My mother’s coat

It’s just a damn coat

A white, grey trimmed rain coat

And yet, this flimsy piece of fabric holds so much over me.

It was my mother’s coat.

My mother dearest.

The biggest bully in my life.

As an act of charity she passed it on to me.

This coat I watched her looming figure in, over the red rocks.

The coat that has the hood that darkened her face to add to her disappointed glare.

This damn coat that somehow didn’t make it to the fire.

The fire I burned when I was told I was not allowed at her funeral.

In the end, no matter how much I served and supported, I was still judged and rejected.

All because I stood up for myself, and refused to sweep it all away.

The practical side of me couldn’t ignore how valuable the coat was.

The penny pincher she taught me to be.

This damn coat screams at me, ‘YOU WERE NEVER GOOD ENOUGH!’

It shows how I couldn’t fit in, couldn’t fit the mould she gave me to fill.

It was her shape of things, not mine.

Finally I found a replacement, and I no longer need it.

This new coat will never force me to think of her.

To try not to look so much like her when I had to wear it to weather the storm.

I do not need her solution to the weather in my life.

I finally realize, I am not her.

I can get rid of this unwanted mantle, and shrug it off.

I found something better to protect me that doesn’t come with terms and conditions.

I can throw away the last thing I have that she ever touched.

And it comforts me knowing that as my skin sheds there will be parts of me she never touched.

And despite feeling guilty, I feel relief and peace thinking about these facts.

I remind myself there will be better things than the hand-me-down problems of my past.

Luckily everything material is replaceable.

And…

After all…

It’s just a damn coat.

*************************************************************************************

I have to be honest and make it known that these aren’t my own words. But I had to share them. The person who wrote them doesn’t have a blog and these words need to be shared with the world. As I read this for the first time I felt chills, because I too had a coat. It was navy, and heavy (literally). Long after I left home I used this coat to brave the elements I had to face while walking to work because I had no money to pay for transport. This damn thing was so thick and heavy but was really good at soaking up all the rain and keeping me relatively dry underneath. But the symbolic nature of the coat was just so overwhelming.

It belonged to HER, and here I was wearing it.

It belonged to HER, and it used to wear me down with the sheer weight of the water it would collect on the long journey to work and back.

It felt too much like home.

And home for me was a scary place.

Eventually I moved on from the crummy place I lived at, and like almost all of the “moving on incidents”, I left in quite a hurry and left the coat plus a few other things behind. But as I sat there thinking of the things I left behind and whether I needed them, I decided that whatever didn’t make it with me on the first trip obviously wasn’t crucial.

And so I let go of the weight of her expectations. While it might seem silly to most, I know many people who will fully understand what that coat meant and what letting go of it meant.

While most people with loving families fight over their parents possessions when they die, I couldn’t be happier to get rid of every single thing she ever bought me. The feeling of slowly replacing everything I owned with everyone I bought for MYSELF, with no strings attached was honestly the best feeling in the world.

If you have a ‘coat’, I hope you have the courage to let it go and be free.

*Initial words written by Rachel L.

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The other kind of bad mom

Sometimes you read something and you feel as though it was specifically written for you. As an aspiring wordsmith, I often find myself having blog envy where I sit and think ‘Damn, I wish I had thought of this’ or ‘Wow I wish I could describe things so accurately’.

I stumbled across Finding Joy on Facebook and almost every single post speaks to me. The way Rachel describes the ‘ugly’ side of motherhood is refreshing and a huge relief to moms such as myself who feel as though we are drowning in all this perfect pintrest mom bullshit.

There’s one area of motherhood that she hasn’t addressed yet, and that is the evil and cruel mother. My guess was on point, she didn’t have the misfortune of having a bad mother. And no, I’m not talking about the mom that forgot to pack your favourite lunch, or the mom that gave you cereal for dinner because she was too tired to cook.

If you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for me to drop the bomb then I’m pretty sure this post is for you.

  • Did you grow up wondering what you had done to piss your mom off?
  • Did you grow up living in fear of her anger?
  • Did you grow up with ‘tough love’? Being told to shake it off when you clearly needed medical attention?
  • Did you grow up with abnormal punishments such as the silent treatment for days on end, or withholding food or affection until she decided to let you back in?
  • As an adult, do you feel intense anxiety every time she calls or visits?
  • Do you mentally prepare yourself in order to interact with your mother?
  • Is your strained relationship with your mother a dirty secret that no one (even yourself) understands?
  • Have you cut ties with your mother?
  • Do you fear turning into your mother?
  • Did your mother’s passing bring you relief?

 

I am writing this post today to enlighten you about narcissist personality disorder, more specifically the way it relates to the mother daughter relationship.

I grew up knowing that my mother and our relationship was very different to other families I knew. I only discovered the term narcissist when I was 24 and it opened my eyes in so many ways and brought to my heart a huge sigh of relief.

I finally had answers.

I think that society has a very warped view of what narcissism is. We picture a man staring into a mirror admiring himself from every angle. And while that is part of it, that is not the sum of all parts.

Narcissists are selfish. They manipulate, they lie, they seek to control, they are only out for self gain.

The narcissistic mother is loved by all. In public she has a very very likable persona and she might even be involved in charity or social groups that endeavour to do good. Meanwhile back at home, her children (especially her daughter) lives in fear of the next punishment, insult and sometimes physical abuse.

My mother’s favourite weapon of choice is silent treatment. For those of you that aren’t aware of this punishment, it might seem harmless in comparison to physical abuse but it is in fact quite an effective form of abuse. Being 10 years old and ignored by my mother for weeks on end was very unsettling for me. She would only communicate with me if absolutely necessary and if we had company over. Needless to say we never had many visitors and the silent treatment kept me on my toes, waiting in despair for it to end.

Another firm favourite with her is gaslighting. Using gaslighting on a child is definitely one of the cruelest things you can do to break down their self-confidence and perception of the world and the people in it. For a long time I doubted EVERYTHING someone said to me, even if in passing. I was never quite sure if they were being sarcastic or if they were genuine. Gaslighting is one of the ways in which narcissists keep you under their control, because when you doubt yourself, you never confront the abuser. You stay on the emotional rollercoaster that is a web of lies and manipulation.

I have been no contact with my narcissistic mother for 7 years now…a choice that has kept me alive.  I did not consciously do this. At the time I had no idea what narcissism was, all I knew was that I had to get away for my own survival. My mother had missed my wedding (which she was almost invited to but cursed my marriage to end in divorce so hence…no invite) she has missed the birth of my daughter. She has missed 7 christmases, easters, mothers days and every other special moment inbetween. Because she cannot change. Because she doesn’t respect me. I am not her daughter, I am a person that was made to obey her at all costs, even my own happiness. And seeing as I do not obey her rules I am therefore not worthy of being treated in a loving way.

I am the scapegoat in my family. And it’s rough. I won’t lie. I can’t lie anymore. I have to speak my truth. For me and for everyone else that is living in shame with this dirty secret that society refuses to acknowledge even exists.

‘But she’s your mother!’

‘ I’m sure it wasn’t that bad!’

‘ I love my mom dearly and have no idea how you could do this.’

These are some of the remarks when people find out about my…situation. Society will not accept this. We accept the disappointment regarding the dead beat dad, but no one stands up to sympathize with those who have suffered abuse at the hands of their own mothers.

And this is why I have this blog. I am not an accomplished author. I do not have a wealth of information to share with the masses, I do not have a degree in psychology. But I have my story. And I have my truth. And I know what it feels like to live in the dark.

So if I can save one person from the inner torment that is a toxic narcissist mother then these random ramblings will be worth it.

I am not healed. I don’t think that anyone completely heals from the abuse that is caused by the one person on earth that is meant to love and protect you above all else. I have dark days. I have days where I doubt myself. I have days where I feel like giving up.

And then…I experience a moment of pure joy with my husband, or with my four year old, or with a friend. And I’m reminded that I do have a life. I do have things to look forward to. I do have people that rely on me to be who I am. I shut down that negative voice in my head and just live in the moment, not thinking about where I came from and what I came from.

I have found solace in accepting my truth. Accepting my life without a mother. I have found support in unexpected places such as narcissist support groups on Facebook, I have also stumbled into beautiful souls that share a similar story and these souls I am lucky to call friends. I have found books,such as Mean Mothers by Peg Streep that speak to the depths of my soul. I take each day as it comes,but now with the knowledge that I am NOT the problem.

If this sounds way too familiar…know that you are not alone. I am there with you and so are many of us who suffer in silence.

 

The Biggest Decision of my Life

Reading the title of this post you probably assumed – marriage, kids, changing jobs or buying a house…these are all big decisions we make as adults and very often it feels like this huuuuge undertaking and then six months down the line you’re like okay I was being a bit dramatic. but no, I’m not talking about any of those. I’m talking about the fact that it has been roughly 8 years since I last spoke to my mother.

I say ‘roughly’ because I never set a date to do this. It kinda just happened. (yes,how does something like this just happen) well, after years of emotional and sometimes physical abuse I had to choose between me or her, and I chose me.

I packed my things with my heart racing in my chest. I stood in my room going back and forth between “this is a bad idea” to “I need to get the fuck out of here NOW“. Trying to pack your bags when you are running away from life as you know it is really hard. Mostly because you’re doing it in panic mode and you don’t have enough bags for all your crap.

Surprisingly I didn’t actually have much of value. Nothing in the house belonged to me or carried any good memories so I literally packed my clothes. (Years have gone by and I still have those weird moments where I look for a certain trinket or item of clothing like ‘damn why didn’t I pack that?’)

And then I left. And the world didn’t come crashing down and no she didn’t pull up and demand that I come home. This is a fact that not many people are unaware of. Just in case you missed it SHE DID NOT FORCE ME TO COME BACK HOME.

Her story for the record was that she respected me as an adult and so let me go be my own person. (insert sarcastic cackle here) but she and I know the truth. On my 18th birthday she literally told me “now you can move out”. She was happy to see me leave BUT she also had no idea that I would be gone for good. In her mind it would only be a matter of time before I’d had enough of the cruel world and come running back so she could say “I told you so”. The irony of it is that I had already suffered all the cruelty at home so the cruelty of the real world was not a factor for me.

I won’t lie though. It was hard. Giving up the financial benefits was hard. Living on 2min noodles, living in a commune with strangers and walking to work rain or shine was not easy. But I was free, so regardless of my living arrangements I had succeeded.

My ‘mother’ and I never had a true relationship beyond pretending with other people. So to answer the question that is bothering you right now; no I don’t miss her. I miss the feeling of what having a good mother feels like but I do not miss her one bit.

What’s to miss?

oh you mean besides the constant insults and belittling and lies and aggression?

Not for me, no thanks.

Years have gone by and even though I stand firm in my choice, it still stings.

I miss having a mom but I don’t miss her. There is nothing to miss, unless you consider abuse to be a fond memory of your childhood. No, I don’t expect you to understand, I don’t expect anything from anyone anymore. I have set the bar really low so that when someone ‘gets’ it I’m super chuffed and share my story in order to educate them.

Contrary to her belief, I don’t tell the truth in order to create a smear campaign. I tell the truth to lift the silence on this heavily guarded secret. If my story can save one person, just ONE from living the life that I had then I will feel relief. Society guards maternal abuse in a bank vaulted safe, away from reality. But the truth is that this is an everyday reality for many people. And as long as it stays hidden this abuse will continue for generations to come.

I think I speak for all my people when I say that the path to recovery and freedom is a lonely one. We meet in the shadows, on private closed groups on Facebook, we blog anonymously, for fear of the flying monkeys. And it really sucks but it’s okay, we have each other. Until society accepts this as a real issue, in the shadows we will stay. But I feel that soon this perception will change. We made some headway with the dead beat dad situation, so surely we will graduate to a point where mothers will be seen for who they are. (I live in eternal hope)

Being a mom without a mom has been challenging. And will continue to be challenging. I am relying on books and the internet and my gut instinct to guide me. because I do not have a responsible and nurturing maternal figure to guide me. I’m four years into my parenting journey and I don’t think I’ve done a bad job so far.

But doing this alone is truly a slice of heaven instead of heaven in comparison to what it would be with her being a part of it. Constant criticism, disappointment, gas lighting, lying and forced interaction.

So all in all I think it is a fair trade. Rather no mother than a narcissistic one.

Photo Credit: www.dekeldesigns.co.za

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Your mother is a what?! Part One

Hi. My name is blah blah and my mother is a covert narcissist. Say what now?

This is a conversation that every single child (adult or not) dreads to have with anyone who is not aware of the narcissistic parent. And just my luck, I happen to have a complete set.

My early years were confusing to say the least, always wondering what I did to provoke such an intense level of anger from my mother. Strongly believing that if only I was pretty enough and skinny enough and smart enough, then she would love me. She was clearly capable of love because she doted on my younger brother. (Actually this is a lie, the love shown towards my brother was just part of the tools in her arsenal, but at age 10 I didn’t know this)

For the longest time I thought I was adopted. Looking through photo albums and discreetly questioning family members I discovered the sad news that yes, I am biologically linked to this woman. So scratch the escape and look for my ‘real’ parents plan. Ask me about my childhood and I clam up. I’m not interested in reliving the worst part of my life. I don’t want to think about the sadness and the isolation and the suicide. No let’s not mention the suicide. Never attempted but always contemplated.

I don’t understand that little rhyme we were taught as kids: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

Words hurt. They fucking hurt to the core.

Words that will stay with me forever: Why is your nose so flat? You will never find a husband being this fat. Why are your lips so big, can’t you keep them in?

These words were not thrown at me by school yard bullies. These words and many other were gifted to me by Mother Dearest herself. She only told me she loved me on birthday cards. Happy Birthday. Love M (for mom) She never showed any physical affection unless we had company over (Keeping up appearances are crucial) She made me beg for everything. Everything was a huge sacrifice. Doing the family laundry was a sacrifice. Making us food was a sacrifice. Buying said food was a sacrifice. Paying for my education was a sacrifice. Basically my entire existence “drained” her financially and I was a burden.

If you ever have the honour of meeting Mother you will love her. You really will. She draws people in and most people think I’m insane or have a vendetta against her because she’s so friendly and lovable and kind hearted (insert eye roll here)

Satan and I have not had contact since 2008. And while it hasn’t been easy, I am experiencing a better quality of life since she is no longer part of it. To the person blessed with a wonderful NORMAL mother that is reading this with confusion,shock and horror, I do apologise but this story needs to be told for the many silent sufferers.

Society is very willing to accept the dead beat dad with ‘oh he is such a pig’ or ‘don’t worry you are better off without him’, but mothers are sacred. Anyone who decides to disown their mother is met with ‘but what did she do?’ or ‘Surely it couldn’t have been that bad?’ or ‘Where is your spreadsheet proving that she did these things, she is your mother, you can’t do this’

This blog is about my life, and a huge chunk of what shaped my identity as a person is growing up with a narcissistic mother. If this offends or confuses you…tough shits. This was my reality for 21 years. 21 long, miserable lonely years.

The story of MD (Mother Dearest) cannot be told in one blog post. I am not sure how many posts it will take but keep your eyes peeled for the next one. You might just learn something.

While you are waiting do a bit of reading:

Books:

narc2