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Will's story (August 2015 - October 2015)

At the age of 58 I recently shattered a lifelong glass bubble of believing that I was a perfect (golden!) child of a perfect background. I went through a rather tough period in which it dawned on me that the relationships in my family are heavily distorted by narcissistic disorder patterns. Both my parents are still alive and able in the middle of their eighties, and I have a sister three years younger than me.

Ever since my teens I have suffered from angst and an almost bipolar turmoil of reaction patterns leading me into a teen life rather sunk in alcohol and hash amongst fleeing jobs, although I managed to uphold a few solid friendships and sought for wisdom (today recognized as an unconscious search for redemption...) in tales of mystics and guru's, (although never signing up as disciple, though) and had a sort of jojo self-image alternating between a godly chosen being and a cast away nobody  –  or a monster (not that I were violent, but I felt very ugly inside).

I did manage to get a grip at 24 and completed an education as a music teacher at 29, from when I relapsed into a new period of hash and alcohol abuse and low self-esteem, again countered a bit by a warm, although rather problematic relation with a woman I actually lived together with for a couple of years.

At 31 my eyes opened for the love of my life, with whom I now have two wonderful daughters.
But at the time of having to leave my ex-girlfriend in favour of a deep-felt love for another woman I got so intensely hit by shame, guilt and suicidal thought patterns (which, btw has been part of my angst throughout my life up till very recently), that I began searching in earnest for a therapist that could ease my pains - little knowing that the path would lead to where I am now…

So during almost 28 years of regular therapy and a long list of tell-tale episodes marring meetings and events in both my wife's and my own families, it has become evident that both her and me are victims of narcissistic mothers - and both of us somehow recognized the longing for freeing ourselves.

My wife has been at the front, first coming to terms with her own angst and finally discovered that her mother suffers from Münchausen syndrome, and next I have had to realize that my family simply has an underlying agenda aiming at crazy-making my wife, our youngest daughter and ultimately me, for some reason wanting to destroy the life I've managed to build despite my mental obstacles!

After a couple of absolutely unforeseen violently bodily reactions on my part (like having a pulse not under 130 for three months in a row after saying no to my sister - the doctor just diagnosed stress syndrome ) and very near total breakdown after confronting my parents I simply have to acknowledge the fact that I have to go no (or very little) contact in order to be able to ease my angst and become a real me amongst real others.

It has been a very tough process, but these past months after smashing the glass bubble has given me hope that there is a way out of these destructive patterns, of course for myself but more important for our girls. I simply have to follow this path from now on.

One of the books I've read that gave me some confidence in what I'm doing is M. Scott. Pecks "The Road Less Travelled". For one major thing it helps me hold on to the fact that every one of us are responsible for our own lives and  behaviour towards each other.

When I began to realize that the images of my sister, my parents and myself might be distorted (these realizations dawned in that order over a period of approximately 2 years) I discovered that I am besieged by very heavy feelings of guilt and obligation to my family system, and this have been the cause of all the angst and depressions that have haunted me all my life.

As it became apparent that my wife seemed to be the center of my family's envy and even hateful behaviour – and me acting as the enabling son and partner, ultimately risking our marriage, our sanity and the wellbeing of our own children – I at first broke contact with my sister. This – as I wrote previously – caused almost half a year of violent body reactions out of sheer panic and shame.

Then my Mother made an attempt at forcing our youngest daughter to visit her and my father together with my sister for a Christmas visit, knowing that my wife and I had given up on the idea of celebrating for the first time ever – we have been the primary Christmas inviters for the past 25 years or so. My daughter refused, scared and angry – and I rushed to her rescue. At entering my daughter's apartment I sensed that my mother held an extremely strange silent anger/rage. The following day I phoned my parents and told them I were very angry at them for disturbing our daughter in this way, for once actually showing my real feelings – which were met only with reproach and an emotional door slammed shut immediately. This caused me to walk around for almost 24 hours feeling as if I were made of glass, and anytime soon I would shatter and end up in shards at a mental hospital. But with help from my therapist I succeeded to change the picture to one of me breaking through the glass walls of deception into the real world (like Neo in “The Matrix when he wakes up on board Morpheus' ship).

But after I decided to stand my ground and live through these ordeals, I completely unexpectedly began to experience a whole new sensation: I no longer felt afraid of other people! Colleagues, bypassing strangers, even friends – I became an equal instead of feeling distorted – the state of mind that formerly completely steered my behaviour in compulsive and destructive ways.

From then on I have begun training ways to switch from being in the state of fear, guilt and obligation (FOG) to being just me – knowing I have the right to be so, with my good sides and bad sides like everybody else – finally building my own Identity. I practice Yoga, listen to my body signals, allowing myself to shower every day(!) read a lot of books about narcissistic disorders, talk openly with (very close) friends and a lot with my wife.

Not that I find it easy all the time. Depending on circumstances (like attempting to explain a bit of my feelings to my father – which did not turn out well) I spend weeks working hard to pull myself out of the “old” behavioral patterns – still feeling childish and tempted to blame the world, my wife and circumstances in general for me having a bad time. But I 'm  gradually getting better at convincing myself that my responsibility first and foremost is to take good care of myself in order to be able to take care of my loved ones – and that every other person is fundamentally responsible for their lives in the same way. When I succeed in entering that state of mind it is like letting the light in, and being able to truly love life and others. I guess the rest of my life will be a bit like that, alternating between the old darkness and the new “being outdoor and fearless” feeling, constantly working on getting more “outside” time.

 

OCTOBER 2015: Chapter II

 

As I write these lines it has been 10 days since my now 87 year old dad had a stroke. He survived with his right side partially immobilized, has difficulty speaking, but is intellectually unimpaired. There is a good prognosis and he is already now working on rehabilitation. 

 

This crisis has of course set the mobile of our dysfunctional family in motion. Conditioned as I am to play the role as the golden/hero child all my instincts drag me towards playing the old role in the family drama. I now fight these impulses and try to get my rational brain online again. Sort of a rollercoaster ride in and out of rather heavy regressions in which Fear, Obligation and Guilt (FOG) reverberate through my body for hours.

 

The good news is that I am getting better at supporting myself in this. The physical condition do not any longer grip me as hard for whole days (or even months) as described in my first story.

I am beginning to really experience that my steady therapeutic work has freed me from the jail of believing that the FOG and pain are an eternal condition with spiritual or physical death as the only way out.

 

So here's in the hope that some may find bits of hope or recognition in my story as I have done during the past couple of years reading numerous tales told by others in similar plights:

 

—————————

 

My wife and I were on a business trip when I noticed an unanswered phone call from my mother. Fear struck me immediately, but I tried to calm down and not call back instantly, as I have decided to build up my defences before contacting her on my own initiative.

But she also called our eldest daughter who in turn called me and told that my dad had collapsed and was now hospitalized. I then called Mom, who at first seemed not to recognize my voice, and I somehow in a split second had an impression of her switching from calm to a sorrowful sob, with which she related that my sister had been with them at the time and called the ambulance right away.

 

We drove back home, my wife behind the wheel and me in the passenger seat filled with a mixture of grief, fear and panic, presuming that it would now be impossible for me to avoid meeting my sister and mother (S&M). It conveys the dysfunction that my sorrow felt secondary to my fear, although still deep, as Dad and I have cared about each other a great deal along the way. He is still the one radiating warmth in our family, although he has been using most of it in futile attempts at covering up the destructive behaviour of S&M. Clearly illustrated from last time we spent an hour together before the stroke, during which he scorned me subtly but persistently for not wanting to contact Mother and left me to fence off a guilt trip that permeated most of my summer.

 

Back home I struggled intensely to make up my mind whether I should race to the hospital immediately, risking to meet S&M (that thought still make me almost stop breathing), or wait until the next day. I managed to calm myself enough to strategically call the hospital and ask if dad was alone, which they confirmed, and so I went to see him immediately. He was very happy to see me and very sad too, of course. He cried, also, I believe, because our family has shattered. The next day my wife, youngest daughter and I visited him - again after clearing that there would be no other than us, and our eldest daughter went the day after again. So he knows we care.

 

Following or eldest daughter's visit he got transferred from the emergency ward to another hospital, where I called asking for news about his condition. The nurse sounded slightly offended with me (or did I make that up?) and told me, that S&M had been there and were registered as “primary contacts” (p.c.'s), so I was expected to speak with them, not the staff. The feeling of being manipulated out of direct contact with Dad hit me instantly, and I asked to be put on the list, to which she answered that it was my dad's decision, not hers.

 

Next day I checked up again, and got another nurse on the phone, (who sounded much more friendly) and decided to visit dad, as he were not having any other visitors at the time. I told him of my concerns about the p.c. issue, whereupon he immediately wrote a note on an iPad at his disposal, asking the staff to put me on the list of “p.c.'s”

 

The following day I went to therapy. On telling the story a tremendous flood of anger and sorrow burst through, and I cried like a raging child for the better part of 20 minutes! Afterwards I felt a great relief, and a renewal of legitimacy to the work I am doing to heal the (more and more obvious) damage done to me during my upbringing - including the right to have personal boundaries respected.

He voiced that if my family of origin wants to spin a drama around Dads condition then I could just let them - It is a human right to pull out! 

 

But Lo! on driving home from the consultation I unwittingly picked up a phone call from my sister (I did not recognize the phone number), during which she pulled all the guilt triggers in me she could think of in the couple of minutes it took me to more or less politely close the call.

I had a strange double sensation during the interaction: on one hand calm (or maybe dazed - I did not had the mind to stop driving or ending the call), and on the other hand panic lurked round every curve on the road. Thus I cannot recall the conversation fully, but here's what impressed itself in my memory: 

 

My sister:

  • Sweet voice:  “It's been a long time, but I just need to tell you that of course we did not mean to leave you out of the list of p.c.'s - it was just that there were only two tick boxes on the form”
  • Suddenly bursting into tears:  “I am so sorry that you do not contact me anymore - what have I done?”
  • Flips to normal voice:  “It's been such a long time! It's actually wearing me down!! And I have been driving mom back and forth - it's very hard on me”
  • Change to matter-of-fact voice:  “Are we not going to cooperate on this? You know it will surely not be the last time these things happen!”
  • Sweet voice again:  “And you are always welcome to call me, of course! don't you want to know the results of hospital meeting on dad - I attended, you know”
  • Angry voice:  “What have I done, since you do not want to call me? I cannot know, if you do not tell me!!”
  • Sweet voice again:  “oh, it's all alright, anyway I just phoned to make sure that you understand we did not mean to leave you out of the list of p.c.'s - you have now been put on the list instead of mom (!) - but she has me, so it's not that important to her”.
  • Back to matter-of-fact voice:  “but you are always welcome to call”
  • Slightly sarcastic voice:  “well, good luck with your process”

 

My response to these statements consisted of a few polite remarks (concentrating hard on avoiding any promises) within a rather dazed attempt at holding on to my boundaries - that I still do not want any contact due to my personal process (which I actually regret that I mentioned). It is still impossible for me to voice a simple “NO” to her, although I managed to convey that I do not want to stay in contact with her.

 

A few days later she attempted to contact me again. I found an unanswered call from her followed by a text message beginning with the words: “forget what I said in the voice message…”. I checked my voicemails and immediately deleted her recording not hearing it through, just noticing that her voice had a rather angry pitch. Then I deleted the text message without reading more of it and lastly erased her call on the “unanswered” list in order to prevent any involuntary callbacks to her.

 

During the evening I spoke with my wife who insisted that I checked up on the hospital procedure of Primary Contacts. My initial (and a bit naive) belief were that it were a simple list of relatives that would like the hospital to call them individually if a crisis or change occurred. But in the real world it is the hospitals way of rationalizing time spent in distributing messages concerning their patients. The optimal are one p.c., second best are two. So my sister picked up on that (she is educated within the care sector), knowing that the hospital took for granted that important information would be shared freely between us. Obviously that do not work within dysfunctional family systems, where this kind of procedure instead can be used as bait for further abuse.

 

The turmoil within me have been so strong, that I almost forget what I do for a living, and has taken me most of two weeks to still. So I have decided to uphold my “no contact” strategy for as long as I need to prepare against such violent flashbacks. It is my life!

 

During all the days since my dad's stroke I have been:

  • Disciplined myself to bathe and eat properly.
  • Remembering to breathe deeply.
  • Working, but carefully avoiding stress buildup.
  • Exercising (I practise yoga, take long walks and play a bit of tennis).
  • Allowing myself to cry and mourn the sorrow, pain and tragedy that runs in my family, when the pressure gets too high.
  • Reading supportive literature: Alice Miller's “the drama of the gifted child” and Pete Walkers “Complex ptsd: from surviving to thriving” (another highly recommendable book).
  • Writing vivid dreams down - and this story as well.
  • Permitting myself to enjoy a glass of wine in the evening.
  • Permitting myself to relax before bedtime - most electronics turned off.
  • Using breathing techniques if I wake during the night.
  • Lastly I have been able to muster anger, willing fantasy monologues loudly blaming my parents for the state of FOG they have put me in since my childhood

 

I now believe that these techniques (and other similar - I read and look for more tips now) will be a regular part of my future days, so that I might cut down on the amount of time spent struggling for selfrespect and freedom.

 

-Will

 

 

 

Abdullahi's Story (April 2015)

My name is Abdullahi from Nigeria. I have a brother and a sister. My mum is a monster. She separated from my dad since we were kids and she always told us there were witches in my dad's family that wanted to kill us.
She pitched us against everyone until we practically hated everyone in the family except her. Then she mercilessly pulled our strings, hurt us physically and emotionally, even sexually, I remember her making us watch Kama Sutra (the Indian sex movie) when I was seven.
On several occasions, when she thought I was asleep I would hear her telling my brother that I hate him, sometimes, I would hear her telling my sister to be careful around me so I don't rape her.
On several occasions, she would take my feeding money sent by my dad and bribe policemen or soldiers to beat me  up because I just couldn't accept her treatment. I regularly asked myself what exactly I did to offend her and I always come up blank. I used to love her so much and enjoyed running errands for her as a kid, now, nobody hates her as much as I.
She told several unthinkable lies about me to my friends' so that I wouldn't have any friends. She caused so much confusion and neglected me so much that I dropped from being top of my class to 22nd position in the space of one term in secondary school.
She always found ways to make me feel ashamed because I was the smartest of her kids and she knew all her bullshit stories about witches would not last long with me.
Now I am happy I have graduated and I'm staying with my stepmother and dad till I get a job. However, she still has a death grip on my elder sister. She coerced her into a marriage that broke down within 3years and now my sister, who has a masters degree and a daughter does not have a job and can't leave the house to find a job because my mum will not let go.
I never want to see my mum and when I start having kids, I will turn on her and attack her physically like a werewolf if I see her around my children.
Nobody but my immediate family understands why I hate her so much, they always say I'm a bad child because God commanded us to honor our parents, however, if I had listened to them, I probably would have committed suicide long time ago.

 

 

Stories of SoNMs from around the web

- Blog by Stephen Bach, the son of a narcissistic mother: https://thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com/

- From Ashamed09 on http://www.allaboutcounseling.com/forum/general-support/son-of-narcissistic-mother/ :

"...I could not believe how my mother fit 90% of the narcissistic profile. It left me thinking about how I relate to people alternately switching from a power position to a subordinate position randomly. Im either feel that people are lucky to have me in their life, falsely believing I am the greatest member of their life, too the extreme opposite where I am in fear that Im not good enough, and must perform extraordinary feats in order to secure their attention..." ( Read the full post here)

 

IAN'S STORY:

 

 

This page was last updated on: 30 August 2015

 

 

 

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