Apart from an Engulfing Mother, the other kind of Narcissistic Mother is an Ignoring Mother. This is the kind I have.
Unlike an Engulfer, the Ignoring Mother knows well the boundary between herself and her daughter. But seeing as she is the only object of her own concern and interest, she has no interest in her daughter, or any of her children.
This is very hurtful and bewildering. Being the daughter of an Engulfing Mother brings big problems, but it does have the advantage that that daughter at least can feel loved – at least until she realises that it’s not real love.
Daughters of Ignoring Mothers have no such comfort.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like being the daughter of an Ignoring Mother. She was physically there (she was a stay-at-home-mother) but not really there for us. She never really paid us any attention unless it was to get annoyed at us.
She didn’t supervise our cleanliness even when we were really too young to do it ourselves. I remember (I am so embarrassed to admit this …) wearing the same vest (undershirt) for months on end. It was literally grey rather than its original white. I must not have had a bath in that time either or I would have got a clean vest.
My hair was always tangled and unbrushed.
I remember aged about 12 going to school in slippers – it wasn’t that we didn’t have the money for shoes; it was worse than that, it was just that new shoes weren’t got. Nobody noticed that I was wearing only slippers, and I obviously didn’t feel able to ask for shoes.
Now in fairness I need to say that when I was a teen she listened to me well. She often used to say how delighted she was that she and I had such a good, open, relationship. And we did. I’m at a loss to explain this against the background of all the other stuff. Because that happened too. I do know she got great pride out of the fact I’d talk to her about my stuff, when all the other mothers were complaining their daughters didn’t talk to them. So perhaps that was part of it.
However, I have absolutely zero memories of her cuddling me or holding me. I have one memory of sitting on her lap, along with my brother and sister and we were all laughing. She said, “Oh I wish we had a camera!” (which we didn’t own at the time). Looking back that statement strikes me as very narcissistic. But maybe I’m reading too much into it.
I remember going to see the film The Wizard Of Oz with her for my seventh birthday treat, and finding it terrifying, and burying my face in her lap in fear. And she certainly let me do that, but there was no gentle hand on my head, or whispered reassurances. She passively accepted what I did, but was not pro-active towards me at all.
I have no memories of her playing with us either or spending much time with us. She’d play board games when we were older, but that’s really my only memory.
I have many such memories of my father, so I know that it’s not that my memory was cancelled.
I think back to my second sister who was born when I was twelve, and my own son as a baby – and I have no memories of my mother being very affectionate with either of them as a baby. I can only remember my mother looking to hold my son once, urging me to go out and talk a walk as I surely needed a break from him, and that was – I fully believe – because she wanted to baptise him into her religion behind my back, rather than any love or affection or desire to hold him for his own sake.
She never paid much attention to how I was getting on in school. She never gave me advice on how to be a woman. She never taught me housekeeping skills (mind you, she wasn’t great at those herself).
She would, if she was reading this, insist that this is not so. She would say that she held me lots, and played with us lots, and held the babies affectionately, and gave me as much advice as I would take.
That may be so. Just because I cannot remember a thing doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. On the other hand, there are things I know for a fact didn’t happen, that she swears blind did happen (typical gaslighting), so I don’t put too much credence on what she says.
Going No-Contact With An Ignoring Mother
One big result of her being an Ignoring Mother is that when I finally went No Contact, she dropped me like yesterday’s newspaper. She made no effort to reconcile for 9 whole months, and even then the attempt was no more than a birthday card and a bought laminated card with a generic apology on it (along with ‘life’s too short to bear a grudge!). There have been a few texts since, too, on occasions such as Christmas. But never a genuine attempt to solve anything.
That hurt, it hurt a lot – even as I was grateful for it. It makes life much easier, unlike for the daughters of Engulfing Mothers who struggle to extricate themselves.
But yet it hurt. And I know I’m not alone. Other Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers say the same.
It just shows how little she loved me, they say.
And yes, it does.
The attempts of the Engulfing Mothers to keep contact with their daughters do not show love either, though, no matter how much it might seem like it. They just shows fear of losing Narcissistic Supply.
But yes, it’s very, very hard that they drop us so comprehensively. We have dared to challenge them, and that must be punished by banishing us. Or, they have no interest in us and so our absence is no loss at all.
The one thing about an Ignoring Mother is that it’s more honest. They don’t care, they don’t really pretend to care. There’s a freedom in that, along with the hurt.
You can use EFT to process and release the hurt. Either do it yourself using the free instructions here, or you can use my pre-made EFT sessions on video: Erase The Hurt She Never Loved You, and Erase The Hurt She Dropped You So Easily.