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Get Out of The Mirror: Maternal Narcissism

BY JEN MAKIN CMHC


INNER THOUGHTS


If I were prettier.

I wish I was more like my friends, my mom thinks the world of them.

I can’t tell my mom this, she will kill me.

Why is she upset again? What did I say?

She’s in her room again. I better leave her alone.

Why can’t I feel loved?

What will her friends say if they found out?


MIRRORING


Narcissistic mirroring means that the mother holds up a mirror to her daughter and has a wish that the daughter reflect her image; the mother’s image. When the daughter attempts to be her authentic self, and goes outside of the mirror to think for herself, she shames you until you get back into the mirror.


If you are tall, she may want to play sports. But you prefer art. She calls you a waste of talent and height.

Let’s say you prefer art, she may want you to not be lazy and be more athletic.

If you explore a new part of yourself, she makes you feel bad about yourself, calling you “dramatic”

At times, you don’t like to go to extended family. Mom says, “Get in the car.”


Thinking for yourself is the enemy. Meeting mom’s needs and orbiting around her is how you stay emotionally safe. If you attempt to speak up and either hold your mom accountable for her behavior, she twists it around back on you, using DARVO, or shames you for attempting to think for youself.


DARVO


This term was coined by someone who is not me.


It stands for:


D: defensiveness

A: attacking

R: reversing

V: victim

O: offender

With this, your mother, when confronted, becomes defensive, attacks you for confronting her and then reverses things, becoming the victim and you the offender.


DARVO IN ACTION


You call your mom on the phone.


Mom: Hello.

You: Hi mom. There is something I want to talk to you about.

Mom: (silence)

You: Mom?

Mom: Yes.

You: You good to talk about something right now?

Mom: Sure. What’s up?

You: The other night when you blamed me when my daughter fell in the pond in your backyard, it really hurt my feelings.

Mom: What do you mean?

You: You asked me right away why I hadn’t been watching her.

Mom: She could have really been injured. Sorry for caring. Next time I won’t say anything.

You: Mom, I am not saying that I don’t want to hear from you it just hurt that you blamed me for falling into the pond. It made me feel like you think I’m a bad mom.

Mom: I didn’t call you a bad mom. Why would you even say that? You are making my head hurt.

You: I don’t mean to make your head hurt.

Mom: (Silence)

You: OK mom, I will let you go.

Mom: Good-bye dear.


Reflecting on this from the mom’s perspective, she took no accountability for her conduct toward her daughter when her granddaughter fell into the pool. Her daughter (you) attempts to call her mom to discuss her experience and the mom turns it around on the daughter, becoming the victim herself. She is walking on eggshells, now the victim feeling that she is being accused of calling her daughter a bad mom. Zero accountability. Zilch insight.

From the daughter's perspective, it's a hopeless plight. She wants more than anything to feel connected to her mom. She wants to be able to feel safe to express her inner most feelings and have them land safely. This didn't seem to be that big of a deal. Her daughter fell in the pond and she felt blamed and shamed. Her mother becomes defensive and goes into her natural victim state.


The only want to protect yourself from this is to:


Stay out of shame

Know reality

Realize that is incapable of accountability.


SHAME

In this scenario, the mom, “I didn’t call you a bad mom..” attempting to shirk responsibility and twist it back to make her daughter feel responsible for her feelings. Her daughter never said that she called her a bad mom. The mom is drawing attention from her daughter attempting to appropriately hold her accountable. Instead, the mom becomes the victim, accusing the daughter of calling her a bad mom.


There is another article on shame that will explain this concept in further detail.


SHATTERING THE MIRROR


STEP 1:


The first step in this process is to recognize the mirror. If you tune into your body, you can feel when you’re in the mirror. You may begin to perform more, get buzzy in your head or shut down. Getting in tune with your body is a very important first step. Recognizing when you go into the mirror is the next step. Sometimes it takes trusted loved ones to help you know when you are going in and out. They learn to recognize it through your behavior or notice when you perform or disassociate.


STEP 2:


When you notice the mirror, have a strategy to pull yourself out. It may be a grounding technique, setting a firm boundary or walking away for a bit. Don’t allow yourself to fully go into it and take space until you feel like your mind is your own. With mirroring, it’s mind snatching. You no longer think for yourself and your body has an override. The only way to undo this is to reboot your computer. Breathe deeply, get that oxygen flowing, and clear your mind until it’s yours again.


STEP 3:


Work hard to stay out of it. Live life intentionally so that you think for yourself and don’t allow yourself to people please, especially your mother. I once heard that Post Malone got tattoos all over his face to rebel against his mother. I can’t remember where I heard this, and I could be wrong, but this would be a good example of someone trying to live an authentic life. Live your truth, Post, but not everyone has to literally tattoo their face. But whatever you fancy.


DAUGHTER MOTHER BOND

The most natural bond throughout any young girl’s life is with her mother. If that is disconnected, not intact and their is no authentic connection, it is a loss. A grief. Grieving is a very, very important part of this process. Sometimes our mind plays tricks on us, like any narcissistic relationship. We want to give our mom’s the benefit of the doubt and believe that she didn’t mean how she acted. We fail to realize that her apologizing is actually about her comforting herself, not us.


It is a massive trauma to have this realization. Heart breaking. One technique that helps with the grieving process is to begin to call your mom by her first name, at least in your head. It cuts that maternal bond expectation and allows you to see her more clearly, allowing you to have healthy boundaries without guilt.


I heard of one time when a friend was going through a horrific divorce. Her estranged husband was doing ever manner of evil to her and my heart ached for her. She texted me one day and let me know that she is no longer welcome at her mother’s home because her mother cannot stand her crying. I was lost for words as it wasn’t the best time to begin to educate about maternal narcissism, most likely the core reason that she invited her estranged husband into her sacred space in the first place.


SACRED RESPONSIBILITY

Being a mother is a sacred responsibility. We can be grateful for our mothers. They brought us into this world and gave us life. They were our first connection to the world around us. When there is a betrayal in this bond, it can be life altering. We can begin a cycle of engaging in unhealthy, toxic relationships and allowing ourselves to be used, abused and harmed, confusing this connection with love. In fact it is narcissistic supply.


The only way to break this chain is to begin to see ourselves as sacred and to begin to see ourselves the way that Diety does with unconditional divine worth. If we skip this step, the cycle will continue with our daughters. We will pick on ourselves in pictures, refusing to let others take pictures of us. We will hold our daughters back, feeling insecure of being left behind, a narcissist’s core fear. If they sense this, they fill it with some distraction.


In some situations, the mother-daughter relationship is strained and the mother takes on new relationships that mimic a mother-daughter bond. It is hard not to be jealous or bewildered when the new relationship tells you how much your mother has done for her life. How well she listens, counsels with her and shows up. It is terrifying to think that you may be seeing your mom unclearly. Take pause, you do. She simply replaced you to avoid growth and feeling any feelings of guilt for her behavior. She found new supply.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT


As a child, it is not your responsibility to create the mother-daughter bond. It is your mothers. It may feel twisty turvy if at times she blames you for not having this bond.


Maybe your were a difficult child, fighting for your voice to be heard from a young age.


Maybe you snuck out because you struggled to get your needs met in a healthy way and sought connection with deviant peers because they saw you as you were, without strings.


Maybe, just maybe, you attempted to connect with your Dad in an effort to have a healthy connection to at least one parent. This was received venomously from your mother as she found you as a threat. It may not be overtly said, but covertly.


“Why would you want to spend time in the garage with Dad? How in the world could you ever understand all of those wrenches?”


“You would really invite her to a weekend to see a game that you have never taken me to? If that’s what you want to do dear, it just seems a little off to me.”


Don’t allow your brain to be snatched. Not ever. Recognize when it’s happening and have a strategy. And put boundaries in place. Take space, breathe and don’t allow yourself to gaslight your inner child. Stay strong and stand up for her.


Find your voice and never lose it.



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