I Strongly Suspect My Mother Is A Narcissist?

I strongly suspect my mother is a narcissist. Throughout the time she lived with us (she left us when I was 15) everything was always all about her. She was always coming up with a new 'thing' that was going to change everything. Most of it was fairly creative and I can appreciate all the diverse knowledge that I accumulated in childhood. Pottery, Stained Glass, Sewing, Cheese Making, Printing T-Shirts, Self-defence for women... but, there was always something more important than us. I am the eldest of 4 and spent a lot of time doing all the things she didn't bother with like cooking and cleaning and care taking

My mother never hugged us or said she loved us and nothing was ever quite good enough. She also forgot about us all the time. Left at school, sport practice, friend's houses, the mall... she was could never be trusted to remember where we were Lucky for her we grew up in such a safe place! I often wondered what was going on in her head when one or more of her children were not around. Did she wonder where we were, or was she used to us hiding from her erratic responses in our rooms?

The main problem with her was her self-absorption. Everything was about her, when she left us to run away and live with her old high-school boyfriend she thought I would be perfectly happy to provide her with an alibi for her affair. Never mind that I was 14-15 and helping her sleep around was not healthy for me! She invited me to lunch to meet him and wanted me to be happy for her. Actually, if she had just left my father first I probably would have been happy for her.

She was not to be trusted to feed us, to care for us or remember that we existed. I took responsibility for the family at a young age, I remember taking over cooking for the family at 12 because otherwise we just never ate a real meal. My father was emotionally distant and busy working to earn money for my mother to spend on her interests and not on useful things like food! He had no idea what to do.

I have not yet touched on her critical nature, NOTHING I did was ever good enough. If I got good grades it was because I picked the wrong subjects and should have done different, 'harder', ones. If I made a sports team it was because I was wasting my time messing around, not because I was any good at sport or enjoyed playing the game with my team. I wanted to take a typing class (probably the only useful skill I learned at High School) and she told me I was a retard and that only stupid people and secretaries needed to know how to type.. I took the class anyway as by this stage I was well beyond expecting anything reasonable out of her mouth.

I am married. I live in another country. When she saw pictures of my then boyfriend she says to me that he must have lots of money because otherwise why would I date a fat man. He was a little overweight, turned out to be a symptom of a brain tumour on his pituitary... If I have seen her 5 times in the last 15 years I would be surprised. We do not call, email or write. We have not had a civil word to say to one another since she left my father and her children in 1993. Yet when I got married and did not invite her to the wedding she was insulted beyond reason. We had recently become facebook friends (me very cautiously) and so this 55 year old woman writes terrible things all over my page and those of my siblings. Mature! I deleted the posts and deleted her.

She is 60 now, I was back in my home country for my Grandmothers 90th birthday and as her birthday is 3 days before that we were all there. So we visited her. She is bitter, resentful and miserable. The man she left my father for has beaten her physically and emotionally. She has terrible physical problems. I am fairly certain they stem from all the bitterness and judgement she has stored up inside of her. I actually felt sorry for her, that perhaps she was just damaged beyond repair by her own history and family?

If I had written this post a few years ago it would have been much longer and listed all the terrible things she did over the years. I am more mellow about how I feel about her now. I used to be so angry at her, at the 'injustice' of having been saddled with such an incompetent parent.

Now I am feeling forgiveness. She had no clue how to be a parent. She grew up in a time where society expected children, so she had them. Not because she really wanted them, but because it was what you did. She was so damaged from growing up with a chronically Alcoholic father and timid mother. She picked my father, an emotionally distant man who is judgemental, analytical and wants people to behave like machines (without the complication of emotions, these confuse him). She was in an affectionless marriage with 4 bright and opinionated children. I feel sorry for her and the life she created. I even feel love for this woman that I do not respect or like.

But, the forgiveness is for me. I need to forgive her because I cannot live my life or grow while harbouring horrible thoughts and feelings. It does not change the damage that she did to us. That she was loveless, critical, unreliable and selfish. That she left me dealing with depression, poor self-esteem and co-dependence.

I hope that people think twice before they decide to have children. Are you emotionally prepared to be a present and conscious parent? I am not and probably never will be, I am 35 and time has almost run out. I have spent years fearing that my parent's poor genetics run in my veins and that if I became a parent I would seriously screw it up. I am not sad about this, I accept it and just try to heal and become a better person every day. If I do ever decide I am confident enough and 'qualified' to become a parent I will adopt, there are a lot of needy children out there.
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2 Responses Sep 24, 2012

I really felt for you reading all that. And I respect you for editing out your anger. Foriveness is the gift you give yourself and yet how hard it is to do when we have looked to our parent to nurture and love us and to feel that we did not receive those things. I am the eldest of three girls.
My mums passion was horses and she would forget us, not bother with getting the right days at school, meals not cooked, neglect the chores,irresponsible and selfish with money, rude and insolent to my hard working father.We had staff ,she was rude to them too, bossy arrogant demanding ,narcissistic sums it up pretty well. I used to cringe as a child at her breath taking arrogance .And the way she would flirt with men on the farm with her breasts on display,literally tending the yard in her underwire if the weather was hot so that she could get attention from her grooms boyfriend then accuse her groom of being jealous. It was she that was envious of thier loving relationship. Jealous too of my closeness with my dad, our loving often silent display of disdain for that stupid liability stricken cow.
I played county standard netball and was told my swimming could take me to the Olympics. Not good enough for my mum she would not take me to the practices and insisted on buying me a horse instead and forcing me to ride and then humiliating me for not being a good enough rider. I think horses are mesmerising. The strength and Beauty and mythology that surrounds them is to me genuinely fascinating but I had no interest in owning or competing with horses especially I was so naturally skilled in pretty much most other sports. She had an affair with my dads brother in law who my father had employed as a builder. She had this affair on and off for about 8 years. I knew I don't know how but I knew. It was all so devastating to watch. When her sister in law found out she used to ring the house and threaten to tell my dad so for years my mum was mentally ill and suicidal. She decided to send us to boarding school as she thought this would protect her but she used to ring me at the boarding house and plead with me to come home because she was lonely and suicidal and I spent my childhood terrified that I would come home to a dead mother. The stress was phenomenal . My dad spent less and less time at home away from this woman unable to cope with her constant demands. He was to blame too,prolifically unfaithful, a separate home in London that none of us knew about, private planes ,boats a lifestyle full of glamour models and people that knew nothing of his wife and children. They were the two most incomprehensible vain and selfish individuals I can think of. Like something. From a Greek tragedy. Undoing each other with their deceit . Abusing each other with their lies. So many unhappy things, so few people prepared to see the emotional tragedy rippling beneath the veneer of wealth and privalage. Two clueless individulals that didnt deserve children. My mum had me sectioned when I was 20. She had decided to move to France as her second husband who was the photographer my dad had hired to take the sale brochure of our manor house that they had agreed to sell when they decided to get a divorce on my thirteenth birthday. The second husband was a jealous pompous ***** who deliberately upset the balance between myself and my sisters. My mum wanted my blessing to fornicate with this idiot which was very hard for me to do because I knew they would not last. They were both still married when they began their relationship and when my mum decided that she would move to deepest darkest rural France 3 years later to get away from this husband because he would not agree to a divorce I begged her not to spend half a million pounds on a a shack in France, she wanted to set up a restaurant having never even worked In restaurants. By this time my dad had moved to Mallorca . He used to ring me to instruct me to instruct my mother as he did not want her to squander her money. They were both so irresponsible and I became unwell. Instead of caring for me the way I had cared for her ,she had me sectioned. I was raped by a mental patient and my mother agreed to electric shock therapy. She continues to this day to intimate that I am mad. I wa an A star student at school and told by my teachers to expect a place at Oxford or Cambridge ,an excellent sportswoman and a talented actress. Her constant interruptions and malevolence upset my education, I began to have panic attacks and sufferd with depression when my dad announced over the phone that he was moving abroad. My world shattered around my ears I felt the desire for the earth to swallow me whole. Soon after my mum and a gp agreed to put me on a a heavy antidepressant called seroxcet. It changed my mental health over night.. it caused a confusion inside my brain that I can only describe as utterly terryfying..my final school years that should have held so much positivity for an excellent student ended in me gaining 10 stone in weight, so that I was 24 stone. And although I managed to get A levels I left school with my head in a wreck. I was bullied ,spat on by class mates that had previously Been my best friends and just felt so utterly utterly alone and helpless. I yearned for someone to come ino my life and guide me, many different things passed I write music with the keyboardist from Florence and the machine,I have a jazz band and got half way through a nursing degree. I have a daughter a stunning beautiful little girl that I cherish and adore and a Loving boyfriend but the journey to get here has been such a mess. My dad recently pased away. He was 57 . His aids organised his foreign funeral it was a complet debacle. My sisters have never forgiven me for being sectioned and I have been forced to wear the mantle of my mums I'll health for many a year now. There are things I long to achieve but I feel so squashed by my experience of being sectioned and constantly told by my family that I am mentally weak that at times I feel that I don't know where to turn. Having something like that in your medical records affects job opportunities ,visa appliactions my place in society. Little discriminations day by day that chip away at ones self esteem. Both parents were also violent. When the divorce happened and they lost control, like when my sister fell pregnant at 16 I was blamed. Hit around the face by my father when my mum sent me to Spain to tell him. She was glad . She wanted him to hurt me to show me what a bad husband he had been . She revelled in him hurting me. I know that I must be strong. My daughter is a testament to that but my mum tried to tell me I would make a bad parent and gloats if I ever find it hard to balance my aspirations with being a mother. my sisters continue to ridicule me and really when other people have so much less materially than we ever did yet mange to have strong meaningful relationships I feel sad that my parents placed as much stock in wealth as they did.in having horses and fine cars etc stc. They both could have done amazing humanitarian and environmental work with their wealth. I think my dad did do charity work after he left my mother. Two people that could have been a power couple robbed each other. My daughter adores my mum and I see how she was for one reason and another unable to cope with marriage and children. I think a lack of faith and spirituality in society is to blame. And the the people that were attracted to my dad as he began to get good at making money helped him to make dishonest choices. Neither parent all bad, just as you say , a product of the generations before themselves . And we do carry the sins of our fathers and we do reap what we sow but we can change what we plant and cultivate new beginnings. This terrifies me as the 21st century feels so fraught with choice but I hope my daughter has confidence to pursue her ambitions and not feel so crippled by self doubt. What you have achieved is detachment . Like a cutting from an old plant putting down new roots. I guess that is where I am at. If you can do it so can I . Thankyou. X

This is an unbelievably mature analysis of a very sad and more common experience than you'd expect.

This is a stirring account of a story similar to yours: