Growing up as the daughter of a narcissistic mother you didn’t learn about self care or self love. It was not part of your emotional or psychological vocabulary from the beginning. You remember the constant anxiety and terror you felt with every step your NM took toward you. You recall her terrifying eyes as she stared you down. Some of these mothers use physical abuse as a way of indoctrinating their daughters; others use psychological verbal abuse, telling you from your first memories how ugly and stupid you were, that would never amount to anything, that mother would always win. Narcissistic mothers control by way of constant intimidation, criticisms and outrageous demands that cannot be fulfilled. Often these mothers have their spouses under their control.
Daughters of narcissistic mothers have no respite. They are always in fight or flight mode–the sympathetic nervous system. They can never let down and relax because they don’t know when NM will begin one of her cruel offensives. These non-mothers often pick a golden child and demand that the other children follow suit. They can never measure up because the system is rigged in favor of the NM and the golden child.
After the battles of growing up the daughter of the narcissistic mother is left with many wounds. She has difficulty with her sense of a solid identity. She feels guilty because she didn’t meet her narcissistic mother’s expectations (which were impossible). There will come a time when you become aware that your mother had a serious psychological problem. It may reveal itself after you have married and divorced a narcissist and realized that you have repeated with him what had made your upbringing so painful and impossible–your dreadful NM.
Daughters of narcissistic mothers deserve to learn and practice Self Care and Self Love. This is a part of our true natures. You are entitled to experience a sense of deep inner peace, to use your imagination spontaneously, to appreciate the magic of music and dance, to be able to sleep with peace and a sense of security, to have full use of your unlimited creativity, to express your affection and love for others which brings great joy, to find a spiritual path if that is what you are seeking in your life.
Self care begins with thinking about how you want to lead your life. What is essential for you each day—Is it learning how to quiet your mind, to get exercise that keeps you physically and psychologically strong, to find friends that are truthseekers like you who support your new life, to seek knowledge that fascinates you, to write spontaneously what is in your inner self and comes through you naturally, to spend time outdoors and breathe in the air, listen to the birds, watch the movement of the winds and the playing of the skies around you and any other activities that you can imagine. Part of your healing is learning to say “no” to people and events that you don’t further your growth. As you make the practice of self care an integral part of your life you will begin to appreciate yourself more and finally you will know Self Love. You will think of the little child that survived the narcissistic mother, of her bravery borne of great suffering, of how often she cried, of the incredible way that she saved her precious self. You are holding her tenderly now. She will always be with you but now she is secure and safe and happy in your arms. I am deeply moved by and love these special daughters.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.