Hard to Love?

The last thing she said to me was, “You were always so hard to love.”

To many, it seems just like a simply-said-statement, but if you understand the manipulations and darkness of a disordered narcissist, this is a blame-shifting statement.  This was her blaming me for her inability to love me.  Classic NPD behaviour.

She did this to me all the time, saying things like this, putting me at blame for things when they didn’t work out, especially in our relationship – if you can call it a relationship.  Everything was my fault that she couldn’t love me, show me affection, accept me, respect me, you get the gist. This is what it’s like being the family scapegoat.

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I grew up under this tyranny.  When you grow up being the scapegoat from a young age, a child turns inward always questioning their every action – I was always self-evaluating which made me so guarded about everything so as to not upset my narcissistic disordered mother.  For as long as I can remember, I was always walking on eggshells.  I always tried to be on my best behaviour around my mother in hopes that she’d be pleased with me – so that she’d love me, which never happened – she was always distant and cold towards me, nothing I did was good enough – no matter how hard I tried.  I do not remember her ever being affectionate. I tried for years to be good, to be the best I could be, trying so hard to earn her love and affection by bending over backwards doing things for her and being subservient and compliant – and none of it worked.  This is how a child gets conditioned to believe that love is not unconditional, but extremely conditional – it’s based on behaviour and good deeds, on what you can do for that person, and when the parent is a disordered narcissist, anything you do is never good enough.  I tried to be angelically good, I even tried to be the person she wanted me to be in hopes that she’d love and accept me – that didn’t work.  I tried everything I could think of to win her love and approval.  As I got into my early twenties, I snapped one day, realizing that it was all futile and I stopped trying to earn her affection and acceptance and that is when her abuse started to get even worse.  You see, the narcissistic parent wants to control you – to keep you under their thumb, to keep you compliant and subservient to her and the family unit.  You were not allowed to be who you are, but who they want you to be – and if you try to come out from underneath it, they will try to crush you with disdainful stares, silent treatments, along with demeaning you, shaming you, mocking you, and embarrassing you.  My mother’s silent treatments could last for months and months sometimes.  The disdainful stares and abuse were apparent at every visit.  Every. visit. And after every visit, I cried all the way home.

Being a scapegoat translates to being your abuser’s sin rag.  Disordered narcissist’s never genuinely admit fault to anything, unless it’s via sarcasm which makes their admission of fault phony and insincere.  Their fake apologies never result in changed behaviour, they just keep being abusive.  As a scapegoat, or sin rag, they mirror onto their victims their sins, their flaws and or things they hate.  For instance, there was a woman my mother loathed – hated with a passion – and she would list off everything she hated about her and she’d give me the deadly hate stare as she ranted, ending with, “… and you’re just like her!!”  She did this a lot. I didn’t know it then, but my mother really didn’t know me at all, but I believed she did.  I truly believed that my mother knew me better than I knew myself – which is easy to do when a child has stifled, stuffed down, their own identity to be who the parent wants them to be.  So instead of a mother mirroring onto her children that they are loved and accepted so they grow up feeling whole and confident, her children instead grow up feeling insanely flawed, broken and worthless.  Children who grow up under this take this into other relationships, setting us up for more abuse if we aren’t brave enough to see it, acknowledge it and change it. For years I carried my mother’s sins and any other family sins that were thrown on me.  For instance, it was made for me to feel at fault for betraying the family if I wasn’t allowing myself to be manipulated like a puppet on strings, doing what they expected of me no matter how wrong it was, or how much it required me to deny my authentic self for their appeasement. This toxic way of ‘keeping the family together’ was then somehow my fault because I wasn’t doing my part in the puppet show – the public had to believe we were a perfect, loving family and to many it looked like that from the outside – but behind closed doors, not so much.

All my life, I thought I was the one who was seriously broken.  All my life, I thought that I was unworthy, unloveable, and seriously flawed.  If my own mother couldn’t love me than how on earth could anyone else?  And I carried that with me – for years. It set me up for unhealthy relationships, putting up with other abuses that no self-confident woman would have ever put up with. So imagine my discomfort and bewilderment when I meet a man in my mid-twenties (two weeks after crying out to God who I wasn’t sure even existed at the time, who I confessed all my sins to – but that’s another story within this one) who was actually pursuing me – my first reaction was to pull away, I thought to myself, ‘This man has no idea what he’s pursuing.  He’s not going to want me when he finds out how flawed and broken I am.’  But still, he pursued me even after I tried to slough him off.  We started dating still and over time he treated me as someone with worth even though I didn’t feel it.  It was through him that I became a Christian and we eventually got married and have been married now for over 20 years.  I married a good man, the kind of man that my mother said would never want me – yes, she actually said that to me.  Thank God she was wrong!  I got the best man ever – my husband is proof that God loves me.

I remember when I was struggling with omitting my mother from my life 17 years ago, somehow my husband and I got talking about this mess at that time, and he asked me, “Don’t you know your worth?”  I broke!  The floodgates burst, and in between sobs, I choked out, “No, honey, I don’t.”  Then he went on to inform me of my worth and how I was worth something to him.  I cried so hard – no one ever told me what I was worth before.  Those words were salve to my broken spirit and shredded soul – but it was just the beginning of my journey and it has not been an easy one.

This is the damage that disordered narcissistic parents do to their kids.  It’s like a brainwashing – the narcissistic family is a wee cult all of it’s own – filling a child up with lies and burdening them with not only the child’s own faults/sins but the parents’ as well.  When I broke ties with all family of origin about seven years ago, it was like this huge boulder fell off my back.  I didn’t even know I was carrying it until I was relieved of it.  It was like a stronghold had been broken and I felt more free, lighter on my feet even.

It’s a long, arduous journey out of this diabolical and insidious abuse which I have come to believe is demonic in nature and it’s very often a generational bond.  Looking back on my family of origin, I can see where this madness has been passed down through the generations, and the Lord enabled me to break it so I didn’t pass it on to my kids.  What great joy it is that the Lord brought me out of this so that I could pass on a greater legacy to my kids than the one I was given.

The most tragic thing in all the world is a child growing up thinking and feeling that they are unloved and unloveable.  Love in action is everything – it’s what grows and nourishes the human soul.  It’s what builds us up and gives us confidence, it’s love that showers the receiver with affection and acceptance.  I had to learn how to be a good and loving parent, taking a Christian parenting course.  I had to learn what real love looks like and implement it.  I had to unlearn so many toxic things and learn godly principles for not only being a good mom, but even a wife, a woman.

To break free from this abuse, from an abusive family (as other members also abuse by proxy) is the hardest decision anyone can ever make and should not be taken lightly.  It was a decision I didn’t take lightly or quickly and I spent months deliberating.  I hated that I was forced to make a decision because I just couldn’t take the abuse anymore.  After making the decision to cut ties, I did not feel good about it – in fact, I hated it.  It’s not what I wanted, but I had to, no one in my family wanted to hear about it or talk about it – they told me that.  But as I healed, it proved to be the wisest decision of my life.  I am glad I was brave enough to take a stand and make hard choices that would be not only to my benefit, but to the benefit of my marriage and my children.  I don’t regret the decision to cut ties – the Lord has blessed me in spite of it.

He promised me, in one of the visions He gave me 17 years ago, that He would be all the Father and mother to me that I would ever need and He has upheld that promise.  I am awed by His love for me and my husband and our children.  We have been so blessed by doing what was the hard thing, by taking a stand for what was right – it was the right thing to do when it’s more than just my soul at stake, but also the souls of my children.

“No greater love has no man than this, than he who lays down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) … or in my case, our children.

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