Narcissistic Mothers are almost invariably Emotional Vampires. They enjoy the drama of people's suffering.
If they're malignant narcissists they may even provoke your suffering in
order to enjoy it.
Long before I realised that I had a Narcissistic Mother I felt very uneasy about her reaction to tragedies -
both my tragedies, and others'.
Often whenever I arrived at her house, almost the first words out of her mouth would be, literally: "I've got
some bad news for you!"
There would be an air of poorly suppressed excitement about her which is making me feel very
uncomfortable even to remember - little fizzles of distaste popping all over my body at the memory, as would happen
at the time.
And did you notice the words: bad news FOR ME. Like a cat bringing a dead mouse as a present.
And then she would tell me the bad news, again with the supressed excitement and a hard-to-define air of ...
could it be? - joy - on her. It's hard to think of a word. But it was pleasure of some kind.
I never had the nerve to say I didn't want to hear it, because I didn't want to be the recipient of her
Narcissistic Rage, so I used to respond in the barest grunts.
It probably looked very uncaring, but it seemed to me that the only gift I could give those people who'd had the
tragedy, was the gift of not partaking in being voyeuristic about it, of not contributing to this Emotional
I wish I'd had the courage to refuse to hear about it at all, but I didn't. Because the price would have been
too high - a huge row for sure. I'm ashamed of that now, in part, but under
the circumstances I realise I couldn't have done anything better.
Many times I was tempted to respond to her statement that she had bad news for me by rubbing my hands
together in a charicature of glee and say, "Have you? Oh GREAT! Let's hear it". Just to point out how inappropriate
it all was. But you can imagine the reaction that would have got me.
One time there was a particularly tragic death in her town, of a young woman. My mother went to the
funeral, as she knew the woman's aunt somewhat well, and the woman's mother to say hello to. In itself this wasn't
inappropriate because in our culture you go to all sorts of funerals no matter how loose your connection
- it's a matter of respect.
But she told me about this afterwards, with this supressed glee/energy about her, and said, "And the aunt was sooo
pleased to see me! She took my hand and said, "Thanks so much for coming"! And even her
mother recognised me, and thanked me for coming."
I was so close to pointing out, "But it wasn't about YOU". But of course I realise now that, yes, for her,
it was about her. To be that close to such a dramatic tragedy! How wonderful!
It creeped me out further that she showed me the full-page cutting she had taken from the local newspaper, about
the accident in which the young woman died, and the smaller cutting she had taken from a national newspaper.
I'm shuddering even remembering this. Why, oh why, would you cut out the articles from the papers? A souvenir of
such a thing?
The accident was reasonably high-profile in the whole of Ireland (in a small country like Ireland lots of stuff
makes the national press that wouldn't in other places), and it is my considered and absolute belief, based on
her actions, that she was so, so excited and thrilled to be involved with something so dramatic and
I'm still cringing at it. Taking this young woman's death and the grief of her family and using it to bolster
your own need for drama - vultures wouldn't stoop to it.
When I miscarried my first baby she was the same. She came to my hospital bed and there was this air of
suppressed excitement about the drama. I started to cry, and she said, "Cry, cry! Get it out. Do". (I'm pretty sure
I have that exactly word for word. But pretty close anyway.) It reads like a bad soap opera script, doesn't it? And
she said it with all the sincerity and conviction of a bad soap actor.
Her insincerity blocked the tears on me, and I can still vividly remember the pain, the physical pain, in my
chest of those unshed tears.
My husband tells me that when I had been taken down to theatre he was sitting there, feeling miserable and
worried as you can imagine, and she put out her hand and covered his hand. And he HATED it. The Normals could never
imagine why - on the face of it, a loving supportive thing to do. But you guys will get it - it was part of her
script of being a Loving Mother-In-Law Supporting Her Bereaved Son-In-Law.
In common NPD ways, there would be total deniability about all of this. The words are always spot on: "Oh isn't
it terrible? I'm so sorry for X - she's devestated. The poor, poor family."
But the tone and the expression! It reminds me of this: whenever my dog used to see me put on my walking shoes
and jacket, she'd start this quivering. She knew a walk was in the offing, and she was all agog for it. But she
couldn't get excited quite yet, so the whole body would shake with suppressed excitement and there'd be this
enthusiastic and happy expression on her face.
My mother would be like that, albeit more subtly. She wouldn't be visibly quivering as the dog would be.
But it would be definitely there.
And whereas it was totally appropriate for the dog to get excited over a walk, it's totally inappropriate to get
excited over others' tragedies. But that's emotional vampirism for you.
As part of the Narcissistic Parent Survival Kit you get a short-but-valuable
report: 10 Ways Someone Can Prove They Love You, to show how different real love is from this
artificial kind they portray.
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