I hear from sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers who went through hell and back as children of narcissistic mothers. They psychologically discarded their kids except when it came to harsh torturous punishments. As adults they remember their mother’s screams thundering through the house:”I never wanted you.” “You are a piece of trash.” “I wish I had aborted you.” “You are to blame for every bad thing that ever happened to me.” “You make my life miserable every day.” When children are very little, some narcissistic mothers tell their children that because they are so bad, they are going to send them away. There is never an explanation to the child of what that means but it strikes terror in the heart of the child that lingers as a morbid threat.
The father in these family constellations is often very weak and terrified himself of his spouse. He becomes a workaholic and in some cases an alcoholic. He is completely unavailable to his children emotionally. Some fathers disappear and leave the home early in their childrens’ lives. They are irresponsible and infantile and flee the scene without ceremony.
Moment to moment these children are living in what can be described as a prison. Their nervous systems are constantly jarred by the NM’s demands and intimidations. Some children learn to tune out mother and they become numb to their own feelings. Others are in a constant state of fear, always waiting for the next catastrophe to arrive. Some children leave the home early and find relatives or friends who will take them in. And others stay in NM’s gulag for the sentence of their childhood and teenage years. Some kids act out through alcohol and drugs and sexual escapades to numb the pain and take them temporarily out of their living nightmare. This is self destructive but not surprising.
As older teenagers and young adults some abuse victims leave the home from hell and make efforts to forge their own lives. Some of these children pick themselves up and move forward with their education and careers. On the surface some are successful but inside they carry the painful imprint of their time in the house of desolation with the narcissistic mother. Others have a difficult time functioning in the outside world. Some adult children repeat the childhood pattern by marrying narcissistic spouses who psychologically incarcerate them.
Blame and shame are often the legacies of having a narcissistic mother as well as residual feelings of anxiety and depression. First—don’t blame yourself. You didn’t ask to be born to a narcissistic mother. It happened and it is horrible but don’t take this upon yourself. Focus your attention on a deep appreciation of who you really are and that you did everything to survive and achieved something great and very difficult. Learn to be kind to yourself. This begins with self care. Acknowledge the wonderful unique person you are. Take time with the basics—good sleep, healthy eating, exercise in a form that works for you. Give yourself time each day to be quiet and uninterrupted where you can meditate, do basic yoga poses with emphasis on breathing through the nose which calms the nervous system. Writing what you are feeling and thinking privately offers many a source of freedom. Listening to music and allowing its beauty to become internalized inside is a source of healing. Some adult children find that excellent psychotherapy can help them work through many of the residual issues. If you decide psychotherapy is a possibility, I recommend that you interview several of them. I have found that there are fine therapists but there are others who are narcissistic and out for the money motive and making you dependent on them for that purpose.
Use your creative gifts–You have them. Be receptive to knowing what they are. Above all, use your intuition all of the time. It tells us the truth and is a companion throughout every moment of our lives.
I hold a special place in my heart for children of narcissistic mothers. I stand with you always.
The following comment is one I just received from a wonderful man, a great survivor of a narcissistic mother. I have his permission to share his life story with you:
My mother is a Covert narcissist. She wears the mask of the do gooder, the angel of mercy, the saint…the community praises and raises her to Sainthood, yet I know the truth. I was the golden child, but never a narcissist. The golden child is chosen as the one who is lavished upon, shown off to friends and family as the smartest, brightest, most attractive. She groomed me to be the best at everything I did yet never for my sake. It was all done for her, so she can say “look at my son, look what he can do, look at how much he knows!” Everything I did, whether it was winning at the swim meets, or running faster than anyone, and specifically in my case, being the most intelligent, was for her. I was quizzed everywhere we went since i was 2. And I reveled in it. This all began to change when I reached puberty. I began the natural rebelling state of pubescent boy. But she wouldn’t have it. She knew she was losing control so she tightened her grip. She became hateful, yelling and screaming. Emasculating me at every chance she could. My father was always working and when around, had no control because he was a victim of this Narcissist, as well. She had won, my puberty was the worst time of my life. I had learned to fear woman, mistrust them. I was looking for affection everywhere I could and a boy my age who had been molested himself, molested me. As deeply shameful as it was, it was still attention and in my twisted mind, affection. I spent 35 yrs. never knowing a woman, always befriending them, but terrified of letting them in. I didn’t think I was gay, but I was a tall, attractive person who spoke well on many subjects and I found friendship and attention in the gay community. I never had a sex with these men, but always went back to the first one who molested me. Throughout my life I used drugs and alcohol to medicate myself and to make it easier to be with this person and not feel the pain and confusion my mother caused. The thing is, I never consciously knew any of this. I had pushed it so far down I didn’t know what was wrong with me. And everytime I’d have contact with my mother, she knew exactly what to say to pull me back in and push me further down. I hated her, but wasn’t allowed to hate her. She is a master manipulator and confuser to such a degree that I didn’t know up from down, left from right. And she reveled in it. I knew something was wrong, but was never allowed to question her, or anything she did. I was hers. At the age of 40 I quit all drugs and alcohol cold turkey. I went through severe withdrawals. At one point I thought I had cancer. I told my mother this and she didn’t say a word. A month later, after my mind was clearing up I told her I didn’t have cancer. She screamed at me “I was going to take care of you while you died, how dare you take that away from me!” Pretty sick. But during my withdrawal, I was also withdrawing from my mother. I began to gain a strength I didn’t know I had. I started fighting back, and with every step forward I took, the less power over me she had. This was and still is a very long process. Today I don’t talk to my mother. There’s no use. She’ll twist whatever I say into something else, she’ll try to manipulate. What I’ve finally learned is that nothing I do, or say is going to help her make changes. So I finally said no more! And with that, my life is changing everyday for the better. I would never have known any of this if it weren’t for finding Dr. Linda Martinez-Lewi’s Site. I would have gone to an early grave, which would have been satisfying to my mother because she then would have won. As sick as that sounds, it’s how these people are. My deepest and most sincerest thank you, Dr. Martini-Lewis, you literally have changed my life!