received_10205192723992202Thankfully Mothers’ Day is almost over!

The few weeks leading up to Mothers’ Day is usually a difficult time for me. It’s hard to head to the shops or even do the grocery shopping without being slapped in the face with pink decorations, flowers and gift ideas for mum. Advertisers are relentless, telling us to show our mothers how much they are valued by getting them a gift they deserve. It’s a pity that I haven’t seen a pink long handled shovel with a bow on it, because that is what my NM deserves – a hard, long swing straight to the back of the head.

The mother-daughter ads and articles and the sweet heartfelt words in cards make me both upset and angry. Cards refer to mothers as saints and selfless human beings who love, nurture and protect their children. My NM is nowhere near selfless. Everything she does is clearly calculated to achieve the maximum benefit for herself. My intellectually disabled brother is still under the care of my parents. My NM complains about him to anyone who would listen to her. She tells everyone how difficult it is to look after him to get sympathy from the relatives. I have told her off several times for saying that within earshot of my brother, but she evidently doesn’t care how he feels as she does it repeatedly. My NM also sided with the perpetrator – someone she had never met – when i got punched in school. She definitely didn’t protect me. My NM may martyr herself, but she is as subtle as a bull in a china shop. Everything that she does for others is never kept a secret because she publicizes that she has helped so that the other relatives are aware that she has “helped”.

The irrational doubts also start creeping in, and I start wondering if maybe there was something wrong with me after all, that maybe I’m the cause of the dysfunctional relationship I have with my NM. I start asking myself what is wrong with me that my own mother who brought me into this world cannot love me. Am I that unlovable?

Then I think about my own little family. I am loved by hubby,  our two wonderful boys and even the furry son. Hubby’s sick and the boys are too young to serve me breakfast in bed, but I am totally okay with that because they show me love every day in the form of cuddles and kisses. No one can put a price on that! The boys got me a knitted and stuffed cupcake. It is now keeping my Pikachu, Toothless, Stormfly and Hook Fang company (yes, I am a huge fan of How To Train Your Dragon). I will definitely not be regifting it like my NM does with presents given to her!

I also think of the maternal figures in my life, one of whom is my NM’s former best friend. She looked after me from Sunday night to Friday evening while I was in kindergarten. This is a subject of my NM’s gaslighting as she tries to convince me that it was only for two weeks when I know that she pulled me out of kindy for a lot longer than that. When my parents had a falling out with her family, I continued to remain close to her, much to my NM’s displeasure! When I called her today to wish her a Happy Mothers’ Day, she started crying saying that she was so happy to hear my voice and that she wanted to give me a hug. Of course that turned on the waterworks at my end of the line too because I haven’t heard that from my NM. She told me not to worry so much and that everything will be alright. She also told me that I was one of her favourites and that she loved and missed me very much.

I was a bit apprehensive aboout logging on to Facebook today as most of my friends and family would be posting tributes to their wonderful mothers. However, when I turned my wi-fi on, there was a message from my auntie wishing me. She and my uncle took me in as a teen after I was discharged from hospital when I had overdosed on Valium. It reminded me that I do have mothers and that thought helped me cope with today.

So today, on Mothers’ Day, I give thanks for the several women who have taken a role as my mother. They are the selfless, giving women who have showed me so much love even though I do not share their blood and was not born from their wombs. They are more deserving of flowers, gifts, cards and breakfasts in bed than the woman who gave me life and is supposedly my mother. They are the ones whom I’d love to spend Mothers’ Day with. They are the ones whom I miss.

My heart and thoughts also go out to all adult children of narcissistic mothers scattered all over the world. Some of us are mothers ourselves and take every measure to ensure that we are not like our NMs. We love, nurture and support our children, trying very hard to ensure that they got everything we wished we had, despite our own struggles with our NMs and the mental anguish that ensued.

Some of us may not have children, but it is still a day to be celebrated. We have had to be mothers to ourselves, struggling to be kind and loving to ourselves so that we can heal and discard all the toxicity that has been heaped on us by our NMs. Today we need to pamper ourselves in recognition of our efforts to pick up the broken pieces of ourselves after the destruction of our NMs. I’ve been craving for waffles drenched in maple syrup. Today I made waffles for breakfast. What can you do to pamper yourself?

The Confusion

The past few months have been a roller coaster ride. On the physical front, I’ve managed to make some headway in my quest to be pain-free. And I am still working on making more progress. On the emotional front, it seems like I’ve taken two steps forward and twenty backwards. This is the focus of my long overdue post.

In November last year, I underwent a hysterectomy. I was fortunate that everything went well, and although I was bored out of my brains, my recovery went along very well. During this recovery period, my mother called pretty much every day. She actually behaved like an ordinary mother – the kind of mother that I have always wanted; the kind of mother I’ve always hoped was in there somewhere. I thanked God that she finally cared about me, that she had changed. I felt validated and elated.

Along with these feelings of euphoria, I was also wracked with guilt. I thought that I had attributed a wrong label to my mother – That she was not a narcissist because narcissists don’t and cannot change while she had. I even put aside my psychiatrist’s professional opinion that she was a narcissist. All because the little child in me that was screaming for her mother’s love for so long had finally been given a handout. I started to feel really guilty about sharing my stories on this blog even though they are my truths, because I thought she had genuinely changed and it would be ungracious of me to tell my story when she had changed.

The Moment of Truth

But that handout of love didn’t last very long at all. True to form, she reverted to her Narcissistic self. And the world around me came crashing down once again. I felt let down because in my opinion, she knew how to be a nice mother who cared for me as she had proven for a month or so. But she had chosen not to be one. I guess it would have been so much easier to cope with if she had just stayed the same, and didn’t lead me on with false hope on top of the false hope that I have always had. As the saying goes “The higher you are, the harder the fall.” It could not be more true in this instance and I was shredded to pieces from the fall.

I have now learned, although the hard way, that she is not going to change her spots. What I thought was genuine love, care and affection was most probably her using a hoovering technique. I am somewhat grateful for this hard lesson as it reinforces what she is – a Narcissist and the hope that she’ll ever be the mother I’ve always wanted to be is diminishing every day as I see her narcissistic traits for what they are.

I may have regressed in terms of my depression and PTSD, but I am now continuing my fight towards healing with renewed clarity. I shall not feel guilty for sharing truths that are mine to share.

Many people who have been abused seek validation. Validation to me is basically someone saying that “Yes, that was right/wrong” or believing you when you say something. Just listening to a person and understanding where they are coming from makes a lot of difference.

The subject of validation came to me after another conversation with my mother yesterday. It’s nice to know that she’s good for something (inspiring blog posts)! Some time ago, my mother had said something and after I hung up, I was like “Crap, I could have said something there!” That annoyed me for days, but I eventually let it go. She brought the subject up again yesterday, and I was not letting it slide this time. There’s a reason my hubby calls me “a rabid pitbull with a bone”!

She started telling me about how my cousin who was pretty much like her third daughter betrayed her. (It still amazes me that she didn’t know what to do with me but could find the time to communicate with everyone else.) I had heard this story from her before and so I just took a back seat and listened. I was determined not to let anything she say get to me. I observed the conversation, picking out all the Narcissistic cues.

After she had finished her story, she told me that “It’s when you are hurt by those who are close to you, that makes it unbearable.” I told her that she now knew what I felt when my Narc sister lied about me and when my mother chose to take the side of my Narc sister rather than even giving me the benefit of the doubt. I had finally told her the stuff of my nightmares (not that I would give her the satisfaction of knowing that I had them). I told her that she immediately believed my Narc sister and yelled at me 4 years ago – piling on the additional hurt and disbelief (which eventually led to the delayed onset of PTSD).

Ring the Narc alarm bells! Narcissists never/cannot (or should I say delusionally choose not to) believe that anything they do could be wrong. I had called her out on something that was blatantly wrong on her part. Her response? Totally unrelated and irrelevant. She started giving me back story (all the way from when she was 16) about how “naive” and “gullible” she was, believing what everyone says at face value and how she never knew that the Narc sister was having an affair. She insisted that she didn’t know about the affair. Me thinks she doth protest too much. Especially since someone told me that she had told her sister about the Narc sister’s affair when she was drunk.

She later tried to push the blame or fault back to me, by saying “If you knew, why didn’t you tell me?” I replied that all my life she had never believed a word I’d said about the Narc sister, why would she start then?! I returned the blame to where it was due. Her response to that one? Blatant disregard. She ignored it and went silent as though I had not spoken.

I felt proud that I told her what my issues were. But I didn’t have any expectations of her validating them. She was not capable of doing that. Apart from feeling accomplished at what I told her, I felt – absolutely nothing. No hurt, no anger – nada. But my chest pain (which is a physical manifestation of my PTSD) got bad very quickly. While the chest pain used to scare me a lot 2 years ago, today, it almost acts as my guide. When my chest starts hurting, I start to take stock of my thought processes and figure out why it’s hurting. Sometimes I have no clue, but very often, if my chest hurts, it means that I need to acknowledge something.

This time, I had to acknowledge that I am not feeling. I am rationalizing everything again. Telling myself that I didn’t expect to get validation from my mother, so it was all good. But it was not. It’s NOT right for a person who has hurt you to ignore it and pretend like it didn’t happen. I should have felt hurt, disappointment, anger like every normal human being would have. But I felt nothing. I am still working with my therapist on this. Fortunately for me, I have a great therapeutic relationship and I do get validated by her.

I guess after my ranting and raving, what I am trying to say is that it may take ages to finally confront a Narc about what they’ve done, but they are NOT going to validate what you are feeling. Basically, they want you to shut up and take your issues with them and bury them as deep as possible, never to see the light.

Most people I know regret at least one thing that they have done in the past. I’ve had several. I cringe when I look back at some of the things I’d done as a teenager especially the number of potentially dangerous situations I’d placed myself in. Hindsight is surely a bitch, but I think maturity and clarity had a lot to do with it too.

The person I was at the age of 16 is not whom I’ve become 20 years later. In fact, I’ve gone from one extreme to another. I miss the “me” at 16. I was fiery, passionate, assertive and extroverted. To my parents, I was a trouble-maker. Rebellious wasn’t just my middle name. It was my first name. I was one helluva hell-raiser. Today, I’m quiet, introverted and passive. Standing up for myself has become anathema to me. In my black/white world-view, I am still trying to find a happy medium.

Somehow, in my mother’s eyes, I am still the rebellious teenager.

A couple of days ago, another phone call from my mother was bestowed upon me. Several, actually, because the line at her end kept dropping out from being in a remote part of the planet. She started “grumbling” about dad (putting it extremely mildly here because it was more of a character assassination than anything else). I started playing Jewel Deluxe on my tablet, making appropriate noises in between. Although I got engrossed in the game at some points and she had to ask “Are you there? Are you listening? Can you hear me?” Oopsie!

The topic then steered towards her Golden Child as always. I was quite surprised to hear that the Golden Child had cut her off because my mother didn’t agree to lie for her. I’m sure I must have been gaping like a goldfish out of water – my mouth opening and closing without any words coming out. My mother had suddenly decided not to lie for her? Wonders never cease!

The Golden Child has just recently been divorced. Typical of Narcissists, my mother is extremely conscious of the image other people have of her and her Golden Child. She would have preferred if everyone was in blissful oblivion of the fact that her Golden Child is divorced. So that both her image and the false image she’s created for the Golden Child remain intact.

The Golden Child, however, had other ideas. She’s wearing her divorce like a beauty pageant winner wears her crown, flaunting her divorce and her new relationship. She told my cousin on FB. The mother of this cousin (who is also my mother’s sister) is more efficient in communicating information than social media (read chronic gossiper!). She is so efficient that another auntie and I have given her the nickname of a local newspaper in my country of origin.

My mother lamented that the whole family in our country of origin would now know about the divorce because the news would have spread like wild-fire. She was afraid to keep in touch with her siblings now because of the loss of face value. But somehow, she still lumped me in the same category as her Golden Child because the Golden Child had screwed up.

A snippet of conversation went like this:

Mum: Why is wrong with all my children?

Me: Excuse me? It’s CHILD, not children.

Mum: You also used to be very havoc (slang in our country of origin to refer to a hell-raiser)

Me: I was a teenager! I was ALLOWED to be!

Since then, her words have been haunting me. So much to the extent that it has been detrimental to my creative work. I haven’t been able to get into the creative zone with all the clutter in my head.

I am angry, hurt, disappointed and feel extremely frustrated. I just wanted to break things. I was in destructive mode. She is comparing my past with the Golden Child’s present. She is comparing the actions of a 16 year old to the actions of a 40 year old. How is that even possibly and remotely a fair comparison? The Golden Child’s past slate seems to have been scrubbed clean. She also had some colourful teenage years! She started being a pain in the ass as a teenager and still hasn’t stopped! My parents have been bailing her out of trouble for years. It is unfair for her to pick on my past solely because she can’t find something valid in my present to pick on.

Her current attitude hasn’t changed in years. It reminded me of the childhood abuse that I experienced. When I got into trouble, I got bashed up. When the Golden Child got into trouble, both the Golden Child and I got beaten.

She doesn’t know the me that I am today. Hell, even I don’t know the me that I am today. However, I’m slowly learning about myself by spending more time with myself and through therapy. One thing for sure is that I am not the 16 year old that she remembers. Hubby keeps hearing about the fun-seeking person I used to be and sometimes wishes that I had retained some of my old personality. Fortunately for me though, he accepts me just as I am – depression, PTSD, health issues and all.

I don’t believe in judging a person by their past. That’s probably why I’m having a hard time accepting that I was abused by dad growing up. No child, no matter what the crime, deserved to be beaten until she peed herself. What I thought was discipline was actually abuse. It took my nutty friend six hours over the phone to get through my thick skull and make me realise it.

However, dad is not the same now as he was then. He used to be abusive, strict, authoritarian and definitely unapproachable. He only stopped hitting me when I kneed him in the crown jewels. It was not my finest moment, but I had achieved my goal – the beatings stopped. Today, he’s supportive, concerned and approachable. He even confides in me. He’s not the same as he was 20 years ago. I am not going to make him pay for his crimes for the rest of his life when he has clearly changed – towards me, anyway.

Just as I don’t judge others by their past, don’t judge me by mine. I don’t live there anymore.

And as for a “Screw You!” to my mother – cousins and relatives know that an e-book I wrote became a bestseller on Amazon last night. Oh and what did your other daughter do? Get divorced and has already found another man because she can never be alone. Tsk tsk!

Over the past couple of days, I have been empathizing with the little Lego people a whole lot. While they cause heaps of pain when tread on, I started thinking of their futile battle against the vacuum cleaner which sucks them in with absolute ease.

Why and how did this thought process come about? It all started about a week or so after my surgery – so about 3 weekends ago. I received a text message from my brother-in-law. He said that he had heard that I had gone for surgery and asked me how I was. Now this was extremely surprising as he had not bothered to call or send me a text after my surgery in October because he had returned to my Narcissistic sister and heaven help him if he kept in contact with me since I ignored her friend request on Facebook! I only got the obligatory Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I started to feel a sense of unease at that message which to me seemed out of the blue. I knew instinctively that there had been another issue with the Narcissistic sister. He sent me another message 2 weekends ago, again asking me how I was. Told him that was going good (even though I wasn’t), but he didn’t need to know that! My responses were short and abrupt, straight to the point and I didn’t even ask him how he was because I was pretty convinced by then that there was trouble a-brewing in New Zealand. Nope, been there, done that. Was nothing but a total waste of time and WAY too much heartache – so much that I’m still reeling from it 4 years down the track – along with all the other bullshit that I had to put up with over my lifetime.

Two days ago, I got another message. (That man can be as thick as a brick sometimes! He couldn’t understand that I wanted to be left alone!) As usual, my replies were short and abrupt. After the third message, he finally asked me if I was angry with him because I sounded cold. BOOM! HE FINALLY GOT IT! I told him that I was more cautious than angry since he was back with my Narcissistic sister and that I didn’t want to get blamed for anything because I was done being the scapegoat.

Apparently that’s all he needed to see to tell me that my sister had kicked him out of the house again as soon as my mother left New Zealand. Typical of Narcissists, it’s all about keeping their fake image intact. She had to show my Narcissistic mother that she lived in a perfect little bubble. It’s really, really frustrating when I can see things that are going to happen and yet no one listens when I try to warn them. So my brother-in-law made his bed, he’ll just have to lie in it.

He also told me that he had been staying in a backpackers hostel for the past week and had been in a mental ward for the past 3 days. He also took great pains to tell me how many and what pills he had swallowed. Of course he had to add that he wasn’t telling me this to get any sympathy from me, but just thought I should know. I wonder why he thought this was relevant to me in any way, shape or form. In case you haven’t guessed, he is a Narcissist himself. It’s only been really recently that I have discovered all the subtle manipulations by him – after discussions with the hubby.

Just like Dean and Sammie’s EMF machine (from Supernatural), I’ve developed a NBS machine – a Narcissist Bull Shit machine. So far, the machine seems to be working quite well. All it took was lots and lots of reading and researching on the characteristics, traits and behaviour of Narcissists. Everyone has a bit of Narcissism in them. So I usually observe a person and take a few readings before lumping them with the junk pile.

My reply to my brother-in-law was that while I was sorry to hear what had happened, he wasn’t going to get any sympathy from me because what he did was selfish and self-centred. Hadn’t he thought about his 2 teenage kids? I had spent hours and hours on the phone with him, while he was crying and complaining about my Narcissistic sister and how badly she was treating him. All that time wasted while I was at family gatherings and I’d sneak off to stroke his ego. How stupid was I? But never again. All I can say now is that they’re as bad as each other – no wonder they had a whirlwind romance and got married. It’s my niece and nephew that I feel sympathy for.

I guess my point is this. The vacuum cleaner (read brother-in-law) is trying to suck me into all the shit again. But this time, this Lego person is fully armed for battle and I say, “Bring it on! I’m NOT getting sucked in! Tread on me and you’ll be the one hurting!”

Phone Call

I have implemented Low Contact with my mother for a few months now. This is because I have finally realised that no matter what I said or did she is not going to listen to a word I’ve said. And since finding out that there’s a label for people like her, I’m more aware and it hurts less – on a conscious level at least!

Being Easter and all, I sent mum and dad a text message on Easter Sunday, wishing them a Blessed Easter. And I was indeed “blessed” with a phone call from her yesterday. It started with a “Hello, how are you? I am paying for this call, can you Skype?” Without waiting for an answer because she’s so used to me asking “how high” when she has asked me to jump, she said “I’ll wait for you.” My computer has been inhabited by gremlins over the past few days changing settings on me while I’m asleep and I lost a heap of my desktop icons, bookmarks and saved passwords. So I told her that I’ll try to see if I could get on Skype because of computer issues. She soon hung up.

Enter chest pains with a vengeance! Hubby patted me on the back and sympathetically wished me luck just before I went for a smoke to calm my frayed nerves. With a wry smile I replied that I was glad that my weekly session of therapy was brought forward to yesterday instead of Thursday, because chances are I’ll be needing it! Looking back on it today, it really is quite sad for a daughter to get a panic attack at the prospect of having a phone call with her mother!

Since reading The Harpy’s Child a few weeks ago, I have been picking up so many things that can be related to both my Narcissistic mother and “golden child” sister who is a Narcissist herself. I will be posting examples in a series of posts because they are WAY too long for a single post. Anyway, yesterday’s phone call was no different.

Got Skype up and running and the phone call began. She started griping about how much trouble my intellectually disabled brother gave her on the plane back from the golden child’s place and how embarrassed she was. My brother was merely absolutely terrified of getting on a plane after they exposed him daily to the plane crash of MH370! Duh! Normal, functional adults are afraid of flying – let alone an adult with the mind of a child! Sheesh! I did tell her off for that but got a “there was no choice because it was on”! I mean, really??? There’s always a choice! And then hubby and I got berated for not following the news on the ship that sunk in Korea because we need to be informed of what’s going on in the world. We’re not big fans of the news unless something’s happening locally. As hubby quoted from somewhere – “The news is the only place where they wish you a good morning / afternoon / evening and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t!”

Then I heard about the money spent when she went to visit the golden child. She was solely responsible for that cos she should have thought about it before fleeing there. And of course, our little house got mentioned… again. She said that she had actually wanted to come over here but our house was too small to accommodate them. That’s probably the ONLY reason that I’m glad we live in this little shoe box!

I also had an inquisition into why I wasn’t continuing with my Psych degree. I told her that I was taking a break from it, and she demanded at least 4 times with “Reason?” The Hubby was quite funny. He whispered something to the effect of “because she raised her daughter in such a f***ed up manner”. I was so tempted to tell her that, but thought against it. I’d already told her about the PTSD previously which was received with a “but that was so long ago!” She obviously does not get PTSD and its long-lasting effects even though I explained it to her. Personally, I think she prefers not to understand what I’m going through, especially because she’s part of the cause.

I eventually told her that my mental state was still off. I told her that I was doing a creative writing unit instead. Her reply was priceless. “Are you sure? If your mental state’s that way how can you write?” I told her that this year I’m doing things that I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve always wanted to be an author. And I also told her about trying out belly dancing as well because that was something I wanted to do. She asked me how much it was and I told her that I got a great online deal. The next thing I hear is about how the golden child always finds cheap deals online like massages, etc. And I want to hear about this, why?

She kept steering the conversation back to the golden child. She asked if we spent Easter with the rellies and when I told her that we did, she proceeded to say that she loved where we went (Hubby and I were married there) and that where the golden child lived reminded her of that place *rolling my eyes*. I think I’ll have to restate the boundary that I don’t want to know anything about the golden child. Because knowing her, if any word went out about the precious one, I’ll be the first one she’ll blame. Uh-uh. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, so bugger off!

And of course no conversation is complete without at least one contradiction. First she went on about how she’s been hearing about lots of people dying and that life didn’t have meaning anymore and that she was just waiting to die, pretty much. Her phrasing included me as well, so I blatantly told her that I disagreed because I have my two beautiful boys to live for (bad me forgot to include hubby in that!). She quickly changed her mind to say that she was just living for my brother *cue violins*.

I just had to laugh. If I didn’t, I’d cry.

My therapist told me that I’m taking everything very well without showing disappointment or anger. I told her that I think most of my problems stem from my conscious and my sub conscious not being in sync. Consciously I know that I cannot change them, but I can change myself (by dropping the care factor to -257). Consciously I am grateful because I am now a better parent than my mother ever was by learning to do what she DIDN’T do (Getting validated for my efforts by my therapist has been a great help and a source of pride). Consciously I am thankful that I have broken the vicious narcissistic cycle through my marriage to a wonderful man and inherited an amazing extended family in the process. But sub consciously I think there’s still the hope that things might get better, and I’m pretty sure there are lots of little people in there marching on in protest that it is unfair to be put through so much by my biological family.

I need to start paying more attention to those protesting people marching around in my head.

Profile Pic for My Road To Deliverance

This photo was taken about 2 hours away from home in South Australia. I have chosen to use this as my profile pic for my blog because it has quite a bit of symbolism – for me, at least.

Firstly, it shows a long two-way road. My recovery from PTSD will be a marathon, not a sprint and this serves to remind me of that when I find myself frustrated that I’m not making progress quick enough or for the times when I feel as though I’ve taken 1 step forward and twenty steps backwards.

Secondly, the dirt and the sun-scorched plants depict me now – sucked dry, dead and even possibly dangerous (to myself anyway).

Thirdly, the canola fields depict where I am heading towards – a fruitful and beautifully breathtaking life.

Last, but not least, the grey skies remind me that there will be stormy days – both now and in my destined future. But storms are ok. They will come through, may cause destruction and mayhem, but they don’t last forever – soon after, the sun’s rays will peek out from behind the thick clouds, making everything bright, beautiful, green and full of life once again. Storms wash away surface materials, bringing out what is buried deeper within – signifying the washing away of old habits, perceptions and thought processes, bringing about healing, growth and rejuvenation.

Image  —  Posted: April 9, 2014 in Discovery, PTSD