Narcissistic Parents

Several months of recent correspondence, as well as occasional visits during this time, have given me a very good understanding of who Ed is today; the same man he has always been – a child abuser, coward, rapist.  He is also, in my informed opinion, a narcissist who suffers from cognitive dissonance and self-aggrandizing delusions.  He has not changed, but he has become adept at hiding who he really is, rendering him capable of surviving among the good and decent people in his life today.  He, in some ways, is the luckiest man alive; the Teflon-Man nothing ever sticks to, and he is so good at selling himself; there is a different version of Ed for every man, woman and child in his world – past and present.

On the other hand, I haven’t seen or spoken to Pat since early 1983; she attended my wedding in 1986, but the only exchange we had that day was her telling me that she approved of the new me – whatever that meant.  I  kept my distance; I didn’t want to know her anymore.

There was a time when I knew her far better than anyone else, and despite our lack of communication for more than three decades, this, I have found, is still true.  In fact, I actually know her – I don’t think many other people do …

Kind, thinking, good people assume we all share basic values, and our understanding of mothers comes from the precept that all mothers love their children.  We believe that every mother is dedicated to nurturing and guiding her young children, and is desirous of a solid, affectionate relationship with her children when they are grown.  Mothers who do not reflect this archetype are virtually inconceivable to the rest of us.

When my aunt contacted me after decades of estrangement, she was excited to share with her sister that I had responded to her message wishing me a happy birthday.  My aunt thought my mother would be happy and excited too – she thought perhaps this might give my mother hope that one day I would speak to her as well.

My aunt didn’t understand then that my mother is the antitheses of the mother archetype.  She didn’t love and nurture when I was little, and she damn sure didn’t want a relationship with her grown up son who had lived the truth she had lied about for almost three decades.

When my aunt came back into my life, Pat simply shut her sister out of her life.

I may not have recent personal communication with my mother to offer as support, but the evidence is pretty compelling; she is the same abusive, narcissistic drama queen she has always been.

I used to wonder how Pat could possibly be happy, given everyone she has hurt, but now I understand that she never cared to begin with.  She put on a passable face, said the right things for a time, behaved like people she knew who actually did love and care for their family, but it was never real for her – and her love  was never, ever genuine.  It’s easy to be happy, despite the pain and damage you have caused, when you never cared about anyone other than yourself to begin with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of What We Claim

Quote on mental health - I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.

Last week was rough; it was emotionally draining and, in the end, it felt unproductive.  I was merely the support system, my aunt took the brunt of the storm – she was deeply exhausted when it was over.

It has me thinking about what I did to my family when I was sick, how tired they were – how hopeless and helpless they must have felt at times.  Untreated mental illness wrecks havoc with the lives of everyone it touches.

It is different – being on the outside, being well and trying to make sense of someone else’s illness; I now know the despair and helplessness of watching a train wreck; it’s going to happen, but all I can do is watch.  I can’t stop it.  I’m powerless.

I don’t like being a victim – so I won’t own that terrible, vulnerable dark place in the soul that knows only cries that are never heard …

my sister, on the other hand, seems to have found a home there.  She blames everyone, but is never introspective.  She is always the victim.  She is always the wounded.  She is always the down-trodden.  She alone hurts.  She alone has been ill-treated.  She is unloved.  She is unwanted …

It is all ridiculous, of course, but she has told herself all of this so many times she actually believes it is true.  She is perpetuating her own illness, actually making herself sicker.

She has been a victim – she was our parent’s victim; today, she is a victim only of herself. And her self-abuse is, in many ways, worse than anything our parents did to her.  They made her comfortable being a victim, that is fact, but she chooses to own victim-hood now.

She owns victim-hood, but not her story.  She is too busy wallowing to understand the strength it took just to survive Pat and Ed’s House of Horrors.  Too busy claiming virtue in her pain to realize she beat the odds, once.  Too mired in her self-created loss to feel good about who she has been, and who she could still be.

Owning her story has the power to heal, and set her free.

And it is the only thing that does.

Trying to Understand Narcissism

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In speaking to family members I hadn’t spoken to in decades, more and more is making sense …

what isn’t clear to me is how a Narcissist operates – how premeditated are their actions?  Do they scheme and connive, or do they fly by the seat of their pants?  Are their manipulations as delicately orchestrated as they seem – fine tuned to consider every possibility, or do they enjoy changing things up as the situation unfolds?  How are they gratified by what they do … ?

Don’t they understand their sarcasm isn’t witty or humorous?

Don’t they realize most people don’t simply banish family from their lives, or levy ultimatums that lead to conflict and estrangement?

Don’t they have some understanding that they are not entitled to happiness at the expense of others?

What is the source of their cynical and spiteful nature?

How is it they are able to convince people in their lives that others are damaged, disturbed, evil or flawed?

How can they make everyone around them accept, almost without question, a story so ridiculous, so filled with holes and out-and-out lies, it is obvious at least mild skepticism is in order?

And how is it we, those of us who have had our lives twisted and contorted through interaction with these people, cannot see with complete clarity – though we may have known on some primal level all along, as I did – just how ruthless and disturbed  the Narcissist is until we have gotten away from her?

Pat was safe until we all started talking to each other – her story only what she wanted it to be.

There has been much hurt, regret, remorse and sorrow as a result of her orchestrations and manipulations – and I am deeply ashamed of what I considered, albeit fleetingly, my father to be guilty of … things Pat led me to knowing they were false.  A Narcissist can take the mistakes of others and twist them into something  more; something dark, terrible, evil and willful – until you begin to question yourself, and what you believe.  Even now her lack of empathy staggers me.  Where is morality, decency and propriety – what fills the space inside where her heart should be?

I am angry, intensely so, but also relieved to know my assessments of her were never too harsh – if anything they weren’t harsh enough.

Naively, and despite some real evidence to the contrary, I believed I was her only real victim – but my sister has fared far worse than I have, and what she did to my father is unconscionable. And then there are the wives, or ex-wives, of the sea of married men she has seduced – one of which told us, after he’d gotten away from her, just how insane and disturbed he found her to be.

But that’s just it; you don’t fully realize, until you’ve escaped, exactly who and what she is.  I knew I didn’t like her, knew she had the morals of an alley cat, knew she was an abusive mother …

but until I left home, I had no idea how damaged I was as a result of having been her son.

And until I began talking to others she has hurt, I didn’t know their experiences with her were similar to, or even worse than, my own.

Does she not consider the consequences of her actions?  Or is her behavior indicative of cognitive shortcomings derived from a static mental state permeated by distortions and misperception?

Are Narcissists sick, and therefore deserving of compassion?

Or are they inherently vile; devoid of empathy and therefore evil?

And what happened to my mother … was she born this way?  Is she the Bad Seed?

Or did someone hurt her and cause this disorder in her personality?

In a case this complex, where so many lives have been damaged as a result of her actions, perhaps I shouldn’t even concern myself with why …

Maybe this time, only the acceptance of what is is appropriate …

because when dealing with a Narcissist, the only person you can save …

is yourself.