I made a little video in honor of my maternal grandmother yesterday. I had found so many old photos of her on my dad’s computer and I wanted to preserve them in the event that anything happens to me, so I figured a YouTube video would best keep them somewhere forever.
I sent the link to several family members, including my daughters before I recalled Savannah’s reply when I told her my mammaw (her great grandma) had passed and that I would pay for her and her sister to fly in for the funeral if they wanted to attend. Her reply was, “This isn’t a convenient time“.
Strange how this tiny little phrase was so very unlike my daughter and so very exactly her father. My children were sweet and thoughtful, exceedingly unselfish, and advocates for the less privileged as well as against bullying and cruelty. Nothing this child had ever said or done in the entire 13 years she was in my care would have suggested to me she would ever make such a heartless reply. Only a pathological narcissist would feel “inconvenienced” at the timing of a family member’s death enough to actually say, it’s inconvenient… I read this reply and felt literally nauseated at the striking likeness to a narcissist’s typical reaction and heartbroken deep inside at the blatant implication of what my child has become in the four years in her father’s care.
Apparently, the depth of selfishness and cruelty of a pathological narcissist does not subside, not even with death. Sad, too, that this was the only great-grandparent my children had left as far as I’m aware.
Aside from the narcissistic implications, this saddened me even further. It seems the circle of dysfunction and brokenness my mother began will have no end. Its sharp, jagged knives continue to slice into generation after generation.
My mother didn’t speak to her mother for years as I was growing up. Because of this as well as some added geographical distance, I wasn’t permitted to develop as close of a relationship with my grandmother as my cousins had. If mother didn’t like someone, her children simply were not permitted to like them either. And my mother had a plethora of various “wars” with her family members all her life and mine, which true to narcissistic form, heavily influenced my family circle and bonds (or lack thereof).
Although my mother told me many (conflicting) tales of the cause of these family alienations – all of which she was the poor victim of their cruel injustice, of course -I have been privy to facts which better and more sensibly explain the truth behind these things.
- My grandmother testified in court against my mother getting custody of my sister and I and for my father’s behalf. I’ve since discovered that this was because my mother was habitually unfaithful to my father (as well as her first husband), rarely was home with us as babies when my grandma came to visit, and because she had made it blatantly known to her entire family that she had despised me from my conception. My mammaw was quite concerned about these things when my mother left my dad for a man she’d been having an affair with. This, of course, is not at all the story my mother tells…
- My mother’s version is that my dad was gone for weeks at a time, drank every dime of his paychecks leaving us to starve to death if my mother (the selfless hero!) hadn’t worked her ass off to provide for we kids, cheated on my mother constantly, beat her, and treated her like a maid.
- Hmmm…. yet her own mother testified against her in court for custody of her children? A religious, righteous, woman raised with the deep old traditions of the south regarding marriage and motherhood?
- Another contradiction of my mother’s version of family events was that her father adored her, spoiled her, and was a righteous, good man. And yet, when he died suddenly and very young, she wasn’t “speaking to her dad” at the time and claimed to carry all this unresolved grief every year on his death anniversary. Naturally garnering a great deal of sympathy every year for this “tragic unresolved grief” she suffered. Strangely enough, a tragic loss in the midst of shunning her own father never prevented my mother from continuing her alienations of her other family members!? One would think all that unresolved tragic grief would have taught a lesson in staying mad and distant from family for unreasonably long periods of time… Not my mother though, she was mad at (and alienating) half her family for my entire childhood.
Regardless, I thought I would be the catalyst to end these sad and destructive familial fractures. Although I worried very much about my children even knowing the bitter, hateful, evil woman who despised me all my life, with my dad’s pleadings and my desire to be the bigger person, as well as my strong wish that my children have all the family possible to love them since I did not have that as a child, I allowed my mother to know my children. Mostly with an agreement with my dad that he would not ever leave them alone in her care or presence, which he agreed to (but did not honor I subsequently discovered after his death).
In yet another great display of irony, this relationship I allowed via my dad, greatly assisted in the destruction of my relationship with my daughter – a bond I truly believed could never be damaged, much less destroyed – not even by pathological narcissists like their father and my mother. I would give my children all the love, attention, and respect I did not get from my mother and in my ignorance, felt that created an unbreakable shield protecting my children and I from the dysfunctional alienation my mother had started decades earlier in our family.
It did not protect it. The strength and pathology of two narcissists with influence on vulnerable children who recently lost their patriarchal figure was evil and deceitful enough to break that bond I’d spent years building like a fragile twig. Another mistake I’ll never forgive myself for. I allowed them to even be in the presence of the deception and hatred of my mother. I allowed that, naively believing I was demonstrating being the bigger person. Even if that woman chose not to love me or be a good mother to me, how could anyone not love my amazing children? And how could I be hateful enough over her mistreatment of me to prohibit my children the luxury of having a grandma? The luxury which had been all but taken from me as a child? A luxury I had always envied other children having while I was growing up? I could not then, in good conscience, keep my children from having every ounce of love and affection from all the people in the world.
So, now they have all the love in the world, except they’re void of any affection, compassion, or love for their own mother. Thus, my mother’s legacy of dysfunctional alienation lives on in spite of my attempt to discontinue it.
And after all, death is just so very inconvenient for the living, isn’t it?