A Letter to the Narcissist – No. 57

 

healthy letter

Dear Mum,

I had absolutely no idea for such a long time.  I’d never truly understood what narcissism or sociopathy was and never suspected that you of all people could have a personality disorder.  I always thought you were the clever and emotionally balanced one, while everyone else around you was easily angered, contradictory, false, selfish or ‘emotional’.  You are such a good actress and so clever at twisting the truth.  You always, always ended up being the one in control.  Always.  Such is the power of a mother’s carefully planned and covert manipulations, as well as the stereotype most people believe without question – that nobody loves their child as much as a mother does.

This “not knowing” kept me under your spell – pliable and dependent – for nearly half a century.  In the meantime, I thought that something was wrong with me.  I needed to toughen up, I needed to be more positive, I needed to have more resolve, I needed to understand more clearly, I needed to be “better”.  For such a long time, it never dawned on me that I was good enough as I was.  I was an intelligent child, a hardworking and successful student and a conscientious and dutiful adult daughter.  But it’s clear to me now that I was also the family scapegoat.

You never took any blame or responsibility for anything.  You were so stoic in your rock-solid stance, unwavering and beyond accountability that I never questioned you either.  The only one in the family that I was able to question was myself.  I sometimes have memory flashbacks of the inexplicably mean and callous things you did and the ruthless and self-serving actions you took.  The circular arguments, the silent treatments, the invalidation no matter what I said or did.  To be able to survive as a child and then a single woman with only my immediate family for support, I believe my own mind conveniently rationalised those memories for the most part.  Those memories did enter my consciousness every now and then and the flashbacks were both painful and bewildering.

I grew up very independent and self-sufficient.  In my mind, it was pointless to rely on or believe in other people because they would inevitably prove to be untrustworthy and unreliable.  For almost all my life, I thought this belief system was an innate part of who I was.  I thought it was my personality and something I was born with.  Now I see that it was a natural defence mechanism triggered by a lack of genuine bonding.  To the outside world, you looked like a perfect mother, but underneath the shiny surface, the unconditional love, security and affection that every child needs and deserves was not really there.  My attitude towards relationships and other people set me up for a lifetime of loneliness and painful isolation.  I find it extremely hard to spontaneously relate to other people.  I need to constantly calm my thoughts in their presence and remind myself that I am worthy of respect as a person in my own right and there’s no need to try so hard.  In my mind, the “go to” thought process is that everyone else is “more important” than I am.

But now I know what you are, thanks to the internet and the research I did when I thought I was losing my mind.  Slowly but surely I researched everything I could on depression, anxiety, mindfulness, self-esteem, self-compassion and mental health.  I approached my research with the firm belief that I needed to change myself.  I was so unmotivated, so jaded, depressed and mentally exhausted, I couldn’t continue living that way.  I felt completely empty and nothing at all gave me any joy whatsoever.  I needed to find resolutions.  My life was crashing down all around me even after all the hard work I had done to have a successful career and happy life.

By surfing the net compulsively, I stumbled across an article that described our family dynamic – the golden child and scapegoat scenario.  Then it hit me.  The problem wasn’t me, it was YOU!!!  You are a narcissist.

When it first became irredeemably clear – almost two years ago – the realisation both stunned and terrified me.  You’re a sociopath.  My mother is a sociopath incapable of empathy or putting anyone else first, even her own children.  In my state of emotional exhaustion and depression, I couldn’t bear the thought of what you were.  It made me physically ill.  I couldn’t stop myself from crying.  The anguish and disbelief made my hands shake and the feeling of hopelessness made me want to hide at home forever.  It was SO hard to believe and accept.  But deep down, I knew I had finally stumbled upon the truth.

That was my lowest point.  Since then, I have become a lot stronger and I now actually like myself and believe in myself.  I still have a long way to go, but you will never, ever manipulate or fool me again.  I always tried so hard to please you and make you happy and proud.  Now I don’t care what you think of me.  My mind is my own and it’s much too important to me to allow you to play games with it.  The love-bombing, silent treatments, triangulations, pity plays, guilt-trips and invalidation simply don’t work anymore.  Furthermore, every time you try to use your underhanded tactics, it reinforces to me how pathetic and disordered you are.  Now, I thank the universe every day that I did not inherit your sickness.

The advice of ‘no contact’ is, I agree, the best remedy when dealing with a toxic narcissist.  Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done in some situations.  I can’t just move to another town or country.  I can’t just uproot my whole life and forget that I have a family.  I still love my family, even though it’s so unhealthy for my peace of mind.  I love and still want contact with my father, a good natured, peace-loving man who has basically surrendered his own will in order to survive the intolerable.  I don’t even know for sure if he is actually in a constant state of delusion or if he’s aware but towing the line.  Either way, my heart breaks for him.  I believe the main reason we are still a “family” is because of his ability to endure your covert and dominating mind-games and still treat his children with a semblance of love and good humour.

Now that I know what you are mother, I can see how childish, immature and self-centred you are.  I can see how fragile your ego is.  You need to be the centre of attention all the time.  You need to be cared for and listened to first, no matter what hardships or pain other people are facing.  You are constantly critical of anything and anyone.  If the sun is shining and it’s a glorious day, to you it’s too hot and you’re uncomfortable.  If someone else is suffering from a fatal disease, you instantly start talking about how much pain you’ve been in lately.  I’m embarrassed and sad for you that you don’t know any better.

We will never be able to have a normal, loving conversation together as mother and daughter.  Isn’t that sad?  It is to me, but you lack that emotion, so it’s pointless asking you.  My life has been profoundly affected by such sad thoughts and memories.  I look at other people who do have loving relationships with their mother and I wonder what it must be like.

On the bright side, you have inadvertently shown me that the world has so much beauty and wonder.  It’s evident everywhere, even in your personality disorder.  You often made a point of telling me some awful story or tale of woe that you’d heard.  It was usually about some terrible thing happening to someone and how vicious and frightening the world and other people could be.  I think you were deliberately conditioning me to be fearful of the world around me.  You wanted to make me as miserable as you are.  I believe you were threatened by my natural optimism and confidence, because they made me less dependent on you and less controllable.  Your covert manipulations worked.  For many years, random fears and negative thoughts would creep in about many things.  I’m glad to say though, that all your efforts have ultimately failed.  I look around and I see so much beauty.  Even your disorder is now fascinating to me in some ways … now that I’m no longer trying to keep my head above the emotional stormy sea you tried to drown me in.

Sincerely,

The Healthy One.

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21 thoughts on “A Letter to the Narcissist – No. 57”

  1. My mother has some problems: criticism/negativism and she’s living on “what others say” ( I confronted her some years ago on that matter) . “Fortunately”, I was always a very submissive daughter and single child, so: no physical abuse for me, but if I had to wait for her 2 hours seated on a chair, I was not moving from it, nor making noises (a beauty saloon, for instance) and I had no phone to play on, I had to watch her nails, hear her complaints and so on. She always triangulated me with one of my cousins thou, saying I’m not good enough and that I’m just like my father (not in a good way).

    “I always tried so hard to please you and make you happy and proud. Now I don’t care what you think of me.”
    I surely can understand those lines. I was told never to talk to adults if not questioned, then: if a friend of hers said I was not talking much, she excused herself I was that way (shy, so it was all my fault). I was always told she stayed with my father and took abuse only because of me, when I left home many years ago. She bragged I have a house only because of her, but I fought her in order to buy that house. She almost hit me when I called her to see the house and give an opinion.

    I don’t know if she’s a narc or not, but she keeps criticizing me, we can’t live for more than a week under the same roof (with me not standing her psychological abuse).
    Live and let others live. That’s my philosophy, being well behaved, but not obsessing about neighbors/people opinions. Oh, and I can’t understand why having friends you don’t like and talk about them at their back? Only because you can “use” having them? When she told me I’m savage because I only have 3 good friends, I told her: at least I have nothing I can’t speak in front of them, unlike you -with yours! I have few but good friends and we accept each other as we are: imperfect human beings, able to even laugh about our imperfections. My mother or not, I called her “hypocrite”. I had the audacity to tell my cousin is more like her than I am and that’s why she likes her.
    Covering “shit” with the carpet was never my style: it surely smells bad after a while…I love my mother (as she is, good or bad, she raised me instead of kill me – it was also a possibility, legal as far as I know) but she must respect me as I am. I’m no “extension” of hers.

  2. Thank you very much to everyone for your lovely, encouraging and understanding messages. This was my letter. It was very touching to read your kind words and I greatly appreciate your comments.

    After reading HG’s posts, I always find it helpful and enjoyable to read the various replies as well. The care and humour you all show is wonderful and inspiring. Kindest thanks to you all and best wishes to you xxx

  3. Healthy One

    A painful realization that those who are supposed to love and protect you would do you harm, but ultimately validating and necessary in releasing their grip. Well done.

  4. Hi healthy one…..wow! Are you sure were not the same person lol your experience is so very similiar to mine with my mother! I also came across the realisation my mother was a covert narcissist online however for me it was like a major weight had been lifted. To realise it wasnt me that was the problem why she treated my brother and i differently. I too was a scapegoat and still am. In a trio there always has to be an odd man out to pass the blame on and that person was me. I was the emotional punching bag. When she had a bad day i was her devalue dumping ground.
    When i came across narcissism online i couldnt get enough bc it explained my whole childhood and adult life with my mother. I never felt good enough and still struggle with this to this day. Everyone else is more important and thats the lie ive believed in for years. She split our family apart thru triangulation and converting my brother into a lietenant and flying monkey to do her dirty work yet passes the blame onto me. Why cant i just play happy family and endure her constant covert narc tactics? Shes tried to make me feel guilty to the point shes banned me and my children from her home unless we are around my brother and his family which is something i cannot do for my own mental health.
    Two huge red flags she was a narcissist were she could never admit to fault or weakness and she rarely says sorry. There are many others but these two were huge indicators that i was dealing with a narcissist.
    Take comfort in this main thought and thats this: its a personality disorder and its not personal. That will help alleviate feeling it was you bc it wasnt. It was your mums personality disorder and she targeted you bc you defied her control and are ultimately the healthy one 👍

  5. I think, that Matrinarc is the hardest thing that could happen to a person. No one is capable to traumatize the person more, than his/her own Matrinarc. Narcy fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, partners, husbands/wives… are nothing in comparison to a Matrinarc’s damaging force.

    The Mother is an omnipotent god to any child, that protects and teaches him/her. The child’s love, trust and openness are unconditional and absolute.

    And the Matrinarc – the abnormally functioning “god” – heavily traumatizes the innocent, naive and vulnerable soul of her child…

    You survived that hell successfully, Healthy One. Your self-work is impressive and impeccable. You gained a wisdom and reached your own balance. Awesome!

    I can’t even express properly, how pleasant it was for me to read your letter! Thank you for those precious minutes of pure and undiluted joy.

  6. This could have been my letter, although I couldn’t have written it as beautiful as you did. I feel exactly the same towards my mother and towards my father also. But… recently I thought: father, how could you not have seen what was going on? Why did you never speak up to my mother? Why did you allow all the abuse, nagging, negative talk, criticism? Why did you totally not take part in our upbringing? Why did you, instead of going insane and beat me up, not protest when we were given a silent treatment for a week?
    Isn’t it easy to just observe, not interact, let mother do the abusing and be the sweetheart yourself? The next time I am going to see my parents I am really going to give my father a bad time. That is, if anything happens that will cause me to want to act that way. He is accountable too. If you hold one parent accountable for narcissism, should you not hold one accountable for neglect or looking the other way?

    1. I agree, Blank. My father looked the other way too, and now I believe that makes him as bad as her!
      Beautiful letter, and well written. I related to it very much.

      1. Blank, I can relate to how you feel about judging your parents. As you say, they’re products of their upbringing as well. And then we in our turn get ensnared by men who is a continuation of the hurt we suffered at their hands; maybe trying to redeem ourselves, repeating this painful cycle again and again. It’s exhausting.

        I’ve decided that I’m not going to talk to my father about this topic again. I don’t want to blame him or even my mother and make matters worse; I’m not in the end looking for revenge, but I think the way of letting go is to be aware of what happened, to see it as clearly as possible to understand myself, my strengths and my weaknesses and to find some peace within. I might not be able to change who I am because of what happened to me, but I might be aware when in a new relationship down the line and hit the brakes quickly if matters are not ideal or I might be able to explain my behaviour in certain situations. That’s all I’m looking for. My parents are old and I’ll let them be. I want peace of mind and awareness. Then the past can be left behind and I’m the future will be there.

    2. That’s interesting Blank; I haven’t given it any thought until recently but I agree with you. Our fathers are to blame as well. I actually talked to mine about it just before Christmas, it wasn’t a confrontation of sorts, but we had dinner by ourselves and I just thought I’d tell him some of the things that went on when I grew up.

      My father was physically present during all those years, even though he worked a lot; but mentally he just wasn’t there. He got home from work and hid behind closed doors in his study; he was like a ghost hiding away enabling my mother’s abusive ways. I was my father’s daughter growing up; he was my hero; I saw myself in him and I’ve always been very protective of him. Just thinking about him getting hurt in any way makes me cry even today; I felt this imminent need to protect him from all harm as a child, I’d rather suffer any punishment than disappointing him; and I guess I assumed that he put all those closed doors between him and the rest of the family because my mother hurt him too; maybe even worse. I did see her treating him with silences amongst other things.

      But when I did talk to my father now he seemed almost astonished at what I had to tell. He knew her ways of course, but he never knew how bad it got. Truth be told my mother usually punished me when he wasn’t around, but he must’ve known? He knew what an abusive childhood my mother herself had had, but still he complied with leaving me in my grandmother’s care often enough; he must’ve seen what was going on at home? There I was all those years as a child protecting him and he was an adult who chose to hide away from reality and never saw the need to protect me? It makes me so sad. I already then assumed full responsibility to protect him and now he’s not accountable?

      1. Right Catherine, that’s exactly how it is. The situation with my dad is the same. I just can not understand how an adult man can not stand up to his wife. Yes, he’ll get a snare and a silent treatment, but as an adult, would you not tell her to quit that childish behaviour? Or just move out and stay in a hotel untill she was done?
        And then I think, well, if I think I am so smart and know what to do, why did I stay with my narc for 28 years, why did I put up with all the abuse? My father probably has low self-esteem too. What do you really know about your parents? No one of the grandchildren likes my mother. But no one really cares about my father either, because he is, like you said, mentally unavailable. They are not truly interested in their grandchildren, like they were not in us. The only question they’ll always ask is how they are doing at school and this is something teens don’t like talking about. I find it hard though, all this ‘judging’. We are all products of our childhood upbringing and I can see where my parents come from, how they were raised, my grandparents (both sides) were emotionally disturbed, perhaps because of the war, perhaps because they had several children that died during birth or short after, but most likely because they had narcissistic parents themselves. I keep going back and forth in my mind, with all the narcs, hating them, loving them, pitying them. But I want to stop living in the past and focus on my future now, although I have no idea were to start and what to do.

      2. Catherine
        Its interesting that your father was your hero and you say you saw yourself in him. Thinking about him getting hurt makes you cry. Then this line jumped out at me:

        I’D RATHER SUFFER ANY PUNISHMENT THAN DISAPPOINTING HIM.
        If you saw yourself in him werent you really doing those things to yourself? And then later you saw yourself in the narc because of course he was mirroring you.
        This is not specific to you, its just that your comment demonstrated it. It can apply to many of us I think. We dont know who we are so we search for ourselves in others-ironically like the narc.

      3. Narc Angel,
        that’s a valid point. There’s lots of mirroring going on when we don’t know who we are and we need external sources to tell us that. I never sensed until now how much of what I consider to be part of my personality is interchangeable when it comes to my need to be validated by others. I have the same patterns as a narcissist in needing to build a new persona in accordance with what I consider to be needed of me to gain validation and to build a construct against the world.

        When it comes to me and my relationship with my father I guess I identified with him because he was the only “sane” person around (we are both highly sensitive and empathetic; but we’re also loners who close doors in front of pain) and my mother used to punish me because of our good connection; and I never ever told him before; not wanting him to suffer any disappointment with his obvious inability to protect me; so I put it on myself to be his protector. That’s not healthy, that’s kind of punishing myself, but it’s a difficult habit to break, I still worry all the time about his feelings and writing this I realise what a destructive dynamic I’m part of..

  7. I feel sad that your mother is an N. But I’m happy for you that the knowledge of what she is has finally freed you.
    It is a gut punch at first, but finally it all makes sense.
    You truly are the healthy one!
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Dear The Healthy One.

    These lines made me feel so happy for you:
    “Now I don’t care what you think of me. My mind is my own and it’s much too important to me to allow you to play games with it.”

    I am very pleased that you have stumbled onto the truth and ultimately freedom from your mother’s manipulations. Your ability to see beauty and wonder in the world is a serendipitous gift of your mother’s fascinating disorder and that is sublime. After reading your letter, I felt quite pacific and hopeful. Thank you for sharing.

  9. What a beautiful, heartfelt and honest letter! I applaud you for reaching those conclusions about your life and coming to terms with the harsh reality you grew up in. That could’ve been me too. I grew up with a mother just like yours and her abusive presence in my life has muted me until now. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. God I LOVED this letter!! Well done The Healthy One! All my BS stems from a narc Mother I feel sure. You’ve worded this letter perfectly. Congrats!

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