Feeling guilt is an emotion that daughters of narcissistic mothers are used to. Our mother uses that guilt as a powerful weapon to keep us responding to her wishes. This applies anyway, as part of our relationship with her. But you might find yourself feeling guilt as you explore this topic of her perhaps being narcissistic.
For sure, there are mixed emotions when we first realise that our mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There’s a freedom and the absolute JOY of realising that it wasn’t us, that we’re not mad/crazy. It’s heady and exciting.
However, hot on the heels of that comes a feeling of guilt, that we should be thinking about our mothers like that, or even worse, talking about her if we’re sharing this information with friends/spouses etc. Maybe we weren’t abused at all! Maybe it’s just our imaginations, just as she always said!
I believe that a lot of the guilt come from our inbuilt Stockholm Syndrome.
One DONM had this to say (shared with permission):
Daughters Feeling Guilt
At first [after realising your mother has NPD], many people have two “voices”, if you will – YOURS and HERS:
“She’s mentally disordered, and I just KNEW there was something wrong…it ALL makes perfect sense – she fits the diagnostic. The stuff I’m reading is ringing bells left and right; it’s like these women have been a fly on my wall all my life – no wonder this and that happened, NO WONDER!!!
What a sense of relief – I never knew – EVERYTHING is changing in my head – I finally get why she did x, I finally know why she does y, and I finally understand why she is such a vindictive, haughty, self-centered bully. I GET it, I GET it, I FINALLY GET it…”
“I’m a jerk. This is my MOTHER, and you only get one! I should work harder to help and understand her – she’ll get it eventually – she just has a lot of issues. Besides, I haven’t exactly been the perfect child. Who ditches their own MOTHER? She will be LIVID if she finds out I’ve been thinking she has this – I’ll be sca-rewed…there’s gonna be some serious payback for thinking this way and making changes.
She’s gonna TRASH me, and I’ll deserve it for being such an ungrateful daughter…how dare I talk about her like this. I have no right, and of course, she’d be interminably irate – she’ll be perfectly justified in wanting to take revenge!”
It’s as if your brain is one of those scales – the equal arm balance kind that works like a see-saw. The first beliefs and feelings written above (yours) are on the right side, and the second group of feelings and beliefs (hers) above are on the left.
Your brain now goes sifting through eeeeeeeeevery bit of eeeeeeeeverything that has ever happened. Re-evaluating, discerning, questioning, etc.
“Is what she did last spring (or whenever) really this or that NPD thing? Let me think about that one in the light of what I now know about N’s…”And you pick it up up off one side. Maybe it was something that happened at her birthday party, or something she did when you needed her. Maybethat time you asked her to do you an important favor, and she cared so little. Your brain will now “process” this memory in light of the new information it has. And it will go through some “back and forthing” on it, trying to determine which side you will now return it to – is the side it was on the correct one? Should it be moved? Does it belong here or there? Were you right or were you wrong? And you may feel very confused, as your mind is dismantling its lifelong brainwashing, and that’s NO small task.
We’ve been programmed not to matter to ourselves.
You’ll be staring at that item you’ve taken off the scale, and YOUR thoughts – your deep inner-knowing – will be whispering to you… “This is the truth about that – you were bullied, you were manipulated, etc.”, but your mother has trained you thoroughly to repress such thoughts andfeelings, and, if that training doesn’t keep the brainwashing in check, the fear of her retribution will weigh in.
At first, you can’t feel very much of your OWN true stuff – it’s just all the guilt and entrapment and fear and self-loathing she’s put in your head. You might try to slow down or push down some stuff.
Still, the inner knowing tries to break through, even though you’re feeling confused and challenged.
And with every new decision of yours that something belongs on YOUR side of the scale, you realize that when it is moved, you must now grieve something – the way things are, the devil you know, family members, get-togethers, the concept of having a mother, etc.
(Everything you decide to move to the right side of the scale will bring both freedom and a certain loss you’ll have to grieve.)
Bear in mind, largely, any grief will be temporary, and a free mind is both lifelong and life-changing. People who go No Contact look back and think, “I am SO SO glad I got out of that!”
Getting free of these people is a GREAT deal; it has done SO MUCH for me and so many others I know that I rarely manage to shut up about it for very long.
Narcissists’ thoughts and feelings are warped, hurtful and enslaving. Our thoughts and feelings, long neglected, despised and ridiculed, must come forward and be nurtured. They are expressions of our true selves, not merely the by proxy reflections of a mental disorder.
WE have been shoved down in the basement far too long.
And you have begun the process of discovering and nurturing yourself back into the wholeness you were born with, and the greatness you are destined for. You might not feel much like you’re headed there, but you ARE. In light of that knowing, I will offer you this…
You’ve been listening to your mother for your ENTIRE LIFE. Why not give someone else a chance for at least just a little while?
Another excellent essay on the same topic:
You have read that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an incurable mental disorder, right?
Here’s the situation. Your mother has NPD. It is a lifelong disorder that renders her permanently incapable of proper empathy. It means she is not able to be responsible for the emotional consequences of her actions. It means her unkindness will always exist, and it will always be someone else’s fault – like yours. Like your father’s. Like the man in the moon. As long as it’s not hers. She’ll always be blame-free.
You have to make your own choices. No-one should tell you any different.
We were trained. Brainwashed. All of us. You, too. We have been conditioned, like elephants at a circus, to believe WE are the ones responsible for fixing our relationships with our mothers.
(Remember above, where I said it always has to be blamed on someone else? You, like the rest of us, have been believing that stuff.) We think we have to learn what to do with her, we have to adjust our behavior – to get her to see, to get her to change – if only we could unlock that secret code that would make her cooperative, that would make her listen, that would make her care…that would make her like a real mother.
It ain’t gonna happen. If the problem COULD be fixed, it wouldn’t be fixable by YOU. Because, contrary to what your mother wants you to think, it isn’t CAUSED by you.
It’s caused by NPD.
A disorder for which there is not one single documented cured case on planet Earth.
YOU are not the problem. YOU are not the answer. YOU cannot fix this. YOU have no control over your relationship with your NPD mother.
I should know. My mother is NPD as well, and though there are a lot of things I am NOT good at, there is no-one in the universe who is better at fixing things than I am. I’m a fixer. That’s always been my work – I spent years fixing peoples’ problems, whether they’ve been mental, physical, academic, situational, or a combination. You name it. I can fix anything – from a motor vehicle to a hurt feeling, to a complicated word puzzle. I put a huge drill into a finger last year and saw no need to go to the ER. I fixed it myself. Today, you can’t even see the scar. This is the kind of person I am. If I can’t fix it, it flat out cannot be fixed.
And after 38 years of trying, I could not fix my relationship with my mother.
If you feel you have to keep trying, then you have to keep trying. Just promise me this – don’t waste one precious nano-second trying more than you absolutely have to. Because every moment spent trying to teach that pig to sing is a moment of your life you could have spent on singing yourself.
Mothers With NPD:
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