Often, when little girls are subject to the abuse of a narcissistic mother, they grow up and become reluctant to have children of their own. This was never the case for me. In fact, I ached for the day that I could have a do-over with a family of my own. I never had the fear of becoming my mother myself, because I am the opposite of every thought process she ever had. Perhaps this is why she holds so much resentment towards me.
In childhood, I had a very involved, beautiful mother who would go to the ends of the earth for me. We had the bond that I still dwell on and ache for, and probably always will to some extent. Yesterday, I severed the ties that bind, permanently.
Like so many families these days, my family suffered a nasty divorce that involved verbal abuse, financial trouble, neglect, and one hardcore affair. The day that my parents marriage fell apart is the day that my mother died, although I clinged to hope for a full decade that some day she would wake up before coming to the realization that it is not possible in this lifetime.
After my parents separated, my mom took my little brother and I, (then 15 and 16 years old), to start fresh in a three bedroom duplex in the next town over. She left behind the home that we had grown up in, and everything in it. Even our loyal pets did not escape being abandoned. I own nothing of my childhood, and remember very little.
When we settled into our new home, mom grieved her divorce for a month or two in bed, and once her feet hit the floor she never slowed down again. She still hasn’t. She started leaving my brother and I alone for days at a time, and then up to full weeks at a time while she went out to God only knows where, with God only knows who. All I know, is that we were children, and we were alone far before we were ready.
It was summer time, and we didn’t have anywhere to be. My grandmother was stocking our kitchen with groceries, and we never told her what was going on, for fear of backlash from mother, further abandonment, and loss of the freedom that we thought we were enjoying at the time. For some reason, I remember making excuses for her, and feeling the need to protect her.
When summer came to an end, we started looking for other places to run. I needed to finish high school, and it’s a miracle that I did. For a while, my grandfather picked me up in the mornings and drove me while i kept my mother’s secrets. Eventually, I started hopping from one friend’s home to another, whoever’s parents would let me crash and get me to school. I’m still more grateful to them than they will ever know. I graduated early. I got a job, or three, and started putting myself through junior college. I made it through two years, with a less than pretty GPA. Nonetheless, I am proud of it, considering the circumstances.
All the while I never gave up pursuing my mother’s love and affection. From age 15 to 21 I called her weekly, if not daily with little to no returned communication. Every once in a while, I would get fed up and give up on chasing her for months at a time. I tried moving on and waiting for her to contact me, which would result in not hearing from her for a year or more. I tried calling and text bombing her until she was forced to respond- although it was never the kind of response I needed. Somewhere along the line, I gave up hope- although, whenever she made any sort of effort with me, my heart leapt out of my chest and I’d be brought right back to heel. She always had that power over me. She’d say jump, and I’d ask how high, each time hoping that she had finally healed enough to come back to me. She’d show up and shower me with love for an hour, or a day, or a week, and then disappear again. I chased her love and approval relentlessly. Eventually I began looking for love in the wrong places, bouncing from one boyfriend to another, and drinking every night- just trying to fill the void. I had short term room mates, I dove into relationships, and when I had no where else to go I slept in my car. I even lived with my grandparents for a while, but they were far too functional for me to comprehend, so I wound up leaving there too. During this ten year time frame, I can count on my hands the number of times she contacted me, but it would take a lifetime of Sunday’s to count the number of times I reached for her.
All the while, mother was playing the victim. Others came to me telling me her account of the story. “My kids left the duplex and i was left to pick up the pieces and move on, gotta keep on truckin’!”, she told anyone who would listen. She had the ‘poor pitiful me’, regime down to a fine art. She even told others that she pursued a relationship with ME and I was the one who wanted nothing to do with it. This is insane, and in some dark twisted way, comical. I think things like this are bound to leave you dark and twisty.
Moving on, eventually I fell in love. The real, unconditional kind of love that little girls dream of. Once my mother caught wind of it, she called me after a year of no contact, and stated that she wanted to take me out for my 22nd birthday, and meet my now husband. Of course I jumped, thrilled, like I ways was when I got an ounce of attention from her. I started making plans. We would go to a nice dinner, and then out for fun afterwards, I was SO excited!
An hour before my reservations, she called and told me that she wanted to change the restaurant. When I told her that it was my birthday and I really wanted to eat at my favorite place, she pitched a fit and responded that I should have fun eating on my own! I’ll never forget the moment that I hung up the phone. I hit the floor of the closet and cried as if all of the years of neglect hit me at once.
My boyfriend (now husband), who had only known me for a few short months found me, picked me up, wiped my tears, physically dressed me, and then practically dragged me to the truck, assuring me that we could still have fun. At some point, he called my best friends in to show up as a surprise and save the day. He never fully forgave her for that, but even then I only wanted my mother, and he loved me enough to support whatever I needed.
The next morning, on October 4th, I woke up with what I thought was a hangover. By noon, I knew otherwise. I was 5 weeks pregnant, and I had never been more happy or terrified- and I didn’t have a mother to share it with. The months dragged on in silence. I had a high risk pregnancy due to the fact that I had scoliosis and I was severely anemic. I went to the chiropractor 3 days a week, and had my blood monitored bi-weekly. I was also deathly ill around the clock, imagine having the flu for 8 months.. that’s the best way I can describe it.
At some point, she called called to pop in on my life, and something went wrong. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that between our conflict, and the pregnancy stress, something caused me to go into premature labor at only 24 weeks pregnant. I was hospitalized for a day or two, the contractions were stopped, and I was sent home on bed rest with strict instructions to clear my life of stress until it was time for my son to make his appearance. Adam (my now husband) had officially had enough at this point, and he decided to tell her that she was endangering both mine and his unborn son’s life, and that she either needed to make amends and be my mother, or stay far away. She decided to stay far away.
Because of the falling out, she missed my baby shower, and then my precious son’s birth, telling anyone who would listen that I didn’t want her there, rather than reaching out to me. It was all my fault. Anything and everything that has ever gone awry with our relationship has always been ALL my fault.
I had a traumatic labor experience. I was induced at 1:30 in the afternoon at 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Everything was going okay until I started dilating. My twisted (scoliosis) spine rejected not one, but 3 epidurals. I was in agony until the moment he was born at 7:55 AM the next day.. 18 hours of terrifying labor, with no mom to hold my hand.
When they handed my son to me, my first thought was not how beautiful he was, or how amazed I was, like you see in the movies. It was shock. It was the words, “How could she miss this?”
“How. Could. She. Miss. This?”
In that moment a fierce protectiveness for my son washed over me and I knew that I would never let him have the faintest idea of what it was like to wonder where I was, or if I loved him. Never. Never. Never. It would be over my dead body on a cold day in hell.
I took him home, and I guess about a month or two passed by before I reached out to my mother with a heart felt letter telling her that even though we may never have the best relationship, I would let bygones be bygones if she wanted to have a relationship with her grandson. I told her that we never had to discuss another topic below skin deep, and that I would put on a smile and keep my door open for her. I told her that this was her chance to start fresh. My only stipulation was that she had to make the decision from day one, if she’s in his life, she must be consistent. There would be no bouncing in and out at her convenience, that Hayden would never know what it’s like to lack in the stability department. From what I can remember, at the time she laughed at me, and gas-lighted me into thinking that I was being irrational.
The following year, Adam and I were to get married. I didn’t think that I could make it though another major life event without her, so I put up with taking her attention when she allowed it. I took her verbal digs for months off and on. She started trying to talk me out of marrying my husband. She talked down on each of his family members, and my own other family members, just hoping to drive a wedge for me and my marriage. She wanted control over my wedding, the guest list, and various other details. She contributed by buying various pieces of decor, stating that there were a few things she would like to have back afterwards. I was grateful, so I told her that she was welcome to keep anything that she had paid for after letting me borrow it.
Shortly before the wedding, she informed me that she was bringing “a group of friends”, to my nuptials. When I asked her who, she couldn’t even tell me, because they were people that I had never even met. A LARGE group of people that I had never even met, to MY wedding. Of course, I told her that I was sorry but that this wasn’t okay. I had a set number of guests, and I had already purchased the food, plus I wanted my wedding to remain intimate, consisting of close friends and family. She absolutely flipped, and threatened me, ” I’ve already missed you becoming a mom, what will it hurt to miss your mistake of a wedding too?!”, she screamed, before calling me the worst daughter in the world and hanging up on me.
I thought that she wouldn’t show, but to my surprise she did, although she never came to my dressing area to see me, she instead stayed behind and told everyone that I didn’t want her there. Thankfully, other family members and friends stepped up when she stepped out, and I made it down the isle.
Later in the evening, my photographers took the bridal party away from the reception to take pictures. While I was gone, my mother rounded up “the things she had bought for the wedding”, aka every single item that was worth anything at all, and left without saying goodbye. My in-laws had spent nearly two-thousand dollars on alcohol, which she helped herself to as well. When I walked back inside to get a drink at my own wedding, i found that it was all stolen- by none other than my own mother. The friends and family who had seen what happened said, “Oh, your mama just left with it, we thought she was helping clean up, that’s what she told us!” So, standing in the middle of my friends and family I called my mother and put her on speakerphone to ask what had just happened. I remember looking around at my friend’s faces who shook their heads, and stared at the floor as my mother lied and said that she didn’t touch the alcohol. It was the shock of my life.
(disclaimer: we later realized that we only made it home with two or three gifts, which I was ashamed to admit to my guests at the time. I did not know how to approach the topic of thank you cards, so I let it go. I did not write cards to anyone, because I didn’t want anyone to be left out. For this, I am truly sorry. I am deeply thankful for anyone who attended and to those who showered us with items for our home. If you bought something for us, or helped with the wedding planning in ANY way, just know that we are eternally grateful and hope to someday return the love.)
For some reason, I let the entire wedding topic go. Perhaps because it was riddled with sadness and betrayal, maybe it was because I didn’t want to face the reality of it all. I don’t know why, but i rationalized with myself that materialistic items were not worth cutting her out completely. That it would be overboard to create conflict, or put my foot down over what she made out to be “no big deal”. She always did have a way of making me feel insane. This was my mother after all, and I am supposed to honor and respect her, right? It would be a cardinal sin to hold her accountable for anything! At any rate, I blocked it out. I decided that there was a TINY chance that she could be telling the truth, and that this was not worth potentially robbing my child of a relationship with his grandmother, and him hating me for it some day. So, I let it go.
She may have called a couple of times, or stopped by the house once during the next year. I swept my feelings under the rug so that I could soak up whatever tiny amount of attention I could get from her. On Thanksgiving 2016, she guilt tripped me into bringing my son to her home. She said that “We hadn’t had a thanksgiving together in a decade”, and the thought of having a decent holiday with my mom sounded amazing to me. So, I went.
To my dismay, when I walked into her house I realized that it was decorated top to bottom as the theme of my wedding. There were my lanterns, vases, and candle holders in every corner of her house. I bit my tongue, and clinched my fist, and I set my son down on the floor and watched him happily run off to play with his cousins. I looked around the house in awe. When i say it was in EVERY corner, I mean it was in every corner. I walked into the kitchen to make my plate, and I noticed that she had all of the wine from my wedding on the top shelf in her kitchen. “She doesn’t even drink wine”, I thought to myself as I held my breath. I think perhaps between being speechless, and not wanting to ruin the holiday for my little boy, I managed to keep my mouth shut. I made my plate, but when I walked into the dining room to sit down, I realized that even the place settings on her table were mine, stolen from my wedding tables. I felt sick.
I had already agreed to spend the night there since I was going to another family Thanksgiving the next morning.. but that night I didn’t sleep. I paced around the house, ridden with anxiety and wondering if I was in the twilight zone. I took pictures of all of my belongings and sent them to my husband, asking him if I was crazy- because i sure felt crazy. I held my sleeping baby and kissed him a million times and swore on my life that he would never know the heart ache, dishonesty, or abandonment that I have lived through. The next morning she rushed us out of the house before I had time to even think about loading up my things, stating that they were running late to whatever they had planned for the day. She hugged me, told me she loved me, and we went our separate ways. Christmas was uneventful. I stayed busy with chasing the baby and running from meaningful conversation. After that, there was silence.
Silence, until she called me on Valentine’s Day. She told me that she had a doctors appointment and would be in town and wanted to have lunch and see Hayden. I moved my entire schedule around to accommodate for her. Lunch seemed okay, it was probably the least eventful meeting we’ve had in the last 5 years. I thought everything went well and was fine. When we left I thought about how Christmas, and lunch had been peaceful, and maybe there was a chance that things were starting to get better.
The following weekend, on Sunday night I found her unprovokingly throwing my name under the bus on facebook for the umpteenth time, after our seemingly happy lunch. I do realize that it’s completely silly that some little facebook post is what drove me to commit to full estrangement from her clutches, but in all reality, it was only the straw that broke the camels back. I said my peace and with the touch of a button I made the decision to block her out of my life and heart, for good.
These are the things I have learned about in dealing with a narcissistic, envious, pathological and selfish mother.
1.Whether I chase her, or I don’t; Whether I lead my own life completely independently, or follow her around like a lost puppy; no matter how much I love her, she will always have deep rooted resentment for me. She will play the victim to the downfall of our relationship, and every other relationship, until the day that she dies.
2. She TRULY believes that she is innocent in every single conflict of her life, and as long as she believes that- there could never possibly be room for a healthy relationship to grow.
3. I am none of the things she says I am. I am not ungrateful. I am not spoiled. I am not a brat. I am not the worst person on earth. I am not an instigator. I am not the cause for my parent’s divorce.I am not the privileged child. I am not gaining too much, or losing too much weight. I am not miserable. I AM worthy of love and healthy relationships. My husband and son are living and breathing proof of this.
I failed as a parent when I allowed her to bounce in and out of Hayden’s life for the last 986 days. Thankfully, he is young enough that he will not remember any of it. I broke the cycle on Valentines day, 2017. Some day when he is mature enough to understand, I’ll tell him my story. Until then, I’ll be rewriting my own definition of motherhood. I’ll thank God every day and night for assuring me that I am worthy of love, and I’ll do right by my son to the best of my ability. If I love and raise him the right way, he just might understand that every move I make in this game of life is sacrificial for his healthy development.
And what’s the only way to win with a narcissist?
It’s to stop playing the game.