Releasing the past in order to find myself

Friday, June 29, 2012

Monsters Under the Bed

Someone (please forgive me for not remembering who) suggested that Narcs are like monsters under the bed, laying in wait.  This image led me to a crazy train of thought.  Few people I know would describe NMIL as a monster.  Some would describe NM and NSis that way, but they are a little more "out in the open".    And my stories are not as horrible (little physical violence, no real screaming fits, little to actually be "fearful" of) and so I often wondered if I was actually just imagining my monsters.
But I think that is one of the things I've found the most confusing about all of this.  I am more certain than ever that these women in my life are narcissistic, toxic, and at minimum, difficult.  But they are not "monsters" as others would describe them.  How could I reconcile this?

I used to teach preschool.  We had a discussion about strangers with the kids.  We had them describe bad guys.  Of course they used words like "ugly" "mean" "wearing black" and other typical "bad guy" terminology.  But that was actually scary.  Because the bad guys that could harm them probably wouldn't look like the bad guy lurking in the shadows at all.  He wouldn't be some shady figure hiding in the corner.  Because, really, what kid would go near that?  And then how would he get to them?  No, bad guys are your neighbors, and friend's of your parents, your teachers, the football coach.  Bad guys have shiny trinkets to lure you.  Bad guys seem like nice guys.

And when you look at "grown up" bad guys, most of them aren't wearing horns either.  Of course, we have masked robbers and the creepy dude on the street corner.  But the real bad guys are better at hiding themselves.  They look like your friends, and neighbors, and relatives.  They are financial advisors, and friends, and coaches, and the nice guy down the street who you discover is a serial killer but you never knew because "he seemed like a nice guy.  Kept to himself.  Mowed his lawn.  Always had a treat for my dog."

Bad guys can't be bad guys by advertising it.  Lions don't sit in the open waiting for prey to walk by.  If we all saw it coming, we'd all run for the hills.  Bad guys look like good guys.

Post Note:  I've found so many words that describe narcissism sound very violent.  For example, "narcissistic rage".  Although, it's clear to me that many, many people suffered violent retribution, for me that wasn't really true.  My narcissists "rage" is very covert, sneaky, and passive aggressive.  Do any of you have examples of narcissistic rage that is really about anger but is hidden because it is not out and out violence?


  1. I JUST asked DH yesterday if he ever remembers his NM going into a narcissistic rage. He says her "rage" was much more quiet than any rage he's ever seen. NMIL was more about subtle guilt than rage, and in some ways I think that's much more sneaky and underhanded.

    Naunt went into a rage ONCE. And that was after I went over with DH to talk with her about what she would and would not "allow" at the apartment she was renting us. The rage wasn't in front of me though, it was the next day, directed at DH when he went over to collect his laundry. She cornered him, arms flailing, alternating between screaming and crying at him, telling him Jonsi was awful and mean and had no right to come into HER house and talk to her THAT way.

    But again, Jessie, I'm struck by the similarities between your NM and my husband's. Right down to the fact that they didn't really rage the way so many other narcs do. I know this isn't a competition, and that others may feel that their narc isn't any better/worse than the next, but (hey, maybe just because it happened to someone I love) I just feel like the non-raging narc somehow is worse than the raging ones. It just makes it that much harder to See them for what they really are.

    1. I think that's so true. And something I've been struggling with. My mom didn't beat me or slap me or fly off the handle. NMIL was a yeller, but not particularly a violent, raging woman. So, it is so hard for others (especially husband with his mom) to see the truth. How the poison slowly seeps in from somewhere within.
      I think with my mom, it was that I never really knew what the "rules" were. I was always left so unbalanced and she would get mad at me for so many reasons. And I was thinking about it, when she got angry she'd just get quiet, and angry, and ignore me. She just froze me out. Real affection from her was so few and far between, that being froze out and ignored really sucked. Now, her rages are directed at me by the email in my temporary post. Guilt coupled with horribleness.
      NMIL I think raged by being a bully. She'd yell (not scream) but yell and call names. BILs were much younger when DH and I met and she often called them names. Also, she teased relentlessly. Someone was always being made fun of. But really, she didn't have to do much, because the boys rarely stepped out of line. Now, she bullies by gossiping to any one and everyone that will listen. She takes out grudges by talking about everyone behind their backs. She knows better than to freak out on anyone. Again it's those sneaky, underhanded tactics that you can't put your finger on, which makes them so much worse. I know I'm getting poked at, but I have a blinder on so I can't see where the hell it is coming from.

  2. I read somewhere a phrase that suck with me, something to the effect of, "How do you explain to others, "Abuse by a raised eyebrow?" " I believe what the author was conveying was how fear/terror is inculcated by a NM at such an early age the child may not remember the genesis of their fear but retained the memory of what the raised eyebrow meant.
    I may google that term later and see what I can find. But as I recall that article was addressing just this type of phenomena. This is what's so maddening: their crap in situ doesn't SEEM "that bad" but it's that PERVASIVE PATTERN of behavior that destroys the child over time. And that takes a LOT of effort.
    We love our parents so very, very much. You really have to work at destroying that love.

  3. I think it might've been me that mentioned that narcissists were like monsters under the bed -- I wrote that on Jonsi's blog a couple days ago.

    I always had horrible monster under the bed and monster at the top of the staircase nightmares as a kid. In the dreams, I would close my eyes and stay very still thinking that if I became invisible that the monster would never find me.

    This is exactly what I did in real life with my mother. I tried to snuff myself out, became afraid to speak for fear of being eaten alive.

    For a long time, I thought the monster was the real me. I know better now.

    1. Thanks VR, I had been reading so many of Jonsi's blogs that I couldn't remember where I had read that. But the phrase stuck with me.
      I also had lots of nightmares as a kid. But, I think I just felt that with my mom and NM, there's just always this crazy fear that something is there but I can't figure out where to find it. I never know where the "attack" is going to come from. And no one else can see what I'm afraid of.

  4. My NM never hit me. Although sometimes, I was literally begging for her to hit me rather than to talk to me. She usually just shook her hand towards me, she only hit my aura so to say. And stood in my personal space threatening, shaking with fury.

    I don't remember her ever yelling loudly.

    She was rather hissing at me. So silently, that I could barely hear it, but it felt like as if she was screaming at me and hitting me at the same time. But from the outside, it looked like she was smiling with her most alluring smile, and whispering softly to her daughter. She was just like a snake. I was usually literally paralyzed, and could not move, nor could speak. And I wish I could just vanish, or die on the spot. It lasted usually for hours, if there was just us, and maybe my father, who has never protected me.

    If there was an audience, she hissed even more violently, until something snapped in me, and I have asked her less silently to stop. Or told her to leave me alone. And that was the _only_ thing anyone heard. And then she started exclaiming how I was mistreating her by yelling at her so abominably in medias res. And everyone would pity her, and would tell me how awful I behaved with my poor, loving mother.

    And yes, the "raised eyebrow" stuff Tundra Woman mentioned. It was very subtle, but very real for me.