February 7, 2012 § 4 Comments

Michelle Bidwell

You’re sitting on a stained white couch, the cushions so soft you worry you won’t be able to stand back up with any kind of grace. You want to grab one of the throw pillows and hug it to yourself for comfort but wonder if that would make you look needy or neurotic or whatever it is your body language will say. So you sit up as straight as you can on the squishy sofa and refuse to let your arms cross in self defense.

The therapist might be a little older than you. It’s hard to say. High desert climate isn’t kind to skin. You’re glad you haven’t lived here all your life and feel desperate to leave before your own skin turns to leather. You like her jeans, her shoes, and her trendy glasses. And then she tells the two of you that your daughter is exhibiting signs of BPD. Borderline Personality Disorder. You reach for your husband’s hand. Your fingers entwine with familiar ease. It’s not that you didn’t already know.

When she tells you that your daughter is terrified of being just like her biological mother you squirm. Your husband says, If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. You stare at the floor to hide your Picasso face, one eye filled with amusement, the other with outrage. If you had three eyes, the third would be a fresco of sadness.

The therapist isn’t big on labeling. You aren’t in love with it either, but if it walks like a duck. Your feathered daughter is a master at projection and manipulating the truth. She lives in a black and white world, is impulsive, violent, self-destructive, histrionic and narcissistic.

You leave the counseling session and drive straight to the bookstore. You love the bookstore and you find yourself relaxing, wandering around, even after you find the book you are looking for. You buy your daughter a present, a henna tattoo kit. It looks fun. Maybe she can draw on herself rather than cut herself.

It takes only five of the nine behaviors for a BPD diagnosis. She somehow exhibits all nine daily. You read on and begin to wonder if your ex-husband was a BPD. That would explain a lot.


Michelle Bidwell lives in rural Idaho and works as a Field Interviewer for Research Triangle Institute. She is a longstanding member of the Diving Deeper Writing Workshop. She loves to read, write, garden, and hang out with her dogs. Michelle is a mother of five and very proud grandmother of three.

Image: Reflections and Light, By Stephen Martin


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