When I was about 6 or 7 she would grab me and beat the bristles of a hairbrush into my scalp. She did this because they had found the bite marks on my arms and she didn’t want to get caught again. She had an image to maintain. Her job was everything to her and the image it projected to people was of the utmost importance.
To my Mother image is everything. It is important what people think of her. It would be to a narcissist always looking for attention, to have her views and behaviour validated. Not that she would agree if her view wasn’t being validated, then you were just being difficult or stubborn. If you ever challenged her behaviour she would go on the attack and often violently.
If you have a conversation with her things always come back to her. They do rapidly no matter what you discuss. If you are ill, she was worse. If you have had a bad week, hers was worse. No matter what it is it can come back to her in a heartbeat. She doesn’t even realise she does it anymore. You can maybe squeak a sentence in about yourself before she goes off on something that is directly related to her. I have made the mistake all my adult life of trying to share with my Mother. It is a mistake I can no longer make.
The story goes that when I was a baby my Dad saved me from being set on fire by my Mother. She has pushed the clothes drier on the fire and was about to push it over onto my cot when he caught her. She stopped herself from electrocuting me in the bath she says, discussing the story almost with a smile, she is proud she stopped herself. I often wonder if that was because of image or because she really didn’t want to kill me. She uses the defence of postnatal depression and always has. That doesn’t explain what happened in later years though.
Once when I was about 12 there had been a fight between my parents. My Mother threw her dinner plate against the wall and it smashed. Both my parents stormed off in anger. I didn’t know what to do. Later when my Mother returned she was furious at me for not having cleared up the plates and food from the floor. I stood in the dark with no trousers on sweeping up the smashed crockery as ordered. The glass got in the head of the brush and slashed my legs. After my Father found me and sent me to bed, I lay there as my blood soaked legs glued to the sheets. Every movement was agony as the fabric tore at my flesh, the blood drying it onto them.
I started to develop defence mechanisms that made me hate myself. I had to survive and I took the route of “by any means necessary”. I started to hate myself for the tactics I would use to stop just one more beating or mouthful of abuse. I would sacrifice others with the secrets I knew to save myself. My Mothers illness was not only damaging her relationship with my Father but now it was starting to harm me mentally. I spent 20 years doubting my own motives and behaviour. I thought I was just as bad as her.
As I started to get even older I, for the first time, started to hear others speak of her badly. It started with employees of ours speaking about her behaviour. Later it would be my Great Aunt being driven home, after a row with my Mother, by my Dad and saying she was “not normal” with my Dad agreeing. As I have gotten much older the remaining members of my family have set out their stall with regards to their views on her behaviour. She remains oblivious.
The violence escalated as I got older. No longer was the use of fear enough to control me, now she had to really drive home the point to control me. Biting and pinching gave way to slapping and punching. Red marks became black eyes. My Mother was out of control. One day when I was about 13 I remember begging my Dad to stop her. I was trying to reason with him and he couldn’t even look me in the eye as she was going on her rampage of destruction. I realised in that moment my Father was weak. He certainly did not have the stomach for fight that was yet to come.