I grew up with a mother who I always thought was simply overprotective. She drove me to and from school daily, from kindergarten through twelfth grades. She volunteered almost daily at the elementary school I attended, and although not in my classroom every day, I often saw her periodically through the school day. At home, my mother gave me almost no privacy. She criticized me constantly, and most often about my eating habits and my weight. So much so that when I was around ten, I suffered through anorexia, making myself ill for approximately one year. Later, I learned I could make myself vomit, and experienced bulimia as well.
Both of my parents also created anemotionally incestuous relationship with me as well. They would come to me separately, complaining about the other parent and how miserable they were. That continued until severing ties with them when I was forty-five years old.
Once I entered junior high school, the daily volunteering stopped, as there were not as many opportunities available. My mother still volunteered some, however. I felt some freedom, not seeing her so often during my school days. It was refreshing to have a little breathing room while at school.
When I was in the last half of eleventh grade in 1988, I got my first job at my mother’s insistence, and where she insisted I work. It was at work where I met the man I later married, then divorced. We went to the same high school, although we were unaware of that at first. My mother hated him upon first sight, and told me to stay away from him. He asked me out for a date about a month after we met, and I kept saying I was busy to avoid the real reason I could not date him (or anyone for that matter) – my mother. He was persistent, and I was flattered. (My mother had told me no man would ever want me so male attention was especially flattering.) I told him that my mother was overprotective, and it was not him, but no one would be good enough for me according to her. We began sneaking around to see each other behind her back at school and work, at his insistence. I blindly obeyed him. My mother found out, and then my horrors really began.
The more my mother protested my relationship with this boy, the more determined I was to be with him. I was afraid no one else would ever want me so I should cling onto him. He told me what I had always wanted to hear, but never did from my mother – things like I was pretty and smart. (My mother always said she was trying to help me by pointing out my faults, but she did not – she ridiculed and criticized. She also used to brag that she complemented me only one time in my childhood.) I was willing to face her rage rather than lose feeling special, and face her rage I did. My mother had someone at my school (I believe it was one of my teachers, but am unsure to this day) calling to report my daily activities at school to her every evening. As a result of what she heard (or she made up – I am unsure which). she told me I was “acting like a slut” by wanting to have a boyfriend, even though my friends had boyfriends and dated for years. She called me awful names, belittled me, and began snooping through my purse, school books, and anything she could find. She claimed I must be on drugs (which I was not) to be acting this way, which is how she justified her behavior and abuse. She also picked me up from school daily for my lunch break, and used that hour alone with her to scream at me. She even forced me to pay for her lunch sometimes, claiming it was the least I could do considering all that she did for me.
During this awful time, my mother even accused me of having sex with the entire football team at my high school. She threatened to take me to a gynecologist to prove I was sexually active, which I was not. I called her bluff, and told her go ahead – take me to the doctor, I had nothing to hide. She refused, and I often wondered why.
You may wonder by now where my father was during this. He was working or somewhere else. My mother saved the worst of her abuse for our time alone, while he was at work or when she was driving me to or from school or work. When he got home, I rarely told him what she did. Partly because he did virtually nothing to try to stop the abuse, but also because my mother would scream at me for “tattling” on her. My seventeenth birthday is a prime example of this. My boyfriend and I had known each other for just over a month at that point. He gave me a little teddy bear, and a small vase with a few flowers and two small balloons in it. I was terrified of taking that out to my mother’s car after school that day, but had no choice. My mother did not say anything at first. We had to stop on the way home to pick up something from her friend’s house, so she told me to go get it while she waited in the car. When I got back to the car, the bear was obviously thrown into the backseat, the flowers and balloons were destroyed, and pieces of them covered the passenger seat and floor of her car. I was stunned! When we got home, she told me at work that evening I was to give my boyfriend back the teddy bear. She also told me to clean up the mess that “I made by acting so snotty” and throw it all in a trash bag. I did as I was told. When my father got home, I told him about it. He spoke to my mother, who then screamed first at my father for interfering, then at me for telling on her, and calling me a tattletale, among other names.
Another reason I did not tell my father much was because he turned the situation around so I would feel sorry for him. He would say there was nothing he could do, and it was so hard on him, how my mother treated me. I ended up comforting him, when I was the one in need of comfort and protection. It was simpler not to tell him everything, and eliminate the need to console him.
Finally, just before I turned eighteen, my mother let my boyfriend and I date. Things got a little better in the next few months, because I was 18 and no longer legally under her thumb so much. I finally was able to graduate, get my first car and a full time job. I wanted to save as much money as I could to move out as soon as possible. I spent every possible moment with my boyfriend and his parents, rather than at my parents’ home, when I was not working.
When I was nineteen in May, 1990, I had no choice but to move out. I got home after a date at about two o’clock in the morning (I spent as little time at home as possible, as I said). My mother was itching for a fight from the moment I walked in the door. I knew this because she had a certain look and way about her when she was in that mood. She asked where my class ring was. I told her I had taken it off when I got too hot, and left it in my boyfriend’s car. It is a large ring and was hot to wear in the early summer. I said it was perfectly safe, I would get it the next day, and good night. As I walked away, I heard her say, “You lying little b****!” I went into my room, and changed into my nightgown. The door flew open a moment later, and there was my mother – screaming at me for how horrible I was, and how I did not appreciate her and the many great sacrifices she made so I could have that ring. I quietly told her Dad was in the next room and she was going to wake him. She ignored me, and continued screaming at me. My father came into the room a few minutes later, and she said, “See what you did? Your dad works with heavy machinery – he needs his sleep! If he gets hurt at work tomorrow, it’ll be all your fault!” My father said, “But you’re the one who woke me up.” She continued screaming, but turned it on my father. I could not take it any longer – I ran into the bathroom, and locked the door. I heard her shaking the knob, trying to get in, but I held the lock in place so she could not. She eventually stopped trying to get in, so I sat on the floor. I heard her mocking me outside, but to this day, I do not remember what was said. My father later told me she was mocking him for blocking her from entering the bathroom, but I do not personally remember that. The reason being, I had what I later learned was anervous breakdown that night. I sat on that floor, shaking, crying and unable to move or speak. When I finally came out of the bathroom, about six that morning, my mother, who had been waiting outside the bathroom door unbeknownst to me, grabbed me immediately in a hug and said, “I forgive you!” That is when I knew I had to leave that house IMMEDIATELY.
Moving out was the best thing I could have done. I finally could breathe! I did not have to worry that my mother was snooping through my personal things, or that she would scream at me, or belittle me. I even began to realize that my boyfriend of the time was really not the type of man I wanted to marry, and broke up with him to date someone much better suited for me. (Unfortunately I married my first boyfriend several months later – he was quite narcissistic, and I fell for his manipulation). I also got a cat, which was something I always wanted to do. While my first boyfriend and I were apart, I also briefly was involved with a different man, then broke up with him shortly after, and resumed the relationship with my first boyfriend. Foolish, I know, but I thought that even though the second man I dated was the best for me of the three men I dated during that time, I had to “repay” my first boyfriend. I felt I owed him for breaking up with him and hurting him. He made certain I felt this way too by telling me this as well as having others tell me the same thing.
At this time, I asked my mother if I could move back in temporarily until I found a different apartment for my cat and I. She said yes, but the day I went to move in, she said my cat could not stay in her home, and she had a list of things I would do to show her respect, “unlike the last time I lived with her”, she said. My cat briefly lived with my first boyfriend in his parents’ home.
Me living with my parents again lasted only four days. On day four, when I got home from work, my mother was in the mood for a fight again. She picked at me until I finally snapped. I yelled and cussed at her, which was NOT my normal behavior. I was just that fed up. My father got involved briefly, and then walked out. He drove to my grandparents’ home in Virginia that night. My mother locked the door behind him as soon as he was out the door, and turned all of her rage on me. When I went to leave, she said I was too upset to drive. I told her get out of my way, because I needed to leave. She blocked the doorway, and I pushed her aside (not hard – just moving her out of the way). She responded by then throwing me into a wall by the front door and holding me there so all I could move was my head, which injured my back and greatly damaging the wall. I never will forget the feeling of my spine cracking from my tailbone up into my neck as I hit that wall, or how her eyes were jet black when she did that. I honestly believe she wanted to kill me that night. I think the fear and pain made me black out, because I went from feeling my spine crack to biting her upper arm! I got away, because we were both stunned by what I did, and she pulled away from me in pain. I suffered with back pain for the next ten years after that incident. Pain that my mother never acknowledged or accepted responsibility for causing, mind you. In fact, she accused me of faking it so I would not have to work because I was so lazy.
I refused to live in that house again after that night – November 28, 1990 which was the day before Thanksgiving that year. I also barely visited that house after moving out. Sitting in the living room, I always caught myself looking at the wall where she threw me. It has long since been repaired, but if you look very closely, you can see where the damage was. It was very unsettling for me to see that, even many years later.
That was the last time she ever physically attacked me. Most likely this was because when my granddad found out what she had done, he threatened to kill her if she ever touched me again. He was not one to make threats, so no doubt she realized the seriousness of this threat.
In the years after this happened, dealing with my mother was a bit better. It was not all easy, however. When my mother’s mother died, I found evidence that my mother stole my inheritance from my grandmother. I did get my money back, but only by threatening to get the law involved.
Over the years, my mother’s words were still cruel. Once I started to write, she would tell me how the things I write are “trash” or “a waste of time.” I never told my parents that I wrote about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If I had, no doubt her criticisms would have been infinitely worse. She also insulted me for my taste in clothes, cars, music, hobbies, reading material, my Christian faith, and even my favorite color. If I like it, it is bad, according to my mother. I am an avid animal lover, and proud mom of some very loving, well-behaved and beautiful animals. Most folks who meet them are impressed by my furry little family. My mother, however, insulted every single one of them every time she saw them. When I told her to stop it, she got meaner with the insults, so I told her either stop with the insults or she is not allowed in my home ever again. She stayed away from my home for well over a year after I said that.
And, my mother barely spoke to me more than maybe ten minutes between May, 2011 and January, 2013. Why? Because she had an appointment for a minor, outpatient procedure one day. I was going to drive her and my father to the hospital for it early one morning. Instead, my cat was having health issues. He was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and his glucose levels suddenly went out of control, swinging hundreds of points up and down in short periods of time. He could fluctuate 500 points in a day! I canceled with her so I could take care of him if he needed me. My mother was furious, but she took a taxi to and from her appointment with no trouble.
It was also 2011 when I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. What a relief it was! Finally, things started to make sense! I also was so relieved to learn that my mother was wrong. I was not at fault for all the problems in our relationship nor was I crazy.
In 2012, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder manifested fully in my life. Even that was a relief in a way. I had suffered with many of the symptoms for my entire life such as depression and anxiety. Once flashbacks began, I started researching my symptoms and learned I had C-PTSD. I finally had a name for what was wrong with me, and learned that it is common with victims of narcissistic abuse. Another big piece of the puzzle, and more proof my mother was wrong about me being “crazy.” I wasn’t crazy, I was damaged and it was all her fault, not mine.
February 27, 2015, I nearly died fromCarbon Monoxide Poisoning due to a problem with my fireplace flue. While I was in the emergency room and quite delirious, I told my husband never, ever tell either his or my parents that this happened. His parents probably would not have been an issue because I stopped speaking to them in 2002. My parents though.. UGH! I knew my parents would not care, and would blame me for it happening. My father would have said horrible things I did not need to hear like, “What if you died?! Eric would have to sell the house and get rid of your pets.” My mother would have said things like, “Oh I knew someone that happened to and they’re fine. It’s no big deal. My back problem is so much worse!” Dealing with our narcissistic parents in any capacity was NOT an option for me in addition to coming to terms with the fact I nearly died.
The brain damage caused by the poisoning changed my personality a lot. I quickly lost all patience and refused to tolerate many things I once had. I wanted to sever ties with my parents more than ever, but instead I went very low contact. The reason being, something in me said the timing was not right to go full no contact. I somehow knew it would have been a mistake.
On May 5, 2016, I ended up in an argument with my parents. My husband’s mother died a few days prior, my parents saw her obituary in the local paper, and were obviously upset I had not told them about her death. I did not tell them. I was concerned only with my husband’s well being, not my parents. I also did not tell them because my parents only met her twice. Plus, my mother in-law hated me, and I had not spoken to her in 14 years at the time of her death. Even knowing such things, my parents said they were upset that they did not know about her death in time to attend her funeral. They both said they thought they should “pay their respects”, which upset me tremendously. I felt betrayed, which seems normal to me as well as anyone else I tell this story. They did not understand why I was upset, and as a result, our relationship changed a great deal. My mother stopped speaking to me after that, only trying to resume our relationship when my father was dying the following year. My father barely spoke to me after the argument.
I later severed ties completely with my father in early 2017, as I finally knew in my heart it was the right thing to do. My parents both tried contacting me for a while during 2017. My father called, had people contact me on his behalf including his family members, barber, neighbors and the police (two welfare checks!). I still stayed away in spite of the pressure. I learned my father was having serious health problems a few weeks after severing ties with him, and apparently that is why he wanted to talk to me.
He later was in the hospital on life support for twenty days, passing away quietly in the early morning hours of October 23, 2017 once life support was removed. During that time, my mother and countless flying monkeys constantly called, emailed, messaged me on social media and texted me (I saved all of their messages too, because documentation is always a good thing to have just in case it is needed). They were trying their best to get me to go to my father in the hospital. They used guilt, shaming, bullying, name calling and more. I never did go, though. Everything in me knew doing so would not be good. I assumed it was only to protect my mental and physical health, but I later learned that there was much more happening behind the scenes. God was able to save my father at the end of his life. Since the story is rather long, I decided to put it on a separate page. Here is the link to the miraculous story: The Miraculous Way My Father Came To Know Jesus And Other Miracles
Me staying away as my father was dying was a terrible wake up call for everyone, and God showed me why.
My family always thought of me as that scared little kid who did anything she was told to do, and seeing me be brave enough to face my demons made them feel cowardly for not facing theirs. Also, me staying away could have proved to them that my father was not such a great guy, and they did not want to face that fact or the fact no one tried to protect me from the abuse I received at home.
My mother continued to send my husband and I birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards. My husband opened some. I ignored them all, tossing them in an envelope with the other documentation. Eventually seeing her cards did not even bother me anymore, beyond making me slightly sad that things were as they were between us. I wish they had been better, but they could not be unless she changed. From what my husband has told me was her cards, she was still the same person she was the last time we spoke.
Friday April 19, 2019 at 10p.m., the police knocked on my door. Little did I realize at that moment that my life as I knew it was over, and a new life was beginning. My mother was found in her home, deceased, with sweet her cat, Molly, at her feet. Apparently her cousin from out of state called on her birthday on the 16th, and said my mother complained of her chest hurting. This cousin called back the following two days but got no answer. That is when she called the police and asked them to do a welfare check. It seems my mother’s heart gave out early on the morning after her 80th birthday. I was shocked to learn that she had a will that named me as her personal representative and left me an inheritance. I expected nothing of the sort since she and my father made it clear those things would not happen. The following year was quite the learning experience in many ways, which is why I expanded on my book “When A Narcissistic Parent Dies.” I never expected to feel so much grief when she died! When my father died, I did not grieve much, I think because I grieved him while he was alive. I did not do the same with my mother, so her death was unexpectedly devastating.
My husband and I also sold our home, and moved into my parents’ home. That has been interesting to say the least! So much trauma happened in this house. Yet in spite of that, God has helped me to make peace with that and come to love this house.
The best thing that has happened since my mother’s death? I learned that she gave her life to Jesus!!!! While speaking with the funeral director immediately after her death, we discussed our Christian faith. The conversation continued after this and suddenly the funeral director stopped speaking. He said, “I feel God wants me to tell you something. Your mother is with Him. And, everything is going to be just fine, just trust in Him.” What a blessing and a shock his words were! I had not spoken much about what I was thinking at this time. No one knew how concerned I was for my mother’s soul other than God. Yet, He gave this word to a total stranger for me! And, shortly after, I found a Bible that was dated when my mother was only nine years old. In it, she signed under a prayer to accept Jesus as her Savior!
Shortly after, I visited my parents’ grave. Several dragonflies flew around me that day. It was so many, it really caught my attention. I had a strange sensing that it had something to do with my mother, so I began to ask God if that was indeed the case. As I started to ask, He said yes, and I should look up the symbolism of dragonflies. Also, my mother wants me to remember their symbolism every time I see one. As soon as I got home, I did. Dragonflies are symbolic of slightly different things in many cultures, but basically they always symbolize maturity, change, wisdom, peace and a change in perspective of yourself. That truly fit my situation at the time. Now when I see them, they make me smile.
In spite of all of the suffering from narcissistic abuse, looking back, I see God’s hand at work in many ways. While I obviously am not grateful the abuse happened, I am grateful for all He has done for me, and for my parents.