I don't even know where to begin.
I'm almost 50 years old, and I only just this year discovered that my mom has this personality disorder. I was an only child, so I had no frame of reference. It's only been through some very painful therapy that I even clued in. And I feel a little lost.
I knew as a child that something wasn't right in my family. My values were not the same as my parents, and were distinctively different from early teens onward. My mother's abuse and bigoted ideas didn't mesh with mine, and I developed my own independent thought quite early.
The bulk of my childhood involved emotional and verbal abuse, my mom treated me more like a sibling than a daughter, fights were vicious and completely unfair from the perspective of a 12 year old child vs a 35 year old woman.
I remember starving some weeks between my father's pay days because my mom had gone out and purchased the best persian rug, or a new chair, or some china -- but it was on sale, it was a deal! So the house was immaculate and only the best things bought, but my dad would put paper in the bottom of his shoes to make them last, and we would have mustard sandwiches for dinner in the days leading up to payday.
Her house was immaculate. She would be down on her hands and knees washing the floor each and every day. However, that meant that my father and I were often quardoned down to the basement for "at least two hours" after she finished cleaning the house. We were not allowed to mess it up.
She had two distinct faces. The one she put on for the public was always "together" and pleasant (Oh gosh your mom is SO nice!), and the one we saw when the doors closed was critical and abusive. Her fears became our fears. If we didn't share her fears, she would parrot the same thing over and over for weeks until you caved. If you walked out of the room to escape it, she would follow you around the house and keep parroting the same negative ideal until you went into the bathroom and locked the door to escape it. And even then, she'd stand on the other side of the door for 45 more minutes raging.
She isolated my father from his friends. Any new friend he'd get, she'd find something wrong with them, and criticize them (trash, low-rent people, etc) until my father gave up the friendship. She would try the same thing with me, all of my friends were dubious at best and influencing me in bad ways. She bullied me out of a number of friendships just through constant verbal abuse.
She had no real boundaries for privacy. My room would be searched continually to bolster up her idea that I was doing something wrong. When they found nothing (I was a good kid, my parents scared the crap out of me, so I behaved), they started tape recording my telephone conversations and then making me sit down and explain myself by playing them back to me.
They say narcissistic personality disorders are derived from having been showered with attention and gifts at a very young age, or at least that's what i've read is the budding start of it. However, my mom lost her mother at 17, and her father was away from the house for months at a time to support the family, leaving my mom to take care of her sister and brother -- often running out of money each month. She had a very tough childhood. So her background doesn't fit the typical profile.
I'm coming to terms with this whole thing through therapy. It's been quite the shock. Up until then I thought all mom's were like this, that all mothers were abusive and self-involved to the point of mania if not given attention. My mom actually stops eating for days to make herself sick, so that she winds up in hospital and whatever argument was happening is squashed. I've watched this happen for 15 years now. It breaks my heart. Nobody in the family wants to admit she's sick, they all just enable the behaviour to keep her quiet -- like a two year old having a tantrum in a toy store.
What I'm struggling with is the epiphany. Any bad behaviour done by my mom (and consequentially my dad, because he enables), is never accounted for. There's never been in my life any apology for abuse, or atrocious behaviour. What twists me into knots is a lifetime of trying to get her to be accountable for her actions and failing over and over -- and falling into that same pattern of not talking for a long time, then some crisis happens, we regroup and pretend like nothing bad ever happened in the past. It's never talked about, and never acknolwedged. I can't seem to get past this. And it's seeped out and affected the rest of my life.
Can anyone tell me, do narcissists ever claim responsibility for abuse? Is there some brilliant epiphany that makes them realize, in their hearts, what they've done? Or is this something I'm going to have to work very hard at letting go?
Thanks for reading my story. I'm sorry it's so long. Someone said prior in this thread it's like mourning someone who never existed. That couldn't be more true for me.