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Please could you tell me if this is narcissistic?

(16 Posts)
Mummyoftwobeautifulpoppets Mon 31-Mar-14 13:19:39


I just wanted to start by saying thank you so much for the amazingly helpful advice I've received from posting on here lately, you are a very insightful bunch and I am incredibly grateful smile

I just wondered if someone who is very clued up in the subject of family dynamics (enmeshed) and narcisstic traits could help me unravel the very confusing and multifaceted relationship between myself and my mum.

I'll try and be brief and will give bullet point examples below:
-a smothering over protective mother, on the positive side is there at the drop of a hat of I needed her
-if we fall out calls other members of the family to discuss out of concern and as she's worried about me
-tells frequent lies, if she thinks I will be upset by her actions
- an absolutely doting grandmother who can't do enough for my DC, always willing to baby sit when she can
- is always unhappy about something
- expects me to give her love, reassurance and gratitude all the time; I can't have an off day or be funny with her
- wants me to share everything going on in my life with her. If I don't she insists I must be unhappy and bottling things up. No, I just want to get on with things sometimes rather than sit and ruminate
-told me all the issues and anything toxic in the family was coming from me
-accused me of being disloyal when I wanted to go to a family members party for their one year old as she was boycotting it/hadn't been invited (as she is difficult!!)

I used to worry the family; I have a history of eating disorders, self-harm, depression and drinking too much on the occasions I drank. I've worked hard to address these issues and to understand my own psyche. I slip up now and again, like drinking a tiny bit too much, but have stopped all other harmful behaviours. The ten year battle with bulimia I'm proud to say ended four years ago smile. I now have two beautiful DC and life is mostly pretty good, with the usual ups and downs.

Overall I sense an insincerity, though she recently sent me an email saying how much she loved me and that all she does is out of concern and that love.

I'm one tiptoe away from being very little contact to no contact with both her and my brother (they are similar), but its a scary road to go down!

Thank you for reading

Mrswellyboot Mon 31-Mar-14 13:24:58

Mummypoppet that sounds very similar to me

Be careful though, I tried to edge away and things got so bad so now I see her twice a week and have to fake it to keep the peace

I don't want to spoil the relations with the rest of the family. They are all afraid of her but don't say it. She also said she wanted to take her own life.

You have your health back now and two little girls

One thing I find is writing down all the good things at night as I used to cry a lot about it all.

Funny thing is, she recognises I have a much healthier parenting style and said she wished she could have been more like me confused it's one of the only nice things she has ever said

Mrswellyboot Mon 31-Mar-14 13:26:36

I get the cant be funny with her thing .. If I am tried or a bit quiet I get the 'you are going to make me ill again if you don't tell me what's going on between us'

Sad thing is, I can't get too close to friends as any type of joke of criticism hurts so much

Mrswellyboot Mon 31-Mar-14 13:27:21

Dc' sorry, read that wrong x

yegodsandlittlefishes Mon 31-Mar-14 13:29:23

I can't offer advice, but as a mum of a teenager with an eating disorder, I can recognise some of those traits in myself and it does worry me that I might still be seen like this through my daughter's eyes in 10 years' time!

Here for support, and also to read the replies.


AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 31-Mar-14 13:48:32

Hmmm, wow.
You are an adult with a family of your own, but she still treats you like an adolescent. Do you get the feeling that you don't really exist when you are around her?

She is certainly very controlling. Your efforts to put personal boundaries in place has been met with analyzing, judging, pouting, blaming, etc-anything except an acknowledgement that the boundary is due to her behavior.

I can not say if she is a narcissist (not that anyone here would offer a diagnosis wink ), but if you dread anticipating being around her, dread being in her company, and feel you need to sort of detox after exposure to her, then it might be in your best interest to take a break from the relationship. "Your best interest" means you have every right to protect your own mental health.

The feeling of insincerity, imho, is your gut feeling that the compliments and favors are more patronizing than genuine. I had similar from one I am NC with: it was like she was giving me a gold star for my star chart...treating me as if I were six years old. angry Quite the put down, but took me ages to figure it out. blush

You might try playing the long game in phasing her out gradually until she decides to go NC with you. If she is no longer getting her emotional needs met by using you, then she will eventually move on to a new target.

I know it hurts to be treated so awfully by people who are supposed to love you. flowers

Mummyoftwobeautifulpoppets Tue 01-Apr-14 21:42:20

mrswelly thank you, I can identify so much with your posts..I too get hurt very easily by friends. I'm going to try writing things down.
andtheband she would never voluntarily go no contact... I don't so think anyway. Thank you for the thanks
yegods it must be very hard indeed watching you daughter go through that. I'm testament that you can come through it relatively unscathed (I suspect you're not like my mum at all..)

I just feel so guilty sad but also incredibly free smile

Mummyoftwobeautifulpoppets Tue 01-Apr-14 21:43:52

And YYY! Often her complements sound so insincere and patronising.

midnightagents Wed 02-Apr-14 07:59:16

Oo god I could've written this post, right down to the ed issues. Very difficult situation. I'm still stuck in mine. But the other posters have given some great advice. The hardest thing I find is that I do really appreciate all the help and over the top things she does for me. It's got to the point where I don't know if I would manage without it. Which, I have a sneaking suspicion is how she wanted it sad

I don't know how it is with you but I suddenly realised the other day that me, dp and dc spend every birthday, christmas, Easter, mothers day with her. None of the other family members (my df, partners DM or df) get a look in. It would just cause too much hassle.

Will be watching this post with interest. Sorry I can't be more help.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Wed 02-Apr-14 14:13:11

Mummy, it could go one of two ways when/if you decide to put true boundaries in place: to punish you as you have already described except more intense and relentless, or to punish you by dropping you like a hot potato and completely ostracize you (and possibly encourage others to do so as well). Hopefully Attilathemeercat will stop by here as she is very knowledgeable with these dynamics.

Imho, as you have been through so much, and are now in a healthy place that your gut feeling is to keep your healthy momentum going by removing yourself from unhealthy relationships. Perfectly justifiable and congratulations on looking out for yourself.

The over-the-top favors, gifts, can't do enough for you dynamic all comes with strings attached. It is to make you indebted to her. She has the moral high ground; you owe her. It sounds like she has so completely engulfed you...Do you feel like you are expected to operate off of her brain, live your life as an extension of herself?

Guilt was a stumbling block for me too. But, with counselling, I came to realize that only I can make myself feel guilty. I put up with the crap for over forty years, my choice was based on her behavior, which will never change (and there is no talking to her about it as she is so dismissive). She can own the consequences of her behavior.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Wed 02-Apr-14 14:24:29

Mrswellyboot, thanks for your comment about not getting too close to friends as any kind of joke or criticism hurts so much. I get this too. It is a legacy of an emotionally abusive childhood (and that would include emotional neglect). It sucks. sad

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 02-Apr-14 14:49:59

Hi Mummy,

You deserve full credit for both wanting to address and actually addressing your own demons and I am glad to read that life these days is pretty much good for you.

All that you describe of your mother could be seen as she being a narcissist.

Guilt. Ah, guilt. The best friend and worst enemy of an Adult Child of Narcissistic Parents. This may be the hardest of all the feelings to fight against, but you must. When that guilt is gnawing away at you, tell it to piss off. Guilt is a useless emotion.

While there are many ways in which a Narcissistic Parent abuses his or her child, there are times that a Narcissistic Parent is kind. This makes the abuse harder to handle for children of Narcissistic Parents - the child knows that the underlying tension means that one wrong move means that things will go wrong and the Narcissistic Parent may fly into a Narcissistic Rage.

Children of Narcissistic Parents must adhere to the agenda of the Narcissistic Parent for their lives to be stable. Asserting their feelings, their rights, or their thoughts can lead to much bigger problems. These children of Narcissistic Parents learn that their feelings are invalid, unimportant, and inconsequential. They often stifle all feelings to keep the peace in the house.

An engulfing parent uses tactics like Parentification (is the expectation that a child must care for his/her parent, siblings, and household as a surrogate parent. This causes the child to lose out on any type of normal childhood), Infantilization (using brainwashing tactics to ensure a child stays young and dependent upon the Narcissistic Parent), and Triangulation (a tactic used by narcissistic parents to change the balance of power in a family system. For example, rather than allowing two siblings to work together, the Narcissistic Parent insists that he or she be the go-between. This controls the way the information flows, the way it is interpreted, and adds nuances to the conversation. It's also a way to feed Narcissistic Supply) to keep the child close. This type of narcissistic parent will ignore all boundaries as a child ages, seeing no problem asking overly personal questions, reading the child's emails and personal stories

An engulfing narcissist has NO boundary between herself and her DD; she regards her as an extension of her own self. Often the DD does not realise this is happening or the extent of the enmeshment. I doubt very much she would ever respect any boundary of behaviour you care to set her.

I would be very careful when and if you do go NC with her (I would in any case keep her away from your children) as she may well not take no for an answer.

You feel she is insincere because she actually is. It is not your fault she is the way she is, you did not make her this way (her birth family did that).

If she is too toxic/difficult for you to deal with she is certainly the same for your children. I would seriously consider backing well away from such people; they do not and will not bring anything positive into your lives.

notyetpastit Wed 02-Apr-14 14:59:20

* rather than allowing two siblings to work together, the Narcissistic Parent insists that he or she be the go-between. This controls the way the information flows, the way it is interpreted, and adds nuances to the conversation. It's also a way to feed Narcissistic Supply) to keep the child close. This type of narcissistic parent will ignore all boundaries as a child ages, seeing no problem asking overly personal questions, reading the child's emails and personal stories*

Off topic sorry, but a scenario where as the mother of two daughters who are currently NC after a disastrous Xmas, DD2 wants me to tell DD1 that she expects an apology as she has already apologised for her own (wrong) behaviour. I have said I am NOT interfering and that they have to sort it our between themselves. In the past I have tried to keep the peace (not because of wanting control but because I hate to see families torn apart over minor issues) but now I've washed my hands of the situation.

Any thoughts on how to resolve? Thanks cake

vitaminC Wed 02-Apr-14 15:04:21

I don't know if that's really NPD, but she definitely has boundary issues!

I think you need to learn to set your own boundaries and keep her at just the right distance!

Lottapianos Wed 02-Apr-14 15:15:55

Wow Attila, that's an excellent post. So much of it describes both of my narcissistic, engulfing parents perfectly.

It's a horrible term but I find that the phrase 'emotional incest' describes the dynamic in these families very well. The children don't really exist as separate people with their own thoughts and feelings and opinions - they exist only to make the parent feel good. It's a horrible situation and very frightening to be a part of it.

I very much relate to what other posters said about the feeling of fakeness and lack of sincerity - there has always been something about my mother's compliments and 'nice' words that just struck me as wrong somehow. I know now that she actually doesn't really mean what she says - she just follows the script. She so empty. Her intense jealousy doesn't allow her to feel genuinely happy for me, especially when my life choices are different to hers. For example, she's never liked my DP even though he's lovely and we have a very happy relationship. I know that she would be chuffed to bits if we split up - it would fit in with her doctrine that all men are a waste of time and let you down in the end, and would make her feel that I needed her again. Her and my father are the most miserable people I know - stuck in their marriage of lies and infidelity and resentment and boredom and rage.

It helps so much to share stories like this and to read other people's experiences.

yegodsandlittlefishes Wed 02-Apr-14 21:43:21

MummyOTBP, thank you! grin It is tough on all of us. Reading these posts, I realise I am not like this. Yes, I get angry sometimes, and yes my own first family didnt do a magnificent job on my parenting and I've had to do a lot of growing up since leaving home. Am realising now there was aspects of NPD in the way my mum and dad behaved and one of my siblings has been pestering to get back in touch and be in each others's pockets until I pointed out a boundary she's crossed recently. I got a brief accusatory reply and haven't heard another word since. grin

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