Narcissism Survivor

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Copa's post on Narcissistic Mothers and Sibling Rivalry fit my situation like a glove. Through the night, incident upon incident ~ things I knew had happened, but had never been able to make sense of ~ fell into place, one after another after another.

So, we have a name for what happened to us. If you haven't read Copa's post on narcissistic mothers and sibling rivalry, please do so. We can recognize ourselves and our family stories, there.

Finally, we have a name for what happened between ourselves and our sisters and brothers.

I feel very sad for myself. I knew it had been bad, but reading how bad brought me full circle. We have been minimizing the emotional devastation we've lived our lives trying to puzzle out. Each of us came into the FOO Chronicles knowing only that we intended to heal our families and ourselves. Each of us came in telling strange, hurtful tales that were in so many ways, the same tale. Each of us, so puzzled. Each of us, so willing to believe in our siblings; each of us, so willing to excuse and forgive.

Each of us ridiculed, rejected, stalked, taunted.

Every one of those times of ridicule, or rejection or stalking or contempt were times everyone in the world receives joyful support from a whole, loving family.

We have never been supported.


It just breaks my heart, to know what really happened to us.

How awful it has been; how much we have missed; how freaking bitter the cup that was passed, to go a little Shakespearean drama queen on us.

But it is a bitter, bitter thing, that this happened to us. For all of our lives, there was plotting and bitter resentment and envy and driving hatred.

Well, huh.


We are (I am, this morning) learning just how devastatingly abnormal our childhoods were. It really is like the mosaic imagery in the poetry. We have been that frequently and that thoroughly broken.

The poetry indicates we will come through this intact, and I read something this morning that will tell us how. I will quote that for us here later.

So, remember the Frankenstein imagery in the beginning?

"Once my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of enjoyment. Once, I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities I was capable of unfolding."

Frankenstein Speaks
Mary Wolstonecraft Shelly

From: The Jesus Incident
Frank Herbert

That is what it feels like to be us.


The poetry having to do with this time:

When the tiles of that mosaic first composed in blood on stone
fall seamlessly together
Revealing no face but her own...

Witch and Child, awakened repossess the cauldron and claim the loom
reweaving tales first told in ancient blood on stone.


Yay for us!

Along with this kind of thinking this morning, I really am so upset with each of the therapists who, having been told about our mothers, had to know what the freaking problem was almost immediately. Wouldn't you think they would have given us the available literature and have conducted therapy that way, instead of taking our money and wasting our time?

And eventually, for me and Copa, retraumatizing us, for Heaven's sake!

Roar, oh ROAR.

Why would they do that? How fortunate are we, to have found other therapists. For me, to have found the Ally; Copa, thank heaven you fired the psychiatrist.

Oh, this is terrible, what they did to us.

Whatever. So much that is precious has been devoted to all this sickness. Now that we've named it, we really will be snowballing through our recoveries from it.

We are fortunate to have found one another.


Thank you both, Serenity and Copa.

What terrible things have happened to us all.


Okay, so this is the material I read this morning. The book: The Road to Character, by David Brooks. Pages 206-207; the subject is Grace, is the gift of healing versus the determined will to heal, which Augustine named the self-cultivator. That (self-cultivating) is what we have been doing, for all of our lives. Trying to read enough or to attend therapy enough or to understand and forgive enough, to address our woundings and recreate ourselves. We have had to be very strong, really very brave, to have followed these paths to healing as fully as we have.

This part, healing through Grace, will be easy. Now that we know the name, now that we have a description of the heart of it and can read reflections of our experiences not only in one another's stories, but in the multitude of printed material online.

Which is also included for us, later in this thread.

Before I forget, I want to be sure to tell us all that there is strength to be found in good laughter. For us, it is almost over, this sick certainty that we were somehow not good or understanding enough, or that we were not somehow enough in some other way, to have created and reveled in that family we believed could come real for us.

We will never have that family.

Now we know that; we can let go without judging ourselves for it.


So, in this material from David Brooks' book The Road to Character, we are paraphrasing David interpreting St Augustine:

Augustine's thought...challenges the code of the self-cultivator in one more crucial way. In Augustine's view, people do not get what they deserve; life would be hellish if they did. Instead, people get much more than they deserve. God offers us grace, which is his unmerited love. God's protection and care come precisely because you do not deserve and cannot earn it. Grace doesn't come to you because you've performed well on your job or even made great sacrifices as a parent or as a friend. Grace comes to you as part of the gift of being created.

Okay, you guys. This is where our perfectionism comes in:

One of the things you have to do in order to receive grace is to renounce the idea that you can earn it. You have to renounce the meritocratic impulse that you can win a victory for God (or for us, for our mothers or sisters or families or at our work) and get rewarded for your effort. Then you have to open up to it. You do not know when grace will come to you. But people who are open and sensitive to it testify that they have felt grace at the oddest and at the most needed times.

And this is true.

Here is more, from further on:

Those of us in mainstream culture are used to the idea that people get loved because they are kind, or funny, or attractive, or smart, or attentive. It's surprisingly difficult to receive a love that feels unearned. But once you accept the fact that you are accepted, there is a great desire to go meet this love and reciprocate this gift.

This is what Maya Angelou means when she says that, once she got it in the heart of her that god loved her, personally, her ~ she realized she was here on purpose.

On purpose. Perfect in all her parts, exactly as she was.

So, she went on to become more.

And just look what she has done, for all of us because she knew that one, simple thing.

Back to the book.

The ultimate conquest of self, in this view, is not won by self discipline, or an awful battle within the self. It is won by going out of self, by establishing communion with God and by doing the things that feel natural in order to return God's love.

That is an important piece: In order to return God's love. In order to happily return the enormous gift of approval; of cherishing. We were never cherished. We were never, ever approved ~ not by our mothers, and not by our own sisters, and not by anyone in our families of origin. Can you imagine the core of that hurt?!?

Back to the book.

This is the process that produces an inner transformation. One day you turn around and notice that everything inside has been realigned. (Remember here the poetry "when the tiles of that mosaic once composed in blood on stone".) The old loves no longer thrill. You love different things and are oriented in different directions. You have become a different sort of person. You didn't get this way by following this or that oral code, or adopting a drill sergeant's discipline or certain habits. You did it instead because you reordered your loves, and as Augustine says again and again, you become what you love.

This is important stuff for us to know. In researching this last night, I came across board after board where the purpose seemed to be to complain. Someone would write back and say that was too bad.

And that was it.

We don't want that to be us.

In the material quoted from Brooks' book, we can see the destination; we can claim the true purpose of this lifelong journey we have been on: I know it sounds hokey, but the thing we have been trying so hard to figure out was that sense of acceptance; was Maya's "here on purpose". And the way to do it, now that we finally understand the workings of what happened to us, is through loving; through following curiosities, through falling into fascination with ourselves and our wonderful brains, our again and again proven senses of ethics and integrity and never again, through fear.




And we are learning too (I am, for sure) that our losses will play out throughout our adulthoods. There is sadness in these namings, but there is hope and the expectation of perfect healing, too.

We can stop blaming ourselves. We can, finally, stop questioning ourselves. We can even stop blaming or questioning just why it could possibly be that whatever family is left to us somehow hates our guts.

Now, we know.

There is never going to be a family dinner.


I don't know whether it is typical for one of the sisters raised as we were to hate the other, or whether it could be true that whatever is the matter with mom is also the matter with sister, but the reading I did last night indicated that our situations with our sisters are typical of the kind of parenting we experienced.

But here is the thing: Once we know our situations? Who cares? We know what happened to us, we now know why, and we think we know how to recover and reclaim ourselves, which was all we ever wanted in the first place: To cherish the living wonder of our own lives.

To repeat a phrase?




Here are some beautifully written links that will help us understand our situations relative to our families of origin in general, and to our moms and sisters, especially.

It was never us. You was never us. It was a stacked deck! For Heaven's sake.


People who cannot love; that's who brought us up. That is the hurtful environment in which our childhood's were spent. (ROAR) People who cannot love, but who can, and do, feel envy. Which turns into an insane kind of jealousy having not one thing to do with us, and which over time, turns into hatred.

And those are our sisters.

I feel badly for us, but so happy to know.

We can stop trying.

This one discusses our personality traits, as a result of having been raised the way we were.


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Cedar, I am beginning to wonder if more people than just Mom were borderline/narcs whatever. Not that I don't have problems too, but I've been in treatment forever and narcs don't go for treatment. If they do, it is usually because of "somebody else", not their own bad behavior or dysfunction. So they wouldn't go. Most are undiagnosed.
I mentioned my uncle. He has so many symptoms of it t hat it reeks. Yet he was a professor w hose students loved him. Which makes me question if he gave much of himself to them because he was nice (which I just don't see) or because he wanted them to admire him, which is typical for a narcissistic. They love adoration. At any rate, he was really a mess and was having some sort of serious mental health issues, possibly hallucinations, before he died. I was not seeing him then so it was second hand info, but I heard he was having conversations with lamps and just not making sense. Then he died at an early age, 72, after spending most of his life being a health freak, which is intersting. I think he may have also had anorexia. He was handsome when young, a twig when I last saw a picture of him.

There are others I suspect have some narc in them. Of course, my mother was my worst tormentor. I am sure she had things wrong with her, but, like almost everyone with a personality disorder, she never even tiptoed into a therapists door because she thought she was normal.

The rather humorous issue here is that WE seek out help. We KNOW. We know about our own issues too. So we try to get treatment in some form.

They think it's us. They are fine. So they never get any help. They just keep abusing and, at the same time, acting like a victim. "I was abused by ________, but I'm FINE." Normal people do not allow themselves to be abused. As children, yes, but not as healthy adults. Damaged adults only allow themselves to be abused.

All this is very interesting to me. Moving on is a process, but it gets better with every nugget of understanding. I just wonder why I encouraged drama queens and kings for so long by allowing them in my life when they were so awful to me. That's on me. I was a slow learner. I've got it straight now. YOU NEVER LET THEM IN OR YOU SUFFER. They continue to think they are fine and do the same not fine things. We can't change them even if we love them dearly.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
All this is very interesting to me. Moving on is a process, but it gets better with every nugget of understanding. I just wonder why I encouraged drama queens and kings for so long by allowing them in my life when they were so awful to me. That's on me. I was a slow learner. I've got it straight now. YOU NEVER LET THEM IN OR YOU SUFFER. They continue to think they are fine and do the same not fine things. We can't change them even if we love them dearly.

You know what I am thinking it is, this morning? Remember that Nietzsche quote about loving life not because we love living, but because we love? Like, the love came first. We loved whatever it was that life brought us.

Maybe, that is how healthy people are put together, emotionally.

And maybe, that is the difference in the narcissistic or whatever diagnosis seems to fit. That they were missing some essential component of self right from the start. So, when you say maybe you were a slow learner, that isn't as true as that you believed love must be in there in them because it was, in you. Or in me, or Copa or everybody, normally. So, since our people pretty clearly were not loving us, we kept believing that if we could believe in that loving core they must have too because we have it, then everything could be fine.

But, according to what we are reading lately, there is no loving core there, in the narcissistic person, that does not have to do directly with them.

And they were always that way. Even when we were little girls, we did not have sisters capable of loving us the way we could love them.

I feel so sad for us. And for them, too. One of the things I read this morning indicated that without that loving core, we feel the normal things everyone feels ~ envy or jealousy or rage ~ but for the narcissistic person, there is no empathy to combat those feelings. For the rest of us, envy can go away because we do, after all love that person. For the narcissistic person, the envy or anger that, for most of us, is a momentary thing, grows into jealousy and then, hatred or rage. They have nothing to counter those negative feelings, maybe.

How sad, for all of us.

But when we think about the increasingly negative and or grandiose ways our sisters (and our moms) behave, that could make sense and explain what is happening ~ not just to us, but to them, too.

No villain, after all.

Just wounded people for whom we can, after all, feel compassion.



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After all is said and done, I miss my sister. She was trapped as was I. Maybe when I am strong enough to withstand her meanness to me, I can try to get to know her. I have not really known her for many, many years. Since she was a baby and a very little girl. I would like to know her and love her. Maybe some day I might.


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there is no loving core there, in the narcissistic person, that does not have to do directly with them.
This was the thing that tripped me up as thinking of my mom as a narc. She did love my brother TOO much all his life and my know. All white. All black.Not just love but WORSHIP. That is borderline. But maybe my mom had both as she only loved certain people. She did NOT treat my sister well as we grew up. She was treated like she was yesterday's garbage. What my sister did to change things, I don't know. Maybe my mom attached to her golden grandchild and that changed it or my sister catered to her vanity and made her feel good, which was mandatory for having a relationship with her and I'm sure it was a contentious relationship at times because neither of them do relationships well, especially my mother. So maybe there is some narc in her. She is either narc or borderline, but I'm thinking primarily borderline with some definite narc. She could admit a mistake to a person she liked, but never to me. She did nothing wrong, even when I did admit the things I'd done wrong (shrug).

At any rate, this gave me another layer to consider in why my mother picked me and my father to mistreat. He was definitely on her black side too. As was his entire family, who actually were mostly nice people, the bit I knew of them. It was her family that was mean-spirited to their own.

Thanks again for all the thoughts. I feel I am healing well, but any insight just speeds it along all the more and makes me see that I made a good decision in my life to kind of push FOO away from my kids. More than anything, I wanted to keep the kids safe from their dynamics and they never saw anything like what went on in our house. I have tried sharing with them and they look horrified, but they can't relate to it. Even my ex, who could verbally abuse me, did not cause the violent fighting in my FOO. Without a doubt, the children of mine who grew up with my current husband as their father have barely heard angry words between their parents and have never been called a name (my ex would sometimes call Bart names, and I had to stop him). My last two kids had a wonderful childhood, per both of them and Jumper wrote in our 20th anniversary card "Thank you for showing me that love still exists."

Ok, as usual, I'm drifting off so I leave in peace and with thanks!


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People who cannot love

but who can, and do, feel envy. Which turns into an insane kind of jealousy

and yet, although they can't love us and are jealous when anything goes right in our lives, they can't leave us alone, they have to carry on trying to control us and trying to force us to focus on them. Or that's the way it is with my mother, me me me me me.

After my father died she told me that she was jealous of me because my husband was still alive and it wasn't fair.

I've been away on holiday "oh, holidays, how I'd love to go on holiday, sigh, no-one knows how much I'd love to get away, just for a few days, oh, sigh, but don't worry about me... you go and enjoy yourself".

While I was away she 'forgot' to eat after her insulin injection (she has dramabetes) and was found collapsed on the kitchen floor. 'Forgot'? or maybe she thought she could draw some attention on to herself and get someone to phone me while I was on holiday, let me know what an evil uncaring daughter I was for leaving her when she's so 'ill'.

Dreadful daughter for thinking such a thing!

My brother used to watch The Sopranos, did you watch that series? He was convinced that Tony Soprano’s mother in the series was based on our mother, haha. A bit of laughter, that's the way to deal with it.

"Served my life up on a silver plate for my children and what do I get?..."

here's the actual extract from the script:

Livia Soprano: He goes to talk about his mother. That's what he's doing. He talks about me, he complains. 'She didn't do this, she did that.' Oh, I gave my life to my children on a silver platter, and this is how he repays me.
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