So someone I love dearly, has suggested that my birth mother* was/is bipolar rather than narcissistic.
*’birth mother’ is used here, uncapitalised, despite her being the only parent I knew of until adult life. She birthed me, and raised me. Birth mother puts distance into that, there is less socially constructed guilt around not having a relationship with, and being scared of your ‘mother’. She wasn’t a mother to me. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Nothing. In the same way that a birth mother births a child and then little/nothing more.
I honour the truth that this is not the same as actually being put up for adoption, and does not compare to genuine stories of birth mothers and their adopted-out and/or abandoned children. The term is to help me unpack a brutal, abusive relationship, that society tells me I should be grateful for, and love. Because I too, to some extent, was abandoned.
I also honour the truth that for beautiful people within this human world, there is a lot of trauma, and that that trauma, often in the form of mental illness proceeds health and choice. I understand that mentally ill traumatised people often perpetrate abuse. I understand that perpetrators were perpetrated against.
I am just still not okay with the abuse. And the behaviour.
And I don’t think anyone is asking me to be.
Someone, a dear and gorgeous person, has highlighted bipolar as a possible/probable underpinning.
And my first reaction is to halt back, redraw. Man the battle lines. Bunker down. This is war.
Even the concept of this, the possibility of it, swirling around… is almost at nuclear embarkment in my psyche. This is a big fucking deal.
There is so much pain.
And it’s moments like this that I wish my Mumma-Bear was here, right next to me, cigarette in hand, or not, ready to reflect back love. Actual love. Unconditional, soul nourishing, solar-system-creating love. [Mumma-Bear = mother figure I had in my world for a while… until she passed on].
I get what this is. I get the shifting and the internal collapsing. I get the external reference point movement. I get why this is happening. I just don’t know if I can, or want to go into this. And yet it’s the only thing to do.
Narcissism was a label given to me by a clinical psychologist who specialised in that kind of work. She worked with police to help profile murderers and the like. She got evil.
She was the person that helped me move into safety – with a clear thing of ‘no contact’, under any circumstances. No contact was the safest option for me. Because it out of the perpetual re-traumatising cycle of interaction; whether by phone, text, email or face-to-face.
Narcissism defined her.
- Yes, she LOVED being the centre of attention
- Yes, always violating personal boundaries
- Yes, favouritism, golden child style
- Yes, she lies all the time
- Yes, super defensive and very sensitive to feedback
- Yes, ridiculously fake
- Yes, she has little to no empathy. She just can’t get there.
- YES, she is never wrong. Choosing rather to become violently angry at the opposer rather than their opinion.
- Yes, childish and petty. Purposefully withhold info to see me fail.
- Yes, she is totally deniable. Constructs me to be seen as crazy, unstable, and a liar.
- Yes, she’s jealous, victim blaming, woman-shaming…
- Yes, any ‘compliment’ was worded with her own self praise and/or an insult to me
- Yes, she parentifies… I had to buy my own clothes, feed myself, clean the house… etc
Bipolar doesn’t… or not yet… or not yet according to my cognitive framing of my memories.
- I don’t remember her having manic or psychotic episodes.
- She totally lived in her own world, with her own illusions…
- I totally surpassed her in maturity…
- Very aggressive
- I don’t know where her money went…
- She didn’t ever really miss work, that was her constant. Her devotion..
- I don’t remember any changes in sleep patterns – I don’t think… I remember her being really busy, and having to work long hours… but then like sleeping during the day or whatever… I don’t remember it being a thing..
- She was never hospitalised…
I’m not sure where this leaves me, and where to next…
I think that ideally, perfect world, I’m wanting acceptance. Because part of me can intellectualise her, she was/is broken… she had nothing to give, wasn’t on the same planet, etc… But that is done with pain and anguish. And a lot of hurt.
So maybe not acceptance now, or yet or ever??
So what then?
I want direction, I want to explore this further. Information is empowering. I remember when I started googling narcissistic mothers (nm) and daughters of narcissistic mothers (donm), it was incredibly liberating to have behaviours and conditioning named and labelled.
So what now then? – Just sitting with it. Processing. And we’ll see where that goes.