A very un-merry Christmas

shutterstock_22424299-280x186The holiday visit with Harley was tough. As I mentioned in my last post, it’s become clear that she lies, a LOT. That is, when she is in the room with us. She spent most of the visit locked in the guest room/Sebastian’s office, binge-watching Law & Order S.V.U. on Netflix. I would question whether or not this was appropriate for a 12 year old girl to watch but I know that she watches it with her mom 24/7 and also if you recall, her mother watched 50 Shades Of Grey with her and her brother when she was TEN years old. But let’s all remember what a bad parent Sebastian is. She’s been interacting with us as little as possible. She barely eats, but I know that her mother seems to be purposely trying to give her an eating disorder, so it’s not surprising she doesn’t eat meals with us but there’s candy wrappers left everywhere in her room because she’s secretly eating candy. We had guests the first week of January who found candy wrappers stuck everywhere around the guest room.

173a039bf55caefff353ce92a4ffa44dWe tried our best but she’s like a stone wall. I try to tell myself that a lot of this is typical pre-teen/teen behavior, I didn’t love interacting with my parents at that age either, but she seems so unhappy that it’s heartbreaking. So like the kid she still is, she wanted to open presents ASAP. It actually made me feel really good, like, yes! Normal kid behavior! Maybe there is hope. She tore open all the presents and she was excited about a couple of them. All in all, she got nearly $500 worth of cash, gift cards, presents, etc, not a bad haul for a 12 year old. What was tough was how she acted afterward. She didn’t say thank you, which is I’m sure typical for a kid, but she shut herself up in her grandmother’s (where we opened presents) guest room and wanted nothing to do with any of us again! So when she was asked to come out, I was sitting in a chair with a stack of my and Sebastian’s presents in front of me, and she acted like she was going to kick them. I looked at her and she said “Don’t you ever just want to do something like that? Kick something or break something?” I said “No, not really.”

She proceeded to tell me that sometimes when she’s holding a baby, she wants to drop it on purpose. She specifically said “a 3 month old baby” and I was thinking, “OMG this is horrifying! Is she trying to get attention or does she actually have urges to smash people’s Christmas gifts and drop a 3 month old baby on the floor????” She laughed and walked away and I was speechless. It made me really afraid that being raised by a narcissist is making her into a narcissist or sociopath herself. Even if it was a joke, that’s a really messed up joke. It was a really hard week for me personally. Sebastian says that he has given up on having a good relationship with Harley because he knows that there’s no way to fight against Cruella constantly bad-mouthing him and actively trying to turn Harley against him. I think on some level I was hoping that if she came into a normal, loving home that she might see that it’s not always the way it is with her mother, that it is not normal in her home. We have lost her though, it was really clear she doesn’t want anything to do with us, not even Bruce. He tried so hard to spend time with her and she rejected him, it really hurt him. Harley is learning that selfishness is normal, that everyone just wants to get what they want from people and then tosses them aside. She is learning that it’s ok to be nice to everyone when there’s a gift on the line but as soon as she has it she can go back to YouTube and texting her friends, what she really wants to do. She’s not learning that other people have feelings that we, as human beings, need to respect.

She’s being raised by a narcissist to be a narcissist.

It’s so scary but it finally hit me in the face – we are helpless. There’s nothing we can do. We tried to get custody, we failed, we lost her. She’s going to have such a hard life, just like her mother has, expecting everyone to give her attention and presents and do things for her 24/7 but never giving anything back and never being satisfied. I don’t know that I knew your heart could break in such a way for another person. I don’t even know how to end this post, on some level I’m still devastated by what has been done to this poor child. No one will help her. No one will help us help her. How is that ok?

Don’t want to take responsibility? Get amnesia!

forgiveHi everyone! Sorry it has been so long since my last post. We had a rough time over the holiday break when Harley was visiting. I started a blog post but never finished it, I will get it finished soon and post it. Things have been quite on the narcissist front. Cruella seems to have gotten busy with her life. Right before New Year’s she showed up at the house, unannounced and certainly uninvited, and managed to surprise Sebastian when he was out taking the Christmas lights down. We had our lawyer send her a letter stating that she was not to come to our home and if she did we would call the police and his letter would serve as proof she knew that she was not to come here. After that, she got quiet. No angry emails, no phone calls or texts, a week or two ago I started getting kind of anxious. It has been long enough that you start to feel like maybe everything will be normal and we can all move on with our lives but if you have a narcissist or a sociopath in your life, you know that’s not how it works. They strike when you least expect it, and it is never over.

mjaxmi0yotkxzdc2ztu5nwy2ztdlBruce just had his birthday and of course there was nothing from Cruella – no call, no card, of course no present. She claimed that she was going to get him a Christmas gift but it never showed up. No surprise there, that would mean spending her money on someone besides herself. Because we are all from the same area, we have a lot of mutual acquaintances. I think I have mentioned before, she never bothered to unfriend many of Sebastian’s relatives on facebook, I was shocked to learn that she’s still facebook friends with his lawyer! So we do hear things from various people. On Bruce’s birthday, a friend sent me a picture of what Cruella had posted, a bunch of pictures of him and things like “If you are ever free to be in my life again, I pray that you break free…” making it sound like we are keeping Bruce from her which of course we are not but she loves playing the sad, abused ex. Bruce had recently become facebook friends with her, not that he uses it much because teenagers all seem to think it’s lame, but I mentioned it to him and he looked at it. In hindsight, maybe I should not have said anything because it made him angry.

After a couple weeks of stewing, he decided that he would send Cruella an email trying to explain yet again why he is not in her life – it is not that Sebastian is keeping him from seeing her, he is still angry that she lied about having cancer and told him she hated him since he was a young child. Pretty blatant things! Today he received 4 email responses, for some reason she always sends multiple rambling messages, I’m not sure if it’s an attempt to throw him off or if she just likes to hear herself talk or both. The kicker to 4 very long emails, in addition to saying she refuses to discuss Sebastian and then badmouthing Sebastian, was to say that she’s sure that she’s sorry for doing the things that Bruce says that she did but she has no memory of any of it because she has lost her memory. Let that one sink in. She says basically the last two years “are all dark” except of course things Sebastian has “done to her” that she somehow remembers when everything else is “a complete blank.” She says “Harley told me that I was very out of line so I believe her, I can’t apologize for specific things because I don’t know what they were and I don’t even have that email address anymore so I can’t go back and read the emails.”

That’s a new one for me. I guess nothing should surprise me. It’s like a normal brain can’t possibly comprehend how a narcissist’s brain works. Never in a million years would I have guessed that she was going to try to avoid responsibility by claiming to have amnesia. I guess we are living in a daytime soap. Maybe she lost her memory when she was being held in a dungeon by Sebastian’s evil twin! Seriously, I am just so WTF.

Lies are all a narcissist knows

426db393d87a412f69ccef58534b6deeIf you have a narcissist or someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in your life, the one thing that you have likely learned – probably the hard way – is that they lie. They lie all the time; about everything; sometimes for no apparent reason; lies are like their air.

As adults, when we catch someone in a lie, we learn to question what they say or do after that, because they have proven themselves to be someone that lies. With children, it’s not so cut and dry. Our children believe what we tell them, because for the first part of their lives, we are the only thing that is keeping them alive. They have to trust us because they have no other choice. Mom/dad/parent/caregiver = life. Our children trust us absolutely. If you tell your young child an outrageous lie, like a man that lives at the North Pole flies all around the world in one night in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and leaves presents for all the good children for example, they will believe you. To a child, what comes out of  their parents’ mouth is as good as gold. As children age, they learn how to be people by watching those around them. We have all witnessed or heard funny stories of a child learning to talk saying a curse word because they’ve heard their parents say it. brttibocaaa_vxxThere was a whole episode of “Modern Family” where a child keeps saying f***; and another where she emulates her aunt’s snarky responses “want me to call you a wambulance? wah, wah.” It’s even a meme. In the episode, her parents blame themselves and each other for her rude behavior but it turns out, she’s just saying what she has heard her aunt say to other people.

Children learn how to behave from us.

But what happens when the child’s primary caregiver is a narcissist..?

They learn that you lie. You say whatever you need to say in order to get what you want or to get yourself out of trouble. Lying is ok, lying is what we do. They don’t question whether or not it is ok or good to tell lies, just like Lily from Modern Family didn’t question whether or not it was ok to make fun of people’s feelings by going “wah wah.” They don’t have the ability to take a step back and look critically at behavior, they only know that the people they trust are doing it so it must be ok. Frightening isn’t it? The problem is, if that’s all a child sees and knows, they start to behave like the narcissist.

i-hate-liars-hypocrites-and-peopleWe realized that Harley was lying, a lot, in huge ways, and to manipulate, over the summer when she visited. She concocted a wild story that in hindsight should have been a red flag, but at the time we had no reason to disbelieve her. She said that her mother was forcing her to change who she is to conform with what her mother wanted her to be – she was forcing her to change her appearance and her personality. Seeing as her mother is a narcissist who cares more about how she appears to those around her than anything else, it made perfect sense that it could happening. At 12, Harley is beginning to be her own person and no longer the perfect little Barbie doll that her mother can mold into the blond, thin, gymnastics-doing, better than everyone else, hugely popular junior “mean girl” that her mother had wished she herself was as a child. It was not a stretch of the imagination to believe that Cruella would respond to Harley’s natural, age-appropriate differentiation and trying to figure out who she is by demanding that she stay who Cruella wants her to be. It caused Sebastian and I a significant amount of distress which culminated in him actually having a phone conversation with Cruella – something he refuses to do 99.9% of the time, unless it’s a legitimate emergency. After questioning from both parents and Cruella’s denial that she was doing anything of the sort, Harley admitted that she had lied about it, on purpose, in an attempt to cause her parents to fight. Then Harley announced that the truth, which she as supposed to discuss with her father but never brought up, was that she supposedly wanted to change her last name from her father’s name to her mother’s maiden name. She was afraid to tell him and so she made up a story about her mother oppressing her in order to distract everyone.

39ebfeaa96d1d84efb17b155618bf690Now, she is visiting for the Christmas break, and we have caught her in several lies over the last four days. First, she told me a story about getting frostbite two years ago, one that I was fairly certain was not true, given that she has not lost any fingers or toes and I was sure I’d remember hearing about that. It would have been a pretty big deal! She showed me her pinky finger would not bend to touch her palm and said that was due to frostbite. That seemed pretty iffy to me but I just let it go. Then, she was telling us all stories about how she “calls out” her teachers because she knows more than they do so she’s always telling them that they are wrong and correcting them in class. Clearly the 12 year old knows everything… I wonder where she picked THAT up?! She claimed that she has never gotten into trouble for talking back all the time, which cannot possibly be true. If she was constantly telling her teachers they are wrong and arguing with them in class, she would have been at least sent to the office a few times.

Last, it came to a head last night in an incident that was clearly and elaborate, obvious lie. She heard Bruce ask me if he could eat the starburst candy that was sitting in the kitchen. I told him yes, but to please leave me the individual sized sour patch kids bag. Harley immediately pipes up with a very unnecessarily detailed story. She said: Oh, you know I am using a purse that I don’t usually use, only for special occasions. The last time I used it was on Halloween. Last night when you were asleep, I dropped it on the kitchen floor and everything spilled out. I bet I picked it up by accident thinking it was mine from Halloween. 

Um, really? That is an extremely detailed story! She said “I will go check in my room for it.” (The guest room, where she is sleeping, is also Sebastian’s home office.) I told her it was not a big deal, not to worry, but she insisted on going and looking for it. Like 30 seconds later she came out and said “I found it in dad’s desk drawer! Dad, why were their sour patch kids in YOUR desk drawer?”

Bruce said, “Oh come on! You took those!”

Harley was insistent that she had not. “NO! They were in dad’s desk drawer!”

Obviously, a 12 year old child is not as skilled a liar as a 45 year old narcissist, so it was blatantly obvious that her story was fake. Her weird sense of urgency when I said it was ok; the long story about spilling the purse which obviously didn’t happen; finding it “in a desk drawer” after 30 seconds of going to “look for it;” blaming her dad; it all adds up to a really stupid lie. Sebastian was just going to let it drop but when she left the room I asked him to address it. I wasn’t upset with her taking the candy but lying about it was not ok. I know she has likely learned that you lie to get out of trouble, you like to get what you want, you lie to have something to talk about, you like to make yourself sound better than you are, you lie, you lie, you lie, because that’s what she sees from her mother. But lying about everything isn’t ok! Sebastian told her “Harley, we aren’t mad at you and you aren’t in trouble, but it’s not ok to lie about taking the candy.” She said “Okkkkkkkkkay…” all drawn out in a tone of voice like “why are you saying this to me when I didn’t take the candy?” And that was that. Honestly, I feel like I will start to question everything she says now. Not just because of the candy, but because most of what I have heard her say on this trip has been an obvious lie. The worst part is that we are helpless to do anything. A couple weeks a year with us is not going to make a difference. She has learned that lying is what you do, and she will probably always be a liar.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Hey everyone, I haven’t been updating as much because I have been adjusting to a new shift at work! I do plan to get back to blogging though because a lot has been going on, unfortunately. When you have a narcissist in your life, you want things to be quiet because otherwise it means non-stop drama. With the holidays approaching, one thing has become more and more clear – Harley and Cruella seem to be morphing into the same person. It’s scary, and it’s really concerning and most importantly, there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. I know I’ve mentioned that recently Harley has become more and more emotionally and verbally abusive to Sebastian when she talks to him. She has sounded a lot like Cruella, in that their voices sound very similar on the phone, but now she even talks like her – the things she says are dismissive, selfish, and thoughtlessly cruel.

1bdf5ec20473c55370be043f12ffefcfI think this has probably been a long time coming, even though it feels like it happened overnight. We have known and been afraid of Harley learning to be selfish and self-centered because kids emulate what they see. You learn how to be a person by observing the people around you and if they are sick and messed up, you become sick and messed up. In the absence of her father and then her brother, Harley has gone from having a narcissist and two normal people in her life to having only a narcissist. Observing Cruella, she is learning that only your feelings matter, no one else’s; that you can say whatever you want and if someone else is hurt that is their problem not yours; and that nothing matters but you. As she gets closer and closer to her teen years, which are inherently selfish, Harley seems to be morphing into her mother. She has also stopped resisting (if she ever did) abusing her father and brother on her mother’s behalf. She now calls to communicate Cruella’s agenda, rather than to just talk to them. In the months that they have been back in our state, she has spent only an hour with Sebastian – supervised by her mother – and she has never been in our home. Sebastian asked if she would be allowed to come to a therapy appointment with him, so that she could talk to his therapist about any issues she has with him and get any questions she has answered, but Cruella said that the only way she would allow that is if she can be right there with her. 6cea25a06528b099541f0eefc0fa14e4She has become so controlling of Harley, she barely lets her out of her sight! Sebastian’s therapist has met Cruella, back when they were in couple’s counseling and individual counseling with two therapists in the same practice, and she knows how sick and twisted Cruella is. To the point where Sebastian’s therapist says she will not be in the same room with Cruella ever again. That’s how sick this woman is! A therapist is afraid of her toxicness. So we are at an impasse.

I don’t know how Sebastian does it. If it were my child, I would probably cry every day. He says that he has grieved the loss of his child. What a horrible thing for a parent to have to do! Harley is purposely cruel when they talk on the phone, which isn’t often. She wanted to see Bruce over Thanksgiving break, and he was out of town. Sebastian asked her if she wanted to ride in the car with him to pick Bruce up, and Harley said “I don’t feel comfortable being in the car with you for hours.” I asked him why and he said he didn’t ask her. He says he actually doesn’t want to talk to her anymore, because all she does is attack him and say hurtful things. I don’t blame him, but at the same time my heart breaks for him. She told him she will visit at Christmas only because “the court says I have to and WE obey the law.” A dig at Sebastian not forcing Bruce to go visit Cruella. Cruella and Harley have become a “WE.” Sebastian says he will tell her she doesn’t have to visit if she doesn’t want to, which means she probably won’t come. I think we will all be relieved. f9c4b053e39d111d4b839049bc25d761She’s so mean and horrible, the thought of having her in our home for a week makes me sick to my stomach. He said if she does want to come he is going to talk to her about her attitude and let her know that we won’t tolerate her being a b**** to everyone. I doubt it will be an issue though, she won’t want to come unless Cruella tells her to come and spy on us. It’s so sad that it has come to this. There’s nothing we can do. The court has failed us and more importantly, Harley. $25,000 completely thrown away. We would have done better burning it in a fire out in the yard. Nothing has changed, and now our worst fears have come true, Cruella has turned her daughter into a tiny version of her – not just a narcissistic image where she is everything Cruella wanted to be but wasn’t (which is how she has always treated her) but now putting her words into Harley’s mouth, her thoughts into Harley’s head, controlling literally every aspect of her and her personality.

A couple years ago, one of Cruella’s sisters sent Sebastian a message on facebook telling him that he should try to get custody of Harley, because she looked so unhappy in all the pictures Cruella posted of her on facebook. That’s how bad it has been. I know Harley is miserable and she’s probably just doing what she needs to do to make her mother “love” her. If only society would catch up and realize that mothers are not always healthy, that some should not be allowed access to their children because their abuse is so all-encompassing and terrible. It’s too late for Harley I’m afraid. I wonder what the next ten years will be like? 😦

When you cut off your mom, society judges you

1811496873-9771dd3f7fe1e6c3e27417e1ce971207As I mentioned in a previous post since Cruella has returned to our state, she has been trying more and more to force Bruce to interact with her. Sebastian and I have always respected Bruce as a human being, and allowed him to make his own decision on contact with his mother. As I said last weekend as we were discussing it out on the back deck, Cruella makes snide statements to Sebastian like “You would think a good father would want his son to have a relationship with his mother,” but truthfully, a good parents protects his/her child, even if it is from the other parent. Bruce will be in college next year, (he’s graduating high school a year early) he’s basically grown. Bruce sent Cruella a pleasant, calm reply on “Our family wizard” which she has not responded to, unsurprisingly, because he upheld his boundaries. What is tough is that when you make the decision to cut off a parent, especially a mother, society typically judges you for it. They ask what is wrong with you, not what she did to deserve it, because we have a damaging view of motherhood in our society, that says that all mothers love and they don’t all love their children.

One of the best, most validating blogs I have found is another one on PsychCentral called Knotted, the Mother-Daughter Relationship” by Peg Streep. In her post “Toxic Mom? Going No Contact? 5 Things You Must Realize” Peg talks about how society doesn’t accept that mothers can be unloving:

“Culturally, we are sympathetic when a mother cuts a daughter out of her life because we assume the mother has done her very best and left no stone unturned to salvage the relationship, and we sigh with sympathy. People say, “It’s a pity but some kids just turn out bad, no matter how hard you try.”

No such leeway is ever granted to a child who initiates the break. Why is that? My guess is that people so want to believe in one kind of love that’s immutable—a mother’s love—in a world where love is hard to find and harder to hang on to, that the story of the unloving mother is personally threatening. That’s why they don’t want to hear you out.” [emphasis is the author’s]

tumblr_nf8w5q5fxc1r5wmgdo1_500 Please visit the article to read the whole thing, it’s very insightful. Peg shares her own experience with cutting off her toxic mother. I’m proud of how well Bruce has stuck to his boundaries. As I told Sebastian, I gave my own mother chance after chance, for 30 years, to hurt me over and over, believing – even though she never apologized – that when she was nice to me that it was for good. Of course, like every abusive pattern the “honeymoon” phase never lasted and before too long she would be saying horrible things to me, tearing me down, emotionally abusing me, then gaslighting me, saying she had never said or done those things if I even bothered to confront her. I’m ashamed of how many times I opened myself up to her negativity and criticism, because I wanted so desperately for her to love me in the way that society tells you a mother should love. I felt that there was something wrong with me for so many years. I never had the strength that he has at the age of 16. I expected that when she showed up at the school event, he would cave, as I did to my own mother so many times. I am glad for him that he didn’t. Years of dashed hopes have left wounds that I know will never heal. I hope for him that he doesn’t begin a cycle with his mother like I had with mine. I’m glad he’s not second-guessing himself, one of the things that Peg talks about in her article and something I know I did way too many times.

I guess that we are able to do is what we are already doing – supporting him, believing him, not shaming him for protecting himself, and listening when he needs to vent. I wish that we could do more but at the same time, I wish I had anyone that would have validated my feelings back when I was a teenager! Maybe I wouldn’t have been lost for so many years.

Narcissistic Mother Quiz

I found this survey, “Are You a Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother? Take This Brief Survey to Find Out” and sent it to Bruce. He took it, and got 28/33. It is by Karyl McBride, the author of the book “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing The Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers.”
Here are the questions:

good-enough-book-cover-290x441(Check all those that apply to your relationship with your mother)

1. When you discuss your life issues with your mother, does she divert the discussion to talk about herself?

2. When you discuss your feelings with your mother, does she try to top the feeling with her own?

3. Does your mother act jealous of you?

4. Does your mother lack empathy for your feelings?

5. Does your mother only support those things you do that reflect on her as a “good mother”?

6. Have you consistently felt a lack of emotional closeness with your mother?

7. Have you consistently questioned whether or not your mother likes you or loves you?

8. Does your mother only do things for you when others can see?

9. When something happens in your life (accident, illness, divorce) does your mother react with how it will affect her rather than how you feel?

10. Is or was your mother overly conscious of what others think (neighbors, friends, family, co-workers)?

11. Does your mother deny her own feelings?

12. Does your mother blame things on you or others rather than own responsibility for her feelings or actions?

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

14. Do you feel you were a slave to your mother?

15. Do you feel you were responsible for your mother’s ailments or sickness (headaches, stress, illness)?

16. Did you have to take care of your mother’s physical needs as a child?

17. Do you feel unaccepted by your mother?

18. Do you feel your mother was critical of you?

19. Do you feel helpless in the presence of your mother?

20. Are you shamed often by your mother?

21. Do you feel your mother knows the real you?

22. Does your mother act like the world should revolve around her?

23. Do you find it difficult to be a separate person from your mother?

24. Does your mother appear phony to you?

25. Does your mother want to control your choices?

26. Does your mother swing from egotistical to a depressed mood?

27. Did you feel you had to take care of your mother’s emotional needs as a child?

28. Do you feel manipulated in the presence of your mother?

29. Do you feel valued by mother for what you do rather than who you are?

30. Is your mother controlling, acting like a victim or martyr?

31. Does your mother make you act different from how you really feel?

32. Does your mother compete with you?

33. Does your mother always have to have things her way?

Note: All of these questions relate to narcissistic traits. The more questions you checked, the more likely your mother has narcissistic traits and this has caused some difficulty for you as a growing daughter and adult.

What freaks me out, is that I score 24/33 when thinking about my relationship with my own mother. Cruella is undeniably narcissistic and probably borderline, and Bruce only scores four more points than I do. I’m struggling with what that means. I guess that my mother has narcissistic behaviors at the very least… I wonder if that’s why I identify with Harley, and to a lesser extent Bruce, so much. Harley and I do have a lot of things in common, like loving Hello Kitty, liking similar music, both really loving horror movies, never having a very “girly” style but more of an edgier style, but I am wondering now if more and more I’m not seeing how her sense of self is being strangled by her narcissistic mother and she’s rebelling against it. I always felt rejected by my mother, just as any narcissist is rejecting if you will not conform to their ideals and be their source of narcissistic supply.

Over the years I have had to learn to set really strong boundaries, because we had a very abusive cycle. She would hurt me, because of being critical or dismissive or completely invalidating my feelings; I would withdraw; after a time she would reach out to me, acting as though nothing happened, never apologizing, but being nice and loving; I would let my guard down; things would go well for a little while but then she would hurt me, being critical or dismissive or completely invalidating my feelings; so I would withdraw…

That went on for like 32 years.

Every time she came back and was nice to me, I was happy. She would act the way I wanted her to act and it would feel good, to be welcomed and not rejected. I would always let my guard down and then be completely surprised when she clobbered me, even though it had happened dozens and dozens of times. I struggled with self-esteem and feeling like I didn’t deserve to be loved, and on many levels I knew it was because of my volatile relationship with my mother, but I never thought that she might be a narcissist. Although, seeing it in black and white, I wonder how it took me so long to figure it out!! It’s really tough to have something like that dawn on you. It makes it even harder to accept that we cannot protect Harley from Cruella, that she too will probably grow up feeling like she’s not lovable, that she’s not good enough and can never be, no matter how hard she tries. It’s so, so heartbreaking.