“ I learned to give up on trying to reason or help my mom see what was real ”
“ I often felt lost, without feedback to help me define how I felt or who I was ”
My mother had an un-diagnosed (until I was 18) bipolar disorder. She also has a narcissistic personality disorder. My father’s “dry drunk” behavior included frequent unpredictable rages and criticism. My parents separated when I was 6 weeks old, but my dad stayed close with calls, letters, and visits, even though he usually lived in another state. Visits with my dad were always a mixed bag, and although I do believe he did the best he knew how, I spent a lot of time honing my survival skills while trying to fend off his anger about something I’d done or some other family member had done. His intelligent criticism was brutal and often cruel. I grew to count on at least one extended tirade each visit during my school years (an almost violent rant about my mother’s impossible behavior, during which nothing I could say or do would appease the rage), which ended in my having a disabling migraine for most of a 24-hour period. I often felt anxious and extremely insecure. My mom's narcissism rendered her largely incapable of authentic interactions. She had difficulty reflecting genuine, appropriate emotions in daily life. It made me feel unseen, unheard, frustrated, and sometimes lost. I learned to give up on trying to reason or help my mom see what was real, as it was an exercise in futility - and I often felt lost, without feedback to help me define how I felt or who I was. Even 25 years after having moved out of my mom’s house, I still find it difficult to know what I am feeling, and still find it nearly impossible to ask people for things with any confidence, or to even just tell someone no. My sense of fear and insecurity persists. When family life feels out of control, my husband says I micromanage or over-control situations. I look for healing and peace through meditation, talking to good friends and occasionally a therapist, and in group classes of various types. I'm still figuring it out but feel as if I'm making progress toward a more secure sense of self. I reach for my own healing by paying attention, journaling, asking for help, and being grateful for the joy and peace that are all around me in daily life.