My college kids are having a tough time navigating their relationship with their dad who is mostly absent. It doesn’t help that his mommy has stuck her narcissistic snout into their relationship often and as her son’s biggest fan, feels the need to berate my kids into feeling sorry for their dad because he works and is too busy to text them (her excuse as to why he’s so absent). She’s manipulated the kids to the point that they are tired of feeling put upon and guilty – even though they have nothing to do with how their dad acts with them. It’s his narcissistic choice to be absent. Because, believe me, they want their dad in their lives. It is he who has chosen to leave them behind.
But it’s coming to a head here because the kids are beginning to see behind the woven lies and manipulations, but there’s still that thread of it’s Dad, that keeps them bound to him and his family. And I get it. I understand because I stayed quiet and didn’t stand up myself many times because his mom in particular was so adept at manipulation. Having been raised by narcissists and then married into a passel of them unknowingly, I’ve finally opened my eyes to truth and my kids’ eyes are beginning to open as well.
Of course, I just want to lay it all out on the line, tell them what I know, what my experiences were and help them to put the whole damn relationship to bed once and for all. But it’s not my place to do that so I listen as they talk with me. I advise gently, but I don’t cross the line because it has to be in their time that they choose how to deal with the whole mess. They’re not little anymore. They’re becoming men. But as their Mom, it’s hard to watch.
I remember my ex-MIL telling me that I was acting like my old self once after we had talked long after her son left us. My response then (and still is), I haven’t changed at all. I’m still me – authentically Janie. But, I didn’t understand what she meant until recently. I was being nice (because that’s who I am) so she took it as I was back under their control as I’d been for more than two decades of marriage. But really, my being nice has nothing to do with it. I can play the game, not as well as she, but I now know how to let her think she’s on top of the relationship situation so that she’s comfortable. It keeps the peace. I keep going back to that line – Do I want to be happy or right? I always choose happy because I already know I’m right and she’ll never admit it. So why waste my breath?
I can’t compete in the narcissist world and I don’t even want to try to understand it. Because the rules change, the lies continue and the shred of truth is absent most of the time. And I don’t want to live that way. And I don’t deserve it…and neither do you!