‘Becoming The Fire’ by Claire Roberts

Claire Roberts Picture

“Some women fear the fire. Some women simply become it.”
R.H. Sin

(Dear Mom, If you ever read this, it is not me.)

After years of feeling inadequate, guilty, selfish, ugly, untalented, overlooked, and undistinguished, I gave in. Not into believing the lies, but in fully dedicating myself to defying those lies. I don’t remember when it started, I only know it has never ended. If I were to tell you that I had a narcissistic mother, you would never believe me, I didn’t even believe it at first, myself. She is running everyone’s lives, including mine, for a time. She is front and center of every Church duty, civic engagement. She is the “hostess with the mostess.” Her garden: sublime, her home: immaculate, her friends: near and dear and many look up to her respect her—except for me.

It’s hard to recognize a monster when that’s all you’ve ever known. It’s difficult to disassociate from pain that you’ve always believed to be true care and nurture. Psychology Today’s blog describes it accordingly, “Narcissistic mothers may tend to their daughter’s physical needs, but leave her {the daughter} emotionally bereft. The daughter doesn’t realize what’s missing, but longs for warmth and understanding from her mother that she may experience with friends or relatives or witness in other mother-daughter relationships” (Psychology Today Blog, Feb 19, 2018).

I know what she really is, and it’s taken upwards for three long decades for me to pinpoint the real problem. After years of trying to “reconcile” which basically means I was trying to repair the relationship by taking all the blame and responsibility, I still found I was very depressed, very angry, and mostly hurt by the one person in life for whom you should never have these types of feelings.

I hate people who always tell “their version” without so much as a glance or a concession to the other side. She is a good person. She has gone through much in life. I still respect her and honor her. But as a parent, as a mother, she should have and could have done better by me.

Focusing on moving forward rather than dwelling in the past, I’m trying to pinpoint specific lessons I’d like to pass down to my own daughter.

1) You are always beautiful to me;
2) You can always come to me and I will love you unconditionally;
3) There are few, if ever, things that are more important or come before my care and nurture of you;
4) On your darkest day, please consider me someone who is your best friend;
5) I will never force a confidence, if you confide in me, I will take it to the grave.

These are things I wish my own mom had done for me. To give me a better base of self-worth, and to also allow myself the dignity of enjoying my own hard won success, rather than having her jump-in to take credit.

Unfortunately, now that I know that there is a name for this sort of behavior, our relationship can’t possibly be the same again.

Most research on narcissists indicates they are almost incapable of change—one of the biggest reasons why it is difficult to associate and relate with them. Another factor includes the failure to empathize on the part of the narcissist. So as long as they are not changing, and we know their hallmark qualities, let’s explore how we can better interact with them as adult children.

Narcissists respond to respect and power. They do not care for people who are empathetic, caring, and willing.  “Parents with NPD are myopic. The world revolves around them. They control and manipulate their children’s needs, feelings, and choices when they can, and take it as a personal affront deserving punishment when they can’t” (Psychology Today Blog, Feb 19, 2018).

If you want to give a narcissist a wakeup call, try telling them “no” and offer no explanation. Or better yet, just don’t even tell them that you’re not coming to said meeting or family function. This will very surely get their attention.

Once a very definite line or boundary is set, it’s so much easier to be just as fake to them as they are to you. Is easy to be fake, phony, and at the very best, civil. Now you have just shown that you have:

1) power by not responding or offering explanations;
2) they will now have to respect you because you have asserted your power against them. In essence, fight fire with fire.  Or better yet, become it.

I did this with my own mom. I was supposed to be somewhere at a certain time and place. I am usually very acquiescent and try my best to be on her good side. Heaven knows after all these years, that doesn’t work! But just try not coming, no text, no phone call, blatantly showing you don’t care about her, her ideas, her projects, etc.

It sucked, it was really hard at first to set a boundary and I wasn’t even sure I had made things better… but then guess who is calling me every so often to make sure I’m okay? Guess who is more than happy to help me out from time to time? Guess who would come at the drop of a hat if I wanted her? Guess who is responding to my new found power? The narcissist mom has just met her match. I am happier, she hasn’t fundamentally changed, but I have.

The best news I had received in doing this research is that I am not alone, there is an identifiable problem, and there are so many resources to help guide children of narcissistic parents.

The thing about being the child of a narcissistic mother is that it often contributes to something known in Shamanic terminology as soul loss. Soul loss is the inability to contact or experience our souls due to the unresolved wounds, traumas and fears we’ve accumulated over the years. The first step in healing the soul loss is to be willing to explore what you went through as a child. This process of exploring the narcissistic actions of your parent isn’t to condemn them or to victimize yourself. Instead, this process is done to help you understand the root cause of any pain you’re still experiencing, to learn how to release it, and move on with your life (Mateo Sol- 19 signs You Were Raised By A Narcissistic Mother or Father).

In the spirit of not condemning my mother and not victimizing myself, I am starting the journey to recover my lost soul. I offer good wishes and congratulations to those out there who are doing the same.

Claire Roberts Signature

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