Saturday, 2 June 2012

I made chocolate crackles yesterday.

Yeah, I know, it's not that exciting for most people. But I've only ever made chocolate crackles twice before:

My NM is an, um, "interesting" cook. Many of her dishes are completely inedible and, as you know, you do NOT tell an N that you do not like something they have cooked. It's better to eat it, and be quietly sick later, than guarantee offending them by refusing to eat whatever they have made. Even if it is, say, strawberries marinated in pepper... or a raw lemon... or uncooked meat. Or any other disaster you can think of. NM's chocolate crackles were no exception. There was no way to avoid eating them, but ugh... somehow, there was always too much copha, too much cocoa and uneven mixing, resulting in a bitter slimy-textured lump of rice bubbles, with occasional teaspoons of straight cocoa. *shudders. But, because you don't tell an N anything that could be construed as criticism, she assumed that we ate them because we liked them.

My NM was a teacher back in the day. And on this particular day, she decided that her class of students should have food as a welcome to the new year with her as their new teacher, and that some chocolate crackles would do that nicely. I was 13 or so then. She then decided that I would make the chocolate crackles for HER class of students, and they were all for her students. (I hated her chocolate crackles, so being forbidden to eat any was fine by me, which she didn't realise). However, I did something stupid while making the crackles. I adjusted the recipe. I reduced the copha a bit, and used all the cocoa in the house, which was less than the recipe called for.

Man... the freak out... you would have thought that I had put arsenic or ratsak in them. NM screamed at me for the better part of an hour about my pathetic cooking skills, my inability to follow basic recipes and instructions, the lack of cocoa in the crackles ("WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF SOMEONE TOLD YOU THESE WERE CHOCOLATE CRACKLES? YOU'D SAY THERE WAS NO CHOCOLATE, YOU IMBECILE. I CAN'T TRUST YOU WITH THE SIMPLEST OF TASKS..." etc etc). When I finally got the opportunity to get a word in, I made my second mistake. I mentioned that I had used all the cocoa, we hadn't had enough in the cupboard. Which was when I got sent to walk the 3km round trip to the supermarket (in an Australian January) to buy more *with my pocket money* because *I* had *wasted* her cocoa on failed chocolate crackles.


My daughters 5th birthday is coming up, and her school encourages the kids to bring in some "individual serving" food so they can all celebrate together. I see the other parents walk in with these lovely trays of decorated cupcakes, or fancy biscuits, and I immediately think of the one child who has food intolerances and can't join in. And the only food I could think of without dairy or egg is chocolate crackles.

Yesterday, I made chocolate crackles.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Things that make you go mmmm....

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

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.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The smear campaign

My NM was caught out. She sent me some email discussions she had been having with one of her two friends, which contained a serious of untrue statements about myself and my family, along with a lot of unflattering descriptions of us all. This didn't surprise me: the NM is a known liar, and I have never heard her say a kind or good word about anyone, including the friend she was emailing.

So I called her on it. Most people would apologise and stop, right? Instead, I got a series of increasingly abusive emails, culminating in a "never contact me again" spiel. 

Fine by me. NM then repeated the process of lying about us and slandering us behind our backs with an ex friend of mine, and forwarded the lot to me. This was a fortnight before we were due to move interstate. I didn't reply, and we didn't hear from NM again.

That was 4 months ago. Since then, I have received 2 emails, sent 10 hours apart, threatening my children. Aside from that, we haven't heard from her. No phone calls: yet she is quite happy to tell people I have changed my phone number. I haven't. The other excuse is that I have blocked her number. I don't have her phone number. She told me in March 2011 to never contact her again, and changed all her phone numbers. Hard to block a number you don't know. The other really good bit about the "don't contact me" and phone number change is that she is getting great mileage now out of the fact we didn't tell her when our third child was born.


Manipulative, much?

The smear campaign is well underway.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The descent into NC (part 1)

Choosing to go No Contact was surprisingly easy. My NM had found herself in trouble with the law in late 2010 and, being unenlightened at the time, I leaped to the rescue. With hindsight, receiving a call from NM asking me to go to her house, 3 months pregnant on a 40C day to climb an 8 foot corrugated iron fence to feed her pets because she had been imprisoned on a string of charges should have made me think a little. But no. being the "good" daughter I am, I went to her house, fed her pets, tried not to vomit at the state of the place, got her new hot water system installed, and arranged her bail.

One of her bail conditions was that she lived with me and my family. That did not go well. She insisted upon sleeping in our pool room, and refused to come into the house. She used our back yard as a toilet, and then insisted it was our young children doing it. She took the kids to the park: they would come home telling us about the various ways Grandma was going to be dead or never coming back to make everyone sad. She told our then 3 year old to go and stand in a nearby busy road and get squashed by a truck, because Mummy and Daddy would be happier without her. She threw our two year old son through a door. We refused to have her dog with us: she brought it anyway, and it kept attacking the children. Unmitigated disaster.

Eventually the dog bit the children once too often and we told her the dog had to go. Naturally, she had a temper tantrum, and proceeded to scream at the three year old (who had just had the dog try and bite her face off) that she was never going to see her again, it was all her fault, etc etc. NM and her dog were gone within the hour.

Several weeks later, we had cause to drop in on her. I telephoned first. She told us to come by. NM was extremely drunk, which was in breach of bail conditions, and in the mood to torture someone. She choose me, and decided to get at me by using the children. Anyone with a NM knows how that goes. So, I packed the kids and drove away, as she screamed abuse down the road at me. Standard stuff "you'll never see me again. You need to apologise for speaking to me like that. You're pushing me away. Your children will suffer without me." etc etc. All because I refused an offer of coffee because she was drunk, and I had repeatedly told her that I would not tolerate drunkenness around the children.

The last words I heard were "never contact me again". So I reported her for breach of bail, got myself removed as her guarantor, and proceeded to never contact her again. Three days later, while sitting in hospital myself having some prenatal tests done, I got a call from the local hospital: she had been admitted under police guard. I couldn't bring myself to care a lot. She chose to drink, she chose to be rude, she chose to be abusive, if she didn't like the consequences, that was her problem.

Fast forward to August 2011. NM appears on the doorstep like nothing had happened. In the few months break, I had thought of her occasionally, but only when fielding her debtors. Turns out she had been providing my phone number as hers when signing up for services, like home phone, internet, her dog registration, utilities bills... No apology, no acknowledgement that anything vaguely untoward had happened, absolutely nothing. I know now that this a common technique among N's, but it had always been something that baffled me. We had a new baby by then, so she gave us her "new" phone numbers, that she had changed to prevent us calling her, in case we needed her help. This is the woman who refused to touch her second grandchild until he was 6 months old because he was male.

Needless to say, we have never dialled the numbers.

Friday, 23 March 2012

So this is me...

There wasn't a big moment or an event. It was just a gradual realisation that even if all the right words were said, and the right things were done, they would all just bounce off, because I don't care enough to be involved anymore.

I'm writing this blog because after 32 years, I've gotten away. It never occurred to me that something was wrong in the relationship with my mother. I mean, everyone knew she was an alcoholic, and drinking was always used to explain her behaviour. But being drunk didn't explain everything, and some of her more disturbing behaviours have been increasingly apparent in her occasional stints into sobriety.

An afternoon exploring Google on the subject of what to do with an alcoholic parent when you reach breaking point lead me to a site about narcissistic mothers. I read more. I read more again. I Googled more. I read about adult children of narcissistic mothers, and was in equal measures shocked and delighted to read my life. It's not just me. I'm not crazy. There are lots of women out there like my mother: they employ the same tricks, the same tactics, the same mind sets, the same mind games, and abuse their children in the same ways. Yes, the word I use, and the word others use, is ABUSE.

I'm putting this blog out there for my friends, family members and acquaintances first. I will NOT be quiet any longer. I will NOT protect my mother. I will NOT aid her in her lies, her deceptions, and her distorting of reality. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. I imagine that for the normal people (of which I am not one), who have had a normal upbringing in a regular family, it is hard to believe there are people who operate like this, let alone subject those around them to their evil schemes. I can tell you, they exist. That's part of what makes this whole abusive situation so hard: the abuser presents a good front to the world. In secret, they torment and belittle those in their power, but it's done so skillfully and carefully, it's not obvious to the outside world. And no one tangled up as the target of the narcissist will tell the outside world, because the target has spent so long being told they are crazy, they are delusional, they will never be believed. The official term is "gaslighting".

My immediate family (husband and children) have been planning to move across the country for the last 2 years. We did it this year. Courtesy of events before and immediately after the move, we have found ourselves in a position to go No Contact (NC) with my narcissist mother. She has not taken it well. I'm intending to use this blog to document the NC process and what it means in terms of who I am. Because, you see, I have no idea who I am. That's what these creatures do: they steal your very soul.

I've cut out the puppermaster. Now I need to cut off the strings, sand the back the exterior, and see what happens next.