Flash Fiction #142
Aunt Ayun is my mother’s younger sister. She is my favorite aunt, not only because she is a great cook and very clever, but also because she is very good tempered (just like my maternal grandfather), and very good to children.
And needless to say, in a family controlled by my grandmother, the big super-sized narcissist, Aunt Ayun was not appreciated. Worse, my grandmother often told us that Aunt Ayun was an epitome of failure–whatever she did we should never emulate.
“I had such a high hope for her, only to be disappointed. She just threw herself away like that.” My grandmother would tell me the cautionary tale whenever she had a private moment with me.
What happened was that Aunt Ayun was a very bright student and would surely go to college after high school. Everybody expected that. However Ayun fell in love with Adi, who has two big soulful eyes, a very good height of 1.78 meters, which is about five feet ten. Girls were all wild about him but he favored Ayun–somehow my grandmother guessed that Ayun helped Adi with his homework. Since they attended the same high school, my grandmother certainly had a point there.
Ayun wanted to go to college, but Adi didn’t have the grade to make it to college. And guess what? Adi persuaded Ayun not to chase her dream. Instead they should get married as soon as they got their high school diploma and started to work in one of the city’s factories. My narcissistic grandmother had a big fit of anger, but she couldn’t make Ayun see the mistake she was making. The problem was that the mother and daughter didn’t have the normal bond–a typical emotional void existed between the narcissistic mother and her child. And on the other hand, Adi really gave my aunt the badly needed love and admiration, which my aunt had never received from her own family.
A fight between the mother and daughter broke out. Ayun left. She swiftly married Adi, got her factory job, and soon afterwards, they had two children. Several years later, Ayun crawled back to see my grandmother to seek reconciliation–she had a dead end job without any prospect of promotion; she was depressed with her job, her colleagues, her endless chore of taking care of children etc. And worst of all, her husband had an affair with one of the girls working in the factory.
Ever since then, Ayun has lived a life of quiet desperation. She wanted a divorce, but couldn’t afford it; she wanted a better job, but she didn’t have a college degree; her colleagues thought she had an uppity air and she’s too clever for her own good. When I was growing up, I tried several times to communicate with her, but I failed each time. She was so psychologically damaged by her narcissistic mother and by her own mistake that she had crawled into her own shell and refused to connect with others.
I think Aunt Ayun has given up too easily. And this is one of the biggest mistakes for most people–when they try once or twice to defy the narcissist and fail, they just completely give up. Fighting with a narcissistic relative is a life long commitment and you do not give up just because of one or two setbacks, several flying monkeys, or an ignorant community around you. You continue. And you want to communicate with others to talk about your issues (even if it can be an embarrassment sometimes) and to find opportunities to make your own life better.
For a person growing up in a narcissistic family, he or she would make a lot more mistakes than other people, especially when relationship is concerned. Keep learning and exploring, keep trying, keep examining oneself and understanding how to protect oneself and being communicative with others. Don’t be frustrated by mistakes. Aunt Ayun, don’t be afraid. I know it is too late for Aunt Ayun to change, but for other people who grow up in narcissistic families, there’s still hope.