Daughters of narcissistic mothers can spend years coming to the realization that they were raised by a woman who was a non-mother. Cold, manipulative, self-obsessed, vain, dismissive, hyper-critical, cunning, without conscience, deceitful—these are a few of the adjectives that describe the narcissistic “mother.” Psychologically, her breasts are permanently dry and unyielding—She cannot give sustenance to her little daughter. Her glance is vacant. There is no light in her eyes, no emotional contact–not a whit of tenderness. The narcissistic mother is a one woman show. She expects her daughter to adore her. She is at center stage, demanding applause. Maria Riva, daughter of the famous screen siren, Marlene Dietrich, in the memoir of her mother, talks about her role as servant to her mother. Maria was always at Marlene’s disposal day and night for all of her mother’s life. She arranged her clothing for special occasions, parties and even spent hundred of hours on movie sets where Marlene was working. Maria, the brilliant little girl, survived by mirroring the ultra-self-absorbed Marlene perfectly. She learned from her earliest days that that was what she had to do to survive. Maria was told secrets and observed behaviors between her parents which were traumatic, especially for a small child. Narcissistic mothers never think of protecting their children. The child is another narcissistic supply and an unpaid servant. Her individual being is meaningless and insignificant. Maria Riva is an excellent writer and her memoir is superb in illustrating the true nature of the narcissistic mother.
Daughters of narcissistic mother have to fend for themselves unless they are the chosen golden girl who is raised like a member of royalty. For the narcissistic mother, this child is the ultimate narcissistic supply. Many of the chosen daughters become narcissistic. The cycle of destructive narcissism continues through another generation. Unchosen daughters grow up to fast. They never have real childhoods. They are always either cowering from mother’s threats, criticisms or psychological and physical blows or hiding like an invisible ghost along the corners of mother’s life, hoping and praying not to be discovered.
The psychological identities of these daughters are obscured by the giant shadow cast by the narcissistic mother. One of the goals of these daughters is to go deep within, acknowledge who they are as individuals, validate their uniqueness, express it and celebrate their lives. Achieving this goal may require the help of skillful psychotherapy, participation in support groups, the close ties of friends. Creative pursuits that free up the daughter from her family of origin and a consistent spiritual practice in the way that you define this, are powerful ways to re-claim your individuality and expand and grow a solid sense of the authentic self. Visit my website: www.thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life
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