10 Things Narcissistic Mothers Say And What She REALLY Means

 

A thoughtful woman in recognition

 A narcissistic mother’s language is as predictable as it is telling. The things narcissistic mothers say will tell you everything you need to know about her.

It’s all part of a linguistic campaign to keep you in your place and provide cover for her hostility.

Yet, you may be so used to the things mom says you don’t expect anything different.

Still, that doesn’t mean Mom’s words don’t erode your self-esteem, make you doubt yourself, and keep you from claiming your experience as your own.

Let’s look at 10 things narcissistic mothers say and decode what they really mean.

  1. You’re just too sensitive. -I won’t be held accountable for the hurt you feel from my comments. Instead, I will imply there is something wrong with you rather than something hurtful about my comment.
  2. I never said that.– If you hold me accountable for the hurt I caused, I will simply deny I ever said it. Easy peasy.
  3. I’m only trying to help. I can criticize you, undermine you and overstep, but if you don’t experience my actions/comments as helpful, it’s your fault.  This gives me a free pass to act on my hostility and attribute blame to you.
  4. This is for your own good.– I know what you need better than you do. This gives me Carte Blanche to do cruel things and pass them off as helpful.
  5. Only your mother will tell you.– I give myself special dispensation to cut you down because I am your mother.
  6. I was just joking .– If you feel mocked by me, I bear no responsibility. I can say whatever I want, and you have no right to call me out.
  7. I’m sure you don’t mean that. However, you feel in response to me is of no interest to be. I will invalidate your feelings if they don’t agree with mine.
  8. I’m sorry but you...If you dare question me, I’ll just turn the spotlight on you.  A good offense is the best defense.
  9. Is there something going on with you? I refuse to accept the legitimacy of what you are saying. Instead, I’m going to turn it back on you with faux concern.
  10. I’m sorry you took it that way.– What I said or did made you feel is 100% your responsibility, not mine. I am not interested in a mutually respectful relationship.

While those are only a hand full of the things narcissistic mothers say, there are plenty more where they came from.

*** For example-

You’ll be sorry when I’m gone.–  I will silence you with guilt by implying there will be good things to miss when I am gone.  I won’t take relational responsibility for them here, and now, I’ll preemptively borrow it from the hereafter. Notice, I’m implying I won’t be the one held accountable for my actions, not now nor in the great by and by.

(Silent treatment)- Saying by not saying – I will withhold my attention and affection and make you squirm wondering what you did wrong. I’ll deny feeling angry and offer you no way back into my good graces.

Phew – sound familiar?

I thought it might…

Well, ugh…but there it is.

What is she doing?

 

  1. Invalidating you– In effect, Mom is saying your feelings and perspective don’t matter… so any hurt you feel is not legitimate.

  2. Dismissing you– By taking your feelings and perspective out of the equation and discarding them Mom says she is the only one that matters in the relationship.

  3. Projecting the hurt back onto you – If Mom can pawn the hostility off on you she doesn’t have to explain herself or own her part in the conflict. So your hurt isn’t relevant.

(What she’s really saying:)

“Protecting and promoting myself is more important to me than staying in loving connection with you. ”  

In fact, these things narcissistic mothers say don’t promote connection; they do the opposite they sever, cut off, disenfranchise you. 

wire fence imagery to underscore mom protecting herself

Yet, you are probably wondering,

” Is that true? ”  

“How can you be sure that’s what she meant? Couldn’t any one of these statements taken at face value reflect a genuine misunderstanding?”

ABSOLUTELY.

In a loving, trusting relationship that has momentarily gone sideways- people make mistakes. Good, well-meaning people

  • Say snarky things
  • Are tone-deaf at times
  • Can be genuinely surprised that they have upset someone they love

Who doesn’t make a relational misstep now and then?

I know I do 🙂

So what’s the difference between an honest miscommunication and one designed to hurt?

To get at the heart of the matter, ask yourself this:

Does Mom-

  •  Treat you like an equal?
  • Apologize when she is wrong?
  • Care about how her words make you feel?
  •  Circle back and check-in with you when the heat of the moment has passed, you both have cooled down, or when she realizes she has hurt your feelings?
  •  Want to make it right or make her point?

 Hummmm, maybe that pit in your stomach or the tightness in your chest… is telling you something?

 

10 things narcissistic mothers say

Ask yourself-

Are you swallowing the hurt and still giving Mom the benefit of the doubt… when she doesn’t deserve it? If so, you might be stuck in the role of the good daughter. Good for Mom and decidedly bad for you. 

Does Mom need to lord her superiority over you, keep you in your place, and make sure you don’t get the relational upper hand? Could it be that she has a narcissistic personality disorder or is high in Narcissistic traits?

If the answer is yes-

these common statements are doing relational violence to you. They invalidate your internal experience and elevate her relevance and dominance.

But why would Mom want to do that to you?

The answer lies in understanding narcissism. To see if your mother is a Narcissist, go here. But the bottom line is this; the Narcissistic playbook has no room for equals, only superiors, and inferiors.  Their verbiage isn’t about building a loving, caring connection. It is designed to wield power over you.

In conclusion-

It doesn’t make it right, but it does make it real. 

Remember building a healthy relationship requires a foundation of trust and respect. Trust that you can share vulnerabilities without repercussion and respect that each of you is a separate person with differing but equal perspectives.

In contrast, the Narcissistic relationship is-

  • neither respectful nor trustworthy
  • Their statements shut you down and shut you out.
  • They erode your self-esteem, cause you to doubt yourself, and discourage you from open, honest communication.

no exit

Here’s the truth as I see it-

*** Saying these things doesn’t make Mom a narcissist, but a Narcissistic mother is sure to say them.***

So, if you dread visits with Mom and… leave feeling worse about yourself than when you came, you might want to take a closer look at why.

Know this –

Your life can be better. You can learn to shield yourself from interpersonal assault once you know it is there. If you can’t decode the language, you will keep coming away from encounters with her, not knowing why you feel so crappy.

Without awareness-

You will continue to wonder, ” Is it me or is it her? ” Because- you can’t rise above something you don’t know is there. And you can’t deal with something you can’t see. Lifting the psychological veil on the things Narcissistic mothers say to reveal the intent behind them puts you in a position to rise above them.

If it is time to break free and take your life back, go here! 

Does your mother say these things?  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

50 Comments

  1. Patricia

    I totally identify with what you have written. It is in her eyes ( dead eyes), her tone, her body language ( hugging her was like hugging a statue), her smirk, her never asking how I am doing. I used to think I had no choice but to tolerate her because well she is my mom….I’ll miss her when she’s gone. Hmm, where did I get that idea? She was ALWAYS around with her “helpful” comments, suffocating my soul. Being quiet doesn’t work. Standing up for yourself is also met with mockery. I don’t try for a relationship anymore.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Thanks for writing. I hear the grief and resignation in your reply. Some mothers are so damaged themselves they have nothing to give. Just remember knowledge can be empowering and an ending can also be a beginning- perhaps the beginning of your liberation.
      Take care,
      Katherine

      Reply
      • Lee

        Hi, I couldn’t find a place to comment except after a comment, if that makes sense! Anyway, I am having a difficult time through the holidays. I stood my ground with my mom and she did not like it. She went online to a mutual social app to tell people what a liar I am and then saying, “Well, you know where it came from.” Making me to be the family liar and trouble maker.
        She says or does terrible things and denies them by saying that it never happened or if it did, she was only joking. Hurtful, awful things. One time I was just stroking her hair and she told me “Would you stop that! If you wanted to play with hair, you should have kept some of your own! She was mad because I cut my hair. I still love her of course and want a good relationship but it will probably never happen. I’m just really sad, mad and wondering why she is like this.

        Reply
        • Katherine Fabrizio

          Hi Lee,
          I can hear the hurt in your comment. It can feel so bad to be treated so cruelly by your own mother. And what’s worse, not know why. Here’s something I wrote about it below.

          “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 core is an untouchable emptiness. Attuned daughters feel this.

          What is important to remember is this- You didn’t cause your mothers narcissism, 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 narcissism, 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.”

          I am sorry you are having trouble through the holidays. We tend to expect more during this time of year only to be disappointed. Take a look around this site and educate yourself. See here that others are struggling too. And know that just because your mother doesn’t like it when you stand up for yourself doesn;t mean you are doing the wrong thing.
          Take care,
          Katherine

          Reply
        • Ann

          I completely understand. I was told by my mother as she is visiting this week, after calmly but firmly standing up for myself, “I never raised you this way” and was met with an “I’m sorry, but you…..” as a faux apology and she doesn’t get why I can’t feel completely safe in conversation with her. She used guilt trips explaining how much money she spent to come and visit, as if I owe her allegiance and should never speak up for myself or mention when she has done something that hurts me. Glad for this article and that others are going through the same thing, it’s not just me.

          Reply
        • annnonymouusSoul

          Hey , lee your not alone! , though it may feel it i to struggle with my mother daughter relationship
          And have had a similar experience pls feel free to comtact me ,

          Reply
    • Linda

      I haven’t been following this for a while but have to add my two cents worth. I had an enormous problem with my mother for my entire adult life until my mother died about a year ago. I have not missed her at all and have been happier than I had been in many years. I had been in therapy off and on for decades, and finally felt like I had worked it out in my own mind, even though it was impossible to ever get anything worked out with my mom. She had dementia for about the last 15 years of her life, but she never understood before anyway. I found diaries she had written and, although painful to see what she thought of me and my sister and how she adored our brother, it helped me figure things out and move on. I’m doing fine now and so glad she’s gone (I’ll probably be struck by lightning).

      Reply
      • Katherine Fabrizio

        Hi Linda- (Sorry I didn’t see your post earlier and respond )
        I think you make the point that just because a person gave you birth and is your mother- if she is cruel to you and doesn’t exhibit motherly love, you might not miss her when she’s gone. I believe your experience can give others hope that all they need to do is “work it out in their own minds” they can be free. I imagine this wasn’t easy, but you did it. Thank you for giving others the benefit of your example.
        Take care,
        Katherine

        Reply
    • Carol Brown

      I stopped reaching out also. Just got so tired of chasing my mom. Always trying to get her to love me.

      Reply
      • Katherine Fabrizio

        Hi Carol,
        No child , even an adult child should have to chase a mother for her love. I hope you are able to find people in your life who can reflect your value back to you.
        Take care,
        Katherine

        Reply
  2. perra verde

    Oh yes poor thing. We have to feel sorry for the damaged person who decided that making your life a misery was the only way to feel that she was even alive. Well that sucks.
    My own mother could not see me without making a detrimental comment, demand attention, ask for flattery, wield the silent treatment if she didn’t get her way, humiliate me in front of others and a 1001 delightful other demeaning micro-aggressions. Gawd almighty, how I wish there were an OBLIGATORY parental licence before these awful people were allowed to have children. We have to have a licence to drive, to run a pub, to exercise a career, even to own dogs in some places: why the hell isn’t there one for parenting?
    I’m older now and so can reply to her bitchiness without too much pain, but largely because I don’t think its a good thing still being harassed by my narc mother when I’m an old lady. Perish the thought.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Well put Perra,
      I agree while some mothers are acting out of a deficit, others are intentionally cruel.
      Thank you for writing in,
      Katherine

      Reply
  3. Rachel

    I downloaded your Good Daughter’s Guide to Freedom. The first thing I read: “On the extreme end of the continuum, your mother has a personality disorder, narcissistic, borderline or histrionic that prevent her from supporting your
    independence.”
    I have borderline personality disorder and I don’t understand why people have such a bad opinion about BPD. Because of how my parents were towards me, I have always supported my (now adult) kids in every way I can. I’ve always encouraged them to have their own opinions, thoughts, feelings, because I was NEVER allowed to have any of those. I encouraged them to be independent because I was suffocated and controlled. I always own up to my mistakes and say sorry and try to make things right when I mess up because my parents could never do any wrong, and apologising is foreign to them. I listen to my kids and learn from them because it’s a changing world, and I know what it’s like when parents still sit in the 1950s and think anything they don’t agree with is bad. I refuse to be anything like my parents were.
    To be honest, I can’t wait until they pass. I know that sounds awful but I hate the way they are. They visit my brother but won’t take the time to visit me (I live 3 minutes from the road they take to his place). If they do visit (once a year at most), they refuse to leave their dog in the car even though it scares the hell out of my cats and at one stage we spent $300 trying to see what was wrong with one of our cats and all it was, was STRESS from the dog. They still don’t care. They live over an hour away but come into the city regularly (again, taking the road 3 minutes from where I live) and don’t bother to visit but turn it on me and say I don’t visit them. I can’t afford the fuel to go out and see them and I’m NEVER in that area! Plus I don’t want to visit them. Ugh.
    Wow, sorry… digression to the max…
    Anyway
    BPD isn’t always bad. The worst of mine comes out when people treat me like shit (eg mum, dad, brother, husband) and of course, then I’m the bad person for reacting to their crap. As far as I can tell, BPD people are the only honest people in the world because they feel so intently that they can’t hide it or lie about it. But that’s just my experience. I was a little disappointed to read that. Not once have I heard anyone put BPD in a positive light, except the psychiatrist who diagnosed me.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Thank you for writing. You make a really good point. Not every parent with BPD is unable to support their daughter’s independence. You have certainly shown that you can stop a cycle (and even go farther than most in the healthy direction) despite having parents who didn’t/couldn’t support you. That takes a special kind of person and bravo for you.

      Reply
    • annnonymouusSoul

      Thank you very insightful i can resonate and i think there’s a lot of truth in your words,

      Reply
      • Katherine Fabrizio

        Thank you Soul!

        Reply
  4. Aprilaurie Whitley

    I am 50 years old, and a year ago, decided I simply could not take anymore. I BEGGED, and so did my husband, my mother to go to counseling with me. She refused, saying she did not need it. So I went. Unfortunately, the therapist didn’t know about NPD, and neither did I, until I read your pages. My mother is 80, and I have not spoken to her in over 1 year. I know she’s pissed and will most likely disown me, but I just can’t handle anymore. She constantly puts me down, starts fights, and LIES!! But don’t tell her that!!! The anxiety I felt knowing I may have to deal with my mother, at any time, was unbearable to me, and, in turn, my husband. We often fought, because of how I could simply not handle her constant put downs, and my husband would tell ME I have to grow up (?!?), and handle her like an adult. But I am the child!!! No one understands this grief.
    On top of all this, my brother has not spoken to me in 18 years. My mother blames me because of a family business. I told her over and over, he stopped talking to me 2 years before the business was involved. She conveniently forgets this every time and continues to place the blame on me.
    I have told her over and over how unbelievably difficult it is for me to, literally, deal with her. She finally agreed to go to counseling, but it’s WAY too late for me. What many people don’t understand is, I can predict EVERYTHING my mother will say and do. Counseling will never help her, as she does not believe she has any issues.
    What mother tells her daughter, “some girls are pretty and some girls need to work at it. Well, Aprilaurie, you need to work at it.”
    I was 15 years old. The entire time I was pregnant with both boys, I was “fat”. I gained 30 pounds with both children; she only gained 15. At an open house party I threw a few years back, I walked into my kitchen to hear my mother telling someone she didn’t even know that I am selfish!!!!!! When I confronted her about this years later, she said she remembered and just didn’t know why she did it. Her excuse for everything. I could go on and on. I have HUNDREDS of examples of her NPD.
    What is so crazy is, other people have NO idea the extent of her disorder. If they knew the things she said, they simply would not believe me.
    I don’t know what to do or where to turn. There’s a HUGE hole in me. I cry constantly. I don’t know how my husband deals with me. I don’t want to die to get out of this situation, but I wouldn’t mind if she did. I am a horrible person. But I know deep in my heart, she made me this way.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Aprilaurie,
      Unfortunately, counseling rarely helps mothers like yours. I am so sorry for all of the pain you have suffered. I don’t have the impression you are a horrible person at all. I think you are mistaken about that and torturing yourself unnecessarily. Clients I have helped in the past… after a period of grief… can come to realize there is life for them outside of that painful relationship. Don’t let her impairment define you.
      Best of luck,
      Katherine

      Reply
  5. Cassey Anderson

    My mother is so needy, she always needs me to do something for her(things she can easily do herself) help her with this or that. And freaks out or does silent treatment if I don’t jump at her demand within 5 seconds. And I have 2 small children 1y and 5y.
    If I am doing something for my 1y old son, its always ohhhh, nevermind then! Your too busy or pfft. I guess not since baby is up. And storms off.
    Constantly undermine me with my kids, often siding with my 5 yr old daughter. Or when i discipline my 5yr old, she escalates it and makes my kid upset at me when she was calm and listening to me before.. then my mom blames me for my kids attitude and demeaning my husband in front of the kids.
    I rent out my moms basement, what do I do?? I’m going crazy. She’s always putting me down or placing blame on me for everything she treats me like dirt. And like I Constantly owe her something, something that can never be paid back, so i have to give her my life or something?
    Seriously. . My family jokingly calls me cinderella. Its that bad.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Cassey,
      Although I can’t know everything about your situation it does indeed sound toxic and not likely to get better on its own. Daughters in similar situations have found that the only way they gain the leverage to call the shots in their own lives is to cut financial ties with their mother and operate from a place of independence. Trying to convince your mom to treat you differently rarely works, if ever. Stating what you will and will not do and then withstanding her manipulative pushback without wavering is ultimately what it needed. Even if you can’t move out right away, making plans to do so will give you a sense of empowerment. When its all said and done she only has as much power as you give her. Good luck.

      Reply
  6. Denise Boyd

    My mother riped out my soul and ate my spirit!

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Denise,
      Thank you for reaching out.
      It sounds like things have bottomed out for you. I am so sorry.
      Sometimes the bottom can signify a new beginning.
      I hope that might be the case for you.
      Take care,
      Katherine

      Reply
      • Angela Broyles

        I came across this page while trying to research why my daughter told me I am a narcissist. I always try to understand things, to “figure things out”. I have a psychological mind and I am always trying to better understand feelings.

        My daughter stopped speaking to me over a year ago. She is 25. I always felt very close to her. I have 3 daughters. My oldest daughter is special needs. My second oldest is my niece whom my husband and I adopted when she was 14. It is my youngest daughter, who is only 3 months younger that has stopped speaking to me.

        I have lived a complicated life. I had a rough childhood but I have made the best of everything. I feel like I am similar to Rachel who wrote in about being a mother with BPD. I raised all of my children with the mindset that I would never be like my parents. I tried to give them everything at the expense of myself, but I didn’t see it that way because I thought they were the most important thing in the world. I made mistakes. I know this. I took pride in being the best mom I could be.

        I have a strong desire to help others and it has caused me to become involved in families lives, relationships and such to the extent where I am seen as a control freak, but I am miserable because I don’t even want to be that involved, and only get there by not saying no when they ask for help. There are a million things I have looked at, researched and tried to understand about myself. I do not have high self esteem but I have been trying to work on that. I saw my value measured only by my children, as a mother.

        I try to see things from all perspectives. That said, I also readily admit that I am very imperfect and speak from my heart, my emotions and fear and anger at times. I also understand this and try to make sure I apologize when I am wrong or hurtful. I read the statements that a narcissist mother uses and I have used them. I never intentionally used them as written, but I can see how they can be taken that way. My own mother wielded guilt as a weapon. I had always thought that intention was a huge factor in the way we speak or deal. I can genuinely say that I would never want to hurt my daughter intentionally, and I know that I have hurt her unintentionally. I think that maybe I tried so hard to not make her feel inadequate that I somehow crossed a line and did that anyway in a reverse pattern. I’m just not sure.

        There is so much more that would take so very long to explain, her moving out, my grief at both of my younger daughter “leaving the nest”, my smothering her. I can see so many things I did that could have led to this. But I can also see and remember so so many happy things. Our joy. I find myself so confused. I want to understand and to be able to have a relationship with her, or at least be in her life. I cannot find a way. I have given her space, I thought, but not enough. I base my actions on instincts and knowing that I was very hurt that when I myself had to tell my own mother I needed space, I was hurt that she never reached out. So I started small by only sending cards or checking in with her fiancé. She told me I was not respecting her needs. I backed off then and gave her full freedom, but I hesitated to let it go for too long and gave her think I didn’t care. As you can see, I second guess everything I do and I do not know what the right choices are.

        I would like to know if I am a narcissist mother. I would like to know if the daughters on here can help me understand and what the best way for me to react to my own daughter. I have no pride, only a wish to understand. I am not obsessed, as it probably sounds. I do live my life and love my other daughters and I am happily married.

        Reply
        • Katherine Fabrizio

          Hi Angela-
          Thank you for writing in. I am the author of this post so I thought I might respond- although other may have their opinions as well.

          First of all, I hear your angst, hurt, and confusion. I also hear what sounds to me to be a genuine desire to understand better what has gone wrong in your relationship with your daughter.

          Let me address your question – am I a narcissist?
          While all narcissistic mothers are likely to say what I have pointed out here… not all mothers who have said these things at one time or another are narcissists. Also, narcissism exists on a spectrum.

          Mothers who have experienced trauma in their lives are likely to pass down some version of that trauma without realizing they are doing it. As an imperfect mother of two grown daughters, I have certainly said things and done things that hurt my daughters. And, like you, I was determined to not repeat the same mistakes and ended up making some of my own. You just have to say… oh well…. and continue to listen to your children.

          I think many mothers who have had tough childhoods swing too far in the other direction and then have a hard time hearing it when their own daughters have complaints At least that was true for me.

          If you are serious about change- I have some pretty strong medicine. It’s from another blog post but I think it definitely applies here. Here goes and good luck!

          1-) Don’t make blanket apologies.
          ” I’m so sorry for anything I ever did to hurt you” is next to useless. While you may mean it, there is no individual responsibility or accountability in that statement. A genuine apology is specific. For example, “I regret the hurt I caused you when I called you names/mocked you/ intruded upon your privacy by reading your text messages/ flew into an alcoholic rage and embarrassed you in front of your in-laws/ ruined your wedding by making a scene/. You get the picture. A real apology reflects that you understand and take ownership of the hurt you caused.

          Any shortcut is a cop-out.

          2) Don’t send your husband, family members, or close friends to plead your case or put pressure on your daughter.

          She will feel ganged up on…. because she is ganged up on. You are spending relationship currency you didn’t earn. It is unfair… and both cowardly and bullying.

          It will backfire spectacularly as it should.

          3) Don’t shower her with unending declarations of your love or platitudes of how much a mother loves her daughter.

          In case you hadn’t noticed, love isn’t what she is feeling from you now. Insisting she feel loved when she feels upset and hurt will only demonstrate your unwillingness to take her seriously and it will alienate her even further.

          Instead, demonstrate your love by your willingness to tolerate uncomfortable feelings and self-examination.

          4) Do take responsibility for your own healing and self-care.

          If you’ve had a rough childhood and some resulting trauma, take yourself to therapy, AA, Alanon, or for a run. Complain all you need to to your peers and fill up that journal with the gruesome gnarly details. – no holds barred.

          Log some real-time in therapy. Go when you don’t feel like it. Dig down deep. Don’t plead your case and report back that the therapist thinks you aren’t the problem or use therapy as a mediation tool.

          Go to therapy on your own and own up to the work.

          5) Don’t use your terrible childhood, “I had it so much worse,” as an excuse for your current behavior.

          All your daughter knows is how you are acting currently. For her, that’s all that matters. For better or worse, you don’t start with chips to cash in just because you endured worse than you are giving your daughter. It doesn’t work that way. She can’t make the past up to you.

          Life isn’t fair, and that isn’t her job.

          6) Don’t make your daughter your therapist or your sounding board. She can’t be that for you.
          Again, this goes back to the power differential. Your daughter can’t challenge you or give you constructive feedback the way a therapist or friend can. She is not your equal and never will be.

          It is unfair to put her in the position of a peer or a professional.

          7) Do listen to your daughter’s feelings about you without defending yourself.
          If she has mustered up the courage to tell you what bothers her about what you have done… listen without defense. Defending yourself immediately negates all the good getting it off her chest has just accomplished. At this point, she needs you to take in what she has to say.

          If, at some later time, you want to give her your side of the story, ask her if she could listen to how you experienced the interaction. Short of that, just listen.

          8) Don’t follow an apology with a “yes but, you…”
          Do make a genuine apology if you feel one is merited. But, don’t cast blame on your daughter or play the victim. It won’t bring your estranged daughter back into a relationship with you.

          If you disagree an apology is merited, simply say, I hear you.

          9) Don’t comment on your daughter’s weight, hair, sexuality, or romantic relationships.
          As an adult, your daughter’s body is her own. She isn’t your baby doll, nor is she a reflection of you. And her sexuality, yep, that’s off-limits- end of story.

          One word, momma, boundaries.

          Her choice of romantic partners is one way she grows up and differentiates from you. Even if the relationship fails or seems to you that it is on the wrong track…

          It is not your place to pass judgment.

          10) Do let your daughter’s successes be hers to enjoy and her failures be learning opportunities rather than indictments of her character.
          No matter how fiercely you can want to “save” your daughter from making the mistakes, you think you can see coming a mile away, the truth is… she may need to run that experiment herself and fail.

          But, on the other hand, she may succeed.

          Either way, it’s her life and her success to celebrate or her mistake to learn from.

          11) Don’t say, “I told you so.”

          Life’s lessons are brutal enough without someone gloating with a smirk on their face.

          If you want to be close, don’t be that person.

          12) Do love her through whatever life throws at her.
          Your job is to love her through whatever comes… not bail her out or loan her money… but stand by and listen, believe in her, and trust that she can learn from it all.

          If you want to be the person she calls when she gets the promotion AND the person she calls when her boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse dumps her, say, ” I’m here for you. I believe in you. Everything will be all right. ” because it will… eventually, it will.

          The little girl in her needs to hear that from her mother.

          So, I hope you can take these suggestions from a mother who walks the walk. And I don’t get it right all of the time-
          Perhaps these “rules” could open the door for you and your daughter. Some daughters go no contact because they simply can’t find another way to express what they are feeling. Maybe this will give the two of you some words and concepts to deal with.

          I’m rooting for both of you.
          Take care,
          Katherine

          Reply
  7. Deborah

    I still struggle everyday with what she has done. Both my brother and sister committed suicide. I can relate to all of the above statements, she’s said them all. I told her I have diabetes and she said “you didn’t get because of me because I gave you vitamins when you were little”. Oh how the list goes on and still goes on. She has done some pretty unspeakable things. Didn’t receive the nurturing as a child so I struggle with a sense of “self”. I question who I am. I had no idea how to put any boundaries in my life and that led to alot of bad outcomes for me. I suffer from major depressive disorder, PTSD, and generalized anxiety. I’m still dealing with her but 2,000 miles away. Thank you

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Oh Deborah- this sounds so awful.
      Take care of yourself and know it is never too late to heal even when you feel the odds are insurmountable.
      Awareness is power.
      Thank you for writing in and sharing your experience.
      Take care,
      Katherine

      Reply
  8. Barb

    Wow this is spot on with my mother. I struggled as an adult with my feelings because I was taught no matter what you respect your parents even if they are not right. I am just learning these traits of my mother because as you so perfectly put it I wanted to be the “good daughter”. But I am ready at 52 to take control of my life and feelings. Thank you for the support

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Thanks for writing Barb.
      Believe it or not, many “good”daughters only realize in later life that they have been reading from a script that has more to do with the mother’s needs than their needs. I love that you are ready to take control of your life and feelings. It’s never too late.

      Reply
  9. Kris

    Hi. Please help me. I have been living like this for 50 years. I feel like I am at the end of my rope. The guilt is heavy, but equally, if not more so is my self doubt and feelings of worthlessness. I am the only child. She was a single mother, I have no siblings to lean on or to validate the abuse I feel. My mother is turning 79. Who will care for her? I am in such a tailspin. I feel like I can’t go on.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Kris,
      Although I can’t know exactly what is going on for you right now, I certainly hear your pain and isolation.
      Since your mother has been your whole world since early childhood it can be hard to fathom that her reality is not the only reality.

      Right now, instead of asking who will care for Mom- ask yourself -who will care for me? Know that there are hundreds if not thousands of daughters (and some sons) that have felt as you feel. You are not alone. When you are isolated it can feel like there are no options- like life will always be this way.

      That is not true! You can make changes, even small changes that will shift how you feel in small(at first)ways that can eventually add up to big changes. Find a friend or therapist who can hear the details of your story and help you generate options. You don’t owe sacrificing your mental health to anyone and that includes your mother.
      In the meantime, if you need this National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
      Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish. Learn more
      800-273-8255
      Best wishes,
      Katherine

      Reply
  10. Lu

    Yet another wonderfully helpful article provided to those seeking ANYTHING that MIGHT HELP w/the CONSTANT & PERSISTENT gut wrenching, damning & dooming atmosphere present between the overachieving, yet deterioratung “damaged” individual sadly borne of a DEEPLY MALIGNANT narcissistic mother……

    Personally, I believe & FEEL those whom create &/or make available articles (&/or any resource of THIS type) available to those in need of such ARE some of THE MOST BLESSED & DESERVING among us: those whom know about, have empathy for, and direct concerted energy/effort towards meaningful.help or support of those of us whom have or have TRIED to overcome the severe damage /injury inflicted upon us at the hands of the narcissistic mother (&/or even worse: at the hands of BOTH parents of significant narcissistic personaluity)

    Again, personally, at the age of 56, I’ve NOTHING LEFT IN ME to offer or percieve of any helpful means regarding insight &/or advice since MY narcissistic mother is still alive & doing QUITE well despite her early 80 years. Altho at one time, for many years I was a highly successful & thriving individual despite my upbringing, my gullibility & wrongful belief I couldmor.would eventually gain my mother’s love – authentic love – I realize the enormity of personal deficits which brought me to THIS PLACE of being utterly &;irretrievably BROKEN beyond ANY POSSIBILITY of experiencing even ONE MORE day sans despising the fact of breathing. Fact

    IF I had a molecule of energy , or could FIND ONE I could foolishly waste to revel in a fantasy or wish, it would be that any & EVERY individual alive today borne of the unfortunate circumstance to be the offspring of a narcissistic parent whom hasn’t or didn’t abandon them be made aware of what a narcissist IS from a young age. My wish would entail some guarentee of sorts, that ALL individuals, regardless of race, culture, age &/or place & circumstance of birth BE TAUGHT the basic or fundamental characteristics of what a narcissist IS & how to identify such individuals among us. My wish would be of equivalent importance as say, the very language one us brought up to understand and, if at all possible, learned via whatever skills are necessary & given individual abilities – to communicate. Yes, I DO believe the matter is THAT important! Thus, such information OUGHT BE provided THROUGHOUT one’s entire Lifetime & most especially & minimally, through the years of whatever form(s) of scholastic education – either made available or mandated. I believe NOT UNLESS/UNTIL individuals are taught & made fully aware of the characteristics of, methods of interacting & eventual outcomes of sjort & worse, long term.exposure TO or interactions/relationships WITH these most malignant types of personalities, will humankind ever be able to get a handle of these dorms.of Life …. &/or more importantly, will there EVER EXIST any remote possibility of ability of individuals BORNE OF THEM to experience any form of Life that might authentically resemble a Life of quality.

    I take the position of those most deserving & in need of the aforementioned awareness being the offspring of the narcissistic mother whom is kept & raised by the narcissistic birth mother/parent because I sincerely believe an abandoned child of a narcissistic parent [& most importantly, mother] has FAR GREATER possibilities of opportunity to experience a life of purpose, value & SOME fulfillment than those unfortunates of us whom are kept & raised by such SOUL SUCKING forms of humans. At THIS point in my life, I confess the loose terminology of “human being” to be somewhat undeserving in reference to the narcissistic parent.

    MY mother has INSURED my awareness of the FACT (in Mine & my siblings’ case) where “Life” is concerned: tis NOT a gift, but rather, a CURSE to be endured whilst we still breath. This is a fact of Life I have been VERY well aware of since the time I can recount even having memories …. and an understanding which has only been strengthened/reinforced as I aged, such that today, at age 56, I KNOW TO BE TRUTH ❗ However, IF there is but a single Blessing I am now fully capable of appreciating & experiencing authentic gratefulness for, it is that I DID FINALLY learn THE difference between those whom experience Life as a Blessing versus mine, a lifelong curse, was/is NOT founded upon either the incremental or cumulative inadequacies which arose on the part of solely MY being: I was damaged before I could speak – & continued being damaged & destroyed up to this very day & moment.

    Whilst I never & don’t believe in hope &/or wishes, I DO believe in prayer & thoughts of the positive. At this juncture, having NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE/OFFER, I AM able to muster this thought & thus, choose to make known as my prayer: that ALL that CAN be done , WILL be done for those, the least of us: those whom even their mother CAN NOT love.

    Meantime?
    My only other prayer is that anybody whom finds themself suspicious of having a narcissistic parent DO whatever is in their power, ability & control TO SEEK ANSWERS & help. Although MY advice is not a cure all or w/out possibility of error & as such, the potential for hurt & pain associated w/an incorrect determination….. BUT …. having the experiences I’ve had since birth , I advise ALL to err on the side of finding the parent to be one of “them”, the narcissistic parent. Save yourself. Bcuz, IF you DO have a narcissistic parent (?), there WILL NEVER BE ANYBODY whom can or will love, support, nurture, etc you BUT YOURSELF until you become of age to seek out & be RE-PARENTED & taught what a decent or even halfway healthy parent could.or would have imparted to you.

    And to the author(s) of this article.&/or those, whom because of their role(s) made possible this article to be available to those in need OF the information contained within it ?

    Bless your hearts & may whatever Higher Power that exists see you are duly blessed in kind reciprocation of your generous Spirit to those in need of support for their Spirit …. for those whom it is NOT too late .

    ~ With Sicerity ,
    ~ From one whom did NOT succeed in overcoming …….

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Lu,
      Thank you for writing in.
      I am so sorry for the pain you have experienced and continue to experience.
      If I hear you correctly you are emploring readers to educate themselves as early and as thoroughly as they can to prevent a lifetime of pain- wishing and hoping their mothers would change if only they were “good enough”- a demoralizing, soul-sucking, and ultimately impossible enterprise. Your writing attests to the futility of staying caught in that cycle.
      Thank you for speaking out. I’m sure it will help many people.
      Best,
      Katherine

      Reply
    • Jordyn

      Wow that really hit the mark. My mother screams at the top of her lungs that she hates me and never wants to see me again. I’m 57 and I was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer so her wish is about to come true.

      Reply
      • Katherine Fabrizio

        Dear Jordyn,
        This is truly horrible. No one should have to endure such pain. I hope and pray you have others in your life that value you.
        Bless you,
        Katherine

        Reply
  11. Boitumelo Matabane

    Hi i have been dealing with emotional abuse over my childhood….i remember my high school teacher spoted these from my essay…she got me a therapist to help me nd the therapist noticed the problem was our relationship….that time i was still too little to know about narcissism….few years ago my older bother passed away….and he was the favourite….he was successful….compared to me i studied iam a single mum nd still stuggling to get a job….these surfaced yet again…..i remember after she found out about my pregnancy she pulled me out of bed as i sleeping nd chased me out of her house few days after dat i was bleeding i went to the clinic nd i was diagnosed with high blood plessure…..i had to put my child first nd ignore her….even today i still stay with her together with my son….she belittles me infront of my son….calls me crazy….reminds me dat shes a breadwinner every chance she gets….wats worse is she has no simpathy tears literally gives her joy….iv tried it all even to stand up for myself but i know i can be a better parent to my son….living in her world suffocates me….i was always suicidal wen i was a child but iam thankful God gave me a child i have a reason to live for now….i can never impress my mum…..wheather i do good or bad i can never measure up to my late brother nd if i dont do as she says i look like iam been disrespectful…..i alwalys fall into her trap nd think oh well but shes my mother….other days i just feel like jumping out of my body becsuse its painful to love someone who doesnt genuinely love by nature….i know its wrong for me to say this but if my father was dealing with these wen they were married i really dont blame him for leaving her….shes not approachable….her words have power….i need the strength to break away from these pain….i ask myself if il cry or if il miss her wen shes gone….does dat make me a bad daughter or am i just broken? I long for a healthy mother and daughter relationship but i have accepted my mother will never change….wen i walk into a room nd shes present i get cold all over my body…

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      I hear so much pain in your comment and hope for you that you find the peace you are looking for.

      At some point, many daughters of cruel mothers find they need to make the choice to save themselves and give up the hope their mothers will change. No one can tell you to do that or if you should do that…. but given what you have written it might be time to consider it.
      Best wishes to you,
      Katherine

      Reply
  12. Nicole

    I have just identified my mother as having narcissistic traits. All the things you’ve written are things she has said to me and then some.
    I recently disclosed to her that I was having panic attacks. She made it all about her. She works in the mental health field and should know better…or at least show a little compassion…nope. it was more of “I’ve always supported you but you never talk to me. You only talk to your grandma and not me.” and “ever since you got together with (husband) you’ve been implying I’m a bad mother and I don’t know what you’ve told him or his family, but comments have been made that imply this” and “I thought you had it pretty good here”.
    She is also quick to blame me for anything that goes wrong. She gets a cold? I got her sick by bringing the kids over. She fights me every time I set a boundary and uses my kids as weapons like “If I don’t get a say in how they are raised then I just won’t see them.”
    She constantly changes things that happened in the past and makes herself sound so perfect, but her parenting has left me insecure, secretive, and anxious.
    But finding out what it is called and that there’s a name for it is so freeing. I suddenly understand and can make sense of so many things growing up. I have a long way to go, but there’s just something so powerful about realizing that there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not defective for needing others or doing things differently from her. It’s like a weight off my shoulders.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Hi Nicole,
      Thank you for writing in and sharing your experience.
      Making sense of it all can be pretty tricky. Especially since it is usually mom who has been the one you have normally turned to make sense of the world.
      I’m so glad this information has brought some clarity and that you know there is nothing wrong with you. Instead, you were having normal reactions to abnormal treatment!
      Take care,
      Katherine

      Reply
  13. Dianne

    Ever since I’ve been born my mother treated me terrible when it was old enough to understand and father used to go out choose to make me cry and run after him and to break my heart because she didn’t care as she cared about was my sister when she used to go to London to visit her uncle with my grandmother she left me with my auntie and I never understood that first time in town I could see that just in care and the things that have been done to me since then unbelievable I’m not saying I’m perfect I’ve done things wrong yes what they’ve done to me have ruined my health I cry most days and I feel sad for my children and my grandchildren and I love them so much I’m lost thank you

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Dear Dianne,
      Life can be terribly unfair, can’t it? There is nothing quite so painful as feeling rejected by the person who gave you life. It can happen through no fault of your own.
      Perhaps you can use your mistreatment as a guide of what not to do with your own children and grandchildren.
      I know that that’s a lot to ask, but you might find it an excellent path to your own healing.

      Best wishes,
      Katherine

      Reply
  14. Richelle Baston

    Hi Katherine, I have been reading all these letters with tears, I thought I was the only one with a difficult mother. I ‘m a grown only child and my mother passed a few years back. She was nice to others but so hard on me and my father. I could never do anything right, had no self esteem and seemed that I could never remember things the way she did. Teachers knew there was a problem but she always made it about herself and very good at acting. My back was broken before the age of 5, I have lived with terrible pain. I was taken to the Doctor for other things but never for my back. I took myself when I was 18, doctors spoke to her but she was innocent and angry. I married and had 4 children and was always respectful but often kept her at arms length. If I did show her any love she always pulled away. This didn’t stop her from trying to control my life and making herself a victim. She even left a letter for me when she died but I found it before she passed, she said how disappointed she was with me. It was so hard after that to visit her and take care of her but I did. I believe it was her that had the problem, I have a good life, happy and adjusted but I know that it was that that upset her the most. In saying that I still have bad moments, I think you can never get over the pain with mistreatment.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Thank you for writing in Richelle,
      Everyone who sees themselves on these pages will know they are not alone. And that can help. It is so hard for a child (even the child who lives on inside of us) to know they were mistreated, not because they were flawed, but because of someone else’s inadequacy. I’m glad you’ve had a good happy life in spite of it, yet the pain of your mother’s jealousy still stings, I know.
      Peace to you,
      Katherine

      Reply
  15. Carol M

    After years of abuse, I finally had my breaking point and realized my mom is a narcissist or at least has a personality disorder. Pretty sure a narcissistic.

    I have kept most of the abuse a secret because of the backlash from her or the consequences of talking. She often gaslights but then I turn it to me and think maybe I’m the narcissist and I’m wrong, but then I have years of seeing situations differently.

    Being called names and shamed, she once said I’d get pregnant by the first guy I met and he’d leave me as I am plus size and no one would really love me, he just want sex. That sort of stuff. If she was mad at me, she’d often threaten to throw me out of the house, even at a young age. Or she’d come back home drunk and pick a fight, tell me to leave (like 9-15years old) to go stay with my dad, but then say that he didn’t even want me. Or she’d just ice me out when mad.

    Recently we came back together after being estranged. I lost it once I saw her true colours after years, then she basically axed me out of her life but because of my little boy she tried to still be in his life a little, I’d send photos as it was her grandchild. Slowly things came back together, talking more and more – she came back and said she wants to make a big try at our relationship, even tho I had hurt her so badly. She was willing to give it a go. She started calling a lot more and it was making me anxious. I tried as gently as possible to lay a boundary down, stating it was a lot because we’d been estranged and that I want her in my life but maybe we talk once a week. Etc, I even said I don’t want her taking it the wrong way etc, well she said she understands and that she feels that way too etc. I thought it was good and we were fine. She iced me out for weeks and cancelled the trip we had planned to come see her. A few weeks later I got a very hateful text saying she doesn’t want to see me or have anything to do with me, that I’m a bully. She said she’d plan with my husband for him to get our stuff- as we had stuff in storage at her place which is 4hrs away. My husband went up there and got it. She broke down on him about losing her grandson and tried to turn him against me, my husband is polite and listened. He tried to be a voice of reason and told her she needs counciling if she wants to be in my life. As if she doesn’t change then nothing will. I also feel I need some as well.

    She still connects with my husband on my sons birthday, sent money, messaged my husband when his dad passed etc. I have had no contact with her and at this point don’t want to. I also wish she would just leave us all alone. Stop with the presents to my son, I didn’t and won’t cash any cheques to my son, as I don’t want it held above me in the future. My husband and I are expecting our second baby in January, I’m lost on how to approach it. I won’t be texting her or calling to tell her anything but I know my husband will feel obligated. My stepdad whom I was close with is still with her- although that’s a whole different abusive story. I haven’t reached out to him much either because I don’t want to have her read any texts or know I’m calling him- their phones are linked. But I know my husband will feel it’s an important thing to do. I feel it’s rude too but I definitely will not be reaching out

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Dear Carol- It certainly sounds like your mom has some very abusive/reactive/hurtful reactions to whatever you do. And you have has a good instinct to try and protect yourself.
      If only it were that simple.

      It also sounds like you are caught between the natural impulse to protect yourself and your son the impulse to bond with the mother you wish you had and the grandmother you wished she were.

      I hope you can give yourself lots of grace and know that no matter what you do -it won’t be easy. It seems like in this case any half-way measure only blows up on you. Wonder of you and your husband can choose a direction that honors your family and presents a unified front?

      If you are like many of my clients protecting your marriage and family is the right thing to do at this stage in your life. Many feel their childhood is over and wishing mom would change at some point has an expiration date.

      Having said that…. if she did change I’m sure you would welcome a loving mentally stable mother. But, until then, letting her have access to you and your family without evidence that she was indeed capable of a healthy dynamic is a recipe for trouble IMO.
      You have more power than you know.
      Best,
      Katherine

      Reply
  16. Irina Bogomolnaya

    I grew up as almost first generation Russian. (My mom brought me to America at like 1 years old) I am currently a young adult living as far away from my family as I can. I feel horrible about it and its because my family always wanted me to live with them or near them. Well, at 18, because I had bad grades at school, (due to all the emotional abuse my Narcisstic family has done to me, with a lot of gaslighting) I decided to join the Military to get away from them.
    It sort of helped. But I didnt know until later on after I got out of the military what happened to me as I was growing up. I didnt understand why my father divorced and left us, and now i see why even though my mother put a lot of blame and guilt on him for leaving us. I understood he had financial obligations but I never was upset or mad at him for leaving, I understood he had to get away from our crazy family. (Later on, when I was 12 he passed away from cancer.)
    I think due to all the gaslighting, lies and stress I had forgotten a lot of my childhood, and I am now recollecting a lot of painful memories to this day. I am infuriated at my family for the treatment I received growing up.
    I was only a kid, I didnt know any better, and on top of that, they sheltered me as much as possible. I didnt know much socially and boy did I learn the really hard way when I joined the military. I didnt get taught about boys, social groups, how to socialize properly, or really anything. Because of all this, I live with social anxiety, C Ptsd, ptsd, sexual trauma, and other things I probably am not aware about.
    Growing up, I was blamed for everything like a scapegoat. My family also always fought between each other. I was constantly put down and told that I was a bad child and that I am worthless and my older brother always got put on a pedestool. My mom always loved him more than me, and would tell me that he had it worse than me and she let him emotionally abuse me all the time. I never got a chance to speak or say my opinion about anything without them saying that I am not worthy enough to speak or to shun me or to put me down in some way. They would make fu
    of me all the time and It always confused me and made me feel worthless. I wanted to commit suicide when I was younger, but something inside me just kept telling me to keep going, then when I turned 18, after talking to a school counselor that I trusted, discussing plans to leave my home and THEN I was be able to move on.

    Well, here I am, did 3 years in the military, and now I am still struggling with my mental health. In the past couple years I was trying to figure out what was going on with me and I would always blame myself for everything. Now, its like I am even more angry after making sense of everything that happened and I am learning more and more about it.

    However, the thing is.. I am learning, my family is not.

    My grandpa passed away last year, and before he did he was my grandma’s personal punching bag (not literally). She would emotionally abuse him, and the man would just take it. (He wouldnt bathe or wear clean clothes unless someone other than my grandma would be nice to him. )
    He took all of her abuse and never approached her about it. She never loved him by the way, thats on account of what she told me, and I cant believe I am saying this.. but I think his heart just couldnt take it anymore. RiP.
    Before he passed away, my grandma and I were on decent terms. She raised me, and it was alright until I turned 12, 13ish and thats when I started to have my own thoughts and opinions is when the emotional abuse really started.
    Now, we are not on good terms, because she treats my mother (her daughter) like s***.

    Also, I figured out later on my grandpa was abused by my grandma after losing a lot of braincells to alcoholism. But, he stopped abusing my grandma because of old age, and he admitted all of his faults. He abused my grandma when they were younger is what I heard… and I figured after getting old that she would at least acknowledge him as a human being with emotions and forgive him.. but that aint happening.

    What a confusing mess, right?

    So, back to me… Now I am trying to forgive my grandma, which I cant, and I am angry.. and I already tried to call her and apologize myself just to get her to be nice to me again.. and that didnt work. So, of course, I feel guilty about everything. She acts like less of a narcissist than my mom, but still does the whole, black and white thing. There is no in between with her. Especially after my gpa passed away.

    With my mother, its even worse. Its always been bad with my mom and I had to accept that it was bad. Its still hard for me to accept that she is the way she is.
    I had to cut ties recently because everytime something in her life goes wrong, she calls me and tells me I am a lazy good for nothing.
    I COULDNT TAKE IT ANYMORE.
    I tried to conversate with her before, like ask her how she is doing.. and rarely does she ever say anything about her life. Its always, I am doing good.. and thats it. She always has to make me feel like s*** for even just being alive.
    I used to try to tell her about my life, and she would again make me feel bad for even being alive and then we would get into this huge argument.

    There was a brief moment when I went and visited her after my grandpa passed away and she was actually nice to me and we were neutral, and I had the guts to approached her about how I was mistreated up to 18 and told her I left home because I couldnt take it anymore. She apologized and I thought she accepted everything and we were going to be on better terms.

    However, she still managed to made me feel like s*** later on, even though I am happy with my life. (I am looking for a career, but other than that, I have a fiancee and a house that I love)
    It seems like she doesnt want me to ever be happy just because she isnt happy. And its like a never ending cycle with her that I ended recently. It was like.. we would talk and everything seemed okay until the next time we talked. Every other time we talked, she would make me feel worthless. She tells me I am lazy and doesnt believe I have mental health problems. She used to tell me that I was supposed to be strong and put up with everything because she feels bad about things that happened with my brother in the past. But I dont think that justifies her mistreating me. Or letting him mistreat me.

    He doesnt mistreat me anymore after I confronted him a couple of times, and also I have my life more together than he does, so he is embarressed to even try to talk to me even though I forgave him. I know my mother manipulated him and allowed him to be that way. But now that we are all grown up and I did leave home at 18, he doesnt even try to talk to me anymore.

    Im very conflicted to this day, and I constantly think about everything and feel guilty about things I probably shouldnt feel bad about because I left home for my mental sanity. I dont ever want to go back and I know my mom is taking care of my grandma by herself, but I dont want that stress anymore.
    I keep feeling like I have to justify me leaving my family to myself.. but in my gut, I know it was the right thing to do for myself. This is still so difficult though…

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Thanks for writing in Irina-
      Although you didn’t ask a direct question, I gleaned from your post that you are struggling with the guilt you feel for taking care of yourself. It is amazing how strong that guilt can be even when your conscious mind knows it is totally irrational.

      I’ve pulled out a few quotes from your post-

      “I already tried to call her and apologize myself just to get her to be nice to me again.. and that didnt work.”

      “However, she still managed to made me feel like s*** later on, even though I am happy with my life. (I am looking for a career, but other than that, I have a fiancee and a house that I love)”

      “I keep feeling like I have to justify me leaving my family to myself.. but in my gut, I know it was the right thing to do for myself.”

      I hope you can see by reading them again… in a different context. If you were a client of mine it would make me wonder the following:

      -Is it an unspoken rule in your family that claiming guilt for something (even when you weren’t guilty) was the way to be accepted and belong. In other words do you scapegoat yourself even when they aren’t blaming you?

      – Do you feel guilty for having success and a good life. Does the family oust people who show them what success or happiness looks like?
      – Do you have to “justify” leaving your family? Isn’t it an honorable thing to do – to further your lineage by becoming a positive productive member of society even if that means going and getting beyond what they could give you?

      Belonging is a powerful motivator. But cycles are broken when one member speaks up and decides the price of membership is too high. My hope for you is that you can leave behind the dysfunction and go forth in peace- guilt free!

      Take care,
      Katherine

      Reply
      • Irina Bogomolnaya

        Thank you for your reply. I appreciate the support so much.
        Some of my guilt really is from me blaming myself because of the way I think. I feel bad for being a ‘bad child’ and it did not help that I was constantly put in between arguments and situations. It confused me, but now I realize its like a cycle of guilt.
        My grandma made my mom feel guilty for things that she didnt have to feel bad about. So, I know a big part of what my mother went through.. I just feel bad for her and I also put blame on myself as though it was my fault that life had steered her that way.

        It isnt my fault, but I am a good person just like anyone who cares for others, so I wish I could help her, but I dont know how. And it doesnt help that my family wants me to be closer to them in distance. I dont want to live near or with them because I want my personal space. (They like to invade my space quite often.)

        So I really dont know what to do about trying to help my mom. I dont think there really is anything that I can do to stop the cycle of guilt other than to realize it, be more aware of myself, and start over with a new family. That is why I decided to stay with my boyfriend. His family is much more forgiving, healthier and accepting.
        If you know of a way I can help my mother indirectly, without me directly communicating with her, please let me know. I love to hear others’ advice and consider other options.

        Reply
        • Katherine Fabrizio

          Dear Irina,
          I think guilt is what gets in the way for most daughters who love their mothers but need to set boundaries and say “No” to their mothers. They want their freedom but don’t want to hurt mom in the process.
          It is such an important component that am in the process of writing a book about it. Check back here from time to time to see when it comes out.

          Until then, know that you can feel guilty but not be guilty. I call it little g ( small guilt) and bug G ( Big G). Yes, you are guilty of changing a pattern but not guilty of harming your mother. There’s a big difference. Also, you can treat your mother with respect while not giving her everything she wants.

          I think eventually she will accept a relationship with you on your terms. You might even say, “Mom, I know this is not what you want, and I am sorry for your pain but I need to do this for me. In other words, you can care about her and express that caring without doing exactly what she wants you to do.

          Love doesn’t equal obedience.

          Maybe some others on this thread will have some ideas that they are willing to share.
          Best,
          Katherine

          Reply
  17. BB

    Things that my mother said to me growing up –
    I wish you were never born
    Your nothing but a selfish little bitch
    You don’t know how good you’ve got it
    You will need me before I need you
    I was fucking joking
    If it wasn’t for me you would never… (fill in the blank)

    And then there was not saying anything at all. The silent treatment.

    I’m 42 now, she is 68.
    I’m still subjected to her delusional emotional abuse.

    Reply
    • Katherine Fabrizio

      Dear BB- this breaks my heart for you.
      Saying these things go beyond the garden variety narcissism …. and veers off into malignant narcissism territory. Sometimes I think the silent treatment is the cruelest of them all. Unfortunately that is frequently in every narcissist’s playbook.
      I really hope you will find some resources to get some distance and/or buffer from this very disturbed person. It isn’t normal and it isn’t right.
      Take care,
      Katherine

      Reply

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