Today Jonsi is sharing her thoughts on my post, The Demons of Doubt and Disappointment. I find her perspective, as the daughter-in-law of a narcissistic woman, very validating. Her husband is so fortunate to have a spouse who understands his struggle and supports him!
One of the links in her post, to an entry about her daughter's first birthday, dredged up some old stuff for me. I identified strongly with this:
The problem is that they are always late, they always have excuses (and only some of them are valid), and they don't allow that their plans might be disrupted and they might need EXTRA time to deal with the disruptions.
It was always the same story when we went to their house for dinner as well, which is not at all conducive to the schedule of a napping infant. There was only one occasion where they hosted dinner earlier, for our sake, and they complained about how difficult it was to get dinner on the table so early, as though we were just such a big inconvenience to them.
Ah, yes, the perpetual refusal of the narcissist to live by anybody's agenda or clock but her own. This reminded me of a couple of holiday gatherings in the past:
One Christmas morning when I was hosting the family gathering, we had planned to have a mid-morning brunch, then exchange gifts. My mother showed up two hours late. She lives one hour away. That means she left her house an hour after she should have been at my house! While things sometimes happen to derail one's plans, she already had a history of doing this sort of thing. And while a normal person would call and apologize and ask everybody to start without them, she a) didn't even give us a phone call, b) didn't apologize for being late and holding up the meal, and c) was annoyed that we had started preparing the meal without her. She didn't seem to have any sense of the inconvenience that she had caused. She didn't seem to realize or care that my young son needed to eat and that the original timeline - to which we had all agreed - had worked well for his happy-awake times and would have avoided his grumpy or needing-nap times. She flat-out didn't care about the plans we had made as a group. What suited her was to show up late, and now that she was here, the party could begin!
Another year, we were planning a family Christmas get-together at her house. We were all spending Christmas Day with our in-law families and then our family of origin would get together a few days later. This coincided with one of my sisters-in-laws' birthdays. During a phone conversation about our plans, my mother told me that we would also be celebrating my SIL's birthday with cake and presents. A short time after that, I was talking to my brother (SIL's husband) on the phone, and her birthday came up. He was surprised to hear about the birthday plan, because my mother hadn't told him or SIL about it at all. SIL hates surprise birthday parties. HATES them. This is one of the things my SIL has in common with my mom, so I had assumed that my mom could relate to the hatred of surprises, and that the party was common knowledge. I later got into huge trouble with my mother for telling my brother about the SUPER SECRET PARTY PLANS. I pointed out that I hadn't known that they were secret, and that my mother knows that SIL hates surprise parties, so why would I think I wasn't supposed to mention it? It just came up! My mother's response? She treated me like I'm this completely unreliable, untrustworthy person. She informed me that my brother and I (and the rest of our siblings) shouldn't discuss Christmas plans together. We should only discuss them with her and stop "stirring each other up." So, um, adult siblings who often see each other or talk on the phone should completely avoid discussion of a date in their near future when they will see each other. We shouldn't even say "hey, what time are you getting there?" We should check with her. Ok...that's reasonable. Except that it's not. It's completely crazy.
I guess the moral here is that if you want to plan an event with a narcissist,
- do not speak at all to any other person in the whole world except the narcissist
- make sure that the details of the event suit the tastes and attention needs of the narcissist, rather than those of the guest of honor
- plan everything around the naptime and mealtimes of the narcissist, so that she won't get overtired and cranky
As for me? I don't plan to attend such an event, ever again.