I had always referred to my family and home situation as abusive and dysfunctional.
It wasn’t until about a decade or so ago that I came to know of another apt description other than abusive and dysfunctional — especially of my mother’s energies.
If my little Nadine was severely wounded, my mother wasn’t far behind as far as the degree and severity of her inner child’s wounds are concerned — something that I had accepted much earlier on in my healing journey.
Because I could relate to my mother’s severe woundedness, I extended as much compassion and understanding to her as I could.
I gave her enough allowances — more than what was necessary and appropriate, to the point that I neglected my emotional needs.
Of course, I didn’t know that then.
And that’s not my mother’s fault. It was my choice. An unconscious choice that resulted from the dysfunctional energy dynamics in our family and home environment.
With my inner rescuer subconsciously taking charge, I had thought it was my personal mission to heal my mother’s wounded inner child for her — that her healing was more important than meeting my emotional needs.
If her severely wounded inner child was healed — and if I did that for her….
If I made myself available for her whenever she needed an emotional crutch….
If I pleased her at the expense of my personal and psychological needs….
Then, I would get her approval and acceptance — finally. She would love me — finally — just as how I am, and the way she does [did] my siblings!
Such a twisted thought process, though, I learned later, is precisely the effect of narcissism and the experience of daughters of narcissistic mothers.
I had long ago realized that I couldn’t and shouldn’t do the healing for her — or anyone.
I must only do the healing for myself. [See related post here – Healing of our Family Tree]
Besides, I could never please my mother.
Narcissistic mothers are just not capable of being pleased and satisfied — especially by their daughters.
Karyl McBride’s book, “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers,” is one of the invaluable resources that helped shed light on my birth family situation and experiences with my mother.
It helped put things in perspective and aided my healing and recovery — especially in realizing and coming to terms with the fact that the hurtful experiences — beginning with my mother’s rejection of me at birth — and other harming treatments that I received were NOT MY FAULT.
Along with other similar resources, the book helped me gain a deeper understanding of the wounding dynamic between my mother and me — while honoring my pain and without blaming my mother or placing her in a bad light.
Following my mother’s demise last February , I got reconnected briefly with a cousin who had been quite puzzled with my mother’s odd and hurtful behaviors. She was privy to most, if not all, the goings-on, chaos, drama, and all in the family.
Thankfully, my cousin was open-minded enough to appreciate my learnings and realizations, including my decision to go no-contact and what led to it — a decision that she fully supported, understood, and agreed with. A rarity for which I am most grateful!
We agreed for her to share the information with my siblings — presuming they’re open and willing to receive it.
Hopefully, they will also gain a deeper understanding and explanation of some of the most bizarre — and deeply harming — behaviors displayed by our mother.
Hopefully, other wounded, unloved, and unmothered daughters would gain new perspectives and insights as well — and be assisted in their healing and recovery.
Narcissism is a personality disorder from which mothers are not spared having. I have come to accept that there is such a thing as ‘maternal narcissism.’
Narcissistic mothers do exist.
And mine happens to be one.
And that was the piece of the puzzle that took me the longest to discover — and accept — that my mother was narcissistic. That she was a narcissistic mother — to me, at least.
I’m not necessarily saying that my mother had a narcissistic personality disorder per se, but she certainly embodied many of the characteristics of a narcissist. [A narcissist and someone with a narcissistic personality disorder are not the same.]
My mother favored my siblings more than me.
My mother may not have behaved the same way towards my other siblings, but that doesn’t mean that it was only my wild imagination — or my woundedness — that made me see her behaving differently towards me or treating me differently — because she did, and that is precisely one of the manifestations of maternal narcissism.
Narcissistic mothers do not treat their children equally and fairly. They also treat their sons differently from their daughters.
Narcissistic mothers behave precisely the way my mother did, which include, among others —
• The need to be the center of attention;
• Competing [for the attention] with their children, daughters in particular;
• Pitting their children against each other, creating [unhealthy and unnecessary] competition amongst them;
• Projecting a different persona and image to the outside world as compared to the home and their children;
• Often envious of others and believe others are envious of them;
• Lacking empathy and compassion; and
• Spiteful and vindictive and do not know how to take well when others disagree with them; no one must contradict them, lest they become the recipient of the narcissistic mothers’ vindictiveness and wickedness.
“Do well so that Mother is proud, but don’t do too well, or you will outshine her.”
As I shared in a previous post, narcissistic mothers are not consistent in their behavior and treatments towards their children, daughters, in particular. They favor one over another.
They display two styles of behaviors [what Karyl McBride refers to as “engulfing” and “ignoring”] — which may be exhibited separately to two daughters, or both to one.
The experiences of my other siblings’ — again, the favored ones, at least — would make me look like I’m making up my narratives. Lying about my experiences. Or that I’m the mentally unstable one!
Those who have no idea what the inner workings and dynamic are between my mother and me, especially how damaging it was to me, would, quite understandably, although sadly, view my decision of no-contact as most unreasonable, unacceptable, and unforgivable. Of how ungrateful of a daughter I am.
Oh, how pitiful that a daughter neglected, rejected, and abandoned her mother — when it was, in fact, the other way around!
Well, guess what?
That — the twisting of the facts, the turning things around — is precisely one of the toxic ways that narcissistic mothers can get away with harming their daughters and keep the truth hidden from the public eye.
It’s part of the manipulation.
It’s part of the narcissistic mother’s drama.
Of creating chaos in the family.
And chaos is the staple food that fuels narcissistic mothers.
Narcissistic mothers cannot survive without issues and drama. In fact, they thrive in dramas and turmoil.
When things are quiet and peaceful, the narcissistic mother does something — subconsciously — that will disturb it.
It is never-ending. The only way for it to end is for the narcissistic mother to humbly look in the mirror and acknowledge that there is something that needs to be remedied — for her sake, her children’s sake, even her grandchildren’s sake because it is sure to be passed on when not addressed.
The damaging effects are far-reaching, rendering the cycle of abuse and toxicity constantly in motion.
As was the case in our family.
As I shared in an earlier post, Healing of our Family Tree, I sponsored my mother to attend the “Reparenting the Child Within,” the seminar/workshop where I became aware of how severely wounded I was as a child and how abusive our family and home environment is.
That workshop ushered in the peeling away of the layers. Of deep healing and cleansing. Of releasing and embracing the path of self-love and authenticity.
Sponsoring my mother to attend the workshop was one of my early attempts to bring about healing in the family — to break the cycle.
Quite disappointingly, my mother’s response was she was “too old for it.”
Acknowledging narcissism and the dysfunctionality and the damaging effects requires professional help.
It was something that my mother was not willing to do — or even admit is what she needed.
As, quite sadly, narcissistic mothers are wont to do.