48 comments on “Wooden Spoon

  1. Stephen, I can’t bring myself to “like” this post. I literally got nauseous reading it. I got spankings and was the least likely child to need them, my dad could say my name and I would cry. I never did anything I knew would make any one angry (until I got in my teens anyway and then I rebelled) My brother remembers being told to wait in his room for Dad to come and spank him, he told me he would pee himself before dad even got to his room. Dad would come down the hall hitting the walls with his belt as he walked.
    I never spanked my son, ever, the most he got was a swat on a diapered bum with my hand if he did something to endanger himself. there are so many other ways to get your point across or to punish a child.
    I am so sorry you went through this. It is so wrong.
    My son was a bed wetter and the poor kid was tortured enough by wetting the bed without me punishing punishing him.

  2. Hi Carrie,

    Thanks for your kind words. One of the experiences that really made what I went through sink in for me was having my own daughter. I couldn’t imagine ever hitting her in anger, even under the guise of a “spanking”. I don’t believe in spanking either, and I agree, there are SO many better ways to discipline without having to resort to corporal punishment.

    The other aspect of the entire situation was that I was being punished for things I had little to no control over. It’s like if I was being punished because I have blue eyes.

    I don’t know if you have read this post -> https://thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/the-diaper-humiliation/. It highlights what I feel was the worst humiliation I ever was forced to endure during my childhood, and it is also related to bed wetting.

    Stephen Bach

  3. Pingback: This Boy | The Narcissist's Son

  4. Dude… dont ask me why, but im an Ex Sadomasochist.
    And that Wooden Spoon thing is Pretty common around here.
    Anyways, what im Trying to Say is that when we Break that Spoon, thats usually the Point where we Stop the Whole Session because the Top is Overdoing it. In a Concenting Session between two People who Like it. And well… what im Really trying to say is:

    What the Hell kind of Mother did you have… Hitting a CHILD with a Wooden spoon until it Breaks. Damn. Ive just read your Posts and… damn. Im so sorry for you. Noone should ever have to Endure such torture… i mean… thats just Plain Sickness. Plain Mental Sickness. Im Horrified. Fuck.
    And than shes giving YOU the guilt for HER… Abusing you. Abuse is not the Right Word. Violating, Mentally Raping you wouldnt even Fit. There is no word i know that would Describe it.

    Sorry for my language… im just shocked.
    Hope your Daugther dosnt read this until she knows the Words anyways.
    But man… im sorry for you.

    • Thank you for your thoughts redlinedancer.

      It always help to have others give me a new perspective on what I went through. Growing up abused, I learned to normalize the abuse, and I often had a difficult time seeing how horrible some of it truly was. As I have said before, having a daughter really opened my eyes to how bad it really was for me. I absolutely could not imagine treating her the way I was treated.

      You’re right, abusing a child and then blaming that same child for the abuse is horribly sick.

      Stephen Bach

      • Same for me… until Last Week i pushed all the Memories away… My First Beating, everything…
        I Allways thought it was my fault to react that way. I Thougt it was normal to have your Ass Beaten.
        I know how you feel… Especially the Post with the Two Boys, you and Jed or what his name was… Its just… Explanatory for what happens with People who get Raised by these… things.
        No matter what one does, its never Enough.

        But thats not true. They just want to make us Feel that way so they can Controll us.
        So we stay Dependant to them and they can Continue theyr Sick game…

      • Hi Redlinedancer,

        I feel for you that you also endured an upbringing filled with abuse. It isn’t normal to be subjected to beatings. It isn’t normal to have your every motive questioned as if you were out to destroy the world.

        I always find it amazing how similar all the stories are between people that end up on my blog. Our ability to continue in a state of denial of our upbringing is what keeps us stuck. Letting go of the huge wall of denial and addressing the pain behind it is a horrible experience, and many refuse to let go of their denial, because even though life is painful, dealing with the emotional turmoil behind that wall is still much worse than continuing with the status quo.

        It will never be enough when dealing with a narcissist. As you say, they *require* us to be dependant on them. They *require* us to give up our identity and become enmeshed with their identity. It’s not possible for a narcissist to be in a relationship with any other dynamic. A person that refuses to be dependant on them for approval will be cast aside.

        Stephen Bach

  5. Hey Stephen just got done reading the blog about know your roles that you recommended I read the know your roles is spot on to my family as I said before in the diaper blog my little sister was the worst of the 3 I remember once after I was put back in diapers my little sister did something that got mom upset mom took her over her knee and yanked down her pants this was the first and only time I saw mom spank any of my sisters I don’t know exactly why but I butted in and said no no no its my fault its my fault and it wasn’t mom might have gotten 2 or 3 swats in and stopped being agry at me now let my little sister go as soon as she was off moms lap she grabbed me scolding me for interupting then looked at my little sister and said get the baby ready for his spanking I started backing away and mom said you stay still I stood there as my little sister removed my shorts plastic pants and diaper after I was spanked mom told her to rediaper me she then reached down picked up my shorts and said baby won’t need these today she used her hand on me that day but her prefferd weapon was hot wheels tracks often got spanked with those for messing my pants I think the spanking were also one way of mom getting to more readly submit to the diapers mess pants get beat mess diapers its ok thats what diapers are for I really think if the diapers had been used in a loveing helping situation I would not have the issues I do now but that was not the case I don’t recall ever wetting the bed or my pants and one of the hardest things on me was the fact that when i was diapered i was forced to wet them plus deal with the accidental messing as it would have incoveinced mom to remove them to relieve myself and to your question had my sisters ever apolagise no not once the teaseing and tormenting did finely end but then again I hardly ever speak to them

    The healing process is a long one

    • Hi Rick,

      That’s horrible. Do you understand why you ‘volunteered’ to be spanked? It was your assigned role, and you were doing your best to fulfill it. You had accepted that all family issues were your issue and you were the one that was supposed to be punished, no matter who was truly at fault in the family. Like me, you were assigned the role of carrying the guilt for the entire family, leaving the rest of them blameless. It’s narcissistic projection at it’s finest.

      Hot wheels tracks? How terrible! That must have hurt severely. I’m sorry that you were abused in such a fashion. It boggles my mind that parents would do such things. How would your mother feel if her significant other swatted her with a hot wheels track? Would she not report him to the police? Yet, it’s OK to use a hot wheels track on a child? Your own child? It’s just sick.

      How humiliating that your mother had your sister prepare you for your ‘punishment’. That is just so wrong. I agree, had the diapers been used in a loving fashion, you would have felt very differently about it. Instead, you were made to feel guilty for inconveniencing your family due to your UNAVOIDABLE medical issue, guilty to the point that you would rather soil yourself than ask for help. It’s bad enough that you had to endure the embarrassment associated with your issue, but to make you feel horribly guilty for something that you couldn’t possibly avoid is horribly mean.

      Yes, a true apology will never come. Why should it? In my situation, I’m the one that’s behaving differently. In their mind, if anything, I should be the one to apologize for refusing to accept the family guilt anymore. As I’ve said before, it’s as if I’ve removed their doormat and now they have nowhere to wipe their feet. It’s a messy situation for them, and their preferred remedy is to have me re-assume my role as doormat.

      You’re right, the healing process is long one. It’s a journey. There is no magic bullet to just make the pain of the past go away. The best we can hope for is to find strength to move forward into those uncharted waters of healthy self love.

      Best wishes on your healing journey, Rick

      Stephen

  6. Firstly I would like to say how sorry I feel for what you and others experienced. My upbringing was not as abusive as any of the others. I just wanted to pick up on a sentence that I saw and that was that you were punished for embarrassing the family. That was a big deal in my family. Family image. I had to be the perfect daughter. Perfect clothes. Perfect manners. Perfect speech. Perfect attitude. Anything less meant punishment when we got home. The other weird thing was being made to wear plastic panties Just in case. Just in case because I might wet myself and this would cause a family embarrassment.

    • Hi Krissy,

      Yes, in a narcissistic family, image is everything. Family image comes first, and if that means the members get to be emotionally destroyed for the sake of the family image, then that’s what is prescribed. My mother was hugely image conscious. It was disgusting, really. My GC brother, who went to Yale, was a HUGE source of N-supply for my mother. From what I know, she would always make sure everyone knew that she had a son that went to Yale. I’m guessing that the cashiers at the grocery store knew my brother went to Yale, as if they actually cared. I was always the last child to be discussed, and typically that was only when someone asked about me. During my Navy days, my mother would tell people that I was in the “Nucular Navy”, like it was some sort of special branch of the Navy. She had no clue what I did. She really didn’t care, as long as she could figure out a way to gain N-Supply from my endeavors.

      If you’re experience growing up was anything like mine, even perfection wasn’t good enough. Trying your best to uphold the family image was still somehow inadequate, leaving you in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. The best course is to just drop the rope and refuse to play their game any longer. Unfortunately dropping the rope isn’t really an option when we are children.

      I’m sure wearing plastic panties had to be horribly uncomfortable. What a terrible way to treat a child! Yes, in a narcissistic family, embarrassing the family is much more egregious than a child having an accident. Sometimes kids have an accident. So what? It’s part of life. There have been a few times when my daughter has wet the bed. I couldn’t fathom punishing her for it! She’s horribly embarrassed by it, just like I was. How could you punish your own child who is in such a state of vulnerability? The whole concept makes me feel sick to my stomach. It’s incidents like her wetting the bed that make me realize how horrible I was treated as a child. I was taught to normalize abusive behavior, and often it takes me to think about treating others in a similar fashion to realize just how horrible I was treated.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Krissy, and best wishes on your healing journey.

      Stephen

      • Hi Stephen,
        I was feeling blaaah (down) and it’s those times that I start to think back which I know is the wrong thing to do as it just makes me more blah. I started to think about the past and that lead back here. I guess am feel a little remiss that I did not respond to your response earlier.

        OK so let me see. Plastic pants were uncomfortable but I did not see them as a punishment. Punishment was the cane. The rod of correction! and it hurt like nothing on earth. Punishment was for “wilful disobedience”. Actually I only had to wear plastic pants (along with the absorbent undies basically thick cotton undies) when I was “on display”. Basically in public with parents at formal events. My father was a local bank branch manager and my mother was in all sorts of civic service groups and they would attend various civic black tie functions. Social climbers trying to move up the ladder. At these functions I was (their words) ‘on display’. “You are ‘on display'”. That meant sitting quietly. Smiling. Responding when spoken to and not to dominate the conversation. It means coming here or there and standing beside and smiling. But never ever EVER interrupting. That meant no going to the bathroom. Holding it. In fact it was better to wet ones self than to speak up and ask to go to the rest room. Because that brought punishment and that I really did fear. On occasion when I did wet myself, I was not punished in fact as I recall it was all matter o fact just put the wet absorbent undies direct into the washing machine.

  7. Hi Stephen,

    I too had a narcissistic mother. Intense but not angry out of control. Doggedly persistent. Intensely controlling. Her main area of demanding was in controlling my clothes. This was in the 1970’s. I’m now 50 so a long time ago. Perhaps as part of my middle age I am doing to much reflecting back over my life. Anyway as you may know in the 1970’s boys and men wore pretty short shorts. Well my mom was anal about it. My shorts not only had to be short but tight. They had to be tight across my bottom. She would choose smaller and smaller sizes until I could only just wiggle into them and then she would pat my bottom and make comment about how nice it looked. It’s not like any of my clothes were kept long. She was always buying new clothes. She would get the advertising catalogues and look through them and then we would go on a shopping expedition.

    She also required long socks held up by elastic garters to just below my knees and also muscle shirts. Mussel shirts are like tee shirts that are again tight fitting and have the sleeves chopped off. Like a singlet but where the shoulder strap is wide and goes just slightly down your fore arm.

    She also spanked with the wooden spoon. I don’t remember her ever actually loosing her temper. I think I was pretty compliant. Actually I know I was compliant. When we were out I always had to stand beside her. Whether shopping or at one of her friends houses, I had to stand beside her. She would even point out how well trained she had me and I just accepted it. I would smile and go and do whatever little errand I was assigned to demonstrate my compliance. Having shown me off to her friends I would be dismissed to play.

    If I challenged her authority though she was sure to ensure that was dealt with. When we were out she would whisper in my ear to wait till we got home. At home I would be sent to stand in the front hall with my nose to the wall. Just stand there until she was ready. And I would just do it. Then she would call me in. When I was little I would have to lie across her legs. When I was older I had to stand up and bend over. She always told me the reason I was to be punished. By the end of the lecture she would have me agreeing that I had been totally rebellious or disobedient or of bad attitude or whatever and that I actually needed punishment. I don’t recall rebelling. I just did it. I remember it hurting like hell. I had to stand there bent over while she gave me the “attitude correction”.

    Dad seemed distant from this. If he was home he would simply ask her if she needed his help and if he was out, she would inform him over then dinner table. He would look at me and simply say I hope you have learned your lesson.

    I guess that’s it.

    • Hi Aiden!

      A few thoughts that perhaps you haven’t entirely wrapped your head around:

      Thought 1:

      Your mother was disgustingly sexualizing you. You had to look ‘hot’ so that she could gain N-supply from how sexually attractive her child was to her friends. This is beyond sick. So very very sick.

      Thought 2:

      You’re dad sucks. I had your dad. The dad who stood by passively and watched his children get destroyed. It’s akin to standing at the side of the swimming pool and watching your child drown when you are perfectly capable of jumping in and saving them.

      Thought 3:

      This is not your fault! You were compliant. That’s what you’re supposed to do as a child: Honor your parent’s wishes. It’s not your fault that your parents wishes were horribly warped. Not your fault. At all.

      Thought 4:

      Yes, I believe your mom never truly lost her temper. Mine didn’t either. She was always somewhat under control, but she could throw out the pathetic act right quick. Very quick. And then pull out the wooden spoon of correction.

      Hopefully this helps. You’re not alone, Aiden. Not alone.

      Best wishes on your healing journey, and thank you for stopping by!

      Stephen

      • Hi Stephen,
        kind of stuck for a more thorough response. On the sexualisation thing. You know I think women think differently to men. I ponder this from time to time. But also that feeling me up has to be sexual. She would run her hands over my back side and my recollection is that she also used to sit beside me and put her hands on my legs.

        Every now and then there is a reminder. Like I travelled to another city recently on business and dropped into to some relatives who lived there. We had dinner together and then started chatting about childhood. They brought out their photo albums and we laughed and retold stories and memories. Some of the photos were the old all you kids stand in a line and we will take a photo. You know at Christmas or some other holiday where the families have met up. There I would be and the most noticeable things were long bare legs and tiny little shorts. We would all have a bit of a laugh about how I looked.

        One of the relatives even said “you mom always liked you in those little short shorts”. So they knew that I was dressed that way because that was what she wanted. I just laughed and said that boys have no idea about fashion and just wear what is in their cupboard. You have to laugh. What else can you do. Inside of course I was feeling and refeeling all that out there awkwardness. It was jumping out of the page at me. I was hardly likely to say oh yes dress me in a way that no one else dresses. Or that I just did what I was told to do. There was even a picture of me with mom on one side and dad on the other in front of a car and I was holding a set of keys. I was wearing these tight short shorts as usual . 17 years old. Someone had written on the picture “first driving lesson”. Gosh it looked weird. Like imagine if I had been wearing a pair of speedos (you know those skimpy swimming costume pants) that would have been almost as weird.

      • Hi Aiden,

        It’s tough to know, isn’t it? I think this is a common theme for anyone that could have been subjected to sexual abuse as a child, male or female.

        There are many things at play:

        First, the child victim doesn’t want to have to admit to themselves that a parent who was supposed to be their protector would behave in such a manner towards them.

        Second, the child tends to doubt recollections relating to such events, because those recollections are too difficult to manage emotionally.

        Third, there’s no one to validate for the child what might have truly happened and the abuser denies everything.

        Fourth, a child doesn’t really fully understand the difference between “good touches” and “bad touches”, leading to further confusion.

        I do think it’s telling how your other family members see it all as being quite ridiculous. Because it is!

        I agree, men do think of sex somewhat differently than women do, although as I become older I don’t think they are as far apart as society would have us believe. The key to keep in mind is that when a narcissistic person is sexually abusing someone, it’s not about the sex, it’s about the power. It’s about the control. My experiences with narcissistic women and sex is that sex is a MAJOR weapon in their N-toolbox, and they will use it in a multitude of ways to gain N-supply and manipulate. It’s disgusting.

        Another thing to realize is that an N-mother doesn’t see her children as individuals, but as extensions of herself that she can manipulate in order to gain N-supply. This is exactly what I see your mother doing when she dressed you in such a ridiculous manner. She was dressing you up like some sort of doll and then using you as a means to gain accolades from friends and family because of how “hot” you were. She would dress you in a fashion that SHE found sexually attractive, meaning that it would not be difficult for her to take the next steps and begin to act on that attraction when she had no real respect for you as an individual.

        As I mentioned previously, a child doesn’t fully understand the differences between “good touches” and “bad touches”. How I might touch my girlfriend is very different than how I might touch my daughter, but a child isn’t fully aware of these differences. I think the key here is that you know inside that something wasn’t right about how your mother touched you, which would lead me to believe that those touches were inappropriate. If she was touching you as a loving parent would, you wouldn’t be looking back and wondering. If she was touching you in a more sexual manner, you would look back at those times from childhood as being odd, now that you have the knowledge as an adult of what the differences truly are.

        I’m sorry, Aiden. I certainly don’t envy what you are going through. Many people never realize how they were sexually abused their entire lives, and many that do are horribly scarred once they come to make those realizations. I had a sister in law once that had blocked it all out until she was about 24. She completely lost it once her mind finally released those horrible childhood memories and ended up divorced from her then husband.

        I hope you found some of this helpful. Best wishes on your healing journey, Aiden!

        Stephen

  8. Stephen, let me begin by saying that I am sorry that you suffered so much emotional and physical abuse at the hands of your parents. My parents also believed in spanking, and it sounds relatively similar to the rituals that you were put through (same types of infractions, being told hours in advance, getting it double for screaming or reaching back with my hands) except that in our house, the weapons of ass destruction were a flat backed wooden hairbrush or the belt, and always spanked on the bare behind. For me, what made this even worse is that my sister who is two years older than me was practically never spanked, even though she wasn’t any better behaved. It never seemed fair and to this day, I’m resentful that she would go tell on me and I’d get a spanking, when they never touched a hair on her head. Did the “golden boy” twin brothers of yours get many spankings or was that type of punishment reserved solely for you? I hope that when you got a spanking, they at least had the decency to spank you privately rather than in front of your siblings. Amazing how the physical scars are long gone but the emotional ones just live on and on and on. Thanks for blogging, reading it makes me feel far less alone. -Bob

    • Hi Bob, and welcome!

      Thank you for your kind words. It always means a great deal to me when others are able to identify what I went through during my upbringing. It shows that we aren’t alone, and many of us that have been shamed to silence now know that others have had very similar experiences.

      I’m sorry you had to endure an upbringing with N-parents. It’s a horrible way to grow up. I can empathize with your dilemma with your sister. My brothers received totally different treatment than I did, and it shows in how they view our upbringing. They rarely received spankings, because they were ‘perfect’. The only reason they were viewed as ‘perfect’ was because they were a huge source of narcissistic supply for my mother. One of the coolest things about my recovery has been that I actually feel sad for my brothers. They drank all of the kool-aid, and are significantly incomplete individuals because of it. I know that I have much more strength and am much more complete emotionally than they could ever hope to be. As I’ve said in other places, it’s not just the scapegoat that is forced to normalize an abusive environment. It’s everyone in the family. The scapegoat is the one with the best chance of escaping. The others, especially golden children, never fully understand the damages of abuse, and continue to live in their world of delusion the rest of their lives, often perpetuating that same abuse onto their own children.

      Your sister was only following her family programming. She was taught that if it came down to you and her, she would always win (mom’s rules), so she learned to take advantage of that. It sucks. It’t not right. It is what it is. I’m not sure if you have a relationship with her now, or how she treats you, but it wasn’t all entirely her fault. I see my brother the same way. He was the anointed golden child. He could do no wrong. This meant that he had to follow my mother’s bidding by disparaging me. When he chooses to stop being my mother’s mouthpiece, perhaps we can have a relationship again, but until then, I’m staying no contact.

      You are absolutely correct, Bob! The emotional scars stay LONG after the physical scars are long gone. I think it’s wild how society’s recent ‘awareness’ of abuse is based on the physical, but the emotional piece is SO much more damaging.

      I’m glad you feel a connection with my stories, Bob. Yes, you are not alone. I know how alone it can feel, especially as a man. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog: To help men who might be in a similar situation as I have been. It’s not easy as a man to come forward and admit that your mother was abusive. It’s not easy to admit that it’s affected you for the majority of you life. It’s a monstrously difficult pill to swallow, but it’s the the only way to leave the fray behind. Good for you, Bob, for taking that step!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Bob, and best wishes on your healing journey!

      Stephen

  9. Thank you Stephen. A few more thoughts/questions, I hope you don’t mind. Did you ever wonder or even just hope that by getting a spanking the slate would be clean and everything would be OK? Somehow that act was emotionally supposed to wipe away what ever the scar was that caused such feelings towards me and yet even though I pulled down my pants, bend over and took the punishment, it didn’t make it better. It almost felt defeating. Even in adult relationships, sometimes it seems like that carries forward where I’ve been made to feel like I have done something wrong, and the only way to fix it is to “take my lumps” in hopes of making things right. Does that make sense? I wish I knew how to break that cycle.

    • Hi Bob,

      I can completely understand where you are coming from with your comment. I can’t say I have ever felt that the next spanking would “wipe the slate clean”. I always felt that spankings were handed out randomly and had no real basis. Yes, there were a few things that I knew I would be spanked for, but most times, I had no idea what might trigger them.

      “Taking your lumps” in hopes that somehow you will be appreciated is really not the best approach, Bob. You are taking your lumps with an expectation. Most likely that expectation is uncommunicated. This is codependent behavior. When you do things with an uncommunicated expectation of some sort of reciprocation, you are well into the realm of codependency. I know, I’ve been there. Repeatedly.

      Breaking that cycle requires you to get to the bottom of those feelings that make you think that if you let yourself be abused enough that everything will be OK. You can always find a new person to treat you like crap. And the outcome will always be the same. It’s up to YOU to break that cycle.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting , Bob, and best wishes on your healing journey!

      Stephen

    • Hi Bob,
      I can relate in a way to that. There were times when by the end of my mothers lecture I believed that I needed punishment. I think I even wanted it. Strange as that sounds. There was this get it over and get on with life feeling. When one has been standing with ones nose to the wall for what seems like eternity there is a wealth of self pity that builds up. In me anyway. In our house once punishment was administered the problem or misdemeanour was not mentioned again. Also after punishment there was a hug and a kiss. So I guess there really was a underlying desire to get it over with. Sometimes I cringe when I witness an argument especially between a parent and a child and the parent brings up past offences. For me, once punished, the offence was not mentioned and there is a sort of freedom there.
      Aiden

  10. Hi, Aiden, Thanks so much for responding and for reaching out. My mother was really good at laying on the guilt so that by the time a spanking occurred, I was emotionally beaten down and firmly believed I deserved to be punished. I am very glad for you that punishments at least had the effect of absolution in your family. From my perspective (and in retrospect) I think I’d have felt so much better if that was the end result (other than a sore behind, of course) and would have made the latter so much more tolerable. I really appreciate your sharing with me. Best Regards, Bob

    • Hi Bob and Aiden,

      I would like to echo that I had a similar experience: The desire to just “get it over with” when it came to punishment. The drama would often drag on for hours, and all I wanted was to receive my punishment so I could be left alone. I would go to great lengths in order to be left alone. I often just wanted to disappear. It’s all very sick.

      Like Bob, I never received that loving hug. I don’t think I really wanted it. When someone is being abusive to you, that hug only serves to add to the confusion, in my opinion. Am I horrible or am I OK? I had just spent an hour or more being told how horrible I was, but now I’m OK? I think it would have made things worse, if anything.

      Thank you for your comments, gents!

      Stephen

  11. Stephen, did you feel differently when it was your father who meted out the punishment rather than your mother? Was he any different in his demeanor or was it same circus, different clowns?

    • Hi Bob,

      I have few recollections of my father punishing me, which to me says that perhaps most of the time when he did it, I felt it was justified or it wasn’t as severe. As I said in the post, he punished me much less frequently than my mother did. He didn’t really behave any differently, though, and there weren’t any hugs or similar signs of love that accompanied punishment from him.

      His biggest issues was that he fully supported my mother and her crazy antics. He never once said to me that he thought my mother might be out of line. More than likely, he would pick up exactly where she left off, making my parents a united front against me. He had numerous opportunities to attempt to remedy the family dysfunction, but chose not to. In that manner, he’s just as guilty as my mother.

      Thanks as always for your comments, Bob!

      Stephen

  12. Here are a few random thoughts.

    The first is that I was very obedient or compliant. I wonder had I been more rebellious would she have continued. Because as a kid even a young adult I did not see her as narcissistic. Actually I did not even know the word. I did see her as strict. I guess both parents were strict in terms of behaviour. But also I did not mind that. Strange to think that a child would like strict parents but I think I did.

    My parents also used to insist on “yes mom” “yes dad”. I was not allowed to be casual I guess. Like I was not allowed to just say yes or no and certainly yea or nah would have resulted in the wooden spoon.

    Then the other thing I wonder is “am I narcissistic?” Like being self focussed and at present thinking through a degree of how tough life was for me. Am I developing selfish narcissistic characteristics? Like I come here and write about myself with very little thought to what others have written about themselves.

    Another thing is that they say that men marry women like their mothers and I can see some of that in my wife. Although she does not dress me every day, she does by some of my clothes. She will sometimes come home with a shirt and say “I picked this up for you”. Now they are no way awkward for me to wear. In fact she is really sharp on getting fashionable shirts. It’s more the realisation that here is this other significant woman in my life who buys me clothes. Likewise my wife runs the social calendar. She networks and organises and often simply announces we are going to visit so and so or that she has invited someone to dinner.

    Perhaps just too much self evaluation? (Smile)

    • Hi, Aiden. Don’t be so quick to judge yourself. For starters, you are certainly very self-aware or you wouldn’t even be here talking about your experiences. There are times when all of us must put our own selves and needs first, but that does not mean we ourselves are narcissistic. Trust me, not all men marry women like their mothers. Take me, for example, who didn’t marry a woman, but rather, am married to another man (and yes, that is a whole other topic). The difference, theoretically, between your Mother and your Wife is that you chose the latter, and as two consenting adults, have the ability to weigh in on things if your marriage is a true partnership. As a child, your choices are limited by what Mum and Dad permitted or offered up within that realm, and of course, part of parenting is to help your child learn to make choices. If you wanted to, there is no reason why you couldn’t participate in the social plans, or choose your own clothes (or at least communicate to your Wife that you wanted to do so). In my own marriage, we both work very hard to keep a balance, although there are certain things we naturally migrate to based on our own personalities but there is always mutual consideration and respect should the other wish to weigh in. Those are my thoughts, I hope they are helpful in some way. Cheers, Bob

      • Hi Aiden,

        Yes, it’s quite common to choose an adult partner that replicates some or many of the patterns of our childhood. I know that I did exactly that. Many times. The difference in those adult relationships is how does our partner respond when we stand up for our own wants and needs. Do they acknowledge that we have needs, or are we viewed as selfish for daring to have needs? In the narcissist / codependent dynamic, the narcissist will be incensed if the codependent dares express any needs. The only needs that matter are the needs of the narcissist. Often, when the codependent will express needs, the narcissist will call the codependent narcissistic. This has happened to me quite often in my relationships. My mother has called me narcissistic. My cheating NxGF also called me “crazy narcissistic”. In your case, if you didn’t like one of the shirts your wife purchased for you, could you return it or refuse to wear it, or would she be horribly offended if you chose not to wear it and get angry at you? Would you have a choice in what you wear? Do you feel obligated to wear something just because she bought it for you, even if you didn’t like it? Could you decline to attend a social event that she organized for you if you had other plans or didn’t want to go? Does she even ask you if you would like to attend, or does she just make the arrangements and inform you? It’s how situations like these are handled that determines whether your needs are respected and the overall health of a relationship. Conflict will always occur in relationships, it’s how that conflict is managed and resolved that shows the true quality of the relationship.

        Narcissism exists along a continuum. The right amount is somewhere in the middle. Too much, and a person tramples all over everyone and everything to get his / her way. Too little, and a person willingly forgoes his / her needs in order to take care of others. The right amount is when we stand up for our own needs while still respecting the needs of others. The right amount is knowing when to heed a red flag and take action and not just look the other way. If you’re like me, you spent most of your life with not enough narcissism. I also had some similar thoughts that I might be a narcissist during the early stages of my journey. I took several tests to help me determine how narcissistic I was. The tests said I didn’t have enough narcissism, and that I would permit people to take advantage of me. This part is very true. About a year ago, when I signed up for the matchmaking service, they had me take personality tests. Their tests also revealed that I am often “too nice”. The person administering the test said “You’re often too nice, and that’s where you get yourself into trouble”. How true. So what I’m really trying to say is this: Yes, you may well be developing more narcissism. This is a good thing! You need more narcissism! You need to be able to stand up for what you know is right. You need to be able to stand up for your needs! It’s the path to leaving your past of permitting yourself to be taken advantage of behind.

        I really didn’t know much about narcissism either for a very long time. I had heard the term in college psychology, but never really understood it’s application to everyday life. It does sound like your parents were very strict. Things like physically punishing you for the manner in which you addressed them are definitely over the top. I would understand if you were being overly snotty or used profanity, but just because you said “Yeah” instead of “Yes Mom”? Sounds a lot like “Mommie Dearest” to me!

        I hope some of this helps, Aiden. Thanks for your comments, and best wishes on your healing journey!

        Stephen

    • You sound like you might be a bit of push over Aiden but I guess provided the wife doesn’t take too much advantage it works for you 🙂

      I think most people that have been bought up by narcissists will be a bit narcissistic in some way shape or form and not in an entirely healthy way. I suffer from the too nice a guy syndrome and in general low self esteem because of my upbringing. But certainly in the past I have been a bit narcissistic in some ways and ‘grandiose’. Over compensation? I read one book which partly dealt with this and the first time I read it I kind of unconsciously skipped those bits as I didn’t want to hear it. I picked it up the second time around.

      In general though narcissism only becomes completely dysfunctional when paired with a lack of empathy (definitely not a problem I suffer from). Actually people can be a quite an arrogant prick but provided they have empathy well they are just an arrogant prick which is not the worst thing in the world, in fact it might even be required for some occupations, but they are not psychotic.

      • Hi Les,

        I think you bring up a good point. Yes, we all have some narcissistic tendencies. If we didn’t, we’d never shower, shave, get our hair cut or get dressed up to go out for an evening. You’re right in that the difference it whether or not true empathy exists. Many N’s are famously capable of feigning empathy, but when you start to scratch the surface, it becomes apparent that their empathy is only a means to get attention focused back on themselves. True empathy doesn’t come with conditions. It doesn’t come with strings. It doesn’t expect to be recognized. Often, an N will feign empathy to make *themselves* look good. It can be very confusing because it appears that they are behaving the same way as a true empath would. It all goes back to the incredibly complex mask that the N must maintain.

        I agree that sometimes we codependents will overstep the narcissism line. The typical codependent pattern is to be a ‘good person’, and then desire to be recognized for being a ‘good person’. The codependent also often thinks that they can change how someone behaves if they ‘love them enough’, etc, which is definitely stepping into the realm of grandiosity. We have no ability to control other’s behaviors, no matter how ‘good’ or ‘understanding’ we are.

        Stephen

  13. A wooden spoon. Wow. That is pretty damn horrible! My sincerest sympathies, man.

    My family was also religious and heavily enforced the “spare the rod” philosophy.

    My mom mainly spanked the crap out of me at such an early age that I hardly remember the how. I have her baby book notes (unceremoniously dumped on me at the hospital the day my son was born) where she jokingly writes about “beating the shit” out of me. Reading her notes, I can still feel a combination of horror, disgust, and sadness.

    My grandmother liked to use either a fly swatter to the back of my bare legs, or would tell me to go outside and “find a switch” for her to use. I had to find one big enough, bring it in, and get hit on the back of the legs. Truth be told, those were pretty mild though. She rarely got as angry as my mom did.

    I have a story for you.

    When I was 5, she re-married. We moved to Arkansas to her new husband’s house, and me and the dog pretty much became an afterthought. Where before, she was really close to me and did everything with me, after the marriage all her attention was on her new husband and I became a third wheel.

    I was put in a tiny room on the other side of the strange new house (with the dog), and felt really lonely most of the time. I was yelled at and put to bed early. Or left at a babysitter’s house while they went out all the time. I remember walking at a park with them, and they walked off, not even looking back at me. I was scared they would leave me, and yelled at them not to leave me. That made my step-dad angry, and he got super sarcastic.

    Anyway, getting to the point…

    ———————————————-

    In that new environment, when I was about 6 or so, the two of them started their “Ministry” (the first of many failed ventures). This was a Christian radio show, on Sunday nights I think. [Note: It was always my mom’s dream to be a Charismatic Christian Big Shot like Gloria Copeland or Joyce Meyer, to be looked up to by a huge adoring audience of fans and to fly around the world being rich and fabulous. This dream never materialized, and according to her that was my Step-Dad’s fault, of course.]

    They recorded the radio show in the living room on Sunday nights, like at 8:00. They sent me to bed early, with dire warnings not to come out or make a noise while the show was on.

    So one night they were recording, and I had to pee. I mean, BAD! There was only one bathroom, and to get to it, I had to go through the living room. I laid there for a long time, then finally couldn’t take it anymore. I went into the living room while they were recording, and dashed around my step-dad and into the bathroom. I did my business.

    The next day, it was Punishment Time. My mom let my Step-Dad do her dirty work for her, and he was (bizarrely) eager to do it.

    He took me into the tiny bathroom, and closed the doors. Then he sat me down on the edge of tub. He sat on the toilet. He got out his belt, and his Bible.

    In a super-serious voice, he informed me of my wrongdoing. That I had been warned, and hadn’t obeyed. Then he took the Bible and read some scripture to me, about “the rod” or whatever.

    Then he bent me over, pulled down my pants, and spanked me with the belt. (What a guy!)

    Afterwards, he may have spoken some more scripture, or given me a hug or whatever, I don’t remember. Looking back, I can see that all this was just my step dad “playing dad”. Seeing how good it felt to be the Big Man!

    —————————————————

    There is a humorous end to this story. It happened again, where they were recording in the living room, I was in bed, and I really, REALLY had to pee. Only I had learned my lesson. If I went to the bathroom, I would be in big trouble. So that wasn’t an option. How to solve this conundrum?

    I realized that although my mom didn’t like it when I wet the bed, I wasn’t usually treated very harshly when I did. She did usually act like it was an honest accident.

    So I stood up in the middle of my bed and used my mattress as my urinal that night!

    The next morning:

    ME: “Mom, sorry. I accidentally wet the bed last night.”

    HER (looking suspicious): “There sure is a lot of pee here, Clint…”

    ME: “Yeah, I know. I’m really sorry. It was an accident!”

    No punishment. So you see, I survived!
    And that’s what all of children of Narcissistic parents do, we survive!

    Best wishes to you.

    • Hi Clint!

      Thanks for your kind thoughts. Yes, it was quite horrible. I think the psychological piece of it was 10x worse than the physical piece. Being given the blame for my mother ‘having’ to abuse me took such episodes to an entirely different level. I honestly was a pretty good kid. I didn’t ever really get into any serious trouble, and was always quite respectful, at least per my recollection.

      Having my own child really puts a lot of what I went through into perspective. My daughter is really a great kid with a fun personality and we have a lot of fun together. I seldom have a need to punish her, and when I do have to punish her, it’s a few stern words or taking away a privilege for a set amount of time. The thought of actually striking her has never even crossed my mind. I just don’t understand the mindset of someone that could do something like that to a child who was honestly trying to do their best to be a good kid.

      Sorry that your mom chose to ignore you once she remarried. That had to be horrible. It is somewhat similar to my situation, where I went from being an only child to a complete afterthought at age 5 once my twin brothers were born. I can certainly empathize with the lonely feeling you had.

      So did your mother stop beating you once she remarried and enlist your stepfather to carry out her dirty work? I know you have shared elsewhere that she would hit you and demand that the demons come out of you. Was most of that before she remarried? I agree, it’s quite bizarre that your stepfather took to being the disciplinarian so readily. He must have received some sort of sick pleasure from it. Did your mother put him up to it? Did she tell him he had to do it? It’s quite odd how roles get distributed and reassigned in narcissistic families, isn’t it?

      Your wetting the bed story is quite hilarious! Certainly not the part where you were beaten for having to use the bathroom, which is totally ridiculous, but that it was better to wet your bed then use the bathroom. Reading scripture to you while beating you is quite alarming. It’s cult type behavior. It’s invoking god as justification for abuse. It’s like Samuel Jackson reciting Ezekiel 25:17 before he blasts away his hit in the movie “Pulp Fiction”. All very disturbing.

      You’re right, we children of narcissists always find a way to survive. If we didn’t we’d be dead a long time ago. It’s definitely a positive trait to have!

      Thanks as always for your thoughts, Clint, and best wishes on your healing journey.

      Stephen

  14. Thanks Guys!

    Stephen, yeah I can totally relate to your feeling with your own kid. I think I spanked my oldest son, like one time when he was a baby. I quickly regretted it. I haven’t done that since, and he doesn’t remember it. My second son has never been spanked. I’m with you, I don’t quite understand the mindset of spanking. It’s totally unnecessary.

    “Afterthought” is a good word for it!

    It is so weird to have been punished for the “disobedience” of having a full bladder! I cannot imagine treating my own kids that way. It’s just nuts, man!

    To answer your questions, it’s weird with my mom. She spanked me a lot when I was very young. She kind of stopped as I started getting up toward 10 years old or so. That creepy spanking from my step-dad was the only one I remember ever getting from him. He was pretty much “hands off” when it came to parenting me or my little brother. He was mostly absent. Left us with our mom to kind of fend for ourselves against her. That’s why that one spanking was so bizarre. I don’t know if she told him to do it or what. Probably did.

    The slapping me and commanding demons to come out of me, she slapped once before she was remarried, and once after she was remarried. She still tried to “cast demons” out of me after that, but left physical violence out of it. Still had plenty of blame and scorn for me, just verbal instead of physical.

    Yeah, my step-dad had a role and that was to be my mom’s ever-adoring, “perfect” man. When of course he didn’t measure up, she would start a fight with him, sometimes out of nowhere. Growing up, I remember my parents having a huge screaming / yelling fight at least once a month, sometimes about every 2 weeks. I grew up thinking that was normal for parents to do.

    But it’s not normal, obviously! My wife and I hardly ever fight. And even when we do, it never turns into screaming and sarcasm. My kids have witnessed disagreements between the two of us, but never on the level of crazy that I grew up with. I’m thankful for that!

    Speaking of fights, looking back I can see the whole unhealthy dynamic pretty clearly. My mom would suddenly get jealous of my step-dad, or angry at him over some VERY minor infraction. And sometimes she would get angry for no reason and just start raging. She would argue with him, he would argue back, and they would argue and argue in circles with her alternating between rage, blame, and feeling sorry for herself (being pitiful).

    When she wouldn’t listen to him (as she never would), he would eventually get so frustrated that he would just leave the house for a while. He’d be gone for hours. During that time, my mom would immediately pick up the phone and start calling her mom, sisters, and friends – any of her steady N-supply. She would tell them the “woe is me” tale, and listen to them tell her she’s right and what a jerk he is. This she did EVERY SINGLE TIME they had any kind of fight. When once he confronted her about it, she just flippantly said, “Oh well I’m a woman – I have to talk.”

    The worst was the “Prayer Meetings” they would have. About once a month, my mom and her two sisters would go to my grandmother’s house for a “prayer meeting”. I actually liked these, because it meant I could play with my cousins. But looking back, these were kinda sick…

    What they would do at the “prayer meetings” is bitch about all their husbands for about 3 or 4 hours straight. Then they would get out their Bibles and a quote a bunch of scriptures about stuff that “God told them” concerning their husbands. Then they would pray in tongues for an hour or so, command all the demons to get out of their marriages, and pray that God would change their husbands to be the man (men) that they want them to be.

    IT WAS SO WEIRD, MAN! Now all I can do about it looking back is laugh at the craziness! Ha!

    • Hi Clint!

      The first thought that popped into my head was “Did all that praying about fixing their husbands ever work? Did God answer their prayer?” You would think that if they did all that praying and still had the same husband with his same ‘faults’ that they might have become frustrated with the whole process, but whatever.

      I think it’s quite deplorable that they had these bitch sessions within earshot of the kids. Holy no boundaries! Nothing like listening to your mom and aunts complain about your dad for hours on end. Not something a child should be privy to in my opinion.

      Your mom and stepdad’s relationship sounds a lot like my relationship with my NxGF. We would have ridiculous fights about once a month that would go on for days, sometimes even weeks. She could hold onto her anger for what seemed an eternity and we could pick right back up with all the anger and rage several days after the initial altercation. It was tiresome beyond imagination! They always started about something extremely trivial, or over some perceived slight. They only ended when I apologized for how horrible I was. She was never at fault. I certainly don’t blame your stepfather for leaving for hours at a time. When no matter what you say is used against you, you eventually just have to walk away, no matter how right you are to be upset. I would do exactly the same thing. I would eventually go silent because anything I said was twisted and thrown back at me. Then I would be blamed for giving her the silent treatment and “damaging our relationship beyond repair”. It was an impossible situation that I’m so happy to have left in my wake!

      I can understand your stepfather’s “hands off” approach to the children. I’m sure he couldn’t do it right, not matter what he did, so the easiest path for him was to do nothing at all.

      Your mother calling all her friends to complain about her husband is so very typical of an N. Nothing like a contrived fight to gain endless sympathy about how difficult her husband was. Do you think she ever intentionally started a fight with your stepdad so that she could ultimately use it to gain sympathy from friends and family? I often felt that my NxGF would do exactly that. She would start a fight over nothing purely as a means to gain N-supply. Very sick.

      Unlike your parents, my parents NEVER fought. I can think of maybe 5 times my entire childhood where I even noticed them in disagreement. Their entire script was so seamless that everyone knew their role innately and there was nothing to fight about. My mother viewed my father as a “saint”. He saved her from her horrible upbringing. She even would tell people how he was a saint after he passed away. My father was no saint, and the further I’m removed from the situation the more I see his contribution to the family dysfunction.

      Is your mother still married to your stepfather? Was your biological father part of your life at all? Do you have any contact with him?

      Thanks as always for your comments, Clint!

      Stephen

      • Hi Stephen,

        Haha, spot on comments!

        Yeah, even from an early age I could see my mom’s “prayer meetings” for what they really were. But sometimes they would even fast for them! It was a very strange mix of narcissism and religion. But I guess that’s always a strange mix.

        With my grandmother now in old age with dementia, the “prayer meetings” have kind of gone away. She was the main one who cared about actual prayer, it seems. Now I’m pretty sure the aunts just dispense with the prayer altogether and go straight to the bitching 🙂

        Yeah, my stepdad was totally hands off, even with his own son, and I’m pretty sure the reason was everything that you mentioned. He was a bad dad from the standpoint that he cared more about his own survival than facing the truth and trying to protect the kids. When he did finally face the truth and got divorced, it was too late for me and my brother.

        It’s interesting that your own parents got along okay. I wouldn’t have expected that from an N-mom, who pretty much makes life a living hell for everyone. But I guess as long as your dad fell into line, he didn’t suffer her wrath too much. Or the two of them could conveniently channel all of that toward you.

        ————————

        As far as exaggerations about your dad being a “saint”, exaggerations and lies seem to be pretty standard with a Narcissist. With my mom, everything and everyone is either one extreme or the other. A person is either “the best” or “the worst”. There is no in-between, it seems. So my mom would alternate from telling me stories of how “wonderful” her “best friend” is, to how “horrible” this person at work is.

        I swear, I gave up a long time time ago taking anything my mom says seriously. She exaggerates so much that only half of any of her stories can be believed, if that much. And she makes up lies on the spot, however it enhances her story. It got to the point that she would just talk, and I would grunt while she droned on and on.

        This throws people who don’t know my mom off. When my wife first met my mom, she actually took what my mom was saying seriously. She hadn’t learned my *advanced technique* 🙂 of tuning my mom out. She would ask my mom, “Really?” And would be shocked by all the things my mom said had happened to her. If you assume that my mom is a normal person, then yeah, a lot of what she says is shocking.

        But you quickly learn that my mom is totally full of shit. It’s why none of her “best friends” last longer than a few months – or a year at most.

        Did / does your mom talk endlessly about herself, like mine does? I am wondering if this is a common N-characteristic.

        When I was Low Contact with my mom, it was weird because I would pick her up from the airport and drive 2 hours, and she would spend literally the whole 2 hours talking non-stop, without asking me any questions and with no back-and-forth to the conversation at all. All I would do while driving is grunt and nod. And she can do that forever.

        Later, I would feel very angry at myself. Because it’s an old pattern that has been there my whole life. Her role is to jabber about every aspect of her life, and my role is to sit there and soak it up like a sponge. (Or just tune her out, as I actually do.) It’s exhausitng to be around, especially if you ever do try to pay attention to what she is saying. You find yourself questioning stuff she says that doesn’t make any sense. And then if you question her on those details, or say you don’t agree with something, she gets mad! Then she goes silent. When she’s silent, you’re in trouble. And that’s worse than when she’s talking!

        Anyway, I used to wonder to myself what I could do to break this cycle. I used to change the subject, intentionally talk about myself or my kids instead, or turn on the radio. And of course, I tried to talk to her about it, which was useless. In the end, nothing worked. And I would become so angry at myself ffor falling back into that old comfortable role of “ignoring, grunting listener”. I don’t act that way around ANYONE else. But with my mom, it’s like an old glove that I can slip back on at any time, even after years. I can do it without even thinking about it.

        ——————–

        You asked about my mom’s marriage and my bio-dad. Here’s how it went down:

        Husband #1 – Divorced my mom before I was born.

        Husband #2 – My bio-dad. They got divorced when I was a baby.

        Husband #3 – My step-dad. They married when I was 5. Were married for 17 years. He only stayed with her because he is super-religious and the Bible says divorce is a sin. Finally he couldn’t take it anymore and invented some questionable religious doctrine justification to give him a free pass to escape.

        Husband #4 – This was a couple of years ago. My mom dated this guy for like, 3 months and then they got married. I met him and was like, WTH? This guy has nothing in common with my mom whatsoever. They were married for about 2 months, then divorced. Because he’s “evil”, according to her.

        As far as my real dad goes, I do keep in contact with him and have grown closer to him over the years. He is a very different person. Was kind of screwed up by Vietnam I think. He’s not the best dad but he does sincerely care. And he’s not a Narcissist, thank god. I’m really happy to know him and to have him in my life.

        And things have been good with my step dad too. He wasn’t a good dad either, but at least he understands what I’m talking about when we discuss my mom. He is all too familiar with that crazy woman!

        I’ve been 2 months now with No Contact. Going great!

        Kind Regards,
        Clint

      • Hi Clint!

        Yes, it is interesting that my parents got along as well as they did. I think you’re right that that they projected all their issues onto me at a very young age, which left them little to fight about. My mother always saw my dad as super human, which I’m sure helped. They were truly made for each other in many respects.

        That’s interesting about your step dad. I’ve been there. My families religion also taught that divorce was an unforgivable sin, and getting divorced meant you were going to hell. I think it’s ironic that I could go on a shooting spree and kill a bunch of people and still receive forgiveness and heaven, but divorcing someone because I made a poor choice in my life partner is unforgivable.

        If your mom is anything like mine, that person that was a “saint” may soon be relegated to “devil” because that person somehow did something that upset her. It’s the black / white N thinking at work.

        I find it ridiculous that I am required to fulfill a role in order to have a relationship with my family. If I choose not to fulfill that role, I’m condemned. But that’s how it is with narcissists. Relationships only exist on their terms. If I don’t fulfill their relationship needs on their terms, there is ‘obviously something wrong with me’. Breaking the cycle means facing condemnation and most often an apology is required because I dared to approach things differently. So I end up apologizing for being me. Not healthy.

        I think it’s great that you have some sort of relationship with your step dad and bio dad. Knowing what you know now, I’m sure you can see some of what they may have gone through with your mother. Yes, they were never there for you when you needed them to be, but at least you have some validation now. What do you think might have happened if your step dad had stood up to your mother? Do you think she would have listened to his concerns? I’m thinking she wouldn’t have, in fact she most likely would have immediately put him in his place. Look at your own experiences with your mom. You aren’t able to change anything no matter how much effort you make or how many different avenues you take. I’m sure it was the same experience for your step dad as well. What he could have and should have done in my opinion, is at least give you some validation that she was unreasonable while you were growing up, pulling you aside and saying that you were right to think she was out of hand at times. My father had this opportunity, too, but chose to always defend N-mom, even when she was dead wrong. I remember my mother once being quite drunk when we were at an dinner party at a friend of my parent’s house. I walked up to my dad, and said “mom is pretty drunk”. Angry, he turned to me and said “No, she isn’t!”. Thereby fulfilling his caretaker role, defending my N-mom’s behavior, and gaslighting me with one brief statement.

        Congrats on your (now almost 3 months) of no contact! I hope things are getting better for you. It’s a long journey, and there are many bumps along the way, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

        Thanks as always for your comments, Clint, and best wishes on your healing journey.

        Stephen

  15. Clint, my mother had that exact same exaggeration problem, although it would never be acknowledged as a problem because that just wouldn’t fit in with her saint image. She was an out and out liar, but the one time I called her a liar (when I was a teen,) it was as if I had done something so unthinkable, the entire house went silent. And my mother, who when directly called on her bullshit, predictably went into tearful mode. Ridiculous. I read somewhere that narcissists are liars in too many ways to count. And they are. I was instructed to understand that my mother “exaggerates a bit”, you know, and I can’t call her a liar for that. Unbelievable. These people were living on planet WTF if you ask me. And they were in charge of that planet. And I was their frigging kid. Get out and stay out, man. There’s nothing healthy going on there. And the whole family system has no reason, motive, or interest to change. Stay strong. Sherri.

    • Hi Sherri!

      Yes, the exaggeration piece. Another fine gaslighting tactic. Isn’t it amazing how we are just supposed to accept the exaggerations? And when those exaggerations are directed at us because of something we did, we are just supposed to stand idly by and let them continue, not daring to stand up for ourselves?

      Calling an N a liar is recipe for disaster. It just makes them angry, or in your case (and often my mother’s case), they just go pathetic: “No one loves me” or “No one understands me” or “I have it so hard and look how you treat me”. Anything to bypass the issues and bring the focus of attention back onto themselves. Ridiculous.

      Thanks as always for your comments, Sherri!

      Stephen

  16. Hi Guys!

    Stephen,

    Yeah, it’s funny what you said about the view of divorce as sin. It kept by step-dad committed in a very miserable relationship for years and years. He was finally able to rationalize his way out of it.

    It’s true, the whole Saint / Devil, Black / White way of thinking is definitely a thing with a Narcissist. That’s the only way my mom sees anybody. If you’re on her supply side, then you can do no wrong. I’ve seen her associate with people that were otherwise “low class” by her high standards, simply because they listened to all her stories and seemed to take her advice about how to live their life. I’ve also seen her write off long-term friends without a second thought, just because they dared to cross her in some way.

    She had a best friend growing up which she casually dropped like that. When we were still talking, I asked her why they weren’t friends anymore. I got a bunch of vague answers that didn’t really make any sense.

    It’s that way anytime I try to ask her about something that happened in the past. With normal people, they would have a heart-to-heart talk and tell their view of what happened. But she just prefers to bury it.

    Like another time, I asked her why we had moved in with some relatives for a while when I was a kid, and why we moved back out again. She gave me some really vague answers that again, didn’t make any sense. I know she remembers, because her brain is sharp. But she just doesn’t want to talk about it. But rather than come out and say, “I’d rather not talk about it,” she prefers to just make a bunch of crap up, to dodge the question. And then hope I’ll stop asking.

    All that is really frustrating when you’re just trying to understand! It’s not like talking to another human being!

    As for my step-dad, he never stood up to my mom much. I think because anytime he ever did, she punished him severely for it. Either through silent treatments or screaming. He learned quickly to just let her have her way on everything, and try to stay out of her way. But that doesn’t work either, because she was never happy long term, and it was always somebody else’s fault.

    He told me that the day after they first got married, he made a joke to her once, picking at her over some minor thing. She got super-serious, sat him down, and told him in a strong voice that she was a Godly woman, and that from that point on, he was going to be the Godly husband that she prayed for, and that he was never to speak to her in such a manner again. He immediately thought, “Oh my god, what have I gotten myself into here?” Why he stayed even from that point on, I have no idea.

    That is weird that you are looked at as “the caretaker”. Yeah, we all have our sick little roles we are supposed to fulfill, and any deviation from that, then you are treated like you are crazy!

    When I got out of college, my mom was divorced. I was expected to be her caretaker. I was supposed to help her make her house payments (pay rent, as she put it), plus do all the home repairs and upkeep on the 3-1/2 acres she had. My little brother was there, but he didn’t do shit. He dated trashy girls and got into drugs. Even got arrested once. He did all kinds of stuff that our mom would never have let me do – and yet she not only tolerated it, but she never said one negative thing about him. And wouldn’t let me either!

    When stuff was broken around the house, he never lifted one finger to help. And then he would come home really late from his drug parties. But my mom didn’t mind that, because when he would get home he would go to her room and listen to her talk for an hour about how crappy her day was. And then he would tell her how great she was, and how she didn’t deserve that. He knew how to work her, man!

    (And then when I would complain that they are talking super late and I couldn’t sleep, because I had to get up at 6:00 the next morning for work, my brother would yell at me to shut up. And my mom was just silent – even though she’s getting my money!)

    He dropped out of college. She didn’t like that but didn’t do anything about it either. She would give him money, buy him food, bail him out of jail, do whatever. He was a Golden Child, big time.

    One time he wrecked his car, and my mom suggested / insisted that I give him my car. My car was almost paid off, and I told her so. Her response? “Oh Clint, you’ll ALWAYS have a car payment to make! So why not just give him your car, and you go buy a new one?” Like the obedient stooge that I was, I did this. It was only later that I realized how badly I got ripped off by that deal!

    When I would suggest maybe moving out (keep in mind this was AFTER I had graduated from college and already had a full-time job), she would start crying. “How am I going to pay for the house? How am I going to get the furnace repaired? Who’s going to take care of me?” She would do that until I apologized for even thinking it.

    Keep in mind this is the same lady that while I drive an old Honda Civic, she herself now drives a Mercedes Benz! Somehow, despite her sad stories, her own finances always seem to work out.

    Yeah, thanks for the thought on No Contact. I’ve been No Contact for 3 months now today. I am really happy about it. It is definitely the right decision!

    The only difference is I’ve unblocked my aunts on my phone. Not that they’ve called me or anything, but I figure there’s no reason to lock that door (yet). But my mom? No way.

    It’s weird because recently I’ve been getting into Genealogy and researching family history. I would love to ask that side of my family some questions about their relatives, things they remember. But that’s not a road I can go down, unfortunately.

    I also wish I could share with my mom all the cool things I’ve discoverd about her ancestors. It would be fun to talk about. But I know better. I just think back to past experiences. Any and every time that I have been excited about something and wanted to share it with my mom, it has backfired. Either she had some flippant comment about it, acted like she already knew everything there was to know about it, or otherwise wrote it off as unimportant. Why would this be any different? I’m not seriously wanting to break No Contact anyway. It’s just a thought I can consider – and set aside from what I’ve finally learned.

    Sherri,

    Yeah, the exaggerating! It’s something else, isn’t it? I remember one time as a kid, I knew straight up that what my mom was saying wasn’t even CLOSE to what actually happened – because I was there! I told her, “But that’s not true.” She got irritated and said, “Well Clint, everyone remembers things differently – give me a break!” Saying “Everyone remembers things differently” is her license to invent reality as she goes along, apparently. And while there is some truth to that, this isn’t just minor details. She lies about major events.

    “Planet WTF” – That’s a great way to put it!

    One interesting thing I’m figuring out looking through genealogy is that my family is much, much bigger than just my mom and her sister’s neck of the woods. They just occupy one little dysfunctional branch on the family tree. It’s amazing to me that that one litlte branch has dominated my life so much. There are pleny of other aunts, uncles, cousins, etc who didn’t have to deal with all the craziness! In a way, that makes it easier for me to shrug and shake them off.

    Sorry for the LOOONG response. It just prompted some memories in me there.

    Have a great day!

    Clint

    • Hi Clint!

      It is amazing how we can be completely devalued and discarded and yet are still required to fulfill our role and come running once there’s some sort of issue? My N mom did this a lot, especially after my father passed away. She would ask me to come up to her house (about 100 miles away) and ‘fix a few things’. Often I’d be confronted with a list that would take days to complete. I remember one time when the ‘fix a few things’ involved replacing the side access door to her garage because it was letting the snow in. I had to enlist the help of a friend to get that one accomplished! This was all required of me because of my role as caretaker / handyman. She never would seek me out for emotional support, however. She knew better. She knew I saw through her charade and wouldn’t have any sympathy for her, so emotional caretaker wasn’t an area where I was often utilized. After my father passed, we had a few conversations (she was often quite drunk) but I wouldn’t really say anything other than just listen to her alcohol fueled pity party.

      It seems that your mother used religion as a means to trap you step dad. “A good husband would never consider divorcing his wife!”. So this means that she gets license to behave however horribly she would like towards him and he has no options other than to take it. It’s quite incredible that she actually TOLD HIM THAT. Wow! He should have went right to the courthouse and had the marriage annulled when she said that to him!

      Thanks as always for your comments, Clint, and best wishes on your healing journey!

      Stephen

  17. I’d not read this one Stephen, that’s pretty rough! Your parents sound like they quite enjoyed the spankings and your humiliation. Making you take your pants off and spanking you for bed wetting is physical abuse in anyone’s language, emotional abuse can sometimes be much harder to prove.

    My mother’s weapon of choice was also often a wooden spoon and sometimes it used to break which really pissed her off. Her favourite weapon though were these flexible plastic orange rails you run small toy cars along, wow they used to hurt and leave weals. We used to hide them behind cupboards and she’d be running around shouting “Where’s my rail?”. Friggin aggressive angry woman. Even today if someone raises their hand around my face level my anxiety levels start peaking, it’s like being pavlos dog as I’m quite a fit strong man. My father was actually a fairly gentle bloke who was happy to leave my Mum with the disciplining role, though my mother also thought he was ‘superhuman’ as you say.

    The religious stuff though in your family is hard to swallow, I don’t know how people like your parents reconcile their behaviour with their beliefs. If I ever have kids I’m not going to hit them. Though I see my sister going bright red in the face, shouting and carrying on like a small child and behaving exactly like my Mum towards her kids and so the disease gets passed down the generations.

    Les

    • Hi Les!

      I’m sorry you had to endure such abuse. It’s not something I would wish on anyone, especially a child. Thankfully you can now see the error in such behavior. Many never reach that step.

      I often think it’s amazing how people that are in totally different situations and families will often have nearly identical experiences. It seems there’s some sort of recipe book on how to abuse your children that all the narcissistic parents have read and follow. I had many of the orange rails that you talk about, but thankfully they were never used as a weapon on me. I can only imagine how much that must have hurt!

      it’s interesting that your father was also a passive enabler to the entire situation and let your mother run the household. He was a saint in her mind because he would tacitly put up with her crap, and in some regards, he truly is a saint to be able to ‘love’ someone that is so completely dysfunctional. If he dared to stand up to her, he would immediately be painted black and dealt with accordingly. I’m sure he learned very early on not to cross her and the easiest method to dealing with her was to just let her have her own way. It’s disgusting, really, to stand by idly while you watch your children get abused. I don’t doubt that he sometimes felt that what was happening was wrong, but lacked the strength to do what he should have done and put a stop to it.

      Agreed, the religious piece is definitely hard to swallow. Pieces are taken from a religion’s teaching and twisted to suit the needs of the followers, meaning that, in my case, I was to be ‘corrected’ for any perceived slight. There was no discussion. No attempt at understanding. Just punishment dealt out however my family saw fit. Often I had no idea what would bring on the next punishment episode, so I rapidly learned to isolate and do nothing that I felt could possibly be perceived as punishable. I agree, I feel that there was a certain amount of validation that my parents received through my punishments, and I do believe that my mother, especially, did reap enjoyment out of punishing me. When it’s all about control, there’s nothing that says control more than punishing your own children mercilessly.

      Thanks as always for your comments, Les, and best wishes on your healing journey!

      Stephen

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