To Narcissistic Mothers

From a daughter.

Why try? Nothing is ever good enough. That’s why I said whatever I thought, because you didn’t listen. It didn’t matter, I always had to apologize, even if I was right.

“Why do you argue with people who aren’t capable of thinking rationally?” my best friend asked, and it dawned on me why. Because I used to do it every day. It’s just a habit I never got rid of. A piece of baggage I still carry. No one stuck up for me then with you, no one does now. Because you’re still always right.

Did you ever think that you may still be ill because you think you know more than the “doctors” you see? You don’t see them long enough, because as soon as they say something you don’t like or disagree with, you switch to someone else. You need to see a rheumatologist, not all these other people. They’re fine to go along with traditional Western medicine, but they don’t seem to be working too well on their own.

But I’m “too sick” to know how sick you are. And your illness has become like a pregnancy; “since we’ve been sick,” dad says now. What will the product of this be? An enlightenment of sorts?

Why now, when I’m down and ill myself, tell me what a difficult child I was, colicky and hard to deal with. Because I said we had a narcissistic family structure? Why now, when I was pushed from all sides to have children, tell me you really support my decision not to have them? Twenty odd years later? I’m “too sick” to be a good parent? I stuck to my decision myself because I didn’t want to pass on any mental illness. It was a good decision, and I did it without any encouragement from you then, I don’t need your praise for it now when it sounds like a backward compliment.

I am still looking for my mother, and now you’re swallowing my father too. We are getting over the flu, we have been tired, we have just been so busy, busy. We fill up our time with DVDs. How are the Roosevelts these days? We are one unit now. I can still have good conversations with dad unless we talk about anything medical. Which is everything, just about. A life consumed by illness.

Is this all because one doctor told you it was in your head? Get over yourself. Thousands of women have heard that, from more than one doctor. Yet they persevere until they find an answer. I try to fill out a medical history form and I don’t know truth from self-diagnosis. Your flights of fancy about what you cannot possibly know are possibly killing you. You know nothing about what your insides look like, just what your imagination tells you. But you don’t listen, because I don’t say what you want to hear, and I’m tired of apologizing. I live under death now from someone who made the decisions you have been making. Thinking you know more than the doctors. That you have the right to do what you will with your own body, which is true. But it effects more than just you.

And I know it’s hard, to feel crappy and tired and achy, and to not know how you’ll feel from one day to the next. But I’m not too sick to keep from trying to see the right doctors to try to fix the problem. Or problems.

The thing is, I know it’s not your fault. I know it has to do with your upbringing. But your hatred is so strong, and there are so many unresolved issues that you have, I don’t know how you’ll work them out. But that’s for you to figure out, not me. I have my own issues to work on, to recover from. Ones you were too sick to notice were happening, or to understand truly when I talked about them. So I don’t talk about them, because there’s no point.

The thing is, I don’t know that we will be friends, that I will be able to talk to you about things. Because you haven’t been there. Your personality changes. You’re lucid, then you’re not. You’re not rational. You can’t be reasoned with. I don’t know why. No one is ever good enough, really. But there’s nothing I can do about that. That’s your issue, or issues. I see someone else’s life being ripped up by a narcissistic mother, only she’s strong enough to stand up for herself and fight back, and her mother isn’t passive aggressive the way you were. It doesn’t just all wash away, water under the bridge, forgotten. There are scars, behaviors, adaptations of behaviors that I’ve done for years without knowing why.

I write this out of frustration for the other daughter whose narcissistic mother makes her cry every time she’s with us, and I ache with the inability to do anything for her except listen, because the pain is too raw for her to offer advice. But she’s leaps and bounds ahead, because she wants a therapist now, and knows what the problems are. But I hate that she says the same things I still do thirty years later, that they’re already ingrained, how easily the damage is done and how hard it is to repair.

Women already have strikes against them in society, how to look, how to behave, asshole misogynists who think it isn’t rape if you have sex with your unconscious wife, standards of unattainable beauty, men who want to control your body with religion. Why does it have to be this way with our mothers?

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