The Legacy of Distorted Love

Recognizing, understanding and overcoming the debilitating impact of maternal narcissism

When Mothers Don’t Bond With Their Daughters

With motherhood so idealized in our culture, it is especially hard for daughters of narcissistic mothers to face their past. It's difficult for most people to conceive of a mother incapable of loving and nurturing her daughter, and certainly no daughter wants to believe that of her own mother. Read More

bonding with mom

I think it would be so hard to develop without that first important bond with mom. While I don't know if they had narcissism, I do know people who had a lot of problems because of the relationship with their mother. Some of them had mental illness and one was delusional at times. She would disconnect and her daughter as an adult was working to get her mother out of her head. I hope there is a treatment for mothers with such problems. It is sad that you can never get back those precious early times. But they can find nurturing people who can give them the love. Maybe they had a Grandma, dad, aunt, or uncle that filled that role. My mom loves her babies and grandchildren that I worry about that too. I worry about what would happen to her if something ever happened to any of us. She is not one to hover. She is not one to intervene in my siblings lives. She is one to worry. She is strong in many ways and I guess that is part of what love is about. I have felt much acceptance and approval from my mother. I think everyone deserves that love.

Yes, a substitute nurturing

Yes, a substitute nurturing figure would have been a blessing. I recently found out that my paternal grandmother actually kept me alive for the 1st yr of my life as my MOTHER refused to attend to my basic needs. However being a very jealous woman, MOTHER moved us far enough away so it was difficult for my grandmother to have access to us children. We were then fed lies about our grandmother and all other extended family members who actually did care about us. We were told they did not love us and could not be trusted.
My own mother displayed many of the narcissistic traits, but I just recently at the age of 54 discovered there was a name for her behavior.

Maternal narcissism is so

Maternal narcissism is so destructive because children really depend on that bond with their mother to survive. To an infant, their mother represents all aspects of survival - emotionally and physically. When a mother is selfish, self-centered, and incapable of addressing the normal needs of the child, the baby grows into an identity that is shaped around not setting off the narcissist. It's an awful pattern of shame, a lack of self-trust, difficulty connecting to others, and boundary struggles that can unfortunately persevere throughout a person's life. Great post, you bring a lot of insight to the topic of maternal narcissism - an issue that is very prevalent and often overlooked.

Nassau Guidance and Counseling Center

My mother actually hated me

My mother really hated me and tried to kill me when I was a baby. She didn't want a child because she was trapped in a marriage to an abusive man. It wasn't just that she didn't love me: she hated me.
I have dreams where she appears in my life and takes things away from me. Material things, the warmth of material security that I've built for myself. I haven't seen her for many years.
Being loved by one's mother is so fundamental that it represents basic material survival: having a home, feeding oneself. It took a long time before I was able to make a home for myself rather than feeling like a waif. And I put a lot of emphasis on eating right - I think that's partly about trying to make up for not being loved.
By the way, I'm uncomfortable about the "narcissist" tag. That seems to have become an all-purpose way to characterize a bad person.
I wonder if this is the result of Sam Vaknin's narcissism writings. He's an online personality who identifies himself as a narcissist and writes extensively about it, both as a way of gathering attention and a way to emotionally abuse himself and other people. He writes of the narcissist as nonhuman almost, a monstrosity and beyond hope of recovery. He is self-taught as a psychologist.
I see my mother as a human being like others, but poisoned and poisonous as a result of how she's tried to deal with unusually bad circumstances.

Mine too

It wasn't until adolescence that I became truly inconvenient, before that, I was her meal ticket to affluence.

Something really chilling is that

I read that Caylee Anthony was just starting to talk when she (maybe) was killed.
I was told by my mother that I had just started to talk when I "was found" with bruises from fingers around my neck.
So it was so chilling to read in the Casey Anthony case, that a child starting to talk might trigger murder.
Something about talking - that a child may become able to inculpate the mother?

What if both of your parents are narcissists?

I read the book. The problem I had was, no mention of abusive narcissistic father to add to the mix. Well. Some of us are exceptionally blessed with both. But I am not complaining here. I had love of grandparents in my life, who unfortunately all could do was love us, they could not always sufficiently protect us. But the love I got from them is all the love I had to give. Yet, since my narcissistic parents have no way of seeing the destruction they still induce whenever they come close to anyone, especially me, I cut them both off, for good. Sometimes it is the only way, the last resort. I am being judged and also not, criticized but also supported. it all matters who is looking and who is seeing the truth from my angle or theirs. For better or worse, my sadness lasted a bit shorter than expected. What I felt the most was relief. Once I faced the reality of my actions. Do not get me wrong. I gave them many many opportunities to reconnect and tried hard to rebuild. The problem was I would not accept the abuse and would not accept them unless they changed their abusive behavior. Of course, they see their reality and this was fruitless attempt. One thing I did manage to do, send my abusive narcissistic mother to therapy. She really got into it. Of course, she finally got someone to listen to her complaints about me, the horrible daughter. But, I am at peace. She is not changing her behavior, but she is getting some support for dealing with what I ended up doing - cutting her off. Each time I tried to approach her about any issue from my present or past that involved her ended up in insults, name calling, denial and outright lying. How much of that one can take in attempt to be fair and good? Well, I'll tell you. Until the BODY said enough is enough. Broken down body in severe pain had enough.

It seems pathological envy was part of my problem. Read here more:
Thank you!

Talking About It To Others

Expressing anything less than praise for one's mother is generally considered blasphemous. I have actually been shunned by people I thought were my friends after I opened up and confessed the relationship I have with my mother. You can present facts, evidence, and witnesses, but the majority of people cannot wrap their heads around this issue and blame the child for any breakdown in the relationship.

The mother, no matter how evil her deeds, is somehow looked upon as the victim. It is painful all the way around. Yes, there are some mothers that do actually hate the presence of their daughters and will make up any excuse to justify limited or no contact. There are some mothers that go out of their way to bring turmoil to their daughters. There is no reason to stay in any relationship that brings you pain. Life is much too short.

My mother always blamed me

My mother always blamed me for ruining her twenty-first birthday party by being born. No matter how many times I tried to point out that I had no choice over the timing of my conception, it was still my fault. Even into my twenties, she sent me a birthday card that said " Today is your birthday, but why worry about a mistake that happened so long ago?" I later was told about how she regretted not having finished smothering me when I was a baby. Just remember, you can't spell 'smother' without 'mother.'

Lacking a Mother's Love

This may sound strange to people, but my mother was overweight almost her whole life. She decided to get gastric bypass surgery and she lost a lot of weight. After losing the weight, and after having a ton of surgical procedures, she started using painkillers. There will be times when she is extremely warm and loving toward me, but I've had her call me names such as "stupid, idiot and useless." These are names that she would never use toward my brother.

She shows resentment toward me, and sometimes toward my father, but she makes excuses for my brother who is actually quite lazy and doesn't work or go to school. She has made me feel guilt and shame almost my whole life, and I always feel like there is some sort condition on her love.

Thirdly, my mother is always ill. It was her choice to have gastric bypass and they are able to reverse it, but she doesn't want to gain the weight back. When she was chubby, sweet and not strung out on painkillers, she was a very nice person. In fact, and this sounds terrible. if she had died of a heart attack at 56 because of obesity, and she had never had the surgery, I probably wouldn't have feelings of animosity toward her because she had empathy for other people back then, and she also treated me like a mother would treat a daughter.

Currently she does things like ostracizes me from certain family members and makes me feel like she couldn't care less of what I think or how I feel. I know that one poster talked about her mother being a narcissist and I wonder if my mother fits into that category. I believe she keeps people around her who won't tell her that her behavior is wrong or that she's killing herself with pain medication.

When I try to have a "talk," with her, she turns it into a fight and then insists on blaming it on me for wanting to talk. I think she has some deep seeded issues that she should have gotten therapy for, and I don't think the gastric bypass has made her any healthier. People don't realize that is procedure can cause devastating medical repercussions on the body and mind. I have lost the mother I once loved because she wanted to look beautiful. It didn't matter whether she lost our relationship, just as long as she looked and felt good.

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Karyl McBride, Ph.D., is a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers.


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