Narcissistic Mothers and Society

Narcissistic mothers and society is an issue because our society, our culture, has a blind spot when it comes to abusive mothers.

We have this image of the perfect mother, the smiling serene woman with her head bent fondly over her daughter’s, holding the little girl safely and lovingly.

Mother’s Day every year perpetuates this image, as do newspaper and magazine stories about selfless and even heroic mothers.

I have read that the fact that our fairytales always have wicked stepmothers rather than mothers, is a way of dealing with the issue of cruel mothers without actually facing up to it.

I’m not saying that wonderful mothers don’t exist. Of course they do. But they’re not the whole story, not by a long way. And of course, you know that, or you wouldn’t be reading this website.

This hidden insistence that all mothers are angels means that, as well as all the direct problems of being the daughter of a narcissistic mother, we have the burden of secrecy and lack of recognition.

Society’s mantra of the perfect mother is another form of gaslighting, in my opinion. Not only is our own mother telling us that she’s a perfect mother and any thoughts otherwise are down to our craziness, but society is saying the same thing!

This makes being the daughter of a narcissistic mother a very lonely path. We can’t share our frustration and fear and hurt and bewilderment even with our closest friends. Not because they’re uncaring necessarily, but because they just don’t understand. “I know,” they might sigh sympathetically, “my mother’s very annoying too.”

And you long to have the words to explain to them that this is so beyond mere ‘annoying’ that it’s in a different world.

Take the example of my dear friend Maggie. She had heard me go on about my mother, many times, as I struggled to explain it to her. The best way I could explain it (before I came to the conclusion that she had Narcissistic Personality Disorder) was to say that she had some sort of Princess Complex – i.e. that she was a princess and expected to be treated as such.

Maggie was very supportive and helpful, as befits the dear friend she is. But I’ll never forget her expression and words when she finally met them and endured two and a half hours of their company (this was the last-straw meeting which made me go No Contact with them). Once we left them her face had pure shock on it, and she was shaking her head and kept saying over and over, “I never knew. Oh Danu, you poor, poor girl, that was horrible. I know you said it, but I didn’t understand”.

We are so lucky in this day and age to have the internet, to be able to access this information and find out what is wrong – with her, not with us. And also to use the internet to access women going through similar experiences.