One of the most difficult roles is to be the daughter of a narcissistic mother. I hear each unique life story from daughters who have endured having a cold, selfish, exploitive and abusive narcissistic mother. This is a non-mother who is incapable of cherishing and providing comfort to her daughter, even when the child was very small. In some cases there are surrogate mothers in the form of grandmothers, older sisters, aunts and even the mothers of friends. But the little girl longs to have the emotional, physical affection and psychological closeness of a real mom. Often the narcissistic mother is envious of her lovely daughter who is beautiful, bright, unique and creative. From the time she is very young, this daughter knows that mother is jealous of her. It is evident in the way she looks at her daughter with envy. Every step of the way she makes it difficult for this daughter to get close to her dad. She has the master gatekeeper. Mother pretends that she wants her husband all to herself. The truth is she doesn’t give a damn about this man. He is an emasculated puppet whom she is using. In some families mother chooses a son to be the golden, very special answer to all of her prayers. He is worshiped from the first. Mother’s eyes light up every time she talks about him. He is never corrected for any mistake or cruelty and is allowed to have the run of the house and the family. Under her breath the daughter calls him “the little beast.” She spends a lot of time staying out of his presence. He always gets her into trouble, constantly telling lies and making her take the blame for his innumerable misdeeds. Mother always believes him.
Daughters of narcissistic mothers feel trapped. Some use their studies as an escape and respite from the emotional maternal deprivation that they suffer and the unwarranted criticisms of the narcissistic mother. Things get worse when the daughter is a teenager and blooms into a lovely young woman. Then the mother daggers come out. Narcissistic mothers become especially cruel when their daughters are admired and paid attention to by boys and young men. As time passes the mother/daughter relationship worsens (It never existed) but the self hatred of the narcissistic mother is primitively projected on to her daughter. The volleys of dreadful remarks, false accusations, humiliations are constantly hitting the abused daughter. Mercifully, many daughters leave home for school or work and at least have the physical distance to keep them away from the narcissistic maternal poison.
It is painful and agonizing for these daughters to realize that they never had a mother. Instead they had a woman who never wanted them, who did all she could to make her feel unloved. As she becomes independent and sets up her own life, these daughters have a decision to make. Are they going to continue this pseudo relationship with the NM for holidays and visits and phone calls and emails that are often accusatory and off the wall snipes at her. NMs don’t change. This is a fixed personality disorder. And mother still believes and always will that she is perfect and her daughter is severely flawed. Some grown daughters manage to maintain a very distant relationship. They make sure they are never alone with mother. That’s when her projections are the most toxic. If she is married she uses her spouse as a buffer. For other daughters of NMs it is impossible. Every time there is any kind of exchange it is ugly and cruel.
Many daughters decide to go No Contact No Visits, Phone Calls, Emails, Texts, Letters, any form of communication. That is how they protect themselves. The difficult work for many of these daughters is in recognizing intellectually and emotionally that they never had a real mother. Some benefit from psychotherapy if it is of a high quality. Others find compassion and deep caring in friendships, partnerships and marriages. Many are freed for the first time in their lives. They are not being judged, rather they can express and feel who they really are. They feel their authenticity, spontaneity and even joy. You deserve to heal from your NM. Your new life is waiting for you. Jump on the boat and take a ride down this glorious river and wait to find even greater beauty, mystery and enchantment around the bend. Visit my website:thenarcissistinyourlife.com.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life