Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Aging Narcissist

You can't hide your true colors as you approach the autumn of your life. ~Author Unknown

Growing old requires grace and courage. Aging is a series of insults that you have to take in stride else you become a distasteful burden to yourself and those around you.

Grace and courage are not attributes the narcissist possesses at any age so the lack of these virtues become all the more apparent as they grow old.

You don't have to live terribly long to observe that age highlights and underlines what you've been all your life. I have met delightful elderly people who are so lovely on the inside it makes their wrinkled faces a pleasure to look upon. I have met the others...those whose wrinkled characters are unfavorably enhanced by their craggy countenances. They become odious inside and out to the observer.

The final act on the stage of life seems to be a pulling back on the curtain of the soul. For some, age seems to have taken them by surprise. The series of choices that brought them to old age were not choices that ever anticipated this part of their life. They are bereft of any qualities that would make them capable of being content at the time of lessening that we call aging. The decrepitude of their character is fully exposed by the decrepitude of their bodies.

Narcissists do not age well. Whether they depended on their beauty or their intellect, they now find themselves unable to summon the charm or sophistication which enabled them to lure in their sources of supply. They are pathetic and lonely. Neither their bodies nor their minds are impressive in any sense. Withered and shrunken, their minds and bodies are now betraying them. They are daily confronted with the huge gap between what they fantasize themselves to be and what the mirror on the wall and the mirror on your face reflects back to them. The "grandiosity gap", the distance between the narcissist's grandiose vision of himself and reality, is now a yawning and unbridgeable chasm. Constantly angry and dysphoric the narcissist is a curmudgeon that most have abandoned.

It isn't your imagination that your narcissist parent is worsened with age. This is the normal and usual progression. What you are witnessing is a three year old trapped in an old man's or old woman's body. The temper tantrum that could pass for cute in a toddler is shockingly and monstrously detestable when performed by the aged. Old age has stripped away the cover that enabled her audience to un-know that an adult was acting like a pre-schooler. No beauty to distract us. No soaring heights of intellect to dazzle and confuse us into compliance. The emperor has no clothes. The sight of the "naked" narcissist almost makes you want to gouge your eyes out. Hideous.

The narcissist has been in a life-long battle to defy death. They pretended for years that death could be avoided by refusing to acknowledge its inevitability. I have been struck by the abject fear the narcissist shows when they are forced to contemplate their own mortality. Why is the narcissist so afraid of death? I think the answer is that they fear obliteration and Judgment Day. I think the extremely deprived conscience of the narcissist is never quite able to dismiss the idea that there may be a Day of Reckoning to meet in the hereafter. They would avoid that Day, not by actually making restitution for wrongs done, but by refusing to die. Some of the most tenacious clingers-on to life are narcissists.

Some elderly narcissists are so evil and nasty that families find that outside agencies will refuse to deal with them thus leaving the family with no options but to care for the wrinkled beast themselves. If you are dealing with an aged narcissist, you have my deepest sympathies. The enraged and elderly narcissist will find no respite until they are in their coffin. Neither will you.

38 comments:

jordie said...

My N mother is 81 and visits other elderly folk in nursing homes (she lives alone in her own home)because she feels sorry for them. She goes on and on about one 'poor 83 year old dear' as though she is a girl of 25. I have a theory about this. I think that N mothers often take on the identity of their golden child, in my case my 53 yr old sister. In her mind, its as though she is living through her daughter, and always has. Therefore, in her fantasy world, she is a 53 yr old woman visiting a nursing home, not an 81 yr old.

michelle said...

I was so glad to read the comment Jordie made. My nmom has been trying to be "me" since she moved next door to me 10 years ago - and it was impossible to try to put into words what she was doing. At first she stood behind me when I was talking to people, sometimes putting her head on my shoulder - to look into the persons face that I was speaking to. Any questions about the renovations on my house or about my family were answered by her, even when she had to cut me off to answer. She started staying up till my hubby came home (when he had to work late) and would open her door and call "goodnight" to him as he was coming in our house. She copied one of those little "I worry till I hear your footsteps" poems and gave it to us for Christmas. Conversations about things "we" (me and her) like, needing to know where I was and what I was doing at all times, repeating my instructions to my children, all were the things she did that sound so bizarre when you try to explain what she does to upset. She was the expert on all things "michelle" and would tell my sisters what I liked and what I didn't like, colors, clothes, food, as if she could read my mind. Of course, most of the time she was wrong about my likes, etc., and once I started putting two and two together, I started pulling away from her. I really thought it was just my nmom who did this - wow - she's not even an ORIGINAL N!

Thank you so much for this site - there are so many of us out there looking for answers.

Ruby said...

My heart and mind usually tell me that my Mom is N. I cut her off 3 and a half years ago, and boy am I still getting grief from family members (most I barely know) over it, not least because she travels around the world visiting them and telling them how much I've hurt her. But my brain also seizes on things that seem non-N, I guess because part of me is still invested in seeing her as "merely difficult", or is afraid to have misjudged her. Her attitude to death is one of these instances.

She is a (night) nurse, and has for a long time worked in a home for the elderly. She gets a LOT of strokes from people for doing this job. She's a real martyr type. I visited with her one night and was astonished by how little she actually did, just pushing files around on a cart, it looked like. I know she's had nights dealing with falls, death and the like, though.

She talks about death a lot, in a very factual way. I guess she rightly considers herself an expert after all her work experience. The last time I and my brothers all got together - about 7 years ago - she insisted on relaying to us her wishes about her death and dying. She has it all planned to the Nth degree (pun intended). If she gets sick enough to need care, to be dependent on others the way they've been dependent on her, then she's planning to "go and sit on a mountaintop". She really admires the way old Inuit people go off in their canoes or sit on an ice floe or whatever to die alone and not "be a burden" on their families. Hee!

I used to think all of this was very healthy, mature and progressive. Now I'm not so sure. It feels too similar to the way she used to phone me when I was at college - especially if I had an exam coming up - and make "jokes" about how she'd kill herself if she wouldn't be "leaving you kids so much debt".

Anna Valerious said...

Ruby,

Your Nmom's bravado about death is an act. It is manipulation.

My mother is petrified of death. Yet, to the casual observer, she would appear to have a very mature attitude about it. She is able to talk a good talk. She pretends she is unafraid of death when she decides to make a show of her "strength" and "fearlessness". But she has tipped her hand to me far too many times for me to ever be fooled by her act of taunting death. When she feels in control of her life, when she feels healthy and immortal, that is when she talks bravely about death. But woe betide if she is forced to feel her mortality through illness. A lump can send her into a frenzied tailspin. She is scared spitless of cancer and talks about it frequently. Many of the phobias she has developed over the years have been directly related to her fears of "catching" cancer. She has become an obsessive germiphobe as she has gotten older.

My mother has also talked of suicide when in some of her dark depressions. This was clearly (now, in retrospect) manipulation of us, her family. She is too afraid of dying to kill herself. She's never made any attempt at suicide. Just talk.

I don't believe your mother is unafraid of death. I think she talks big to convince herself and her audience that she is so in control that she doesn't need to fear the Grim Reaper. He has no tricks up his sleeve that she hasn't seen or anticipated. I think you Nmom is lying to herself first and then to the rest of you. People who talk about death a lot show their obsession by this excessive attention to their own mortality. It is fear that inspires this obsession. I would be shocked if your Nmom would actually end her life should she become dependent. It is more bravado and pretense at being a "good person" by acting like she cares about being a burden on her family. She expects that you all would make it impossible for her to "go to the mountaintop" should she end up dependent on any of you. She gets to "look" all mature by this charade while knowing you all would take care of her in her dependency.

Yo mamma is runnin' scared.

Ruby said...

Ooooooh, I think you're spot on. As usual. It's just another tool in her kit, to fight the fear fear fear.

I too often think of my expiration, especially when the street dogs are chasing my bicycle down the highway ;-D - I live in Thailand - but I don't threaten others with it; I use it to motivate me to fill my days well instead of flopping about playing Tetris and eating Doritos til the sun goes down. There are only so many days to play with. (I shall, however, continue to watch America's Next Top Model on You Tube, mortality be damned). For her, it's all externalized. Naturally.

Argh. I can't wait til the day I stop automatically comparing myself to her and making sure I'm not her. She still lives a little in my pocket, somehow.

Thanks to you and this post, I've come to terms with the real reason I've avoided her for these last few years and not confronted her. Yes, it is because I realise it would be pointless, this mama leopard is never going to change her spots. But it's also because I was, deep down, terrified that it would make her commit suicide and I'd get blamed by the whole world (and would blame myself). How well I've been trained. Woof woof.

I can't thank you enough, by the way, for being my sanity touchstone in recent times; if it weren't for you and a wonderful, clear-sighted friend far away (thank heavens also for email) I'd think it was me who was out of my mind. So often I read you and think either "Oh yeah, me too!" but also ... and this is rare on the web I find ... you put into clear words something that had been burrowing around in the back of my head. You're so remarkably insightful; I'm sure you speed up the process (of learning to see anew, I mean) for many many people. I can't always speak the truth myself but I know it - FEEL it - when I see it, and oh do you speak it. A million thank yous for sharing your hard-won truths.

Anna Valerious said...

You have a good sense of humor, Ruby!

I hope I didn't convey that only narcissists fear death. Death is an enemy...and we know that instinctively. Therefore, it is natural to fear it. Narcissists have a pathological fear. "Excessive attention to their own mortality" was the phrase I used to try to get across the abnormal way they deal with this subject. You are an excellent example of how an awareness of the limited number of days we are given should motivate a person to fill their days with meaningfulness. The narcissist never takes their obsessiveness with death to that healthy place. They are never spurred on to looking for ways to fill their days with meaningful moments. For them, living well means being latched onto someone's vein to suck their life blood. The only way they can deal with the idea of death is to run from away from it. They will do this by pretending it will never come for them, or by pretending they can control when death will come.

When their time comes, narcissists do not die well.

Thank you for your kind compliments. I am very happy to know that you've found a sanity spot on my blog.

Anonymous said...

I am So grateful that I have found this blog. My N father and N step mother are utterly terrifed of getting sick. Paranoid? Yes. You are right on mark about elderly Narcissists. My step mother siad the other day to me' At my age, I can do anything I want to' What an insufferable 'human'

Anonymous said...

I didn't realize my mother was a N until my father died. Things she said and did were so off the wall. She said I told him not to talk about aging, he was 85. She believes he brought it on himself. Several weeks after he passed she spoke of getting a face lift, she was 83 at the time. That crazy statement was followed by I wish I could have had a tummy tuck??? She goes to a Senior Center and talks about the younger seniors being "sweet old things", she's a sweet old thing. I know it's late to start figuring things out, but it's never too late as far as I'm concerned. She recently got hearing aids, which had been avoided because they make you look old. She asks me at least once a week if they are visible, I simply answer "who cares". Of course she gets mad and says I don't understand, and I tell her I never understood why she went so many years missing the laughter of her grandchildren hearing the roar of the ocean or the birds singing. The finale was, she didn't hear one word of my father's funeral service. How sad...

Anonymous said...

i am at this moment intime trying to figuire out if my wife of 40 years is a 'N' she goes on about her appearance and is always telling me that men have been 'chatting her up'.

She is very changeable and i think she is very jealous of our daughter.

Anyway your sight has been very informative and helps me get through some terrible moments of the day.

I am 71 years of age and have returned to my place of abode following a three week stay at my daughters home for respite from my wife.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
Thank you for your site that has given me peace in dealing with a
NF who right now is in a nursing home..What has spewed out of his mouth would make Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist' look calm.
I'm not exaggerating at all!

My mother took her life about 20
years ago..Now if you can believe
it.. he is trying to throw that guilt on to me...Why> I left when
I was 17 years old.

My story is way too long but please believe he tries to suck
the last bit of energy possibly from me..I have saved all of the horrid messages..And they are that!

I could write a book..And I might.
I know I can't be alone in all of this insanity...Just asking for support here...

Does anyone else feel this alone?

Thanks Anna!

With Love And Gratitude...


He tried to break my spirit once and I ran..The second time I ignored..The third time..I'm ready to expose what 'evil' really is.

Thanks Anna again, for putting into words what most people just
don't understand!!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I found this site....I am 61 yrs old and just figured out a few months ago that my 85 yr old mother is an N!!! I am an only child and she has always maintained that she "will never leave her home" (actually she really wants to live with me but that is NOT an option which I have nicely told her repeatedly) - well, 2 weeks ago she pushed me too far (calling me and saying she "fell" and needed Depends but REFUSED to go to the hospital. After setting her up downstairs in her home (I tried to hire someone to come and help her but when she heard someone would be coming she "felt better" and didn't need anyone) she called again 2 days later and said she wanted to go into a nursing home (?!) but still refused to go to the hospital for X-rays). Up till now assisted living or a nursing home were "out of the question"!

During the same week as this "escapade" her well pump broke and she was in crisis.....She has let her house go for 30+ years (she says someone else -me- will have to take care of all the things falling apart). At my request for help my wonderful husband of 40 yrs has stepped and given her an ultimatum.....either go to assisted living or there is NO contact with the family.

She says she is ready to go but we don't believe her - she'll say anything to re-engage me. I am at the end of my rope.....my therapist suggested I go out of state for a rest - I think I had a mini breakdown of sorts - right now all contact is through my husband - she is so manipulative that I can no longer deal with her. I really do believe there will be no peace in my life until one of us is dead!!!

Anonymous said...

thank you for your "aging narcissist" post. My mother is so vile, that I am glad she made me the scapegoat, because now my syncophant brother who is her lapdog and guard dog is with her. I also don't think a child of an aging narcissist should have to take care of them. Throw the bum out like my mother threw me out.

Anonymous said...

Aging is like the natures law of biological physics that a narcissist cannot bully, charm, or control.

Anonymous said...

I just found your website and it is comforting to know that all these years I have been blamed for everything under the sun, is just a N-mom acting out her pitiful vengance.

She really is vile. Nothing I do for her is enough. I pay all her bills, see to it that she is comfortable and as quasi-happy as any N-mom can be.

She is angry all the time, and at nearly 80, I never knew anyone could be so obstinant and hateful. It's the "poor me" routine day in and day out. Is it also normal for N-moms to be "sick" all the time? Her maladies go from one thing to the next, hardely ever ceasing.

But, thanks to those of you who have shared your stories. I'm glad there's a name to this nightmare...
Gail

Anonymous said...

Gail, I have almost a carbon copy of what you described. She is 85 now and yes the made up maladies come and go. One a little to far when she cried wolf about dying to her sister and her sister has now come to the conclusion with my help that she has a definite character flaw. I told my mother she better not keep up with the crying wolf because one day it will be true and no one will believe it...sad so sad!

Anonymous said...

My problem is my 91-yr-old blind dad has taken it from my Nmom for 60 years. When I was a child he always defended her, but now he's bewildered that she's so difficult and he can't understand it. He gets so angry and yells at her and of course it doesn't help. I want to care for him (and arrange care for her--which she says she can't afford because she wants me to do it), but it's impossible when they're together and also I don't want to give up my very full and enjoyable (finally!) life. Every day I struggle to make it possible for me to have some time with family or my self-employed job and every day I fail. I'm very scared.

Anna Valerious said...

Can you elaborate on what component of this has you scared?

AAA7353 said...

I am so sorry for all of us who have N's in our lives. I posted my story and lost it a few minutes ago. I'll try to be brief.
I've been through the mill with my mother and it gets worse as she gets older.(She's 81.) She is dying right now and the mixed feelings are difficult to deal with. She was very controlling even after a major stroke. I broke my neck to care her even though I suffer from MS and other illnesses. I cared for her as though she were my child. I loved her unconditionally and what did she do? She disowned me and her golden child, my brother helped her do it. I couldn't give a damn about money or the house. My husband and I never took money from our parents and worked hard to become secure.
It's just such a kick in the ass to know that all the love and effort I put into caring for her meant nothing. She is not in her right mind and that is how I can live with all of this. I just told her I loved her tonight in the hospital. She didn't answer me at first. I repeated it and she squeezed it out in return but it was difficult for her to do.
She used to say I was her best friend. I must say, I truly was. I would cut off my arms and legs for my kids. I would rather rot in hell than put them through what I've been through.
She probably will not last thru the month. I am close to my sister who has awful history with my mother too. She is quite ambivalent with her feelings as well. She now suffers from severe anxiety and a disorder of her skin that is rooted in self hatred.
It seems my mother can't stand me giving my attention to anyone else but her.
My mother tried to hurt me by using my son and his wife. They lost their first child to stillbirth on the day the baby should have been born. He was a full term beautiful boy. This was Sept of '08. My mother accused my daughter in law of losing the baby on purpose! She would say anything to take the attention off the grieving parents and grandparents and bring the focus on herself. I told her that she'd better stop telling people this horrendous lie! She concocted a horrible story and said my sister told her she saw pills in my daughter in law's kitchen! My sister is devastated. My mother tried to have me side with her. So while I'm grieving I'm trying to keep this story from my son. My son found out,from her and had it out with his grandmother. (This is all from her sick bed!!)
There's so much to tell and I won't go on. You can get the picture.
So this is where I am now. She is going to die any hour now. I prayed she ask me for forgiveness or tell me she made a terrible mistake. It is not going to happen. I must accept that it is going to end this way. I will try to get over the hurt.
Thank you for allowing me to tell my story. AAA

Alyx said...

Anna,
I know you are far removed from this right now, but if you could, could you post an article or blog about the aging narcissist. I am going through hell with mine. The commanding has now turning into whining where you feel empathy but it is another ruse for them to get you to do anything they want, including stealing anytime you have to yourself for something they dream up that is essential to them. Yesterday I had my almost blind N-mom whining she could not find the bread, but oh she could see enough the dial the phone with those tiny little buttons on a cordless phone to leave 8 whiney messages on my home phone and the same amount on my work phone...all the same whining manipulative fake crying...and all the while I was driving over there...takes time to get from one town to the next after work in traffic...does she realize that...no way...just what her needs are that's all.

George said...

Your comments about the aged narcissist rings all too true. In recent months, my family has all but abandoned my parents – both of whom are extremely narcissistic. Over the years, we had hoped that they would mellow somewhat, but even a successful retirement could not so much as dent a vile nasty streak enhanced by a non-stop stream of hateful invective, illogical rants, paranoid fantasies and shameless displays of cruelty towards everyone - family, friends acquaintances. Everyone has been fair game. As a baby boomer, I can say this – don’t wait decades to make the break, as we did. Do it now, as the odds are great that you will find them beyond redemption as time passes. Narcissists do not improve with age. The extremes to which self-importance rules the daily life of narcissists makes learning almost impossible, so do not think reason will work. If a diagnosis becomes apparent (and I recommend consulting with professionals to get a diagnosis – I did) then extricate yourself ASAP. After that it is extremely important to do what you need to do to bury the anger – heal yourself and try and live in a compassionate world – which is one that does not exist with a narcissist.

Fiona said...

I looked at this site because I'm the victim of a vicious 87 year old Narcissist mother. I suppose I'm looking for someone to say - 'just ignore her, you'll never please her, so why try?' My poor long suffering father passes away last summer. During his last few weeks of life, when he was very ill, she was a complete bitch to him, refusing to pay for carers or give him his medication. He cried that he 'never realised his life would end up like this'. When he died I was so relieved for him but what has he left us with? She's moved into sheltered accommodation - the best money can buy and she's extremely wealthy. But she's lonely and bored - the hoards of other residents aren't flocking to her side and she is angry at us for not facilitating getting her new friends. She's alienated all my father's friends and family, so no one comes to see her now except my sister and myself. She's constantly ill and complaining about aches and pains, but can't get past the 'rotweilers' at the medical centre to get an appointment although she thinks the onus is on them to invite her to see a doctor. (I'm a doctor's receptionist.) I know she's afraid of dying, but lacks the grace and maturity to deal with this part of her life in a reasonable way. She says she never left us to our own devices when we were babies so why should we leave her now - we owe it to her to pay constant homage. Nothing we do is ever greeted with gratitude, just criticism. Her hostility, destructive criticism, tantrums, vile comments and general nastiness are impossible to bear. It's actually threatening my own health and I've been at my wits end. However, her last comment to me the day before yesterday was now that Dad was no longer her she needed someone to bully. Well it won't be me. She also wants us all to apply to her in writing to justify why we should inherit any money when she's gone. Fortunately, the medical, legal and financial professions have decided she's not capable of making viable decisions. What they don't realise is that she never was. I loved the bits about happy old people's wrinkles being a joy to behold. My mother is still very good looking until she opens her mouth. My narcissistic aunt (her sister) died at 96. The upside is that I have gone down two dress sizes and lost one stone in weight. God help us.

Anna Valerious said...

Fiona,

Considering that your mother is financially well situated, and that she is being cared for in a qualified facility I certainly see no reason moral or otherwise to not leave her to her own devices. I wish you'd just kiss her off. She has admitted that she keeps you around to have something to kick when she feels like it. You don't need to keep signing up for that. If you needed to hear someone say, "just ignore her" etc., consider it said. I totally on board with that. She can't even stick it to you with the disposition of her money when she goes. I hope you will disentangle yourself and never look back. Let us know if you find yourself able to do that. I would love to hear someday that you're free of this wrinkled old baby. Rosemary's baby.

PassingThrough said...

Hey!
I hope that I won't be around to hear my 80-something NParents say their Famous Last Words. Why? Other than if I have passed on into the Great Big Mystery before them, here's a quote that will help explain my planned absence.

"A lot of people, on the verge of death, utter famous last words or stiffen into attitudes, as if the final stiffening in three days' time were not enough; they will have ceased to exist three days' hence, yet they still want to arouse admiration and adopt a pose and tell a lie with their last gasp."
— Henri de Montherlant

Ha! I already know that I might miss out on some pretty funny jokes if I don't go and watch their death performances. But hey, I'm counting on those who attend their shows to tell me all about it. I am laughing about what my NParents Famous Last Words could be! I can imagine them saying "Be sure to pull the pretty blanket up over my face!", "I bet I can do this better than you can!" or "Why are you guys smiling like that?"

C said...

My ex-boyfriend is a full blown N. (So thankful to call him my "ex".) Having suffered the emotional abuse that he has put me through over the last year, and having read your description of what happens to them as they age - I am quite happy to wish him a very long life.

marble said...

While it brings relief to give 'a name to the nightmare' why is that the mere fact of recognising this condition also brings shame? to see this in a parent always seems to make me feel bad (my mother's perception of any criticism).

I've also managed to attract a long line of narcissists among female friends and men, reliving the same hurts until I finally see a person utterly incapable of empathy or genuine care for anyone but themselves. I feel I have been moulded into food for a narcissist. Soul murder indeed! I don't really know how to be born into myself (living far from my mother doesn't necessarily provide freedom) but when I/we manage to do this, I expect it will be wonderful for all of us!

RE: DSM V debate: I see great value in the naming and description of this condition in the DSM even if I do not have the power or authority to make use of this term in effective ways (while I respect the points about any survivor's authority to recognise what they have LIVED over the intellectual authority to (luckily?) recognise these traits in the rare professional encounter ... not all survivors have managed to do this, and for them DSM IV is a potential lifeline). So I feel it would be worth petitioning authorities about the non-inclusion of NPD. I regard it as potential safety to speak to professionals for my own mental well being about a condition that they are obliged, professionally, to recognise.

Thank you to all writers on this blog who have the courage to name what they experience ... they are changing the fabric of reality as they speak.

doforanimals said...

This is exactly what I've been going through. Mother really turned up the volume on her nasty Narcissist behavior all through her 80s. She's 89 now and I've reached total burnout.

Karen Johnson said...

Thanks so much for this post. Last summer I moved from California (lived there for fourty years) back to Indiana where I grew up and my mother still resides. She begged me to move in with her because she is 81 years old and needed my help. She still lives in the large house where I was raised with my two older sisters. Both sisters escaped long ago and live in other states. Two days after I moved back my mother tried barricading me inside the house by putting furniture and other stuff in front of the doorways. She started throwing temper tantrums when I would disagree with her. One week later I leased a place two miles away from her because I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. Now I'm in therapy and taking antidepresssants. She refuses to acknowledge or apologize for any of her bad behavior. My oldest sister has gone no contact after my mother screamed and yelled at her on the telephone. Of course my mother denies this as she denies all wrongdoing. My other sister and I went low contact with her and my mother accused all of us of ganging up on her. To retaliate my mother did a reverse mortgage on her house despite being advised not to by her financial adviser. My sisters and I could care less about her money or the house. My father however is probably turning over in his grave. I could go on and on and on but I'm sure you get it. Whew! It feels so good to get this off my chest and vent. Thanks again for this post.

Stella said...

Most of these comments are in regards to the aging, narcissistic parent(s). My situation involves an aging, narcissistic ex boyfriend. He is almost 60 yrs old and has never married. He's lived a lifestyle in pursuit of his own pleasures and desires. He's never held a job (except when I was dating him a few decades ago) - and he's chosen to be a career criminal ever since. That is until just recently.

Along with three accomplices, he was recently found guilty of burglary in the first degree. Now he and his compadres are off to prison - for several years. Since I am still in touch with the family of my ex, I have learned that he vacillates between near suicidal thoughts and, alternately, fantasies of taking the prison by storm. He envisions himself playing out his narcissistic grandiosity on a much larger scale; by becoming the "big man on campus", so to say, once incarcerated in a few days.

Since he's always been a menace to society, those that know him are breathing a sigh of relief that he will be behind bars soon. What I'm reading on this site, however, is how much WORSE the narcissist becomes when he or she is about 20 yrs older than my ex (once in the early 80s). I'm wondering if anyone has had to deal with a narcissist who's in the situation my ex is currently in. How do these people deal with life altering changes which are NOT to their advantage but, instead, underscore their lack of acceptance in society? This would appear to be a catastrophic injury to their fragile and delusional psyche.

rhayes said...

I agree with a lot of what is said on here. Regarding the comments about being scared of death meaning the person won't commit suicide... I just want to share that one of my family members may have been narcissistic, and threatened suicide often as a manipulation tactic. We thought that she would not do it but she did. Being scared of death might be a narcissistic trait, and they might threaten suicide as a manipulation, but I'm just sharing that that doesn't mean a person won't do it. I think it might be helpful to remember that narcissism is a disorder... so while it is angering keep some perspective about the person still being a person you don't want to die from suicide.

AAA7353 said...

Dear rhayes,
So sorry for your family member's suicide. You are correct about trying to keep some perspective however in it is difficult to do so. As the target of my mom's anger she singled me out because she could. I was the weakest personality that would "take it" when she dished it out. She hurt me when I was down and had a death of my grandchild. She passed a year later. She apologized on her deathbed, as best she could but not in front of her "golden child", my brother. She made him hate me and my husband and kids. He is not right in his head either and did her dirty work for her. She is gone now for 2 and a half yrs. I miss the good parts of her but not the bad. My brother does not want to be part of the remaining family. We are all bad!
I am calming down and now sadness remains. We did have a suicide of an Uncle, my mom's brother. He had either bi-polar or schizophrenia, not sure which. It was a terrible blow to my mother who would tell people in the beginning that he had cancer or he had a heart attack. It was a very difficult time too for me as I had to hold up my mother for yrs. I had been dxed with MS a yr and a half after that all happened. My mother still expected me to take care of her needs. So you see how hard it is for me. I am going to be 59 in a couple of weeks and am suffering from other physical disorders besides my MS. Too much of this misery does affect one's health, I believe. Good luck to you and thank you for posting. God bless you with peace.

rhayes said...

Thanks for your reply. I'm sorry for your situations. I think some sadness is inevitable, it seems that there is just next to nothing anyone can do about people with this disorder... so it's nice to hear from other people who can relate. Peace and God bless!

Sue Botchie said...

This post helps to explain why some adult children don't visit their elderly parents. We often hear of those adults being trashed for not visiting.

Lisa said...

Wow! I have been wondering if I was alone in dealing with my 83 yr old mother. She has always been the type of person that loves everything and everyone to revolve around her. She has gotten worse over the years and now that my dad may have dementia, she is worse. She isn't getting the attention! She whines, complains, talks negative about everyone and is so unhappy and bitter that she can't run to town every day and shop!!
Needless to say, I am sick of it. We are so different. She is such a materialist person and has blown
thousands of dollars on junk and she gets upset with me because I don't want to go shopping and I don't like jewelry, clothes etc.. No instead I buy needed things for my children and grandchildren. All we hear is , no one cares about me and everybody treats me so bad and she still complains all the time to my dad who is no shape to hear it nor doesn't deserve to hear it.
Many have talked to her and tried to help her but she will not listen. I have told her to not be nagging and complaining to my dad and give him some peace.. She won't do it. I will help with her physically needs but that's it.
I am no longer a friend to her and will not listen to her whining and complaining. My dad is 88 and they have been very blessed. I lost my husband last year at the age of 55. I am grieving but she doesn't care about that either. I have tried to tell her how blessed they are to have each other and to have had such good health. Doesn't matter to her. She's just unhappy because she has to do for my dad now more and she can't run to town.
Is there anyway to get through to people like this?? She is suppose to be a Christian and I have talked to her about her soul but she doesn't think she does any wrong. My next step is to have some people from our congregation to talk to her. I would hate to know that she might lose her soul over this.
Would love to hear from anyone who might offer some advice.

Debbie

Anna Valerious said...

Were you to spend some considerable time here on this blog reading both my posts as well as the comments you would come to realize that the likelihood of your mother changing at this ripe old age is almost absolute zero. Don't hold your breath, in any case. I put no one outside of God's reach and power, but neither do I lead people to waste valuable time and energy trying to change such people. Your best course to accept that "what you see is what you get" and make your plans accordingly. For example, it is up to you to decide how much time and energy you're willing to expend on a selfish old lady when you have the legitimate demands of your own family to attend to. Keep in mind, too, that caving to the petulant demands of a narcissist only make the narcissist demand more. So give what you're willing to and walk away. At this point in time you need worry that she not destroy the souls around her more than worrying about her soul. She's made her decisions over eight decades of life. She has had ample opportunity to change her ways. She's not made proper use of those opportunities. The state of her soul is her own concern at this point. She has had more than enough time and knowledge to take advantage of God's grace. Keep her in your prayers, but create some healthy space between you and her and your emotions from her predations. All the best to you.

Lisa said...

Thank you Anna for your reply and advice. I am trying to distance myself but I am also one of those who feels guilty if I don't do certain things but again I was raised to feel guilty but my brother wasn't.
I would have much more patience with her if I wasn't in the situation that I am in. I lost my husband last year after 36 years of marriage to a brain tumor.He was 55 and I did not expect that to happen. I have 2 wonderful sons and grandchildren but they do not or cannot take the place of my husband. I have really been struggling with his loss and then my dog of 12 years died with cancer and that wasn't expected either so it's been one thing after another. My mother has been of no help to me with any of this. I try to tell her how blessed she and my dad are and have been but nothing sinks in with her.
Thanks again.

Anonymouse said...

Beautiful, touching, and insightful writing on a hideous subject. I have found that every word you write is true. More's the pity.

Calafia said...

The only real justice in my life as the "scapegoat" of my N mom's family is that three years ago, her "Golden child" (after losing her house due to living beyond her means for years) moved in and bought into my parents' mortgage. Twenty years ago, I was left alone to care for our mother. She verbally abused me when we were alone, told lies to the rest of the family about me, demanded care after surgeries where she asked for one thing, then rejected what she wanted like a fretful toddler and she and my sister deliberately made a mess of the house and then demanded I clean up after them. All during this, my father and siblings told me I was "making up" or "imagining it" while telling me I was "spoiled" and criticizing me for not "healing my relationship with my mother". I wanted to be a good daughter, so I cared for her..until my health broke, and I come down with a mysterious illness. Since I was no longer useful for cleaning her house and too sick to keep up all the extra projects and activities at college that gave her bragging rights, I was discarded. She never lifted a finger to help find out what was wrong with me, or find a good doctor. She even stopped talking about me to the extent that newer folks at their church didn't know I even existed. She then poor-mouthed, ran the family into bankruptcy, and took money from me by pretending to need groceries whenever she could (it turned out later that she was making 3x my tiny clerk salary- just spending money like water so it didn't last to pay for all she wanted). Now, it's 20 years later, I've managed to recover my health and marry a wonderful man. And my sister, after years of accusing me of lying or being overly sensitive, is now living with our mother, just as mom is truly facing her mortality and not hiding her evil manipulative ways. Now my sister, who my mother encouraged to bully and lie to me for years, is now "stuck" with caring for our parent. And, I am sad to say, they truly deserve each other. Mom has poisoned my sister's life and now they are both friendless, miserable, bitter people. If it weren't for my sister's kids, I would walk away completely. But I am utterly thankful that my sister is "stuck" caring for mom. Like the other commentators above, I don't care about any inheritance or material goods- I just want to be free of caring for my mother as she becomes more and more horrible. I can't wait until my husband's job allows us to move across country.

Lorraine Sanders said...

I was the golden child. a golden child that has had my mother figured out for at least the last 25 years.
I have self protected ever since my father died in 2001, by spending only one day a week around her, taking her to shop, or to the movies, or anywhere we didn't have to get into a conversation that is nothing but words of negativity.
I just never knew there was a name for all this, until this year.
My sister and brother were/are 13 and 14 years older than I am, and because of the age difference, my sister was like a second mother to me, one that uses me as a scapegoat, just like she was. so I was both!
My mother is 94. Recently, right before Thanksgiving, surprise, surprise, my mother wanted to buy me four tires for my car.
I didn't want her spending her money on me. I never do. She ends up making such a big scene, where ever we are, that I end up accepting, so she'll stop embarrassing me. Well, this time she didn't get her way. She tried to force the gift on my husband, he said, "no". I did the same.
She had a temper tantrum, and told us she is done with us! She is giving us the silent treatment.
the difference is this time, I will not be the one that just tries to get on with it. She made this decision. I'm curious on how she's going to get out of the painted corner she put herself in.
I told my sister who lives 3000 miles away, it's her turn!
She has alienated so many people.
There's so much more to the story.
That's just the Cliff Notes.
Robin