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
04/02/2013 § 12 Comments
In my case, I didn’t know my mother was a Narcissist until I was 56! I knew there was something very wrong when I was 8 years old, when for a school assignment I wrote a 3-page bio of myself and realized it was very sad but I couldn’t figure out why. When I was 12, and then 18, and then 32, I made concerted efforts to find out what was the matter, but I didn’t put it all together until about two years ago. I was always barking up the wrong tree, looking for something dysfunctional in myself, which my mother encouraged.
It was the Sacred Vow I made to myself when I was 32 that began the effort which in retrospect prepared me emotionally and physically for the final realization. I was always too dependent, in ways I was completely unaware of, on my mother. Even though I moved away from home when I was 18 to get away from her. Her hold on me increased, in some ways, the further I got from her physically. I needed to be materially dependent on myself, and even at 32 it was very hard for me to hold a job. So I was always financially broken, which made other kinds of independence harder to acquire. It was always a case of improving a little bit here, a little bit there, and pulling myself up very slowly. When I did have an opportunity to look back at how far I’d come in a given space of time, I was always appalled to realize how bad things had been before, and how much work there was left to do.
When I was a junior in High School, in an English class we had a lesson in which we worked with theatrical make-up artists. One woman designed a crystalline structure on my face. My teacher looked at me for a long time, and said, “That’s very appropriate for him. He’s so complex and contradictory, like there’s a House of Mirrors inside him.” I’ll never forget that.
One, I am very smart, gifted and creative. Now I am beginning to have success at last as a painter. Two, my father was very emotionally violent and yelled at me what felt like every day that we were home together,for the first 18 years of my life. Because he didn’t beat me, I always felt it was my weakness that was so devastated by his mere voice. . He yelled at me because we were both first-born sons, and he was apparently yelled at just as hard by his mother. I found this out from his cousin when I was in my 20s. It wasn’t because of anything I did– I was always very clear about this– It was because his past was eating him alive and his family didn’t allow him to heal it.
But only 2 years ago I discovered that it was my mother always instigated his epic tantrums– I finally realized that it was she who instigated my outbursts. Because of her huge inempathy– her lack of emotional rapport with other people– she was always completely unaware how often and how easily she tripped him -and me- off. This turned out to be very important, because all my life I thought it was just between him and me, and if I found out what set him off, I could stop it. But the mechanism was never in him; it was in her. My family was a puzzle that couldn’t be solved– she had hidden all the pieces. The more Dad hurt me the more, the more I idealized Mom; even as she became increasingly cold and distant.
So, yes, I’ve had a very confused and difficult relationship with women. Over a year ago, my first wife left me. We had an on-off relationship for 26 years, and were married for the last 14 of them. I’m still processing what happened. It appears that I idealized her unrealistically, and that she was always more sensitive towards herself than she was towards me. She bristled at the suggestion that she was like my mother, but in the final analysis there were unsettling similarities. Its largely for her that my presence on these sites is anonymous.
Narcissism expert Linda Martinez-Lewi’s writings can be found in other places online, but she mostly writes about Daughters of Narcissists– as do most bloggers on this subject. When they do write about Sons of Narcissists, they almost always write about the male Golden Child. I was never the Golden Child. That would be my sister who was 6 years younger than me. Because my mother always wore the pants in the family and was deeply misandronistic– she hates men. So I was the Scapegoat, as I hope to write about elsewhere on this site. The blame for wrongs in the family always seemed to fall on me, and the finger that pointed at me was always hidden. The only victory that was ever available to me was to endure until I was whole enough to save myself. I waited 55 years.
Thank you for listening,
and thank you for writing this,
April Fools Day, 2013
(No, this isn’t a joke. )