You Might Have a Narcissistic Mother

You might have a narcissistic mother if she invites you over for Christmas, then informs you that her place will be “a kid free zone” that day (you have five kids).

I always thought my mom was just controlling, or mean, or attention seeking, or manipulative… Whenever I tried to explain my mother to my friends or partners they would say, “Oh it’s not that bad!… But she’s your mother!…She means well…” and this would leave me to feel like *I* was the crazy one. In the years since I first left home at 17, I have tried countless ways to distance myself from her. But – there she would appear, with money. Throwing money at me for my children’s clothes, school supplies, and just generally cash gifts at times. She would make sure I knew how much money she gave my sister. She would prepare my taxes, so she would have a complete picture of my financial history over the past year.

At first I just thought she was buying her way out of guilt over past events from my childhood.

But no. She’s never seemed less repentant than ever before.

No, the money is partly her way of maintaining some sense of control in my life. And it is partly her way of exhibiting even more narcissistic behavioral traits. It’s the, “Oh look at how important I am” bullshit all over again. Or sometimes the money represents, “Look at all the nice things I do for you…” No mother, giving money and doing kind things are NOT the same.

Then dad died.

You might have a narcissistic mother if she plans your father’s funeral (and they have been divorced 21 years).

Mom called me that morning and told me he died. I didn’t cry. I didn’t say anything except, “Okay.” Because if I show her any emotion at all, I know from experience it will only be used again later for her own personal gain.

I hung up and over the next few hours it sank in. I immediately wanted to be with my sister. She told me she was at our mother’s house. Even though I don’t go to my mother’s house for social calls, I drove over, not thinking of the emotional repercussions this may have. It felt good to be with my sister. I needed to see her. I needed to feel her. I needed to hear her voice. Fuck texting.

But there was mom. In all her important glory. Taking phone calls from insurance agents (we checked into life insurance already?) and making appointments with the funeral home. It felt surreal. It felt like something only portrayed in the movies. I asked who was going to the funeral home that afternoon to plan the services (because it seemed like my mom had it all under control and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to go). Mom explained to me that my step brothers would be there; I should put my differences behind me for my dad’s sake.

You might have a narcissistic mother if she refers to years of sexual abuse as a difference of opinion.

I sat in my mother’s living room while she talked on the phone and my sister texted and I never felt so alone. I was there, we were all there, but none of us were present. For the remainder of the afternoon all I could think about was how this is finally the time I stick up for myself. And I did. I explained that I would be at my dad’s services, but not for him, and not for her, and not for my step-brothers. I let her know that what happened was more than a difference of opinion and that once again she has demeaned, demoralized, and trivialized myself and my childhood.

She replied, “I didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t even think about it.”

That’s just it mom, NO one thinks about it anymore – except me.

You might have a narcissistic mother if she is never wrong about anything ever.

I could go on. Literally on and on. Like possibly write a memoir about growing up with a narcissistic mother and consequently trying to save my own kids from similar treachery. But instead I write this blog. If this post has made you wonder more about your own mother, check out this website. It’s been extremely affirming for me and at least one other friend I have. Or email me. Let’s discuss. Because I swear – you are not crazy.

13 thoughts on “You Might Have a Narcissistic Mother

  1. My mother is narcissistic as well, and even though I have cut off contact I still find it difficult to explain the situation. She is generally high functioning and so people close to me don’t necessarily see her manipulation. Even (and this is the eerie part) when they are experiencing it themselves right at that moment.

    1. It was such a relief when S finally admitted she “got it” about my mother. Really. Such a relief. I know that sounds eerie to you, but it is so common. I lived many years like that – not seeing the manipulation as it was happening.

      I have low contact with my mom. I wish it was no contact. And that used to feel horrible to think about (Lord knows I would never say it out loud before) – but now I see that it is truly about self preservation. She’s not the mother that I need. She’s not healthy.

      1. Yeah I think it can really be scary when we finally admit to ourselves that our mothers are just not the sort of people we need in our lives. But I used this as my test: if I behaved toward my daughters how my mother has behaved toward me, I would want them to cut off contact with me for their own safety and well-being. That’s how I knew it was the thing I needed to do.

  2. There’s a book I just finished that was hella eye-opening. Understanding the Borderline Mother. I highlighted that thing like a “crazy” person. ha

    It is definitely intense having a narcissistic mother, but awesome relief when your spouse witnesses it first hand.

      1. Lol. Seriously, you are inspiring. I love the honesty, transparency and flavor of your writing. I can’t wait to see what is written next! Real, raw and your written word is felt deep in ones soul…wow…that was pretty good, huh? lol

  3. That site was very reaffirming for me. It is so hard to explain to people who don’t live with it every day. I’m glad you found the site helpful, too, and that S was able to really see what the narcissistic mother looks like. We have no contact, as you know, and it was the biggest relief to me. I had the best Mother’s Day of my life the year after I cut off contact.

  4. OMG. You just described my older sister perfectly. People think I’m just intolerant and ungrateful…they don’t get it. I am so so familiar with the money control issues, the withholding emotions so they aren’t held against you later…all so true! An incredible relief just reading this one blog post–thank you, thank you. Of course, if she happens to stumble upon this comment I’ve left, my kids won’t see another birthday gift for years. Right?! Great blog, my friend!

  5. It took me 2 decades to realize what my Mom is. Now in my early twenties. I never thought it was possible to pinpoint my Mothers disorder. Then it all fit, how Im always the parent to her, talking about her problems and helping with her “issues”. Putting her dreams, low-life men and ideas above her own child. The neglect, the confusion. Our relationship ended up sevred for a few years, then I let her back in because I have a heart and because she is my “Mother”. Dont fall for that trap! Help yourself. Heal yourself. Be yourself. Dont get sucked into her ploys. If possible share it with your partner, your friends and people you trust. Keep it like a mantra. Dont fall for the crap and the emotional turmoil and UTTER disappointment. I say, it is like living alone in the world. When the very Mother that bore you is a Narcissist. If possible cut her from your life. Every visit, every phone call is tramatizing and confusing, it hurts, it frustrates you, it makes you want to change her or something. But your mind and emotions are better, and in a much happier state if you can be free from the abuse. And it is abuse! And it only makes you worse and imprints in you any Narcissistic traits you may have from her. Be the better person. And learn from her mistakes. Love your partner and your children with the love youll never have. Start your own circle of beauty, love and friendship, and let all the evil pass. 🙂


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