Hello, Could someone give me some advice? I have dealt with my mother's narcissism my entire life. I did not know what it was called until I found this forum a few weeks ago. Over the years I thought maybe she was what is termed manic depressive. Even though she had some of, or many of the signs, it just didn't fit. Then someone I knew who worked in the pharmaceutical industry (and had a little bit of understanding of these things, but was no expert) suggested my mother was schizophrenic, after that person got to know her and received the explosive tirade (she only does this to people she is close to or feels "safe" to pull these stunts upon) that she reserves for those close to her. Even though the term schizophrenia does seem to describe a lot of her personality, it was not completely accurate either. I found this forum and I could not believe some of your stories, because it was as if I was reading a story about my mother.
Anyway, she had this kind of behavior towards my grandparents their whole lives. Now that the are both dead, the only person left is me, and then of course my wife as well. My wife has had to listen to this for nearly twenty years now. When I have tried to stop her from verbally attacking my wife, insulting her, etc. it becomes worse. I did not back down though. When she pulls this stunt I break off contact for awhile, anywhere from a few weeks to six months at a time. Then I would go back and try to talk to her and work things out. She would seem alright and act as if she wanted to work things out. But her apology was never total. She always claimed her behavior was partly my fault, and so it really was not an apology. As my wife has said, I had to practically drag even that much of an apology out of her. She just simply is not one to apologize. Things would go alright for a short time and then she would revert right back to her behavior. I loved her and wanted to try to get along with her but it just was impossible to get along with her. The only other alternative as far as my wife and I could see was just to never speak to her again.
Most of my life she has kept me stirred up, and what I mean by that is, she will have one of her tirades, a stream of false accusations towards me, multiple comments in a period of just a few minutes. When I have tried to just take one comment and respond and show her it is false, then she has another stream of accusations. She did this to my grandparents too, but they just sat there and took it from her. I am never allowed to respond to any of the accusations. The accusations can be anything from something she didn't like ten minutes ago to something ten years ago. It doesn't matter, she just says anything she wants and doesn't care if there is any truth to what she is saying, or how hurtful her comments are. She makes the accusations, and when I tried to discuss it with her, she became even more irrational, overbearing, threatening, domineering, yelling, etc. She has done this about once or twice a week for most of my life. Once in a while she will go a month without blowing up, but usually it has been once or twice a week. When it happens it feels like my head is in a thick fog for about two days. Then a few days later she pulls the same stunt again. Like an illness that just about the time you are healing from it, it comes back.....for decades! She is an extremely jealous and envious person, has her nose in everyone's business, and thinks she is the only one doing her share of work in her department at her job. She also has the "false humility" some of you have commented on in your stories. She also is constantly comparing what has to what others have. If they have more of something, then somehow that is wrong. Of course if she has "more" of something than someone else, that of course is fine with her.
About four years ago I decided I was no longer going to let her get me stirred up any more to the point where I can't even think straight. I decided as soon as she starts in, I would just simply deal with the accusations one at a time. I would not let her get me upset anymore. The accusations she was making were false anyway, so why let a collection of nonsense and outright lies upset me? I told my wife I would give this some time and when my conscience was clear that I had tried everything I could, then we would be done with my mother forever. My wife asked how long I was going to give it and I responded that I didn't know. I told her I was not trying to avoid answering her question, but I just didn't know. Even though I didn't think anything would change, I had to at least try to deal with this without letting her get me upset. If I did not let her get me upset, then she could no longer claim I was partly at fault. I was not expecting to spend four years on it though, looking back I should have not given it even four more days.
This made things even worse that she was not upsetting me any longer. She became even more bizarre with her accusations and when none of her verbal tirade worked she would just become even more explosive, and haughty in her behavior. For example, she would explode at me on the phone for some (who knows why) reason. Then I would go to her home that evening and ask if I could talk to her. She would sit down and we would start talking and I would try to deal with just one of the comments she made earlier in the day. She would make some comments or accusations, then it would usually get me off track, then I would come back to the original accusation I had tried to deal with when I arrived. She would become angry and irrational, yell at me, and then tell me to leave. As I was leaving, she would follow me out to my car running her mouth the whole time, and stand next to the car, still running her mouth, while I pulled out of the driveway. I may give it a day or two and then I would go to her home and start over trying to deal with it again, to no avail.
Over the last four years of trying this way of dealing with it the following happened:
For about six months it was nothing but turmoil and attempts to reason with her, ongoing with no progress. Then I broke off contact for about two months. Then we talked with her and it was somewhat alright for about four months. Then it started up again for six or seven months of nothing but turmoil and attempts to reason with her. Then broke off contact for two more months. Then talked to her and it was somewhat alright for about two or three months. Then she blew up ONE time and I ended contact immediately for about six months. Then went and talked to her and things when somewhat alright for almost six months. But, my wife said to me the only reason things went smoothly for nearly six months was because I just started ignoring most of what my mother said and that I sat and listened as my mother talked endlessly about herself. Then she blew up again and I ended contact after the ONE tirade (it had now become that as soon as she blew up one time I would break off contact because I was nearing the end of the relationship) for about six more months. We talked things over with her again and things went somewhat smoothly for another four or so months. She blew up again and we broke off contact for a week or so. Then things were somewhat alright for a few months, until about a month and a half ago when she blew up again and attacked both me and my wife. At this point I was through with dealing with her. I told my mother our relationship had come to an end. She responded that I had "used" her!!!! Believe it or not, after spending nearly four years of our lives, not including all the previous years, trying to work things out with her, she then accuses me of using her!!! So I walked away from her, she then went into her crying act and asked if we could talk about it, to which I responded; "NO."
I did not plan on giving it four years, but I now know that there is no way to deal with her. I tried everything and nothing worked. My wife said that as time went on our relationship with my mother became nothing more than sitting and listening to my mother talk about herself and when I would say anything my mother would either stare off in the distance until it was her turn to speak, or would interrupt me and start to talk about herself again. Sadly, it took me awhile to notice that. By the way, "narcissist" is is really good word because she will sit in front of a mirror and look at her face for long periods of time. Sometimes on her days off work she will completely reapply her makeup three times in a day.
My question is, what do you do when you have spent most of your life dealing with this, when someone asks you why you have not accomplished anything with your life, how do you say to someone; "Listen, you have no idea what this woman has done to my life. I have spent almost all of my life dealing with this and it has wrecked my life."
It sounds so crazy, but it is true. It just seems like she has this perverse desire to see me never accomplish anything. Every time I have tried to accomplish anything, she knows just when to throw the wrench in the works, and if she didn't do that, just being stirred up on a regular basis made sure there would be no progress. My wife has stood by me this whole time and has been unbelievably wonderful. My mom is almost insanely jealous of my wife, sad thing is early on my wife liked my mom but now can not stand her due entirely to my mother's behavior. Anyway, your advice would be appreciated.