Breakthrough Journal #1: Raised by Narcissists, the Forces That Hold Me Down.

05/11/2016 § 5 Comments

2 years ago I faced an enormous challenge, and now I’m facing one like it, but on a bigger scale. I’m going to write a series of short journal entries, that hopefully will lay out the situation. This first entry is about the bigger picture; the societal bind at the heart of the abuse survivor’s experience.

I heard the following in a podcast about the HBO TV series, The Game of Thrones:  panel members talking about one of the show’s main characters who they all disliked. It was like listening in on the private conversations of an elite class of people who grew up emotionally scarred but manage to disguise it by ridiculing people with deeper problems. I’ve always wanted to write commentary like this but never before have.

“She [the character on the show]’s so annoying to me because she’s learned nothing! It’s like she’s learned nothing except to go ‘Oh, my gosh, the world is so mean to us!’ ” one member said.

Another panelist jumped in passionately: “[There are] people in this world who go through life going, ‘the world is so mean to me!’ and never actually see that they have a big blinder in front of their face, that they are the source of their own problems.  You know these people in real life!  I know these people in real life!  Y’know, I’m not… I still have love for [this character] I want to see her grow, I want to see… I believe in her.  I want to see her be queen.  I want to see her be strong.  I want to see her live up to [her family] name.  But you know what?  There are some people who never do, and maybe she’s gonna be one of them and we just have to face that.  It will suck, but maybe, maybe, that’s what her role in life is.”

Harsh words. She could be talking about me.  I’m “one of these people who never” grew up. Only I have; just a few short years ago, at the tender age of 56 (I’m now 60.) Yeah, I did have a big blinder in front of my face, but I knew it. I dedicated my life to getting rid of it. I didn’t know how. I figured it out, but it took too damned long.

So here’s the main point; every fucking time I reached out beyond myself for help and guidance, starting with my family, I got taken advantage of. Because this predatory society that we live in condones taking advantage of those of us who have been sacrificed by abuse, as long as they can get away with it. And by “they” I mean every one. Because in a meritocracy where everyone is ranked and rated for what they contribute to society– and how do we decide what society needs?– we are all dismissing someone with “less value” than us and sucking up to someone with “more value” than us. It’s a wretched system.

And the people who have been eaten by the system are on their own.

That’s what I’m dealing with in my current existential challenge. I’ve finally got my blinders off. Now what do I do?

See you for “Breakthrough Journal #2: A Cult Of Responsibility”

 

Out of the Fishbowl: My life as Narcissist 2.0

09/27/2015 § 1 Comment

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This is the first post Ive entered in almost a year.  I dont know what I’m going to say.  I used to believe that I was a very open, honest and sincere person, but the person I thought I was, it turns out, was a contrivance. My real self has been trapped inside a fishbowl inside my mind.  I was finally freed from it a year ago. .I no longer have any idea who I am.

I live in the same house, I wear the same clothes, I have the same scant career, the same poverty.  Its whats interior that has changed.

I made “sacred vows” to myself three times in the course of my life.  I vowed to find and overcome the source of some great dissatisfaction when I was 12, then again when I was 18, and again at 32,  For the past 4 years I’ve had the answers. Last month I turned 60. I begin my 6th decade starting all over again from scratch.

4 years ago, I discovered that my mother was/is a Narcissist of epic proportions; that she set up our family to attack each other in order to protect herself; and that she made me her private decoy at a very young age so that any criticism of her would always stick on me instead.  Finally, I discovered that I too am a Narcissist.    « Read the rest of this entry »

Managing Mother II, a Clan of Losers

10/24/2014 § 1 Comment

Letting my NM write to me in an email account reserved just for family has been like keeping a hive of bees in my bathroom.

I created it especially for her 5 years ago, but she hasn’t used it until recently. Instead she’s used every opportunity to complain, to family members and friends of mine, that I have banned her from writing me, which is simply not true.   One might think that she would rather complain than write to me. One might be right.

Her last icebreaker included the information that she still has a box of my artwork in her storage. She’d told me that she sent everything, but that wasn’t true either.

So my old High School friend Lawrence, who still lives in the area says he can pick it up for me. He calls her up to arrange a pickup time, and she chews his ear off telling him about how I won’t let her write to me. He asks me if this is true and I say, nah, ‘snot true. I tell him not to let her say anything because I don’t want to hear about it. I can’t pay him enough to listen to her! He goes over to pick it up, and she chews his ear off again. He asks her, doesn’t Vic have an open address you can use? She says yeah, but she can’t trouble herself with all my rules. So he starts to take apart her statements logically, showing her that they make no sense.

The next time she wrote, “Thank you for finally letting me write to you.”  Never Give A Inch, the Narcissist creed. See? Im beginning to understand her.

I swear to God, shes not evil (she gets much worse than this;) shes just very, very stupid in a mean-spirited sort of way.  Unless Im very wrong, shes on autopilot with nobody upstairs, frozen into a pattern of automatic contrariness. Her saving grace is that shes utterly predictable, once you see the pattern.

Im not saying shes easy to handle, shes not, but if you know shes going to be a Bitch no matter what you do, then it becomes possible to not take her seriously (even tho she does!) It becomes possible to not get upset, because shes always going to act like a Narci and you know it though she doesnt.

For example, in a recent letter she suddenly wrote, “Im going to stop writing you,” just like that. And ended the letter without a closing. That would actually be fine if she started real No Contact on her own, but I knew she didn’t. She just can’t stand not being in control of our relationship. She doesn’t want No Contact, she just wants to control the Contact. So I knew she was going to pull something. I just didn’t know what.

Out of the blue, my best cousin Carleen writes me a letter on Google Plus. I haven’t heard from her in a very long time, since the 80s, I think, but since I corresponded with her mother (my aunt) recently,  I was expecting to hear from her a while ago.

She mostly talked about my art, and wanted to see more. I linked her to my website.

She’s been talking to mom. I can tell. The timing’s too perfect.  Mom signs off on my email, just drops me, and now Carleen’s talking to me who hasn’t talked to me in 20 years.

It triggers off my self doubt that she seems to have everybody in the family as far as the eye can see on her side. Am I being paranoid? How can she fool all my brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, in-laws, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, into thinking she’s sane and rational? Am I from a family of losers?

Now, that would explain a lot, wouldn’t it? I’m carving with words right now; I don’t know where this is going. I had to admit that Id become a loser before I could win again. Just refusing to be a loser wasnt enough. When my wife left me it sort of became official. So, it’s not me, it’s the family whos the loser? Is that what Im hearing? I’m manifesting they’re failure, that’s why they keep trying to reel me in; I can be their failure so they don’t have to be. Okay, got it.

In the last month, with Mother finally using my proper email site, I thought I could get her to stop sabotaging me. She actually replied, “You think you’re going to train me to watch other people’s boundaries? Nobody I know even has boundaries except for you!”  (And that’s how she controls the rest of my family.)

Im going to have to cut them out completely and let them cry and cry. They pull me down robotically. I.m finishing my midlife crisis and my Saturn Return; I’m turning 60 next year and I don’t need to be their failure anymore. I know what I have to do.

Victorious Banner of Perseverance
Japan

I’m Having a Hard Time Right Now

03/11/2014 § 3 Comments

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I got a note from  my school board that they’re not renewing my contract  this year.

Contract ends in three weeks.

The new school year begins in three weeks. If I don’t get a job now, a new full time job may not be in the market until  September.
This is Japan.
My visa runs out in June.
I need a company to sponsor the renewal of my visa, so I need a job that offers sponsorship.

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The Lost Child; Pt. 2

11/17/2013 § Leave a comment

Everything changed my life ten years ago, June 2003, on the occasion of my parents 50th wedding anniversary; my relationship with my Lost Child brother Reggie among them. Now is not the time to chronicle that catastrophe, but I must say something about it; everything that has come after it has been affected by this thing that happened.

To make a long story short — it’s not easy! — my family wanted me to come to the affair as a scapegoat with all my scapegoat baggage so they could blame me for what ever they wanted to blame me for — in public as likely as not. « Read the rest of this entry »

Letters to my Narcissistic Mother

11/04/2013 § 18 Comments

While I was in a workshop on using smartphones, a notification suddenly came up from my Narcissistic Mother who I’ve been avoiding for two years.  At first, I thought it an error my phone frequently makes, but no, it was a video chat request from her.  I rejected the request and blocked her address from my account.

Then I went to Yahoo Mail to confirm that she hadn’t sent me a letter there.  She hadn’t. I asked her only to write to me through Yahoo through a special account I set up just for family so that they wouldn’t have access to my main address.   Yet she’s written to me by every address but the one I’ve given her.  That’s Narci for, “no recognition of other people’s boundaries.” 

So I wrote my first letter to her in two years.   My first letter since I discovered she was a Narci.  I’ve thought a lot about how to address her in the past two years.  I’m not going to disown her, I decided, but I’m not going to let her get away with any shit at all. It’ll be like riding a bucking bronco for the rest of my life.  That’s what adults do,  I guess. 

« Read the rest of this entry »

Son of a NarciMom 4: Night of the Subterranean Phone Call

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. 

Figures- The Teeth Mother, Naked at Last III Detail1 Copyright

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.

Big mistake.

Big mistake.

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.  “GoodShe 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.

Figures- The Teeth Mother, Naked at Last II Detail1 Copyright

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.

Figures- The Teeth Mother, Naked at Last I Detail Copyright

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.

Figures- The Teeth Mother, Naked at Last III Detail2 Copyright

Vic Banner,

Japan

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