Mindy Pollack-Fusi will visit the Art and Craft of Writing Creatively on three occasions this week to introduce her new book, The Narcissist’s Daughter: A Meshugenah Love Story. Today, Mindy – or rather, Dr. Mindy! – meets four of her characters on the couch. Visit again on Wednesday and Friday when we have an interview with Mindy and an excerpt from her new title. After reading Mindy’s post, you can learn more about Mindy and the book, plus enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon.com gift card.

At first glance, my book seems to be a flighty, comic, sexy interfaith love story that includes a graphic infidelity scene and a nasty mother as antagonist. Pure, unadulterated, chick lit. Well, um, yes, it is all of that, but oh, it is so, so much more.

Book cover of The Narcissist's Daughter showing the title and an illustrated family portrait showing two men, two women and a little girlMy whole life I have been told I should be a therapist. Well, my mother told me I should GO TO ONE when I was only about 13, when I asked her to please be more supportive of me—before I knew that she just didn’t have it in her, from her own pained background. So, instead, I became an armchair therapist by studying the people in my own childhood home, and later in my friend group, particularly as the writer in me emerged and observing “characters” became part of my very soul.

So, without truly being aware of this, each of my characters underwent therapy in my mind for the 18 years I have on-and-off worked on this novel. After 18 years, most of them are doing quite well in their lives by now, I hope.

For those willing to look more deeply into my storyline, this book is also about personal demons. Every one of us has them. After you read the book, make a list of what each character’s flaws, if not demons, are. Also find the metaphors throughout the book that hint toward how we each can heal. The book depicts sex-addicts, narcissists galore, empaths, egotists, and, thank God for them, a handful of well-adjusted humans. And a fabulous canine, of course. (Sorry, cat lovers, no cats in this story. For a fee/donation to a writing cause I support, I’ll write one in for you for the eventual Audible version! PM me!)

So here are a few conversations you might enjoy. I, the creator of these characters, will channel the therapists I consulted in creating some of my characters, or in understanding them after I created them!!

Below is “dialogue” from the book. I will describe each character by his or her connection to Jody, the protagonist in the story, share a quote and I will reply as Dr. Mindy. (It is kind of like going to a cocktail party where you know no one, so the host makes everyone wear a nametag with their name and biggest flaw, and then sits them down with a shrink, one at a time. Hmm, sounds like an interesting movie for contemplative sorts, like me!)


Ida, the narcissistic mother:

Prologue, Mother responding to her daughter Jody, the protagonist, after Jody calls her mother and tells her Stewart, Jody’s husband, has been having an affair:

“Oh, Jody, sometimes that is all we get in life, imperfect men. They all have affairs—well, not your father, he knows he’d lose me in a flash. Try again with Stewart, dear. Maybe buy something silky—how about a garter belt? We can go shopping sometime and—” (Jody hangs up!)

A note tacked to a corkboard with the words Good Listeners WantedTherapist, Dr. Mindy: Well, Ida, that felt right to say at the time, I understand. How do you feel looking back at that comment to your daughter, who was in emotional distress and looking for someone to lean on? Of course, because you did not have a mothering role model after your mother died when you were so young, then lived in foster homes until your Daddy brought you home to live with your very selfish stepmother, this is hard work for you. It’s tough to find empathy for others after you have had such a difficult childhood, and especially when their childhood looks so easy in comparison to yours. Perhaps next time, before offering advice, remember what you’re learning about empathy and try to say to yourself: “Oh, that’s right, it’s not about me right now, is it? What might Jody need from me, emotionally?”

To learn more about empathy, read the children’s book I Am Human.

To learn more about seeking empathy for narcissists, check out: Medium, Building Empathy for those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Jody, the main character whose feelings have been dismissed by her mother for decades:

Chapter 1, in a restaurant, one year later, responding to her mother who has just pushed her “buttons” again:

“What’s happened to me, Mother? I kicked out a man who screwed another woman, and you’re asking what’s wrong with me instead of, maybe, helping cook some meals for us or offering to babysit once in a while, or even just show me some, God forbid, emotional support? And you expect me to bring him to our already messed up family reunion filled with forty-eight hours of determining who’s most successful? Sorry, Uncle Nathan wins that one. And Aunt Bernice will always have more kindness, class, and expensive designer everything than you. Give it up, Ma.”

A note tacked to a corkboard with the words "keep raising the bar"Therapist, Dr. Mindy: Well, that didn’t go so well, Jody, did it? (laughs). You let your mother rattle you until you spewed all that out in a way that just makes you feel silly now. Keep working on not taking her bait, Jody. Remove yourself from her drama. Trust your own inner voice and intuition, not the mother-voice that has rattled you for so long. Keep working on your mindfulness skills and emotional regulation strategies. You’re learning to identify your secondary emotions, and this will help you moving forward, as those emotions—guilt and shame, mostly—get us into trouble. Keep setting boundaries on your mother—those limits you set on her will be your best friend and help you stop letting her get to you and rattling yourself. It is hard work, but I know you can do it.

To learn more, check out: Psychology Today, It’s All About Me! Recovery for Adult Children of Narcissist

Stewart, Jody’s ex-husband, after their young daughter has been found by police and Jody arrives to pick her up:

Chapter 26, Jody is in a hotel to pick up her daughter after she “loses” her in a crowd at The Boston Marathon while fleeing to check on her missing friend, a runner. Hours later, Jody’s boyfriend has located little Hallie and is at the hotel with her. Jody’s ex is also there, having been notified of the missing child by the police. Jody had received a message earlier from Stewart, her ex, threatening custody. She enters the hotel room, her clothes caked with dirt, her hair wild and makeup smudged, after seeking her friend for hours. This is the author writing Jody’s thoughts this time, not dialogue:

Next, I had to deal with Stewart. I turned to face him, but he was in the corner with the officer. I exhaled, relaxing as I recognized his insatiable appetite for a pretty woman. His body leaned in toward hers. Despite her bulky blue pantsuit labeled “Boston Police” she still looked curvaceous and sexy, her blond hair falling onto her shoulders from the bun I watched her release. Apparently, she was making it clear to Stewart that she liked his attention. I approached them with a nod hello but no words. Stewart glanced at my grimy clothes and introduced me to Officer Andrews. “Hallie’s mother, the vagabond.”

Note tacked to a corkboard saying "keep learning"Therapist, Dr. Mindy: Well, Stewart, I enjoyed listening to this and to your concerns. I must say, this is an interesting way to meet someone. Should be a meet-cute in someone’s novel. And now, a year later, you are coming to me because you want this one to be your wife. You feel ready to give up secret affairs on the side. Good for you. No more marriages you can’t sustain, because, deep down, you feel something is missing in each of these relationships, so you look elsewhere, only to find that problem again? I look forward to getting to know you and helping you work toward your goals. In the meantime, you may wish to read up on the challenges of intimacy for some men and women here. This is very prevalent right now in the news, so don’t feel that you are alone, Stewart: US News, Sex Addiction: An Intimacy Disorder

Bubbe, Jody’s grandmother who bakes and bakes and bakes Jewish pastries and cooks and cooks Jewish foods:

Chapter 10, Jody and her boyfriend arrive at Jody’s Bubbe’s apartment, hoping to receive her blessing for their interfaith relationship:

“Hallie dear! Ringo! My loved ones, so vonderful you are all here.” Bubbe’s voice boomed from up the hall as we exited the elevator. “No rugelach or hamentashen today though, sorry. This time, for this special gathering, I made blintzes and chicken soup with matzo balls and chopped liver and gefilte fish. And a sponge cake with fresh strawberries. Oy, my manners, bragging about my cooking and baking, while I keep my family in the hallway so long. Come in, come in.”

A note tacked to a corkboard with the words "try new news"Therapist, Dr. Mindy: Well, Bubbe, you say you are seeking a life other than baking and cooking for your family: Enough is enough at 92? That you want to maybe have a boyfriend? Hmm, I think you wanted Dr. Ruth, not Dr. Mindy.

About Mindy Pollack-Fusi

Mindy Pollack-Fusi with her cocker spaniel GilliganMindy Pollack-Fusi is an award-winning, lifelong writer, former public relations professional, and veteran journalist and essayist for The Boston Globe. She founded The Place for Words in 2009 to teach creative writing to adults and coach students on college application essays. She is the editor of “The Ice Cream Stand, Stories & Poems” by 21 Writers, published in part by a Bedford Cultural Council Grant. She holds a B.S. in Magazine Journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and an M.S. in Public Relations from Boston University’s School of Public Communications. Mindy lives in Bedford, Mass. with her husband and rescue dog, Doogie Howser, The Doctor of Love! This is Mindy’s first novel, published by her indie imprint, The Place for Words Press. (The photo is with Mindy’s late great cocker spaniel, Gilligan, whose fictional persona plays a major role in The Narcissist’s Daughter.

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About The Narcissist’s Daughter

Book cover of The Narcissist's Daughter showing the title and an illustrated family portrait showing two men, two women and a little girlCan love and intimacy guide Jody’s exodus from her controlling mother, or is the grip of the past too powerful to overcome?

Jody Horowitz grew up in a tony community outside Boston with her narcissistic mother, her passive father, and her snooty older sister. Breaking any of Mother’s multiple rules meant enduring verbal lashings and comparisons to her “perfect” sister. Jody acquiesces in practice, if not in spirit, starting with Rule # 1: Marry a Well-Off Jewish Man. Have his baby. Which she does.

But Jody, now 33, with a one-year-old daughter, learns that her “well-off-enough Jewish man” has been screwing a shiksa, and Mother suggests that in order to fix her marriage, Jody “wear more lingerie.” Instead, Jody kicks the cheater out, recovers her life with her work, her daughter and their cocker spaniel….and, despite Rule #1, falls for a kind Italian Catholic widow. Their love affair leads her to expedite her divorce, despite the risk of losing not only the only family she has ever known, but future shares of the family’s fortune. Is this worth it, to be with a partner who has a big heart—but a thin wallet?

Her new man seems well worth it, and Jody seems truly happy for the first time in a long time…despite the secret she must keep from him, and the secret she discovers about him. As she grapples with her heart, Mother re-surfaces with more mishegas, instituting Rule # 2—Keep Secrets When Necessary. She declares the divorce and goyim guy to be hush-hush and insists that Jody bring her estranged husband to the annual family reunion in upscale Westchester County, NY. That request pushes Jody over the edge. With her loving Bubbe’s support, she resolves to finally emerge from her mother’s narcissism—and shatter all rules so she can be true to herself, her daughter, and her new man.

This decision unravels her soul and leads to a dramatic personal breakdown that stretches from Boston to California to Maine, which even her best friend Ruthie can’t fix for Jody this time. By the start of the highly-charged family reunion, Jody must summon the courage to proclaim her allegiance to her man, not be a pawn to her family, and be a positive role-model for her daughter. To everyone’s surprise, a third choice, amid a tumultuous night of secret-revealing, comes to light.

Will Jody remain mired in Mother’s manipulation or freed from a lifetime of controlling, narcissistic influences? And how will her young daughter fare from the family mishegas that threatens to consume them? Can love and intimacy guide Jody’s exodus, or is the grip of the past too powerful to overcome?

With suspense, humor, romance, a compelling plot, and a Yiddish glossary, this novel grips the reader from start to finish—whether or not they understand the enormous challenges that the daughter of a narcissistic mother must overcome in order to become her own person. Those who do understand, or have lived with a self-absorbed or narcissistic mother, will see themselves in Jody—and cheer her on all the way to her final decision.

Amazon Goodreads

The Narcissist’s Daughter is also available for ordering for indie bookstores, B&N on demand, and libraries on Ingram. The ISBN is 9780983739777.


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