Yesterday, my narcissistic mother called me after barely speaking to me since November. She was passive/aggressively letting me know just how angry she is with me.
This is nothing new, & I wasn’t even going to mention it here. Then I felt God wanted me to share some of the details about it to show other daughters of narcissistic mothers how they operate. So many emails I get are from women who are tired of the dysfunction in their relationship with their mother, & are looking for answers. If that describes you, you may benefit from reading this blog.
My goal in sharing this is to help women like this learn some of the common types of comments narcissistic mothers use, & what these mothers hope to accomplish. While your mother may not say exactly these comments, I would bet she uses something similar, & with similar motives.
Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, don’t handle criticism well. They also are in constant competition, especially with those closest to them. They must look like the best, smartest, prettiest, etc. & if they don’t, they may go into what is known as a Narcissistic Rage. This rage can be physically violent, but I believe many narcissistic mothers leave physical violence behind as they get older, & their children grow up. They replace the physical violence with verbal attacks, often passive/aggressive ones that leave you wondering if your anger is misplaced. These comments aren’t blatantly abusive- they have subtle, hidden meanings behind them, & are designed to strike at whatever means a lot to you to cause you the most hurt. If you confront your narcissistic mother about what she has said, she’ll say you are crazy or reading into things because all she said was a simple statement. This leaves you frustrated & angry because you KNOW that she didn’t just mean that one simple thing- you have absolutely no doubt there was a hidden, nasty crack at you in that comment! This is gaslighting/crazymaking!
If your mother does this, you are NOT alone! It is very common behavior for narcissistic mothers! Read on- I bet you’ll see a bit of your mother in my mother’s comments.
Also, I am a firm believer in not judging people, including their motives. While what I say below may sound judgmental, like I am judging her motives. I don’t believe it is at all. This is based on knowledge I’ve gained from experience with my mother’s behavior for the over 42 years I’ve been alive.
“My cousin is so brave.. while she suffers so with depression, she STILL works hard cleaning her house & garden!”
A little background: Last June, my mother started being oddly nice to me for a few months. During that time, she mentioned her 60-something year old cousin’s battle with depression. She has been hospitalized for it, & takes medication daily. She has gone through many medicines, changing doses repeatedly to find out what helped her best. While telling me about her cousin, she asked if I’ve ever had problems with depression. This shocked since when I was about 6, I told my parents I wished I’d never been born, & many times during my childhood my mother commented on how sad I looked & needed to cheer up. Anyway I told her yes, I have problems with depression (I haven’t told her of the other mental health problems I have). She asked some questions & I answered some as I felt comfortable. I told her that I am used to it, it’s miserable, but I go on even when it’s bad. My family needs me, so I can’t afford to fall apart for long. Fast forward to yesterday’s conversation with my mother- I have no doubt this comment was to invalidate me, to let me know what I go through is nothing, especially compared to her poor cousin. My mother’s cousin is so much stronger than me- she suffers so much, yet does so much more than me. Aren’t I ashamed of myself?? (Truth be told? Nope, I’m not!)
“My cousin & her husband went out one day & came home to find their son had bought & set up a fancy new 55″ television! They are so lucky to have such a good son!”
I lost track of how many times my mother has told me this story… it has ONE motivation- to let me know I don’t do enough for my parents. A good child would do things like this for her parents! (Well, maybe if I wouldn’t have spent my life hearing constantly what a horrible person I am, I might feel more inclined to be nicer to my parents..)
Telling me about how long she & a couple of other people have been friends..
From any other person? This wouldn’t be any issue. But with my mother, it is. She wants me to know she keeps friends longer than me (she seems to forget sometimes she is also 32 years older than me- of course some of her friendships are older than mine! She is older than I am!). She has told me I’m not a good friend ever since I can remember, & this is just one more way to remind me of what a terrible friend I am. (We won’t discuss that my best friend & I have been friends since just before we went into our senior year of high school, or how many friends I have had since kindergarten..)
Telling me how spoiled her cat is.
This one is really easy. Translation: “I am a way better cat mom than you are! You should strive to be as good a pet parent as I am!” Never mind I currently have 9 cats & 1 dog, all of whom are confident, happy, loving, healthy & very well cared for. The one cat I have with health issues is doing way better than the vet thought he would, partly due to how I care for him. As for my mother’s cat? My heart breaks for her- she is overweight & extremely skittish. Most likely this comes from my mother’s “discipline” when she misbehaves (screaming at the kitty).
Telling me how many people wanted to buy her old Dodge when she had it.
I’m not sure how many of you know the story of my car, so bear with me if this is a repeat for you. I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible. My ’69 Plymouth Fury belonged to my Granddad. He gave it to my dad when his car was stolen, then Dad junked it for a bad transmission & rear in 1979. In 2005, I found what I thought was a twin of that car at a flea market. After buying the car, when I compared the VIN to Dad’s old records, we learned this is the same car! My mother knows this, & hates my car with a passion. She constantly lets me know it’s a piece of junk, no one likes it, Granddad was a terrible mechanic (really?? He kept his & some of his daughters’ cars running for many years) so she would NEVER own a car he owned, etc. Her motivation with this comment was to let me know how much better her car was than mine since others wanted to buy it, and as a bonus, my granddad was a terrible person. Funny.. my car is the only one that’s still on the road after 45 years, & I often have people wanting to buy it. And, when my grandparents gave my parents this car in 1976, my mother didn’t turn it down. As for her disdain of her father in-law? It is because he & I were very close. Once she learned how close Granddad & I were, she hasn’t stopped criticizing him to me.
I hope this helps you, fellow daughter of a narcissistic mother. When your mother says something that sounds innocent enough, yet you feel angry about it, there IS a reason! You aren’t crazy- your mother has some nasty motivation for saying what she has! Trust that anger or hurt you feel- it is responding for a reason, I promise you that! Narcissists always have a motivation for everything they say & do! (They want you to make themselves look better or hurt anyone who they think is better than them, which motivates probably 99% of their behaviors.) And, I bet if you think about it for a little while, you’ll figure out exactly what it is she is trying to say.
Remember this too- just because your mother thinks something you say, do, like, own, etc. is bad, doesn’t mean it is. I’ve said it many times- just because your mother says something doesn’t mean it is the truth. Ignore her judgment of you- you are special! God made you the way He did for a reason. She is entitled to disagree with your likes or choices, & you are equally entitled to ignore her nastiness & continue your life however you like.