My Mother Is a Narcissist

Updated on January 11, 2018
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Narcissistic mothers usually create lasting impacts on their children that can create various problems for them as adults.

My Experience With a Narcissistic Mother

"I love your mom!"

"Your mom is so charming."

For over 30 years I thought I was living in the twilight zone. Anyone who knew and met my mom, had nothing but great things to say about her. I believed them, but there was a small voice inside me that said otherwise because they really didn't know the real her:

  • If I had needs as a kid, she would tell me that she was allowed to be selfish, because she had gone through a divorce. My parents divorced when I was 10 and she continued to use that all through the rest of my childhood.
  • My mom often left me alone to go out to bars at night, and when I questioned this she would tell me she was trying to find me a better dad. In fact, anything I needed was "for me" or my fault.
  • I scrounged around the house to find food to eat, usually rice and cheese, while she ate out at restaurants.
  • She lied...a...lot in front of people to make herself look good. This is when I stopped respecting her, but often when I was young I'd help her lie because this meant she would be very pleased with me.
  • When my friends came over, she hogged the spotlight.
  • She gets bored quickly if the conversation is not about her or she can not talk incessantly. I would watch as she pouted with annoyance if someone talked to me more than her.
  • She tried to convince me that my memories of anything were all wrong. She is always right.
  • She made mountains out of molehills and had a flare for drama- maybe it makes a better story for her to tell later, and to attract more listeners. Everything was either for gaining admiration or pity.
  • If I set any normal boundaries, she will get me back somehow...someway. She might even tell other family members I am being mean (because I don't do things her way, especially for holidays and special events).
  • She was emotionally and physically unsupportive or nurturing. If I am happy about something, she immediately mentions everything bad about it. I don't share the good things in my life with her anymore, which is offensive to her when she does eventually find out.
  • She doesn't understand I have kids of my own now, and that we have dinner time when I do not want to listen to her problems.
  • She makes me feel guilty about EVERYTHING!
  • She is controlling. In my adult years, she was known to call 10 times in a row to leave long, depressing messages if I do not get back to her fast enough.

And after all that, I still thought it might just be me!

It all Makes Sense Now!

It wasn't until I went to premarital counseling with my husband that a light was shed on my past with my mom.

Many issues were traced back to her, and my husband would say, "I thought you knew" or "I thought you noticed that about your mom." I had always made excuses for her and either pitied her or put her on a pedestal. Luckily, he saw right through her manipulations, and it helped me see through new eyes as well.

The rose-colored glasses came off after I had my own kids. Unpleasant feelings between us escalated. For my own sanity, I needed boundaries. This was the most horrific thing ever done to my mom, it seemed.

Her poor health was a source of attention for her, but when I got my own chronic illness you'd think I took the trophy away from her. After I got this unexpected illness, I went to counseling once again to adjust to my new way of life.

One day I randomly told the counselor what a hard time my mom was giving me and how she'd left several messages on my cell phone. I let the counselor listen to them. She looked at me seriously and said, "Did you know your mother is a narcissist?"

It's like I'd been living in another world until I could see our relationship through an outside, objective perspective. I couldn't believe how much I tolerated and for how long. I never thought to question whether my early life, and relationship with my mom was normal. Narcissists do an excellent job with creating an alternate reality, and insisting you follow it.

Counseling is beneficial for adult children of narcissists
Counseling is beneficial for adult children of narcissists | Source

Do you have a narcissistic parent?

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5 Signs of a Narcissistic Parent

It'a very important you are aware of whether your parent is a narcissist or not:

  1. Manipulation is a narcissist's #1 tool. They use guilt and shame to bound you to their rules. Sometimes they use money and gifts to keep you tied to them, but certainly put unfair emotional and psychological demands on you. They have many manipulative tactics. It feels as if you owe them the rest of your life.
  2. Living in a fantasy world. The world they create requires loved ones to participate, and punishment if they do not play along. A marker of a narcissist is grandiosity, and self-importance where they are the star and you are merely an understudy in the big show.
  3. They are never wrong. When you're a child, most parents are seem to know everything- they are the adults! It's when you come of age that you realize they still are never wrong, and it's almost as if you never grew up at all. Adult to adult conversations resemble an adult-to-child exchange instead. I started seeing through my mom's narcissism when all my childhood memories were "wrong", even the ones that had witnesses to my side of the story. She would get frantic and insist that she knew "exactly" what happened. Their sense of self must be protected at all costs so you will always be wrong.
  4. They have a lot of needs to be met, and expect everyone else to meet them, especially their children. There's a laundry list of conditions/needs to be met for the narcissist, and for a child it usually means their needs go unmet in order to serve the needs of the parent. The relationship gets switched in that the child becomes responsible for satisfying the parents needs instead of the other way around.
  5. Lacks empathy in addition to being extremely selfish. Narcissists are labeled as unfeeling so this might not be textbook to mention this, but narcissists still can show emotion for the dramatic, and manipulative, effect. However, even if they display emotion they have little concern for others' emotions or how they impact others.

The Textbook DSM Definition from Wikipedia

5 Phrases that Disarm a Narcissist

Emotional abuse is a form of brain-washing that slowly erodes the victim's sense of self-worth, security, and trust in themselves and others. In many ways, it is more detrimental than physical abuse because it slowly disintegrates one's sense of self and personal value.

— Psychology Today
Hard to find healthy relationships
Hard to find healthy relationships | Source

Your Adult Relationships

We learn a lot about relationships from our parents. When that relationship is dysfunctional we either fall prey to the effects or we recognize them and work to heal ourselves while navigating adult relationship.

  • You bend over backwards to please another because that is what you were taught about where your worth Is.
  • People realize you have a lack of boundaries and this invites others into your life that use you or treat you like a doormat.
  • You're not sure what a reciprocal relationship is. Relationships require give and take and you're unsure about how to do this. Your relationships are very unbalanced.
  • You have narcissistic tendencies as well. Sometimes you take on characteristics of the narcissistic parent you were raised by.
  • You unconsciously attract other narcissists into your life, through your romantic adult relationships or work cultures and careers.

The best thing to do if you think your narcissistic parent has affected your adult relationships is that you are aware of how you were effected, thoroughly heal how your childhood was affected, and learn what to recognize as dysfunctional in a relationship.

Take notice of how other people make you feel. If it resembles how your narcissistic parent made you feel then steer clear of thise people.

When you are able to get a few mentally healthy decisions under your belt, you gain the con needed to continue your life, being less and less affected by a narcissis.

Self-trust, self-love, and self-knowledge can be taught to a daughter only by a mother who possesses those qualities herself

— Dr. Karyl McBride
Beginning a new emotional life and healing the psychological damage
Beginning a new emotional life and healing the psychological damage | Source

Every interaction with a narcissist is a deal with terms created by the narcissist to protect their interests only

Coping With Your Narcissistic Parent

Every interaction you have with your narcissistic parent is a deal. The terms of the deal are strategically in their favor. Remember that and you may fair well.

When a narcissist is being nice to you, or gives you a gift, spends money on you, etc. there are strings attached. Never accept 100% of their "deal". Say no to gifts often (if it's not for a occasion like your birthday), even if they are visibly offended. If they pay you a compliment, it is to make themselves look good, simply return the compliment with a quick, solid response. Do not let them exaggerate a compliment.

Boundaries with narcissists are the biggest challenge. Boundaries rearrange the relationship and narcissists do not like that. Set boundaries within your space. Start to own your space. Set requirements on how to treat you within your personal space as well as your home if you live seperately from your parent.

Have personal rules. We live in a world that has rules and laws, but rarely do people think about having their own personal rules. These are for how others can treat us and how we allow ourselves to be treated. Personal rules preserve our self-respect, honoring and valuing ourselves after or during emotional and psychological abuse.

Start putting your own needs first. This is a surefire way to unnerve a narcissist, but it's also guaranteed to make a statement about where you stand, and that you won't stand to be controlled by them. You are the new priority to yourself.

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