Luckily, “normal” is my husband’s middle name. By marrying him, I finally got to live like everyone else. What a shock! A pleasant shock. A wonderful shock! What I’d always wanted.
An example, you say? Oh, okay. Here’s a classic example of what I’m talkin’ about.
To this day I revel in the joy of being able to drive somewhere without calling home to deliver the news that I’ve arrived safely and then calling again when I leave my destination(s). If I’m late returning home, there are no frantic calls, shaming me, demanding to know where I am in that unmistakable dread-and-adrenalin inducing tone. I don’t have to commit to taking a particular route to my destination and not deviate from it. I can drive as far I like and stay out as long as I like, with whoever I like. I can even drive highways!
In fact, rather like Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, Michael might not even realize I’m gone. He’s obsessed with his own hobbies, not with controlling me. News Flash: He trusts me! Such a welcome change from the check-in/check-out protocol Dad demanded and the Little Warden, I mean Mother, enforced even after I moved out.
“Yeah? So what?” you say. “What so wonderful about that? Isn’t it just…normal?”
Indeed it is! And that’s my point.
Normal Is Important
Narcissism reeks havoc with normalcy, hence the name of this blog: Narcissism Meets Normalcy
Normal is imperative. It provides guidelines for proper behavior. And that’s why narcissists hate normal. It puts a cramp in their style. Boundaries on their body-mind-and-soul domination. Makes normal people look askance at their abusive ways with a raised, disapproving eyebrow.
They admit hating normalcy and I’ve got proof!
The so-called “Patriarch of Perfection” from USA Network’s popular show is famous (or should I say infamous) for stating…
No shit, Sherlock. What was your first clue? Believe it or not, my dad said much the same thing. And it’s a crying shame.
Watching this show was a revelation! Triggering. I gasped in shock as my own life played out on the screen. The similarities were eerie. The script could’ve been taken from my life. Remove the “Patriarch of Perfection’s” wealth, flamboyance and Botox®, and you’ve got my Daddy to a “T.”
Rationalization to the Rescue
He worked this magic on normalcy too. By invoking “God” and “safety,” he could demand anything, absolutely anything. Normalcy need not apply.
I gotta’ hand it to him. It was a flawless strategy. Ya’ really can’t argue with either God nor safety. At least, I couldn’t in ye olde mind controlled, brainwashed state. Sure, I complained and bitched, but the Little Warden put me in my place.
Safety didn’t just apply to driving. It applied to e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
From the age of six, I wore a large military-style dog-tag around my neck…as if it wouldn’t be the first thing a kidnapper would rip off. With my heavy brown leather shoes, granny-style glasses chain, OCD-ravaged complexion, Little House on the Praire hairstyle (Dad was my stylist!) and tent-like wardrobe, I must’ve been a real beauty. No wonder the boys kept a wary distance.
Growing up, scoliosis was always a threat with the way my spine wiggled down my back. Like all narcissists, Dad fancied himself as qualified to examine my back as any medical doctor. After all, he might see something they miss! I wanted to die when Mother removed my top and taped a skimpy towel over my teenage bosom. To my dying day, I’ll never forget the soul-withering shame of being forced to appear before Dad, in my towel, to assume “the position” for his spine survey.
No, it wasn’t normal. Nothing about my upbringing was normal but if I noticed, commented or complained, I was thoroughly shamed and brain-washed. They only did all of this because, “We love and care about you so much.” Quick! My airsickness bag!
Nowhere is normalcy more powerful than in each culture’s coming-of-age milestones. Getting your driver’s license. Going out on your first date. Moving out.
The more a narcissistic parent has f*cked up their own life, the more reluctant they are to allow you any normal, age-appropriate freedoms.
Just because Dad regretted eloping with his teenage lover after they graduated High School was not an excuse to slut-shame me nor hold me hostage. Sure, the marriage ended in divorce. A lot of starter marriages do. Big whoop! It wasn’t his fault!
I think he might’ve blame his own parents for the whole first marriage fiasco.
And he’d be damned if I made any life mistakes that might reflect poorly on him. Your failure is their failure. Your success is their success. And failure, for a narc, is not an option. Excellent rationalization for controlling every moment and molecule of my existence.
After all, what would the neighbors and relatives think!?!
When I was little, my maternal grandmother used to take Mother and I out for a girl’s day. We’d go to a restaurant and do a little shopping. It was all fun and smiles, until I held up an item and asked my Mommy if I could have it. Instantly, my narcissistic Grandmother ripped it out of my mother’s hands and pronounced her own verdict.
Like I said, you’ll never be “21” if your parent is a narcissist. For decades, Mother couldn’t figure out why she was angry at her mother. False guilt consumed her.
In the words of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, “Logic!” said the Professor half to himself. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?” Maybe, just maybe Mom, you’re angry because that sweet, little gray-haired granny is a narcissistic bitch who fakes heart attacks, triangulates between her kids, meets out judgments faster than she hands out brownies and generally has alienated everyone for almost ninety years. Ever thought of that!?!
Like I Said…
Normal is important. Did I say “important”?
Essential! Crucial! Indispensable!
In extreme cases, it may mean the difference between life…and death. But more frequently, it’s the deciding factor between merely enduring life versus enjoying it.
“Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.”
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Nowhere is this more powerfully shown than in the timeless classic, Now Voyager. An isolated daughter (Bette Davis), driven to the brink of a nervous breakdown by her helicoptering, narcissistic mother who forbade normalcy and maturity at every turn. A heroic doctor (Claude Rains) who rescued her, and a handsome married stranger (Paul Henried) who gave her love, respect, self-esteem…and made her feel beautiful.
Where words are hollow, the silver screen speaks straight to the heart. It certainly did for me.
After I too fell for a handsome married stranger who made me feel beautiful, my parents banned the movie. Typical, absolutely typical.
Whaddya say? Shall we watch a “banned” movie together? I’ll bring the popcorn!
Did you like what you read here? If so, I’d be happy to contribute an original story about narcissism, narcissistic abuse (and its many rotten bedfellows) and healing to your site or guest blog. For details on the “whole package” deal I offer, please visit www.lenorathompsonwriter.com.
Recommended Reading: An Adult Child’s Guide to What’s ‘Normal‘ by John and Linda Friel.