Narcissist parents demonize their own children.

Originally posted on March 17, 2015

narc_mother_littlegirl

Most parents like to tell cute and funny stories about when their children were young, or brag about their school accomplishments or tell sweet stories that show their child in a flattering or loving light. They are also proud of their children when they’re kind and nice to others. That’s the way things should be.

Not for narcissistic parents though.

Narcissists who “erase” memories of their children.
Some narcissistic parents don’t like to talk about their children at all. It’s as if they erase any memories of their offspring’s childhoods and don’t want to be reminded of it. It’s weird. My malignant cerebral narcissist sperm donor used to get bored and annoyed if I talked about the children when they were young. Inexplicably, he couldn’t stand it and became annoyed when I wanted to put some of their baby and early school pictures around the house. (He didn’t like that I displayed our wedding photos either).

He shows little to no interest in his son’s accomplishments (2019 edit: this has changed now that my son has landed a professional video editing job and can be considered “successful”) but just a few years ago, when my son won a few dance competitions, my ex’s eyes just glazed over.

I was proud of my son but his father seemed not to care. I thought maybe it was because he thought dancing was “too gay” but he acts just as disinterested about almost all my son’s other accomplishments too. It’s almost as if he wants to erase him from his mind.

And when they “brag” about you, watch out.

too_sensitive

My somatic narcissist mother loves to talk about me as a child. But her “bragging” is never about the things a normal parents would brag to their friends and relatives about. It’s never about how smart I was or what a good student I was, or what a good painter or writer I was, or how kind and generous or big-hearted or animal loving I was. Instead, she tells stories that illustrate the many ways I was “too sensitive” or how much I cried as a little girl. When she talks about me, she always brings up the most embarrassing stories, like how afraid I was of thunderstorms and how I used to run into the closet in terror (I like thunderstorms now) or how “hysterical” (she loves to use that word about me as a child) I used to get when I was frustrated or scared of something (I was afraid of many things but loved a lot of things too).

Whenever she talked about me to people, she made me sound like there was something wrong with me (I was a sensitive child with attachment issues–but surely there were good things she could have chosen to talk about instead of what a pitiful, awkward, oversensitive crybaby I was). She used to tell everyone the embarrassing story of my first period and how happy I was when I shouted the big news from the bathroom, because I had always been “so hysterical” and panic stricken because I was slower to hit puberty than most other girls my age. In actuality, I was 13 and really not far behind at all–and I never got “hysterical” or “panic stricken” the way she insisted I did.

I no longer hear these stories because I no longer have much contact with her, but I’m sure she still tells her friends and extended family (who she has isolated from me and turned some of them into flying monkeys against me) and they still all have a good laugh about “poor, over-sensitive, ‘hysterical’ little Lauren.” I know they also laugh about what a “loser” I am today, because I’m not wealthy like most of the family is and don’t have a great number of impressive professional accomplishments. Of course, that’s all due to my “poor choices” and not to the fact my self esteem was all but obliterated during childhood and adolescence, not only by my family but also by the bullies I often had to deal with at school.

One narcissistic abuse blogger (who I won’t identify for personal reasons) wrote about the way her psychopathic MN mother (who was actually MUCH worse than mine and downright cruel) and the rest of the family who served as her flying monkeys, gave her a poem for her college graduation. Instead of it being a sincere congratulations or about how loved she was and how proud of her they were, it was a “humorous” ode to how afraid of crickets she had been as a little girl. Notwithstanding the fact this poem had absolutely nothing to do with her daughter’s college graduation, its real intention was to embarrass her and make her feel self conscious. It was a poem that could have easily ruined an otherwise joyous occasion.

The navy blue dress.

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What my mother saw whenever she looked at me. (Just for the record, I think this big lady is stunning.)

My mother always loved to point out my faults–even imaginary ones she had projected onto me–in public. I’ll never forget the birthday party I had one year as a teenager. My mother had invited several of her friends to the apartment and some of my friends were there too. When it came time to open the gifts, she made sure hers was the first one I opened.

In the fancily wrapped box was a rather conservative, navy blue sleeveless dress. It was a nice dress, had I been about 40. She made me go try it on and then have me come out into the living room where everyone was sitting to model it. I obeyed because what else could I do. I was always so scared of her.

Mind you, I was not overweight. At 5’4″, 120-125 lbs was about the right weight for my frame. But my backside was what you might call well rounded (not to Kim Kardashian levels, but still round) and my mother was constantly calling attention to it. It made me very self conscious and due to this (as well as my desire to rebel against the way she’d dressed me like a doll when I was younger), I had taken to wearing baggy, almost masculine clothes that hid my curves. She was convinced I was “fat” and was always threatening to send me away to weight loss camp. As a somatic narcissist, she was obsessed with her own weight, physical appearance, and health (especially as it related to her appearance). She seemed to judge other people based on how they looked instead of their personality or inner qualities. Almost every day she called attention to how much weight I was putting on, or reminded me not to have seconds because of my “weight issues.” I become incredibly self conscious about my body as a result. It’s a miracle I didn’t develop an eating disorder.

weight-loss

Getting back to the birthday party and my “modeling session” in front of all the guests, after I modeled it, she announced that the dress’s dark color and style was flattering for someone with “Lauren’s little weight problem.”

You could have heard a pin drop in that room. I think everyone was shocked at her callous and embarrassing remarks. As for myself, I was so mortified I ran out of the room in tears, which of course was a huge mistake because that gave my mother ammunition to remind everyone once again about how sensitive I was (and she didn’t mean this in a complimentary way). She was always making jokes at my expense and then when I didn’t laugh or if I looked hurt, it was always “Lauren is just being over-sensitive again” or “Lauren has no sense of humor.” I’ve heard this is quite a common accusation narcissistic parents use against the child they have chosen as their scapegoat. They hate sensitivity in others and love to turn it into a bad thing because it takes the responsibility for their cruel behavior off of them and puts the blame onto the child.

This is the sort of “flattery” a scapegoated child can get from a parent who is a malignant narcissist. There are times I feel guilty that I don’t feel more loving toward my mother than I do, but when I think of all the years she demeaned me and put me down, always going out of her way to make me feel small and worthless, I don’t feel so guilty about my ambivalent feelings toward her. (2019 edit: as she’s grown quite old and several years have passed, I’ve developed more affection for her, and there is love there, but our relationship –if you can call it that–is still extremely distant and guarded).

I don’t hate my mother. I pity her for never having known who she really was or getting to know her true self. She’s an intelligent woman but you would never know it because she never was interested in abstract ideas or the life of the mind. Her eyes glaze over if you try to engage her in any “deep” topics. I recall her reading mass market paperback novels (“beach throwaways”) and fashion or home decorating magazines, never anything scholarly.

She has now lost most of her beauty due to age (and too many facelifts) and she is all too aware of this. The loss of physical beauty–the one thing that gave her a kind of identity–has turned her bitter in her old age.

Narcissistic mothers never really change.

I started this blog over four years ago partly because of my discovery that I had been spending more than five decades of my life trying to please and win the unconditional love of a mother who simply wasn’t capable of giving me that kind of healthy love a normal parent has for a child.    Emotionally, I was still a child trying desperately to please a parent who could never be pleased, and in fact, resented me because of who I was.

I went No Contact with her at the same time I went No Contact with my malignant narcissist ex husband.  During the first two years of starting this blog, I wrote extensively about both of them, and learned so much about myself and also how to heal from the narcissistic abuse both of them had inflicted on me.

Distance made me think over a few things.    I also came to understand exactly what a malignant narcissist is, and after some time, I realized my mother is not one.    Malignant narcissism is a mixture of NPD and Antisocial Personality Disorder with paranoid or sadistic traits.   My mother, while highly narcissistic, is not at all antisocial or sadistic, but she does check off most of the criteria for NPD (narcissistic personality disorder).  She also fits much of the criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Unlike a malignant narcissist, my mother does have a conscience and knows the difference between right and wrong.  She doesn’t “think like a criminal” and would never do anything illegal.  She has a sense of ethics.   She’s not sadistic and doesn’t enjoy seeing people suffer.  She likes animals and children.  She doesn’t have much empathy, even for her loved ones, but she isn’t the sort of person who enjoys watching others suffer or tries to cause them suffering;  she is mainly just cold and indifferent to the troubles of others, and fails to take responsibility when she has emotionally hurt someone.

Even so, as a parent, she was still very damaging.   Along with my borderline/narcissistic dad, who also was an active alcoholic during most of my childhood and adolescence (addictive disorders and alcoholism tend to exacerbate Cluster B personality types), there was lots and lots of drama, instability, fighting, screaming, accusations, gaslighting, hiding the truth from others, and abuse both physical and emotional while I was growing up, and it was mostly directed at me.  Needless to say, my growing up years were painful and traumatic.  As the only child in their marriage, I was constantly scapegoated and gaslighted and held to impossible standards, the implication being that I was never good enough and could never measure up.

Things could have been worse, but the damage was done.   I never felt like a full adult, and my self esteem took a beating.  I came to believe I wasn’t capable of very much in life.  My high sensitivity was used against me, treated like a defect or a weakness, instead of something that would ultimately become one of my greatest strengths.  I never really found my niche career wise, and I married an abusive, sociopathic husband who in many ways mirrored the emotional abuse I had suffered at the hands of both my parents as a child.

I felt especially uncomfortable, impotent, and childlike whenever I was with my mother, and this lasted into my fifties.  I’m not sure why this was so.  Perhaps because of my parents, she was the more narcissistic one, the one who seemed to always disapprove of me no matter what I said or did.   She would constantly gaslight me, give me “left handed” compliments that were really criticisms, find ways to embarrass or shame me in front of others (and then say I was being too sensitive or “imagining things” when I objected to this treatment), or blame me for things that weren’t actually my fault.   She never seemed to empathize whenever I was victimized at work or bullied at school and would instead tell me why I was bringing those things upon myself.

Going No Contact with her was necessary and freeing, and as I wrote about our relationship, I discovered many things about myself I never knew.   I discovered that I was not the failure and loser she’d always led me to believe I was, but my emotional growth had been stunted.   Anger followed but that passed.  Once it passed, I started to realize she was who she was because of the abuse she had suffered as a child.    I didn’t want to resume contact, but the more I read about narcissism, the more I realized she was simply a garden variety narcissist (which in a parent, is still very bad!) and did not meet the criteria for Malignant Narcissism.

For four years I avoided her phone calls (after awhile she stopped calling) and only sent cards on her birthday and Christmas.   But one day a few months ago, I took a phone call from her.   I figured it must be important since she rarely tried to call me anymore.  After all, she’s in her late 80s and it could be an emergency I needed to know about.   So I took the call (it turned out to be something pretty unimportant, though I can’t remember the specific reason she called).  She might have just been love bombing me, though there’s no way to know for sure.

Rather than tell her I had to get off the phone (as I would have earlier in my recovery), I decided to find a neutral subject that wouldn’t lead to an argument and we might be able to find some common ground on (a kind of grey rocking).  Since I was so caught up in (and disturbed by) the Trump presidency, I sent this up as a trial balloon and asked her what she thought about the latest debacle (which at the time was the cruel child separation policy at the border).   Politically,  we’re on the same side, and like me, she is horrified by Trump and what’s happening to this country (this is another way I can tell she’s not a sociopathic or malignant narcissist).   So for about half an hour, we actually had a pleasant (well, if you can call a conversation about the current political situation pleasant) conversation without any arguments or putdowns or gaslighting.    For once, I didn’t feel like a defective five year old.  For perhaps the first time, I felt like she was treating me like a fellow adult capable of thinking for myself.  It felt good!   We spoke for almost an hour, and right before we hung up, she said something she had never said to me before.

She said, “I have really missed you.  I love you so much.  You are such a good person.”

“You are such a good person.”   Whoa!  That’s simply not something a narcissistic mother would say to her child.   Nothing about my external appearance or my financial status, social class, worldly “success” or lack thereof.    Not only that, she sounded sincere, almost on the verge of tears.  I began to think that perhaps, I had misjudged her, and she wasn’t actually a narcissist at all.  Maybe she was just a borderline or maybe she had changed with age and was no longer a narcissist.

I didn’t speak to her again for another few months, but I began to toy with the idea of cautiously breaking my No Contact rule and going Low Contact.    It took me a long time to call her again, but the night before last week’s election, I finally shored up the courage to give her a call.

I decided to use the impending election as a way to start the conversation, since politics had worked the last time.    And it’s true we agreed about who we wished to see win the midterms and how much we both hated Trump and the GOP.   But this time the conversation wasn’t the same.   It felt forced and tense.   She kept interrupting me to say I was being too negative and dwelling on negative things too much, just like the old days before I went No Contact.   She seemed to want to change the subject, and kept asking me personal questions about myself.  I talked to her a little about the kids (her grandchildren) but when she asked me about myself, I clammed up.  I felt like she was prying and I didn’t want to tell her about myself (not that there’s much to tell).    Then she started saying she wanted to come visit me in the spring.  I don’t want her to come visit in the spring, or at all.   Just like in the old days, I felt diminished, put down, like a defective five year old again.   I realized nothing had really changed at all.

But that begs the question, what had made her say, with tears evident in her voice no less, that  I was a ‘good person’?  That’s just not something you hear someone with NPD say.   She seemed to mean it; I don’t think it was love bombing (though it could have been).    Perhaps for a fairly low level narcissist who isn’t malignant (but is still dangerous to others due to their disorder), the clouds occasionally part and they can actually see things clearly, the way they really are, without lying to themselves or others about what they see.     Perhaps she envies the fact I care about others, and am politically involved, and while normally such qualities might make her resent me,  at that particular moment, her guard was down and she realized she actually admired those qualities in me.

I’m pretty sure that on some level, my mother does love me.  At least I know she means me no harm.  And I love her too; she is my mother, so how can I not?    But the truth is, she is still a narcissist, and I simply can’t have any kind of serious relationship with anyone on the narcissism spectrum, especially someone I have so much unresolved childhood baggage with.   So it looks like it’s going to be just us exchanging cards on birthdays and Christmas, and we’ll see what happens as far as any future conversations go.  I just know for my own mental health, staying Very Low Contact is best.

 

Email From My Mother

I’m reblogging Sleeping Tiger’s post because I could have written it.   I can relate to every word.  I used to think I was alone in going through these emotional gymnastics over something as innocuous as an email from my mother, but I’m glad to know I’m not.

Please leave comments under the original post.

Sleeping Tiger

I just checked my email for the first time in a little while. And found an email from my mother with the subject line reading, “???”

I debated only for a moment whether to open it or not.

I did.

She wants to know if the email address is still valid and if it’s one she can communicate with me through.

I haven’t answered. I am shaking. I am confused and don’t know how or even whether to reply.

In my heart I don’t want to sever all ties. And I certainly don’t want this to be about the subject she emailed me about. Her will. .

It needs to be changed to follow the laws and guidelines of the state she moved to.

She wrote, …although I do not plan on dying soon…” (“I need to update blah, blah, blah.”)

I admit, I was happy to read that she…

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Raging narcissist mother.

Here’s a great scene from the 1983 movie, “Terms of Endearment” that paints a portrait of a narcissistic mother as well as Ordinary People did with Mary Tyler Moore playing a very malignant narcissist to her scapegoat son.

In this movie, Aurora (Shirley Maclaine) is very possessive of her only daughter, Emma (Debra Winger) and treats her like an object or extension of herself throughout her childhood and adolescence, though she does seem to love her in that overbearing way some narcissists have (if you can call that “love,” I’m not sure). I don’t think Aurora was as malignant as Mary Tyler Moore’s character in “Ordinary People,” but she is clearly a narcissist.

In many ways, I found this movie, which was released approximately the same time as “Ordinary People” (early ’80s) just as triggering. First of all, the child in this movie is a daughter, portraying a girl around the same age I was at the time this movie was released, and my mother was like a perfect cross between Aurora (a somatic narcissist) and Mary Tyler Moore’s very malignant Beth Jarrett (with a little “Mommie Dearest” thrown in to spice things up).

In this scene, Emma announces her pregnancy. Watch Aurora’s reaction. So typical of N-moms, especially the somatic type.

This is from the comments under the video and explains exactly what is going on here.  I think this person nailed it.

Shirley portrays narcissism perfectly and by the numbers. 1) Daughter’s wonderful news news eclipsed by mother’s preoccupation with aging. 2) Mother calculates her plan (watch her eyes) 3) The trigger is delivered: “I don’t understand.” (bullshit) 4) Daughter takes the bait and calls her mother out. 4) Success! Mom’s got a handle on the daughter and attacks her for making her feel old (because it’s all about her of course). 5) Son-in-law isn’t buying it (awesome by the way) 6) So mom feigns tears to regain moral high ground and walk away with it.

One thing that wasn’t very realistic about this movie was the way Aurora’s personality seemed to change at the end of the movie and she wound up doing the loving, unselfish thing many normal mothers would do (I can’t say more without spoiling the end). But it’s a movie and real life isn’t usually like the movies.

I also don’t think it’s spoiling anything to mention that Flap (Emma’s husband) turned out to be as narcissistic and selfish as Aurora. She never liked him and in many ways was right about him. That reminds me of my mother’s warnings about my malignant N ex.

Nothing makes me angrier than this.

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Seeing Red by cosmohibdon, Deviantart.

This came up in the comments section of my last post.  Nothing makes me angrier than people who tell you, “why don’t you ask your family for help?” when something bad happens and you mention you are in need of financial or emotional support.

I’m not in that situation right now, by the grace of God, but I have been.  Many times.  And I could never ask my family for help, either emotional or financial, because they’d either (a) say no; or (b) tell me all the reasons why I was being “entitled” and put me on a guilt trip for asking.  And the answer would still usually be no.   If it wasn’t no, there were always strings attached.  But that was as rare as blue diamonds.

Whenever I’ve asked my family for support in the past, they made me feel about 2 inches tall, like how dare I ask for help at my age.  At my age, I should be self-sufficient and never have to rely on family for anything.  I’ve taken care of myself my whole adult life, and have hardly leaned on them more than I absolutely had to.   I avoid asking them for anything and have not in years, even when most people would have.   The shame involved in asking is too painful.   Even if, say, I was about to become homeless or was terminally ill, I still wouldn’t ask them for anything.   I’d rather die first, and that’s not an exaggeration.  I doubt they’d care much.  Once I turned 18, their responsibility to me was done.   No one even paid for my college education, though my parents were far from poor and could have afforded it. I had to work full time and take out student loans. I didn’t  even qualify for grants because I wasn’t living at home with my parents.  They wouldn’t allow me to.

I remember when I was temporarily homeless during my divorce, and my mother told me to go live in a homeless shelter.  With the kids.  That’s how “caring” and “loving” these people are.   She also sent an email to my father talking about how “she never learns from her mistakes” but she accidentally sent it to me!   When I confronted her about her “mistake” (I think it was intentional), instead of apologizing or attempting to explain (of course there was no good explanation for this), she laughed and said “well, maybe it’s for the best you saw that.”   She laughed!  Talk about no empathy.  Another time she told me I should become a nun and go live in a convent and get my needs met that way.   She wasn’t joking.

Yet, oddly, she was there for me when my kids were born, helping out when I was recovering from my C-sections.  She seemed genuinely caring and concerned too, and was wonderful with the babies.  I appreciated her help then and actually believed she might have changed.    But soon after I returned to work, it was back to business as usual.

Now I’m No Contact with her, I still hear about how she badmouths me to her other relatives (I’m a “loser” who “never learns from my mistakes.”)  If I died, I bet she would blame me, saying things like, “well, she never could get it together and just got what she deserved.”   She always found a way to take everyone else’s side but mine, even for things that weren’t my fault.  She just always assumed it was me at fault and never gave me the benefit of the doubt, no matter what the situation. She’s a terrible human being but I still don’t hate her.

Maybe people who assume you can go to your family when you need help are well-meaning, and because THEY have supportive, loving families, who always have their back, they assume everyone else does too.  Well, that is not the case, not everyone does.  Especially when you’re the family scapegoat.   People should realize that and not ask.   It’s rude.

When people ask me why I don’t ask my family for help or support, I just look them dead in the eyes and say, “my family’s all dead.”   That usually shuts them up pretty fast.

I hate tailgaters almost as much as people who tell me I should rely on my family for support, but not quite as much, and that’s saying a lot because I think all tailgaters should be lined up and shot.

Clarity (or, through a glass, darkly).

To my Mom’s “Credit”

Comments are disabled; please make comments on the original post.

Justbreathe826

As I have been visited by memories that I would have preferred to have had kept buried deep in my soul or in Jamie’s coffin, but that I need to work through as part of my own healing, I find myself wondering more and more what it is that I did to be so undeserving of your love, or even just the basic courtesies of nurturing, encouragement, even being heard.

So here goes….

Dear Mom,

I didn’t choose to enter this world and interrupt your life, to be born two months early, at a time perhaps that you were not yet prepared for my entrance. In fact had I known what I was in for, I would have chosen to stay inside much longer or not be born at all. I did not choose to enter YOUR world especially; you chose to take on the responsibility of “welcoming” me! Was…

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Gone fishing!

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I got up pretty late again today, and while my son slept (he got home from work around 7 AM) I went to Wal-mart and picked up a few things we needed, including bug spray, and then went down to the apartment complex’s pool for about an hour.   By the time I returned, my son was up and it was nearing 5:00.

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So far, the only damper  on this vacation was what my son told me about my mother.  On the way to pick up his friend Tal (who got my son into fishing),  we talked about her.   Seems she’s been attempting to triangulate against me. Fortunately he’s not in any danger of becoming a flying monkey because he doesn’t like her or the way she talks about people, especially me (he’s very protective of his mama, bless him!)  But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t try!  He said she is very condescending toward him, much like she always was with me. He said she’s negative and judgmental, which is absolutely true.  Apparently she had told him she didn’t like the idea of me visiting him (MY OWN SON!) because I would be a “bad influence” (huh, what?) and tried to get him to tell me not to come.    She also told him he was making bad life choices (he’s doing very well, in fact and is making great choices that make him happy) and should have become a journalist (he’s a good writer, but he doesn’t enjoy it).   She was always on me too about all the bad choices I supposedly made. Now she thinks I’m going to “infect” him with my “loser-ness” or something.  She’s also telling everyone I’m still with my ex and that I’m as bad as he is! These are all just lies. Oh, and she asked him if I was still “writing that thing” (referring to my blog).  Why would she even need to ask him since she can easily get the answer to that question herself?  She stalks my blog.  Welp, that’s narcissist “logic” for you.


The wind picks up as the storm clouds move in.

Now I’m convinced she really is malignant.  Malignant narcissists like my mother love to keep the scapegoat (me in this case) isolated from the rest of the family, even from their own children if they can get away with it.    I felt hurt by the things he told me but he’s on my side and doesn’t want anything to do with her either.   It’s also not as if any of this is news–I already knew she badmouths me to everyone who will listen, but hearing about her attempts to keep me from visiting my own son just really bugged me.    At that point I told him I’d heard enough and I just wanted to have a good time fishing.   He was sympathetic.  My son is definitely not a narcissist!  As an aside though, he told me he was tested recently for personality disorders and he does in fact have one–Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (not the same as OCD). In fact, he scored very low in both narcissism and antisocial traits.

We picked up Tal, stopped at a bait and tackle shop and picked up some bait.  Then headed off to the mangrove park with a fishing area and nice view of the Gulf at the end.

It was rocky, and very buggy, so I was glad we brought the bug spray.  I got bit in a few places anyway.   It was also cloudy and we could hear thunder in the far distance.  Tal’s a weather buff and he said we wouldn’t have to worry about any storms for about 2 hours, so there was plenty of time to fish.   He showed me how to bait the line, and how to operate it, and then had me practice casting without bait for awhile.  The last time I ever fished was when I was at summer camp in the ’70s and we went deep sea fishing.    I caught onto casting pretty quickly, so maybe a part of me remembered how to do it from when I was at camp.

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Practicing casting a line.

It was getting darker, not just because night was coming, but also because the storm seemed to be getting pretty close.  Tal said it was still about a half hour away.   I started throwing some lines with small pieces of shrimp.  Once I got my line caught in a tree, and a few times I threw my line too far over to the right, getting it caught with my son’s and Tal’s.    I didn’t catch any fish (though I almost caught a small pinfish but he let go).  After awhile gave I gave up and decided to sit down ( we had our stuff laid out on a picnic table) and watch them instead.   They weren’t catching anything either.   A piece of shrimp I’d left on the table from earlier was already covered with ants.  it was gross but kind of cool at the same time, so I took a picture of it.

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After watching them for awhile, I noticed the sky had turned a fiery red and decided to walk to the end of the park overlooking the Gulf.  There I saw the most incredible sunset I think I’ve ever seen.  I started taking pictures like a crazy person, before the rain started.

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fishing9

 

The storm was moving in fast from behind me.    When it rains in Florida, it REALLY rains.  I shoved my phone back into my purse before it got soaked and ran back to the car as fast as I could get there. There, my son was grinning like a maniac and holding up a fairly big catfish!    I got a quick picture of that.  I asked him where Tal was and he said he was still fishing.  “In this weather?” I asked.  “Oh, yeah, he never lets any kind of weather stop him,” my son said.

A few minutes later, Tal came back with a catfish of his own.   They both decided to release the fish because these weren’t good for eating, apparently.

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Finally the rain died down enough for me to go back and get one last picture of the sunset over the Gulf before dusk fell.

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Words as weapons.

by Photos8.com

by Photos8.com

If you were raised by narcissistic parents, you are probably familiar with these.  These are the words I heard from my parents (yours may differ somewhat but the devastating effect is the same).  I’ve broken them down into childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, since the emotional abuse doesn’t stop when you become an adult.  Sometimes it gets worse. No matter what stage of life you’re in, these words are intended to destroy your soul. They are extremely effective weapons.

Childhood:

child-abuse1

You are too sensitive (the #1 criticism)

You have no sense of humor.

You cry too much.

Shut up or I’ll give you something to cry about.

Your hair looks like a rat’s nest.

You always look so dirty and sloppy. (after being outside playing)

What did you do to your hair? (I did nothing; my hair was naturally thin and fine and tangled easily–and also grew in a strange way with cowlicks and weird curls)

You read too much.  (what?)

You’re too obsessed with your books, drawing, and solitary games. (These were my escapes)

You act so immature; no wonder you have no friends.

You know you hate competition (when I wanted to join the swim team)

You know you’re not good at team sports. (I wasn’t, but this made me doubt myself even more when playing team sports)

I don’t think you really want that. (subtle gaslighting intended to make me doubt my own reality)

Here, let me do that for you.  (a favorite of my mother’s when she didn’t have the patience to teach me or supervise me in a new or unfamiliar activity)

You’ll only make a mess of things. (another way to discourage my competence).

They’re just jealous of you because you’re prettier/smarter than they are (this seems nice but wasn’t based on reality and even I could see through that BS; I was bullied because of my high sensitivity, not my “superior” looks and intelligence)

You come from a better family than they do. (better in what way?)

We don’t associate with people like that. (see above–my parents were VERY into social status)

Don’t tell anyone what goes on in this family.

Keep your mouth shut about what happened here tonight.

Adolescence

teenager_sad

You’re gaining too much weight.  (my mother’s #1 favorite criticism, usually done in front of others)

You’re too fat (when I weighed 120 lbs at 5’4″!)

Your hair looks too stringy/greasy/what have you done to it, etc.  (a variation on the childhood hair criticism)

You eat too much chocolate, you will get pimples and no one will think you’re pretty anymore.

You’re boy-crazy!

You don’t study hard enough; you will fail all your subjects and not graduate (always catastrophizing)

You’re too pretty to wear that/do that/say that, etc.

You know you don’t want that. (making me doubt my reality)

You know I don’t like it when you act “tough” (but my sensitivity was hated too–I could never win).

You always get too hurt by everything (no empathy after a breakup or lost friendship, etc.)

You always get too obsessed with a boy.

This dress will make you look slimmer (this was a dress given to me in front of my friends at a birthday party)

Your butt is too big (I do have a big butt–I couldn’t help it!  It’s the way my spine curves. What was I supposed to do? Slice it off?)

Your breasts are so big they will hang down to your waist when you’re 50.  (I’m over 50 now and they don’t, they weren’t THAT big, and I think there might have been some envy in this anyway because she wore an A cup and I wore a C)

You’re acting like a crazy person.

What a stupid thing to say.

You have a terrible personality. I wouldn’t like you either.

You should change your personality.

You need to learn to control yourself.

You’re not goal-oriented.

Adulthood:

depressed_woman_bw

You’re living  a loser’s life.

You have nothing to show for your life.

You make terrible choices.

You’ve always made terrible choices.

You probably did something to deserve it. (always said when someone else treated me unfairly; no empathy shown)

Well, the way you are, I’m not surprised they are so angry with you/don’t like you, etc.

You’re a disgrace.

You never learn from your mistakes.

You overreact to everything.

You have no sense of humor/too sensitive, etc.

You don’t know how office politics works.  (I don’t, and I hate it, but this was meant to insult me)

You never did have a knack for making it in the business world.

You’ll always be poor because you make such terrible choices.

Don’t expect any help from us.

You made your bed, now lie in it.

Why don’t you join a convent? The nuns will take care of you.  (said when I was threatened with homelessness during my divorce).

Go live in a homeless shelter (see above).

You don’t take good care of your kids.

You’re a terrible parent.

Those kids are going to grow up with so many problems.

You weren’t raised to be this way.

It’s not my responsibility that what I said upset you.

You chose to be upset by that.  (again, taking no responsibility and blame-shifting).

You choose your own emotions. (see above).

You made a choice to be depressed/miserable, etc.

****

I could go on, but I think this is enough for now.   Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Further Reading:
Lies My Narcissists Told Me

A dicey situation.

dicey_situation_by_johnnycorduroy
“Dicey Situation” by Johnny Corduroy, Deviantart

I always hesitate before posting anything about my N mother, because I know she reads this blog. But then I think about two things: 1. what can she do? and 2. no one ever asked her to read this blog. It’s mine. If you don’t want to get burned, keep your hands off the stove. So here goes.

Yesterday when I talked to my mother about my dad, she said she wants to come visit me in the fall. She cannot afford a hotel room, and I can’t afford to put her up in one. She pretty much invited herself, saying, “Well, I will have to stay at your place.” Immediately I felt my self-protective shackles kick in: Danger! Danger! Boundary violation!

In most families, letting your mom stay with you fore a few days wouldn’t be a problem. But my family isn’t most families.  My mother is very judgmental of me and my lifestyle, which, although I’m satisfied with it, is less than glamorous and I know she would not/does not approve of the way I live (which really isn’t my fault anyway because I don’t have the financial resources to live better).  Even if she says nothing about my mismatched furniture, the sagging, stained couch, the buggy old-fashioned kitchen with its tiny 1970s electric stove, an old summer camp steamer trunk used as a coffee table, the box TV in the living room, the ancient windows that don’t open, and the black mold on one side of the house (which my landlord has yet to do something about), I know she will go back to her extended family and tongues will wag. I know she has devalued me to the rest of the family and puts me down, disapproving of the way I live. She cloaks these criticisms with “concern,” saying things like, “I just don’t know why Lauren always makes such bad choices,” or “it’s so sad the way she lives but she made her own bed.”  Or she talks about how mentally unstable or immature I am. Even though my mother is far from wealthy and even borders on as poor as I am, she has always put on airs of being of a higher social status than she actually is, and to be fair, she does a good job of it. Even if I was of a social class she approved of, our tastes and interests are vastly different. I’m far too “bohemian” for her liking and I’m pretty sure I still would be even if I was rich.

I also know she wouldn’t approve of my housemate, and they would get in each other’s way. The idea of the three of us having to share a roof, even for a few days, gives me the willies.   I wouldn’t be able to tolerate feeling like I have to apologize for the things I do while she is here.   If I tell her no, she can’t come, I know she will go back to the extended family and tell them I’m “hiding something.” She seems to think I still have my ex living with me and am saying nothing about it. This is of course ridiculous, but I know it’s what she’ll tell everyone. She can’t understand why I wouldn’t be thrilled to put her up on my couch for several days and I don’t have the courage to be honest with her. The fact she reads this blog and knows I’ve pegged her as a narcissist (even though I don’t think she is malignant, she is a textbook example of a woman with intractable NPD) doesn’t seem to faze her in the slightest. Being the narcissist she is, she simply is incapable of understanding why I wouldn’t be jumping for joy for the “opportunity” of putting her up on my couch for a few days.

I had no time to prepare for this, so I said weakly, “well, you will have to sleep on the couch then, because my roommate has the other room.” She responded with, “oh, you have a roommate?” As if this is some life choice of mine and isn’t a matter of financial necessity.  It’s also interesting to me that I have never been invited to see her where she lives.  The one time I suggested going to visit her there, she told me my half sister didn’t want me there (they share a townhouse).   I think she was lying, because my half sister barely knows me.  I haven’t seen her since 1986.   I think it’s actually my mother who doesn’t want me to come there, because I would “embarrass” her in front of the family, so she put words in my sister’s mouth.    Even if my sister doesn’t want me there, it was probably my mother who turned her against me.

I’m in a dicey situation, and I’m praying she changes her mind about coming. Just in case she isn’t, I guess I’ll have to start saving enough money between now and then to put her up in a local motel, which I should be able to do given the time frame. Then all I need to do is think of some reason why she can’t stay at my house (repairs? haven’t cleaned it?) She would like a motel better anyway with its pool, sterile rooms, flat screen TV, and a real bed. The fall is still a few months away but it will be hard for me to save the money because I’m trying to save enough money to go see my son in Florida in September. I think she might know this too, but she doesn’t care.