Narcissistic Mothers Are Bullies
It is a given that Narcissistic Mothers are bullies. Their Narcissistic Rage is a classic bullying technique, creating fear in the minds of the victim. Enabling Fathers, too, depending on how actively they enable, are bullies in the cause of keeping the Narcissistic Mother happy.
This would have been a very core experience in my own life. Any intransigence, any complaint about how they treated me, any challenge to them, was met with overwhelming force. Not physical, not in my case (although it would be physical in many cases).
But there would be huge amounts of emotional abuse.
I used to describe it (before I knew about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and had that language) as that they had this ‘Horrible Danu Mirror’, i.e. this image of me that was this truly horrible, nasty, worthless, ghastly, useless person, and they held this image up to me whenever I tried to speak up for myself.
“Oh!” They’d say, “Well you think you’re so perfect. Let me tell you, you’re not!” And out would come a list of my supposed faults.
In retrospect those faults were either too general to have any value, e.g., “You’re so awkward”, or, in the case of the detailed ones, tiny little foibles like closing the front door after their visit before they’d reached the car and driven out of sight.
But with their attacks they eviscerated me, and I dreaded them and let myself therefore be bullied into not challenging them.
Or, another tactic would be to just snap, “That’s enough, Danu!” in tones of absolute authority and anger, and, trained by years of this, I’d back down.
It bears repeating: Narcissistic Mothers are bullies, and their sycophant husbands are bullies on their behalf, and they bully us to control us, to subjugate us, to disempower us. And it works. It’s a huge part of their abuse of us.
Now, traditional advice is to stand up to bullies, right? Stand up to them and they’ll back down. Give as good as you get. Well, I’m not sure if this is good advice in general, but I know for sure that it is not good advice when you are dealing with narcissistic bullies. Standing up to them affronts them, and infuriates them (in the literal meaning of the word: in-fury-ates), and makes them escalate their behaviour to get you back into your box so you’ll stop challenging them.
So, it’s probably best not to stand up to them. It’ll never end well.
There are only two real options when it comes to a narcissist: suck it up, or absent yourself. You can set boundaries, however, but they’re difficult to establish; there’s more information on how to do that in the Guidebook and in You’re Not Crazy – It’s Your Mother. Also there’s information in the pages on How To Deal With A Narcissist, and the page on Low-Contact.