Q My mother has always been hard to deal with and since I left boarding school I’ve avoided having contact with her and not getting drawn into her never-ending dramas. She has to be the centre of attention and get her own way. She’s like a moody selfish child and my dad is a doormat who puts up with it. Lately she’s started making out that things I know to be true, aren’t true or even real. Like my memories aren’t the truth, or that things aren’t how I see them at all and only her version of things is true and valid. She’s even started saying that I must be loosing my marbles as I keep getting things wrong and over reacting. It’s as if she’s trying to say I’m the one going nuts when in fact it’s her that’s the crazy one. What’s happening?
A Some of the descriptions you’ve used for your mother fit those of someone who has Narcissistic tendencies (and even perhaps a personality disorder).
I suggest you research more about this on the internet with searches for:-
Narcissistic abusive mother
Narcissistic abusive parent
How to heal/recover from and deal/cope with a narcissistic mother/parent
There are several of these articles around these days which will help to illuminate things for you and get them into perspective.
Speaking of illumination, or lack of it – there is a term called ‘Gas Lighting’ which also fits the behaviour of a narcissistic person, and what your mother is doing to you. (It also fits other narcissistic relationships too).
They make out that things, events, memories are NOT as someone else (usually their own impressionable child) sees them. It’s as if there isn’t enough light for you to ‘see’ properly (as in the days of gas lighting) …or so they would have you believe.
It’s part of an overall pattern of manipulation and oppression….’I’ll tell you how things are…I am superior and I know best’ – the typical narcissistic point of view!
Be crystal clear about your own reality and wherever possible have it validated and confirmed by an objective person – better still someone who was an actual witness.
Then you can be sure that your perceptions of reality, your memories, and even what you know to be real about things and objects remains clear in your own mind – and not blurred, tarnished or cancelled out by your mother!
You’ll probably be wasting your time trying to make sense of your mother’s childlike behaviour. If and when you become ready to give up on her, then your energy will be better spent in building yourself a solid future – without your mother’s crazy-making behaviour (and your father’s compliance) being a part of that.
There are also a few good private Facebook groups (which I also belong to) where you will find ongoing support, information and validation. This will help you to care for your inner child and protect them from any further emotional abuse.
I also have some free resources on a page on my website (link below) that helps to explain the effects of a troubled childhood and toxic parents.
Your mother is the one who can’t see clearly – but she is unlikely to change and become the mother you wished you had.
Part of your own recovery and healing from a narcissistic and abusive mother is to grieve for that loss, and heal your own emotional wounds as you make peace with your past – which frees you up to have a happier and calmer future.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
www.maxineharley.com Where you will find FREE e-booklets and other free resources designed to help and inform you on your journey of self-knowledge and development. To re-parent your inner child, and to recover from a troubled childhood, toxic mother (and toxic father).