My support group, The FOLD, met recently, and it was AMAZING!! People were sharing their stories, their hearts, their victories, their pains. We laughed together, and we mourned together. It was so much better than I even imagined. It was only the 2nd meeting so I wasn't really sure what to expect. BUT!!! This blew me away. I'm hooked. I was a little nervous (ok a lot nervous) that it wasn't a good idea, but now I KNOW......this is NEEDED. If for nobody else, I need it! There is such strength in supportive community.
At one point in the group's conversation, one of the beautiful woman present asked me what, if anything, I would have done differently in my relationship with my mom.
I don't think I've EVER been asked that.
Surprisingly, after only a couple of seconds, I knew my answer without a doubt.
If I could go back in time, what would I do differently in my relationship with my narcissistic mother?
I would have stopped trying so hard so much sooner.
My whole life, I begged my mother to love me. I apologized when I didn't know what I was sorry for. I just knew I needed to admit fault because I'd somehow hurt her or let her down.
As a child in elementary school, after my mom would really blow up at me or, worse, give me the silent treatment, I was so desperate for reconciliation. On several occasions I wrote her apology/love letters and gathered all the spare change/crumpled dollar bills I could find in my room (it wasn't much), and I would leave the money with the letter on her dresser.
She would never even mention it. Well, she would.....months later when I "screwed up again" and say things like, "how can you say you love me? How can you say you're sorry? You keep doing the same thing!! That's not how you treat someone you love. You're going to feel so guilty when I'm not here any more. You're going to feel terrible about the way you treated me when you had me."
I was younger than 12 years old!
I bought her gifts when I was of age. I tried to schedule special times with her. I tried to create memories with her. In college, I would force myself onto a loveseat with her to be close to her or force hugs on her to try to melt her heart and forcibly create an affectionate relationship between us, despite the fact that in 20 years she had never indicated that she wanted that.
I thought, well maybe she thinks I hate her (because I had hated her....because she was evil to me). And I thought, "well, if I thought someone hated me, I wouldn't feel safe to be affectionate with them." So, my rationale was if I "made the first move" and showed her I actually didn't hate her, and I wanted to be close to her, then she would reciprocate eventually.
Ummmmm.......I think that kind of worked for a year or 2, but, of course, she still had her moments.
But all in all, nothing changed. She was still manipulative, mean, deceitful, and always blaming/guilt-tripping.
If I could go back in time to give myself advice, I would tell myself to try to build a happy life apart from her so much sooner.
I would encourage my younger self to come to terms with the fact that things are not ever going to change and that waiting for that change is robbing me of peace and joy.
Gaslighting, breadcrumbing, love bombing, and hoovering will really have you sticking around YEARS longer than you should. To be fair, I knew NOTHING about narcissism before my mom died. All I knew was that I didn't like the way she made me feel. That should have been enough. And that's my advice for anyone wondering if their loved one is really a narcissist or not. At the end of the day, it doesn't REALLY matter. What matters is how they treat you. It doesn't have to have a special name in order for it to be disrespect/unhealthy/toxic/abusive.
And lastly, I probably wouldn't have invited her to my wedding.
Is there any advice you'd give your younger self about dealing with the narcissist in your life?
Wishing you peace and healing.