April 2015 – Where I’m at

Hello Readers. My goodness it has been a long time since I last posted and I am sorry to those of you who have been expecting a more frequent service.

As I mentioned last October we moved house. We have also been seeing a couples therapist to sort out some of the issues that have been affecting our relationship. The issues stem in the main part from the unhelpful patterns that are learned by anyone being raised in a family with a dysfunctional parent/s. These unhelpful patterns of behaviour ultimately affect any long term intimate relationship and we really hit the buffers on this. It’s been a very difficult period and I have not felt like writing down what was happening as it was too visceral and unprocessed at the time.

Now things are beginning to make sense and the worst and most painful parts of the counselling process have been worked through. I’m not going to go into details in this blog as that is private but I have learned a lot about how a narcissistic mother can throw a spanner in the works of a marriage. I’m going to share these insights with you.

I’ve been reading several books on the subject also and will review these briefly in case any strike a chord with you.

I hope to get round to replying to the comments you have been leaving for the last few months. Thank you for contributing your experiences on what we all know is a difficult and painful topic. It really does help others to read through similar scenarios, it’s so validating and reassuring to know it isn’t just you struggling with this.

How are you all?

Fierce Cork Woman

 

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “April 2015 – Where I’m at

  1. alabaster77

    Well Howdy!!!!

    Very Glad your back and we (x 3) all thought that this blog was dead in the water… We’ve supported each other fervently and I’m very grateful for that!!

    Firstly I have to say something, just for clarity, because I know you’d do the same… U wrote:
    “Hello Readers. My goodness it has been a long time since I last posted and I am sorry to those of you who have been expecting a more frequent service.” Uh Em!! No need to apologize for OUR expectation for service… (It shifts the responsibility onto the expectation rather than assuming ownership) We know what you mean and I’m really happy yr back, irrelevant of that double negative of sorts!!

    Uhhh! Now I can breath for a moment and let you know that I totally feel where yr coming from with the ‘Relationship Struggle’ as a result of Narcissistic Parenting!! That’s exactly where I’m at too and it’s quite bewildering and at times SHOCKING!!! Everything that is the Crazy of my NMIL is also within my home and marriage. It’s a different variety but of the same source!!!
    Anyway, I really look forward to your recent revelations in this area and again, So So Happy your back!!

    ALABASTER

    • Ah bless you Alabaster, I do feel the relief that people express on here when they find others in the same boat, the same relief I felt when I first stumbled across message boards and articles about NPD. I can also imagine the disappointment if you find a useful resource and then it suddenly goes dead! My empathy with you all has given me that wriggling, nagging tickle in my conscience that maybe I should not leave this blog just hanging high and dry. It’s a good sign, before I felt so low about everything I couldn’t imagine finding the energy to write it. Energy has returned!

      • alabaster77

        Im SO Glad your back and your energy has returned!! It’s a hard place to be when ‘Life Sucks the Life Outta Ya’ and your return attests to your strength of Character through Perseverance.. I can only imagine how difficult that is but you’ve muscled through it and Thank Goodness for that!

        I recently wrote something to my 2 friends 😉 and feel that I should share it as a Testimony of your impact on our lives…

        “Since THAT Christmas a couple of years back and my subsequent Resolve to never be under the same roof as her (NMIL) without any means of escape. That meant to never stay at her home, other families home where she could plant herself, and never in my home….
        Interesting thing with FCW coming back online, it made me think about that Christmas. I spent most of my time hunkered down on a balcony, in the Colorado mountains, middle of Winter FFFReezing!!! It was the only space that offered me a safe place away from her (NMIL). It was so toxic I still cringe when I think about it…. Anyway, I’d just come across FCW’s blog in it’s early stage in the beginning of that December 2013 and it gave me such incredible strength and courage to know that someone out there knows what I’m going through right now.. I also knew that I could post a comment, ask for HELP at a point where I just couldn’t take it anymore… I managed to muscled through it and the strength came from knowing that she (You FCW) was out there somewhere”

        Thank You FCW for the impact you’ve already made in our lives, Thank You for coming back and Thank You for all that you will do..

        Hehehehe
        😉
        ALABASTER

      • Blonde British Brainiac

        FCW Please continue with this blog more frequently. This has made me realise the reasoning behind my NMIL’s seemingly totally spontaneously erratic and unhealthy behaviour and I still fervently look for new posts. I am moving with my partner to Melbourne from the UK and it has been a really painful period of learning for both of us. She has had me on the brink of leaving truly the best man I’ve ever known or been with. This is also particularly hard on him as she is an ex alcoholic (she has been sober for 23 years now) and uses her ”fragility” to manipulate him. He is all about the main objective of getting out there and doesn’t care about the little things she does to try and disrupt the way for us but these get under my skin so much I can hardly sleep and actually was taken into hospital for anxiety and what they thought at the time was a TIA or mini stroke. He is happy to let these things lie but I am not. We’re only in our twenties and she has already said if we move back she would move near to us to be ”closer to the kids”. We are not even engaged. Your detailed and clear advice and information has helped make me realise I am not the horrible disruptive crazy one that I am being attempted to be made out to be. THANK YOU, and please use all these posts etc. to write a book! I’d be first in line! Yours, BBB

  2. LMB

    I just started following your blog a few months ago and I can’t express how thankful I am to know, I’m not alone. I have a MIL and sister in law who are extreme narcissists. My father in law lays low or is manipulated into being their foot soldier. My husband has taken stabs at standing up to them, but always ends up backing down because,as you know, they play to win. Things started coming to a head 9 months ago when we had our daughter. Their first granddaughter after three grandsons. We didn’t find out what we were having and were thrilled when she came into the world. We named her Mary after my wonderful grandmother. That happiness was taken away when my MIL and sister in law demanded we change her name to Sarah in order to honor them. They didn’t see Mary or our son for two months after she was born. Nine months later, I am still hearing that I don’t honor my husband’s family and didn’t honor my MIL when we didn’t change the name. They tell my husband I am ungrateful and I make all of the decisions in our marriage. My sister in law told me last week, I am driving a wedge in their family and making my husband miserable. There have been seven years worth of ‘incidents’ starting the day we got engaged and my MIL told me ‘this is the last party I will ever get to throw and your mother has another daughter that will get married one day.’ My husband’s reaction has always been for me to suck it up, since that’s what he has always done. So, needless to say, our marriage is at a crossroads. I’ve tried to get my husband to counseling, but he quit after 3 sessions because he just saw it as a time to vent. He’s considering it again, but who knows if he’ll go or for how long. I have been in therapy for months and it’s helped me understand a lot of things. I’ve also decided to not talk to my sister in law anymore after, what my therapist called, the verbal abuse I suffered a couple of weeks ago.

    Please share what you all have learned in therapy and any books you have found to be helpful. My hope is that our children grow-up in a healthy, happy, functional family and to not have that taken away by a dysfunctional extended family.

    • LMB I do feel for you. The suck it up attitude affected me for some years also. Do what you can to minimise contact with abusive people for your own good. You do not have to take your husband’s approach to managing your MIL, you are your own person. Realising this was a real turning point for me as I felt I was now in control of a key part of my life again. My family life was not being dictated by someone else’s rules. It is simply our compliance which allows the bad treatment to continue. At the end of the day we can lay down what we will accept from others, how we wish to be treated, and they can respect that or they can choose not to be in our lives. That goes for MILs, SILs and unfortunately spouses too if they refuse to address the problems NPD mothers cause.

  3. Male in his 40s

    Ha! Alabaster got in first. She is awesome. My rock. We have another musketeer as well, she knows who she is. She is also awesome.

    FCW thank you for this blog. It isn’t a service, it’s a gift. I have met two amazing people with the same values as me. We talk daily. We prop each other up, we talk strategies. We talk through things. we flag things, we share experiences that have worked in our favour (and those that haven’t).

    What we experience on a daily basis is tough, the goal posts are always changing and we cannot live our lives in the way that we want to.

    So FCW, thank you so much. I hope that you are able to get on top of things also.

    Before I sign off though. My advice to anyone who may have realised their future MIL maybe a NARC, I would say, don’t get married, and don’t have kids. Once you have children, you are trapped…

    MIH40s

  4. Jessie

    FCW, Lovely to hear from you! And perfect timing. As I feel I have made lots of headway with my own NM, my issues with my NMIL are still pestering me. It’s much harder in someways because of that “x” factor of my husband. Not only does his mother complicate matters in what she taught my husband, but she has conditioned him in many ways to respond how she wants (without him even seeing that is what is going on). He lacks some of the insight of how much she controls him. I look forward to reading your insights.

    • Ah yes the brainwashing and reflex reactions of our spouses is a problem. Gently pointing out in a non confrontational way when you spot it will help him to see how he is reacting. Maybe posing a question along the lines of “when NMIl did/said that you did this. Have you thought about doing this instead?”. My therapist says when you are able to spot a learned but unhelpful behaviour yourself you have gone most of the way to stopping yourself from doing it.

  5. SoManyQuestions

    Welcome Back FCW! We were worried about you.

    Third musketeer checking in;-) We’ve been riding the waves and throwing each other life lines.

    Looking forward to delving into more topics and really enjoy the clarity you bring to these head scratching moments. The one that has come up the most is types of PDs seen in children of N moms. Those hit close to home and are real eye openers.

    Good to have you back!

  6. Mandy

    Welcome back and good luck as you make your way through what is on your plate. Sadly, I could identify with your long absence. The awful circumstances I find myself in really trip me up and consume me, making it difficult to just get on with things and find balance in all the things I would like to give my attention to. As our comrade suggested, it’s having children involved that makes things especially difficult. It is like being trapped in a special sort of hell. As also mentioned, the way my husband has been conditioned also makes things difficult. At least he is aware, but it is the coping that is the work. What a task we have been given in preventing, or at least minimizing, the legacy of multigenerational family dysfunction!

    I am finding myself to feel very bitter about combating this garbage in my home, that I myself, very consciously, choose not to cultivate. It frustrates me to consider that I have not lived a life of self-indulgence and self-absorption, but my kids can still experience the ill-effects of such influence.

    Thanks for your comments here, it’s helpful to hear from others in a similar mind-twist. Best wishes to all.

    • Tania

      I am so selfishly glad you are back. I discovered that my MIL was N six month’s ago after she emotionally bullied my seven year old daughter. A therapist identified the condition when I relayed what had happened. As you point out, the very hardest thing is enduring my spouse’s unbalanced reaction to life – attention seeking, emotional volatility and extreme passive (and passive aggressive) behaviour. I do feel my home is infected and I don’t know how/if it can ever be made better. My children are wonderful and I feel so very sad that they have this legacy instead of a calm home life.

      • I think it can get better and your MIL’s influence on your children can be minimised or even removed altogether. It needs your partner to wake up and start setting boundaries with his mother. You may also need to invigorate yourself to set boundaries around what you will accept from your spouse which is not easy and may be a big change in your relationship. You do not exist to provide him with approval nor to fit in with what he is most comfortable with. Your views and way of being should always be taken as seriously as his, by you as well as him.

  7. Relieved

    Good to see you back FCW. Sorry to hear of your struggles but it’s a great thing that both you and your husband committed to counselling. Sounds like your husband is moving away from the dysfunction and towards the life he has chosen with you. Also great to hear that the counsellor helped – I’m sure that you and many of your readers have found that sometimes even a psychologist can’t really understand NPD and the reality of living with it is very different from studying it.

    Always very happy to take a referral for literature. I find it really helpful.

    • Thanks for your comment Relieved. My marriage therapist is excellent. He is old, in his 80s, and so extremely experienced. He was trained at the Tavistock Centre in London one of Europe’s most eminent psychoanalytical establishments. He is very insightful at unpicking the origins of the weirdness in our marriage and pointing out to my husband when he is reacting from his inner “mummy” rather than seeing what is really going on. I feel so grateful to have had him recommended to us.

      • Male in his 40s

        FCW, I realise you will not talk about the details of your marriage etc, but I would be interested in your therapists approach. I felt that the dysfunction was never really addressed in our couples therapy which always began with a character assassination of me – of which most of it was exaggerated or made up. It was an exhausting process.

      • MIH40s I have forgotton which country you are in, is it Australia? I ask because I think marriage therapists can vary in their approach and quality from country to country. I am in the UK. Here there is one large organisation which dominates the couples counselling arena, Relate. They have their own training programs and approach to therapy. Then there are individual therapists whose qualifications vary from a basic counselling certificate to years of deep research in psychoanalysis and human sexual/romantic relationships. In the US I think it is worse, it seems anyone can set themselves up as a life coach or couples counsellor.

        Take a look at Amazon books on relationships and you can see the same thing. Trite “7 steps to divorce proofing your relationship” style books, written by someone who did a PhD in human psychology and thinks their formula fits everyone, jostle with deeply insightful texts about the fundamental developmental behaviours which shape how we bond and relate to one another written by psychoanalyst with 40 years of hands on training. It is intensely frustrating that anyone can set themselves up as a marriage counsellor, there is no minimum required qualification.

        I think that is why it is important for people in our position, with complex family wide problems, to seek out fully qualified psychotherapists and psychoanalysts from well established schools of psychoanalytical thought; Jungians, post-Freudians and the like. To be qualified in these fields requires 7 years training under supervision of an experienced therapist as well as lectures, study and research of their own and for the to have been in therapy themselves for that time to ensure the therapist has thoroughly processed and understood all their own childhood issues. That way you can be sure the therapist is a) deeply committed to your experiences not their own interpretation and b) well versed in all the major theories regarding human behaviour and motivations. The friendly pastor at the local church who read a few books and has taken a course in couples counselling and “healthy communication” is not going to be good enough.

        I also think that when your relationship goes wrong, even if a parent-in-law or parent is a factor, the bottom line is the behaviours going on between you and your partner. That has to be the core of the sessions. My marriage therapist has explained the process to us, we have been seeing him for over a year now and we did a progress check a couple of months ago. First he said the air has to be cleared, all grievances aired and people must be allowed to express their hurt, anger and grief. This takes months. The therapist at this point should be holding you together and being utterly neutral as each party talks through what happened for them. Each side of the same key events gets talked about. Then comes the understanding stage. Why did this happen? This is the bit where understanding the effect that our parents and upbringing has had and our unconscious expectations about relationships and ourselves is explored. This is hard and was when my husband was brought up starkly against his mother’s influence upon him. Next is looking what is left, the shared ground, kids, hopes for the future, what each partner wants and needs from a relationship. Then comes the consolidation as you rebuild trust and renew your connection through better behaviours and careful consideration of what you have learned about the other person’s needs and feelings. This is not a straight line process as you circle back over the first few stages.

        There are some very good articles online about how to get the most out of couples counselling and they all emphasise the willingness and ability of each person to not be defensive, blaming and to explore their own beliefs and feelings. If all it ever is is one person bitching at the other then nothing really improves. BUT you both need to go through a certain amount of the bitching at the start.

        To summarise then I guess you find a really well qualified and experienced therapist and you accept that the first few sessions are going to be angry. Look for your counsellor to keep the peace, make sure each person is heard and realise this will take months and month before you get anywhere. You have to commit to a long process. Progress happens erratically sometimes a big leap in understanding occurs then a period of shock or settling follows, then perhaps some sadness and relapsing, then on again.

  8. FCW,

    It is so wonderful to hear from you again. Before anything, I must thank you for writing this blog. Six months ago I was at my wits’ end with MIL. I had gone through 5 years of mistreatment with her, and the cherry on top was the stress she caused up to, during, and after our wedding. After only 3 months of marriage, she started to vilify me to family members and attempt to drive a wedge between me and my husband. It was your blog that helped me to better understand my MIL’s condition, and also provided a sense of relief that I was not the only one who experienced this. Since reading your blog, we have researched more and spoken with an expert on narcissism and we’ve come to find out my MIL actually has Borderline Personality Disorder with narcissistic traits. The big difference between BPD and NPD is the root of the inappropriate behavior. For BPD’s, the root is a fear of abandonment, and so anytime they feel abandoned, they lash out. But for a BPD, most everything makes them feel abandoned because they have a dysfunctional definition of “connected.” To my MIL, being able to come to her adult child’s house unannounced, controlling his wedding, knowing his finances – these were all things that she felt were “normal” for a MIL. And so when she didn’t get these things, her fear of abandonment spiked and she acted out (with any combination of the following – guilt trips, passive aggressive comments, yelling, vilifying people, or simply breaking the boundaries again). This is a good article explaining more about the difference between BPD and NPD. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201406/the-borderlinenarcissistic-mother

    Anyway, I tell this for two reasons – one, i just sincerely want to thank you. Your blog sent us on an educational journey where we could understand MIL better, and we have since been going to counseling with an expert on BPD. Like you, it has been challenging as my husband has learned of how his mother affected his ability to have healthy and secure relationships (a journey that deserves an entire blog post of it’s own!), but we have started to come out the other side MUCH stronger. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have been “no contact” with MIL ever since she tried to drive a wedge between us, and that has been significantly helpful in our healing process. Thank you so much for your courage to post about your experiences. It helps so many of us.

    The second reason is – I wonder if some of the MIL’s of readers here may also be BPD? As I understand it you can be both BPD and NPD. There are 4 different types of BPD’s, one of which is the “Queen” which sounds very close to the narcissist. This article briefly describes all 4, and towards the middle is a quick description of the Queen. This describes my MIL very well. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells/201109/the-world-the-borderline-mother-and-her-children

    When we found out my MIL was BPD, it sped up our healing significantly. We read “Understanding the Borderline Mother” by Christine Lawson and for the first time my husband felt like someone understood his mother. The book, and counseling, have all had very positive influences on our life. I wanted to share that experience in case it helps anyone else in the road to recovery. 🙂 Good luck to everyone on this journey. I enjoy reading everyone’s comments and experiences as it helps so much to know we are not alone in dealing with this.

    • Recovering DIL that is very interesting, thank you for your comment. I know that the behaviours associated with NPD can overlap with BPD and antisocial PD as well as some of the other personality disorders. I have considered renaming this blog and aiming more at people struggling with any disordered MIL rather than just NPD as there are strong similarities in the behaviours they exhibit and the effects on their kids, but I didn’t feel I had enough personal experience with or knowledge of other PDs to be confident in doing that. Thanks for your links, I read them. I am glad you are finding out and liberating yourself from the influence of your PD MIL. You sound strong and confident and I am so glad you sorted this out early on in your marriage.

  9. Do you know of any research that can be referred to in court articulating the harm narc grandmothers cause grandchildren? I was concerned that ours was teaching my children to keep secrets. Five years on they have disclosed abuse from two different men. And the finger of blame is of course pointed at me. I believe that narc Grandmothers not only abuse emotionally, but make their grandchildren vulnerable to abuse by others,

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. Unfortunately I have no legal experience and cannot advise anyone on legal matters. I am based in the UK which has its own legal guidelines which may not be relevant to you in your country. If you read the two posts most recently written on grooming by grandparents you can see that yes indeed there is evidence that narcissistic patterns of behaviour across the whole family leave children more vulnerable to abuse. The key points seem to be that the children don’t recognise untrustworthy worrisome behaviour, that they have been taught that you are not responsible for your (nasty) actions as others can “make” you do it and finally the family denies and refuses to talk about damaging and abusive behaviours. This family operating system is maintained by all family members, the narcissist, any enabling spouse they may have, the adult children of the narcissist and anyone who marries into the family and goes along with it for whatever reason.

      I would guess that to be admissible in court you would need firstly a definite diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder from a qualified person who has seen your NPD mother/MIL and then someone to act as an expert witness who has dealt with narcissism in families, a therapist or similar. Someone with knowledge of how grooming children is done by abusers may also be able to relate her behaviours towards the children with the actions of the men you mention.

      I am so sorry your children have suffered further abuses at the hands of others due to the influence of their grandmother. Your awareness of this aspect of their situation can only help them in the long run. Everything I have read emphasises how it is the wider family culture
      of denial, not taking responsibility and normalising toxic behaviour which leaves children vulnerable to abuse. You may have to think beyond what their grandma has done to get the full picture.

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