Mom just can’t take criticism.
Regardless of how carefully you put your complaint, mom can’t admit any wrongdoing. No matter what you say, she always has a comeback. Does she think she is untouchable or perfect? That would be an easy answer, but you know, that’s not the whole story.
Mom just can’t let you go
Mom is unpredictable and volatile. She freaks out if she thinks you are or rejecting her on any level. You are afraid of disappointing her and walk on eggshells to keep from setting her off.
Despite what looks like arrogance on the outside, you know she is an unhappy person on the inside. There’s a hard shell, an armor she can’t let anyone see beneath. You care about mom and you wonder if there is something psychologically wrong with her?
Maybe she desperately needs everything to look perfect on the outside. What’s more, she needs you to look perfect. That’s why… what you do is never good enough for her. Underneath it all, she doesn’t feel good enough about herself. As a result, she needs you to look good to make her look good.
The technical word for this is “narcissistic extension.” She relates to you as if you were an extension of her. You are like her right arm. In this way, she owns you, uses you, and doesn’t regard you as separate from her. If you are the daughter trapped in the “good daughter” role, you may suffer from the Good Daughter Syndrome.
So, what happened to mom to make her this way? You may have long suspected mom has NPD or BPD is at least is high in borderline or narcissistic traits. And you may wonder what happened in her childhood.
- I think it is possible to have great disdain for the destructive effects of these narcissistic or borderline defenses that hurt you as a daughter while holding in your mind that mom has been hurt too.
I discuss in this video what it was mom didn’t get in her childhood (that every child needs) to cause her to be narcissistic.
A mother who is narcissistic or has narcissistic traits is someone who didn’t get what we call narcissistic supplies where they were little. What we mean by that is that when children are very little, if all goes well, they get the idea that their very being brings at least one person delight. We all need this. Whether there are words of praise, whether there’s just the glimmer in Mom’s eyes and the delight that when baby looks back up at Mom, that enough of the time, not all the time, but enough of the time, what baby sees mirrored back is delight. It’s preverbal at first. There are just coos and wonderful words, but what the baby takes in is an idea that their very present presence brings another person delight. If they do not get this, they do not get enough narcissistic supplies, then what can happen is they can spend the rest of their lives trying to get that special feeling, which leads to all kinds of narcissistic defenses, which I’ll talk about in another video.
In summary –
Narcissistic mothers didn’t get what they needed in childhood. From that original deficit, destructive psychological consequences can follow. Specifically, the defenses that help her survive emotional wounding, damage the ways she relates to herself and others.
It is this core deficit that can set in motion a relentless quest to make up for good feelings later in life. The narcissistic mother can never feel special enough. This quest is off-putting, manipulative and destructive to her subsequent relationships.
Those around her can be sucked into the bottomless pit of her need for affirmation. The final irony is that she can’t take in the affirmation she demands, and appropriates from others. It is like a bucket with a hole in it. No matter how much she gets filled up -she empties out at a faster rate.
At the narcissistic and borderline core is an untouchable emptiness. Attuned daughters feel this.
What is important to remember is this- You didn’t cause your mother’s narcissism or borderline personality disorder, and you can’t cure it. You can have compassion for her while not being sucked into the vortex of her need for control and affirmation.
You can and should stand up for yourself, find your voice, and claim your own life. Once you truly grasp an understanding of her wounding, you can learn to take care of yourself and live your life on your own terms.
The way to stop this cycle is first, to understand.
To find out if you suffer from the good daughter syndrome – go here.
I truly thought I was alone (most of my life) … Dealing with my relationship with my mother until now. My unanswered prayers are being answered. Thank you!
Again, thank you for reaching out. Every daughter who raises her hand brings us all collectively closer to a place of healing. You are not alone by any stretch. Keep working at staying conscious and you too can break out of this trap. It’s your life. Living for someone else, even your mother is no way to live.
Thank you so much for helping me cope with the unfair guilt of going no contact and helping me relate to my own daughter that this is not our fault. It is my mother’s and she is sick. We cannot help others who won’t help themselves and it is not selfish to put our healing first.
I would agree that you have to put yourself and your daughters well- being first. Best of luck to you.
My mother was terribly abused and neglected as a child. Her father was a Holocaust survivor who abandoned the family when she was a baby. She was left with her mother, who was schizophrenic and incapable of caring for her (her mother was hospitalized 6-9 months out of every year). My mom and her brother were raised by their grandmother, who was a tyrant who made it very clear to them that they were unwanted and a burden to her. When she was not beating and humiliating them, she ignored them entirely. My mother ran away in her teens. By the time she was 19, she and my father were married and within a few years, my brother and I were born.
My mother tried to be a mom when we were little, but by the time I was 6 or 7, she was done. She decided she wanted to live her life for herself. She went to college and law school and stopped parenting altogether. She and my father stayed together (despite growing to despise one another) and were technically there in the house, but my brother and I pretty much raised ourselves. It took me until I was 28 to really understand how damaged my mother was and how incapable she was of caring for me. And it’s taken another 15 years and having children of my own to wrap my head around how to extricate myself from her dysfunction. She believes that she loves me and I believe that she believes that, but there is nothing in her that I would regard as being loving or caring toward anyone, including herself. The child part of me that will always want a mom whose lap I can crawl into when I’m sad will always feel compassion for the child in her who wants the same thing, but the self-protective adult in me knows I can never have that and has a boat load of anger with her. Every time I soften and allow myself to start to feel affection for her again, she finds a way to hurt me, either by declaring who and what she thinks I am or should be or do or, more commonly, just dismissing me altogether. She lies constantly, about nothing and everything, to what end, I can’t conceive. At this point, I assume anything she’s telling me is not true.
I find parenting incredibly difficult and draining. I worry that the neglectful dysfunction from my own childhood is devolving onto them. I am so acutely aware of the pain I experienced with a damaged, narcissistic, emotionally neglectful mother and I don’t want my children to have the same experience. I put so much effort in when they were little, but now that they are in grade school, I feel myself instinctively trying to withdraw in the same way my mother did. I consciously fight that urge every day, but it creates a nearly constant stress for me (and I’m sure, for them). I try to acknowledge my mistakes and apologize to my children for making them (something my mother never did because she could never acknowledge that she ever made a mistake), set boundaries and expectations for them (again, something my mother never did), and I spend time with them playing and talking and trying to laugh and create good memories (again, none of that happened when I was a kid), but I feel this constant sense that it’s a forced, intellectual attempt to be a good mom–a reaction to my own lack of parenting–rather than an organic, maternal desire to care for my kids. My husband says that from the outside, it doesn’t look that way at all, that he can see how close the kids and I are and how happy they are, but I can’t shake this fear that I’m just failing at this and that maybe I’m just as damaged as my mother is.
What a brave and thoughtful person and mother you are. It is so hard to give when your tank hasn’t been filled by your own mother.Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Are At Risk For Postpartum Depression- Here’s Why And sometimes what you experience as boredom is you being triggered and numbing up. Of course, this happens at an unconscious level. It can’t be helped totally but the feeling could tell you where the trauma triggers are buried. Therapy could help you unpack these feelings, grieve them more fully and get back some vitality. That numbed out feeling is nature’s way of keeping the trauma buried- yet it takes a tremendous toll until it is processed. Please try and toss away any guilt you feel around this. It isn’t your fault and you are not your mother. You have, however, have experienced the trauma of neglect. It could very well be blocking maternal feelings that could be restored. Also, there is more and more research on how generations carry the trauma of the Holocaust- even skipping a generation-. The sadness and abuse -first of humanity and then familial- is too much for you to carry alone.