Dealing with a narcissistic mother during the holiday or birthday or any family event is never a good time.
It’s always difficult and stressful.
I didn’t understand all this cheer and wonderful time of the year crap or why people would continue to do this to themselves year after year with no end in sight.
The holidays were just more work and no thanks for it.
In a narcissistic family, you’re always under attack, and you never know what you’re going to get.
You do know you’re going to get it either way, so you go in ready to dodge the bullets flying everywhere.
The problem with holidays and special occasions is they keep you on your toes trying to meet these obligations and prove your love.
If you fail to live up to these manufactured expectations, then you’re considered less than, and not as good as other people.
As an example, I buy all my own presents from my husband, it easier, and I always get what I want.
My mother was horrified and made the biggest deal out of it.
I think my husband is permanently damaged because she made it sound like he must not really love me.
He does buy me things, and I’m well taken care of.
This was her very covert way of trying to cause problems in my marriage.
When my mother intervenes, it’s like she always puts me in a position where I have to lie instead of just being myself.
Dealing with a narcissistic mother isn’t about changing her behavior.
It takes stone-cold will power to put up with their crap when you know what you’re up against.
The holidays are perfect ammunition, and you’re basically a sitting duck.
Even as an adult, she expects unrealistic demands on a daily bases, and if she’s a crazed perfectionist, nothing is ever good enough.
These happy holidays are not happy for the child.
There’re seven paid holidays, and in my family, you were required to show up for every single one:
- New Year’s Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Memorial Day
You’re obligated to be at each and every one of these without fail.
Not to mention the dreaded mother’s day or her birthday.
If you have siblings, someone’s always keeping score because we’re all starving for attention, and only the best card or the best gift will get praise.
Try backing out of one of the occasions, and you will never live it down.
When you’re dealing with a narcissistic mother, you have to be prepared for any and all forms of manipulation that are meant to make you feel like you’re the worst daughter in the universe.
I would come away from these events like I was hit by a bus, but missing one was even worse.
There’s no forgiveness from her, and your mistakes are always used against you for as long as she can remember them.
There was no way out, and the crazy didn’t stop, no matter what I did.
- The Never-Ending Guilt Trip– If you miss an occasion, it will be held against you for as long as they can remember it.
- The Outright Temper Tantrums– “I do all of this for you, and now you’re not even going to be here for me.”
- The Alienation– “Oh, well, we didn’t think you were going to be here this year since you weren’t last year, so we didn’t plan for you.”
- The Accidental Exclusion– Repeatedly failing to give a time or date, and when you ask, they throw a huge fit about how you were told and that this had been planned for months. When, in fact, it was never mentioned to you even once.
- The Cancelation Threat– “I can’t possibly do this on my own, so we’ll cancel our celebrations.” The idea is to punish not just you but to punish the entire family who will then also blame you for “ruining everything.”
The list goes on, but I think you get my point.
Dealing with a narcissistic mother turns into you against the entire family.
Before you know what’s happening they are all on her side and closed off. It’s already too late to defend yourself.
You don’t stand a chance.
It’s so unfair.
If you’re like me, then you’ve dealt with this twisted injustice your whole life.
It never crossed my mind she was going behind my back and saying awful things.
What kind of a mother does that?
I think she convinced my siblings that I’m crazy.
As I became more aware of what was actually happening, I would watch as my mother would systematically manipulate and destroy each person in the room.
This is a known tactic of a narcissist, to divide and conquer.
When everyone is too busy reeling from being attacked, no one can see what’s happening to everyone else.
We’re all confined to our corners and isolated from each other.
There is no communication between siblings because you don’t have a relationship.
It’s incredible how, in my case, three children can grow up in the same household and have absolutely no relationship with each other.
We weren’t allowed.
I wasn’t allowed to have a relationship with my father, either. She knew full well that if he knew how she treated me, he would’ve turned on her.
The problem with being narcissistically abused is the isolation. I thought she was only doing it to me, but in reality, she was manipulating everyone.
Every new holiday season, you have high hopes of family and fun.
Sure, she wants you to fake it and stop acting like you’ve been abused after you’ve been attacked, but deep down, she doesn’t want you to actually be happy, oh no.
Unfortunately, a narcissistic person has no interest in real happiness, but they like to appear happy to the outside world.
They are so miserable inside they can’t stand to see anyone feeling better than them, so they work overtime trying to bring each family member down to their level.
For a “normal person,” this is a monumental task, the effort, and the drive to destroy another human being is no small feat.
It takes massive amounts of energy.
There wasn’t a holiday that went by; my mother didn’t throw some embarrassing temper tantrum in front of everyone.
After I married, I caught her screaming demands at my husband and my sister’s husband.
She also has her own new husband, so I don’t know why she felt the need to go after my husband, whom she barely knew.
He was a guest.
We drove four hours one way for these visits, and when she attacked my husband, it was the beginning of the end for me.
My mother didn’t just cross a line; she bulldozes it on a regular basis.
Dealing with a narcissistic mother when you don’t have a choice:
If you don’t have a choice and you have to participate, here are few ways to stay out of the line of fire:
- Be agreeable. Agree with everything, no matter what it is or how ridiculous it seems.
- Never show your cards because everything you think and feel is wrong, and you’ll be publicly humiliated in front of everyone if she gets the chance.
- Give compliments as often as possible. When I give her a compliment, she says nothing and completely leaves me alone. If someone throws a dig at you and you return with a compliment, it confuses them. Then if any one’s around, she can’t be a jerk without making herself look bad.
- People love two things: talking about themselves and being told they are right. Don’t take the bait when she insults you, she’s trying to get a reaction out of you, and when you react, you give her what she wants. Try to say something funny or give another compliment. A good phrase that always gets you off the hook is, “you might be right.”
- Use one-word responses like interesting or okay. Do not elaborate or try to defend yourself; the idea is to create the illusion she has the upper hand. Become uninteresting like a cold grey rock (Grey Rock Method).
- Limit your time. I always noticed how my siblings seemed to pop in and pop out when I was expected to do all the cooking and clean up by myself. You’ll have to become too busy and think up an excuse ahead of time. This is self-care, self-love, and self-preservation. She’s the one who’s toxic, and that’s not on you. You’re trying to get that off of you.
- If she starts yelling at you over the phone stop talking, don’t say anything, or make any sounds like “hmm” or “huh”. Respond when spoken to but don’t give her any subconscious feedback to encourage her. Most people notice somethings up and it throws them off, but this might enrage her if it’s totally out of character for you.
There is nothing you can do to change her behavior.
These suggestions will only help buffer the attacks.
None of these suggestions will work for long, but they can help get you through the day if you have no other choice.
Dr. Ramani talks about dealing with a narcissistic mother.
She is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in narcissism, check out more of her videos on YouTube.
It’s the best information on narcissism I’ve seen.
When you have this kind of mother, the social norms and rules don’t apply to you.
You have to stop listening to what people with a loving mother say.
Dealing with a narcissistic mother is not the same.
They’re not qualified to pass judgment, and they will never be able to comprehend life without a loving mother.
Just as you will never be able to comprehend life with a loving mother.
Once you’ve stopped listening to people who can’t understand, the second year of holidays will be a whole new experience for you.
Can you even imagine enjoying the holidays?
I stopped trying to meet everyone’s expectations and started doing what I wanted on the holidays.
I’m so grateful I was able to create new memories of real and good times.
I never once enjoyed a single holiday or vacation with my family.
After going no contact, and taking the time to heal, by the second year, I was free.
Free to do whatever I wanted, maybe I’ll celebrate, and maybe I won’t.
It’s tough trying to recover from this and straighten it out on your own.
To speed up my healing process, I got into life coaching, and it changed everything for me.
I took it a step further and became a life coach so I could learn how to help other people like me.
Coaching actually works, and it works quickly when you use a specially trained coach. Check out my page here to learn more about it.
When you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse, sometimes you need help from a licensed psychologist. If you have more severe symptoms like debilitating depression, PTSD, or C-PTSD, you can connect with a professional therapist online.
Try Online-Therapy (20% off affiliate link).
You don’t have to be face-to-face or meet them in an office.
They’re available and on-call for you Monday-Friday, so there’s no waiting three weeks for an appointment.
It’s affordable, and you pay much less than seeing a therapist in person.
Post like this and narcissistic support groups are no substitute for therapy.