A Different Reality

This is the fourth blog post in an ongoing series about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and how I grew up as a child of a mother with NPD.  You can find the other blogs here:  Blog #1, Blog #2, Blog #3.

One of the main identifying factors of people with NPD is how they think everything revolves around them, and how they expect the people in their circle to feel the exact same way; catering to their emotional (or sometimes physical) wants and needs.  When a narcissist’s wants and needs aren’t met, they react in a variety of ways, none of them emotionally healthy.

For example, when Craig and I were getting our art together for the Alameda on Camera exhibit last year, my mother decided she desperately needed to get in touch with me to help her book a flight on Southwest Airlines (no, I’m not making this up).  I had told her earlier that week that Craig and I would be swamped all weekend with matting and framing the images, but she still felt the need to text me twice, call me once and leave a voicemail, and then send me an email; all vaguely, but urgently, begging me to contact her.  I rarely have my phone where I can hear it when I’m home, so I didn’t even see any of her messages until late Sunday night.  When I told her later that I didn’t appreciate her making what was the busiest weekend of the year for me into all about her, she got mad and decided to cut communications with me for about 3 months.

Now, let me explain that my mother has her own computer, and gets on it ALL the time to search Google, play games, and whatnot, but for some reason she couldn’t seem to figure out the Southwest website, and (apparently) it never occurred to her to call Southwest up and talk to someone on the phone.  No.  She had to urgently request my help, because (heaven forbid!) I wasn’t paying enough attention to her.

My brother has told of other reactions . . . If she sends him a text and he doesn’t respond within an hour or two (for whatever reason), she’ll send a follow up text declaring, “Well, I see who’s in charge,” or some other passive-aggressive response.  She has also withheld certain favors from him (he borrows her car every now and then, unless she’s punishing him), if she becomes unhappy with something he’s said or done.  My brother is a 44 year-old man, and yet she STILL treats him like that.

This behavior is #13 on the survey by Dr. Karyl McBride, “Do You Have a Narcissistic Mother?

13.  Is or was your mother hurt easily and then carried a grudge for a long time without resolving the problem?

But probably the most glaring negative trait my mother (and most other people with NPD) exhibits is her ability to lie to herself.

I’ve known that my mother has problems with reality for a while . . . and I don’t mean a difference of opinion, but rather absolute truths that aren’t really open to interpretation.  Like the color of the sky; opinions might differ on exactly what shade of blue it is, but most people in touch with reality will admit it’s blue.  While my mother isn’t that out of touch with reality (she agrees it’s blue), she’s used euphemisms throughout my entire life.  To her, it’s not “death,” it’s “passing on,” “crossing over,” or whatever other delicate word or phrase she can find to convey the same thing.  She also does this with “anger.”  I’ve never heard her say she’s angry about something, but rather “disappointed,” “frustrated,” or whatnot.  And believe me, I’ve seen her angry . . . she just won’t admit it, which brings me to another point on the survey:

11.  Does your mother deny her own feelings?

OH MY GOD, does my mother deny her feelings!  She’s stated on several occasions that she doesn’t like anger.  She thinks it’s an “unhealthy” emotion, so there’s no way she’d EVER want to admit to herself that she feels it.  No.  In her mind, she’s much more emotionally evolved than that.  But this is a woman who I’ve watched suppress her anger for so long that she’s become a little butterball of toxins, and now it comes out in the oddest places (a topic that gets discussed and dissected in the book “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers,” by Debbie Ford).

Several times over the course of my life, my mother and I have tried to work through these issues (with me not fully knowing what they were until now) by talking about them, but whenever I would mention the anger I thought she felt toward me or our situation, she would respond with “No, I’m not angry.  I find it interesting that you think that.  Maybe you need to look into yourself and see what your anger is about.”  This is the kind of manipulative analysis that would make me second guess myself, resulting in my not trusting my instincts.  Most of us can feel when another person is angry with us, whether they own up to it or not.  So, for her to deny her emotions wasn’t helping our situation at all.  It was literally making me crazy, because I spent so many hours and days after one of those discussions dissecting the conversation and wondering if there was some other way I could’ve given my point of view so that she would see where I was coming from.  But, when someone has NPD, they’re truly incapable of hearing a differing point of view than the reality they’ve concocted:  She had decided that she was too emotionally evolved to feel any anger, so it must’ve been either me projecting my anger on to her, or that I was imagining it.

To be fair, yes, I was angry with her (still am), but based on her reactions to things I’ve done or said in the past–not to mention the number of times she’s given me weeks worth of the cold shoulder attitude–so was/is she.  She was/is just refusing to accept it.

This behavior morphs into another point on Dr. McBride’s survey, but it’s involved enough that I’m going to devote next month’s blog post to it.

As always, I thank you for coming on this journey with me.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Wrapping It Up | Droppings From the Mind of Alyx

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