When I wrote yesterday’s blog I didn’t consciously know I felt that way until I had the words in front of me in black and white – one of the many reasons that I love to write. Sometimes I shock myself, yesterday was one of those times.
I’ve been thinking a lot since then about the guilt that I feel towards my narcissistic mother and yet at the same time, the pain I feel because of her. I find it really strange that I can be feeling two different emotions so intensely. This morning I read a few articles on Google about guilt and it seems to be a very common theme with people raised by narcissists so I am not massively surprised but what has surprised me is that I suddenly feel a bit sorry for her.
Reading back my sentence about how I suddenly looked at my mother’s interactions with my nan on Sunday and realised that perhaps she herself is seeking love, acceptance and approval from her own mother – realising that is probably how/why she has become so narcissistic herself – has blown my mind.
The question howver is, is this just my way of making the pain she has caused more tolerable or is this a level of acceptance and understanding that I “should” be feeling? Are these feelings right or wrong?
I know that feelings really can’t be right or wrong – they just are, I say that sentence enough myself but what I mean is, is this part of the process and part of the journey that is normal for people like me or am I teetering off the cliff edge about to land in a deep river of denial?
Did she cause me all sorts of psychological harm? Yes. Was my childhood horrible? Yes. Did she love me unconditionally? No. Did he hurt me? Yes… BUT………… Did she set out in life to be a narcissist – No. That’s where I am at today.
I’ve learnt first hand that you internalize all sorts of crap from your caregivers – you don’t know it to be right or wrong when you are that young and it just gets in and you don’t even really notice it. Then one day you (hopefully) end up in therapy and you say things which are mirrored back at you and its like you “hear” them for the first time and realise they are wrong.
I’ve also learnt first-hand that had I not have taken myself to therapy, I have no doubt I would have become more and more like my mother until perhaps I ended up fully narcissistic too – after all, I was on a constant search for love and approval from her that I just couldn’t ever get and so I kept trying harder, bigger, faster…. perhaps eventually that hurt would have been so much that I covered it all up with a big NPD cloak.
With that in mind, it’s made me think that she had the same experience with her mother. She hasn’t had the benefit of therapy and she doesn’t know this stuff. She doesn’t understand anything is “wrong” or not normal or unhealthy… she hasn’t had the big “aha” moments that I have had.. she hasn’t read the books, the articles, the blogs, she hasn’t felt the power of being truly seen and heard by someone – hasn’t had someone “sit” with her whilst she cries and acknowledges some really deep, painful hurts. She hasn’t had these things pointed out to her and been able to understand them, feel them, SEE them and so is it really her fault?
I don’t mean that it is someone else’s fault – like say, my nan’s, because if my nan was like that then chances are so was her mother and so the cycle continues and “blame” can’t ever really be given to anyone particular. I just mean it could have so easily been me. One day, it could have been my child writing a blog like this. One day my child could have found themselves in therapy having to dig through the mountains of pain and hurt trying to figure out that they aren’t to blame – all because I parented them like my mum parented me – like her mum parented her and so on…..
I am baffled.
Is blame even important?
Sometimes when I am really in touch with some of the pain my mum has caused me I hate her for it. Sometimes when I am really in the midst of it, the pain of the sadness, the grief, the helplessness, the powerlessness, the unfairness, the crying, the headaches, the days where I can’t even bear to go to work and have to “adult”. The days where my attachment to my T becomes so childlike, all because of my upbringing and my experiences with her these thoughts would never cross my mind. Days like that I am all about boundaries, giving the guilt back, I dislike her, I HATE her and it IS all her fault and yes, fault IS important…
Yet today, I just feel bad for her. I feel sad FOR her…. Am I in the bargaining phase of my recovery or what?
It doesn’t mean she isn’t accountable for the consequences of her actions. It doesn’t mean it is all okay. It certainly doesn’t mean I am healed and it doesn’t make it my fault again (like it was before I seeked help)… but it does help her to not seem such a monster. It does help to “rationalize” the perhaps, un-rationalizable (pretty sure that’s not a word but hopefully you catch my drift)…. Is this just self-protection stuff?
It does help me to realise that she really won’t ever change. It also helps me to realise that the way she is, the ways she acts all come from a place of hurt. That makes me hurt for her, I know the hurt very well. I guess it is only a coincidence that I turned out more on the codependant side of things and she turned out more narcissistic – it could have easily gone either way for both of us.
Surely it is healthier for me to feel empathy for her (yet keep my boundaries) than it is for me to be consumed in hate and anger forever isn’t it? Surely if I stay angry and hateful towards her forever then she still has a great hold over me? Today, right now, I feel like I have gained a stronger sense of self, I feel like I know it wasn’t me or my fault that she never loved me how I wanted to be loved. I understand that nothing I could have done would have ever made that different – nothing at all and that really helps. That releases so much of the shame. I can be kind to myself now, I try to stay supportive and kind to myself and my inner child rather than copy the negative and hurtful words that I heard growing up. I feel like I am slowly becoming more confident and more able. I am working so hard to right the wrongs.
As you can probably tell from reading the above, I am not completely sure whether how I am feeling today is a permanent state of mind and I am open to the fact that perhaps this is some sort of denial or repression or something invented by me to make things easier to tolerate but I am writing it out anyway because regardless, it IS how I feel today and so in the end, it is still part of the journey towards recovery one way or another.
All comments and thoughts welcomed!!