There are so many things that I just thought were odd, or put down to the NM being drunk, or thoughtless, or suffering alcohol related brain damage, that make perfect sense now that I know of and am familair with narcissism and NM's.
A classic was the day my beloved Godmother died. I got baptised in my teens, and my Godmother was my choice, nothing to do with my parents, my FOO, or my NM. We had met when I was around 12, lost touch when I was 17, and reunited when I was 22. I was 30 when my godmother died, and she had been my best friend, mentor, and the mother I didn't have. She had been fighting cancer for a long time, and her death was not unexpected.
The night before Godmothers birthday, I spent an hour or so mentally composing a happy birthday and thank you text, knowing she was in her last few days, and knowing it was unlikely I would see her or speak with her again. As I picked up my phone to type it at around 11pm, the "she's gone" message came through. And I started to cry. I cried all night. I didn't sleep. I've never cried like that in my life (as I'm sure other ACON's will know: tears are too dangerous to risk). I cried all the following morning. I just couldn't stop. And in the early afternoon, my NM arrived for an unannounced visit.
Bear in mind, I hadn't slept in 30 hours by then, and had been crying for over 12 hours. NM never even twitched. It was like she didn't notice. She spend a pleasant (for her) hour filling me in on what her dog had been up to, what her cats had been doing, how she was feeling, how her power struggle with her next door neighbour was going, how much she hated her friends... while I made her coffees and cried non stop.
As she was leaving, I said "[Godmother] died last night". Her reply? "Oh. I thought you looked bad". And she left.
I've always written that response off as her not knowing what to say, because I was so upset, and perhaps a little shock herself at the news. I know now it was complete lack of empathy, a significant trait of narcissism.
The following morning, NM telephoned. She had seen the funeral notice in the paper, and rang to offer to look after the kids (then 2.5 and 10 months) so I could go. The funeral was to be at 11 on Friday, she would be at my house at 10, so I would have time to get ready and go. I was delighted: just when I needed some help, there she was, volunteering, I didn't even have to ask!
Fast forward to Friday morning. My husband normally worked mornings, but had arranged an early finish so he too could attend the funeral, because he and [godmother] had grown close.
9:30 Kids are all fed, bathed, clean, bottles and snacks prepared (that stuff is too hard for NM).
10:00 No husband, no NM.
10:25 Husband arrives, no sign of NM. We need to leave at 10:30 to be on time.
10:40 We give up, throw the kids in the car, and leave for the funeral.
10:45 First phone call from NM, which I let go to voicemail because I was driving. She's very drunk, and needs someone to go out and buy her some wine.
10:50 Second call, adding cigarettes to her shopping list.
10:55 Another call, wine, smokes, and food.
Having let all those go to voicemail, I turn my phone off for the funeral service. On turning my phone back on afterwards, she has called every 5 minutes throughout the funeral service. I had to go to a meeting then go to work, so I let it go for then. At the time, I wrote it off as her alcohol addiction. She had, after all, lived in the same town as my godmother for 6 years, even if they rarely spoke, and she knew how much my godmother meant to me, plus she was an alcoholic, and they binge at the slightest excuse, so it was no wonder she had gone on a bender. Now, I know that getting drunk was her way of dealing with the attention being taken away from her for that day, and getting drunk and leaving me in the lurch would return the attention to her.
The following day, Saturday, she rang me in the morning, wanting to talk about something. I did not engage in the conversation, I was pretty angry. Justifiably so, I still believe.
"You're quiet, are you upset with me about something?" - NM
"Yes. It was [Godmothers] funeral yesterday. You said you would come and look after the kids: instead you got drunk, didn't show up, and rang me every 5 minutes throughout the funeral service. I'm very angry, you let me down" - me
"IF YOU KEEP UP THIS ATTITUDE YOUNG LADY, YOU WILL PUSH ME AWAY AND YOUR CHILDREN WILL SUFFER. YOU NEED TO APOLOGISE FOR YOUR ATTITUDE AND START MENDING THE BRIDGE BETWEEN THAT *YOU* HAVE BROKEN BEFORE OUR RELATIONSHIP IS TOO DAMAGED TO REPAIR". - NM
I hung up on her. I couldn't believe that somehow I was expected to apologise because SHE made me a promise that SHE got drunk and broke at a time when I really needed her. Then, I was furious. Now I know it was pure narcissistic posturing: she sensed I was weak and vulnerable and needed to hurt me more, and make me inferior and grovel to her.
That was the second week of November, 2009. I was too astounded and bewildered and downright angry to want to contact her in any way, so I didn't. We didn't hear from her until the week before Christmas.
The week before Christmas, she rang. I answered the phone with a standard "hello?", only to hear "I"m not coming to spend Christmas with you". I said "that's fine, we weren't expecting you", and hung up on her again.
She rang back the following day. "I'm not coming to Christmas with you, that will ruin Christmas for the children, they will suffer and it will be all your fault". So I pointed out "the kids are 2.5 and 10 months old... they really don't care" and hung up on her again.
The following day, she rang again.... "What time should I be there on Christmas Eve to read stories to the kids?" "You're not. You got drunk and didn't show up last year, after promising DD you would be here, so don't bother this year." That's when she hung up on me.
The next day (the day before Christmas Eve). "I'll be at your house at around 10 Christmas morning. I'll bring prawns, and curried eggs and a pavlova and non alcoholic wine".
She did show up Christmas morning, at 11, knowing the kids were not opening their presents until she got there... and promptly spend the day asleep on our couch.
At the time, I wrote it off to her alcohol problems. Now, I know it was narcissistic posturing. I was meant to beg her to join us, and I didn't. I knew then I was meant to beg her, I'd been there so often before, I was just to tired to play. The funeral incident changed things for me: I decided to stop playing. I just didn't care enough anymore. And then, to use my children to try and manipulate me into behaving how she wanted me to... I was (and still am) outraged.
She is still trying to use my children to make me do her bidding. Now that we are NC, it's not working. And I can see how she used and abused my sister and I against our dad and against each other during their divorce and beyond. But that's a story for a different post.