whatever / by Angela See

A couple months ago I tweeted about going through a rough patch and signaled for help, and I realize that I don't ever, ever have to come out about it, but you know what? Fuck it. This isn't a situation I chose at all, and I'm angry as shit. This audio bit was recorded on that day I had reached out to twitter for help. Long story short, my mom was angry because I didn't change into an outfit she liked, she started screaming at me and throwing things, I freaked out and left to get some space. Sounds like a weird fucking story, right?

My mom has something called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and if you don't know what that is, it's a cluster B personality disorder where someone mentally cannot empathize with others, which ultimately leads to an unrealistic inflated sense of self. It's rarely clinically diagnosed because people with NPD cannot physically believe that anything is wrong with their character and constantly project onto other people, but it's not difficult to figure out either. There's no cure for it and it's a completely terrible disease that is unfortunately really common in our society--a lot more than a lot of people would like to believe (Donald Trump is a fun/scary example). I'm coming out with this mostly for myself, but also just in case anyone is having or has had a hard time with toxic "loved ones". If you want to read more about it, check out this link that's specific to narcissistic mothers. 

So how has her condition affected me specifically? There's a whole fucking novel's worth of ways in which she has fucked me over, especially during my childhood. Long story short, she is both emotionally and sexually abusive to me, and has been an all-around toxic person, and ever since I figured this out, I've noticed that a lot of my flaws that exhibited in some of my relationships are correlated to the covert (and sometimes very overt) abuse I've had to face.

That's probably really shocking to most of my friends who have met her. In fact, I've gotten a lot of, "But she supports your education, gives you a house to live in, food to eat, says she loves you, and doesn't hit you!! She's not abusive she's just having a hard time being a single mother! She's so nice to me!!" and as a side note, if you feel like you're in this category of people and don't want to try to understand a situation you're not directly a part of, then I implore you close this and stop reading right now because there is no point. Abuse doesn't have to be physical. And when dealing with emotional abuse from someone who raised you needs more than just a "suck it up" and move on. It's much more complex than that.

I'm completely aware that I am living pretty comfortably and I'm privileged to be where I'm at today. Don't get me wrong, I'm so goddamned thankful, but that doesn't make the bullshit I have to face less important. I've always known something was really off about her, but growing up, I was stuck to the idea that family was meant to love you unconditionally no matter what. I thought the yelling and screaming, calling me names, the adult tantrums that she threw when I was a young kid was a part of love. So I accepted the yelling, berating, the inappropriate comments, and the immediate turnaround in her personality once there was a 3rd party involved.

It wasn't until about a year ago that I realized that there was something sincerely wrong with her, and I can attribute my exposure to a bunch of different sciences that are both social and biological which helped me figure this out (+ the internet lmao). I eventually found out about NPD and almost 95% of everything I read hit home so hard, oh my god, and no, this wasn't one of those "I googled symptoms and was told it was cancer/pregnancy/life-threatening illness" situations. Everything from PubMed sources to anecdotal stories from other people who put up with people with NPD were all stories and descriptions I could have written myself. 

My first reaction, for the first few months at least, included freaking the fuck out and having this constant, lingering anxiety around knowing someone who I thought had loved me actually just uses me for validation--Oh, which by the way, is the function of NPD. People with this disorder have a terribly distorted view of "love" where love, to someone with NPD, is a one way street. So I'm expected to jump bridges for her and she's only going to do "supportive mother things" (e.g. send me to a good school, feed me, etc.) because it looks good to other people and would look really bad if she didn't.

Some of those bridges I had to jump for her include having to emotionally support her and myself when my dad (who was chill af) passed away. I also apparently have to do everything the way she wants me to do it (i.e. talk the way she wants me to, dress the way she wants me to, clean dishes the way she wants me to) because when I don't, she gets batshit angry and tells me that I don't love her. Ugh. For so many years, I tried so hard to prove that I loved her, because I felt like I really did, but basically nothing I did was ever good enough for her because everything I did had to be on her terms and by her standards (which is a pretty common mindset for a lot of Asian parents, but still, totally don't agree with it).

I don't do that anymore. I don't try to show her that I love her anymore because I don't love her. And wow!! So shocking!! I know!! To choose to not love your mother!! But she's your mOM you're supposed to love her!! Yeah. Not after years of being treated like shit and discouraged from everything I want to do and be in life. That's not what a mother should be imo. And the fact that she does have a condition is really tricky. I've decided that I care for her as a human being but can't love her as my mother. It's not completely her fault that she's like this, but at the same time I have full conviction about whether I want to allow this bullshit in my life or not, but goddamn if there weren't days where I wished she'd turn around and actually, sincerely showed that she cared for me. 

My point is, it's been a rough year of dealing with this heightened level of abuse, learning to let go of my desire to have a parent who loves me, learning to be more independent at an unexpectedly faster rate, and realizing that I myself might have had a distorted sense of self-love and relationships because of the environment I grew up in. But after all the researching, mourning, hours of therapy, and reaching out to the right people, I am finally starting to feel like myself again, and I have a way better grasp on the person I believe myself to be vs. the failure of a person my mom wants me to be. I feel like I'm learning to genuinely love myself and in turn, learning how to love others properly and slowly weeding out some of the toxic behavior that I might have picked up from growing up with my mom.

The situation at home is not any better, and based on patterns I already see and evidence from journals and other case studies, it will only get worse. My mom lives to control the person I am because taking "care" of me, controlling what I do/say/wear, using me as someone to project her emotions on, making me cry when she wants me to makes her feel powerful. And now that I'm gaining control of who I am myself, setting boundaries, and not buying into her crazy-making bullshit like in that phone call, she is continuously losing it. It's fucking scary, but I'm getting a better handle of myself.

All that's left to do is to keep trucking on, keep living my own life, and concentrating on all the good things I've got going around me. Thanks for reading this through. 

- Angela