It hasn’t happened yet, but it will. Or maybe it has happened, and I don’t know it yet. I will lose them all. I don’t have many blood relatives on my mother’s side, but I will have none. That legion of aunts-but-not-aunts, cousins-but-not-cousins — they will disappear, too. They will go, like Eliot says, not with a bang but a whisper. An ugly double meaning: they’ll make little noise when they go, and they’ll leave with my narcissistic mother’s lies.
Narcissists have a pattern. When confronted with their behavior, they lie and gaslight. Of course, they can’t believe these horrible accusations. They would never do those things. Incidents were inflated, misconstrued, distorted; accusers become liars. A narcissist conflates herself with her victim, and rather than facing her behavior, raises herself into ultimate victimhood. Her narrative becomes a twisted tale of ingratitude, cruelty, and betrayal — towards her.
She sums up everything she’s inflicted on her victim, turns it on its head, and claims her victim’s doing it to her by insisting she take ownership of her disordered behavior.
I have publicly called out my narcissistic mother. I have detailed the trauma her behavior wreaked.
She’ll have crafted that narrative by now.
The Story Narcissistic Mother Tells
I will tell you a story now. It’s the same story my narcissistic mother tells. She moved to my state to be closer to her grandchildren. However, early in the pandemic, she had a soda with a friend outside (brunch, indoors, after an unmasked car trip). My husband went ballistic. (My husband politely called her on breaking quarantine because he has asthma and Covid could kill him; he told her we would love to see her in two weeks.) He had the gall to say that she owed us an apology. Since then, we have refused to see her. (She has shown no interest in seeing us, has not called, and informed that my grandfather died via text message.)
When she moved, we didn’t even help. (My husband offered as long as he stayed masked and distanced. She refused.) You know we didn’t come when she was in the hospital. (We found out days later via Facebook and offered to help. We were rebuffed.) We haven’t let her see her grandkids. (We visited on Halloween, my youngest son’s birthday. She ignored the kids, except to try tempting them into her house with candy — which she’d agreed not to do beforehand as a Covid precaution. Our visit was stilted and strange. A week later, she asked if she could drop a birthday present for my middle son in our mailbox. We said she could visit our kids in our yard instead. She ignored us, dropping a gift card but not calling. Our oldest son’s birthday went unacknowledged two months later — not even a phone call.) I didn’t even go to my own grandfather’s funeral. (I was told via text message. No one would have masked or distanced; I would have been expected to hug everyone, and I am at high risk for Covid complications. I still don’t know how my grandfather died.)
Now I am writing these horrible essays about what a terrible person she is. (I have come to terms with the trauma inflicted by my narcissistic mother and throw it out to the world hoping it will help someone.) I still don’t let her see her grandchildren. (In any and all meager contact my husband has made with her, she has never once asked about our children.) She’s all alone after she moved seven hundred miles to be close to us. (She’s all alone by choice.)
I am an ungrateful brat. She was such a wonderful mother, and look what we did to her. How could we do this, after all she’s done? Where did she go wrong? Did the listener see any signs that I would ever act like this? Well, I was always a little strange, and you know I always had those mental health issues, but she didn’t think I was like this. How could I spew such hateful lies? Do I know what I’ve done to her? Well, of course I don’t care. I never did care. I was always rotten to the core. You know, I was an ungrateful child, too.
She should never have trusted us, because she always knew something was wrong with me. Remember that time I…
She Tells This Story To Everyone
All my cousins and aunts have heard this story. All of her friends — those women who taught me sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, who were like my aunts, and who I truthfully will miss more than most of my blood relatives (now I’m tearing up) — they’ve heard this story. She tells this story to everyone. She needs to make herself a victim in her own life, to validate what’s happened to her.
Her tragedy needs meaning, and this narrative does that very neatly.
When she tells this story, everyone nods their head in agreement — especially if they’ve seen my essays. She has been so abused. I am ungrateful, terrible, horrible, no good. I am the ultimate moral failure. She has victimized me again. Checkmate. My narcissistic mother took the last shreds of connection I had.
Because I dared to speak about my trauma, I have lost everyone. My trauma has become compounded by my recovery. Now when I go back to my childhood town, I will visit a few friends of my own and one paternal aunt. I won’t see anyone else.
There will be no one to see.