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emotionally needy mother, narcisstic personality disorder or am i over reacting?

(18 Posts)
zombeana Thu 12-Nov-15 16:26:31

For many years now I've known there was something not right about my mother. I felt bitter and resentful toward her but I didn't know why. I still felt I needed her approval more tellingly I felt guilty if I didn't meet her needs. Then I found out about NPD. A light bulb went on, I was angry, I was upset but I also felt relieved. It wasn't me! But then I started to question myself. Am I overeacting? Is it really true? M Ost of my concerns with her behaviour relate to my 8 month old daughter ;shes obsessive, needy, emotionally desperate and will not stop asking me to take my daughter alone. I don't want her to brainwash her, to guilt her or to influence her, to use her as her emotional crutch as she did me..but then I thought .. Is that my issue? Am I being over bearing.. Is there really a problem? Should I not allow her time with her grandma?

She now takes a lot of prescription drugs Inc up to 40mg benzos a day. That to me is enough to say she can't have a baby on her own, but to her that is ridiculous and offensive. I suppose it should end there. But the guilt..

Reasons I think she's NPD

Utterly self absorbed. Will spend all her money on herself then cry to her mum (95 years old BTW) that she's broke. Rejects adult responsibility like bills, justifying it by saying she might die tomorrow so she should enjoy herself. Shes had a hard life and deserves that.

Only visits me to see DD, doesn't know who I am as a person, my interests, my work, my opinions. But tells her friends all about me.

Plays the victim, her entire life. Everyone else is to blame. Everything is hard on her, she does so much, she has it rough.

Before dd was born she delighted in talking about the things she would do with her, that she had grandparents rights. That she knew she would love her like her own child. The feelings would be the same. Since her birth she's reiterated this but added that actually she loves her more!

She regularly and consistently refers to herself as mummy to my DD. She often calls her my little girl. She says its a mistake, she's sorry.

She doesn't talk to her, at all. She only says things like clever beautiful little baby nanna loves you bubba etc. Over and over. I don't think she has ever just let her be and spoken normally. I've asked her and sent articles on why I don't want her to speak like that. She didn't read it. Apologised and said she will, but did it again yesterday. She will then say oh NO I'm sorry nanna can't call you that it's then ok

She can't let my DD just be. She has to cuddle her, look into her eyes, squeeze her. She says its because they're bonding and she wants a bond, that's what grandma's do. I question myself and feel petty when I say stop hugging her so tight..

She tells my dd she loves her more than I do. How do I say don't tell your granddaughter you love her??

She always brings gifts for dd, most unwanted and even after asking her not to. When I say why her response is ‘ but I like buying her things, it makes me feel like I'm helping’. My initial response is I've asked you not to, please don't. But then I think why can't a grandmother buy her grandchild a gift? Am I being ridiculous?

The worst one of all.. She asked if I'd made a will. We hadn't, then. So I said no. She smiled. She said good, that means if you and dh die, I'll get her. When I said … not necessarily she exclaimed ‘ but ive strived all my life I could at least get her!’ writing this out is actually making me think f***...

She has turned on the manipulation game now. Buying me gifts, telling me how much she loves me and DD, that i let her other gp take her why not her. She's very, very hurt that I don't trust her to have her. If I'd just let her have her for an hour, I'll see how good she is. I'll trust her.

I wanted to return to work, she pushed and pushed me to let her take her. I finally agreed on one day a week. Now I don't think this is a good idea, she's going to flip I'm actually scared. She's attempted suicide before, been so depressed she calls me crying that she wants to die.. Was this all part of the manipulation . I no longer know what's real anymore..

I keep fighting with myself. I know this isn't normal, but I doubt myself. I switch between being assertive and sticking to my boundaries to … am I over reacting, is this MY issue?? Sometimes she seems normal, she listens to my concerns, sometimes I even feel sorry for her. Am I being fooled?

No, no no... don't leave your DD with her. Please trust your instincts. Don't be guilted into doing something that suits your mother at the expense of you and your DD. She sounds like a classic NPD sufferer.

FredaMayor Thu 12-Nov-15 16:34:12

Your DM is quite unwell, and it would certainly be a risk for DD to be alone with her, you are right.

And NPD or not, with the medication, history of depression and suicide attempts, and her inability to behave appropriately, I would not feel safe leaving my child with her if she were my mother.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Thu 12-Nov-15 16:39:11

Crikey. Something is very deeply wrong.

Trust your instinct, therés more than enough small shreds of evidence that build up into a rather nasty picture.

it sounds like she's trying to take your daughter over.

Stand your ground. Don't let her have it. A small baby needs an adult looking after her, not an overgrown spoiled toddler.

From the sound of it, she'll likely escalate her behaviour but you need to stand strong here. therés an excellent book, Toxic Parents by Susan Forward. Have a read of that.

It might also help to really step back mentally and observe her behaviour as if she was a stranger and then decide whether to let her have her. From the sound of it, the answer is a resounding No. Don't be browbeaten by her.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Thu 12-Nov-15 16:40:25

btw, i dont think you need a diagnosis as such. The pattern of her behaviour over a long time sounds quite sufficient for grounds to refuse her anything other than supervised access now and then.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 12-Nov-15 16:42:05

You are being fooled by a master manipulator and this is all highly toxic and dysfunctional. Never let yourself think otherwise. It is not you, its her. She has done a bang up job of tying you up in knots.

I would read "Children of the Self Absorbed" written by Nina W Brown and read the website entitled Daughters of Narcissistic mothers if you have not already done so.

Like many adult children of such toxic and disordered of thinking people, you are mired in FOG - fear, obligation and guilt. All these feelings keep you trapped. Also you feel that you still need her approval, this she will never give you. You need to let that particular fantasy, y'know the type of ne when she actually says that she is sorry and apologies for all the wrongs inflicted on you go as well.

You need to see a therapist and preferably one who has vast experience in dealing with toxic and narcissistic family structures. Any therapist who has any bias about keeping families together despite the presence of mistreatment needs a wide berth. You have been trained by your mother to serve her at your expense and at your child's expense now as well.

She emotionally harmed you and she is doing similar style damage to your most precious of resources, your child. She was not a good parent to you and is now also a toxic example of a grandparent to your child. It is not possible to have any sort of relationship with a narcissist.

A narcissistic grandparent as well tend to either over value or under value any relationship with their grandchild, in your case also your DD is also being used as her narcissistic supply.

You immediately need to stop her babysitting your child one day a week as of now particularly as you were both pressured and coerced by her into doing so as well. You would not have tolerated any of this from a friend, your mother is no different. She calling your DD hers is no mistake, its a deliberate act and she is not at all sorry. She is using your DD as well as an emotional crutch. You need to get her and yourself well away from this person asap and without a backward glance. Her suicide threats are manipulative as well; calls like that should be forwarded to the authorities to let them deal with her.

One person you do not mention in all this is your dad - where is he now?.

She will continue to drag you and your child down with her if you facilitate any form of contact.

I would also suggest you post on the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread on these pages.

zombeana Thu 12-Nov-15 16:47:50

Thanks so much for the responses, I feel a great sense of relief.. I havent returned to work yet, so she thus far has never Vern alone with Dd and she will not..

I have been looking for a therapist but cannot find any with experience in this, can aanyone suggest some?

My dad walked out when I was a baby, he visited for a few years but it stopped suddenly. Other family members have insinuated this was her doing but I will never know as he committed suicide when I was 11...

I just want to protect Dd now. I have a wonderful supportive partner who understands my reservations but unfortunately feels sorry for my mum and thinks she means well...

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 12-Nov-15 16:57:46


Protect your DD by keeping her completely away from your disordered mother. There is no relationship and she will do similar harm to your DD if allowed any form of access. She did you great emotional harm as a child and continues to wreak havoc now in your life.

Grandparents in this country do not have automatic rights to see their grandchildren so do not fret unduly if she makes demands re court and the like.

Am sorry to read about your late Dad. Do you keep in touch with other family members these days?.

BACP are good and do not charge the earth but I would state that counsellors are like shoes; you need to find someone who fits in with you. Therefore the first person you see may not be the right one. Question them carefully.

You know all too well what your mother is like, your partner needs to fully support you and follow your lead on this matter. Why does he exactly feel sorry for her; it could well be that he has been a victim of her ongoing manipulation as well. Some abusive people as well can appear plausible on the surface or superficially at least.

FaithAscending Thu 12-Nov-15 16:58:35

She sounds very similar to my MIL who I strongly suspect has NPD. We are on ok terms at present but DH was NC for 5 years. Fortunately for us she lives 5 hours' drive away!

We have the following conditions - she's not left alone with DD, I doubt DD will ever do an overnight stay she talks about it repeatedly, if when she oversteps the mark, we will stop contact.

There's a book that was recommended to me by another MNetter - You're not crazy it's your mother which is quite insightful. It also gives advice about managing contact.

zombeana Thu 12-Nov-15 17:11:33

Funny, I was just showng this to dh. He thinks it's too extreme, it's not that bad he says...then he said didn't she 'forget' to tellYou about your sister ? I hadn't even thought of that.. I didn't know about my dads daughter til I was 12, then we 'lost' contact until a few years ago...was that really her!
I have no other mum cut off her own sister (my aunt) and all my cousins when I was about 9, for reasons I still don'tuunderstand.. she erupts in vicious rage if I even mention her name. I recently tried to contact them and was welcomed, but they feared my mums response so are reluctant to meet.. I have so many questions ..

Dh needs to come around thiugh

zombeana Thu 12-Nov-15 17:16:04

Sorry terrible typos, my phone isn't co-operating!

I have lots of reading to do!

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 12-Nov-15 17:17:19

He certainly does and he needs to take the rose tinted glasses off re your mother as well.

Your DH likely comes from an emotionally healthy family of origin (so may not fully understand the unhealthy dynamics at all) but unfortunately for you (and that is an understatement) you have not.

He has to follow your lead on this one; you after all have had a lifetime of your mother unlike he and you know all too well what she is like. He cannot possibly admit that her behaviours towards what is also his child is at all emotionally healthy, she keeps calling the child hers for one thing.

OurBlanche Thu 12-Nov-15 17:19:23

No, he does not! She is your mum, your monkey, your circus.

You get to make the decision to cut her off, he only gets to agree with you!

If you do decide to take that step, tell her she will not be having DD for a day a week he needs to be right beside you, no ifs, buts or maybes. He needs to be able to take the phone of you and say "No" when you seem to wobble.

And sadly I do know how hard that can be, DH and I are both low/no contact and have been for many years, despite the many and varied attempts to reel us back in!

zombeana Thu 12-Nov-15 20:57:49

Dh feels sorry for her because he thinks she has no one .. she has done some good things he says. It makes me doubt myself.. I've been reading the other thread and can see I am far from the only one...

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 12-Nov-15 21:17:37

The reason why she has no-one (and that is not correct really because she still talks to mother) is that her own actions have driven people away

Challenge your DH on his assertions and get to the heart of why he is saying such nonsense.

OnceAMeerNotAlwaysAMeer Thu 12-Nov-15 21:23:26

zombie one thing that can help is writing things down to get a sort of step-back sense of perspective.

Take a few days for this. Write down every major incident or pattern of behaviour as to why you want to go NC. write down how you think she will behave to your daughter. Also write down the good points of her behaviour. All the pros and all the cons.

Also write down your assessment of your daughter's safety with her, danger areas and safe areas.

Then try and write them out again taking out any emotion that's crept in. As neutral as possible. Sleep on it, then take a long look at that list.

It can be quite revealing sometimes. Both in what she's like, and in the emotional responses she evokes in you.

ShebaShimmyShake Thu 12-Nov-15 21:29:47

I'm sure your mother is a pain in the arse and an idiot, but I am getting a bit tired of every selfish idiot being diagnosed by relatives and acquaintances as having narcissistic personality disorder. Not everything is pathological, and even when it is, there are plenty of other less modish mental illnesses. Many people really are just twats, and those closest to them are not the best judges of clinical personality disorders in them. My father was an abusive, foul tempered shitbag who was damaged by his own crap past, but I doubt there was anything clinically diagnosable about him. Just a damaged man with major anger issues and an overblown sense of self righteousness that he had no interest in correcting.

NPD has become the new fashionable amateur diagnosis. Ten years ago it was sociopathy/psychopathy, but I don't think even that was quite so widespread.

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