The black text is a shortened version of an original work by Chris, The Harpy’s Child. Original at https://sites.google.com/site/harpyschild/ Copyright 2007, all rights reserved
[There are two basic types of narcissistic mothers, the ignoring type and the engulfing type. These may—and often do—overlap but most NMs have a basic style and will be primarily one or the other. Some of the following points may not apply to your NM simply because they describe an engulfing characteristic when your NM is an ignoring type—or vice versa. But our mothers are not the only narcissists we will encounter in our lives. In fact, being raised by a narcissistic parent actually sets us up to be prey for more of the self- emotional vampires as we go out into the world, from girlfriends who are anything but friends to lovers who love themselves best to husbands who are the mirror image of dear old mom. So, whether something looks like it applies to your NM or not, read and consider it carefully—it may give you the awareness necessary to avoid the predator lurking around the next bend. As ever, my comments are shown in violet. -V]
It's about secret things. The Destructive Narcissistic Parent creates a child that only exists to be an extension of her self. It's about body language. It's about disapproving glances. It's about vocal tone. It's very intimate. And it's very powerful. It's part of who the child is. ~ Chris
Part 24. She goes pathetic
As a last resort she goes pathetic. When she's confronted with unavoidable consequences for her own bad behavior, including your anger, she will melt into a soggy puddle of weepy helplessness. It's all her fault. She can't do anything right. She feels so bad.
I don’t think malignant NMs operate this way. But I know that “regular” NMs certainly do! I cannot count the stories I have heard from other DoNMs about their NMs going into pathetic mode just about the time the daughters feel pushed so far they are ready to go NC (no contact). These wily, crafty old bats seem to have a sixth sense for when they’ve pushed too far and begin hoovering their daughters back in with a variety of underhanded techniques, not the least of which is feigned helplessness.
When my NM was confronted with consequences of her bad behaviour she had two ways of dealing with it, often employing them simultaneously: denial and rage (which often included retaliation). My GC Bro, he who could do no wrong and had a brown nose from being so far up her butt, even said “Oh, she could be vindictive at times…” Nobody with an ounce of self-protectiveness in their bodies would directly confront her because anyone who knew her understood that her reaction would be 1) indignant denial and 2) indignant rage at someone believing she would do such a thing.
When I was in therapy I sent her a letter telling her how it felt to be her daughter, how fearful I was, how vulnerable and unprotected. In the letter I told her that I had been sexually molested as a child and that my fear of her was so great that I didn’t tell her because I thought she would not believe me and that she would punish me. I mentioned my stepfather as a perpetrator and her reply letter was appalling. First of all, it was written inside a blank card and on the front of the card was a drawing of a droopy, depressed looking little knight astride and equally droopy looking horse. It was captioned something like “I will never let you hurt me again.” I found it a peculiar choice for a reply to a letter about my perceptions of my painful childhood…I had hurt her??
The inside of the letter was vile. I could hear her, in my head, shouting angrily at me the words in the letter. The tone of her writing was one of barely controlled rage and her handwriting indicated it was written furiously. The message was vituperative, accusing me of lying, then twisting my words to make it my father who had molested me not my stepfather, then accusing me of lying again, saying it could not have happened because he was married to her at the time. None of it made any sense. It was an Nrage tantrum on paper. It was how a Malignant NM responds to the truth of her behaviours held to her face: denial and rage.
What she doesn't do: own the responsibility for her bad conduct and make it right. Instead, as always, it's all about her, and her helpless self-pitying weepiness dumps the responsibility for her consequences AND for her unhappiness about it on you.
Like MNs everywhere, Malignant NMs don’t own the responsibility for their behaviour or the consequences of their behaviour either. And while the Malignant NM might not engage in weepy self-pity, she still dumps the responsibility back onto you…and you are to blame for her being angry and for anything she does in that anger (like breaking a blood vessel in her hand when she hits you…or you “making” her hit you). In her vicious, scathing letter to me, first NM denied that it was possible for my stepfather to have molested me, but later said if it did happen, it was because I instigated it. I found it rather interesting that she was so certain of what had and hadn’t happened and who did what when not only did she not witness it, the only other participant was long dead. But, true to every other narcissist on the planet, a little thing like facts wasn’t going to get in the way of her convictions!
As so often with narcissists, it is also a manipulative behavior. If you fail to excuse her bad behavior and make her feel better, YOU are the bad person for being cold, heartless and unfeeling when your poor mother feels so awful.
Very true. And while MNMs aren’t so inclined towards feeling awful with remorse, real or fake, they have their own twist on this.
The “normal” NM will make a drama out of this but the MNM will not feel awful—she won’t even fake remorse except, perhaps, in an over-the-top sarcastic way—but she will be highly indignant. How dare you accuse her of being sneaky, underhanded, manipulative and insensitive? How dare you call her a liar…and to her face, even!! Then she will take the show on the road…everybody she knows will hear about it and, after all she did for you, all she sacrificed for you, all she gave up for you, you repay her like this?? You might even hear the old saw about serpent’s teeth and ungrateful children, and ultimately you find that since you have no gratitude for all the things she’s done for you (like put a roof over your head and food on the table), she might just stop and then maybe you will appreciate her and all her hard work.
By the time she is done, you will have been painted the most selfish, cold, heartless, manipulative, impossible daughter a mother ever had. Everyone who knows her, from the butcher to the meter reader to the mechanic to your grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles, will know how unappreciative and self-centred you are and how she just keeps giving and giving and gets nothing back from you other than a hard time.
If your NM isn’t of the malignant variety, she may still do this…it is critical to her self-image that she is loving and sacrificing and if your perception is different either you have to be brought into line with hers or you have to be discredited.
Any way you view them, narcissists are a nasty piece of work. It is as parents, however, that they do their worst damage, setting their children up for a lifetime of dysfunction as partners and enablers of fellow narcissists, even in some cases, to grow up to be narcissists themselves. It is not a legacy to wish on anyone except, perhaps, the narcissists themselves.
Next: Forgiveness: A mistake?
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.