The title of this article might confuse people. You’re thinking “Laura, what do you mean letting go of hope will be my new armor?” The truth is, at the end of the day narcissist’s probably won’t ever change. Here is my most recent experience that proves this theory:
Last week, I told you about my experience with my mother in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning. If you missed the article in last week’s email, here is a recap: My mother, the narcissist, showed me compassion and love for the first time in decades, if not ever. Dad was in the hospital, recovering from triple bypass surgery, and Mom was baking a dessert. We were chatting about Dad and some recent life challenges, and I accidentally teared up. Instead of dismissing me like usual, my mother hugged me and told me it would all be okay.
After I dried my face, I left for a run to work off all the pumpkin pie I would eat, as it’s a favorite. As I plodded along through the hilly neighborhood in Little Rock, I thought to myself, “Wow. This is what it must feel like to have a mother on your side. I feel like I am supported and can do anything.”
However, I reigned in my elation. In the back of my mind, I knew this “new” version of my mother wouldn’t last. She is a narcissist, after all. At 73, she is not changing. Long ago, I learned to let go of that hope. Letting go is what has saved my soul, emotional wellbeing, and life.
Three days later, my brother called. He told me that Dad checked himself out of the hospital early, only five days after open-heart surgery. Dad felt like he would recuperate better at home.
My brother and I were alarmed. Their home only has bedrooms upstairs. Our parents decided against renting a hospital bed, saying they didn’t need it. My mother then said she wasn’t sleeping on the pull-out sofa with Dad because it was too uncomfortable. She would sleep upstairs, and Dad could call her cell phone if needed. After all, she needed her rest, she said. Dad would be climbing stairs soon, she said.
The next morning, my brother walked into a mess. Dad had gotten up in the middle of the night to let out the dog and had an accident. He was okay, albeit a little rattled.
After many phone calls, I arranged home health care to staff their home with a nurse and deliver a hospital bed within two hours. My brother and I felt like we couldn’t take any chances.
Things seemed to settle down during the next few days. Dad was recovering quickly, and he adored the nurses. Mary was his favorite, as she would rub his head and shoulders with lotion and have long conversations with him about her childhood.
I traveled to Arkansas to check on them again. This time, I walked into a hornets’ nest. My mother was furious that we had hired nursing care. She wanted the hospital bed taken away immediately, despite my father saying he loved his nurses and the hospital bed. After fifteen minutes of mom’s wrath, I said, “Mom, then we will cancel the nurses. You handle it.”
Mom then said, “I wish you had never been born.”
Yes, it hurt, but this was also an early Holiday gift. I knew I had never measured up to her impossible standards. No matter what I’ve done or will do will meet her criteria.
Surprisingly, I felt profound peace come over me. I had been given permission, finally, just to be Laura. The main reason I was not devastated by such a comment was that I was prepared. I know narcissism. I’ve lived it for four decades. These people don’t change, and in some cases, get worse as they age.
That said, my hope for you is that you take care of yourself, however that looks. Don’t put your happiness or peace in the hands of the narcissist. Let go of the hope.
Here is what Dr. Henry Cloud said about hope in a Facebook post:
The time when you get to hopelessness can be one of the best moments for your future. To give up hope that something is going to change when it is not going to gets you unstuck immediately and brings energy. It brings life to the sickness of hope deferred.
Giving up hope is not giving in. It’s a gift to yourself of freedom, peace, and contentment. You deserve this and more.
Remember that you are worthy, and you are loved. You are more than enough. And I am glad you were born. If you are interested in online counseling, Dr. Carter has a sponsor who can assist. As the need is there, please seek the help you deserve: https://betterhelp.com/survivingnarcissism
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