Narcissists gaslight you and protect each other.
Last night, for whatever reason, I remembered an incident that happened with my narcissist mother and her narcissist sister who is even worse. I have always been a pale person and I have a yellowish olive tinge to my skin tone–just like my dad. I don’t tan much, if at all, and now that I’m older, I don’t even try to. I just protect my skin from the sun, which means I am very pale. I am okay with that now, but when I was a child, my mother and her relatives constantly made me feel like something was wrong with me. They called me a weakling, sickly, pale, too skinny, etc…. They made fun of the inherited dark circles under my eyes, (which everyone in my dad’s family has,) and my mother in particular always called me sallow. I remember being in public with her and her having people come look at me while she demanded of them “isn’t she sallow? Look how sallow she is.” She was really stuck on that word, but the point was to make me distrust and hate my body. So instead of realizing that I was a beautiful, naturally thin and pale-skinned woman, I thought I was too skinny, ugly, too pale and “sallow.” I was shocked as an adult when men started telling me I was pretty or even beautiful, because my mother had worked so hard to make me feel bad about myself. It took me years to accept and love my body type or my features.
So anyway…a couple years ago, my narcissist mother and her verbally vicious sister, (who had shamed me and ridiculed me all through childhood,) were at my house and looking at pictures of my son. My son is an exceptionally beautiful boy with pale porcelain skin, big blue eyes, blond hair and a perfect profile. He gets compliments wherever we go. But, my nasty-minded aunt was looking at his pictures and commented “he looks bad. He looks so pale!” My son was two at the time! His skin was young and perfect because he doesn’t get a bunch of sun exposure, and there was the evil woman who had made me feel ugly as a child, starting in on him the same way.
After my aunt left, I commented to my mother in disgust about what my aunt had said. It was such a horrible thing about my toddler and she dared to say he looked “bad,” (her exact word,) when he’s really a beautiful, healthy boy. My mother denied it had happened! Minutes before, they had sat on my couch commenting on my son’s skin color and how bad he looked, and she DENIED that it had happened, then told me I was crazy because it never happened. Fortunately, I had learned quite a bit about narcissism by that point and I knew she was gaslighting me, but it was still frustrating. I held firm and reminded her that, yes, it had just happened and I repeated to her exactly what was said.
So, my mother tried another narcissist trick–triangulation. She got on her cell phone and called her sister to play games. She said “my daughter says you said her son looked bad, but we never said that, did we?” Of course my narcissist aunt joined in and said no, they’d never said that. Then my mother went on to have a conversation about me right in front of me, about how I was always making things up and remembering things that hadn’t happened. It’s infuriating! But, narcissists aren’t made in a bubble. These two women came from the same sick family and learned the same sick techniques to protect the family dysfunction, and years ago, when I was a child who piped up and commented on how crazy they were acting, it was determined that I would be their scapegoat. Instead of looking inward or reflecting on their dysfunction, they turn it on me and blame me for their behaviors.
Narcissists will make you feel angry, helpless and distressed when they play these games. They hurt you and deny they did, then they protect each other and call you crazy…but you KNOW what happened and you KNOW it’s happened your whole life with them. And yet these crazies will sit in front of you and look you in the eye moments or minutes later and deny the things you just watched them do. It used to upset me that my mother would so calmly lie and gaslight then look at me and point her blame at me. I don’t put up with that anymore. I’ve cut contact for good and the healing has begun. I firmly believe there is no way to co-exist with a narcissist. They are just too sick to put up with.