Several years ago I suffered a traumatic event—a home invasion robbery—in which I was tied up, beaten, and terrorized. It lasted only 45 minutes and I was not severely injured, but the experience opened a floodgate of terrifying memories of my childhood, memories I thought I had laid to rest after a five year period of intensive therapy.
During the assault I stayed calm and dispassionate—“don’t let them see you are afraid because then they have power over you”—went through my mind. It was shortly thereafter that I realized the treatment I received at the hands of these criminals was eerily similar to the treatment I had received at the hands of my dear old mother.
And so I began a blog, a private blog, wherein I wrote a series of events from my life. These memories chronicled my early childhood, my youth and adolescence, and even my early adult years…stories of my experiences both at the hands of my mother and later, my emotionally warped and crippled early adulthood.
When I experienced these things, narcissism as a diagnosis was yet in the distant future. Born in 1947, I went through my childhood in the Fifties, when motherhood was a sainted state and women who abused their children were believed to have done so at the provocation of those children. When I began writing the blog, in 2005, I had never heard of personality disorders. My therapist, in the 1980s, labelled my mother a psychopath, but as I have educated myself on the subject of narcissism, I see clearly that she was what is known today as a “malignant narcissist.”
I originally wrote this blog for myself alone, as a cathartic exercise. Knowing how ephemeral such writing can be when one’s computer is stolen in a robbery, as mine had been, I chose to use an on-line blog as my primary point of record. But, fearful of discovery (as every narcissist’s child can understand), I went to great lengths to hide this blog from public discovery. I opened a new email account to use for the blog account rather than add it to my normal Blogger blog . I set it up so that only people who had permission (and a secret password) could access it. Then, feeling safe from discovery, I began to write.
Soon I discovered that the emotional vulnerability that the robbery had called to the surface made me too fragile to write. As I immersed myself in the past and began reliving my early life, too often I would find myself crying uncontrollably, sometimes shaking too much to type, unable to finish a blog entry. Recalling a distancing technique my therapist taught me—to speak in the third person about my experiences until I could speak in the first person without becoming paralyzed—I tried writing in the third person.
It worked—it put enough emotional distance between me and the events that I was able to proceed as if I was an observer. I didn’t have to feel all those awful feelings again, and if I did, they were buffered by the sense that the events and emotions were happening to “her” rather than to me. I wrote nearly a post a day for almost two months, 46 entries in all, by the time the trauma was purged and I no longer felt compelled to pour it all out of me through my fingers on the keyboard.
For years I kept the blog a secret, the password given to a few people whom I either trusted or felt could benefit from knowing they were not the only ones who had been victimized by someone from whom they expected love. Along the way my adult daughter suddenly and inexplicably stopped talking to me and so did my stepmother. When I finally got my stepmother to answer my query as to why she’d stopped, I got a one-word answer “blog.” I, of course, thought she meant my public blog, A View from the Other Side, since this blog was securely hidden in the shadows and was quite puzzled by her being offended. When my daughter stopped responding to my emails, it took me weeks of queries until she responded with “I have nothing to say to you.” Being a well-trained little DoNM (Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother), I intruded no further into either of their lives—and neither of them have made an effort to reopen the lines of communication.
More than five years have passed. In that five years I have discovered narcissism, malignant narcissism, and that all-important “Aha!” moment when it all fell into place. I have met other women who grew up with (and some who still struggle with) narcissistic mothers—some even have malignant narcissistic mothers like mine and families of origin (FOO) who continue to be fooled (or intimidated and controlled) by the narcissists in their midst. Eventually realizing that my experiences could be validating for some of these people, I unmasked the blog and took it public about two years ago.
Last month I heard from a person who had been divorced by one of the Ns in my FOO and who no longer felt bound by the code of silence that so often encircles a narcissist’s family. This person told me that the reason my daughter had stopped talking to me was that she was angry about this blog. Apparently she somehow gained access to it and she shared that access with my stepmother. My daughter told the family that this blog contained nothing but lies and that she was afraid someone would recognize us and that embarrassed her: the innate contradiction apparently did not occur to her (we could only be recognized if the stories were true—if they were lies, who would recognize anyone?). According to my informant, my daughter urged the rest of the family to cut contact with me because I was lying and several did, including my stepmother. Considering that my daughter was not witness to most of the chronicled events—in fact, the only witness to most of the events was my mother (who died in 1998) or people who would be shamed or embarrassed by the truth being made public—who would expect them to confirm the truth?—how could she possibly know if something that occurred before her birth was true or not? She was engaging in a classic narcissist's ploy, triangulation, attempting to discredit me in order to save herself possible embarrassment.
A friend of mine in a private forum dedicated to daughters of narcissistic mothers (and she has a malignant one, much like my own) recently posted a link to a blog, House of Mirrors, that galvanized me. Most of the material I have read over the last few years has been about narcissists, but very little about malignant narcissists. This blog had me nodding my head with each entry, recognition washing over me in waves. And it occurred to me that this blog could give the same kind of validation, the same kind of “yessss!” moment to the daughters of malignant narcissistic mothers, just as House of Mirrors had done for me. There was nothing for me to hide from, nothing to be ashamed of—there was nothing awful that could be done to me by the remaining narcissists in my FOO that had not already been done. It was time to go public and to take ownership!
And so I closed the private blog (that was public but obscure) and transferred all 46 stories here as the beginning of the rest of my journey. I am the Narcissist’s Child, and you can call me Violet.
It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.