I hope in my retelling this story to give others an insight into the actions and thought processes of a narcissist – how cold, unreasonable, crafty, and “all about them” they are. All the words and actions of my sister have a breezy and haughty air about them, so it’d be best to read that into the parts where I’m describing her actions.
My sister was ready to go in for the kill during the vacation my parents invited me on. The opportunity was ripe due to my illness and for the fact that my parents would never defend me. In fact, they joined the gleefully joined the attack.
Before the vacation I had warned my parents that I would be exhausted during the travel and upon arrival and would need time to recuperate in order to feel normal again. I don’t mean regular travel exhaustion, as I had that before I got sick. I mean Chronic Fatigue Syndrome exhaustion, where your body literally starts to shut down. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make decisions quickly nor think quickly during this shut down, and would need the opportunity to get some deep uninterrupted sleep to recover. So I was hoping they would please understand and not ask too much of me during this short time slot until I could recoup (just one good night of sleep). They seemed to have heard me, so no problem.
We left extremely early in the morning for the airport after me only having a few hours sleep. Part of the itinerary was that we would meet my older sister in her city for a three-day layover before going to Mexico. I would stay in her condo with her and my parents would be staying in the condo’s guest room. As soon as my parents left to go their room my sister began on me.
I am completely exhausted and was in a small room housing my luggage (I was sleeping in the living room) to find something. My sister called me out into the kitchen to ask me about tea or something and we got to talking a little. “Out” of the room literally meant two steps as it’s a small condo and this room was almost attached to the kitchen. After a few minutes she puffs up and mutters, “Don’t you turn lights off?” as she reached past me to turn off the light of the room I hadn’t even finished doing what I was in there for yet. Who does that to a guest? Who does that to even someone else living with them? I had only stepped out to chat for a few minutes, on her invite.
Please keep in mind while I recount these events that she was in no grief whatsoever, even though her boyfriend died a week and a half before. Not repressed grief – NO grief. Again, that will be written of in another post.
She had in her condo a couch she had bought on impulse a few days before but had already called the store she bought it from to come pick it up for a return (she does these compulsive things often and then just expects other people, stores, etc. to accommodate her change of mind). The condo had a raised section of the living room that this particular couch and the TV was on. Late one evening she was on the couch watching TV, even though I was shutting down and needed to sleep. I don’t usually watch TV but decided to join her because she was the host and that’s what she was doing, and also because there was nothing else to do since I couldn’t sleep on the cot in the living room while that was going on. So I went to sit down with her and she told me I couldn’t because she was returning the couch and wanted it in perfect condition.
Just in case there’s the question, I’ll answer it right away – I’m obviously extremely clean and I tend to be one of those well-groomed sorts. Not being clean would never in a million years be why she said that. She said that because in her head it made perfect sense that she wanted the couch to be returned but her body would magically not have an affect on it but other people’s bodies magically would. In reality, of course, neither of us would have made a difference by sitting on it that night before they picked it up. It’s why the store even has a return policy – they assume people have sat on their furniture before the return and know it makes no real difference in the product.
That wasn’t a normal response to me so I mentioned I would put a throw down where I was going to sit. She deemed that would be okay. Inwardly I was starting to break down from lack of sleep, her lack of hospitality and insulting behaviour, but I was a guest and said nothing. It never occurred to me to tell my parents as they have never in my life taken my side in anything, nor would they tolerate me saying anything bad about my sister, and that’s exactly how they would have seen the situation. I didn’t need to give them a chance to see their reaction, I know this from almost fifty years with them.
By the next morning my skin, due to my illness and exhaustion began to fall apart. What happens when your body only has so much energy is that it begins to perform triage on what organs it will divest what little there is to. Your skin is the last organ it cares about when it has to give what it can to your heart, liver, etc. With me I know I’ve gone too far because I wake up with ‘scratches’ that came out of no where due to skin that suddenly looks and feels paper thin. That is how I woke up the next morning. I was so tired in my illness that I couldn’t even finish a sentence and I wasn’t getting much sleep at night.
Also, I was so tired I simply didn’t have the emotional regulation to deal with her constant barbs and insults. There were constant swipes and sneers to me all through the three days I was there. She figuratively had me by the neck. She never said anything until my parents were away and then began to snipe at me. First, I was a guest and I was not going to argue with her. Also, I had no where else to go. I almost never cry, though I very much wanted to, and later did involuntarily in public when I physically couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to just go home, feeling the foreboding of spending more time with her in a location where she didn’t feel she even had to be a hostess anymore.
During our traipsing around the city sight-seeing, I wanted to go into a certain store. My sister said for me to go in myself and that she and my parents would wait for me in the car. I knew she was going to say something to them. Something made up. I later found out what it was while they attacked me in Mexico.
Whatever it was she said, it was arranged for me to spend the last night before we left in the guest room with my parents, which I was grateful for. I hadn’t gotten enough sleep even for even someone without CFS who had been traveling and needed to get away from her. I’m feeling outrage right now because I know what she lied about to get me out and for the fact that my parents would permit it and conspire behind my back.
I’m going to leave this again for another part as it’s getting too long. But I wanted to share a few things I observed in her while at her condo that gave me some insight in how her mind works, which was interesting to me since I hadn’t seen her for so many years.
First of all, she showed me a recent picture of my nephews who are in their 30’s. One of them looks exactly like their father, my sister’s ex-husband, did years ago. And I mean, I would have thought it was her ex if not for my nephew obviously looking younger than his father is. So I mentioned it because he was so stunningly a look-a-like. She was mad. She said her son would not like to hear that at all, implying that her sons hated their own father. They spend time with him all the time. I was thinking it was HER that didn’t want to hear that. But it was her OUTRAGE that someone should say that her son looked like his father. Why wouldn’t he look like his dad? Her reaction was unreasonable for the situation and innocent comment.
She also told me a story that I think was supposed to make me know how good of a person she is. She’s the type where being ‘good’ is part of the facade she makes sure you are aware of. Of course, none of her do-gooding actually takes any effort, nor would she actually rub elbows with actual people with needs. And she has this little story that I later doubted actually happened, since it seems such a strange way for her and the other person in the story to behave.
In the story she said she was walking home later than usual from work down a street at night. Alone. She said a man called out to her from a balcony, saying he was needing to walk somewhere the same way and he’ll come down and join her. (I know the oddness of the story is already beginning to show but I’ll address it later). She was telling the story like she thought this was normal and friendly of him and they began to walk together down the street. He began to tell her that he was new in town and needed money to stay somewhere. I don’t remember what she said about who’s balcony he was on but apparently it wasn’t a place he could stay at any longer or something. She felt sorry for him so she gave him some money. She then said she later recounted this story to someone at her office and the office friend said she thinks she met and gave money to the same guy because the M.O. was the same, so she’s worried she may have been scammed.
I actually believed the story at the time so I told her that wasn’t a good thing nor appropriate for a man to approach a woman walking alone at night. Men with good intentions would never do that. She said there was nothing wrong with it, that this city was a friendly city (which is nonsense, it’s a city like any other). I also questioned why, if he didn’t have money nor anywhere to stay, that he didn’t find a shelter. She said he probably didn’t know where they were. I told her that if he was really a man in a strange city he would ask the police where there was a shelter, or other guys or people like the ones who owned the apartment he was staying at that he called down to her from. I told her I was concerned because these were all huge red flag danger signals for a possible rape situation that he would want to walk with her alone at night. She seemed perplexed by that.
She kept telling me, in a haughty boasting manner, that “I help people, that’s the kind of person I am.” I now realize that she must have made up this story for people to be amazed at how randomly charitable she is, to a fault. She gets to be a hero and a victim all in the same story.
I encountered her propensity several times to announce big plans to do things that you know she’ll never do. She was going to buy a little gift shop of some sort out in the country (that was dropped). She was going to make things and sell them at a booth at Christmas fairs (she doesn’t make any crafts, never did). Then after the trip, doing a 180, she was going to buy a condo on the other side of the country where two of her adult sons lived but then was turned down by the bank (she’s just retired and already owns a condo, plus got her boyfriend’s one from his will and obviously too property-heavy with now only a pension). I can go on.
I will write more in another part. For anyone who reads this, I hope my story is not tiresome to others who read it. The details matter for me to organize how I was treated by her and my parents because it was a microcosm of what I’ve gone through my whole life.