I wrote this 8 months ago – on the 11th of May to precise – and never had the guts to publish it. But I finally thought I’d share my story of surviving narcissistic abuse. This was written before I had a name for what my mother is, but it begins to describe how she’s affected me over the years.
On Mother’s Day I experienced an explosion of posts on my Facebook newsfeed. Lovely, heartfelt posts from daughters to their mothers; “happy Mother’s Day to the best mum ever”, “I couldn’t have done it without you”, “thanks for everything you’ve done for me”.
I didn’t join in. I simply can’t say things like that with a clean conscience, because I don’t mean them. Don’t get me wrong, my mother can be a really lovely person. Even extremely generous. Unfortunately those moments are few and far between – at least for me.
My childhood was filled with emotional abuse, made worse by the fact that I didn’t realise that’s what it was. I genuinely thought I was just a disappointment of a daughter, a bitch, selfish, because that’s all my mother ever really told me. She also tried to divide the family in a way – she’d tell me my dad wanted to disinherit me, my brother didn’t want me at his wedding, etc etc. Almost all of what she said was a lie. The most concerning part is that she genuinely seems to believe her lies. She could tell you the sky is green and scream at you for being a horrible, deceitful person by saying it’s actually blue.
She’s always been this way, although it could be said that she’s gotten progressively worse in recent years. As I got older it dawned on me that her behaviour wasn’t normal. Eventually, when I was just shy of 17 years old, it all got too much and I moved out. This was followed by a whole heap of extra abuse from my mum, ranging from begging me to stay , “you’re tearing this family apart”, to “go be a slut and live with your boyfriend then”. She would leave voicemail after voicemail, especially when she’d been drinking, basically just telling me how awful I was and how I owed her everything and should treat her accordingly.
Then my sons died. You’d think maybe that might’ve made my mum lay off me a bit, but you’d be dead wrong. There was so much drama from her after we lost our sons, I’d be here for a week if I tried to write it all down, so I’ll just tell you some snippets.
Mum caused a whole lot of problems with the funeral “guest list” – she told several people it was a public funeral, when in fact it was a very private one, while also telling some of my closest friends they weren’t invited and that I didn’t want to see them. It was stressful dealing with upset friends, and also having to tell upset acquaintances that they actually weren’t invited.
Mum also took it upon herself to tell the funeral director “our” plans – plans that we had definitely not discussed with her and that contradicted what we actually wanted to do. It was confusing trying to resurrect our sons’ funeral from the mess my mother made of it.
After the funeral, my mum left us voicemail after voicemail just yelling at us about crap.
Some of it included how she had more rights as a grandparent because she was the maternal grandmother, so we shouldn’t show Matt’s mother any photos of our sons. She berated us for not thanking her for planning the funeral for us. She yelled at us because Matt’s grandparents were at the funeral and mine weren’t, despite the fact that 3/4 of my grandparents weren’t even living, and the remaining one was in no state to travel 5 hours down for the funeral of two great-grandsons that she didn’t even remember she had. She called us selfish for not letting her invite friends of hers – some of whom we’d barely met – to our very private, family and closest-friends only, funeral. She bought a new outfit for the funeral apparently, so we owed her money for said outfit…
She just wouldn’t stop calling.
Her most memorable voicemail lines were “my grandsons have just died, give me some sympathy” and “I’m a mother, and that’s the most important job of all”, the latter said rather scathingly, like she knew that statement would hurt and intended it that way.
Matt had to physically take my phone off me. I was ending up in tears every time she called, yet I kept answering the phone because she was my mum – I felt like she deserved the benefit of doubt. By March though, I’d decided I couldn’t keep putting myself through that. I blocked her number and stopped talking to her completely for at least 12 months. Charlie being born changed that all a little – but that’s a story for another day.
The thing about my mum is that she can seem extremely loving looking from the outside in. It’s very hard to explain just what she’s like. There is definitely something very wrong there though, I’m not sure she even remembers when she abuses you, because she then goes on to act like it never happened and swears that it didn’t. I also know my sweet little sister doesn’t see the negative side of our mother as much – not like my brother and I have. I try not to discuss my mother with her, because she can form her own opinions based own her own experiences, it’s just so strange that her experiences are so different from mine. I know this post will probably be read by her, and I’m sorry little sister for darkening your view of our mum.
I guess there’s also the possibility that my mother could read this. Maybe there’s a tiny chance that she might finally see herself as the rest of us see her – someone who needs help. The abuse has got to stop. But more likely, she will blame the rest of us as she always has, and deny everything.
I’m sorry, mum, but you’re just too stressful to have in my life. You can be in Charlie’s – as long as you don’t ever treat her the way you’ve treated me – but I don’t want to play happy families and be your friend, because the abuse isn’t worth it. I choose to believe I am more than the names you call me. I choose happiness.