Like so many others here I have recently "uncoded" the crazy-making relatives that I have endured for 41 years. It all occurred by accident in way, but I am so thankful that my eyes have been opened.
I grew up with what I now realized is an ignoring N mother. I was a burden and my very act of breathing could annoy her to no end. She had me at age 16 and only in an act of defiance refused the abortion my grandmother offered. But oh how I owed her for my existence. In addition to so many others' accounts here of their ignoring N moms, some things that stand out from my childhood:
- I was always told that I was a spoiled and ungrateful kid. We had little money and I had a fraction of the toys my friends had...but N mom made me feel so guilty for what little I was given.
- My sister was child of husband #3 and 9 years younger than me. She was the golden child who was lavished with crazy amounts of attention and gifts. But by the time she was 8 years old she couldn't answer questions for herself. People would visit and ask her something like "What's your favorite sport? Or favorite TV show?" She would look at my mother for a response. Never able to answer for herself. I always thought that was odd but since discovering NPD it all falls into place.
- I was to be unseen/unheard when we had visitors. We had one of those split floor plans with the formal living room on one side and the den/family room on the other. If I wanted to get a glass of water I had to walk through the living room to get to the kitchen instead of walking through the area where we had visitors so I wouldn't be a "bother" to them. Not just sometimes - all the time.
- But with that, I was never allowed any sort of privacy. If I barely closed my door she would storm past and slam it open with her hands and yell "Doors OPEN!!!".
- If I didn't immediately respond to her calling my name, whether or not I actually heard her, it threw her into an absolute rage.
- I NEVER missed school for being sick. I was never allowed to be sick. When I had such a bad ear infection that I woke up with blood all over my hair and pillow she finally took me to the doctor. When he irrigated my ear (ouch!!!) and saw the build up of wax due to reaction from infection she was shaking her head at me. On the way home I was given a talking to about not damaging my ears any more because it was such an ordeal for her to go to the doctor.'
- I was the family slave, er...housekeeper. My daily chores from the time I arrived home at 4pm included starting and unloading/loading dishwasher, doing laundry for ALL of the family including my little sister and folding, dusting, vacuuming, and bathroom duty as needed. She would freak out when my maternal grandmother would visit and inspect the house with fury just waiting to find something not meeting her standards. She actually had a "mommy dearest" moment where she told me to come into the bathroom and just LOOK at the bathtub...."what is THIS???" I told her I cleaned it and there are permanent marks and even a shadow from the overhead light that was not dirt. She hit me over the head with the Comet can and I looked like a ghost. It didn't hurt because Comet cans are cardboard but I remember that being one of the first times I truly felt like she was abusive.
- I was never allowed to play inside other friend's homes. And NO ONE was ever allowed to come inside my home. Even if the mom called and specifically invited - it was a sure beating (belt on the legs/huge welts) if I was caught playing indoors.
- I was never able to do any extra-curricular activities because they were an inconvenience. They cos money (I wasn't worthy of spending $$ on) and worse, she would have to drive me. When I was older I was responsible for my own transportation everywhere.
- She kept strict control over my clothes and hair. In the 80's when literally ever other girl had "wings" I had long hair and she wouldn't let me cut it. My grandmother actually took me herself when I was 14 and let me get it cut and my mother when absolutely apesh!t crazy over it.
- After school snacks were forbidden. She would count pieces of bread and leave notes in bags of chips, etc. telling me to leave them alone. I was super skinny and very hungry like every other kid after school. I would go to friend's houses and beg for snacks.
- From the time I was 13 I babysat for money and from that point forward had to buy all of my own deodorant, sanitary needs, shampoo, etc.
- I never got in trouble...no late nights, no drugs, no bad grades....but I was always grounded for not doing the chores well enough. And she told me that her purpose was to "give me hell" when I was a teen.
As an adult:
- My wedding: insisted that her friends be invited (I didn't know them) for a sit down dinner that of course she wasn't helping to pay for. My husband and I paid for the whole thing. When she arrived at the church she didn't acknowledge me in my dress.....she just went at sat at the furthest corner of the church and ignored me.
- Birth of my firstborn: I had a c-section with complications....horrible recovery and my respiration was extremely low. Where most people hang out for maybe an hour in recovery they had me in there for 4 hours. My mom was in the waiting room with other family members. The stupid nurses station told her that I was in my room with the door shut so I must just want privacy with my husband and baby. NO....I was under heavy sedation in recovery still and my husband was caring for our newborn by my side. Yes, the hospital made a mistake but when I finally made it to my room she refused to look at my son and told me (very tired and sore of course) how disappointed she was that no one told her what was going on and she had been through a terrible ordeal.
- Gifts are very important to her....there's a minimum amount you must spend if you care. But you'll get fake thank-yous no matter how much thought you put into it.
- Triangulation is the only form of communication. I talk to my gmother, she talks to mom, mom twists it around and makes me look awful (even though she NEVER speaks to me) and tells my sister all about my life. And she lives only 10 miles from my house.
- If she does phone me it's a guarantee that someone has died or will be dead soon.
- My sister feeds her what she wants and is still GC but of course very controlled. I'm blatantly ignored....most obvious on Facebook where she posts pics and comments all over my sister's wall about her kids, etc. and has NEVER once posted ANYTHING on mine. Scapegoat, anyone?
My maternal grandmother was ironically my saving grace while growing up - she spoiled me and made life bearable by taking me on trips and having me spend summers with her 600 miles away. Why do I say it's ironic? I just discovered she's the "Mothership" of the crazy.
This grandmother paid for my first car and my college education. I got married and had my two kids. When she retired she moved just three doors down from my husband and I to be close to the kids. My kids are now 10 and 13 and she has always been very active in our lives since she's just down the street.
My mother will visit my grandmother and pass my house on the way, never visiting me or her grandchildren. We only exist on all important "let's pretend we're a real family" holidays.
A long time ago I realized that my gmother was lacking emotion. I remember very clearly sitting at her kitchen table and bawling my eyes out about how my mother mistreated me and thinking "this is odd...shouldn't she be consoling me or something?" I looked up and she was staring at me with blank, empty eyes. Then she seemed to get irritated and said "She's never going to change" and went back to cooking dinner.
SO - lately my gmother has been more demanding of my time and attention and combative with my parenting. She pushes every point she can and almost dares me to disagree. Up until a month ago she would call every day and make her litany of complaints against every family member and "friend" she has. I had learned to never give her "fuel" by venting about my husband or family. I was thinking she's just becoming an old grumpy lady. Until the night she decided she was done with her Golden Child- Me.
She wanted to take my daughter to a neighbor's pool party. This neighbor has a daughter my daughter's age and I had declined going because they requested no kids except for their own family. My gmother insisted that my daughter go because she was to be her "date" and she didn't want to go alone. I was reluctant but she swore she was "just dropping in" and would be home early. I let her go....as she was getting in the car my gmother invited her to sit up front. That's still unsafe due to her weight but it wasn't worth the argument so I agreed "just this once." They left the house at 4:00pm. At 9:00pm my gmother had not come home and didn't call.....she also didn't answer her cell phone. I was getting nervous because it was getting dark and gmother admits she hates driving at night (77 years old). So of course I'm nervous as can be and upset that she's so late without calling. I leave a vm and it's 10pm and calls from her phone as she is pulling up the drive.
I let her know how upset I was (instinctively knowing it was a bad idea to do so). I told her that she should have called and that my daughter is really too light to be in the front seat. My gmother hung up on me and has not spoken to me since.
I called my N mother (before I found out about NPD) and asked her what I was supposed to do (being the GC I had never been treated this way). She told me to just beg for forgiveness and hope that my gmother comes around.....but she said she was given the silent treatment herself for 8 months at a time back when I was a teen. In that fake voice of hers she said "I just hope you work it out because it's going to be Christmas soon"
My gmother also has not spoken to her brother or sister in 7 years because they made her angry. I researched the silent treatment and NPD came up. I was amazed as I read the list of symptoms and wondered how these people knew my family
My suspicion of NPD has been confirmed many times over. She has dropped us out of her life just like that. A steady stream of cars at her house tells me she's getting supply elsewhere. To be able to cut grandchildren out of your life who visited you every day??? Yep, no emotion at all.
I knew my mother was screwed up so I have kept my kids at a safe distance. I had NO CLUE it was HER mother, my beloved gmother, who screwed her up. So now I'm dealing with 2 kids who are very confused about why they are being ignored. I've explained it the best way I know how.
Sorry that was so long - and I''m sure muddled and disjointed - but it was therapeutic to get it all out! I am just thankful I don't have N traits myself. I do have some difficulty being empathetic at times....and I find others to be overly emotional as well. But I DO have empathy and I care deeply for others. Like many of you I have deep rooted fear and still have nightmares about living with my mother.
My next step is NC. I'm at a nice distance with my mom now....just the obligatory gifts at bdays and Mother's Day (my least favorite day of the entire year) and gathering at Christmas. But I only did that for my gmother's sake. Now that she's cut us off I'm thinking about just never calling them again. Mom ignores me anyway but her bday is next week and she will be livid if I don't recognize it.
Thanks for letting me vent.