Parents, Especially Father, believed in corporal punishment and ridicule

Many BPDs of both sexes report backgrounds of child abuse: mental, physical, sexual or combinations thereof. The presence of these elements in childhood and the teenage years HEAVILY contribute to many issues related to BPD.

In my case, I was the victim of mentally and physically abusive incidents. I say incidents because when comparing my own history to those who truly suffered at the hands of cruel parents, I would have to be completely honest and say that while much of how I was raised was completely wrong, it was not a consistent and pervasive stream of abuse.

In my family, Father was the authoritarian leader and chief of corporal punishment, co-anchored by my mother who stood by his every wack.

If something went wrong, by accident, on purpose, or by ignorance, it was Father everyone had to fear, because he would come at us yelling and swinging.

To sum up most judgments on behalf of my Father, his ultimate rule of thumb was: “Because I said so”. Additionally, if anyone was getting out of line, he would frequently begin ridiculing us or say, “Do you want me to start swinging?”

My parents did not believe in building self esteem or self worth. Instead, they ignored and acted indifferent to positive reinforcement and instead chose to be wickedly angry and emotional when opportunities for negative re-enforcement came up.

The physically and mentally abusive moments were enough to make me completely void of self esteem and courage. As I grew up, I came into the habit of flinching anytime Father’s temper was rising. This carried over to the playground, where if any schoolyard bully threatened me, I threw my hands up in defense and ducked away as if I was dodging a blow to the head.

I never “stood up” to bullies or even got in fights. I shied away from physical play. I feared adults. I feared my parents the most.

All in all, I was kicked, punched, slapped, made fun of, teased, cursed, and on a couple occasions hit with a belt. If we were being loud after lights were turned off for the night, Father would come in and wack the nearest of my brother and I, until we cried and trembled in bed out of fear.

How in their right minds did my parents believe this was the way to raise any child, let alone one who was already prone to shyness, low self esteem, low confidence, and loneliness?

What the FUCK were they thinking when Father came at us swinging, and during a couple incidents bruising me so that I had to hide my face in shame during middle school home room?

How is any form of corporal punishment, teamed with mental ridicule and parental disapproval of ANY VALUE to a child?

Was it ever useful calling me: “A wall flower”, “Pissy and irritable”, “a candy ass”, “a pansy”, “queer”, “an asshole”, “full of shit”, “ungrateful son of a bitch”, the list goes on?

As we grew older my parents slowly began to play favorites with their methods of keeping us in line. After one of my brothers became diabetic (about 6 years prior to my own diagnosis) I quickly noted that my parents did not dare hit him or even upset him, even if he was causing the same or more level of frustration that would land Father’s fist on my head.

Is it any wonder that as I grew older, the only way I could express my emotions was through anger and tirades? Is it any wonder that my BPD rears its ugly head not in moments of joy or happiness, but in instances of pure hatred, fear, anger, all mixed together?

When I was comitted to the mental hospital the second time, it was in part because I reacted severely to my Father physically attempting to punish me – as a young adult who had just finished 4 rough years in college.

For reasons completely beyond me, when we had family meetings in the mental ward, it was never HIS anger and violence that was talked about, IT WAS MINE.

I have never comprehended why one single BPD rage of mine somehow trumped the years of physical and mental SHIT HE DISHED out. No doctor, not even my psychiatrist ever demanded that my parents, particularly my Father, admit that he was wrong in what he did.

In fact, he never has, and probably never will. He has never seen the disconnect and morbid relationship between HIS EXPRESSIONS of ANGER and MY EXPRESSIONS of ANGER.

Why should it come as a surprise to parents that used negative re-enforcement and anger as a method of running a family that their children, in turn, would act out in a similar fashion if provoked, and otherwise behave as passive and scaredy-cat humans amongst our rah-rah tough guy society?

This aspect of my upbringing completely mystifies me. Some would excuse it based on my blood line: 100% Irish and Catholic by creed. Some would say my parents chose to raise their children to be respectful (and FEARFUL) young men. Some others would say that my parents chose to ignore the sunshine and lollipop world of raising “assertive” youth, and instead opt to raise children as they had been raised: THE WRONG WAY.

To this day, I am extremely envious of any friend I have that was raised with love and nurture, not abuse and violence. In fact, most of my friendships with others my age who were raised more progressively end because I simply can’t stand the fact that they are happier, more secure, confident human beings.

BPD or not, please….please don’t ever slap, tease, or sneer at your children. Don’t FUCK up like my parents did.