The Atlantic

Dear Therapist: My Mom Used to Abuse Me. Should I Keep Her in My Life?

Everyone tells me she should be there for the birth of my child, but I just don’t trust her.

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. Have a question? Email her at dear.therapist@theatlantic.com.

Dear Therapist,

My mother has textbook borderline personality disorder—extreme insecurity, where anything can trigger her. When we were growing up, this manifested in physical abuse or the destruction of some item, like throwing a TV on the ground. She would cut my hair as punishment for bad behavior, call me a whore, and, when I got my period, she told me “it wasn’t real” and wouldn’t buy me tampons. She walked out of my wedding two years ago because “clearly I didn’t want her there.” My method of dealing since I was young was to try to become

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