My mother is a narcissist and I need help getting over her; please read?
posted by inaisa to Human Relations (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I have recently come to the understanding that my mother is a narcissist. My father suffers from being self-absorbed and is extremely difficult to relate to, but my mother is much worse on so many levels and I have never understood this, and want to know how to better relate to them as an adult.
My mother works as a part time teaching assistant. She lives rent free in a large house and has at least one car. She has divorced my father on a whim and moved on to seduce various other men, such as the TV repair man, a neighbour, a devout Christian, and finally a successful car salesman. There is evidence to suggest my brother may not be related to me. Some months ago I saw her for the first time after no contact for five years, and she did not seem to notice at all. She has no idea of the devastation she causes and seems to take pleasure wandering into peoples' lives, destroying them and moving onto the next.
I really want to find a way to get over the physical abuse in the home. By the age of 22 I had run away to a halfway house after falling out with my father. I was not allowed to eat much and would be served tiny portions of food - a chicken wing for dinner. Fighting in the house was common. By the time I left I weighed between 35-40kg and was a physical and emotional wreck, and spent the next few years puking up my guts and trying to put on weight. I'm not sure but I think that my body might not have developed properly through starvation and it might have been a deliberate attempt to keep me "at her side".
It seems insane but I cannot relate to my mother as a seperate person unless I re-think her as a very small, selfish and aggressive child. What is more disturbing to me is that I think she cannot feel emotions in the way a normal adult does, and pretends to feel. My father would occasionally beat up our dogs as he liked to pick on those weaker and below him (I wasn't an exception until I stood up to him a few times). Sometimes my mother would watch and just seem curious. When I became upset at seeing it she would seem genuinely surprised. At that stage I thought that perhaps I was wrong to feel upset, and that I should have been tougher.
Looking back I can quite clearly see that my mother was mentally ill and I am furious with her for having to raise myself. All my life skills for instance, everything I know about cooking, cleaning, and taking care of myself, to being employable, having friends, being able to be responsible and think of myself as an adult - I am constantly on edge for yet another "you don't know WHAT??" surprise. I've never had a partner and was actively dissuaded from learning or pursuing one. And it's one of those thorns that stick. I gave my father endless and unquestioning faith, and in return he concluded with our relationship as "you are no longer part of the family." And simultaneously I am "Always welcome". I was also given an ultimatum to "choose" which parent was the best. This kind of sick and selfish behavior doesn't come from mentally healthy adults, but from the outside, they are blameless and perfect, I am the selfish and dysfunctional one.
One of the problems I've developed is that I find it very hard to feel. This may be something learned, but during some very bizarre interactions with my mother, I started to feel as if I didn't exist and was floating outside of my body. Other times I developed the skill of not feeling for recreation or protection. Another symptom I've experienced heavily is recurring nightmares, ones that have left me crying out in my sleep. I've tried talking to doctors about this but it's always a case of "Are you depressed? Y/N" and "fixing the depression".
I can't look at her as a child - after all, she is an adult. I cannot really see her as mentally stable but she never seeks help for her extreme selfishness, and if she does notice the strain she puts on people, she does spectacularly well in leeching onto others. I can not see her as a caregiver because it was the other way round - you care for her. But I can't see her as an abuser because it's too outrageous and self-pitying. And if I cut the cord, what have I been the last several years? Then it truly is all my fault for being stupid, easily bullied and self-absorbed in my life, and I get nothing in return for that kick in the teeth. What can a man do?
One of my fathers' responses to us - me and my siblings - in becoming adults ourselves is to act as childishly and reveal how naive he is, which has been a sickening letdown. My sister, for instance, contacted my father out of concern and love several years ago, and about how desperate her own circumstances were. She received a sympathy card. My father is capable of empathy but he is miserable and has a weak heart, and communicates through letting you down ie. "See what YOU did to ME!!" It's easy to cut contact with someone who communicates by cutting off contact. But I've found it harder to break free of wanting to help in return for being accepted. Then again, I will never be the person he thinks I should be (nor should I be), I cannot be his light and path as was expected, and even then the acceptance would be conditional to his feelings. Learning that the unspoken contract was that I was responsible for his feelings in itself has been hard enough to figure out let alone break.
My mother, on the other hand, has worked tirelessly to warp the people around her into producing nothing but endless attention. She is seriously mentally ill and I do not want to be responsible for her or visit her again in any stage of my life. This means everything - whether its a marriage, an accident, a death in the family, or so on. She will use any event or strategy to her advantage so that it gets her more attention and nothing hurts more. I am so sick of these people. If they can't grow up how can I.
Thanks for reading this, and please note: I am seeing a therapist about this