Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the Beginning (1967 - 1976)

I was part of a seemingly normal family at the beginning of my life. A mother, a father, two sets of grandparents, a rocking horse, and a baby album full of happy details & photos. You would think from the attention to detail that my mother gave my baby album that I was adored, cherished, and deeply loved. Some of that may be true, but this is more about her inability to love, support, and give security than about anything else. This is more about her fear of abandonment compounded with a father's extreme narcissism.

My life has been about moving forward beyond the distention and challenges, making something of myself, and then trying to figure out what the heck happened to me. My life has been trying to figure out what this hole in my spirit is from, why I feel orphaned, and why I can't accept what happened to me in my childhood. "Children of borderlines may spend their entire lives trying to understand their mother and themselves. They are preoccupied with sorting out the meanings of interactions, studying their own perceptions, and questioning the intentions of others" p 302 Lawson.

My mother has Borderline Personality Disorder, and my Dad has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. My mother is the "Borderline Queen Witch" who married the "Narcissistic King". Borderline mothers are make-believe mothers living in darkness needing the rescuer husband. In particular, my borderline mother is characterized as the Queen, and the 'darkness' that lies within the borderline Queen is 'emptiness'. "Her inner experience is deprivation and her behavior evokes compliance. She is demanding and flamboyant and may intimidate others. The Queen feels entitled to exploit others and can be vindictive and greedy. The Queen's emotional message to her children is: Life is 'all about me'" p 38 Lawson. The Witch hides within my mother as a "temporary ego-state", and makes appearances at times quite frequently but can hide for periods of time. The Witch's darkness is annihilating rage with the message to her children: 'life is war'.

Borderline women frequently marry Narcissistic Personality Disorder men. The borderline Queen seeks a King, someone who "attracts attention through his prominence, wealth, or power" p 179 Lawson. She got that when she married my Dad. Additionally, the borderline Queen, "because of her inner emptiness and insatiable need for admiration, marries a King. Her mirror-hungry personality leads her on a quest for a high-profile partner whom others envy and admire" which my Dad and mother were high-school sweethearts with Dad being the older and popular guy and my mother being the beautiful homecoming queen.

My memories of early childhood are pretty dark. From the beginning, my Dad said that my mother had a very difficult time with raising me. She was absent a lot of the times (closing herself in her room), having him take care of me, or putting me in a play pen. My Dad took me to see his parents for visits, but my mother didn't like them and would be disapproving when she found out. When I was 2 1/2 years old, my brother was born.

My mother once told us if she had a chance to do it again, she wouldn't have kids. That statement has stuck in my head my whole life. Another statement that she repeated throughout life was, "Life's a bitch, and then you die" and "If it's not one thing, it's another". “Life is hard, but the borderline mother communicates the message to her children that life is overwhelmingly hard, that it is hopeless to try to achieve goals. She tolerates life rather than enjoying it” p 73 Lawson. I was born optimistic and even a young age, I didn't believe that life is one awful thing after another. I wasn't living in a cloud either, but even as a little girl, I had hopes & dreams, I thought if you put your mind to it, you could achieve what you believe... and if you believe in good things, well that's what you get. Or if you believe in bad things, well that's what you'd get.

My mother continued locking herself in her room like before my brother was born. My father would get us up in the morning, feed us breakfast, and put us in the playroom, calling my mother when he got to work to make sure she got up to supervise us. If he ever had to take a business trip, my mother would go ballistic, cry, and lay the BIGGEST guilt trip on him. She was a hermit in her room, in the dark, in many of my memories.

I remember that my mother was never happy. She rarely played with us-- never outside. She spent a lot of time on the phone, smoking and doodling at her telephone table. The house was kept impeccable with a place for everything and everything in its place. This orderliness was over the top and felt uncomfortable at times. She was very controlling-- not allowing us outside of our fenced in backyard, and keeping us in our playroom. My mother didn't allow us to get dirty and limited how and what we played with outside. We always had to be impeccably clean.

Meal times were obsessively controlled. She fed us way too much and had us clean our plates. She admitted that when I was a baby she accidentally fed me 3x too much per meal, which caused me to spit up every time I was picked up. As a child, many times I would still be sitting at the table from lunch when my Dad came home from work as we weren't allowed up from the breakfast or lunch table until our food was completely eaten. I remember always getting chastised for how long it would take me to finish my meal (you must clean your plate!). I would get full, and I would try to choke my food down. Several times I vomited in my food, only to have it replaced. I learned when we went out for dinner (which was every night as my mother refused to cook) to order food that was easy to toss under the table. My mother would praise me when she noticed I finished my plate at the same time as everyone else.

Emotionally, she seemed to be always in a bad mood and always played the martyr. I remember her rarely showing emotion to my brother and me. If you wanted a hug or kiss, you had to go to her. If you ever said that you loved her, she would say not to use the phrase loosely and to only use it when you absolutely mean it. The phrase was seldom heard coming out of her mouth. I took her hand in the movie theater one time, and kissed her hand. She pulled her hand away and shot me a strange look. I felt very dejected as an 8 year old kid.

Being treated carelessly, causing feelings of dejection and shame, was common. When I was shopping with my mother after school when I was around 8 years old or so, I had to go to the bathroom. She wouldn't take me to find a restroom and had me ask a clerk who responded that a bathroom wasn't available. My mother then had me go to the grocery store next door to ask about a bathroom. Again, I was told there wasn't a bathroom available. I was hopping around the card section about to bust, when I did. I peed all over the floor. My mother was very mad and had me stand outside of the store to wait for her. When driving home, I had to sit on all fours, like a dog, in the back of the station wagon. Once we got home, I was put into the shower with all of my clothes on. I was thoroughly embarrassed by how my mother handled the situation (like I was some disgusting animal) and also miffed that she wouldn't help me find a bathroom. If she had, this accident wouldn't have occurred.

Although my mother may have treated me carelessly in some respects, my mother treated my brother and me, up until the point of the divorce, vastly different. My borderline mother treated me as the "All Good Child" p 160 Lawson and my brother as the "All Bad Child" p 167 Lawson. Why one child becomes one or the other to a borderline mother depends on the projections. Typically characteristics of the child guide the designation (hatred of men, rival for husband's love, loved part of self, and so forth). After I was a teenager and living with my mother without my brother, she flipped between All Good and All Bad with me. My brother, however, has remained the All Bad through-out life, and tragically, he's also the "Lost Child" p 171 Lawson. Further discussion of this and its impacts will be discussed later in this blog, but to this day, my mother doesn't take ANY accountability of her actions for the challenges, demons, and tribulations that my brother has fought his entire life. I can plainly see what she (and our Dad) has done to him (and to me), but she, to this day, says that our childhood has had no impact on our choices, path in life, or outlook.

In the early years, my mother and Dad never had harsh words in front of my brother and me. We never saw them argue. However, one night she and my Dad got in a huge fight, with them tumbling through and wrecking many rooms. My brother and I woke from our slumber to find my Dad holding my mother down on the floor trying to control her. The scene was bizarre from our sleepy eyes, seeing the house that she obsessively kept orderly and clean, all flipped upside down with stuff strewn everywhere.

My Dad definitely filled in the gaps that my mother left, playing with us and taking us places on the weekends. He was a fun loving, happy sort, that had a zest for life. He was involved in volleyball at the church, was successful with his job, and seemed to enjoy what he was doing-- whatever that may be. His narcissism didn't seem to be an issue or a disorder during these years. I think that since he was successful at work, at the attention of his kids, and was needed by his wife as a rescuer, the narcissism was kept in check for the most part. He did, however, display signs here & there, by being demanding and intimidating in restaurants and stores if the service didn't meet his expectations ("feels entitled to special treatment" p 190 Lawson), and he was preoccupied with appearances, possessions, and his work success ("requires constant attention and admiration" p 191 Lawson).

Regardless of how any of it was, my brother and I thought our life was normal. "Children know only what they experience. They may not realize that other mothers do not lash out unexpectedly over minor slights, are not chronically upset, depressed, fearful, or overwhelmed. Children have no experience other than their own by which to judge the world and themselves" p 160 Lawson. We did okay-- we made good grades in school, had friends, saw family at times, and seemed happy. This is pretty much our lives up until I was 8 years old.


  1. I have only read the first post. You have been digging deep. I admire you for that. I don’t think I’m ready to remember that clearly. The fact my childhood remains fogged is a source of comfort as much as a source of frustration.

  2. I feel like I can handle life much better when I know-- or when I am digging for that understanding. I feel comfort in the truth, no matter how dirty, nasty, or uncomfortable it may be. I would rather know as I can make better, more logical decisions than if making decisions on perceived notions. I wish you all the comfort and peace in the world-- whatever that may be :)

  3. I started learning about cluster B disorders, and was fascinated to learn that it seems my father matches the narcissistic personality disorder and my mother BPD. finally, someone else in the same boat! I'm excited to find your blog and learn your story. I find it really empowering to understand what was going on, beneath all the craziness, beyond my father being incredibly controlling in some ways, but on the other hand, sometimes completely ignoring his children's existence. My mother's manipulations, drug abuse and pretending to be critically ill most of my life (cancer, tumors, heart problems-- she was never ill, we learned later.) looking back, nothing seems to make any sense, but understanding these disorders, now it makes sense, if its possible for such a situation to make sense. I deeply feared for a long time becoming like my parents, but understanding I think gives me tools to do better for my kids. I know these posts are several years old, but I am eager to read it all, and thank you for having the courage to share your story!

  4. You are so welcome ;) Looking forward to hearing your story, input, and thoughts when you get a chance. Thanks for stopping by! All my best to you~

  5. Thank you, from the depths of my aching soul, for sharing your story with such clarity. Reading this first post tonight was impeccably timed for me. I had a "pleasant" encounter with my NM today. Just enough for me to doubt myself. Finding your blog tonight was a dose of medicine I desperately needed. I am not imagining anything. I am an adult child of a malignant narcissist. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

    I am just beginning my path to recovery. I had previously buried so much of the memories, so much pain. I had covered it all over. I expect this was part of my survival method. Due to recent events I have been plunged deep into my own painful memories. Hours of my nights (all the kids are sleeping lol best time to read) are now spent online reading recovery blogs and research on NPD and Cluster B. So much validation. So many nauseating memories.

    Thank you for reminding me of exactly how twisted these monsters are. Reminding me that my decisions to seek therapy and healing are the right ones. Thank you. Thank you.

    1. You are welcome-- and all my best to you with your journey to healing and moving forward.