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ARGH. Could those of you with narcissistic mothers come over here for a moment please?

(14 Posts)
Herrena Fri 08-Mar-13 19:59:11

I'd like you to tell me whether my M's response is par for the course or whether it's due to her own uniquely lovely personality.

I've had problems dealing with her for forever - in our family unit and the extended family unit she is generally seen as hard work, to say the very least. Completely lacking in empathy, a total bitch if you don't meet her standards but nice as pie to anyone she respects/fears, socially awkward when it comes to anything other than polite small talk with people you don't really know. I could go on.

A few years ago she had what I can only describe as a moment of clarity, where she finally acknowledged that she'd been a 'terrible mother' to me and DSis (apparently my dad finally told her this). Several years of seeming remorse have followed, although she has never given any actual explanation for her actions. We've pressed her for such and she just looks sad and cries. She seemed to expect us to just accept the histrionics and suddenly discover we loved and needed her. She was rather discomfited when we made it clear that wasn't going to happen.

So we've been moseying on, with her growing decreasingly crawly and increasingly pissed off that we don't show her the respect she thinks she has somehow earnt. I suspect she had her fit of remorse because she realised we'd never talk to her again otherwise. I now have two DSs and she adores them - they are her world, even though she lives several hours away. I mainly stay in touch with her because it would upset my dad if I didn't and because I'm not heartless enough to take away the one thing (well, two) that she seems to care about in the world. Anyway, that's the background.

The more recent history is that she's been diagnosed with breast cancer and is now awaiting a mastectomy. I do have sympathy for her on this score as it's a frightening thing to go through (no personal experience) and have been trying to support her whilst also not caving in to her 'Look after MEEE' guilt trips.

There are a couple of things she's said which have upset me recently. When she was first diagnosed and told me, I tried my best to be supportive and positive (TBH I wasn't that upset, more unsettled by the news). She then said 'I thought you'd tell me that you told me so.' This is wrt her life-long smoking habit which I openly disapprove of. I thought it was a somewhat unpleasant thing to say but dismissed it as her general oddness. I must admit I thought it, but would never say it - I'm not THAT much of a bitch.

The second one was last night. My dad told me that she told him (sorry, convoluted) that I don't call her enough (she's alone and lonely in another county) and that I was doing it on purpose as payback for our hateful childhood. Now that does hurt. Firstly, I don't think about her enough to want to do such a thing. Secondly, I called her 3 days ago FFS. And thirdly, does she really think that little of me? Does she really think I am that shitty a person?

DH has suggested that it's what she would do if the tables were turned and that I shouldn't take it as a personal criticism. What do you all think? Have any of your mothers ever attributed horrible untrue behaviour to you?

Sorry it's so long, didn't want to drip-feed.

Herrena Fri 08-Mar-13 20:24:26


She is judging by her own standards. It sounds like you are doing a good job of keeping a relationship going while also maintaining very clear boundaries.
Your father sounds like a stirrer to me, there was no need fir him to tell you what she said.
As for the cancer, it sucks that she has got it but it does look like she is having to reap what she has sown, in regards to the smoking and the relationship with you.

kalidanger Fri 08-Mar-13 20:44:46

Well, to your initial question it seems par for the course for her, not for other, more ordinary, mothers. I won't say 'normal' because she's your normal, unfortunately.

Do you post on the We Took You To Stately Homes thread?

OnlyWantsOne Fri 08-Mar-13 20:47:01

Are you my sister?!

Herrena Fri 08-Mar-13 20:59:30

I have come to that conclusion about my dad myself maggie!

I have posted on Stately Homes once or twice but I think that was a while back, kali. I have lurked on it a bit though - sometimes it's nice (well not nice but YKWIM) to see other people who understand that crazy people like this exist.

onlywantsone - I might be! Depends what country you're in wink

I'm glad you mostly think it's her projecting. I don't know why this has upset me so much. I just don't want my mum to think of me as a horrible person I suppose, even though rationally I know her opinion is not.... erm, rational. Also I have examined my own motives and come to the conclusion that I didn't do what she's accusing me of.

I'm now slightly miffed about the fact that I prepared a nice Mother's Day/Grandmother's Day card for her with handprints from my kids and parcelled it all up ready to go, then got a passive-aggressive earful from her about how I don't call often enough. I'm apprehensive that my nice gesture will now be taken as an indication of guilt, even though I just did it to be NICE FFS.


SofaKing Fri 08-Mar-13 21:07:11

Your Dh is spot on - its what she would do if roles were reversed.

I have also read on MN that narcissistic people attribute behaviours to others that they themselves show (ie a cheating partner who is narcissistic would accuse their OH of having an affair), I cannot remember where I read this but there was a link to the research.

Do not try to imagine what her reaction will be or what she will attribute your gift to. It will always be inaccurate, because you are not narcissistic like her and therefore don't do things for the same reasons she would, and you will only give yourself a headache imagining what spin she will put on it.

Herrena Fri 08-Mar-13 21:35:12

I think I will always be stuck imagining the spin, I've been taught to do so from a very early age hmm doesn't mean I should resign myself to that fate though.

Thank you for your comments, this has cheered me up a bit grin

Msbluesky32 Fri 08-Mar-13 22:46:06

I agree with previous posts - you can't magic a great relationship out of thin air. Sounds like your father is acting as a facilitator too. Both of my parents are narcissistic (yeah, fab childhood watching them both compete!) and their new partners facilitate their behaviour all the time. It's harder to hear it from them secondhand because to some extent they are more what you would class as 'normal'

PirateHat Fri 08-Mar-13 23:14:27

To be honest, if she was a nightmare for you when you were growing up, why would she think you would phone all the time? I'm not saying you are doing what she accused you of, just saying don't let it get to you, she sounds batty. I would imagine she is just saying it to get attention / pity off her audience. She is probably scared over her health and so even more needy than normal.

With my mum it doesn't matter if things are true, it is just about the drama.

Send the gift because it was a nice thing of you to organise and good for your dcs to see you doing something kind (especially for mothers day!) But don't expect a thoughtful kind response so you won't be disappointed.

oldraver Sat 09-Mar-13 00:37:27

Yes projecting and judging by her own standards are exactly right, my Mum does this constantly attributing nasty things she would do or think, to other people. She has often said "oh people will say or think x" when actually its her that thinks in that (usually negative) way. I have on a few occasions asked her why on earth she would think that.

I was once answering her as to why DS was in the bath when she rang one morning... she went off into a huge rant that....."well DS would smell and you only have to get one of the Mums smelling him and you know what they are like they would make a complaint and you would have Social Services round and and and ...with a few 'what with you being a single Mum' thrown in. I was quite open mouthed at this and asked her why she would say this

Herrena Sat 09-Mar-13 16:42:27

oldraver shock she sounds dreadful!

Thank you all, I don't feel so bad any more. I think I will firmly tell my Dad that I do not require further updates on the crazytrain. If she wants to vent her spleen on him then good luck to him, I'm not biting.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 09-Mar-13 17:50:26

Your mother could well be narcissistic in terms of personality (lack of empathy is a big clue as to how to recognise a narcissist, I cannot emphasise enough just how unempathetic such people actually are) and your Dad is her willing enabler (narc women always but always need a willing enabler to help them). This weak man is happy that you are coping her barbs rather than him; he is purely acting out of self preservation and want of a quiet life.

Another thing I would consider having if you do not already is caller id so you can see who is calling in advance of answering the phone.

You have two options re your mother really no contact or low contact. Both are explained further on the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers website. You can never do anything right with a narcissist.

Some parents should really not be allowed access to their granchildren. Be careful of her with regards to your children; she could quite easily turn on them, badmouth you to them and or favour one over the other.

Aussiebean Sun 10-Mar-13 09:24:22

The problem with my mum is that she moves the goal posts. It's almost like, no matter what I do, it won't be good enough. Even if I do exactly as she wants, that won't be what her opinion of me is, so she will change that expectation and I will be wrong.

Does that make sense?

Tell your dad that you don't wont to know what she says, and hang up if he doesn't respect that. Might need to start putting up boundaries with him to. Remember you shouldn't do things to spare his feelings. He chose to let his wife treat his children badly.

When my mum starts in on one of my brothers or sister in laws we don't tell the other while at the same time refusing to entertain her idiocy.

You are doing great keeping the boundaries up. Way better then I think I will ever manage.

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