I Am Your Reflection
The Mistake You Cannot Change
Foreword to Kaleidoscope by Kacie Brockman
Kaleidoscope, a poem of colossal depth and meaning provides an idea of the tedious and tumultuous relationship between my mother and I which began around the time I wanted to pick out my own bra I suspect. Kayla Casper has been able to capture what from my experience and observation, perfectly describes the innately complex relationship between a covert narcissistic mother and her grown child. With poetic beauty and innovative style Ms. Casper has been able to penetrate through dimensions of disbelief into a world that is nearly impossible to explain or express to another who’s not experienced it. I still find it hard to share with even my closest friends.
The traumatic integration of reality with the warped history I’ve ever only known is still very confusing and complicated. I’ve been able to manage riding the waves of varied emotions by writing day and night. I write while attempting to wrap my mind around this idea, this concept that a person can act as if they love you when they just simply don’t. And it’s not just that they don’t love you, it’s also that your suffering brings them some sort of satisfaction. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand. And perhaps it’s best that I don’t.
What I do understand however is that this is the only way for my child and I to be safe from here on out. Going “NO CONTACT” is not by choice, but rather, by no other choice. Because as in her very own words, “I’m a bored, lonely old lady with nothing to do all day. What do you expect? If you don’t want me to talk about anything, then don’t tell me anything.” I just realized as her words were pouring onto the screen in front of me, maybe that was her way of telling me that I wasn’t safe with her at all anymore. Perhaps as a mother’s innate, instinctual makeup demands, she … maybe she was keeping me safe for the last time, even if it meant keeping me safe from her. Wishful thinking it should be that the Wizard ever loved any of them. (Mascara soaked memories are ferocious after midnight my friends. …. I would not wish this on my worst enemy…this is f ****** brutal.
We are broken.
We dream in nightmarish landscapes that echo back our wasted time
Hollowed versions of ourselves scream and shatter us to the core
We lay our lies on moon beams and wake with our conscious bare
Our hopes lie wounded on time’s ailing back
I am your reflection, the mistake you cannot change
The mirror that you see your own failings within
Years of my life are etched deep into your frame
My life running you ragged you wear bitter indifference on your face
You, a figure that’s disfigured in the kaleidoscope mirrors
The me that you see, a shatter picture
Your eyes stare blankly passed my face
Child to adult a flash of just moments create you to I
I am the error, the left over piece in the assembly of your life
Important yet unknown and seemingly useless
I am the shadow that follows you through time
The mistake that goes awry
These hollowed hearts gain no solace in vanities arms
Time is failing as the wound begins to fester
You’re the idea that has corroded with age
each year more rust forms on this broken dream.
With our heads held high with the same stubborn pride
We’ll descend into the shattered pieces, sit in ill contempt
We are pieces torn asunder our path littered with stars made of glass
Fragile and cracked we fall into the bleakness of our relation
We are broken, and I’m out of duct tape.
We’ve heard about parental alienation, but there’s less commentary on family alienation. It seems to be the hallmark of a narcissistic mother–especially with her daughter. Narcissists of all types are dedicated to discrediting their victims by portraying them as crazy to friends, relatives and acquaintances. They usually start before the victim even knows there is a problem. Then, when the abuse starts, the narcissist has already planted a seed in people’s minds to make them think the victim is not trustworthy. It destroys the support system that the victim of a narcissist so desperately needs!
Narcissist mothers love to smear their daughters under the guise of caring. “Oh my poor daughter. I worry so much about her because she has mental issues.” The daughter might not have mental issues at all, (or she might be depressed or upset about the abuse she’s experiencing!) But, the mother’s comments set a foundation by which people begin to view the target/her own daughter. Onlookers have no idea what’s going on. They see a seemingly nice mother trying to help her daughter. They believe the stories that the narcissist spreads, and come to believe the daughter is the problem. In private, the daughter is frustrated by the abuse, which makes her mother’s false allegations seem believable when she tries to stand up for herself. If she shows anger or sadness, the narcissist mother is quick to tell others than she is “out of control” or “bi-polar.” Many times that “bi-polar” behavior is a reaction to years of abuse and only shows up when the narcissist is instigating a fight. The narcissist mother will pick at the daughter then blame her for reacting.
More aggressive narcissistic mothers will drop the pretend concern and go straight to trashing their daughters. They often make up elaborate stories and portray their daughters as druggies, delinquents or as being out of control. The daughter doesn’t stand a chance because she’s been smeared so long that her family doesn’t actually see her for who she is. The narcissist has successfully alienated her from her family…and often anyone who might help her with the abuse. Many daughters of narcissist realize that they have lost their entire family, and the mother’s campaign against them has been so thorough that no one wants to hear the daughter’s side. ~ Joanna Moore, Narcissist Abuse Survivor and author of The Faces of Narcissism
A Conscious Suspension of Impossible Possibilities
“All my bags are packed I’m ready to go.
I’m standin’ here outside your door.
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye.”
Denial, who’d been my companion and protector since youth, had suddenly been evicted from the premises, and yet ironically, it was I who was to experience the abrupt landing on the sidewalk of reality. Several beliefs I had never thought to even question before began tripping me up with unexpected, undesirable and difficult to process emotions. Remember, I’ve been successfully dodging those critters for nearly 4 decades. As unwelcome as uninvited and intrusive relatives, these emotions began to arrive at the most dreadfully inopportune times. Before a memory from long ago might drift in and out of focus, perhaps something that had puzzled me for years, but remembering now with this 20/20 awakened awareness, I’m able to experience the memory differently and that allows the pieces of the puzzle to fall effortlessly together. It does not come close to erasing the pain of saying goodbye to my mother, but there is some comfort in those moments when memories surface and then almost before they have a chance to ring the doorbell, clarity and understanding have arrived to greet them.
I need to mention that although there were indeed many good times spent in one another’s company, my mother’s relentless rewriting of a substantial portion of my life’s experiences and perceptions had become unbearable. Forty years of garbage had begun piling up without so much of an, “I’m sorry.”
But before all that trash got taken out, it had been piled on top of the beautiful memories Covering/smothering and co mingling all the memories together, until they just weren’t anything at all anymore. Never were apologies made; no opportunities ever provided to talk about why it was ok to tell people in town that my brother was dead, when in fact, he was merely gay. I never heard one apology for the creepiest of times when my mother’s “Zero Respect for Boundaries” carnival came to town just shy of 2 years ago.
My own mother had begun to obnoxiously weave herself into a budding romantic relationship of mine. She’d begun talking about him alot, and before long informed me that they’d been talking by phone. She went so far to tell me about a fantasy she’d been getting carried away with. As with nearly every incident I’ve ever encountered with my mother, I would without exception become dismayed and dumbfounded with the level of absurdity that accompanied her side shows, which I prefered to call, “her acute, dissociative states”. I really did try to provide her leniency in regards to her age, and a possibility that the onset of senility might be a factor. Yet observing her interactions with others, whether in personal affairs or business matters, I quickly arrived at the conclusion that although this was my preferred outcome, there just weren’t any facts able to support it. What facts were able to support however, were that she was sharp, edgy and clever.
So sometimes, even a doormat such as I was, is not always able to just lie there being, well…a doormat. As my mother moved in on the man I was dating, and in addition was half my mother’s age I became not only extremely perplexed, but a quite a little bit pissed. Invariably the moment arrived when although being a reasonable woman, a patient woman and an intelligent woman, I was also a woman that had limitations. I could swallow only so many macaroons, lemonade and various soliloquies from my mother describing her fantasies or contemplating intimacy with my gentleman friend. While the cookies and lemonade stayed down alright, the following words projectiled all over her happiness, “You realize Mom, this is bordering on batshit crazy, right?” So there you have it…yet another time in which I took away my mother’s happiness. This situation exemplifies the multitude of disagreements or shit storms that have occurred through the years, and also indicative of how the majority of her pathological performances would begin.
Repeatedly these lies, rewrites, and abandonment were synthetically woven together with a “tough love” fabrication. I know cheap when I see cheap. The story she would present to others ensured that she’d have 100% support. She believed that because I did in fact, fall off the wagon, everyone would be on board (drinking 1 bottle of vodka after 6 months of unsupported sobriety/or what is known as being dry drunk.) In the exact same manner as my ex Narcissistic Husband, she encapsulated the events that followed within the context that I “lacked all credibility due to”…”fill in the blank,” or which this time was the obvious intake of alcohol. Which I’ve admitted to. So confident she was to be able to convince me of her revision being that “I was simply unable to recall any of the subsequent events”. Please indulge me if you will, I’d like to finally break this down, because I am beyond done sheltering evil with my love. So in regards to her implementation of tough love? Well, she’s been utilizing that phrase since my brother turned 14 and she sent him away to a boarding school, and again at 17 when he announced he was gay, tough love started to become the only love we we could be sure of. So when mom’s typical spring cleaning came around and it was my turn to be thrown out, I wasn’t too surprised except for one thing. It was the decision by my brother to participate in the exact same dysfunctional, systematic measures of abuse that had nearly killed him decades prior.
By late summer of 2018 I’d managed to accumulate close to 6 months of sobriety. I own the fact that I had neglected to establish any support system, such as attending AA meetings for example, and by not doing so, a relapse was only a matter of time. I sold a small personal item on social media and because I didn’t have a vehicle, the buyer was more than happy to trade a large bottle of vodka for the item. Numerous times I’ve explained that I’m an alcoholic, so I did precisely what alcoholics do. We drink to escape, to numb, to provide relief for a deep wound that can never be healed. And so the alcoholic drank the vodka. One Large Bottle. I ended up turning to my neighbor and she phoned my mother because in my intoxicated state I was crying and saying that I just wanted to die. The only other call made was for an officer to come and assess the situation. He came, we spoke briefly. He left. I went back to sleep. The following afternoon I received one phone call from my brother who I could have sworn was having some speech difficulty, to inform me that the entire family was on board with a unified but independent decision they no longer wanted to deal with me and that I needed to get well without them. There were no proposed guidelines, no established goals, no criteria what so ever to work towards a reunification. I was simply being disposed of .
The problem was, I believed the messenger was intoxicated during this call, and my suspicions were confirmed the following day. After telling me to shut up and listen, (quite the over used order of compliance in our family) AGAIN he was struggling to speak clearly. And AGAIN he proceeded to inform me that the entire family was on board with a unified but independent decision they no longer wanted to deal with me and that I needed to get well without them.
So I did.
Funny thing is about dysfunctional families, most members of the clan tend to spotlight the easy target. Now should the light or attention ever begin to slightly drift towards them, they are quick to deflect it. If no real evidence exists, they’re often observed frantically grasping into a mist of possibilities as to why the light belongs to the family scapegoat. The fact is, my dysfunctional family liked it much better when I drank. Because I was far easier to control, manipulate and blame. As it currently stands, I have become nothing but a terribly annoying mosquito which refuses to go away quietly. And the reason I refuse to go away quietly is because I was NOT the abuser, I was NOT the one destroying the peace, and I was NOT the corrosive toxin continuously causing chaos by distorting every interaction, even authentic and kind gestures have been portrayed in a light so dark it’s unbelievable. The final reason I refuse to go away silently today is the same as it was in 2014. It is the one solid fact, that this (abuse) has always been their secret to hide, NOT mine.
The following statements were directly and continuously repeated by my mother to me in an attempt to alter my perception of the events surrounding my relapse with vodka. This event became the catalyst for the discard phase.
My mother did not find me passed out. My mother did not find me wandering down the street nor were there were a swarm of police officers positioned outside of my house. There were not 2 bottles. There were not 3 bottles. I did not post anything against anyone on social media. The house was not filthy or in disarray. She did not hear sirens, She did not receive a call from the physician”s office on a weekend. She did not leap into her car and come flying up the hill. She was not stopped by the chief of the department, telling her to go home as they had it handled. (GOT to love her self-portrayal of hollywoodesque-heroism) She did not do any of those things. She did not hear any of those things. I’d place a high stakes bet she never even arose from her sitting chair before executing one of the most abusive and dangerous of Narcissistic known tactical assaults.
She deliberately restyled a polished version of events as a totalized, catastrophic and grave scene that had never even taken place. She then supplied this blockbuster screenplay of events to the family, i.e., her clan, effectively coordinating an absolute compliance and alliance of all family members to immediately and permanently cut every possible tie and cease all future communications with me.
And they did.
Well, all but one.
Isolation and deprivation from one’s entire family can carry you right to the edge of where your existence ends and something else, I’ve yet to comprend, begins. The strings to her puppet, still narrowly attached, were rapidly deteriorating. My mother knew her time was growing short and I’ve come to believe that this is what the entire last 2 years of cat and mouse has been about. She knew that in order to get my family back, I was willing to do almost anything.
Except for one thing.
I’d confessed many sins to my mother, but I refused to provide her with the one confession she so desperately wanted, and ultimately needed. Throughout my life, she had created various illusory tales in which she was either the hero or the victim. I genuinely believe this was the one story she had backed herself into a corner with. She wanted my confession to doing something I had never done to either one of my parents. She wanted me to admit to physically assaulting her.
Only one incident of any physical nature ever occured when I took a solid blocking stance, with my hands down at my side as she attempted to enter my home without my consent. That was the only time I had encountered any physical contact during a disagreement. Boundaries with my mother have never been acknowledged let alone respected.
Throughout my life,there’ve been times that I have lied, and there’ve been times I have told the truth. By following the guidelines set forth in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I’ve been able to step forward and claim ownership of the consequences for my lies and or wrongdoings. And as for my truths, there are three absolutes which I shall never depart from. I will forever stand firm without wavering, under any threat or condition.
I’ve never threatened either one of my parents or raised a hand to harm or imply harm to either one of my parents.
My child and I were both deliberately and systematically abused and under constant threat during my second marriage to his father.
Not once have I suggested, coerced, cajoled, encouraged, manipulated, or frightened my child into making false or misleading statements or accusations. Any statements made by myself or my child were not ever of my own creation but of our combined and/or individual experiences with our abuser.
My God is a mighty God. My God has repeatedly opened doors that no man has been able to shut. It is now that I understand also closes doors no man can open. By choosing to follow His will for my life through recovery, along with a fresh exposure to a new life, new friendships, and activities apart from my mom, an amazing awareness about myself and others began to take shape.
Becoming increasingly aware of her various approaches and styles of communications, I started to see a pattern developing between her and myself. Now the patterns were most likely already in place for decades, but it was at this point I became aware of them. It was as if she had become a transitioning algorithm. When one approach would not provide her a desired response, she would change it up. I started to realize that she was often initiating a conversation with to elicit a possible admission of guilt for something I simply refused to admit. She would pose that I because I’d been drinking, which I hadn’t, or because I was high, which I wasn’t, that I just didn’t have an accurate memory of that day. No matter how she approached the topic I consistently refused to supply her with a confirmation of her varied accounts that I had ever physically, verbally or in anyway assaulted her.
The fact is, Narcissists use various strategies, alliances, and tactics to get what they want. Communication with a narcissist quickly becomes an insane entanglement within their irrational and illogical world where anything they say is law and not to be questioned. I clearly recall when at about 13 years old, I became less intimidated and started to share memories of events independent from her or voicing opinions that opposed those of my parents. Assessing the timeline of critical events occuring in my teen years, this is precisely the same time I was informed that she’d become concerned that I was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. She rode that donkey for years let me tell you.
Enduring a suffocating childhood consumed by the asphyxiating vortex of innuendos, suspicions, observations or suggestions that I was always teetering on a nervous breakdown. It was as if the stage was always being set in the event…
Words echoing a nightmare I cannot awaken from ….I just dreamt of it, that’s all.
It was only in a dream that a piece of the puzzle is falling and as it falls
it’s descent begins to slow as my attention remains transfixed upon where the intended purpose for this piece is exactly.
I begin to realize that it is I who has suspended it midair.
By my will alone, it now hanging precariously in limbo going nowhere,
not being allowed to fit
Seriously, clarity and understanding need to answer the door right now.
I need to stop. Because this is when pieces sometimes fall where they should not.
There’s a reason why I chose him,
The Malignant Optimism of the Abused Sam Vaknin, Ph.D
“I often come across sad examples of the powers of self-delusion that the narcissist provokes in his victims. It is what I call “malignant optimism”. People refuse to believe that some questions are unsolvable, some diseases incurable, some disasters inevitable. They see a sign of hope in every fluctuation. They read meaning and patterns into every random occurrence, utterance, or slip. They are deceived by their own pressing need to believe in the ultimate victory of good over evil, health over sickness, order over disorder. Life appears otherwise so meaningless, so unjust and so arbitrary…”
“So, they impose upon it a design, progress, aims, and paths. This is magical thinking.”~ Sam Vaknin, Ph.D
~So, it appears I had magical thinking. She didn’t say those words to keep me safe. She said them to keep herself safe. They were just a cover to hide her true intent. I suppose that makes things very different. Again.
The Faces of Narcissism Joanna Moore Publisher: Amazon.com Services LLC ASIN:B00OZIK2EC Publication Date: October 28 2014 Type: Non-Fiction
Written by: John Denver Lyrics © RESERVOIR MEDIA MANAGEMENT INC, BMG Rights Management Lyrics Licensed & Provided by Lyricfind
The Malignant Optimism of the Abused Sam Vaknin, Ph.D Publisher: Narcissus Publications ISBN-10:8023833847 Type:Non-Fiction Copyright 21 Sep 2003