Judging by the comments on the last post there was a lot of resonance on the subject of medical neglect by narcissist parents. The other extreme was brought up there too; that of the narcissist parent seeming to relish a child's illnesses and needs for medical attention because the parent has found a way to capitalize on the attention they can derive from these situations. In both cases, as opposite as they appear on the surface, they are just flip sides to the same coin. It is all about whether or not the narcissist is getting the attention they feel they must have to live.
I have taken note that my mother was not unique in her views and behaviors toward sickness. I have heard others describe how sickness was treated like a moral failing by their narcissist parent. My mother fully transitioned into this view about the time I was becoming a teen. Because she would feel inconvenienced if anyone became sick in the household she started to issue threats. They went like this:
It would be a sunny but cool day and I would be heading outside or to school. "Where's your coat?" "I don't need a coat; it's nice outside." I would say. "Alright, fine. You can choose." She would assume her haughty/stern look which included her set jaw and raised eyebrows. "But if you get sick, I promise you...you will get a spanking." Because she was excellent at follow-through on threats of spankings this was an effective threat. She pretends that I get to choose whether or not to wear a coat even while setting up a false choice between two options for me. Wear a coat and stay well and avoid a spanking. Eschew a coat, risk getting sick and punished.
As I became a little older I recognized the choices were false. There was another option my mother didn't care to include...that I could choose to not wear a coat, and I most likely I would not get sick.
When I became a teen spankings were no longer threatened. Vague promises of being in trouble were then issued. I was a teenager and still there were times when mommy dearest thought I should wear a coat. "You need to get a coat." "No, really, I'm fine. It's nice out." Same stern look..."Okay, your choice. But if you get sick you will be in trouble." I remember I got to the point of shrugging off her threats to her face. "Fine. I'm willing to take that risk." Now that I think about it, it could be why she stopped this stupid threat before I was old enough to leave home. She saw that it had lost its effectiveness with me.
Even though the overt threats were no longer made, there was trouble if I got sick. I have two very clear memories of getting sick after I had become an adult. Once was when I was living in my parent's home after my first divorce. The second time was after I was back out on my own. I told the story of my getting attacked verbally by my mother while battling a 104 F degree fever and a kidney infection in this post.
I was around 22 years old. My daughter was a baby of almost two years. I was working full time and trying to save the money to move out into my own apartment. I lived at my parent's home for a year after my first divorce. This happened when I was close to the end of that year.
At the time I was working for a doctor whom I know now was a malignant narcissist. Quite possibly a sociopath. He is a WHOLE other story. I was gratified to find out about five years after I left his employ that the feds caught up with him and he'd been convicted of various crimes which includes fraud and racketeering and lost his license to practice. Oh, yeah, he was a humdinger.
Work required me to take a course in word processing which was just starting to come into business offices at that time. I had to drive to a large metro area over an hour away to take this day-long course. No biggie. Except that this particular day I was coming down with something. I was already in the class when I noticed that I wasn't feeling well. I was flushed at first. Then started getting chills. I had a fever. I brain was turning to mush. My eyes burned and I could barely hold my head up. My head throbbed, my lungs hurt. I somehow muddled through to the end, got in my car and drove the hour and half back to my parent's home. By the time I got home I was really messed up. Turned out I had a splendid case of flu and bronchitis.
The year that I lived at my parent's home I slept on the floor in the living room. When I got home this particular day I grabbed some blankets and made a pallet on the floor in the "den" (which was my former bedroom) so I could have a little quiet and privacy as I tried to cope with this flu bug. Yes, there was a bed in that room still, but I didn't want to mess it up because I couldn't make it look like my mother wanted it to look when it came time to straighten it. She would get very pissy if things weren't just so. Beds in her home are made for looking at during the day. Once a bed was made there was no sitting on it even. It was easier just to sleep on the floor. It was late afternoon and there was still a lot of noise and activity in the house which is why I didn't try to sleep in the living room. For this period of time, my mother was babysitting my daughter during the day. No, she didn't do it for free. I paid her the going rate. She was still running daycare out of her home, so it wasn't some huge favor she was doing for me by watching my daughter during the day. It was a business arrangement. I bring this up to stress the reality that I was not using my mother to take care of my child while I worked. She ran a daycare. I was one of her customers.
When my daughter's dinner time rolled around it was time for mother to dish out her extreme displeasure. I was not in the habit of dumping the care of my child onto my mother. When I came home from work I took over all the care and feeding of my child. I wasn't a mooch. I didn't neglect my child because I had a mother around. She was in it for the money. Once I got home from work she was no longer interested in dealing with my child. Which was fine. I was the mother and I expected to care for my child when I was home. If you've read any of my posts on my life you know I was not a slacker and I certainly didn't mooch off my parents. I was living in their home for this year at their invitation. Obviously, my pallet on the floor was evidence of the fact that they wanted the invitation to expire sooner rather than later. I was working as hard as I could to make that happen as quickly as I could.
But on this day, I didn't take over the care and feeding of my child. I was collapsed on the floor in a fever. It was a total anomaly for me to expect my mother to help me with my daughter after work. A normal parent would know that something was seriously amiss for my behavior to diverge so sharply from its usual course. My heartless mother was not normal.
She burst into the room I was in, stepped over my feet so she could look at my face, and then demanded to know when I was going to take care of my daughter. I looked up at her hard, unyielding face and felt a special kind of desperation. I remember feeling so helpless. Once a fever reaches 103F I'm really f---ed up. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't function when I'm in the throes of the flu. And, as was usual, it was heading straight for my lungs. I couldn't take a deep breath for the pain and burning. The last thing my baby needed was for her mother to breathe her nasty germs at her.
"Mommy, I'm so sick. Could you please, this one time, feed N? I promise I won't ask you to again. I just don't think I can get up right now." The look of disgust and anger on her face was total. I felt like a complete loser. I felt inadequate. I felt like I was so very alone. Just remembering it now makes me tear up. It was a moment of quiet desperation and abandonment. Damn me all to hell for inconveniencing her. I was a total failure at that moment. I was a sinner. She huffed angrily out of the room and made sure I knew she was only helping me this one time and that she was doing me a HUGE favor. After that, "she is your daughter; you take care of her." Uh, yeah. I knew whose daughter she was. I was a responsible mother who did not slack off in her care. But ONE TIME...just ONE TIME...I needed some extra help and I'm condemned for it. Maybe I should have offered to pay the bitch since that is the only way she would be motivated to "help" me with my daughter. A loving grandmother? Never. Not once. I hate her more for how she viewed and treated my child than for how she treated me. Grasping, selfish, horrid, hateful bitch.
As my mother's narcissism has fully blossomed over the years, she became more and more hardened in her view of family members' sickness being a moral failing. It is always our fault. She will find some reason to pinpoint as to why we are deservedly sick. Why we brought it on ourselves. Why she is justified in neglecting us, judging us, abusing us for getting sick. Why we deserve not a shred of sympathy or kindness from her. Why her total abandonment of us in our illness is justified and righteous. Some of the reasons she has given as to why other family members have fallen ill are:
He eats his food too fast so he isn't getting proper nutrition from his food.
She doesn't get enough sleep.
She doesn't take vitamins.
He doesn't eat right...so when he has a heart attack and dies I am going to be very angry with him.
Then there is injury. There is rarely a time my mother can't find the reason why you deserved to be injured. There are no mishaps or mistakes where you are concerned. No, only your own stupid choices which brought you to this place.
In addition to the sin of being ill, it was a sin to pamper the body in other ways. It was a sin to sleep in. It was a sin to rest quietly while trying to deal with a migraine. It was a sin to rest simply when tired if the work wasn't done. It was a sin to take in recreation if you hadn't worked yourself to a nub first or gotten her permission to do so. It is a sin to not be constantly working. So many sins. So little mercy. I spent the last four weeks of my pregnancy with my daughter in my mother's home. My doctor was in the same town as my mother lived in. I had lived in this town for many years, but my husband's job required us to move a state away about half way through my pregnancy. My mother invited me to stay with her for the last part of my pregnancy so I wouldn't have to change docs. Being very, very pregnant did not cut down on the work load. You stay in my mother's home and you are put to work. I expected nothing else. The day I went into labor I could be found a few hours earlier on my hands and knees scrubbing all my mother's floors and doing other housework. Being extremely pregnant is no excuse for slacking!
Mother dearest can always find a reason as to why you deserve what you got. Whether you are sick or injured. And since you brought this calamity upon your own head you are not worthy of her attention.
Which is the real issue, once again. Attention. When Mr. Farmer is raising a cow for the dinner table he doesn't make a pet out of it. Obviously, to minimize the level of sympathy he must not befriend the beast he plans to make a meal of. I'm not condemning the farmer for this. I'm simply using him to illustrate an obvious point. That when we want to make a meal of someone we can not allow their feelings or ours to get in the way. The narcissist must not allow themselves to feel anything for you because it would get in the way of them making a meal out of you.
For the medically neglectful narcissist parent the attention that a sick person should get is a mighty inconvenience to them. They covet every shred of kind human regard and attention at all times. Your sickness, in a kind world, means that the others in the household divert more of their energies and concern toward you because they want to help you get well as quickly as possible because they have empathy. They know how it is to be sick. They know how helpless the sick are to care for themselves, let another others. But the narcissist will not spare even a little attention for you even when you're sick. So they must find the reason why you deserve your sickness...so they can be exempted from feeling like they should give you some of their precious commodity...attention and kind regard. They are so covetous for attention that they can't even spare any for you when you are injured or ill.
It is evil to be this selfish. It is evil to be this determinedly shut off from basic humanity. What could possibly be the point of keeping these blood-suckers in our lives? They take until there is nothing left to take and then revile you for falling short of their demands. They will kick your corpse for daring to die on them.
We have limitations because we are finite beings. Life is too short and too precious to keep these predatory animals in our families. They don't deserve to be called family. They eat family for dinner without compunction. The sooner you face this reality the sooner you can free yourself of this murderously selfish and predatory beast. Your life blood is yours, not theirs for the taking. Refusing to continue to feed these Xenomorphs** is not only smart but righteous.
**Xenomorph is a reference to the "Aliens" franchise of movies. Which seems like an appropriate metaphor for destructively parasitic life forms that malignant narcissists are. Go, Ellen Ripley.
UPDATE: I was remembering one of my favorite lines of Ripley in "Aliens". Ripley is protecting the small girl, "Newt", from the huge egg-laying queen alien xenomorph. She's outfitted herself with a weapon (forklift power loader) and sez:
"Get away from her, you bitch."
Oh, yeah. I love the way she spits that line out with such determination and righteous rage. That line sums up my attitude toward my mother. I stand between her and my precious family members. My weapon: truth. Have I mentioned that I love these movies? Uh, huh. Ripley is my gal.