colossal narcissist meets paranoid schizophrenic #aa #na #alanon #slaa #recovery
July 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
For decades I have been attempting to come to terms with my familial relationships — with my family as a group, and with individual family members. I can now trace these various efforts back to the instant my life fell apart. It was the day my dad told me he was moving out. My cousin related her impressions of how this event affected me many years later, “You were devastated, Irrational Persistance, devastated.”
At that moment in my life my mother was deeply afflicted in schizophrenic paranoid psychosis. Her behaviour was incestuous toward me, in a very subtle, but intrusive way. She had always had an inordinate interest in my body. Her preoccupations included trying to control the way I dressed, the food I ate, and the condition of my bowel movements. When I was out with a boyfriend, she would wait until I came in the front door and then fly into a psychotic rage, beating at me with her fists. She also took an uncomfortable interest in my boyfriends, making inappropriate sexual comments or gestures on the one hand, or physically attacking them with her fists on the other.
By this time, my father was rarely at home. He was out late at night every night of the week. I don’t remember him hanging around at home or with us kids at all during this time. The only time he spent with us kids was out on the sailboat, where we would crew for him. He spent the summers when he wasn’t teaching, on the boat. We kids would take turns staying on the boat with him when we weren’t at summer music camp. During the school year, he was not available. I don’t know if he even knew what mom was doing to me. My brothers knew, as they would pile on mom to pull her off me during these attacks. I don’t think they told dad, either.
This is what happens when a colossal narcissist meets a paranoid schizophrenic.
My mother was not always ill. She was a beautiful, talented, vivacious person who loved the speech arts, drama, theatre, music, writing and drawing. She was a seamstress and sewed theatre costumes. That was where she met my dad. I don’t know about her mental state before her pregnancies. She told me that she always loved being pregnant. She had five pregnancies that resulted in six children – one set of fraternal twins. I also don’t know about post partum depression from the first four pregnancies, but after she had my youngest brother, she suffered from intense post partum depression. She wasn’t treated for it, as far as I have been able to gather. According to her medical history, she was of the 5% of women who suffer from post partum depression that go on to experience full blown mental illness.
My dad was singularly unable to handle the adversity of my mom’s mental ill health. He was not sympathetic or empathetic to her condition. For example, they sang together on a CBC radio morning show. These were live performances in the CBC studio. During one show my mom was crying as she was singing. After the show was over, my dad, irate at her tears, asked her, “What are you crying for?”.
I am starting to put the pieces of my life history and my family history together and finding a puzzle picture of a family afflicted by narcissism. My father is a narcissist. My family suffers from an obsession with garnering attention. They want all eyes on them, and they want to hold that gaze for as long as possible. We were all trained as musicians, so this is the most common device that is used by family members to control any kind of gathering. I think my siblings and I all suffer from a form of attention deficit disorder. My use of this term refers to our suffering from a lack of validation, a lack of appropriate, identity forming attention. Without that knowing gaze and that empathetic interest in our internal and external growth, we have all acted on a compulsion to derive attention from other family members and from the public at large.
When I use this framework to analyze my experience in my family, things fall into place that I have been baffled and perplexed to explain previously.
Today I am feeling some peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about when, where, how, why, or what my future encounters with family will entail. I don’t have to think about future imaginings of either family denials or family cruelty. I don’t have to dwell on past injustices, favouritism or injuries.
I was working over this sequence of concepts yesterday as I drove to my support group with my good friend N. Here is the list for future discussion: family exceptionalism, drive for validation, favouritism, and scapegoating. My family has all these qualities and characteristics.