The pitty-pat of the approach of Mother's Day in the U.S. is even now discernible. A month away, I'm sure some of you are starting to feel the creeping dread rise up in your throat. Your stomach sinks; your heart squeezes in the vise-grip of expectations of family and society-at-large to bequeath honor on the dishonorable. At the other end of whatever I end up writing here today, I'll direct you to my ode to evil mothers written last year since I'm not sure I have anything better to say on it. Let me stop for a moment here and tap into my internal rage and see if anything else comes up.
Ummmm, ummmmmnnn. This coffee is too good--it's put me in my happy place.
Perhaps I'll recount for you part of a conversation with my husband yesterday. We were discussing the comment that I dealt with this last week here and here. Hubby brought up the presumption of the commenter that I was selfishly motivated as well as the implication that I had casually tossed away my relationship with my N mother.
My husband said, "I don't think people with poor imaginations (like that commenter) can even begin to conceptualize how difficult it was for you. You agonized over how to deal with your mother. I watched you struggle. I saw your intense distress over what to do about your relationship with your mother. I saw you do everything you could to try to repair the relationship without surrendering your integrity. I saw her reject your efforts. Ultimately, your mother forced you to make the decision to cut her off from you and your family, but it was not something you did quickly or easily. There was no glee in you in cutting her off. It became an obvious necessity after several years of agonizing and effort to salvage some kind of relationship with her. For much of that time you knew nothing about malignant narcissism. You simply knew something was terribly wrong."
There you have a snippet of outside observation of my attitude and behavior in dealing with my malignantly narcissistic mother. I hope you haven't mistaken my firm resolve and clarity of thought and opinion as being the place I started from. I struggled, I cried, I shook in fear, I lost many nights of sleep, I suffered physically, I spent long hours in thought, I studied, I truly did agonize.
This blog represents the outcome of all that pain and difficulty. What I have hoped to accomplish here is shortening someone else's trip through this land mine ridden emotional territory. I have hoped to help you see things from the vantage point of victory over the tyranny of narcissists to give you hope and resolve to make the hard decisions; to give you something solid to hang your faith on that it'll be better on the other side. I have come out the other side with no regrets and with my integrity firmly in place. Good people want to do the right thing so they can live with a clear conscience. I think I have had something to share on that account.
I stopped surrendering my morals and my intelligence to the narcissist. My conscience is clear. My life is my own. Here, on this blog, I have shared with you my hard earned strength, acquired wisdom, and experience with the desire that, if necessary, you can borrow from me in order to proceed toward freedom in your own life. My hope has been to share with you the principles that guided my thinking so that you can shape your own thinking and make these good outcomes your own. So you too can have a guilt-free as well as a narcissist-free life...and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror.
I think most of you have active enough imaginations to grasp the concept that I have wrestled, battled, and fought with myself and my upbringing in order to get to the place of peace I now live in. It was my desperate clinging to truth, i.e. reality, that brought me out into the light. Being a Christian, I had to examine each issue carefully within the framework of morality. I have shared my discoveries there as well. I can tell you will absolute certitude that without my understanding of the gospel I think I would have wandered interminably in the wilderness of slavery to the narcissists in my life. I don't think it is obvious to many why that would be...but, it is true nonetheless.
When I started on the road that eventually led to my no longer having someone I call 'mother', I didn't even begin to envision that outcome. I certainly never imagined no longer having my father in my life. In fact, I desperately didn't want to lose my father in the process of trying to hold my mother to account for her bad treatment of my own daughter. Even though I didn't want to lose my father, I didn't make that desire my guiding principle. I had to be willing to risk losing him to do right by my mother, and to do right by my own family and myself...ultimately to God. I knew what I was risking when I decided to take a stand against my mother's predations of the weaker members of our family. As much as I didn't want to lose the favor and love of my father, I didn't let that desire over rule the course integrity should take.
Alas, my narcissist-appeasing father made his own choice. He made it clear he didn't want me if I wasn't willing to continue to quietly stand by whenever my mother decided to eat a family member. Was there no struggle with the possibility of losing my father forever because I had decided to no longer wink and nod when my mother cannibalized her family? Of course there was. It was another dark struggle I contended with.
There are terribly hard choices one has to make when deciding to hold a narcissist to account for their evil behavior. To hold that narcissist to account is most likely going to lead you to the realization you can't safely keep them in your life anymore. This can lead to what seems like dire outcomes when you're talking about a narcissist family member. You will very likely lose other family members. In the beginning that can seem like too high a price to pay. For some, it likely is too high of a price. For many of us, freedom of mind, body and soul is well worth the cost in the long run. Yeah, the long run is where the benefits are reaped. The short term is painful and costly. Ultimately, each person has to decide what they value most. For me...that is freedom. Moral, intellectual, spiritual, emotional freedom. Priceless.
To read my ode to bad mothers on Mother's Day, click here.