This video resonated with me in many respects: the mother who remains a victim of her own childhood, who emasculates her son’s father in front of him, who hates her son’s girlfriends, her son’s fear of abandonment fostering dependency, his confusion, anger, etc. and how to take responsibility and begin healing in a way the mother never did.Continue reading Sons of Narcissistic Mothers
I happened to tune about halfway through Hugo and Jake‘s live stream the other night, listening to them banter about in the background while I worked a project, when they begin to talk (1h 40m in) about being no contact with toxic family members and narcissism and I overhear Hugo say that, in one of his most productive therapy sessions ever, the therapist tells him that Hugo doesn’t have to entertain his messed up family’s demands of him. Instant validation!
In what myself and other survivors rediscover uncannily often, my own experience with this singular epiphany was nearly identical to Hugo’s. A counselor and psychologist who’s help I’d sought at a local community college told me the same thing that Hugo’s therapist told him and, like Hugo, I marveled that this idea had never occurred to me before. It was like a spell had been broken. A curse lifted. As though someone had to snap their fingers for me to wake up.
Over the years I’ve been gathering information on narcissism since first plugging my symptoms into a search engine and discovering it, I’ve read a lot of articles, watched more than a few videos and browsed numerous online support group forums but this is the first time I’d seen/heard someone else describe this fundamental moment of realization, a sudden paradigm shift in perspective, as I also experienced it. One moment I was on the inside looking out. The next, I was on the outside looking in and wondering how it was I could have ever been on the inside.
The rest of Hugo and Jake’s discussion is delightful, insightful and worth watching for anyone else – well, not Elon Musk fans probably – and especially for those who might be struggling with family estrangement over this family-centric holiday. Celebrate all the people you don’t have to deal with. Cut the toxic people out of your life.
I reject your reality and substitute my own.—Adam Savage (Mythbusters)
When someone who’s hurt us behaves as though nothing is wrong, they deny what we feel. When confronted and reacting as though we’ve hurt them, they deny us once again and put a fiction in our place.
And in their place, we move through the subsequent Kubler-Ross stages of grief for them as externalized ego-functions of them. We’re infuriated, confused. We try desperately to reason with them, to save both ourselves and the relationship. And when it becomes dreadfully apparent that it is we, not they, who must choose one or the other then we feel sadness. It is at this critical juncture, this decision at this point that separates the narcissist and their enablers from we who survive and succeed them.
I’ve apparently been sent a “gift” for Christmas from Brother through our father. Earlier this year Sister also used our father to deliver a “gift” on my birthday. These are two people who have expressed nothing but contempt for me in the past, have nothing to do with me in the present and for whom my future has no place. People who don’t like me, don’t give me things. But these do. So what I am to make of this seemingly conflicted, crazy-making behavior?
It’s never overtly spelled out but I think I know what I’m supposed to do, what my prescribed role is and what my unspoken expected response should be in all this: forgive, forget, move on (which is to say, reset back to default) and receive this “gift” in lieu of acknowledging, much less resolving any of our problems and, further, as a down payment to justify future abuse. This is giving a “gift” the same way a fisherman “feeds” a fish — always with strings attached.
The despairing citizen victims of Metropolis shout at Superman as he retreats from the battle with Kryptonian war criminals General Zod and his super-minions, Ursa and Non, that they put themselves directly in harms way of. Apparently too stupid to understand the situation, these dumb beasts chose to crowd a fight that was destroying the city around them rather than running for their lives. Zod and Ursa mock Superman – as well they ought – for making liabilities of the throngs of morons demanding and taking for granted that Superman will protect them as they willfully meander into this meat grinder like moths to a flame. And Superman’s reward for disappointing these ingrates with unreasonable expectations of and taking him for granted: disparagement for not being good enough to give enough.
It’s never enough.
Re-watching Superman II, I imagine an alternate ending to this scene playing out with Superman laying waste to all these deserving victims, Zod looking on initially with shocked horror as everyone is summarily incinerated by eye-lasers, iced by freeze-breath and crushed beneath jagged, broken slabs of their own beloved city, but then Zod’s expression turning to an understanding, even approving, smile. Superman might never be good enough no matter how hard he tries to be but he could certainly be bad enough just as he is.
A LOT is being made of narcissism as deliberate evil as symbolized by charming vampires, merciless terminators and wicked witches orchestrating hoards of flying monkey minions. “They know what they’re doing,” we say. “They just don’t care how it affects who they’re doing it to.” But how aware and, more importantly, in control of themselves are they really?
When I was first introduced to Mother’s boy-husband, Motherfucker, in my early teens, he was a chill dude. Pulled up in a Volkswagon van, followed The Grateful Dead. Earlier same day her and a co-worker of theirs – I think his name was Bernie or something, had a lazy eye – were tonguing their goodbyes as she had apparently settled on this one of many suitors. That’s how chill Motherfucker was. And, when he was stoned, he returned to that chill, half-decent state of human-beingness. It was almost nice.
But as the years with Mother progressed, he became an increasingly neurotic, insecure, extremely passive-aggressive rageaholic. Even when Mother visited with female friends, this guy would take a day off work to monitor her behavior. Her friends hated him. My friends hated him. In the mornings, he would just silently glare at me with this angry eye I could see through the crack between my partly opened bedroom door and the frame, clenching his jaw. Weird. My siblings and I would make ourselves scarce when he arrived home from work because we didn’t know what kind of mood he would be in but a bad mood was a safe bet. He didn’t like us and moved out once because he couldn’t stand us.
The narcissist exhibits an intuitive, almost preternatural awareness of who we are and what buttons to push in order to elicit the responses they want. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited and diagnosed NPD, labels this sense “cold empathy” — that is to say, a dispassionate, more strictly cognitive form of empathy. But I don’t think it’s any kind of empathy.
As a black hole is a failed star collapsed under its own gravity into an inescapable singularity, the narcissist is a failed child reduced to a single function: the insatiable acquisition of attention to feel special (narcissistic supply). We can’t see black holes but for the distortion of space and effect on objects surrounding them. Similarly, narcissists hide in plain sight belied only by the social disruption left in their wake.
Like many (if not everyone) recovering from narcissistic abuse, I deal with my share of flying monkeys: enablers manipulated into serving the narcissist as their minions who seek to restore the status quo. And I find few things more validating than reading, hearing or seeing the recordings from other survivors of exchanges with the narcissistic abusers and flying monkeys that they’re dealing with. So this Flying Monkey Autopsy segment is for sharing and deconstructing my own contributions with a dash of reflective analysis for good measure.
The first flying monkey cooling on the slab is from my final email exchange with Sister.
Re: So Much For An Easy Morning
This is the email subject under which Sister begins her message to me.
Translation: You’ve inconvenienced me.
I had removed Sister and several dozen others from my list of so-called Facebook friends that I felt I didn’t have meaningful relationships with or were professional contacts that I felt didn’t belong connected to a personal account of mine.
Translation: I don’t give you permission to leave me.
Never mind what precipitated my decision to unfriend her. She’s telling me from the get go that my reasons aren’t important to her. Only the results.