Wrapping It Up

Over the last five months, I’ve discussed my relationship with my mother, who I believe has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) (if you’re just tuning in, feel free to read the past blogs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 to catch up).  I’ve given examples of her behaviors and how they relate to various points on Dr. Karyl McBride’s survey “Do You Have a Narcissistic Mother?“, and I’ve discussed briefly how those behaviors affected me growing up.  But today I’m going to delve a little deeper in how my mother’s behaviors helped shape my own behaviors and idiosyncrasies.

As most people know, what a child learns from his/her parents helps shape who s/he turns out to be.  Anything from a sense of humor to beliefs to even the people the child surrounds him/herself with; and even sometimes who they date or marry.  When a child has a parent with NPD, that can negatively skew some choices in their adult life.  As Dr. Seth Meyers says in his article:

“. . . as adults [they] tend to gravitate toward drama-laden, roller-coaster relationships . . .”

This can happen not only in romantic relationships, but friendships, and working relationships as well.  A few years ago–even before I’d heard of NPD–I began to see patterns in the people I’d become friends with throughout my school life, and even up into my 30s . . .

There was one friend of mine who was so demanding that–when she found that she had to be gluten-free–she actually expected me to make something specifically for her, so that she wouldn’t feel left out of the celebrations (since she couldn’t eat any of the cookies I normally baked for Christmas gifts).  Having recently been told I had to become gluten-free myself, I can understand the frustration at not being able to enjoy the same treats as before, but it would never occur to me to expect someone to make an entire batch of cookies or treats just for me.  This same friend would also call to talk and–after a perfunctory inquiry as to how I was doing–would proceed to spend the next 2-3 hours talking about her life and woes (which were usually the same ones for at least a year or two).  It got to the point where I would avoid her phone calls for days until I felt I had enough energy to deal with her drama.  I finally ended the friendship, but two years later, she contacted me out of the blue demanding some money that she imagined I still owed her.  I didn’t actually owe her anything, but I agreed to pay half of her requested amount just to get her off my back, and demanded that she not contact me ever again.

I’ve also had co-workers who are passive-aggressive (a couple of whom were bosses, which made for a VERY difficult working relationship), and I was always getting into romantic relationships where I took more care of the man than he did me.  I even used to say (when I was dreaming about my “perfect guy”) that I didn’t care if he made as much money as I did; as long as he loved me.  I was willing to support him financially, just as long as he would love me.  I see now how sad that is, but I also see that it was a result of the things I learned by being raised by someone with NPD; I’d become accustomed to putting someone else before my needs and wants.

I also believe that it’s the main reason I went into being an Administrative Assistant. It’s a role I’ve disliked almost from my very first job as one, but I was raised to take care of my mother’s needs and pay attention to her moods, and I’ve come to see that that’s exactly what an Admin does.  We take care of people’s needs, and many times are asked to even anticipate those needs.  But if we anticipate incorrectly, we risk getting punished (depending on the boss).  I get people at work all the time saying how they always come to me because “Alyx knows everything.”  That’s an exhausting standard to have to live up to; not only knowing “everything,” but also being “needed” by so many people (I could go on and on about this topic, but I’ll save it for another blog).

But it’s not just our external relationships that get damaged.  Children of parents with NPD also have unhealthy relationships with themselves.  As it says in this article from the site “Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers,” we often:

  • “. . . suffer from low self-esteem, often to the level of self-loathing . . .”
  • “. . . feel that we’re never good enough, that we’re not acceptable; that at some deep down level we’re inherently flawed . . .”
  • “. . . have difficulty setting boundaries . . .”
  • “. . . [are] overly fearful of authority figures, or people being angry with us . . .”
  • “. . . have body issues – either being overweight, or terrified of gaining weight . . .”

There are many other issues that daughters of mothers with NPD might have, but those above resonated the strongest with me; especially the setting of boundaries (which again ties into being an Admin . . . we practically have none).

One major thing that most of my research has discussed is the possibility of a person who was raised by a parent with NPD becoming narcissistic him/herself; which makes sense.  Think about it . . . if someone is raised to think his/her needs or emotions aren’t important, there’s going to be this huge empty hole inside.  So, many times, s/he becomes so needy that s/he has kids with the hopes of having someone love him/her unconditionally, and so on, and so on.  Unless someone, somewhere gets some psychological help, a vicious cycle gets created and perpetuated.

That leads me to one of my favorite lines from a movie about a daughter of a narcissistic mother.  In the movie Postcards From the Edge, Suzanne is talking with her director Lowell about some issues she’s having with her mother.  Lowell then says:

“She did it to you and her mother did it to her and back and back and back all the way to Eve.  At some point you just gotta say, ‘Fuck it, I start with me.'”

I LOVE that line!  It offers hope for healing.  Which is what I will discuss in next month’s post.  I had planned on this being the last blog about NPD, but there was so much to wrap up here (and I’m sure I’ve missed some of it), that I haven’t gotten to the good part.  That there ARE ways to heal, and that we who have been raised by parents with NPD CAN be made whole again.

I hope to see you next month for the most important part of this journey.

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