Surviving a narcissistic mother is a process, not an event.
You can’t just wake up one day and decide that you no longer wish to have a narcissistic mother and then, poof, she–and the pain she caused–is gone. Anyone who’s taken the journey from being in a narcissist’s gravitational pull to breaking free knows it’s a bit more complicated than this with many risks involved.
But, the reward is worth the risk, as you may come to find out. Getting out of a relationship with a narcissistic mother or narcissistic parent can be the best thing you ever do.
Growing up with a narcissistic mother, she never really listened to you or cared about your wants and needs. She turned everything around to be all about her, no matter what the situation was. She constantly criticized you, making you feel nothing you ever did was good enough or up to her impossible standards, and would turn on you if you didn’t follow orders.
When you have a narcissistic mother, it can lead you to develop an inferiority complex that can continue when you become an adult child of a narcissist (ACON). A feeling of being “less than” can be highly intensified to the degree you feel you’ll never be able to compensate for your weaknesses. It was instilled in your head very early on to be this way. You can’t help it if it is all you have ever known.
Narcissistic mothers are incapable parents. It may be hard to do, but you need to accept the fact you never had a healthy mother. Emotionally healthy mothers put their children’s needs and care before their own. They show empathy and give proper praise to their children for the good deeds they do.
Functional mothers care. Narcissistic mothers care too, but only about themselves.
In order to survive a narcissistic mother, allow yourself to grieve. It is an essential process which helps you to accept and move on from the life you were forced to lead.
As first created by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five stages of grief. It used to be the stages were conceptualized for those dealing with death, but it has been extended to those experiencing any sort of loss.
Grief applies to leaving a narcissistic mother because you are losing someone you love, even if they never loved you back.
Not always necessarily in chronological order, the five stages of grief go like this:
- Denial. This is a temporary defense, conscious or unconscious refusal to accept the fact you have a narcissistic mother. People can become locked in this stage as a defense mechanism, not wanting to accept the fact their mother never loved or cared for them.
- Anger. When you realize denial can no longer continue, it can be replaced with rage and envy. You may be angry with yourself for allowing yourself to live this way for so long, or you may be angry with others, especially your narcissistic mother for abusing you the way she did and jealous of others who have healthy relationships with their mothers.
- Bargaining. You hope your narcissistic mother can change or you can postpone leaving her. You may try to negotiate a compromise, maybe even with some sort of higher power. This stage rarely provides a sustainable and healthy solution.
- Depression. This is when you begin to understand the certainty of losing the fantasy that your mom was emotionally healthy, realizing that you may never connect with your narcissistic mother. This stage allows you to disconnect from her and let the grief of the situation sink in. The depression stage can be referred to as “the dress rehearsal for the aftermath”. After you decide to cut off ties, whether it be emotionally, physically, or both, from your narcissistic mother, there will be a great sense of sadness and uncertainty from doing so. This only means that you are beginning to accept the situation.
- Acceptance. You are beginning to come to terms with the tragedy of losing your narcissistic mother. You accept the relationship is over and begin to move forwards with your own life separate from her. It can take a long time to get to this stage, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Different people grieve in different ways. However it happens for you, it is an important process for healing.
During this time, consider forgiving your narcissistic mother, not for her sake but your own. Forgiveness does not mean tolerating bad behavior from a narcissistic parent. It does mean you give your narcissistic mother less of your precious and limited energy.
You cannot change her, but you can change your situation and how you relate to your narcissistic mother.
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