Well, it’s been a while! Apologies for the radio silence. It’s not writers block, or being too busy, the truth is, I don’t tend to write much when I’m happy.
Writing my blog is hugely cathartic. It helps me process the things I’ve experienced so I can make sense of them, draw conclusions, move forward.
Inevitably I write more when I’m struggling with life. It’s almost like counselling myself.
So the fact I haven’t blogged in a while is good news; it reflects the fact I am in a good place. My life is positive and happier, the further I move away from my past.
What’s been interesting is that as my readership has grown despite me not writing anything new, the same content and quotes from my blog are liked and shared again and again – the content about narcissists. I have mixed feelings about this. Whilst I’m glad my blog resonates with others, it’s upsetting to realise how many adult children have grown up being controlled and manipulated by a narcissistic parent, tricked and isolated, in plain sight. There are no repercussions for these ‘parents’. Narcissism is not a crime. A lucky few manage to escape like I did, to sever ties, but often at huge personal cost.
I never even understood what narcissism was until after I succeeded in breaking away from my birth family. As the months passed I attended online workshops and joined support groups for estranged adult children, where I kept hearing the word being used. At first I thought it was just a derogatory term to describe cruel behaviour. But the more I heard and the more I researched, the more I understood why my mother had been able to abuse me for so many years, with no apparent guilt or shame, refusing to discuss or apologise for her behaviour. She is a narcissist.
These 5 simple bullet points could literally have been written directly about my mother. They are an enormously helpful point of reference for anyone wondering if their parent is a narcissist.
1. Constantly needs the conversation to be about them
My mother’s favourite topic of conversation was herself. The countless times I tried to speak with her in person or on the phone, and I’d leave frustrated as she would monologue about herself and her woes, without ever even asking how I was. She was an incredibly negative person and would dominate any meeting by talking about how hard her life was, how difficult, how tiring. I so often felt embarrassed when she’d speak to my husband, his family or my friends and whatever they shared, she’d experienced it ten times worse. To be clear, this absolutely wasn’t her empathising. This was one-upmanship. This was self indulgent bragging to garner sympathy and admiration for the hero she pretended to be. Even during my cancer treatment, after 6 round of chemotherapy and being heavily pregnant, she would insist I couldn’t possibly understand how tired she was or how tough her life was.
2. Immature and Selfish Behaviour
This was wide ranging and often deeply inappropriate. It ranged from childish teasing about personal appearance to hurt my self esteem (you look so much like me Liz…god I hate my face, it’s like a bag of nails) to attempts to make my husband self conscious (ohhhh that’s a big spot on your cheek N. Oh dear, your beard is going so grey). She was always overtly sexual which I was hugely uncomfortable with thanks to the oppressive way I’d been raised. I once came downstairs at her house to find she’d put a porn video on the television in front of my first husband and the married man she was seeing. I was so humiliated I burst into tears while she cackled with laughter and called me a prude.
She would often act in a selfless way towards my siblings and her parents, truly sacrificing her well-being to please them and serve them. Of course she complained behind their backs every step of the way, but she would jump through hoops of fire for them nonetheless.
But to me, her behaviour was entirely selfish. She couldn’t do enough to help raise my oldest brother’s children, any of my brothers children for that matter. But for my children she wanted no responsibility. She didn’t change nappies or take them out. She rarely ‘babysat’ and if she did there would be strict instructions to have them fed and bathed before we left with a strict curfew of 10pm. When my oldest son started middle school close to where she worked, she offered to come over in the mornings to help us get ready so we could leave earlier and get HER to work on time. Then she would constantly complain that I was running late, whilst drinking a coffee and being no help whatsoever. In her defence she would make them laugh, they saw her as silly and fun. But she operated on a strictly ‘no commitment’ basis and if we ever asked her to look after them there would be sighs and eye rolling. Shortly before our estrangement in 2020 my youngest brother told me I needed to rely on her less. I was so surprised and confused, as we barely saw her outside of those mornings when we took her to work. She’d become distant and secretive. Not answering calls. We had never and would never lean on her as we saw how exhausted and bitter she was from being used as a care service by certain of my brothers and her elderly parents.
3. Brags about your achievements to others but rarely ever validates you, acknowledges you or supports you emotionally
One of my brothers told me ‘Mum put you on a pedestal’ and I was so confused by this, because I only felt criticised and shamed by her. But now I understand. Bragging, telling OTHERS about my achievements was an area of expertise for her. My mother loved to take credit for my academic successes, my career highlights, my children’s achievements. She would brag on social media about ‘my baby girl did this…’ But to my face there was rarely anything but criticism. She loved to remind me of my flaws. She criticised my parenting. She LOVED to criticise me as a wife. She thought it was shameful that I didn’t iron my husband’s shirts, that I was a hopeless cook. If we argued she took my husband’s side because she didn’t see me as his equal. Remember, I’d learned from her exactly how I DIDN’T want to be. I was undoubtedly determined not to be a slave to my man and my (extremely loving, respectful and gentle) husband did not want me to be his slave. But to my mother, it was another example of my failings, my poor character. Even whilst I was receiving treatment for breast cancer during pregnancy, my mother made lengthy social media updates to her friends about my bravery and strength. But on a practical level she just came along for the ride. I remember coming out of hospital after my mastectomy, 5 weeks pregnant. My (lovely) mother in law was visiting to help look after my older son and my mother came over and she barely spoke to me. She giggled and gossiped and treated it like a social event. I was furious, sickened, so let down. But when I yelled at her, at both of them, for being so thoughtless my mother expertly turned it into an opportunity to point out my unreasonable behaviour.
4. Well liked by others but controlling or harsh behind closed doors
I was always bemused by the fact my mother seemed well liked by others. She had many friends and attracted males easily. She had a way of winning people over by smothering them with kind and thoughtful gestures whilst making them feel sorry for her by exposing how demanding and difficult her life was. She acted like these friendships or romantic relationships were a burden, a drain on her time. But as someone who struggled to make and sustain friendships I admired the way she attracted people. I was also hurt and frustrated that the public version of her, the kind, bubbly, caring version, was left at the front door. As a parent my mother was cruel, she gaslighted us, she pitted us against each other. She was spiteful and violent. Even as an adult, I was afraid of her because any minute she could meltdown at me, crying, screaming, accusing, rejecting me. I was the verbal punchbag for all the wrongs in her life and my brothers stood by on countless occasions while she broke me into pieces. I sure they were just grateful it wasn’t happening to them.
5. Makes you feel anxious and often lowers your confidence
As pathetic as it sounds, all I ever wanted was for my mother to like me and love me. I wanted us to be friends the way she was friends with my Auntie, my female cousins. The way she was friends with her work colleagues and my brothers’ girlfriends. So I tried to look after her. I constantly bought her little gifts to pamper and spoil her. My husband and I took her on holiday with us countless times. When she was away every other weekend looking after my elderly grandparents, I would go to her house and clean up after both her dog and my youngest brother who lived with her, so that she wouldn’t come home to a mess. I found her better jobs to go for as she never had enough money. I gave her endless advice about my brothers because of all the stories she’d burden me with. When Covid hit I would regularly take our sons for doorstep visits. We even decorated her driveway with colourful chalk rainbows to make her smile.
Not one of my brothers did any of these things. They were immersed in living their own lives (some of them overseas). I think they were content in the knowledge she was ‘my’ responsibility.
But the whole time I was walking on eggshells. All I had to do was look at her the wrong way. Say the wrong thing. Dare to show frustration at her endless demands. Then all hell would be unleashed. Her rages terrified me. Her tears devastated me. Even though I knew it wasn’t my fault, she’d make me feel instantly responsible. And she’d make sure EVERYONE ELSE knew I was responsible too. Her angry, selfish, rude, weird daughter. She knew I had serious mental health problems and she exacerbated that with no concern for the impact on my well-being or safety. Even AFTER my Autism and Bipolar 2 diagnoses at 42, my mother showed no empathy or kindness. Instead she made it clear these neurological differences were not an excuse to behave in a way that displeased her.
My mother broke me, time and time again, she made me a nervous wreck, she made me afraid. She made me angry. She caused me to have such conflicting feelings towards her. But the hardest part was she NEVER took any responsibility for what she said to me or did to me. She refused to discuss it. It was always, absolutely my fault and she made sure everyone knew that. Apology was not in her vocabulary. I was her very own scapegoat and that was the only value I had to her.
Of course these 5 traits of Narcissistic parents are just scratching the surface, but for me they were an important discovery on my journey to heal myself. Similarly, I found this list of characteristics of Narcissist Mothers very insightful:
——————————————————————-The Life of a Scapegoat
Empowered by my research and the passing of time, it’s been easier to recognise her behaviour for what it was. Yet in the early days of our permanent separation I felt such immense guilt at walking away, such sorrow. I grieved as if bereaved. I fretted over her well-being. I missed her. I loved her. It seemed heartless to abandon her. I believed her wicked behaviour wasn’t really her fault; that her own poor upbringing was to blame.
My feelings of guilt were exacerbated by the blaming, gaslighting messages I received from other family members who needed me to continue fulfilling the role of family ‘scapegoat’. After all, I’d done it so well for so many years and they had no intention of taking over from me.
The more I heal, the more I evolve into the person I was meant to be, the more I realise that her behaviour towards me was absolutely deliberate and calculated. It was cunning, spiteful and frightening. And my siblings, my maternal grandparents, they enabled this behaviour. Whether it was blindly believing her lies and the drama she created or ignoring the abuse happening in front of their eyes. I didn’t matter enough for them to speak out on my behalf. They didn’t want to rock the boat. I was sacrificed so they could continue pretending we were a normal, happy family.
Maybe in the beginning my mother was an innocent victim. A child bullied by her mother who’d been mistreated by her mother before her ; silenced by her father who professed to love her but not quite enough to protect her from his wife; beaten by her first boyfriend and forced to marry him when she fell pregnant with me at 16. She told me her father gave her an ultimatum; marry or get rid of the baby. Is it any wonder she resented my very existence? She was forced to marry a violent and controlling man in order to keep me alive.
I have obsessed over why the childhood trauma suffered by my mother led to her evolution as a narcissist…I have wondered why I didn’t follow that same destructive path that she did, as did her mother before her. Then I stumbled across this quote by Maria Consiglio and it made so much sense.
As an Autistic female I am hyper empathic. My feelings run extremely deep and strong, my responsibility towards others often overwhelms me. I can’t bear to feel other people hurting. I even cried for the father who terrorised my childhood. I’d hear him listening to music on his headphones late at night, sobbing, usually after beating my mum and punching holes through all the doors with his fists. And my heart would ache because I knew he felt remorse, I knew he had his own hurts and fears driving his erratic, alcohol fuelled rages.
My hyper empathy was a constant burden as I grew up believing I could save people. And I so wanted to save my birth family. I wanted to make their lives better and different. I wanted to fix their problems and right their wrongs. I had this huge unshakeable sense of obligation. My empathy stopped me becoming the bitter, twisted version of a parent that my mother became. My empathy saved me but it also caused me a lot of pain.
——————————————————————The Cunning Narcissist
My mantra growing up, ‘I’m not going to be anything like THEM’. I knew in my very bones that my upbringing was wrong on so many levels. I resented and feared my father. I pitied and resented my mother for doting on the man who beat her. She pretended to put her children first but actually her priority was always the current man in her life. I vowed to be a better person and a better parent than her. I vowed to get a better education, to have financial security, to be independent, to meet someone who’d love me as an equal. I believed I could achieve these things and I believed I deserved these things. I didn’t expect anyone else to get these things for me – I knew the buck stopped with me and that suited me just fine.
It was this mantra, my determination not to be anything like THEM, that triggered the unravelling of my relationship with my mother. She thrived on being needed and in control. She encouraged co-dependence with me and my siblings. She tried to make herself indispensable whilst at the same time leaning on us heavily, a burden no child should bear. She frequently reminded us of her sacrifices on our behalf and how much we ‘owed’ her.
Starting high school was a turning point for me. Before then my whole world had been my mother and my brothers. My role was to protect her from my father and protect them from bullies at school (or so I thought).
Suddenly unburdened of my sibling load at an all girls high school, with teachers who valued and encouraged me and friends who made me feel worthwhile, I got my first taste of independence. I pictured the World I could travel in Geography. I imagined myself with the strength and dignity of the suffragettes in History. My writing skills were lauded by my English teachers and I began to imagine turning that into a career.
But my narcissist mother took no pride in my growth. Yes she spoke enthusiastically to others about my success, absorbing the spotlight of the proud mother, but at home I was increasingly criticised, judged, beaten and alienated. I was selfish for asking for time to do my homework. I was lazy if I didn’t complete all my chores. Humiliated when I began to show an interest in boys at 15. She once called a meeting with my Head of Year at high school because I didn’t want to wear my coat to school. She saw my refusal as a defiant act and tried to enlist school’s support to force me, which of course they didn’t. But I was still deeply humiliated by her behaviour and reminded how closely she controlled me and controlled the way other people saw me.
One game she would play, involved buying me small gifts to recognise my school achievements, quickly taking them back again the next day, even the same day, never to be returned. That really messed with my head. A U2 T-shirt never to be worn, a CD never to be played. I would be told I’d spoken in the wrong tone, or argued with my brothers. The irony is I was such an innocent teen compared to my peers. I didn’t try alcohol until I was 16. I never smoked. I was a straight A student. I helped run the home and look after my brothers. I was rarely allowed ‘out’ and certainly not allowed teenage friends in the home. When I got a part time job at 17 and began socialising after work, she accused me of treating her house like a hotel (a hotel where the landlady alternately beats you and ignores you).
I realise now she was panicking. The chains were unravelling. She was losing me, fast. My childish and slavish devotion had long since eroded thanks to her vicious tongue and slapping, twisting, pulling hands. Did I retaliate? Eventually yes. Absolutely. I fought back and I mimicked her spiteful and degrading comments. I was so tired of the poison pouring from her mouth and the way she was using my brothers against me.
Still children, the oldest two called me ‘the bike of St Paul’s Cray’ due to my alleged promiscuity (I’d only ever had one serious boyfriend that I was intimate with at 17). When I took the morning after pill due to failed contraception, her child-spies stole my diary and showed her. She told me I had ‘practically had an abortion and would probably never be able to have children’.
Can you imagine the shame and fear and regret that I felt? Extended family later told me that she’d gone around telling anyone and everyone that would listen that I’d ‘killed a baby’. How can this level of grotesqueness not be a hate crime? A crime made all the worse for manipulating my innocent brothers to take part in her nastiness.
I can see now that my mantra to ‘never be like THEM’ contributed to the breakdown in relationship with my brothers, too. Because I didn’t want my brothers to turn out like my parents either. I wanted us ALL to do better. And I guess that put a lot of pressure on them. I became distressed if I saw them behave badly towards their girlfriends and wives, or when they stayed in unhappy relationships that made them miserable. I got frustrated when I saw them neglect to care for themselves or mess up job opportunities. I felt sad when they pushed away loyal friends or they didn’t prioritise their children. And I grew resentful when my mother told me they were leaning on her financially (neither of my parents had money, they lived hand to mouth).
I made two big mistakes in how I reacted to their behaviour. First of all, I witnessed less than a third of this behaviour myself. Most of the information came from my mother who would give long, heartfelt speeches about all that they did wrong, swearing me to secrecy. I never stopped to question if she was telling the truth. I was so grateful she was confiding in me, talking with me woman to woman. It made me feel needed. I never knew about narcissists then, or how they drip feed you poison about the people you love to create segregation, to undermine the trust and respect in your relationships.
My second mistake was trying to tell them how to behave, how to change, when my own life was far from perfect. On one hand I had my own home, a loving relationship, a flourishing career, whilst still in my early 20’s. On the other hand I had a huge problem with binge drinking socially, I was crippled with feelings of anger and insecurity, my relationship was tarnished by a lack of trust. I was riddled with anxiety and so defensive that I pushed people away first to stop them hurting me. That tends to happen when you grow up in a state of constant fear, betrayed by the parents who are meant to love you and keep you safe.
My frustration and disappointment towards my brothers wasn’t even because they were repeating the same mistakes that our parents had. It was because I felt they were letting themselves down. It was because they were so much better than the things they were doing. But my inadequate communication skills as an undiagnosed Autistic person meant I talked at them, not to them. I never asked how they felt or why they were behaving as they were. I just clumsily dished out advice expecting them to take it!
The truth, is that I didn’t want them to be like ME. I didn’t want them to be damaged and tormented by our upbringing. I did my want them to hate themselves like I loathed myself. I didn’t want them to push it away good people who loved them like I did
because they didn’t love themselves. I wanted them to learn from my mistakes, to fast track to happiness. To bypass all the messy stuff and go straight to making good, sensible, healthy decisions.
I truly thought I could help my brothers bypass the legacy of our childhood. I thought I could change them by telling them what they were doing wrong and what they needed to do differently. But I guess they just looked at me, the outspoken critic whose own life was so disordered, and they must have thought I was crazy. They must have felt indignant. They must have felt hurt. And so my mothers poison continued to drip, drip, drip as she fed me stories and I tried to act on them without breaking her confidence. All I really achieved was to push my brothers away.
This next quote sums up the really well how my upbringing affected my ability to adult effectively. I was simultaneously the high achiever and the self saboteur. I see that now and I could see that then. That’s why I wanted my brothers to learn from my mistakes. No avoid that self destruct button that existed inside of each of us.
Another huge frustration was seeing how my parents enabled my brothers, validated their mistakes, encouraged them to blame everyone else and avoid taking responsibility themselves. They never gave constructive feedback, or tried to help my brothers change. They set them up to fail instead. They listened to them grow bitter towards their friends, their girlfriends, their wives, their employers, even towards each other.
Neither of my parents had ever owned a house, or a car. They’d never enjoyed stable romantic relationships that didn’t turn toxic. They’d never made good lifestyle choices to protect their physical or mental health. They’d never achieved financial security. Their friendships would sour, the other person being to blame. They would say terrible things about each other’s birth families, like it was some kind of competition. I guess they were incapable of being role models or coaches to their children.
My alcoholic father’s way of dealing with my brothers was to spend their money getting drunk with them, to drown their sorrows. My mother on the other hand, treated them like Kings who could do no wrong. She gave them every penny she didn’t have. She served their dinner on trays to their laps and collected the trays afterwards. She picked up their clothes off the floor. She did everything possible to stifle their independence. She ingratiated herself with their wives and girlfriends, only until those relationships started to spoil. Then she would spew bile about them – how dare they hurt her precious boys.
My parents treated my brothers the exact opposite to how they treated me. My father largely ignored me unless he needed to borrow money. Seeing him usually involved paying for him to get drunk or trying to force him to eat a home cooked meal because he prioritised beer money over food money. My mother see-sawed between pretending to be my friend whilst filling my head with stories of my brothers wrong doings; to aggressive and hysterical attacks where she would accuse me of mistreating her and tell me I was bad for her health. She would ignore me for long periods after one of her meltdowns until days, weeks or even months later, she would start talking to me as if nothing had happened. There would be no discussion, no reflection, certainly no apology. But I was so pathetic and weak and frankly grateful that I was no longer being rejected, that I slipped straight back into my role of caring for her. I was blinded by her ‘hard life’ and victim persona. That’s one thing my siblings and I all had in common, we felt sorry for our parents and how incapable they were. We all felt a crushing burden of responsibility towards them because we knew they couldn’t take care of themselves.
When I first ended contact with my mother over 2 years ago now, I never anticipated that I would lose my brothers or my grandparents as a result. I never anticipated any of them would take sides, especially when I KNEW they’d seen with their own eyes how hard I’d tried to sustain my relationship with my mother. So I was both heartbroken and confused by my siblings callous disregard for my feelings, their harsh judgments and (in some cases) total and utter silence.
Looking back to that time I should have guessed that I wasn’t getting the full picture. The clue was in an awful message my grandfather sent me, telling me I should be ashamedy of my ‘despicable behaviour over the years’.
It was like a sword through my heart, the biggest shock, a terrible injustice. And for months and months all I could think was ‘what does he mean?! What despicable behaviour?!’ I may be outspoken, I may have a fiery temper, but I am a deeply loving and loyal, forgiving and supportive human being. I’ve supported myself entirely since I was 17 years old. I’ve excelled in my education and career. I have a strong and loving marriage, two amazing sons who I am raising the EXACT OPPOSITE of how I was raised. So what had I done that was so awful???
And then I started learning about narcissism.
I realised that once again, and probably for my whole adolescent and adult life, my mother had been feeding lies about me to anyone who should and could have cared about me. She chipped away at my reputation. She severed my support system.
As a teen both my Uncle and my Aunt (maternal siblings) aggressively confronted me during what I now understand were Autistic meltdowns. I was still a child, deeply vulnerable, yet she called on people I loved, people I thought were safe, to ‘come quick and see what she’s REALLY like, she’s mad, she hits herself, she’s out of control’.
What upsets me the most is that when I first learned about narcissism and wrote about it in my blog to describe the behaviour I’d been subjected to, I had no appreciation for how calculated and deliberate my mother’s campaign against me was. I still believed she couldn’t help it, I still bought into the idea of her as a damaged victim
For example, growing up I adored my brothers. We fought like all siblings do but I really loved them (even if struggled to show it). I ptook my responsibilities as a sister very seriously. I don’t think I appreciated how badly they’d been affected by our upbringing, naively thinking I’d protected them from the worst. But how could I? I was forced out of home at 16, leaving them to suffer her irrational rages and observe the string of no-good men she brought home after my father left.
She resented my closeness to my brothers, especially because her relationship with two of them in particular was deeply strained and dysfunctional. So she started to feed me information about them. Drip drip drip. A steady flow of stories and secrets. ‘Promise me you won’t say anything BUT…’
To my shame, I believed it all. Over the years she would time and again share private and sometimes damaging information about them. Sometimes I would confront my brothers over it, usually when it involved them mistreating her.
And of course they didn’t appreciate me getting involved. I was ‘interfering’. They didn’t blame HER for sharing their secrets but they blamed me for challenging their behaviour.
As I reflect back I can clearly see she was using me like a puppet to do her dirty work. One time she phoned my crying saying one of my brothers had been dumped by his girlfriend and she had thoughtlessly thrown a party in the flat they shared, posting photos on social media. ‘Imagine how hurtful and humiliating it is for him!’ she said. So of course I contacted his girlfriend (who is one of life‘s truly good, genuine, kind people) and verbally tore her head off for being so mean to my brother. Except it turned out the party had happened before the break up, in fact my brother had been there! My mother knew she couldn’t confront his girlfriend so she orchestrated for me to do it. The embarrassment and shame I felt at hurting this girl, who had only ever treated me with warmth and generosity, it was awful. Of course I begged for forgiveness and to her huge credit she forgave me. But the damage was done. Once again I was seen as the troublemaker. The aggressor.
Another time my mother told me she bumped into one of my brother’s childhood sweethearts whilst camping. Apparently his ex wanted him to get in touch about his teenage daughter that he hadn’t seen since she was a baby. ‘You must talk to him Liz! I can’t do it. He just gets angry with me!’ And just like a good little puppet I set the ball rolling. I contacted his ex to check it if she did indeed want to hear from my brother. Then I met up with my brother to ask him to make contact. All the while naively believing I was acting for the greater good. Reuniting father and daughter after so many lost years. I desperately wanted him to be pleased, to thank me.
But instead I was berated. I was interfering. It was none of my business. Our relationship was never the same after that. The brother I’d had over for sleepovers as a child, who I’d supported through break ups, who I’d helped secure employment on several occasions, who I’d partied with, laughed with, cried with, who told me I was his best friend and the best sister ever….he withdrew from me after that. We still saw each other but there was a gaping distance, a coldness, he blamed me. And my mother must have been so very delighted.
In the last few years leading up to my estrangement from my birth family, I started to not trust my mother. Her stories and secrets became more fantastical. I started to recognise a pattern – she would feed me information, I would act on it, I would end up looking like the bad guy.
Now I didn’t always act on it…but I allowed it to affect how I viewed my siblings and extended family. Often her stories involved her being wronged in some way and I would feel injured on her behalf. Whether she was aggrieved by her parents, her siblings, her friends or of course my brothers and their partners – the theme was the same. They were taking advantage of her. I’m sure there was some truth in all of these situations, but how much truth versus lies I’ll never know. Regardless it influenced how I felt about the rest of my family. It affected how much I trusted them and how much I respected them.
Gradually, in the months leading up to our estrangement, her secrets and stories got darker. The things she told me about my brothers were deeply personal and distressing. I became scared and sad. I tried to undo what I’d heard by making light of it. My gut instinct was that these allegations were dangerous and I COULD NOT GET INVOLVED. I knew the things she was telling me could really hurt people and I didn’t trust her motivation for telling me.
At the same time I sensed some family members treating me differently. My youngest brother asked me to ‘not lean on on mum so much for childcare’ and I was shocked and confused as we barely saw her despite living around the corner. My grandfather seemed ‘off’ when I visited but I had no idea why. My sister in law who was juggling life with a new baby seemed upset with me.
So I asked my mum, knowing how easily she slandered my brothers ‘what’s going on Mum? Do you know why they’re acting like this? Have you said anything about me?’ And she replied, ‘Don’t be silly. I don’t want to hurt you, you should trust me. I’m the only person you should trust’.
I’ll say it again, how is narcissism not a crime? How could this woman I called mother be allowed to torment and torture me like this? A mother who knew I was a vulnerable Autistic, who knew I was medicated for Bipolar 2 disorder. Who knew since I was a child how fragile my mental health was.
Even in the final hours of our relationship she sent my husband pleading messages to ‘See sense. Be brave. She’s in crisis. She needs help’! She tried to use my mental health as a weapon against me. She tried to use all the insecurities and problems my husband had confided in her about our relationship when I was at my most vulnerable, most hurting.
Fortunately my husband is a strong, brave, man. He saw through her facade and stood up to her which triggered a barrage of abuse from my brother, her golden child.
My husband feels violated now, by the way she managed to get into his head, make him feel she was a trusted confidant, a safe place. One time he confided an especially heated and emotional argument to her, when I was in a deep depression and drowning in paranoia. He didn’t understand about Autism then, or Bipolar. He just saw a very complicated woman that he loved but couldn’t understand. And he told my mother that I lashed out, which I did. How she must have rubbed her hands with glee then. And over the coming months 3 or 4 extended family members asked me about my ‘violence towards my husband’.
Can you imagine how I felt? I am a child who was terrorised and beaten on a regular basis. I grew up trusting no one and being hurt by everyone in my so called ‘family’. I loathe violence. But I have used violence as self defence; I have used violence against myself in moments of utter desperation and emotional overload; and I have used violence on a handful of occasions in the heat of the moments towards my beautiful husband who did not deserve it, but who will admit that in the absence of my diagnoses and out of pure frustration he would antagonise and shame me for my explosive emotional meltdowns because he didn’t understand me. We have grown from this, we have moved so far forward. But to my mother, this was just one more stone to throw.
So here I am. 2 years and 2 months post estrangement and I can finally see my mothers cruelty for what it was. A series of planned and intentional acts to punish me for being different to her. To punish me for pursuing independence. To punish me for being braver and kinder than her. To punish me for refusing to be the scapegoat anymore. Every action she took was designed to destabilise me and prevent me from having secure relationships with other members of my family. She tried to completely isolate me and trick me into believing that she was the one person I could trust.
Do I hate her? Yes I do. Does a part of me still love her? No, not anymore. This woman who deliberately harmed me, who painted herself as a benign victim, who has never once apologised nor tried to explain or justify her actions, she is not my Mother. She lost that right at the same time as she lost the right to be a grandma to my sons.
My advice for anyone affected by a narcissist or narcissistic behaviour, is to get the hell out of there. Save yourself. They will not change. They won’t apologise. I would have forgiven my mother everything if she’d had the courage to say sorry, if she’d committed to act differently. But her reaction to my ending contact was to rally the rest of the family against me, to reel in my siblings and grandparents with her lies because SHE WAS TERRIFIED OF THE TRUTH getting out.
So here’s the truth. Or at least a snapshot of it. I could write a book with all the material I have burned into my memories. Maybe that’s what I’ll do eventually. I’ve spent hours wondering whether to publish this blog or not. Afraid I’d be attacked by my ex-family for speaking out and revealing my mother’s true form. Then I remembered, I don’t write for THEM. This is none of their business. If they feel anything other than shame at the way they’ve treated me then they are not worth remembering anyway.
I write for ME and anybody like me who has struggled with poor mental health at the hands of a narcissistic parent.
I was born Autistic, but I wasn’t born with Bipolar, with anxiety, with OCD with symptoms of PTSD. I have both my parents to thank for that.
We all have our own trauma. We all make mistakes. But to manipulate, coerce, lie, trick and sabotage another human, especially your own child, is truly unforgivable. I will cry no more tears for my mother. I will have no more regrets. I will live my best life with my husband and the family we created and I will be FREE.