-years ago. They had been together for over 13 years before he died. When she got together with him, he essentially took over all my responsibilities. He took care of her, and did a great job! Although, my mother was still drinking, he was able to handle her. I didn’t worry as much as I once did. Frankly, it was nice. For once in my life I could take a backseat to her craziness!

My mother loves me dearly, and why not I’ve taken care of her most of my life, and have been the only constant in her life. The only one who has never left her side! I’m still a source of information and therapist to her. She calls me on a daily basis to ask me simple questions like, how to cook a pork chop, or my favorite “Honey, what do you think?” As though she can’t figure simple things out for herself, she relies on me to tell her how to live. I still seem to have the responsibility to “live for her!” I live my life and the life of a  year 62-year-old.

My mom is now dating a new man. This guy is a real winner (enter sarcasm)! As usual, this new man has taken ALL her time, and now I’m again in the backseat. Do I mind, actually, no! It takes off some of the pressure from me. Though their relationship is also dysfunctional, I often hear about their ups and downs over the phone. This I could do without!

My relationship with my mother is anything but healthy or normal. I’m sure I am not alone in the world, but some days it sure feel like it! I discuss my mother in fine detail to my therapist who is always a joy to talk too. She always has a way of helping me figure out how to deal with my mom with tips. I’ve managed to get a little control back by not allowing my mother to control me.

I don’t answer my phone every time she calls. I call her on my time. I don’t allow her to start drama anymore. I tell her often “mom, I don’t wish to discuss that!” Now, she is finally getting it.

I do love my mother, she means the world to me. She is a kind person who lives life in a fog. She is loving, caring, and wouldn’t hurt a fly. She requires a lot of attention, and is a very sensitive person.

Though our history has been riddled with many bumps in the road. She still is my mom. Though I don’t agree with her parenting style, nor is it fair the amount of responsibility she put me through at a young age, she did provide for me and my brother. She made sure we were fed, housed, clothed, and loved…even if it was an unstable and dysfunctional love.

Could it be possible to actually have a normal relationship with my mom? Doubtful, but I haven’t given up!



Living with type 1 bipolar disorder, PTSD (due to childhood trauma), Rapid Cycling, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Writing about my life experiences.

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