We were born into a culture of idolising our mothers. People expect us to sit them gracefully on a pedestal, regardless of what they did, or who they became. When a mother and child’s relationship breaks down, there seems to be a predisposition to place the blame on the offspring.
I appreciate how difficult it is for those from functional backgrounds to understand how I could cut my mother off in the first place. People imagine the scenario to be fraught with a wide spectrum of grief. Their lips utter the words without thinking, “But, she’s your mother.”
As soon as people realise my experience is not as they imagine, they view my attitude with a mixture of suspicion and sympathy, their eyes say it all, ‘Awe, poor man… surely he must feel loss’. Many of them say, “But, she’s your mother.”
“Why don’t you try something different,” one woman suggested at last week’s group. I guess my course of action must be playing on her mind because we hadn’t discussed my mother for several weeks. “Write to your mum and tell her how you feel.” She continued, “You might never hear from her again, but at least you tried… what else can you do?” She shrugged, “she’s your mother.”
When I admitted to everyone in the group that the only worry on my mind is regarding what to do if a family members dies, heads nodded enthusiastically, each assuming the devastation and guilt.
It’s not the first time I’ve listened to how I ought to be reacting and it will not be the last when I go in search of those elusive feelings of loss, guilt, or any prospect of reconciliation. I’ve asked many times, where is my sense of loss?
The no contact rule with my narcissistic mother has come as a last resort. The sole intention is to free up enough headspace to address the issues that affect me today. I tried to live harmoniously alongside mum for many years. The first and most important aim was always to please her first, until I eventually realised this was unlikely to ever be successful.
I next moved towards the healthy distance option, while attempting to rise above the manipulation and covert abuse. This only riled mum’s frustration to control and she would only try harder to tear down any boundaries that stood in her way. We would run through her familiar spectrum of volatile moods, and ultimately, the silent treatment.
My sense of loss encompasses all those years I grieved when mum said I was a mistake or when they used intimidation and violence, just because they had the power to do as they pleased. I wept as a teenager for the paternal bond that never was and cried in early adulthood for the criticism that spilled from their mouths. I even questioned if they really were my parents and bawled when I realised they were.
When the group member suggested that I email mum again, it came as a bit of a blow. Her flippancy seems to undermine the blood, sweat, and tears, but her ignorance is forgivable because it’s difficult to appreciate the full flavour of a narcissist unless you’ve been there.
Sending a more detailed email assumes I might appreciate a potential resolution and whenever a person imagines a family death might influence my guilt and grief, they are wrong. The truth is, a close bereavement is the only event that would bring mum out of the woodwork, and the expectations are what I dread the most.
Of course, there is still hurt and anger leftover from the abuse and dysfunction, but arriving at my decision has nothing to do with anger or an inability to forgive the narcissistic mother. It’s not a means to resolve and would never generate a meek response or entice reconciliation.
Staying in touch with a narcissistic mother who is incapable of unconditional love only generates toxicity, which links directly to the source of the emotional and psychological damage. Severing communication is about reclaiming control of my own life and creating a healthier environment to begin healing.
While it may feel unimaginable to ‘divorce’ from one’s own mum, it’s equally difficult for me to imagine what it’s like to experience a maternal relationship based on unconditional love and acceptance. When someone says, “But it’s your mother,” I only want to reply, “So what.”