Being raised by a narcissistic mother is one of the most difficult experiences to heal from, but you can break free from the past.
Growing up isn’t easy. It’s even more difficult when one of your parents refuses to allow you to grow up or develop into a healthy adult. The goal of raising a child is to see them grow into their own person. Unfortunately, not all parents share that same well-intentioned goal.
There are a few things you may have noticed that make a narcissistic mother stand out from the rest. The characteristics that only you get to see, while the rest of the world is met with whichever mask she chooses to wear that day.
In public, she is seen as a winner.
She’s the woman everyone admires. She makes success look easy. Whether it’s being head of the PTA, a judge, a lawyer, whomever- the world sees her as someone who balances being socially nimble while contributing to the community in a way that leaves others in awe. But she has one major flaw, she’s a narcissist.
Psychology Today writes an excellent description that hits close to home if you grew up like this. “The outside world may embrace her, but you know mom as self-centered, brittle, easily angered and “always right.” She may be loved by her friends and colleagues, but they don’t know the mom you know. You get maternal love now and then, but it’s unpredictable and punctuated by control, anger and a need to walk on eggshells.”
The difference between a healthy mother and a narcissistic mother is that healthy mothers come home and support their children instead of trying to control them. Narcissistic mothers, on the other hand always need to have attention and control, even at home.
As a child, you always do as your told because you thought parents were always right.
As an older child, or young adult, you realized she was always right because she needed to be right. Not because she was right or had your best intentions at heart.
It could be the smallest thing, whether you left dishes in the sink, spilled a drink, or even just your presence near her that she finds annoying, but she gets does get annoyed. Quite frequently in fact, and it always feels like it’s your fault.
You start to feel anxious whenever she is around, and maybe even the mention of her name makes you start to feel nervous and uneasy.
Psychology Today blogger Karyl McBride, Ph.D., puts it this way, “Narcissists are not in touch with their own feelings. They project those feelings on to others and are not capable of empathy. They cannot put themselves into your shoes and feel or understand how something might affect you. They can only see how it affects them. They are hypersensitive to criticism and judgment, but constantly criticize and judge others.”
What are some signs of a narcissistic mother?
Psychology Today gives us this short, yet comprehensive list of common traits you’ll recognize if you grew up with a narcissistic mother.
If she’s socially active outside, she’s controlling at home.
“She’s no longer the woman wearing the perpetual smile that never falters. She is demeaning, criticizes, and lets you know in more ways than one that you are not up to her standards.”
“She makes you feel like a failure if you’re not doing what she wants right now. Your mom is really good at manipulation, especially when your emotions are involved.”
“She is easily offended, claiming that she does so much for you. If you don’t give her what she wants, she‘s upset.”
“She is privately opinionated, blasting people, while being more forgiving in public. Mom needs to look good in front of everyone, even if she isn’t too fond of them.”
“She makes you anxious, not filled with self-confidence. She makes you feel inadequate, even if you do something that deserves praise. We all need validation, especially early on in life. A narcissistic mother can instigate self-doubt in everything that you do.”
Darlene Lancer, writes, “A narcissistic mother who cannot empathize damages her children’s healthy psychological development. Like Narcissus in the Greek myth, she sees only a reflection of herself. There is no boundary of separateness between her and her children, whom she cannot see as unique individuals worthy of love.”
If you’re a daughter of a narcissistic mom, you faced a different set of struggles than some other people might have had to endure.
These types of moms want their daughter to physically appear her best “according to them,” but cripple their daughter in the process through blatant criticism and control. They attempt to live through their daughter, who they see as an extension of themselves. And they constantly remind you that it is “for your own good.” Remember, she always has to be right.
Getting over a narcissistic mother isn’t easy, but it can be done.
If possible, distance yourself. Give yourself some perspective without her interference. You’ll soon realize the way you feel about yourself is not how others feel about at all.
You were always good enough, and it’s not your fault that she couldn’t see you for the treasure you are. That is her problem alone, try not to make it yours.
By Raven Fon