The Narcassistic Mother dilema

I spent most of yesterday’s therapy session talking about the difficult relationship Ith share with my mother and the decision I need to make about our future relationship.

Whenever I experience any kind of problem, whether it’s childhood trauma, or feeling unable to share in the group, I can never just simply change by willpower alone. I tend to become embroiled in an endless ruminating battle inside my head, desperately searching for a satisfactory conclusion.

All the mindfulness and self-affirmation routines mean little in my quest for healing. While these techniques do support positive change, the key to overcoming my own problem is to start by ascertaining the origin.

I am in no way qualified to diagnose a mental health disorder, but when I stumbled upon information on Narcissistic Mother’s, it was like reading a report on my own mother’s behaviour. Narcissism seemed to slot into place, but the realisation was bittersweet.

It was bitter because some of the information seemed to encourage a common understanding and compassion for a narcissistic mother and suggests making allowances for what is actually a mental illness.

The sweet part of it offered validation that I was not entirely responsible for the history of our conflict and it’s highly unlikely I possess all those horrible characteristics ascribed to my personality.

This does little for the ingrained guilt and self-blame or the anger and resentment that run between us today. What makes it more problematic is the realisation that she truly believes I am a horrible, heartless, and self-centred person.

This woman cannot see past her own narcissism. The hurt and disappointment she feels are genuine. One of the most difficult things to accept is being the cause of another person’s emotional and psychological pain, the guilt is very tough to deal with.

It’s as though the rumination is trying to justify my position or reach a decision over the best way forward, although I fail to see any viable options that might lead to a peaceful resolve.

There was a time when I used to drive 350 miles, twice a year, to spend a few days visiting each one of them, but mum was unhappy because I didn’t visit very often. I finally relented and increased the trips to every three months, but then she was disappointed because I wasn’t in their company for long enough.

“Do you realise how much you’re upsetting us with these flying visits?” She would say, “You’re more interested in other things and other people than your own family.”

thVLOWI8NEI can see only one decision that would lead to a peaceful resolution. She possesses no insight or ability to change, but I can’t make allowances for her narcissistic character traits, especially when I am the poor sod who’s in the line of fire.

I was wondering yesterday if my rumination is a warped way of holding onto the relationship… of subconsciously holding back from finally doing the “dastardly deed” of cutting off The Narcissistic Mother.

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33 thoughts on “The Narcassistic Mother dilema

  1. The Elephant in the Room

    It’s interesting to read this because I too have a narcissistic mother. It was also a bittersweet revelation for me. I’m not sure my mum will ever change. But it’s hard, because I blame her narcissism for some of my character traits.

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    1. Cat Post author

      I wouldn’t mind her narcissism if she kept it to herself rather than be hyper critical of me, it’s exhausting and, yes, the certainly do ingrain some character traits 🙂 Thanks for commenting

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  2. mandy

    No matter how old we get, Cat, we will always want/need a mother. The idea of giving up on ever having that is indeed painful. It took me many years even after my mom’s death to accept that she never loved me–she was too involved with herself to have that capacity. So, you’ve come to the first step of considering what it would be like to give up on it–freedom and angst…it takes time to make that call, Cat, but I think you’re on the road to facing/dealing with it. Enormous progress.

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    1. Cat Post author

      I should have probably added in the post that what is preventing me from making that final decision to cut her off is purely guilt. Maybe I already worked through the pain of not ever having a good relationship with my mother. I did without it since childhood, so it feels as though I don’t know any different. I know it is enormous progress and Paul said it sounds as if I am ruminating less and bringing things into perspective. I now have a clear idea of what not to accept, with regards to how they treat me. Thanks Mandy 🙂

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  3. therabbitholez

    When someone builds their own pedestal and climbs to the top, no one will ever match their self absorbed behaviour.

    They expect all to come and pay homage to their numerous sacrifices, but it’s NEVER going to be enough, so they seek to bully abd undermine, all the while telling you it’s for your own good, and how much it hurts them to hurt you, and on it goes.

    Sometimes it’s best to cut the cord, imagine peaceful life would be.

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    1. Cat Post author

      That’s exactly what I said to Paul, if I just cut her off, my life and my head will be peaceful. Guilt is a powerful thing! Thanks for your input 🙂

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  4. edwinasepisodes

    It sounds as if, despite everything you do love your mum and that is what makes it so hard for you to make the decision as to whether or not to cut the ties. Sometimes though, we have to put ourselves first and maybe it is time that you put yourself first Cat instead of worrying about everyone else.

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    1. Cat Post author

      It doesn’t feel like love, but I am sure that it’s there buried beneath all the shit. I won’t have anything to do with her until at least therapy is over in December. She’s a very easy person to lose touch with, if I don’t text her, it’s an all out huffy puffy. Thanks Edwina

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  5. Priceless Joy

    Let me guess…1) you can never live up to her expectations so you are on an endless cycle of trying to please her; 2) there’s always one more guilt trip she can put you on; 3) you can never talk to her about her “bad” qualities because as far as she is concerned she has no bad qualities; 4) something must be wrong with you for not wanting to be a part of her life; and on and on…

    I understand what you are going through with ruminations because of #4. Maybe if you completely cut the tie with her then you won’t have to go through those ruminations anymore? It’s a tough call but only you know what is best for you (not her).

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    1. Cat Post author

      You’re spot on, *4 is the real difficult one. I did say to Paul that if I could just cut her off, I will feel peaceful rather than frustrated, but guilt is what holds me there. I definitely won’t see her while therapy is happening and that doesn’t end until Dec. I won’t text her either, so she will likely go off on a huff, anyway. Some people are able to reach a stage of rising above it, but I’m not sure if I could really have a relationship with her again, it’s just so difficult, or maybe I would go in with a different attitude and simply not tolerate the bullying. I am not sure, the Jury’s still out, but we’re getting there! Thanks Joy

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  6. kat

    perhaps. i would ‘sit on this’ for a while, and see if it feels right. if it does, go with it. otherwise, you’ll have to find a way to not feel guilty and still visit. i had to cut off my mom 8 yrs ago, so don’t despair. it happens. and it’s ok.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Kat… yes, I think I might tend to agree. I won’t have contact until therapy ends in Dec… we’ll see how it feels then. Thanks for your input

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  7. Janie H

    I too have a very difficult and troubled relationship with my mother, although mine are for different reasons. I know it is very hard to make decisions about the relationship when it has always been a source of pain. I hope that you can find a way to knowing what you should do. What I know is that you have to decide for yourself, regardless of whatever good advice you receive. I wish for you peace of mind in whatever direction you choose.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Janie, I think bad relationships with mothers is one of the worst, it’s meant to be all the things it is not and that can be tough. Thank you for your kind words of support, they’re really appreciated 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      In many ways, searching for a possible middle ground is a huge part of the rumination. Unfortunately, boundaries are not what they accept, but it might be possible if I am approaching it from a slightly different angle. Bullies will only bully the weak and they may just recognise the change enough to stop them in their tracks. Thanks, Rich, I will try to trust those instincts

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  8. rootstoblossom

    I made the tough decision that my own mother is toxic, not merely difficult. I’ve made boundaries and she does not understand and continues to overstep. I’m in a similar place, no contact at all right now until I get myself to a safer place. Cutting ties need not be permanent and can ebb and flow like anything else. I’m fragile right now, and a dose of her guilt could easily send me back to a place I don’t want to go. Not easy right now with the constant barrage of mother’s day commercials, guilt like to creep in when I’m not looking. Good for you taking care of you right now. Wishing for extra strength for you as you continue through therapy.

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    1. Cat Post author

      You hit the hail on the head about getting to a safer place. I’m not sure if it will ever be safe enough to deal with her, but until therapy is finished, there’s not a lot more I want to do. Mothers day is a difficult time, our was back in March. Thank you for your supportive comment 🙂

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  9. Anxious Mom

    ((hugs)) Narcissistic parents are hell to deal with. I’ve often wanted to cut ties with my dad, for that and a number of other reasons, but just can’t. Sometimes I wish I could do a better job of remembering this his crap is truly *his* crap and no reflection of me.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks, I soaked that hug up like a sponge 🙂 It’s difficult to remember their crap is not a reflection on us when we’re dealing with the intense emotion their behaviour ignites. Cutting off our family, especially parents is extremely difficult and I’m still not sure I could do that completely, although maybe I’ll be left with no choice. I have an advantage that she lives 350miles away. Thank you AM 🙂

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      1. Anxious Mom

        🙂 No doubt! My dad lives about 7 miles from me. Sometimes I wish we would have bought a house a bit further away!

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  10. hbhatnagar

    If you can’t, you can’t, emotional blackmail and guilt trips notwithstanding. It’s surely not your fault and definitely not entirely. Words are cheap, as they say though. It’s not easy getting out of such relationships…

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    1. Cat Post author

      When I was a child, she would be furious whenever I’d say “action speak louder than words.” Of course, we’re both responsible for where we are today and if we both recognised that, perhaps we could move forward with more ease. Unfortunately, its “all my fault,” so it is a touch more sensitive. Thank you

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  11. cardamone5

    I love the graphic at the end. If only our feelings matched the kid’s expression! I can identify with this as I have a narcissistic father. I went through the same rumination that you do until finally I just cut ties emotionally. I cut actual ties a few times, but always went back, believing he would change and we would be close. It’s just easier not to cut actual ties anymore. Too much drama (hence the narcissistic parent.) So, I only see him once a year maybe and am completely removed from him when we’re together (not in an obvious way he would recognize and manipulate, but in my own knowledge way.) I wish you the same result, if that’s what works best for you. Protect yourself first. As you said, your mom will never be your protector, only her own and then some. Take good care.

    Love,
    e

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    1. Cat Post author

      I thought the kid in the image at the end had a wicked smile ready to cut something off with glee! I knew you would understand the narcissism and what you said about it being easier not to cut ties is how I feel. We have lost touch so often over the years. I texted her every couple of weeks over the last year or more, but she would never instigate any of the texts. It was easier to persevere than cut her off, less disagreements with my sister too. At the moment, while I’m at a crucial stage in therapy it is best if I take a complete break. It’s easy to lose touch because she will never do any of the running. “Children should be here for their parents…love, honour and obey…mother knows best.” It would be nice to reach the same perspective as you have, but it is even nicer to realise for the first time that I don’t really need to tolerate her if I feel it’s better to leave well alone. Time and therapy will tell. Thanks, Elizabeth 🙂

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  12. Glynis Jolly

    At the end of this post you ask yourself two questions. Both are about holding on to the past. Could it be that you’re trying to do both subconsciously? It would explain you feeling to muddled.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Glynis… you certainly could be onto something. After my session with Paul the other day I had this weird thought about the rumination being a way to hold onto the past, including certain family members. It’s something to explore. Thank you 🙂

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  13. Lola

    I’m loving all these comments and your responses. In my personal experience, the ruminating was an organic part of my healing process – kind of like going through the eye of the needle, before you make it through to the clarity on other side. I like what cardamone5 says about getting to the place of detachment (my words), wherein you are no longer being pulled into the toxic games of the parent (my words) – nothing looks different on the outside, but you are completely different on the inside. I used to take “vacations” from interacting with him and like you, I kept myself in therapy during the process. Congrats on the good inner work you’re doing!

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Lola… The comments are amazing and I appreciate your contribution. I understand what you said about the ruminating being an organic part of healing. I sometimes call it my own ‘self-therapy’. Reaching a place of detachment sounds good to me, especially if I no longer get pulled in. The therapy is hard, but the results are amazing. Many thanks 🙂

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  14. Sharon Alison Butt

    This makes me think about how David Pelzer made excuses for his mother after all the evil she did to him. It’s natural to want to hold on. My grandmother was narcissic with her 4 children and grandkids too and I used to cry on my pillow, saying, “Why has everyone else got a normal, nice grandmother and mine’s a bitch?” It’s so hard to accept that you’ve drawn the short straw.
    It seems like you are learning to put put out the necessary boundaries and accept that you don’t deserve to have such leeches in your life. She is probably worse now with her insults because she’s mad that she can’t control you anymore. She’s pure evil and you WILL get over her accusations as soon as you realise for good that her words don’t have to have power over you. You ARE loved by others and there’s nothing she can do about it. You can ‘love’ her out of respect but not love her by being her sounding board anymore. It’s her own darn fault if she dies a lonely old woman, not yours. Take no more condemnation from anyone. Refuse to listen to it and avoid potential accusers at all costs. Draw a line and stake your boundaries. They are yours. x

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    1. Cat Post author

      She can be worse with the insults and it does often look like a little child kicking off for attention. I’ve read David Pelzers amazing books. Did you read the follow up book of his adult life? Very moving. I think we are programmed to crave a mothers love and this is what makes the guilt worse. When the abusive mother uses guilt as a tactic, it is hard to shake in adult life, but thankfully I am doing not too bad 🙂 The ironic thing is she cannot understand why she is such a lovely person but her son is estranged, her daughter keeps her at arms length and the grandsons only go near her if they are blackmailed by my sister. She can’t see past it being our fault….so annoying…infuriating!! I am drawing the boundaries outwardly, but inwardly, there is still so much mixed emotion, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, eh? Many thanks for your supportive words, Sharon

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