Mother a narcissist
Narcissistic Mother: 12 Signs & Effects On Children
What is a narcissistic mother?
Me, myself, and I. And nobody else should ever dare to steal the spotlight.
This is what a narcissistic mother is essentially about.
While a healthy amount of self-love is important so we respect and care for ourselves—and also show others how we should be treated—the narcissistic mother is all about her. She believes she is entitled to that, and she is incredibly self-absorbed. It's one rule for her and another rule for everyone else.
Whether she is a grandiose narcissist who needs to be the loudest or shine the brightest or the vulnerable kind who has to compete about who's suffered the most, she lacks empathy for everyone except herself. Sometimes, it's a combination of the race to the bottom and the top. And she may even enjoy watching her own children suffer, as she plays out her manipulative machinations.
When we say narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in psychology and psychiatry, what we're really meaning by "personality disorder" is that this pervades their functioning in life, affecting their relationships, careers, and well-being. Hence, the qualifier "personality." And someone with NPD will not, and cannot, change.
Signs of a narcissistic mother:
Treating her children as an extension of herself
You are treated as an extension of her, not your own person. You are effectively your mother's trophy. Everything good you do is considered a reflection of her—her superior genetics and her hard work in raising you. And she'll never stop bringing it back to it being all about her, plus she'll dramatize it all. Or steal someone else's credit, like claiming she worked her fingers to the bone to send you to violin classes when your father paid for it. Naturally, anything you do or aspire to that does not align with what will make her proud will be shot down.
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Playing children against one another
Classic narcissist family dynamics are when a narcissistic mother elects a "golden child" who can do no wrong and then a scapegoat who's blamed for everything. Sometimes, there is also a "lost child" who's neglected. By triangulating children against one another, the narcissistic mother keeps everyone in their place, teaching them they need to work for attention or that they don't deserve it at all. Part of this could be a sadistic drive to see their kids suffer. Some mothers rotate these roles among their kids, or they could play their child against a cousin or neighbor, in the case of single-child families.
Petty rivalry with her own children
You should never outshine Mom in her talents or appearances, unless she's groomed you to do so. Even then, as she gets older, she will become jealous and find ways to put you down or destroy you.
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Here's when someone screws with your sense of reality, so you no longer trust yourself and become dependent on their version of reality. Gaslighting is a classic element of narcissistic abuse. As children, we don't expect our loved ones to do something so horrendous. Often you don't know you are being gaslighted—it's a poison that spreads insidiously. You'll be told you are too sensitive, crazy, or some other derogatory adjective. Eventually, you gaslight yourself.
Emotional Münchausen by proxy
Münchausen syndrome is when someone benefits from playing ill or continuing to be ill after healing. Some narcissistic mothers sometimes "train" their children to play ill—often in the form of fears, or even hurting themselves—by only intermittently giving them comfort and attention when they fulfill these roles. Not only does the inconsistent care teach the children that they are not worthy of energy, but by putting them in an inferior position where they are ill or weakened, it keeps them small and feeling small, which might even delight the narcissistic mother who's watching this sadistically, or simply make her feel more powerful and needed.
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A subtle but effective way to teach a child they're unworthy and that they're damaged goods is to give them presents that are damaged. This is incredibly common in narcissistic mothers, and you train yourself to think it must have been an accident. Because, why would your mother do that? Eventually, while they are sadistically enjoying watching you squirm while being polite, you learn to talk yourself through any uncomfortable situation with them.
Effects on children.
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You are incredibly attuned to others' feelings.
Never knowing when your mother would be decent or hostile, you walked on eggshells, and your radar on others' emotions is finely attuned. In the world of medical tests and statistics, we call an oversensitive test one that produces false positives. Meaning, something that should not test "positive" because it is not present yields a "positive" result.
This is because having a more acutely sensitive antenna helps you to survive. It's better to think Mom is gonna treat you badly, so you learn to run away before it happens, "play dead" by making yourself as invisible as possible, or be obsequiously nice to please her. Just in case.
These trauma responses are so deeply embedded within you, they act on autopilot. You're likely to be this way in other relationships—and you're hypervigilant for any time you may get into trouble, always in a state of anxious watchfulness. This severely depletes your energy levels and health over the long term. But because you've lived with this your entire life, you're not aware of just how exhausted you are. Until you get some respite.
But you have poor emotional intelligence.
You may be wondering, how can you be incredibly attuned to others but have poor emotional intelligence? This is because the other side of the equation of emotional intelligence hinges upon being aware of your own emotions and being able to take care of yourself.
Unfortunately, a narcissist's children are brought up to dismiss how they feel. Not only did Mom invalidate or gaslight you, but you also learned that the best way to survive is not to feel anything. Instead, it's to convince yourself by being overrational, that it's not that bad. And to stay positive—aka, toxic positivity.
Everybody is born with an innate sense of what's right and what's wrong—our intuition tells us that. But because you've learned to smother your gut, silencing it in order to survive, you don't know when your body is screaming out to warn you against other toxic people.
Blame, shame, guilt—the unholy trinity of a narcissist's victim.
Because you have fabulous empathy for others—telling yourself that "hurt people hurt people," that Mom has her reasons for acting this way—the only way to maintain such unnaturally high empathy reserves is to blunt any empathy you have for yourself.
As children, the easiest way we take control of situations is to blame ourselves. If you were to visualize self-blame as a muscle, then by adulthood, this well-pumped muscle has become the size of the Hulk.
You'll experience guilt for things you did and the things you did not do. For being human—experiencing certain emotions, making mistakes every human makes—and for the things others did, that you blame yourself for. And you'll shame yourself because you see yourself as a fundamentally bad and unlovable person.
You have terrible or nonexistent boundaries.
Children raised by narcissistic mothers often grow up to have poor standards and poor boundaries. While standards are the Hell yeses in your life, boundaries are the Hell noes. And if you're not aware of what those are, then you don't know when they are being transgressed. And even when something feels off, you're able to talk yourself into why you're being too sensitive or unkind. Meaning, you gaslight yourself.
Otherwise, if you kinda know what you do not stand for, and even sometimes say your peace, deep inside you do not believe you have permission to have boundaries. And so, people don't honor them.
You also overgive and solve others' problems unsolicited—that's way easier than taking care of yourself.
You keep trying to have a "do-over" with Mom, or with someone else like her.
The thing about growing up under the clutches of a narcissistic mother is that the trauma leads to repetition compulsion.
What these two fancy words really mean is the trauma leads our brains to bring us back to similar situations to resolve the original trauma. But because this is largely unconscious, your brain brings you back to repeat the same patterns with Mom or with someone like Mom—even a person who's a romantic partner of another gender or someone who's younger than you. And of course, such toxic situations mean that the trauma never resolves itself; instead, it compounds. Repeat this situation enough times, and it feels like a never-ending bad magic spell. You learn to be helpless and start believing that this curse is your destiny.
Because it's unconscious, you are suckered back into such relationships over and over again. The traumatized child inside you believes, "If I work harder, this time, it will be different."
You develop an insecure attachment system.
Attachment is a way we can understand how we perceive and respond to intimacy in relationships. While genetics and other life experiences matter, the way our parents cared for us is a major force in shaping our attachment styles.
Being brought up by a narcissistic mother, you might develop an insecure attachment. If you're anxiously attached, you could fear that your partner does not want to be as close as you'd like them to be and interpret many things unnecessarily negatively. You might lash out and then feel worse. Or, you could protect your autonomy at all costs, keeping others at arm's length and being a closed book. This is detrimental to nurturing intimacy because an avoidantly attached person is always misinterpreting others as impinging upon their independence. Or, you could be a combination of both anxiously and avoidantly attached.
How to heal and find peace:
Stop blaming yourself.
If you suspect or realize your mother may be a narcissist, that Eureka! moment can be freeing. Things start to make sense. But you might end up blaming yourself for making her behaviors worse, not seeing through her earlier, not standing up to her— anything. Or you might be furious at yourself for not knowing what things like boundaries and attachment are.
First things first. We went to school and learned loads of nifty formulas and facts—you might even have many, many fancy degrees. But we didn't learn crucial life skills and financial fluency or boundaries. So please, enough beating yourself up. Otherwise, you've left the playground, but you've become your own bully. 24/7.
Recognize her intentions and act accordingly.
Next, when dealing with your mother, put yourself in Law of the Jungle Mode. Law of the Jungle means you consider what moves your narcissistic mother is making and how they are designed to trip you up. Look at the bigger picture of what's going on, and then deal with her as impassively as possible. (This is also sometimes referred to as the grey rock method.)
You might protest that this makes you inauthentic. But you don't go to war without weapons or shields. Remember this, and you can then reserve all your energy and authenticity for those who have your back.
While I advocate no contact—because you've paid enough, and you owe her nothing—I get that it's not always practical. In these cases, have as little contact as possible, and any form of you playing nice is strategic, not unconscious, in order to move the pawns on the metaphorical chessboard. For instance, you might want to praise her so she leaves you alone and gives you some peace. Rather than do it because you're hoping she'll finally be the (consistently) loving mother you never had.
It also means expect bad behavior from her. And discount any good behavior as flukes or costly manipulations you'll have to pay for later.
Do not be hoodwinked.
Take care of yourself.
You will feel guilty and ashamed for abiding by the Law of the Jungle. Same with not being nice 24/7 to her. For daring to think she's a toxic person. You'll have to learn how to take care of these emotions and practice taking care of yourself. It sounds easy, but you'll need to keep practicing it—it's an alien subject that children of narcissists often don't believe they have permission to do.
You'll also have to take care of your nervous system, helping it to heal from the effects of trauma. Part of this may be also recognizing who else in your life is like your mother because chances are, it's a house of mirrors, and she's not the only narcissist in your life.
What this translates to is learning to give yourself permission to have boundaries and learning how to have boundaries—you lay down the law. Take comfort in the fact that you will learn to be more discerning and flexible with your boundaries, so it's OK to start rigid—like any skill you practice, it feels awkward and inflexible initially.
As you're doing these, you'll also be grieving deeply. You'll have to come to terms with the fact that the mother you always dreamed of will never be.
These would be things you should do with trained professionals—a mixture of therapy, coaching, energy- and bodywork, as well as supplementation, to take care of your gut and brain.
The other side.
You can feel like you're betraying your roots, or you may worry that healing may take forever.
The thing about healing is that's not your final chapter. Look to the person you'll become. Consider those beautiful chapters of your life, after healing. In essence, you'll become the champion and parent your younger self never had. This is the real "do-over."
May that comfort you and guide you forward in your journey toward true freedom and peace.
Tips to Cope with Narcissism in Parents
How to Cope with Having a Narcissistic Mother
Part of being a child means looking to our parents for love, support, and encouragement. Our parents set the foundation for feelings of safety and trust in others. It is important for children to feel seen and heard by their loved ones as they grow up. It can be really painful to grow up with a parent who denies a child of these emotional security blankets. Unfortunately, this is the reality for children who grow up with narcissistic mothers.
A narcissistic mother is unable to give their child the full attention and validation they need to feel loved and emotionally secure. This may impact the child’s beliefs, behaviors, and self-esteem well into adulthood.
Keep reading this article to learn about narcissistic mothers and how to cope with the pain that comes with having one.What is Narcissism?
Some narcissistic mothers could meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This is a psychological personality disorder characterized by a specific set of traits. A narcissistic mother may feel entitled or self-important, seek admiration from others, believe she is above others, lack empathy, exploit her children, put others down, experience hypersensitivity to criticism, believe she deserves special treatment, and worst of all, maybe naïve to the damage she is causing.
In addition, a narcissistic mother may use her children to advance her own goals and wishes, at the expense of the child’s desires and even emotional or physical needs. For example, a narcissistic mother may order her child to help with her bags after complaining of being tired from a long workday and not care to ask her child about how their day at school went. As a result, the children of narcissistic mothers may grow up feeling confused, invalidated, inferior, and unloved.Characteristics of a Narcissistic Mother
While not all narcissistic mothers have NPD, expressing narcissistic tendencies can be just as damaging to a child. Here are some telltale signs you may have a narcissistic mother.
- She constantly makes the conversation to be about her
- Brags about your achievements to others, but rarely validates or acknowledges you personally
- Blames others for any problems you may have that stem from her behavior
- Is well-liked and important to others, but controlling and harsh when no one is looking
- Makes you feel bad for not doing what she wants immediately
- Makes you feel guilty by boasting about how much she does for you
- Harshly opinionated at home but puts up a front for people she dislikes
- Ruthless and unforgiving, doing anything she can to be on top
- Makes you feel anxious and often lowers your confidence
If you feel you have been affected by any of these traits, here are some things you can try to cope with having a narcissistic mother:
- Make Some Room: When she doesn’t get her way and takes it out on you, don’t be passive! Let her know this way of dealing with her anger is not constructive. Strategies to diffuse the situation can be challenging to come up with on your own on the spot so it is best to think in advance and be prepared for the next time that this happens.
- Accept and Let Go: Try to accept that her narcissism is rooted in an established pattern of beliefs and behaviours, and this is not your fault. Remember that her hurtful words and actions come from her problematic personality and they are probably not true about you and you don’t really deserve to be treated in an inconsiderate manner.
- Have Some Confidence: Dealing with a narcissistic mother can be deeply painful as she may not recognize your accomplishments and strengths. In recognizing her narcissism, it is also important to recognize your own self-worth, even when she downplays your strengths. Engaging in hobbies that enhance your skills and sense of accomplishment will help to boost your confidence.
- Lean on Others: While nothing can replace the validation a child receives from their mother, there may be other supportive figures you can lean on like friends, teachers, co-workers, or other family members that you are close to and show empathy and care about you.
If you ever feel your safety or mental health is at risk, it may be necessary to keep your distance altogether, read books to understand this condition, and maybe get help from a caring therapist.
Here is a video of licensed therapist Kati Morton discussing some of the consequences of narcissistic parenting and strategies to cope with it, including trauma therapy, which is further discussed below:When to Get Professional Help
If you feel like you went through a lot growing up with a narcissistic mother, you may need to address the issues and trauma left behind. You may want to consult with a therapist trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Trauma Therapy. A psychotherapist knowledgeable about narcissistic parents may help you recognize your childhood pain and any effects of trauma, help you heal and move forward. A therapist can also help you replace the lingering negative maternal voice in your head with a healthier one.
Knowledge is power. Becoming aware of the shortcomings of your narcissistic mother can leave you with a sense of freedom and power. Addressing your issues in therapy may allow you to free yourself from negative core beliefs that you may have developed as a result of the parenting that constantly made you feel inferior or inadequate and develop the sense of value and respect that we all deserve.
Edited by Dr. Silvina Galperin, C. Psych.
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Why narcissistic mothers are dangerous and how they ruin the lives of their daughters
Reading books about the relationship between mothers and daughters, Dr. Caryl McBride cried every time. She could not understand why she could not remember the feelings of affection and love in her childhood, and she really wanted to find an explanation for this. Thus was born the book Good Enough, in which McBride, based on real stories, explores (for the first time!) the problem of maternal narcissism and its impact on the lives of daughters.
“Both boys and girls suffer from the disruption of emotional bonds when one of the parents is a narcissist. However, the mother also serves as a role model for the growing daughter,” says Caryl McBride.
The narcissist mother pushes her daughter to respond to the world around her in the way she herself does, and not in the way that suits the child. The girl constantly tries to guess the reaction of her mother and adapts to her in order to earn approval and love. Of course, she does not understand that such behavior serves only the interests of the mother. nine0003
“Unconditional acceptance of a child as a unique individual is a necessary condition for a girl to grow into a confident woman. If you had a narcissistic mother, you were deprived of that,” McBride writes. The concept of love in daughters of narcissistic mothers is distorted. In childhood, they try to earn the approval of their mother. Their definition of love is to please another without expecting anything in return. This negatively affects the girls' future romantic relationships.
Moreover, the patterns and narcissistic traits learned in childhood, grown-up girls, becoming mothers, can be transferred to their daughters and reward the next generation of women of their kind with narcissistic traits. nine0003
9 characteristics of narcissistic mothers
In everyday life, arrogant people who are obsessed with themselves and their desires are called narcissists. In psychology, narcissism is a spectrum disorder that can manifest itself in many ways, from a few character traits to a full blown narcissistic personality disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association, approximately one and a half million women in the United States suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Handbook of Mental Disorders identifies nine characteristics of narcissistic personalities. nine0003
1. Have an inflated sense of self-importance , may exaggerate their achievements and talents, or expect to be recognized as superior in any situation. For example, a mother speaks only about herself, does not ask her daughter questions, is not going to listen to her, but only shares her news and feelings.
2. Constantly fantasize about limitless success, power, incredible achievement, beauty, or ideal love. For example, a mother earns money by cleaning houses and is sure that her famous clients will help her become famous herself. nine0003
3. They believe that they are special and unique , so they can only be understood by people who are just as special or have a high status. The rest are despised. For example, a mother takes the family to a restaurant and treats the waiters like servants.
4. They crave excessive admiration. Example: A mother demands to be thanked, praised and complimented for everything she has ever done for you.
5. They think that everyone owes them. These are unrealistic expectations that other people will treat them especially well or automatically meet their expectations. For example, a mother is sure that she is too important a person to stand in line. nine0003
6. Exploit others , that is, they use others to achieve their own goals. For example, a mother is friends only with those who can be useful to her.
7. Demonstrate a lack of empathy : unwilling to notice other people's needs or cherish their feelings. For example, a mother constantly points out her daughter's "mistakes", criticizes and humiliates her.
8. Often envious of others or feel that they are the object of envy of others. For example, a mother claims that she has no girlfriends because women are jealous of her. nine0003
9. Demonstrate arrogance, arrogance and attitude. For example, a mother thinks that her children are too good and should not play with peers from less wealthy families.
The degree of narcissism can vary. McBride emphasizes that even if your mother doesn't have all nine traits of people with severe narcissistic personality disorder, her narcissism still hurt you. If so, then three destructive mindsets have haunted you throughout your life:
- Something is wrong with me.
- My value is in what I do, not in who I am.
- It's impossible to love me.
10 relationship problems with narcissistic mothers
In her research on maternal narcissism, McBride identified ten common relationship problems between mothers with narcissistic traits and daughters. It doesn't matter if you have experienced all the features in your life or only some of them. This only indicates how clearly narcissism is expressed in the behavior of your mother. nine0003
1. You notice that you are constantly trying to win your mother's love, attention, and approval, but fail to please her. Narcissistic mothers are critical and do not accept their daughters as they are.
2. The mother emphasizes that what matters to her is how something looks, and not how you feel about it. Your emotions don't matter to her. She consoles you not with hugs, but with buying new clothes.
3. Your mother is jealous of you: because of your appearance, material well-being, achievements, education, and even because of your relationship with your father. nine0003
4. Narcissistic mothers control the interests and activities of their children and do not support their daughters in what they really want.
5. Everything in the family always revolves around the mother. Narcissists do not tolerate rejection and want everyone to obey their wishes.
6. The mother is unable to show empathy. The feelings of a daughter growing up next to her are not taken seriously, and she does not feel her own importance. Regardless of age, such daughters may withdraw, stop talking about themselves, or even notice their feelings. nine0003
7. The mother cannot cope with her own emotions. She "stiffens" or "disappears" when it comes to feelings. She does not allow herself or her daughter to express what is in her soul - their relationship is doomed to remain superficial, there is no deep connection in them.
8. Mother often criticizes and condemns. She does it because she doesn't like herself. In this way, she raises her daughters to be extremely sensitive to other people's opinions and makes them constantly feel like they are not good enough. nine0003
9. Your mother treats you like a friend, not like a daughter. In a healthy relationship, the mother plays the role of an adult and takes care of the child. Mothers with narcissistic traits did not receive proper care from their parents in childhood, therefore, emotionally, they resemble children who constantly need support.
They often involve their little daughters in the adult world, for example by sharing difficulties with their husband. In this case, the daughter begins to feel loneliness and danger - she does not have a parent to rely on. She feels guilty about not being able to solve her mother's problems and internalizes the "I'm not good enough" mentality. nine0003
10. There are no personal boundaries in your communication with your mother. Emotional separation is an essential part of psychological growth, but the narcissistic mother does not allow her daughter to become a separate person. In family life, she has no boundaries, there is nothing personal. For a narcissistic mother, a child is an extension of herself: she can talk to her daughter on the most inappropriate topics, she has the right to interfere in everything and share information with anyone.
How narcissism manifests itself: an absorbing and ignoring mother
A mother can only pass on knowledge, confidence and self-love to her daughter if she herself has these skills. Moreover, for this to be successful, a woman must build a deep and balanced relationship with her daughter.
Narcissism is the opposite of balance. In the families of narcissistic mothers, everything is taken to the extreme. “Staying true to intergenerational twisted love, most narcissistic mothers place either too much emphasis on raising their daughters (absorbing mother) or very little (ignoring mother),” McBride writes. nine0003
The absorbing mother dominates her daughter with care, dominates every aspect of her life and keeps them under control
She makes all decisions for her daughter and tells her what to wear, how to behave, what to say, think and feel correctly.
Such mothers often seem wonderful. They are involved in the life of their daughters, doing something for them, for them and together with them, so others perceive them as interested parents. Alas, the consequences of such behavior are sad. As a result, daughters have low self-esteem, they often feel their own worthlessness. nine0003
An ignoring mother, on the contrary, does not pay enough attention to her child. She does not take or deny the feelings of children seriously. Excluding especially difficult cases, such parents provide the child financially: their own room, food, clothes, but they refuse their daughters upbringing, emotional support and empathy. Therefore, they feel invisible and begin to think that as individuals they do not matter.
McBride emphasizes that the two styles described are not mutually exclusive. The narcissistic mother can switch from absorbing to ignoring and back again. In addition, she can choose the type of behavior in relation to her daughters: with one daughter, she can be an absorbing mother, and with another, an ignoring one. nine0003
Perfectionism and Sabotage: How Children React to Mother's Narcissism
When two daughters are raised by the same narcissistic mother, they often take on very different roles. Both girls think they are loved for what they do, but behave differently. One sister, as it were, says to the narcissistic mother: “OK, I will show you what I am capable of and what I am worthy of.” She becomes a perfectionist who constantly strives to achieve more. Another sister, having adopted the same attitude, begins to believe that everything is meaningless and she will not achieve anything anyway. She goes into passivity and self-sabotage. nine0003
As adults, successful daughters seem like superheroes, but their accomplishments and high performance do not bring satisfaction or inner comfort.
They are constantly struggling with a sense of failure and never notice how much has already been done. They are constantly looking for what else they can do to prove their worth, and often work themselves up to burnout and chronic fatigue syndrome. There are no problems if you are successful, doing what you love, while praising yourself and taking care of yourself. nine0003
Alas, many super-successful daughters, suffering from workaholism, cannot slow down, which leads them to health problems. Here's proof that I can't be who you want me to be!" They give up easily, try to numb the pain with addictions, are unable to break free from self-destructive habits, and refuse to realize their potential.
As they get older, these daughters start looking for a replacement mother, someone who can take care of them. They are smart, talented and capable of many things, but they do not believe in themselves. So they find alternative unhealthy ways to get other people to take care of themselves: huddling in the basement of an aunt's house, ending up in jail, or living on welfare or unemployment benefits. nine0003
How to overcome childhood trauma
The third part of his book McBride devotes entirely to the process of recovery. She provides many exercises that can help you accept and live through traumatic experiences, and also recommends contacting a psychotherapist. The specific steps to recovery for the daughters of narcissistic mothers are:
- Embrace the limitations and feel the grief of not having the mother you dreamed of. nine0058
- Separate psychologically from the mother and reformulate the negative beliefs received from her into positive ones.
- Accept your own feelings, desires and personality.
- Learn to communicate with your mother in a new, more environmentally friendly way.
- Learn to recognize your own narcissistic traits and decide not to pass on this emotional legacy to your children.
- Teach yourself to grieve.
In twenty-eight years as a psychotherapist, McBride has noticed that most people try to skip the last step. This is quite expected, because breaking through denial and feeling pain is incredibly difficult. Meanwhile, mourning is the most important step that plays a decisive role in the process of change. nine0003
It starts with one decision: you allow your feelings to be. This needs to be learned, especially if you have been told all your life to shut up, not to grunt or not feel anything, to lie and pretend that everything is in order when in fact it is not.
You can try to rationalize the pain by thinking, "I shouldn't feel this way" or "It wasn't all that bad." It won't help. Whatever emotions you experience, it is important to let them be. Sometimes this will require being alone in silence. It is important to live without being distracted and without becoming dependent on work or any other that drowns out emotions. nine0003
Take time to be alone and grieve. Do this several times until you begin to feel relieved.
Let the emotions leave the body at their own speed. To do this, you can stay at home alone, take long walks, run, go to the mountains, drive or sit in a coffee shop. Find what is comfortable for you.
During the mourning process, you will go through five stages: acceptance, denial, bargaining, anger, depression. It is important to go through them all and finally accept the fact that your mother is really narcissistic and did not give you the love that you wanted and needed. Only then can you truly live the grief. nine0003
For effective mourning, McBride recommends:
- Keep a diary. It symbolizes a serious attitude towards recovery. Writing down feelings is another way to let them go. Keeping a diary provides an opportunity to free yourself from trauma.
- Do not listen to other people's opinions while you are in this process. With the best of intentions, friends and relatives will say something like: “Yes, forget about it already”, “You cannot change the past, stop trying” and “Stop thinking about the past, live here and now. ” They don't understand that if you don't face your sadness, it will stay with you forever. nine0058
- Let the guilt be. Guilt will inevitably come. McBride notes that in almost every clinical session and every interview, the daughters of narcissistic mothers admitted that they were uncomfortable because they talked about their mothers in a negative way. This is a cultural taboo that will have to be overcome in order to heal from trauma.
- Grieving for the little girl you failed to become because you had to take care of your mother early, and sometimes the whole family. nine0058
How to communicate with your mother in recovery
At this stage of healing, it is important to explore ways to manage your relationships and maintain the ability to behave in a healthy way. You have changed, but your mother has not.
McBride argues that in full blown narcissistic personality disorder there is little chance of effective treatment or change. The desire to change is important here, and narcissistic clients, when contacting a therapist, try to quickly find answers to questions about how to interact with other people. They do not assume that the problem may be in themselves, and quickly leave, believing that something is wrong with their therapist. nine0003
The narcissistic mother can be too toxic, so it is important for the daughter to make the decision to break contact with the mother during recovery.
Others may not understand this decision, but you are making it for your mental health. If the mother is unable to change and you are constantly attacked and insulted by her, it is important to understand that cutting off contact with her is the healthier solution.
Due to the rarer communication, your contact will become polite. It is important not to expect anything from the mother, then you will experience less disappointment. McBride elaborates that this schema works best after you complete the healing process by accepting your mother's limitations and truly separating from her. nine0003
How to forgive your mother and is it necessary?
You do not have to wait for your mother's approval by moving away from her during therapy. If she does not leave you alone, you will have to learn to set personal boundaries. “Be clear about what you will and will not do,” McBride writes.
Many people are afraid to declare their boundaries because they worry about the feelings of others. Daughters are also often afraid to install them because mothers might get angry. This fear is very real, as narcissists often cut people out of their lives. nine0003
It is important to understand that the mother has already left you emotionally, there is not much she can do to harm you on a similar scale. come to you for dinner on Sundays. I need to be alone and I won't call you. When I'm done, I'll let you know. You don't need to call me for a while unless absolutely necessary. I'm not angry, and all this has nothing to do with you. It's just what I need right now." The mother may ask if everything is all right with you, and you can emphasize that everything is fine with you and you are not angry with her. nine0003
It happens that the mother keeps calling, coming to your house, manipulating. “Your task is to keep the boundaries and not react after you have informed her about it. She rings the doorbell, you don't open it. She calls on the phone, you don't pick up. She speaks to you, you once again confirm the seriousness of your intentions. How she handles this situation is her problem, not yours. You are not responsible for her feelings. You can act kind and gently remind her that you will start communicating with her again when you are able to do so. nine0003
Many are taught from childhood that good girls forgive and forget insults. We are expected to forgive everyone who offends us, because it is right. McBride emphasizes: “Forgiveness has a positive charge and helps in healing if we see that the person did not wish us harm. However, trying to deny the pain we have experienced will not do any good. Moreover, by refusing to admit that we have been harmed and to understand that a person may well do it again (intentionally or not), we put ourselves at risk. nine0003
Many misunderstand forgiveness as an excuse for the behavior that harmed us. As if nothing terrible had happened. McBride recommends forgiving only those who are ready to accept responsibility - after the person has admitted his wrong, realized it and truly repented. The author of Good Enough advises letting go of the situation internally, which will definitely do you good: “Forgiveness comes when you live these feelings in order to move on and live your life.” nine0003
Illustrations: Shutterstock (Taty Vovchek)
“Mom is not sacred!”. Let's put the moral and moral aspects aside for now. Anyone who wants to, can raise her to the saints, no problem. In fact, it's not about that now.
The topic of this article will undoubtedly cause mental dissonance in many, although the content of judgments and emotional experiences will certainly differ - they usually depend on what kind of experience in relations with one's own mother a person experienced in early childhood and continues to live at present, but I am sure that no one remains indifferent. nine0003
The eminent British pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott argued that a mother should be good enough . This term has taken its rightful place in psychoanalysis in the study of early object relations. The main idea here is that a good enough mother does not perceive her motherhood as hard work, doing everything to the smallest detail in strict accordance with the instructions for caring for babies she read and tries to do them flawlessly. In fact, a good enough mother lives her motherhood as her own unique life experience. She has maternal intuition, which, like an inner beacon, guides her - this is sincere and unconditional love for her child, an unquenchable desire to help him grow, develop and create a unique self, a harmonious, whole and mentally healthy personality. A good enough mother does everything in her power for the good of her child. She becomes a caring "mother-environment", providing the child with stability, stability and a sense of safe "entry into life", into the outside world. At the same time, she is not afraid to make a mistake and is aware that they are possible, because ideal mothers do not exist. It is the unconditional love for the child that helps her to always taxi on the straight road and do the right thing for the most part, and the main thing in this is to trust herself, her own feelings and maternal intuition; not to some numerous books, manuals on education and advice from others, but to myself. Because she knows that she loves her child and is ready to surround him with her warmth and care. nine0003
There can be nothing more valuable than unconditional maternal love and care for a child.
Returning to the topic of this article, it should be borne in mind that motherhood proceeds differently for all women. It is important to understand that not a mother becomes a person, but a person becomes or can become a mother. A woman always lives motherhood, first of all, taking into account what she is like as a person.
What is this woman who became a mother? There is a huge variety of options here, up to severe mental pathologies, when a baby born into the world is rejected by his own mother, dies of hunger, or is found in a trash can, and today, alas, this is not uncommon. As a psychotherapist, I know how many perversions exist, often carried by narcissistic mothers, and the slogan “Mom is sacred!” in fact, it has no basis, and sometimes only causes great irritation, because most psychologists and psychotherapists, in their hard work, make great efforts to ensure that healthy, good enough motherhood finally becomes the norm - not holiness, not a feat, but simply the norm. nine0003
Below we will talk about one very veiled and dangerous pathology - malignant maternal narcissism. We will try to understand what happens when a woman suffering from pathological narcissism (narcissistic personality disorder) becomes a mother. A narcissistic woman, like a psycho or sociopath, never really becomes a mother because she sincerely wants to see and know her child, wants to know herself as a mother, is ready to live the experience of motherhood filled with love, care and creativity. No. For her, the birth of a child is either an accident (she gave birth on an aerial basis), or some kind of consciously planned goal. The narcissistic mother needs the child to achieve this goal, his birth is planned for the solution of a certain task. A baby born from the first minute of his life, one way or another, must not only correspond to the grandiose image that his mother is, but he must exalt and complement this image even more, decorate it with himself, and at the same time not forget who he is " vicar" of the Lord on earth - his narcissistic mother. nine0003
Often in sessions with patients, one can hear that the mother seems to hate them, although she did a lot of good for them, for which they are sincerely grateful and grateful to her. I'll tell you one thing that may shock you a lot: most likely, a mother suffering from narcissistic personality disorder actually hates you. Maybe unconsciously, maybe against her will, but the nature of her feelings and attitude towards her own child, unfortunately, does not change because of this. The fact is that, according to the structure of her personality, a narcissistic mother needs power, total control, influence and manipulation of the life of her child. Her fragile self-esteem rests on these pathological aspirations; without them, she experiences an unbearable feeling of emptiness, inner brokenness and worthlessness. For such mothers, the child is the most convenient and uncomplaining object that can be easily used for such malignant self-affirmation, since narcissistic mothers do not see their children as separate individuals, but perceive them only as their extension, property, or, in analytical terms, narcissistic extension . In this case, even the age of the children is not taken into account.
A mother-narcissist has an extremely toxic peremptory attitude: "I gave birth to you and I have every right to your life, no matter how old you are." Functionally, such mothers can present themselves as super-caring, sacrificial, deeply devoted to the child and family, so that no one has even a shred of doubt about the pathological grandiosity of their motherhood. External presentation is extremely important for them, but we emphasize once again that they raise children solely for a specific purpose, considering the birth of a child as a “business project” that must someday justify itself. In fact, the child is called upon to become a tool, or a human function, to satisfy the mother's unhealthy ambitions, to turn into a support for her deformed, sick Ego. nine0003
Another hallmark of narcissistic mothers is that children must earn their love, or in case of disobedience or inconsistency with her expectations, they will face obvious rejection, humiliation and contempt from the mother. Unfortunately, very often one has to observe how a mother cruelly, sadistically punishes her child, and he, naive and gullible, still reaches out to her, not believing his eyes and feelings, trying to beg for love and maternal warmth from his infantile parent. Narcissistic mothers leave deep ugly scars in the souls of their children, severely injure their immature psyche, cripple their fate, make people unhappy and suffering for the rest of their lives. nine0003
The narcissistic mother begins to train her children from early childhood: just by her glance, the movement of her eyebrows, the tone of her voice or the manipulative silence, the child begins to become emotionally fixed on her desires and expectations, which for his psyche is tantamount to a rejection of himself. Children are also prohibited from having a healthy critical attitude towards their mother, which is vital for successful completion of the separation-individuation process . Moreover, with mother's milk, the child is instilled with the idea that the narcissistic mother is almost ideal, that all good things happen exclusively thanks to her, and all bad things come from the nature of the child. Over time, children begin to love their mother with the unconditional and mature love of a parent and an adult, while she, a mother, an adult, loves her children with a capricious, infantile love only on condition of their complete obedience and submission, for their compliance with what was invented and imposed on her for them to the image. If I brought you into the world, then be the way I want - like me and comfortable. Often, a child, more often an older one, is assigned parental functions in relation to his own mother. For example, to replace her in household chores or in caring for younger children, as well as to protect the mother, always be on her side and play the role of arbiter in her relationship with her husband. Often the mother herself provokes such scenes in order to make sure of the loyalty of her children, and they will have a very hard time if they do not take her side, do not act in accordance with her manipulations and sick fantasy. The little man becomes an appendage of his own mother, as if he does not have his own soul and feelings, he is forced to play long and skillfully according to her cruel rules until he remains completely dependent on her. nine0003
When the children grow up, the narcissist mother, using insidious psychological processing, achieves the formation of a feeling of guilt in front of her and, with the help of emotional extortion and blackmail, persistently tries to keep them in a strong web of dependence, from which it is almost impossible to get out without the help of a psychotherapist. Over time, it becomes clear that no matter how hard the children try, this will never be enough for the mother, since her inner emptiness and spiritual hole can only be filled with the love and care of her own mother, and this cannot be the task of the child. nine0003
And what happens when grown-up children, tired of being the source of her narcissistic nourishment, begin to rebel, no longer react to maternal manipulations, return her negative projections, strive to build their own lives independently and independently of their mother? First of all, there is an intersection of interests, and there is an inevitable collapse of mother's hopes and expectations, the collapse of her grandiose fantasy of creating a large family in which she is the only ruler and manager. It is this collapse, which is, in fact, a narcissistic collapse, that becomes the soil on which the mother's unconscious hatred of her own child begins to grow, "destroying" her mother's life with her independence and independence. nine0003
Mothers whose attitude towards their loved ones fluctuates between poles love-hate, idealize-devalue rushing all their lives from the image of a super-positive virtue to the image of a cruel accuser, completely denying the presence of negative traits in themselves, women whose love must be earned, and to prove their love for them without fail, they themselves are eternal capricious children, whose true nature and feelings were once rejected - most often by their own mothers - who do not know themselves and sincerely believe that the inflated soap bubble of their dignity is and there are they. Undoubtedly, they make a lot of effort and do a great job in their quest to live up to the grandiose image invented for themselves. They do not know how to just be, just live, just love, just be happy and self-sufficient. Coexisting with such a person is, in fact, an extremely difficult test, emotionally and physically draining, because no one wants to live in fear next to a toxic person whose ego is fragile, like an eggshell, and whose attitude towards you can change at any moment. depending on the mood. nine0003
Now you may have a better understanding of the processes that inevitably lead to a split in the child's psyche in his relationship with his own toxic mother. A mature, self-sufficient, formed personality, whose structure is based on a truly good beginning, will never and under no circumstances change itself, will not openly express anger and hatred, humiliate, reject and manipulate, will not hysteria, especially if sincerely and unconditionally loves your child. Of course, with such a psychological burden, your mother really had and is having a hard time. We believe that she did the best she could, and certainly deserves respect and sympathy for her life path. However, one does not exclude the other. No one has the right to arbitrariness, and any mother is primarily a person, and such personality traits as lack of tolerance, empathy, vindictiveness and vindictiveness, as well as the endless exhausting pursuit of imaginary self-affirmation at the expense of others, sooner or later force people subject to them lose loved ones, break off relationships with friends and colleagues. However, they always blame life, fate and others for this, but they never even try to find reasons in themselves. Until a person realizes that he has the right to psychological and spiritual work exclusively in relation to himself, he will not be able to develop normally. This applies to your mother, but also to you. A small child cannot be responsible for the fate of an adult. And to decide how viable and justified the model of her relationship with loved ones and with society, and whether she needs to change anything in herself, your mother must come herself. nine0003
In the meantime, there's nothing to be done. It is necessary to learn to give a tough rebuff at the first slightest manifestations of emotional and physical abuse from the narcissistic mother. Dissatisfaction, disproportionate to the situation, inadequate outbursts of anger, insults, refusal to honestly and equally discuss issues that concern you or talk about them, placing a child in the position of a victim, sarcastic comments about your tastes and views, attempts to humiliate you by comparing you with others, total control over your thoughts, actions and feelings will always encourage you to defend your boundaries and protect the psyche from destruction. The formula for adult freedom in relation to parents is simple: they have the right to want, but you have the right to refuse. They have the right to be offended and react to you as they please, and you have the right to respond to their reaction as you see fit, or not to respond at all. nine0003
Don't hesitate to take a break from your toxic mother or even end your relationship with her if you think it's necessary to restore your mental and physical health. Protect yourself from stress, and your mother too - it will be more honest than dooming yourself and her to eternal showdowns, because even with the closest person they should not become walks through a minefield.
Gratitude of children for the life given to them is present in those families where parents gave life to a child consciously and from the very moment of birth filled it with unconditional love, care, warmth of mother’s hugs, understanding and accepting the fact that a free person came into the world, to whom they will help to get stronger and develop, and then he will live his own life and make his own choices, and his parents will live their own. nine0003
Healthy relationships between parents and children should be built on trust and mutual understanding: at the right time, lend a shoulder to the baby, reassure, help, or simply suggest, without imposing anything or demanding anything in return. Where there is no pressure, strict demands, intimidation, manipulation, children naturally express gratitude to their parents for the life they have been given, and not because they are obliged to do it, but because they sincerely want it, and this brings them incredible joy and inspiration.