I had a rough night last night, full of strange & upsetting dreams. This happens often, & although I’m accustomed to it, it still is very difficult.
One of last night’s dreams was about being at a gigantic shopping mall with someone (I know a female, but no clue who she was or even what she looked like). We were in a Books A Million bookstore, & for some reason, I needed to go elsewhere in the mall. I went to where I needed to go, then couldn’t find my way back to Books A Million. I realized I’d left my cell phone with her, & was getting more & more panicky because I couldn’t even call her. Being agoraphobic, I also was very uncomfortable being around so many people & in a public place, especially one with which I wasn’t familiar. Plus, the mall was full of very upscale stores like Neiman Marcus & Lord & Taylor. I’m not comfortable in such stores, even though I appreciate their quality merchandise. I walked all over this huge mall & was very tired. I went into several stores because I remembered Books A Million was behind a big department store, but couldn’t find them. I woke up eventually & was very anxious. Eventually I went back to sleep, & had an almost identical dream, which meant waking up again very anxious.
According to dreammoods.com, dreaming of a mall means you are trying to establish your sense of self. Interesting, because I’ve been trying to do just that for several years, & have had similar mall dreams for several years.
I think many adult children of narcissistic mothers are on the same boat as me. We grow up learning that our sole purpose is to please Mother, to do whatever she wants, to behave as she wants us to behave, to like or dislike whatever she likes or dislikes. This kind of treatment means we grow up as a rather empty shell, with no real awareness of who we are.
Do you know who you are? Are you very aware of things you like & don’t like? How certain things make you feel? Your dreams, needs & wants?
If not, maybe today is the day you need to decide to get you back, & lose the person your narcissistic mother made you to be.
How do you do this?? To start with, start listening to yourself! Pay attention to how things make you feel. Anything! You will learn pretty quickly what you do & don’t like, what qualities you like & don’t like in other people, & even what things you may be interested in trying that you’ve never tried before. As God to help you to be aware of these things. It can be awkward at first since your narcissistic mother did her best to make sure you never paid attention to your feelings, needs, etc., so God’s help is vital!
Also step out of your comfort zone a bit. For example, I’m normally very feminine, but I’ve learned I do enjoy fixing my car if I can- not exactly the most feminine activity a lady can do. It was rather uncomfortable for me to poke around under my hood the first couple of times I did it, but even so, I kind of liked it. And, as time passed, I’ve gotten more & more comfortable fixing my car as well as gained a lot of knowledge. You can do the same thing- try painting a picture if you’ve never done it before, or read a completely different genre of book than you normally do, or go somewhere you normally don’t go such as a museum of modern art. Step out & you’ll soon find out more about yourself. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask God for creative ideas.
And, accept those things that you discover about yourself without judgement. That can be very hard to do, especially when you are so accustomed to being judged constantly by your narcissistic mother. But truly- so long as what you do & enjoy makes you happy & isn’t hurting anyone, what is wrong with that?! My mother & mother in-law, both narcissists, hate the fact I work on my car & have ridiculed me for it. But you know something? I realized that my mother in-law is jealous, because not only doesn’t she know the first thing about cars, she doesn’t even drive. She also is very dependent on her husband, where I’m not. As for my mother, she is more concerned with appearances than anything else, & her daughter working on a car, doing a “man’s” job embarrasses her. In both cases, THEY are the ones with the problem, not me. I’m sure you will find the same thing once you start stepping out & getting to know yourself better. Those who are judging you are the ones with the problem, not you.
Something else I’ve learned- many of us adult children of narcissistic mothers are kind of quirky. Once we start getting to know ourselves, it turns out we don’t usually follow the crowd. We like unique things. Accept the quirkiness! How boring would the world be if everyone liked the same things? Enjoy & appreciate your differences! Those differences make you the unique & special person that God created you to be.
Learning who God made you to be isn’t an overnight process. I’ve been doing it off & on for several years now, & I still learn little things about myself periodically. But, it’s been fun & it’s given me so much more peace. I am much more aware of what I like & don’t like, what I’m willing or unwilling to do & my needs. In fact, I’m also becoming much more accepting of having C-PTSD than I once was. While most people who haven’t been through narcissistic abuse don’t understand C-PTSD & will judge or even ridicule those of us with it, I am accepting the fact that this awful disorder isn’t a sign of flaws in me- it is a sign that I have been through some really bad things. I have survived, although with some scars. It feels good to accept that fact instead of beating myself up for having this awful disorder.