Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers—Stop Feeling Guilty–It Wasn’t Your Fault

I hear and read many life stories of adult daughters of narcissistic mothers who suffered horrible psychological deprivation and verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of their exceedingly cruel narcissistic mothers. They were as the great psychoanalyst Alice Miller said: “Prisoners of Childhood”. That is a profound phrase that sums up the horrific experience of life with a narcissistic mother. This woman never wanted you and if she did it was her plan that you reflected her perfection. She needed to mold you into a mini-me child. When you objected to that, she punished you with terror, threats, violent rages and betrayals. She went down the list of her children until she found the one who was most like her and whom she could mold. Very likely that child became a narcissist and was the bane of your existence. No only did you have mother breathing down your neck you had to be wary of your sibling at all times. The other children cowered in the presence of these two and became shadows and echoes of mom. You were the stand out child–the one who knew that there was something very wrong and dark in the family.

Along the way you carried a lot of guilt about not loving your narcissistic mother. That’s the rub. Now that you are well into adulthood, ask yourself: How is it possible to blame myself and feel guilty over something I could never control? I was a small child and had to survive. She was the one who punished me constantly, terrorized me within an inch of my life, had night raids when the greatest punishments even tortures took place.

Take a long look at yourself and your life. I know those who hold on the guilt and they are still suffering. You can and will let go of this haunting from the past. You deserve so much more. Believe this with all of your heart. I know that you can heal. You have so much of yourself to activate. Learn self care–yes for the first time in your life–put yourself first. Rest, sleep, enjoy your spontaneous self, become immersed in what you love to do, learn to laugh out loud–even if people are looking at you funny. That’s the best of all. Not giving a damn about what others think!!! Go for it all the way. Feel the joy of letting loose like a child dancing wildly to a great tune. Flow with your creativity–Feel your lovely heart open. Fly, Soar, Transcend!

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

BooK: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life

From Budding Narcissist to Full Blown Pathological Narcissism

There is a young woman whom I have known as an acquaintance for the past ten years. I  met her when she was ten years old. This was in the context of a neighborhood party. Her mother is a fully developed narcissistic personality. Exceedingly self entitled, expecting perfection of others, physically vane to a fault, highly manipulative of her husband, friends, etc. this lady demands having her way and gets it. Her husband is a weak man who gives into her constantly. She is the ruler of the household and has complete control over her very naive spouse.

On one occasion I went over to their home to return some mail that had been sent to the incorrect address. After the preliminary greetings, the daughter who was ten years old at the time, suddenly asked me in a stark cruel tone: “What’s wrong with your eye?” I was shocked by this personal question. I wondered for a moment if she could tell that I was wearing contact lenses. Many scenarios passed through my mind as I felt anger, outrage and shock run through my nervous system. My eye was healing from a  minor infection. Silence reigned. The mother didn’t say a word, look at her daughter, apologize to me, tell her child not to invade some one’s privacy and cause them emotional hurt and pain. I stepped into the breach and said: ” There are personal questions you never ask another individual. This is impolite, disrespectful and inconsiderate.” My words hung in the air. The girl sat defiantly in her chair, staring me down, daring me to speak further. Mother didn’t react at all–not one eyelash quivered. In fact narcissistic mother appeared to be bored and restless and needing to “move on” from the entire incident. It was over for her before it began because it wasn’t about her and how perfect she was. Her daughter was becoming a narcissistic Mini Me.  In addition her father was and is a fool about his little girl. She got away with whatever she wanted with him. I left this scene, knowing that there was a process in motion that would result in a full blown narcissistic disorder.

Recently, I spoke with the daughter in the company of her mother and got a more narcissistic vib from her. She is now a college student so full of herself she can hardly stand still. This young woman shows no interest, concern, understanding or care for others unless she is narcissistic supplies –praise, adoration, favors, accolades, intros into social circles, etc. from them. Her friends are Yes Sayers to her, small echoes of her highness. They laugh at those whom they see as inferior—meaning people who are not exactly like them.

This daughter will go through the rest of her life as a narcissistic personality, hurting everyone in her reach. She will make the lives of others pure misery unless they learn about the complex in-depth facets and many faces of the Narcissistic Personality.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Stop Cycling Back to the Narcissist for More Torture

I frequently–more times than I can count–hear from men and women who are trapped in a severely painful pattern of returning to their narcissistic spouse or narcissistic parent. Each time they go back they believe that life with the NPD is going to be different. This is not true. With very rare exception –Once A Narcissist Always A Narcissist! If you are involved with a narcissist it may help you to repeat these words to yourself and recognize that you can no longer tolerate sharing your life with this highly pathological person.

I use the word “torture” (“the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain”) in the title to emphasize how impossible narcissists make our lives with their multiple cruelties. Sadistic, cold, controlling, treacherous–they gain pleasure from weakening us, to have ultimate control over our being and in some cases to destroy us.

You don’t deserve this. You didn’t when you first became involved with this person. If you are the child of a narcissistic parent, you happened to be born by fate into a highly pathological family. First, know that this is not your fault. You are not to blame.

Some children grow up only knowing cruelty and torture. This is how their identities are shaped. The idea of being loved, feeling peace, protection or freedom is not part of their psychological repertoire. They have a prisoner of the gulag mentality and that is not surprising. We tend to repeat what we have experienced early in our lives. Some children have a sense that their narcissistic family members or their narcissistic spouses are very disturbed and they make a break for it early.

Being a child of a  narcissist lingers in the psyche, mind and heart. This innocent person did not get the bonding, loving touch and kind words of affirmation that he absolutely needed. He was criticized, thrown away, discounted and in severe cases—tortured.

Why would anyone return to this horrid scene of psychological massacre that almost killed our souls. Because human beings tend to repeat what they know, what is familiar. A child raised by a narcissist who feels undeserving and worthless and un-entitled will be drawn to partners who have a similar personality structure and will abuse them.

Over and over again the victim returns for more abuse, then leaves, then comes back and on it goes. In some cases the victim is broken and this is tragic.

Don’t wait any longer. Understand who your narcissistic torturer is–through and through. Then make a decision that you will sever this non-relationship. Do the work of healing yourself through the methods that work best for you–excellent psychotherapy (Be careful–don’t choose a narcissistic therapist), yoga practice that is gentle with emphasis on the breathing that quiets the nervous system, getting the sleep that you need and deserve, discovering and using your creative gifts, finding and nurturing loving and caring relationships.

I know that you will end this cycle of abuse and torture. I have faith in your decision and action to change your life along the pathway of healing and wholeness and yes, peace.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Narcissistic Mother Creates Her Masterpiece–A Narcissistic Daughter Who Fulfills Her Dreams

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” (Michelangelo) One of the greatest sculptors who ever lived created unsurpassed masterpieces—The Pieta, David, Moses among many others. He was the master at taking a block of inanimate material and bringing it to life.

I was thinking about this great work and something popped into my mind about the narcissistic mother who endeavors with all of her force and perseverance to create the perfect child—her golden one. I have personally watched this happen and have had many of you comment about the golden child in their family. Some were chosen to play this role. Others were not. But many a narcissistic parent has become obsessed with molding a tiny baby into a perfect living breathing vision. This works beautifully with art using clay, marble, alabaster and gold but it is a disaster with little children.

Were you the chosen one, the one who was ignored, the golden child dethroned, the child who was hidden in the bunch, the child who got into a lot of trouble with mom because you insisted on being yourself? There are innumerable patterns in these narcissistic highly dysfunctional families.

Some children respond positively to the prodding of their highly ambitious narcissistic mothers. These mothers are restless creatures. Just the right child has been chosen. The mother is relentlessly at her work. Day and night she is plotting and thinking about the magnificence of the end product when the curtain will part and her living creation is at center stage. She sacrifices everything including any real marriage to focus on the pathways this child will have to take to reach the very top. This means professionally, socially, financially, etc. If the girl doesn’t look perfect she makes sure there are braces at just the right time. Even some plastic surgery at adolescence to mold the nose or remove tiny shadow under the eyes into a Botticelli beauty. She is constantly after her daughter about her figure. Making sure that she looks perfect at all times, mother is always watching. Every day mother’s wings are flapping around her emerging masterpiece. Of course her daughter must go to the right schools, meet the A list people and become part of their special group. Narcissistic mothers of this variety will mortgage their homes to the hilt to remodel their daughters to suit their delusional grandiosity.

If one daughter does not go along with the transformation project, she will discard her and pick another child. The discarded daughter usually has a hard time because she has lost her mother’s attention and is no longer in a psychological state of her mother’s grace. But those who tough it out can be blessed because they bucked the force of their narcissistic mother’s brainwashing to be forced to be someone else–her mother’s disturbed contorted vision—a series of living masks, not a real person.

When the mission is complete mother engineers a mate for her darling. The right guy must be chosen. This man is the entree for her and her daughter to swim in the precious waters of the elite, to be fully accepted at the highest social levels that hold all of the golden connections. Narcissistic mother is often successful in achieving this. She steers ND in just the right directions. NM goes to the very top—Who is the one who will give mom and daughter a free glorious ride for the rest of their lives? The narcissistic daughter automatically knows how to pursue the partner in waiting and puts him under her control with her womanly powers, her study of this man and his family, her ability to laser focus on him only and her extraordinary guile that have become a finely tuned instrument which she can play anyway she wants. All might appear to be glorious but this is the exterior–a series of highly believable beautiful masks. Beneath them is the highly damaged, psychologically empty real self that has neither voice nor life. This self is unknown to the ND but the projections of rage, extreme entitlement, grandiosity, cruelty, coldness, lack of empathy are always there to psychologically injure others, especially those who dare or are duped into getting close to them.

Narcissistic mothers will always be with us as will narcissistic daughters. Our work is to learn to recognize them in our families, to mourn for the mother we didn’t have, to work through the process of realizing who we really are and to embrace our uniqueness, authenticity, our creative gifts and our capacity for compassion and love.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Freeing Yourself From the Narcissist in Your Lifewill be published in a paperback edition on August 15, 2013.

Narcissistic Parents Raising Over Entitled, Self Absorbed Children

I find it shocking that there are so many narcissistic parents “raising” their children to be discourteous, cruel, self-absorbed brats. I see and hear them in markets, restaurants, libraries, shopping malls in public and private. .

Too many parents are so “busy” creating and maintaining their images of  perfect selves and model families that they are incapable of going deeper within, of introspection, empathy, self psychological regulation and kindness to others. The narcissistic parent is always seizing opportunities to enhance his/her image, to be the winner—regardless of the ruthless manipulations he/she engages in to destroy the opportunities of others in the workplace or within the family. There is a crude greediness that drives so many of these individuals.  They must have the best of every material possession that intrigues them. Their children are not given any real attention or nurturing. They are groomed to be as obnoxious and mindless as their parents. The concept of manners and courtesy and the general consideration that other people actually exist went out the window long ago. Children of these parents are taught to be so competitive that stepping over others to get what you want is perfectly acceptable. Being kind, considerate or empathic is weak, backward and foolish.

Some children of narcissists reject the programing of their narcissistic parents. They know there is something terribly wrong with their mother or father. These children are often the discarded ones, the scapegoats who don’t pass the narcissistic perfection test. They are horribly victimized and humiliated. They are forced to play the role of servant to the family golden child.  Many of these abused children make themselves invisible. They hide whenever they can. They escape into the world of books, become very adept at computers, study their areas of interest and try to keep their lives as private from their parents as possible. They are often derided by the narcissistic parent and the golden child/children. These children are super survivors. They have suffered so horribly under the reign of terror of the narcissistic parent. They are scrappers and make it through with the use of their imaginations, special friends, discovering the mysteries of the world in which they live, immersing themselves in the magic of art and dance.

There are some exceptions to the current narcissistic child rearing trend. Some parents actually take time with their kids, listen to their problems, fears and nightmares, teach them to be considerate of other human beings who don’t point out the flaws of strangers, friends or relatives as many rude kids do today without one blink from the parent who is sitting right beside you. Maybe these people they meet aren’t beautiful or handsome or highly self confident.That is not what is important, their parents tell them. Value the individual for his essence, his true self–that is the message they are given.

When children are cruel or rude to others or to me and their parents don’t register or blink, I point it out succinctly in that moment. The parent sits there mentally absent like an inanimate object. I have repeated my comment to the child and had the parent actually mumble: “Things happen…” What does that mean? Absolutely nothing other than they will not teach their children to be considerate, civil or empathic. I find this lack of sensitivity outrageous and an essential feature of the narcissistic style.

So many of you have chosen to take the more difficult path. Your life has been tough from the beginning. I respect a human being who has been through the mill and returned to tell the tale. I love those who are transparent to themselves and others—They are Genuine.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Freeing Yourself From the Narcissist in Your Life will be published in a paperback edition on August 15, 2013.

Surrounded by Narcissistic Family Members–Finding Your Way

I have had many communications with individuals who grew up encircled by narcissistic family members. Not just mom or dad or sister or brother but the whole bunch. Their life stories of survival under these circumstances are amazing. Many of these survivors didn’t realize until they were much older that their family suffered from this severe personality disorder. They remember being victimized and humiliated and treated like dirt but since they knew nothing else they thought it was normal and to be expected.

Some victims of narcissistic abuse become perfect pleasers. They can and do anticipate exactly what the narcissistic mom or dad wants. If there are narcissistic siblings, they become their servants out of fear and not knowing there are any alternatives than taking this lowly role.  In telling their stories the theme that emerges is that they were always wrong, at fault, criticized constantly and treated without respect or dignity. These children smell psychological danger. They are in a state of apprehension, always waiting for something very bad to happen to them. They  live day and night in a fight or flight mode. They are always on edge. Many become hyper vigilant–metaphorically or literally sleeping with one eye open each night–always on guard duty.

For many members of narcissistic families, it takes a while for the healing to begin. Some marry narcissistic spouses and repeat the destructive cycle that they experienced growing up. Fortunately, they recognize this ongoing destructive pattern of allowing others to control and define them and get off of the narcissistic merry go round that has made them dizzy and kept them from knowing and appreciating their original selves.

After divorcing a narcissist or finally recognizing that several family members are narcissists, there is a time of reckoning when the individual who has been holding the truth and suffered under this psychopathology for many years, begins to speak up for himself and recognize that he/she has value as a separate unique valuable individual.  No longer will he or she be defined by a narcissistic family or narcissistic spouse.

The way of healing and transformations for all of us is lifelong. Once you are on the pathway of discovering your real self, your creative gifts, your deep capacity to love, your invaluable sense of humor, the depths of your experience of beauty in Nature, writing, music, art–wherever you find your joy–keep going there. Hold yourself close and thank the little child inside who has been waiting all of this time for you to recognize, embrace and love him. Trust the great seer of your intuition to guide your journey. Wishing you deep peace and a vital sense of wholeness.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers–Practicing Self Care and Self Love

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.

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Suffer Maternal Deprivation—The Void I Feel Inside

Narcissistic maternal deprivation is difficult for most people to understand because it cannot usually be seen as bruises or welts or scratches. It is both a psychological wound and a void that the daughter of a narcissistic mother feels inside herself. This pain is the absence of nurturing, of loving care, of affection, of emotional and physical closeness, of hugs never given, of sweet glances from mother to daughter and back again. These daughters never experience the loving physical, emotional and psychological presence of their mother. If mom is physically there, she is either distracted and not paying attention or she is berating her daughter, criticizing her, humiliating her, blaming her for everything that went wrong in the narcissistic mother’s life. 

The child takes this upon herself and internalizes the absence of positive feelings toward her. She is neglected and because she must survive she is not capable of knowing that this is true–that she is not wanted, respected, cherished. Narcissistic mothers often push their own daughters out of their way and are envious of them. They do everything they can to create emotional chaos in their lives. Some of the most profound wounds are the absence of attention. Some narcissistic mothers are like automatons, going about their days in a frenzy of work, social activities, shopping sprees, talking with friends, arranging parties, even going on trips–leaving their daughters alone to fend for themselves. I have heard of daughters as young as five who had to find a way to take care of themselves while mother partied throughout long weekends with boyfriends. Sometimes the party is carried on in the home and the young daughter is subjected to drunken scenes where sexual activity is taking place impulsively and wildly. The young daughter is shocked by these activities. In some cases the men who are there come on to the daughter sexually and she is terrified.

Some daughters of narcissistic mothers feel an emotional void inside of them. They  long for and miss what they never had. Often they cannot define it but know they are in emotional pain. Many of them seek to find the answers and to heal. Some daughters of narcissistic mothers benefit from excellent psychotherapy as well as learning to nurture themselves and to become receptive to the love and warmth that they have always deserved. I speak to those daughters now and say: You are so dear and lovely–You are whole–You are loving, kind, steady and strong. I celebrate you and your lives.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Being Victim of Narcissistic Generational Abuse Stops with Me

I hear from many men and woman who have endured and survived horrendous narcissistic abuse from their Narcissistic Mothers, Narcissistic Fathers, Narcissistic Siblings, Narcissistic Spouses. A number of them report narcissistic cruelties, betrayals, abandonment, scapegoating, bullying that was pathologically repeated from one family generation to the next. They speak of mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, etc. who perpetrated every manner of psychological, emotional and physical abuse. These victims can remember how they were treated as if it was yesterday. They speak about several generations of relatives who coldly participated in a variety of cruelties including psychological and physical abandonment, maternal deprivation, the imposition of sadistic punishments, making terrified servants out of their children, the engagement of horrific punishments that caused constant terror within the household. They described that they were servants in their own homes, bowing to the whims, needs and wishes of tyrannical narcissistic family members.

Those who rise up and say No More to narcissistic abuse are courageous individuals. Despite being surrounded by members of their own families who are endangering their psychological welfare, they make the decision not to side with these cold narcissistic family members who share only their DNA and completely lack any empathy for them. Those who free themselves of narcissistic generational abuse work hard to re-stabilize themselves, to recognize that they deserve to lead a life that belongs to them and that they are not dictated by the pathological whims, obsessions and parasitic needs of their narcissistic family members. Many benefit from excellent psychotherapy. There are many healing pathways including the practice of gentle yoga with the emphasis on the breath that calms that nervous system, learning to focus on their own self care, to create an exercise program that is tailored to their needs, recognizing that they deserve to experience deep inner peace, to use their unique creative gifts, to form healthy close bonds with others who love them. You have made a very important commitment. Your identity has changed forever, moving from victim of narcissistic abuse to leading your life in independence and freedom. You are a great example to all of us.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Narcissistic Family Members Distort Your Identity

Growing up with a narcissistic parent you are constantly living with a person who creates his/her pathological reality. This individual is delusional and incapable of having a true relationship with himself or anyone else. A small child growing up with this person he or she calls a parent has a hard road ahead in finally seeing through mother, father, sister or brother’s true nature as a narcissistic personality. There are exceptions I have found where the young child knows very early that something is very wrong with the members of his family. He is on the outs—picked as  a scapegoat or dismissed as not fitting in because he is odd, eccentric or just not good enough. In the world of pathological narcissism delusion begets delusion. Narcissistic family members side with one another against the child who sees reality as it is. In many cases the young child is at the mercy of how his grandiose, unempathic,cruel, manipulative parents and siblings distort his identity. They insist that their view of the world and of reality is the only living definition of reality. Everything outside of the narcissistic zone is peculiar, foreign, eccentric and sick.

Many narcissistic parents or mothers or fathers mold their children into perfect mirrors of themselves. Achieving this will give them bragging rights and better still they will possess living representations of themselves. What could be better for them then to have a living puppet who dances and sings to their tune. Some children in narcissistic families worship their brothers and sisters. They want to be just like them. Unfortunately if your brother or sister is a narcissist, you have not received kindness in return for your love for them. They have turned on you, used you to do their bidding and spat upon your sense of self.

Narcissistic family members always find ways to distort and even destroy your true sense of identity. They do not respect your individuality, your creative gifts, your special brand of intellectual curiosity, your sense of humor. They trample on your tender feelings and humiliate you. They laugh at your displays of emotion, stomping on your feelings of tenderness, your fears, the deepest parts of your loving heart. They make fun of what is most precious to you. You feel like they are trying to destroy you and doing a hell of a job. Their purpose is to distort and even destroy your identity unless you become like them or act as their servants and sycophants.

There are many individuals who grew up in narcissistic families who lived in the desert of delusion for decades before they awakened and recognized that they were “raised” by individuals who didn’t give a damn about their childrens’ individuality and true identities. Finally, many of them begin to stir, open their eyes and realize that this was stolen from them when they were young and was perpetuated by intimidation and severe narcissistic psychopathology within the family.

Those who recognize that they had been forced to disbelieve and reject their inner true selves, make the opposite turn and begin to appreciate how genuine they are. For some it has taken years to see themselves and to love that part of them that is so essential and beautifully genuine and delightful. They are on the road to healing; they are unstoppable. In many cases they reject their families of origin and sever themselves from the pathological narcissistic family gulag.

They live in freedom. They are no longer forced to see through a glass darkly. There is no barrier to perceiving their inner and outer realities. They have a renewed vitality, the flourishing of their creative gifts, the joy of rediscovering their open hearts that are capable of loving deeply and they find an inner peace inside that has been waiting for them to embrace since birth.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.