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.

my mothers hate

My mother has always loathed me, even as a baby. I was never nutures, cuddles, told I was loves or had anyone to talk to. I felt alone even as a young child. I was told I should have been aborted, and my sibling were favoured over me. It was a standing joke for her to say even I would do better than my siblings due to the fact that she thought they were lazy to the point that even someone like me could have a better job than they. As a small child I could hear her saying "they fuking bastards upstairs ruined my life", and we should have been aborted. I was ridiculed, I was the stupid one, the skinny one, the ugly one. Her friend at the time said I should have done modeling and she replied, "her modeling, lol". Nothing I did was good enough, my kids names, my partners, my house, my car, my job, all was deemed with some form of negativety. She used to slag me off to her mates and I once introduced her to a friend of mine and she said to him "im suprised she has any friends and why do you want to be friends with her", he told me after he was Discusted with what she said and wanted to say something to her. I even got attacked my my dads temperamental dog as she was sat with the dog in front of her and I was stroking him when she kicked him and he attacked me, my brother jumped up and dragged him off me while she was still sat down. I was about 12 at the time. I had about 80 stitches in my face,she didnt seem upset from what I recall. Even when I got hit my a car when I was about 7, she seemed calm when she approached the car with my food stuck under the wheel. Another thing I remember was having no privacy as a child and her, whilst in one of her moods would barge into my room screaming at me for something trivial. I got kicked out the house at 16 after losing the top to her foundation, I walked the street on a cold wet night with nowhere to go till I found a religious teaching establishment who rang a homeless charity for me, from which I moved into a hostel, she did not even seem worried or concerned for my safety or even find out where I was. I was a kinny child and I got bullied at school and had no one at home to talk to. I took my first overdose at 16 and spent two days in my bedroom feeling very poorly and no one bothered to come and see me. The storied of ridicule continued. We was physically abused by my dad, mentally by her and I was bullied at school. Out of the three of us, I was abused the most. She seemed to take all her anger and fustrations out on me especially. I remember when I was about 10 hiding under my desk while she was screaming downstairs at my dad thinking of all the bad things about me, and not being able to think of anything good!

At 18 I got into a relationship which was physically, mentally and sexually abusive. I was shy and had no confidence and just needed somewhere to go. I also put up with 12 years of abuse as I thought thats all I deserved. My family knew what he did to me but showed no concern and when I did fight back I was told my my dad why was I involving the police! I left him at 30 and did it on my own putting up with the treats to kill me and stalk me and also continue to abuse me. I bought a house and with the help pf a good solicitor, got an injunction. I also qualified as a nurse and brought my kids up as a single parent doing my house up on my own and struggling for money. I got into another relationship, had a child, that failed. Then met someone else, had a child, and again, that relationship failed. This was due to not knowing how to be in a relationship, I was very arguementative and also showed signs of mental health problems. I took two overdoses. My third overdose, my dad and sister got me to the hospital while my mother stayed at home and did not even bother trying to contact me or my sister even though we both had mobiles! I lost two decent men and the chance of being in a happy relationship. Years later I was diagnosed with cyclothmia, depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder. Im medicated and its nearly cost me my job as my condition did get worse and I was put on long term sick leave.

Now im on my own with only my dog for company. I believe im to damaged to be able to have a healthy relationship and I cant get close or trust anyone. I also dont know what love is and dont feel I have that emotion inside me, although I love my kids, I dont know how to nurture them and find being a mother not a natural thing. I doubt I will ever meet anyone again as in honest I dont have that need for love and affection. I never got it as a kid, so I feel as an adult I now dont need it.

Im still a nurse and have two houses which I have done up to a high standard and have been told I have a creature streak. My future now is about my kids and doing things for them and helping them financially in the future, thus means changing careers and im considering as becoming an escort as im told I have a good personality and im attractive. I feel I will never experience love or find anyone to share my life with, that part of my life is not an option. My mother has met a man and she is happy. We dont talk anymore, its been a year and to be honest im relieved. The last arguement we has, I was dead to her, so be it. Im not bitter as im used to her hated for me. I never had a mother, but some kids done, thats life.

I hope she is happy and now she is happy in herself and feeling love from someone, sits back and think of how she treated her kids. She loved her mother as she used to cry when she spoke about her death, and im sure she loves my sister and brother as my daughter opened one of her emails sent to my sister telling her how she loves her and misses her and that she should be there for my sister as my sister and her partner were going through some problems. She has my number however but she does not contact me. My sister has her partner, I have no one in my life, but she still feels like that she should be there for my sister. I always went through my problems alone, through depression, my mother was there for my sister.

I doubt she will ever feel any remorse. I have just come to accept that some parents just cant bond with all their kids and I drew the short straw.

Wow, all of my life I've felt

Wow, all of my life I've felt this way...I never knew what a "mother" meant, because mine never nurtured me at that I'm older and see what a "healthy" mother is like, I feel cheated. I had to be her best friend, take care of her, and listen to her talk badly about everyone, including me at times. If we made any noise at all, we were "rotten children" and she would slam the door and ignore us...she threatened to leave, and I thought she was being nice when she said "it wasn't because of me", but now I realize that just her threatening to leave was horrible for a 6 year old. I lived in constant fear...and now, even though I have a Master's degree, I work as a teacher's assistant because I have no confidence and I suffer from anxiety...and I know I disappointed her because I never became successful. This all just breaks my heart, and I always feel it's my fault. Like I'm bad. :(

Unloving mother

I dont think I bonded with my mother. I spent six week in the hospital because of being premature back in 1972. My father took care of me all the time as a baby and small child. She preferred my step brother because he was a boy. She still to this day prefers him.My dad got sick when i was eleven. She let my dad lie on the floor all night long after he had a stroke. Then they wanted to move him to a hospital to help him she wouldnt sign for him to be transferred for two days by that time the stroke had done its damage. He spent his last five years in a nursing home. While she bought herself a house in town. She stayed unemployed for years living off of him and giving my brother my money from social security so he could drink and party at college. I have never heard my mom say that she loved my dad she never visits his grave. She is a cold unfeeling woman who rarely ever tells me she loves me or appreciates me. Its like she hates me. I take care of her in my home now and I heard her saying that she hated it here at my home and wanted to go away and never come back here. I say let her go back to the nursing home. My step brother wont take care of her since she is not his mom.

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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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