the Truth is in the details
The most devastating thing I hear (meant as a compliment) is "You're just like your mother." I have to exercise incredible control not to snap, "I hope not, because I'd rather be dead." It's too melodramatic, and I have enough of that in my life already. Someday, I'll be free.
Yes, indeed. This is melding with some similar thoughts I've been having lately about my mother and will probably become a blog post. The whole "they mean well" or "they're good people" reputation that narcissists get can really piss me off, sometimes. Nice people don't treat other people like garbage.
Judy - You're certainly on your way to the freedom that you are searching for. You know, better than anyone, whether you are "like your mother" or not - and I think it's safe to say that, if you do find yourself behaving like your mother at times, you'll do what you must to change those behavior patterns into more healthier ones. Your desire to be different, healthier, stronger than your mother is very apparent.Claire - I really love Dr. Martinez-Lewi. Her posts are short and poignant. Narcs practically make a career out of seeming like "nice" people, and they are so good at fooling everyone. You've got to be smart AND strong to see past their facade.
So good to hear some validation, to hear someone get it.My parents are very well-respected in their close-knit community, are pillars of society. To all, they are prominent figures of charity, kindness, and generosity. They are in positions of power, have people come to them for advice regarding family trouble, etc. No one knows that they snicker behind the scenes, that they badmouth the very people whom they help, etc. People who have known my parents think I have lost my fucking mind. Those who have known me first---and know me to be sane (enough) and normal(ish)---believe me.My parents smear campaign is so wide and far and deep now that all my relatives are on their side. To lead my own life, I've had to say goodbye to absolutely everyone in the past. It's so like my fave movie, The Matrix. I'm out of the system, everyone else is delusional about my parents. Does that make me sound delusional? Then I look at my posts, my diaries, etc. and remember. No, narcissists are not nice, not kind, not misunderstood. They are not people trying to be loving who have somehow been terribly misunderstood by their crazy children. They did not bend over backwards to do anything for their children ... unless to bend over and smack the shit out of them. We are in a remarkably shallow society and love what is pretty or handsome and sparkles. Rarely do people peel the surface and look underneath. If they did, in my case, they would notice that my parents have no friends (only folks that they can influence or who are in "lower standing" in the community than they are), have one fucked-up son, have a daughter who does not talk to them anymore, etc.But no one will ever, ever know. That's one of the craziest things about being an ACON. You're awake, finally off the fucking crazy island of Dr. Moreau, looking back and going, "Wow, that was some crazy shit place" and everyone is still on the beach wondering why you're leaving, what the hell is wrong with you, unaware of the beasts that prowl around ...
Bang on KikiMy parents are seen as such nice, kind, generous people. They feel sorry for my mother's loss of my sister to suicide 7 years ago.But peel the surface back... My sister lived a tormented life of a scapegoat and my mother had both of her children taken away from her. She was excommunicated from the family, my mother would say she was "dead to her". Another sister attempted suicide, the golden child, under the intense stress of always trying to please, she still sees a therapist weekly. Another sister refuses to talk to them at all. I am no contact. Another sister doesnt like family gatherings because she feels like an outsider. Our "family holidays" consist of my NM celebrating it with my GC sister, and trying to cram everyone else into a rushed 2 hour visit with everyone else who could make it.My NM's brother sexually molested my friend and my cousin, when it was brought to her attention she didn't report it to anyone and swept it under the rug. The haughty-taughty lawyer dad she never shuts up about knocked up the 16 year old babysitter after her mom died, he then married her and she became stepmom to my mom and siblings, the oldest of which was her 15 year old sister. When her dad died, her uncle came along and then married her stepmom and became her step dad.Yet all anyone ever hears about is that she comes from a family of lawyers. Everyone thinks they are such great perfectly normal people and such good parents with such a loving family. In a wry twist, I bumped into a neighbor of theirs and the neighbor only thought that they had two daughters - the family was seven kids.It is sickening to the stomach of me as an ACON that they can maintain this appearance.
Kiki - You nailed it. I think with the type of Narcissist you are describing (the "Look-see-how-generous-I-am" type) have merely perfected the art of deceptive charm. They make themselves look really good and a majority of the superficial public (as you've pointed out) choose to believe the act. "Rarely do people peel the surface and look underneath." So true. And so sad. This is something I have learned about our society over the years - most people just don't have the knowledge or desire to look deeper than surface level. They walk around in a superficial bubble their whole lives. Those are the type of people most easily fooled by narcissists. DH and I watched "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" last night and we were really struck by the evilness of Nurse Ratched. And her evil is so subtle and she's so good at it that she has all of her colleagues fooled! At one point, the head doctor calls her "The best nurse" they have! Scary.
This is a great post discribing our society. Unfortunately the vast majority of people will not get it.
My faternal twin brother is a total narcissist. We are 48 years old (I am female)and I have finally figured that out. While I haven't had a relationship with him for two years, he continues to try and alienate me from the rest of the family and has been mostly successful. My mother has enabled/empowered/supported and defended him as long as I can remember. I have witnessed and been the victim of his jealous rage so many times I can't keep count. I literally moved 5 states away so I could have peace but he still finds ways to affect my life. The latest is this, my daughter is graduating college with a pre-med degree and is attending medical school in the fall. My 21 year old daughter sent out invitations to her graduation, she sent one to his ex-wife (they have three kids together) she and her Aunt have always been very close and my daughter was really upset when they divorced. My enabling mother calls me to tell me several family members are not coming to her graduation because of "family dynamics," translation - my brother brow beated and bullied them into not going because I won't tell his ex-wife she can't go (she's a nice person). When I became upset at this news my mothers response was "you brought this on yourself." At that moment it was like the light finally came on. I have to distance myself from my mother as well. I have been trying to avoid this my entire adult life but now I see it will always be this way. I thought because she is not the actual narcissist that she could someday see him for what he is, but now I know that she had a big part in making him that way. As I'm typing this I am thinking back to some of the excuses she made for him as a child. He used to punch me in the stomach so hard I would be doubled over unable to breath, my mother's response was "that's what boys do, they punch, stop making him so mad." The whole situation is so maddening. I wish I could have figured this out when I was 20 yrs old instead of 48, I could have saved myself years of hurt and grief. Now I have to learn how to move on without my mother. Do I tell her to stop calling me when I know she'll never understand why. I don't want to be ugly about it I just don't no what words to use. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Hello Anon,Drat it - I just had a very long response that I deleted accidentally. I'll try to recreate it with this more concise answer: It sounds as though, given the situation with your mother, you are considering going NO Contact with her. You might want to read my re-post on Rev. Renee Pitelli's No Contact 101, which I myself abide with in my own situations dealing with narcissists and their enablers/Flying Monkeys: http://jonsi-jonsi.blogspot.com/2011/08/no-contact-101.html as well as this re-post on what betrayal looks like, which I think you might find relatable: http://jonsi-jonsi.blogspot.com/2012/02/what-betrayal-looks-like.htmlIt's unfortunate, but it sounds as though you could spend the entirety of your life attempting to make your mother "understand" your feelings, needs, and points of view, and chances are very good that she won't, and that even if she could, she'd not do what you needed her to do. In my own experience, in order to escape the clutches of a narcissist, you often have to extricate yourself completely from everyone in his circle.I don't envy you this choice, for it is not an easy one to make, or to abide by. But I would like to gently suggest that the great thing about going NC is that you have the power to decide what to do with it and when, if ever, it will end. You don't necessarily have to see NC as an "end," but instead as a beginning. And you can just "try it on for size" so to speak and see how things go. It doesn't have to be so final right away.
That was only slightly more concise and not-as-good as my original answer.
Jonsi,Thank you for your thoughtful reply (especially since you had to type it twice) I felt some relief when reading your last paragraph when you said "NC is that you have the power to decide what to do with it and when, if ever, it will end." The thought of me having ANY kind of power in this situation would be great. I am going to take your advice and "try it on for size" then it's not so scary. I have accepted the fact that even if I handled this with "kid gloves" I am going to hurt my mother and she will never understand. So it is what it is. Thank you again!
I think a whole lot of people try going low contact first, before they do the whole no contact kit and kaboodle. For some, it works and for others it doesn't. I don't believe that dealing with narcissists of any flavor can be handled with a one-size-fits-all mentality. I have observed that when dealing with narcissist, or any power-hungry people, it's only natural to want some of that power back - who wants to be completely powerless or constantly struggling for even the tiniest bit of control all the time? I have found that LC and NC help us to gain some of that control back. And I don't believe that control is necessarily a bad thing, though so many people are taught to believe it is. In my opinion, it's not necessarily a bad thing to want to have some power for yourself, to want to feel like the rug isn't going to come out from under you at any given moment, to have solid ground to stand on and demand respect from your circle.I don't think that what you do is going to hurt your mother, I think that she perceives your actions to protect yourself as a series of attacks on her Self, which is not actually what you are doing at all. It is the mark of a very unhealthy relationship when actions of autonomy and independence are seen as a threat. Chances are your mother will never understand and it's not your responsibility to see that she does. It's hers.Having said all that, I have faith in you.
Hi Jonsi,After many days of thinking about your advice I finally sent my mother an email. I was very careful to not sound accusatory and emotional. I basically just stated the facts and told her several times that I don't expect her to understand and I have accepted that. I hope you don't mind but I used some of your words because they rang so true for me. I thought my heart would feel heavy but I actually feel so relieved. Thank you for taking the time to help me understand what has been happening all these years. I will keep you updated!!
Hi Anon,I don't mind at all, borrow away!It sounds as though the email you wrote to your mother was something you needed to do, and now, having done it, there's been a weight lifted from you. My husband had often talked about feeling "heavy" prior to going NC with his family, and I think it's because of the enormity of stress that burdens anyone who has to try and relate to a narcissist.I'm sending positive vibes and good thoughts in your direction.
Hi Jonsi,So I received an email back from my mother. It consisted of 3 sentences basically stating that "she was surprised I felt this way but if this is how I want things then there's nothing she can do" So I guess that's it, she doesn't understand and doesn't care to try and understand. A small part of me thought she would try and fight for me just a little. I have been a very good daughter to her. I was so sure I had accepted that she would never understand but I'm having a hard time with her not even trying. I was relieved for a couple of days but since her short email back I am beyond sad. I feel tossed out for simply standing up for my self. I guess I have to figure out my new normal. I think I just need some time and to delete her email so I don't keep reading it over and over. I guess I got what I asked for.
Hi Anon,Stay strong, standing up for yourself was the right thing to do, no matter how your NM responded. Her response was a tactic used to elicit guilt, pain, and sadness. She WANTS you to feel badly for having stood up for yourself. It suits her "needs" (however fucked up and unresolved those needs are) to make you feel badly for your attempt to detach yourself from her. She may not yet be as "done" as she'd like you to believe - my thought is that it's just the first of what may be many attempts to get you to give up on your crusade for respect and unconditional love. I imagine that there are some narcissistic (or otherwise dysfunctional) parents out there who DO "give up" on their AC right away, but in my experience, more often than not they come around again some time down the road if they think they'll be able to "win you back" again.I can understand your pain, as I'm sure many from this community can. The truth, as I see it anyway, seems to be that they don't ever really end up "fighting for you" the way you want them to, and they NEVER try to understand your needs. Whether they "give up" right away, or after years of attempting to crush you for attempting to break away, or never at all - most personality disordered parents seem never to have an interest, desire, or ability to See what it is that you are asking of them.If they were willing and capable of doing that, I imagine that none of us would be where we are now, right?Hang in there. I believe that you've done what is right, and probably what is best for you.