Tag Archives: how to cope
The most dreaded day of the year for daughters of narcissistic mothers is upon us. Mother’s day. *insert screams of horror here*
So what thoughts have been running through your mind? Let me guess… something like these?
- Where can I find a card that doesn’t make me nauseous by discussing a mother’s constant, unfailing love? Does anyone sell nice, simple “have a nice day” cards? (Actually, I’ve found the Dollar Tree stores do, just FYI.)
- Should I get her flowers &/or a gift?
- Do I really have to spend time with her? I just saw her 2 months ago…
- What fresh hell is she going to put me through this year? Stories of how miserable she was when pregnant with me, what a terrible child I was or how much I’ve disappointed her?
- Do I really have to do anything at all?! I don’t wanna!
Take a deep breath, Dear Reader… now exhale. Try to relax. You can get through this!
Before you opt to do anything, pray for wisdom, strength, & anything else you feel you need. Once that is done, start thinking logically & calmly about your situation, taking it one step at a time.
Do you feel you should get your mother a card? Yes? OK, then go shopping for a card. Look for something very simple that basically says, “I hope you have a nice Mother’s Day”. Those cards exist! Or, if you can’t find one, then find a pretty card that’s blank inside & write your own simple message.
Do you feel you should get your mother a gift? If yes, then think about something small you can get her. There’s no need to go crazy or go into debt getting her something for Mother’s Day, especially when she was a less than stellar mother. Has she mentioned something she wants recently? A new purse? A new casserole dish? A new clock? Anything? If so & you can afford it, get it. Not sure what to get her? Then how about a gift card from a store she likes? Cash also works. Don’t beat yourself up trying to figure out the perfect gift. It’s not worth the stress or potential debt.
Do you feel you should spend time with your mother on Mother’s Day? If yes, why? Is it because you want to honor her or because you dread her massive guilt trip &/or smear campaign if you don’t? Be brutally honest with yourself on this one. If it’s simply to honor her, then absolutely do it. If it’s because you dread the guilt & smear, then do NOT do it! Giving in to avoid her guilt &/or smear is giving her control. You know how narcissists are- the more you give into them, the more they expect. That whole give an inch, take a mile thing. Another option is a compromise if you aren’t ready not to spend the day with her. Offer to take her to lunch or dinner on another day. If you’re a mom, no doubt you want to spend the day with your kid(s), so do it, then take Mom out another day. She may be mad but tough- it’s perfectly reasonable to put your kids ahead of your mom! If you don’t have kids, make other plans for that day. Lunch with a friend. Pick up an extra shift at work. Something! Anything! You can make it sound like your plans are unchangeable too. Work really needs you in that day (true- they need you more than she needs to abuse you!). Your friend is having a tough time lately or this was the only time your friend has available (both of which are entirely possible scenarios). If your mother starts with her guilt trip, tell her you have to go immediately & will talk to her later.
If you’re no contact, that first Mother’s Day can be rough. Don’t give in to guilt & send her a card or gift! If you do, your narcissistic mother will see that as you having weak boundaries or you feel guilty for being so “mean” to her. She also may take it as the end of no contact & before you know it, she’s in your life again. Don’t let that happen! Maintain no contact for the sake of your sanity!
I know Mother’s Day is a tough day but you can & will get through it. Really! You can do this! xoxo
Recently I’ve realized something surprisingly helpful in helping me cope with the abuse I’ve experienced at the hands of my narcissistic parents. Seeing things through their eyes. Granted, that isn’t always an easy things to do since I’m not a narcissist, but it can be oddly helpful.
Seeing things through their eyes has shown me the incredible dysfunction they live with, & how so much of their abuse wasn’t personal (although it sure felt that way), but was solely about them. I was simply collateral damage, an acceptable loss to them.
For example, my mother has criticized my looks as far back as I can remember. Compared her features to mine, telling me how much more attractive hers were than mine. Naturally, I grew up feeling like the ugliest person on the planet. Eventually, I looked at this situation through my mother’s eyes. My mother said when I was born, she figured I’d look like her- brown hair & eyes. I’m a blue eyed blonde, like the Baileys- my father’s family. In fact, I look a lot like my grandmother, who, mind you, was a beauty in her youth. My mother hates all of her in-laws, so if you look at this situation through her narcissistic eyes, I probably betrayed her. I disappointed her by being born not looking like her, & to boot, looking like people she hates. Never mind I had zero control over this, somehow it still comes back to her, & I didn’t do as she wanted. I had to pay. Plus, she probably thought I was prettier than her, so again, I had to pay. She had to tear me down so I didn’t think of myself as pretty. Bonus- tearing me down built her up at the same time.
Realizing these things helped me to stop taking her scathing criticisms so personally. What she said wasn’t true- it was simply a means to make herself feel better & to nurse the “wound” I gave her by being born differently than she wanted me to be. Granted, I’m still trying to believe I’m pretty, but at least I know now what she said is all lies & I’m not some hideous monster like she made me feel like. (Feeling pretty probably will take a long time. Baby steps..)
See what I mean? Seeing things through her eyes helped me to see the truth in the situation, & stop believing her hurtful lies. It can help you as well, & let’s face facts- anyone who has experienced narcissistic abuse needs any help they can get to heal the damage it’s caused.
I would like to encourage you today to try this, Dear Reader. Look at a painful situation through the narcissist’s eyes. I guarantee you will see that you did not deserve what was done to you, that it was more about the narcissist than you & that the narcissist lied to you simply to benefit herself. If you’re having some trouble, ask God to help you if this is something He wants you to do.
When dealing with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there is one important point you must never forget- they are extremely envious.
Narcissists want what you have, whether what you have is a loving marriage, a great job, talents or a nice home or car. I think it is because narcissists feel so badly about themselves, that your good thing, whatever it may be, is perceived as a threat. By you looking good, they think it makes them look bad, as if people are constantly comparing them to others. They simply cannot stand someone else looking better than them in any way or doing something they are unable to do.
One example of this that comes to mind is my mother in-law. She’s never driven- always had to rely on others to take her where she needed to go. From day one, my car was always an issue with her, even knowing I love cars, especially mine. She started by accusing me of driving too fast in her neighborhood. I thought it was odd, but slowed down. Not long after my husband & I got together, she suggested we go out to lunch one day. I said fine, let’s figure out when to do this. She said, “You WILL be taking Eric’s car, right?” I was baffled & said “No, I have my own car.” She dropped the subject. A couple of weeks later, she suggested we go out again, & again she asked if I was taking my husband’s car. Again I said no. This happened once more & by then I was getting angry. My car wasn’t good enough for her to ride in?! Someone who doesn’t drive or know the first thing about cars thinks she’s too good for my car?! Anyway, a few years later, my husband & I had both of our cars at his parents’ house. I’d been helping him work on his, then when he didn’t need my help, I replaced a burned out turn signal bulb on my car. When I was alone, my mother in-law took this opportunity to tell me my car was costing too much money- I needed to just get rid of it. (a $.97 bulb that burned out after 8 years was too expensive?) She also made fun of me for “liking to get dirty & greasy” because I had car dirt on me after working on hubby’s car.
At the time, I knew nothing of NPD. I did realize though that all of this nastiness boiled down to one thing- envy. My mother in-law envied the fact that not only was I independent enough to drive, I could even fix my car if need be. She has created this dependence on my father in-law by not driving, under the guise of helplessness, yet at the same time, she envied me for not being so dependent on my husband as she was on hers. Obviously she was trying to hurt me not because there was something wrong with me, but because there is something wrong with her.
Sadly, this is typical narcissistic behavior. Narcissists attack things that mean a lot to you for two reasons- because it causes you a great deal of pain or because of envy. Often, for a combination of both reasons. In the situation with my car, my mother in-law used both reasons, I believe.
When the narcissist in your life viciously criticizes something about you, or even simply tries to instill doubt in you about it, you can bet she envies you. Don’t let her cruel words or actions make you feel bad about whatever it is she’s criticizing about you! In fact, remember that whatever it is, is a good thing. If it wasn’t, she wouldn’t care enough about it to criticize you so viciously. Don’t let her cruelty make you feel badly or as if you’re doing something wrong. It is simply proof that you are doing something very well & that you are blessed! Remembering these things will help you to not be hurt by her verbal abuse.
Christmas is just around the corner, & those of us with narcissistic relatives know what this means- bad gifts!
Narcissists are notoriously bad at selecting gifts. To give someone a good gift, you have to look beyond yourself. You have to know the person you’re giving the gift to, & understand her tastes. These are impossible tasks for narcissists. Since they don’t want to think of anyone but themselves or how people can do for them, they give lousy gifts. Or, they give someone what they think the person needs to have- clothes in the narcissist’s taste, a CD by the narcissist’s favorite artist even though the receiver doesn’t care for that artist, things pertaining to the narcissist’s interests even though the receiver couldn’t care less about such things.
So what happens when you get these awful gifts? It’s not like you can say, “This is horrible!” True as that may be, you’ll end up being accused of being ungrateful, mean, etc etc etc. The same goes if you nicely ask for the receipt so you can exchange it. Unless the item is obviously broken & needs replacing, the narcissist will be offended that you don’t appreciate their “awesome” gift.
I have found the best way to handle this is to remember, keep it simple. Thank the person for the gift (without a lot of fuss, just “Thank you”), take it home, then find someone who will like the item & give it to them. Don’t know someone? Give it to the Salvation Army or other charitable organization that has thrift stores- someone will enjoy it!
My mother insisted on giving me clothing in her taste all of my life. Usually, I hate it. But, I still thanked my mother & took it home, then gave it to the Salvation Army. My mother in-law & sisters in-law gave me cooking paraphernalia one Christmas after I said how much I hate to cook. I gave the big cookbook to my best friend who enjoyed it since she likes cooking. Other items went to the Salvation Army or were given away. The giant ugly pasta dish, however, went into my attic when the roof sprung a leak just before we replaced it. It was the only thing I had that fit in this odd, narrow little area. (I’m not proud of it, but that made me very happy to do..lol)
I know, getting iccky gifts from narcissists isn’t fun, but it needn’t be a hassle. Just keep it simple when you thank them so they don’t get too much narcissistic supply (otherwise you can count on getting more, similar bad gifts in the future), & later discreetly give it away to someone who will enjoy it.
After recently being told yet again that I “should just cut ties” with my parents, I felt the need to write this post to remind everyone that only you can decide whether or not no contact is right for you. I know, I’ve written several posts like this, but sometimes information bears repeating!
So many people who write about narcissistic abuse preach the value of no contact for the victim. In fact, many say it is the only solution & you’re wrong to think otherwise.
The simple fact is though, that not every situation is the same. Yes, no contact is a very good solution in many situations. Often, it is the only solution. That being said though, it isn’t the only option.
There are many people who are unable or unwilling to go no contact, especially when it comes to a narcissistic parent. Some are forced to live with this parent due to financial reasons, & have no means to move. Others want to go no contact, but don’t feel they are strong enough to do so just yet. They’re working towards that goal. Still others are fine with low contact, which is what I have chosen. I deal with my parents as I feel able to do so.
There are no “one size fits all” solutions for victims of narcissistic parents. Everyone is different & everyone copes with things differently. Just because eliminating your narcissistic parent(s) from your life worked out great for you doesn’t mean it will work as great for someone else. And, if you’re still in a relationship with your narcissistic parent, that doesn’t mean that solution works for everyone. Never tell someone in similar circumstances to yours that they should just do what you did & if they do it, expect them to have the same results as you. That won’t happen.
It also isn’t right to assume you know best what someone else needs to do with their life. It’s judgmental & makes people feel stupid, as if they aren’t smart enough to figure out solutions on their own. Being raised by a narcissistic parent, chances are the person already feels stupid, no matter how smart they are, especially if their mother was the engulfing type. Telling that person what they need to do with their life reinforces that wrong belief. Obviously you wouldn’t tell them what to do if you thought they were smart enough to figure this out on their own. This is exactly how I feel when someone tells me what to do, especially when I didn’t ask for their input. No matter how well meaning their words, I still have to battle feeling stupid. On some level, it takes me back to my mother constantly telling me what to do or just doing things for me because according to her, I wasn’t doing it right or didn’t know what I was doing. It’s not a nice feeling! Would you really want to make someone feel that way?!
Instead of telling someone they should “just go no contact,” tell them you’re sorry for their pain. Listen without judgment or trying to fix their problems. If they ask for advice, rather than say, “If I were you, I would….”, phrase your advice gentler. Ask, “Have you ever thought about doing…?” “What about doing…do you think that would help?” “Have you tried…?”
Offer to pray for & with that person.
Offer to take the person to lunch, to a movie or do something that person enjoys as a distraction. Sometimes a little time away from problems can be very helpful.
There are ways you can help without telling a person what to do or hurting them any more than they’re already hurting.
I don’t know about you, but frankly, I really stink at self – care. This isn’t a good thing, especially since I’ve been having a rough time of late, & really could use some good self – care rituals.
Today I was thinking about this, wondering what I need to do to get better at taking care of myself. An idea popped into my mind that I’m sure was from God, as I’m not this creative. A self – care box! I have a cute little wooden box I had gotten at a craft store a few years back. It’s maybe 3″ deep, 4″ wide & 2″ tall. I got out some pretty pink & off white paint for it. Pink & off white make me happy, which is why I chose those colors. While I’m waiting on the paint to dry, I went online & found a bunch of simple but good ideas for self – care. Simple ones, like “take a few minutes just to breathe deeply.” “Take a nap.” “Give yourself a manicure/pedicure.” “Pray.” “Read.” I wrote these little suggestions on pieces of pretty blue construction paper (if only I’d had pink! lol). I will cut them out & once the paint on the box is dry, put them in the box. When I need a little extra self – care, I’ll pull one piece of paper & do whatever suggestion is on that piece of paper.
Many adult children of narcissistic mothers also aren’t very good at taking care of themselves. It’s hardly just me. If this describes you, then why don’t you try creating a self – care box? Do an internet search on “self – care ideas” & you will be amazed with the amount of suggestions available! Pick & choose the ones that appeal the most to you. Then, the next time you’re feeling down, anxious, overworked or whatever, pull out one of those little slips of paper from the box & do what it says.
You deserve to be healthy, emotionally as well as physically! It will give you more peace & joy, taking good care of yourself. Besides, to be the best you that you can be for others, you have to take care of yourself. Do it for the ones you love, as well as for yourself. ❤