08/19/2013 § 3 Comments
Okay, let’s get right down to the gritty nitty.
My Spirit Guides told me how my mother became a Narcissist. This is just a story. I believe it is true, in the way that stories are true. I can’t prove it. All I know is that using this story, I have predicted when my family would hurt me, and protected myself from it.
Around the time that I made my Second Sacred Vow, my real journey, to identify and break the curse of my family’s Narcissism, began. A friend of mine gave me the most invaluable advice imaginable by channeling her Spirit Guide, an advanced being who communicated through her. In some cultures they are called Faerie; in others, Angels.
Spirit Guides have been an indispensable part of my journey for the past 27 years. At first they spoke to me through friends, and later they showed me how to channel them myself. It’s still hard to believe that channeling is real, but when I listen to voice recordings of what I just channeled, my voice is different and the information is new.
In the past year, my Spirit Guides told me how my mother became a Narci. (Let’s not call Narcissists “Narcs,” — that’s the word for Narcotic Agents and Narcoleptics. Narkos means sleep. Let’s call the Children of the Narcissus, “Narcis!(Narseez)“, okay?)
My mother and her sister are identical twins. They were born one month to the day before Black Friday, the great Stock Market collapse of 1929. When they were girls, they used to play all the time with their invisible friend. She was a Spirit Guide. After they lost contact with their Guide, they started to call each other Angel in memory of her. When my siblings and I grew up, we called our mother’s sister Aunt Angel, and our cousins call our mother the same thing. We fought all the time over which one of them was the real Aunt Angel. But they never told us about the real Angel; they didn’t know. As it happened, it was Angel herself who told me.
I think everyone has an Angel. If you don’t have one, you can just ask, and one will come to you. If you ever had an “imaginary friend” when you were young, that friend can come back to you at any time.
Angel told me that identical twins are not two souls but a single soul in two bodies. So far as I know, identical twins are always same-gender twins. Our “Twinnies” were rich in skills and resources which were asymmetrically distributed. My aunt was more athletic, more empathic and sunnier while my mom was smarter, more creative but completely non-empathic. (I shall use the word “inempathic.”) Inempathy is a specifically neutral attribute; it is not in itself negative. An inempathic person has a better time making hard decisions when not preoccupied with other people’s feelings. All my mother had to do to get an empathic viewpoint was to whisper to her sister. All of her sister’s strengths were hers, and all of her strengths were her sisters.
This was to come to an end. Apparently, at that time, the Great Depression, the conventional wisdom was that it was unhealthy for identical twins to grow up interdependent on each other. So their mother, my grandmother, made it her pet project to separate the two, actually breaking the psychic bond between them; the single soul in two bodies was cut into two dissimilar halves. Not only was this a terrible thing for them, it was also probably when they lost the contact with their Angel.
Now my mother was truly inempathic; she no longer had access to her sister’s attributes or visa versa. I imagine that she started having trouble with her parents and neighbors about how she handled pets, younger children, and even kids her own age; she didn’t comprehend when other people were upset about something, or when she came on too strong. She started to get a reputation for being insensitive, despite the great sensitivity she expressed in art and music.
When I was about 12 or so, Mom brought home from the veterinarian a pet porcupine that she named “Stickeypants.” He was the most miserable creature I ever met in my life. He was castrated, defanged, declawed, and his protective quills were all cut to within a quarter-inch. He had absolutely no way of protecting himself, so he spent every hour every day hiding under the sofa in the basement. If I wanted to play with him, it took me about 5 minutes every time to coax him into my arms.
But when Mom came home from work, she whisked downstairs talking high-pitched baby talk, reached out under the couch, grabbing Sticky by the tail and pulling him out. Always I heard frantic clicking as Sticky tried to claw the linoleum with his pared nails. I could feel his tiny heartbeat triple as she pulled him up to her; watched him swipe at her and writhe too get free while she squeaked cutely as if she were talking to a stuffed doll. She was completely oblivious to his resistance; like his greatest efforts to break free was just something that he liked to do, that’s all. I tried to tell her a couple of times that he was very unhappy and that what she did was not cool; she gave me a looks like I had better shut up right now.
This is inempathy. I imagine she was like this throughout her childhood. Happy, cheery, loving she was, but never aware at any time that she was not connecting with others. I imagine neighbors and school people from time to time complaining to her parents about the way she interacted with her classmates and friends.
My mother’s father– my grandfather — was an immigrant from the great city of Odessa in the Ukraine on the Black Sea. We don’t know when he was born, but it would have been around the time the last of the great Cossack Pogroms scourged the Ukraine throughout the 1800s. Pogroms were the great riots of persecution in Eastern Europe in which hundreds and thousands of Jews were periodically slaughtered. My grandfather would have been an infant during the Battleship Potemkin uprising in 1905, and would have come of age through the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the years that followed of occupation and fighting between the Ukrainian, French, Red Russian and White Russian Armies. He emigrated to America around or after 1922, when the great famine enveloped Odessa during the Russian Civil war. Angel told me that he had been persecuted and even tortured in the old country.
He left his suffering behind him when he came to America, but he appears to have brought it him. He deeply disapproved of his daughter’s blatant insensitivity towards other people. To him, she lacked in heart and compassion, like the Czars, Cossacks and soldiers that plagued his family in Europe; but she was his daughter. She never understood why he disapproved of her so fully, but remember she couldn’t even imagine what it was like to have empathy. For her, his punishments were without reason and wholly unfair, because she lacked the genetically-derived ability to discern his reasons. For her, punishment without reason made him no different than the monsters he left behind in Odessa.
But she was seen and judged by the Eastern European community her family belonged to. Once when I was four, I was taken to the old synagogue across the street from my grandparent’s apartment to fetch grandpa for our family’s Passover dinner. I saw him in the pale smokey light davening (ritualistically shaking back and forth while praying) and chanting along with some 50 other elderly men bathed in the atmosphere of medieval Jewry. To these people, his daughter’s rage at his seeming hypocrisy would have been a violation of the Fifth Commandment of Moses: Honor thy Father and thy Mother. She carried her rage and her shame about her rage silently, secretly, throughout her childhood.
When I turned 18, I measured carefully the great anger I felt towards my father, and realized that I would condemn myself to a life of self-hatred if I chose not to forgive him. So I took him out to dinner one summer’s night, and forgave him. I think that when she came to a similar challenge at about the same age, she went the other way, and chose not to forgive her father.
It was at that moment that she chased the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole, and became a Narcissist. Being inempathic, she was already unable to feel his love for her, and so she agonized over her inability to honor him. With community pressure on her, she believed she was violating the Fifth Commandment of Moses and the Covenant of her people with God. When he refused to let her study at University with a world-famous musician, she chose never to forgive her father, or God, and unknowingly closed her heart to love and left herself open to the poison of hatred. It was her decision to make, and she did the very best she could under the circumstances, amidst the wounded and suffering community of refugees about her, whilst war raged against her people in Europe.
I feel great compassion for her and the hard circumstances she has had to negotiate. But her decision was wrong, and she has spent the rest of her life protecting herself while it’s ruined her family. She unwittingly selected me, her first-born child, to be the family scapegoat, effectively, drawing scrutiny of her actions away from her and onto me.
I feel compassion for her, but I come apart in rage as she continues even today to lead the whole family in sabotaging me in order to protect herself from her dead father’s disapproval. I have no hope that she will ever take down the wall that she as surrounded herself her whole life, and I have no sympathy for all the strategies she uses to protect herself from the truth. I love her dearly yet stay very far away from her. (Literally, we live in different hemispheres.)
Her inempathy came first drawing derision to her; unprotected, her shame festered into a bubble of spectacular hatred and self obsession. This is Narcissism. It is not evil but it can create terrible destruction. We who have been hurt by narcissists must forgive ourselves and heal ourselves first. In 1981, Pope John Paul II forgave the man who almost assassinated him, but we are not obligated to forgive our would-be assassins until we have attained the Pope’s magnaminity of spirit. But I for one will not condemn my mother with the title of evil.
08/05/2013 § 2 Comments
Imagine having a mother who sets you up to take the blame for all of her mistakes while you are still in the cradle. Imagine being infatuated with her with no idea that she’s setting up everyone else in the family to blame you for her mistakes and problems. Imagine it takes you 55 years to get it straight, only after losing your entire family, including your spouse, because of her.
Recently, my mother requested to join my Google + site. Today, I deactivated the whole site. In truth I was going to do it anyway, but her request made me get off my butt.
I wrote her a letter asserting that she needs to find another way to reach out to me other than ignoring my ban on internet communication. I deleted the letter. I can predict how she would respond and it ain’t pretty. Sigh. She’s only depriving herself. We’ll have to settle for my silence, as we have so many times before.
This episode reminded me of one of the worst things that happened between us since I’ve been an adult. I’ve told almost no one this story, even my (ex)wife who plays a big part in it. It’s bizarre and unusual if not unique, and a lot of people might think I were very sick indeed for telling it. But it belongs in this blog, and I can pat myself on the back for creating a venue for telling it.
* * *
Its 1995. I’ve been on a high all week because my long-time on-again off again girlfriend, Roseanne, had become engaged to me. But she lived in New York, and I, California. She decided to give up her location and share mine, but stipulated that I drive all the way out to NY and pick her up and bring her back. But I couldn’t do it; I didn’t have the money. I had no regular employment, and instead made and sold batik t-shirts at two or three different crafts fairs. I made an effort to sell out at the year-end holiday market, but I couldn’t do it. When I told her that over the phone she broke off the engagement.
I was devastated. I never wanted anything this bad, and I didn’t know what to do; I felt so miserable I couldn’t think straight. So I got the idea that I would call my mother for advice and support, which I knew was bad but I couldn’t get it out of my head.
This, after I made a vow never to ever call her again for support, after the last time I called her 7 years earlier. That was a whole other story.
So I called her, and it went surprisingly fine. She rose to the occasion, supported me, encouraged me, and predicted (correctly) that Rosanne would change her mind and call the engagement back on. Mom and I chatted, and I settled into a state of warmth and safety I hadn’t let myself feel for a long time.
In short, I let me guard down.
Suddenly, in the midst of this rare state of tranquility that I was in, she sai om out of nowhere, “So, how could you drop out of college?” Before I could answer her, she was giving me the riot act, again, for something I had done 20 years earlier. I started to defend myself, but I felt the ground caving in beneath me.
–The next thing I remember, I was off the phone and crying like a baby. Literally. Maybe 15 minutes had past. My sinuses were completely flooded with mucous and tears, feeling like an ocean saturated with stars inside my head. I used to cry like this when I was a baby, always after a traumatic conflict with Mom. But I never remembered crying like this until now, because every time it happened before, I cried myself asleep and didn’t remember it again upon waking.
I swear to God that I don’t remember anything we talked about after she mentioned dropping out of school. I had the vague sense that she walked me back in time through a hit parade of her worst grievances against me all the way back to my infancy. Probably the same incidents for which I cried myself to sleep about. But I still don’t, to this day, remember any of it, or why I cried. I was 40.
I was fragmented and dysfunctional for a week or two after that. It took me a while to recover. I stumbled a lot, left personal items behind wherever I went, missed appointments, handled social relations ineptly, etc. Gradually, I got in my groove again, but couldn’t control a rising fury inside of me. “You don’t do that!” I thought. “Not to your own son, not to anybody! You don’t just go inside somebody’s head like a thief in the night. I feel like you raped me, like you raped my soul! What you did was monsterous!” My rage grew for a few weeks until I finally resolved to write her the mother-of-all-angry-letters to put the Holy Fear of God in her. I wanted to ingrain it inside her to not even think about doing whatever the fuck it was that she did. I threatened to make her life a living hell if she ever did anything like that.
If I knew then what I know now, that she was in fact a Narcissist, I would never have written to her like that, because she’s physiologically incapable of admitting a mistake or lapse of judgement.
Basically, she blanked out on what she did to me completely, neither remembering the conversation nor understanding my account of it. Which meant that my anger and threats to her had no basis in anything that she had caused; to her I had just had a psychotic break which she had always expected from me, apparently. She was sublimely terrified of me, I know now. Usually, if she was upset by something I had written, she would send me a letter back immediately, but after this letter, nothing. I thought this was a good thing at the time. “Good. She heard me,” I thought.
Instead, she contacted everyone in the family, siblings, cousins and second cousins and told them to keep me away from her. I lost contact with my nephews, nieces, cousins’ children, etc. For 17 years and counting. Family members who did talk to me spoke in a very peculiar way that I finally identified as how you talk to a loved one who flew over the Cuckoos Nest. “We don’t think there’s anything wrong, Vic, we love you!” No one, not a single kin-person, checked in with me in all this time to hear my side of the story, about this or any of the subsequent incidents. I was tried, convicted and sentenced in absentia.
6 months letter, I had very good t-shirt sales at the country fair, and drove out to New York to fetch Rosanne and bring her back West with me. It went without saying that although I would be near my family, I wouldn’t be in contact with them or let them know I was coming. But I was losing my grip on why I wasn’t to contact them.
2 days before we started our drive back west, we stopped off at the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal to do some banking business and then take a bus out to Jersey to pick up our drive-away vehicle. Rosanne walked off to the bank, leaving me alone drinking coffee at a doughnut shop in the middle of the terminal. An old woman with snow-white hair and a flower print dress was staring at me. When I looked straight at her, she turned her head and walked away. A minute later, she was staring at me again from another corner.
“No, it can’t be!” I thought. It was. We made eye contact. She had dark brown hair, the same as mine, the last time I saw her. She had a strange, forced expression on her face as she walked toward me saying, “Vic!” This really happened. I don’t know if it was her magic or mine, but we found each other in one of the busiest buildings in New York City, 3,000 miles from my home, by sheer nerve.
I ordered her a coffee, and she did a very strange thing. She started talking to the stranger at the next table, a thin 60-year-old man, asking about his life and telling him about the strange circumstances we were in just then. She had pulled him into our conversation, killing the privacy between us. I didn’t have a clue why although it should have been obvious. It would be 15 -16 years later before the reason dawned on me: she was mortally afraid that I would physically beat her up, so she set this guy up as a shield.
The most interesting thing about this meeting, though, was that I couldn’t figure out that she was making him a human shield. When I think back to that chance meeting, I realize that I had not thought once the entire time about the subterranean nighttime phone call of 6 months earlier. I didn’t recall those central occurrences again until 15 years had passed. I was suffering from traumatic shock; the subterranean phone call was in fact traumatizing, and I had completely blanked out what had happened. I was hopeful about our chance meeting, oblivious to all the freaky tension that had amassed between us.
Rosanne came back from her chores, the three of us hung out together for a while, and then we parted. Throughout the long drive back to California over the next two weeks, I felt odd somehow, twitchy. I spaced out at odd times. At a pit stop, Rosanne’s cat was in my hands, leashed, yet darted out never to be found again. Incidental things like that happened more often than usual for the next 2 years.
By then, it was time to invite the family to our wedding. Mom acted so threatening and hostile to me that I became certain I would have a big anger fit in the middle of my own marriage ceremony. I told her she I wouldn’t let her come if she behaved like this, just to take charge so that we could iron things out, but she only became more aggressive and threatening. Then other family members called to yell at us and tried to brow-beat us into removing the ban. No one listened to our concerns. The opportunity to work things out never came up and we had the wedding without her or Dad. I felt like shit, but was certain I’d completely regret letting her come.
6 months later, Rosanne and I moved to Japan to teach English. We were going to stay for 5 years and then come back home. But now its 15 years later, and I’m still here.
Three years after the wedding I went to a shamanic healer, convinced that the weird twitchiness I’d been feeling ever since the chance meeting at the bus terminal could be healed through shamanism. I had read that during shocking events, fragments of a person’s soul can break away into the air or earth until retrieved by a shaman. The shaman told me that this was indeed a case of soul fragmentation, but I didn’t need a shamanic intervention; eventually the soul fragment would come back to me on its own. It did, slowly between 2011 and 2012, 12 years later. I don’t know why it took so long.
My parent’s 50th anniversary party in 2003 became the crowning occasion in this comedy of errors. At first, I claimed the task of organizing the event, but the family took it away from me without even telling me, as if I never had it to begin with. I was once more being subjected to veiled threats and hostility from Mom and all my siblings if I didn’t do exactly what they wanted from me. They thought they could keep me contained in case I had that psychotic break, but I was more likely to lose control of my temper on account of all this heavy handling. I tried, but I couldn’t see a way out unless I didn’t come at all, lest I found myself in the middle of the most humiliating setup that I could possibly imagine, right in front of my entire extended family and kin.
I hoped that if I said I wasn’t coming, they would soften up and work with me to hammer out conditions which would be acceptable for all parties. As with my wedding, it didn’t happen. It was as if they were reading from a completely different script than me, with a different theme and different plot and different characters, while dismissing my script out of hand. I couldn’t figure out what there script was. I still had no memory of the night of the subterranean phone call and my angry response.
So I didn’t go, although it broke my heart. I told myself this was the bravest thing I’ve ever done, which it probably was. There were a number of dear family members who I would never get to see again, including my father.
Rosanne and I did meet mother and father at a restaurant in Manhattan 2 days before their anniversary party. It would be the last time I would see either of them, although Mom still lives. Mom had all these obnoxious tricks she used to try and trick me to come to the party, but did nothing to make it safer or relinquish her control. When we were in the restaurant, she chortled to herself throughout the dinner about how ridiculous it was that I had called her a monster. “Monster! He says I’m a monster! I’m not the monster, he’s the monster!” In the letter of 1996, I had written that the way she took advantage of the situation of my openness to condemn me for what I’d done as a child was “monstrous,” but I had absolutely no recollection of the letter at that point. I simply didn’t know she was talking about–
— Until my soul fragments resurfaced between 2011 and 2012. By then, Rosanne and my marriage was tumbling apart. as a result of . I had gotten depressed for being so misused by the family since the 2003 Anniversary party, and it affected her. Nothing we could do made it better, and in 2011 she decided to divorce me.
We had been teaching English in Japan for 13 years by that time, and that summer, a trifecta of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant disaster struck 130 miles from us. We scrambled to make do with the situation, as it cast its light on parts of our relationship that had been covered in shadow.
At the time I had a friend with Asberger’s syndrome, and I read up on that so I could understand him better. People with Asberger’s, and other conditions on the Autistic Spectrum, show no signs of empathy. There are other conditions that don’t present empathy as well; Psychopathy, Borderline-ism, and… Narcissism. When it became clear that my mother had NPD, Rosanne finally left me once and for all; she wanted to have nothing to do with my witchy mother and her wounded family.
It was only after Rosanne left me , however, that the memories of the Night of the Subterranean Phone Call came back to me in force. For 6 months, new memories and connections came to me every week. I had insights into my mother’s childhood, and her twin sister’s, and their father’s life; things I knew things but couldn’t piece together until now.
Knowing what I knew, it became impossible to sustain contact with the family, They would never accept that Mom is a Narcissist; they would just go on and on demonizing me as the psychotic Mother-killer from hell. Who knows, maybe they’re safer from her as long as they believe I’m the sick one. Its so stupid. I’m in a very precarious position with the family right now; for all intents and purposes we’re quits; but I’m still holding hope in my heart for a reconciliation. A hope that I don’t dare show them lest they co-opt it.
What the hell did mother do to me in that subterranean phone call? The word for it is “hypnotism” or “hypnotic suggestion,” I think, but its nothing anyone would hold against her in a court of law. When they frequently fought, Dad used to scream at her, “You get away with mur-dah!” And so she does. She uses weapons that are under the radar. And why? Why did she do this? I can only guess, but I notice that she was just informed that she was losing her son to another woman when this all happened. Did she know what she was doing? I don’t know. Recently I decided that because of her Narcissism and inempathy, she just stumbled onto Black Shamanistic techniques without knowing a damn thing about them.
* * *
I don’t believe that she’s evil. She may be dangerous, destructive, even monstrous but she’s not evil. She’s just sick and broken; she can’t help but act this way. But I don’t trust my own sense of compassion towards her. I was encouraged to apologize for her and forgive her and be terrified of her all my life; surely my compassion for her is just part of the programming. She has a serious, debilitating mental health condition, and needs to submit herself to treatment. Narcissists very rarely take responsibility for their illness. The family suffers tremendously yet seem to avoid realizing it by rationalizing me as a failed human being, “Oh, but we don’t think that, Vic!” So I stay away.
I am aware that many exalted people in the government, in business, in entertainment, and so on are Narcissists, Borderlines or Psychopaths. I submit that only the most driven reach the upper echelons of power, and Narcissists, Borderlines and Psychopaths are among the most driven. Good governance and self-governance are sabotaged as a matter of policy all across the world by people who are spiritually broken and don’t realize it. Political and moral activists commit themselves to fighting the results of mental imbalance in high places but not the cause.
Those of us who have faced and persevered against Narcissism and its cousins– in our families, our workplaces, our communities– are developing unique tools for social change. We are not suffering the monstrous and destructive in our own families for naught; we are struggling to respond lovingly to figures of towering dysfunction who are thrown against us by fate. What we learn is our legacy to the future.