Tuesday, July 12, 2011

All about my mother. Or, My Mother and Her Discontents

I'm becoming sure my mother was a child of a narcissist too, but never dealt with it. Instead, she married one, a much worse specimen. This was all she knew.

When she complained to others about anything at all, it was about how her mother wasn't getting her due credit. Her possibly narcissistic mother, who was living with us, was the one babysitting me when I wasn't going to daycare (although she thankfully made her husband take me with him on his daily meanderings through the city, which were the fun part of my childhood), and she didn't feel she was seen as important enough, what with my narcissistic father claiming me and controlling me completely, and his narcissistic mother agreeing to meet me for a photo-shoot of "look, we're taking our granddaughter to the park!"

(All these narcissists were just using me as prey, as a chessboard, as the territory they could fight over and claim. Who did the most for me? Who got to control me? Who was I supposed to be most grateful to? Dear God, I remember people telling me in whispers things that were supposed to make me love them more and be grateful to them more than the others. Well, I showed them. I didn't love any of them. I shut down. They all gave me the creeps. I became cold and emotionally reserved and cynical. Around them, anyway.)

It was still all about her mother. Who demanded her due. Rarely about her. Who got her baby basically taken away from her. She wasn't even allowed to nurse me. She tried, realized she had inverted nipples, and bought a nipple shield. My father, the engineer, who wouldn't let me touch a toy before he read the manual, then figured it out himself (playing with it on his own for a while), then gave me an hour-long tutorial, after which the toy would lose all its appeal, that insane technically minded man who read all the manuals in the world for everyone else, forgot to pierce a hole in the nipple shield. And this was only ascertained much later. And not by him. He claimed the baby, i.e. me, was too weak to nurse because she's starving, and that's why the nipple shield wasn't working. So he promptly bought a bottle and formula and "saved" me. He didn't forget to put a hole through the nipple of the bottle, interestingly enough. So he sabotaged our nursing relationship, like he sabotaged our every relationship from the very start.

But she didn't complain much about him appropriating me. She claimed to her friend that I'd "saved" her from the daily visits to her MIL. Because my father focused on me, he didn't pay the daily pilgrimages to his mother any more. It was cute when I first heard this. But now I resent it. I wasn't born to save anyone. If she wanted saving from her MIL, she should have refused to go. Or, better yet, she should have divorced that horrible woman's son. I was a baby and wasn't supposed to be saving family members from each other or be used as a pawn in their games. I needed saving myself.

Then, she had "fleas" of her own. She was used to being constantly criticized and didn't mind being the butt of cruel jokes. But she had so much riding on appearances in front of others, appearances that were supposed to be kept up by me. Her mother was a lady and looks mattered to her, and my mother internalized this. Not just being pretty, no, you had to suffer in some way, wear uncomfortable clothes because they looked fancy and lady-like. I remember a horrible cap that hurt and itched and got etched into my forehead, and I kept taking it off, crying, but my mother kept putting it on, because it was pretty. There was the oft-told incident of how my mother spanked me into wearing a pretty dress that I didn't want to wear outside because I knew it meant No Playing, Just Posing. I remember being as old as nine and going for a walk with my mother and my cousin and having to be dressed nicely. When we got to the park, we started climbing trees, and my pants got dirty. We immediately had to leave, because I was "embarrassing" her, and she spanked me along the way (that wasn't embarrassing?) although we'd just come and my cousin had to come from another part of the city to go for a walk with us.

I remember having career counseling in elementary school. Part of it included aptitude tests and an interview with a psychologist. I was told I was "above average" and could do most things I liked. I was happy with that. My mother wasn't. She was a psychologist and actually went to the psychologist who tested me and got exact information from her. She shared my exact IQ, which she wheedled out of the psychologist, with me, in a concerned way. "It must be higher than that" she said worriedly. "They applied an adult scale on you, and you're just 14" she added. Until recently, no, to this day, at this very moment, I'm painfully embarrassed by my IQ of 133 on the Wechsler scale (which roughly corresponds to 153 on the Cattel scale)*. I feel utterly inadequate. I only recently did some googling and was surprised to discover it was in fact not that bad. Top 2%. Good enough for effing Mensa. Why wasn't she happy with that? Why wasn't that good enough for her? What would have been?


  1. Wow. This really is a lousy way to be raised. I am sorry this is your experience. My mother was the opposite. She kept telling me I was not very intelligent. Fortunately, never did learn my IQ. When my son was in school they wanted to give him an IQ test I told them 'no.' I got a lot of flak until I told them, "What difference does it make? If he has a high IQ and doesn't use it that is the same as a lower IQ. If he has a lower IQ and knows it, he may not try at things that are difficult." The school was shocked that I could see no benefit of knowing your IQ. Besides I have read your blog for awhile. In my opinion, you are intelligent and very caring. No need to feel inadequate about anything. Your mother really needed to get a life. PS. I am rereading this before posting and realized I may be sounding fairly angry. I am mad at your mother for making you feel less. You don't deserve this. (This is a real hot button for me.)

  2. and so it comes out. yeah, your mother, man. eeeee royal cold bitch. these stories man. ugh. but in a way, it is really wonderful to hear. these are some really good stories man. sooooooo cleeeaarrrr. so so clear. your mom stands very clearly now, whoa, it's like she solidified out of the mist, it is quite wonderful to hear. she's a part of you and it's like we get to SEE her now, wow. know what i mean?

    hahaha that part about your dad made me laugh.

  3. *I actually edited this post because I googled for specifics because I obsessed about it. Because if my IQ isn't high enough then I'm worthless. Sooo sick. I spent decades ignoring my IQ before this momentary obsession with it. It seems this number is supposed to define me and make them see I'm not worthless.

  4. Ruth, thank you. I love how you went all-out anti-narc when your son was concerned!

    I'm not sure she MEANT to make me feel less. I guess she was just so insecure about herself and me and everything and she needed me to "shine" more clearly or something.

  5. Lisa, these were just her fleas. We all have them, as ACONS, and there was more to her. Though I remember little of her, "cold bitch" certainly wouldn't do her justice. Weak, maybe. Insecure, dependent, controlled, conditioned, probably.

  6. anybody who tells you you're 'embarrassing' her for dirtying up your perfect pants and having fun and spanks you into getting into a dress is cold. FLEAS? FLEAS?? are you KIDDING ME? seriously? pronoia, get OUT.

  7. I had this kind of confusion in regards to my mother. In my case, she seemed like such a victim of my overtly abusive and narcissistic father--and she was--but I was always giving her passes for her mindless behavior towards us kids, and me, because of how he treated her, that I now realize was not valid, in my experience.

    I spent my childhood years and most of my adult life, right up until going no contact a couple years ago, feeling basically ashamed and embarrassed by anything and everything, and often by things my son did as he grew up--and I knew not to make him to blame for it, that it was my issue, not his. And I did sometimes goof up, and I let him know when that happened.

    I realized, looking back (relatively recently), that my mother never acknowledged any of her unthinking obliviousness to her kids' situations, she didn't show concern for us except to try to get us to not act afraid of our father. What I took as concern for us when she remonstrated with our father, was just her being uncomfortable with how others would see it. She told me, a few years ago, that one of her sisters had tried to discuss the situation with her, and she was so angry with that sister that she stopped speaking with her for a while.

    In my early teens, I couldn't understand a very vivid and frightening dream I had about her; we were in a barren outdoor area and I was somehow aware she had a bottle of acid that she was going to try to throw on me, and she was standing nearby with her eyes closed, seeming to not be aware of my presence, yet somehow, even as I tried to quietly and slowly walk away from her and get on the other side of some piles of wreckage that dotted the area, tried to move slowly and quietly to keep her from noticing me, or that I was getting out of range and out of sight, she somehow kept obliviously moving in my direction, and she would somehow head right for whatever pile of rubble I had managed to get on the other side of.

    And somehow, in spite of my careful efforts and her not seeming to be aware of my presence, or of much of anything, she was getting terrifyingly closer and closer, gaining several feet each time, even though she seemed to hardly be moving, and thank goodness I woke up just when she got close enough to throw the acid on me. I was so shaken by the dream that it took several minutes for me to calm down and get rid of the terrified feeling. I never reacted that strongly to any of my other nightmares, and always felt immediate relief when I woke from them.

    Now I realize I was so shaken, because the dream portrayed a very distressing reality that I was in denial about, though I knew she regularly would do and say humiliating and embarrassing things to me while seeming to be oblivious to their effect, while I would be internally automatically excusing her by thinking she didn't mean that, just as she had taught me to do.

    She had taught me that by frequently saying that 'he didn't mean it' whenever my father or brother would say rude and mean things to my sister and I, or be acting like jerks. Her rude and mean statements were much less obvious and more subtle. --quartz

  8. Lisa, quartz, getting it slowly. Thank you.

    Lisa, I guess I feel I can't say anything bad about my mother because I somehow still feel it's my fault we weren't close or had any relationship at all. Because I was the cold bitch.

    Quartz, I have a recurring nightmare in which my mother decomposes in front of me - a rotting corpse. Dead. Unreal.

    Not actively toxic, like yours (so scary, the acid dream!), just passively non-existent. Never there. One of his puppets, coming to life when we were out, in front of others.

  9. Did you say that you are just now realizing that your Mother is a narcissist? The scary part to me is that she is a psychologist. I am not against therapy but can you imagine someone paying your Mother to project her shit back onto them?

    Top 2% is awesome and even if you didn't have exceptional brains, who you are as a person before they raped you psychologically is what really matters. Now, you are healing so both you and world can see your true worth. They don't get the last word. Busted!

  10. Cheshire, I didn't say that... but her, ummm, fleas, are beginning to sound more troubling in every post, aren't they? And she spent close to 40 years of her life with him, pretending they had a happy union, keeping up appearances.

    She died almost 10 years ago, and I don't remember much about her, so I don't kmow and I never will what she was thinking and how she functioned.

    She didn't practice as a therapist.

    Thank you for your kind words!


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