Friday, March 2, 2012

One Helluva Narcissist

About an hour or so after posting her response to me on the Friends and Family Forum, "been there" left the following response to a post in which a woman wanted to know if her behaviors made her a "bad MIL."

I have always had a good relationship with my son and welcomed my DIL with open arms. I thought that our side of the family was loved and accepted until one day out of the blue, I was informed by my DIL that her and my son and grandson would never be back to visit us. Wow, that was a shock and that's not even mentioning all the great times our families had together and everything we've done for them.

That got me searching the internet to see if anyone else was experiencing a similar problem. I discovered that this is all over the place. These young girls are separating their husbands from the herd of their families of origin, while at the same time maintaining the status quo of their own families of origin. These poor mother in laws are trying to figure out what they have done's easy to point the finger at the crazy MIL. Mind you I'm sure there are some of those too, but there seems to be a trend here, where the DIL is demanding the DH to make a choice between her and his family of origin.

This is a pretty sad commentary. These young girls have no idea how devastating there behavior is and don't seem to care. It looks like they just want to be the sole focal point of there husbands, aka "control freaks". My condolences to all of us MIL who have lost our dear sons needlessly to these very misguided young women.

This post really solidifies the image of a narcissist for us, doesn't it Dear Reader? After reading her diatribe in response to my post, and then finding this little gem, I felt I had gathered enough evidence to permanently store "been there" under the narcissist tab in my mental filing cabinet. She bore an uncanny resemblance to NMIL in her levels of disillusionment and in her will to remain blissfully ignorant to the truth. In particular, "been there's" seeming lack of interest and ability to self-reflect had become apparent.

So, are we ready for round two? Here we go:

I have always had a good relationship with my son and welcomed my DIL with open arms. I thought that our side of the family was loved and accepted until one day out of the blue, I was informed by my DIL that her and my son and grandson would never be back to visit us. Wow, that was a shock and that's not even mentioning all the great times our families had together and everything we've done for them.

What do I see here? I see lies, delusional thought patterns, black-and-white thinking, and absurdity. I also see blame, contradiction, failure to self-reflect, and a serious case of the me-me-me's. This woman, who first claims to have "welcomed her DIL with open arms" simultaneously places all of the responsibility for her estrangement on that very same woman. (Yeah, what a welcome that must have been!) There is something fundamentally problematic in a statement that reads, "[I] welcomed my DIL...[but our side of the family was not loved and accepted]." Now, it stands without reason that, in any relationship, there must be acceptance on the part of both parties. HOWEVER, this woman seems, at least to me, to have put an imbalanced amount of responsibility on the shoulders of the newcomer (the person joining her family, as she so carefully points out) to love and accept the family she was attempting to join. I see it like this: When you have a guest, it is customary, and natural to make that guest feel welcome in your home, rather than the other way around. It wouldn't make much sense for the guest (see: outsider, newcomer, in-law) to be expected to make YOU feel comfortable in your own home. That's just not the way it works.

Not only do I doubt the honesty behind the claim that "been there" welcomed her DIL with open arms, but I'm willing to bet that, if this woman were capable of even the slightest bit of self-reflection, even she would know she's full of shit. I'd bet my bottom dollar that her DIL got an even colder reception than I did after I left my "deposition" on the Friends and Family forum: in fact, I'd venture a guess that she got the welcome mat swept right out from under her.

"Been there's" first two sentences immediately brought me back to our first apartment fiasco. For those of you who have not been here from the beginning, a bit of background: Naunt "welcomed" me into her home, and indeed, into her family, by telling me that I was not welcome at all. Just a few weeks after having announced our pregnancy to DH's FOO, DH and I made the decision to move in together. The original plan was that I was going to move in to DH's apartment, which was being rented to him by his Naunt. It was an in-law apartment situated over her garage...the perfect location for a manipulative, overbearing aunt to keep tabs on one of her favorite sources of narcissistic supply: my yet-to-be-made aware DH. The weekend that I moved in, Naunt expressed her displeasure to DH about all of the "demands" she felt I was making on her in regards to me moving in to the apartment (You know, "demands" like "Is it alright if Jonsi brings her cat?" and "Can we put up some shelving units on the walls in order to make more storage room for the baby?") The day I moved in and unpacked all of my belongings at the apartment, DH arranged a meeting with Naunt, at her request, to look over and re-sign the lease. Although it was never stated directly, I had reason to believe that Naunt never intended my inclusion on the discussion, nor on the re-signing of the lease. She knew I was coming to the meeting, but I doubt she wanted me there.

Once there, the conversation took mere moments to turn into a rather text-book display of manipulation and gas-lighting, complete with Naunt's absurd and phoney tears and narcissistic rage. The moment it became clear to me that I was not welcome there (in Naunt's house, apartment, family, or life) was when she said to my husband, "Please don't think we want you to leave." And then she looked at me, paused, looked back at DH and said, "Well, we don't want YOU to leave, [DH's childhood nickname.]" That was a defining moment for me, because in that second, I understood the implication: I, little Jonsi Lou-Who, was not welcome there.

And the funny thing is that I'll just bet Naunt still walks around telling people that she "welcomed Jonsi" into her family "with open arms." Needless to say, the day I moved in happened to be the same day that we moved out.

And "been there's" use of the phrase "our family" touches on another issue: the distinct separation of what is "theirs" and what is "mine" by virtue of possession. In other words, people like NMIL, Naunt, and "been there" all seem to share a philosophy that not only stakes claim on the lives of other human beings, but that also refuses to truly accept "outsiders" into their family-unit. Like Naunt and NMIL, I'm betting that "been there" had firmly solidified "her family" as being one that DIL would never become a part of, long before DIL even realized she was being excluded. DIL probably walked into the mess, thinking that she would not only be starting a new family of her own (comprised of herself, her new husband, and their future children) but that she'd become part of a larger clan as well - her husband's FOO.

From the sounds of it, DIL was like me, and figured out pretty quick that it was time to get the hell out of Dodge, before the shit really hit the fan.

And "been there" didn't like that. So now, it's all "out of the blue" and "what a shock" that her son and his family don't want anything to do with her. And here again, I call bullshit. Anyone who claims not to understand why her adult child has estranged himself, but then follows up that claim with statements of entitlement and stipulation, is either lying to herself or lying to us: but either way, she's lying. And the outcome is that we've now got very strong evidence, with or without actual circumstantial facts, that this woman is one helluva narcissist.

What she doesn't care to realize is that when you put conditions on love, your "loved ones" don't feel loved, they only feel trapped. Having "great times" with her son and DIL and "doing a lot for them" does not mean that they are locked-in to having a relationship with her, much as she'd like to delude herself into thinking. As long as she continues to think that her son and his wife "owe her," for "all that she has done," then she will never be able to maintain a healthy relationship with them.

These young girls are separating their husbands from the herd of their families of origin, while at the same time maintaining the status quo of their own families of origin. These poor mother in laws are trying to figure out what they have done's easy to point the finger at the crazy MIL. Mind you I'm sure there are some of those too, but there seems to be a trend here, where the DIL is demanding the DH to make a choice between her and his family of origin.

I am struck by the irony of such a statement, which comes directly on the heels of the message she directed at me. To all of those who commented on my last post, I commend your insight and wisdom: this woman did indeed side immediately with NMIL without ever needing to see her version of the events I had described. What a laugh I get from seeing this anonymous woman pretend to empathize with my plight, before immediately and unabashedly contradicting herself. "I too have had a MIL from hell," and "I'm sorry you have to endure the behavior of a sick individual" she wrote. And then, out the other side of her mouth: "These poor mother-in-laws" and "it's easy to point the finger at the crazy MIL." Who was it that was REALLY content on "cutting DH from the herd?" Who was it that really "demanded he choose between me and them?"

I'll give you a hint Dear Reader: The only one who ever demanded that he make a choice was the one who drew a line from the very beginning - the one who made the distinction between "her family" and "DIL's family."

These young girls have no idea how devastating there behavior is and don't seem to care. It looks like they just want to be the sole focal point of there husbands, aka "control freaks".

Arguing with a person like this in person would prove to be a tiring and useless endeavor. It would truly be an exercise in futility. Again, I think there is great humor in the idea that, if this individual were only capable of self-reflection, she would be able to see that her statements as outlined above are a reflection of herself, and not of anyone else. She must be such a puny and weak person inside, that the realization that she is, in fact, the callous one, would destroy her. Like NMIL, it is "been there's" issues with control and her own need to be the "sole focal point" that has driven away what could have been the most loving and meaningful relationships she could have hoped to be a part of.

In terms of dialog, there is one thing on which "been there" and I agree: This is, indeed, a pretty sad commentary.


  1. Trouble really began when I started dating my future DH at age 26, then at 31 I bought my first house in spite of NF's opposition and at age 34 married against my NPs wishes.

    Over the course of those eight years I also put myself through university while working full time which made my income rise dramatically.

    Most parents would have been proud of my accomplishments and happy to see me building a life and family of my own but my NPs gradually lost their doormat/personal slave. Even though I still saw them once or twice a month they found themselves having to do their own laundry, housework and grocery shopping. Horrors!

    Fast forward to the death of my DH four years ago and they thought they had me back. No thought for me struggling with the loss of my husband, finances or managing a large house and yard-work alone. No thought for all my future plans being ripped out from under me.

    They expected me down there EVERY weekend at the very least and during the week sometimes as well. When I did go they crapped all over me trying to force me back into the role I had served so well in the past.

    Funny thing is, after they came to Canada, NF NEVER saw his father again and NM saw her mother once. There was no alienation, they just grew up and moved to another country. It wasn't until their parents were dead that they made a visit back to England.

    Why then, do these people DEMAND that their own adult daughter (not their two sons) be at their beck and call 24/7?

    DH's mother, thankfully, died before we were married but had demanded daily calls and visits every Sunday.

    Most of us WANT our kids to grow up, find a life mate and create a family of their own. My NPs didn't even want to give me the time and space to maintain my own home let alone raise a child and have a relationship with me DH.

    Sick bastards!

    Your MIL should be delighted that her son found someone to love, created a family and, in short, became an independent and happy human being. This is what NORMAL parents want for their child. Instead she acts like you STOLE him! That's just plain warped!

    This commenter fucked up with her DIL and son! She knows exactly what she did and is playing the stupid "let's pretend nothing happened" game all of these morons play!

    Fuck 'em!

    1. Mulderfan, it always saddens me when I read about the way your NPs have treated you (and continue to treat you) especially in regards to the passing of your DH. The way they abused you your whole life is ugly enough, without adding the nastiness they directed at your husband, and at you after he passed. It is such a devastating thing to think about their complete lack of empathy for such a terribly sad event in your life.

      And, just like you pointed out about my NMIL, your NM should have been so happy when you found your DH and started a life with him; in particular because you were such a good fit for each other and had chosen to start a life together.

      It's amazing to me that there are so many narcissists out there and that they all play the same games (and think they've got everyone fooled). But we know the truth: they don't have everyone fooled. Sure, they've got a lot of people under their thumb...but not us! And they'll never have that kind of control again.

      They can pretend "nothing happened" all they want - that doesn't change that fact that plenty of shit happened!

      Fuck 'em is right! Cheers to that!

  2. That is the one resentment I have from all that. That my wife listened to my mother's bull shit and bought it thoroughly enough to hang me out to dry.
    There is obviously more to it than this. But it is accurate to say my mother was the catalyst in our undoing.

    1. That makes me really sad, Q. When I first read about how your NM was able to drive the wedge between you, and convince your wife that she shouldn't have married you, I had a couple thoughts: Maybe your wife didn't have the strength, courage, and knowledge to put a stop to what was going on; or maybe she was a narcissist too? The former seems more likely to me, but I thought the second could have been a possibility too.

      When it comes down to it, for DH and me, I feel like NMIL's attacks on us/me/him UNIFIED us, rather than brought us apart (which was the opposite of what she was hoping for.) Every tactic she tried was an attempt to separate DH from me, and to "get him back." But I guess part of the reason why our relationship only got stronger is because 1. DH wanted to be in this relationship with me more than he wanted to salvage his unhealthy past relationships and 2. I saw through all the bullshit. I see our relationship as something really precious and something to work at - in the end, nothing should tear us apart (unless it's completely our own doing!)

      I feel a great success in the fact that our marriage is strong and we're working to keep it so. I can completely understand your feelings of resentment for losing your marriage because of your psycho mom - the loss must be made so much worse because it wasn't strictly you and your wife that caused the rift - it was the evil woman that birthed you.

      Gah! Makes me so angry...

  3. We are back together. Not married but together. She has talked about how disarming it was to hear a mother trash her son.
    It makes sense though. That's like the last sacred bond. For her to dog me led her to believe there was something there.
    My actions after the split showed her what I was about and we hooked back up. It's miles too complicated to go into here. I don't want to hi-jack your thread.
    We are back together and I am NC.

    1. You're back together! That's a major success! So your wife was eventually able to See...

      Don't worry about hi-jacking the thread. :)

  4. One more thing. You have to remember how foreign it is to an outsider when you try to explain to them how crazy the disordered are. It's not like I didn't warn her about my mothers insanity. The wife just had to find it out for herself.

    1. True - you mentioned that - people often end up thinking YOU'RE the crazy one. I've gotten that rep myself a time or two, simply because I questioned the narc in his/her own world.

  5. Note the not-so-subtle undermining of the entire class of daughters-in-law: "young girls." Girl Scouts are young girls. Middle-schoolers are young girls. You might hope that young girls will make good decisions--I remember smarmy lectures from school officials about how we greasy, gangly, squirmy, braces-mouthed seventh-graders were now "young ladies and gentlemen" and should act the part--but you also expect the worst and roll out the safety nets. You guide gently from the sidelines. And you wait for the years to bring maturity. You don't respect a young girl's right to make life-changing decisions unaided, because even the wisest 13-year-old can be short-sighted and selfish. And if a young girl causes a disaster because of her own willfulness, you clamp down on her and stay clamped until she proves she can act like an adult.

    ...Or, if she shakes you off and walks away because she IS an adult, you weep and wail and find forums where other abused parents agree with you that kids these days need to grow up and submit to their parents' authority, like REAL adults.

    1. Issendai - A wonderfully insightful contribution to the topic!! You're right, I see the smarmy way she refers to ALL they are all children making immature and rash decisions.

      What utter condescension.

  6. Jonsi hi I haven't been on in a while but recently read some of your posts. And again I must thank you for this blog. It gives me strength and reaffirms what I know: My FOO is crazy. It's so difficult to explain to others who haven't been exposed to persons with untreated personality disorders. It is so unbelievably difficult. The reason i haven't been on in months is because I resent that my FOO causes me to waste so much time on trying to "figure it all out". It sickens me to think that a parent would do anything other than try to soothe their child's pains or make life easier for their child. Sadly my NPs and siblings go out of their way to hurt me and DH. I'm sick of it. However this most recent incident with NM has caused me to log back in although as I'm sure can imagine the holiday season was no picnic either. We didn't see them but they made sure to spew their venom from afar. By the way I have almost completed my timeline. I think it's close to 20 pages now. Pretty sick huh? 10 years worth of garbage from the people who gave me life. When it's all done, you'll have a good read. You're one of the few, I believe, who would be able to understand exactly what I have been going through this last decade while I was "drinking the koolaid" and even after I stopped. It seemingly NEVER ends with these people! Talk soon....

    1. Hi sister,

      I would love to read your timeline (not because it will be an "enjoyable" read, but because I'm sure I'll know EXACTLY what you're talking about) should you choose to share it.

      I've gotten a lot of comments recently about how hard it is for ACoNs to be understood because outsiders never really seem to fully grasp what it's like to be raised/in a relationship with the personality disordered. I'm glad though, that I am able to use my experiences to help validate your feelings, and the experiences of many other adult children.

      And this, I really get: The reason i haven't been on in months is because I resent that my FOO causes me to waste so much time on trying to "figure it all out". I get it because I know it probably feels like you're wasting time and head space on them. In a way, I believe that thinking about them IS a waste, but at the same time, it's not. It's a double edged sword - the more you think about them, the more you understand and learn, but it doesn't help diminish the pain of what they have done. I totally get that. I think time is the only "answer" to this dilemma - be kind to yourself, and don't make yourself feel guilty that you're choosing to spend some of your precious time trying to figure this stuff out. I think eventually, once you've gotten a truly firm grasp on the damage they caused, you'll be able to let more and more of it go.

      As far as the narcs are concerned - they may never give up on their tactics of manipulation completely...but like you, it will eventually become less important to them (as long as you maintain whatever boundaries you've set in place.)

      I look forward to reading your "history," when and if you decide to share.

    2. Untwisted, I'm with you on this one.

      I wrote a post wondering "out loud" why I was the one doing all of the research and desperately trying to find a way to have a meaningful relationship with my fucked-up NFOO!

      Here's the thing: Reasonably normal people look for solutions. Fuck-ups like our narcs are quite content with the status-quo. The narcs in my life are perfect and have no reason to change.

      All the research in the world was not going to change THEM. Once I accepted the futility of my search for answers my journey toward acceptance began.

      Let me clarify: acceptance, not approval. My narcs are never going to change and I accepted that by walking away and leaving them be... Now if they would just afford my the same courtesy, things would be fine by me!

      BTW "spew their venom from afar" is right out of the narc playbook!

  7. Thank you for this post. I can see so much of my NMIL and NM in this. The thing about "open arms" really struck me. My NMIL had "open arms" as long as I behaved and did things exactly as they did in "her family". I was OK with her as long as I knew my place (sort of a 2nd class family member, relegated on the pecking order somewhere with the family dogs). I would never be one of THEM, but I would be "welcomed" as long as I sat down, shut up, and did things exactly as they've always done them. So many times I was bombarded with "oh, this is just how (DH) grew up" or "this is what WE did as a family, and now you can do it as a family". It was like being in a cult. It was all good unless you went against the "rules". My NMIL was so threatened by me coming in and changing the image she had in her head of her ideal family. She was so threatened that if I didn't just get in line, that it would all fall apart. I, too, never (and still haven't) demanded my DH make a choice. She drew that line in the sand by telling me outlining me as a threat and a villain before she even knew me. And that was her "open arms".

    1. You know what? Their idea of "welcoming" is just a bunch of superficial sappy bullshit anyway, and who the hell wants that? I didn't want their "welcome" so long as it was disingenuous horsecrap.

      You're right, what it comes down to is that they are threatened...they don't want someone swooping in and rescuing their prisoners from the dragon's keep.

      "She drew that line in the sand by outlining me as a threat and a villain before she even knew me." Sigh. Yes. Just yes. I know what that feels like.

  8. Thank you so much for your post(s). I am the daughter of a NM and she treats me and my husband horribly. We have just come back a christmas visit where she doesn't even say hello to my husband and consistently changes the subject when he talks or I talk about our current lives. This has been an ongoing thing. The "open arms" really resonates with me as well because I can picture/know she says this to our family friends about my husband and all my sibling's spouses. It sickens me to no end. Fortunately, we all moved to other side of the country but every time we go back to the NM's house - it like time stood still from when we were all pre-teens. I definitely understand the mentality NM's have to believing they are the perfect MIL and the prefect host when it cannot be further from the truth.

    I just became aware of this disorder yesterday when a friend mentioned my NM might have it. Every single thing on your page and others is so eerily similar to my upbringing and continuing treatment. Thank you for writing about it. It is really helpful to know other people out there are dealing with the same things and all of the craziness!

    1. Hi Anon,

      I'm sorry you found so many similarities to your own life on these pages but I hope you find solace here. I think you'll find more similarities if you keep reading, especially if you're mother is narcissistic. There are a lot of people that are a part of this community - you are definitely not alone!

      I hope you had a nice Christmas in spite of your FOO, and that you'll find some answers in the new year.



    2. Anon, Your friend did you a HUGE favour! In my case it was my cousin that got me started on a journey of discovery that quickly turned into a journey to freedom. The road may be a bit bumpy at times, but with support and validation from our little band of truth warriors, you'll be amazed where you find yourself!


    3. thank you both - a fog feels like it is lifting. The more I read, the more similarities I notice. Glad to be part of the community and finally figure out the truth behind all the insanity! happy new year to you both :)

    4. Fear
      Guilt our idea of FOG! Yes, It will lift and you will have an amazing new year!

      Hugs, mulderfan