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?

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.