Why Does My Narcissistic Mother Lie To Me?

Why does my Narcissistic mother lie?

While I can’t be exactly sure, I have a pretty good idea. Let’s start with some observations.

Sooner or later everyone tells a lie. In fact, over a lifetime, we all tell many lies. The Narcissist, however, is a liar. It isn’t just what they do, it is who they are.

In my work with daughters of narcissistic mothers, daughters frequently can’t wrap their heads around why their mother would lie.  Needless to say, it hurts them and confuses them.

What’s the difference between a person who tells a lie and a liar?   

When confronted with the opportunity, to tell the truth, or tell a lie, most of us check in with our inner-selves to see if our answer feels right. This gut check is a calculation that happens automatically mostly at the unconscious level.

This is true even for liars… and if mom is Narcissistic, this is true for her.

Thus, we all act in accordance with our sense of… who we know ourselves to be.

The three-year-old, mouth rimmed with chocolate, who declares with impunity she was NOT the one who ate the half-eaten candy bar, is given a pass because we all know intuitively she doesn’t have a fully formed sense of self.

Narcissism is a disorder of the self. It isn’t so much an undeveloped sense of self as it is an impaired/fragmented sense of self. A self based on opportunism instead of values. Life is a game and they play to win.

What happens when otherwise good people tell a lie? 

Somewhere, somehow most people will lie. Given enough reason, fear, or perceived gain, most of us will violate our sense of integrity, our internalized values. We make the calculation that an untruth is worth telling. If we aren’t a liar we feel bad, sometimes really bad.

We feel bad because who we know ourselves to be and our values don’t match up. This incongruence makes us uncomfortable. It costs us to lie.

What happens when a narcissist tells a lie?

The narcissistic calculation is a different algebraic equation.

A Narcissistic mothers’ lie also comes from her sense of self. The difference is that her life has become a lie. 

When her life becomes a lie, her lying is different. Different because her sense of self is different. The lie is not inconsistent with her sense of self. For her, the lie is a necessity to preserve what she regards as a self.

That self, however, is a set of defenses, not internalized values.

That set of defenses stand as armed guards against a horrible cauldron of self-loathing of which she is mostly unaware. And, her defenses keep her unaware of the emotional pain that would otherwise swallow her up, or so she believes.

The secrets, the layers of lies, become a fragile house of cards. The self she has built from those lies can easily cave in on itself under the weight of truth.

Her lying is an act of desperation.

The Narcissistic mother is operating from a place of defense all of the time.

The lie is more a PR stunt, a marketing ploy rather than a cohesive integrated set of values. mom’s narcissistic personality is more of a storefront designed to hide that there isn’t any there, there. She can’t ever let down their guard and let anyone in.

There is no true capacity for intimacy.

She can’t invite you into the store because the store is full of empty discarded garbage. She wants you to buy the fiction that the storefront is so dazzling you wouldn’t need to come inside. “Nothing to see here…move along”. She may have tons of acquaintances, be the life of the party but no one knows the whole story.  There will be gaps in her stories and in her life.

She is marketing a self she wants you to believe.

She needs you to believe the storefront is the store. These days that can manifest as a carefully curated Facebook page or Instagram Feed. If she is convincing enough to others then maybe, just maybe they can believe it too. She doesn’t experience it as manipulation or lying, not exactly… she feels it is necessary for survival, psychological survival.

What you don’t see – true humility and remorse for mistakes made. That takes self-reflection and honesty.  If you look more closely and you will see she takes no ownership in her struggles.

What she says about her lies.

“I had to lie. You see circumstances were such it only made sense for me to lie. External conditions forced me to lie- I would be stupid not to.” What they are not saying is that their lie is an outgrowth of internal conditions or that it violated their values. There is no accountability for lying.

“The other person is so ridiculous/stupid/unreasonable they left me with no other choice. “ They put the responsibility for lying on the other person. “They made me do it.” Again you see the lack of accountability coupled with the denigration of the other.

“I am protecting someone by lying to them.” If they knew the truth it would hurt them. Not that everyone needs to know every thought or fact about our lives. However, the narcissistic mother will mislead, omit or outright lie about huge aspects of her life and tell herself she is protecting people, not hurting them.

All of these excuses reflect an impoverished and distorted sense of self.  Paradoxically she isn’t lying… not exactly, she is speaking the truth of who she is.

It is confusing and damaging to have a mother who is distorting reality to you when she is the one you look to- to interpret reality.

  • It bears saying that the fractured abusive childhoods that create the need for this level of narcissistic defense imprison their victims in lives that are hard if not near impossible to heal from. When a person lies as a matter of course, they not only do relational violence to others, tragically, they do it to themselves. 

Wondering if you are in the role of the Good Daughter of a narcissistic mother? Take the quiz – it’s free.

What are some lies you have been told? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you relate?
If so, here are some ways I can help on your journey from Good Daughter to Empowered Woman:

Take the Free Quiz Do you have the Good Daughter Syndrome?

Watch & Learn Video Course – Practical Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissistic, Borderline or Difficult Mother That Work- Tips honed from working with daughters of difficult mothers for 30 years, as a psychotherapist.

Consult with Katherine- Private Coaching – When it’s time to tell your story.

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Comments

43 Comments

  1. Deborah Swasey Billings

    Hello.
    Good article. I am a 63 year old woman who is just realizing and breaking free from my abusive, narcissistic mother. It has been the toughest fight and journey. I will make it. This abuser abused me physically and mentally. She took all the stuffing out of me.
    I am breaking free. I am very poor because she also financially wreaked havoc on this area as well. What I have realized though, is I am free.
    And that is worth millions to me! Free, free at last!

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Thank you Deborah, I hear your pain and struggle but I also hear your joy. May your joy grow and your pain diminish as you chart your new path.

      Reply
    • Pamela

      I am also the victim of a narcissistic mother but I am slowly regaining my independence. My mother can tell an outright
      lie to me without blinking for absolutely no reason at all and my sister isnt far behind her. I have to be on my guard of what I tell them to keep myself ‘safe’. They seem to relish when things go wrong for me and I think they now know I don’t tell them everything. I have no trust in them whatsoever and feel really let down by them!

      Reply
      • Katherine Fabrizio

        It is hard to face the fact that those closest to you will lie because of their own brokenness and not a reflection of your worth. My best to you in this hard journey.

        Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      It is hard to put a price on freedom, impossible in fact.

      Reply
  2. Julia Brown

    My mother is dyslexic and gets her words wrong e.g. she says blakes instead of brakes. She also lies on a regular basis e.g. she says her phone is, “up the wall” when it works and when I pull her up on any issues she says that I should know her by now and that I can’t take a joke. I am now 52 and she is 76 and it is still all going on. I always thought that when I got older she would change but no she hasn’t. It is her birthday in two weeks and I said that I would travel up to see her. I told her that I would stay longer than my partner is staying for (he is staying for 3 days to see his mother then driving back) and that I would get the train back. She said that she can’t be bothered with her birthday and that she is, “past it all” and not to bother and to go back home when my partner does. I am getting to the point where I don’t want any more contact with her, but I still want to have contact with her. It’s very confusing and I feel that my head will one day just explode with stress. I let her get away with it because she is dyslexic. Apparantly my nan got pregnant with her through her step father and I think my nan tried to home abort her and caused her brain damage. It’s very difficult. Can you help me with any advice on how to go forward and to make the best of the time that we have left together. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Although I don’t know your mother individually of course I can see that I’ve seen people mix up one condition for another. To my knowledge dyslexia (which I actually have) shouldn’t affect what you communicate -even if it is difficult to do so. When she says she is past it all – is it a threat/manipulation or could she be depressed? In general, if she is like a lot of my client’s mothers your best bet is to try and get past tying your happiness to hers. She sounds like someone who is entrenched in ” not being please” and your trying and trying only makes it worse. I see a lot of good daughters waste a lot of time and energy thinking Mom will get better with age. In my experience, this rarely happens. Perhaps running it by a therapist or good friend you could come up with your independent assessment/plan for how you want to communicate with her- how long and how often that isn’t tied to mom’s happiness. You sound like a very caring person. My guess is, it isn’t you that is uncaring it is her determination to string you along expecting you to make her happy. Sadly you can’t but you might drive yourself crazy trying. If that is the case- don’t do that 🙂

      Reply
  3. Nichole Black

    why does my mom always have to start drama with me? It’s like she’s bored with herself or something.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Nicole –
      If your mother is like many I have heard about she could be trying to provoke you to prevent feeling something inside of herself. If she can externalize the thing that is bothering her internally she can get some relief from feeling it. This could be for several reasons. Many mothers like this have a need to project their insecurities onto you and get you to “hold” them. For instance, she may feel she has some negative quality but picks and picks at you until she can pin the negative quality on you and admonish you for “having it”. Another reason might be she puts you down or picks at you until you break so she can be the one to give you a lift up. If she is more of the borderline variety she unconsciously fears abandonment and will settle for you being in conflict with her rather than “ignoring her”- even when ignoring her is simply you going about your separate business. She may feel more relevant and connected even if you all are in conflict. It isn’t right but it is real.

      Reply
  4. Sue

    My mother contacts me usually some time after I’ve “ignored” her and gone about ny own business. She says I’m keeping her grandchildren away from her and using them against her which I’m not. She tells an awful lot of lies and cries if I point out the truth. She then retaliates and throws all sorts of things in my face. It’s such confusing behaviour as she makes out her family is everything on FB and paints a picture of an angel.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      It does sound close to other senarios I’ve heard about. With the advent of Facebook people who put everything into managing their image while behaving in ways that are far from that image confuse those who are there to experience the difference. Best to you.

      Reply
  5. Giselle Del Valle

    It’s difficult for me to realize at the age of 33 that my mother fits this description. But she’s hidden behind a veil I cannot understand. She has called people that know me to try to let them know “who I really am”… deliberate sabotage. I don’t understand how she can sit here and pretend there’s nothing wrong with her and pretend she’s my mother when different people have told me she has called them before. What does she want to achieve with this? I have lived with her all of my life, we have been peaceful and I thought we were close. But now I don’t know who I’m looking at… this is what drove me to find information.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      It sounds like your mom has a very unstable sense of self. She might be more interested in representing an image of herself she can’t quite live up to… and then (incorrectly) blames it on you when it is she who, in fact, can’t keep up the self she “advertises” to others. Most likely, on some level, she believes her fiction.

      I’d be curious to know what happens when you confront her? If you decide to, let me know what her response is.
      Good luck,
      Katherine

      Reply
  6. Jason Mize

    I’m 35 year old man. And my mother has always been over bearing and thinks I’m not capable of being a responsible adult. Even tho I’m happily married, have a child that’s happy and healthy. I have been successful with my career as a crane operator for the last decade. But lately I have been seeing on social media where my mother has been Lieing about what she does for a job. Even lied about her mother being dead in a comment she made on some news article post. I’m starting to kinda think maybe my mother is a narcissist now that I’m putting the pieces together. Between the way she has always tried to control every decision my sister and myself make. And now with the lying I have seen on social media. I havnt called her out on the social media posts. But I’m concerned.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Jason-
      I imagine this is very disturbing to you.
      It would be interesting if you could confront her in a calm way- just the two of you, not calling her out in a public way. If you have the social media “evidence”, you could ask her to explain to you.

      Keep in mind- if she is forgetting things she might be suffering from dementia. That would be important to rule out which is why it is best to go about these things calmly but firmly.
      Best of luck to you,

      Reply
  7. Sandra

    Hi. I have realised after years that my mother constantly lies to me. She treats me like I am stupid and I feel this is damaging me. After a visit I come home and it can be a couple of days before I feel upbeat again. My sister is just as bad. I have said to them both ‘ just tell me the truth I can deal with the truth’ but I can get one story from my sister that totally disagrees with my mums. The worst part is they dont seem to care that I know they are lying to me which makes me feel worthless. I am at my wits end mentally. Its got so bad now that even if they told truth I dont think I would believe it. Any advice please.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Sandra,
      I can imagine it feels so hurtful to realize those close to you are not being real with you. It is easy to make the mistake to equate their lying with whether or not you deserve to be told the truth. However, by equating their lying behavior with your self-worth, “The worst part is they don’t seem to care that I know they are lying to me which makes me feel worthless.” you give them tremendous power over you, and chances are you are wrong.

      They lie because they are liars, not because you don’t deserve to be told the truth.
      Best of luck,
      Katherine

      Reply
      • Gabby

        I am going to be 23 years old next month and I am at my wits end with my mothers lies. She will outright lie about anything and she’s never once taken accountability when she is proven to be lying. I want to know how I can live a happy life in the same house as somebody who can’t tell the truth once to save their life?
        I recently had a graduation party and she promised me that she would order from a special place. For weeks, she’d call
        Me and chat about the menu and what we’d pick from the place i wanted.
        The grad party came and I was under the impression we ordered food from that place.. I heard my cousin ask my mom,“where is this food from, it’s great?” I saw my mom quickly nudge her (basically telling her to be quiet) ever since that moment I found out the truth from another family Member that she had her sister cook for us. I
        I felt so stupid eating at my own party that I was talking about for weeks. Instead of an apology all i got was a fake excuse. It’s never an apology it’s always an excuse. I just don’t understand how you can lie so much and never take accountability once.
        I also have many stories like this but this recent grad party story has sent me over the edge.
        Any advice?

        Reply
        • Katherine Fabrizio

          Dear Gabby,
          That sounds so frustrating. And while there is much more to know about your situation, that I don’t know. However, in my experience, a person who lies frequently and easily has many more underlying personality issues that make trusting them impossible. You ask how you can live happily with someone who can’t tell the truth. The short answer is… I don’t know how you can do that. Without trust, it sets a ceiling or limit to what kind of relationship you can have. Facing up to that and making adjustments in your expectation (and possibly living arrangements) is probably the best course of action in my opinion.
          Something as fundamental as a lack of honesty is probably unlikely to change over time.
          Best of luck,
          Katherine

          Reply
  8. Alexander

    I’m male but reading all of this has really hit home about how closely it reflects my own 68 yr old mother. She has never really valued me in the sense she may tell me to my face she does but behind my back will put me down. And when I confront her about it, she will deny it – or – if she can’t deny it, tries to justify it. It has got worse over the last few years. She lies about almost anything. Telling my father things which aren’t true or just putting me down. I tried to see my stepdad in hospital recently and so called the hospital. When she found this out, she sent me a text telling me it was none of my business (my mum now texts and never calls). I replied telling her he is my stepdad, and that she didn’t own him, he is not her property. Very controlling and my step dad agrees with this. This was 2 days after wishing me happy birthday and trying to tell me she wanted to come down and see me. She is horribly two faced but as I say, when confronted, either totally denies it most of the time or tries to make another story up to try and justify it – as if none of it is a big deal. Suffice to say my sister seems to resemble her somewhat. Differing stories etc. What you describe fits psychologically with my mother’s sense of self. To be fair, she has had a difficult life, but much of that has been brought upon by herself. She was abused as a child which I have sympathy for and her first marriage wasn’t great. This charade is her trying to be something she is not and the charade she displays is a thick wall of desperation on her side about who she is. She isn’t particulrly intelligent woman but tries so very hard to try – but the problem is she ends up alienating many of those around her. I am not alone. She must be confused, lost and in emotional turmoil deep inside – even telling me doesn’t like music anymore and doesn’t want to listen to it. I fear all these things have made her this way. There’s so much more to say…

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      I’m so sorry you have had to endure this. It sounds like you have a good handle on understanding where she is coming from- that she is a shell of a person with no internal solid sense of self-born out of her own hurt and pain but tragically unable to stop the cycle. It seems you have the insight to be the one to stop the cycle in your family. Best of luck to you.

      Reply
  9. Michele Anthony

    The last 48 hours have been hard . My brother is having abandonment issues . I think mom jealous that brother always closer to Dad.

    My mom feels she gave as much to him and his children emotionally as she did with us 3 girls and our kids (.

    She never liked his wife : neither did my one sister , and the dice were cast .

    He feels betrayed by his mother with good reason.

    I can see why he feels anxious and upset around her . She’s also a self proclaimed hard ass . Why is that something to
    Brag about ? Wow so much to digest I m dizzy and am thinking my mom is the narcissist and I’m the good daughter to never confront her when I feel she’s fabricating it or outright lying to manipulate a situation to suit her and my youngest sisters wishes .
    To hell with everybody else
    Hard thing to realize at 54 . Moms a liar and threw her son and his wife and their kids out of the protection of the family nest to save face . Is she a cold hearted bitch ?
    He certainly thinks so

    Reply
  10. Joanna Stephenson

    Alexander, my brother and I have lived under my narcissistic mothers rule our whole lives. My brother is 60 & I am 52. She told lie after lie about both of us to each other and our father and other relatives. She relished in the times we had issues in our lives. She would be kind to is to illicit information then use it against us to turn people against us & even our father. For years my brother & I were estranged due to this. Finally she worked her evil spell on our father who hated us both before he died. The pain she caused was immense. She even tried to turn our now adult children against us in her own desperate bid to be the shining light in their eyes, this left my own son in tears & my nephews and son don’t want anything to do with her. When dad recently passed she refused to tell my brother, thinking this was a low act indeed I told him myself. She set my brother up to be attacked at our father’s funeral. Now she uses money to manipulate us. It kills me that my own mother can hate us so much and want to destroy us. She tries to use money to manipulate us and even tried her head games with my step children. There is no trust. I trust no one but my husband. For goodness sake she even tried to take my dog away. At my father’s funeral I was surrounded by relatives relaying my life’s challenges. So much pain. I don’t think I can ever forgive her. Easy for me to say I know. Stay away!
    Jo

    Reply
  11. christine

    My granddaughter lives with my son but when she visits her narcissistic mother every other week and half of hollidays she trys to poisen her mind. My granddaughter has been throwing tantrums & shutting herself in her room after school she keeps saying she is unlucky & when i ask her what the problem is she says its daddy
    she is only ten years old but ask me to do a recovery club so we went into her room she ask my worry said i worry about grandma falling over and then i worry about you because i know you have a problem she said the problem is really big but she said if i tell you it might be doubly big she then said imagine this side is ticking and that side is ticking my head is in the middle and about to explode then she said because of daddy ! mummy said he is a liar has told me lies since i was a baby and he is nasty was nasty to mummy thats why she left I ask her have you ever seen daddy be nasty she said no isaid have you ever known daddy to tell a lie she said no so itold her mummy shouldnt say those things to you there not true and thats very naughty has daddy ever said bad things about mummy she said no i said no daddy wouldnt do that and anyway he wouldnt want to upset you she looked upset and shocked and said why would mummy lie to me why ! i said i dont no darling but you no courts dont lie and daddy has a big book from the courts that explains everything when you are old enough daddy is going to let you read it so you know everything he loves you very much she said ive been horrible to daddy as well and ive been hiding in my phone playing games
    i told her ur a big girl now you can see what daddy is like you make ur own mind up and don’t listen to what anyone else says
    she loves her dad and was allways hanging around him playing and laughing this past month she has been just sulking and hard to deal with were all giving her plenty of love and understanding after coming back from her mothers yesterday she looked down more tantrums but chose daddy to take her to bed
    when she comes home from visiting her mother she is allways different we cant hug her straight away we have to let her come round
    but she allways looks down unwashed and uncared for its heartbraking she is very stubborn but such a beautiful little girl and very caring
    she is back at school today which she loves and is very academic and quite clever
    but she has to spend a whole week with her mother next week i only hope she can cope with it she often says she wants to stay home
    but our hands are tied if we manage to have another recovery club session as she calls it is there anything you think i should ask her
    Thankyou so much for listening im feeling distraught at the moment her mother has done some terrible things like snatching my grandaughter out of school and running of with her when my son was in hospital with severe pneumonia it took nearly two months to get her back too her home where she was born and a school she loved by the way her mum says she doesnt see her enough but she was on her phone most of the day texting us yesterday from her bedroom wouldnt you think her mum would be spending time with her
    regards Nanny

    Reply
    • Colin Chalkley

      please let me know what you think
      christine

      Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      It sounds like a very painful situation made harder by the fact that you are a grandparent- having to watch something so painful but having very little power to change it. However, never underestimate the power of your steady loving presence in your granddaughter’s life and your care for her. It sounds like you are giving her the tools to make up her own mind- which in the long run will serve her very well. It may take a while but children eventually see the difference in the way adults treat them. If at all possible find a therapist just for her. That way she can sort out truth from fiction with a neutral party.

      As far as your question, about asking her mother a question, although I can’t advise you specifically, I can tell you that confronting a narcissist with their lies rarely goes well. They will (usually) gaslight and defend to the death their position. Your energy may best be spent modeling how an honest kind person of integrity treats the people they love. Best of luck

      Reply
  12. Dolly Davis

    Thankyou so much for this article, I am 48 and my mother is now 78 I have looked after her in one way or another since I was 7 years old, even when I got married she wouldn’t let me go she did everything she could to break my husband and I up and tried to manipulate our son.
    She is a pathological liar, not one truth comes from her mouth, she has told people such awful lies about me including I was a prostitute, a alcoholic, a drug addict, gave herself a false career and told people she was a wealthy woman and her sons were high achievers etc but apparently i was the only bad apple in the family ( I am the only one of her children who sees her).
    She managed to destroy every friendship and happy event in my life to date. I went no contact for 6 months and she was taken into hospital and my brother told me she was dying to get me to the hospital, then cheerfully went back to his own life and left me with her yet again.
    I feel so much resentment and hurt to all of my family now, but I am so blessed to have a wonderful husband and adult son who support me completely. I’m at the end of the road, so tired and drained by it all its never ending but somehow guilt keeps me there waiting! For what I’m not sure but I think its the day I have the freedom to eventually start my own life or thats how it feels…. my hearts go out to anyone who has a narcissistic parent its a pain thats hard to describe to anyone, and I send lots of blessings and strength to you all x

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Thank you for writing Dolly,
      What you describe sounds like hell on earth. I wish freedom for you! You deserve so much better in this life.
      Best,
      Katherine

      Reply
  13. Katie

    I don’t truly know if my mother is a narcissist, what I do know is she constantly lies to me about large events and occasionally to my aunts and cousins, makes me feel bad about almost anything I decide, and has neglected, emotionally abused me and broken my trust enough times that I don’t trust her with any information, or know if I even love her anymore. As a child i was told that money was never a problem because my mum has her own very successful business. Whenever I would question it a new very expensive present would show up, so I’d stop for a while, because I was told “if mum wasn’t so well off how could we afford such nice things?” When I was 13 we suddenly had to move out of our house which my aunt and cousins also lived in on another level, at the time I was told my mums company had gone under (shortly after the 2008 market crash) so bank was taking everything of value, my mum and my aunt didn’t talk for almost 10 years after we moved out, my mum told me they were fighting because my aunt screwed us out of our house. Whenever I asked for more details my mum would cry or get angry so I stopped asking. I never asked my aunt about it I was scared she’d have the same response and not want to see me anymore. A couple years later we moved out of the city all together and I was essentially cut off from the friends and family I grew up with. As an adult I brought up our old house at a Christmas dinner my boyfriends family was hosting and my mum said “what are you talking about? we never owned that house your aunt threw us out”. I felt incredibly embarrassed and stupid because I had mentioned that house lots because it was one of the happiest times in my childhood. It reminded me of being a child again because I felt alienated from people I love. A month and a half ago my mum told me she was dating someone new, she didn’t volunteer much info and I didn’t ask. 2 weeks ago I talked to my aunt who asked how my mum and her boyfriend were doing I volunteered the info my mum gave me about him and my aunt followed up with much more information and it sounded a lot more serious then what my mum had lead me to believe. Once I was off the phone with my aunt I called my mum to ask for more information and she told me they were taking it slow and they’re just friends right now, and the activities my aunt described as romantic get aways my mum described as multiple friends having a day trip. I’m not going to ask about the subject again because I don’t care for being confused because I’m hearing 2 very different stories. I don’t know if my mum will ever tell me the truth about much of anything and it makes me feel like I can’t trust my own memory as an adult about my memories involving my mum because I don’t know which things are my own memories and which are lies she told me. I got her to go to family counselling with me 5 times after telling her I wouldn’t have a relationship with her if we didn’t sort out our issues. The last one we went to she said she’d have to sort out her schedule and she’d call us back with times that worked for her. That was 3 months ago. I honestly don’t know if I should even bother trying to sort out our issues at this point.

    Reply
    • Katie

      I forgot to add the counselling situation, my final breaking point of me demanding family counselling was me calling her with some awful news about my life and her only reply was “oh good, you finally have time to do X,Y, & Z for me”. I hung up because I was already crying and wanted comfort or advice and it felt like she could not care less that I was hurting. I didn’t talk to her for the rest of the week while I thought about our relationship and she called me a week later acting totally normal, I cut her off to inform her I was extremely hurt by her reaction last week and she pretended to not know what I was talking about. I told her if she was going to behave like this instead of apologizing and going to counselling with me I wasn’t interested in having a relationship with her going forward, she started into her usual victim speech saying how she was doing her best and how I must think she’s a evil bad mum. As a teenager at this point I would give in and apologize for making her feel bad and reassure her she’s not a bad mum… But in that moment I was angry so I said “it doesn’t matter what happened to you in the past because you’ve had many many years to go to counselling to deal with it in a healthy way and you didn’t, so if this is your best it’s not good enough, and yes if this is how you react to me asking for an apology you are a bad mum. So you have 2 choices here, either you can apologize and go to therapy with me. Or we don’t need to have a relationship” she said “well since I’m such an awful mother you don’t have to deal with me anymore if that’s what you want”, I said “no, that’s not what I want, I’m giving you the opportunity to fix everything that’s wrong with our relationship” At some point during that last sentence she hung up on me, she called me a few days later again pretending everything was normal, so I asked if this call means she’s ready to go to counselling with me. She got angry so I hung up… it took 2 and a half months (November, December and some of January) of me not answering texts or calls from her for her agree to counselling. At no point did I block her texts or FB messages, but I had to block her calls because she would call me repeatedly through out my work day to the point I thought it was an emergency, so I’d step out of my office to take one of the calls for her to just chat as if nothing had happened I repeated I wasn’t interested in talking unless it was with a counseller. Mid-January I got a call from my aunt asking what was going on so because my mum told her I had blocked her on everything including calls, texts, email etc… which is bull. I explained the situation to her and she told me my mum called her asking her to phone me to inform me she was ready to go to counselling.

      Reply
      • Katherine Fabrizio

        Katie-
        I can hear the anguish in all that you have written- so confusing, so hurtful, sooooooo much time and energy dealing with this one person. Are you doing all the emotional and mental work in the relationship? It sure sounds like you are on the receiving end of some major gaslighting. The problem with moms like this is…you end up questioning yourself, going over and over and over what happened, trying to make sure you haven’t misread her or made a misstep yourself when all she is doing is lying, deflecting, and whatever it takes to throw you off her scent or get herself out of hot water in the moment. My guess is, she’s a master at it. She’s been honing these skills of deception all of her life and is pretty good at it.
        While I understand why you would want to go to therapy with her, my best guess is that she would do the same thing there, lie and deflect.

        I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for her to own up to everything just because she’s in a counselor’s office. It sounds very likely she strings you along with a promise to “go to therapy.” One question you might ask her is this- ” Mom, I hear you have agreed to go to therapy with me. What would you like to work on in therapy?” That way, you can test out if she is willing to take ownership of at least part of the problem.
        If she feigns innocence or puts it all back on you…. ask yourself what you could do with all of the energy you pour into a one-sided relationship with her if you were to use it for yourself, making your life better?
        Take care,
        Katherine

        Reply
        • Katie

          Thank you for your prompt reply, everything you said rings true, which makes me sad but perhaps it’s time I admit I’ll never have a healthy relationship with her. In regards to your question about what she would like out of therapy the therapist actually asked both of us that question in our first session and mum said she just didn’t want me to cut her off. When she said that I thought she meant she was willing to work with me to fix our relationship, but while in session it was mostly me talking and her replying with “well that’s not what I think happened” or “I don’t remember that” . So perhaps I should have seen that first answer as a red flag that she didn’t actually care about the state our relationship but instead only cared that the relationship existed and hoped to keep the status quo. I have a lot of thinking to do to decide if I want a relationship with her. But either way I believe I’ll be perusing individual therapy to sort out these issues. Thank you for your thoughtful advice it has helped.

          Reply
          • Katherine Fabrizio

            Dear Katie- You seem so thoughtful and reflective to me. Working things through over time in individual therapy is an excellent idea. As a therapist myself I have seen how this is a slow gradual process…and it needs to be in order to integrate complex feelings and come to decisions you feel good about. Sure there are epiphanies, moments of no turning back, and deal-breakers but in reality, this is the person( your mother) who most likely has been your role model as a woman and primary attachment figure. Whatever you decide you owe it to yourself to examine what kind of relationship, if any, you want with her, consider the impact she has had on your life, and heal.

            A clue I couldn’t help but notice (and you pointed it out) was when your mom said she was willing to go to therapy so you wouldn’t cut her off. That may be your leverage right here. She may be unable to own anything about her part in the relationship but she may be willing to comply with a request you make in order to stay in your life. Most or many difficult mothers don’t have what it takes to be a mutually respectful relationship- and it’s power that they respond to. Her verbiage ( from what you’ve said in your post) suggests to me that she responds to power, not feelings.

            A mistake I see many good daughters make is to talk in terms of feelings when mom will only respond to power statements. Daughters make relational statements and the mother responds with a power statement. If that’s true in your case, your best bet is to stop trying to get her to see your side or empathize with you but to make clear what you will and will not put up with in order to have her in your life. This may be the only thing she is capable of responding to. Then of course if she doesn’t comply you can take the next logical step.
            Best of luck,
            Katherine

  14. Missing My Mother

    I have found this article very helpful in understanding my mother. I am 39 and have only recently realized my mother is a narcissist and am working on overcoming the damaging effects it has had on my life and our relationship. I have discovered my mother is a frequent liar. This article has helped me to understand why she lies, although I do still find it hurtful. After reading this, I have been able to let go of some of the anger I have built up towards her because it has helped me see her as a deeply flawed and troubled person. However, I don’t think we will ever have a good/solid relationship and I have to work on coming to terms with that realization.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Dear Missing My Mother,
      What a beautifully poignant way you put your experience. When someone lies, they deprive the other person access to the true self. And a child of any age longs to make contact with their mother’s essential self.

      Although realizing the basis of your mother’s actions may be painful, I do hope you are ultimately set free by this painful realization.
      Ultimately, truth rather than lies always sets us free.
      Best of luck and thank you for writing about your experience.
      Katherine

      Reply
  15. Jim

    Hi I am a 16 year old boy who lives with his mother and sees his dad on the weekends but I don’t want to live with my mom because she is a liar and a narcissist I want to live with my dad because he has never told me a lie and can actually support me unlike my mother that constantly steals my hard earned money I make with my dad and when I confront her about it she says to not make her mad like what I should be the mad one you stole MY money so I looked in her purse today and saw my money and when I told her about it she got mad at me for looking through her purse when she goes through my drawer in search of money while I’m at school since a little kid I’ve been taken away from my dad she randomly just disappeared from the house with me and I can’t help but hate myself for not having the courage to tell her I don’t want to go with her and it’s because she is my mom and I feel if I tell her she’ll go crazy my mom needs serious help she’s always made me suffer but blames it on my dad when I’m with my dad I feel free to do whatever I want when I’m with my mom I feel like I’m trapped and just have to agree with her and one time I did tell her I didn’t want to be with her and she started crying and all this extra stuff and I can’t help seeing my mom cry and I feel that those tears are fake now she just wants me to be with her so she gets all this financial aid because if I leave she’s done even though she’s made my dad and I go through so much I can’t help but lover her I guess I’m just too soft my dad tells me to man up and I want to but I can’t I can’t help seeing her struggle and I don’t know what to do I guess I’ll just wait a year or two to go with my dad and I get worried about my dad and my mom because I feel like they both need me since they’re both pretty old I do well in school but I don’t know my career path and I don’t know about college or university if I don’t apply for a scholarship ship I might just keep working with my dad the pay isn’t that bad but I ask of someone to please suggest on what do I do

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Jim,
      It sounds like you are in a terrible dilemma and shouldn’t have to shoulder all this adult responsibility. Is there a counselor at school or an adult at church or a coach who would be able to listen to you without forcing you to take sides? Most adults realize that a child loves both their parents- no matter what. Perhaps you could tell your mom that talking to a counselor together – or even an older relative would help you. No child should have to feel responsible for a parent’s happiness. You deserve someone to help you sort through this. There are adults out there who would be happy to be a support to you.
      Best of luck to you,
      Katherine

      Reply
  16. Ange

    My mother lies effortlessly and constantly. I have identified 4 basic ways that she lies; firstly she makes up stories, complete fictions, secondly she embellishes and tweaks real events, thirdly she puts her thoughts and words into the mouths of others, and lastly she engages in willful misunderstanding, pretending that she mistook the meaning of another’s words. In every case there is a theme of her either being some kind of hero in the moment, or of being unfairly treated and victimised. Her lies have created great damage, probably permanent in the relationship between my older brother and myself. She doesn’t care, she feels she has won something by creating a rift. It took a lot of time and work to accept the idea that I was raised by such a woman. I have been no-contact with her for 3 years and this has helped in so many ways. My life has improved more than I could have imagined.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Ange,
      Thank you for writing in and sharing your experience.
      Your story is a testament to how destructive a mother’s lies can be and how sometimes going “no contact” is the only acceptable answer.
      It’s ironic when you think about it- with a mother who lies constantly to her children she makes it impossible for them to have “contact” with her true self. In doing so she has ensured ” no contact”. It comes from her.
      When you go ” no contact” what you are really saying is that you will no longer agree to be in contact with the faux construct she puts out there. It was never really her anyway.
      I’m happy for the peace that you have found.
      Take care,
      Katherine

      Reply
  17. Kathy

    My mother recently texted me and asked me to call her. So I did and the first thing she tells me is she tripped and fell and was knocked unconscious for 20 minutes, laying outside her house. I kept asking questions to this so called incident and every one of her answers was another lie, on top of lie on top of lie. I backed her in a corner with my questions until she said she had to let me go. This is just one, 10 minute conversation out of thousands throughout my life that have gone the same way. My mother is the most difficult person in my life, a narcissist with borderline personality disorder and whatever else mixed in there. She’s never been diagnosed because she’s refused to get help but I’d bet everything I own on it.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Kathy,
      Oh my gosh- this indeed sounds like a nightmare. It must take all of your energy just to stay sane. And good for you that you had the presence of mind to not take mom at her word but to question her- I imagine this was born out of a lifetime of feeling tricked.

      It is so disconcerting, to say the least when the same person who raises you can’t live in a world of truth.
      Thanks for writing in and sharing your experience.
      Take care,
      Katherine

      Reply
  18. Aime

    I grew up with a narcissistic mother who was constantly lying to me to spend as little money or no money on me al all. I have an older sister and had to wear all of her used clothes as to which my mother told the lie ‘Your brand new clothes come out of the wardrobe but your sister’s brand new clothes come from the shop.’ We were at the sops and my mum told me I can pick what I want, but as soon as I picked a piece of clothing I wanted, my sister would cry and mum would tell me “Mummy has no money today” but then bought clothes for my sister saying to me “I didn’t buy anything. I already told you I have no money”. On the rare occasion when I did get anything new, it was never what I had chosen. We were at the shops and I was told you can spend $20 on shoes, so I chose a pair I liked for $20.Mum looked at the price and told me that it is $40. She then chose a pair for $10 telling me that they cost $20.
    My emotions were never validated. My sister would cry every day saying that she never got a turn to choose what to eat for dinner or sit in the front seat of the car. Mum always believed her wheeling me “You don’t always get what you want in life”. That was a lie because my sister always got what she wanted. Mum’s excuse for letting this happen “She will get tired of getting her own way every day”. That was a lie as mum could see I was hurting and always lied to push me out of they way and punish me.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Aime- that sounds really hard. It helps sometimes to write it out to those who can hear you and validate your experience.
      Thanks for writing in.
      Katherine

      Reply

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