According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), a narcissistic person is someone who is excessively preoccupied with personal power and prestige to the point that they are unable to see the destructive damage it causes themselves and others. And the APA adds that 6.2% of the population suffers with a narcissistic personality disorder.
If you've been raised by a narcissistic Mother, you will have a legacy that can be as destructive in your adult life as your childhood was with your Mother. A narcissistic Mother may look like 'wonder woman' from the outside: beautiful, great social skills and admired by many. But behind closed doors you know her as a difficult person who is easily enraged, brittle and always in control.
In practice a touch of narcissism is healthy. It's normal to enjoy being the centre of attention occasionally or to be complimented from time to time. It puts a spring in your step and is good for your self esteem. Plus, strong self-love is an essential trait that helps builds positive relationships with others because you value them as much as yourself.
But people who were raised by a narcissistic Mother are depleted of these traits and, as adults, are left with a legacy of difficulties which manifest themselves in all areas of life but particularly in relationships.
Below is a list of common traits of adults raised by a narcissistic Mother. And, I talk about Mothers only because they generally do more of the parenting.
1. You fear your Mother's disappointment. Narcissistic Mothers live their lives through the lives of their children's successes. She ignored what you actually needed preferring to satisfy her own needs through you. She tried to control every aspect of your life to ensure your success and then let it reflect back on her. And, if you didn't achieve the success that she wanted, she was disgusted. I would never have let my Mother down the way you've let me down. As an adult you are still trying to gain your Mother's approval.
2. You cannot make a decision. Narcissistic Mothers dictate how a child should act or feel. She controlled you and any decisions to be made. She didn't let go and allow you to make your own mistakes whilst acting as a safety net when you needed it. She threatened you with her way or the highway, albeit in an underhanded way. As an adult you find it difficult to be autonomous and know what you want from life.
3. You have a 'Prince' or 'Princess' personality. Narcissistic Mothers have to be the center of attention at all times. She was the 'needy' one of the family and expected the rest of the family to wait on her and fill up her emptiness. As a consequence you never received the approval you were desperate for. As an adult you look to others to fulfill your needs and take care of you.
4. You've got no idea how you feel. And you have trouble expressing your feelings. A child's life with a narcissistic Mother is like tip toeing through a wilderness of wild animals. Expressing feelings was dangerous and got you into trouble. And, to this day, you're not sure why. But now you're an adult, you're unable to identify your feelings. You don't trust yourself enough to express them just in case you get it wrong.
5. Angry people frighten you. Narcissistic Mothers don't express anger appropriately. They either explode or go into a 'mood'. The reasons were confusing to you as a child. Consequently, you don't know how to respond to someone who is angry. You also don't know how to express anger for fear of being criticized or belittled.
6. Your Mother is your best friend. Narcissistic Mothers have a problem setting appropriate boundaries for her children. She suggests that it's you and her against the world and your 'common enemies'. This may include her husband. She makes you feel unique and that you have a special bond and that you are her only 'true love'. This is as prevalent with sons, as with daughters, and can often create difficulties within the adult child's marriage as the Mother's needs dominate time and emotional energy.
It isn't easy dealing with a narcissistic Mother, even as an adult, because of her ongoing need to have attention all the time which can become an energy drain. Here are 3 points to remember:
1. You didn't cause it; children assume things are their fault unless it's explained otherwise. Just to reiterate, it wasn't anything to do with you.
2. You can't cure it - no matter how hard you try.
3. She will never change because she doesn't see that there's a problem.