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Living with a Borderline parent — part 2. The Shadow man.

Updated: May 17

My dad has been an enigma in the whole situation at home. Loads of memories involved my mum, but my dad didn’t seem to come up very often. He was a hero to me. For many years, he was a safe island, a place to go. I think I was around 36 when he fell from the pedestal. He fell and crashed, but… I think I still tried to patch him up and put on a shelf somewhere. It was probably because I had difficulties believing that he wasn’t the person I believed he was all those years. It wasn’t safe to see this because it would crash my world. 

You have to understand that in that life back then, I was fighting for my survival on my own. I was fighting with my mum. My dad, for a significant part of my small childhood (that’s when I was 0–5 years old), was a pinch of normality. He worked six days a week. He was gone to work before I woke up and back after I fell asleep. I had one day a week to be with him. And that one day a week, my mum would behave like a happy wife and happy mum. His presence on Sundays would bring some peace to the household. The aggression and physical violence would be gone for that one day. Additionally, my family would be saying, “Look at him. So nice. So calm. How can he stand her (my mum)? He’s a real treasure.” He seemed to be the safety. He had to be the safety; everyone else said that.

Her actions would cut me to the bone. He was more in the shadows. The Shadow man. Like a sneaky spy. There were some memories involving him, but not as many and maybe not as cutting.

I tapped on the fact of him not being much in my memories, not bringing up any dramatic emotions in me. I tapped on the difficulty in accessing those missing emotions or not feeling much. There was no anger or sadness. There was disappointment.  You see, disappointment is a next level down from sadness and anger. Like I wrote in my previous post (Part 1) — I was angry with my mum, family who didn’t act on my cries for help, any unfairness. Then I was sad and cried to get their attention. But nothing happened. At some point, I gave up and became disappointed.

But I didn’t feel any anger or sadness towards my dad. I tried to dig in, and it wasn’t there.

Until, one day, I got it.

Confusion, Living with a Borderline parent, Borderline Personality Disorder, EFT, tapping, therapy, practitioner

Confusion — that was the emotion I felt.

I imagined my dad and his face. I saw him making a funny face. That was what he did when a situation was uncomfortable. To diffuse it. A little joke here and there, a little funny face, a clownish tone of voice and a possible argument was gone. I tried to look for that anger or sadness, but all I could find was confusion.

So many times, I was wandering about his role in all this chainsaw thriller film, AKA my childhood and teenage years. I think I just needed time to grow up to see this. This thing came up when I decided to tap on the most horrible relationship I had. Maybe I needed to clear enough negative emotions regarding my mum? You can only fight one forest fire at a time, when you’re a team of one person. Maybe all of the above.

Confusion — he’d confuse me with his behaviour. He’d play this push and pull game with me. Most of the time he wouldn’t pay attention to me, wouldn’t show any affection, no physical contact but… There were those few moments, occasionally, when he’d show me some interest, some affection. Seldom physical contact, definitely no hugs. When I was a child, he’d touch me sporadically. The older I got, the more I felt isolated. Any sporadic physical contact hurt. I felt as if I was some kind of plague. That if he had touched me, he’d die a tragic death.

So, for example, I was let’s say around 10–12 years old. I had an argument with my mum. She humiliated me in front of the rest of the family, on Christmas or Easter. My dad didn’t react. I ran to the other room and cried. He came after me, sat next to me (no touching) and talked to me in his soft voice, that everything was OK, that I shouldn’t be sad, that I SHOULD UNDERSTAND how my mum was. When I asked him right into his face why he wouldn’t leave her, he replied, “I love her”. During that moment, he’d show his affection and soft side to me. The second, my mum came in, and she did not take long to wait with it, he’d turn his behaviour 180°, use a sharp voice with me and leave the room. And that’s how it was each time. Sharp, ignoring, dismissive whenever my mum was around. Soft and warm whenever we were alone. 

On holidays: the time spent without my mum would be full of joy, joking, laughing, doing things together. As soon as my mum joined, I’d be left to myself, lonely, feeling like a third wheel, hearing a harsh tone from him.

When I tapped on those things and the feeling of confusion, I realised my dad was hiding our relationship from her. As if I was “the other woman”… Those of you who have dated a married man know what I mean. The secrecy, all on their terms, waiting like a sitting duck for a gesture, a message, a sign that would say “Now, I have time for you. Now we can meet”. 

Living with a Borderline parent, Borderline Personality Disorder, EFT, tapping, therapy, practitioner

„I'm so used to your excuses That when you bruise me I stick around No point trying to make it out now Rather be sinking than go without”

I wanted to be seen and accepted by him. I wanted to feel love and affection from him all the time, not only in some kind of hideout, secrecy. I longed for those brief moments of his soft voice, his warm energy towards me… Those things, those short spurts of what I thought was love and being seen, came in tiny doses, spread out in time with no logic. Jesus… that’s how a relationship with a married man or woman looks like… I was learning how to always be number two… How to have a relationship of secrecy with an emotionally unavailable man.

How was it then, that I didn’t feel anger or sadness towards him? Easy. He didn’t give me a chance to grow those feelings, as he’d use my love and longing to be loved by him during those quick moments against me. You see, he was my dad. I loved my dad, and I wanted to be loved. I can’t stress enough how this plays a huge role in all this. The wanting to be loved. He was the peace island; he was showing me affection sporadically, and I wanted to feel love, so I had patience. I waited for the next quick moment to take place.

Living with a Borderline parent, Borderline Personality Disorder, EFT, tapping, therapy, practitioner
„Tell me lies, tell me painted truths Anything at all to keep me close to you Pull me under the way you do Tonight I wanna drown in an ocean of you Oh, anything at all to keep me close to you Oh, tonight I wanna drown in an ocean of you”

I directed my anger towards my mum, and I could deal with only one aggressor at a time. She was the biggest one. She didn’t deliver any affectionate moments, so it was easier to be angry with her. With him, I had too much patience, because he’d deliver what I wanted the most: love (I call it “love” here, but it wasn’t love, it was a torment for me. Whatever he delivered, I took as love, as it was closer to love than what she showed me), acceptance, being seen, hugged. I didn’t have time, capacity, and willingness to be angry with him. I’d describe it as layers: there was a layer of rejection — that could produce anger in me, and there was a layer of affection/“love” — that I desired.

With time, of course, I got tired of waiting for those moments of affection from him. I think that situation lasted too long, and I was already giving up the anger and sadness the scenario with my mum was bringing up in me… So I gave up, and I just became disappointed, in him, in her, in my family, in life.

Living with a Borderline parent, Borderline Personality Disorder, EFT, tapping, therapy, practitioner

„And now the water is rising And I'm too tired to swim And my lungs just can't take it But I keep breathing you in, so”

I started seeing more and more proofs of him distancing from me, not wanting to have anything to do with me. My mum’s jealousy towards me grew to a hot balloon size. She treated me as if I actually was “the other woman”. Name-calling started, “You’re a whore”, (one of the perks of living with a Borderline parent) even when he was at home. Of course, with no reaction from his side… Of course not. Am I surprised? Not really. He was basically hiding our relationship from her.

He literally groomed me to be in this kind of hidden relationship with a taken man as an adult woman. To be someone’s lover… This “I love you — I love you not”, “I love you when we are alone, but you don’t exist for me when there are others around”. I see now why dating unavailable men, whether married or simply emotionally unavailable, would give me this painful pleasure. Almost as if the hurt I experienced in those relationships brought a mixture of hurt and love… (Now, I know it is not love. It is a fucked up, negative pattern that was installed in me when I was a child.)

In so many ways, he chose her over me. There shouldn’t be any choosing. We were a family in my eyes. In reality, we were a bunch of people who were involved in a complicated, emotionally fucked up relationship. There’s one thing that is important: I WAS A CHILD. For me, they were my mum and my dad. What was I for them? Whatever they decided I was for them, it’s on them. It was their doing, not mine. They were the parents, the adults. I was a child. I carry no responsibility for their actions and behaviours. I carry no responsibility for the kind of reality and environment they created for me. I carry, however, the consequences of their actions. And that part I CAN do something about, as I don’t want to carry it with me for the rest of my life.

So, I tapped to allow myself to be angry with him. To allow myself to feel betrayed by him, abandoned by him, lonely. I tapped to allow the emotions of anger and sadness to come up if they wanted to. 

Things don’t happen over one tapping session. Sometimes you have to let the emotions and the subconscious mind let work in the background, get used to the new epiphany, new realisation, in their own time.

It is a life-changing realisation that my dad manipulated my heart. It was obvious to me that my mum’s behaviour affected my body and mind. But it’s a whole new thing to actually see, that a person I looked up to manipulated my heart.


If you, like me:

– have negative experiences, repeat certain negative patterns, for example dating the worng kind of people, and have beliefs about yourself that make you unhappy,

– relate to my stories somehow:

– the borderline parent - growing up in an environment of sudden outburst of anger, frustration, emotional instability (aggression, silence, positivity, aggression), push-pull emotions,

– unhappy relationships,

– feeling of lack of love in your childhood or adult life, feeling of not belonging, emotional burn out (especially in romantic relationships),

– sexual assault, bulling, discrimination…

– helplessness, powerlessness towards people and situations,

– disappointment and mistrust towards people, love, doubt you’ll ever find love,

and you would like to:

– learn to recognise and get rid of as many as possible triggers, red buttons, negative patterns and beliefs,

– neutralise these sons of bitches,

– work with a therapist who has compassion and capacity to listen (click The kind of therapist I am to be)

in order to

– have a better live, 

– learn to deal with the rest of the triggers on your own (who wants to go to a life-long therapy? No one),

– be happier, lighter and…

– accept yourself as you are, with the buttons or without them,

Get in touch with me on

Email: LoveYourLifeEFT (@)

Tel, WhatsApp, Telegram: +46 727 919 609

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