I recently discovered something that made so many things fall into place about my mother. I have spent most of my life trying to pin down what was wrong with my mother. Was she depressed? Bipolar? Insane? And the answer turns out to be something much more insidious. She is in fact a narcissist. More importantly, she is a covert narcissist. If you've never met a full blown overt narcissist, I'm sure you've seen them in action. Just think of the crazy rantings of Mr. Donald Trump. Bigger than life, loud, touting how amazing they are at everything, everything they touch turns to gold, how jealous the world is of them, how they never fail...blah blah blah. Well, my mother is the opposite. She is much quieter in her need to control or destroy those around her.
She uses people to get what she feels she deserves then tosses away those who have helped her achieve her goal or object until she needs them again. She constantly plays the victim using her children as her scapegoats for why her life sucks. She puts my sister on a pedestal for all of her accomplishments while tearing her down for still not accomplishing enough. She chose me as her main scapegoat to take all of her failure out on making me carry her guilt and self loathing for all of her mistakes. She pit sister against sister to make us prove which of us loved her more which was an impossible mission because according to her we would never be good enough to deserve the love we fought for. She withheld all emotional and physical affection from me while showering all she had on my sister. She constantly spoke ill of her family while trying to sidle her way into the clan that so desperately wanted ( and rightly so) nothing to do with due to her bazaar behavior and hateful speech about and toward them. She abandoned her two daughters almost nightly to go chase after a rebellious son just so she would have a good, sympathy garnering story to tell at the next meeting; with tears shining in her eyes. This was a ploy she used often to maintain that illusion of being a victim. She was a single mother raising three kids on her own, barely making enough money to get by, dealing with a drug addicted and violent son and yet she was a strong sister in the faith. Poor sister. Look how hard her life is and all the sacrifices she has made for her family. Ugh!! I heard that drivel so many times growing up it makes me ill to think about it because the same question inevitably always followed, "Aren't you lucky to have such a strong, caring mother? She must really love you!" And what else could I do but agree? Where was my proof to prove the opposite when no one but me and my sister saw the truth at home?
I hated my home life. It was miserable. Not only did I have my strange, distant, manipulative mother to deal with, but I also had to deal with the emotionally vicious attacks that came from my sister, the golden child. Instead of bonding over our experiences with our mother, we were strangers who distrusted and disliked one another. Our mother sat back and enjoyed the show she had written, produced, and directed. It was awful. I remember the nights my mother and sister would spend together behind a closed bedroom door giggling, gossiping, and chatting for hours. Whenever I would knock on the door to try and be a part of the "fun" all chatter would stop and I was the recipient of hostile glares from both of them. One or both would coldly ask what I wanted. What could I say? I would close the door and just go away which was immediately followed by a round of loud laughter coming from the room. I cried the first couple of times this happened but learned not to shed anymore tears over it after awhile. There was no use wasting tears or feeling sorry for myself. This was just my life.
I had numerous complexes from the things my sister would say to me. I was stupid, ugly, had an ugly smile, looked ugliest when I smiled, no one liked me, no one wanted me around, and she was better than me in everything. All these things she said to me were almost always said in front of our mother and were neither denied nor disapproved of by her. My sister's bad behavior was enforced and encouraged by my mother. I have only just started wondering what it was my mother said to my sister to encourage her to treat me the way she did. I mean, I know how my mother treated me and what she would say to me to make me feel like I was nothing and never would be and didn't deserve to be but what did she say to my sister behind that closed door to convince her to say the same things to me and to believe them?
I want to believe that my sister was as much a victim to our mother as I was but it's hard. I was never privy to the preferential treatment my sister received. She was made to believe she was adored, admired, beautiful, and all things worthy by our mother. At the same time she was also made to believe that she was still not good enough. At least our mother was honest about her hate for me. I could see it for what it was. Maybe my sister was more of a victim than I ever was. She believed the promise that one day she would eventually catch up to our mother's expectations if she worked hard enough, had the perfect jw husband, and never turned her back on her parent. She is more than welcome to stay that victim.
I walked away 12 years ago. I may have walked away from the abuse and disdain that was my life but the psychological scars are still with me. Putting an accurate diagnosis to my mother is a relief but it's not a cure. I think I have recovered a lot with most of my sanity in tact but my mother's ghost will occasionally come out to play. That's life. But ghosts don't frighten me as easily as they used to.