My mother may have been more of a disabler than an enabler, but I couldn't help seeing her as weak and insignificant in our family. I never had much of a relationship with her.
She may have been conditioned to yield to narcissistic abuse by her own mother. The more I think about it, the more it appears clear to me that my maternal grandmother, Nana, had at least some narcissistic traits. She kept badmouthing people. No one was as beautiful, elegant, well-dressed, cultured, and well-bred as her. She delighted in telling humorous stories of how she put people in their proper place. She could never have enough clothes and shoes and her husband worked long hours to be able to provide this for her.
He believed that it was during this overtime work that she started cheating on him with his friend. I don't know what the truth is, but the fact of the matter was that my grandmother and my grandfather's friend were married just a few months after the divorce. My mother then had to learn how to juggle, at age 10, a difficult mother and two father figures who used to be friends but could never again be in the same room together.
I thought I was just conditioned by my father not to show or feel any love for my Nana, but the more I let myself remember her, although she took care of me when I was little, the more I realize that I have no warm memories of her at all. I did feel guilt and obligation and a need to "even things out", but no warmth or affection.
I do remember one good thing about her: as soon as I was old enough, she handed me over to her second husband, my mother's stepfather, so I tagged along on his daily meanderings through the city. This man was the bright light of my childhood. Possibly the only person in the entire family who was neither a narcissist nor a co-narcissist. Just... human.
And my paternal grandmother, Maka, was a textbook case of a malignant narcissist. I knew that even before I'd suspected anyone else in my family of the disorder, before I'd researched it at all. I never could muster an ounce of affection for her.
You can understand how I naturally assumed something was very wrong with me: all these mother figures around me who showered me with "love", "attention", or gifts, and I felt disturbingly little warmth for them as a child. It had to be me, right?
I knew one thing when I was little: I didn't want to grow up to be a woman. Words like "feminine", "lady" and "pretty" made me nauseated. I didn't want to be anything like my beautiful, elegant, posh, ladylike grandmothers.
In my teens, I wore my grandfather's old clothes and dressed almost exclusively in black. All my life, I've been trying to run away from my female models.
Now I have two daughters and they're great. I've learned to embrace the pink, purple, and princesses that Older Girl seems to be pretty interested in at this stage. I don't mind that she likes trying on dresses and experimenting with make-up and nail polish. That doesn't make her in any way similar to my grandmothers.
Maybe I'll try being more feminine at some point too, when I get over some more hang-ups.