39 comments on “Easter Blessings… or No?

    • No they don’t, 18! I can count on one hand the number of half apologies I’ve received from my mother my entire life. A genuine apology? Never!

      Stephen

  1. It’s the peculiar mix of sentiments that is so unsettling – which is why they do it. First they tug the heart/guilt strings then comes what they actually want. You kind of want to believe the good sentiments but every fibre of your being knows they are a crock. There is no such thing as altruism when dealing with these f**king nutters.

    • Completely agree, Les.

      The whole thing can be so horribly confusing. The positive so closely entwined with the negative makes it difficult at times to understand what’s truly going on. Yes, the good sentiments are a crock. They are only there to manipulate and to project the issues back onto me. After all, she’s a good Christian woman, and I’m the evil one. I should be honored that she’s still willing to ‘tolerate’ me considering all I’ve done to her.

      Hard not to gag, honestly.

      Stephen

  2. Oh man…

    First off, all the religious stuff she wrote made me want to gag. It made it seem as if she thinks she is working for Hallmark. And she’s in some kind of professional competition to beat all of their best generic card caption writers. I mean, good grief. She’s writing this letter to HER SON. How about considering the audience a little bit? All that religious gobbledygook doesn’t mean much, especially to someone who is hurting.

    How nice of her to include a check! If it were me, I’d burn it. Or shred it. Narcissist’s gifts never come “no strings attached”. If you cash it, then that breaks No Contact, because she will see the cancelled check. And in her sick mind, that will provide the feedback she desperately wants. She can then play the martyr to her friends: “He’ll take my money but he won’t even say thanks”, etc. If she doesn’t get an answer or a cancelled check, then that will drive her nuts!

    I love how she says she would like to meet with you to discuss “our differences – whatever they might be”. WTF, man! That little disclaimer just says it all, doesn’t it? Those four words communicate all of the following:

    1. I’m still right.
    2. You’re still wrong.
    3. I refuse to acknowledge anything you’ve tried to explain so far.
    4. I refuse to acknowledge your feelings and hurts.
    5. The problem is YOU.

    And then the last note, that she may DIE. And it’s all on you to contact her now. It’s the classic N-move. Fear, Obligation, Guilt. Fear isn’t really working in this case, so she’s laying on the Obligation and Guilt.

    I’ve seen lots of people cave in to the sense of Obligation, even in comments people have left in your blog. I sure wouldn’t! Narcissists always count on you to “be the better person”. They’ve trained you to think that way, especially in regard to THEM! They who show you no pity, no compassion your entire life, expect you to treat them differently. You know what I say to that? “NO THANKS.”

    I know when my N-mom dies, I’ll feel relieved. Your mom’s threat that she might die on you is just that – another threat intended to manipulate. It’s kind of amazing how these people all use the same tactics over and over. And then when they don’t work, they just keep using them.

    I also like how your mom sent you the card out of the blue, and on the surface opening the card it seems like nothing is wrong between the two of you. That she is completely unaware of your feelings. She’s just back, and if you don’t like it, then that’s your problem. The level of arrogance in that is pretty awesome 🙂

    Stray strong, man! And do something for your daughter that she would really like for Easter – And I know that unlike how it is with your own parents, there will be no “mind games” involved!

    Best wishes to you 🙂

    • Hi Clint!

      Thanks for your comments! All very apt!

      The religious drivel at the beginning is her way to invoke a sense of superiority in that she’s this “good Christian woman”, meaning that she’s coming from a place of entitlement because she has god in her pocket. Just about every communication I receive from her has some sort of religious bent to it. She’s well aware I don’t attend church at all anymore, so that immediately makes her better than me in her mind and gives her a right to dictate to me.

      She actually didn’t send a check, she sent cash. I taught her a lesson on that one years ago when she sent a check to have my daughter baptized and I never cashed it. Baptizing my daughter into her warped religious world is not something I would ever consider. My mother’s response to that episode? She called me to complain that I needed to cash her check so that her checkbook would balance. She didn’t like having a check out there that wasn’t cashed. So I get to be blamed for screwing up her checkbook. And not baptizing her granddaughter. Ridiculous! Ever since then, she’s always sent cash. Usually it’s a token amount of money, never more than $20.

      Your comments about her statement regarding discussing our differences are spot on. It’s the ol’ “What the hell, Stephen! Here you go again, being difficult! Fine! Let’s just get it over with so you can go back to the role I’ve assigned to you!”

      My mother has always been the queen of guilt. Obligation, yes, but guilt is the huge card she likes to play. The whole “I might die” is incredibly guilt laden, but oh so very typical of her. She’s actually played the guilt card with just about every communication I’ve received from her in the past few years. It’s her favorite, probably because she found it to be the most effective card to play when it came to me over the years. I’m glad that I can see her antics for what they are now!

      Agreed. Narcissists expect us to be the better person, and will go to great lengths to manipulate what they perceive as this weakness in our persona. And you’re right, when they are successful with their manipulation, it gives them a huge boost. I can remember my NxGF’s fleeting smiles when she was successful with a manipulation tactic on me. It’s quite pathetic that I tolerated it as long as I did.

      One of the biggest tools I’ve learned to use with communication with my mother is to look at what’s not there. In this card, there’s nothing that resembles a true apology, there’s no acknowledgement of my feelings and why I might not be willing to have a relationship with her, there’s absolutely no respect for me. There isn’t even anything nice said about my daughter, other than how I am supposed to spend the money she sent for her. In other words, there’s nothing in the card of any use whatsoever. It’s just the same old crap packaged up in a nice bow.

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

      Stephen

  3. My favorite part is “…discuss our “differences” – whatever they might be – in case I do NOT make it through this major surgery and die!!”

    1. Like you’ve never tried to discuss your “differences” before? I’m assuming you have.
    2. The “whatever they might be”…clearly, any discussions you’ve had about your “differences” went well.
    3. And finally…in case she dies? That is one pricey ticket to a guilt trip.

    I’ll give her credit for one thing—she’s efficient with her narc ways. All that packed into so few words. And for Easter.

    • Hi Will!

      You’re right, that statement is quite ridiculous!

      One thing that I find interesting about the entire card is that it was done in steps, with each step showing more frustration and anger. The card itself is truly beautiful and she spent a great deal of time on it. Had it had a decent message in it, I may well have thought to myself that maybe she is truly making an effort.

      Then the religious drivel inside. I’m guessing that this was added at about the same time she created the card. Still fine.

      Then the first postscript. Now she’s been thinking about it and getting angry. She’s angry that it’s “Impossible” for us to get together for Easter, even though she would LOVE to. I don’t believe that she means “impossible” as in physically it’s not possible, I think she means “impossible” to mean that I am being difficult and refuse to see her, and it’s because of my issues that it’s “impossible” for us to be together for Easter. I’m guessing this was written later, perhaps several hours or maybe even days, since it’s written in a different pen than the religious drivel.

      Then the post postscript. No she’s mad. Quite mad. She’s been stewing on this for what I guess was a day or two, and needs to put me in my place. She knows she has to offer up some sort of token olive branch, and that just makes her even angrier! This is what leads to the “discuss our “differences” – whatever they might be – in case I do NOT make it through this major surgery and die”. She doesn’t know how to approach me in a healthy manner, and she’s angry, so she pulls out the biggest guilt stick she can find and attempts to hit me over the head with it.

      The whole card is her entire approach to me throughout my life all wrapped up in one nice little package. As Clint said, it’s the same thing over and over again, and if it doesn’t work, she just tries it again. Perhaps she didn’t throw down the guilt gauntlet hard enough? Let’s try something more obtuse next time and maybe Stephen will get the message. It’s sad, really.

      I have made attempts to discuss our differences in our past, but I am IMMEDIATELY shut down. I don’t think I’ve even been able to finish the first sentence. She literally doesn’t want to hear it. Why? Because she doesn’t want to have to come to grips with the fact that she’s more than complicit in all that’s wrong with our relationship. My golden child brother behaves exactly the same way. In fact, sometimes it’s eerie how similar my golden child brother and my mother are emotionally. So the crux of it all is, she doesn’t really know what my issues might be, because she chooses not to listen.

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

      Stephen

  4. You are absolutely spot on Clint that narcissists prey on the fact you are the better person and will cave into a sense of duty and obligation. And they actually enjoy the misery they cause and watching decent people cave in to them. Its truly horrible or evil (which is an interesting word).

    • Completely agree, Les.

      It’s disgusting that they gain pleasure from the pain that they inflicted on people. It’s a mindset that is difficult for us to wrap our heads around, because it’s so foreign to how we approach life.

      Stephen

    • Les – She’s used the sense of duty on me over and over. Only it doesn’t work anymore! She’s running out of tactics 🙂

  5. That is so F—ed up, I’m sorry, Stephen. A genuine attempt at atonement and reconciliation would have been delivered as an acknowledgement of mistakes made, and some expression of genuine remorse and desire to make peace before it is too late. Instead, she wrapped up a whole bunch of passive-aggressive bullsh-t and delivered it to your mailbox via the ultimate flying monkey (your words, but so perfect to re-use here).

    • Thanks for your kind words, Bob.

      I agree, her card is miles away from any true attempt at atonement. As I said above, I like to look at what’s not there, and there’s nothing there that would resemble any true contrition on her part. I’m a fool to expect otherwise.

      Someday I’ll complete that “God, the Flying Monkey” post. I’m guessing it will be ripe for discussion!

      Thanks as always for your comments, Bob!

      Stephen

  6. I really, really feel for you. There are so many levels to how awful this is. She managed to include every “sick” narcissitic move and literally gift wrap it for you. For what’s it’s worth I’ve heard that narcissists don’t die easily … so even if she’s got stage 4 cancer she’s gonna be around for 15 more years – so you’ve got plenty of time to see the world the way she wants you too ….. not!

    Take care of yourself … this one was so very hostile despite the handcrafted flowers and money.

    Beth

    • Hi Beth, and welcome!

      Thank you for your kind sentiments. Growing up with her as my mother has been an arduous journey to say the least! I agree, there are many levels of awfulness in her card. The theme that runs throughout is that it’s all about her, and has nothing to do with me. She doesn’t even offer something as simple as “How are you?”. She honestly doesn’t care how I am. She only cares that I am shining a light on her and her ways through my refusal to have a relationship with her. That pisses her off. A lot. So she comes at me from a place of superiority with a finely hand crafted card and a religious blessing while still fully conveying how horrible I am. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s like she’s hugging me and kneeing me in the groin at the same time.

      Who knows how long she will live. I honestly don’t really care at this point. At least when she dies all the cards and calls will stop.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Beth, and thanks again for your kind thoughts!

      Stephen

  7. A hug and a knee in the groin! I like that. If only the hug was actually really it would make the knee in the groin still not nice but at least a little easier to bear! Just gotta laugh sometimes.

  8. As a bit of a follow up:

    I took my mother’s Easter card to my counselling appointment yesterday and showed it to my counselor. The word my counselor kept using was “bizarre”. It truly is bizarre. It certainly helped my counselor to understand my mother and her tactics a bit better. We discussed how my mother uses shame, humiliation and guilt in order to maintain relationships. There’s no true caring or concern, because she is incapable of such sentiments. It’s the same theme that has been predominant in my relationship with my mother throughout my life.

    After the counselling session ended, I thought to myself that maybe the shame / humiliation / guilt that my mother uses on me is her projecting her own shame, humiliation and guilt onto me. My parents were masters at projecting all family issues onto me, even when I was a young boy, and this seems to continue even to this day, with my mother projecting her own inner turmoil onto me as recently as this past week through her Easter card.

    The card has now found the trash can. I am still no contact.

    Stephen

  9. “Bizarre” is right! It’s a little envelope all full of crazy inside, tied up with a pretty bow!

  10. It is indeed all about projecting their shame onto someone else Stephen, I am convinced of that. They don’t want to feel the shame so they project it onto you where they can get in touch with it. If you bring up a narcissists behavior with them it makes them feel a tiny bit of that shame which they can’t tolerate and they will do anything to avoid. They have to be superior at all costs.

    • Agreed Les.

      It’s quite deplorable, honestly. I think about my childhood and how I had all the family shame dumped on me as a young boy. Such a horrible thing to do to a child. I couldn’t imagine doing something similar. I do understand the reasons behind the dynamic, though. As you said, a narcissist will not allow themselves to feel shame, so it MUST be projected to someone else and managed by condemning the person receiving said projections, even if that person happens to be your own innocent young child.

      Stephen

  11. “Unfortunately she literally can’t help herself…..” Yes, she can. Look at all the effort she put into conceptualizing and creating the physical card. Kind of like what a child does for a parent<think on that a bit, OK? Read the manipulative message. She knows exactly what she's doing. At this time she's frantically pushing button after button trying to find one that works to get a response. Remember, any response is better than none…..the drug of choice for CBs is Attention.
    Congrats on maintaining NC. Expect her to continue to ramp up her efforts to get you engaged in some way. Aging and death are a part of life for all of us and CBs don't get an exemption. I would never, ever take my CB "mother's" word on ANYTHING especially health care issues. Please bear in mind, in their "It's all about MEEEEEEE!" World an encounter with a run away shopping cart in a parking lot will be construed as a "near death experience."
    I can't begin to tell you how many ACs fall for the "Heath Care Crisis" BS and I'm really pleased you haven't! Sweet progress! Woot!
    TW

    • Hi TW,

      Yes, you’re right, she could help herself, but she chooses not to. She HAS to project shame, humiliation and guilt onto me. It’s so strongly wired into her persona that it’s essentially impossible for her to do otherwise. This part of her I get. She will never change. She MUST project. She can’t possibly accept that her behavior might have anything to do with our impasse, so she has to make sure she pulls out the biggest guilt hammer she can find to try and bring me back in line. “Fine Stephen, ignore me, but you’ll be sorry when I’m gone!” She doesn’t realize that she’s gone to me already. In fact she never was. She was just an egg donor.

      I’m standing by for more health care ‘crisis’ as she gets older. With her being a nurse and my brother being a doctor, I’m sure I’ll be contacted plenty when it comes to her failing health.

      I definitely feel I have made a lot of progress, and I’m sure she’s quite frustrated that her old tactics to bring me in line don’t have the desired effect on me anymore. Not that she will ever stop trying.

      Thanks for your comments, TW!

      Stephen

    • She may well have bought the card. I don’t think she did, but who knows. I’m not about to ask. It has the appearance of being hand made, but that doesn’t mean someone didn’t make it for her.

      Hugs to you, too, Paola!

      Stephen

  12. Stephen, I love reading your entries. You’re so insightful, it’s hard to think you were the victim of this N mother. When I read that your counselor kept commenting “bizarre”, I thought ‘not to me’, and not to anyone from a narcissistic family system. That card was totally normal. She has the opposite of love to offer you. And she doesn’t even know it. There’s nothing clean about her words to you. And love is clean. I was thinking today that if my heart had to be reduced to words, it would be only four: “Why didn’t I matter?” I was a good kid, blah, blah, blah. Family just becomes irrelevant at some point, when you don’t want anything to do with people who have nothing to give. Anyway, if she does die, every time Mother’s day comes around and my mother isn’t here to weigh me down to the bottom of the ocean, I’m happy. Mother’s day is finally a light and springy day. But something tells me your mother enjoys guilting you too much to leave this world. Her currency is sympathy, not love.

    • Hi Sherri!

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad that reading my story resonates with you. I often find it hard to believe that I was a victim of an N mother, too. It was my mother that chose to abuse me. It was my mother that chose to view my traits as an avenue to extract N-supply in the form of sympathy. It was my mother that chose to project her issues onto me and then treat me as if I had those issues. I provided a means to an end for her; a proverbial dumping ground for her toxic emotions.

      I get the “why didn’t I matter” feeling. It’s a very tough feeling to swallow and accept. You’re right, they have nothing to give. They only take. And take. And take. Love was always conditional. Extremely conditional. It had more associated strings attached to it then the entire band of muppets. Nothing was every going to please her. Unfortunately it took me a very long time to completely accept that her ‘love’ for me didn’t really exist.

      Mother’s day is right around the corner. The last time I spoke to my mother was two years ago at mother’s day. Mother’s day still has a cloud over it for me, and will for a long time to come. When she’s gone, it might be possible to look at mother’s day in a different light, but for now, it’s just a reminder of the struggles I’ve been made to endure because of my mother.

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

      Stephen

  13. Hey Stephen, this site is nurturing to me. Thank you for taking the time and energy to create and maintain it. The entries that point out how a N mother “HAS to project shame” on others is so very true. And it helps clarify that truth for me. I watched “Wild” recently, and the main character LOVED her mother and her mother LOVED her. Films like these always leave me sad and empty in some ways because I had no mother to grieve, only to be relieved she was gone. (aside from that, the film was very inspiring) But I feel sad with no mother or family really. I just have unhealthy influences that I have repeatedly tried to figure out a way to deal with and never found one that made any sense to me. And I can’t do it anymore. The door is shutting behind me again because it’s the only thing I know that feels truthful to me. I don’t belong to them. I just don’t belong to them. Family isn’t what it’s supposed to me. There’s a play called Night Mother, and in it there’s a line about how a family consists of people who bear witness to your hardest experiences, and they’ve done so without your consent. period. Something like that. I’ll find the quote. Anyway, stay strong. Sherri.

    • Hi Sherri!

      I’m humbled that you find my site nurturing to you, and I’m glad that you find it helpful.

      Yes, an N has to project shame. They emotionally aren’t equipped to deal with it, so it must be immediately projected. It’s unfortunate. It is what it is. To expect the N to change is a completely unrealistic expectation. Truthfully, it’s somewhat controlling to have the expectation that they will change. When we expect the N to change, we think we have some sort of control over how someone else behaves, which is definitely not living in the world of reality.

      I’m right there with you when it comes to the ‘no family’ feeling. It sucks. Bad. I see others who have healthy families, others who look forward to spending time with their families, and I feel that familiar pang in my chest that tells me that I will never have that. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It can’t be changed, no matter how hard we try. The best we can do is somehow make peace with it all and move forward.

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

      Stephen

  14. I have to tell you how wonderful your blog is as a source of support for myself and my husband. My husband’s mother is a narcissist and a sociopath, something we recognized only a year ago after many alarming episodes and our seeing a therapist to discuss such episodes. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Marie, and welcome!

      I’m so very humbled that you find my thoughts helpful. If sharing my story provides some sort of validation to others that have been made to endure similar experiences, it’s truly a positive outcome of my life’s journey.

      Congratulations! Sound weird? Hear me out… I want to congratulate you on identifying the true nature of your husband’s mother and her affect on him and her effect on your relationship with him. Many never make it to this step. If one never achieves this step, it’s impossible to begin to truly address the situation and begin to heal.

      I’m sorry you are dealing with the ramifications of your husband’s narcissistic / sociopathic mother. It’s always an ugly situation. It is my hope that the two of you are able to find the strength to see your way through this difficult time. I know that, for me, coming to the realization of the true depth of my mother’s dysfunction was one of the most emotionally challenging times of my entire life.

      If you like, please feel free to email me directly by clicking on the picture of the boy with the guitar. I will do my best to respond in a timely fashion.

      Best wishes on you and your husband’s healing journey, Marie!

      Stephen

  15. I agree with Sherri. Sadly not all that bizarre. Sick, twisted, self serving, patronising, condescending, selfish, egocentrical, cold, aloof, manipulative and all the other things we know to be normal from our “parents”. I may vomit… Which hopefully shows I have made some progress in being a healthier person, ironically. I admire your strength and how you never doubt your own perspective in your writings here. I shall watch and learn!

    • Hi Stranger!

      Yes, truly not all that bizarre, and definitely all the things that you mentioned. Yes, recognizing my mother’s methods as self serving and typical for an N parent definitely means that you have made progress, and for that you should be congratulated!

      I spent the majority of my life doubting my perceptions of my upbringing. Since I’ve come to fully accept the depths of the dysfunction in my family of origin, I seldom have reason to doubt my perspective any longer.

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

      Stephen

      • I really wonder whats going on with me there. Cognitively I feel I am very aware of my families machinations. In fact I do feel I can express very well what I remember they did and didn’t do and why that was wrong. But I do not feel it was wrong. I do not feel much at all in that regard. And I still doubt very very often. Might come with not being able to fully evade people who feel the need to defend my parents. But I do feel my GP and the welfare workers slowly get that no my parents do not care and no they are not worried about me, they are worried about their property developing dangerous stuff like the absurd idea that they are a human being with rights.

      • HI Stranger,

        There are actually a myriad of things that could be going on that would all have a similar result, making you feel as though there was nothing really ‘wrong’ with your upbringing. As children, we are very ill equipped to deal with abuse emotionally, so we employ several tactics to somehow attempt to manage the abuse. These range from normalizing the abuse (acting as if “everyone does it”), dissociating ourselves from the abuse (acting as if it happened to someone else and we were spectators to the abuse) to literal brain damage to our memory centers, meaning that we have burned the pathways to the memories of abuse and can no longer remember them, thereby protecting our current psyche from the abuse (this brain damage has been proven in some scientific studies, where certain areas of the brain are smaller in abuse victims).

        From my experience with this blog and through other places, it seems that many people that endured abuse have no memories of the abuse. Often there is maybe a story or two, but the true depth of the abuse is an enigma to them. For some reason, I was blessed (cursed?) with an ability to remember a great deal of my abuse. I guess it is a blessing, because I at least have the ability to attempt to analyze what happened when I remember what happened. If I had no memory of the abuse, it would be that much more difficult to assess why i have historically had the issues I do.

        My NxGF, who I believe could easily be diagnosed as NPD, had very few memories of her childhood, such that it actually disturbed her. Her sister would talk about “remember the time when…” and my xGF had no recollection at all. It was like months and years of her childhood were spliced out of her memory. I don’t doubt that way deep inside of her somewhere there were memories of emotional abuse and / or sexual abuse, but she had no ability to access them. Her mother was a huge narcissist, too. One area that her mother and my mother shared was a penchant for excessive jewelry. Both her mother and my mother would wear rings on nearly every finger, and multiple necklaces. It was truly ridiculous. Nothing says “look at me” like tons of gaudy jewelry!

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

        Stephen

    • Ha Laura!

      I’ve most certainly been tempted to do such a thing! But then I remember that any contact counts as contact. Any relationship counts as a relationship, not matter how dysfunctional and strained that relationship might be.

      Best to not send that reply…

      Stephen

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