Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Well what do ya know? I'm NOT crazy!

After the events of last night, I couldn't sleep so I started looking up things online to help me understand why my mother is the way she is. I am absolutely dumbfounded by what I found: my mother has narcissistic personality disorder (npd) and she's a classic case. As I read the case studies, it was almost as if someone were talking about my life! The experiences I've had, the pain I've dealt with, it can all be explained by my mother's npd! There are numerous sites dealing with daughters of mothers with npd, because it apparently is particularly damaging to daughters. I read these sites with my mouth literally open and tears flowing down my cheeks. At last it finally makes some sense! I'm not crazy and it's NOT my fault! I began college majoring in elementary ed and minoring in psychology, so I feel like maybe I should have recognized this sooner, but it was only after we moved away that I realized how badly she has damaged me. But every sentence on these sites spoke to me in a way I can't explain fully. I am going to put a few here, hope I'm not breaking any copyright laws but I know that I will need to read them again and again.

We maybe still think our mother loves us because she tells us she does, and we don't know any better to realise that normally love doesn't manifest in such sly put-downs, such undermining, such neglect. And of course our culture tells us, loud and clear and over and over, that our mother loves us, and that we need to love her. And because of this, our friends just don't - cannot - understand any of this, and that's lonely too.
And we believe we love her because, well, that's what daughters do. And as normal loving girls we crave to love.

We feel we cannot be our authentic true selves, even assuming we can figure out who that authentic self even is.
We suffer from low self-esteem, often to the level of self-loathing, and we struggle with self-care. We almost certainly cannot love ourselves, and all this is evidenced by our negative self-talk.
We may believe we have no right to exist, and almost certainly feel that we're never good enough, that we're not acceptable, that at some deep down level we're inherently flawed.
We either are forever self-sabotaging, or burdened with impossible perfectionism.
Although there is often euphoria when we make this discovery about NPD, as we realise we're not crazy, that can be quickly followed by anger, grief and bereavement, sadness, shame and guilt, and maybe even hatred.
We perhaps still always feel like a little girl, and we're probably scared to own, or access, our own power - and that keeps us feeling powerless too. We've had years of being told we're too sensitive, and possibly we are, now. 
We have difficulty setting boundaries, whether that's with our family or with others.
We may well be overly fearful of authority figures, or people being angry with us.
We worry about whether we ourselves are narcissistic.
We may have body issues - either being overweight, or terrified of gaining weight.
We may find ourselves still experiencing huge fear of her, no matter how old we are or how assertive in other parts of our lives.
We may find that we're still trying - in vain, of course - to get her approval, or to get her attention.
We may want to severely limit our contact with her, or even to cut off all contact- but be worried and confused about that.
We no doubt have difficulties in forming relationships, or maybe we're attracted to unhealthy and abusive relationships. We have a constant fear of abandonment, and huge trust issues. We carry a constant feeling that the world isn't safe.
We also have massive issues around deserving. Deep down we may feel that we don't deserve good things, or good relationships, or even that we don't deserve to heal.  We may also have beliefs around healing that healing means she gets away with it, for example, which block us, or the belief that being unhappy is a badge of proof that this happened.
A lot of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers also have huge difficulty saying nice things about themselves, or celebrating their own successes.
We no doubt have limiting beliefs. They vary from woman to woman but could be things like, It's not safe to be successful, or I have to be quiet and not cause any trouble.
The thing about these beliefs is that often they're so deep down that we don't even know they're there - but they're running, and often ruining, our lives. 
We may feel the burden of keeping family secrets, and feel guilt and shame around those.
We are torn between cutting off all contact - but that's so big a decision - and having to deal with her on a regular basis.

  I cannot fully explain what this information means to me. It is a lot to process and it makes me feel good and terrible all at the same time. The section on enabling fathers nearly crushed me because I used to see my father as perfect and I've recently begun to see him as he truly is and that breaks my heart. The man who was my hero growing up seems so small and weak to me now. It's a good thing this blog isn't written on paper because it would be tear soaked by now. I am really struggling right now but so many things are starting to make sense to me. Each sentence resonated with me more than the previous ones. Several years ago I started saving the I.Ms with my mother so I could read them later when she denied everything and made me feel crazy. Even last night's conversation followed the classic traits of npd when she stated she didn't deserve to be loved:
As a last resort she goes pathetic. When she’s confronted with unavoidable consequences for her own bad behavior, including your anger, she will melt into a soggy puddle of weepy helplessness. It’s all her fault. She can’t do anything right. She feels so bad. What she doesn’t do: own the responsibility for her bad conduct and make it right. Instead, as always, it’s all about her, and her helpless self-pitying weepiness dumps the responsibility for her consequences AND for her unhappiness about it on you. As so often with narcissists, it is also a manipulative behavior. If you fail to excuse her bad behavior and make her feel better, YOU are the bad person for being cold, heartless and unfeeling when your poor mother feels so awful.

Wow. Just wow. I have so much to process right now and I am already running late getting ready for work so I need to get going. So much going on in my head right now.

1 comment:

Jen said...

My Mom had diagnosed post partum depression and some sort of schizophrenia type of disorder. She didn't consider her husband and us kids her family and had other crazy thoughts. I totally understand.