I was programmed by dysfunctional narcissist parents who were incapable of love.
I was programmed to be the scapegoat and at the same time, the hero who was responsible for and blamed for everything. I became a pathological caretaker.
I was programmed to be responsible for everyone in my family and I believed as a natural extension of that faulty idea, that all the problems on the planet were mine to fix. I derived my self-esteem from being helpful and useful to others while my soul did not exist. I learned to never disagree, to have no feelings, to be a soother of others and to be invisible wherever possible.
I was programmed for fear, scarcity and lack; to have nothing and to want nothing.
This programming for responsibility started when my brother was born and I was two years old. I remember being told by my mother, Maureen that I was a big girl now and I had to look after my baby brother. My needs and feelings were voided by the new baby. Not that she would have paid any attention to them anyway. She was a narcissist and went on to have serious mental health issues which resulted in her spending a lot of time in mental hospital.
From the age of six I was used as their babysitter. She and my father left me with my two younger siblings aged four and three, while they went out in the evenings. I remember the horrible feeling of fear at the overwhelming responsibility I was given at such a young age.
They went to spiritualist meeting where they would call up Native American spirt guides and use Ouija boards. I remember a neighbour put matchstick crosses over our beds one day joined together with red cotton. She probably thought she was protecting us from the evil spirits! As my mother was a catholic this is somewhat confusing. Some years later she thought she was the reincarnation of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and that my father was Robert! Her mental illness was never diagnosed.
I was programmed to live in fear by an angry, aggressive and violent father and to walk on eggshells to keep myself safe.
People would say that Tony, my father, had a chip on his shoulder. I didn’t know what that meant as a young child. It means to have an angry or unpleasant attitude or way of behaving caused by a belief that one has been treated unfairly in the past. This ‘chip’ on your shoulder is the behaviour of a narcissist. When it was time for him to come home from work visitors would leave . I remember noticing this at an early age and wondering why.
If I hurt myself, for example, I remember falling off a playground swing aged about four or five, he would laugh and say something like, ‘I missed that. Could you do it again?’ I remember falling headlong into a nettle patch and was covered from head to foot in stings. He laughed.
If I cried he would tell me to ‘shut up or he would give me something to cry about. I remember trying to stifle sobs and being unable to breath as I supressed my tears. I also remember thinking how could someone not respond to a person who was so distressed. I was less than 5 years old at the time.
I cannot remember any, hugs, cuddles or any expressions of affection from him towards me or anything which made me feel like he cared about me, just the same as Gordon.
He was a socialist and hated the management at work and he hated rich people. Just like Gordon he considered being poor a virtue which is a great excuse for not having to do anything or formulate a plan to get money.
My father and mother would have raging arguments which often ended up with my father beating my mother. They would argue at night and I would lie in bed petrified and literally paralysed in fear. I suffered with nightmares quite often.
During my high school years, the arguments became worse. I never knew what I would find when I came home from school. Would my parents be fighting? Would my mother have another black eye or worse?
I came home once to find that a door handle had pierced the inner side of her elbow and she had been to hospital. He had pushed her into the door.
She defended my father – no matter what, which I did not understand at the time but I now realise it was because of her co-dependency.
“Don’t Speak To Your Father Like That”
When I was 15 years old during one beating I was witnessing I somehow found the courage to speak up and defend her. Shaking with fear I told my father to stop hitting her. Her response was to tell me not to speak to my father like that.
It felt like the ultimate betrayal to me. How could I live in a house where my mother defended a violent, physically abusive man and rejected my attempts to help her?
I left and went to my Grandmother’s house. A few days later my narcissist mother dumped all my things in my grandmother garden. I lived with her from the age of 15 to 18 years old and I had to study and pass exams with the stress and emotional turmoil of that incident.
The anxiety and depression this created in me has lasted my entire life.
My mother, a devoted catholic, gave birth to three children whom she hated, before the age of twenty-four and so, was herself a child when she became a mother to me at twenty-one years old. She was a dancer in the chorus line of a theatre show in Norwich when she met my father who was 10 years older than her.
She was not emotionally mature enough to be a healthy parent nor did she care about the emotional needs of her children. She needed me to parent her as I grew up.
She spent most of her adult life in and out of Winwick mental hospital, and took Valium and Mogadon for many years. She was not emotionally available to any of her six children in the first place and the drugs made it even worse, numbing her even more. Maureen, my mother was too busy living her co-dependant relationship with my father to have time to care about the needs, feelings and emotions of her children.
My two youngest siblings had the worst experience being born during the time she was divorced and remarried. There are twenty years between me and my younger siblings. My sister, three years younger than me, wrote to me from Germany where she lived at the time telling me that the children were utterly neglected and lucky to have food to eat. We had been to visit Social Services about the situation and my sister Debbie offered to take care of our sisters but this was not taken seriously. So these two babies, one still in a cot and one a toddler, were left in the care of a narcissistic mentally ill, physically abused woman drugged up on Valium and Mogadon. there was no sign of my father. He didn’t give us a second thought. My friends dads would pick us up and take us places when we were teenagers, but not him or my mother.
My mother needed someone to blame, to be the scapegoat and that person was me. I was later thought of as being ‘hard’ because I saw through the façade and told the truth about what was really happening in the family. I held my parents to account which, of course narcissists can never accept.
I now know she was a narcissist and as such, is incapable of love or empathy which explains her motives and behaviour towards her children. We were either catholic ‘accidents’ that she resented or, laterly, tools to trap my father after she divorced him but decided she wanted him back.
One of my earliest memories is of my mother threatening to ‘batter’ me when we got home if I didn’t stop crying and asking for sweets. I must have been about three or four years old. I learned fear soon after I was born.
When I had my first child she would ring all ours if the day and night and in a drunken state spew verbal abuse down the phone. My sister and I discussed my mother often and my sister came to the conclusion that my mother would, ‘never go there’ as far as her mothering skills went!
I wrote to my mother once expressing my feeling and asking some questions about why she spent so much time in mental hospitals, treated her children the way she did, tolerated an abusive marriage and even re-married after divorce. I obviously got no answers, She phoned me and told me I was a despicable person which is pure narcissistic projection as it is she who has in effect thwarted and stunted her six childrens lives. That was the last time I will speak to her.
The emotional chaos, fear, eggshell walking and scarcity mindset that I grew up with prepared the way for me to meet Gordon when I was just 16. He created the same ‘vibe’ in our relationship as I lived with my entire life. I did not know what a healthy relationship felt like – how could I? So, the abusive childhood I experienced was, to me, normal.
Gordon being a victim, covert type of narcissist was a perfect fit.
I knew the violent narcissist type – my father who beat my mother. The funny thing is I vowed never to choose this type of man and if he ever hit me that would have been the end of the relationship there and then.
I had no clue about passive aggression, verbal abuse and emotional neglect. I had never heard of Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD. Therefore, I was hit with word weapons and emotional abuse day in, day out by a man who despised me, devalued me and used me as his ‘appliance’ so he could feel in control and obtain emotional fuel from me.
I realise now that Gordon didn’t care what we did in life and just went along with whatever I did as long as he kept me, his fuel appliance under control. That is all he needed; to control me, obtain fuel from me and for me to do all the thinking, planning, organisation and goal setting.
I was the one with all the ambition and drive to get things done and to move out of scarcity, for me but mainly so that my children could have experiences and opportunities in life.
I did the shopping cooking, cleaning, home education, child care, in fact, I did everything while he acted, when he felt like it, as a ‘home help. These are called ‘residual benefits’ when talking about things from the perspective of the narcissist.
Reading this journal, I see that Gordon is so clearly a narcissist. The words I wrote are text book narcissistic behaviours.
Having a narcissistic husband has affected me greatly and I am only just beginning to understand the impact of this. I have discovered that the anxiety and depression I have suffered has a cause.
I have learned the impact of my childhood on me and why I developed a pathological ‘care taker’ role as a means of self-defence.
Gordon’s narcissistic father John, impacted on Gordon and he developed narcissistic victim type behaviours as his form of self-defence. Gordon is compelled to seek out the primary aims of narcissism; control, emotional fuel, and all the residual benefits I talked about.
He has no idea what he is and as a narcissist has no empathy and cannot love. I feel better because his abuse of me is not personal. He just has to behave that way and I just so happened to fall into playing the role of target for him.
This book is in two parts. It contains the handwritten journal and the text version for ease of reading as my handwriting is not clear in parts, especially when I was upset.
I published my journal as a gift for my children in the hope that reading it will one day help them to understand me, understand their father and understand narcissism.
My greatest wish is for them to have the knowledge to avoid narcissists, to have healthy relationships, to understand themselves and to know why they feel and behave the way they do. And most importantly, that they value and love themselves first.