I am the daughter of a narcissistic mother.
I started writing my blog, The Real Millie Gray, back in April this year. My partner suggested it would be a good idea for me to write about my experience and my road to recovery.
I started writing in the hope that it could benefit others who were suffering. I felt I had no choice but to write under a pseudonym, as I didn’t want her to know that I had finally found the courage to talk about what had happened. But, more importantly, because I was scared of what she would do.
I could hear her saying: ‘What do I do Millie? I find things out. You can never have secrets from me. I know people. I will always find out.’
I refer to my mother as ‘her’, as I no longer feel comfortable calling her my mother after what has happened.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a condition with a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour characterised by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration and a lack of empathy.
A narcissistic parent is a parent affected by narcissism or NPD. Typically, narcissistic parents are exclusively and possessively close to their children, and may be especially envious of – and threatened by – their child's growing independence.
NPD can inflict a form of abuse that is silent. The behaviour/abuse can go on unrecognised by outsiders. At the same time the person who is the subject of the abuse will probably not have an awareness of the suffering on both sides of the relationship.
If you have grown up with a person with narcissistic personality disorder, you would have no reason to question the behaviour. You would probably perceive it to be normal.
After 23 years of abuse, both physically and mentally, I was worn down completely. This is an example of sort of thing I was subjected to on a daily basis.
One evening she had invited friends over for dinner. My partner was also coming. Me and my dad had left work a little later than usual. When we got home, we were met by one of her rages: ‘Couldn’t you have left a little earlier? I have had to set the table and wash the glasses all by myself! You are both so selfish! Ungrateful! Useless!’
I responded by saying calmly: ‘OK. We are all tired and we have all been to work. Let’s just help ...’
Then I felt the heat from the palm of her hand make contact with my mouth and her other hand rip a clump of my hair out from the roots. How dare I make a connection between my job and hers? I seemed to have forgotten that working for a top company’s head office did not result in tiredness and definitely did not put me on the same level as her. This resulted in a split lip and another bald patch.
To make matters worse, when the guests arrived I was obviously not in the mood to play happy families. She then made a joke out of what had happened, and spoke to me like I was a child: ‘Tell them what made Mummy annoyed, and why you are feeling all sorry for yourself.’ On this occasion I was almost 23.
Eventually, my partner sent me a link to the Psychology Today definition of narcissistic personality disorder after witnessing another incident of overreaction and irrational behaviour, when she told me: ‘This is what you do. You ruin everything. You are selfish and materialistic. You are doing it again, making me look like the bad one. You are disrespectful. You just watch, it will all fall apart for you, this fairy tale you want ... you will ALWAYS need me.’
I read the article at work. As I read it, I thought for the first time that I could stop blaming myself and stop believing I had brought the abuse on myself. Maybe it was her after all and I hadn’t imagined it. I read more articles, and the more I read, the more I recognised that, although she was undiagnosed, she was a narcissist.
For a moment, I remember wondering if I was a narcissist. This is something a true narcissist would never think! They don’t believe they are doing anything wrong. They genuinely think they are right.
The following week I dreaded leaving work, knowing I would return home to yet another rage. She had imposed strict restrictions: my partner had been banned; she had forced me to change the PIN on my iPhone to one that she knew so she could check my phone if required; and I had to inform her of my whereabouts.
Then I returned home one evening to an arranged meeting with her and my father, in which she basically told me I had no option but to leave within the next four weeks. However, the story she told the rest of my family – including my brother – was that I had decided to leave. The following night I returned home to cardboard boxes outside my room. I made the decision to ask my partner if I could move in sooner.
On Mothers’ Day 13 March (in the UK), I decided the only way I to protect myself was to cut all contact. Making this kind of decision isn’t something anyone should do without giving it a lot of thought and consideration. This would mean I wouldn’t send ‘her’ any more cards/gifts on special occasions. I wouldn’t contact her through social media. Nor would I accept her contacting me. I wouldn’t engage in conversation. Unfortunately, by going ‘NC’ (no contact) with ‘her’, it also meant cutting contact with my father and brother. But this was the only way to take back some control.
I am now trying to rebuild myself, and prevent others suffering as severely as I have.
One of the things I have learned is that a narcissist is ‘never wrong’: his/her opinions are the only ones that matter. It is his/her way or no way.
The narcissist will try to manipulate you in such a way that you will become an extension of them. You will like the same things and have the same interests. You will dislike the same things. You will have the same friendship circles. This may lead you to behave in a way to ensure you constantly please them. You may end up questioning who you really are. For many years I would have even told you she was my best friend.
So, if you think that someone close to you is narcissistic, you should evaluate the situation and decide if you are OK with keeping that person in your life.
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