God doesn’t want you to be a martyr & stay in relationship with your narcissistic parent if you feel you can’t do it. It’s not His will you be miserable, but to be happy. However, that doesn’t mean going no contact is the only option.
No contact is a very drastic move, & one that should be made only after a great deal of prayer & thought on the matter. It is also not one that you should let other people tell you to make. You need to decide on your own whether or not it is the right decision for you, & have absolute certainty in your decision.
In 2001 I went no contact with my mother. She contacted me in 2007, & I decided to allow her back into my life at that point. I figured I had learned & grown enough that things would be better. They are, although sometimes they are still extremely hard & painful. Those times often make me think about going no contact again. I have prayed about it many times, but I haven’t done it. In 2001, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was what I had to do. Now, I have yet to feel that certainty. I firmly believe that our instincts are given to us by God, so if my instincts aren’t clearly telling me it’s time, then I won’t do it.
If you too feel no contact is not your answer just now, you are not alone! I talk to many women who are either unwilling or unable to go no contact with their narcissistic mothers. There are several things you can to do help you manage this painful relationship.
- First & foremost, lean on God. Ask Him to help you to know what you need to do, when you need to do it, & how you need to do it.
- Keep your expectations of your narcissistic mother realistic. She’ll never be the caring, loving mother you wish she was. Accept her where she is. Don’t try to change her. At the same time, refuse to tolerate her abuse. Accepting her does NOT mean you need to tolerate being abused!
- Enjoy whatever positive comes out of the relationship. My mother has times where she is super pleasant & we get along well. It started in 2013, lasted for I think two months, & shocked me. It’s happened a few more times since then, & usually doesn’t last more than a couple of days. Even so, I decided to enjoy them when they happen, & accept the fact they will end soon or that she may never be so nice ever again. Acceptance means I am not devastated when the niceness is over.
- Keep conversations as superficial as possible. Telling your narcissistic mother about your problems, feelings or opinions is like giving her permission to crush you with her words, so keep conversations light. If she asks what’s new in your life, you say nothing. How are you- fine. Brief, uninformative answers are your friend!
- Show her NO emotion. Keep all emotions, good bad or indifferent, in check around her, because if you don’t, she will feed off of them. She will know what buttons to push to hurt you, & repeatedly push said buttons. Don’t give her the satisfaction. Then, once you’re away from her, tell God how you feel, write about it in your journal, or talk to a supportive friend. Holding in emotions isn’t healthy, unfortunately doing so temporarily is a wise thing to do with any narcissist rather than let them see how you feel.
- Have time limits. If you only feel strong enough to deal with your mother for an hour visit once a week, that is fine. Respect it. Don’t push yourself to stop by her home every other day or talk to her on the phone daily. It WILL hurt you physically & emotionally. You’ll be very depressed & sick as the stress compromises your immune system.
- Remember to pat yourself on the back when you enforce your boundaries & handle dealing with your narcissistic mother well. Dealing with a narcissist is never easy, so be proud of your successes!
- Learn from your mistakes. There will be times you slip up. You fall for your narcissistic mother’s manipulation or you show her you are angry when she insulted you. Those things are inevitable, unfortunately. Rather than beat yourself up for them, learn from them. How could you have handled the situation better? Do that the next time. And you know there WILL be a next time. Since she saw it upset you this time, she will do it again & again unless you let her know it doesn’t upset you anymore.
- Take care of your emotional & physical health. Dealing with any narcissist can take a toll on you, but perhaps none more than your own mother. If you know you have to see her on Monday, take time on Sunday to relax, to pray, to strengthen yourself in preparation for the visit the following day.
- Check your motives for staying in this relationship on a regular basis. Are you doing so because it feels right in your heart, after much prayer? Or, are you doing so because you’re afraid she’ll tell people you’re a bad daughter or she’ll start some kind of trouble for you? If your motives are good for you, then you know you’re doing the right thing, even if it is painful sometimes.