The issue with the quilt was one of many as I have mentioned. She varied her methods, but the attitude and approach were the same every time.
Like the time I had a miscarriage.
I got abuse from both the cult and my mother on this. Apparently in both cult churches and cult families there are backwards reactions to things. During times of stress or difficulty when you would normally get care and concern, cult churches and families turn on you and attack you.
When I had come home from the hospital after the miscarriage, Steve had asked my mother if she would come and sit with me and help look after Daniel our two year old. Except he had specified staying at our house. Not that my mother had exactly offered to look after our two year old at her house. She turned up and then spent the next couple of days moaning about everything. She finally told Steve she wasn’t going to stay any longer as she wanted to be in her own bed. There was no sympathy regarding the miscarriage, there was no concern about my welfare, she just upped and left figuring that she wanted the comfort of her own home. Normal mothers would have offered to have both of us at her place so that she could both partake of the comforts of her own home AND help us out.
I remember that my oldest sister had gone through a number of miscarriages over the years before I married and during these episodes there would be much rolling of the eyes and rude comments from my mother. According to her my sister had somehow arranged these events to annoy my mother. This was normal any time anyone expected her to somehow exert any energy on their behalf. Getting sick however was something she did not tolerate and would often say that we were ‘bunging it on’. This meant she thought you were lying about how you felt. This kind of response is common to narcissistic abusers since they simply project their own issues onto everyone else. You are not really sick, you are just looking for attention, like she does when she pretends to be sick. In reality, you are sick and you do require attention because you are a minor and it is her job as the person who brought you into the world to actually minister to your needs. But that is too much to ask for somebody who has the divine right to both rule and be served.
But deaths in the family were treated as though they happened to somebody else.
When my mother’s sister died, she rang me up to inform me. The first thing she did was ask if I knew who ‘Aunty Pat’ was. I was three and a half when we left London to come to Brisbane and I had heard my mother talking about her brother and sister my whole life. Not only did I know who they were, I had received Christmas presents from her and had written thankyou notes both to her and my cousins, her children. The fact that my mother figured I didn’t know who Aunty Pat was simply reinforced the truth that her own relationships with her family were not normal. She was simply projecting her own careless attitude and lack of intimacy onto me. She told me about her sister’s death with brevity and the same detached tone a newsreader would use. There were no tears, no sense of loss, no actual pain in her voice. It got to the point that I actually said to her “It’s OK to grieve Mum”, thinking that she was in denial. I got a non-commital response. At the time I thought she was just not coping. I was to get a fresh insight into her coping skills when my father died.
Dad died on Saturday 31 July 2004. He would have been 100 in January last year. But my mother’s responses during his last days in hospital and his funeral were pretty damning evidence of her character disorder. We were coming to a place where I think Steve was finally recognising that the cult was a bad place to be so my father’s death was a very important catalyst to our exit. I never went back to church after this and Steve only went back one or twice I think. The Sunday after the funeral, one elder had gone up to Steve to ask where I was. Steve had told him I was with my family that day. This man then told Steve to tell me to ‘Stop feeling sorry for myself’.
Dad was not actually dying of anything like cancer or heart disease, his body had lived a full life and at 88 and a half, he was finishing up. He had a visit on one occasion by a pregnant witch doctor with two flying monkeys. This woman, I had not seen her before, had come into the room, proceeded without any warning to tell my father what would happen as his body went into death as though she was discussing the procedure of an operation. It was the most cold-blooded and totally unnecessary act I had ever witnessed from a member of the medical profession. I was so shocked I just sat and stared at her. At least her flying monkey’s (two interns) had the grace to look uncomfortable. But here’s the kicker, when I told my mother about this woman, it turns out that she had done it once before, when my mother had been at my father’s bedside. It is further proof that narcissists go into particular professions in order to make the most of their position amongst the vulnerable and weak. It doesn’t help that society thinks doctors are gods and few actually have the courage to speak up when they say or do stupid and cruel things. I wish I had not been in such a vulnerable position myself. If I had that time again I would have given that woman a lecture on childbirth and told her exactly how painful it is blow by blow. As a narcissist however, she would simply have enjoyed watching the pain in my face. My reaction, as a child of a narcissist, was probably the best response. Grey rock, albeit a bit shocked grey rock. Fortunately for my poor father he did not have his hearing aid in, so he didn’t get most of what she said.
The day my father actually died I was not there. I got a phone call from my mother that Saturday night informing me that he was gone. She also informed me that both of my sisters had been present when he died (he died in his sleep) and did I want to come and view the body. It was not my imagination that she sounded slightly triumphant when she told me this. It wasn’t until later that I realised that she thought they had somehow scored a blow against me by having been present at my father’s death. I told my mother that no, I did not want to go and view the body and she immediately said “No, I didn’t think you would want to”. More triumphalism. She was right once again. This is why I do not believe narcissists should be given any leverage by psychologists claiming they are simply poor sad victims of abuse from their own parents. They choose how they act and who they do it to. They choose their words and they know their victims, especially when it is their own children. They know how to shove in the barbs and when in order to do the most damage, and not even the death of their own husband is going to change that.
I found that out pretty quickly.
The morning of the funeral my sisters and I were at my mother’s house. At one point somebody made a funny remark about something and we laughed at it. The children in our family had always joked during uncomfortable moments, it was the only way we knew to deal with the situation. According to my husband who was in the room at the time, my mother who had been on the phone to her cousin had made some nasty comment upon hearing us laugh that ‘they will feel differently when they are at the funeral’. She was angry with us for apparently having no respect for the dead, when in fact this was all just projection on her part. She was the one who was not actually grieving. Apart from a brief flurry of tears when I started crying on the phone when she told me Dad had died, that was it. I did not see her cry ever, did not see her show any signs of grief or any concern that the husband of over 50 years was now dead and she would be on her own. If you didn’t know any better you would think she was actually happy he was gone. I will never forget standing in their bedroom while she flung open the doors of the wardrobe and told us to take something that belonged to Dad ‘Whatever you like’ as though this was a garage sale. Dad had only just been laid to rest, and we all looked at each other and felt very uncomfortable. Then she made the remarkable statement that she was going to ‘beat Dad’ and made sure she lived longer than he did as though this was a race and she was going to win. My mother was ten years younger than my father. She is now 91. Looks like she certainly did ‘beat him’ and if that was all she cared about then she has gotten her wish. The only problem is that she is going to die sometime and when she does she will still be spending the same amount of time in hell as he does. She doesn’t realise that living longer is simply the grace of God to give you time to recognise your need of a saviour.
The Christmas after my father’s death was a doozy. My oldest sister, who was divorced, and my brother, who was also on his own were going to spend that Christmas with my mother. I rang early in December and asked about coming to spend Christmas with her. She made it abundantly clear that she did not want me or my family to spend Christmas with them. She claimed that she could only ‘cope’ with two family members at a time and that it would be too much work for her. My mother had never made any fuss about us spending Christmas with her before. We have never expected her to do all the work, if we were at her house we always offered to wash up, help with the meals etc. My mother was never left on her own.
I found myself once again inexplicably trying to get my mother to acquiesce to something that most normal mothers would jump at the chance to do. She made it abundantly clear that she didn’t want us there and told me that she was going to ‘look after myself for once’. Which made no sense, because she was not having Christmas on her own, just Christmas with only half her children. My other sister living in Tasmania was not part of this situation. So we were made to feel as though we were simply trying to freeload off my mother when in actual fact we were thinking she would need people around her on the first Christmas without my father. She did not offer another day on which she would love to see her grandchildren, or offer to come and see us on a different time. I did not hear from her for two weeks and then I got a phone call.
She was sounding very happy and energetic and told me excitedly that she was going to spend two weeks with my sister Alison in Tasmania because “she didn’t get to spend Christmas with me”. I should point out that never in her life had she rung me to let me know that she would be gone for two weeks because she was spending time with my sisters. She would regularly fly to north Queensland and Tasmania where they lived and not once during those years did she let me know she was going, she and my father simply left. Now all of a sudden it was imperative for her to give me a heads up. I was floored, but also angry. I was facing her usual game of one-upmanship. Not only did she exclude us from her family Christmas, but she was letting us know that her visit to my other sister was because she didn’t get to attend Christmas. My mother was going out of her way (clearly not the grieving widow at this point) to fly all the way to Tasmania on her own in order to visit the poor dear who did not get the chance to be in her presence for the holidays.
I was not going to let this go. I called her on her hypocrisy and her response was ‘Are you jealous?’. I remember totally wilting at this come-back. Of course that was what it was all about. She wanted us to not only feel rejected but to be jealous of the other children who were being given ‘normal’ treatment. I made the sarcastic rejoinder ‘Yes, Mum, I must be jealous’. It completely went over her head. She brightened up after this and said that she would have a coffee with me when she got back. No comment about her grandchildren or my husband, it was me she was trying to get at. So I made her promise.
A couple of weeks after she returned I rang her up to organise having a coffee together. Over the next few weeks I got every type of excuse from ‘its too hot’ (as though coffee shops don’t have air conditioning), to she wasn’t well. Eventually however, I got her to agree to a day. We spent approximately an hour together, she was visibly uncomfortable and clearly not enjoying herself the whole time and I felt like a total idiot. Why try and force your own mother to do things with you when she clearly is not interested.
Narcissistic mothers however don’t make it this simple. They swing from being ‘normal’ to being vicious and sadistic and you will never know when the swing will happen because they are experts at picking the worst possible time to turn on you. Then when they do turn on you, they will make sure you know that it is your fault.