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Questioning my mother's reaction to my BF....
November 5, 2009
1:13 pm
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readyforachange
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I am having a very difficult time understanding my dysfunctional family. I need a little perspective here, I think.

A little background: I have been divorced for almost 5 years. My mother lives in the town where I live. My father passed away 2.5 years ago. I have three sisters who all live at least 400 miles from our hometown. I have been dating someone for 2 years. My sisters have all met him on at least one occasion. He has spent a week with me visiting one of my sisters at her home.

Here is what is bugging me. His mother passed away last week, after a long battle with cancer. My family was well aware of her condition. I do not talk with my sisters often, unfortunately. Prior to my dad’s death, they visited 3-4 times a year, now it is less than once a year. I used to call them, but they always seemed preoccupied with things they were doing or we played phone tag. I used to send out email updates about what my kids and myself were up to, but they either didn’t reply or never took the initiative to send an email to me. They all post on facebook often, and I will comment on their wall, but they never do on mine.

I did not call them all when his mother passed away. I called my mother to let her know. The funeral was 3 hours from my house, and I had to arrange for my daughter while I was gone and cover things at work. In addition, I was helping my BF contact people here in town who knew his mother.

I guess I assumed that my mother would tell my sisters, as she talks to each of them 1-2 times per week. It is kind of her “job” to let us all know how the other ones are doing.

It has been a week since the funeral, and I have not heard a thing from any of them. My mother didn’t ask for my BF’s address to send a card, even though we have dated for 2 years. She never asks about him, and I ran into an old friend of hers this summer while I was with my BF. She had no idea who he was, and later questioned my mother as to why she didn’t know I was dating. This is a woman that my mother sees each and every week because they are in a “Prayer group” together. When my BF’s mother was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, I asked my mother to pray for her. I am questioning whether she bothered to ask the ladies in the group to pray for his mother since this friend of hers didn’t even know he existed.

Thanksgiving is coming up. 2 of my 3 sisters are not coming into town. The third is wavering. My mother, therefore, has invited me and my children to her house for dinner (which was the plan made when my third sister was definitely coming). She has not invited my BF. This was also the case last year.

I am livid. I just called her and left a message to ask if she had told my sisters about my BF’s mom’s death. I was very cordial, just asked her to please call me back and let me know if I needed to call all of them or if she had already told them.

I guess I’m just questioning if this is normal? Shouldn’t a person be acknowledged after 2 years of a relationship? If my daughter dated someone for 2 years, I would consider them “family”. I would want them included in all of our events. I would send flowers if their mother passed away. I would let friends know that he existed.

I just don’t understand.

Does this seem normal to anyone? Am I overreacting?

November 5, 2009
1:38 pm
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MsGuided
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Hi Ready.

Sorry about your BF's mother.

No this is not good intentions sent your way, but it is normal for an N family. You are not over reacting.

Silent treatment and freeze outs are a form of neglect and abuse. They will all deny they are doing anything to be hurtful. You know in your mind and heart that it isn't right or kind.

When I read this it came across as a narcissistic family dynamic and possibly you are a scapegoat.

Is it usual that you are treated like you're on the bottom no matter how good or bad you behave? Do you always feel like you are grovelling for attention and acceptance? Where have you stood within the family dynamic all your childhood?

If you are getting better, standing up for yourself, they will avoid you more. You aren't staying "low" and satisfying their need to control you.

This may be about keeping you down to keep them all elevated.

It sounds similar to what I've put up with all my life with my sibs and parents.

There is a LONG article i can post for you later if you wish to read the N family dynamic. It may help you figure out what's happening.

Let me know.

Be well!

November 5, 2009
1:55 pm
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readyforachange
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(((MsG)))) Thank you so much for your reply. It was so very helpful.

I am currently in counseling trying to figure out my family of origin issues, and doing a lot of inner child work.

My father was a domineering, controlling person. Workaholic, foodaholic, we all walked on eggshells.

I have always felt that I wasn't good enough, for anyone. My mother included. My sisters kind of "escaped" the insanity by moving away. They've moved on with their lives. I'm here dealing with my mother day in and day out.

I have recently worked through my issues with my dad in counseling. I have yet to begin with my mother.

I'm not sure I understand the narcissitic family dynamic. Who would the narcissist be?

I will tell you that my mother always expected perfection from all of us. We were the perfect family (on the outside). She dressed us to the nines, had us involved in every activity, we were model children who got good grades and stayed out of trouble. She says we are her only accomplishment. I think my divorce was a HUGE disappointment, and something that marred her perfect world. We are Catholic, by the way.

Last thanksgiving my ex threw my daughter out of his house and told her she was never allowed to come back to his house. She was devastated, and when I called my mother to tell her, she said, "Can't you just get her out of bed and bring her here for dinner? Everyone is here waiting." I got very upset, and neither of went to dinner at my mothers that night. I didn't speak to her for weeks.

When I told my mom I was getting divorced from my alcoholic, abusive husband, she told me I needed to try harder and that I was being too sensitive.

Her father is an alcoholic. I didn't know that until I filed for divorce. She never bothered to tell me.

I am so confused as to what to do. I really want to spend Thanksgiving with my BF and his family, who are so kind and accepting of me. My children will spend a good part of the day with their dad's family, who all live here in town. They can then join me at my BF's house. I can invite my mother, and she can come if she chooses. Or, she can boycott.

I am just so hurt by all of this. It just goes on and on. Last year, she gave each family money for Christmas, and I got half of what all the married couples got. 4 months later, she wrote me a check for the other half, explaining that I got shortchanged. I'm not sure why it took her 4 months to do that....I suspect one of my sisters told her it wasn't fair to give me half just because I wasn't married.

I could go on and on....from the fact that my mother will sleep on a couch so that her grandchildren have a bed when they visit at holidays, and then complain to me about her back hurting....to the fact that the only time she ever wants to do anything with me is when she needs grass cut, or leaves raked, or a ride somewhere. She used to take my kids out for lunch for their birthdays, but now that my son is gone to college....my daughter gets ignored on her birthday. Grandsons are put on a pedestal, granddaughters are second class citizens. She does tell us she wanted all boys.

I'm rambling. I'm just so angry. Can you tell me more about N family?

November 5, 2009
2:06 pm
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MsGuided
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I remember your story now.

I've been on my PC ALL day ( for my own weak reasons) and will post the N article for you: warning! it is a LONG read, and isn't formatted properly, but I think it will be helpful.

I am the family scapegoat and my son ( who is 18 now) got ignored most of his childhood by my sibs. They all abandoned us because i wouldn't stay in my "place". Damage is done but he is pretty resilient and has little relationship with them all. They wonder why? BLEH!

But I think YOU need to be around positivity and support. If your BF's family makes you happy spend TG with them. Everyone is probably grieving and HE is your future now. YOU don't have to dance your families dance anymore if it causes you so much pain.

I spend time with my IL's more lately because they give me the support and unconditional love i deserve.

You don't have to engage with your Family when you are so hurt and confused.

I have to get off the computer now so here comes that article.

(((READY!))) ? LOL

;0)

November 5, 2009
2:14 pm
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MsGuided
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((readyforachange))

Keep in mind you can apply this to the father too> you could have 2 N parents with different qualities.

>>Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers

Everything she does is deniable. There is always a facile excuse or an explanation. Cruelties are couched in loving terms. Aggressive and hostile acts are paraded as thoughtfulness. Selfish manipulations are presented as gifts. Criticism and slander is slyly disguised as concern. She only wants what is best for you. She only wants to help you.

*She rarely says right out that she thinks you’re inadequate. Instead, any time that you tell her you’ve done something good, she counters with something your sibling did that was better or she simply ignores you or she hears you out without saying anything, then in a short time does something cruel to you so you understand not to get above yourself. She will carefully separate cause (your joy in your accomplishment) from effect (refusing to let you borrow the car to go to the awards ceremony) by enough time that someone who didn’t live through her abuse would never believe the connection.

*Many of her putdowns are simply by comparison. She’ll talk about how wonderful someone else is or what a wonderful job they did on something you’ve also done or how highly she thinks of them. The contrast is left up to you. She has let you know that you’re no good without saying a word. She’ll spoil your pleasure in something by simply congratulating you for it in an angry, envious voice that conveys how unhappy she is, again, completely deniably. It is impossible to confront someone over their tone of voice, their demeanor or they way they look at you, but once your narcissistic mother has you trained, she can promise terrible punishment without a word. As a result, you’re always afraid, always in the wrong, and can never exactly put your finger on why. [This is where my anxiety originated.]

*Because her abusiveness is part of a lifelong campaign of control and because she is careful to rationalize her abuse, it is extremely difficult to explain to other people what is so bad about her. She’s also careful about when and how she engages in her abuses. She’s very secretive, a characteristic of almost all abusers (“Don’t wash our dirty laundry in public!”) and will punish you for telling anyone else what she’s done. The times and locations of her worst abuses are carefully chosen so that no one who might intervene will hear or see her bad behavior, and she will seem like a completely different person in public. She’ll slam you to other people, but will always embed her devaluing nuggets of snide gossip in protestations of concern, love and understanding (“I feel so sorry for poor Cynthia. She always seems to have such a hard time, but I just don’t know what I can do for her!”) As a consequence the children of narcissists universally report that no one believes them (“I have to tell you that she always talks about YOU in the most caring way!). Unfortunately therapists, given the deniable actions of the narcissist and eager to defend a fellow parent, will often jump to the narcissist’s defense as well, reinforcing your sense of isolation and helplessness (“I’m sure she didn’t mean it like that!”)

*She violates your boundaries. You feel like an extension of her. Your property is given away without your consent, sometimes in front of you. Your food is eaten off your plate or given to others off your plate. Your property may be repossessed and no reason given other than that it was never yours. Your time is committed without consulting you, and opinions purported to be yours are expressed for you. (She LOVES going to the fair! He would never want anything like that. She wouldn’t like kumquats.) You are discussed in your presence as though you are not there. She keeps tabs on your bodily functions and humiliates you by divulging the information she gleans, especially when it can be used to demonstrate her devotion and highlight her martyrdom to your needs (“Mike had that problem with frequent urination too, only his was much worse. I was so worried about him!”) You have never known what it is like to have privacy in the bathroom or in your bedroom, and she goes through your things regularly. She asks nosy questions, snoops into your email/letters/diary/conversations. She will want to dig into your feelings, particularly painful ones and is always looking for negative information on you which can be used against you. She does things against your expressed wishes frequently. All of this is done without seeming embarrassment or thought.

*Any attempt at autonomy on your part is strongly resisted. Normal rites of passage (learning to shave, wearing makeup, dating) are grudgingly allowed only if you insist, and you’re punished for your insistence (“Since you’re old enough to date, I think you’re old enough to pay for your own clothes!”) If you demand age-appropriate clothing, grooming, control over your own life, or rights, you are difficult and she ridicules your “independence.”

*She favoritizes. Narcissistic mothers commonly choose one (sometimes more) child to be the golden child and one (sometimes more) to be the scapegoat. The narcissist identifies with the golden child and provides privileges to him or her as long as the golden child does just as she wants. The golden child has to be cared for assiduously by everyone in the family. The scapegoat has no needs and instead gets to do the caring. The golden child can do nothing wrong. The scapegoat is always at fault. This creates divisions between the children, one of whom has a large investment in the mother being wise and wonderful, and the other(s) who hate her. That division will be fostered by the narcissist with lies and with blatantly unfair and favoritizing behavior. The golden child will defend the mother and indirectly perpetuate the abuse by finding reasons to blame the scapegoat for the mother’s actions. The golden child may also directly take on the narcissistic mother’s tasks by physically abusing the scapegoat so the narcissistic mother doesn’t have to do that herself.

*She undermines. Your accomplishments are acknowledged only to the extent that she can take credit for them. Any success or accomplishment for which she cannot take credit is ignored or diminished. Any time you are to be center stage and there is no opportunity for her to be the center of attention, she will try to prevent the occasion altogether, or she doesn’t come, or she leaves early, or she acts like it’s no big deal, or she steals the spotlight or she slips in little wounding comments about how much better someone else did or how what you did wasn’t as much as you could have done or as you think it is.
She undermines you by picking fights with you or being especially unpleasant just before you have to make a major effort. She acts put out if she has to do anything to support your opportunities or will outright refuse to do even small things in support of you. She will be nasty to you about things that are peripherally connected with your successes so that you find your joy in what you’ve done is tarnished, without her ever saying anything directly about it. No matter what your success, she has to take you down a peg about it.

*She demeans, criticizes and denigrates. She lets you know in all sorts of little ways that she thinks less of you than she does of your siblings or of other people in general. If you complain about mistreatment by someone else, she will take that person’s side even if she doesn’t know them at all. She doesn’t care about those people or the justice of your complaints. She just wants to let you know that you’re never right.

*She will deliver generalized barbs that are almost impossible to rebut (always in a loving, caring tone): “You were always difficult” “You can be very difficult to love” “You never seemed to be able to finish anything” “You were very hard to live with” “You’re always causing trouble” “No one could put up with the things you do.” She will deliver slams in a sidelong way - for example she’ll complain about how “no one” loves her, does anything for her, or cares about her, or she’ll complain that “everyone” is so selfish, when you’re the only person in the room. As always, this combines criticism with deniability.

*She will slip little comments into conversation that she really enjoyed something she did with someone else - something she did with you too, but didn’t like as much. She’ll let you know that her relationship with some other person you both know is wonderful in a way your relationship with her isn’t - the carefully unspoken message being that you don’t matter much to her.

*She minimizes, discounts or ignores your opinions and experiences. Your insights are met with condescension, denials and accusations (“I think you read too much!”) and she will brush off your information even on subjects on which you are an acknowledged expert. Whatever you say is met with smirks and amused sounding or exaggerated exclamations (“Uh hunh!” “You don’t say!” “Really!”). She’ll then make it clear that she didn’t listen to a word you said.

*She makes you look crazy. If you try to confront her about something she’s done, she’ll tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination” (this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse) that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will she ever acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten. This is an extremely aggressive and exceptionally infuriating tactic called “gaslighting,” common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser.

*Narcissists gaslight routinely. The narcissist will either insinuate or will tell you outright that you’re unstable, otherwise you wouldn’t believe such ridiculous things or be so uncooperative. You’re oversensitive. You’re imagining things. You’re hysterical. You’re completely unreasonable. You’re over-reacting, like you always do. She’ll talk to you when you’ve calmed down and aren’t so irrational. She may even characterize you as being neurotic or psychotic.
[My mother always questioned my cycle - "Are you fixin to start your period? Is this your hormones?" - or "YOU need therapy"]

*Once she’s constructed these fantasies of your emotional pathologies, she’ll tell others about them, as always, presenting her smears as expressions of concern and declaring her own helpless victimhood. She didn’t do anything. She has no idea why you’re so irrationally angry with her. You’ve hurt her terribly. She thinks you may need psychotherapy. She loves you very much and would do anything to make you happy, but she just doesn’t know what to do. You keep pushing her away when all she wants to do is help you.

*She has simultaneously absolved herself of any responsibility for your obvious antipathy towards her, implied that it’s something fundamentally wrong with you that makes you angry with her, and undermined your credibility with her listeners. She plays the role of the doting mother so perfectly that no one will believe you.

* She’s envious. Any time you get something nice she’s angry and envious and her envy will be apparent when she admires whatever it is. She’ll try to get it from you, spoil it for you, or get the same or better for herself. She’s always working on ways to get what other people have. The envy of narcissistic mothers often includes competing sexually with their daughters or daughters-in-law. [making passes at our boyfriends] They’ll attempt to forbid their daughters to wear makeup, to groom themselves in an age-appropriate way or to date. They will criticize the appearance of their daughters and daughters-in-law. This envy extends to relationships. Narcissistic mothers infamously attempt to damage their children’s marriages and interfere in the upbringing of their grandchildren. [Oh mercifulgod]

*She’s a liar in too many ways to count. Any time she talks about something that has emotional significance for her, it’s a fair bet that she’s lying. Lying is one way that she creates conflict in the relationships and lives of those around her - she’ll lie to them about what other people have said, what they’ve done, or how they feel. She’ll lie about her relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation in order to inflate herself and to undermine your credibility.

*The narcissist is very careful about how she lies. To outsiders she’ll lie thoughtfully and deliberately, always in a way that can be covered up if she’s confronted with her lie. She spins what you said rather than makes something up wholesale. She puts dishonest interpretations on things you actually did. If she’s recently done something particularly egregious she may engage in preventative lying: she lies in advance to discount what you might say before you even say it. Then when you talk about what she did you’ll be cut off with “I already know all about it…your mother told me... (self-justifications and lies).” Because she is so careful about her deniability, it may be very hard to catch her in her lies and the more gullible of her friends may never realize how dishonest she is.

*To you, she’ll lie blatantly. She will claim to be unable to remember bad things she has done, even if she did one of them recently and even if it was something very memorable. Of course, if you try to jog her memory by recounting the circumstances “You have a very vivid imagination” or “That was so long ago. Why do you have to dredge up your old grudges?” Your conversations with her are full of casual brush-offs and diversionary lies and she doesn’t respect you enough to bother making it sound good. For example she’ll start with a self-serving lie: “If I don’t take you as a dependent on my taxes I’ll lose three thousand dollars!” You refute her lie with an obvious truth: “No, three thousand dollars is the amount of the dependent exemption. You’ll only lose about eight hundred dollars.” Her response: “Isn’t that what I said?” You are now in a game with only one rule: You can’t win.

*On the rare occasions she is forced to acknowledge some bad behavior, she will couch the admission deniably. She “guesses” that “maybe” she “might have” done something wrong. The wrongdoing is always heavily spun and trimmed to make it sound better. The words “I guess,” “maybe,” and “might have” are in and of themselves lies because she knows exactly what she did - no guessing, no might haves, no maybes.

*She has to be the center of attention all the time. This need is a defining trait of narcissists and particularly of narcissistic mothers for whom their children exist to be sources of attention and adoration. Narcissistic mothers love to be waited on and often pepper their children with little requests. “While you’re up…” or its equivalent is one of their favorite phrases. You couldn’t just be assigned a chore at the beginning of the week or of the day, instead, you had to do it on demand, preferably at a time that was inconvenient for you, or you had to “help” her do it, fetching and carrying for her while she made up to herself for the menial work she had to do as your mother by glorying in your attentions.

*A narcissistic mother may create odd occasions at which she can be the center of attention, such as memorials for someone close to her who died long ago, or major celebrations of small personal milestones. She may love to entertain so she can be the life of her own party. She will try to steal the spotlight or will try to spoil any occasion where someone else is the center of attention, particularly the child she has cast as the scapegoat. She often invites herself along where she isn’t welcome. If she visits you or you visit her, you are required to spend all your time with her. Entertaining herself is unthinkable. She has always pouted, manipulated or raged if you tried to do anything without her, didn’t want to entertain her, refused to wait on her, stymied her plans for a drama or otherwise deprived her of attention.

*Older narcissistic mothers often use the natural limitations of aging to manipulate dramas, often by neglecting their health or by doing things they know will make them ill. This gives them the opportunity to cash in on the investment they made when they trained you to wait on them as a child. Then they call you (or better still, get the neighbor or the nursing home administrator to call you) demanding your immediate attendance. You are to rush to her side, pat her hand, weep over her pain and listen sympathetically to her unending complaints about how hard and awful it is. (“Never get old!”) It’s almost never the case that you can actually do anything useful, and the causes of her disability may have been completely avoidable, but you’ve been put in an extremely difficult position. If you don’t provide the audience and attention she’s manipulating to get, you look extremely bad to everyone else and may even have legal culpability. (Narcissistic behaviors commonly accompany Alzheimer’s disease, so this behavior may also occur in perfectly normal mothers as they age.)

* She manipulates your emotions in order to feed on your pain. This exceptionally sick and bizarre behavior is so common among narcissistic mothers that their children often call them “emotional vampires.” Some of this emotional feeding comes in the form of pure sadism. She does and says things just to be wounding or she engages in tormenting teasing or she needles you about things you’re sensitive about, all the while a smile plays over her lips. She may have taken you to scary movies or told you horrifying stories, then mocked you for being a baby when you cried. She will slip a wounding comment into conversation and smile delightedly into your hurt face. You can hear the laughter in her voice as she pressures you or says distressing things to you. Later she’ll gloat over how much she upset you, gaily telling other people that you’re so much fun to tease, and recruiting others to share in her amusement. . She enjoys her cruelties and makes no effort to disguise that. She wants you to know that your pain entertains her. She may also bring up subjects that are painful for you and probe you about them, all the while watching you carefully. This is emotional vampirism in its purest form. She’s feeding emotionally off your pain.

*A peculiar form of this emotional vampirism combines attention-seeking behavior with a demand that the audience suffer. Since narcissistic mothers often play the martyr this may take the form of wrenching, self-pitying dramas which she carefully produces, and in which she is the star performer. She sobs and wails that no one loves her and everyone is so selfish, and she doesn’t want to live, she wants to die! She wants to die! She will not seem to care how much the manipulation of their emotions and the self-pity repels other people. One weird behavior that is very common to narcissists: her dramas may also center around the tragedies of other people, often relating how much she suffered by association as she cries over the horrible murder of someone she wouldn’t recognize if they had passed her on the street.

*She’s selfish and willful. She always makes sure she has the best of everything. She insists on having her own way all the time and she will ruthlessly, manipulatively pursue it, even if what she wants isn’t worth all the effort she’s putting into it and even if that effort goes far beyond normal behavior. She will make a huge effort to get something you denied her, even if it was entirely your right to do so and even if her demand was selfish and unreasonable. If you tell her she cannot bring her friends to your party she will show up with them anyway, and she will have told them that they were invited so that you either have to give in, or be the bad guy to these poor dupes on your doorstep. If you tell her she can’t come over to your house tonight she’ll call your spouse and try get him or her to agree that she can, and to not say anything to you about it because it’s a “surprise.” She has to show you that you can’t tell her “no.”
*One near-universal characteristic of narcissists: because they are so selfish and self-centered, they are very bad gift givers. They’ll give you hand-me-downs or market things for themselves as gifts for you (“I thought I’d give you my old bicycle and buy myself a new one!” “I know how much you love Italian food, so I’m going to take you to my favorite restaurant for your birthday!”) New gifts are often obviously cheap and are usually things that don’t suit you or that you can’t use or are a quid pro quo: if you buy her the gift she wants, she will buy you an item of your choice. She’ll make it clear that it pains her to give you anything. She may buy you a gift and get the identical item for herself, or take you shopping for a gift and get herself something nice at the same time to make herself feel better.

*She’s self-absorbed. Her feelings, needs and wants are very important; yours are insignificant to the point that her least whim takes precedence over your most basic needs. Her problems deserve your immediate and full attention; yours are brushed aside. Her wishes always take precedence; if she does something for you, she reminds you constantly of her munificence in doing so and will often try to extract some sort of payment. She will complain constantly, even though your situation may be much worse than hers. If you point that out, she will effortlessly, thoughtlessly brush it aside as of no importance (It’s easy for you…/It’s different for you…).

*She is insanely defensive and is extremely sensitive to any criticism. If you criticize her or defy her she will explode with fury, threaten, storm, rage, destroy and may become violent, beating, confining, putting her child outdoors in bad weather or otherwise engaging in classic physical abuse. It’s easy to provoke her wrath because she takes everything personally and any attitude short of constant emotional and physical availability is perceived as a slight. If you’re short with her because you’re exhausted and depressed, she has to have it out with you over your “hostility.” If a toddler shouts “I hate you” at her she gets angry and punitive. If you refuse her nosy request to let her read the letter you got she shouts about how unappreciative you are and how hard she has it. She has no sense of perspective or separation and she can’t let anything go. Because the narcissistic mother is so extremely defensive she is completely resistant to change. Narcissists infamously cannot be helped and if anything, change for the worse.

*She terrorized. All abusers use fear to control their victims, and your narcissistic mother used it ruthlessly to train you. Narcissists teach you to beware their wrath even when they aren’t present. The only alternative is constant placation. If you give her everything she wants all the time, you might be spared. If you don’t, the punishments will come. Even adult children of narcissists still feel that carefully inculcated fear. Your narcissistic mother can turn it on with a silence or a look that tells the child in you she’s thinking about how she’s going to get even.
*Not all narcissists abuse physically, but most do, often in subtle, deniable ways. It allows them to vent their rage at your failure to be the solution to their internal havoc and simultaneously to teach you to fear them. You may not have been beaten, but you were almost certainly left to endure physical pain when a normal mother would have made an effort to relieve your misery. This deniable form of battery allows her to store up her rage and dole out the punishment at a later time when she’s worked out an airtight rationale for her abuse, so she never risks exposure. You were left hungry because “you eat too much.” (Someone asked her if she was pregnant. She isn’t). You always went to school with stomach flu because “you don’t have a fever. You’re just trying to get out of school.” (She resents having to take care of you. You have a lot of nerve getting sick and adding to her burdens.) She refuses to look at your bloody heels and instead the shoes that wore those blisters on your heels are put back on your feet and you’re sent to the store in them because “You wanted those shoes. Now you can wear them.” (You said the ones she wanted to get you were ugly. She liked them because they were just like what she wore 30 years ago). The dentist was told not to give you Novocaine when he drilled your tooth because “he has to learn to take better care of his teeth.” (She has to pay for a filling and she’s furious at having to spend money on you.) Unlike psychopaths, narcissists do understand right, wrong, and consequences, so they are not ordinarily criminal. She beat you, but not to the point where you went to the hospital. She left you standing out in the cold until you were miserable, but not until you had hypothermia. She put you in the basement in the dark with no clothes on, but she only left you there for two hours.

*Narcissistic mothers also abuse by loosing others on you or by failing to protect you when a normal mother would have. Sometimes the narcissist’s golden child will be encouraged to abuse the scapegoat. Narcissists also abuse by exposing you to violence. If one of your siblings got beaten, she made sure you saw. She effortlessly put the fear of Mom into you, without even touching you.

* She’s infantile and petty. Narcissistic mothers are often simply childish. If you refuse to let her manipulate you into doing something, she will cry that you don’t love her because if you loved her you would do as she wanted. If you hurt her feelings she will aggressively whine to you that you’ll be sorry when she’s dead that you didn’t treat her better. Anytime she feels hard-done-by, she pouts, whines and gives the silent treatment. When you were a child, she would justify things she did to you by pointing out something that you did that she felt was comparable, as though the childish behavior of a child was justification for the childish behavior of an adult. “Getting even” is a large part of her dealings with you. Anytime you fail to give her the deference, attention or service she feels she deserves, or you thwart her wishes, she has to show you.

* She’s aggressive and shameless. She doesn’t ask. She demands. She makes outrageous requests and she’ll take anything she wants if she thinks she can get away with it. Her demands of her children are posed in a very aggressive way, as are her criticisms. She won’t take no for an answer, pushing and arm-twisting and manipulating to get you to give in.
* She “parentifies.” She shed her responsibilities to you as soon as she was able, leaving you to take care of yourself as best you could. She denied you medical care, adequate clothing, necessary transportation or basic comforts that she would never have considered giving up herself. She never gave you a birthday party or let you have sleepovers. Your friends were never welcome in her house. She didn’t like to drive you anywhere, so you turned down invitations because you had no way to get there. She wouldn’t buy your school pictures even if she could easily have afforded it. You had a niggardly clothing allowance or she bought you the cheapest clothing she could without embarrassing herself. As soon as you got a job, every request for school supplies, clothing or toiletries was met with “Now that you’re making money, why don’t you pay for that yourself?”

*She also gave you tasks that were rightfully hers and should not have been placed on a child. You may have been a primary caregiver for young siblings or an incapacitated parent. You may have had responsibility for excessive household tasks. Above all, you were always her emotional caregiver which is one reason any defection from that role caused such enormous eruptions of rage. You were never allowed to be needy or have bad feelings or problems. Those experiences were only for her, and you were responsible for making it right for her. From the time you were very young she would randomly lash out at you any time she was stressed or angry with your father or felt that life was unfair to her, because it made her feel better to hurt you. You were often punished out of the blue, for manufactured offenses. As you got older she directly placed responsibility for her welfare and her emotions on you, weeping on your shoulder and unloading on you any time something went awry for her.

*She’s exploitative. She will manipulate to get work, money, or objects she envies out of other people for nothing. This includes her children, of course. If she set up a bank account for you, she was trustee on the account with the right to withdraw money. As you put money into it, she took it out. She may have stolen your identity. She took you as a dependent on her income taxes so you couldn’t file independently without exposing her to criminal penalties. If she made an agreement with you, it was violated the minute it no longer served her needs. If you brought it up demanding she adhere to the agreement, she brushed you off and later punished you so you would know not to defy her again.

*Sometimes the narcissist will exploit a child to absorb punishment that would have been hers from an abusive partner. The husband comes home in a drunken rage, and the mother immediately complains about the child’s bad behavior so the rage is vented on to the child. Sometimes the narcissistic mother simply uses the child to keep a sick marriage intact because the alternative is being divorced or having to go to work. The child is sexually molested but the mother never notices, or worse, calls the child a liar when she tells the mother about the molestation.

* She projects. This sounds a little like psycho-babble, but it is something that narcissists all do. Projection means that she will put her own bad behavior, character and traits on you so she can deny them in herself and punish you. This can be very difficult to see if you have traits that she can project on to. An eating-disordered woman who obsesses over her daughter’s weight is projecting. The daughter may not realize it because she has probably internalized an absurdly thin vision of women’s weight and so accepts her mother’s projection. When the narcissist tells the daughter that she eats too much, needs to exercise more, or has to wear extra-large size clothes, the daughter believes it, even if it isn’t true. However, she will sometimes project even though it makes no sense at all. This happens when she feels shamed and needs to put it on her scapegoat child and the projection therefore comes across as being an attack out of the blue. For example: She makes an outrageous request, and you casually refuse to let her have her way. She’s enraged by your refusal and snarls at you that you’ll talk about it when you’ve calmed down and are no longer hysterical.

*You aren’t hysterical at all; she is, but your refusal has made her feel the shame that should have stopped her from making shameless demands in the first place. That’s intolerable. She can transfer that shame to you and rationalize away your response: you only refused her because you’re so unreasonable. Having done that she can reassert her shamelessness and indulge her childish willfulness by turning an unequivocal refusal into a subject for further discussion. You’ll talk about it again “later” - probably when she’s worn you down with histrionics, pouting and the silent treatment so you’re more inclined to do what she wants.

* She is never wrong about anything. No matter what she’s done, she won’t ever genuinely apologize for anything. Instead, any time she feels she is being made to apologize she will sulk and pout, issue an insulting apology or negate the apology she has just made with justifications, qualifications or self pity: “I’m sorry you felt that I humiliated you” “I’m sorry if I made you feel bad” “If I did that it was wrong” “I’m sorry, but I there’s nothing I can do about it” “I’m sorry I made you feel clumsy, stupid and disgusting” “I’m sorry but it was just a joke. You’re so over-sensitive”
[shrieking at me] - “I’m sorry that my own child feels she has to upset me and make me feel bad.” The last insulting apology is also an example of projection.

*Sometimes she seems to have no awareness that other people even have feelings, and yet she is brilliantly sensitive to other people’s emotions. Every child of a narcissist recognizes this contradiction because narcissistic mothers do possess the ability to exercise empathy, and in abundance. Sometimes this ability also leads them to identify emotionally with people who are suffering and to express caring for them. When caring about another’s suffering interferes with something the narcissist wants, though, the caring vanishes. When a narcissistic mother wants validation, when she feels like eliciting some emotional pain, when something she wants hurts someone else, the empathy is turned off as though it never existed.

*From the perspective of ability, narcissists are extremely empathetic; indeed they have a gift of telling what other people are feeling and thinking. Their skill at discerning and guiding the emotions of other people is the basis of many characteristically narcissistic interactions. Narcissists are very socially adept which is why no one ever believes their children when they complain of their mothers. They know just how to make everyone think that they’re delightful. Narcissistic mothers are exceptional manipulators, and manipulators must be extremely aware, on a moment-by-moment basis, of the emotions of their targets. If you don’t know what people are feeling, you can’t push their buttons. Their exceptional sensitivity to the feelings of others is also the wellspring of their pleasure in inflicting emotional pain through dramas and no-win scenarios. Narcissistic mothers enjoy inflicting emotional pain and they do it very well because they know just what their target children are feeling. That exquisite sensitivity is the reason they don’t need to batter. They can inflict agony without lifting a finger, so why risk exposure and waste effort with beatings when they can elicit the same emotions with words alone?

*What narcissistic mothers lack is concern for the consequences of their actions, a behavior that seems rooted in profound selfishness, rather than in the absence of empathy. Mothers with NPD are certainly capable of feeling for others: they’re always feeling for the people with whom their scapegoat has conflicts. They feel for their fellow narcissists. They feel for people who have validated and praised them. They even feel for their child when it doesn’t cost them anything to do so. They just don’t feel for their child when they’re abusing him. They don’t feel anything that interferes with their absorption in their own wants and needs. Because they scour their environment for validation of their own abusiveness, they defend their fellow abusers, so they don’t have any empathy for the victims of those abusers, as the following story shows:
A four-year-old had come to school with a hand print on her face, which had been inflicted as the result of a slap by her mother’s live-in boyfriend. As a mandated reporter my mother had called the authorities, but she told me that she could understand why the boyfriend had hit the child: she was so annoying. Then she said in a dramatic tone dripping with sympathy “You should have seen the parents. They were so ashamed!” In outrage I said “What difference does that make to the child?” Her mouth dropped open and I realized she not only didn’t care at all about that poor little girl…it would never have occurred to her to care. .....
This story shows the misplaced empathy of the abuser for other abusers. There was no empathy in Chris' mother for the actual victim. Instead it was reserved for the woman who let her boyfriend batter her child. Chris’s mother identified with the abuser, a mother like herself, afflicted with a child who didn’t meet her needs. Her empathy actually attributed virtues to her fellow abuser and faults to the victim that weren’t merited in reality. Someone who hits a small child hard enough to leave a handprint, then sends them to school, isn’t ashamed, and the personality of a four-year-old is not the fault of the child!
The selfish empathy demonstrated by narcissistic mothers contrasts with the genuine empathy shown by normal people. Sometimes a normal person will give up something they really want for themselves because they come to recognize that it will hurt another person. A narcissistic mother will relentlessly go after something she wants even if it isn’t worth the pain she has to inflict to get it.

*She engineers “no-win” situations that leave you violated and angry and not sure why you feel that way. In the classic “no-win” scenario, the narcissist’s child is subtly manipulated into a corner and then presented with a demand that the child do something degrading, humiliating or painful in order to please the narcissist. Any response other than compliance triggers retaliation.

*These sadistic scenes are a defining characteristic of the narcissist. As so often with narcissistic behavior, the payoff for your mother is the elicitation of painful emotions. Whether you subject yourself to her degradation or you fight back and provoke punishment from the narcissist, you will experience a sense of entrapment and fear, and those emotions are very satisfying to her. Her pleasure is augmented by the pain she elicits by undermining, insulting and demeaning you and, as the scene winds down, by blaming you for the entire event.

*These scenes are set up very stealthily; so much so that the children of narcissists rarely realize that a trap has been laid before it’s sprung. As always, the narcissist maintains deniability, but the consistencies between scenes betray their deliberate nature. Although the narcissist plays the scene as though it was spontaneous, it never is. It is scripted and premeditated and the stage is set well in advance. If a scene plays out away from home, you can be sure that the mother is in charge of transportation so that the child doesn’t have the option of walking away. If the scene is staged at home, it’s almost always in the mother’s home, not the child’s home, and engineered so that once again, it’s extremely difficult for the child to walk away. The narcissist commonly arranges things so she is alone with her victim, but she may also use the presence of a young child or complicit spouse to ensure that her target doesn’t react angrily.

*Often the worst part of these scenes for the child is the awareness of how much his mother enjoys his distress; the children of narcissistic mothers often describe their mother’s “little smile” and air of pleasure as she plays out the no-win scenario. When confronted, some narcissistic mothers will even defend their behavior by saying they were “just having fun.” There is no betrayal more wounding than knowing your own mother is reveling in the pain she purposely caused, nor any emotion more delicious to your narcissistic mother than your sense of shock and misery at your knowledge that she is hurting you deliberately and for fun.
In the following story, an adult daughter is manipulated into a no-win situation. If she does not want to provoke retaliation from her narcissistic mother, she must accept and express gratitude for a gift that was clearly meant as an insult:
A few days before Christmas, my mother walked into the room where I was sitting carrying a pair of old, worn tennis shoes - the kind with the rubber soles and canvas uppers. She said “I know you asked for a pair of running shoes for Christmas. I thought I could give you these and get myself a new pair instead.” My mother was a clothes horse, and always had many pairs of new running shoes in her closet. What’s more, her feet are bigger and narrower than mine, so there’s no way her shoes would have fit me, but I was too shocked and angry to think of that. I said “I don’t want your cast-offs!” and she looked very satisfied and pleased and said “Fine” and walked away. That year I got no gift for Christmas, even though I had bought her something from her wish list, and even though my brother and sister got gifts from her.
I did get a letter after I got home that started “I’m sorry you felt that I offered you “cast-offs” and went on to describe how good her intentions were, how she thought I would be happy to let her do something nice for herself, and how hard she had it as the mother of an “unappreciative” child like me. This wasn’t the first time either. The preceding year she had tried to give me an old, rusty bicycle for Christmas with the stipulation that she would then get herself a new one. -Chris
This story illustrates an absolutely classic no-win scenario. Although Chris did not realize it at the time, her mother had manipulated her into a corner. Chris had traveled to her mother’s house for Christmas and it was late at night. As a graduate student, Chris was perpetually short on funds, and going to a hotel, even if she could find one at that hour, was out of the question. None of the rest of the family was there yet, so Chris and her mother were alone in the house. There had been no argument or tension, and the attack by her mother came out of the blue.
Chris’s mother proposed something very insulting: she would give Chris her own worn shoes, which didn’t fit Chris and, for which gift Chris was to be “appreciative.” You would have to be very aware and self-possessed to respond calmly to such a demeaning suggestion, and Chris, tired, shocked, and angry, blurted out the first thing that came to mind. Chris’s mother got exactly what she wanted: a good feed on Chris’s hurt and anger, and an excuse to punish Chris with exclusion and withholding and later with a letter filled with guilt-inducing remonstrations.
In reality Chris’s mother never planned on giving Chris a Christmas gift. She was angry that Chris had made herself unavailable for abuse by going to graduate school in another state, and she wanted to punish Chris for her defection. So she manipulated a no-win scenario in which she could simultaneously insult Chris and turn Chris’s predictably angry response into an opportunity for punishment and narcissistic venting. In her letter, she projected her own hostility and selfishness on to Chris, blamed Chris for her own bad behavior, and depicted herself as a martyr, all the while maintaining complete deniability about the deliberate nature of the original interaction.

* She blames. She’ll blame you for everything that isn’t right in her life or for what other people do or for whatever has happened. Always, she’ll blame you for her abuse. You made her do it. If only you weren’t so difficult. You upset her so much that she can’t think straight. Things were hard for her and your backtalk pushed her over the brink. This blaming is often so subtle that all you know is that you thought you were wronged and now you feel guilty. Your brother beats you and her response is to bemoan how uncivilized children are. Your boyfriend dumped you, but she can understand - after all, she herself has seen how difficult you are to love. She’ll do something egregiously exploitative to you, and when confronted will screech at you that she can’t believe you were so selfish as to upset her over such a trivial thing. She’ll also blame you for your reaction to her selfish, cruel and exploitative behavior. She can’t believe you are so petty, so small, and so childish as to object to her giving your favorite dress to her friend. She thought you would be happy to let her do something nice for someone else.

*Narcissists are masters of multitasking as this example shows. Simultaneously your narcissistic mother is 1) Lying. She knows what she did was wrong and she knows your reaction is reasonable. 2) Manipulating. She’s making you look like the bad guy for objecting to her cruelties. 3) Being selfish. She doesn’t mind making you feel horrible as long as she gets her own way. 4) Blaming. She did something wrong, but it’s all your fault. 5) Projecting. Her petty, small and childish behavior has become yours. 6) Putting on a self-pitying drama. She’s a martyr who believed the best of you, and you’ve let her down. 7) Parentifying. You’re responsible for her feelings, she has no responsibility for yours.

* She destroys your relationships. Narcissistic mothers are like tornadoes: wherever they touch down families are torn apart and wounds are inflicted. Unless the father has control over the narcissist and holds the family together, adult siblings in families with narcissistic mothers characteristically have painful relationships. Typically all communication between siblings is superficial and driven by duty, or they may never talk to each other at all. In part, these women foster dissension between their children because they enjoy the control it gives them. If those children don’t communicate except through the mother, she can decide what everyone hears. Narcissists also love the excitement and drama they create by interfering in their children’s lives. Watching people’s lives explode is better than soap operas, especially when you don’t have any empathy for their misery.

*The narcissist nurtures anger, contempt and envy - the most corrosive emotions - to drive her children apart. While her children are still living at home, any child who stands up to the narcissist guarantees punishment for the rest. In her zest for revenge, the narcissist purposefully turns the siblings’ anger on the dissenter by including everyone in her retaliation. (“I can see that nobody here loves me! Well I’ll just take these Christmas presents back to the store. None of you would want anything I got you anyway!”) The other children, long trained by the narcissist to give in, are furious with the troublemaking child, instead of with the narcissist who actually deserves their anger.

*The narcissist also uses favoritism and gossip to poison her childrens’ relationships. The scapegoat sees the mother as a creature of caprice and cruelty. As is typical of the privileged, the other children don’t see her unfairness and they excuse her abuses. Indeed, they are often recruited by the narcissist to adopt her contemptuous and entitled attitude towards the scapegoat and with her tacit or explicit permission, will inflict further abuse. The scapegoat predictably responds with fury and equal contempt. After her children move on with adult lives, the narcissist makes sure to keep each apprised of the doings of the others, passing on the most discreditable and juicy gossip (as always, disguised as “concern”) about the other children, again, in a way that engenders contempt rather than compassion.

*Having been raised by a narcissist, her children are predisposed to be envious, and she takes full advantage of the opportunity that presents. She may never praise you to your face, but she will likely crow about your victories to the very sibling who is not doing well. She’ll tell you about the generosity she displayed towards that child, leaving you wondering why you got left out and irrationally angry at the favored child rather than at the narcissist who told you about it.
*The end result is a family in which almost all communication is triangular. The narcissist, the spider in the middle of the family web, sensitively monitors all the children for information she can use to retain her unchallenged control over the family. She then passes that on to the others, creating the resentments that prevent them from communicating directly and freely with each other. The result is that the only communication between the children is through the narcissist, exactly the way she wants it.
* 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."

November 5, 2009
3:48 pm
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atalose
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ready,

I am sorry to hear about your bf’s mother. I can only imagine what this past year has been like for him, for both of you.

I’m not trying to be mean here because I do remember your struggles with your family, but relying on your mother as the sole communicator through out your family may be like using a soup can and a piece of string. If it were important enough for you to have your sibling know about your bf’s lose then it should have been up to you to communicate that news, not your mother.

The facts are clear that your mother has no liking or interest in you BF, she didn’t invite him last year, hasn’t told her closest friend about him, yet you laid this at her feet to tell all of your siblings news regarding his mother.

Often when we begin to get healthy we expect healthiness out of those that are not. When we break out of that circle of dysfunction (family) we have to remember we are still dealing with un-healthy people who also grew up with separate and individual issues that may or may not be the same as our own.

It sounds to me like you are still expecting your un-healthy siblings to be different, it stinks that they are not, it’s hurtful they don’t reach out more or acknowledge you or your children. But it seems to me that you broke out of that circle of family dysfunction so they view you as the outsider which is very normal with family dysfunction when someone breaks away and becomes healthy.

Acceptance is really your only serenity here, accepting them as who they are so you don’t continue to expect the un-expectable from any of them.

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

November 5, 2009
4:04 pm
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lollipop3
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Hi Ladies.....MsG, Ready, Atalose...,

((((Ready)))),

I'm sorry you are going through this and that you have been hurt.

I can relate so much to what you have written here. Not with my parents but with my siblings (sisters specifically).

I will continue to follow this thread and hope you find some resolution and/or acceptance of this unfortunate situation.

Atalose,

As always, your knowledge and insight is awesome. You are such a gift to this site.

Reading your post has given me a lot to process and think about.

Thanks to you both.

Love,
Lolli

November 5, 2009
5:30 pm
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MsGuided
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What atalose said is spot on.

Triangulation is what that form of communication is called and the only way around it is direct contact.

If something needs to be said to a specific person, just say it.

Everybody is probably trying to create their own healthy lives so they do what fits with their postion. Avoidance is usually the status quo.

Ready. You need to figure out what your role in the family is and if it's worth it to make an effort.

If you're a scapegoat GOOD LUCK!

I chose to desengage, let it all go, and not expect anything to be "normal".

Siblings? What siblings?

You know who really loves you when they remain loyal, walk to your door, regardless of the mistakes you make or the pain you feel.

November 5, 2009
7:39 pm
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readyforachange
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(((MsG))) thank you so much for the article. I will print it out and read it. You're right it is long! Thank you too for your honesty, I appreciate that and need to hear it.

(((atalose))) you are SO right. I should not have assumed that my mother would take on the responsibility for communicating with my sisters. It is my responsibility. Our relationships are strained, and always will be. But, I need to continue to tell them the things I want them to know, or choose not to at all. Thanks for the dose of reality. It was not at all mean. I need to accept them for who and what they are.

(((lolli))) thanks for your support and kind words. I feel like I'm so strong sometimes, and then I slide backwards when something like this happens.

I have a lot to think about. Going to a coda meeting tonight, and counseling on Monday. Lots of work to do. I do plan to talk openly with my mother about Thanksgiving and what I am choosing to do. It is my choice.

November 5, 2009
9:54 pm
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atalose
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Ready,

Another book you might want to read is called “Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome”. It explains the dynamics of the family, the roles each person plays within that family and how to break the cycle.

Sometimes it helps to remind ourselves that behaviors are learned, your mom learned how to cope with in her own dysfunctional family by how her mother and others related to the alcoholic. Living the façade of the perfect family is classic with in alcoholic homes. Needing everyone to be perfect is also classic coping, if no ones gets into trouble and remains perfect then no light will shine on the family and more importantly the alcoholic.

Then add to all of that the Catholic religion. I don’t know about you but I was also raised Catholic and the God of my childhood was angry, kept score and was very punishing in nature. I was constantly told how God was going to punish me for this or that.

I think your plan for Thanksgiving is a great one for you.

(((ready)))

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

November 5, 2009
10:50 pm
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readyforachange
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atalose...my counselor has talked with me about Adult Children of Alcoholics, as she feels our family dynamic was typical of an alcoholic family.

I did call my mother and ask her if she had told my sisters. She told me she talked to 2 out of 3 of them over the weekend, and she is pretty sure she mentioned it. She went on and on about how there were so many distractions and interruptions during their conversations, but she was pretty sure she told them. The other sister she hadn't talked to.

I didn't have the energy or time to call them all. I know, it's a cop out. But with the different time zones, and their work and family schedules, they are seldom available to talk to me when I call. It's never a good time. SOOOOO, I sent them a nice email, letting them know about my BF's mother's death, and updating them about what is going on with me and my kids, and what our plans are for the holidays.

An hour later, here is the response I got from one sister:

Hi,
Thanks for the update. I tried to phone you last friday afternoon. i will try again tomorrow. i've got both kids nagging me right now so i can't write.
Talk soon,

WTF???? I will tell you that there was an entire paragraph in my 4-5 paragraph email about my BF's mother losing her battle with cancer and how difficult this was for him and his family.

Does this response seem ODD to any of you???

November 5, 2009
11:10 pm
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sdesigns
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Hi Ready: Sorry to hear about your bf's mothers passing. I know that was expected but hard, nevertheless.

Lately I've been reading about A C of A's too, and its all very interesting. I think you'd gain some insight from it.

Now don't get mad at me for saying this- BUT what I get from this is that you are upset that your bf isn't getting acknowledgement from your family. In a dif way, do you think its a round about way for you to get acknowledgement from them? They don't seem to care one way or the other about your bf so their ignoring his mothers death doesn't seem out of character for them. In fact since they barely pay any attention to you either it doesn't seem to be an abnormal response FOR THEM.

You can't make them care or be interested. I doubt my family would act any differently than yours, in fact they would do even less. Indifference is the norm in my family- and thats not good enough for me anymore. But since thats their best, I just let them be indifferent and don't even bother trying to be acknowledged. It just sounds to me you are expecting something from them that they just can't give.

I think what you desire from them is NORMAL but they aren't able to act normally and therefore can't meet your needs/ expectations. And you can't force it out of them.
(((((Ready))))

November 6, 2009
5:59 am
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nvr2late
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ready, wow!
great advice here and sounds like a lot of what is going on in my ex's family.
but I think that for your family to not say a word about the passing of your b/f's mother is strange to say the least.
how hard is it to say that I am 'sorry' and send some flowers? maybe this just cuts too close for your mother?
Seeing things like this happen (death) maybe she is feeling like it could happen to her and if she just ignores it, it will go away?

I don't know how to say that, expect that it is really strange.
the article was great that was posted..N's are totally that way and especially thrown in there, the child of an alchoholic.and I enjoyed reading it...as I know what NOT to do with my kids, what my ex's mother does and my ex is a N.

I don't know if it pays to keep bringing this up to your family? I guess that they are not going to reach the way you want them to, for some reason, they don't feel like they have ties to your b/f....after 2 years, I would think that they would at least acknowledge what has happened!

hang in there, the people you are dealing with are not rational 🙂

nvr

November 6, 2009
8:00 am
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atalose
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ready,

Given your family origin and history, no the response does not seem odd. To a healthier person from a healthier family origin, yes your sister’s response was odd, kind of cold and lacking any sympathy towards your bf’s mother passing.

She did acknowledge receiving your e-mail, that’s kind of a plus since you say in the past many would go ignored. This may be all your sister is capable of giving.

My brother is the same way, distant and disconnected from me and my parents. His life is all about him, his wife and her son, unless of course he needs something. I’ve had much disappointment from him. I’ve waited on replies to numerous emails and hurt from phone calls that were never returned. I’m physically detached from him as he lives on one coast and I on the other. I’ve learned how to emotionally detach from him which includes not sharing much about my self, my kids or my daily life as he never asks anyway. I’ve learned his dance moves so to speak and I mimic them. I don’t respond to his emails right away and when I do they are void of any emotion, are short and sweet because it is what it is and I can’t change HIM.

It’s not tit for tat kind of stuff either it’s about speaking HIS own language and believe me it’s helped me tremendously.

((ready))

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

November 6, 2009
4:00 pm
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readyforachange
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(((sd))) Thank you...you are so right. I am looking for some kind of acknowledgment from them. Some semblance of normal, and I won't get it. Ever. I think the more time I spend with my BF's family, and see how normal they are, I see how dysfunctional my family is. It hurts. And, I am raw right now with the work I've been doing in therapy, opening up old wounds from my childhood. Bad idea, or bad timing.

(((nvr))) thanks for your input. You are right, they are not rational. I am asking for something that none of them can give. My mother hosts dinners at least once a month for people at her church whose family members die. My sister would drive across the country for the funeral of someone she hasn't seen in 20 years. But neither of them can acknowledge that my BF's mother died.

(((atalose))) yes, a response was nice, I suppose. This is the sister who I am closest to, though, and I was absolutely shocked by her email. I have distanced myself lately, after years and years of being the one to bend over backwards to have normal communication with them all. It was futile.

SOOO today's episode...

I get an email from another sister, asking for my BF's address so she can send a card. This is the one who my BF and I spent a week with this summer.

No reply or call from the one who sent the weird email last night, or the other one.

Got a call from my mother today telling me she needs my BF's address because she has had a card to send for a week now, and keeps forgetting to ask for his address. Mind you, I've talked to her 5 times since his mom passed away. And, when she called to respond about whether she had told my sisters, she made no mention of needing an address. I was very abrupt with her, since I was driving from one work meeting to another, and told her I'd get her the address.

My gut feeling is that I don't want to give either of them the address. That is so childish, but it seems like they are only doing this because they now feel bad that they didn't acknolwedge it at all, to me or to him. I am angry with myself for "guilting" them into taking some action. My motive was really to see if they were all aware of her death; but now it seems like I was crying out for attention from them. Maybe I was, in a backhanded way. I don't know.

I wish you could have heard my mother's voice. Cocktail party talk, I call it. Laughing as she told me that she had been carrying around this card for a week, and kept forgetting to ask me about her address.

I don't believe her. Isn't that terrible? I truly believe that my own mother is lying to me to make herself look good. Instead of apologizing for not acknowledging her death, she lies. She couldn't admit that she was wrong, or hurt me, or should have done something else. Maybe she doesn't even know that.

Why do I think my mother would lie to me?

November 6, 2009
4:19 pm
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ready,

You think that she is lying to you because you know she is.

She is doing all of those things you mentioned, trying to make herself look good (remember, having the need to be perfect is classic in alcoholic upbringing) She is not going to admit she is wrong or hurt you or should have done a thing differently. (because then she would have to do something out of her norm which is too difficult and goes against her rigidity – she’s inflexible because that’s one of the rules of an alcoholic family.

The four main rules are:

1. The rule of rigidity

2. the rule of silence

3. the rule of denial

4. the rule of isolation

It’s extremely painful and difficult when we begin to understand our own family dynamics and why things were the way there were.

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

November 6, 2009
9:02 pm
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HUH!

Those rules? My Mom and dad are like that.

I don't know much about my grandparents. They were in Holland and we're in Canada. Communication wasn't a strong suit with my parents. I heard mostly good things about my dad's parents. Mostly a rosy picture and how hard working and sad things were due to the depression and then they became ill with lung disease and cancer.

My Mothers father died in his Forties of lung cancer, but I do know he was horribly abusive and exploitive toward his family. I don't know if anyone was an alcoholic.

I'm not going to dredge it up with questions but interesting what I'm reading here.

Ready. It sounds like the other sisters are being avoidant. That's how they cope with the dysfunction. They just want it all to go away. Bury themselves in their own lives and pursuit of perfection. ( my sister is the perfect one) Maybe it's not a slight toward you, but they just can't cope with the emotions stirred when there is contact.

Who am I kidding. Silent treatment IS a slight!

Have they ever told you what they think about the family dynamic? (probably not. Keep it all a secret)

I feel a HUGE void, due to the neglect i experienced growing up. I would reach out constantly, craving my Sibs attention ( mainly my 2 sisters) and it would never turn out the way i wanted or needed.

It IS futile.

I just had to switch my thinking. This has just happened in the last few years ( one sister died 2 yrs ago) and i am not through it yet. I realize it isn't up to me. If they don't come my way, on their own , then i am wasting my efforts. I set myself up for my own pain.

My Mother lied all the time. She's gone now too. Last June.

I just have to accept it and move on. I have to stop blaming myself for my own well being.

BTW. That is SO TACKY, for a MIL, to send a condolence card 3+ months after the fact. But she's trying to save face now.

It isn't terrible you're seeing your mom for who she really is.

November 8, 2009
3:59 pm
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(((atalose))) wow, those rules so describe my family. I do really need to look into ACA and read about it.

(((MsG))) I do agree that they just deny what is going on, live their own lives and pretend that the dysfunction doesn't exist. And NO, we never talk about any of it.

SOOOOO yesterday, my mother calls to tell me that my oldest sister HAS decided to come for Thanksgiving, after wavering back and forth for months. Somehow, it all just broke down for me. I lost it. I was on the phone with her for 1 hr. and 15 minutes, and I laid it all out there. I told her that my BF had invited us all to Thanksgiving, and that I was going to go there for part of the day while my kids were with their dad's family. I told her I was hurt that she didn't invite him this year, or last year, and that in her world, he doesn't exist. She doesn't talk about him, ask about him, invite him, include him. She justified everything. I don't ask you about him because I don't want to pry. I don't invite him because I thought he'd be spending the day with his family. I don't include him because I don't know what "your intentions" are. I told her none of those things were acceptable reasons. I have dated him for 2 years. It doesn't matter if he has plans with his family, he should be invited to spend time with ours. It doesn't matter what our intentions or plans are, whether or not we get married he is a part of my life.

It went on and on. I told her I was in counseling. I had not shared that with her yet. I told her I was having a difficult time dealing with my father's death, being the only one of my siblings who had to see him after he passed, the one who had to help go through his things, write the thank you notes, and the only one who did not have a significant other at the time to support me through the pain of his death. They all came for 5 days or so, and then went back to their corners of the world. My mother has been talking so much lately about her death...making me sign papers, and put my name on all her bank accounts, and telling me what she wants done when she is gone. "Empty out my safe deposit box right away." I told her I didn't want to hear it, with my BF's mom's battle with cancer, and dealing with my dad's death in therapy, and her talking about death all the time. It's just too much, and I know that when she is gone it will be me they call. Me who has to go to the house and find her, and call everyone else. And when they all go home after 5 days, I'll be left to clean out her house.

I talked to her about my marriage, and how she told me "try harder" and "you're being too sensitive" when I told her about my abusive alcoholic husband. She told me that at one point in her marriage, she wanted to kill herself. She had it all planned out, but knew she couldn't leave her children. That was a shock to me. I never imagined that she was unhappy. She pretended everything was fine.

I told her I was angry at my sisters for ignoring us, and only being guests in our lives. I resent having to put my life on hold when they decide to come into town, often with little notice...because my mother expects me to cook and clean and entertain and plan activities for everyone. It sucks. And it isn't fair to me, and I told her so.

I just let it all out. I cried, and raised my voice, and didn't hold back.

And then I felt guilty. I called her later that day to apologize for being so bold, and for laying all of that on her.

I don't know that it helped, I don't know that it was a good idea. But I did it.

And now I have to deal with it. What do I do now?

November 9, 2009
6:23 am
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ready! good for you laying it all out there!! that must have taken some guts!!!
sounds like you are doing the right things, and that you are handling what needs to be handled..in the way that you choose, do NOT feel guilty about that at all!
you have every right to say what you think and what you need.

the rules are unbelievable, sounds so much like my ex and his family, I need to look into that too.

it is weird that something as 'little' as a bottle can untie families for generations.

interestingly, no one sees it until the damage is done.

we are being more aware as a society.
too bad the people in our lives cannot see it!

that is because they have lived it, learned it, and don't know anything different.

we are breaking the cycle.

that is a great thing.

nvr

November 9, 2009
12:26 pm
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(((Ready)))),

Good for you! I can only imagine how difficult that must have been for you to be so honest and vulnerable with your feelings. And you have nothing to feel guilty about. You did what you had to do for youself. I'm so proud of you.

My best suggestion at this point is to now let go of the results. You said what you had to say. You let them know how their behavior has made you feel. Now you must leave it to them to do what they will while you continue to work on the things you can control...you, your recovery, your life.

Now if I could only gain the courage to do what you did with my own siblings......

Take care,
LOlli

November 9, 2009
12:48 pm
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I think what you did was great...cathartic...healing for you. It is so important that we be HEARD...even if they don't choose to listen and take responsibility, at least we can speak up and get it out in the open. I am really proud of you.

- Ma Strong

November 9, 2009
1:02 pm
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It No Longer Matters
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WOW!1! I just took the time to read about the narcissitic mothers. I always knew there was more to my mother than the alcoholism. Could this explain some things? Wow. thanks for posting.

Bitsy

November 9, 2009
1:09 pm
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Good for you ,Ready. I know that was hard but the dam was ready to break and it broke. I find it really interesting now that she had said for you to try harder in your marriage, etc when she had considered suicide over her own marriage. That just seems so odd- seems like she would be more understanding of you.

Anyhow, I think you've also put some boundary issues out there with her, and MAYBE now she'll ask if you will do something rather than expect it.

I don't think you should fel guilty either.

sd

November 9, 2009
1:30 pm
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Again, the N article is worth re-reading. I'm so glad people share their family struggles here because I'm still unraveling mine and it's shedding some light.

Ready,

Wow, you sure had courage to tell your sib everything.

You asked what you do now. Congratulate yourself and then you don't have to do anything else for the moment. Expect that your family will continue to act the way that they have done unless they make some major changes. But you can choose how to handle things.

Someone else posted that their family shows up and expects that the person will just be ready to entertain them. It took me many years and I just figured out that I don't have to drop everything if it's not comfortable for me. I still need some work in this area because when my H's family came into town, I told my H how crazy they make things. I did manage to calm down and get some coffee with a friend. My future goal is to not get into it with my H but simply decide if it works for me.

November 9, 2009
7:31 pm
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(((ready)))

Be happy you are starting to claim your life back.

You probbaly felt bad because speaking up means punishment is coming. It's not because you were wrong to voice your feelings.

You're not a spectator, or a servent to them all. Things will continue to shake up as you regain some balance and assert yourself.

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