I recently read an article in “Psychology Today” that I found very interesting. It was about the effects of invalidation in families.
A part of the article really hit home with me, & I would bet also with many victims of narcissistic abuse. It explains that many people who were constantly invalidated as children invite people to invalidate them. When parents do something so compulsively, children assume it needs to be done, & will give their parents opportunity to do so. I realize I’ve done this myself. One example is my mother has always been hyper critical of my weight. There have been times I lost some weight & told her, & was nearly crushed by her comments. The worst happened many years ago, when I told her I lost some weight without really trying lately. I wasn’t hungry so I wasn’t eating as much. I was much younger & more naive then, & thought since she’s always battled her weight, she’d be happy for me. How wrong I was! Her response was, “You probably have cancer & are going to die soon, that’s why you lost weight.” Then, she changed the subject.
I don’t think this refers to only invalidation, however, although that was the topic of the article. From what I’ve seen, people can do the same with other things. For example, adult children of very critical parents can do stupid things often to give their parents something to criticize without a clue about what they’re doing. They’ll shoot themselves in the foot, so to speak, then tell the parents who then criticize their poor choices. They think they’re the family screw up because of what the parents have always said, & they constantly try to live up to the parents’ expectations (well, it’s more like living down to those expectations, really..).
Do scenarios like this describe your behavior? Ask God to give you show you what you’re doing, if you’re setting the stage for your narcissistic mother to abuse you. And, if you are doing so, then ask Him to help you make the appropriate changes.
You’re going to need to modify your words as well as behavior. I stopped discussing things with my mother that she is very critical of, which has left us very little to discuss. It’s sad, but it’s easier than feeling stupid for basically giving her ammunition to use for hurting me. And stupid is exactly how I felt every time it happened.
Also, as always, it’s just a good practice never to show a narcissist you’re upset. If you slip up & she gets vicious, stay calm & collected. Do NOT show her that you are angry or hurt- it only provides her the coveted narcissistic supply, which will make her do these things more, so you will become more upset & provide more supply. Never do this!!! Instead, stay calm, even cold & unemotional. If she can’t get a rise out of you, she will give up. She may try a few things first to be sure she can’t upset you, but she will give up in this area. That is a victory for you!
When you do slip up, as you will at first, don’t beat yourself up about it. Unfortunately, it happens sometimes. We all do it. I still do sometimes, even though I’ve been doing this for years & have gotten much better at showing my narcissistic mother no reaction. It frustrates her sometimes- I can see it. lol But, better her being frustrated than me being devastated!