Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.
First, let me say I can imagine how overwhelming and frustrating this situation must be for you. I can see that the situation is getting more untenable with time for you and I'm concerned about you keeping on trying to have a relationship with your mother the way you are.
I promise, I won't tell you to start psychotherapy. However, I will tell you that I do not believe it is safe for you to have any contact with your mother UNLESS you are in psychotherapy with a therapist or psychologist who is experienced with narcissism and with its effect on children. Because your brother has done what is the most effective way of self-protection with a narcissistic parent: he has ceased any contact. This is what the vast majority of adult kids do. And those who try to maintain a relationship can only do so and maintain any personal mental health if they are in therapy. Okay? That's it on therapy.
Because narcissists cannot access their own ability to give to others so they use up other people's desire to give and to give goodness. You need to live your life, so I want you to focus on this aspect: getting yourself free INSIDE, emotionally, spiritually and in your thoughts from that relationship. I am going to recommend a wonderful book that you need to read that is also available online:
It is called: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life by XXXXX XXXXXez-Lewi.
Let me remind you of what you know within yourself is true because you've experienced it:
It is very difficult for people to imagine how pervasive NPD is. They tend to keep doing things with the narcissist as if she's normal. Then they get burned and they are very hurt. She will alternate charm and invective. You will be hurt. You are a normal person and have a view of personality that we call "whole". Your view does not allow for what has happened to her personality: it has become "fractured". What do I mean?
Let's use a parable of a house. You understand personality as being an open plan. There is the main big room where everything in the personality is and there are some smaller rooms off the main room, but they all have open doorways so that there is a unity there. If a person reacts from one of those smaller areas in his personality, it is coherent with the rest of the house, it fits into the decorating scheme of the main room, etc. It's all unified. She isn't like that. Se has different closed rooms. When she says something to you, it responds to some need and "truth" of a certain room. When she wants something else, it responds to a different room that contains that "truth". They don't have to agree for her to feel she is being okay and truthful. Because they are responding to different needs in her. Like different closed rooms.
You would not be able to feel whole that way. You would feel rather creepy. Well she doesn't feel whole. But she doesn't know how to feel whole. And she doesn't know what feeling whole is like. So she can lie without feeling any regret or conscience. And her husband backs her up. Why? Because he knows what will happen to her if he doesn't: she'll turn on him instead of you.
So please remember what I said at the beginning: you need to find a way to make starting your own life away from her now practical; you must consider yourself a survivor who is seeking to escape. Perhaps asking your brother for tips and support in this will be possible. If so, do it.
But I'm concerned you will refuse to cut her off. You are searching for "mommy". And that's a good search. But she's not it. She doesn't have the equipment. You need to volunteer in assisted living facilities and find a few lucid women who's kids live out of town. And begin to bond with them. Yes, they will pass on, so then you'll bond with other women and mourn those who passed on. But bond with older women who have love to give but no one to give it to. They have the equipment to be a mommy for you. She doesn't.
I am reluctant to do this, but I'm going to prescribe a couple of excellent books you can get on how to live with a narcissist if you refuse to do those things. These books WILL help you as they have been tried and I've seen them have good effect if you follow the suggestions of the authors:
1. The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship by Eleanor Payson. This is a great book that will help you with the lack of self-esteem that living with a narcissist or being close with a narcissist will do to you.
2. The Object of My Affection is in My Reflection: Coping with Narcissists by Rokelle Lerner. This book is newer but is extremely clear and insightful and has helped people since it came out 3 years ago.
But if you decide to continue with her and use these books, will you at least consider therapy?
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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Appreciate your reponse. I stumbled upon this website last night and didn’t know what to expect. I was worried I might be paying $60 for a cookie cutter answer from a Dear Abby type.
I feel your assessment of a narissitic personality is a good one. I have thought that myself. My mom used to be in counseling in years past off and on, but isn’t currently. She mentioned being given a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder ,which I thought was also accurate. My understanding that a NPD and BPD are pretty close. She was also given the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder that I don’t agree with. As I understand it someone with MPD isn’t aware of what alter personalities are doing. She knows EXACTLY what she is doing. I like the term fractured personality; that is helpful and more descriptive of what I have seen .
The illustration of the different rooms was very helpful that makes sense out of the completely illogical behavior patterns I have been exposed to.
Whether she is NPD or BPD, or even MPD to the best of my understanding, I am in the same situation. I have been trying to have a healthy relationship with someone who is not equipped to do so. I know if I trust her its at my own peril . The end result is some nice mother daughter contact, but then when I am not looking and am totally unprepared she flings open a “ door marked crazy" and stabs me in the heart.
Let’s assume that one of the therapist who she had actual first hand contact with were more accurate and I have a BPD mother not a NPD mother. Would you still recommended the book freeing yourself from the narcissist in your life, or do you have another suggestion?
I am going to follow your advice to have no further contact with her until I am in counseling. You are right. Its been too ugly and mixed up for too long,the counseling part is easy to accept. I am asking you to counsel me after all. I just needed someone who is not a friend or relative to tell me that it’s ok to cut off contact. Almost everyone, although they are kind and come from a good place, makes me feel guilty because “she is my mother”. I should “honor “my mother. In my mind to honor someone doesn’t mean you are obligated to let them try to destroy you. And I can say with confidence some of her comments are artfully crafted and are of no other value but to inflict as much pain as possible. She has amazing aim !
I was comforted to see your picture that came with the response and noticed the Yamaka. I looked up your profile and I see that you wrote a publication regarding parenting from a spiritual perspective. It was reassuring to me that someone whose values come from the same general place was answering my question. I have always had an affinity for the Jewish people. I feel that Christianity is a Jewish religion. Hope there was nothing offensive to you in the last few sentences.
SO I asked for practical.
1) A counselor with experience with children of NPD and or BPD. Got it
2) I like the sound of that first book and am open to other title you have for me.
3) I like the idea of talking to my brother. I see him once or twice a year and never once have we spoken about our mother. It has been an unspoken understanding that I have respected his position and how he has chosen to cope and he respects mine. I think I should let him into what I have been going thru. Im sure he will talk to me.
If your recommendation is that I cut contact how do I handle family functions? My aunts are worried they will never see me again because that is the sacrifice my brother made to keep himself away from her. I didn’t go to a function this week partly because I am not in any condition to drive myself long distances because I am down to the use of only my left hand since accident that I mentioned. But I will be healed hopefully by Christmas and will want to see everyone. I am not prepared to give up that entire side of the family just to avoid her. Is there a healthy way to make this work? During the 2 years of my childhood that I was estranged from her we actually would go to functions and keep our distance and never spoke, not at all. Is that an acceptable way to handle things or is there a better way?
You are right to be concerned that I might not cut off from her. I don’t WANT to cut off from her. If I was just angry that would make it easier. Im not that angry, I am profoundly hurt. It is my nature to want to fix wounded people. I have a tendency never to give up on the people I feel are really important to me..no matter what they do to me. I am quite comfortable casting off and ignoring people I have not “let in the circle of trust “ . But once you are in I will give second, third, fourth chances to people who have betrayed me horribly. I want prove that they are really good and I was right to have trusted them. Man I sound sick ! I am being as truthful as I can.
I am trying to stop, for example telling my mom who lives 25 minutes away, its not ok to go 6 days and never call or email me after being hit by a car. I actually fee bad that was the last straw. She has done so many more ugly things than simply ignoring me. I guess what did it was I really hurt and was at home in pain and couldn’t open a can of soup or pull my hair of off my face into a ponytail. I very much need a mom to rush to my side and take care of me. I kept waiting for her to call.
Your advice confirmed what I know to be true but have been refusing to accept because it’s so painful. I have been trying to have a happy relationship with a “fractured” person who is ill equipped to do so. She can’t help that she is fractured. The only outcome of continuing a relationship is me being hurt.
I hear you that I need to cut things off with her. That makes totally logical sense. It is a very hard, very sad thing to hear. VERY hard Very sad. I don’t really have a “back up parent” to lean on like my brother does. Another long story, no major issue with my dad except him always ignoring me as he lavished love ,attention and material things on my brother. He wasn’t comfortable that I was a girl and he “let my mom have me” I think. I’m ok with that; we all did our best to survive.
Anyways I am trying to take it in because I like myself, and I am all I got. I do have a small number of close friends in “the circle of trust” but a friend isn’t the same as a mom. I guess I need to accept that I have no mom.
Lastly, personality disorders don’t ever reverse themselves. She is 72 years old. Do I need to start accepting that this is a permanent estrangement? I need to hear the cold hard truth as straight as possible. Is this a true statement? If I value myself and my own mental health, I cant ever have much meaningful contact with her ever again.
Randi Kreger wrote a book along with Paul Mason you will find in the library though it's very popular and may be checked out. So you may want to buy it online. It is called Stop Walking on Eggshells. You will probably recognize what it was like living with your mom and what it's like having a relationship with her. It's easily available online.
She also has a wonderful online group called the Oz Online Community for Family Members. She’s an important resource for you. She's a very nice person, too. Here's the web page: http://www.bpdcentral.com/support/email.shtml
And, no, BPD does not displace the usefulness of the narcissism books. You see how it can be so much all at once, that's why I limited it originally.
So, your brother found that it was not possible to have a relationship with the extended family w/o having to be in your mom's orbit. And he wasn't willing. That was his choice. You may not be ready for that decision. But you do need to be in contact with him for support and strength. And yo do need active therapeutic support if you embark on a project of trying to have limited contact with your mom on YOUR terms. She will sabotage that effort. So you have to have the support, okay? I can't decide for you if the extended family is more important than your living without the struggle with your mom.
And your mom is not going to change at this age. Not unless she has a true religious epiphany, not unless she's hit by spiritual lightening, so to speak! That is true. That is the definition of personality disorders: they are persistent and the most difficult for the person to change. You may want to begin to pray for her instead of having "this world" contact with her. The power of prayer is something you are imbued with; it may be a better way to have a relationship with her as the "mother".