If you grew up with a narcissist mother, then you already know that the effects they have on their children as they grow up are profound and life-altering. The truth is that living with a narcissist can be difficult for anyone, but growing up in the care of one can affect your life in some pretty surprising ways. For example, most narcissists use a really pervasive sort of manipulation called gaslighting. You probably already know that it’s the worst kind because it messes with your mind in ways you’d never expect. This is especially true for the children of narcissistic mothers, who can’t get away from it and have no concept of what “normal” actually looks like from the inside.
If your mother was a narcissist, you probably spent most of your childhood thinking you weren’t good enough and you probably assumed that your mom was right about everything she said about you. You might have spent most of your childhood trying to get her approval, desperately seeking her validation, and failing miserably. For me, and for many of us, this would continue into adulthood.
Of course, many of us actually internalize the toxic mother’s image of ourselves. And often, we do our best to attempt to become the person she wants to be, even when that person isn’t who we really are – and when we fail, we begin to think we’re worthless.
Like all narcissists, these women have two faces – the one they show the public, and the one they show you at home behind closed doors. And very few people outside of your family will have any idea of what you’re dealing with. Most people will either not be aware of her, or they’ll think she’s amazing and hung the moon.
This can really mess with your sense of self, to put it mildly. Worst of all, as the child of a narcissistic mother, you are forced to pretend in public that all is well–all the while knowing that when you get home, things will be different. In some cases, you literally dread going home because the difference is so significant. And if you’re a little rebellious, you might not pretend all the time. And then people will ask questions. They won’t get why you’re not happy, and they’ll believe her lies when she tells them there’s something just not right about you (or whatever excuse she makes). Alternatively, you’ll spend your life living up to an impossible standard trying to keep her happy.
And also like other narcissists, she will not have the ability to tune into you emotionally, and she has no empathy. The concept of unconditional love is foreign to her – she ONLY loves conditionally and makes sure you know it. She is critical and she is judgmental. But what exactly drives her crazy? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today (see video here) – 9 things that drive narcissistic mothers crazy.
9 Things That Drive a Narcissistic Mother Crazy
1. When you have an independent thought or opinion on literally anything that differs from her own.
Narcissistic mothers are very opinionated, and no matter what their stance is on any given subject, they absolutely hate it when you have the nerve to think anything other than what they told you to think. Since a narcissistic mother sees you as an extension of herself rather than a whole person, she cannot imagine that you could possibly have a thought or opinion that doesn’t mirror her own. The fact is that your thoughts, feelings and opinions are rarely, if ever, validated by a narcissistic mother – and when they are, it’s only when you happen to feel the same way your narcissist does. This continues into adulthood for most children of narcissists. Once you realize that, you might even start to tell yourself that your opinion is, in fact, always consistent with hers, at least on some level. It causes so much less trouble, and you’re treated to the illusion of approval if you comply. For example, each of my children has two middle names. Why? Because my mother HATED the names I’d chosen and insisted that I add in names from her family. And when I got pregnant for the first time, I really felt the need to be connected to her. It’s something that seems to happen, I guess. But when I finally told her, she literally called me an asshole and didn’t speak to me for the next 8 months. She said I’d done it to hurt her and felt personally offended by it, apparently. (But of course, she showed up for the big day and pretended to be the doting grandma – it got her lots of attention. And in my clueless and desperate state, I took it. All I ever wanted was her approval and that’s one thing I’d never end up getting).
2. When you know something she doesn’t know.
Narcissistic mothers hate it when you have a skill they don’t have or you know something they don’t know. For example, my own mother once had a complete meltdown when I used a word she didn’t know during a counseling session. She said nothing during the session, but as we drove home, she called me every name in the book and I had no idea why. The 45-minute drive felt like it lasted hours as she raged on and on, and I remained in the dark on what I’d done wrong – until we got home and she pulled out the dictionary to look up the word I had said. (For the record, the word was “pensive,” as in thinking about stuff.) And one of my viewers recently commented that she speaks Spanish, and her mother would rage about it, telling her she thought she was so great because she speaks Spanish, but that she wasn’t, and I quote, “all that.”
3. When you don’t like something she wants you to like.
This could be the food they’ve cooked or purchased, the clothing they buy or even something like their choice in a scented candle or a paint color. Narcissistic mothers have decided who you are and what you like (hint: think some version of themselves), and you better not go outside those lines, or else. After all, she sees you as a possession, an extension of herself, so why would you have the nerve to be anything else? For example, my mother always forced me to eat things I hated, and I was required to pretend I liked them. And if I didn’t, she would punish me in various ways. One year on my birthday, she invited a few of my friends to her favorite pizza place and proceeded to order a pizza “with everything,” which was her preference. She knew very well that I seriously disliked that kind of pizza and would’ve preferred something simple like pepperoni only, or even just plain cheese. When I asked her why she did this (because of course, she included olives and mushrooms on the pizza – two things she KNEW I hated), she literally told me, “Well, I didn’t know what everyone liked.” And when I told her she knew what I liked (and reminded her that it was MY birthday), she pulled out the poor me act, AKA narcissistic injury, and acted like I was being completely unreasonable about it. Oh, did I mention that I was 12 when this happened? Yep. Anyhoo, this brings me to number 4.
4. When you’ve accomplished something – especially when it’s bigger than or more recently than anything she’s accomplished.
Narcissistic mothers love to brag about your accomplishments to others, don’t get me wrong. But they also secretly (and sometimes, not so secretly) hate it when you win. Whether it’s your graduation, or you got a book published or you won an award, beware of the wrath of the jealous narcissistic mother. And yet ironically, being raised by this time of mother might lead you to spend your life trying to prove something–maybe that you have value. The day I got my first book published, for example, I called my mother all excited, telling her I couldn’t believe that I was finally seeing my name on the cover of a book. She brushed it off and told me she was very busy and had to go. And then never mentioned it again. And a client tells me that her mother is insanely jealous of her career in high-tech. It seems her mother never went to college and while she pressured my client to do so, she has always tried to get her to stop working such a stressful job and go get a job at Starbucks or some such thing.
5. When you are the center of attention.
When you’re raised by a narcissistic mother, you know the rules. She is the center of EVERYTHING – and that includes your life. In fact, she’d prefer to be at the center of everything that happens, all the time. Even if they’re more covert, they want to make everything about them. This includes your wedding day, the birth of your children and even your birthday. On any day that is supposed to be “your day,” you can count on a narcissistic mother to ruin it, if you allow it. My mother, for example, made all three of those events all about her, each time – and when it wasn’t about her, she wasn’t interested.
6. When you grow up.
In some cases, narcissistic mothers can seem great when their kids are small. But especially for female children, when they start to show physical signs of becoming an adult, the narcissistic mother will feel literally jealous of them. This can even lead to her attempting to compete for the attention of other men, and in some cases, can result in the mother creating an uncomfortable situation in the home by pushing the child away from the father out of actual jealousy – she feels like she’s competing with her daughter for her husband’s attention. This can, in some cases, get even worse when the man she’s married to isn’t the father. For example, I had a client who told me her mother refused to buy her a bra when she began to develop. This left her feeling very self-conscious, so she’d wear big sweatshirts and overalls as often as possible. The mother was jealous of the daughter’s youth and her developing body. It’s horrific when you consider the implications – and in this case, there were lifelong struggles that took years for my client to resolve.
7. When you don’t take her advice.
Narcissistic mothers are full of something they claim is “advice,” but in reality, their advice is more like an order. As in, do it, or else. When you make a decision that she doesn’t agree with, whether it’s as simple as a haircut (or as complicated as what college to attend or who you should marry), she will make your life difficult. She will play the narcissistic injury card and throw out the poor me act, and if that doesn’t work, she may rage at you or even do sneaky things to try to “take you down a couple of notches.” For example, my own mother once called CPS on me and tried to have my children taken from me for not following her orders. (I won’t go into it here, but you are welcome to read the full story at QueenBeeing.com/Story if you are interested).
8. When you do what she wants.
Say your narcissistic mother complained about your grades not being high enough. So, you’d work super hard and pull your grades up – maybe you even get straight A’s. Rather than be happy for you, she might say something like, “Oh, great. Now let’s see if you can keep it up,” or “Oh, you think just getting these grades once makes you perfect? Let’s see what happens next semester.” Or maybe you search for weeks to find the perfect gift for her, and when you give it to her, you expect her to finally be grateful for once. But when she opens it, she rolls her eyes and tosses it aside. She might say something like, “Oh, I guess you know I already have one of these,” or she might just say nothing. Either way, she’s invalidating you. For example, one of my clients told me a story where her mother got angry with her for not defending her when the mother argued with my client’s brother. The next time they started to argue, my client dutifully jumped in to defend her mother – and then she was chastised for getting in the middle of something that had nothing to do with her and trying to “censor” their discussion. No joke.
9. When you’re not perfect, as far as she’s concerned.
Narcissistic mothers have a very specific idea of what their children are supposed to be, and when they don’t “measure up,” as in, when they choose to be who they want to be instead of who she tells them to be, it’s a big problem And in many cases, this can be the case with stuff that isn’t your choice as well. For example, she might be upset that you have a physical or mental disability, or that you’re overweight or underweight, or that you were born with blue eyes instead of brown. And in some cases, such as in the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, the girl whose mother pretended she was very ill and required constant medical procedures and a wheelchair, they might even get mad at you for being healthy. What it all comes down to is whether you choose to become “perfect” or you go to the other extreme, your narcissistic mother will likely actively discredit everything you do, say or feel. You might start to think you don’t matter–and that you’re not even all that “real.” Like I’ve mentioned, I remember believing that nothing I felt or wanted was as real as whatever my mother felt or wanted.
Lies Narcissists Want You To Believe – An empath friend of mine, let’s call her Jane, was in a relationship a guy – we’ll call him John – and while they didn’t seem to be an ideal couple to the average eye, they managed to stay together almost 10 years. If we’re being honest, this was all thanks to Jane and how good she was to John (even though, if you like me, he didn’t deserve it!). John had many narcissistic qualities, but he was also a good-looking guy who, while he had kind of a weird personality, was okay to be around most of the time.
Anyhoo. A few years into the relationship, John started acting weird. He would disappear for hours at a time, or he’d say he was going to work late, but when Jane would call his office, he wouldn’t be there. But Jane would always say he had a good reason and apparently whatever he told her made sense.
Fast-forward a few years, and something weird happens. I get a call from Jane, and she wants me to help her figure out who is stalking John. She says someone has been sending both of them really scary and cryptic messages. The mysterious person has been texting Jane that John is cheating on her and pushing her to leave John. The person also insults her personally on a number of other shocking levels.
John swears that he has no idea who would do this. He says they must be crazy! Jane is very concerned, she tells me, and knowing that I have a gift for finding out information on the internet, she wants me to dig around and see what I can find out. She sends me the phone number of the person sending the texts and we dig into her and John’s Facebook friends lists. Before long, we have a name.
We ask John if he knows this person, and he says they work together, and that he’s “been there for her as a friend.” He claims she’s been talking to him about her husband and how he is abusive. He even says he’s been referring her to my videos and websites. But he has no idea why she’d say this stuff.
Jane confides in me around this time, letting me know that while John has cheated on her in the past, she really believes that this time, it’s different – she knows he loves her. And they’re living together now, so she can’t imagine he’d do it again. I want to believe it too.
A few weeks later, Jane has a dinner party, and sure enough, the stalker happens to send a message during the party. Only this time, she describes Jane’s house. She’s literally sitting outside, it turns out. Jane and John go to the police and the incident the next day.
Jane and John later figure out where the stalker lives, and they go together to confront her. There, they meet her husband, who defends the stalker. They have a really difficult interaction, and they leave. Jane tries really hard to continue to believe John, but she’s finding it increasingly difficult.
A few weeks later, it all comes out. John has in fact been cheating on Jane with the so-called stalker, and in fact, he tells Jane, they are now in a relationship. But, he says, he’s going to continue to live in Jane’s house since he can’t afford to move out just yet. (Side note – that didn’t last long. Jane came to my house a few weeks later complaining that he wouldn’t leave. But you know me. I helped her figure out a plan and he ended up leaving the same day).
Anyway. Here’s the thing. The truth is best seen in a person’s actions, and if you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, you already know words don’t mean much. After all, most toxic narcissists are pathological liars who can, at times, be so convincing that they even believe their own lies. (No, I’m not kidding!) And it can be hard to catch a narcissist in a lie since they’re so very skilled at gaslighting and manipulation in general. It doesn’t hurt that they are also able to say anything, whether it’s the gospel truth or a blatantly invented lie with total conviction. And, their complete lack of concern for you and other people kind of rounds out the idea that when it comes right down to it, you can’t really trust a narcissist any further than you can throw them.
Literally anything that serves them. Oh, and sometimes, they lie just for the sake of lying. But today, I’m going to share a dozen of the most commonly uttered lies narcissists want you to believe – as well as the truth behind each one – read on or watch this video on YouTube.
12 Lies The Narcissist Wants You To Believe
1. “Everyone else agrees with me on this.”
Narcissists will tell you this when you question or argue with them for any reason, or anytime you offer anything that feels like criticism – as in, anything that doesn’t sound like “you are so amazing!” They’ll say things like, “What do you mean the sky is blue? You are clearly color-blind! Everyone agrees with me that it’s really green and yellow striped!” or “How DARE you question my judgment or choices? You are clearly not very smart. Everyone knows I’m the only expert in the world on this stuff – and they all agree with everything I say, literally all the time!” But what that really means is, “I don’t actually know what I’m talking about and I realize that you are well-aware of it, but maybe if I tell you about all these pretend people who agree with everything I think, say and believe, you’ll doubt yourself enough to think I might be right. And my self-esteem can’t handle a hit right now, so…” In other words, for narcissists, saying it out loud is an attempt at self-validation, as well as a way to gaslight you into believing that you are the problem and that everyone else must be right. Yeah, they’re lying to you – but they’re also lying to themselves. Deep down they are often really insecure, which is why they have the need to say this phrase. This brings me to my next point.
2. “Everyone says you’re (lazy/no good/insert other insult here)
Despite the fact that you are a decent person with good intentions, the narcissist is always finding reasons to have you believe that they regularly poll the general public about you. They say things like, “Everyone says you’re difficult to get along with,” or “Everyone agrees that I’m too good-looking to be with you,” or “Everyone says you’re a gold digger,” or “Everyone knows you’re a bad parent.” Anything to hurt you. Now, you can test this one pretty easily – just ask for names. Who, specifically, said that? Sure, they might say that “everyone” is their friends, family, or even coworkers. But 9 times out of 10, if you ask them specifically WHO said whatever they’re claiming, they either won’t give you any specific name, or they’ll give you the name of someone you don’t know or can’t contact. That’s because this is another big fat lie narcissists tell you.
3. “I Promise You!”
Someone who is a good person will say this phrase and mean it. A narcissist says this with literally no actual intention of living up to their promise. So why do they say it if they don’t mean it? To shut you up, of course – basically get you off of their back for anything you happen to be upset about. The narcissist will say, “I promise I’ll never cheat on you again!” or “I promise to stop yelling at you every time I hear you breathing the wrong way,” but what they really mean is, “I see that you have needs, but I don’t want to deal with this right now. So I’m saying what I think you need to hear so that you will keep thinking things are okay, and I can keep controlling you.” In other words, they’ll promise to do whatever it is you’re hoping they’ll do in order to get you to behave in a way that they like – whether that means they promise you they’ll be better so you won’t leave or so you’ll come back once you’ve already left – hoovering – or it means they promise you they’ll change/grow/do better in some way. But they will only follow through if it’s convenient for them – or for only a short time (or as long as it takes for them to know they’ve got you fully enmeshed with them again).
4. “I’m Just Better Than You…and Everyone Else, Too”
Sometimes, the narcissist will literally say those words, but most of the time, it comes in the form of actively insulting your morals, ethics and behavior. They’ll say things like, “I can’t stand to look at you – you’re just disgusting,” or “You are clearly clueless and you never have anything of value to say.” But they mean, “You are making me feel less than or unattractive or in some way inferior, and I don’t like that. So, I’m going to make you feel like your feelings and thoughts aren’t as real or relevant as mine.” Oh, and don’t try to prove them wrong! Even if you show up with documented proof of your claim, they’ll blatantly deny it. in fact, they’ll also insult anyone else who offers advice or information that is contrary to what they want you to believe. This is even true if that person is an expert, such as a doctor or lawyer, or even someone like me – a subject matter expert. Just remember that this is less about YOU or even the other people they insult – it’s really more about the narcissist and their inability to see outside their own head. They are so sure they’re right about everything that to be open-minded enough to even consider that any opinion outside their own is valid would be nearly impossible. Remember too that anyone who goes out of their way to say that they are ‘better’ than you or anyone else has a need to say it due to deep, often hidden insecurity.
5. “Don’t Worry, I Got You, Boo”
When a narcissist says this phrase, then you really do have every reason to worry. Are they going to cause trouble for you? Will they fail to follow through on whatever it is that they’re saying they’ll do? Should you be worried? Yes, yes you should. They’ll say things like, “Of course I paid the mortgage! Don’t worry about it!” and “Yes, I will absolutely pick up our kid/your life-sustaining prescription/insert important thing here. I gotchu, Boo!” But what they really mean is, “I’d like you to stop talking about this now, so please shut up and let me get back to whatever else I’d prefer to be doing right now.” In other words, they’ll say whatever they need to say to get you to be quiet or stop bothering them with your silly questions. Just remember that narcissists don’t care about boundaries and rules. They are well-known to lack morality and credibility – so just be aware and double-check them when they utter this line – especially when whatever they say they’ll do could affect you in a big way if they skip it.
6. “I’ll be there for you.”
When the great Jon Bon Jovi serenaded the world with these words back when I was a pre-teen, I want to believe him so badly. I mean, who could look into those bedroom eyes and doubt anything he said? Yeah, I know. But can you blame me? I really wanted to believe that whoever I ended up with would actually be there for me. Unfortunately, I ended up with a toxic man who stereotypically proved to me that for a narcissist, this is the ultimate lie. They say things like, “I’ve got your back,” or “you can count on me!” But what they really mean is, “I only care about my own feelings and issues, unless it’s convenient for me to pretend to care about yours. And I want you to be there for me, so sometimes, I’ll pretend to be there for you. But when the chips are down, you’re on your own, boo.” Remember that narcissists have no empathy – so they don’t care how you feel, and they show you this with their actions. So don’t believe their words.
7. “No one else will love you.”
Narcissists want you to feel REALLY bad about yourself. They want you to believe that you’re so flawed, bad or damaged that you are literally unloveable. They’ll say things like, “Go ahead and leave! Good luck finding anyone to take care of you,” or “You are a total piece of poop. I must be crazy love you – no sane person would,” or “of course I don’t love you anymore, you’ve gotten so old/ugly/fat/skinny/rude/dumb that no one would love you!” What they really mean is, “I want you to think I’m doing you a HUGE favor by being in a relationship with you, but the truth is that I’m not good enough for you and I’m afraid you’ll figure it out, so I am just emotionally and psychologically abusing you into believing this BS.” Yeah, they want you to think that they are doing you a huge favor by tolerating you in their lives. The truth? You’re freaking amazing and they KNOW IT! But if you know it too, then you’ll know that they aren’t good enough for you. In other words, they only say this to keep you around, firmly under their thumb, and under their control. And speaking of love…
8. “I love you.”
This one, for me, was the ultimate insult. Don’t get me wrong. I think they believe they love you in the moments they say it – at least in the early stages of the relationship. But what they really mean at that time is “I’m infatuated with you at this moment,” or “You’re super hot and I wanna get with you,” or “I think you could prove to be of value to me in some way, so I’m going to attach myself to your heart if at all possible.” It could even mean, “I want the validation of knowing that you love me, so I’ll tell you I love you and you can say it back.” Later in the relationship, it means something more like “I know that love matters to you, so I’ll pretend to love you in order to keep you around or control you in some way.” Narcissistic love isn’t the same as other kinds of love. It’s more like the love you have for your smartphone. You dig it when you first get it because it’s new and shiny and runs so fast. But later, when newer, shinier, faster models with better features come out, you kind of start loving it less, and before you know it, you’re finding reasons to dump your old phone for a new one. And that’s okay – when we’re talking about objects. Not so much for people.
9. You’re my soulmate.
I used to actually believe in soulmates and I still want to. But narcissists have a way of ruining everything, and for me, the concept of soulmates is one of them. They’ll say things like, “I’ve been searching for you forever,” or, “I knew I loved you before I met you. I think I dreamed you into life!!” (Yep, that WAS a Savage Garden song lyric from 2012, thank you for asking!) or “OMG! We have so much in common,” or “I know we’ve only known each other for a few hours/days/weeks, but I feel like I’ve known you forever!” What they really mean when they say this is “I am going to mirror you and pretend to be everything you’ve been looking for in a partner, but in reality, all of this is fake and once I’ve got you hooked, I’ll begin the devalue and discard phases. But until I’m there, I’m going to do my best to keep you in the dark about who I really am – because if you knew, you’d totally dump my sorry ass.” Or something like that.
10. My ex is crazy…or amazing.
Nearly every narcissist I have ever met has told me something about how crazy or bad their exes were early in the relationship And many times, later in the relationship, I’d be told that their ex was so much better than me – and/or regularly compared with the ex in a negative way. Stuff like, “Wow, you’re just like my ex,” which really meant, “How dare you try to have an independent thought, a backbone or disagree with me in any way ever!” Or, “You’re starting to make me miss my ex – I thought she was crazy until I met you!” And then there was the old, “I should’ve never left my ex.” In reality, their ex was probably not a terrible person and in many cases, they are actually projecting their own bad qualities and behaviors on to the ex. For example, if they say the ex cheated on them, chances are the opposite is true. On a similarly upsetting note…
11. This person is stalking me!
This one’s a fun one. The narcissist will claim that someone has become absolutely OBSESSED with them and in some cases, say they’re being stalked. But often, this is used as a manipulation tactic. And I’ve seen this work in a couple of ways. The narcissist might say something like, “I had no idea that the attractive, younger person I’m interested in cheating on you with would be at the party. They are TOTALLY obsessed with me!” That really means, “I totally knew they’d be there, but I didn’t tell you because I knew it would cause confrontation, and honestly, I just don’t have the time for that right now or I don’t want to deal with your emotions.” Or, the narcissist might say something like, “Those super-intimate pics and texts you found on my phone were TOTALLY not my fault! That person is literally stalking me and I’m scared! Save me!” And what THAT really means is, “I am SO already cheating on you with that person but they aren’t following the rules, so rather than own up to it when they try to reach out or connect with me, I am going to go ahead and tell you they’re a crazy stalker who has imagined this whole relationship with me. That way, you won’t believe anything they tell you, even though it’ll probably all be true!”
12. I Would, But…
Narcissists use this kind of lie to kind of keep you hooked. In order to make you THINK they care and to also point out how important they are at work, or how popular they are socially, they say things like, “OMG, that sounds SO fun! I really wish I could help you or attend your event! But I’m just so busy right now…maybe next time, okay?” And of course, what that really means is, “I am just not interested in supporting you or showing any concern for you at all unless I feel like it can somehow benefit me or give me a good dose of supply. It sounds like whatever it is you want me to attend is going to be boring or too ‘you-focused,’ so I’m going to just sit around at home and watch old Price is Right reruns or go out with my friends in hopes of meeting someone to cheat on you with, or whatever. Because you don’t matter to me unless I need something from you – and btw, go ahead and ask me again next time because I just realized I get a big boost of narcissistic supply whenever I see the disappointed look on your face after I tell you no.”