The Narcissist's Daughter

For Arianna

There's nothing wrong with narcissists that logic and reason won't aggravate.


(Revision)
I wasn't happy with my original draft (below) on this first post. But I didn't want to completely delete what I had originally written, either, because it is cathartic to get it out; it was simply filled with a lot of grief and angst, and after I wrote it I decided that it wasn't quite the direction I wanted to go -- which is forward.  Yes, my Narcissist Mother hurt me.  She still hurts me every chance she gets.  And yes, I'm very angry at her, and for good reasons.  I don't ever want to minimize or trivialize the decades of emotional scars, but again, I want to reiterate that that isn't the direction I want to go with this post (or this blog).

After reading several dozen forum posts from several different Narcissistic Personality Disorder discussion sites, I actually found myself laughing through the tears at what other people had to say on the subject of growing up under the shadow of an oppressive NPD bully (or having the misfortune of being married to one). Not because any of it was the least bit funny, but because I wondered if all these strangers and I shared the exact same mother.  One of the most striking common themes in every account was 'keeping the family secret', ensuring that Mother (or another NPD family member) was always allowed to put on her Perfect Front behind her mask of lies and deception: The eternal, self-sacrificing, perfect martyr forced to suffer her miserably sad existence in the company of ungrateful, disloyal, evil family members who never give her the love and respect she deserves.

In all fairness, my Narcissist mother is absolutely correct about never having gotten what she deserves.  Hmm.. but I shall leave it at that. 


As I approach the age of menopause, my Narcissist Mother is approaching her seventieth birthday.  Her mirrors are apparently better than mine are, as they reflect a blonde woman in her late thirties, who is the thinnest fat person to ever walk the earth.  She's often quick to point out (and very audibly, so that everyone within a half mile radius can hear her) that she's much better looking than that fat lady sitting over there, or that fat woman walking by. Especially her wrists. My Narcissist Mother loves to show off how thin her wrists are compared to every other fat person's wrists, and she will frequently expect me to agree with her.  Also, she is fond of pointing out how she is still naturally blonde at her age (she's really been salt & pepper ash-gray since her late thirties), while my hair is graying. She will tell me how weird it is that I am not aging as well as she is, and that she just must be one of the 'lucky ones'.

If only I had a mirror as deceptive as hers.. I often wonder.  But then again, maybe I do.  I look in my mirror and the older I get, the more it devastates me. But not because I don't see the wonderfully beautiful, eternally youthful, glamorous blond with ultra-thin-fashion-model wrists.  No.. I see the image of my mother.  The real image, with her gray hair, overweight body, and aging face.  The older I get, the more I look like her.  And it makes me cry.


---
(Original draft)
I wasn't allowed to talk. I risked being slapped for it.  I wasn't allowed to cry, unless I wanted something to REALLY cry about. I wasn't allowed to have feelings or express an opinion.  I wasn't good enough. I wasn't like her friends' children. They were all perfect and I was a freak and a weirdo. I ruined my mother's entire life, according to her. She told me this often, for as far back as I can remember.. from the time I was five years old.  When I was sick with fever and flu, she told me I was better this way. She liked me when my throat was too swollen to utter any sounds; I was a better child when I was sick and she always said she wished I'd stay that way.  Or just die and go away forever.  (Yes, she really told me all these things).

She fantasized often about being rich, and how she would spend all the money if she ever got a million dollars.

I fantasized about being dead.

When I was eight years old, she put me on a plane to fly 3000 miles by myself.. to go stay with my grandmother for the summer.  She stopped at the insurance counter before I boarded, and purchased a very large insurance policy -- "in case the plane crashes and you die."

I loved my mother when I was a little girl; genuinely loved her. I pined for her affection that she never gave .  But I didn't deserve her love; I wasn't good enough. Her friends all had wonderful children -- "why can't you be wonderful and perfect like them?"  She also compared me to the family dog, whom she praised often as being easier to love than me.  And she would laugh and think it was so funny how she mixed up our names so often, calling me 'Tootsie' and the dog 'Terri'.

As time went on, I learned to hide my feelings.. until I no longer felt anything at all.  I stopped wanting to talk. To anyone. I no longer had anything important to say. Instead, I found solace in getting other people to talk and tell me their stories. I became a great listener to everyone.. except my mother.  She never had any 'stories' to tell.  She only gossiped and spread dirt about everyone who ever came into contact with her, while berating me at the same time--"Your hair is ugly. Your face is a mess. You're like a stone.  Are you even a girl?"

But I didn't hear it.  I was numb inside.

I wasn't afraid of my mother anymore.  She could no longer hurt my feelings, because I no longer had any.

I did a lot of drugs in my teenage years. Strangers (and friends) often commented that I had a very 'sad' look in my eyes.  And they would ask me: "Why are you so sad?" I would force myself to smile and explain that: "I was just born that way.  But I'm fine.  Really.  I'm fine. I'm very happy."

But I wasn't fine. I was suffering from severe anorexia nervosa (from age 13-17) and willing to try any drug I could get my hands on.

I wanted to die. I was fifteen and I wanted to die.

My mother sent me to live with relatives neither of us knew.  They sent me back a month later, but during that time my mother had moved into a tiny one-bedroom apartment.  She told me to go away since I was "good for nothing." So I left home at sixteen. It was 1978. I slept in an abandoned ballpark dugout. I slept under a freeway overpass. I wandered aimlessly from city to city, hitchhiking hundreds of miles. 


I'm fifty now.  I have three grown children and four little grandchildren.

My mother, whom I've kept at a distance all these years, can only speak ugly things about my children. They're not wonderful like the grandchildren of her fantasies; they don't call her very often, they don't dote on her and praise her on Facebook. They often go about their daily lives, focused on their own children and activities, and forget all about her. She, of course, reminds them that they'll wind up in Hell, and me especially for raising worthless brats who don't give her the love and respect and praise she deserves.  And that's my fault.. for instilling in them to make up their own minds, be independent, have their own opinions.

Over the years when my children were small, they often asked me why 'grandma' was so mean and didn't like them. I would only smile for them (even though inside it hurt me very badly), and I would tell them: "Just be glad she's only your grandma and not your mother.  We can always send her home."


It took me fifty years to realize, to finally understand.. that my mother has a mental disorder, and that there is a name for it. I did not ruin her life. I am not a freak or a weirdo.. for I can love people and I understand empathy and emotional bonds.  Sometimes I still have trouble feeling things and verbalizing my thoughts to other people.  And there are some scars that I don't think will ever completely go away.  But I finally learned after fifty painful years in my mother's abusive, hateful, bitter, manipulative shadow.. that she has an incurable mental disorder.  She will never change.  She will never love me (or anyone else). And in light of this recent discovery.. I've decided that I no longer want her in my life.

I have not spoken to her in nearly nine months.  I've stopped reaching out to her. I deleted my Facebook account so I am never tempted to read her daily hateful spew.


I don't have a mother.  I've never had a mother.  What I have instead, is a battle-axe with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Sometimes I wish I had a mother to talk to, a mother to love me and care about me.  But.. I will not weep over things that can never be.  Instead, I will make every effort to be the kind of mother that is there for my children.. whenever they need their mother's ear and wisdom. And most of all, when they just need to hear how wonderful I think they are, and to know how much I love them.



---
Terri M. © August 2012

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3 comments:

Liberty Freedom said...

Ditto. Everything xxx

ERIN SWINDLER said...

I am the daughter of a narcissistic mother as well. It is nice to think of people who understand....because as you could guess, I do not share it with many....my mother is as sweet as sugar when she is on display. People cannot believe the truth about her...because they have never seen it. I, too, have cut my mother out of my life. I am 38 years old and realized I never had a mother and do not have a mother. I no longer have any feelings at all toward her...not even anger. I am only fascinated by her.

Unknown said...

"One of the most striking common themes in every account was 'keeping the family secret'" Yes. I could cry over your story, but my numbness takes over. I do have empathy though, and I have only admiration for you that you raised a family and found peace with your 'self'. I never wanted my own children, neither did my sibling, even though we like children. We never learned how to have normal relationships, so how could we with our own children? The thought of having children scared me to death. My mother didn't say the awful things you endured, yet I feel just as damaged. Mine was done under the guise of love, which adds to the confusion. Don't feel bad about what you wrote. It is the truth.

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