Part of being a child means looking to our parents for love, support, and encouragement. Our parents set the foundation for feelings of safety and trust in others.
It is important for children to feel seen and heard by their loved ones as they grow up. It can be painful to grow up with a parent who denies a child these emotional security blankets. Unfortunately, this is the reality for children who grow up with narcissistic mothers.
Narcissistic mothers cannot give their children the full attention and validation they need to feel loved and emotionally secure. This may impact the child’s beliefs, behaviours, and self-esteem well into adulthood. – CBT Psychology
“Don’t write about me, Samantha.”
It’s funny how many people don’t want others to know but are happy to lie and gossip to others behind your back.
The phrase “never piss off a writer” gets me every time. You should fear a writer with a platform and the added bonus of using words to tell a story. Especially if you don’t want people to know how you’ve treated that person, right? Well, what would you do if your biggest fear involved others knowing who you really are behind the shield of your flying monkeys? Would you stop smearing the writer? Would you stop the insults and belittling messages? Would you stop the narcissistic power trip you get when you think you’ve caused the writer pain– the pain they feel entitled to spread because of their own insecurities? The answer is no.
They continued and, therefore, gave this writer, Samantha, permission to write about them.
I never understood the concept of emotional abuse. When I was in and out of the GP surgery due to stomach issues, back pain and that constant feeling that I would get in trouble. The feeling in my stomach was a difficult one to describe. “It’s like when you’re a kid, and you know you’re going to get in trouble for something”, I explained. But in reality, I’ve done nothing wrong.
Then came the panic attacks and the crippling back spasms that led to me apologising to my doctor for fear of wasting their time. It turns out I had stress and suffered from anxiety.
I was 27 and getting married for the second time. Nevertheless, it should have been a good time; it was an exciting time. I had a new start with the opportunity to create my own loving family. Although that’s usually when issues with exes occur, and yes, he did the jealous ex-partner act, sprinkled with many derogatory remarks about me to our son.
But, he was easy to handle. My ex-husband’s behaviour was out and proud; I knew what I was dealing with.
It wasn’t until I described my childhood in therapy that I was asked if I knew my experiences were considered abusive. I paused and I questioned my life.
That fear I felt in my stomach said yes, but my mind said no. That’s how we are, I thought; that’s what family means to us. Although I didn’t treat people or my kids the way I was treated, I never really questioned or believed that her behaviour was abusive.
“I love you, but I don’t like you.”
That’s not something I would say to my kids, god forbid. But it’s ok for her to tell 7, 8, and 9-year-old me, right? The excuses I told myself, excusing the plethora of emotionally charged statements and behaviour I endured for my entire life, were plentiful.
I thought her mother told her that to save me. I thought she did it from a place of love. It didn’t, did it? It came from people knowing; to protect the reputation of the family. As a fair-skinned kid, marks would be seen. My face would have welts that lasted a few hours after being punished.
I was too chubby to be allowed to have a haircut. You’d be pretty if you lost weight; the backhanded compliments were the only compliments I received. Does negging, the act of insulting someone or something with a backhanded compliment or with qualified approval, especially as a ploy to lower a person’s self-esteem, only happen in romantic relationships? It may not be because it worked. My self-worth was non-existent, and my confidence was entangled with 00’s Pro-Ana and binge-purge cycles. I was praised when I appeared thin; she said I looked my best when I was 16. I walked 4 miles a day and restricted myself to half a piece of bread. Perhaps I would have looked even thinner if I had known I had a gluten intolerance way back then.
Her cruel remarks worked because the more I was invalidated, the more I wanted to please. I’d be loved if I was good, helpful, and acted mature and reliable.
What do you do about a narcissistic mother? You accept and let go. You try to accept that it’s her, not you”
Fear-based parenting was a common form of parenting when I was growing up. In some cultures, it’s deemed normal and encouraged. But it wasn’t just that. It felt personal. I was a constant reminder, in her mind, of a mistake. I was told, I was reminded, and I was punished.
Her tactics, over time, would change. When one style of punishment stopped getting an emotional reaction, she would up the ante. She’d include gaslighting, punishing me for things she said I did but didn’t. I’d try to avoid her when she was in a bad mood, constantly stepping on eggshells. It rarely worked.
Other adults got in on the action. A family member would use the same forms of physical punishment and belittle disguised as teasing for next to nothing.
A friend stayed with us for some time, and although she taught me how to ride a bike, her methods seemed to come from some kind of corporate army training manual. Shouting and berating a roughly 8-year-old to get her to understand how to ride a bike was traumatic, to say the least. It took a few weeks, with no stabilisers and bruises from failed attempts and crashing into the walkway walls or the floor.
I loved my family but hated this friend. I remember her friend made us dinner one evening while my mum was out. The friend asked me to serve her. I’d have to bring her a plate of food, and I snapped back. I told her to “do it yourself”. I wonder if I was possessed or if my mouth acted faster than my brain. But I knew I wouldn’t get away with it; I feared what my mum would do when she got home.
When I went through intense periods of stress, tiny red blotches would appear on my face, under my eyes and across my nose. She knew those blotches meant I’d reached my emotional limit. She’d be nicer to me, less rageful. To this day, I don’t know if she sympathised or whether it was a noticeable red flag. Would things be different if I could cover up those blotches?
I was in the bath when she got home. She came in and told me what her friend had said. I was petrified. It was probably one of the worst things I ever did. This seems ridiculous to admit because it wasn’t really that bad, considering I was only 8, and this Woman had pushed me to the point of acting out of character.
She looked at me, paralysed with fear, naked in the bath. She mentioned my red blotches and paused. She sternly told me I was rude and shouldn’t have said what I said, but that was it. She said nothing more. I stood up for myself and got away with it. But I never did it again.
Over the years, there were countless episodes of her rage, and family members ignored it unless they were her target. As a child, there was no escape. I can only assume that the power she craved was some kind of internalised issue, which she projected onto me through her constant games and tests. She’d go through periods of being friendly, but it was never warm. She didn’t “do” hugs, there were no “I love you’s”, and my birthday didn’t matter as soon as I reached 14.
As soon as I got a part-time job, I began having a social life. I never called in sick or took holidays, and my bosses always questioned it. I wasn’t allowed to go out with friends, so any time out of my house was spent at work and school. She stopped buying me clothes; if I wanted something, I’d buy it myself, including my first mobile phone. I didn’t have it for long as it was taken away as a punishment for something minor. I didn’t get it back; she kept it and used it as her own.
She would listen in on my phone calls to friends on our landline, open my letters, and demand that I didn’t use the lock on our bathroom. She executed her dominance over me and reminded me that I had no privacy by walking in while I bathed. By that point, I was tired of the constant power trips. I just wanted peace.
There were a couple of times she’d take me shopping, but it only ended up being scorned for not liking the M&S frumpy dresses she suggested. It was the late 90s, and no teenager wanted to wear floral long-sleeved maxi dresses seen on 50-year-old Women.
I loved fashion, and I loved clothes. I loved a baggy t-shirt, three-quarter-length trousers and Spice-Girl wedges. One sunny Spring day, I put on this very outfit, admittedly, it was far too cold for velcro-strapped wedge chunky sandals, but I wanted to wear them so badly. She looked me up and down and said I looked like a slag before leaving. It became obvious this Woman had no regard for my feelings, let alone love. I made it a point to not allow her to break me; I ignored her pitiful attempts to tear me down. I no longer cared about trying to make her like me.
As the years passed, I kept my head down, continued to make my own money, left home and started a family. I’d visit from time to time, in hope that maybe she did care. But she didn’t really seem to care.
She never spent one-to-one time with me
If others were involved, like my kids, she’d be there. I’d invite her to dinner or events to build a relationship, but she’d decline or cancel every time. My attempts would be enough to get her emotional fix. Knowing I wanted to spend time with her gave her everything she needed. But she would share her disdain or my “disloyalty” if I spent time with people she didn’t like or fell out with.
Knowing all of this, I didn’t believe any of this was abuse, emotional or otherwise. It’s just how she was. It took 10 years and a copious amount of self-work and healing to build my confidence and go no contact. As you may imagine, that didn’t go down without a fight.
I was told to consider myself aborted; she’d had a late abortion. Excusing her behaviour didn’t come with a suggestion, like when her mother said not to hit me in the face. She said she was surprised I hadn’t heard worse– I should be a “grateful” mistake.
I started to respect myself and place boundaries. I would no longer tolerate anyone insulting me or badmouthing me to anyone, let alone my children.
The smear campaign had been going on for years and set up the inevitable pack behaviour to save the family’s reputation and attempts from destroying mine. I was “mad”, had “mental health problems”, was a “liar”, and was “evil”. My biggest fear came true. I was always told that these people didn’t like or care about me, and my mother needed to make it known. They weren’t my family; they were hers.
The fear that led to my anxiety, stomach issues and back spasms became a reality. They didn’t love me; they hated me. They smeared me to anyone that would listen and warned me to keep quiet. I was not welcome in the pack and would be seen as an enemy. No holds barred; an enemy deserves anything the group wants to throw.
Would I change anything? Would I return to the pack? No. Not in a million years. Not if my life depended on it and I needed a kidney.
She asked if the next time she’d see me would be if I went to a funeral to film for social media. The answer was, and is no. If I’m not welcome in life, ma’am, I will not be at anyone’s funeral to mourn their passing.
The last straw was including my children in games and smear campaigns– the latest recruit into “team flying monkey” was my eldest son. It wasn’t difficult, which they knew, due to the ongoing negativity from his father. It’s sad to see the satisfaction it brings, relaying malicious conversations and insults to me. Gloating about the previous impact of hurt and rejection while continuing to validate their behaviour because I “deserve it”.
Of course, my childhood wasn’t all filled with difficult moments; there were many happy times spent with my family. But that doesn’t override the experiences I’ve had during the past few years.
The fact remains that I am an adult and deserve to be respected and loved. I’m human and shouldn’t be seen to bear the brunt of toxic behaviour, to serve the emotional wants and needs of all– to take on the responsibility of being the glue simply to save the reputation of a family who doesn’t respect me.
I love you, beloveds, but no weapon formed against me will prosper. I am no longer afraid.
No more living in the hope of being loved, I love myself, and I choose me. No one can take that away.
For more information, links, and advice about narcissistic relationships, check out ‘Narcissistic Relationships’ with Keeley Tavener and WWR founder, Sareta Fontaine – Episode 37
The views and opinions expressed within this post are solely the author’s. They do not reflect the views and beliefs of Women Who Rebrand–#WWR or its affiliates.
The views and opinions are solely their own current opinions regarding events and are based on their own perspective and opinion – it is the opinion and perspective of the author.
Such views, opinions, and/or perspectives are intended to convey a life story, are based on recollections about events in their lives on which conflicting memories may exist, and are not intended to malign any individual or company.
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