While facing her imminent death from lung cancer, a narcissistic mother reflected on her life. During her final hours of fearing eternal damnation, she confessed her many failures as a mother while she revealed insights into her tortured mind.
I Wanted My Child to be a Swan.
Instead, she was an ugly duckling — a poor reflection on me. During my entire life, I focused obsessively on appearances. At every opportunity, I insulted, ridiculed and criticized every flaw so that my child would make me proud. Now as I look in the mirror, my sallow complexion and gaunt face serve as a sad reminder that appearances are fleeting.
I Used My Child as a Target for my Rage.
As a result of being plagued by my own intense emotions (deep sadness, brokenness, paralyzing fear), I frequently vented my frustrations onto my child and other vulnerable family members. This helped me to obtain a temporary sense of peace and calm. Now I feel desperate regret for all my misdeeds.
I Never Apologized for My Behavior – Not Once.
It was too difficult for me to admit my flaws or mistakes given my fragile sense of self-esteem. Consequently, I avoided admitting any failure because that would have destroyed me emotionally. Instead, I told lies, I made excuses, I found justifications and I cast blame anywhere I could. Now I have nowhere to hide.
I Lived Vicariously Through My Child.
Since I lacked a solid sense of identity, my child became my primary source of pride and accomplishment. As a result, I pushed my child toward success even when it only served my interests. Now I wish I had lived my own life to the fullest.
I was lazy.
Since nothing less than perfection would suffice, I avoided taking risks. Although I had an amazing gift for writing, I squandered it. Then, I justified my failure with many self-serving excuses, including “There is always tomorrow.” Now that my tomorrows are over, I truly regret my failure to use my talents in a productive way.
I Wasted My Life with Addictions.
Shopping, smoking, gossiping, binge eating, dieting and drinking drained my life from me. Of course, those trivial past times robbed my child of my parental duties to help with homework, encourage to read, coach with sports and spend quality time. Now I’m addicted to pain killers, that don’t kill the pain of a life ill spent.
I Worshipped Money.
My entire life was devoted to this false idol. Consequently, I obsessed about money, the impressive house, the luxury car, the decadent vacations, the fancy china/crystal/silverware and the finest entertaining. Now as I look at my plastic fork on my uneaten hospital cafeteria tray, I realize that it was all smoke and mirrors.
I was Jealous of My Child.
My child was not plagued with the demons that consumed me throughout my entire life. This was accomplished through the Grace of God and my child’s devoted father who took much of my abuse as a sacrifice. Now as I look back on my life, my best accomplishment was to not get in the way of the nurturing forces that molded my child into a reasonably healthy adult.
I Never Listened.
Since I was always preoccupied with my own struggles, pretenses and pursuits, I never truly listened to anything my child said – unless it had something to do with me. Truly, I could not understand any one’s perspective except my own. Now I hear my child’s screams, sobs, fears, anger, joys, laughter, and wish so much that I heard them before.
I was Selfish.
Even though I looked like an adult, I functioned as a child. My facility for words and superior intelligence hid the fact that I was very emotionally immature. Of course, my temper tantrums, impaired decision making, constant craving for positive attention and flawed view that I was the center of the universe all resulted from my failure to grow up. It wasn’t all my fault; my alcoholic father abandoned us; my mother suffered from delusions and hallucinations. I simply didn’t have the support and tools I needed to grow up. Now I wish I had.
I am Sorry.
Without the comfort of my delusions and lies that served me for many years, I see how much unnecessary harm and suffering I caused. Now that I can no longer make amends for my shameful deeds, I hope that one day I will be forgiven.
Hours later, the mother passed away after looking at her child one last time.
Author’s note: This is a true story which was reprinted with permission. The mother had a deathbed conversion after months of attending church and reading religious doctrine from several faith perspectives. Although she initially turned to God in a desperate appeal to prolong her life, she came to understand the true meaning of life. Like Jacob Marley in Charles Dicken’s classic novel, A Christmas Carol, she learned that humankind is our business.
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