Friday, August 29, 2014

5.a. The Scapegoating Narcissistic Mother

The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother by Gail Meyers

© by Gail Meyers
The children are often assigned rigid roles in toxic, dysfunctional families where alcoholism, childhood sexual abuse or mental illness is an everyday reality. The assignment of these roles often happens early in childhood, long before the child could possibly have any idea what is truly happening or why. However, even young children quickly understand the unwritten toxic family rules.

These rigid roles and toxic rules are taken very seriously because they are required in order for the closed toxic system to survive and continue. So when you try to get out of your role, to shed this false image that has been forced upon you, the whole family system will often go to extremes to put your back in your place.

Why a Narcissistic Mother Needs a Scapegoat

The scapegoat and the golden child are two of the most widely discussed rigid toxic family rigid roles. Neither of these children are loved or valued for who they truly are, but for the purpose they serve the narcissistic mother. 

The Golden Child 

The golden child’s purpose is to reflect all that is good back to the narcissist. He is showing the world she must be a good mother to have such a child as this. Narcissistic Mom will rewrite history or twist reality beyond all recognition to cause everything this child does to be deemed exceedingly wonderful. This is Mom’s mini me, a narcissist in training. This reflection of her grandeur is one of the real reasons this child can do no wrong in her eyes.  

Of course, this extreme favoritism causes anger, strife and even severed relationships between siblings. That's fine with narcissistic mother who wants to be the hub in the middle, dividing and conquering her children in order to maintain control and the flow of information. She will intentionally pit the golden child against the scapegoat by manipulation. She may even use the golden child, as well as the other children, to inflict abuse by proxy on the scapegoat child. Then, she will garner as much pity as possible by proclaiming how she must endure these contrary children.

The Scapegoat Child  

Narcissistic mother chronically avoids personal responsibility and accountability, thus a scapegoat child. The scapegoat is the truth teller in the midst of this great pretender’s sticky web of lies, secrets and pretense. The scapegoat child can do no right in the eyes of the narcissist, and often can do no right in the eyes of the entire family.  So it is for truth lovers among pretenders and liars.

The other children quickly learn it is okay for them to blame the scapegoat too. As the cunning narcissistic mother skillfully manipulates every member of the family, she will rewrite history or twist reality beyond all recognition to be sure this child takes the blame. This is in order for the narcissistic mother, as well as the entire family, to maintain a facade of normalcy and health while pointing at the scapegoat as the problem. It is smoke and mirrors, a distraction directing attention toward a symptom of the issue rather than the real culprit.  The scapegoat provides a distraction, a sleight of hand.

How Do You Know If You Are the Scapegoat?  

You may have long ago realized you are the scapegoat or you may be just beginning to realize the reality of the situation. Either way, do not beat yourself up about it. Denial helped us survive abusive childhoods. Some indications of being the scapegoat are:

  • You are the truth teller;
  • You are blamed for things you have no control over or were not your fault;
  • You are the target of false accusations – accused, lied and gossiped about;
  • You are labeled the troublemaker;
  • You are left out of or the last to learn of family business or news;
  • You are always the first to apologize and forgive, even when you are one the who truly deserves the apology;
  • Your accomplishments are ignored, sabotaged or invalidated;
  • You are accused of being selfish when you take care of yourself or if you do not meet even ridiculous demands;
  • You may be accused of being unstable, dishonest or crazy;
  • You may be shunned or ostracized.
  • Even with all of the above, you may be the one everyone runs to in crisis.

The History of the Scapegoat 

Most of us have heard the term and understand the popular use of the word, but the idea of a scapegoat has a long history. There is some mention of a scapegoat rite in Ancient Greece. However, our current use of the word comes from the English translation of the Hebrew term from the Bible. Our current usage literally means “an individual, group or country singled out for unmerited negative treatment or blame.” 

The Bible documents the use of a scapegoat dating back to the accounts of the children of Israel. In Leviticus 16, the scapegoat was an actual goat. The sins of the people were ceremonially placed on the head of the goat, then the goat was cast out of the community and into the desert alone to symbolize the removal of sin and guilt. If you are the scapegoat son or daughter of a narcissistic mother, you may know just exactly how that feels!

In the Bible the forgiveness of sin required these animal sacrifices before Christ died a sacrificial death on the cross, but that requirement ended at the cross. The New Testament (after Christ) view holds that Christ took the sins of humanity on His own head. The law was given, not that any man could keep the whole of the law, but for man to come to the conclusion he is unable to. Thus, the law points to the need for a savior. Christ is the Savior who fulfilled the law, placing us under grace. He is the only One who can wash away sins. There is no longer any need for scapegoats. We are each accountable before God for our own actions.

Why Am I the Scapegoat?  

The very first thing the scapegoat needs to understand is it is not your fault. The very existence of a scapegoat in the family signals a problem because a scapegoat is only required in a family when someone chronically refuses to take responsibility for their actions. You did not cause it and you cannot fix it. What you can do is recognize it and protect yourself. 

Scapegoating is a reflection on the person refusing to take responsibility or be held accountable, not the person being blamed. The scapegoat also provides a buffer against reality to support the family denial. The scapegoat carries the lion’s share of the blame, shame, anger and rejection so narcissistic mother can maintain her patterns of dysfunction while continuing to appear normal.

However, the scapegoats are the strongest, nicest, most honest and emotionally healthiest ones in the family. The scapegoat suffers more abuse, rejection and shame than the rest of the family put together.  So never doubt your strength, but also realize it is okay to ask for help. You were strong enough to survive and you are certainly strong enough to recover!

Since it is very painful to be the scapegoat, the scapegoat is usually the one in the family who will go looking for answers – and find them.  Thus, scapegoats are more likely to escape, heal and go on to lead healthier lives.

It Was Never Your Fault, Scapegoat!

A scapegoat allows someone or an entire family to project everything that is negative onto the scapegoat in order for them to continue to appear normal.  It is a distraction, a red herring.  The whole family can then point at the scapegoat as the problem and focus the attention away from the true core issue. This can be reinforced in many overt and covert ways.  It may be verbally being told your family wants the best for you, but their actions do not match their words.  For example, telling you they support you getting an education, but then actively sabotaging or undermining your attempts to do so. 

There is a heavy investment in keeping you in your assigned role as the bad scapegoat.  So you might think you will become an overachiever to prove to your family and the world you are not bad. However, narcissistic mother needs a bad scapegoat in order to support the denial and facade. So when you start to excel it actually makes narcissistic mother uncomfortable because it threatens her assessment of you.  She may very well also become jealous of any success you have. So, narcissist mother may actually reward her scapegoats for floundering, failing or getting in a mess.  This can be done in very subtle ways so as to remain deniable and undetected, while she also actively undermines any success in every way she is able to.

The Scapegoat's Accomplishments Ignored

When I graduated from college in spite of all of the undermining and brow beating efforts, the accomplishment was completely ignored.   If I brought it up, they changed the subject.  No one in the entire extended family even attended my graduation or celebrated the accomplishment.  I was getting out of my scapegoat role by being the first to graduate from college in an extended family of high school dropouts.  So while everyone else was enjoying cards, presents and celebrations, I was actually being shunned and punished for graduating.
This is only one example of how a toxic family takes virtually anything the scapegoat does and reframes it as negative or spins it into an accusation.  Simultaneously, my late narcissistic personality disordered mother decided to get her GED.  When she passed the test, she threw herself a party inviting the younger siblings but not inviting me.
This is only one example of why it is futile to think you are going to prove yourself to a toxic family who has assigned you the role of scapegoat.  When I was younger I often said I could find the cure for cancer and their response would be it was the wrong kind of cancer!  Hardly anyone gets that kind of cancer. It really should not even be considered cancer.  She thought of that cure years ago, but it was so obvious she thought surely everyone already knew.  Everything a scapegoat does is spun to fit the role.
In my experience, the toxic family system will always and forever require scapegoats unless or until the entire family seeks recovery.  While this may happen with an alcoholic or drug addict, the psychiatry profession as a whole does not even claim to be able to effectively treat narcissistic personality disorder.  Hence, this is just one more reason why I personally support no contact.

You Selfish Scapegoat!

This accusation is so often made when the scapegoat draws a boundary or does anything to interfere with the narcissist's needs and wants.  This is a profound, often deeply ingrained message to the scapegoat.  

It is imperative that a scapegoat realize the truth of this brainwashing.  It is not selfish to draw healthy boundaries, protect yourself and your children from abuse or to refuse to be the family whipping post or slave. 
Narcissists chronically project their own negative behavior, character traits, and deeds onto the scapegoat.  My narcissistic mother often accused me of the very thing she was guilty of or doing.  You are not selfish, she is. 

Also, notice how the terms are defined according to whose behavior is being considered.  Invariably, narcissistic mothers redefine terms and have double meanings depending on who they are being applied to.  A great way to expose these double meanings or toxic unwritten family rules is to switch the characters of the golden child and the scapegoat.  

If the golden child was doing this or that would it be considered selfish?  If the narcissist was doing this or that would it be considered selfish?  No, selfishness is redefined for the scapegoat in order to reinforce your continued silence and participation.

Narcissistic Mother Teaches Others to Abuse the Scapegoat

It is not uncommon for the dysfunctional parent to teach the other children to also abuse the scapegoat child.  This can result in mobbing, where more than one member of the family gangs up on the scapegoat.  This abuse does not stop in childhood, but may continue as adult child abuse.
Do not think for a minute a narcissistic mother who scapegoats her own child will not also turn the scapegoat's own children against them.  In my experience, just as the narcissistic mother taught the other siblings as children to also mistreat, blame and even abuse the scapegoat, she will teach your children the same thing. It does not get better, it ripples. 

What Happens If the Scapegoat Leaves?

If the scapegoat leaves, the discord in the remainder of the family often increases without the scapegoat there to buffer the friction. The other family members may turn on one another as the tension increases or someone else will be assigned the role. However, if you are the scapegoat and you leave the family that does not necessarily mean you will be let out of your assigned role.

A narcissistic mother may let you go, too easily, way too easily. This is to convey a demoralizing message that it does not really matter to her or that is the way she prefers it anyway. Watch your back for the smear campaign in this scenario because she is thinking about the situation completely differently than what you imagine. Her mind is likely on her image and making sure no one believes you and the real reason for the separation.

On the other hand, everyone may be exceptionally nice attempting to lure you back in, but the scapegoat should not fall for this deception. I fell for this one myself.  Upon returning to the same state due to my mother’s insistence, my mother pulled one of the worst stunts she ever pulled on me. Her manufactured drama included falsely disparaging me to the entire extended family in a very convincing manner. She then proceeded to twist the facts and use it against me literally for the rest of her days.  Her drama was so dramatically convincing no one even questioned the validity of it.

So do not fall for the playing nice to get you back routine. This is no different than any other abusive cycle of being nice for a bit when an abuser fears he or she has lost his or her victim. It is difficult, and you may be tempted to believe things have finally improved, but do not believe it.

What Is a Scapegoat to Do?

These some of the things that helped me as the scapegoat of my narcissistic personality disordered mother: 

  • Understand it is not your fault and it never was.  You are not bad, but have been taught a false image of yourself. 
  • Begin sorting through the false image and accusations that have been cast upon you and explore who you truly are. 
  • Realize that in a very real sense by using you as a scapegoat your narcissistic mother has already cast you out even while you were standing right in front of her. It is not because there is something wrong with you, but with her. Even wild animals care for and protect their young. 
  • Stop trying to win the approval of your narcissistic mother and others who are committed to misinterpreting, accusing or invalidating you while keeping you in the scapegoat role. 
  • Do not expect to receive an admission, sincere apology, genuine remorse or any other validation from a narcissistic mother or anyone else who used you as a scapegoat. 
  • Begin setting healthy boundaries with your narcissistic mother.  There is often a backlash when you do this, so be prepared. 
    • Realize that even if you determine to go no contact with your narcissistic mother the boundary work must still be done in recovery. This is because boundaries are important in every relationship. Soft, weak boundaries pave the way for other abusive relationships. 
  • Begin setting healthy boundaries with your narcissistic mother's silent partner and flying monkeys.  They will not like it either, so be prepared. 
  • Refuse to be narcissistic mother's slave or the family slave. 
  • Accept that you may very well never have a healthy relationship with your narcissistic mother or the flying monkeys. 
  • Realize you may very well lose other relationships if you go no contact with your narcissistic mother. This is discussed further in a later chapter. 
  • It has been my experience that not only my narcissistic mother, but also siblings and extended family members are heavily invested in maintaining the extended family pretense. 
    • Some seem unwilling or unable to face the truth about their mother, sister or daughter.  Others do not want extended family skeletons out of the closet for fear some of their own may fall out too.  However, most are likely intentional pretenders, abusers or pathologically narcissistic themselves. 
  • While narcissists in an extended family will turn on one another if it serves their individual selfish purposes, they will also tag team a scapegoat when there is a common goal.  This is a reflection on them not on you but be warned. 
  • If you have already been shunned or ostracized see it as the blessing in disguise that it is.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

5. Narcissistic Mothers Know They Are Manipulating

The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother by Gail Meyers
While we can all be manipulative at times, there are those among us who chronically and deceitfully manipulate others.  My narcissistic mother not only consistently used manipulation tactics, it was as if she was perfecting her craft.  

What is Emotional or Psychological Manipulation?

 To manipulate is: 

  • "to negotiate, control or influence something or someone cleverly, skillfully or deviously."
  • "to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner."


Who Are the Emotional Manipulators?

Ross A. Rosenberg provides a strong foundation by defining an "emotional manipulator" as one with pathological narcissism, including these three personality disorders:
  1. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
  2. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  3. Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)
  • Or, someone suffering from a chemical or behavioral addiction, such as sex addiction or gambling, is also considered an emotional manipulator because their addiction drives them to pathological narcissistic behaviors.

Additionally, it really can not be ignored that there are tens of thousands of people currently practicing some form of the dark arts, occult or witchcraft, whether they are involved with secret societies, covens or cults or not. 

Why Emotional Manipulation?

When someone operates out of emotion rather than reason they are more easily manipulated.  This is an important distinction because abusive narcissistic mothers prey on empathetic people, including their own children.  My narcissistic mother specialized in manipulating with guilt and pity. When these powerful emotions are triggered within us it can short circuit our logic and reasoning 

We Are Not All the Same 

One of the very first things we have to understand is we are not all the same. For example, empathy allows us to be compassionate human beings, but you can quickly find yourself in a fog of confusion if you attempt to understand a narcissist by putting yourself in her shoes and assuming she thinks and feels what you believe you would think or feel in her situation. 

The lack of empathy is one hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder. While the narcissist lacks empathy, she is exceedingly aware of your empathetic, compassionate nature that may be manipulated with pleas for pity. Think about when you pity someone. You immediately let down your defenses and become cooperative or helpful.

Another example is a narcissist may have little or no functioning conscience, but is again exceedingly aware of your sensitive conscience. Thus, she will try to use your own good conscience against you by intentionally inducing guilt trips. This can leave you feeling bad about yourself as well as easily manipulated in an effort to relieve the discomfort. However, it does not work the other way around. Guilt trips are ineffective with narcissists even when she is guilty or there is a mountain of true guilt.

Our emotions are a gift never intended to be used against us, which is what narcissists often do. The goal is not to get rid of our positive characteristics but to prevent and protect ourselves from having them abusively manipulated and used against us.

Narcissists play by vastly different rules than most of the rest of us. They fight when we may not even realize we are in a fight. They are sneaky, petty and deceitful. They do not fight fair, nor do they have any remorse about. In my experience, I did not recognize her behavior because I was giving her way more credit than she deserved. There may be a 40, 60 or 80 chronologically aged woman in front of you, but ignore that exterior. Consider what a rotten, self-centered six year old would do and you will often be in the ballpark.

Do Narcissists Know What They're Doing?

It never ceases to amaze me how many people claim narcissists do not know what they are doing.  My mother knew exactly what she was doing. 

  • Many of her schemes were premeditated, intricate and systematically carried out.
  • She was very much able to control her rages in public and around most people, reserving them only for certain people and only at times when there were no witnesses.  Thus, she not only knew what she was doing, she could control her behavior but chose not to at times.
    • Hence, she was not doing the best she could.  While it may sound all nice and fluffy, everyone does not always do the best they can do.
    • A closely related idea I once held is that everyone wants to be the best they can be -- healthy, whole, etc.  While it may seem difficult to grasp, this is just not the case.  Some people enjoy their misery.  Some enjoy your misery.  Some enjoy their evil ways simply because they choose to.
    • Everyone does not want you to be the best you can be.    
  • My mother could instantaneously switch from raging monster to sweet talking angel upon the unexpected arrival of a flying monkey.*  
  • If you watched closely you might notice the glimmer in her eye or the slight smirk she could barely contain at times.
  • My mother could have been considered psychotic in the common use of the word.  By witnessing her behavior, someone might consider her loony, bonkers or kooky, or wrathful, infuriated or enraged. However, she was not psychotic in the psychiatric or medical sense of the word, as in suffering from a state of psychosis. She was not out of touch with the reality of what was going on around her.    

Dr. George Simon is spot on in my opinion and sums it up succinctly: 
When the emotional manipulator is engaging in the manipulative behavior, he is not defending anything. The emotional manipulator is primarily fighting. Who are they fighting? He is fighting the person he is trying to manipulate, you.  

She knows what she is doing. You are in a fight. If she is covert like my mother was, you may not even realize this fact. My narcissistic personality disordered mother was fighting me for years before I even realized I was in the fight of my life. This is a huge realization, because if you do not know you are in a fight you will always give the benefit of the doubt and you will not protect yourself.  My narcissistic mother was viciously and deceitfully fighting me, whether I realized it or not.  

*Flying monkey is a term taken from The Wizard of Oz, in which the Wicked Witch sent her flying monkeys after Dorothy.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

4. Will My Narcissistic Mother Ever Change?

The more traits your mother has that fit the disorder,
the less likely she is a candidate for successful treatment.
This means that you can't fix her and you should not be attempting it.
Dr. Karyl McBride

© by Gail Meyers
According to experts in the field, successful treatment depends on how narcissistic your mother is. The higher the level of narcissism and the more traits your mother has, the less the likelihood of recovery. Those highest on the narcissism spectrum do not change, ever. 

Some believe narcissists are unwilling, while others maintain they are unable to change. This can be an important distinction because it may influence how a compassionate person responds to a narcissist. If a narcissist is unwilling to change then they are accountable for their current condition. If a narcissist is unable to change, the next statement exerted is often along the lines of narcissism being akin to any other disease.

Once it is framed in this way, the next step is often to pity her in her condition.  The end result of recovery may well become a feeling of pity toward your narcissistic mother. Many of the behaviors are truly pitiful. However, people are easily manipulated with pity and narcissists very well know that. So be careful pitying a narcissist.  It can leave you wide open for more manipulation and abuse. Instead, keep in mind how many innocent lives one narcissist can destroy without a second thought.

My Narcissistic Mother Never Changed

Nearly a decade after my late narcissistic personality disordered mother’s death, it is my personal opinion that my late mother did not change because she did not want to change. There was alleged abuse in her childhood, and she certainly came from narcissistic parents herself, but she made many choices along the way. Being abused as a child is not an excuse or a free pass to become an abuser. There are many who were abused as children, myself included, who did not grow up to abuse their children. Even if there is perhaps a point of no return or a seared conscience, I believe she made many choices in that direction prior to reaching any possible point of no return. I do not believe it was simply inflicted upon her with her having no choice in the matter.

My narcissistic mother's reasoning was so foreign to the average person that many would not even consider the truth a possibility. Her focus was never on whether her behavior was right, wrong, good, fair, evil or morally acceptable. Her focus was on believing she had brilliantly outsmarted an inferior target who deserved it anyway. Set aside the assumptions made because a chronological middle-age or elderly person is standing in front of you and think of what a rotten, evil six year old would do. Then, you will often be in the ballpark and usually much closer to the truth. It is not that they are so much smarter. It’s that the average person does not fathom such pathetic behavior from an allegedly full grown adult.

Besides having no desire to change, she was thoroughly engrossed in her deceitful, manipulative ways.  It worked for her, and it worked well.  So while my focus was on doing what was right by God, my own conscience and convictions, her focus was on appearing to be right, innocent and loving to others, regardless of the truth of any given situation. While I thought I was being patient with her thinking surely her own conscience will call her to repentance and remorse, she was interpreting it as proof of her superiority! If you watched closely, you could notice the glimmer in her eye or the smirk on her face.

The Toxic Hope of Change

Please hear me because this is vitally important. There is necessary and unnecessary pain in life. For example, we may determine to endure the pain necessary for our healing process. However, hanging onto that toxic hope of my narcissistic personality disordered mother changing caused me years of unnecessary pain and suffering.

Even following two years of terminal illness, with plenty of time to contemplate putting her life in order prior to her passing, she did not change for the better.  On the contrary, her abusiveness escalated.  Overall, her actions during that time demonstrated her priority of keeping her facade in place even after her passing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

3. Is My Mother a Narcissist?

Fromm saw the genesis of human evil as a developmental process: 
we are not created evil or forced to be evil, 
but we become evil slowly over time 
through a long series of choices. 

People of the Lie

© by Gail Meyers
While some may present their beliefs as fact rather than hypothesis, no one really knows what causes narcissistic personality disorder.  Some believe the enduring, persistent traits of narcissistic personality disorder are purely psychological, with roots possibly tracing back to parenting in childhood.

Others believe narcissism is wholly a spiritual malady, one in which humankind has been dealing with since the dawn of man. Then there are those who believe it is a combination of a mental health condition and a spiritual condition. While others believe there is a physical or biological basis.

Additionally, mental health professionals do not agree as to whether the behavior is conscious and offensive or the older view that it is unconscious and defensive. Rather than allowing conflicting views to cause confusion, I encourage you to educate yourself in order to reach your own conclusions. The more you read the clearer things become.

What is Narcissism?

In the most basic sense narcissism is to worship oneself.  It is often discussed as being on a spectrum with narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism at the highest end. While many claim we all have some level of narcissism, others claim there is no healthy level of narcissism.[1]

So you can have a mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, child, grandparent, boss or neighbor who is just that – narcissistic. The person may be self-centered and annoying. You may not appreciate some of the things the person does. You might call him or her narcissistic. You may be right. In general everyday terms the person may be narcissistic. However, narcissistic personality disorder is a term used by the mental health profession to diagnose mental illness that meets the criteria that follows.


Cluster B Personality Disorders

Narcissistic personality disorder is an Axis II disorder within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V, which therapists use for diagnosis criteria. Axis I issues are generally considered treatable, but Axis II disorders are sometimes referred to as the untreatables.

Personality disorders are grouped by cluster in the DSM-V. Cluster B is called the dramatic, emotional, and erratic cluster. Cluster B personality disorders include: 
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V Criteria for NPD

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) just released the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) in May of 2013. Criteria for diagnosing narcissistic personality disorder includes:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
  4. Requires excessive admiration.
  5. Has a sense of entitlement (i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations).
  6. Is interpersonally exploitative (i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends).
  7. Lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

The traits are persistent and enduring, not just an individual going through a difficult period in their life. Additionally, the diagnosis is generally not made prior to 18 years of age because some of the traits are a normal part of development at certain ages. It is also important to note that none of the above are due to drugs, alcoholism or brain injury. It is also not uncommon for an individual to be diagnosed with more than one personality disorder.

A licensed professional should make the diagnosis, but as a practical matter the initial priority is to protect yourself and your loved ones if there is someone in your life abusing and manipulating you.  Then, at a safer distance and with the help of a qualified professional, you can concern yourself with a precise diagnosis.

The APA established the criteria for the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, but the topic is the focus of ongoing debate within the profession, and has been for many years. They actually contemplated removing narcissistic personality disorder from the DSM-V in 2013, but it remains largely due to the outcry from those in the profession.

Friday, August 15, 2014

2. Adult Child Abuse of the Scapegoats

In troubled families, abuse and neglect are permitted;
it's the talking about them that is forbidden. 

© by Gail Meyers
Toxic families are closed systems. Mine gave all of the typical toxic responses for breaking the unwritten family rule of going to therapy. The therapists are crazier than the patients. You should not air your dirty laundry. They guess they never needed therapy because they are strong enough to handle their own problems.  All of this is rubbish. You do need to find the right therapist, but when you do extraordinary healing can take place. My childhood sexual abuse therapist undoubtedly saved my life.

However, just like any abuser, narcissistic mothers do not appreciate it when your confidence begins to grow, you receive validation, responsibility for the abuse is placed squarely with the abuser, you begin setting healthy boundaries or seeing through their manipulation. So, be warned. During my sexual abuse therapy in the 1980's, the inner child was often discussed. However, I joked that while searching for my inner child, I must have bumped into my inner bitch, because that is what I was so often called when I first started setting boundaries.

Several months into my therapy I decided to tell my mother of my childhood sexual abuse.  My therapist warned me that in all likelihood my mother already knew, but I assured her that she did not.  She could not have known or she surely would have done something to protect me.  It took 15 minutes of sitting in front of my mother trying to tell her why I was so upset before I finally got the words to come out of my mouth. She looked shocked, but then there was a reason my brother and I called her Scarlett O’Hara. She said she believed me, but looking back I realized all she was worried about was whether I had told anyone else. She was especially concerned as to whether I told my grandmother.

I drove the two hours to where my mother and step-father had moved after my brother and I moved out of the house. It was a sudden move that only made sense to me years later.  My brother and I were not so easy to control as legal adults, plus the numerous other girls he had molested were also coming of age. Nearly a year after telling my mother of the sexual abuse, my mother was still living with the pedophile.  She was telling me she was planning her escape, even though I offered her a place to stay the night I told her. Then one night I picked up the telephone to hear my brother hysterically crying on the other end.  He received a letter from our mother which also enclosed a note from our (narcissistic) sister. He was sitting in the cemetery thinking and crying.  When I went to pick him up, he showed me the notes that I was obviously never meant to see.

Our mother explained in the letter how the sexual abuse happened one time, years ago.  It actually happened many times over nearly a decade.  How my step-father, and my brother’s natural father, had changed. He’s even been reading his bible.  He was a deacon in the extremely dysfunctional church we grew up in, even though he was an alcoholic pedophile. Looking back, I wonder if it was led by lukewarm Christians or if they were intentional pretenders.  I have wondered if it was a spiritually dead church or whether it was actually closer to a cult.

The letter then went on to say how much better the family is doing and getting along now that the troublemaker was out of the house – me.  I was anything but a troublemaker as a child.  In any case, the note from our sister reiterated the story.  I was astounded at the time by what my mother was trying to pull, so much so that I could not fully grasp it.

My Brother's Truth Telling Makes Him a Scapegoat 

My brother did not buy the story for a minute.  Unlike me, my brother immediately saw the truth and he was beside himself. By this time the father who had abused and neglected my brother as a boy was afraid of him. That is the very reason they told him through a letter. They were afraid he would hear the news and come down there unannounced and infuriated. They wanted him to hear their lies about it first hoping he would buy the story.

So, without knowing I read the notes, my mother called me to tell me to be sure to keep my brother in the city with me. She then told me how she was plotting her escape from her husband and is surprised she has not killed him in his sleep. Since I was unable to keep my brother in the city with me, she then told people I sent my brother down there after them. Keep in mind I was trying to get my mother to leave him and move in with me. I also cared way too much about my brother than to send him down there.

So he went down there to the remote spot where my mother and step-father had moved to that was two hours from the city we grew up in.  When his father saw him, he ran to get in his truck to get away, but my brother jumped on the running board and started punching his father through the window.  His father drove off and did not come back for days.

In the meantime, that left our mother there without her pedophile husband to protect her. My brother confronted her and when she tried to blame me he lost it.  My brother showed amazing restraint, but literally for the rest of her life she used a twisted version of these events to climb back up on her martyr throne while using it to destroy my brother’s reputation and relationships.  He did not strike her, but he did shove her. He also told her he was not leaving until she told the truth.

So, our mother sat there infuriated while her pedophile husband hid out somewhere too afraid to come home.  It ended with my mother sneaking out in the middle of the night and driving back to the city where she repeated the tale of her heroic escape from her drug crazed son who had attacked her when he was out of his mind on drugs because I put him up to it.

This set the stage for our narcissistic mother to begin targeting my brother as a scapegoat, as she did me, for the rest of her days. Some of her maneuvers are discussed in detail, one-by-one. While these stunts are discussed one-by-one in order to help you recognize, name and articulate each one, they are often used in combination.

*It has been brought to my attention that this video has been hacked.  So I will upload the original as soon as time allows.  Until then, the video abruptly ends in the middle of the article. Gail

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

1. Childhood with a Narcissistic Mother and Father

© by Gail Meyers 
In small town USA my mother was the third child of a middle class narcissistic couple. Her mother was one of nine children who grew up dirt poor during The Great Depression. Her father was the golden son of an upper-middle class couple. His father was mayor and owned the general store and local tavern. My maternal grandparents were both physically beautiful people who placed a high value on appearance and image. They apparently let my mother know from a young age she did not live up to the standard. She was born in between two illegal abortions forced upon my grandmother by my grandfather and his mother.

Born to a Narcissistic Mother 

My mother got pregnant as a teenager, as did all of her sisters. She dated my biological father for two years, but before I was even born he was married to someone else and expecting their first child. By the time I was one year old, my mother had already rebounded to my step-father. They married upon his return to the United States from active overseas military duty. After his death, while trying to make the case that others knew but did not warn her, my mother told me his parents forced him into the military because they did not know what else to do with him after he tried to rape his sister. 

Soon after my mother and step-father were married my mother’s youngest sister stayed all night with them. The then 12 year old child ran home in the middle of the night because my step-father tried to molest her. My mother called her a liar. My grandfather refused to cooperate with an uncle who wanted to confront him. 

In the 1960’s girls were expelled from high school for being pregnant, unwed mothers. So my mother attended business school. It was then she was allegedly hit by a car that did not even bother to stop. The incident sent her into labor causing me to be born two months premature, weighing under five pounds. 

I was in an oxygen tent or incubator, which my grandmother later told me was turned off when only my mother and step-father were in the room. This led to the two of them being banned from my hospital room, yet I was apparently sent home with the two of them. 

Only days after their wedding, I ingested lye and nearly died many times. My step-father was discharged from the Army due to this medical hardship. The discharge papers were in the very bottom of the box of my baby things my mother returned to me decades later. 

Even her account of how all of this transpired fits the enduring traits in at least two ways. First of all, she managed to make herself the hero even in this tale while projecting the blame on either my step-father or me. Secondly, she contradicted herself in the two accounts she told of the incident numerous times over many years. 

Whether this was a Munchhausen By Proxy type maneuver I cannot state for certain. What I can say is it publicly reframed the situation by removing the focus from her being a shameful unwed mother and placing it on her being a long-suffering mother. She garnered enormous pity for being the mother of such a child, as well as having to care for such a child who was so sickly. Numerous operations followed, as well as me having to be fed through a tube in my abdomen. 

There are also baby pictures of me with the tube hanging out of my stomach, casts on both legs and my two front teeth knocked out. Both of these additional situations were accompanied by corresponding stories that do not add up. 

Narcissists Require Adoring Mates? 

I have often read that a narcissist requires an admiring mate, but that was certainly not the case with my narcissistic personality disordered mother. My late step-father was an alcoholic pedophile. I was 8 years old when my step-father sat me on the bathroom counter to introduce me to what would be “our little secret” for the rest of my childhood. 

Besides molesting me and at least one of my younger half-sisters for years, he had many extramarital affairs and was also verbally and physically abusive. So he was hardly the adoring, supportive spouse some claim narcissists require as mates. However, as twisted and bizarre as it may seem, he provided the perfect hiding place.  He was the identified villain whose behavior allowed my mother to perpetually star in her favored martyr role while manipulating the entire family with guilt and pity.  

Growing Up as a Hostage 

I spent my childhood grounded, mostly for offenses fabricated by my step-father. He called home from work as many as five times a day asking my mother where I was. When he was home his unwanted attention was nearly always on me. 

This made my mother extremely jealous. She often blatantly started a physical fight with him by smacking him or spitting in his face, then blamed the fight on me. It was years before I realized that was because negative attention is better than no attention at all. She told him nearly daily that she was his wife, not me. 

I was not allowed to even close my bedroom door in order to have any privacy or even hear myself think over the television that was always turned up full blast in the next room. There was no privacy or boundaries even in the bathroom. We were not allowed to lock the door, even when we were using the restroom or taking a bath. Anyone could and would walk in unannounced – even when we were teenagers. If you did lock the door anyway, the lock was quickly picked. 

While I grew up as my step-father’s hostage and the target of my mother’s jealousy, she also used me to meet her emotional needs. I missed as many as 100 days of school a year in high school simply because my mother wanted me to stay home and keep her company. Yet, I was also grounded if I brought home any grade less than a B. They were both high school dropouts who placed no value on education, but I have often wondered where the school administration was to never make an issue of it. 

During my 16th year I was allowed to date only boys they approved of and only after it became a heated topic. My step-father interrogated the boys, scaring some of them off. He would interrogate me following every date. He sat in the living room chair looking out the window waiting to make certain I came home on time. There would be a serious confrontation if I did not immediately jump out of the car the instant it came to a full stop. 

I often escaped by reading or listening to music on the stereo I was given on the only birthday or Christmas I recall getting nice presents – the year my step-father started molesting me. Like so many other abused children, I was not even allowed to think of myself as being abused. I was just waiting for the day I turned 18. 

I learned shorthand in high school for the express purpose of being able to keep my journal without anyone else being able to read it. It infuriated my step-father, who would at times insist I tell him what it said.  My mother also felt it was her right to read my journal, which I always hid somewhere attempting to keep it private. 

Since I was forbidden to close my bedroom door in order to not have to read with my fingers in my ears, I started putting my pillows and blanket in the floor of the closet and closed the door. One or the other of them would swing the door open long enough to make fun of me for being in my closet. When I persisted, my mother told me a story that scared the daylights out of me as a child. 

It was an elaborate story told convincingly and incorporating the Laura Ingalls Wilder books I was reading. There was a little girl with long, beautiful hair who was killed in the spot our house was built on. She was killed crossing the prairie and was buried here. She is not friendly, but very angry. She lives in the attic and if I am reading on my closet floor I will be the first one she sees when she comes down through my closet. This story had such an impact on me that at one point I actually thought I saw the little girl in her prairie dress. 

Years ahead of time I made a chart counting down each day until I turned 18. In the naivety of my childhood I actually thought I would become an adult, get my mother away from my step-father, and the rest of us would finally live happily ever after. Little did I realize at the time that the mother we were all raised to pity and take care of would prove herself to be ten times sicker and more dangerous than even the alcoholic pedophile she married. 

An Absent Biological Father 

While I was growing up my mother told me the story of how my biological father broke her heart leaving her pregnant and alone. On the contrary, she also often spoke of him as a knight in shining armour. While we were clothed and fed, and damn well better appreciate it, we had very little money.  However, my mother often told me of my half-siblings I had never met who were enjoying all the luxuries he provided. They got horses for their birthdays, and Corvettes for their sweet 16. 

According to my mother, my biological father desperately wanted to see me, but was doing the honorable thing by not offending my step-father by insisting on it. The implication was if he ever got the opportunity, he would mount his trusty steed and rescue me. I often thought he surely would if he knew the truth. Of course, she said I could never be such a self-centered, ungrateful child as to break my step-father’s heart by meeting my biological father. After all, according to her, there are not many men like him who would raise another man’s child as his own. During my preteen years my mother and step-father separated for a few months. 

During that time my mother asked me if I wanted to meet my biological father. Before I could even answer she told me he saw me today while I was outside playing, but I did not see him. He is gone now. It was just one more sadistic stunt she pulled on me even as a child. 

As it turned out I met my biological father when I was a very young adult. He picked me up in his Corvette, took me to his house, then proceeded to show me all of his toys. His arrogant condescendence was unmistakably abrasive. He was much more impressed with himself than I was, even with all of my mother’s knight in shining armor implications. 

The very first time we met he offered to pay for various specific cosmetic surgeries, including breast enlargements. It was offensive, but I was still too shy to say anything other than no thank you. I was not a beauty queen, but I was tall, thin and attractive enough to never have a problem finding dates. So, it was another loud and clear message that I was not good enough. 

We had been in contact for several months when I invited him to dinner. He never showed up or even bothered to call and cancel, which was devastating to me at the time. I spent years trying to figure out why he disappeared. However, I kept having the sense that it was surely a blessing in disguise, but that never quite made it to from my head to my heart. 

Then, two decades later he reappeared two days before my mother died. He said my mother reaped what she sowed in response to seeing her 60 pound emaciated body hours prior to her death. He spoke to me on the phone for about an hour after she died to tell me he does not attend funerals anymore. During that conversation he mentioned no less than a dozen times how much better he was doing with his eighth grade education than I was doing with my law degree. I did not realize it was a competition. Of course, he had been in business for decades and I had just graduated six weeks before my mother’s diagnosis. He never once said congratulations, but took the opportunity of my mother’s death to attempt to disparage my accomplishment. 

Then, in the middle of the conversation and without warning, he abruptly hung up. I thought we must have been disconnected and called back, but there was no answer. A couple of days later I received a photo in the mail of my mother as a teenager with an engagement ring on her finger. The picture contradicts everything she ever told me about what happened, but he waited four decades to send it to me after she was deceased. 

Seven years later he reappeared after my grandmother’s death. He sent a friend request to my Facebook page. I asked him how he is doing. He droned on about how big his classic car collection is and how strong he is. It was then that I realized it had finally made if from my head to my heart. I just un-friended him without a word and I let go.