How do I deal with my mother? People in other places have asked because everyone deals with the narcissists in their lives in different ways.
The ideal way to do it is to just cut off all contact with them. One of the worst things you can do with a narcissist is ignore them. It’s actually very painful for them, it’s like actually telling them they don’t exist. If you want to rid yourself of a narcissist that you aren’t married to or that isn’t one of you parents, just stop answering the calls. It’s really the only way.
In my situation, it’s really very different. I have actually cut my mother out of the picture several times when she was pushing boundaries. I’ve left my home state several times. Sadly, until 2004, all of those times ended up with me returning which basically destroyed all the progress I had made in getting my life back on track and her put in a safe place for me emotionally. Each time I moved back, there was a period of time where she would weasel close to me and when she gets to close she bites me. After that I cut her out for awhile. Like all narcissists, she will do anything she can to keep her constant supply of adoration and attention at it’s maximum. At this point in her life, she has few “friends” and narcissists are actually not capable of actually having real friends.
Friends to a narcissist are only tools to use to get attention and reinforce the false self they put forward. They do not really care about any of the people they call friends. My mother has lost every single friend she’s ever had, except one stupid, young and very naive 30 something-ish girl that has already cut her out once for 4 years and stupidly let her back in. Out of all of the numerous friends she’s lost, she’s cared about exactly zero of them. There is no emotion except fear when she believes she’s about to lose some attention.
Anyway, I knew that my only hope at having a normal life was to get the hell out of my home state and never return. When my husband and I were discussing how we were going to go about our life together, he actually brought up moving to my home town. I quickly and succinctly shut that notion down. Not because I hate my hometown (because I don’t. I miss my hometown fiercely. But, I can not be there.), but because my mother is incapable of allowing people to have their own lives and do things she isn’t included in. She injected herself into every relationship I ever had if she was in the immediate area. I knew that my relationship with my husband would never work out and we would never be happy unless we didn’t live there. So, I insisted on moving to his home state. 900 miles away.
That was a best decision I could have ever made. My life has been vastly easier and less stressful without her in the immediate area. I had started to emotionally divorce myself from my mother back in my teens, I haven’t actually been emotionally attached to her in over 2 decades. Things she does still hurt me, but I think that I’m so used to it now that the hurt really just turns into anger and rage more than anything.
As a result of my emotional divorce from her, I don’t ask her for advice or emotional support as a general rule. Those things come with “strings” attached to them. I also rarely get into telling her major details about my life. She certainly is kept up to date with some things, but I don’t have the typical mother/daughter, best friends type relationship that would be normal. She knows superficial things about me only, nothing in depth at all. The types of things that most women are able to share with their mothers, I am unable to share with mine. She doesn’t care about any of it, so it’s really not a loss and I just don’t feel like dealing with the put downs and the reversals to deal with telling her anything.
On the occasion that I figure I better inform her about something, it’s usually brushed off within minutes, forgotten or brings on some put downs. I don’t really go out of my way to tell her things, anymore. That’s been a gradual process, a learning experience. And, if I were to ask her advice in any way, I wouldn’t get a constructive answer so it’s not really worth doing. I would get some bragging, or I would pump up that false self she’s created and actually encourage the behavior, narcissists like to be needed. I refuse to do that because it comes at great emotional expense to me. I know she cares little, if at all, about why I’m asking for advice and gives her an excuse to point how bad I am doing at whatever it is. I’ve actually heard her zone out of conversations where she isn’t the one talking, “mmmmhmm…..ya……………….oh…………mmmmm”. I’ve said this before, you don’t converse with my mother. She talks AT you and then you may or may not be allowed to actually have a side to the conversation. Usually you don’t get one. By that time, she has other things to waste her attention on, and they aren’t you.
Knowing this, I know that I can not really deal with my mother on an emotional level. Our relationship is about one layer thick. I keep her at a safe, emotional distance. As does my brother. She’s allowed just enough that we fulfill an obligation to the fact she’s our mother but it doesn’t go any farther than that. I’ve often wondered if she would truly be hurt to find this stuff out, but I know now that she would fake hurt and really would just not be able to acknowledge it in any way and would only make up something to tell people to garner sympathy and make herself the victim. She would move on to collect other people to feed on.
Basically, I don’t expect her to actually “be” my mother. I don’t expect advice, praise, positive projection or emotional support. I speak to her with affection like an adult, but I can have no expectations. Ever.
To end this, I want to mention that I do suspect that there will come a time when I have to cut her out totally until such time as she’s too infirm for it to matter. She once threatened to sell everything, buy and RV and park it in my backyard and live there. Rent free, without asking. She did not “ask” me, she “told” me. She told me she was thinking about the injustice of a person her age actually having to pay rent and figured that since I had a nice, big backyard with nothing parked in it she could just sell off most of her stuff and come on down and park her RV in my yard and live rent free for the rest of her life.
That was not only a threat, but also a coded warning. She put me on notice without having to even say the words. She was really telling me, “I know you think you’ve escaped your obligation to me, but I assure you that you haven’t. I might not be in control right now, but I will be again.” It was a coded warning that she could end my independence at any time and make sure that she was injected into this life I’ve been living at the drop of a hat. She did it to rattle my cage and she knew that it had. I was speechless, sadly, I let my emotions that day get the better of me and even though I said nothing, she heard that rattle in my voice.
I called my brother and of course he calmed me down by telling me that she doesn’t even have 1/5th of the money needed to do such a thing, so it wasn’t a big deal. But, she called me the next day and set up her “plausible deniability”. She said, “I think I must have scared you yesterday when I was talking about coming and living in your yard. That was just a joke.” It wasn’t a joke, though. I know damned good and well that if she thought she had the money to pull some shit like that off, and that she could get my husband to feel sorry enough for her to tolerate it, she’d be here overnight.
Knowing that, I know there will come a time when she will perceive that it is my time to be obligated to take care of her. She knows my brother won’t do it and she won’t push that with him, but she will with me. At that point, I will be forced to make a very serious decision to either take it or cut it off.
One thing is certain, I can never allow my mother to again live with me. I would die before she did from the emotional toll it would take on me and my marriage would crumble.