My awakening or self-healing journey as I prefer to call it never ceases to blow my mind! The rock I’ve overturned recently was a biggie! Yet another previously unconscious layer of my life has presented itself to me and yet again I am absolutely floored. Realisations such as this are what I love because it means that my self-healing journey is PROGRESSING. It’s confirmation that I am moving forward with soul growth. Yaaaay!
What I finally realised is this: My mum is a covert narcissist. EPIC STUFF. It was a major AH-HA moment for me – weight lifted from my shoulders, questions suddenly had answers, the picture of my relationship with her was all of a sudden not so murky. An unexpected and totally awesome side effect was the end of my anxiety – I haven’t had a single attack since I went “no contact” with her. Anyone who has suffered at the hands of a narcissist knows all about the pervasive nature of such a relationship so for those who aren’t familiar here is a definition of narcissistic abuse:
Narcissistic abuse is covert, and often disguised as love and care, but it’s anything but. It’s not a single act of cruelty like an insulting comment, or verbal abuse laced with a string of profanities. It’s the insidious, gradual, and intentional erosion of a person’s sense of self worth. It’s a combination of emotional and psychological abuse aimed at undermining a person’s identity, for the sole purpose of obtaining control for personal gain. It can involve patterns of dominance, manipulation, intimidation, emotional coercion, withholding, dishonesty, extreme selfishness, guilt mongering, rejection, stonewalling, gaslighting, financial abuse, extreme jealousy and possessiveness.
– Bree Bonchay
Reaching the point of being able to identify my mother as the toxic poison in our troubled relationship was many years in the making. I guess I began to see her with different eyes when I started dating my partner – he identified some behaviours of hers that he considered to be manipulative. My reaction was somewhat Stockholm Syndrome like because I felt as though his words were attacking me personally when in actual fact he wasn’t attacking anyone he was merely communicating his observations. My *textbook perfect* cognitive dissonance meant I fiercely defended her for quite sometime until I simply could no longer ignore the truth in his words. I began to identify for myself certain traits of hers that I no longer meshed with but nothing distinctive between us changed. Figuratively this was the first brick in the wall coming down.
We are only as blind as we want to be.
– Maya Angelou
That was about 10 years ago now and for basically the last decade my relationship with my mum has been on a rather slippery slope. For the duration of this time I have been trying to figure out why this was happening. And for a very long time nothing seemed clear to me but as life rolled on it became increasingly difficult to ignore the mounting list of things about her that made me feel either severely anxious, confused, disconnected, guilty or angry. Eventually it reached the point of not wanting to see her or speak to her at all because the anxiety I felt at the very thought of those things consumed me. I would wake up with a tight, heavy feeling in my chest on days that I knew she was in town. I’d be out of the house from 8am until 5pm to make sure I wasn’t home for her surprise visits. Initially I didn’t even know I suffered from anxiety, I didn’t know there was a name for what I was feeling. Gaining an understanding of this meant I could process the attacks from a new perspective instead of feeling bewildered and disappointed in myself.
Working through this anxiety and consciously learning to identify the triggers pointed me in just one direction – my mum. Specifically, it was her scornful looks, her disapproving & judgemental nature, her sense of superiority, her “I have a perfect life” presentation, her supreme ignorance, her unconscious consumer lifestyle, her keenness to come between my partner and I, the twisted conversations, the random drop ins, buying my children’s love by showering them with gifts (beyond normal grandparent spoiling), her shocking attempts to create disconnect between my children and I, her use of silent treatment in the company of my kids, her blatant and disgusting IN YOUR FACE disrespect for my partner, the selective amnesia – THE LIST GOES ON….. Ugh, it’s exhausting.
I think it was the fact that by this point I could very specifically identify the personality traits of hers which led me to the eye opening and frankly spine shivering world of covert narcissism. Holy crap, what a rock that was to uncover! We are talking about seriously fcuked up people (brutal but true) with personality disorders for which there is no cure. I poured myself into researching this subject and the more I researched the more sure I felt that my not-so-professional but very personal diagnosis was indeed correct.
The relief I felt from finally having this understanding lasted roughly one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississip……. I thought the hard work was done right up until I realised that the peak I had reached wasn’t the bloody summit; I was only half way there.
I’ll write about the actions I took with her and what changes have been made in the next instalment and will also address the subsequent issues that have been raised in relation to the kids and my relationships with extended family members. It’s all still quite fresh and is ever evolving.
To Be Continued.
Choose LOVE not fear,