In a previous post, I mentioned how the article I found had inspired some theories and I want to take the time now to talk about them with you.
Since having met my husband in 2009, I've been developing a theory regarding how some narcissists can covertly sexually abuse their children. Up until reading the article in my last post, my theory was missing a few vital pieces. And then, after reading the article, everything sort of clicked into place.
The nut of my theory is this: NMIL's forays into inappropriate sexual behavior with her son and her son's friends, in addition to her own lack of self-esteem and inability to teach him how to maintain healthy emotional boundaries with all of the women in his life was, in fact, a form of extremely covert sexual abuse. Let's break it down, shall we? We know for certain that the following accounts are true:
NMIL's behaviors towards DH and his peers have, at times, been borderline sexual (both overt and covert in nature). Like a pedophile, she spent much of her time grooming DH's friends and subtly coaxing them into a mindset where they saw her as a friend or an object of lust, rather than as a mother, a caretaker, or simply, as the parent of their friend. DH recalls that she nearly always dressed inappropriately, both for her age and for the sake of propriety. He said that she often wore mini-skirts and revealing clothing, which showed a lack of maturity as well as a complete disinterest for societal standards. In addition to her wardrobe choices, there was the famous incident of her breast popping out of her bathrobe (which DH said she wore often in front of his teenage friends, and he never knew if she wore anything underneath). In that particular case, though we'll never know for sure, it seems safe to assume that the indecent exposure was done on purpose, and that she wanted her specially-groomed boytoy, Pig, to see it. She wanted to be friends with all of DH's friends, including friends of either gender and girlfriends. In most cases, she succeeded in doing so, to the point where ALL of DH's "friends" maintained their loyalties with his NM, rather than with him. And DH recalls that she hugged his two best friends often.
NMIL expected DH to step into the role of father for her daughter. I maintain my belief that NO CHILD ever takes on the role of parent to a sibling, unless they are forced into that position. Sometimes, though it is rare, older siblings have been known to take care of their younger siblings in extremely dire situations (for example, I have heard of young-adults taking over parental responsibilities to younger siblings when their parents have died and they have no existing family members to adopt them). But in most cases that I've seen, children or young-adults who step into the role of parenting their siblings NEVER, EVER do so out of choice. No child ever naturally assumes the role of parent, unless they are expected to, or the situation is so dire that they must step in. In DH's case, he was expected to step in as a physical and emotional care-taker of his younger sister. There are many examples of this kind of behavior in DH's past, one of which comes to mind for me often. When DH and I were dating in 2009, and we went to his sister's birthday party, we all went swimming in his NM's pool for a short while. I was appalled when I saw how DH treated his sister at the pool. She came out dressed in a bikini (which is perfectly normal and acceptable) and DH took it upon himself to walk over to her and pronounce that she shouldn't be wearing something so revealing and she should go in and change. It doesn't sound like a big deal to some people, I'm sure, but underneath the subtleties of it, I saw something really terrible: First, as I mentioned, there was nothing wrong with a fifteen-year-old girl wearing a bikini. Secondly, I couldn't believe that DH thought he had the right or the responsibility to assess the situation the way he did. I remember pulling him aside and saying, "That was completely inappropriate! First of all, it's a bathing suit. Second of all, you're not her parent. If her parents have a problem with something she's wearing, it's their job to say something, not yours." Besides the fact that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her attire, it became abundantly clear to me in that moment that DH and his sister had been groomed to see each other a certain way, and it wasn't as a typical brother and sister. And that wasn't their fault. It was largely their NM's.
Going right along with that, I also believe that NMIL expected DH to step into the role of her husband/lover/spouse. Again, I don't necessarily have concrete factoids to throw out at you about how I know this, I just know that NMIL's history of behaviors lead me to believe that this idea is a safe bet. When I read the following in my previous post, I found more evidence that, because narcissistic mothers don't understand, nor can they maintain healthy emotional/sexual boundaries, it is not uncommon for them to see their sons as viable mates, rather than as their children: "The men DON'T keep up their end of the relationship, because they don't want the relationship their mothers long for. They love her and they want a relationship, but not that kind of relationship. And everyone gets confused by what's really going on because it feels to everyone like a love triangle, without the sexual attraction. You have the jealous spurned woman, the new love interest and the guy in the middle--but no one calls it what it is because it's not sexual. And yet the emotions are exactly the same." So, even though NMIL didn't necessarily approach her son in a sexual manner, she still managed to become, in effect, the "jealous spurned woman" in this equation. Unlike most healthier (aka less-dysfunctional) mothers, NMIL is and was unable to see her son as not only a separate being, but as a child. Instead, she ALWAYS saw him as a possible spouse or significant other, thereby taking away his childhood and upending his healthy sexual-development.
NMIL taught DH a very unhealthy attitude towards/about women in general. Rather than teaching him that women are beings of worth, that we are unique and special and should be respected, as all living-beings deserve, NMIL taught him how to objectify women. She taught him that women and girls were things, collectibles, pretty objects that one can gaze upon and treat like garbage. To me, she exuded a sense of pride about how many girls he collected in his life. I believe that she saw more value in herself as a person if she could walk around saying that her son had so many girlfriends, or that women flocked to him, or that he "always had a blonde on his arm." She made a scrapbook for DH when he graduated high school and when he and I were looking through it, I pointed out to him all the references his mother made to the girls he grew up with, as though they were just things. She captioned one picture, "DH, adoring blonde on right." And another, "All his women, the early years." It was a picture of DH, as a little boy, standing on a fence with many of the little girls that he grew up with. I know without a doubt that she talked about women as though they were literally just tokens one could collect throughout a lifetime. And I mean, it takes one to know one, right? NMIL is, in her own mind, the ultimate collectable. She thinks nothing of herself, so why would she think any other women have value? Answer: She doesn't. She has such disdain for herself and has so little esteem for her own worth as a person and as a woman, that she can only see others in the same light. One of the many reasons why she doesn't like women like me is because I have more esteem and a stronger sense of self than she and all of her cronies combined. Not only must that terrify her because she is dwarfed in comparison to a woman like me, but she knows that all of her training with my husband didn't work.
He STILL picked me.