Friday, December 23, 2011

Enabler narcissism clarification

I apparently claimed all enablers are narcissists too. I'm not sure I truly wanted to, but it came out that way and I kind of stand by it.

All narcissists have a void at the center of their being. For some narcissists the void is filled by being the main person in everyone's world, while for others it's filled by being the most righteous one, the martyr, the obedient one, the one in the stronger narcissist's shade - and not a real person living and breathing and loving. Just defining oneself far less assertively than one's dominant partner, but still living ON one's definition of oneself and what others might think of it INSTEAD of truly living, if you understand what I mean.

And it's still narcissistic (in being black-hole-empty and living-in-the-mirror) although it's not overtly, dominantly, abusively so.

Facing ALL the Black Holes

There's a reason why being donor conceived matters practically in my journey.

Finding out about NPD has opened many healing pathways for me. I have felt angry and relieved and happy and alive since I found out.

But only since I found out I was donor conceived have I allowed myself to feel sad. And to grieve. Because I know I've always somehow known that I couldn't really expect my father to love me. I've always known that. I've always known at some level that he owed me nothing. And I couldn't bring myself to grieve the father he couldn't be because of his personality disorder. All I could feel was the sheer relief of not having to think of him as the perfect father any longer.

But there was still a black hole I was unable to face because I didn't know it was there.

When I allowed myself to believe there was a father out there I'll probably never know, I started grieving. And feeling sad at times.

And being more alive than ever.

And finally really, truly, totally, madly loving my children.

It's the strangest thing. It just happened. It's like something snapped inside me. Like something burst inside me, releasing liquid joy, allowing me to really love my kids.

A voice inside me said: "They're mine. They're deliciously, wonderfully, tangibly mine. They smell mine and taste mine when I kiss them. There's a bodily joy in the fact that they're mine and no one can take that away from me."

This changed everything. Everything. I wasn't a bad mom before. I did stuff right. I felt a tender love for them before.

But the difference is indescribable. I love them like a mother loves her children. Like an animal loves her cubs. This is real and physical and intense.

There was a block there. And the block was a little voice inside my head saying "Parents can't really love children," which I apparently learned from my childhood. This script didn't fully go away once I reinterpreted it as "NARCISSISTIC parents can't really love children." Part of the script always included also "NARCISSISTIC parents can't really love OTHER FATHERS' children." That was the full script I had learned. And only when it all came out was I capable of unlearning it. Because my children are mine.

Does that make any sense at all? I know it sounds crazy. But it's true.

I've never felt more alive or more joyful. I'm actually on good terms with my social father at the moment and pray for him. My heart aches for my real father, whom I'll never meet. And I'm the happiest I've ever been.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

They come in pairs

Sigh. Had lunch with my father and his girlfriend.

My father's girlfriend is a narcissist too. A nicer, weaker, more compliant narcissist, but still undeniably one.

Come to think of it, how can anyone be "intimately involved" with a narcissist, who by definition is unable to be intimately involved, for years, unless they're also a narcissist and thus also unable to be intimately involved?

I mean, normal people want an actual connection with their partner. If it's not there, they'll lack something and then eventually leave. They won't be cheerfully living a facade for years, only protesting the little things, right?

Compliant co-narcissists are narcissists too. They may not be abusive. They may be quite pleasant and full of life and genuinely charming. But they lack a fundamental something. Their empathy has died after years of abuse. Their ability to emotionally connect with others has withered. They are a shell of a person.

My mother was a shell too. Now I know. I have met other people, other women, other mothers.

Strangely enough, it may have been her step-sister that helped me realize that. My aunt is one of those real people who aren't shells. And there's a world of difference. Although my mother was "nice" and "kind" to others and the light of every gathering and fun to be around... she wasn't real.

He destroyed her. What she might have been if she'd broken free from her own mother's narcissistic abuse.

I'm not angry or assigning blame any more. I'm just sad for these people who've never really been loved unconditionally and never thought they had to learn to actually love.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Life is a constant battle for them

And they have to top everyone. Otherwise they're not alive. You see, they also mostly grew up in narcissistic households and are used to being either the best or useless. So their every conversation is about establishing whether they're the best or at least better than you.

PWC has an interesting post on how narcissists don't want you to be happy for them, just envious of them. It's true.

But they don't seem to really be able to tell the difference. If you admire their achievements / acquisitions when they brag about them, you could be doing it because you want to flatter your superior or because you're genuinely happy for another human being. The difference is beyond them. For them, you're the weak loser if you just say "How wonderful!" or "Congratulations!"

Because, you see, a stronger narcissist would find fault with the achievement / acquisition and this is a risk they take every time they brag about something. You can sometimes sense the trepidation underneath their superiority: Will I win this one? Will my success be attacked? Will I defend it by attacking the attacker well enough? Will I emerge from this as the winner?

You've got to feel sorry for them. Life is a constant battle for them. Support from others is interpreted as their defeat and these losers are immediately discarded as weaklings whose opinion doesn't matter anyway, since they're obviously inferior ("She says she likes my new car, and it must be because she wants to suck up to me because she admires me, which means she's weaker and unworthy of me"). The stronger narcissists who attack them powerfully enough are hated and feared. And they're in constant battle mode. And they're never at ease. And they're so alone.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weird mom dreams

Again, amid clear signals for "you're in the land of the subconscious" (I descend a filthy stairscase stained with blood and excrement, and a gignatic half-serpent, half-lizard scurries across it), I enter a hospital and my mother is there. We're both sick and dying and I realize she's actually alive and we both stay alive and get better.

"Why haven't I seen you all these years? Where have you been?" I suddenly remember to ask her. It's been almost ten years since I thought she died.

"I don't know. Your father must have lied to you about me dying so he could get together with his girlfriend without you objecting."

And then, the other wierd mom dream alternative comes up - yes, she's dead. But I realize she didn't die of breast cancer. My father killed her. He wanted to be free of her and he killed her so he could be with his girlfriend.

I guess this is only normal. I'm pretty sure that's why Hamlet was seeing the Ghost - his mother remarried so soon after his father's death. The idea of foul play just somehow symbolically creeps up.

It's haunting. It's not just the first few minutes after I woke up that I was trying to remember what actually took place and what the true reality of the matter is. It still haunts me, days afterwards.

Friday, December 9, 2011

On Being Wanted: Existential Debt and Existential Fear

Children from narcissistic families often grow up feeling their purpose in life was to please their parents.

Having been created with this purpose and having your very existence predicated upon it takes this to a whole new level.

I didn't know I was donor conceived when I was growing up. But when my aunt told me this only six months ago, I wasn't really surprised. It felt like the missing piece of the puzzle.

I'd always been told indirectly, you see, that I had to be especially grateful and happy about having been so very wanted. They got me, after all, after 12 years of marriage, 20 years of dating, when they were 39 and 40 (why I never enquired into this miraculous birth can be explained only by the deep knowledge that I wasn't supposed to). Which meant they were better parents who loved me more than anyone else out there.

And which meant I owed them much more than normal kids owe their parents.

I hated hearing this even when I was younger and didn't know what I know now.

Now I realize the depth of my existential debt. Created after 12 years of marriage. To a profoundly narcissistic social father. As a last resort, at the latest possible moment (fertility treatment is still not readily available to women over 40 in my country). Amid what must have been a great deal of ambivalence. I should be grateful - he let me exist, after all. That's actually how I do feel - only now it's out in the open and clear to me why I've always felt this way and tried so hard to please him and tried even harder not to displease him.

Even now, I keep feeling like if I do anything to anger him, he'll somehow take my very existence away. This is something I hadn't come across on other blogs by adult children of narcissists - this absolute, gripping, existential fear. I knew there was something else, something dark there, but couldn't quite put my finger on it.

I rationalized this fear: he'll try to take my kids away (although he's shown very little interest in them), he'll get me fired (he doesn't even really know where I work), he'll throw my family out of our home (he could legally do that, but he's renting out my apartment for money, so it would make no sense at all for him to do that - but I've spent many a sleepless night obsessing over this danger).

But it boils down to this: he allowed me, grudgingly, to come into existence. He created me and owns me. I'd better not displease him, or he'll undo it.

Narcissism and Having Children

This is a fascinating issue that is so commonly swept under the rug. What is the role of narcissism in the process of people having children? It's a simple enough question. But it's something no one really wants to ponder.

If you believe - like I do - that narcissism is a spectrum thing and that most people have certain relatively sane levels of narcissism that don't impede their functioning as human beings - then you'll concur that most parents out there are somewhat narcissistic, though they don't have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder prevents people from being able to actually relate to any human being in any real way. It prevents real parenting, period, whether the child is genetically related or not.

Now, sane levels of narcissism we can all relate to, right? I sure can. Thinking that something is cool about the color of your eyes. Or your aptitude for literary creation and interpretation. Or your musical talents. But that those engineers are just not quite as fun as your kind of people - no offense, right? Can we all relate to this? Or am I really very narcissistic for sometimes feeling this way?

Sane narcissism seems to conspire with genetic heritage in order to help kids get the unconditional love they need from their parents. You love who you are and you love your partner so together you get kids who resemble yourself and your partner. You're likely to favor these kids over other humans out there and invest in them. Thus the species survives. It makes sense.

Now, completely non-narcissistic people who truly love all humans in the world non-discriminately and have absolutely NO preferences at all for, say, their musical penchant over someone else's tone-deaf hatred of all music, will likely make quite suitable parents for other people's children - through adoption or unknown gamete donors (though this will not necessarily answer all the issues these children may face in not knowing their genetic parents). These rare godlike perfectly altruistic people will make perfect parents for anyone.

The rest of us imperfect parents have to concede that we we enjoy seeing our traits, penchants, temperaments - and those of our beloved partner, and our ancestors, and his ancestors - in our children. It's really sweet. It's delightful. Can't help it.

It's a form of sane narcissism. The sort of sane narcissism that has quite possibly allowed the human race to survive.

This is the stuff that compels many people to want to have kids.

That makes people go through all sorts of unpleasant infertility treatments before considering donor conception or adoption.

That makes many people who eventually do turn to donor conception or adoption as last resorts have, well, issues. Natural issues. Issues that shouldn't be suppressed. Issues their (")children(") are likely to have, too, because they will likely want to think of their traits / ethnicity / heritage as good, and valuable, and important. These issues cannot be wished away.

And where does that leave the true narcissist, the parent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder? He will never be a true father to any child, biological or not. But a non-biological child he has to pretend he has fathered so he could present himself as fertile will never ever even theoretically be able to please him.

Friday, December 2, 2011

New blog

I started a new blog on being donor conceived. If that part of my story doesn't bore or bother you, feel free to visit.