The posts I do on narcissists are basically for my general information and healing processes. These entries you can either comment on if you want, or you can skip over and not read. But, they will be where I describe living with a narcissist and how it affected me later in life. Since I can’t afford therapy, this will have to do. It’s also so I know where my mother stands within the NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) itself. I’m also not a psychiatrist and I’m not proclaiming to be one. If anyone has issues with me equating my mother to a person with NPD they’ll just have to deal with those issues on their own because I don’t really care. The only way anyone really knows what it’s like to grow up with and deal with a narcissist on a daily basis are those who are actually doing so. In my opinion, the psychiatric profession knows damned little compared to what I have actually witnessed and experienced, so it’s a non issue.
The following are basic marks of narcissism. I will describe how my parent fits them.
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
My mother’s accomplishments are numerous, and also superior to everyone else’s. Just ask her. Her favorite mantra is, “these people are just astonished at all the things I’ve done in my life and my achievements. They can’t believe all of the things I’ve done in my life.”
In reality, her accomplishments aren’t all that spectacular. If they were, she would still be any one of the things she claims she was. Like a professional musician. The reality of that claim is that while she did play as a paid musician for roughly 8 years, I would hardly call that “professional”. Professionals make their living at what they do, or offer up some extraordinary excellence in the field. While my mother was a damned good musician, she did neither. The paycheck she received was so minimal it was the equivalent of pocket change. It was a small bonus, of sorts. She also didn’t do it for very long. She does use the claim that she did, however, and people are usually very impressed. Naturally, that makes her very happy and content. Any attempts to bring out the truth of that matter are met with vengeance.
The musician thing isn’t the only claim she makes that is blown way out of proportion for show, but that’s the example I’ll give.
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
One only needs to under that the first bullet point to see the second one. But, a better example of this one would be her current exploits. My mother is retirement age and has gone back to school. On the surface, that is fabulous, more power to her. But, her idea is that she’s going to come out of there with MBAs and get high powered jobs somewhere, or become an author. While that stuff could possibly happen, she’s in it for the prestige. She gets a lot of attention being a retiree in a school setting. She enjoys it to the fullest extent and provided she doesn’t open her mouth very much, most people like her. It’s when she begins to get used to a person that things start to go down hill. Weaker people are drawn in by her and they’re easy to manipulate, but the stronger people see right through it and are easily annoyed. Naturally, she has heated exchanges with people in her classes and she talks incessantly.
The reality of the situation here is that retirees really don’t have much of a shot at high powered jobs and becoming well known authors. The time for this stuff was 25 years ago, when she lived in a state that would have nurtured such a thing and she was only in her late 30′s. That train has sailed. We (my brother and I) don’t even bother pointing this out though. It’s not worth the drama.
- 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)
The last two points support this one. I frequently hear about how certain people understand my mother simply because they are also highly regarded professional people. She has always discriminated based on someone’s status. Blue collar workers are people my mother loathes. She always has. Currently, she has a bit of an obsession with one of her instructors. This is worrisome for me because he’s only in his mid 40′s, and I guarantee is isn’t interested. She claims otherwise but has shown me nothing to suggest he is. I’m quite concerned because I believe her delusion has gone beyond where I thought it would. But, this guy is a published author, he’s also a documentary producer and a college instructor. Those are impressive resume points to her. She believes she has a kinship with him based on all her accomplishments.
It’s really all rather disconcerting. The reality of the situation is that this guy is a college instructor. There has been absolutely nothing to indicate that he is romantically drawn to her at almost 20 years his senior, yet this is what she believes because…..well, why shouldn’t he be?
- Requires excessive admiration
This also ties in with the other, obviously. No one is going to tell whopper stories that are only tenuously based on truth for any other reason than to be admired and impress people. This is for attention, only. She doesn’t even know she does it, I don’t think. The reality of the situation is that almost all of the stories she tells are exaggerated to the point that they’ve become lies even though they are based on a modicum of truth. There are also some outright lies that have no truth basis at all.
- Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
I inherited some money once. It was quite unexpected, actually, but since my father is dead, I become the next of kin for some obscure relative. It couldn’t have come at a worse time in my life, though, because I had absolutely no respect for money back then. I was also married to another narcissist at the time, so I was doomed to just blow through that money. My mother thought it was a great injustice that she was skipped over as the next of kin on that inheritance. She figured that as the widow of the person who would have inherited, she should have been first in line. In accordance with that view, she decided that she should be entitled to the money regardless of who actually had possession of it.
She decided to make up a story about how badly she was doing in SoCal. I had moved back to my home state 2 years previous and left her behind. Another big no no, but I digress. The reality of it was that she wasn’t really doing badly there. She just couldn’t control any lives when no one lived near her, so it was time to move. I spent $8,000 moving my mother back to our home state.
The rather hilarious post script to that is that my mother made an ass of herself in front of my brother, my ex husband and my best friend on Thanksgiving Day, literally 3 days after we had just loaded her up and paid for her to move back. She threatened to throw me in jail, for what reason we still haven’t figured out, if I didn’t give her the keys to her moving van. The keys were on the counter, it was a non issue. My ex husband was livid and handed her the keys and told her to get out for her threats. Everyone in the room was looking around going, “da fuq just happened?!” . She didn’t have a place to go or even the money for rent. The original plan was that she would rent a storage space and live with us until she had a place to go. In the end, she rented the storage space, with my money, and moved in with a friend of hers. A friend who no longer associates with her, I might add.
She got at least part of the money, anyway.
- Is inter-personally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
Related to my last story, my mother ended up on the couch or in a spare room at a friends house after that altercation. She was fully ready to live off me until she was damned good and ready to leave, she had no job in town even. Since that wasn’t happening, now, she ended up with some old friends of hers. They weren’t thrilled to have her in their space, but she stayed there with them for almost 6 months. I don’t know the story on how it came that she left, I only know that they don’t have anything to do with her anymore.
This happened again in 1996. I, foolishly, had moved in with my mother with two of my children. I had left the area for a couple of years and moved back. That story is long and I will tell it one day, but we ended up being evicted because she wasn’t making any money at the time and the house we rented was far too expensive for me only making $7 an hour. That was quite an expensive judgement on the credit, but she ended up going to room with another old friend of hers. She roomed with them for almost as long as she did the first couple, and apparently there was a lot of really messy arguments during that time. Those people don’t associate with her anymore, either.
As a footnote, I want to add that she was thrown out of her profession in the end. That happened after I moved away, again, but according to my brother she committed real estate fraud by stealing listings and commissions from other agents and brokers, was brought up on charges, brought before the real estate board and had her license to sell real estate revoked and was barred from ever selling real estate in the state again. Quite a blow to her, I’m sure. She has no idea that I even know about it. But, I don’t dare ask her about it.
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
Back when I first started to have health problems, they really came out of the blue. One day I was healthy, and then literally the next day I was having crippling panic attacks and health problems. I know, now, why I was having them and what contributed to them. It was a variety of things, stress chief among them. But, my mother never really had any real empathy for it. To her, it was my own fault that I was sick. It was because I was lazy, or a hypochondriac. It wasn’t because I had a legitimate problem. This sort of thing goes on to this day. She still tells anyone who will listen that I’m a hypochondriac, and still denies there is anything wrong with me.
Sometimes, instead of outright deny it, she just voices her disinterest in it. Not in so many words, but with her attitude. Recently, I was talking to her about finally moving into the world of hypoglycemia. I’ve been borderline for several years, but it appears that my body has finally decided now is the time. She called me one day and I was telling her what I had been doing, because she asked, and that came up. She listened to me for roughly 5 minutes and then said, “Well, THAT wasn’t the reason I called you. Can we stop talking about THAT NOW?!” Of course it wasn’t the reason she called me, it never is. She doesn’t call here to talk about or even really ask about us, she calls here to talk about herself. She hasn’t had her daily supply of “her” yet, that’s why she calls. I’ve started limiting the calls though. I only answer 1 a week, now.
Lately, she’s been disassociating herself with anything that could be considered a flaw in her children. For me, my health is either my own fault, or I inherited it from the other side of the family. Nothing that is going on with me could EVER have come from her. Nothing. Her family is perfect (except she knows damned good and well they are far from it. Mental illness is rampant etc.) and the health records are spotless. None of that is true. She denies to this day that I had cancer in 2009. It’s funny because she was actually in the room with me at the final consultation before my surgery when the doctor specifically talked about the cancer, where it was and how important it was that we were even having this procedure done. According to her, that’s a lie. I never had cancer. I had some abnormal cells and female problems that lead to my hysterectomy, but not cancer. I still haven’t figured out what she gets out of that denial, but apparently it’s something pretty important to her.
I was scared to death when I had my surgery. Looking down the barrel of the cancer cannon is nothing I would ever want anyone to experience and I’m very lucky because we caught it early and I didn’t need any chemo. But, that fear was brushed off by my mother who made every effort to lessen the situation, even while she was here. She even threatened suicide when she wasn’t getting her way before she arrived here. My answer to her on the suicide threat was:
“You want to kill yourself? Fine, I’ll hand you the gun, come and get it. If not, don’t you ever pull this bullshit on me again.” I have figured out that to call her bluff scares her. I know her all too well and I know damned good and well that she’s far too vain and conceited to ever commit suicide. That would be admitting defeat, something narcissists just don’t do. She can’t control me and continue to try and affect my life negatively if she’s dead. And, she knows it. She is slowly learning, though, that she’s losing her grip on me and it scares the fuck out of her.
- Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
A common refrain of hers is, “I had to get out of there. Everyone was so jealous of me because of my qualifications that they made it impossible to work there.” I heard that frequently back when she actually looked for work. She doesn’t even bother, now. Another line I hear very often is, “the worship the ground I walk on.”, she says that one verbatim.
In her mind, everyone either worships her or is jealous of her there is no in between. I’m pretty certain that she’s told other people that my brother and I are also jealous of her a time a two. And, I know she’s told people that her own mother was jealous of her. On that case, though, she’s right. My grandmother was jealous of her own daughter, she was another narcissist.
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
The stories she tells me about her school lead me to believe that this one is a given. She’s already had a couple of verbal altercations with other people on campus that she’s told me about, and I know how my mother speaks to people. She speaks down to them, trying to show them that they are lower on the food chain than she is. She speaks to people with a hint of vitriol and spite, and maybe a tad bit of hatred.
Interestingly, I could probably fit in this category, too. I try not to show my disdain for other people on the outside, though. I hate people, I won’t lie. But, the difference is that I hate people simply because they do stupid shit. My mother doesn’t even see other people as human beings that exist. She sees them as stepping stones or tools, or inanimate objects. She sees them as an endless supply of praise and adoration, as batteries for her to syphon for energy. She talks to them like one might speak to a dog. You don’t converse with my mother, you listen to her speak to you and you speak when she allows it. She may or may not even hear what you say, though.
Some things to note, narcissism is a spectrum. All human beings exhibit one or more of those things, if we didn’t we would cease to function. I fit in several of the categories on some level, myself. The difference between normal and a person with NPD, however, is the severity of the levels and how malicious they are in their intentions. My mother’s entire world revolves around tearing and clawing other people down to elevate herself because of her own self loathing. She’s created a false self that she puts forth as the real deal. That’s not who she is, but narcissists as bad as she is can not admit to having any flaws, it would wreck the entire house of cards.
I don’t believe my mother is the worst example of NPD. I don’t believe she’s the highest on the spectrum. There are many people out there who have dealt personally with narcissists that are far, far worse than she is. I’m actually lucky compared to several stories I’ve read lately.While the relationship I had and have with her is still highly damaging emotionally and personally, I have it light.