SONS OF NARCISSISTIC MOTHERS .ORG
Stories of SoNMs
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
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.
- 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)
This page was last updated on: 30 August 2015
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