I’ve lived a harder life than most people. All my life, I’ve been surrounded by Cluster B people and many of them had substance abuse issues too (alcoholism and drug addiction are closely correlated with Cluster B personality disorders).
I was raised by a somatic narcissist mother and a covert narcissist/borderline father. Both were alcoholics. I never knew my half-brother and sisters, who were not raised by my parents after I was born. My grandparents all died when I was still young, but from all the accounts I’ve heard, they were also all Cluster B or codependent in a cluster B marriage In 1986, I married a malignant narcissist/sociopath (also an alcoholic and drug addict) and was the codependent victim in that relationship until just three years ago. Surrounded by so many cluster B people, it was almost inevitable I would develop a cluster B disorder myself (as well as severe C-PTSD) and so I did. I almost became an alcoholic myself. Our extended family is fragmented and shattered, with various factions scattered across almost every part of the United States. I’m not close to any of them. Some of them I have never met and probably never will.
Somehow, the family mental illness appears to have skipped over both my children. My daughter, who is 23, was a difficult teenager, frequently in trouble. For a few years she hated me and sided with her dad (she was his golden child and he frequently tried to use her as a pawn against me). Due to her problems in school and at home, she was diagnosed with several things, including Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) which often becomes a cluster B disorder in adulthood. But she never did and during the last two years, has shown she has a lot of empathy for others and is also finally making some good life choices. My son, 25 now, never seemed much at risk; he was his father’s scapegoat and a target of bullying as a child (much like I was), yet he seems to have escaped having even Complex PTSD. His worst problem is he’s very obsessive-compulsive and has anxiety issues (don’t we all?) Of course, they are both young,and sometimes symptoms of BPD or NPD don’t really manifest until later, but as far as I can tell, they both seem free of those disorders. If either of them does become Cluster B, it would break my heart because I don’t think I could bring myself to go No Contact with them. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.
I think a lot of things led to my kids never developing cluster B disorders (or at least not seeming to), not least of which was pure luck. I think they knew that as disordered as I was and as hobbled as I was as their mother due to my codependent nature, my love for both of them was the real thing. Although I wasn’t protective enough when they were children; now I find I’m almost overprotective, even though they are adults. It’s as if I’ve been trying to make things up to them. I think educating them about NPD (they both know their father has it), narcissism in general, and other cluster B disorders, and how they affected our family and its dynamics, have helped them to understand why their father and I acted the way we did.
My son may have escaped having these disorders because during his last year of high school (2009 and 2010), he lived for several months with the family of a friend of his, whose mother was a police officer and an excellent mother to her own sons. This wasn’t a “foster child” situation; it was my son’s choice. He told me he could no longer tolerate the toxic dynamics at our home and this officer’s family cared about him as if he were one of their own. Since he was almost ready to graduate I didn’t see a problem with him staying there for awhile, though I did feel hurt and missed him a lot. I could see that it would benefit him, even as sick as I was at that time. I knew that this was a good family who would set a good example for my son.
My life has been difficult in almost every way one can imagine, but I feel so grateful that I have a great relationship with both my children now that they are adults. Both of them recognize their dad as an abuser, and think I was the better parent. My daughter liked her status as her dad’s favorite, and felt like she was required to “hate” me and now feels bad about that. I told her not to feel guilty, because what he did to her was also a form of abuse. As for my son, we’ve always been close. I feel like these two young people would both be good friends of mine even if they weren’t my own children. I love them, but I also LIKE them. I’m so proud of them both.