Mother’s day is fast approaching. It is an ambivalent time of year for me. Since becoming a mother myself a little over three years ago I have come to realise that my own mother is in fact a narcissist. She has been a narcissistic parent for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I began to recognise the nature of her behaviour, its inherent cruelty and the damaging extent and impact that it has had on me as a person.
I moved out of home and interstate when I was seventeen years of age under the guise of going to university – but the choice of an educational institution far away was a means of grasping some room to breathe. Some space to be myself, to separate myself from her so that at least to me I was no longer an extension of herself – it was hard. As long as there is contact between us her claws are in me. My mother is the queen of sulking, guilt, emotional blackmail and passive aggression. She will always get her way.
Following the birth of my first child a very unwanted, but nonetheless essential, emergency c-section my mother’s sulking and criticism began the moment she entered my hospital room. It was awful. Not the uplifting celebration of the birth of my son that I had imagined, dreamed of and longed for so dearly. Instead she sulked and engaged her systems of passive aggression as my partner and I attempted our journey as parents on our own path – rather than hers. This marks the beginning of my awakening. No apology for her behaviour was ever offered – in its place was her at length discussion about the emotional turmoil and hardships of becoming a grandparent. She turned to me to support her through her journey at a time when I really needed a mother of my own.
I have no photos of myself as baby or a child as they belong to her. Apparently she doesn’t have the time to scan them or make some copies. Interestingly however she has had time to scan photos of herself as a baby and email them pointing out the physical resembles between herself and my daughter. Resemblances that don’t exist – my daughter is very much her father’s baby.
There is no reason or time (I am almost a middle aged woman now) to write about all the aspects of my relationship with my mother that have hurt me. The list is too long, it goes back too far and really it serves no greater good. But I do grieve. I am still hurt. And I am still angry.
I am terrified too. Terrified that I will become her. That I will hurt my children too. As time goes on I know that I won’t, that I couldn’t. The silver lining is that she has shown me exactly the mother I don’t want to be.
I am healing. It will take me some time. I limit my contact to her now. It is my only means of defence. At this time of year I feel overwhelmed and confused. I feel guilty too. Guilty because that is how I have been conditioned to feel all my life. Throughout society, on television, in advertising, on blogs, people celebrate their wonderful mothers. I feel guilty and ashamed that I don’t – rather here I am expounding to the world that my mother is indeed a narcissist.
I have however sent her a gift for mother’s day. I suppose mostly because I don’t want her to be complaining to anyone who will listen to her about what a terrible daughter I am. I guess too because I want to make something for my mother – the kind and caring mythical mother that I long for so much – and if I send it then maybe it will happen.
It is in the post now. I think I have made a mistake.