Quoting psychoanalyst Alice Miller about the dilemma of the child of a narcissistic mother: “The art of not experiencing feelings – A child can experience her feelings only when there is somebody there who accepts her fully, understands her and supports her. If tha person is missing, if the child must risk losing the mother’s love of her substitute in order to feel, then she will repress emotions.”
From her earliest days and months the daughter of the narcissistic mother experiences a cool dismissiveness. The little daughter feels the disdain, aloof distancing, disregard, disrespect emanating from this mother. The small child knew taht she could never let down and share her feelings with this mother. In her presence she felt edgy, scared, humiliated, emotionaly small and insignificant.
In the presence of family and friends mother took on a different look and manner. She was expansive, warm, attentive to these others who came for the expressions of her public performance. In fact mother was considered to be among the most sterling versions of an exemplary parent, so devoted and engaged with her child.
The narcissistic mother, self absorbed, exceedingly entitled, highly controlling manifests her true nature through a series of false selves that parade as genuine.
Different kinds of narcissistic mothers:
Mother Most Accomplished – nonstop talk about all of her achievements: schooling, extraordinary student, scholar and professional awards, described herself as outstanding in every way and in addition a super mom. Behind closed doors the horrendous presence of this parent from hell. Day and night berating, non stop criticism, humiliations were the worst.
Mother Most Regal – beautiful, obsessed with her looks and fine manners, her cultivation of culture and art, adored by her social circle, how envied for her grace.
And then you have Narcissistic Mother Most Holy – devoted mother, individual of spiritual qualities, especially her many kind deeds, how she is admired for her generosity, focuses on helping others. An individual of faith, talks about her strong conscience. The real story – This is a sham person and the true reality is that this mother is unholy, lacks a conscience, is a complete hypocrite, treats her children with cool, dismissiveness, criticized them for not measuring up morally and spiritually, always finds them wanting in character, accusing them of being frauds when in effect this mother most holy is a complete fake.
This child cannot be her true self since this is forbidden and signaled by the narcissistic mother as a negative vulnerability, a weakness, a lack of character. As a result this child cannot be authentic and must put on the facade that mother demands of her.
She is required to be rational, contained, measured, controlled especially in the way she expresses her emotions and opinions. The message of the narcissistic mother is: Be and do what I demand or I reject you completely. You’re flawed, imperfect and nothing that you do or say and feels is valid. I am the one in charge here. I am the puppeteer who controls and dictates what you think and feel and ultimately who you are.
As a result the original self in the child of the narcissistic mother must remain hidden, unspoken, pushed back into the recesses of the unconscious. There, long hidden these feelings do not disappear, rather they remain unexpressed and the subject of subterranean angst.
There is a time of awakening with your insights, research, intuitions and revelations of your narcissistic mother’s true nature. You move forward as a grounded, true self individual, fully entitled to your unique individuality integrity and your creative gifts.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.