June 1st is World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day.
It is for education, support, and to encourage effective change.
I love being a part of change in the world, as I have been an outspoken advocate to help eliminate the shame and stigma surrounding addiction and mental health for many years.
I am also a huge proponent to break free from unhealthy relationships to live your best life. Even if those people are family.
As the topic of narcissism will come up today, unlike physical abuse, narcissistic abuse leaves no broken bones or bruises, but it hurts just the same, sometimes more. If you broke your arm it would heal in a few weeks, and you would know to get help for your injury. Others would know too, by looking at your white cast. No one would ever doubt you when you said it hurts or that it wasn’t healing.
We likely have all come in contact at one time or another with a narcissist. Not someone that is just self-centered, but genuinely narcissistic, whether it be a boss at work, a friend, or a spouse. Family, friends, and society tend to support you during those enormous challenges with loving encouragement and advice to “quit your job” or “get a divorce.”
But what happens when a narcissist is a parent? Specifically, a mother.
Most people believe that there is no one in the world that loves you more than your own mother. No one who has given more of themselves. That there is no one who sacrifices more or puts their own feelings aside for your own happiness more than your mom.
But that is not all mothers. That is some mothers.
Narcissistic mothers believe that the child exists solely to fulfill their own needs and wishes. Their parenting affects the psychological development of their children as they manipulate their child to satisfy their own expectations.
Some signs of a narcissistic mother can be:
She has a scapegoat child that is blamed for all the problems in the family.
She likes to present a perfect family image to outsiders.
She is always a victim.
She never listens to or cares about your feelings.
She is incapable of empathy.
She manipulates your emotions to feed off your pain.
Siblings are pitted against each other.
She “parentified” you. This is a process of role reversal where a child is made to feel obligated to act as the parent to their own parent and often siblings.
She is never wrong.
She has a favorite child, often called the “golden” child.
She uses manipulation and guilt to get what she wants.
Love only comes when she is getting what she wants.
She violates your boundaries.
She becomes combative and explosive over any amount of criticism.
If you dare to speak out, you will become public enemy number one, and she will attempt to destroy you and your reputation at all costs.
Narcissistic mothers intentionally try to hurt their scapegoat children. I know it seems implausible; that is why many people stick around for so long because it is just as impossible for anyone to believe. But understanding narcissism, their behavior is intentional. It is how they feel better about themselves.
Most of the time, narcissism goes undiagnosed. Typically, they will not agree to therapy, but if they do, they can put on a façade to strangers, which makes it hard to diagnose. And sadly, there is no cure for narcissism. Not a medication. And counselling does not work as they are incapable of empathy or self-reflection.
Unlike a boss, or a friend, with mothers we often make excuses, and accept the abuse (or not see it as abuse at all) because we love them. But loving someone does not mean we should allow them to treat us badly. Being related to someone does not mean we should tolerate their toxic behavior, unrealistic expectations, constant chaos, and psychological and emotional abuse. Even if it is our own mother.
We should expect more from family. A lot more. Not less.
I believe with all my heart there is nothing more important than family. Life challenges, disagreements, and even occasional drama happens to all of us. But abuse is different; it is just harder to accept when it comes from the ones closest to us, who are supposed to love us unconditionally.
You can be a kind, caring, loving, empathetic, and wonderful person even though you don’t want to see your own mother again if you have chosen no contact. You are allowed to choose what is best for your life, your health, happiness, and your spirit. On your terms, with no guilt or shame.
We all are.