Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Understanding the Borderline Mother | Enlisting Allies Against Her Target of Rage

In the book "Understanding the Borderline Mother" by Lawson the topic of how the BPD mother organizes a campaign of denigration (p. 141), which is exactly what happened to me when my mother disliked what she was hearing about my wedding. Lawson says, "The borderline enlists others as allies against the person who is the target of her rage. She may seek out friends, family members (including siblings and children), and co-workers of her victim in whom to confide fabricated stories designed to discredit her enemy. She intentionally leaves out discussion of her own behavior, presenting the other person's behavior as entirely unjustified." This is EXACTLY to a 'T' what happened to me during this present estrangement with my mother. And the following is an account of one of those people who my mother recruited during her campaign.

When my brother recently got out of jail and my mother went to 'help' him (Adult Child in Crisis with Personality Disorder Parents) after not seeing or talking to him for ten years) my mother took my brother to visit one of MY old colleagues. WHAT!? Yeah. WEIRD. That's my bizarre (there's that word again!) mother.

This girl (we'll call her Bree) was one of my employees at several places I managed through the late 1980's and early / mid 1990's as she would work where-ever I managed. In the mid-1990's, she was diagnosed with the same physical disease as my mother. I ended up giving each of them each other's number so they could talk about their diagnoses, symptoms, and treatment. Apparently they kept up with each other more than I thought or knew about.

During the course of my relationship with Bree, I inadvertently discovered she had a cocaine problem but I never addressed it at work or told my mother as her cocaine usage didn't interfere with work or me personally. Additionally, I never talked to Bree about my mother and our conflicts & estrangements.

Around the time that my future husband asked me to marry him (2004), I had just graduated with a Master's Degree and was helping my mother & step-father get their house in order before taking a job. I was working there Monday through Friday, 8 hours a day, with the purpose of gutting out, organizing, and cleaning-- I received $15.00 per day for my time and effort (basically gas money there and back). I was not helping for the 'money' (obviously)-- the effort was out of love, respect, and caring.

At this time, Bree came to town. When Bree arrived in town, she wanted to get together with everyone (who is friend's with mutual friends of mine) during the day... and my mother's response was that I was working a 'normal job' and that Bree shouldn't expect me to just leave during work hours. My mother acted like a 'boss', telling me that I have a commitment to working at her house. So, plans were made to have everyone meet at night.

A bunch of the old employees that all worked together (including Bree, our mutual friends, and myself) met at a restaurant. Bree acted VERY STRANGELY and left early (like 10 minutes after the last guest arrived who drove over an hour to get there). I later found out from one of our mutual friends in attendance that Bree was acting so strangely because she was craving cocaine and wanted to leave to get some. The next day, I told my mother this story about Bree, her behavior, and the cocaine.

Long story short, my mother and I had that blow up about my wedding, and our estrangement starts (Little Women 2004). My mother then turns to Bree and tells her that I am claiming she's a drug addict. Bree, of course, doesn't fess up to the fact that she has a cocaine problem and that her fiance is a dealer... and instead supports whatever my mother says about me to save face.

My mother also tells Bree that I felt as if Bree was imposing on me when she came to town and that I was irritated with her interfering with my work and daily routine. My mother COMPLETELY twisted the entire scenario around as MY MOTHER was the one who was ticked that Bree expected me to leave working at my mother's house but then flipped the information in order to recruit Bree to her "let's hate Gretel Ella" bandwagon.

"Others may believe the BPD's allegations of mistreatment because of the intensity of emotion. Misinformation is calculated and constructed in order to destroy the victim's reputation. Those who do not know the true situation may not notice inconsistencies in the BPD's story. It is difficult to verify the truth because the intensity of the emotion dissuades others from asking details" Lawson (p, 141). I believe Bree believes the allegations because of the calculated and constructed nature of the misinformation as well as she never knew the background of my mother and my relationship dating back to my childhood. Plus, I think Bree's belief in what my mother was purporting was self-motivated as well, as Bree needed to save her own reputation.

Reciprocally, my mother feels more justified that she did no wrong to me in regard to blowing up over my wedding as Bree, my ex-colleague, backs her up with WHATEVER she says (alas, the organization of the denigration campaign mentioned earlier!). Bree also becomes an accomplice and informant for my mother. Months prior to my wedding, I find out from a mutual friend that Bree and my mother are planning on crashing my wedding. And then every so often, I hear that Bree is trying to fish for information from our mutual friend about me to give to my mother.

SO THIS is the person that my mother took my brother to see just as he left jail. WHAT THE HECK!!?!? Hmmm, that is the 'help' that my brother needed in such a pinnacle and critical time in his life? Seems very self serving and convoluted on my mother's part if you ask me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Makes My Narcissist Dad Tick

We're approaching SIX MONTHS that my Dad has not bothered to contact my daughter (his granddaughter) or myself after he canceled attending a Christmas gathering when my husband's family was visiting. What led up to the cancellation was a big convoluted mess (Holidays Leading to the Last Straw 2008) of my Dad trying to control Christmas and then realizing he didn't have control and gossiping and lying to other family members about the situation. He iced the cake by not visiting during Christmas, emailing, " ...we will have to pass on coming up to your house. I don't think now would be a good time in lieu of what has gone on." What all his lying, gossiping, and manipulating!? Is he too embarrassed to face my husband and me?

At any rate, no matter how pissed he is at my husband or me or the situation, he has NO RIGHT to take any of this out on my daughter. What in the world has this little toddler done to him!? He has made ZERO effort to contact her, to see her, to develop a relationship, or ANYTHING. Christmas came and went with NO CALL, NO CARD, NO GIFTS... her 2nd birthday came and went... Easter came and went... nothing. His self absorption is AMAZING. Which is leading me to this poignant excerpt from What Makes Narcissists Tick by Kathy Krajo pgs. 83-84:

Extreme self-absorption is another red flag. Unless a narcissist is a "doting" narcissist who keeps a "star" child he's exploiting under a microscope, just ask him about his family. You will be astounded at what he doesn't know about them.

That's the dead giveaway.

To test a person, write a basic character description of each member of his immediate family. Note things like whether this person is religious, excitable, highly motivated -- that's all, just basic stuff that anyone who sees them regularly should know about them. If you ask a narcissist to match each character description with the family member it belongs to, he will gape at you as though you just asked him to show the derivation of E = mc2.

It will astound him that you would expect him to know such things about his wife and children.

Because you know more about cartoon characters than a narcissist knows about the members of his immediate family. For, he can learn nothing about what he willfully, relentlessly, and reflexively pays no attention to.

Narcissists are notorious for being unable to remember people's names or to even recognize their faces outside the usual setting. That's because people all look the same to you when they all look like this.

[drawing of a girl's face blanked out because it is a mirror showing the narcissist flexing and posing in the mirror that should be her face.]

In your encounters with them, you make sure you get 100% of their attention while giving them zero of yours. So, what did they say? Anything? Did they even get a word in edgewise? If they did, you didn't hear it.

A narcissist may, for example, recognize her son in the home but not when she runs into him in the grocery store -- giving him a stupid stare as he approaches, until he clues her in by saying, "Hi, Mom."

Here are some other illustrative examples from narcissists I have known or heard about:
  • Does not know how to spell his daughter's name.
  • Never had any idea what kind of grades his kids got.
  • Does not know his wife or children's birthdays.
  • Has never visited the major Website his/her child/sibling published.
  • Does not know how old his children are.
  • Does not know that his daughter was a National Merit Finalist.
  • Has no idea how good his kids are at any sport or other activity.
  • Does not know what perfume his wife wears.
  • Has never read the book his child wrote.
  • Never does learn the names of the students in his/her classes.
  • Cannot get the names of people "with two first names" straight. (viz. Jean Paul, Howard Dean, John Kerry, or even John Edwards.)
  • Does not know the names of his children's spouses, let alone his grandchildren.
  • Has never shown up to watch his son play varsity sports.
  • Does not know what his children majored in at college or what degrees they earned.
  • Does not know whether his teen-age son/daughter is dating.
  • Has never met the boy his teen-age daughter has been dating for three years.
One could hardly be less interested in a fly on the wall.

This description fits my Dad perfectly-- the Narcissistic King. For the longest time, I know he couldn't tell you the name of my company (he might not be able to even now, and I have had it for almost five years). He has no idea what I do on a day to day basis, how I live my life, what I enjoy doing, who I am, what I studied in graduate school, or practically anything about me personally. He recently admitted he doesn't even remember a guy I dated for 3 years (we had visited with my Dad countless times) that had asked me to marry him. WOW!

He will walk away when I am in the middle of a conversation with him-- or he will abruptly change the subject. The conversations are actually him telling stories about topics that are so bizarre (buying luggage, random people he's encountered, his remote control), long & drawn out, and repeated over & over. His stories seem to be noise to cover up any silence or to stop any MEANINGFUL conversation. But, no matter what, he always dominates the conversation... and the topic will never involve anything that has been going on in your life or about you.

And now, he is so self absorbed that he could care less about developing a relationship with his granddaughter. He DOES have a relationship with his step-daughter's child, however. I like how Anna Valerious of Narcissists Suck puts it, "The actual mechanics of how the NPD grandparent will misuse their relationship to their grandchildren will vary. Generally, they will either over-value or under-value the grandchild as a means to get to you." Definitely my Dad is under-valuing my daughter as a means to get to me. He has shown minimal interest in her since she was a few months old and continually blames everyone and every thing but himself for the lack of relationship he has with her. On the flipside, his step-granddaughter lived in his house for her first SEVEN YEARS, and he dotes on her to this day.

Although I am saddened by the fact that my daughter will not have a relationship with her grandfather, I am also content with the status as my Dad is a KNOWN DANGER. He has treated me as if I am invisible. He's treated our relationship with such carelessness and disregard. He is tremendously critical, judgmental, and nit-picky about everything I do that I can't win. And he tries to control me and treat me like I am a 10-year old child. Again, quoting Anna Valerious in Narcissists Suck, "It is imperative to let yourself know that, without profound evidence to the contrary, your narcissist parent is a narcissist still. You must let yourself know for a fact that your Nparent can not be trusted with your most precious responsibility, your children. If you allow contact between your children and your Nparent it must never be out of sight. Never for a moment leave your child alone with this serial abuser. They only need a few moments of alone time to inflict damage. A whisper, an insinuation, a pinch, a look. If you consider yourself a responsible parent you will never, ever leave your child alone with your Nparent. Ever."

So, at this point, I am AMAZED, simply AMAZED, that my Dad has not taking ANY time or effort to formulate a relationship with my daughter... I am also very much at peace with not talking to or getting together with him because I DO NOT want to subject my daughter to his dangerous personality. I want her to have unconditional love-- love that is surrounded by safety, security, and peace. He cannot offer that. I have wished to find that love with him since I was a young child, and I have been unsuccessful. I have been unsuccessful because that type of unselfish love is not possible from a completely self absorbed narcissist.

Six months has past, and I am sure another six months will pass and my Dad will continue to tell family members that he is waiting on a call from me and spread a few more outlandish lies about my husband, myself, and so so sadly my daughter. If he only put as much effort into a relationship, getting to know his 'loved ones' as much as he does to gossip and control, he would have so much richness in his life rather than distention. But this is how he views the world-- through his self absorbed glasses.