I was humbled by her presence. My beautiful friend wore pain in her every pore- the kind of pain that lived at the seat of your soul, but could spread like a virus if the right words were said. She was dejected and alone, having been cut-off and rejected by the one person who should hold you close and embrace every inch of you. I sat across from her on our cool leather chesterfields, she- shoulders folded inward and head down, me- cross-legged and patient. Our home was bright and quiet. Time stood still for her. She deserved these moments. She deserved to say what she needed to say. I mentally pushed everything else out of my heart and mind to be present for her alone.
This had been going on for months. Her mother was back in her life and it drew a streak of terror at the base of her days. Try as she may to dance above it by helping her, fixing appliances, building shelves- she would lose her footing anytime her mother spoke and all the pain of the past six decades would become the pavement she crashed upon. Her mother was and is what she has termed as a “narcissistic sociopath”. Cold, cruel, lying, abusive and delusional- she was a shell of a woman.
What would I tell my friend? I had no idea what any of this was about. I didn’t understand the dynamics. So I decided to do a little research…
As it turns out, there are hundreds upon hundreds of videos out there on Narcissists. Some are better than others and most tend to paint a very toxic and sometimes even evil picture of the Narcissist. I discovered it is a personality disorder, not a mental illness. I discovered that Narcissists tend to cause codependent coping mechanisms in their children (this is putting it mildly in some cases). And I discovered that Narcissists tend to attract Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), empaths and codependents in relationships. This is all general information and the truth is this disorder exists on a spectrum.
My friend was dealing with a mother severely entrenched in this toxic behaviour who had miraculously gone unchecked her entire life. And the sociopathic piece to this woman’s patterns meant she showed no remorse, not ever, unless it was a trick to gain favour in some way. My friend was and is that HSP, that empath- this made the pain of dealing with such a mother all the more acute.
In short, this was something with which I felt completely out of my depth. All I could do was meet her where she was and allow a Higher Power to speak through me. As she sat there so deflated, so full of guilt, shame and self-blame, my heart broke for her.
What would You tell her?
The first thought that came to my mind was: “She needs to be nurtured. She needs a mother.”
But I didn’t say that.
She spoke a little more, cried a little more.
And then I heard the words clear as a bell: “She needs to grieve. She did not have the parents she deserved. They were barely parents at all. She must grieve not having the childhood she wanted.”
So I told her this.
In that moment, a light shone through. She breathed that in. This made sense to her and it was something gentle and kind that she could do for herself. She could allow herself the space to let go of something beyond her control. She could acknowledge she got a raw deal (parent-wise) this time around. She could let herself rest there and give herself some love and, eventually, she could let it go. The gentleness is so key here. It would take time, but here was a place to start.
The labels mentioned above are less important. They can be helpful in aiding us to make sense of a person’s behaviour, but ultimately the goal here is to transcend all of that. The goal is to look at our shit with a Higher Power and, with grace and gentleness, begin to do better, to feel better.
We both know that God brought her to my house that day even though all she wanted to do was shut the blinds and sleep. And we both know that God made sure I was home and could set everything else aside so that I could act as a vessel for the Love she needed in the moment. These kinds of miracles happen everyday and the more we commit to Love, the more miracles we’re called to perform. My friend has been that vessel of love for me countless times. This has become the basis of our relationship and we are both incredibly grateful.
This interaction inspired me to begin a series of interviews call The Stories Heal Project, so stay tuned for more on that. The intention is to share our stories for the purpose of healing, just as my friend and I do for each other day in and day out.