About a year and a half ago, after Bruce came to live with us and told his mom in writing that he didn’t want to talk to her because he was upset that she told him she had cancer when she did not, she wrote “The Letter.” He probably would’ve started talking to her again if she had just left it alone, but she instead decided to write a letter to “apologize” that minimized her emotional abuse of him, attempted to manipulate him and make him feel guilty, put some of the blame for her actions on him, completely changed past events, and finally told him she has hated him for most of his life. In my memory, it was absolutely the worst thing I have ever read. When he initially received it he did not read it, but forwarded it to Sebastian who showed it to me. We all advised him not to read it, his therapist read it and told him not to read it, but he couldn’t help himself.
My original intention with this post was to share parts of The Letter that illustrate how the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) mind works. I wanted to show the parts that were manipulative, minimizing, blaming her teenage son for her bad behavior, etc. I thought it would be helpful for other people to see how different the mind of a narcissist works from those of people who don’t have personality disorders. As it turns out, even knowing The Letter was the worst thing I had ever read, a year and a half had actually dulled how horrific it is. Upon re-reading it, I realized that it is so horrible and gut-wrenching that even though this blog is anonymous, I cannot publicly share the despicable things his mother said to him. I will instead share the different points of the letter, and then share in her own words, her description of herself.
- It begins by her saying she loves him and that she is sorry that he hates her. She says she understands that it’s because of things she did and she deserves it but that she is heartbroken without him and misses him and doesn’t understand his need to torture her with silence. (Playing the victim, guilt, manipulation, projection.)
- She then shares some happy memories from when he was a baby. She talks about how she was devoted to him and his father was absent (lie, manipulation) but once he was a toddler he started to like his father and because she hated Sebastian so much, she took Bruce’s love for him as him choosing Sebastian over her. (distorted thinking, selfishness) She became resentful of Bruce and started to hate him, even though she wouldn’t realize until years later that it was hatred and resentment that she was feeling.
- Then she tells him that when she got pregnant with his sister, she chose Harley over him and continued to favor her for the next 8 years. She believed Bruce did not love, want, or need her. (distorted thinking, selfishness) When he was 12 and she realized her marriage to Sebastian was over, she decided to try to win back her son’s love by buying him things and spending lots of money on him, and ignoring his sister. (not even sure what this is, distorted views of love and parenting?)
- When Sebastian completely abandoned the three of them and left them to fend for themselves financially (complete and total lie) and Bruce will remember it because he “lived it” she for some reason decided that moving nearly 1000 miles away to be on their own instead of moving to yet a different state to live with her best friend was best for Bruce somehow so she did it for him. (lie, she moved there because she had a male friend there that she knew she could exploit for help, money, and attention, and she did.) Then, Bruce decided to abandon her in this place she didn’t want to be in the first place. (lies, manipulation, guilt.) Also noteworthy that Cruella keeps telling Harley they are moving back to this place she supposedly didn’t want to live.
- Then, oddly, she begins to talk about me. She characterizes Sebastian beginning to date as: “brutal and violent and abusive. I was sick for weeks. Throwing up, unbearable headaches, insomnia, exhaustion I was a mess.” (really distorted thinking, guilt, manipulation) By then Bruce had started acting like his father (cold, distant, dismissive) and decided to live with him and Cruella was so overcome with it all that she had to quit her job and then move to another state to live with her best friend. (irrational blame, guilt, manipulation) What’s oddest about this is that her story for why she moved is constantly changing. She has said on her now-deleted blog that it was “to begin cancer treatments,” she told Sebastian it was “to get help for her mental illness,” now she’s telling Bruce that it was because of him. Also noteworthy that she was fired from her job because she couldn’t get along with her boss and was irresponsible, she didn’t quit. She says: “I gave you everything you wanted, at great personal cost and you still treated me like shit.” She also notes that her anger and hatred toward her son has continued to grow and grow.
- She then tells him that she lied to him about having cancer due to finding out he had read her blog when she “had not slept in almost 3 days, alertness was no longer sustainable with caffeine and I honestly remember almost nothing. All of that anger came out. I was scared, I was angry, I felt threatened, I felt violated, I was in complete panic.” She then goes on to say that because she came from an abusive family and had been in an abusive marriage, lying is what came naturally to her so that is what she did. It’s funny that she says she remembers “almost nothing” yet can give so much detail about how she felt. She’s inadvertently being honest – lying is what she does, lying is who she is. (lies, minimizing, excuses, manipulation.)
Now, because I feel that it is not a violation of Bruce to share this, here is Cruella describing herself in her own words (probably the most honest she has ever been about or with herself):
I have a god awful vindictive streak that is my absolute worse personality trait. I despise nothing about myself the way I utterly despise this trait. When I am alert and have all my faculties and I feel threatened, I spend every ounce of grit I have keeping that viciousness silent. You have seen me get angry and silent before, well when that happens all my energy is focused on not saying the most hurtful thing I can find about a person. When I get so angry I get cold all of a sudden I can see exactly how, to hurt and destroy the individual in front of me. I am not proud of this trait and it has earned me a well-deserved reputation as a vicious bitch in the past.
I never use it, not even with your father. (lie) I made myself a promise years ago not to do it again, and I have kept that promise. But when my faculties are impaired the wounded attack animal shows up without restraint. My faculties were down that night and the horrible part is I am quite positive I just wanted to strike back. I am sorry more than you know, although I don’t know how to apologize for that one. None of what I told you justifies my betrayal. I only wanted to tell you exactly how I failed you. That night when your father told me I couldn’t see you, I lost it. All the rage and anger I have been harboring for years came out. It was truly ugly, I was broken, devastated. I was a screaming, crying lump on the floor. I have never cried like that in my life. I had lost you forever and my heart finished breaking. By the time your email came I was numb. I tried to answer your questions but I was barely able to read them, I had to get help to answer them. At the heart of it is the fact that all the people who were supposed to love me never did, being deemed unlovable can carry some huge rage. So now, I also have to fill the hole it left and that is a really big hole. I have spent a lot of time feeling empty and my mind wanders in bizarre places without my old friend anger.
This is probably the most insight I have ever read from a person with narcissistic personality disorder and the most honesty that one will ever express about themselves and their disease/disorder. I decided to call this post “inside the twisted mind of a narcissist” because these paragraphs are a window into the mind of a very sick person, desperately in need of help. It’s sad that during lucid moments she realizes how sick she is and doesn’t seek help. I have read that the feeling of a hole inside and feeling unlovable are traits of Borderline Personality Disorder which is why I also think she might have BPD. It is possible to have BPD and NPD. Where she mentions about being able to figure out what to say or do to “destroy the individual in front of me” is something that several personality disorders have, the ability to find what makes a person tick and their fears and exploit them is what makes people with NPD such good manipulators. They know the buttons to press. This is also true of sociopaths. I don’t think she’s a sociopath, because I think she does love her kids, as much as she is able to, in her own sick twisted way. She just doesn’t have the ability to empathize or care beyond how it affects her and her feelings.