Abusive Mother

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I am coming to this page because I have nowhere else to turn. My whole life my mother has been very impatient, belittling, and narcissistic. As a child, I thought her actions were normal but the older I got, the more aware I became of her behavior and how it really affected me as a person. My mom tells me that she loves me but doesn’t like me, she makes me feel guilty for medical bills after I get sick, and she can be physically abusive sometimes as well. She will start an argument, I’ll stand up for myself, then she will proceed to tell me that I’m “just weird” and my reactions to situations are “just plain weird” when she knows that hurts me deeply due to bullying as a child. She is also not affectionate or loving except for rare occasions. My mother also favors my younger sister and it is very evident. She comes off as such a nice person to other people so it is difficult to express how I’m feeling to others due to disbelief. I feel trapped. She will never apologize for her actions and finds ways to blame others. Is this a cycle of abuse? I want more than anything to love her for who she is and have a relationship, but I’ve found that I’m turning to other mothers to be more of a “mom” to me because I know that she will never change. I am a young mom myself, and I’ve needed my own mom more than anything sometimes but I didn’t have that. Instead she continues to judge my parenting, make me feel guilty for having her help, and is even impatient with my daughter. This feels like a RollerCoaster. This seems to be affecting me every single day and it has destroyed my hopes for being good enough for her and has significantly affected t self esteem. I hope I can get some insight. Thank you.

A: I’m glad you have turned to this page. Growing up with a narcissistic mother put you in orbit around her emotional shortcomings. We know a fair amount about what happens in a household where this is the case.

Perhaps the best book on this is a classic known as, Drama Of The Gifted Child. This book by Alice Miller details the unique emotional intelligence developed by a child growing up with a narcissistic mother. The long and short of it is that your mother’s emotional roller coaster becomes yours, and the way out of it is to recognize that your goal is not to please her, and then to grieve the fact that you mother was not what you needed for your emotional development. Stop using her as a barometer for your own well-being.

As you stop using your mom as the barometer for your well-being you should eventually find ways to be more of yourself.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Aug 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Abusive Mother. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/08/12/abusive-mother-2/