Several years ago, I excitedly told my Mother over the phone that I was going to write a book about my process of recovery from chronic depression and dissociative identity disorder. She reacted with strange sort of hesitation. She didn’t ask any questions; she didn’t actually acknowledge this information at all. I was used to her acting this way and I was only a bit more then mildly disappointed that she wasn’t interested. I had been noticing in my recovery that she sucked the joy out of everything I was ever excited about. A few days later however, she brought it up as a sort of “by the way” conversation. She said that if she read anything in my book about her that she didn’t like, she would sue me. I was stunned. I was actually speechless I was so stunned. Why did she think it would be about her? I was so confused about her statement, that I couldn’t think straight. I called a friend of mine who is a lawyer and asked her for some legal advice about it.
When I got over my shock about her reaction and her threat, I was able to look at this in a different way. My narcissistic mother didn’t ask me about the contents of the book. She just assumed it would be about her. Why would she assume that? I hadn’t even thought about talking about her in the book yet. Her reaction is what I call a truth leak. Continued…..
My narcissistic mother just assumed my book might be about her or would include things about her that she wouldn’t like to have published because of her guilty conscience. At first I just asked myself “why would she think I was going to write a book about her?” Thoughts were sparking in my mind. Part of me was thinking about how conceited she is and those thoughts were mixed in with thoughts like “what the heck is she so worried about?” I actually had to think about what she might be worried about, although of course I know what she is so worried about. I just hadn’t actually thought about writing in relation to that stuff yet. It took me days to sort those thoughts and feelings out. I felt rejected, mistrusted, threatened, devalued and unjustly accused.
Later I felt anger. Anger that she always killed my joy. Anger that it was always about her. Anger that I didn’t have a mother who loved me or even one that was interested in me.
I eventually realized that her reaction was about her, not about me. She was reacting because of her own fears. It was always her way to make it about me, doing something that was not acceptable to her. I am not sure if that is true narcissism or just the way that she has always been towards me.
Because she reacted as though the book was about her, eventually I asked myself if that meant that she actually KNEW that she was causing me a lot of harm? Hard to imagine that she might have known that she was doing some really wrong as a mother, isn’t it? Maybe half her energy was spent on making sure that I didn’t realize that she might have known that she knew she was a bad mother? Maybe that is what the purpose of her keeping me in the “spin” all the time was. All so that she could be in control and so that I was so busy trying harder that I never realized that she was the problem.
When I think about all the things my mom said to me when no one else could hear I wonder why she made sure no one else could hear. She said and did sick stuff in from of others, but some of it she never did in public. Doesn’t that imply that she knew some stuff was just wrong?
A child molester doesn’t strip a kid down naked in a public restaurant. They groom the victim carefully, sometimes publically, but the actually molestation is done in private. (except in cases of organized pedophile rings or in an abusive family where everyone is involved in the abuse) A physically violent parent doesn’t beat a kid in the middle of a crowded shopping mall. Doesn’t that imply that they know it is not legal? An emotional or psychological abuser will not always tear a child down when visitors are there. My mother could be all sweetness and light. Does that mean that she knew others would judge her if she tore me down in front of them? It seemed to depend on WHO the visitors were.
I thought about those points when I was deciding if the adults in my life actually knew better, or if they really did not. If she truly has narcissistic personality disorder, wouldn’t she have been the same in front of everyone? Wouldn’t she come first in all her relationships? Wouldn’t she treat everyone else like they were “nothing” too? I thought about those things a lot. She was really great at telling me how to act but when I started to look at her actions, she never lived by her own standards, at least not when it came to me.
I will tell you something I realized years into recovery. Abusers remember more about what they did then we remember about what they did. And they don’t know how much we remember. Imagine sleeping at night with that on your mind? Not knowing what the other person actually remembers about what they did to us or what we saw them do to others or even if the brainwashing was good enough to hold forever.
Was her concern about my writing a book about what everyone would think about her because of her narcissistic self-centeredness, or was it about her fear of being exposed for the kind of mother she really was? Although my mother fits the description of narcissistic personality disorder, I think it was the later of the two.
Please share your thoughts. I look forward to the discussion on this post.
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