Thursday, April 03, 2008

Adult Child of a Narcissist

During my appointment yesterday, she finally gave my mother a name: Narcissist. I knew the world revolved around her, but I never gave it an overall classification. It's kind of funny, considering that I had diagnosed P's mother with Narcissistic Personality Disorder several years ago. However, I neglected my own, but that's probably part of the pattern she trained me to follow.

With my mother, I knew everything sprang from her poor self-esteem due to her father. I guess I gave her a bye, because I knew the source. Then gave her another bye and another. I never lumped together the various behaviors, just considered them as a result of their basis in her family, something she couldn't change or escape. I know she is always seeking to fill a void left by her upbringing. (Here are some pertinent books I hope to check out.)

Since I researched this a bit last night in my quest to learn more, I have smiled. I am released. She will never change. She will never think she's wrong. She will always think everyone else is wrong and only there to service her. There is genuine reason to give up hope. It's okay. People don't become unnarcissistic. And they just get worse with age. Meanwhile, I can give up on the hypervigilant way I became to protect myself against her attacks. I don't have to be on pins and needles.

Of course, logical Norma, during our walk last night, asked, "And how long have you been seeing your therapist?" I could only nod. In July, it will be ten years, a very long time. Considering it took her over eight years to realize that I have some version of ADHD, I guess it isn't surprising that she's finally seized upon this with my mother. Strange, though, because she was certainly in on the talks about P's mother and I have never held back on discussing my own. Norma figures she just read some professional continuing education on the subject and it clicked.

[I like my therapist. She takes my insurance at the 50% level for mental health and doesn't charge me the remainder. I really appreciate her. She has a Ph.D. from one of the best schools in the country. Sometimes, though, I just don't know.]

To my mother, a diagnosis would not matter hooey. You wouldn't think a diagnosis would really matter so much to me, but it does. I've now read a number of accounts of mothers like my own, mothers like some of you have. I realize that nothing can be done and that it is healthy and rather normal of me to want distance. And simultaneously it's so common for (adult) children to want to maintain ties, holding out for that loving and responsive mom. Hey, I'm normal!

Also, I think my father was drawn to her because his mother is the same way. I firmly believe that's why my mother loathed her mother-in-law so much. And why I also cut ties with my father's mother various times in my life when I felt mistreated. You might remember that just before my grandfather recently died, he remarked about his wife, "Her mean has mean."

As an example of how entrenched this is to my psyche, I remember as a child when my mother would quote that birth day poem. I was born on Thursday and Thursday's child has far to go. Until I was probably 30, I thought it meant that Thursday's child is inadequate. Thursday's child has a lot to make up. That is my mother's voice. When I finally learned that "far to go" meant travel, I was floored. It goes to show how she wired me.

Ha! I still think I have far to go because of the position she put me in, but I hope I can actually travel more along the way! And be very glad I'm not a Wednesday's child, because I can't imagine a lifetime of woe much worse.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the club. And I mean that in all the community-building, you're not alone senses of the phrase. Feels good to let go, mostly, right? The first time I really understood, took to heart "it's not me, it's her?" What a weight off the shoulders.

Aunt Becky said...

My mom has those tendencies as well, and it's hard as hell to deal with sometimes. But knowledge is key here.

Good luck.

And hey, I was born on Tuesday and I promise, I have no grace.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I've been running into this personality type a lot lately and never thought to see if it fit her. Thank you for sharing this!

Val said...

I'M the Wednesday's child, babe!

Cricket said...

*Snort* right back! I was waiting on somebody to call me on that one! I think you've gotten your Wednesday quota, Val.