28 comments on “Hi Stephen, it’s Your Mother

  1. Happy happy birthday to you! I hope you had a good one despite that phone call. I’ve had to do some head shaking before too-God bless you! You are special in so many ways! I think of you often!! Ugh! Those are nice things to say if only she meant them. Guess they still drive me bonkers since they follow all the things she feels like spewing out.

    • Thanks Robby!

      My birthday was great! It was full of validation from my dysfunctional family. Between my brother’s 11 call phone bomb between 0100 and 0200 and my mother’s guilt laden message of insanity, it was confirmed once again why I left all that behind. It was a wonderful day 🙂

      Stephen Bach

      • oh my gosh..Can’t stop laughing. Not at your pain… I know the pain..but if they only knew what they sounded like. MIL 40 years of …….. no boundaries. Left her in the dust a year ago. Finally. But had to go very low contact before that. Yep. Had to hit rock bottom myself. Cooked a fine dinner for her and her new husband and on her way out she took art work off my wall. I said..you gave that to me……..and she kept on walking with it. Bye bye..see you on the other side. Let me just say…I stood up for myself countless times and they just don’t ‘get it’. Actually they do…they want you as miserable as they are. I am glad you had a nice Birthday Stephen. Here’s to many more..happy and healthy BD’s.

      • Hi Susan!

        You’re right, when you put their behavior into context, it’s easy to spot it for what it is: The behavior of a 5 year old – Full of tantrums and selfishness. It’s comical but also quite pathetic. It’s also very painful to be made to endure the brunt of their adult tantrums.

        Glad you left them all in the dust, too!

        Stephen

  2. My former roommate used to do that, too.
    “You would be pretty if you lost some weight and did something with your hair. I’ll pray for you.”
    Blessings do not cancel out a narcissistic devalue.

    • I completely agree 18.

      Blessings do not cancel out a narcissistic devalue. I’ve heard people say similar things as your roommate did to me. “You’re a wreck; I’ll pray for you”. Like their prayers are just going to fix everything that they perceive is wrong with me. A true Christian would be accepting of how someone is, not ‘pray’ that that person becomes the person that the supposed ‘Christian’ thinks they should be.

      Stephen Bach

  3. My Mother ( using the term loosely ) called me at work on the business phone after I had not spoken with her in 12 years. I had been divorced by that time about 7 years. YOU at least got a hello LOL I got ” I’ve got trouble , real trouble. I need to to quit your job and come take care of me.” I explained that I was sorry for her trouble but I was divorced had 2 little kids and could not possibly do that. Her response? ” YOU had another one of those?” ( She knew I had had my son but not my daughter) “YOU have never been there when I need you” SLAM went the phone. It’s been about 14 years since then, should I be anticipating a call? She may be dead for all I know. I haven’t check. She was dead to me many many years ago.

    • Hi Ellie!

      I’m sorry you had such a mother. It’s not fun. At all.

      Isn’t it wild how we don’t exist until they need something from us? I had a friend at Swan Waters liken it to a genie. All of the sudden they need something from us, so they rub the lamp and POOF!, we are to magically appear to do their bidding. Then when they don’t need us anymore we are supposed to go back into our magic lamp for the next decade until they might happen to need us again.

      I often wonder if I had a mother that was as overtly abusive as yours was if I would have figured it out sooner. My mother was always the queen of the backhanded statement or compliment, just like in her message to me. Always saying something nice laced with poison. Things like “I’ll pray for you” and “God’s blessings”, which taken out of context would seem OK, but when they are put into the context of her complete guilt laden message, only serve to confuse and distort. I tripped up on these confusions and distortions for a very long time, looking for the needle of positive in the haystack of negative. It’s the only validation I would receive.

      I know I’ve said this before, but here it goes again. I’ve spent decades trying to get validation from my family when there was none to be found. Now my family validates me with every attempt at contact they make; they show me how truly dysfunctional they are, and they affirm for me my decision to go no contact.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Ellie!

      Stephen Bach

    • Dear Ellie, I can’t believe I never came across this post until now. If you’re still out there, bless. It’s funny when they don’t even try to hide it. I’m sorry for your pain, but your post made me laugh. I’m wondering if all these dead narcissists have a special place in the afterlife (mine’s dead, at least.) I’m wondering what it would be like if we could put them all on one island together. How would they communicate? What would happen with everyone trying to manipulate everyone? And everyone trying to get everyone to do their bidding? Who would serve the narcissist? Without a world of sujects to serve the narcissist, would their world collapse? Would they all go into a catatonic freeze? Someone should conduct an experiment. They seem to be easy enough to spot, to me anyway. Now we just have to round ’em up and isolate them. Bless. What a mother, sister. Best wishes.

      • Conversation with my older golden golden child sister
        She sent me text on my Birthday to say happy birthday but there was a booby trap. An email that was sent to my spam 25 days before. Just an email. No text no phone call till the day of.
        Sister: David- not sure what to make of your text, but any time
        you want to talk about it let me know. I sent you a couple of emails (one of them being about celebrating your birthday at my place) but maybe they went into Spam. Love, Christine
        Me:I don’t pick up spam. I asked you to text me if you need to reach me. I checked the spam just now and there are no emails from you. Please forward what you sent again and text me when you have.
        Sister: ok
        Me: I read it. Just can’t figure out why send an email when you know I don’t get them and text is the way to get me. Odd that no one contacted me re my Birthday aside from you on the day. You only see one side. You never ever see how I am abused when you are not there but I’m sure you have a good idea. Bruce and Mom don’t abuse me out in the open. It’s all covert, its all cruel, and its designed to completely destabilize, terrorize and destroy the target so they no longer feel safe or trust them selves and ultimately adopt the warped version of them selves they have been fed by the people who are suppose to care for me
        Sister- sorry I picked the wrong channel- I guess I did email because I wanted to share with you the article on Dylan and on my own email I always check my Spam because of the tendency for systems to misdirect emails. I will only text from now on- Christine

    • Haha! I love it!

      I don’t doubt she did call my brother to complain about how rude I am for not returning her calls and not hooking up her stereo and TV. I can almost guarantee that she did that.

      Thanks for the well wishes, Paola.

      Stephen Bach

  4. Did he hook up her stereo for her then? Ha!

    Interesting that you posted this article on my own mother’s birthday. She has been dead for a little over a year, but I’m still not sure what to do about this day. My dad was with me on this one, and neither of us brought it up. I didn’t know what to say to him because he knows what a mess our family is in, and he doesn’t want to analyze it. I know he wishes everybody could “just get along.” And at the same time, now that’s she’s been gone awhile, he knows the peace of not having her rage at him every day and polish the wedges she placed between me and my brother. He knows.

    I love him and look after him, but I also understand the role he played in the family drama by not speaking up or standing up while she worked her evil. He told me some years ago that he stayed with her because he couldn’t know what would happen to us kids. He didn’t want to leave the family home, because in those days the woman always got custody of the children.

    That is quite a sacrifice he made for me. I don’t know how he could have done any more than that in a truly impossible situation. He is a moral and ethical man, and he passed those values to me. That compass helped me sort out and survive as I have. It has been a rough ride, but it could have been much worse.

    So, without any words, I know we both remembered her birthday. It’s kind of a passive float downstream. I don’t know how many years he has left, but I’ll be gentle in helping him, not too much help. I do have my own good life, and that is such a blessing… I’ve worked hard to create it!

    I see on my brothers’ daughter’s Facebook page that she and her lover made some fuss over placing flowers at my mother’s memorial. He placed a “like” without getting out of his chair.

    I can be very grateful that Mom died first. She would have given away the (very modest)estate to the GC and left me to salvage a roof over her head. And I would have no choice but to watch out for her because that’s who I am.

    And you know what? The sadness of the divisions between myself and people I love hurts my heart every day. If I happen to make contact with my brother or his family, it’s like a brand-new knife gets stuck in me. Will it hurt less as time goes by? I allow less and less contact with him lately… maybe that’s my answer.

    I read with interest your remarks about “no contact.” It’s a true fact that my life is much better without the complication of GC’s demands and guilt trips. At the very conservative end of that, if I don’t need to be totally no-contact with him, he may learn to respect me when I quit being a rug. “Let’s have Denise do it” has been the family mantra way too long.

    I’ll look after Dad because I want to. He can appreciate some kindnesses. I’ll leave the other “obligations” to the wind.

    Thanks again, Stephen… I’ll follow your blog with much interest.

    • Hi Denise,

      My apologies for not responding sooner.

      I have no idea if he hooked up her stereo for her :). I think it’s quite ironic that she called me first to do it, when we haven’t communicated in 18 months. Perhaps her thinking was that my doctor brother was ‘too busy’ or ‘too special’ to do such trivial things, so I’ll get Stephen to do it. It’s Stephen’s role to be the family handyman.

      I think it’s great that you have a good relationship with your father! It’s also good that you understand his role as enabler and how he felt he couldn’t do anything more. He was right, he most likely had little chance to gain significant custody with the children, especially if he worked full time and / or traveled for work while your mom was a stay at home mom. The dilemma of the male victim in a romantic relationship is very complicated. Is it better to keep the marriage intact and allow the children to observe the dysfunction present without an alternate perspective, making the children believe that “this is how married life is”, or is it better to divorce and hope to have enough time with the children to be able to offer an alternate perspective to their disordered mother? I chose the latter route, and it seems to be working well so far. I fought my daughter’s mother in court for 16 months to get the time I have with my daughter. I refused to be a “weekend dad”. It was costly and the emotional turmoil was huge, but I do feel it was well worth it in the end.

      My deceased father was also very much an enabler, except he never acknowledged to me that he was aware of his role. He backed my mother 100% on everything she said or did, no matter how cruel or humiliating it might be, often echoing my mother’s exact sentiment. I honestly don’t think he realized how damaging my mother’s behavior is.

      I completely understand the sadness related to the divisions we are required to endure. Do I wish I had a healthy relationship with family? Absolutely! Do I wish my daughter knew her grandmother and uncle and cousins? Most definitely. Have I accepted that the path I have chosen is the best one for me, and if that path means that I leave my family in my wake then that is what must happen? I have. It’s not easy to accept. It’s not easy to admit that my family functions in a delusional cloud of grandiosity.

      I often wonder what a relationship with my father might have been like had my mother died first. Would he have potentially come to realize what she was truly like if he was no longer under her spell, or would he have carried her delusions with him until his grave? I will never know.

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

      Stephen Bach

      • Good morning, Stephen.

        It was my birthday over the weekend, and my brother made an overture about an “early Thanksgiving gathering of the clan” and also for me. I declined as politely as I could. He PM’d me a “Happy Birthday” and I PM’d him back: “(whispering) thanks.” I don’t know who he is hiding from. He does not put anything on my Facebook wall, nor does he reply to anything I put on his, except by PM. There have only been a few of these from me. I suppose I thought by putting a comment on one of his posts where everyone could see it that would please him somehow. None of his three daughters sent me any kind of birthday greeting, although I always remember theirs.

        I don’t know how he figures I’d want to go to his house with all the veiled anger at me. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking of entering his home.

        Dad gave me a card and three prints of linoleum block cuttings I’d made in high school. I didn’t do many art projects because that was Mom’s thing and it felt competitive. These I’d done for school, and looking at them now, they’re actually pretty good. But the shock of seeing something I’d forgotten about made me cry in front of everybody… not unhappy tears, no bad scene. Mom was a partner in an small art gallery in those days, and she’d wrapped them in cellophane with my name on them to exhibit and sell. So there was the trigger that kept me awake all night with some kind of dread.

        Also during that time, Mom made me sit for a pastel portrait she’d commissioned by an artist friend. It hung in her bedroom for about a decade (this was 1972), but it’s been put away for some time. I remembered this, too. I have a very sad expression in it. I wonder how she looked at it every day.

        I sure don’t know how to get back in relationship with my brother (or his daughters), and I know it probably wouldn’t be good for me anyway. I’m looking at the Christmas gifts I bought them, and just think I’ll return them to the store. I’d always given them something nice, but why would they want anything from me these days?

        And no, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, just opening the cage door a little further. I have good relationship with my husband and three sons, and I think my Dad fits in pretty well. We had a nice dinner with none of the sideways looks I avoided at my brother’s house.

        Nice and easy… and life can get better.

        Have a great week for yourself.

        Denise

      • Hi Denise, and happy belated birthday!

        Again, my apologies for not responding sooner.

        I think you are doing a great job of managing your relationship with your brother. I know it’s hard to do. We have been trained that family comes first, no matter what. That training can impede us creating the healthy boundaries that are necessary to deal with toxic family members. I have learned to look at it this way: Would I have a relationship with my family if they were not blood? The answer is “No”. To me, the negatives of our relationship far outweigh any positives, and isn’t that how you typically would gauge a relationship? Once the negative outweigh the positives, maintaining that relationship serves no purpose? Why would family get a pass? If it makes you sick to your stomach to go to your brother’s house, don’t go! Would you drink something to make you sick because you felt obligated to? Why put yourself in that situation where you know you will have a somatic response?

        I can only imagine how hard it was for you to see those linoleum cuttings again. It had to bring up thoughts of what might have been; what might have been had your mother encouraged your art, versus discouraged it. I have often had these thoughts, too; what might have been if I was encouraged to be the person I wanted to be, versus the person my mother required I be.

        The picture story is very sad. Yes, for anyone with any empathy, to look at a picture of their daughter with a sad expression on her face every day for a decade would be extremely difficult. Unfortunately, you were just the subject of the picture, and she felt no motherly bond toward you. You could have been a vase, or a flower, or a river, or a barn, it all equates to the same feeling on her part. I don’t doubt that when she looked at it she saw some feature of how the artist had completed the painting that had intrigued her. She also may have felt pride that she had an original work from the artist that had her daughter as the subject. Again, all about her. It was very hard to admit to myself that I had never been loved. That I was just a tool and appliance to be utilized and manipulated.

        I think you have a great approach to include your husband, your dad, and your sons, and leave the rest of your family to be themselves. I feel that is by far the healthiest approach: Cut out the toxic people and surround yourself with people that you find uplifting.

        Happy Holidays to you, Denise, and best wishes on your healing journey.

        Stephen

  5. Stephen:

    I wish you happy holidays, too!

    I did return the gifts to the store. I don’t think they want anything from me, anyway. It feels right.

    Before I left that last marriage I was what most people would call wealthy. I know I was the envy of some people, and no matter how generous I was in sharing what I had, there are those who see that the wrong way. I used my connections (earned by ethical relationship) to get my niece job interviews, for instance. She had to pass them, of course, but she got two good career track jobs that way. Those two jobs have everything to do with how she’s chosen her college courses and grown in confidence. She’s come along way from food service and retail. And look how she treats me now.

    When I left the “posh” life about three years ago and rebuilt my livelihood and identity, I’m sure my brother took some satisfaction in that. He’d been cheering me on to leave that marriage (although I would have done it with or without his blessing).

    Now I am living well again. Not on the former scale, but I am certainly comfortable. It took a tremendous effort, some risk, and those business relationships I’d carefully grown for the previous twenty years. His own career stagnates, eclipsed by his wife’s. But they are still doing very well.

    Sure would be nice to get some admiration from him, but I feel something else coming from him. I think you could probably name it, I come up with a jumble of definitions. Doesn’t matter I suppose. The main thing is I feel a lot better out of contact, as you say the bad outweighs the good by quite a number.

    I did the heavy lifting with my mother’s illnesses and death shortly after the separation from my former husband (do you think that was light duty in itself… I left the King of the Gaslight and Spinning Plates). The divorce was Kabuki theater, and I took a settlement that resembled 40/60 just to get it done and end all business involvement with that man.

    I am resting now in a good steady business and a healthy marriage with a compatible man. We have time for travel and enjoy our peaceful home. And we’re pretty much no-contact with my brother and his family.

    My counselor said, “Ah. You’ve found the place in your heart that no one can invade to cause you pain. Now that you know it’s there, you can live in it and be happy.”

    True, very true. If you’re not already in that place, you’re getting there, Stephen. It’s a bit of a shock to the system when you realize you’re not carrying that old familiar weight anymore. It helps me to sit in a very quiet place sometimes and just breathe.

    Thanks again. You’ve done me some good in seeing your path compared with my own. (And you’re a good writer.)

    Denise

    • Hi Denise!

      I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

      Your comment about leaving the ‘posh’ life behind brings up an observation: There is no correlation between abuse and worldly success. In fact, I would venture that many people that fit the definition of worldly success are more inclined to suffer from emotional issues; the bullying boss at the workplace; the drug addicted young starlet; the self absorbed professional athlete. Society would like us to believe that if we achieve worldly success, we will be happy by default. Nothing could be further from the truth. Money doesn’t bring happiness. Happiness comes from within. if we aren’t happy in our own skin, we won’t be happy no matter how much money is at our disposal.

      That’s unfortunate about your niece, although not entirely unexpected. Having been raised in your brother’s home, I’m sure she has the mindset that such things are ‘owed’ to her and she has no inkling to show any gratitude.

      We both have been there to support a parent during their final days (https://thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/his-dying-breath/). It’s what we do. I’m sure having to deal with your mother at the same time you were divorcing your ex husband had to take a huge emotional toll. (BTW – love the Kabuki theater reference, it’s exactly what it is like). I’m sure you are happy to be beyond that particular stage in your life!

      Yes, you most likely will never receive any validation from your brother. I think your situation with your brother may be similar to my situation with my brother. My brother ‘needs’ to have a relationship with me, but that relationship has to be on his terms. I have way to many examples of exactly that type of behavior from him. I also feel he somewhat sees me as a threat, because he knows I can see right thorough his facade. Anytime I’ve attempted to bring up serious issues related to family, he immediately will shut me down and tell me “Don’t ever say that again!”, yet he feels he has the right to tell me how to live my life and freely points out the areas where he feels I am deficient. It’s highly hypocritical, and overly annoying. It’s why I don’t engage him any longer.

      I do like the comment your counselor made:

      “Ah. You’ve found the place in your heart that no one can invade to cause you pain. Now that you know it’s there, you can live in it and be happy.”

      For we who have been victims of abuse, knowing that we have a safe place is vital for us to be able to continue to heal; that healthy, happy place where we know we are OK just the way we are. That place where we can just “be” and breathe.

      I think there may be a bit more too it, however. On the surface, that comment represents to me, at least in some small fashion, that we are isolating ourselves and limiting our emotional availability. While such tactics are valuable when dealing with personality disordered individuals, to normal healthy people, it can seem as though we have a wall up and are not entirely available emotionally. Allowing myself to be emotionally available is definitely an area in which I struggle. I have fully committed myself to not letting my past dictate my future, but just because my brain wants that to be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true for my heart.

      Thank you for the compliment, Denise. I’m always humbled when others are able to connect to my story. It’s definitely a positive outcome of my life’s experiences. Truthfully, my ability as a writer has a lot to do with my life’s experiences. I have spend my entire life analyzing every situation for every little detail in order to try and anticipate the next catastrophe and take actions to mitigate it before it occurs. This highly analytic piece is what makes me a good engineer, and what helps me to rapidly discern a situation and put my thoughts into words. My ability to be clear and succinct comes from years of having to attempt to pick exactly the right words to convey my thoughts without potentially setting my abusive partner off. So, ironically, the same situations that I have shared regarding my life are also the same situations that have led me to be effective in this realm.

      Best wishes on your healing journey, Denise! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Stephen

  6. Just tried reconciling and I just had a birthday and it was a horror story. Let me know if this is still active and I’ll post some things. My mother always says
    “Hi David. It’s your Mother” like I don’t know my mother’s own voice or is it more a declaration like. Hi David this is God speaking.

    • Hi David,

      Sorry to hear about your difficult time with attempted reconciliation. Reconciliation is never easy, and I often have found that it only makes things worse. Please, feel free to share whatever you might like. Myself and others here will be happy to help however we can.

      Best wishes to you, David.

      Stephen

      • Part of trying to schedule a real date to meet after 3.5 years No Contact.

        Bruce

        David, I don’t know what is going on with you but don’t be lending me intentions that I do not have. Mother’s Day is May 10 and her Birthday is May 5. I stand by my original honest Statement. I will probably be making a trip to Toronto in around that time. I reserve the right to change my plans as life’s circumstances change. I have not done so as of yet. I want to know about your children and how they are. I don’t understand why Rowland does not communicate with me, Christine or his Grandma. I do not understand why Austin doesn’t either but well there’s a sneaking suspicion that it might have to do with me. How that affects his relationships with other Chun’s is not so much a Mystery as it is a frustration. You know Mom did stick up for you and told me to knock it off. When she asked me to knock it off I did, for her, at that moment. I am not hoping for some miraculous reconciliation. But what happen between you and me stays between you and me so let’s keep it between you and me. Is that an acceptable and fair boundary to you.
        B

    • Dear David, I’m thinking that a lot of narcissist mothers do the, “Sherri, it’s your mother” thing. (Like I wouldn’t know the sound of her voice either,) which by the way, if a sharp pointy nose could speak, that would be the cringe worthy sound of that woman’s voice. It’s weird, or maybe not so weird. Narcissists say a lot of the same things. They speak this kind of language, where they all sound, more of less the same. And I think you’re exactly right, she was declaring “David, this is GOD speaking.” I think it’s because they don’t and can’t love. These women do not love their children. So the language they use to communicate with their children is just something less than human. It’s manipulation wrapped in carefully chosen words and carefully expressed tones. I’m pretty sure that “Sherri, it’s your mother” meant something like, “you are required to answer to me, and if you don’t, you should feel guilty about treating your MOTHER in such a way.” We all know that mother is just code for saint in a narcissist’s head. But the truth is– love cannot be obligated. That’s a key concept that is lost on a narcissist mother. I do not owe myself to anyone. I do not owe a relationship to anyone. That is not a thing that can be owed. It’s a genuine thing. And there is nothing about a narcissist that is genuine, except their own unending quest for supply. The only thing I owe God, this Earth, or the people on it is to be the truth of who I am. period. I would amend that statement if I had children. Because I would owe them love, and a bunch of practical things too. Anyway, I had nightmare about my mother last night. I’m 50 years old and she’s been dead for a while. I would encourage you to get that narcissist out of your life for good. But even when you do, there’s still some lingering damage.

      • Thanks for your very insightful words or we have just walked the same loveless path. No matter what I do….let go….connect …..it is always pain….walking through life without a birth family except the ones who visit me in my nightmares or target me on my birthday, my sons birthdays, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Christmas, thanksgiving. Funny nothing on Valentines or Halloween. 2 clear ends of the spectrum.

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