This week is hectic so I probably won’t be writing much. I started talking on more work; I’m thinking of taking another online jobs and putting my studies/thesis on hold (haven’t been able to concentrate on it anyway) and saving up enough to move out as soon as the Covid situation eases up.
I looked into some online ESL teaching jobs, but apparently my video bandwidth is not great, and that market is currently saturated as a lot of people lost their jobs and started doing this. Maybe I’ll stick with editing and take on more work; it’s a bit hard and mentally exhausting, but doable.
In any case I feel more motivated now, which is definitely a good sign.
Lately I’ve noticed that I get triggered sitting opposite to my dad at mealtimes. I don’t know why, but it’s pretty upsetting and making it hard to eat. My dad makes these pig noises when eating at home; it’s really revolting sometimes. But I think the other part is, maybe I feel a bit of resentment. Like, maybe it reminds me of how my dad acts like everything is hunky-dory as long as he gets his warm meals cooked and ready on the table every day. He couldn’t give a fuck if anyone else has a problem as long as he gets his own needs met.
Since I was a kid, my mum has had chronic illnesses that gave her a lot of pain. My dad seemed completely oblivious to it, and just expected her to work and take care of the house as usual. I think he just has limited empathy. It made my mum mad, and she openly fought with him many times over the years. But I feel like those fights are just superficial pseudo–hostility. Deep down, on a subconscious level, she’s still seeking his approval desperately, as always. She still plays the role of diligent wife and mother, rain or shine, despite her complaints and threats.
Throughout my childhood she took out her anger and dissatisfaction on me instead, with silent treatments and contempt and disdain towards me. Of course many years later she gaslighted and minimised it all away. But I won’t doubt my own perception anymore. I remember that sense of viciousness and hate in her tone and in her eyes, directed at me. I’m not an idiot, I know what I saw.
Even if they never did or said any of their outright vicious/insulting stuff, it’s still clear that they are emotional narcissists. Always putting their own feelings ahead of mine (or anyone else’s), and finding justifications for it. Someone said that covert narcs are the worst – they are nice to everybody except their own spouses and children. Other people don’t impose needs on them, but family members do. And as a narc’s child, simply having any needs at all is like an affront and attack on them. They really make you pay for it.
At this point I think I’ve accepted that my parents are neurologically damaged. They are so allergic to any slightest thing that makes them look bad, that they become delusional and deny reality, and they are actively hostile towards anyone (like me) who refuses to collaborate with them in their denial. I’m just grey-rocking them like a motherfucker these days, and it works pretty well when I’m able to hold me anger in. They’ve mellowed considerably in their old age, so there are no active conflicts at least.
I still pitch in with the housework. My mum is actually pretty reluctant; she says she “feels bad” letting me do stuff. It’s funny – she never felt bad all those times when I cried, when I was in visible distress, when I needed her help and validation, when she hurt me with her insults and cutting remarks, when she neglected me and treated me as invisible. As a kid, my crying – for whatever reason – would just make her roll her eyes impatiently, as if to say, “Are you done yet? Why are you so sensitive and difficult, you are making me annoyed. You look pathetic.” Sometimes she said those things out loud. For many years I stopped crying altogether, because I wanted Mummy’s love.
So, now to hear her say that she “feels bad” about me washing a few dishes. I wonder if she just feels uncomfortable when I encroach on her (house)wife-mother role duties, and she interprets that feeling as guilt or “love” towards me. I’ve dealt with her long enough to know that she interprets all her feelings to paint herself in the best possible light. On the other hand if I cause her to be anxious or uncomfortable, she would turn around and blame me: “Why are you doing this to your poor mother?” (Usually whenever I went to her for help or support with a problem I was having.)
“Mum, this isn’t about you, it’s about me. It’s about my problem.”
At which point she would just accuse me of sounding like a broken record. Even though objectively speaking she’s the broken record. But she never realised how repetitive she sounds, because in her reality, everything is in fact about her.
Reluctantly, I’ve become an expert in narcissistic personality now. I never wanted to waste so many brain cells on this shit, psychological warfare and mindgames, but life left me no choice. Anyway, I have been going on the trauma and abuse subreddits quite a bit lately, crying with people’s stories and lending support when I could. Mostly crying though.
Maybe it’s all the sobering self-work, but I find that I am actually feeling more emotional empathy these days, at least for other trauma victims. I really empathise, some of them suffered much worse shit and are in much worse living situations, and I just feel so sad that all these beautiful, strong people (although they don’t always know how strong they are) have to go through the hell that they went through. It isn’t right, but it that’s the way it is.
Maybe one day, someday in the future, I might get well enough, and be able to do some kind of counselling or support work. Work to help people who have been through trauma to be free of these daemons. It’s a pipe dream, I don’t know, I don’t even know how I will turn out. That would be wonderful, meaningful work though.