I’ll be 36 years old this year, and it was only last week that I discovered that my mother and sister are Narcissists. Finding information on this was a total fluke!

I am taking a creative writing unit through distance learning because that’s another thing that I’ve always wanted to do but shelved (being an author). I wrote a story about my sister for my first short story assignment. Personally I think it’s more flash fiction than a short story with a word count of only 1,000 words, but I digress. I sent out what I thought was a relatively good draft to friends for their comments. Things seemed really clear to me, but the readers weren’t getting what I was trying to say. I guess my brain was automatically filling in the blanks that were not made really clear in the writing itself. Some of the feedback I received was to make the character more multi-dimensional and that the character based on my sister was very confusing and contradictory. She is a very confusing and contradictory person.

Anyway, I knew that she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) so I started to research more into this to find out more characteristic behaviours of BPD. My first stop was the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. (I was pursuing a Psych degree before the PTSD kicked in; some say that might have triggered it.) I chanced upon Narcissistic Personality Disorders (NPD) grouped under the same heading of Cluster B Personality Disorders. I was curious – I’m always voracious for more information. I have a tendency to over-research a lot of things, especially for my Psych units. The diagnostic criteria for NPD rang all sorts of bells in my head. But I’m no mental health professional so I researched online some more.

I came across several blog posts and comments that made me go “WHOA!” They were words that were taken out of my mouth – if I had the words to describe what I lived through. I felt an immediate sense of relief. All my life I kept feeling like I was a weakling who couldn’t toughen up and “get on with it”. Reading the stories of so many others made me realize that I wasn’t alone and that there wasn’t something wrong with me, but with them.

I went for my appointment with the psychiatrist at the Pain Unit today armed with this information and asked him what he thought about me arriving at the conclusion that my mother and sister are narcissists. The response – “Absolutely, 100%”. I felt validated and know that I’m on the right track. He also told me that I need to be aware of the consequences – being sucked dry and left empty. Now that I’ve got a “label” for them, it seems to make things a lot more understandable.

How did you discover that the toxic people in your life were narcissists?

  1. Torienne says:

    1.As I got older and more independent, I increasingly distanced myself from my mother, and with distance, saw more and more clearly that she was abusive.
    2. A woman I knew was alcoholic. I started to see that my mother and she had a lot of the same characteristics. I started to refer to my mother as having “alcoholic-like behaviors.”
    3. I looked for information on people who behaved like alcoholics, even though they didn’t drink. The word “narcissistic” popped up a few times.
    4. One night I was staying up late and googled “narcissistic mother.” I ran across a website by Joanna Ashmun. http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/ describing narcissists. I went through it thinking “no…she doesn’t do that…no…she doesn’t do that…” until I got to these words: “narcissists are very bad gift-givers.” Those words were sufficiently specific that I was able to recognize my mother in them. Oh yes, she is a very bad gift giver. And because I write in order to clarify my thoughts, I started a list of the ways in which my mother was a bad gift-giver: the insulting gifts, the repurposed gifts, the gifts that were really for her…and as I did so, I started to see that all the traits Joanna Ashmun listed actually described my mother perfectly. And I wrote and wrote, and eventually came up with 70 pages of descriptions of what I had previously called “bad behavior” and I now call narcissistic behaviors.

    • firenice84 says:

      Hi Torienne,

      I am so sorry for not replying sooner. I’ve been stuck in the revolving doors of the hospital. In, out and round and around hospitals since late April and I just got discharged on Wednesday. Here’s hoping the month of June is a better one!

      It’s interesting to learn specific examples about being bad-givers. Personally, that was one of the very few things I didn’t agree with about my own mother. I knew that she complained heaps during Christmas-time about all the presents she had to buy (which I always wrapped on Christmas eve and it eventually became a ‘tradition’), and that she re-gifted several things, but she didn’t do that to us personally. Does that still count, you reckon?

      I would absolutely love to have a peek at your 70 pages of “bad behaviours”!

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, the link and for commenting!

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