15 Telltale Signs That You Were Raised by a Narcissist
- Your mother is overly concerned with appearances and what others think
- When something challenging happens in your life your mother reacts with how it will affect her rather than showing concern for you
- Your mother acts jealous of you or competes with you to be the center of attention (even on your graduation or wedding day)
- You consistently feel a lack of emotional closeness with your mother and have wondered if she really loves you
- You feel controlled or manipulated by your mother; she plays victim or martyr to get pity or attention.
- Your mother has a bad temper and reacts with rage at any criticism or slight.
- Your mother only supports your choices if they make her look good (going to law school rather than being an artist/writer)
- Your mother lacks empathy for your feelings
- As a child you had to take care of your mother’s physical needs (real or imagined illness) or her emotional needs, being her emotional caretaker
- Your mother is always critical of you and shames you into feeling that you will never be good enough
- Your mother only does things for you when others can see her doing them
- Spending money is the only way your mother gives support but there are always strings attached to her giving
- When you discuss your life issues with your mother, she hijacks the discussion to talk about herself or tries to top your story with one of her own
- Your mother never takes ownership and will blame you or others or engage in blame shifting, as in “you should have reminded me that it was your birthday!”
- Your mother seems phony to you and sometimes she may even lie to impress others or get her own way
If you recognize any of these signs, then you may have been raised by a narcissist. This implies that you may have an identity that is the exact opposite of your mother’s or you may have such low self esteem that you have surrounded yourself with other narcissists. While your first impulse may be to confront your narcissistic mother, there is no point, it will never be about her and most narcissists react with rage at any implied criticism. The good news is that once you recognize what you are dealing with, you can begin to heal and recover your life, living it on your own terms, not your mother’s or anyone else’s.
Daughters of narcissistic mothers often wonder if they are really lovable or if they will ever be good enough. The truth is you are very lovable but you need to start with yourself. Begin to love and care for yourself in the ways that you wished your mom or dad had loved and cared for you. Find a picture of yourself as a child and keep it where you can observe it on a daily basis. Think about what you wish you had been given as a child and then set about giving it to your self: unconditional love. Practice daily affirmations and become protective of that vulnerable little girl.
Your healing journey includes both grieving the loss of the parent you never had and releasing the fantasy of the perfect loving family. You will need to accept the fact that you didn’t get the mother you needed or deserved and you probably never will. Narcissists seldom change. You might not have lost your parent to death, but you lost what might have been—you lost an opportunity to be truly mothered and emotionally validated—and this is a profound loss. Managing your expectations is also pivotal, particularly when you see glimpses of the healthy parent you wish you had had, but those glimpses are not sustainable. You must accept that your mother can not give you unconditional love or even deep empathy because she can not get past herself to truly see you or anyone else.
As you learn to love yourself, you will need to let go of your old defense mechanisms. You had to develop a thick skin to tolerate the criticism and always having your wants and needs dismissed by your mother. You may have learned to stuff all of your feelings except your anger and you are easily frustrated. Anger may be the one emotion that is always close to the surface. Anger however, is always a secondary emotion; it is a defense mechanism against emotional pain. To heal, you will need to be willing to feel this pain before you can be free of your anger. Reconnect with the neglected child inside and stop ignoring her needs. Start paying attention to what really matters to you; what makes you feel alive and the moments when you feel authentically you.
You are going to need to adopt healthy boundaries—identifying where you begin and your mother ends—to free your authentic self. Daughters of narcissistic mothers tend to be co-dependent and to become caretakers of other people. Realize when you are meeting the needs of other narcissists in your life, real or imagined. Subconsciously you may have been playing a familiar role with the people in your life, at home or at work. Daughters of narcissist mothers tend to assume that every person they’re close to will need the same kind of hyper-attention and appeasement that their mother did—and unconsciously they push their own needs aside. Your healing journey means you will recognize your own wants and needs and you become who you want to be, rather than who your mother wanted you to be, you can then break free from her narcissistic grip. Surviving a narcissistic mother means you will need to love yourself first but you can also find a surrogate in a loving partner and you can begin to surround yourself with people that you feel safe and at home with—like nurturing girlfriends—who know and love the real you, and this can be deeply transformative.
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