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