Below is an example of an episode where my mother used me to obtain a full syringe of narcissistic supply.
My mother was a church organist and it was required for all her children to take piano lessons. Piano lessons started in 3rd grade for all the family children. I truly enjoyed my piano lessons and I really learned to enjoy music, which is definitely a positive outcome of this point in my life. I still play and perform music to this day.
My narcissistic mother (NM) established a near-military discipline when it came to piano practice. I was to practice my lesson for 30 min each day, and if I missed time for any reason, i was required to make the missed time up. To ensure I practiced the full 30 minutes, my NM set the timer on the stove. If I left the piano to use the bathroom or any other reason, she would add on additional time. If I had missed a day of practice, the timer on the stove was set for 60 min, which is a crazy amount of time for an 8 yr old to focus on a single task.
Shortly after starting piano my NM determined that my skill at the piano was a potential source of narcissistic supply. She decided that I was to perform recitals for my extended family and show everyone how talented I was so NM could bask in the praise of her talented children.
Here’s how that one worked:
After about a year of piano lessons, NM decided that I was ready to perform recitals for my extended family when they came to our house for holidays – aunts uncles cousins nieces nephews grandparents neighbors pets whoever was there. She would consult with my piano teacher to determine which songs I needed to learn and I would be required to practice the songs to perfection.
When the day came for my recital, my NM would have all of our guests sit in the living room, the home of the piano. If there were enough guests, she would bring in the dining chairs or the card table chairs, Once everyone was seated, she would hand out programs of what I was to perform to the assembled guests. Upon her cue, I would walk down the hallway from my bedroom, wearing my Sunday suit and sit down at the piano. My recital typically took 30 min and everyone was required to sit there and listen to me perform. I had been barely playing a year and my playing wasn’t very good! Unfortunately for my extended family, showing up at my family’s house during the holidays meant one was required to endure my piano “virtuosity”. Once the recital was over, my NM attempted to solicit praise for my talents from everyone in attendance of my performance. It was truly quite pathetic.
Eventually NM learned that I didn’t enjoy playing the right kind of music (per her definition). I learned that I liked dissonance and jazz. NM was appalled at my desire to play sinful music: I was supposed to be a virtuoso classical pianist and shred Rachmaninoff to the uninformed! After 3 years of piano, my NM decided I would never amount to anything as a pianist with my fondness of dissonance and pulled the plug on my lessons.
The music story continues for multiple decades, and will be the topic of several more future posts.