Roosh V Forum member AnonymousBosch has often argued that men can better understand modern women by boning up on personality disorders as opposed to evolutionary psychology. Because Millennials are so damaged as a generation—their hypersensitivity to criticism, lack of social graces, and conditioned narcissism being prime examples—traditional precepts about courtship (as well as a lot of game advice) don’t apply as well as they used to.
It took reading Will I Ever Be Good Enough? for me to fully realize why.
I bought this book because I was trying to solve one of the biggest problems in my life: why I keep ending up with the same kind of women. Ever since I was a teenager, the majority of the girls I’ve been involved with have exhibited similar behavioral patterns: they have poor self-esteem, are needy and clingy, are supine to the point of absurdity, are self-sabotaging, and had histories of being involved with narcissistic men. The degree of their dysfunction varies, from girls who are more or less normal to ones who have what Sam Vaknin describes as “inverted narcissism,” but the same patterns are still there.
Not only that, the girls I’ve met ever since I began writing under my real name have been even more codependent and clingy. It’s tempting to pull an Aaron Clarey and just blame it on general societal decline, but when you keep encountering a specific brand of damaged girls, you’d have to be a fool to ignore the pattern. After comparing notes with a friend of mine who was encountering similarly dysfunctional women, I started researching the issue more thoroughly.
However, it took my stenographer Eve Penman’s guest post on narcissistic mothers before it all finally clicked. In the post, Eve details her experience dealing with her mother’s abuse, how it warped her self-image and self-esteem, and how she’s coping with it as an adult. When Eve initially offered to write the post for my site, I had an epiphany: the majority of the girls I knew (and my friend knew) all preferred their fathers to their mothers, either because they were straight-up daddies’ girls or because their mothers were openly abusive.
While I don’t want to go full Stefan Molyneux and claim that child abuse is the root of all evil, it was clear I was one puzzle piece closer to solving the mystery.
One of the primary sources Eve listed in her post was Dr. Karyl McBride’s book, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, which I snapped up almost immediately. While the book isn’t targeted at my demographic, I was hoping to better understand the kinds of women in my life, as well as reverse-engineer their minds so I could predict their future behavior.
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? is an absolute must-read not only for women who’ve had to deal with abuse from narcissistic mothers, but the men who have to deal with those women. The book lays out the mindset of women who’ve suffered from maternal abuse in such a clear-cut fashion that reading it was an intensely depressing experience. However, McBride’s book also lays out steps that these women can use to rebuild their self-images and live happy, successful lives.
And if you’re a man, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? will help you understand where these women are coming from and how to predict the ways they’ll act.
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? is separated into three parts: identifying narcissistic mothering, explaining how it ruins a woman’s life, and advice on overcoming parental-induced dysfunction. A therapist by trade, McBride was spurred to write the book after noticing that the bulk of her female patients had one thing in common: a narcissistic mother. McBride herself grew up with a narcissistic mother, but was able to overcome her origins and get her life together, lending her advice additional credibility:
A narcissistic mother sees her daughter, more than her son, as a reflection and extension of herself rather than as a separate person with her own identity. She puts pressure on her daughter to act and react to the world and her surroundings in the exact manner that Mom would, rather than in a way that feels right for the daughter. Thus, the daughter is always scrambling to find the “right” way to respond to her mother in order to win her love and approval. The daughter doesn’t realize that the behaviors that will please her mother are entirely arbitrary, determined only by her mother’s self-seeking concern. Most damaging is that a narcissistic mother never approves of her daughter simply for being herself, which the daughter desperately needs in order to grow into a confident woman.
Narcissistic mothering is a problem for girls not only because it’s a violation of the bond between parent and child, but because girls rely on their mothers to provide a model for how they should act. By treating their daughters as extensions of themselves instead of separate human beings, narcissistic mothers deny them the ability to form their own identities. Sons of narcissistic mothers also suffer different but related forms of abuse; I haven’t read any books that focus on this subject, but this site recommended by Eve Penman looks like a good place to start.
I’ve written extensively about narcissism in the past, so I don’t need to rehash the basics, but it’s worth looking into narcissistic parenting. Narcissists have children out of a desire to feed their own ego and have someone else to push around. It’s a more malignant manifestation of the phenomenon of poor black and white teenage girls choosing to get pregnant (despite knowing about and having access to birth control) because they want to have power over someone else:
Mary sadly reported, “Mom tells me I’m ugly, but then I am supposed to go out there and be drop-dead gorgeous! I was a homecoming queen candidate and Mom acted proud with her friends but punished me. There’s this crazy-making message: The real me is ugly, but I am supposed to fake it in the real world? I still don’t get it.”
Narcissistic mothers constantly work to tear down any attempts their children make to develop a unique identity. They do this by belittling their children, by demanding constant attention, by violating boundaries (one of McBride’s patients talked about how her mother would try to sleep with her boyfriends), and a variety of other tactics. Some narcissists will even fake illness or injury in order to get attention.
The daughter reacts to her mother’s manipulations by constantly trying to please her and never quite succeeding. Dealing with a narcissist is like living in the world of Kafka’s Trial, in which a man is arrested and thrown in prison for a crime that he is never told about, by an authority that he doesn’t understand and which never reveals its motivations. If you’re particularly vulnerable to a narcissist’s predations, entering their reality is like being trapped in a house of mirrors, and there’s no one more vulnerable than children:
Oftentimes when Mother is narcissistic, she may be able to do some of the earlier nurturing because she has control of the infant and small child and can mold the child to her wishes. But as the child grows older and develops a mind of her own, the mother loses control and no longer has the same kind of power. This causes the mother to begin her demeaning, critical behavior with the child, in hopes of regaining that control, which is crazy-making for the daughter. Even if she learned a modicum of trust as an infant, she begins to unlearn it as she grows older. As she makes natural, reasonable demands on her mother, who is unable to meet them, the mother becomes resentful and threatened, and projects her inadequacies onto the daughter. She begins to focus on the daughter’s failings, rather than on her own limited ability to parent effectively.
What kind of woman does maternal narcissism create? That’s where things get really interesting.
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? lays out two extremes that the daughters of narcissistic mothers gravitate towards: the High-Achieving Daughter and the Self-Sabotaging Daughter. The High-Achieving Daughter overcompensates for her inner pain by throwing herself into her career or work, obsessing over external validation. The Self-Sabotaging Daughter is the exact opposite, constantly screwing up her life through self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse:
While it is common to find the high achievers living in nice homes and working in well-paid careers or professions, it is just as common to find the self-saboteurs living in an aunt’s basement, in prison, on welfare, and collecting unemployment checks. When children are not allowed to be dependent on their mothers, they search for substitute caretakers as they get older. They attempt to get friends, relatives, lovers, partners, even society to take care of them so that they can finally feel cared for and secure. This may be a way to fool themselves into believing that because they are being cared for, they are finally being loved or cared about. Yet they never really feel cared about.
Reading this was like a punch to the gut. If you’re in a relationship with a Self-Sabotaging Daughter, your life will be constant misery. They instigate constant drama, they abuse drugs and alcohol, they threaten and attempt suicide; they do everything in their power to infect you with their unhappiness. And as McBride discusses in her chapter on the kinds of men that daughters of narcissistic mothers end up, they gravitate towards those who will abuse them the same way their moms did:
Many times the adult daughter will choose a partner who can’t meet even reasonable emotional needs because she unconsciously wants someone who cannot be emotionally intimate or vulnerable. This is what is familiar to her and what she feels is safe and predictable. Until she enters recovery, she is not especially in touch with her own feelings and therefore needs to partner with someone who is not “into” the feelings realm either.
The narcissist and the codependent form a feedback loop of pain. Narcissists seek out prey to provide them with narcissistic supply; codependents offer themselves as prey. If you don’t treat a codependent in the predatory fashion that she expects, she’ll drive you to abuse her through her antics (much in the same way that BPD women will push their boyfriends/husbands to batter them) and reject you if you don’t conform.
I realized that a big reason why these types of girls are attracted to me is because I give off narcissist vibes. However, I’m not a narcissist; I’m egomaniacal, though it’s easy to confuse the two. Because I’m incapable/unwilling to give these women the emotional roller coaster they expect, they eventually get bored and try to detonate the relationship. This is not to claim that I’m some kind of angel; I’ve done horrible things to women in the past, some of them unforgivable.
But at the end of the day, the only thing that can satisfy a codependent is a narcissist.
Can the daughters of narcissistic mothers be healed? Will I Ever Be Good Enough? says yes, but McBride also stresses that healing will only begin when the women themselves want it. As I learned a long time ago, trying to get people to mend their ways on your own never works; they have to want to change of their own volition. Trying to save women who don’t want to save themselves will always be a losing proposition.
There’s no point in helping people who insist on being self-destructive.
Overall, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers is one of the most eye-opening books I’ve read all year. If you’re a woman suffering from maternal abuse, you need to read it, because no other psychology book will so thoroughly explain your plight and how to undo it. If you’re a man who is close to a woman who’s suffering from maternal abuse, you need to read it, because it will give you a roadmap to her mind.
Narcissism is one of the greatest maladies of our time. We need to fight it in any way we can.
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