A Box Full of Darkness: Growing Up in the Shadow of BPD

Someone I loved once gave me
A box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
That this, too, was a gift.
-Mary Oliver

I can’t remember now how I ran across this poem by Mary Oliver. I saved it, because the box-full-of-darkness metaphor seemed genius. As time went by, its relevance to my experience became clearer. The poem eventually served as an epigraph for my book Missing: Coming to Terms with a Borderline Mother.

First, here’s what I won’t be saying about these lines. I won’t say that all dark boxes become gifts. The loss of a child or debilitating pain or one’s own mental illness? Starvation? Violence? Are these gifts, or can they become gifts? It feels presumptuous to say so. I can speak only to my own experience, and a largely blessed and lucky experience it has been.
Continue Reading


3 Tips for Helping Your Kids Develop Empathy

Every child is already empathic. We all are (with a few exceptions). We are wired for empathy. We are wired to connect, communicate and collaborate with others.

Empathy develops in infancy. “A child first learns to tune in to his or her mother’s emotions and moods, and later on to other people’s,” write Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl in their new book The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids.

They further explain, “What the mother feels, the child will feel and mirror. This is why things such as eye contact, facial expressions, and tone of voice are so important in the beginning of life. It is the first way we feel trust and attachment and begin to learn empathy.”
Continue Reading

Best of Our Blogs

Best of Our Blogs: October 18, 2016

A lot of us fail at the life we desire because of one thing.

You're secretly waiting for permission.

You were raised to believe you had to play by the rules to succeed. Surprisingly, rules to stifle your voice and emotions, downplay your talents actually left you on the road to unhappiness and further away from your true self.

Who you were before adults broke your spirit is the real you. Rediscovering that person takes courage, support and the right resources, but when you uncover your true self, you don't have to wait for permission. You are worthy of being exactly who you are.

Whether you're recovering from narcissistic abuse, a passive-aggressive family, jealous mother, or being the martyr of your family, our posts this week will help you reconnect with that lost sense of you.
Continue Reading


Why I Admire Psychopaths… Some of Their Traits Anyway

Sometimes, when I wake up on Monday mornings and feel a little stressed about my upcoming week, afraid I won’t be convincing during a presentation, or not sure about taking on some project that is a little out of my comfort zone, I wish I had a little more psychopathic traits.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I wish I was an emotionless serial killer, just that it would be nice to have a little more of some of the traits they share that are actually coveted in today's society.
Continue Reading


Law and Disorder: How Police Practices Antagonize

Charlotte. Baton Rouge. Tulsa. Minneapolis. Los Angeles. Ferguson.

The violence explodes on your television set. You seethe.

“This is 2016 -- not 1968. Does the U.S. now stand for ‘Under Siege?”’ you fume.

Your anger is righteous. Racism is prevalent in the United States. And, yes, there are racially tinged police officers infecting American police forces.

But is your anger misplaced?
Continue Reading


7 Ways to Face the Horrors of the World with Hope and Realism

In life I strive to be an optimistic person, although, I think I end up somewhere in the middle between being an optimist and a pessimist. This middle area I like to refer to as "being a realist."

Overall, I'm basically fine with being a realist because it keeps me grounded. The problem, though, with being a realist is that there is little room left if I want to make a change to the events in the world.

Optimists see potential to change things for the better, while the realist simply sees what is.
Continue Reading

Children and Teens

Your Children Keep You Sane

We’ve all heard the old saying “My kids make me crazy.” But isn’t it also true that kids keep us mentally sound?

I’ve been a parent for 12 years, and this is the most important thing I’ve learned: A parent simply can’t shut down, lose it, and ignore her kids. She must hold it together for them.

It was a cold day last January when Kathy, my neighbor, and her daughter were moving out of their house. Kathy had asked her friends to help her because she couldn't afford the cost of a moving company. So I arrived at 8:00 A.M. to load boxes onto a rented truck.
Continue Reading


The Transpersonal Nature of Intimacy

“In Zen Buddhism, intimacy is a very important word. In the early Chinese literature of Zen ... it was used as a synonym for the ... breakthrough that’s more commonly called realization or enlightenment. When you are intimate, you are one with. When you are not intimate, you are in your head.”
- Aitken Rōshi, The Ground We Share
Most of us experience a deep longing for an intimate connection. But have you considered how this longing stems from the very same impulse that moves us toward a spiritual life?

A vital spiritual life is different than clinging to high-minded religious ideas. Spirituality is synonymous with being intimate with our world. It’s not about the ideas in our head; it’s about the love in our heart. It's about our capacity to open to something larger than ourselves. We come into direct contact with the quiet pulse of life that flows through us and between us.
Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

When Anxious Thoughts Just Won’t Quit

Maybe you can’t stop worrying about work. You’re convinced that you are an impostor, and everyone at the office knows it, too.

You’re bound to get fired. Maybe you fear that your partner will abandon you, because you know you’re not enough. Maybe you fear for your family’s safety after your neighbors were killed in a car crash. Maybe you’re worried about your own health after experiencing certain symptoms.

Maybe your thoughts involve a different anxiety. Either way, you carry them wherever you go. They are stubborn. They are persistent.
Continue Reading

Brain Blogger

Lucid Dreaming Can Improve Physical Skills, Scientists Say

Can we significantly improve physical skills by practicing them while we sleep? Yes, scientists say. New research published in the Journal of Sports Sciences confirms that practicing motor skills while lucid dreaming can lead to real life improvements in skill performance that can be equivalent to practice in waking life.

Lucid dreaming is when the dreamer becomes aware that he or she is actually dreaming. This awareness typically comes hand in hand with greater control of what one’s dream self is doing, as well as the content of the dream.

Continue Reading


Does Depression Turn Self-Medication into Addiction?

The term self-medicating simply means using a substance or engaging in a behavior to satisfy a physical or psychological need.

Quite often, though, self-medicating means relying heavily on legal or illicit substances, like alcohol or drugs. As a manifestation of addiction, such self-medication is especially problematic for patients with depression.

Those who battle depression, and especially those who are predisposed to addiction, may try self-medicating before or instead of seeking professional help, which can...
Continue Reading