Posts Tagged ‘Daughters of Narcissistic parents’

”The Peace that Surpasses All Understanding’, Part 2

August 27, 2011

I’m using this title for an entry because it seems to be a continuation of the previous entry, dated August 20th.

I have a friend, who happens to be a neighbor, close enough so we can work out together during the week.  I’ve known her about a year, and we have circled each other carefully.  She’s a high powered woman, and in the beginning she had little filter to her mouth: what she thought came out with little consideration about subject or audience.  I didn’t know her well, but I called her on it.  I was surprised because she immediately apologized  and from there we relaxed.  We’ve become good friends, and I value her highly.  She’s the sister I never had.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t done things that annoyed her; I did, and after a rough spell, we realized   we had much more in common than not.

She’s a decade younger but she has an energy about her that can be exhausting; it also can be invigorating.  As I got to know her better, I saw such worth and also such pain.

We get together to do the Callanetics dvd, laughing at the 80’s hairdos and the funny leotards.  B. was doing something called ‘bootcamp’ for the last year, serious 5 times a week running, serious exercising, push ups, crunches, and she was tearing up her joints. B. is also a breast cancer survivor. She was having to go to physical therapy to recover from the bootcamp.  We decided to do this dvd together. 

Isometrics versus Bootcamp.

So far we do the ‘Stomach’ dvd, only 20 minutes, but we both are groaning and sweating at the end.  I am awaiting the full hour Callanetics dvd, something I had in vhs 10 years ago  and recently dumped. Vhs was on the blink.  It is a killer exercise regime, and  Callan Pickney is part sweet, Southern Nazi,  part ballet dancer. 

When it finally arrives we are in for it.  I remember not being able to reach down and tie my joggers because my stomach muscles were screaming.

So we manage to get that 20 minutes in, but we spend about an hour (or more) just talking.

B. is an amazing graphic artist.  She’s been at it for 27 years, and did my bookmarks and cards this spring for the three books published by  They are so beautiful.  I really admire her abilities.

We’ve been exchanging stories but  I have been listening closely.  B. comes from a very abusive childhood home.  Her mother’s abuse is only now muted by senility.  She still has a foul and berating mouth on her, and uses it to instill control and power over B.  I won’t repeat the language this elderly woman uses on her daughter, but it’s shocking enough that a mother would  say these things so easily.  She was like this, however, before the clouding of her mind.

B. is  a dutiful daughter.  She is patient with her mother, she seems to accept what is nothing but abuse and she has been deeply impacted by a lifetime of this narcissistic behavior. 

And that brings me to a point: When a woman has such  a parent, especially a mother, who abuses her, allows no independent opinion, tears down her self-worth with cruelty, what is finally left of that person?

Well, for all of us, until we get ‘wise’ to the issues….women who make bad choices in life, women who can’t set boundaries, women who sometimes have to hit rock bottom before they can begin the recovery process.

B. is finally blessed, as I am, with a good and knowledgeable therapist.  Actually, it’s not easy to find a therapist who is versed in the issues of Personality Disorders, in particular Narcissism, and many will try to make you ‘swallow’ the abuse of a parent because we are so indoctrinated to take abuse from parents.

A mother’s love is the earliest and most influential part of a child’s life. And when we are children, we have few options.  When we are adults, we have choices.  But the influences stick, and we come from these ruinous relationships with many issues. (These are called ‘fleas’ by some) Bad choices are very much part of this; setting boundaries seems to be the very hardest for women.

Perhaps it is hardest with our mothers.  Recently, I realized this and just gave up. I also realized that I lived in ‘fear’ of her. (this fear is many faceted.  Still working it out)

 I had hoped  there would be some ‘half-way’ ground where my mother could acknowledge my boundaries; where I could express my opinions without her contempt or rudeness. Her rudeness, when it isn’t  outrageous dismissal of an opinion,  usually is expressed by her turning away and showing her impatience with anything said. She doesn’t want to hear you.  This is where narcissism shows it’s ugly head.  If it isn’t about her, it doesn’t have value.

The problem really came down to this:  I never really set boundaries with this woman.  I didn’t know how. I was still hoping  as my mother, she would wake up someday, change.  But she’s a narcissist; in fact, she’s an ignoring narcissist.  In a way, it made it easier for me to walk away.  And that is what I did: I just gave up any hope that things would change between us. I faced a reality that she wasn’t  capable as a human being of any change. She liked the way she was. Narcissists have no inner self-compass.  They don’t question what they do or their effects.  They don’t really have the wiring because they are devoid of empathy.  They may make a show of great emotion and tears, but it’s usually about themselves, or rage that they aren’t getting something.  They really function like 6 year old children, retarded emotionally to this age.

 Six decades of no change, so what was I expecting….the Second Coming of Christ?

Over the years, I have changed.  It hasn’t been a straight line progress, more like the Russian Army: two steps forward, one step back. Or something like that. Hobbled by many things.   Perhaps becoming a writer, and applying myself enough to publish three books so far, and having a good and stable marriage, and certainly this blog helped.

It’s also having a great and comfortable therapist.  Over the past 5 years, she has become the “good” mother.  She has set an example of what motherhood should be, without any preaching.   She’s elderly, too, enough so  I can see her as my mother….and I can mourn all   those years of disruption and grief with my ‘real’ mother.  I can get past the anger and lose because she wasn’t capable of so  many things.  I can’t  really get angry anymore because I feel pity for her. Coming to that was a process. You can’t get angry at a cripple. 

Having the good therapist was so helpful because a mother raising a child needs good influences around her. My child is in the Navy, and almost 24. I feel  I made so many mistakes when he was younger. He survived my rotten parenting, and is thriving and making us proud. So something went right in those early years.  Now I understand so much more about being a mother, and I wish I had the chance to do it right, with what I know now.

No I don’t, I am enjoying my freedom.  He’s a great kid, and somehow the human spirit is so resilient.  I take hope from this.

What I have learned is this: empathy is the key issue in our relationships.  Being able to truly feel what the other feels, to put yourself aside and listen, to try hard to connect with that other person, to be there when they need you most.  Perhaps this is what it means most to be human.

I am hoping my friend B. will find the strength within to walk away from her mother’s horrid abuse.  Like me, once she does, she will start examining very closely all the other relationships in her life: friends that are verbally abusive, friends that are users, friends that really don’t come up to the standard of friendship.  Family, too, will come under this microscope.  Luckily for her, B. has some great sisters.  And she keeps me laughing with the stories of confusing and diverting the mother’s constant abuse.

She’s a good friend, and she deserves support and encouragement.  Mostly, she deserves peace.

Lady Nyo

Out in the marsh reeds

A bird cries out in sorrow,

As though it had recalled

Something better forgotten.

—Ki No Tsurayuki

“The Peace that Surpasses All Understanding”….

August 20, 2011

To readers of this blog from the DoNMs website: I can no longer support that site in good conscience.  Details aren’t that important or that interesting, nor do I know much of  anything, except there seems to be a nasty dogfight between different websites that are concerned with the very same issues that we should be all united around: the effects of NMs on our lives.  Personalities, Ego, Competition, flaming, etc…are not the stuff of healthy dialogue about these important issues. Life is TOO good to be involved in what seems to be narcissistic behavior by the very people who should know better.  Who are looked to by others as leaders.

I just don’t have time for stupid bullshit, and I don’t think people who take these issues seriously do either.

However, I appreciate the readers from those different websites here, and you will never be turned away or told you don’t have the right to post your opinions here, whether it is of your religious, political or any other personal values you hold dear.

Lady Nyo


People come across this quote from Isaiah in the Bible.   I am not applying this quote in a religious sense.

Recently, my husband, son and I decided to make a radical rupture with a particular part of our family.  Over the years, too many years, there has been a lot of issues, in particular with one member.  The excuse of the behavior of this person can’t be laid on the doorstep of  years, which are many, but  in something more troubling.  Some people came in for a lot of insults, belittling behavior, forms of abuse and just…well, pure hatred.  Some people were held in esteem (few) and many were trashed.  It really depended upon the whims of this person, and it changed like the weather.

When we are children, we have few options. When we are adults, we have choices.  To continue to hope  a person will stop their abuse is rather naive.  Some people are driven by things  others of us don’t understand.  Perhaps they  are driven by jealousy, illusions about their importance in the world, competition, and other strange things.  Sometimes family members who surround such a person feed this narcissism because they don’t have the stones to walk away. Some use their religion to excuse what they do.

 John has an answer to this:  “When you see evil, you walk away.” 

 In my estimation, evil isn’t something with horns and a forked tail: it’s the conscious abuse of people who are vulnerable or just available.   It’s the pointed abuse of children, adults,  and after years of this behavior, it is more than ‘abuse’….it becomes a conscious evil.  It can become random, without thought by the abuser, and these people know the effects.  They take a  delight in what they have done to another.  With some people, they just see others as prey.

It took me a long time and some pretty intense therapy, but I realized  I was deeply afraid of this person.  There was no trust: this person’s behavior did not inspire trust or comfort.  This person inspired self-doubt, undercut positive things I and others had done.  Why have someone like this in your life?  They may be an important fixture in the family of origin, but living like this, never being able to trust the behavior of this person from one day to the next…well, this is hell.  And my little family decided we didn’t deserve this hell.

There are certainly ‘benefits’ for those who surround the main irritant:  by being ‘yes men and women’ to these disturbed people, by keeping their heads down, they don’t become the targets of these people.  But this is really a sort of slavery.  (and you can’t really trust this main irritant. Given time, the target changes)

Our little family, with the support of others, in particular our family counsellor and what was to become a new spiritual ‘home’ decided we could do better.

But why stop there?  We also decided to clean our lives of people who really weren’t on a positive track: this was hard because we want to give the benefit to all people and not act like the ‘main irritant’, (‘loved ones’ were disposable) but we also knew  a lot more was at stake.  The ‘health’ of our little family was our priority.

We decided to start attending the Unitarian Universalist congregation here in Atlanta.  I was nudged repeatedly by some good people before, but just didn’t think we would ever find a place where we were comfortable with the dogma of religion.  We wanted to protect our ‘religious intellectualism’, we wanted no creeds, no signing on the bottom line.  We wanted to sit a spell and feel a gathering spiritual energy and see if it permeated our own hearts.

So, these past few months have been a heady sort of change:  making that rupture with family who are abusive and finding a spiritual place where we can investigate questions, beliefs, and see how they hold water, where we feel there is growth….

And, one of the best realities is this: the majority of the world is NORMAL. They function in normal, loving, compassionate ways. 

We have relaxed with the knowledge  we have escaped something depleting of dignity.   Constant walking on eggs, constant fear  whatever is said or done is taken in the wrong way. There was no win-win situation there. This is no way to live…and you have to sum up what is on the other side: is it something you want in your life? Or is it something you just have to endure until the abuser is gone?  We decided to make our escape now. It had gone on too long.

Well, this has become a time of “Peace that Surpasses All Understanding”.  It is a peace that we didn’t think possible, but we had to clear out the underbrush to see the possibilities.

Lady Nyo

I have always known

That at last I would

Take this road, but yesterday

I did not know that it would be today.

Narihira, 9th century Japanese poet

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