There are times I wish words would write themselves. This is one of them. I mean, can we get an app for that? There will be some swearing. What can I say? Life is jacked up sometimes…
so grab your eyemuffs if you are easily offended — or just don’t proceed
you have choice — you always have a choice
It’s funny the things that send my mind to grey. I mean, it IS my favorite color, but it is so NOT my favorite feeling. It’s so clingy, and yucky, and dreary, and pervasive. As completely unprofound as this may sound, I always think of Cher in “Clueless” — it’s “an overwhelming sense of ickiness”. Pretty much sums it up.
I’m not a TV watcher. Part of it is I don’t have the time. Another part of it is that I’d rather spend the few minutes of “free time” I DO have doing other things. Any other thing. Honestly, I haven’t found a show I have genuinely fallen for since “Friends”. And I just can’t get into deep and dark things like my husband’s genres of choice like “Breaking Bad” and “Just Call Saul” and some serial killer guy detective thingy because my mind is full of ENOUGH dark things on its own. I don’t need to feed it. I need to lighten its load. I need something that will lighten my heart and make me feel good. But I’m so ridiculously picky about humor. It takes a lot to make me laugh (except if your name is Summer — she is my very own stand up comic and amazing friend all wrapped up in one soul spirit of awesomeness). I don’t contend well with stupid “Dumb and Dumber” comedy — or the kind that defiles my gender. It seems to be the more pervasive kind these days, so I’ve kind of given up on TV altogether. Occasionally a reality show like “American Pickers” or the occasional cooking show will pique my interest for five-minutes until the boys say, “Mom!” (smile). It takes a lot to make me sit (the caveat to this is when I’m sick — then, for some horrendous reason, all the “Real Housewives” — any state — seem like quality entertainment — this does require a fever — I know, I may have said way too much — the cursing will be the least of this blog’s worries after this statement… wink).
So, a few friends sent me texts around the same time telling me about this new show on Netflix that I just had to watch that reminded both of them so much of me. “It’s made for you, Ang!” This is all at once very interesting and frightening to me. And of course, I just have to see what this Angie reminding show is! I think?
The series was, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. And this girl? Well, my sisters know me well. I stayed up till 2 a.m. watching every single episode. I fell in love. Kimmy is my new theme song. Yes, she’s a song. She’s too big and awesome and vibrant to be anything else.
The next day I had a Kimmy hangover. Thank the Lord it’s spring break. I had laughed and cried and laughed for hours. And slept little. The sleep thing is nothing new (smile). But throughout the day, the lovely little show — and lovely little Kimmy herself — became a host of triggers for me. And I had a Kimmy crash. Hard. The premise of the show is this… She’s kidnapped with three other girls, held hostage in an underground bunker for years by a man who teaches her false doctrine in this crazy apocalyptic cult (and tells them all they are stupid, useless, etc.), and then finally rescued and set free into a world she doesn’t understand — and the show is about her grabbling with the all of that. Sounds heavy, but it’s handled in such a crazy, heartwarming, and funny way — really, you just have to watch it. Cause looking at what I just wrote it sounds totally insane.
And I found myself relating to this girl in ways that some (I hope most) people probably wouldn’t. And that kind of sucked. And it brought back a flood of yuck. Because although that premise might sound so unfathomable to some people, it wasn’t too big of a stretch for this girl. Cut off from society, brainwashed and manipulated by a psychopath, crappy family, and a lost childhood. She choses to embrace the positive. She choses to smile and go for her dreams. She choses to live and not be stuck. She choses to love the crap out of everyone she meets. She choses to be a light and a helper. Pretty inspiring stuff. But God, it just spiraled me… and I fully realize how completely silly this all sounds. Like, ALL of it…
So, I cried every time the opening theme song came on for each episode and shouted “HELL yes!” Because it’s damn hard making that transition. And you’re not going to get a lot of help. Because some people aren’t going to know how. Because some people are going to horribly take advantage of you. Because you’re not going to know how to ask for it. Because you’re so used to being your everything. And because you’re not going to know just how broken you are. Not completely. No, sister, not completely — you’re still you. Just good and banged up.
And after years and years (and so on and so forth) of therapy, when you finally realize (because being TOLD is one thing, and actually having it click is quite another) that it WASN’T ALL YOUR FAULT — well that’s the freaking hardest part. One might think it’s liberating. Freeing. You know, a pivotal healing point. And it is. But at first, it is fucking hell…
Because the person that you once were, at this new point of realization in your life, is gone. And the people in your life that know and have manipulated that person are still around. And they’ll still have lots to say. Like all of a sudden you think you’re better than they are because you have an opinion. And when you use your new found voice to express your opinion — you don’t know what you’re talking about because the life you had was so awful and base (and they’ve made sure to tell all of their friends about it as well). So you don’t understand “real” things or “real” feelings or “real” life or even “real” families at all. In fact, you don’t really even know your own feelings at this point, do you? And the mind games continue (even after you have finally broken free and left your abuser). I had left one world of abuse and stepped right into another. And it’s not that I thought I was better than anyone else. Hell no — it’s just that I was beginning — for one brief shining second — to entertain the notion that I might not be less than. That really pisses some people off.
And sometimes it’s just “easier” when the focus of all damnation is you. Solely you. When you believe you are a piece of shit and deserve all things shitty — when you alone completely take responsibility for all the sin that seeps into the world and into everyone else’s life because you are a rotten piece of garbage. Life just pieces together a little more soundly that way. Crappy people treating you like crap — you deserve that — you’re garbage. Awful people being awful — honey, you deserve any and all of it — and you just sit and take it like you always have because you are … you get it. It all just runs smoother that way. And all kinds of manipulative and dishonest people are attracted to that and take advantage of that. I kept asking God why these people kept coming into my life only thinking that the correct answer was that I deserved it. I need to get this tattooed somewhere on my body — something so vital I learned in therapy — what we allow is what will continue. I didn’t have choice when I was young. I wasn’t used to choice. No one told me I could demand respect or, the very least, civility. We have choice. We have voice. Let’s use it. Everywhere.
But the really difficult reality for me to grasp was that some people are assholes. Straight up and period. Just because they are or can be. And nine times out of ten, it has nothing to do with me. They have their own agendas, their own journeys — and Lord help me — it wasn’t always because I was a pile of shit. My “unworthiness” and “garbage” like state was not causing the demise of the entire world. Some people attempted to create that, wanted me to carry that for them, to blame me for their family’s problem or issues — I mean, just look at me — look what a mess I came from, look what a broken piece I was — and look at how willingly I would take it all on — head bowed, back bent to take the malicious lies that felt just like beatings…
But then I stopped. Either therapy finally clicked, God got through to this girl, or I just got tired of carrying the entire weight of the sin of the world on my shoulders. Most likely all three. I was ready for a life. I was ready for a voice. I was tired of a reality being shoved on me. I was ready to be free. I was ready to live authentically.
And that’s hard when your life has been one that has been lived for you. Where auto pilot — or more accurately — survival mode — is all you know. When people tell you what you are, what you think, and what you should be. And the hardest part? That people are people regardless of your peopleness. That not every action they commit is your fault. And that not every evil they commit has a consequence. They will do bad things. Very bad things. And they will get away with it. Over and over again.
See, when you are the punching bag — when you ARE the evil — when you are the absorber of all sin — life just makes more sense. When you learn and fully realize that you are not — you are SO MUCH MORE THAN –when you learn you have equal footing — it gets all crazy wonky and scary and big and loud and ‘who the hell am I’? And who has to pay for all of this fucked up mess if it isn’t you? Apparently no one. All these mean people get to run around doing bad things, and that’s how the world works, Ang. Therapy was a scream fest of suck for many, many years. Don’t open my eyes to “I’m okay,” and “It’s not your fault” when there is NO accountability to be had anywhere in this mess of a world of crazy chaos. I learned to breathe. I know God just held me. He reassured me that Jesus loved the crazy mad girl too. His eyes saw, and they see, everything. Live your peace. You can. Be the good. You can. Be the light. Be the change. You can.
But true peace took forever — agonizingly forever. One breath at a time, forever. Actually, it’s a daily process I work really hard at. For myself and for my family. I remained in survival mode for many years because I couldn’t deal with all of the fake — the unauthenticness of the world. It was an explosion of truth and lies all and once — a whole new kind of pain. I struggle to stay present, to be mindful. It’s exhausting. It’s too easy for me to zone when I get uncomfortable outside. But, I had lost so many years of my life, decades — to abuse — and walked into another kind — narcissistic bullshit. I can’t do it anymore. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right? They say God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. I don’t think that’s true. He doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle together. He fights for us. He madly fights and intercedes for us.
I will still occasionally slip into this — taking ownership of messes that are not mine — old habits are hard to break. But I recognize it now and have the tools to protect myself. I pray for protection for my family as well. I am learning this beautiful thing called boundaries. Being free from narcissistic and manipulative people who cause drama and harm — that is peace. As victims of abuse, we so often forget we have choice. You are not powerless. You are so very powerful! Do not ever be afraid of that, loves!
And this — people who love us and want the best for us — THEY CHAMPION our journey. They encourage us. They don’t throw our past in our faces and say, “Look where you’ve been!” They don’t drag us down and shove us back into the mud! No, with incredible JOY and uncontainable PRIDE and immeasurable LOVE they take our hands and our hearts and say, “LOOK HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME!!!”. Surround yourselves with THOSE kinds of people! I promise you, loves, THEY ARE NOT HARD TO FIND!!!
And in the words of the opening theme song to my new favorite show, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt”,
“Unbreakable, they alive, dammit,
but females are strong as hell,
unbreakable, they alive, dammit,
it’s a miracle!”
just watch it — please — so I don’t sound like a complete lunatic (smile) …
We’re survivors. Kept alive, kept strong, kept quiet, but we have FOUND our voices and we have them for a reason. Even if, as yet, we are unsure of what that reason is. So, let’s make something of this and SHINE the crap out of our broken. It’s freaking beautiful.
Much love, peace, and Namaste…
We CAN do this (10 seconds at a time… ❤ )
For those of you who are interested, I am including some information regarding narcissistic characteristics that I found very helpful. There are many more blogs and sites available concerning this topic. If you feel you are in a narcissist relationship, know that this is abuse and please guard your heart and get help — what ever that looks like for you. It is often not worth your time or energy to try to “work things out” or have conversations with these people. Set up boundaries. Walk away. And if this person is a part of your extended family and you feel you are not getting the support you need, I ask you to be brave. You are so much more than, and you have choice. You are worth that choice of loving yourself and your family. As always, much love.
Characteristics of a Narcissist
- She makes you look crazy. If you try to confront her about something she’s done, she’ll tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination” or that you “made it all up” (this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse) that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will she ever acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten. This is an extremely aggressive and exceptionally infuriating tactic called “gaslighting,” common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser.
Narcissists gaslight routinely. The narcissist will either insinuate or will tell you and others outright that you’re unstable, otherwise you wouldn’t believe such ridiculous things or be so uncooperative.
You’re oversensitive. You’re imagining things. You’re hysterical. You’re completely unreasonable. You’re over-reacting, like you always do. She’ll talk to you when you’ve calmed down and aren’t so irrational. She may even characterize you as being neurotic or psychotic.
Once she’s constructed these fantasies of your emotional pathologies, she’ll tell others about them, as always, presenting her smears as expressions of concern and declaring her own helpless victimhood.
She didn’t do anything. She has no idea why you’re so irrationally angry with her. You’ve hurt her terribly. She thinks you may need psychotherapy. She loves you very much and would do anything to make you happy, but she just doesn’t know what to do. You keep pushing her away when all she wants to do is help you.
She has simultaneously absolved herself of any responsibility for your obvious antipathy towards her, implied that it’s something fundamentally wrong with you that makes you angry with her, and undermined your credibility with her listeners. She plays the role of the doting mother so perfectly that no one will believe you.
- She’s envious. They will criticize the appearance of their daughters and daughters-in-law. This envy extends to relationships. Narcissistic mothers infamously attempt to damage their children’s marriages and interfere in the upbringing of their grandchildren.
- She’s a liar in too many ways to count. Any time she talks about something that has emotional significance for her, it’s a fair bet that she’s lying. Lying is one way that she creates conflict in the relationships and lives of those around her – she’ll lie to them about what other people have said, what they’ve done, or how they feel. She’ll lie about her relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation in order to inflate herself and to undermine your credibility.
The narcissist is very careful about how she lies. To outsiders she’ll lie thoughtfully and deliberately, always in a way that can be covered up if she’s confronted with her lie. She spins what you said rather than makes something up wholesale. She puts dishonest interpretations on things you actually did. If she’s recently done something particularly egregious she may engage in preventative lying: she lies in advance to discount what you might say before you even say it. Then when you talk to anyone about what she did you’ll be cut off with “I already know all about it…your mother told me… (self-justifications and lies).” Because she is so careful about her deniability, it may be very hard to catch her in her lies and the more gullible of her friends may never realize how dishonest she is.
To you, she’ll lie blatantly. She will claim to be unable to remember bad things she has done, even if she did one of them recently and even if it was something very memorable. Of course, if you try to jog her memory by recounting the circumstances “You have a very vivid imagination” or “That was so long ago. Why do you have to dredge up your old grudges?” Your conversations with her are full of casual brush-offs and diversionary lies and she doesn’t respect you enough to bother making it sound good. You are now in a game with only one rule: You can’t win.
On the rare occasions she is forced to acknowledge some bad behavior, she will couch the admission deniably. She “guesses” that “maybe” she “might have” done something wrong. The wrongdoing is always heavily spun and trimmed to make it sound better. The words “I guess,” “maybe,” and “might have” are in and of themselves lies because she knows exactly what she did – no guessing, no might haves, no maybes.
- She has to be the center of attention all the time. A narcissistic mother may create odd occasions at which she can be the center of attention, such as memorials for someone close to her who died long ago, or major celebrations of small personal milestones. She may love to entertain so she can be the life of her own party. She will try to steal the spotlight or will try to spoil any occasion where someone else is the center of attention, particularly the child she has cast as the scapegoat. She often invites herself along where she isn’t welcome. She has always pouted, manipulated or raged if you tried to do anything without her, didn’t want to entertain her, stymied her plans for a drama, or otherwise deprived her of attention.
Older narcissistic mothers often use the natural limitations of aging to manipulate dramas, often by neglecting their health or by doing things they know will make them ill. This gives them the opportunity to cash in on the investment they made when they trained you to wait on them as a child. Then they call you (or better still, get the neighbor or the nursing home administrator to call you) demanding your immediate attendance. You are to rush to her side, pat her hand, weep over her pain and listen sympathetically to her unending complaints about how hard and awful it is. (“Never get old!”) It’s almost never the case that you can actually do anything useful, and the causes of her disability may have been completely avoidable, but you’ve been put in an extremely difficult position. If you don’t provide the audience and attention she’s manipulating to get, you look extremely bad to everyone else and may even have legal culpability. (Narcissistic behaviors commonly accompany Alzheimer’s disease, so this behavior may also occur in perfectly normal mothers as they age.)
- She’s infantile and petty. Narcissistic mothers are often simply childish. If you refuse to let her manipulate you into doing something, she will cry that you don’t love her because if you loved her you would do as she wanted. If you hurt her feelings she will aggressively whine to you that you’ll be sorry when she’s dead that you didn’t treat her better. These babyish complaints and responses may sound laughable, but the narcissist is dead serious about them. When you were a child, if you ask her to stop some bad behavior, she would justify it by pointing out something that you did that she feels is comparable, as though the childish behavior of a child is justification for the childish behavior of an adult. “Getting even” is a large part of her dealings with you. Anytime you fail to give her the deference, attention or service she feels she deserves, or you thwart her wishes, she has to show you.
- She projects. This sounds a little like psycho-babble, but it is something that narcissists all do. Projection means that she will put her own bad behavior, character and traits on you so she can deny them in herself and punish you. This can be very difficult to see if you have traits that she can project on to.
- She is never wrong about anything. No matter what she’s done, she won’t ever genuinely apologize for anything. Instead, any time she feels she is being made to apologize she will sulk and pout, issue an insulting apology or negate the apology she has just made with justifications, qualifications or self pity: “I’m sorry you felt that I humiliated you” “I’m sorry if I made you feel bad” “If I did that it was wrong” “I’m sorry, but I there’s nothing I can do about it” “I’m sorry I made you feel clumsy, stupid and disgusting” “I’m sorry but it was just a joke. You’re so over-sensitive” “I’m sorry that my own child feels she has to upset me and make me feel bad.” The last insulting apology is also an example of projection.
- She seems to have no awareness that other people even have feelings. She’ll occasionally slip and say something jaw-droppingly callous because of this lack of empathy. It isn’t that she doesn’t care at all about other people’s feelings, though she doesn’t. It would simply never occur to her to think about their feelings.
An absence of empathy is the defining trait of a narcissist and underlies most of the other traits I have described. Unlike psychopaths, narcissists do understand right, wrong, and consequences, so they are not ordinarily criminal.
- She blames. She’ll blame you for everything that isn’t right in her life or for what other people do or for whatever has happened.
Narcissists are masters of multitasking as this example shows. Simultaneously your narcissistic mother is:
- Lying. She knows what she did was wrong and she knows your reaction is reasonable.
- Manipulating. She’s making you look like the bad guy for objecting to her cruelties.
- Being selfish. She doesn’t mind making you feel horrible as long as she gets her own way.
- Blaming. She did something wrong, but it’s all your fault.
- Projecting. Her petty, small and childish behavior has become yours.
- Putting on a self-pitying drama. She’s a martyr who believed the best of you, and you’ve let her down.
- Parentifying. You’re responsible for her feelings, she has no responsibility for yours.
- She destroys your relationships. Narcissistic mothers are like tornadoes: wherever they touch down families are torn apart and wounds are inflicted. Unless the father has control over the narcissist and holds the family together, adult siblings in families with narcissistic mothers characteristically have painful relationships. Typically all communication between siblings is superficial and driven by duty, or they may never talk to each other at all. In part, these women foster dissension between their children because they enjoy the control it gives them. If those children don’t communicate except through the mother, she can decide what everyone hears. Narcissists also love the excitement and drama they create by interfering in their children’s lives. Watching people’s lives explode is better than soap operas, especially when you don’t have any empathy for their misery.
The narcissist nurtures anger, contempt and envy – the most corrosive emotions – to drive her children apart. The narcissist also uses favoritism and gossip to poison her childrens’ relationships. The scapegoat sees the mother as a creature of caprice and cruelty. As is typical of the privileged, the other children don’t see her unfairness and they excuse her abuses. Indeed, they are often recruited by the narcissist to adopt her contemptuous and entitled attitude towards the scapegoat and with her tacit or explicit permission, will inflict further abuse. The scapegoat predictably responds with fury and equal contempt. After her children move on with adult lives, the narcissist makes sure to keep each apprised of the doings of the others, passing on the most discreditable and juicy gossip (as always, disguised as “concern”) about the other children, again, in a way that engenders contempt rather than compassion.
The end result is a family in which almost all communication is triangular. The narcissist, the spider in the middle of the family web, sensitively monitors all the children for information she can use to retain her unchallenged control over the family. She then passes that on to the others, creating the resentments that prevent them from communicating directly and freely with each other. The result is that the only communication between the children is through the narcissist, exactly the way she wants it.
- As a last resort she goes pathetic. When she’s confronted with unavoidable consequences for her own bad behavior, including your anger, she will melt into a soggy puddle of weepy helplessness. It’s all her fault. She can’t do anything right. She feels so bad. What she doesn’t do: own the responsibility for her bad conduct and make it right. Instead, as always, it’s all about her, and her helpless self-pitying weepiness dumps the responsibility for her consequences AND for her unhappiness about it on you.
As so often with narcissists, it is also a manipulative behavior. If you fail to excuse her bad behavior and make her feel better, YOU are the bad person for being cold, heartless and unfeeling when your poor mother feels so awful.
October 10, 2009 by mypainfuljourney
From my personal experience, I believe we have this deep desire and hope that our mothers will change. Growing up isn’t easy, and we developed unhealthy behaviors and we want to change and hope that some day our parents will change, and “get it.”
We need to understand that narcissists don’t want to change, and like who they are. They like who they are, and it is everyone else with the problem. Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged change, experience, hope, not, personal, self-absorbed | 1 Comment »
“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”
– Oprah Winfrey