Sunday, December 15, 2013

Are We to Honor a Narcissistic Mother?

Honor Your Narcissist Mother? Video

© by Gail Meyers 
Dysfunctional, abusive, narcissistic parents, pastors, churches and cults love to take biblical text out of context in order to use it as a pretext. By doing this someone with sinister motives can twist scripture to the point of causing it to appear to mean nearly anything they want it to in order to give the appearance of justifying their abusive behavior and condemning you.  They love to attempt to use your faith, and even God, against you.

Using Scripture as an Abusive Weapon 

As previously mentioned, I grew up in a dysfunctional, spiritually dead church where my alcoholic pedophile step-father was a deacon.  Then, my "selfless Christian martyr" narcissistic personality disordered mother continued the spiritual abuse after his death.  So not only am I intimately aware of how this is done, it is an enormous pet peeve of mine. I know what it is like as an adult child of narcissists to be bludgeoned with this commandment in order to reinforce the family abuse. "Honor thy mother and thy father" sends shivers down the spines of many adult sons and daughters of narcissists, and rightfully so. Narcissistic personality disordered mother loves to quote this one. 

Regaining Your Spirituality

First and foremost where the Bible is concerned - always, always, always keep biblical text in not only the context of the surrounding text, but also the bigger context and theme of the Bible.  Read it for yourself so an abusive narcissist is less able to beat you with it by taking text out of context in order to use it as a pretext.

Secondly, narcissists love to redefine terms just like cults do.  So always examine how the terms you have been taught are defined when you are stuck.  Look for the lie that has you trapped.  There are two main views on this commandment within the context of an abusive narcissistic mother.  Clearly and more narrowly define what honor means or simply that you are not required to honor evil.

Strikingly, while the Bible instructs us to love God, our neighbor and the stranger, it does not instruct us to love our parents.  It instructs us to honor our father and mother.  The following are some of the ways abusive, narcissistic mothers attempt to use and misuse this commandment to honor your father and mother. It is often presented like a blank check given to her by God with no responsibility on her part, even to the extent of acting as if it requires you to allow her to destroy you, your life and everything you love while worshipping her as your mother. A narcissistic mother may:

  • Say honor, but the reality may be for you to worship her (while she destroys you). 

  • Expect you to obey her even as an adult.

  • Demand to come first in your life.
    • Interfere with your marriage.
    • Teach your own children to dishonor and disrespect you.

  • Expect you to enable or engage in her unhealthy or evil behavior.

Once again narcissistic mother redefines the terms and takes this scripture out of context in order to use it as a pretext. So, the first thing we are going to do is more accurately define the terms and look at the context.


Fifth Commandment in Context

Moses has led God's people out of Egypt after 400 years of Egyptian bondage when God provides the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.  The commandments are given to establish a foundation of order, security and holiness for the millions of Israelites in their new found freedom.  

  • Thus, the first important fact learned from the context is that the commandments were given to Christian parents and children to establish order and protection.  They were not given to facilitate evil or abusive behavior by ungodly parents masquerading as Christians or to trap, torture or brow beat Christian children.

The Ten Commandments were given on two tablets, the first concerning our love for God.  The second, which begins with the command to honor your father and mother, concerns our relationships with one another.  This signifies God is the foundation of it all, while the parental authority is the foundation of a moral society.  However, parents are in turn under the authority of God.

There is a great deal included in the balancing instruction to parents:

  • Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

    • "Fathers" is inclusive of mothers, to whom the practical administration of the household and training of the children so much belong.
      Pulpit Commentary

 The first half is a negative instruction, what not to do:
  • Neither by words; by unjust and, unreasonable commands; by contumelious (meaning contemptuous or humiliating) and reproachful (meaning expressing disapproval or disappointment) language; by frequent and public chidings (meaning to scold or rebuke), and by indiscreet and passionate expressions: nor by deeds; preferring one to another; by denying them the necessaries of life; by not allowing them proper recreation; by severe and cruel blows, and inhuman usage; by not giving them suitable education; by an improper disposal of them in marriage; and by profusely spending their estates, and leaving nothing to them.  (Parentheticals added) Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

The second half is a positive instruction, what parents are to do:
  • Instructing them in the knowledge of divine things, setting them good examples, taking care to prevent their falling into bad company, praying with them, and for them, bringing them into the house of God, under the means of grace, to attend public worship. Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible



Honor is Not Worshipping Thy Mother 

In the most fundamental sense narcissism is a tendency to self-worship.  Narcissistic mothers love to so broadly define honor as to actually be worship, attempting to perch themselves up on the throne of their children's hearts and lives.  This is idolatry and certainly not what God intended as the very first commandment is to have no other gods before Him.

Obey Thy Mother

Next, is the idea that an adult son or daughter of a narcissistic mother is to obey her. As Christian psychiatrist Dr. Paul Meier points out in his book Free to Forgive, the Bible commanding us to "obey" our parents is a command to little children. This can be found in the Greek, little children obey your parents. 

Obeying your parent when you are little is for the safety of the child, among other things.  Honoring their parents is also good for children and society because psychologically children need to be able to honor their parents. Otherwise, the parent is but a peer or the parentification (role reversal) occurs that is so classic with narcissistic parents. However, adults need not obey their parents at all, which is especially true if the parent is leading an ungodly life.   

The Biblical Order of Relationships

Narcissistic mothers notoriously interfere with their children's marriages and the raising of their grandchildren. This is often reinforced as a part of honoring thy mother.  However, the Bible is clear about the proper order of things.

When you become an adult you come out from under the authority of an ungodly or evil parent and place yourself under the authority of God.  If you marry,  Genesis 2:24 states:

  • Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Once a son or daughter marries, God comes first, then your spouse. This provides biblical guidance for setting boundaries even with godly parents. Should there be any question regarding a narcissistic mother meddling in her children's marriages, it is answered by Matthew 19:6:

  • So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

We are responsible before God to instruct and protect our children. This includes all of the instructions previously discussed, but applied to us as the parent to our own children. 

Honoring a Narcissistic Mother

While a narcissistic mother masquerading as a Christian may present the commandment to honor your father and mother as a requirement for you to actually worship her, while she on the other hand destroys you, this is not what the Bible teaches.  The Bible commands against idolatry and provides guidance for the proper priority of relationships. Additionally, Narcissistic mothers love to completely ignore the balancing commands to parents regarding their responsibilities toward their children, as well as the numerous instances in which the Bible instructs us on how to deal with specific behaviors. 

Narcissistic mothers love to set themselves up as matriarchs ruling with an iron sceptre, but biblically we are not required as adults to obey our parents at all.  This is especially true if the parent is leading an ungodly life.  We are to leave our parents and become one with our spouse, only our relationship with God takes priority over the marital relationship. If we remain single adults, we are to remove ourselves from the authority of an ungodly parent and place ourselves directly under the authority of God. Additionally, when we become parents we have all of these same responsibilities toward our own children.  This includes protecting them from known dangers and bad influences.

While a narcissistic mother may masquerade as a selfless Christian mother, Jesus had no stronger rebuke for anyone than for the hypocritical Pharisees masquerading behind a cloak of false piety.  As previously discussed, God calls us to stop judging by mere appearances and to judge rightly.  The classic narcissistic maneuvers are in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches.  The Bible provides specific instructions for dealing with such matters, which we will continue to explore in coming chapters.   

There are abundant biblical examples and instructions on rebuking, shunning or fleeing evil, but not one for honoring it. Hence, in some instances the best way to honor a narcissistic mother while also honoring God may be from a distance, by living a separate but godly life. 

(Excerpt from The Scapegoats of a Narcissistic Mother)

A Christian Malignant Narcissist Mother?

Christian Malignant Narcissist Mother quote by Gail Meyers

When I say that evil has to do with killing,
I do not mean to restrict myself to corporeal murder.
Evil is that which kills spirit.
Dr. M. Scott Peck
People of the Lie 

© by Gail Meyers 

My narcissistic personality disordered mother pretended to be exactly everything she was not, including a "selfless saint" or "martyred mother." The "Christian" narcissist mother may play the "martyred mother" when it suits her purposes, but it is well established that the "martyred mother" in a dysfunctional family is the one controlling and manipulating the entire family. When you hear something like, "I tried to be a good mother, but..." you know the martyr is on stage manipulating.

This is the absolute epitome of how a narcissistic mother pretends to be exactly opposite of what they actually are. A mother high on the narcissism spectrum, what some consider the very embodiment of evil, parading as a "selfless saint" and "martyred Christian" mother. This is the epitome of a wolf in sheep's clothing!

So this narcissist parading as a "selfless saint" Christian consistently bypasses Christ's death on the cross, the single most important foundational belief of their professed Christianity, and instead attempts to load her sins onto the head of another human being. To top it all off, not any human being, but her own child - the scapegoat.  God did not buy it when Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent, and He certainly sees through this routine.

This same narcissist will try to turn around and beat their child into submission with the biblical text taken out of context in order to use it as a pretext for manipulation, abuse and control. That is exactly what cults do, take biblical text out of context in order to use it as a pretext. This is just one more similarity between families with narcissistic personality disordered parents and cults. It is nothing less than stunning how closely the two parallel one another.

There are those who masquerade behind goodness for the very reason they are pretenders concealing their exact opposite chronic behavior.  There are examples in every religion from parents to church leaders.  They profess themselves to be devout, yet their behavior betrays their charade.

Enduring such spiritual abuse can definitely turn one away from God and Christianity, blaming God or the faith rather than the pretender.  That was exactly the result in my own life as a young adult.  My faith was used against me until I was so bound up it is nothing less than a miracle my faith survived.  Had it stopped there I would have assumed what she displayed and represented was God and Christianity.

When comparing the enduring, persistent characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder, one can hardly miss the striking similarly to what the Bible calls evil.  What was displayed was not the Christian faith of the Bible.  The Bible would frame it as evil concealed and masquerading behind a facade of professed Christianity, or evil masquerading as good.

In reality, the characteristics of narcissism are diametrically opposed to Christianity.  So, she was not a "Christian malignant narcissist."  There is no such thing!  She was a  narcissist masquerading as a Christian in the same way she masqueraded as a loving mother.  

Begin Healing Spiritually

As other adult sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers have shared, spiritual abuse was also very much a part of the abuse in my narcissistic family of origin.  Based on comments received in the past, this appears to be a shared experience among many of us.

Regardless of the religious affiliation, the techniques are often the same.  It is taking biblical text out of context in order to use it as a pretext.  The motivation is not to lovingly instruct or protect, but to manipulate, control, shame and destroy.  This motivation in and of itself is unbiblical.  Jesus forgave many in the Bible, but came down hard on the Pharisees.  They were the religious leaders of the day - a pompous, legalistic bunch who burdened the people with hundreds of additional rules while losing the spirit of the law in the process. 

Spiritual abuse can be a devastating form of abuse because the narcissistic mother invariable uses twisted scripture to justify her abuse, blame what is actually her behavior on God, and deeply shame the child.  This can result in the spiritual devastation or destruction of a child who may be convinced even God is against him or her.

Personally, I grew up thinking of God as a cosmic Grandfather who was sitting up in heaven just waiting for me to make a mistake so He could clobber me.  This was thanks not only to a narcissistic family, but also a spiritually dead, dysfunctional church filled with pretenders such as my alcoholic pedophile deacon step-father.

In my young eyes God was mean, harsh and impossible to please, which coincidentally, was similar to my parents in a narcissistic family.  I was so angry at God in my early 20's that I told Him I was done with it.  So, for a brief period of time the narcissistic family succeeded in turning me away from this most important relationship, as they attempted to destroy so many others.  Don't let them succeed in it!

Thankfully, God was big enough to handle it and never let go of me.  Thank God for Dr. Paul Meier of the then Minirith-Meier Clinic.  Only a few months later through his radio show, then his books, he gave me the information I needed to begin seeing the truth. 

Read the Bible

One of the first things I did at that time was read the Bible for myself, cover to cover.  When kept in context, the overwhelming theme is one of love.  Then, one of the first concepts Dr. Meier introduced me to is there is much lost in translation because the original languages are so much richer than English.

For example, there are four different words for love based on whether it is agape love, brotherly love, passionate love, etc., as opposed to our one word.  Dr. Meier presented this in his book Free to Forgive, which happened to be one of the exact verses I was told proved the Bible has contradictions. 

This is also a good example of the healthy, balanced psychology in the Bible - meaning guidance for maintaining our mental health and relationships with others.  (The term “psychology” actually derives from the Greek root, psyche or soul, and relates to a study of the soul or spirit, even though that is not the current popular use of the word). 

In Galatians 6 we are told to bear one another's burdens.  Then, it says each one is to bear their own burdens.  It appears to be an obvious contradiction, but it is actually guidance for setting healthy boundaries.  It is the richness of the words lost in translation.  It actually says:

Each one is to bear their own burdens.  The word translated burdens here is similar to a comfortable load such as a backpack.  This could also be seen as your daily personal responsibilities.

Bear one another's burdens.  Burdens here is a heavy, crushing load.  In other words, when someone has a heavy, crushing load that is too much for one person, get up under it with him.

This is an example of balanced healthy boundaries in the Bible.  In other words, do not be codependent.  Do not hand someone else your backpack.  Do not carry someone else's backpack.  You carry your backpack.  Let your mother carry her backpack.  When there is a heavy, crushing load ask for help.

False Brethren and False Teachers

In The People of the Lie, Dr. M. Scott Peck wrote:

Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself as well as from others than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture.
Many of us have learned the hard way that someone is not necessarily a Christian just because they claim to be.  Sadly, this applies to leaders in the church too.  The Christian faith is based on the Bible, which also warns us to beware of false believers and false teachers.

These are not struggling Christians, but those intentionally misleading others in order to harm them and turn them away from their faith.  Of course, always listen to any check you have in your spirit.  Additionally, the Bible instructs us to test a teacher prior to accepting his teachings.

The only way you can do that is if you know the Bible for yourself.  If you are not allowed to question the leadership that should send up a red flag about the church.  In any case, we learn to spot a fake by studying the real thing.  In the simplest of analogies, you learn to spot a fake one hundred dollar bill by studying the real thing.

Overall, it should not surprise us that many narcissistic mothers masquerade as saints in many religions.  Their evil deeds are done in the darkness and their fear is being exposed to the light.  So it would follow that one of the last places you are going to find a narcissist is submitting themselves to the intense exposure of therapy.

One of the ongoing processes of recovery is exposing the many lies we were taught.  Once I uncovered enough of the lies I was taught about the Bible, I was able to see the same pattern that was used to destroy other relationships.  

Part of a narcissistic mother's routine is often convincing her scapegoats everyone, yes, even God, is on her side, as she simultaneously works to destroy other relationships.  Well, by the grace of God she did not destroy this relationship.  The very book used to beat me as a child very much condemns her behavior.  Quite the contrary to what I had been brainwashed into believing as a child.  

Dysfunctional Family Roles

These are the rigid family roles that develop in dysfunctional families.  This video by Jef Gazley relates to alcoholic family systems, which is often an issue for the parents or the adult children of a narcissist, or both.  In my experience this is very helpful to understand and many of the same ideas also apply if the core issue is mental illness in a parent too.

There is a dysfunction, such as addiction or mental illness of the parent that requires these roles to form.  The parent is not functioning as parent in meeting the needs of the children in a healthy way.  Inside the children are often angry, insecure and do not feel good enough.   

Inverted parenting is a hallmark of an alcoholic family, as well as in a family with a narcissistic personality disordered mother.  This situation causes post traumatic stress disorder.  None of the children are getting their emotional needs met in a healthy way.  Each position that the children fill serves a purpose for the family.

The children often act very mature, such as acting 40 when they are 10.  However, when they are older all of their infantile needs rise to the surface and they want to be taken care of by their partner.  This often dooms the relationship because the partner can not be the parent and save the relationship.

Each one functions by the unwritten dysfunctional family rules.  They function as a cell within an organism.  The family is the individual, not each separate person.  If one enters therapy or attempts to get out of their role, the entire family system will attempt to get them back in their assigned place in an attempt to keep the family in tact.

It is possible for a child to have two or three of these roles.  If one person leaves the family, very often another will take over their role.  However, the one leaving does not necessary lose their role.

In a very real sense, when a person grows up this way, they have (yes, he said "have") to develop an addiction to something, whether that is to a chemical, work or gambling.  Under every addiction there will be some codependency.  Under any codependency there will always be a personal developmental problem, dysfunctional family, lack of individuation and lack of boundaries.

I think it helps to understand why we are focusing so much on a certain area of recovery.  This is one aspect of why individuation and boundaries are stressed so much in recovery!

Enabling Spouse
There is also usually an enabling spouse, the silent parent.

  • Usually the oldest child.
  • Parentified child, often treated as a peer with Mom and Dad.
  • At other times the child is treat like one of the children, which is confusing.
  • This child's purpose is to show the family and the outside world that the parents must be doing something right.  It is hard to believe a family is doing so poorly if a child like this child who is so together and responsible came from that family.
  • This child is the lieutenant.  Junior Mom, in one example.
  • Feels a deep sense of doubt inside that they cannot handle all of the jobs Mom and Dad are providing for them by their emotional absence.  These do not have to be outward job, it can be the emotional care of the parents because of how immature they act.
  • On the outside they behave as if they are super confident.
  • Get along with authority figures, but may have trouble getting along with peers.
  • A codependent in training.
  • Will often marry the same type of spouse and start the whole family process over again.

  • Usually the second child.
  • It is possible for the second born to become the hero and the firstborn to become the scapegoat, but usually it is the other way around.
  • The purpose of the scapegoat is to provide sufficient distraction from the real core issue of the addiction or mental illness of the parent(s)
  • The symptom bearer of the family.
  • Get in trouble in school, etc., then the parents can fight over whether this is bad kid or a misunderstood kid, instead of the real core issue.  That is a lot less threatening to the marital relationship that focusing on the addiction or mental illness.
  • Inside this child feel insecure and not good enough.
  • On the outside presents as angry and a rebel.
  • Get along with peers well.
  • Fight with authority figures at every step.
  • An alcoholic or drug addiction in training.
  • Often the one presented as the problem if help is sought. 

 Lost Child
  • The chameleon in the family.
  • The one who adjusts and also acts in a codependent manner.
  • Also often develop drug or alcohol addictions.
  • May develop an early pregnancy or food disorder.
  • The quiet child.
  • Looks at what is happening with the firstborn and decides this job does not look like any fun.
  • Looks at the second born or the scapegoat and says this person is getting killed out there and blamed for everything.
  • Decides not to get into trouble and keep everything inside.
  • Decides to give people what they want to see and tell them what they want to hear.
  • Adjusts to the situation.
  • Inside feels angry, upset, depressed and not good enough.
  • On the outside they appear perfectly calm, sweet and light.  No problems, no strong opinions, they can handle anything.
  • This child provides another example of the family looking normal and healthy.

  • Often the fourth child.
  • This child's job is to provide some humor to this otherwise tragic situation.
  • Humor is often negative, sarcastic and at the expense of another.
  • Often everyone in the family allows this child to get away with it, which is very different than the way the others are treated.
  • On the inside, angry, insecure and does not feel good enough.
  • On the outside, everything is a joke.
  • They get along with their peers.
  • Do not get along with authority figures, but work with and charm them.
  • Another alcoholic or chemically dependent person in training.
  • Appears charming on the outside up until about the age of 30.
  • Never really grow up.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sons of Narcissistic Personality Disordered Mothers

This is in honor of my late brother, the son of a narcissistic personality disordered mother.  It is in honor of his memory, as well as to inform those who so easily dismiss sons of narcissistic mothers as not enduring the wrath of a narcissist mother as severely as daughters do.  I beg to differ with you.

My brother had a heart of gold and deeply loved his family.  He was the kind of man who would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it.  He was known for his heart of gold.  It was his biggest asset.  It may also have been his biggest downfall, second only to his own mother. 

My late brother was taken from us only months after our narcissistic mother died.  Their deaths stand in as stark of contrast as their hearts.  She was completely self-centered, immature, manipulative and dishonest, but masqueraded as a selfless saint.  He was known for his heart of gold, but ostracized and disrespected by his entire extended family of origins based on her slander.

She was terminally ill, surrounded by family and friends the last years of her life.  In true narcissist style, she demanded 24/7 care from her adult daughters while refusing to allow the assistance of hospice.  When he attempted to visit his dying mother, her flying monkey relatives harassed him.  Some so ignorant or deceived as to actually say to a man watching his mother die that his tears must be because he is consumed with guilt over the way he treated her.*  Only weeks before her death, his own mother told him to go home if he was going to cry at her bedside.  He died a few months later in extreme emotional torment, ostracized as a result of her slander.

A few months after her death his marriage of more than a decade ended.  He was not invited to what would be his last family Thanksgiving because the golden child youngest son would not attend if he attended.  I am sure I do not need to explain to anyone reading this blog how that came about between two sons of a narcissistic mother - a scapegoat older brother who stood up to his mother's deceit and a golden child younger brother who has no idea he lives in the narcissist's rabbit hole.

She went to extraordinary lengths to divide her five adult children between the oldest scapegoat children who had sought therapy and saw through her and the younger children who still believed the facade.  Of course, the younger adult sons and daughters believe it is all the older scapegoated siblings and would certainly never entertain the idea that their mother was mentally ill.

Revenge of a Narcissist

I was raised in some strange combination of the hero and the scapegoat of my dysfunctional family of origin, but definitely became the scapegoat when I revealed the sexual abuse shortly after leaving home.  However, my brother became a scapegoat as the result of confronting our mother.  He saw through her before anyone else did and he called her on it when he was 19 years old.  It was then that I entered sexual abuse therapy and the abuse became known outside of the family.  He told her he knew she knew, but did not protect me.  That confrontation was 20 years prior to the year they both passed away.

He would also confront her when she was rude to his wife, caught her in a lie, etc.  She literally spent the next 20 years, right up until her death, taking him down.  She never physically harmed him.  She destroyed him with invalidation, gaslighting, slanderous gossip - playing the victim while vilifying the true victimBy the time she died she had everyone in the entire extended family believing she was trying to help him but he was crazy and treated her so badly.  He treated her so badly, but she hung in there because that's just the kind of selfless, martyred mother she was!  Nothing could be further from the truth.


Healing for Sons of Narcissistic Mothers

I am uncertain where this idea came from that narcissistic mothers are not as abusive to the sons as they are the daughters, but some of this is further alienating the sons in the process.  My late brother passed before his 40th birthday, alone and ostracized.  He had a therapist and firm boundaries, too.  However, narcissistic mothers will destroy anyone who gets in their way.  The sex of the child matters not to the predatory, destructive narcissistic mother in her seething revenge or abuse tactics. 

The mother may not be jealous of the son, physically comparing him to herself as she might a daughter.  Just don't let that fool you into thinking the sons necessarily have it easier.  A narcissistic mother has many, many other things to be jealous of or enraged about besides just physical looks as compared to her daughter, jealousy regarding the father-daughter relationship, etc. 

In addition, be it societal norms or a stereotype, overall it still seems to me that it is more difficult for a man to reach out for help than it is a woman.  I certainly would not want a son of a narcissistic mother to attempt to reach out only to be met with the attitude that he has not really suffered as much as his sisters!

My brother suffered enormously!  He struggled with many adult child issues, including panic attacks mediated with massive doses of Xanax, marijuana and alcohol addictions, fibromyalgia, and anger control issues.  She had everyone convinced she was trying to help him while she was actually destroying him.  She pulled the same routine on me regarding my sexual abuse.  In addition to the extended family flying monkeys, he was the oldest son, but the golden child youngest son was raised to loathe and disrespect him lest the golden boy ever learn the truth about his mother.

Virtually everything written on this blog as a daughter of a narcissistic mother, with the exception of the gender specific jealousy, can also apply to the son of a narcissistic mother.  I strongly encourage other adult daughter bloggers, as well as the profession as a whole, to reach out to the sons too!  These men in no way emerge unscathed from the abuse of a narcissistic personality disordered mother!

*It has been my experience that flying monkeys often have a vested interest in being flying monkeys - abusers themselves, narcissistic traits or behaviors of their own, fear of being ostracized if they stand up for the truth, weak character unable to stand against the herd mentality, still in denial themselves, etc.  Then, I think there are flying monkeys who are truly deceived by the narcissist and have no idea of the harm they are inflicting. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas with Narcissistic Personality Disordered Mother

George C. Scott as Scrooge by Robert Doucette via Wikimedia Commons

© by Gail Meyers
Bahumbug!  Narcissistic personality disordered mothers are Scrooges at Christmas.  They delight in ruining your holidays and celebrations. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, your wedding, birthday or graduation, they will ruin it.  Yes, it's that time of the year again.

The first and foremost objective of this article is to provide validation and support to the adult sons and daughters of narcissistic personality disordered parents. As you relate to these scenarios, you are also encouraged to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

First of all, let's stick to reality and be honest.  Daughters of narcissistic personality disordered mothers need to drop the fantasy that this will be the year we have the family Christmas we always wanted.

I do not mean to be a scrooge, but my point is to be realistic.  If every Christmas with your narcissistic personality disordered mother has been a disaster, chances are it will be the same as it has always been.  Narcissists high on the spectrum do not really change.  So what is an adult son or daughter to do?

No contact can be a beautiful thing if your mother is high on the narcissism spectrum with a corresponding high level of toxicity.  If you have gone no contact, then you have a much better chance of having that wonderful Christmas!  This is a great time to begin establishing new, healthier family holiday traditions.

Prior to going no contact I think writing out your thoughts or listing the reasons you are making this choice is helpful in making that choice.  If you are feeling guilty during the holidays because you have gone no contact, now is a good time to keep your list handy.

If you have not made that list, now might be a good time to write it out.  It helped me to look at the situation as if it was a friend of mine, then do what I would hope my friend would do. That aids in removing all of the unhealthy dysfunctional family rules that have been to unfairly applied to the scapegoat over the years.  If you internalized those rules, replacing yourself with a dear friend in the scenario can really help.

What if you have no choice?  We are being honest here.  We have a choice.  So, if you choose to say you have no choice what you may actually mean is you would rather not rock the boat by not going.  Just realize you do have a choice.

So you decide the go, but you tell yourself you made this choice instead of that you had no choice.  What can you do to survive this Christmas with narcissistic mother?

  • Detach emotionally.  This is going to take some healing work on your part to be able to successfully pull this one off.  You are choosing to go, but you are not going to take the bait.  Forget the fantasy that you are going to fix the narcissist.  You are not going to succeed where a team of therapists would fail.  Drop that delusion that you are going to help narcissist mother.  Narcissist mother does not want to be fixed or helped.   Give up the fantasy that this year the narcissist will appreciate your efforts, gifts, etc.

  • Do not accept being the slave.  Oh, narcissistic personality disordered mother may indeed want this kind of help.  You know, the help where the scapegoat daughter does all of the dishes after the meal while everyone else sits around.  Or, the help where one of her children always buys most of the food for the meal.  Do what you feel comfortable doing, but not because you have to do it.  It is pretty easy to see the unwritten dysfunctional family rules when you replace one person with another.  For example, switch the role of the golden child and the scapegoat.  The differences in the expectations are the unfair, unwritten dysfunctional family rules. 

  • Be prepared to leave the minute things get ugly.  The backhanded jokes, the snide comments about gifts, etc.  Do not be the hostess.  If you are going to spend the holidays with a known narcissist, make sure it is at a restaurant or home where you can grab your things, husband, kids, etc., and make a quick exit if you need to.

This isn't exactly inspiring the holiday spirit, but if you are spending Christmas with a narcissistic personality disordered mother, it's about surviving as unscathed as possible.  Survival.

Here are some of my Christmas experiences with a narcissistic personality disordered mother.  Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

Childhood Christmas with Narcissistic Mother
I grew up the oldest of five children. By the age of 10 years old I was told, "Christmas is for children." Since my narcissistic mother regarded me as a peer rather than a child, I was expected to understand this and show some maturity. By maturity, I mean I was supposed to understand why the younger kids got presents they wanted while I got crap off of the dollar rack no one would want.

My siblings' presents were not usually thrilling as I recall, but they were at least something they wanted.  Of course, no one opened presents or had the Christmas meal in peace. I can not recall even one holiday season during my childhood that did not involve a major ordeal of screaming, arguing, physical abuse, etc.  Merry Christmas everyone! 

Christmas as a Young Adult with Narcissistic Mother
As a young adult, following the early demise of my step-father, my narcissistic mother repeated the exact same routine every holiday season for several years. Just prior to the start of the holiday season my mother would start a fight with me. Absolutely out of nowhere she would start a fight with me. She would then verbally assault me and tell me to get out of her life. This meant I was no longer invited to the extended family holiday gatherings.

Slowly but surely after the holidays were over, I would begin to hear rumors. She always concealed her abuse with a flipped tale, telling that I had verbally assaulted her. I call it a flipped tale, but it is also referred to as vilifying the victim.  She would then tell that I either did not attend the holiday gatherings because I was angry or because I had not apologized to her.

At some point after the holidays she would then stand right to my face and very convincingly tell me how I had attacked her and owed her an apology. For the first several years as a young adult she was so convincing that I thought well maybe it is just two different perceptions.

Soon I started actually writing out exactly what happened in anticipation of the gaslighting and slander. I got to the point that when she started an argument from out of nowhere, I would tell her I am not taking the blame.

I would actually try to interrupt her script or tell her to stop, but to no avail. Right in the middle of a friendly conversation she would suddenly start saying she is not going to put up with this, etc. She may well have been having one side of a conversation for whomever was her audience while she was on the phone to me. That is how unnatural it was when she started.

It literally did not matter what I said or did not say, even if I said I had seen this routine before. She would simply carry on with her melodrama regardless of what I said. She would tell me to get out of her life, tell everyone I had done that to her and after the holidays act like she deserved an apology.

By that time, she had most of the family mad at me because she had told them some ridiculous lie about what happened. When a narcissist does this to a target over many years, many people just assume it is true. They will destroy other relationships in just this manner before you have the slightest idea what is going on. 

Note:  Narcissists are notorious for giving really bad, cheap gifts. Dr. M. Scott Peck noted this narcissist characteristic in his book, People of the Lie.  

Read A Christmas Message by Anna Valerious on Narcissists Suck.

Some families are so toxic that your physical and emotional health is in danger – and in these cases you must carefully weigh how much damage seeing and interacting with your family will bring and whether it is worth going. Toxic Families: Going Home for Thanksgiving by Eileen Bailey on Health Central.

Photo: Scrooge by Robert Doucette via Wikimedia Commons