07/07/2013 § 3 Comments
Having written two fairly well received blog-pieces on this topic of Sons of Narcissistic Mothers, I would like to go back and see if I can introduce myself a little more coherently.
I don’t want my real name attached to this blog; I don’t want my family to recognize me. I’m actually nervous that one day I shall absent-mindedly attach my real name to a writing.
I was given the Tibetan name ‘Tsondru Gyaltsen’ when I received an empowerment from the Lama that lives in my adopted hometown; it translates into “Victorious Banner of Perseverance” from which I derive my internet name, Vic Banner. I often wonder how my Lama came to pick such an appropriate name for me. It would take a Victorious Banner of Perseverance to overcome the situation I was born into.
I was born in the suburbs of the U.S. American Northeast in 1955; the first of 4 children. My father was a bowling ball salesman, my mother an assistant editor at a cookbook company, and freelance artist. They were both Jewish, from families that had immigrated to America several generations before. Except for my mother’s father, who was born in the Old Country– in the city of Odessa in the Ukraine; while my father’s father, the youngest of 6 siblings, was carried to term while his mother was on the boat to Ellis Island from either Germany or Roumania. I tend to think that it was the Great Jewish European Diaspora that introduced the severe self-destructive, violent and self-loathing tendencies into our family. My people’s spirits were broken in Eastern Europe. Even before the Holocaust.
If I tell this next part simply, it will be for the first time. My mother had secrets, but I never concerned myself with them. Quoting the movie pirate Long John Silver, she loved to answer any question with, ”Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies.” There was a Treasure Chest of secrets and lies inside of her, but I was content to be immune from it.
By the time she realized the man she married was a Yeller and Screamer, she had made it so she couldn’t dare go to her parents or sister for help; she couldn’t let them see she’d made a mistake. To do this she needed a foil, a decoy. No one must ever see her dark side. She needed a human shield who would never ever relinquish the role.
Only a Narcissist would ever do such a thing. Or pull it off.
And so, I became her human shield. When I was still in the cradle, the shaman told me. Any error she made was passed off on me that could be. I didn’t understand it, and I thought I was protected. My younger siblings all grew up to shun me, but we were all directed to put on a pretty act in the era of Leave It to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet, so I thought we were close and tight knit. It was only when I saw other families rally around their first-born son did I feel a tremendous loss.
I was taken care of physically, as a first-born son in the era of the height of the American Middle Class. Spiritually and emotionally I suffered greatly, but always had a lot of inner resources when no one came to help me.
It wasn’t only spiritually and emotionally. My father had a huge unbridled anger inside him, and night after night he screamed and raged at me for no reason. For as much as several nights a week foras much as fifteen years, he usually started in screaming at Mom, and then turned over to me, escalating himself again and again until he tired himself out. He did not drink, ever. Only now do I know that she triggered his anger every time, as she did mine later when I got older, oblivious that she was stepping all over his heart. And mine.
This is very hard to write about, let alone explain. There is no proof and probably never will be. For as long as I could remember, she was the family Saint, whom all family members spoke to and about with great reverence— myself included. While I, her first born son, couldn’t do a single thing right. Ever. Dad yelled at me constantly; the whole house shook with his anger. He yelled at me if I turned left, and he yelled at me if I turned right. And he yelled at me if I didn’t turn at all.
She told me many times in private that I had done nothing to deserve his yelling and harassment. But she never told my brothers and sisters that. She never stood up for me in front of them; they never saw her fight for me. I learned only in this past decade that to them, I must have deserved Dad’s abuse all along. Moreover, by doing things that drew out his anger, I was endangering them, in their eyes. I was burning in the hot seat all the time, with never any sympathy from them at all, because it was the unspoken common knowledge that I was willfully endangering all of them.
There were so many consequences to this hellish situation that I can’t even count them, only the categories of consequences; it affected my body and physical health; it effected my social relations with groups and individuals; it impacted my relations with women most negatively; it gave me a horrible uncontrollable anger and all the consequences of that; it gave me symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder; and I seem to be lacking some basic information about survival skills, life skills, social and organizational skills that I think were intentionally withheld from me.
And yet, I have inner resources of my own that have always allowed me to compensate– these are the Banners of Perseverance that I wield Victoriously: I’m bright; artistically talented with a high IQ; I’ve always been charming and attractionable, even as I lack other social skills; I’ve always had a very strong will to correct the mistakes and flaws in my upbringing; and I have a very strong moral compass and spiritual intuition.
It was only in the past two years that I have been able to put all this together, although I have been trying since I was 18. Two years ago I was divorced by the woman I have loved for 27 years; this has been like dying and being born again.
I’ve won the right to be successful as myself, that I never should have had to fight for. But I’ve had to be willing to give up my family to do it. Because they are very very determined to lose me rather than take responsibility for themselves. Its excruciating. At the end of the day, none of them have to look at the reality of a Narcissistic mother manipulating everyone like crazy as long as they can pass it onto older brother Vic the eternal screw-up. And they always can.
They won’t wake up until they’re ready. Until then, they will always mistake my reaching out for them as capitulation. There is nothing to capitulate. There is an illness in the family. My mother’s heart has been entrapped and I have been sacrificed to preserve her in purgatory. Over 57 years I have slowly extricated myself from this sacrifice.
We shall see what happens next.
The next installments will be about two different but related topics: Narcissism and Spirituality; Narcissism and Religion