Author Topic: Kay's Story  (Read 51280 times)


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Kay's Story
« on: October 24, 2011, 08:04:25 PM »
A Brief Introduction:

Hi everyone.  First off, I want to say how thankful I am to have found this messageboard, and all of you and Dr. Grossman.  It’s so hard to find people who know about NPD, let alone ones who can relate to the experience of growing up with a narcissistic mother.

The realization:
I guess I was 28 or 29 when it first occurred to me that my mother was a narcissistic personality. 

The revelation happened entirely by chance.  I was describing some ongoing problems with my mother to a friend and colleague (this woman had also met my NM in the past).  “God!” This colleague said.  “Your mother is such a narcissist!”  Then she went on to describe some issues she’d faced with her N-Mother-in-Law. 

At the time, I still wasn’t entirely sure what this colleague meant.  (Did she just think my Mom was full of herself?) 

Later, I did some Googling and miraculously all the pieces of my childhood seemed to fall into place.  I’d always thought I was the only person in the world with a mother like mine--a mom who fluctuated between raging and giving me the silent treatment, a mom who pitted siblings against one another, a mom who only ever doled out physical affection in an effort to disguise verbal abuse as a joke (“You’re such a brat/bitch/wretch.”  *Hug*  “You know I’m only kidding!  You’re just so much fun to tease!  You’re so oversensitive.  You really need to take a chill pill”). 

For the first time ever, it occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t to blame for the way my mom had always treated me.  For the first time ever, I thought maybe I’m not all the things she’d always told me I was: “difficult,” “naive,” “over-sensitive,” “defiant,” “sick,” “crazy,” “born angry,” “inherently fearful/cautious/reserved/introverted” and on and on and on.

I feel like I’ve spent the past three years mourning the mother I never had and will never have.  But I also go through periods of heavy anxiety and depression and have frequent flashbacks to childhood.  I really want to separate psychologically from my mother and get over all of this stuff.  Because it just keeps interfering with my ability to enjoy the present, in which I am a mother of two amazing children and married to a wonderful, compassionate man.


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2011, 05:18:24 PM »

I was NM’s first-born child.  I only have one other sibling--a sister who is five years younger.

Here is NM’s version of my infancy: I was a colicky baby.  I was born angry/difficult and I would not, could not accept any comfort from her.  No matter how hard she tried, all I did was scream. 

Please note, NM’s descriptions of the way she tried to quote-unquote “comfort” me.  These included getting my dad to string my moses basket to the ceiling with a rope.  Even today this sounds shaky and terrifying.  What about the basic comforts?  Things like, learning the way your baby prefers to be held, cooing back when they coo to you, picking up on the small clues that tell you when they’re tired versus when they’re hungry? 

Now that I’m a mother twice over, I’ve been able to stand back and objectively look at the way my NM deals with babies.  It’s strange the way she can be so smothering/engulfing with her grandchildren, yet simultaneously blind and deaf to their needs.  She thinks “bonding” with a baby means chattering loudly and incessantly in their faces, exposing them constantly to bright lights and noise no matter how scared or over-stimulated they seem.  She never responds to their facial expressions or their burbling sounds (Mom: “I’ve never believed in baby talk.  Children shouldn’t be pandered to.”)  She’s quick to anger with the toddlers.  Grits her teeth, picks them up roughly, doesn’t try to explain anything to them aside from “You MUST do this because I SAY SO.  I am the ADULT.  And you, silly child, are the CHILD.”

A Few of my Earliest Childhood Memories:

I’m so sorry for this...But I’m sure those of you with NMs know how they can be obsessed with all things scatological.  Loads of my early memories involve NM’s obsession with my poop, fears that I wasn’t going frequently enough, etc.  At two and three I was always finding laxatives in my food (NM thought I wouldn’t notice them).  I remember eating ice cream cones and finding pills in them.  Even at that small age, the idea of her sneaking things into my food felt like a huge breech of trust.  I remember many painful enemas.  Specifically one time where she held me down and Co-N/Enabling Dad administered it--they were both laughing while I cried.  Afterward, I got a sheet of butterfly stickers as a reward for enduring it.

I remember one drive home from the grocery store.  I was two or three at the time.  We lived in Texas, the car was hot and I was thirsty.  I was whining (a.k.a repeatedly asking) for a glass of milk all the way home.  The jug was in the backseat.  Mom told me I had no idea how spoiled I was.  “We are the World” came over the radio and Mom cranked it, angrily telling me the song was about children in Africa who had no milk and so on.  By the time we got home I was bawling and asking could we mail the jug of milk we’d just bought to Africa.  Then she called me foolish/silly/etc, shaming me twice over.

Again aged two or three, I remember an older boy in daycare being inappropriate during nap time in a highly sexualized way that doesn’t bear repeating (but made me scared and uncomfortable).  I remember being deeply ashamed of the whole incident and keeping it to myself instead of telling NM because I knew she’d find a way to blame/punish me.

At age three or four, I remember not being allowed to play with the only other children in the neighborhood.  They were a big family and the few time s I played at their house before Mom forbid it, I couldn’t believe how much fun it was (we’d been allowed to be loud, to play big messy games of imagination like “store” or “bank”).  Mom--always possessive and jealous of anyone I liked more than her--told me I couldn’t play with said children because they were thieves who tried to steal toys from our house.  WTF?  For real?  Now that I’m a mother myself I regularly see kids (mine included) who try to take toys home with them following a play date.  This is totally natural and hardly grand larceny.  Either explain to them, NM, that they can play with them next time or let them borrow it until then.  Hence, pretty much my only playmate was NM.  And when I hit aged four, she turned totally icy and wanted little to do with me.

I remember favorite toys disappearing.  Much later, NM would confess she sent them to Goodwill.  (“Come on, you never played with that.  What, you did?  Oopsie!”)
I remember Mom dressing like a toddler too during my toddler years, us in matching outfits, her hair in pigtails, etc.  Especially at kids parties/on my birthday etc.  So stunted and creepy.


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2011, 09:57:44 AM »
Birth of My Sister

So I was five when my NM gave birth to my sister (my only sibling). 

I’ve often wondered about this spacing.  If I remember right, NM seemed to think she couldn’t handle having two children at once, unless one of them (me) was in school full-time. 

Some days, I think NM decided to have another baby right around the time I began to (very minimally) assert my independence, try to be my own person.  Maybe when I hit four or five, she missed having a compliant little baby who was totally dependent on her.  Or even more likely, she only had two widely spaced children because she didn’t want to be outnumbered--she didn’t want to risk kids forming a sibling-bond that didn’t include her.  Because we were five years apart and always at completely different stages of life/development, NM was able to raise GC and me like only children.  Sis and I had far more contact with NM than we ever had with each other.

(As a side note: I find this deeply sad.  One of the most beautiful parts of my day as a mother of two is watching 2-year-old daughter and 5-month-old son hug, roll around together, make each other belly laugh.  It’s also incredible to watch my husband’s family.  He has three brothers and even as adults they’re so close it’s like they speak their own language when they’re around one another.  Mother-in-law said they used to talk to one another in their sleep when they were kids...they’d actually hold conversations.  What self-respecting mother would try to prevent her daughters from having a relationship?)

Anyway, back to birth of my sister....Pretty much instantly, NM made it clear that my infant sister was all the things that I was not.

For a start, GC sister was blue-eyed and BLONDE.  A triumph!  NM always hated her own dark curly hair.  NM spent a lifetime ironing her dark hair, putting it in rollers, using de-frizzing lotions, avoiding moisture or rain at all costs--NM's quote in her high school yearbook was “But my hair will frizz!”  My hair was like Mom’s, and she’s always hated this.  Before my sister was born (I must have been three or four), I remember a car ride with NM in which she told me that people with blonde hair were luckier, prettier than the rest of us.  What a nice thing to tell a brunette pre-school aged child.

Anyway, I don’t remember much contact with GC sister when she was a baby.  I have this enduring feeling that I wasn’t really allowed to hold or touch her, but I struggle to come up with memories that support this.  I just have/had this sense that she was too precious and fragile for my grubby hands.

As GC-sis grew into her toddler years, it was like NM revised the house-rules for her.  Now, a person could argue that this was just typical parenting...being more relaxed with the second kid, etc.  They’d have a point.  But NM sort of liked to call attention to the fact that she treated us differently.  Even though GC-sis was younger, she had later bedtimes.  She was allowed more television (endless television).  They would have special outings together.  I remember NM buying tickets to some sort of Sesame Street musical just for the two of them (NM deemed me too big/grown-up for those kinds of things). 

NM also started trying to get GC-sis into modeling and youth beauty pageants.  When I said I wanted to do those kinds of things too NM replied, “I sent your pictures out when you were little, no one was interested.”  Many years later, GC-sis DID start working with a children's talent agency, but it was one of those sham-agencies--basically NM plunked down thousands of dollars to them for head shots and whatever else and GC sis never even got one real job.

GC-sis was a big tattler.  No matter what I did--big crime, small crime, no crime at all--GC-sis would go running to NM with the info and NM rewarded her for it.  When I tried to do the same, NM ignored me or shamed me for acting like brat.  I distinctly remember  listening to her tell someone that I had to learn to be better behaved than my sister because I was not as “cute” as my sister.

I’ve heard NM echo this message with her grandchildren too.  “Granddaughter number-two is so blond and cute, she can get away with murder.  Granddaughter number-one (my GC’s daughter who happens to have “Kay” as her middle name) is darker and not-so-pretty, so she’s going to have to work harder to prove that she’s a good girl.”  This talk makes me so beyond sick, but that’s a conversation for another entry...NM treats poor scapegoat grand-daughter the same way she treated me as a kid.  NM even calls this grand-daughter “Kay” when she’s scolding her.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 10:02:11 AM by KayZee »


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2011, 08:12:16 PM »
********** With apologies, for some vaguely incestual stuff.****

Kay, aged 6 to 9

So around the time I was turning into the scapegoat at home, I started to throw myself into my friendships.  The concept of the “best friend” is important to lots of girls.  But I think I took it to a new level--probably wanted my best friends to provide all the loving acceptance I wasn’t getting at home.  I needed lots of reassurance from my friends, needed to know that I was important to them, got jealous easily if I felt them start to withdraw.  (Jealous was beginning to feel like my stock-emotion.  I was so jealous of the way NM treated GC-sis.)

Similarly, I was boy-crazy from a very young age.  Not that I ever even talked to many boys, let alone kissed them, etc.  I would just pick one to have a crush on, obsess over him, think my life would be wonderful if only he would return the feeling.  The classic, co-dependent white-knight fantasy.  I probably would have turned into a total hussy were it not for the fact that I was devastatingly shy.  Especially with boys.  They seemed like space-aliens.  I had no idea how to relate to them.  (Co-N enabling Dad was never home, always traveling.  And my house was just soooo female.  Like a bitchy sorority.)

So anyway, friends meant a lot to me.  Friends gave me my only real affection.  NM only hugged me in an effort to pass off some nasty criticism as a joke: “Oh, Kay...You’re such a brat/wretch (hug).  Just kidding!  You’re so much fun to tease!”  I just remember closing my eyes and soaking it in anytime a friend braided my hair, tickled the underside of my arm, etc.  I knew my reactions to friend’s affections wasn’t normal.  I suppose, I probably even wondered in some vague way if I was gay.  Now, I see, it was just because friends were the only ones who ever really touched me affectionately.  With NM it was all painful hair-brushing and painful face-scrubbing, etc.

NM was possessive though.  So she talked loads of smack about my childhood friends.  I was friends with two girls on my street--NM told me that they were each other’s best friends, really, and only tolerated me playing tagalong.  I loved playing with the next door neighbor--NM told me her parents didn’t raise her right, she was too wild, poor personal hygiene, no respect for her possessions etc.  Mom would get deeply pissed off and offended if she gave my seven-year-old friend an apple and the friend asked if she could go and wash it (“I WASHED it ALREADY! NM would growl).  A few years ago on Facebook, a childhood friend from a town we moved away from wrote me to say: “I still remember playing at your house.  I was terrified of your Mom!  She would only let us have one glass of juice each.  And she called us hooligans.  When I asked her what a hooligan was, she told me, “A hooligan is a child who acts like a crazy person!”  WTF?  Clearly, NM was the crazy person.  All of my friends and their moms must have known it, but I had no clue.  I just knew I preferred to play at other people’s houses, where my NM wouldn’t talk trash about my friends.

So I guess it’s safe to say that I was a highly sexualized kid. I’m not sure if it was because of NM or because of something else.  Between the ages of seven to nine, NM used to pinch my butt so hard it hurt and call me “sexy” while she did it.  As an adult, I find this so beyond weird.  (I copied the behavior once at school.  I must have been eight.  I pinched this girls’ butt and got my butt kicked.  She slapped me across the face and pushed me down.)  Also, NM taught me precisely how babies are born from a really early age.  Like, five or six years old?  She had a book--it was a medical book, drawings--with pictures of genitalia and how it all happened.  NM also has some sort of “game” where she pulls toddlers down on top of her and makes them kind of dry-hump her while she makes all these vaguely erotic noises.

Co-N/Enabling Dad was always a bit inappropriate too.  I remember him--drunk of course--commenting at a party (in front of loads of other adult men) that my boobs were coming in.

  A few years ago, I popped in a home video of my first day of school when I was ten (I did it because I thought, “Come on Kay...”  Maybe you’re just remembering things wrong.  Maybe you’re family’s not all that bad).  Anyway, what I saw on that video was Dad telling me, “Don’t you look hot!”  Hot?  That’s not exactly the adjective I’d pick if I were the one talking to a ten year old girl.  In the rest of the video I look so painfully shy and self-conscious.

As an adult, I found out that N-grandmother (NM’s mom) thought my Co-N/Enabling Dad was molesting me.  I take this with a grain of salt.  N-Grandmother thought all her daughters' husbands were pedophiles.  But, about a year ago my aunt told me N-grandmother told her that N-grandmother had seen me bouncing on my Dad’s lap while he had an erection.  I expected aunt to follow up this story with a comment, like, “Oh, you know grandma.  She was barking mad.”  But instead she said, “Oh, big deal.”  As if she believed what grandma saw and, whatever, it could be worse.

God, I’ve never typed all this out in one place before.  It all sounds much more abusive than I ever really realized before.  Until five or six years ago, I really thought my family was normal...How brainwashed.

Anyway, it’s very good to speak so honestly.  I’ve never even told as much to therapists.  It’s just too mortifying.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 08:23:01 PM by KayZee »


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2011, 12:59:47 PM »
So much going on lately, and I’ve been rather bad about keeping my appointment with myself to journal about feelings an memories and that.  Continuing money troubles, DH complaining about necessary budgeting and cost-cutting and so begrudging when it comes to helping with the kids.  I’m the family breadwinner and some days it seems like I’ve fallen right into the DONM trap of co-dependency.   Rarely feel like I’m getting enough support, acknowledgement, help, time to work, but then feel guilty and tortured when I seek it out.  Want to be strong/assertive but fear going to the other extreme--being as overly aggressive and selfish as NM.  I just want to find balance, to be normal, to enjoy my life and have healthy connections with other people.  Beginning to fear this will never be possible. 

Oh well, in the interest of baby steps and trying to find emotional clarity.  I’ll keep at this:

Kay, aged nine to fifteen
with apologies for some vaguely molesty stuff

Probably safe to say this was the worst time of my youth.  It’s probably the time when a daughter needs her mother most.  Only, for me, it was the time NM chose to harass, bully, terrorize and reject me.  Assorted memories:

- Mom absolutely desperate to buy me a bra from aged 8 or 9.  And not just any training bra.  I was always awed by my friends’ mothers who let their daughters wear sweet-little spaghetti strapped bras with little cotton triangle tops.  NM insisted I wear the tightest sports bras.  The kind with this big-bulky outline and V-ed back that made me ripe for ridicule at school--these sports bras were obvious to any nine year old boy who wanted to snap them.  I was not even big-breasted.  NM just couldn’t stand the sight of (her words) my “nipples” popping out through my turtlenecks.  Couldn’t she just have dressed me in things that were less form-fitting?

Lying on the couch, watching TV in a polyester nightgown.  Possibly I was sick?  I must have been ten?  NM kept coming in the room and literally nosing around.  Sniffing every corner like a dog, announcing “Something stinks up here!” Says this over and over to me, later Dad, my sister.  The whole family.  Finally she comes over and shouts, “Oh!  It’s you!  Let me smell you!  Let me smell your armpits!  You have the worst B.O.!”  And so on... Totally humiliating.  All leading my sister to then chime on and on about how I stunk.  I’m not sure NM bought me my first deodorant after that.  Because I swear I didn’t get any until it was  in the “recommended” on the junior high school gym handout.

- I must have been eleven or twelve when NM became anxious about the idea of me menstruating.  Surprisingly, she bought me a box of pads and left them in my bathroom vanity.  During one doctor’s appointment (she always stayed in the room with me), she asked the male, family doctor when I was going to get my period.  He asked her to leave the room, and she gave a weirdly happy smile and complied (this is very unlike her to do anything without asking questions or being difficult).  So I am still in my ballet tights, the doctor pulls them down to my ankles and puts his fingers in me for a minute or two.  Is this normal?  How could it possibly tell him about when I’d get my period?  I met my mother back in the waiting room and she asked nothing, NOTHING, about what the doctor did to me after he asked her to leave.  She made some weird statement in the car about how handsome he was.  And if she was a single woman she would go for him.  Bizarre.  Anyway, when I finally got my period two years later and told her about it she couldn’t care less.  Gave me a look like I should have kept the information to myself.

I was desperate to shave my legs in junior high.  All the other girls did.  And I was a brunette--I looked like I was wearing leg warmers.  I asked my mother repeatedly to buy me a razor and show me how.  She always refused, saying something about how the hair on her legs was too coarse as a result of shaving too much or too soon or something.  She still wouldn't let me when I confided that the boys in my gym class poked fun of my hairy legs (Her reply was: "WHY WERE THEY CLOSE ENOUGH TO YOU TO SEE THE HAIR ON YOUR LEGS ANYWAY?").  For years, I wore nude nylons under shorts because I thought it masked the hair.   I was finally allowed just before high school?  But then, NM was always checking to make sure I hadn’t shaved above the knee.  God knows why.

- All my other friends in junior high had makeup cases.  The only reason I did too (and a little bit of makeup) was because I did non-stop ballet and ballet recitals.  Around thirteen, I started putting on a little mascara and beige eyeshadow.  NM thought this was obscene.  She cornered me one day after school, literally backed me up against her bedroom door and screamed about how I shouldn’t be wearing mascara, was wearing too much, looked so embarrassing.  I remember another morning before school when NM caught me putting on makeup, narrowed her eyes, screamed at me about whatever.  When I made some retort, she spat, “Oh fine then, GO AND PUT ON YOUR FACE! YOU LOOK LIKE A FLOOZIE.”

-  I had acne.  But, like, normal pre-teen acne.  A few spots here and there.  But this tortured NM.  I couldn’t cup my cheek in my hand while I was doing homework without her screaming at me to GET MY HANDS OFF MY FACE!  I couldn’t scratch my eyebrow while I spoke to her, without her screaming the same (totally ignoring what I was saying in the process, a look of pure hatred on her face).  She would talk about my bad skin in front of me, to other adults.  She dragged me to all manner of dermatologists.  She made me so freaking stressed out about my skin (and everything else.  Eventually, she insisted I go on poisonous Accutane, which made my hair fall out in clumps and my skin horrendous (acne gets worse before it gets better).  Suddenly I had sprays of acne all over my chest and back, dry skin that burned at the first hint of sun, huge pills that made me sick to my stomach.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 01:04:54 PM by KayZee »


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 09:07:51 PM »
The Role My Dad Played

Find myself thinking about my co-N/enabling Dad more often in the past few months.  Strange, I feel angrier at him than I ever really had before.

I never met my paternal grandmother (she died before I was born), but I have a funny feeling that she holds the key to Co-N D's relationship with NM.  NM claims my Dad's mother was a depressive character--a binge-eating alcoholic who used to spend most evenings alone in her bedroom, eating and drinking wine coolers in excess.  Dad has a weird/competitive relationship with his only sister (an icy lady who exhibits N traits too).  I suspect paternal GM was probably an ignoring narcissist, therefore my engulfing mother probably felt like the answer to Dad's prayers. 

Dad doesn't seem to understand or like women very much.   So it's kind of ironic that he and NM had two daughters.  He doesn't seem to see anything beyond their exterior images or their resumes.  At present, he's always going on about one female colleague he admires, mostly because she knows all sorts of celebrities (cue much name-dropping from Dad).  When I was a kid, he was always telling me about this woman he worked with who used a computer program to ensure that she literally never wore the same thing twice.  (Much later in life, NM told me Co-N Dad had had an affair with this latter woman, although he would never admit it.  Don't really know who to believe in that case.)

Anyway, for all his faults.  Dad could sometimes, on really rare occasions, sort of be almost comforting or affectionate.  Like, I remember having my first real hyperventilating panic attack when I was seven or eight, at which time Dad sat with me, helped me breathe into a paper bag and count backwards to calm me down.  (NM just got all worked up herself, put out and pissed off with me.)

However...Dad was constantly traveling for business, leaving me and my sister entirely alone with NM.  (They were not close with any extended family.) For most of my youth, I only saw my Dad every second or third weekend.  There were even a few years (i was in high school by that time) when he lived in a completely different state.  He always brought back gifts: stuffed animals, roasted peanuts from the flight, pins in the shape of airplane wings.

Dad could be pretty dismissive.  Recently, when I went back and looked at family videos from my childhood, I noticed the way he seemed to hate looking at me.  Whenever I leaped in front of the lens, tried to be in the shot, he almost instantly directed the camera elsewhere.  Out of one whole tape, I only really appeared for a few minutes.  Turns out my aunt was shooting and when my Dad turned and saw her focused on me, he told her to stop wasting battery on me.  Nice.

Dad's also always been a big drinker.  (These days, he's a full blown alcoholic.)  As a kid, I remember feeling really uneasy whenever he was drinking, thinking there was a big risk that he was going to say or do something inappropriate.  Once, when I was about nine, he got drunk at a family party and announced to my uncles that my boobs were coming in.  A few years out of college, I confessed to NM that I didn't like the way that Dad sometimes tried to rub my shoulders when he was drunk; to this, NM got her creepy smile (why would this make her happy?) and said, "I bet he doesn't even realize he does that."

These days, NM sneers at and criticizes Dad constantly (mostly because he's the only one left to abuse, and partly because he's out of work).  But back in the day, Dad was considered untouchable.  I couldn't approach him or bother him with anything because he was the provider, he made lots of money and NM loooved that. 

During the time in my life when NM was nastiest to me (preteen to college), Dad would come up to my room after I'd had an argument with NM.  He didn't want to ask how I was feeling, find out if there was anyway he could help or even try to patch things up between us.  No, he would come up to make me feel even worse and to side with my mother although he rarely even knew the source of or the specifics of the argument.

Also, Dad was the source of many mixed messages.  And he loved to devalue the things that mattered to me: especially having friends, caring about dances and parties, essentially trying in a very normal adolescent way to develop a social life outside of my family.  I remember him chasing me down trying in a really snobby way to get me to read an article about how it wasn't important to be popular, wear fashionable clothes, etc.  Basically, just like NM, he assumed that appearances were everything: because I was a cheerleader (NM MADE ME DO FEMININE ACTIVITIES), that meant I had no brains in Dad's eyes.  In a truly women-hating fashion, he'd decided I had no substance because I spent a lot of time on my hair and my clothes (I HAD TO IN ORDER TO KEEP NM OFF MY BACK) and because I bent over backwards in order to hang out with the popular kids (I HAD TO DO THIS TOO IN ORDER TO KEEP NM FROM HARASSING ME.  Privately, she tore apart other friends I had for looking like nerds or being too poor or coming from the wrong side of town).  Dad did not know me at all because if he did, he'd know that I'd been writing poetry since I was ten, read three books a week and made huge lists of words I'd pulled out of the dictionary.  He once told me: "You're a very pretty girl, but you need to work on your personality."  He had no clue about my personality.  He's never bothered to get to know me.

I've also wondered about this..."work on your personality."  Dad's so-called personality is, dare I say, overworked.  By that I mean, he doesn't seem to have any personality at all.  Just a collection of soundbites and tall tales that he tells over and over again.  Like NM, he listens to a conversation just long enough to be tipped off about something that reminds him of one of these anecdotes and the tape gets loaded: he hijacks the whole dialogue and turns it into a monologue.  He's filled with get-rich quick schemes.  He's lived his whole life as though a multi-million dollar deal is right around the corner (it's never come).  Won't adjust his spending or alter his lifestyle or take a smaller paying job because he thinks he's better than that.

Now that I'm low, low contact and my sister's the GC, Dad is NM's scapegoat and it's hard to feel sorry for him. 


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2011, 09:52:41 AM »
Tiny New Revelation about NM

So when I saw that Reiki energy healer a couple of months ago, she said this: "If it feels as though your NM is tightening her grip on you, it's because she can sense that you're gaining some independence/emotional distance from her.  You're almost free of her, and realizing this, your NM is pulling on you harder than ever."

This rings true.  NM was pulling some pretty desperate final-moves when I visited her over thanksgiving.  

Mostly she was trying to enslave me with GUILT: dragging me all over her house, endlessly pointing out items from her various "collections" of tack, asking me which ones I wanted to inherit, going on and on, morbidly, about how she "isn't going to be around forever."  Bear in mind, she is 59 and totally healthy.  So I have no idea why she's theatrically/dramatically playing the "I'm going to die!" card.

Then, in an age-old fashion, she tried to BUY my affections.  She really wanted to show me this consigned furniture shop (DH and I recently bought our first house).  Once we got there, she went into pure, manic shop-a-holic mode, trying to force all sorts of purchases on me, whether I liked them/needed them or not.  I kept trying to keep her at bay, saying things like, "Yes, Mom.  That's very nice.  But I don't have anywhere to put it.  But there's no way I can bring it home in my car.  But I don't have the money to spend on it right now."  NM's response to this was: "I have the money!  I'll buy it and bring it back to my house!  You can keep it there until you figure out where to put it/how to get it home!"  Meanwhile, she and Co-N D are both unemployed, in financial free fall and I have no idea how she finances this addiction.  I spent the whole shopping trip racked with anxiety, trying desperately to keep her from spending money and cringing at the haughty way she treated the sales staff, which was kind of like "We'll take it!  We'll take it!  Wrap it up, darling!  You do plan on getting the boy to help me to the car, don't you?!"  Finally, when it became clear I wasn't going to get out of there without her buying me something--she kept getting so offended every time I said no---I conceded and let her buy me a drastically discounted table (price tag: $30).  Even then, I felt guilty, dirty and (this sounds odd given the context) used.

She used to do this even when I was growing up in her house.  It was like she knew I couldn't stand being around her, and the only way she could buy all my single-minded attention was by taking me on lavish shopping trips.  Dragging me from store to store until my head spun and I felt weak with exhaustion.

On the drive home from NM's house, post-Thanksgiving, it dawned on me: I remember NM telling me how her own mother (my NGrandmother) became so much nicer once teenaged NM began working in retail.  Teenaged NM worked in a department store, where she got deep discounts, and used to bring home all sorts of clothes and gifts for her mother, who suddenly lavished her with praise and approval.  Deep down, NM probably thinks that's the only thing she has to offer anyone: stuff, material possessions.  And she's just reenacting that old childhood trauma with me.  Over and over because she's incapable of seeing me through the haze of her past hurts and has no idea how to connect with me.  

Usually I come home from NM's house reeling with anger, but this time I felt really sad for her.  She's missed out on her entire life because she's too fearful to examine her childhood and feel the pain of it.   And she has no idea how to connect with the people around her, unless it's with the help of her credit card.  I'm sure many would debate NMs don't really feel love or connection, the buying is just a way to try to control and enslave people.  But still, deeply heartbreaking.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 09:54:34 AM by KayZee »


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2011, 08:42:54 PM »
Rites of Passages

So I think it's safe to say my NM has ruined most every rite of passage/special occasion I've ever had.  Various memories:

- The day I played the Virgin Mary (a part I'd longed for) in the church Christmas pageant.  Immediately afterward, NM critiqued my performance--told me that I'd "tossed" the baby into the manger in a "very un-maternal way."

- My junior high graduation: When all the other girls were wearing short frilly dresses from various age-appropriate stores and juniors departments, NM insisted that I wear a stiff, floor-length gown (in memory, it was made from some sort of carpet-bag material) that she found in the matronly section of some fancy department store.  I remember her giving me a terribly hard time about something prior to the ceremony, winding me up, making me feel self-conscious (not that I needed much help), although for the life of me, I can't remember what her problem was.  Did she not want me to wear make-up?  I do know that she alienated me from my grandmother and favorite aunt and uncle that day, telling them that she'd overheard me talking to a friend and referring to them as "my stupid family."  Even immediately after the fact, I couldn't remember saying that.  I went over it a million times in my head, wondered if I said it without realizing it?  Wonder if I'd been complaining about my mother to said friend and NM twisted it?  Still can't figure it out, but later NM told me my favorite aunt and uncle were so deeply offended that they left with the flowers they'd brought for me.

- My high school prom.  I came home tremendously excited because I'd won a place on the homecoming court.  (I was not the prom queen, but a quote-unquote "princess.")  I came in the door saying, "Guess what, Mom?  I'm a princess!"  To which NM icily replied: "Oh yes, Kay.  You're such a freaking princess.  I've always known that."  This sounds like it's supportive, but it's actually shorthand.  Sometimes, instead of calling me a "spoiled brat," NM simply accused me of being a "princess."  When NM said it, it meant the same thing.

- My college graduation.  NM and GC sis showed up late, and left early because it fell too close to the date of GC sis' prom and NM had to help her "prep" for it.

- My wedding.  This was the worst of all.  NM was openly hostile to DH every day leading up to the wedding.  She literally pushed him off when he tried to hug her ("We don't have that kind of relationship," she told him).  On the eve of our wedding, DH told NM, "Tomorrow, we're gonna be family!"  And NM meanly replied, "Be careful what you wish for."  NM dressed for my wedding like she was dressing for a funeral--long black dress, wide black hat pulled down over her eyes.  She can be seen in every photo with a pissed-off expression on her face.  She sulked the entire time.  Told my sister-in-law that she "wasn't a fan of DH."  Refused to socialize with anyone.  Kept pulling me aside during the reception and scolding me like a child for things I'd done wrong or was about to do wrong.  (NM scolded me when she overheard that DH and I had phoned my aunt and uncle who couldn't be there.  "You called them and you didn't even call your GC-sis!" She spat.  Well guess what?  I'd already called my GC-sis and left a message when it went through to voicemail, as always.)

I pray to God NM dies before I do, simply so she doesn't sh*t on my funeral too.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 08:45:10 PM by KayZee »


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2011, 09:19:25 PM »
The Mother I wish I'd had

So in an effort to grieve the mother I didn't have.  And in an effort to hone in on the kind of mother I want to be for my small kids--my wonderful aunt always says, "Don't emulate what your NM did and don't try to do the opposite either.  Do what you've seen other mothers do.  Do what good mothers in the movies do."--I'm gonna try to make a list of the things I wish my mother had done:

- Hugged me often and affectionately.  (Not just when she was trying to cover her tracks or disguise a barb as a joke.)
- Trusted that I knew what I wanted when I expressed my needs.
- Trusted that I knew how I felt when I expressed my emotions.
- Been able to comfort me/listen to me when I felt hurt, scared, angry instead of getting offended, threatened, overly emotional herself, making the conversation all about her, her feelings and her issues
- Played the games I wanted to play.  Do some activity that didn't revolve around shopping, hoarding, buying "stuff."
- Encouraged me to speak up in public without trying to control what I said.  Encouraged me to talk to adults.
- Encouraged me to have friends/socialize.  Expressed real interest in my friends.  Asked me about them.  Made them comfortable when they came over.  Let me be friends with whoever I wanted to, instead of privately teasing me about my "wrong-side of the track"-friends, or my "nerdy/outcast" friends, etc.  (NM only ever let up when I befriended the richest, most popular friends.)
- Cooked me and my sister things we liked, even if she didn't like to eat them, they interfered with her diet etc.
- Let me pick out my own clothes when I expressed interest.  Let me wear things that were comfortable--not dressed me like a porcelain doll.
- Not talked about me to other adults in front of me. 
- Explained things (especially rules) to me in a way I understood instead of simply saying "Because I am the MOTHER and you are the CHILD."
- Let me have a real say in the afterschool activities I did and how often I did them.
- Let me pursue/believe I was good at something that she didn't see value in: art, acting, 4-H.  (NM's favorite "encouraging" speech: "Know this: No matter how good you think you are at something.  There is always someone in the world who does it better than you."
- Really asked me about school.  Not just asked what my grades were.  But asked which subjects I enjoyed and why, how I felt about my teachers, etc.
- Let me feel like I was beautiful in her eyes. NM so critical of my looks, so nit-picky, so quick to tell me that I was no beauty queen.
- Helped me through the normal adolescent milestones without feeling threatened by them: bra-buying, leg-shaving, first period, etc.
- Given me some level of privacy.  Not eavesdropped on my phone calls, read my diary, gone through my pockets and drawers, intruded on me in the bathroom.
- Helped lift me up when I felt down.  NM was elated/happy when I was mildly sick or depressed.  And in the rare moments when I was really having a medical emergency--when I tore a ligament in my leg, when I had a miscarriage at her house--she raged against me and had the rest of the family join in, calling me "selfish."
- Allowed me to be close to my father.  Not spoken poorly about him when his back was turned, calling him "your stupid father" or "my *sshole husband."
- Had a healthy relationship with my father that I could use as a blueprint for my own future relationships.  Wished I'd seen them hug, kiss, express affection.  Wish I saw them argue respectfully.
- Been a healthy feminine role-model herself.  Wish NM had been able to maintain long-term friendships.  Wish NM had known herself well enough to have real hobbies and interests.
- Allowed me to be close to my only sibling and my extended family.  Let me have a relationship with them that didn't involve her.  Not triangulated.
- Allowed me to express interest in boys.  Been nice to my boyfriends.  Asked me about my relationships in earnest.
- Been supportive of me becoming a wife and a mother.

I'm sure there's more, but it's just so exhausting...
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 09:35:58 PM by KayZee »


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2011, 10:26:46 AM »
Argh, had been feeling okay about FOO until yesterday.  Not exactly "positive" about my relationship with them, but at least kind of accepting and/or indifferent about NM's behavior, also about Co-N D and GC sis' various coping strategies, denial, passive aggression etc.  I'd been managing to keep some emotional distance.  Trying very hard not to get too embroiled.

But then GC sis swanned into NM's house two days after DH and I left post-Thanksgiving.  This sounds like hyperbole, but GC sis does this every time I visit.  Really passive aggressive.  She always sets up her visit so we just miss each other and then blames it on "circumstance."  Instead of just directly addressing our strained lack-of-relationship.

Well GC sis is there now, staying for a week, and she has already pumped NM full of so much narcissistic supply that NM is trying to provoke me.  (This happens a lot too. NM is nastiest to me when GC sis is with her.  They attack me like a group of high school mean girls.) 

Yesterday, NM left me FOUR huffy phone messages.  (The battery on my cell phone had died and I didn't receive them until many hours later.)  Aggressive tone in her voice: "Hi Kay, I know you're tired but you NEED to call me."  "Hi Kay, it's Mom.  AGAIN.  Call ME back."  Finally: "Hi Kay, sooo my curiosity is getting the better of me.  Did you take (various piece of writing I once did) out of the guest room?  Did you do that?  Or am I going crazy?  I guess I'm puzzled as to why YOU would DO THAT..."

Why did I take it?  How about because NM had been badgering me all holiday about removing my things from her house.  Stray clothing in the closets.  Photos of me.  Baby photos of me.  Any proof that I existed.  And because I always need said work to send around when I am applying for jobs, etc.  And because I know for a fact that NM hates it anyway.  And it was just going to sit on the shelf, acquiring dust.  NM is just looking for ANY EXCUSE to pick a fight with me over.  ESPECIALLY with GC sis there to prop her up, defend her to the death, talk smack about me.

I'm not sure who I'm sicker of: NM or GC/N-sis who hasn't really spoken to me since an argument we had three and a half years ago.  Midway through the fight, she went running to NM, totally lied about something I'd supposedly said to her and later tried to punch me in the face, while NM cheered her on and my Dad held her back. 

NM keeps telling me that it's "on me" to patch things up with GC sis ("because we only have each other" and "because she (NM) won't be around forever."  And even while I know this is only NM's efforts to cover her tracks and deny any part she's ever played in our messed up sibling relationship, I find myself falling for it.  Calling GC sis (who never returns the call).  Sending her small, supportive emails (which she likewise never returns).

Maybe it's for the best.  In reality, I don't really want a relationship with GC sis either.  At least not while she's in this narcissistic stage/role anyway.  But I find myself really fearful whenever they get together.  Last spring when NM stayed at my house for a miserable week, anytime DH and I tried to set a boundary with her and/or just said something that ran opposite to what NM believes, NM would get really huffy, storm out into our garden and spend an hour venting/gossiping about us to GC sister on the phone.


« Last Edit: November 29, 2011, 10:10:32 PM by KayZee »


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2011, 09:46:24 AM »
The Lesson I learned this week

What an incredibly difficult week.  I can't help feeling very irritated (literally)..DH and I are covered in head-to-toe poison ivy, and I feel a bit like anytime I try to use my voice, someone punches me directly in the voicebox.  Tried to gain a touch of distance between myself and NM and she phoned me every hour on the hour; tried to reach out to GC sis via email (she hasn't responded); got an email that I can't seem to make sense of from a woman I've been--I guess the word is "mentoring"--in a creative pursuit, which was sort of like a supremely abrupt "thanks but no thanks I've got it all covered" and maybe even a questioning of my motives for helping her.

The first two scenarios are business as usual, and I'm trying (and failing) not to feel too hurt by the latter.  Maybe I just took on too much risk there, put myself out too much too soon, but it's very hard not to irrationally decide to clam up again, go into cloister mode, and stop trying to make new friends/help people.

The theme of the week--or at least the lesson I learned--is: You can't help people who don't want to be helped.    Maybe I've been too pushy or controlling?  I don't know.  Maybe this is a narcissistic trait learned from my mother and one I need to work on.  Maybe I should just focus on my own goals for awhile, but then that sort of sounds like a retreat into narcissism.  Maybe I should stop thinking about NPD so much, as it's beginning to drive me crazy.

In short, guess I'm just feeling a little bit down, rejected, dejected and whatnot.  Not really sure how to make myself feel any better at the moment. 
« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 10:40:20 AM by KayZee »


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2011, 11:12:29 AM »
My own N Traits

Lately, I've been feeling like I've reached a point in my recovery where I really need to recognize my own narcissistic traits. I feel tortured by memories of ways I've acted N in the distant past, usually after long stretches at my parents' house.  This is no excuse.  Nor is the fact that I usually never intended to hurt anyone when I was behaving N-ly; it usually felt like a faux pas/social misstep (my social anxiety was/is so great) or like some self-protective instinct (especially in the case of falling out of contact with people who had begun to remind me of my NM and co-ND).  I wish I could just confess all these things to someone (like a Catholic priest) and be absolved.  I wish I N-thoughts and attitudes didn't sometimes feel like second nature. 

I suppose the only way to begin is to just begin and admit:

- Sometimes, I struggle to come up with an empathetic response.  That's not to say that I'm not affected by other people's hardships and emotions--I am, deeply--only that I sometimes feel really anxious and choked sometimes when people confide in me.  Sometimes I'm much too quick to jump in with a fix-it response as opposed to an empathetic one.

- I also really have a hard time being empathetic when my DH is sick with a flu or stomach bug.  I often mentally fixate on the fact that we're self-employed so sick days come out of our earnings.  I really have to remind myself that DH is feeling crummy, needs extra support, isn't in control of his health or illness.

- There are times in my life when I've been a really absent friend or abandoned people because I expected them to hurt or abandon me. 

-  Sometimes I discount/downplay/discredit whatever successes I've had.  There were times in the past when I felt like my professional 'self' was splintered off from my personal-life 'self.'


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2011, 01:49:17 PM »
Wish I had some $ for therapy at the moment.  I feel like I'm just hanging on from moment to moment, and I'm not even sure why.  The kids are thriving, job prospects are looking up, my wonderful in-laws are on their way.  Forced to pinpoint it, I'd say I just feel totally out-of-place, totally disconnected from most anyone, no idea how to improve or change that. 

To compound matters, a bizarre box just arrived from my NM. Every time I'm remotely LC, she sends a huge box of gifts for my kids. This time it was matching pajamas, just like she used to dress my sister and me in; electrical outlet covers (weird); stickers, whatever.  For some reason I felt violated by the sight of it. 

Tried explaining the feeling to DH by phone, but he said absolutely nothing on the subject, didn't seem to hear me, asked if I'd called up this woman I met at the park and invited her over for a play date.  Over-sensitively, admittedly, I hung up feeling like he'd accused me of having no friends. 

Perhaps just a sore subject at the moment, we're still fairly new to this area and only really have two girlfriends here to date.  One, an older retiree, who I find it really hard not to look at as a surrogate mother.  And one, an amazing woman who things have been weird with lately (she'd wanted to go in together on a business venture, but it just didn't work out).  DH seems disappointed that I haven't hit it off with his friends' wives, but they're a tight-knit, almost insular group and I just feel like a third wheel as they speak in shorthand and exchange inside jokes.

Pessimistic admittedly, but maybe things won't ever get much better than this.  Maybe I can't do better than this or feel any better than this.  The smallest things feel like criticism these days, and I can't stop beating myself up. 


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2011, 10:01:05 AM »
Feeling a bit better today.  Realized yesterday's bleak attitude might have been due to the fact that I still haven't managed to shake this infection.  Seven days into antibiotics and I still developed a raging fever around bedtime, lied in bed sweating to death, teeth chattering through the chills.

Did find and watch that documentary Buck.  (Can't thank you enough, Hops, for the recommendation.)  Recognized so much of myself in those tortured horses: the dead-eyed expression, the skittishness, the fundamental distrustfulness of people, the tendency to just "shut down."  Realized, while watching, that my N-parents (who were themselves fearful and lacking in empathy) did their damndest to make me terrified of them and did little to make me respect them. 

Came away from the film with a little more compassion for myself--an understanding that any living creature who'd been raised in an abusive environment would withdraw and develop certain self-protective behaviors and occasionally not even understand why they're acting the way they are.  I feel a bit like the Arabian horses in the movie--the ones who learn to walk with their head down because a rope connects their hind legs to their neck and yanks hard on them unless they do otherwise, the ones who develop a certain gait and posture just because it's the only way they can avoid pain and abuse.  NM stared me down so terribly whenever I spoke to anyone in public (she still does, to this day) or cut me off with a cruel word or mocked me to anyone within earshot, that I just learned to retreat, avoid eye contact, make myself as invisible as possible. 

My challenge as an adult is finding some way to re-materialize in an authentic way.  I spent the first half of my life like a ghost.  Literally tiptoeing around my house, eyes down, head hung, trying not to look at NM because she took it as a challenge or criticism.  But in an effort to change, I won't do what NM did either.  NM claims she just decided one day that she wasn't going to be stepped over anymore, she instantly "found her voice;" I think she just decided to don a grandiose narcissistic mask.

Somehow, must find the strength to just keep plugging away day after day.  Slowly, slowly take on a little more risk.  Gently, gently pry myself open a millimeter more.  Accept that if something goes wrong, it was an isolated incident, not proof that everyone everywhere will always abandon or hurt me.  I need to do this sooner rather than later, or risk setting an awful example for my kids, who will likely sense and internalize my social anxiety. 

Must confess I've always hated the term "inner child," but I'm beginning to wonder whether that's only because I secretly hate my inner child and privately believe that she deserved all the covert-nastiness her parents heaped upon her.  I can't even bring myself to watch old family videos for the emotions that well up in me.  But maybe I will try.  Maybe I will pull some old report cards and things out of NM's house, try to see if I can find any hint of the personality who existed beneath the fear.  There must be more to me than fear and terror.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2011, 10:03:25 AM by KayZee »


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
Re: Kay's Story
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2011, 02:17:30 PM »
Found myself better able today to stay emotionally detached during phone conversation with NM, but hours afterward, my stomach is still knotted. 

I set this boundary in September: DH and I will come to your house for Thanksgiving, but we're spending Christmas here (DH's family is visiting).  It's a crowded house on Christmas Day, but you're welcome to make a day visit anytime in the days leading up to Xmas or the days following it.  NM and Co-N D said sounds good.  GC sis then cancels on our folks' for Christmas, as do my aunt and uncle who are sick of my NM's drama.  Then, NM gets a bout of N-rage, DH caves and invites the folks over, Co-D accepts and NM gets all haughty "Nooo, we're not coming."  Now, a week before Xmas, just after we already ordered the roast (it only feeds six), NM calls to say they might come up to see us on Christmas Day after all, but they're not sure.  They'll let us know.  So there's another boundary trampled.  I'm just supposed to wait with baited breath (actually with horrible anxiety) to see if she's going to come and ruin my Christmas.  I'm sure she will.  Drop digs all day about how I'm bad at hosting, bad at throwing Christmas for my kids.  Say nasty things to me about my in-laws.  Say nasty things in front of my in-laws...Last Christmas when they were together, NM cornered me and said, "Did you see how uncomfortable your mother-in-law got during dinner, when I was going on and on about the importance of having straight, white teeth?!  She has horrible teeth!  And she knows it!  She actually put her hand in front of her mouth she was so embarrassed, ha ha!"

Then, NM proceeds to go on and on about how 'sad,' 'difficult' and 'nasty' my GC sis's divorce is going.  Translation: She loves the drama.  Loves feeling proved right, as she has always very vocally hated my sister's husband.  She proceeds to tell me how she called my sister's soon-to-be ex up and "tried to tell him that she was there for him, that he had her support."  Translation: She called him to start drama, and when he reacted to it (he allegedly started yelling), she felt as though she had won.  She probably tape recorded it too.  She's convinced that he has "an anger problem."  Translation: projection.  She actually referred to my GC sis' daughter, Rebecca, as "My Rebecca."  Translation: my property, my source of narcissistic supply.  And then, she seemed surprised when my sis' ex flew off the handle, saying he was Rebecca's father and Rebecca was his daughter too.

NM concluded the conversation with her Academy Award-winner "tears."  She tells me: "The next time I see you, I just need a really big hug from you okay?  Something that tells me no matter what happens, we'll always be a family."  Ick.  Translation: "The next time I see you, I need you to emotionally prop me up, make me feel really powerful and right.  I need to know that no matter how poorly I treat you, you'll let me get away with it."

The part that made me sickest of all was when she told me...."No matter what, I cannot walk away from you and your sister.  Because you're my daughters."  Translation: "No matter how many boundaries you put up or how much emotional distance you try to get, I will hunt you down.  I will take from you and take from you until there's nothing left.  Because I own you.  You're my property.  You're my slaves."

I'm so angry and upset, but I don't want to show it because my inlaws are visiting.  I don't want them to think I'm some sort of cold-hearted bitch, a monster daughter who isn't nice to her parents.  I can't even admit to anyone that I don't want to spend Christmas with my parents.  It will ruin my Christmas.  I can't even say any of these horrible negative comments out loud because I don't want to come off like my nasty mother. :(