Fifteen months ago, in my forties, I finally went “No Contact” from my abusive mother. I tell stories on my blog about family, spirituality and healing, so naturally I blogged about this.
People close to my abusive mother and those who disapprove of me airing dirty laundry leave comments such as "Get over it," and "Move on."
Readers struggling in the death grip of a narcissistic mother leave another sort of comment entirely:
"Reading your blog lit a light bulb about a really toxic relationship."
"I can relate to it all ... Especially the wobbly, motherless feeling when I leave her presence."
"Gaslighting! I didn't know there was an actual name for what she does to me. I thought I was insane, overly paranoid, looking for issues where they don't exist ... oh god, Thank you. THANK YOU."
"Thank you so much for this. I have been struggling through this and feeling very guilty. I needed this like you would not believe."
Last month, a stranger who read my story wrote to me of her struggle to escape the her narcissistic mother. This young woman, Kate, went as far as moving to another country. Kate wrote about how her mother manipulates her grandparents, making it difficult to have a relationship with them.
Kate inspired me to write a three-part series for the daughters of narcissistic mothers. In Part I of "On Leaving Your Mother," I will issue a paraphrase of my response to Kate.
In Part 3, I will discuss the fallout — the repercussions and flying monkeys — you can expect once you make a decision to put your own healing before your narcissistic mother’s insatiable desire to diminish you.
Letter to the Daughter of a Narcissist
The first Thanksgiving after going "no contact" with my mother, after our guests had left and and the kitchen was put back in order, and the leftovers stashed in the fridge, my husband and I made our way to the porch, lit a bonfire and relaxed. Simple.
But in 20 years of marriage, it was the first time we had ever relaxed after a holiday. Our contentment was the direct result of my mother having been absent, prevented from sowing seeds of discord, anxiety and self-doubt. It was the first holiday during which the convening hours were not spent recovering from an emotional hangover.
Peace and tranquility should not feel like guilty pleasures.
Forgive your grandparents for defending your mother. If their daughter has alienated you, she has likely made a mess of other areas of her life. They are hurting for her. For your own peace, ask your grandparents not to discuss your mother with you. That's triangulation, and unhealthy.
Sending emissaries to persuade you of your bad behavior is the tool narcissists use to manipulate you from afar.
You will be admonished by well-meaning people. My answer to those who don't understand how I could sever ties with my mother is this: the need for a mother's love is primal. For a person to forego that relationship, to end contact with her mother, indicates something was terribly amiss.
I know a few people, men and women, who have left their abusive mothers for their own survival. It is a last resort, an act of self-preservation.
No one walks away from her mother for trifling reasons.
All of my motherless friends, whatever their ages, myself included, have a vacancy where the love of a mother should be. Please find someone to help walk you through this. My decision took years of counseling (ten) and spiritual direction (six). Don't try to do it alone.
When people tell you “Get over it,” or “Move on,” remind yourself that recovering from childhood abuse by a narcissistic mother is a lifelong process of healing.
It is the apex of self-care to remove yourself from the presence of a person actively opposed to your happiness. And it is the path to wholeness.
Be brave and be well,
Edited by Jody Smith