Change is Inevitable

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

                                                                                                            ~Leo Tolstoy

Change is inevitable…  Yeah, you’re thinking, “How trite.”  But you haven’t lived my life.  That’s okay, because I haven’t either.  I’ve lived the life of a dreamer, an escapist, an idealist, a romantic, a liar, a manipulator, a control freak, a hysterical blubbering idiot.  That got me nowhere.  Well, it got me somewhere, because here I am: a defective person.  Aren’t we all?

It’s not that I’m hard on myself.  I’ve just arrived at a place in my life after a long, troubling journey where I can look cleanly at all that I have become.  I don’t do it to torture myself.  I do it so I can say goodbye to all of those parts of me that were once very useful in my survival, but are no longer necessary.  You see, surviving isn’t quite living, which explains my need to emphasize the lack of living.  Those parts of me served a purpose, whether positive or negative, but now, change is inevitable…

So many of the traits that I am longing to shed stem from (where else but) my childhood.  My relationship with my mother was rocky at best.  Most angry people blame their mother, right?  And I am a pretty angry person, hence the need for change.  I don’t blame her that I am angry.  I don’t think her purpose was to create an angry child.  For her it was about control.  This is because my mother is a narcissist, diagnosed by her number one victim: me.

I wasn’t her only victim, you see.  For narcissists so love themselves that they see their children as extensions of the perfection that they believe they possess.  My older and younger brothers suffered tremendously under her abuse.  My older brother was killed in an auto accident when he was 17, but my younger brother and I, even though we both live hundreds of miles away from her, still feel her wrath and are subjected to abuse from time to time.  We suffer from the effects of abuse and neglect from our childhood.

My mother displays more than five of the “symptoms” of a textbook case.  A “real” psychologist could easily verify this diagnosis if only (oh, if only) my mother would actually allow one to examine her.  Few have tried; none have succeeded, because the narcissist believes she is without fault.  If she can’t fool, then she flees.  She believes she is smarter than the average bear.  Doesn’t it seem ironic that the mother is a dreamer, too?

To give you a glimpse, my earliest memory of my life is a disturbing portrayal of the mother attempting to groom me into a perfect reflection of her… literally.  I was sitting on the bathroom counter as she was brushing my long, tangled mess of hair one hot summer day.  Even though a narcissist’s goal with her children is to make them into mirror images of her perfect self, she knows this cannot possibly be accomplished, no matter how hard she tries.  This is because no one could ever come close to being as perfect, so she tells herself.  The reality is that she has very little confidence in herself, something that she also projects onto her offspring.

In this memory, as my mother brushes, she pulls, and she jerks.  I wince and cry.  She points the brush right in front of my three-year old face and tells me not to move and to shut up or she’ll knock my teeth down my throat, her “pet threat” that she apparently favors.  As she commences the brushing, she pulls, and she jerks.  I wince and cry.  She draws the brush back as I watch in terror and swings it with force so great that it knocks me clear off the bathroom counter and into the doorway.

For what seemed to be an hour, I listened to a barrage of obscenities, so foul that a sailor would blush. She uttered words I’d never heard before.  She ranted on and on about how my hair was a tangled mess that will never be right, how she loathed me and wished I were dead, how her life would be so much better without me and the moppy mess of hair.  But she did so with assailing aggression littered with the profanity of a sailor. These words were meaningless to me, except that I knew they couldn’t be good.  How did I know?  From the maniacal look in her eyes.  It was pure evil.

So, where does this leave me?  With a lifetime of survival and not a whole lot of living…  Here is where change must come in, or I will still be on the same path that I have been on for years.  Hope without hope.  Sounds weird, I know.  I have this urging sense of optimism that is blocked by years of disappointment.  Hope can’t go it alone.  So with hope, optimism, prospect, and endurance,  I can live my life now because change is inevitable.




    1. Writing about the pain I experienced solidifies it for me so that it’s easier to face. It doesn’t seem so scary since it is no longer locked inside. When I locked the memories there, there was still a threat of repeat offenses. Examining them now makes, over 40 years later, makes them seem so small. I should write my next post on examining memories… Thanks for the inspiration, Ralph!

  1. hello, I wanted to leave a comment to say that what you’ve written absolutely breaks my heart. I didn’t suffer anywhere near the abuse you have, but my mother is also a narcassist. I know it’s not her fault… she was abused as a child and as my sister reminds me, she’s not the 70 year old woman we see in front of us, but the 6 year old child who was beaten and sexually abused. Because of her past, she rarely lay a hand on us. Of course we got a slap on the bottom a few times, but that was the extent of any physical abuse. (I suppose in a certain sense all those years of psychoanalysis served at something for her!) The problem I have is I relive over and over again the mean things she’s said and still says to me, all those things that make me feel worthless and without a sense of self, because I’ve never been allowed the freedom to have my own life (and I live 10,000 km away from her!). I can’t get her to not take everything that’s mine and make it hers… I had a baby 10 months ago and am so frightened of doing the same thing to her. It’s made me so angry that I’ve had to exclude my mother from my life (for the second time) while I try to work on healing myself. She acts like the victim of course. It’s always about her. Even when I was ill at 17 and she had to take me to a 24 hour clinic (emergency room would have been too good for me I guess!) she yelled at me the whole time in the car.. The list always goes on like that and, although I love her, I feel a vulcano of anger towards her and at the moment I can’t imagine having her in my life at all…

    1. Thank you for your comments! I agree with your statements about who we see in front of us. My mother quite possibly suffered through some sort of abuse. Her parents, my grandparents, were so incredibly loving and encouraging, so I can’t quite imagine that they were the culprits, but I could be wrong.

      I’ve learned that a narcissist’s tongue is lashing most of the time. This is because of her need to deflect her inner feelings, the ones she keeps so very hidden beneath those layers.

      I learned to live with just tiny tidbits of her in my life and develop a thick skin when it comes to her. With each criticism, instead of hearing the word, “You” come out of her mouth, I replace it with “I” so that her statements are placed in their true perspective. “You can’t do anything right!” becomes, “I can’t do anything right.” It gives me some empathy to think that someone could really feel that way deep down, especially since I used to because of her very words.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

  2. No child should ever feel that way. I’m so sorry.

    The thing that struck me about the description of a Narcissist (I’ve had a coworker who was a textbook narcisisst) is how awful their life is, because nobody treats them how they think they deserve to be treated, and their life never matches what they think it should. What a terribly frustrating and sad way to live, constantly disappointed and unhappy because you can’t believe reality. And they generally cannot be helped. It’s a living hell of a mental illness.

    But one must feel sorry for them from a distance, because compassion and pity are just methods of exploitation. I’m so glad that you are NOT a narcissist, and are healing from this.

    1. You are so right. I do have a great amount of empathy for my mother. She wants something so badly that she can never have, which adds more fuel to her inner turmoil. But I do keep that empathy in check because she can, and will, use it against me at the drop of a hat. A narcissist will stop at nothing to get what they want.
      Thanks so much for sharing your words of wisdom!

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