This is a guest post by Eve Penman.
Some time ago, I saw one of Matt Forney’s articles in my Twitter feed entitled “5 Reasons Why Girls with Tattoos and Piercings are Broken.” My initial knee-jerk reaction was to think, “Hey, I resemble that remark!,” but since I do resemble it, getting upset over it would do me no good. I did not read the article since I did not want to be reminded of my imperfect brokenness at that time; the title spoke to me as truth and that was enough.
In my biased defense, my body mods are small, sweet and discreet. But just because I am not sleeved out in skulls nor have dangle-bobs hanging off my face it does not mean I am not broken, because I am broken and I work hard to hide it.
But why am I broken? That is the question I have not been able to answer until the past few weeks. I always thought it was just me being a fucked-up girl by design and that was how I was born. I had never considered that my brokenness may come from somewhere or from someone I least suspect. Once I discovered this bitter root which has caused me to become broken, I knew that I had to write about it to help others understand where their brokenness may come from and/or the brokenness of people in their lives.
The crux of this crazy conundrum is that I cannot write about it on my own blog due to my abuser—the cause of my brokenness—reading my blog. Not so much because they will abuse me any more than they already do by disregarding my feelings and condescendingly laughing at me, but because they live in a state of denial that no one can shatter. Secondly, a blog post inspired by them (even if it is to expose them) would only make their powers grow since, due to the denial, they are unable to be confronted nor are they able to accept what they are.
Big thanks to Matt for helping me reach people, especially men, through his site. Men must know what to be aware of and understand what some adult women have lived in, and what they, the men themselves, may have lived in without knowing it; or more accurately, what they may have lived under: the thumb of a narcissistic mother. Because of this, I do not blame men for not wanting women in their lives any more than they can tolerate. Trust me, sometimes I am all the woman I can tolerate, so I get it.
Now, I do not use the words “narcissist” or “abuser” lightly, but it is my truth based upon research when compared to the scary spot-on similarities in my own life. Granted, there are at least two sides to every story, so bear in mind you are only hearing one side to this story, yet it is the side that needs to be heard since it is often disregarded and ridiculed by narcissistic abusers.
Due to the work of professionals who have shared their knowledge and insight online for people to research freely, I feel that I can now say with a strong sense of assurance that my brokenness is ultimately the result of having a narcissistic mother who, more likely than not, only had children to serve her whims, mimic her likeness, and make her look good for others. Oh, the disappointment I have been!
You see, a narcissist does not have children because they want to love and nurture little humans so they can grow into healthy individuals and be successful on their terms. Rather, a narcissist has children because they need reassurance in their own self, they need to feed their ego, and because they want someone to unquestionably do their bidding; so say I, the lackey gas-pumping, errand-running, house-cleaning daughter, but I digress.
To deny that I was abused during my formative years (and am currently still being abused) is only a sign of how abused I am; talk about a totally FUBAR situation! Sure, I may not be physically bruised, nor do I have black eyes or marks from a wire hanger; however, my spirit is severely bruised, my sense of self has been beaten out of me time and time again to the point that I question if I am the crazy one who belongs in an institution, and to top it off I have entertained suicidal thoughts since the age of 13 (over 20 years of my life). The empirical fact that I have survived without ever taking pharmaceuticals for my mental stability is a testament to an ineffable force that lies within me. Thus, that which does not kills us makes us.
And yet, in spite of this mirage that I have lived in my whole life, I do love my mother and I want her to be well, even though the research tells me that will not likely happen since narcissists are unable to recognize what they are. Such is the twisted futility of my life and, more likely than not, the lives of many others.
Since this is how I feel about myself due to being raised under a neglectful and self-centered parent, it tells me there are others suffering from the same lot and may not know it, just like I didn’t know it. I am not so far gone in my subconsciously-inherited narcissistic traits to think I am the only one like this in the world; I know I am not that special. Sadly, that is also a sign of my abuse under a narcissistic mother, to put myself down because I cannot be that special since that is what she has made me believe about myself. FUBAR, indeed!
Well, the good news is that knowing is half the battle; the rest of the battle lies in kicking ass and fighting back. Now that I know what the root of my problem is—a narcissistic mother—I can now prepare myself with tools via knowledge in order to fight the battles on my terms. It is not my intention to place blame and leave it at that, far from it, but without first recognizing where my problems come from I cannot move forward into a healthier and, relatively speaking, mentally stable life.
Being raised by a narcissist makes it more likely for me to become narcissistic and take on those traits unknowingly; monkey see, monkey do, your kids learn by watching you. The more I learn about narcissistic mothers, the more I see where some of my traits come from which scares me on many levels; not for my own self but for the people in (and no longer in) my life who have been subjected to my unhealthy behaviors without my knowledge.
As well, I now have to reexamine all my relationships with the people I have let into my life over the years, both in person and online, because I most likely have—no, I know I have—unhealthy relational patterns based on my upbringing. The same as women that fall for a man who abuses them because that is how they were raised, growing up as a female with an abusive, narcissistic mother has blinded me to knowing what is healthy in a relationship with anyone, whether it be men or women.
You see, when you don’t know what you don’t know, it is hard to correct what you don’t know, because you don’t know that you don’t know it; and if other people don’t know it, then they don’t know what they don’t know and they are unable to help. Thus, the FUBAR cycle will repeat ad nauseam.
Fortunately, the light of hope that comes from discovering all this darkness is that I now have the tools and the talent to change myself by correcting the narcissistic traits through knowledge and insight, from not only professionals but daughters who have fought the battles and lived to share their stories in order to help others.
So, what are the traits of a narcissistic person? Herein enters the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; more commonly referred to as the DSM, versions IV and V (4 and 5) are the most current editions.
Traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder according to the DSM-IV and V (begins on Page 9):
- Grandiose sense of self-importance, exaggerates achievements & talents;
- Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, beauty, brilliance;
- Believes themselves to be special or unique, and can only be understood by others of high status;
- Requires excessive admiration;
- A sense of entitlement such as unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment or automatic compliance with their expectations;
- Interpersonally exploitative by taking advantage of others to achieve their own ends;
- Lacks empathy, unwilling to recognize or identify needs and feelings of others;
- Often envious of others or believes others are envious of them;
- Displays arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes.
Please keep in mind that this is a professional diagnostic manual that is continuously being revised and is designed to be used by trained professionals. There are many factors that go into diagnosing a person with any condition listed in the manual and these are only a handful of the factors; professionals disagree amongst themselves as to proper diagnoses when using this manual; as well, the manual has come under scrutiny by professionals as to whether the manual itself is bias towards certain individuals. Hence, caveat lector: let the reader beware.
However, sooner or later a person must think for themselves and apply what they know and have experienced firsthand; so say I, the writer of this article. I am not a mental health professional, though I have taken down testimony of numerous mental health experts and professionals via court proceedings; I have had the DSM applied by professional psychologists on myself for depression, anxiety, and PTSD; plus, I research information by professionals. I encourage others to think independently, read as much as possible from experts and professionals, and consult with professionals should a person feel the need.
Therein lies the beauty of the Internet; there is tons of information provided by trained and working professionals who apply the DSM in their daily work, and those professionals offer resources in laymen’s terms that non-professionals can understand, relatively speaking of course. A couple resources I have utilized through my research that may help others are as follows.
1. “Mothers Who Are Jealous of Their Daughters”
This is a Psychology Today article by Karyl McBride, Ph.D., marriage and family therapist and author of Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. It’s an excellent starting point as it was my first introduction to the idea of narcissistic mothers after Googling “mothers jealous of their daughters.”
A helpful survey entitled “Is This Your Mom?” is linked at the bottom along with other resources. I recommend reading the survey as a starting point to determine if you, or someone you know, may have been impacted by a narcissistic mother.
This site is run by Michelle Piper, marriage and family therapist. She has a free 38-page e-book available to download (I highly recommend); it includes a self-assessment and score sheet and provides easy-to-understand oversight to address and cope with the reality of having a narcissistic mother.
In order to download the e-book, you need to sign up for the email list (I also recommend), which offers helpful emails every few days that address how to cope and overcome the damage of having a narcissistic mother in one’s life. The site’s main page features a helpful 10-minute video of Michelle Piper discussing the impact of narcissistic mothers on children and the categories children are divided into.
A few more websites that are helpful starting points which offer resources via information, forums, stories, guidance, and tools to help people learn how to deal with a narcissistic mother are:
- Sons of Narcissistic Mothers: a site dedicated to sons of narcissistic mothers.
- Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers: understanding and healing for daughters of narcissistic mothers.
- Motherrr!: Rebuilding relationships… one mother-daughter at a time.
Please keep in mind that professionals offer services; their free information is a way to promote and sell their services and/or books. However, that does not mean the information is incorrect. These are not the only websites that deal with this topic and I encourage people to continue researching until they feel for themselves that they have found what it is they are looking for that will help them best. As I stated already, think for yourself; apply what you know for yourself because everyone’s situation is different.
I do not make any money by recommending the information from these professionals. If you would like to thank me for my writing services by way of a donation, a private e-mail, or hire me to write for you, please do so here. This article is written in the hopes of helping others understand the gravity and underlying impact of narcissistic mothers so that they may help themselves and/or help people in their own lives that may be (unknowingly) living in such a FUBAR situation. Thank you.
Eve Penman is a former court reporter, a Jill with mad skills, and a renegade with a cause. Learn more about her by visiting her blog.