Home > Books, Bullying, Narcissism > Confronting Narcissism: Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Confronting Narcissism: Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

July 25, 2011

Book suggestion: Dr. Karyl McBride, author of Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Her web site – click here

I just picked up this book after visiting Dr. McBrides web site and taking her survey.To say the least, my mom scored very high.

Even after writing my own book (It Has A Name) on unhealthy narcissism, I still struggle with being the daughter of a narcissistic mother. My mom, age 85, is in a nursing home these days. She is nearly deaf, suffers from some dementia, congestive heart failure and diabetes. I have the greatest empathy for her condition, but I have slowed my visits down to seeing her every two weeks. This is for a couple reasons. First, she cannot hear very well and on the days where her dementia is flaring and she is agitated, she is very difficult to be around. Communication is non-productive and frustrating for both of us. The second is, she has retained her narcissistic personality and still is very controlling, critical, lacking in empathy, and downright mean at times.

As an adult, I have chosen to stand up for myself and not allow others to unfairly criticize me, but when it comes to my mom, I tend to fall right back into the role nearly 80% of the time. These encounters bring up all sorts of old hurts which were developed in my childhood. There are times when I am quite strong, feeling myself, and simply cut the visit short. I try to part without any anger directed at her. But, too often after the visit I breakdown and cry. I feel I am working through the anger and hurt in as healthy a way as I know how. There is anger, hurt, and now facing the final abandonment – death. There is the difficult reality of knowing there will never be a resolution to our dysfunctional relationship.

I find when I am getting ready for a visit, I start to get a GERD pain in my upper gut. It is an internalized reaction to knowing I will be dealing with my mom, an abuser. First and foremost, we must understand that in dealing with unhealthy narcissists, they are not only controlling, but abusive. The anticipation I experience is a conditioned response from years of abuse. The abuse for many children is not always physical, but it is powerfully emotional and psychological. This creates all types of stressors that can lead to more negative behavior for the abused child, like drug abuse to manage emotional pain, overeating to have some sense of satiation, over working to prove our worth, co-dependency (over pleasing). These all are related to the damage inflicted on one’s psyche which negatively affects our self-esteem, self-image, and self-respect.

The key to combating and achieving your own truly authentic self, independent of, and free from the narcissistic parent, is rooted in establishing one’s own healthy set of values (including healthy boundaries), which essentially is re-parenting oneself. Once we establish our own healthy set of values, this leads to helping our true authentic self emerge, the self that was inhibited from expressing itself in its full dimension because of the roll the narcissistic parent projected onto us… the good daughter, the perfect daughter, the high achieving daughter, etc.

The one thing that is helpful for children of narcissistic parents to hear is for someone to give them permission to be themselves. I give this permission to you and to my readers. It is ok to live your own life as you see fit, in a healthy way free from criticism, manipulation, intimidation, bullying, authoritarian abuse, domination, and pathological pattern behavior.

My book, It Has A Name, addresses my own journey to self-realization. It identifies the root of unhealthy narcissism, the dynamic, how to recognize it in others, how to make the necessary changes to free ourselves from the pattern behavior that ensnares us and keeps us from experiencing our true authentic self.

Both my book and Dr. Karyl McBride’s book are available on Amazon.com. The link for my book in hard copy is to the right on this page. It will take you to the Create Space Amazon purchase page.

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  1. Dee
    March 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    It took me moving across the country 2 times and 20 years of therapy to learn to emotionally shield myself from my mother. I’m incredibly saddened to say I have not one positive memory from interacting with her and I have come to terms with the fact that she in fact is becoming more and more narcissistic and therefore my contact is more and more limited despite her “emergencies” “dramas” and “cries out for help” because she feels abandoned. You see I accept the fact that it’s never been about me, it’s always been about meeting each and every one of her needs. That applies to everyone in the family and since I’m the one who was strong enough to demand fair treatment, move out at an early age and seek help, by definition I am the scapegoat. After years with bouts of depression, a suicide attempt, dependencies and a number of dysfunctional relationships, I am finally happily married with my soulmate and I feel a sense of peace. This is something eternally frustrating for my mother and every time I call her to see how the family is doing, it inevitably comes down to how she feels that she only has one child (my brother the golden child) and I am a constant source of depression and pain for her and how she wants to end her life…. I’d like to think I am immune to such hurtful remarks because this is nothing new but after speaking with her I feel sooo drained and exhausted…. The fact that my father passively stands by and doesn’t speak up clearly lets me know where I stand in the family and I think additional distance would be beneficial….

  2. March 13, 2012 at 1:16 am

    As I state in my book, time and distance are your allies. If you must see the narcissistic parent, see them infrequently and make your visits short. Place distance between you and the narcissist, like moving to another city or state, is also an effective way to regain some control over your life. Remember, you can change and they are stuck at an emotional developmental stage. They will not suddenly one day offer you any empathy or think of you as your true self. They designate roles for the people in their lives. You will always be tagged with this role. It’s hard, but move on. Reach out to others who are healthy, respect you for who you are, and not exact some false expectation from you. Good luck!

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