The phrase, “They did the best they could” used to make me feel so guilty. I felt shame for being hurt or angry about the abuse I went through at the hands of my parents & ex husband. After all, my mother had a terrible childhood, abused by her narcissistic, evil mother & no contact with her father- how could she know how to be a good mother? My father was in a near fatal car wreck at 15, & has had problems stemming from the brain damage since, so that must be why he never felt able to intervene with my mother abusing me. As for the ex? Not like his parents modeled a healthy marriage- no wonder he didn’t know how to be a husband.
I’m sure if you’ve been the victim of abuse, you have heard the same tired phrase, & had the same kind of thoughts that I had. I think it’s only natural to think things like that under the circumstances. Today though I want to challenge that phrase regarding how it relates to your situation.
If someone is really doing the best they can, naturally they are going to make mistakes just like anyone does. They will apologize & try to make the wrongs right somehow if possible. They won’t repeat that mistake over & over again, make excuses or blame you for making them do what they did.
Someone who is truly doing their best won’t hide their actions or demand someone not to tell anyone what they are doing.
They also won’t be one way behind closed doors & totally different when in public situations.
They won’t criticize your every word, thought or deed.
People who truly are doing their best don’t try to gaslight others, making people doubt their own sanity.
They will try to build you up, encouraging you to be your own person who exercises whatever talents you have, rather than deliberately tear you down, discouraging you to be the person God made you to be.
They will care about others, not only themselves, & especially their children & spouse.
Now, think about the narcissist in your life. Does this sound like her? If not, then you need to keep in mind that she really didn’t do the best she could! Even if she had been abused or through hard times, that does NOT give an excuse to abuse! If being abused made the victim become an abuser, you would be abusive. If you think she does not know what she’s doing, then think about this- does she hide the abuse from other people, only raging at you in private? That is a sign she knows what she is doing is wrong.
Rather than feel guilty because your narcissistic mother “did the best she could”, instead, I encourage you to have a more realistic view of her situation. In mine for example, with my mother- yes she was abused terribly as a child. Her mother continued abusing her as an adult. She’s been miserable married to my father for 46 years. I do feel sorry for her for those reasons. However, those reasons were NOT my fault or a reason to take her frustrations, anger & hurt out on me, to expect to be able to live the life she actually wanted through me. As her daughter, it was never my job to make her happy, although she expected that. She also knew then & still knows how she treats me is wrong. I know this because she always worked hard to hide her actions from everyone, including my father.
Looking at my situation logically like this has helped me to no longer feel guilty when someone says that she did the best she could. It will help you as well. There is no good reason for you to feel bad when some insensitive, naive person says that obnoxious phrase to you! Don’t accept their delusion as your reality!