Stella, motherhood, and BPD

So I’m watching Stella, the movie with Bette Midler. If you haven't seen it, you should. And there is this whole scene where she has a baby and when she wakes up, the nurse asks her if she wants to see her baby. Stella is this hard type of woman who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and works as a bartender in a bar. So, she is acting all tough like, and then they put the baby in her arms. This perfect, tiny, baby girl and Stella just melts. And of course, she has no idea how to be a mother but she loves that baby girl more than anything or anyone in this world. It's a feeling that I relate to instantly because it was a feeling that I had with my girls. No, I wasn't a bartender, but when I found out that I was pregnant with my first, I was living in an extended stay hotel.

I remember finding out that I was pregnant and my first reaction was excitement. This whole warm feeling washed over me. It was crazy because I never wanted children. I had this crazy idea that when I turned 18 I was moving to New York City to become a journalist. But here I was 19, living in a hotel, no job, no money, and excited to be pregnant. Because I knew this would be the one person who would always love me. That is how BPD works. You are always looking for someone to love you. I was absolutely nowhere near ready to be a mother. I had no idea how to be one. I didn't have any great role models to learn from.

My mother was constantly in and out of the house going back and forth to Utah because she was unhappy. At 15 I moved in with my aunt once my mother left for good and that was a horrific experience.  My friend always told me that I lived a life like it was an experiment in terror. My aunt was extremely emotionally and verbally abusive. Which is how I wound up living in a hotel.  I left her house at 18 in the middle of the night only wearing my Burger King uniform to head to Amarillo, Texas. I lived there for about 6 months with my then-boyfriend who later became my husband. We ended up back in SC when his job transferred him back. His job ended soon however and we became homeless basically. Neither one of us had a job and fixing to have to leave the hotel because we ran out of money, and had already pawned anything of value. But I'm pregnant and excited! Not a normal reaction at all.

But somehow, everything worked out okay. I called my mother, and she was able to help us get into a small house near her and my boyfriend found a job in a hotel working maintenance. We were able to get a bed and a tv, so that was all we needed at the moment. I quickly became hugely pregnant with the constant cravings for milk and butter and my boyfriend absolutely did not want to talk about the baby at all. He wouldn't go with me to any appointments nor would he buy anything for the baby. I'm not sure why. When my bundle of joy was born I was a mess because I had nothing for my baby girl. My friend helped me out though by bringing me some baby clothes and letting me borrow her cradle till I could get a crib. The boyfriend (future husband) loved the baby though once she was born and couldn't get enough of showing her off. And after we left the hospital, he did go out and bought some things for her.

Things didn't work out with my husband for a variety of reasons, but that's another story. We spent 24 years together and had another baby girl about a year after the first. I definitely struggled at being a mother. I did everything wrong. I tried my best though. Going without things to make sure they had everything they needed. But it still wasn't everything they needed. We were poor constantly and just never could get out of a hole. And that definitely took its toll. I had always struggled with depression and after my children were born there was no exception. I often thought they were better off without me and now they are grown and living their lives, but I still wonder if they would have been better off with different parents in general.

Both my daughters have discovered that they have their own forms of mental illness and that makes me sad. I would never wish that on anyone in a million years, and especially not for my children. I wish mental health was taken more seriously in our country. Sadly, we have a ways to go with it. The best thing I can say for anyone who may be struggling with BPD and having children is to just keep going. You are doing the best you can do. Take a moment to breathe and ask yourself if what you are feeling is real. Forgive yourself for not being perfect or being normal and just carry on.

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