[There are two basic types of narcissistic mothers, the ignoring type and the engulfing type. These may—and often do—overlap but most NMs have a basic style and will be primarily one or the other. Some of the following points may not apply to your NM simply because they describe an engulfing characteristic when your NM is an ignoring type—or vice versa. But our mothers are not the only narcissists we will encounter in our lives. In fact, being raised by a narcissistic parent actually sets us up to be prey for more of the self-centred emotional vampires as we go out into the world, from girlfriends who are anything but friends to lovers who love themselves best to husbands who are the mirror image of dear old mom. So, whether something looks like it applies to your NM or not, read and consider it carefully—it may give you the awareness necessary to avoid the predator lurking around the next bend. As ever, my comments are shown in violet. -V]
It's about secret things. The Destructive Narcissistic Parent creates a child that only exists to be an extension of her self. It's about body language. It's about disapproving glances. It's about vocal tone. It's very intimate. And it's very powerful. It's part of who the child is. ~ Chris
15. She's infantile and petty.
“The narcissist remains stuck at the infantile level, displaying many of the characteristics of the omnipotent and invulnerable child. (Kohut, 1977).” This is the way of the narcissist, although individual narcissists will often find their own unique ways to demonstrate their immaturity. They are classic cases of arrested emotional development, never growing beyond the young child’s belief in his entitlement and thirst for revenge against those who thwart him.
Narcissistic mothers are often simply childish. If you refuse to let her manipulate you into doing something, she will cry that you don't love her because if you loved her you would do as she wanted.
Or, if she is a malignant NM, she will not cry, she will get mad because how dare you deny her anything she wants? She will perceive you as defiant and insubordinate and insolent, even if you are 30 years old and have lived on your own for more than a decade. And, if she is angry enough, she may even decide to do something for revenge—she believes that if you don’t give her that which she believes she is entitled to, she is thereafter entitled to vengeance upon your person…and whatever it was she wanted but you denied her, as well.
If you hurt her feelings she will aggressively whine to you that you'll be sorry when she's dead that you didn't treat her better. These babyish complaints and responses may sound laughable, but the narcissist is dead serious about them.
Or you’ll be sorry when she’s gone or you’ll be sorry when she changes her will or you’ll be sorry when…the theme here is that if you aren’t treating her with kid gloves, something will happen to cause you to regret not treating her like the precious little princess that she believes she is. And that something could be an act of nature (or your overdeveloped sense of responsibility) or it could be the result of her vengeance upon you.
How do you hurt a narcissist’s feelings? Can you really? Or can you really only provoke them, “hurt feelings” being one of the masks they wear to try to convince you to do their bidding, to make you feel sorry for them, to elicit NSupply? I am not convinced that a narcissist’s feelings can be hurt, they keep the vulnerable parts of themselves so well armoured and deeply buried that striking that mark would have to occur only by mere happenstance.
But while whether or not their feelings are truly hurt may be an open question, the certainty of them being provoked by your refusal to give up the goods is not. A narcissist will be peeved anytime she is thwarted, even if it was done for legitimate reasons. And she will play on your insecurities by manipulatively wailing “if you loved me you would…” just like a teen-aged boy trying to get into his girlfriend’s panties…
When you were a child, if you ask her to stop some bad behavior, she would justify it by pointing out something that you did that she feels is comparable, as though the childish behavior of a child is justification for the childish behavior of an adult.
I find it inconceivable that a DoNM child might ask the NM to stop some kind of behaviour, but I suppose with the non-malignant type, it is possible. Asking my NM to stop anything would have resulted in an immediate onslaught of Nrage, starting with accusations of insolence and something like “Just who the hell do you think you are, telling me what to do?”
But the childish “tit for tat” mentality exists in malignant Ns as well. I can remember hearing “well, two can play at that game, missy—suppose I “forget” to buy things for your lunches next week like you “forgot” to hang out the wet laundry?” It is as if a child expressing the natural qualities of childhood, chiefly immaturity, somehow gives the NM permission to behave in the same manner, which is ludicrous.
“Getting even” is a large part of her dealings with you. Anytime you fail to give her the deference, attention or service she feels she deserves, or you thwart her wishes, she has to show you.
If I had to describe my NM in one word, “spiteful” would have to be one of the words I would strong consider. She lived to “show” the other person, no matter how petty the perceived insult. And since I was a captive participant in her little game show, I was “shown” more times than I could count.
It might have been easier to deal with if I had warning…you know, like, “If you leave your bike in the driveway again, I am going to sell it,” or some such thing. I always warned my kids about consequences of their actions (or inactions) and at one point my exceedingly stubborn youngest child had almost no toys or books in his room due to them being taken away as a consequence…but he always knew in advance what item(s) were in jeopardy and what he had to do to keep me from temporarily confiscating them. Not so with NM.
When I was about 7, we had a Collie. They are beautiful, loving animals but their coats are a misery to brush out. I had Collies again as an adult, and I used to take them to a grooming parlour because my arms were simply not strong enough to shed out those heavy coats. But at age 7, I was tasked with brushing out the dog and it was literally impossible for me to do so. NM’s solution to the problem was to punish me for not brushing Duke’s coat by giving him away. “You won’t take care of him so I’m getting rid of him.” This was to punish me for my defiance (not brushing out his coat was defying her orders). This was to show me that she was in command, not me.
She lived for moments of vengeance. When none presented themselves, she created them. She spent years blackening my name to the FOO (Family of Origin) so that by the time she decided to avenge herself on my defiance with regard to keeping a baby she wanted me to abort or adopt out, the whole family rallied behind her, not me. When she took a dislike to one our neighbours, she mounted a campaign against her that ultimately caused the woman to move and I can remember NM muttering “I’ll show her, the old bitch,” or some such noise.
When I was very young, she behaved herself in such a way that she became the scourge of our small town. All of the respectable ladies would avoid her and she was very effectively ostracized. Rather than learn her lesson and begin to behave respectably, however, we moved to Southern California whereupon she embarked upon a campaign to “show those old biddies” that she was even better than they were. We lived in a barely furnished low-income fourplex and she spent every penny she could scrape up making fashionable new clothes for the whole family and hiding them under the bed in suitcases. When the suitcases were full, she badgered my father into buying a new car (a late model used car was all he could qualify for, though) and then she packed us all up and we went back to Oregon on a “vacation” to show off our newfound affluence to the townspeople who predicted she would amount to nothing. That our affluence was a false as her bottle blonde hair, that the truth was that we lived a hand-to-mouth existence in Southern California she would never let on…she never did learn the lesson their shunning was intended to convey. She was a narcissist and all that mattered to her was the image she could convey and the vengeance she believed it wreaked on the people who had ostracised her. In her mind, they thought they were better than she was so she was going to show them that she was better than they were with her fake affluence and sham sophistication.
Narcissists do not live in the reality we do. They create their own and when they bump their noses against a reality that will not yield to their fantasy world, they cry “foul!” and believe themselves entitled to avenge their wounded sensibilities. They are the most immature and selfish people you will ever have the misfortune to meet and the wise among us avoid them like the plague.
Next: Part 16. She's aggressive and shameless..