In this blog post I am addressing all of those who grew up with narcissistic parents, particularly a narcissistic mother. I frequently hear from these daughters who were trapped in the family wars and have the healing wounds to prove it. The narcissistic mother is without mercy and empathy. Those narcissistic mothers who give their daughters a lot of “attention” have their own selfish motives. They are creating the perfect child who will become the narcissistic supply for them the rest of their lives. Mother has modeled a living example of her superiority and perfection. When children are very young, their very existence and sense of reality depends on how they are treated and how they are conditioned by their parents. Narcissistic mothers often fuse psychologically with their young daughters. The little child is not allowed to breathe without turning to mother. She is encased in the emotional prison her mother has created. Mother’s message: “As long as you do, think, feel, and achieve everything that I expect and demand of you, I will accept you and love you (on my terms.”) “If you do not obey me, you will be discarded, punished beyond your endurance, and purposely alienated from your siblings and your father.” The father in this scenario is often too mesmerized by the primal narcissistic mother to have a clue about the horrendous psychological damage his spouse is perpetrating on their child. Some of these spouses are like children themselves, dependent on the all-powerful narcissistic wife/mother who has emasculated them long ago.
Some daughters of narcissistic mothers become narcissists—miniatures of the pathological mother. Other daughters suffer throughout childhood , always out of step with the cruel manipulations of their narcissistic mothers. They pay a heavy price for their unwillingness to go along with mother’s pathological child raising recipe. Some of these daughters tell me that they spent most of their childhood learning how to become invisible. They hid in their room, reading, listening to music. As they got older, they were away from the house as much as possible, visiting friends, sitting in public libraries,going to movies alone or just wandering around by themselves, doing anything to avoid mother–the fire tongued dragon blocking the cave’s entrance. These daughters often leave home permanently as soon as they can. Some find solace, mental freedom and emotional breathing space in college. Other daughters marry early to escape further abuse. Some become entangled in a maze of substance abuse and dysfunctional relationships with men. Quite often these daughters marry narcissistic men and discover they are repeating with them the entrenched familiar psychological cycles and patterns of their family of origin–moving from narcissistic mother to narcissistic spouse.
If you are the daughter of a narcissistic mother—you have survived a very difficult journey. Give yourself love and credit for the fine woman you have become despite all the odds. As you look forward to the year ahead and all of those to follow, take stock, embrace and celebrate the individual you have become and are becoming every moment. Visit my website: www.thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.