Narcissistic mothers are very prevalent today. Currently, we are surrounded by narcissistic personalities and the society automatically accepts and rewards them. Many are high achievers and socially smooth so that they easily fit into our image obsessed world.
Narcissistic mothers cannot love their children. Did they ask to become narcissists? No. Do they cause psychological harm to their children? Yes. The psychodynamics between the narcissistic mother and her child are very complex but clear. When we have a mother who is emotionally and psychologically unavailable, who blames us for everything we do or don’t do and who is constantly projecting her venom on to us, there is no way to be our real selves. The extreme fear and anxiety and feelings of inadequacy and rootlessness that these mothers cause to their children is monumental. These children never have had a true home where they could find solace, respite, acceptance, affection, freedom and psychological and emotional safety.
Home is a war zone–both hot and cold wars rage behind closed doors. Narcissistic mothers are highly secretive and make sure that in the outer world their beautifully constructed image is perfect. They purposely build relationships with friends and acquaintances and other family members designed to always see them in the best light–as good, kind, considerate individuals. Only a few in a family or social group are not fooled by them. Often these individuals keep quiet and don’t reveal the truth because they are very intimidated by the forcefulness of the narcissistic personality. They decide not to make waves or speak out.
Adult children of narcissistic mothers do survive but they have suffered horribly and in duration. Many find help through psychotherapy, counseling, working with the body/mind connection to learn how to calm the nervous system that has been in a state of fight or flight for most of their lives.
One crucial aspect of healing from the psychological wound of having a narcissistic mother is to finally learn that you must take very good care of yourself. You approach this practice step by step, starting with the basics. First, know that you are entitled to have some real peace in your life, that you deserve to have a few friends whom you trust and can count on.
One of the biggest lessons is learning to stop passing constant judgment on yourself. Turn away from the inner critic that was imposed on you from infancy. Practicing a form of quieting the mind is very helpful in this regard. A practice can take a number of forms: short guided meditations on cd’s or you tube that appeal to you personally can be helpful. The practice of gentle hatha yoga where you breathe through the nose and focus on each pose in the moment is a way of shifting to the parasympathetic, quieting part of the nervous system. Getting the sleep that you need and deserve activates and sustains your recovery program. Nourishing your body with foods that create strength, stamina and keep you system in balance is essential.
Getting your creative juices flowing is one of the best tonics for those who are healing from a narcissistic mother. There are so many ways that you can think of to manifest your creativity. Start to write these down automatically without thinking and you will be surprised at the great ideas that flow from you.
Remember you are entitled to this healing. It is your journey of self discovery and awakening to inner peace and beauty. This process is lifelong and worth each step. Start with this moment and watch the process build. Be proud of the lovely person who you are.
20 thoughts on “Healing from Narcissistic Mother Requires Perpetual Self Care”
I have received several postings. This one is amazing. It really reminds me of how my husband now X man recently divorced, behaves, very narcissistic. Exhaustion and now I am trying to rebuild myself esteem and shape my future. Its been a challenge and your posts here have been so helpful. Thanks so much.
This is probably the best article yet that I have read. Thank you so much for this information. Right now my 5 year old granddaughter is living with a narcissistic mother. I am doing everything I can to help negate the effects of her mother and I can come up with some good ideas that can be modified for a 5 year old via this article.
This post, like so many before it, has inspired so many thoughts and there is so much I would like to say, but I think the only truly appropriate response is thank you. So, thank you. Thank you for understanding and speaking about things that have been “unmentionable” but endured. Your words bring much needed validation and guidance. Thank you.
Every email I read from you regarding the behavior of narcissistic mothers its as if you spent time with my family. My parents spent more time planning dinner parties with their friends, than nurturing us or asking how are our day was or showing any interest ( to their circle of friends). They entertained, went out a lot, and traveled with their friends. My mother would save up money, then go on a trip with her friends. They saved no money for their children’s college education. We were on our own to figure things out. We lived in an affluent neighborhood in the Midwest and image was so important to them.. I have no memory of my mother brushing my hair, tucking me in, showing me how to prepare a meal, wash clothes etc. the environment in that household was critical and conditional. In grade school and high school I avoided being home as much as possible. Here are some examples of my mother’s behavior/comments to me:
In grade school she would put me down in front of her friends, get a laugh while making fun of me and name calling. She would give me “used” birthday and Christmas gifts bought second hand, while she shopped in catalog’s such as LL Bean, Talbots, Pier one imports, Nordstrom’s Macy’s etc. for herself. Even my wedding shower gift from her was used. When I would announce something of importance that I was rewarded for, either at school or outside activities, she would start each reply with ” I ” ” I could have done that” or , “I wanted to be a cheerleader”. When I was hired as the Lead International Travel Agent for a major corp. I shared my news with her, she replied ” now you can book my international travel”. When I was going on a free trip to a country in Europe for work, she replied: “I always wanted to go to XXX”
She lacks empathy, and is competitive with me. After I put myself through college, 100% self financed, I told her that I graduated, and her response was: ” I could have gone to college but I had all you kids” If I dress up for a family gathering, she looks at me and says: “well, I’m only wearing XXX” I never received any compliments.
When my daughter was born, she called the hospital and spoke to my husband. He told her “8 pounds , 12 oz, 21 inches”. She then told him they would not be coming to the hospital, they had a party to go to. He hung up the phone, she never asked to speak to me or see how I was doing.
Now she is 84, has a very high mortgage, broke, with no savings or life insurance, and asks her children to help support her. She has no problem asking us for money, why would she??
This is 100 % true and I’m so glad to see your posts when I need them the most. I’m really on my way to let go of my mom but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
If someone would’ve asked me ten years ago about my relationship with my mom I wouldn’t have seen how enormously she has affected me because I was so shot off from myself, my feelings and the truth. I knew she had problems but I didn’t know how much damage she has done and the fantasy bond I’ve had with her. I’ve always minimized everything that has happened to me but I’m not afraid of the truth now.
I’ve learned the last three, four years to take better care of myself on all levels and I’m almost an expert in health, personal development, training and so on because I’ve been like a sponge. But it’s harder to practically do everything continually.
One thing I’m working on is letting go of all the shame, anxiety and fears over putting myself first, over taking care of myself, existing at all I should say. It’s really sad but it will get better. I see my mother in people around me and think that they too want to control me and I get scared and hide myself from the world. Well it’s a process…
Have a great day!
It’s amazing to me that your posts arrive when I need them most. I’m the only female child of a narcissistic mother, My brothers are aware that our Mother is ‘nuts’, might be bi-polar, that they have a love hate relationship with her; can’t listen to me about the narcissistic /borderline personality disorder diagnosis she has, I am the youngest child by 10 years and seemingly will always be the ‘baby sister’.
My mother is now 89 and is less and less poisonous as she reaches the end of her life. I am finally at a place where I can feel sorry for her and love her and understand how her early life shaped who and what she is. I’m still not completely immune to her poisons, but I know I’m worthy and deserving of love and a complete life….(I’m working on having that through all of the things listed and more).
Thank you for affirming all of the things I’ve learned over the years and for providing much needed hope.
Thank you for this article and all of your compassionate writings. Can you recommend a source for buying guided meditation cd’s?
Working with the visual arts has been a great way of finding my authentic self. Tapping into one’s own creative expression…..which can be anything that gets you excited can be very healing. Figure out what you want and go for it. The more you start doing on a daily basis–the more life becomes connected and less narcissistic people can sink their claws into you. Stand behind yourself….be proud of who you are and genuine people will find you while narcissistic soul suckers fade away.
I used to have to time any behaviour that was truly my own, for example if I wanted to dye my hair I would think how long before i see her and will I get away with it,,, things like that…..I used to love to write and in fact it was my only real talent as noted by teachers but was disregarded by mother who much preferred to focus, angrily and histrionically on subjects I was not good at such as maths….as a result, I have the deepest self doubt and can never really believe in myself….also drummed into me in the form of “you? don’t be ridiculous…there are plenty of people who CAN actually do these things but you?” in a don’t make me laugh kind of way. She always competed with me unfavourably….I couldn’t sing (not what my music teacher said) but my mother could….I couldn’t do anything that she didn’t do better (she didn’t do better) when you have that reinforced on an hourly basis, you grow up without a shred of confidence and in my case there’s like a hollow feeling inside that’s got fear and doubt in equal measures and I can’t get rid of it…even a phone conversation would fill me with utter dread…
In my experience, the conditioning created by a narcissistic mother makes you prone to fall for relationship or situations where, to paraphrase Chanel, you will be beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door and blame yourself for your bruised knuckles.
When the scales fall from your eyes, you are left with an energy, once wasted, that will demand to be spent on yourself.
Also, and I can only speak for myself, but once I was ready to accept my mother as she is, other less than satisfactory relationships fell to the wayside, and I picked up new ones where I could be myself. It wasn’t smooth sailing but I could handle it. I actually started to dress differently – not to fake a new identity – but because old clothes no longer reflected my state of mind, it was subtle – not like the drastic make-over shows. I found a hairdresser near my home who gave me a haircut that made me like my hair for the first time in years. I loved looking at myself in the mirror again.
Yes,thank you for this post, as another said, you always seem to post exactly what I need at the right time.My mother is almost 90,she doesn’t miss a beat, still as hard and cruel as ever…I have changed, I like myself so much , in fact I love myself, I too have let other so called friendships go, I dress for me, hair is cut in a style I love and I have so much confidence…..to which Madam, as I call says to me”and what is wrong with you, why are you like you are” hhaaa I just smirked and looked at her as the client and noted her behaviour ….it’s sad, I feel nothing at all for her,I have never felt love for her, as a person, a mother, nothing, I’ve tried so hard to please but was always told I was never good enough, I’m not like so and so etc, it’s taken 60 years to be reborn……
I can 100% relate to everything that you’ve said in your post. I’ve been on a great path for my mind, body and spirit. I let my NPD mother back into my life awhile ago and it feels like I have taken a million steps back. Something clicked in me this past week – I can no longer allow the abuse to happen. I’m choosing not to suffer and instead shine my bright light and continue healing from within. Some days are harder then others, but one thing I do know is that I will NEVER allow the abuse to happen again. My primary focus is healing, letting go of the shame, and that I’m always doing something wrong. Oh and most importantly more FUN and laughter into my life. I really appreciate and respects everyone’s feedback on this site, great forum. Thank you for sharing your stories and putting this together.
When my son was graduating from high school my narcisstic mother announced that graduating from high school was not noteworthy and she would not attend. When he was announced as the valedictorian (#1 out of 500+) she changed her mind – probably because she felt she could steal some of his limelight.
Thank you so much for this. My mother is a covert narcissist and my sister is a malignant narcissist. It was difficult to deal with growing up as my sister stopped talking to me when I was 12- she was 15, and she stopped talking to me forever- except to shout at me, or when she wanted something. My mother gave her everything she wanted, even my room one day when I was 13. So I have grown up feeling that people I care about truly hate me or will take advantage and abuse me.
Once my sister put her barefoot through a glass door because my mother was sitting next to me. I think I was 9 or 10. I have no good memories of her. She is disturbed.
I always felt that my mother and sister would’ve probably killed me if we weren’t living in an urban area.
If we lived on a farm, I would be under the ground by now.
All that I can say is I know that the wound heals. But the scars are always there, how you choose to wear them is your choice.
Best of luck to all the survivors out there. You are not alone.
I am not sure if you will see my reply as yours was written a year ago. Ditto my parents… my mother used religion and all her social clubs to create this image to the world then when behind closed doors was soooo abusive. My sister and I suffered the worst. My father even left his family business in order to become a minister for my mom who then hid behind the church as she maintained her false self and evil. I am planning to write my own blog about my life including the fact that I went on to marry someone like her and then a boyfriend, who I almost married, only to realize what I was doing.. now I have this “wake up” call. I am only too grateful for the internet and other sufferers who share their story and comfort me.
I see how you described your mom here and I just so want to meet you!
My mom and your mom are sisters…lol,,,,but not funny,,,sad actually.
What state are you living in? We should get together.
My mom has totally given me horrible presents and traded me items of hers that were broken for my like new items…….really?!?!
I am married with 4 kids and we’re planning on moving so not completely deal with her.
Amazing how I have to monitor her on her every move while she’s around my kids.
I am 37 years old and in recovery from my abusive narcissistic Mother. She even went as far as abducting my only daughter, convincing me that I needed her to protect her.
I saw my sweet daughter lose the very charm of existence, within a few months. I saw in her the look of someone very familiar. Me.
I was able to rescue my Daughter, and place her with her GodMother. I have started a campaign of no~contact. She sent the police to my house, called CPS, and started a campaign of discrediting my character. Had it not been for a Facebook post, weeks before, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the collateral damage.
My biological Mother convinced me, for my entire life, that I was mentally ill.. however, no doctor ever diagnosed me with any mental illness. She used triangulation with my Sister. She even got my own Daughter to reject me.
I could be sad, depressed. But I’m not. I’m happy to have saved myself, my family and my Daughter. She’s going to live a charmed life with her “back~up Mom”. A fantastic Aunt who looks just like her. I’m blessed beyond measure.
Wow, I hope that this will be me one day.Thank you for posting
Thank you for the post and to all those who have shared their stories.
My N mother died in January and with that I thought that I would be free but this only opened Pandora’s box.I guess in a way I am now free to feel my feelings.
To cut a long story short I am in the deepest of despair at finally acknowledging the damage that she did to me .I am doing inner dialogue between the critical mother and the wounded child and it is increasingly becoming clear to me how badly I was abused and why I came to such disastrous conclusions about myself.
I am learning to care for myself despite the crippling guilt and self criticism .
I am glad to hear that healing is possible .The pain is unbearable and I am losing so called friends ne family.I have never felt so alone but there is a tiny spark of hope that tells me ‘ one more day’!!
Thank you all for being here so that I don’t feel so alone because you KNOW how I feel.Thank you
You will. I am waking up to the reasons why I lack self confidence and have trouble fully expressing myself, I was always a cheerful child but my narcissistic mother along with my over bearing/controlling unfair father psychologically beat the cheer out of me every chance they got.
I never had any support from them EVER every endeavor my mother had to prove that she’d be”better” at it than me and my dad always told me the different ways I would fail.
I am in the process of complete recovery and as painful as it is and the only way to stay healthy is to cut them from my life completely. I tried to have an outing with my mother but she just can’t be normal SHE’S A PSYCHO, during the outing she spoke negatively of every female we passed making fun of the way they looked their body shapes even down to their clothes.
Finally I grew tired of her negativity and asked her “why do you hate on people you don’t know, people who are minding their business going about their day?” she replied…”you’re not so perfect” this coming from my mother hurt, from that day I began hating her.
Having to be around her is unbearable but now I know it was always her and not me and for the first time in my life I know it’s ok to be angry. Feeling my own emotions and being okay with them is the first step to freedom for me.
Now I must heal my relationship with my daughter because I’m always paranoid that someone wants to hurt her so I’ve become over protective and let her have her way with almost everything in fear that I will become like my narcissistic blood sucking mother.
Sorry this is so long and I have so much more to say but I won’t say it here and thank you for reading this.
P.S. It will take some time but you will heal.
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