Wednesday, September 26, 2007


So I finally make the opportunity to email about the persistent phone calls after receiving another one today. I try to COMMUNICATE clearly that the boundary I requested is not being respected. Her only response (at least by email) is that email doesn't allow her to communicate her emotions and she misses and loves me.

So would that emotion that needs to be expressed possibly be... mmmm i dunno - GUILT!?!

Rule #1 (perhaps there will be more of these rules, a la the Transporter): Never try and reason with a narcissist because they are unreasonable.

Rule #2: You are wrong, the narcissist is right. Get over it.

Rule #3: Narcissists don't get 'hurt feelings' they get 'devastated', and it's all your fault.

Rule #4: You are an extension of the narcissists person; you are an OBJECT.

Rule #5: You are still wrong.

The constant, or recurring, question to my therapist: Why bother?

I'm still not certain that the answer of "because she is a part of you, and writing her out of your life will cause turmoil and a 'split' within yourself" is enough. Let's face it, I've spent nearly 4 decades with her IN my life - so perhaps absence would make the recovering parentified child of a narcissists heart grow fonder? And if it didn't, well then halleh-fucking-lullah... problem solved. That's the kind of self help I can live with :-)

Monday, September 24, 2007

GUILT - Everybody's doing it.

Guilt is, of course, completely ingrained in Jewish mothers - even Catholic converts. However, for the NarcMom, guilt is a tool that while widely used is seldom consciously recognized. In other words, she doesn't realize that she's using guilt to try and yield a result.

Take the impending birth of my first bio-daughter for example. As I mentioned before, I have tried to set a boundary with Mom to limit our communique to email - no phone calls. So I get this email about her friend who's also a doctor or something like that - she's having her 3rd child and her OB has already discovered that the boy will have heart problems and is going to have to endure surgery upon birth. She then goes on to talk about how tragic it is, and how lucky I should consider myself, and how witnessing the birth of our daughter will "give me religion."

What's guilt-laden about that? Well, in this case, it's buried nicely between the story and something along the lines of "I can't wait to see my new granddaughter," which she knows intrinsically may not happen if we don't sort out some of our 'issues'. It's as if, by personifying someone else's suffering, she wants to guilt me into not holding any grudges with her due to the fact that you know, life is too short and what if your daughter was going to be born in tragic circumstances - then would you really have the energy to find something 'wrong' with me? So focus on this tragedy and feel guilty about your limited contact with me and realize that I'm devastated by what you (I) am doing to me (her).

OK, so maybe I'm reading into it a bit too far. But there's something about the narcissist that in order to maintain that extension of themselves, will use any sort of grand tragedy or circumstance to try to regain a position of power when that power has been diffused. I'm certain my therapist could explain it more clearly, but I'm also certain that I'm heading in the right direction as I try to describe the dynamic. For example - my NarcMom and I had this falling out where I had to instill the boundary of email only. Well she was just "devastated" by my "pulling away" and immediately reverted to talking about how our relationship was so great when I was a kid. Context: I'm now a grandparent. Interestingly, her devastation was MY FAULT, because I DID THIS TO HER. I pulled the plug on her incessant phone calls and complete lack of empathy. What I pulled the plug on was being subjected to her objectification of me - making me the extension of herself, and failing to recognize that she continually fails to connect with me emotionally because she's too busy defining who I am to make her feel and look her best. But, it's MY FAULT that she's devastated.

I'm losing focus on this, so I'll return another time - but I'm certain that guilt will continue to play a vital role in my exploration of the parentified child and narcissistic parent.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Boundaries Aren't Abound

So you think you can impose boundaries on a narcissist? Think again Jack.

I often reach that point that one reaches when completely frustrated with my Mother, who I'll probably refer to as NarcMom for the rest of my life. Being a crunchy punk rock SNAG (sensitive new age guy), I've never been adverse to psychotherapy and in fact have learned most of my lessons about the NarcMom through what's become years of therapy. Anyhow, I'm frustrated. I'm a little fucking frustrated Jew with a dark cloud hanging over my shixa name and I need to take action. So, this time I try something my therapist recommended. In fact something that his wife had used with her NarcMom years before to an effective end.

His suggestion? Impose boundaries. Specifically boundaries about communication. See, the NarcMom likes to call over and over again, email incessantly; starts to freak out if she hasn't heard back - perhaps you know the type - thinks something horrible has happened to you because you haven't called back within an acceptable time frame? Yeah, you know the type.

So I send an email. Effectively saying "don't call me anymore." Going on to explain why, and politely requesting that we keep all of our communication (for the time being) to emails. I wasn't being a dick, I was just attempting to create one of the first boundaries in my life with my mother. Me, an adult/husband/father just now doing this? Pathetic, I know. But necessary.

Interestingly, days later while I was busy patting myself on the back for finally creating some structure between us and slowly beginning to disassemble the parentified child paradigm that I'd been living for the last 20+ years, SHE CALLS. That's right, just "BANG!" which was actually "rrring" but might as well have been my 8 year old son smacking my face with a fry pan for no reason. In one cellular phone ring and caller ID glance I received my first real "FUCK YOU, I DON'T *DO* BOUNDARIES" from the NarcMom. Of course, I didn't answer, to avoid being a complete asshole - but this was perhaps my mistake as the calls continue to this day. Replete with lengthy voicemails asking me how I'm doing and what's going on in her life. The very things that I specifically requested we keep to email.

I think I'm going to address it through an email, but first I have to rant so you - the reader - have the opportunity to think to yourself "why didn't you address it in email the first time she did it?"

Well, now you know why. Not because I hadn't thought of it, just because I'd rather write about it first and get a chuckle before getting back to that tedium of breaking down ye olde parent-child paradigms.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How I became a bastard child in exactly 1 day.

I'm a Jew.

Matrilineally more than religiously. For those of you, who like me before a couple years ago, have never heard the word "matrilineally" it means that because my Mom was born Jewish, I (and my sister) are born Jewish.

My Mom grew up Presbytarian in St. Petersburg, Florida with her mother and adoptive father. Her mother's maiden name was Reich (in an attempt to quickly assimilate, my great grandparents who hailed from Austria pronounced it "Rich" when they arrived on Ellis Island). She grew up Schaefer, and eventually took my father's last name, Johnson. By the time I could speak and understand English, there wasn't a hint of Jew in my household. So I grew up "outside of the tribe" only to discover as an adult what it means to be a matrilineal Jew. Perhaps you are too.

My immediate family did not grow up with religion in our household. As I mentioned my Mom was raised Presbytarian; my Dad was raised southern Baptist. My only real memory of church was weddings, funerals and one Easter service that I attended with my Dad's mom ("Nanny") that was televised by the local TV channel in Thomasville, Georgia (a very funny story I'll write down some day). This all changed when my parents divorced, my mom remarried a f**king lunatic sociopathic architect, and they dually began their ascent into the social circle of what I liked to call "Yuppie Church" in the late 80's Washington, DC suburbs. Suddenly, as if by a miracle, my mother discovered GOD. She and my "stepdad" (for lack of a better or more rude name) started attending some sort of non-denominational church where they could rub shoulders with the who's who of the DC political and real estate communities. I'm certain they were experiencing profound awakenings thanks to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I wasn't a bastard yet.

The 80's ended, as did the 'yuppie' era and my mom's second marriage. It wasn't until her third marriage (to an equally savory man as the second) that she discovered Catholicism. This discovery began my descent into bastardism. You see, the Catholics have a very special relationship with GOD, one that involves lots of rituals and tariffs. One of the tariffs happens between divorced couples and their parish. Because divorces must be officially annulled by the church the annulment becomes one more way in which parishioners and priests can profit. My mother's husband's ex-wife decided that she wanted some exorbitant amount of money or she would not grant said annulment. Meanwhile, my mom "just fell in love" with the rituals and likely the social connections granted in her *new* church. Her Catholic church. In a feat of what most recovering Catholics would consider pure insanity and sadism, my mother at the age of 55 years old, CONVERTED to Catholicism.

No big deal for me, as I never accompanied her to church one way or another. I was too busy listening to that light in all of our hearts that guides us through an innate sense of love and righteousness. Until... I discovered that I was in fact a non-existent entity in my mother's new Catholic reality. Because her husband didn't receive an annulment for his past marriage, their wedding was not recognized by the Catholic church and thus she was unable (and still is not allowed) to take communion.

Being a non-religious Jew, this shouldn't really make a difference to me. However, in the context of my mother's many "issues", it serves as one mere example of how narcissism has ruled her life's choices and how I'm simply an object to her - an extension if you will - of her ego, not a REAL child. I am, in a word, a bastard.