Monday, November 12, 2007

The Crones Have a Tea Party

Two women are sitting at the table in the breakfast nook sipping their cups of Earl Grey, pinkies in the air, chatting. They've been there since they awakened a couple hours earlier, so they are still in their robes and slippers.

It is a mother and her grown daughter. The two of them imagine that drinking Earl Grey tea is evidence of how civilized and urbane they are. If they only knew of its existence they would apply for membership in the Tiara Tea Society. Basking in their contrived sophistication they pretend their way through the morning.

They've been enjoying talking at length about themselves to each other; a close observer would pick up a bit of a competition between the women. Little games of one-up-man-ship are being played, but nothing too intense. Today, they are relaxed and in a good humor.

Most of their topics, when not totally self-focused, center on gossip about other family members. If you wore special reality-revealing glasses while taking in this scene, instead of two women sitting at a breakfast table, you would see two vultures sitting on a big warm rock enjoying that stuffed feeling after having picked several carcasses clean to the bone.

They preparing to move in on dessert. Dessert d'jour is succulent and sweet. The best for last.

Anna is being served up. The gleam of anticipation in the vultures' eyes is discernible from across the room. As full and fat as they are, their appetites are in no way diminished for the last course. There is always room for a big plate of Anna.

Young vulture has been excitedly sharing her newest fad interest. She's found a brand of Christianized psychology that has given her a new lease on life, she claims. She is secretly cherishing the idea of being able to sell Old Vulture on taking a course in this particular brand of psychobabble for her own ulterior reasons. "Healing the Broken-Hearted" (name changed to protect the guilty) has provided a slick package which allows Young Vulture to blame all her character flaws on Old Vulture. The older woman is being set up by the younger.

The hook needs to be set first. How to do this? The Younger sets up her sister on the autopsy table. She is going to slice and dice her to the wonderment of The Older to show her just how incisive this "Healing the Broken-hearted" program really is.

The classic "Y" incision is made slicing up sister stem to stern. "Did you know that the trauma of a difficult birth can cause that person to have rage issues later in life?" states The Younger authoritatively.

The Older looks interested in the theory so The Younger continues.

"Didn't Anna have a difficult birth?" A light dawns in the The Older's eyes, the answer obviously being "yes". Anna was in a breach position when the birth pangs began. Her mother was in labor for hours and hours. The final delivery was with forceps. The difficulty of the birth left its marks on the baby as well as the mother. The baby's head came to a discernible point, Conehead style, along with the scratches and bruises from the forceps.

The Younger continues by pointing out Anna's "anger issues", particularly as a teen, still sometimes glimpsed into adulthood. The Older swallows the hook whole. Of course. This makes perfect sense. Anna had a difficult birth and now we understand her anger issues. They cluck their tongues and nod their heads knowingly. They have cut to the core of Anna's soul. They have discerned the "pain" that moves her.

They are so full of shit.

This interpretation which is presented by my sister as fact, because she is relying on what she is calling an "authoritative" source, offers up something very important to both of these women: absolution. This lame-assed theory completely absolves them for any responsibility for their behaviors which frustrated the holy, living crap out of me.

My sister, while trying to sell me on her psychobabble blather, told me about this theory one day during a phone conversation. She then told me that she and mom had talked about it together on my sister's last visit to Mom's house, and they both now understood why I was such an angry "child". She sounded so sympathetic; like she was offering up to me complete absolution for my sin of being angry. She was shameless in admitting that she and Mom had sat there discussing what they considered to be my emotional "issues" and had both agreed on the root cause. I was supposed to be impressed...and thankful.

I laid some truth on top of this history revisionism for my sister, and she never brought this up to me again.

"D, that theory is unprovable and runs against the facts." I told my sister. "First of all, both you and mom seem to be forgetting that I was an almost unnaturally calm baby, I rarely cried, could be ignored for hours (and was) as I lay in my crib (by my mother's own admission to me). As a young child, my sweet and submissive nature continued. No tantrums. No displays of fits or rages. Compliant to a fault. If your memory was actually working properly, you would know that I didn't display my anger until I reached my middle teen years. Do you think there might have been a reason for my anger? Do you think that perhaps I might have been reacting to the complete frustration of my life with Mom? Do you think it possible that my anger was understandable and the cause and effect discernible if one considered my life at that time; the time when the anger began to be shown by me? This theory, sister, is complete bull-shit."

She actually yielded my point. The facts were not refutable once I proved that I remembered the facts. She knew them too, but had chosen to forget them because the glitter of her new theory was so much more appealing than the truth.

She didn't want me to go further. Because she knew, deep in her selfish soul, that my mother was not the only source of my youthful anger. She knows that she used me and took advantage of me up until I ran away from home at age 17. She was lazy and selfish and looked out completely for herself. I was her shield from momster. Because the rule was laid down that when Momma made a command-- it was law -- and it better damn well get done now. If it did not get done, I, as the eldest, was held responsible. My sister took full and complete advantage of this arrangement. She exploited it shamelessly. I know she has not forgotten this.

Let's look for a moment at what displays of anger these two bitches were talking about. You may think that I was picking fights in school, or screaming at my family and knocking them around, or joining up with a local gang and beating up homeless guys, if you were to judge by their bringing up my "rage issues" pretending like it negatively impacted their lives. Here's the truth.

First off, I was not allowed to express my frustration or anger verbally. Neither of my parents allowed negative emotions to be spoken because they were not to be inconvenienced by my emotions. There was no mouthing back. I would have been knocked into the next week if I had dared shoot off at the mouth snottily, let alone with overt anger. If I slammed a door, my mother would come running from where ever she was and belt me. I remember the few times when a door would accidentally slam and I would quickly run to re-open it and say, "Oops! Sorry!! That was an accident!" smiling as sweetly as I could as I watched to see the cloud pass off of my mother's face. So door-slamming was usually not an option. What outlet did I have then?

I would occasionally vent on inanimate objects outside the house. I have a clear memory of being so angry once that I went out to the garage and pounded on a wall with my fists for about 10 seconds just to vent onto something. Wow. What a sinner I was.

The anger these two women were gabbing about that day was primarily demonstrated by me with a quiet seething. A lid was kept clamped down on it by me...but the look in my eye would occasionally intimidate them. I remember seeing their intimidation a time or two. They were intimidated because their own consciences condemned them as they saw my quiet condemnation of them. Knowing they had completely and totally crossed a line over into unfairness that could not be justified even by them, they were intimidated by my anger. They knew my anger was justified.

My self-control even while enraged actually scared them a bit. Perhaps they were afraid I would finally unleash and split their skulls open like they deserved. I never, not once, behaved violently toward a person. During these rare occasions when they knew I was angry, perhaps I would slam a door or lash out at an inanimate object. No one would say a peep. My rage was known by them at that moment to be linked to their unreasonable and grossly unfair treatment of me. I think I only slammed a door in anger like that a couple of times. Neither time did my mother come at me with her rage. She was laying low like the simpering coward she really is because she knew she was in the wrong. She would not have let me get away with a slammed door except that her conscience was burning, and she seemed unsure of what I would do with my anger...probably because she was judging me by her own poor self-control when angry.

Get what I'm saying here? If there was not an obvious reason, i.e. cause and effect, for my anger, even these extremely rare displays would not have been allowed. My anger would have been met with an escalation of rage coming from my mother to me. So my sister's pretending that my "anger issues" as a teen were heretofore of mysterious etiology was just another bit of history revisionism by these two narcissists. They were absolving themselves of all responsibility for their actions toward me...while pretending to me that she was offering me some jewel of insight about my unexplored psyche.

I think in my next post I'll allow my cousin to describe her very first impressions of my family as she gazed in wonderment at this strange and new (to her) family. She was six years old...I was thirteen. It is a very focused snapshot of my life with my family from an outside witness. If one takes that snapshot and replicates it a few thousand times it will give at least some sense of the system of unfairness and servitude that was my life at home. The tea-sipping crones were the two most responsible for foisting this unfairness and slavery onto my life. Now they would chalk up my anger to forces beyond any of our control in order to clear their consciences. They were pathologizing the victim in order to purify themselves.

Now, as then, my anger does not dictate my behavior. I have self-control. I am allowed to have a feeling as long as I don't use a feeling to justify doing something immoral.

Where those two are concerned, I still have "anger issues", but there is no shame in that for me any more. In the spirit of the subject of my anger...

May they eat shit and die.

[Icon by gryphonsmith]

[Cartoon used with permission.]


Anonymous said...

Wow. This is a tough one for me. I was so enmeshed with my Nmother that I was the one who sat around that table with her....for years. It wasn't so much (for me) to talk about other family members negatively, it seemed more like self-preservation. I always thought she was trying to figure out LIFE...and it took me a lonnnngggg time to come to grips with her venom and not wishing others well. It was like 'connecting the dots' for me. Evil words, evil wishes, pidgeon-holing,.....catching the patterns over time. There was a lot of what I call 'Christian Voodoo' in it....(referring to all the right words and morality and Scripture etc thrown in as 'cover') This enmeshment with her started so early, I can't sort how it came to be. I ALWAYS felt the need to 'confess', 'report', be accountable for everything and everyone in the family. Ugh. I never felt like I had a 'wicked heart' (though accused of it when I, too, would rage out of proportion at times. It always mystified me, too!) I NEVER wished anyone ill, I just wanted to 'understand' and because of her isolating me from LIFE (religion, politics, parochial schools, no friends, no music, censored books), she was my only source of 'information'. Ugh....I feel horrible in participating in this Evil before God opened my eyes. (Little did she know that all she 'taught' me...the RightThings for the WrongReasons....ultimately worked against her. The God I came to know and love was not the same one she tooted her horn about.)

Yes...the 'unexplained' rages. I STILL 'cork'...but am working on it. I feel much of this will 'settle out' as I take hold of this newfound source of RealLife...and in cutting her out of my life. My 'rages' were swiftly and deftly 'taken care of' with shaming and more housework. "As long as you are a miserable person, you might as well be constructive and 'wash or clean or cook etc...'"

Thank you for this post, Anna. I am both sickened...and hopeful when I read what you and others share of their experience.

Anonymous said...

I am one of five siblings. I live closer to my mother than the others. She always acted as if I was her confidante while she told me awful things about all the others. Little did I know she did the same thing with all the siblings. The gossip kept all of us from being close. None of us really communicate. I confronted her about some things she said that turned out not to be true and she told me I was lying, that she had never said those things. She never tells things in front of more than one person so she can't get caught. I no longer let her gossip to me. She always said I was the troublemaker. I've finally figured out it was her that is the troublemaker. I was always so puzzled at being called that when I never did anything to cause trouble.

Anna Valerious said...

The one-on-one gossip sessions are a common thing with NPD mothers and her children. You are right -- it is about divide and conquer. I believe that we all have found ourselves sitting there listening to the N's gossip about other family. I know I did it too.

As you'll notice in today's post, though, it was my sibling who had the agenda and was manipulating my mother. I'm sure it was going both ways during that visit...but I really was not focusing on the NPD parent's part of the gab fest. It was more about my sister, her agenda, and her ability to grab my mom's approval for her lame-assed theory about me because they are partners in crime in their treatment of me over the many years. Two peas in a pod they are. The two were in collusion in their self-serving motivations. What you describe about being forced to listen to your mother gossip about family was largely a one-sided event with the ill-intent coming from her side. There was something fundamentally different going on between my mother and sister that day.

They so deserve each other in my mother's old age. Can't tell you how warm and fuzzy it makes me feel that the two of them are left to each other without me there to be used to prop up their grandiose image of themselves or to be their chief slave and bottle-washer.

Anna Valerious said...

When I was taking a shower a little while ago, I realized it might be interesting to add just a little more context to this story.

It had been many, many years since either woman had witnessed anger coming from me to them. My sister had this conversation with me only about three years ago. I had gotten my life together a very long time before. A happy marriage of almost 15 years at that time, my daughter was grown, well-adjusted, happy and doing well. In other words, of the three of us, my life put them to shame. Both women were stuck in marriages they are not happy in, their personal lives in shambles...and so they decide to try to put the healthiest person on the autopsy table to see if they could find something wrong with her.

They had to go back to how I was as a teenager to find something "wrong" with me. They were willing to go back 25 years in order to pathologize me. In the process, they wanted to pretend like I still had the same "problem" with anger as I did back then...which is outrageously untrue and there is no evidence to support such claims. I have never had a temper problem. Yes, as a teen there were about two years (before I left home) that it was becoming obvious that I was getting damn sick and tired of being used and abused. That is not an "anger problem" by any real definition. Especially since my anger was never taken out on anybody.

I have a hard time conveying the level of amazement and sense of outrage I felt when I realized how these two women were working so hard to find something wrong with me in order to further their personal agendas. There was much tangible proof of the fact that I was a happy and emotionally healthy person. Yet they had this need to find something wrong, some diagnosis that I was actually a tormented and unhappy soul and inferior to them.

Jealousy, envy, covetousness, bad intent...that is what I saw in their little autopsy report on me. They refused to see the ludicrousness of casting back 25 years to behavior that had long ago evaporated. Interestingly enough, my anger "problem" resolved when I left home. Hmmmm. Another fact which has magically escaped their notice.

So, what IS in a heart? said...

Just out of curiosity, what were the names of those psychologists your sister seemed to like? She claimed to be a "sanguine"? Or something. I think I know who it is(wrote "Personality Plus"), and I never did her works.

Anna Valerious said...

I really don't want to give the name of the psychologists or their program because I am loathe to give them one shred of advertising...even of the negative kind. Also, their denomination is the same as identifying factor to me and my family that I'm not willing to give.

Suffice it to say, no, it is not the one you mentioned. Never heard of "Personality Plus". My sister glommed onto the "four temperaments" through other sources than this "Healing the Broken-Hearted" crap. Not sure where she picked that up since so many other Christian sources have laid claim to this Christianized form of astrology.

Sorry to have to be vague on this. I'm working to protect the guilty and the innocent.

So, what IS in a heart? said...

Okay. I can understand that. Never hurts to ask.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

I wish you could know how sympathetic I am (and to the other visitors here too!). I have been under that microscope and on that dissecting table for most of my life. But never so much as the past year, when I finally moved to another state to get away from my Nmom and completely worthless father.

I've been a frantic overachiever all my life to try to win the unwinnable game of getting my parents to love me. Now that I no longer want to play the game, they have slandered me far and wide. And I've been recast. Now I'm no longer the overachiever--I'm the selfish grasping bitch who took EVERYTHING from the family to further my own ambitions.

I can't you how ironic it is, to have always been a meek and frantic pleaser, with people in the past encouraging me to stand up for myself. And now that I am standing up for myself, they all think I'm a bitch. And I've been ostracized. (Because how can I do this to my poor victimized parents?)

And I'm so much happier, being away from that entire town of crazies.

Thank you for sharing, Anna. I need so much to hear, over and over again, that other people have to struggle with these issues. Otherwise I would question my own sanity. You may have to keep blogging for the rest of my life *g*


Anna Valerious said...


I don't mind you asking. Nothing wrong with the question...just being hyper careful here.

BTW, right after replying to your question I found an email; Oprah's "O" magazine wants to interview me. I was assured I could stay anonymous...

...not sure what to do...

Anna Valerious said...

L.E. --

I too appreciate that others share their impressions and experiences in the comments sections of the blog posts. It is a type of community where people can offer each other support for their sanity. I am so often surprised at how much similarity of experience we all have. It assures me that there is likely no topic I could touch that won't be describing someone else's experience too. As long as hell keeps cranking out these evil clones...I am supposin' we will all continue to have similar experiences.

Anonymous said...

About the magazine interview--

You could help so many people, Anna. The more you encourage awareness of narcissim, the more people will have the tools to free themselves. You have such an articulate and moving voice . . . please think about doing it!


So, what IS in a heart? said...

"BTW, right after replying to your question I found an email; Oprah's "O" magazine wants to interview me. I was assured I could stay anonymous...

...not sure what to do..."

If they can keep you anonymous, then I think it's a good idea to do it. It certain can help many people. Or maybe you can use your favorite character's name?

Cathy said...

Oh my gosh Anna. If they can keep you anonymous, you should do it (the Oprah magazine interview). You have helped so many people that the more that can find out about the insights they receive on your blog, the more that can receive validation and sanity for the insanity that they have had to endure that had been heretofor un-named. You de-mystify the "crazy-making" of our families. You cut through the bullshit so cleanly that it allowed me to get on stable footing more quickly than if I hadn't found your blog. Your insights have augmented the professional counseling that I have been receiving and my therapist is an EXCELLENT one, so that is saying a lot on your behalf. My sister is digging her way out too. She is actually the one who found your blog. We both have shared it with our therapists and they now recommend the site to others. PLEASE let us know if you decide to do the interview and what issue it will be in. You go girl!!!!

Anonymous said...

We totally had the one-on-one gossip sessions in my family too, orchestrated by my N smother. I think we were all made to feel like the special confidante when she required it. When it finally dawned on me that we were being lied to and played against one another, it was one of the real shocks of my life. Until then, she had successfully kept us pitted against one another but always bonded to her, and at the very same time she stressed 'family loyalty' as the highest virtue and used it as leverage to direct us. I did so much out of the pressure to be 'loyal' until I realized that 'family loyalty' was really code for unconditional subservience to her exclusively, NOT the family, and that I in fact was being asked to be very disloyal to my siblings and they were to me. Of course, once I stopped participating I was demoted to permanent devil spawn status.

What I don't get it why, after all these decades, only some of us caught on and the rest still believe it all lock stock and barrel. I have been forced to really face the fact that any kind of sane relationship with them is hopeless. I had believed that the demise of the N would be like a spell being lifted, but not so. They are committed to keeping me exactly as before: a lesser member.

The difficult thing is when other relations judge me for avoiding my family, and they truly have no clue to the subtle inner workings of our little caste system EVEN WHEN PRESENT. I come from a pack of stealth N's - they don't yell or scream or throw things - they just poison your drink when no one is looking. Then I look wrong for not accepting what they offer.

Anonymous said...

Do the interview! For all us daughters of N-mothers!

In my case it was my STBX NH and my late mother at that table having tea. Dissecting me with projection and hate.

GRRRRR - you are so right. Then can all go to hell.


Stormchild said...

Anna, congratulations! An 'O' mag interview? With anonymity? Huge! All kinds of people will get the news!

God knows, it's time to turn over the rocks these creatures lurk under, and give them all a good dose of cleansing light.

Do it do it do it do it do it!

Anonymous said...

I guess I feel 'courageous' this morning! EXPOSE the Ns! When I first read about the possible interview, I felt I'd be FOUND OUT for 'tattling'. GAWD! Yeah...I'm new to this whole N am still paranoid she'll 'get me'. Bah! Do the it for all of us!

Thinking of all the 'table talks' with the she DID divide and conquer....and even if one of us siblings served her purpose one way....the others serve her in another way. I realize now how little there is of her. She NEEDS ALL our 'parts'! My parents marriage seemed 'fine' until us kids started leaving home. WE were the 'cover' for what she was not! I carried her emotional weight....and was the household maid and 'go to' person. I was obedient but sullen. My sister carried the 'wholesome chipper' side of the family. My brother was the 'lazy stupid' one. Nmom RESTED a LOT! She was the WellRestedBedPartner for my father. He allowed all this as long as she didn't bitch to him, he had a clean house and a good meal, and ONE 'happy daughter' (my sister), and a son to kick around for his 'shiftlessness'. I see now that Nmom used us all....It kept her from drawing any 'heat' from Dad....and she was always 'rested and available' for him. She didn't start in on him until after we left home. She is vicious to him....I think he must have started to complain about what wasn't around the house. ie: Started to expose her lazy, shiftless, whiny ass. And NOW HE is the devil to her.

She NEEDS ALL of what any of us had. She is NOTHING in and of herself. We ALL made up her IMAGE. No one person can make her up. She wants it ALL. And she HAD to seperate us and suck each of us dry or we might have 'caught on'. Disgusting.

Do the Interview. I hope she reads it. I hope she finds the blog.

My siblings don't see it. My sister sorta 'gets it'. My brother won't go there.

chickwithbrain said...

This seems fitting:

Gollum: [singing] The rock and pool, is nice and cool, so juicy sweet. Our only wish,
[he whacks the fish on the rock]
Gollum: to catch a fish,
[another whack]
Gollum: so juicy sweet.

Anonymous said...

Just adding my 'Heck Yes' to the interview proposal.

It's time.
Game over.
's an ACON uprising!

All my support,


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the Oprah magazine interview offer. I have just starting reading this blog in the last week or so and if you want another opinion I also think you would be a great interview subject. You are well spoken and full of great info. And great wrath. [Pop culture is just too full of the idea of alleged closure through 'forgiveness' ]

One reason reading this blog has been good for me is that I've been grappling not with a single N [books often cover the N boss, mate, inlaw or parent] but the dismantling of what I see as my whole original family due to the fallout of N damage over decades. I got here by googling N and sibling or sister, a topic I could not find info on.

I have actually never seen this angle of the topic discussed: the poisoning ripple effect, including creating more N's, that spread out from an N. As my N parent trained me to be the "perfect friend" to N's, like many people I already picked up quite a few N friends and a major N relationship before I started catching on to the whole mess. I also feel like I can trace N's back at least 2 more generations in my family.

N is like a epidemic that seems hardly ever called for what it is. The N is evil, destructive and reproduces. I appreciate the discussion here because I am used to people in life seeming content to get together and let off steam about the N's in their lives, but would never go as far as kicking them to the curb for good. Or really calling them what they are. Our culture tends to shy away from the word evil, and it certainly does not support people really and truly condemning their original families and this plays right into the N's hands. We can complain but not utterly condemn. We can divorce partners and call them names for the rest of our lives, mock our in-laws, or hate our bosses from hell, all that is socially acceptable. But it is not really acceptable to cut off from so called 'blood' family members.

This is why I have been feeling really glad to have found this blog, because I have been only just realizing how far the damage really has spread beyond the original N. It has been very helpful to hear how many people have had similar experiences with multiple family members. I think that the mainstream psychological community is reluctant to truly see all this for what it is, and how big it really is.

Anonymous said...

Well Anna,

Anger gets a bad wrap. It's just a reaction to injustice.

Anna Valerious said...

Thank you, every one, for the votes of confidence. I appreciate your kind support. It does shore up my courage.

I'll let you know what ultimately happens.

Anna Valerious said...

Yes, I agree that anger does get a bad rap which is why I wear mine without shame. I want others to be encouraged to do the same. The Ns point fingers at our anger and call it a "sin", or immoral. Their anger is always justified and righteous.

Anger is the proper response to outrages and gross injustice. There is something wrong with us if we don't get angry at those things.

Anonymous said...

To anna,
I didn't think there were any like me. I have a npd mom and sister. I am estranged from them because I cannot take their crap anymore. It sometimes gets lonely not having a family. I have been no contact with them for a long time. They always preferred to sit around and talk trash about me anna. Pity they have no conscience and cannot see what they do to people. Now I see I am not the only one. Thanks for your writings. I am putting your page in my list of favorites.

Anonymous said...

Gee. I find that rage issues are caused by people doing provocative things. That's not a theory.

Anonymous said...


I love your site and fully understand your need for privacy and anonymity. I've been meaning to write and tell you how much I love your site. There are things that you talk about here that SV doesn't. For those of you who have been around you know who I am talking about. Such as really making people understand how sly and subtle the abuse can be and more importantly that N's are not evil all the time but they are evil enough to cause serious harm.
The way that you present things is logical, and analytical (there is a bit of emotion to it but not so much that people can dismiss you as a kook) which is very important, you reference professionals and when you write you can tell that you are writing from experience and that you are sticking to the facts. I love that

BTW big pat on the back for saving yourself. After reading about your mother I cannot believe that you survived that without turning into a nervous wreck

Anonymous said...

Anna -

I think doing the interview ties into the topic of your subject this week. Here, these two vultures rip apart your flesh for their own twisted gain. They do this without you being able to defend yourself or a place where your words have value.

Do the interview - it battles EXACTLY the problem your sister/vulture and mother/vulture behavior creates. They sit down at the table by themselves, for themselves and are ultimately lonely. You are sitting down with Oprah's readers, for people all around the world and ultimately you are connected.

Nice job; I like sitting at this table with you and everyone else on this blog.

On another note - I went to a therapist for 10 years. I felt like I would tell my story and a kind person would tell me that was bad and then collect a check. I feel like I have grown reading and participating in this blog more than I did in 7 out of those 10 years. The stories are horrifying and familiar. It's the only place where I can feel safe expressing anger and fell community at the same time. Please share this with the world. People need to know about this condition and hopefully more support systems can be put into place

Anonymous said...

How crazy is it that this is the exact thing going on in my family right now? For years my sister and I weren't in such superficial contact - because our nMom effectively sucked away all of the potentially meaningful things we might have talked about. I could never talk to her about her money or boyfriend problems because nMom talked about them to me - and made me promise never to hint that I knew how unhappy my sister was. Mom made it sound like I would never be forgiven if I let sister know that Mom talked about her. Now the reverse, sister has only recently told me about how "much I enjoyed" talking, for example, about people's misfortunes (only it was with nMOM !!!), so sister never let on to me that she had any problems. The only one who had the key to all of our troubles was nMom herself.

Yes, we have both been gobsmacked. Thanks to this blog, now that we have been in contact with each other, we have been sharing emails ... and nMom says completely contradictory things to each of us. If she tells me "please don't get me any holiday presents" she tells my sister "of course I don't expect any presents from C this year."

It is indeed quite crazy making.

I just feel ashamed for all those years I sat at the Crone's table, trash-talking people - sometimes literally having to think HARD about what I could snark about, because the people had never been anything but nice to me - because when you didn't have something nice to say about someone, that's when nMom wanted you to sit next to her. THAT's when you basked in the glow of her comraderie and approval - when you were complicitly trashing others. What malevolence. Anna, thank you so much as always. And yes, I think you should do the O article.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Anna
I enjoyed this blog quite a bit, and the picture of the two vultures. Like some of the others who replied, I used to sit and listen to my Nmother gossip about other relatives when they weren't present to defend themselves---my sisters (she called 'em bitches)and my nieces (6 of them!), and from time to time she bashed my dad and my aunt. My Nmom also used the divide and conquer tactic which made her the communication hub of the family. Because I finally caught on to my Nmother's nastiness about 8 years ago, (I like to think of it as stripping off her mask)she has had a roaring good time colluding with my two sisters in bashing/pathologizing/ostracizing me and who knows what else has been going on. They have convinced themselves (my older sister is also N) that I am certifiably medically looney-tunes and should spend the rest of my life heavily medicated and that (according to my Nsister who knows squat about me and my life)I should not hold down a job or have a normal life because I am too insane. The lovely Nmother actually began writing me out of my parents'will/family estate about 11 or 12 years ago---currying the favors of my Nsister and my eager-betrayor sister. Well, this has pretty much put the kabosh on any hope of my maintaining relationships with my nieces---since I guess they are also riding on my Nmom's "gossip-go-round". I have been a virtual orphan for several years now. (Dad is "gone" due to alzheimers.) So, Nmom and her two accomplices have each other. I am pretty much no-contact with them---so, without any knowledge of my life, they either have to concoct things to gossip about me or find another family member as scapegoat.

Anonymous said...

What comfort to know that this gossiping, slandering or whatever you call it is all part of their "way" or what they do.

My ex-N-friend family is totally this way. I was indoctrinated into this years ago under the guise of "lets look at my families pictures". At the time I was only 19 and didn't know better. I thought we were just going to look at family pictures, but with a N, well there's always an agenda. She got out the old photo album and went picture by picture, telling me the dirt on each and every family member. Stuff that I had no business knowing. Stuff she had no business repeating.

If I had known better and I don't know why I didn't know better, I should have stopped her in her tracks and said this was wrong. This all should have been a HUGE red flag to me and I should have gotten out of there quick and never looked back, but of course I didn't. It had to take years and years of crazy-making in order for me to say "ENOUGH ALREADY!".

And now it's 23 years later and I'm married into the family. And I see the family get together and to me, it's pathetic. They all talk behind each others backs, but when they see each other it's all lovey dovey. I have to be so careful what I say and I have learned the hard way to keep my mouth shut. I can only imagine what they say behind my back, but truly I don't care anymore.

Anna, I know I keep saying this, but THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART! I can't imagine how much time you put into each and every one of your blog posts. It's has to be hours and hours. It looks like I need to keep on reading to find out what happened with Oprah! :-)

Anna Valerious said...

If I had known better and I don't know why I didn't know better, I should have stopped her in her tracks and said this was wrong. This all should have been a HUGE red flag to me and I should have gotten out of there quick and never looked back, but of course I didn't. It had to take years and years of crazy-making in order for me to say "ENOUGH ALREADY!".

Jenny, I could have written the paragraph above word for word about me. I wish fervently I would have seen the gossip for what it was and never have participated in it, ever. But I did at times. It was all I knew. I grew up with a bitch who never had a nice thing to say about people behind their backs. I could describe the "crone tea party" because I've seen and been a part of so many of them. I know how these things went down. Like you, I had to grow up, I had to see enough of the craziness, I had to see the bigger picture of the world on my own in order to recognize the debased nature of the gossip. My mother contaminated my relationships with extended family by her life-long gossip campaigns against each member. I wish with all my heart I hadn't let her have so much power to control how I thought about other people. I hate myself for that. Thankfully, I finally caught on.

Anna, I know I keep saying this, but THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART! I can't imagine how much time you put into each and every one of your blog posts. It's has to be hours and hours.

Hey, I don't see me tiring of your very sincere and kind thank yous! They are appreciated by me very much. You are the first person to articulate the recognition of all the hours I have poured into this blog. Like you, I can't imagine how many hours I have exerted on this blog by now. Which is why I took a vacation this summer...a hiatus that I broke a few days ago. Even though I have made a comeback I do not anticipate blogging at anything near the rate I did for the first two years. I'll blog occasionally, as the spirit moves me and not sweat having to come up with a steady stream of material for the masses. As you've seen there is plenty of helpful material on my site. If I never blogged again my web pages are there in perpetuity to help whoever stumbles onto them. It's been a great experience and exercise for me to put so much of what is in my head down into writing. I don't know how much more is in there...time will tell.

As for the Oprah thing...well, it fizzled. Ms. Yoffe, the freelance journalist who inquired into whether I was interested in being interviewed for an article, called me shortly before Thanksgiving 2007 and interviewed me for the better part of an hour. That was that. The article was never printed by O magazine; I have no idea why. Oh well! A month or so ago I received an email from a producer for some morning FOX program...Mike and Julie...or something like that. I checked out their website and then declined. It looked like the combined IQ of these two hosts was about 50. In no way would they be equipped to handle the seriousness of NPD with any depth on one of these morning shows where they swap recipes and bring on zoo animals. No thanks. Nevermind the fact that it was TV and a national program. No way to keep my anonymity. Ms. Yoffe had promised to keep my anonymity in tack for her article which is why I consented to the interview. Anyway. That is the anti-climatic ending to the O Mag interview.

Anonymous said...

I do hope you don't hate yourself for not knowing better. Hate the fact that you weren't taught that gossiping is wrong!

That's so good for you that you've taken a hiatus. I'm guessing it had to feel good to get all of this "down on paper" and in turn find out that you are not alone. All the time it takes to write must take away from your current life and also family. It's almost like your past is robbing time from the here and now. Yes, you've given us more then enough to chew on and links to more help if we need it. In a way I feel like I'm robbing from my present and I feel some guilt about all the reading I do and reading on the Internet. But then I think to myself, for years I didn't spend time on myself and gave all of myself to others (and trust me the N's took and took). It took me 38 years of training by N's to get into the emotional mess that I was in, so it's going to take some time to get out. I need this time to get better and I'm not doing my kids or husband any favors if I don't get better. So, I'm taking the time for me. And I'm spending money on me. A few years back I "selfishly" spent half of the family Christmas money he sends every year on me. I bought about a $100.00 worth of self-help books at Amazon. Too bad I didn't know you then -- you could have gotten a nice chunk of change!

The other day I was thinking about your blog and it occured to me that this was your "ministry". I don't know if you look at it like that, but I feel like you are ministering to me. I've had this cloud of depression (it comes and goes) hanging over me forever. It's been heavy the past few weeks as my ex-N-friend is coming into town in a few weeks and I'm not sure if I'm going to *have* to see her (family get-together) and I can foresee the manipulation coming from my MIL to have the family thing at our house (she ALWAYS manipulates me into this, but now I'm ON TO HER!). So, my hearts been so heavy and now I've found you and the fellow posters and I feel like the burden has been lifted a bit. I'm finding tools to deal with my problem and I don't feel quite so alone.

It's wonderful to know that your blog will always be here for me. It's such a comfort, you have no idea!

That's really too bad about Oprah falling through. If the article would have been done properly, I bet a lot of people would have had "light bulb" moments and recognized the craziness they felt for what it is -- a N was in their life! Well, you never know. They might not have forgotten about you as it might take some time to get articles into magazines.

Anna Valerious said...

Actually, my blogging has not taken away from my family. I've made sure of that. I can't tell you how many hundreds of in depth conversations I've had with my husband on the many facets of NPD. If anything my blogging has been a project of family togetherness! I've never let my blogging interfere with how I take care of my family. Since my daughter is grown and works and my husband works during the day I obviously have time enough to keep a happy home going as well as blog.

Yes, you've nailed it. I do consider the time I've put into this blog to be a ministry. I don't phrase it that way on the blog because many would be put off by that characterization of my efforts. I don't feel that any of the time I've put into this blog has been a waste. Quite the contrary. And because my family hasn't had to play second fiddle to my blogging, I have no guilt about the time I've put into it. I don't think you should feel guilty about the time you've spent trying to come to some understanding of what you've been up against all your life. You are gaining tools for dealing those who are destructive. This can only be of benefit to both you and your family in the days and years ahead.

As for my blogging helping me by enabling me to not feel alone: I knew I wasn't alone when I started this project. If I thought I was alone when I started this project my blog would have been very different in tone and approach. I began with my very first post with the full awareness that there was no way I was alone! This blog has never been about me getting something for myself. It has always been a labor of love for those out there who've been suffering without a name for why.
For people like you. I hate tyranny above all things and rejoice at equipping people to overcome the tyrants in their own lives. People who can see from my words and the comments of others that they aren't alone. The comments constantly attest to the relief people have experienced in coming to realize the craziness is not unique to their lives.

I hope that the coming visit of your exNfriend will go better than you have anticipated. I hope you'll let me know how it goes down. Now that you're savvy to some of the your MIL's manipulation tactics hopefully you can avoid some of the bigger pitfalls! Hang in there. You most certainly aren't alone.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I'm sorry for insinuating that your blogging takes away from your family time. You could say I was "projecting" my life experience onto you and that was wrong of me and I'm sorry.

I would never in a million years say I'm a neglectful wife or mother, but I do know that this learning part of my life has take something away from my family. Instead of watching a movie or TV show with my husband, I'll be reading a self-help book. Instead of getting a good nights sleep and feeling rested the next day (I wake up a lot from bad dreams - I think it might be related to what's going on with my inner world), I'm tired and might not have the energy to go for that walk, etc. Instead of enjoying a hobby, I'm trying to learn, grow and get out of this muck. I can't agree with you more that this time is all time well spent. I am not the same person I was four years ago when all this started (thank God!).

Oh, I totally get it now. You started up this blog already having great understanding and to help others! I completely understand now as that is exactly how you come across in August of 2006. Well, you have been successful. I can't imagine how many people you've helped so far.

I will certainly let you know how things work out when my exNfriend comes into town. I'm so hoping that she'll not want to see me and will just do her thing with her family. I guess only time will tell.

My sister is here somewhere reading your blog. She loves it already and has already learned something! And she's only in August of 2006. I'm excited for her and for myself! God bless you!!!

Anna Valerious said...


No apology is necessary; I wasn't offended. :o)

Very cool! I'm happy to know that your sister is now reading here and feeling like she is learning.

It's been fun having this little running dialog with you in the comments as you've been rooting through the archives. Thanks for being chatty! I do like knowing what people think about what they read here.

Anonymous said...

I confronted my NMother a few weeks ago for the first time in about 10 years. Only, this time, I held back nothing and then in addition to verbally telling her, I sent her an email repeating everything; abuse for almost 40 years. She wrote back, "I read the whole email. We will need to talk about this again after the holidays. I didn't realize my actions caused you so much pain. You are my daughter and I love you." That's it. During the verbal confrontation, she just sat there as I went on. She didn't deny or confirm anything. It was initiated by me when she accused me of something I didn't do. When I proved I wasn't the one who did this (to long to go into details), she never apologized. I said "Are you going to apologize to me?" She went on about how she didn't mean it the "way I took it" and that "I have always been too sensitive" (mind you, this is the first rebuke of mine toward her in years!). She then went on to say, "I guess I have to start watching every thing I say to you and walk on egg shells around you now." THIS is when I lost it! Out came a verbal lashing from my mouth covering her 40 years of in my pressure cooker blew up. Anyway, as I said, she sat there staring at me as I rebuked her, but she never said anything. As she looked at me her, her eyes filled up with tears..this is the point where I almost physically slapped her upside the head! Instead of slapping her :o) I did say, "Are you that stupid to think that your puppydog tears are going to move me?? You have been brutally sadistic to me physically when I was a child and emotionally since then. So, notice that I have no emotion at all for your tears!! How do you like it?" Gees, I didn't mean to make this post so long! Anna, I want to thank you for providing this website! I love reading through it and I can see so many people who are beginning to heal, including myself, because we can finally have validation for the abuse we have suffered all of their lives. When I first began to post this comment, I wanted to share the lyrics of a song that most of us know very well. I heard it today on the radio and this time, I sung along as I thought of my NMother!!
Here are the Lyrics:
Phil Collins: I Don't Care Anymore!
Well you can tell everyone I'm a down disgrace
Drag my name all over the place
I don't care anymore
You can tell ev'rybody 'bout the state I'm in
You won't catch me crying 'cause I just can't win
I don't care anymore

I don't care what you say
I don't play the same games you play

'Cause I've been talking to the people
that you call your friends
And it seems to me there's a means to an end
They don't care anymore
And as for me I can sit here and bide my time
I got nothing to lose if I speak my mind
I don't care anymore
I don't care no more

I don't care what you say
We never played by the same rules anyway

I won't be there anymore
Get out of my way
Let me by
I got better things to do with my time
I don't care anymore
I don't care anymore
I don't care anymore
I don't care anymore

Well, I don't care now what you say
'Cause ev'ry day I'm feeling fine with myself
And I don't care now what you say
Hey I'll do alright by myself
'Cause I know

'Cause I remember all the times I tried so hard
And you laughed in my face
'cause you held all the cards
I don't care anymore
And I really ain't bothered what you think of me
'Cause all I want of you is just a let me be
I don't care anymore
D'you hear? I don't care no more

I don't care what you say
I never did believe you much anyway

I won't be there no more
So get out of my way
Let me by
I got better things to do with my time
I don't care anymore
D'you hear? I don't care anymore
I don't care no more
You listening? I don't care no more
No more!

You know I don't care no more!

Unknown said...


Once again everything you wrote was so familiar to me. I am strongly considering going NC with my entire family, NM, NS and EnablerSis, b/c at the very best, when neither of the Ns are being monsters, I still have to suffer through constant references to how "angry" I am/was. This infuriates me b/c I was never ALLOWED to be angry; at most, when NM was being particularly cruel, I wouldn't be able to conceal the anger in my eyes. I never once yelled, threw anything, insulted anyone, threw a tantrum, nothing. I never would have gotten away with it. But still I have to live with all of these accusations.

My NM, too, has always said that I was "as quiet as the baby Jesus" as an infant. I'm not sure why she says this-it is the only sincere and consistent compliment she's ever paid me, and the only one she has actually repeated both in the presence of others and when we were alone (thus, not a fake compliment just to get some social points).

I have tried to point out that an extremely calm, happy, quiet baby does not grow up to be angry unless there is a reason---while at the same time feeling frustrated for being drawn into the argument b/c I honestly was a very very well-behaved (read: terrified) child.

Meanwhile my angry, tantrum-throwing NSis sits there smirking as I try to defend myself for the upteenth time.

Now that NSis has her own daughter, she and NM point out that she's difficult, moody and angry, just like me. I want to say, do you mean that she's like me in the sense that when her mother is being an absolute bitch she gets upset? Again, my niece is not allowed to talk back or defend herself either, so what they are objecting to is "the look in her eyes" that she gets sometimes.

I can completely relate to what you said about NM and NS's lives being wrecks and thus trying to make it look like there's something wrong with YOU, although your life is healthy and happy. Anyone meeting my family would immediately and correctly assume that I'm the normal/relatively healthy one: I'm the only one who finished college out of high school, who has done extensive volunteer work, has traveled and lived overseas, and has always had a network of loving friends and good romantic relationships. They, on the other hand, are quite openly miserable, with almost no friends and no good relationships with significant others. But I'M the messed-up one. *eye roll.

Anna, I know from one of your other posts that you said you are not keeping up on the blog, so I have no idea how long it might take for you to see my comments, but I just want to say that you are such a hero to me! It is so incredibly motivating and inspiring to hear you tell the truth about Ns in a clear, strong voice, no hint of "please believe me!" or "please don't think I'm not a nice person." I love that!! I have spent so many years trying to get people to agree with me that my family is a lost cause, a black hole, and that it's sometimes necessary to let go. Sadly, even my best friends can't understand, not having had the same experience. Reading your blog has made me see that there are 100s of sane smart people out there who have chosen to go NC with their evil families, and they are living much better lives!

Thank you so much for keeping this blog up!

Tundra Woman said...

I'd like to chime in here about year later since the last commenter thanked you for your Blog and also say, "THANKS!"
I've read through your Blog a number of times, could have commented on just about every post, but I don't want to take up any more of your time than you've already put into your work. That you continue to keep your Blog up all these years later and continue to help so many is a testament to the absolute veracity of your statement "(this Blog)...a labor of love." More evidence yet of your selflessness and integrity which shine through, post after post.
I NC'd my Walking Cluster B "mother" and her mini-me, Nsis decades ago, long before the internet, the "self-help" industry etc. My only regret? I WISH YOU HAD BEEN AROUND THEN!!!
But I'm beyond grateful you're still around now.
Again, many, many thanks!
From the old widow broad in the back of the room, you're my hero as well: I don't use that word lightly ;)

Anna Valerious said...

Tundra Woman,

Thank you for your kind words. I'm always happy to hear when someone has been helped by my blog. I'm happy to also hear about your hard earned freedom gained long before people were talking about these kinds of broken family relationships.

I'm not burdened by reading people's comments on the blog so you don't need to hold back on that account. I don't very often reply anymore because that is usually where the time commitment begins for me. So if you don't mind not necessarily hearing back from me then comment away. Keep in mind when you do so that I pass through the comments onto the blog that may help the other readers. When I see your name pop up after you've made a comment it is the equivalent for me to seeing a friendly face. I'm always happy to see you. :)

Amy said...

How well I understand you! My "dear" mother used to claim, when I did something that did not agree with her, that I had "issues" because of my parent's divorce and my "missing" my father (who accordingly to her is a total monster, but being virtuous as she is she could be sympathetic about my "clinging" to him and not wanting to realize just how "mean" he truly was because - psychobabble - "all daughters adore their fathers". I don't hope for her to "eat s*** and die". I hope she will live and have a long, lonely and unhappy time yet.