It seems nearly impossible to consider or to bear that your narcissistic mother will only grow more intolerable as she ages. Alas, this is too often the case. That’s why it’s also helpful to know how to protect yourself from your narcissistic mother.
Aging is hard on all of us. We don’t like to contemplate our own mortality or reflect on the meaningfulness, or lack thereof, of our lives. It’s also difficult to confront the realities of our aging faces or sagging skin. All of this is especially agonizing for the narcissist—particularly the female narcissist, whose value society often places on her appearance.
Read on for some explanations on why aging can make the narcissistic mother get worse, as well as a final note on the potential for hoping for the best.
Bringing on the Bitterness
As narcissists get older, they are subject to the disappointments and degradations that aging brings with it. This post can help you better understand what narcissists fear the most, which often drives their toxic behavior.
Instead of growing calmer and mellower, narcissistic mothers will often instead grow needier and more demanding. They use their advancing age to justify their self-centeredness. They deserve to be catered to, their thinking goes, and they demand even more attention and respect, however unearned.
Because they have previously devised their self-worth from their appearance or their specialness, the aging narcissist mother will be angered by her fading looks and her disappearance from the center of events. This often devolves into outright bitterness, as she plays the victim and blames her disappointments on everyone and everything else.
Instead of winning all the time, the aging narcissist keenly feels her defeats and nurses her slights. Since they cannot possibly take responsibility for their failures, they remain mired in blustering denial before they slowly slide into bitter resignation.
Acting to Extremes
The narcissistic mother, already well-versed in taking her personas to the extreme, will begin acting out even more obviously. This is true even of non-narcissistic parents as they age, as illness and infirmity highlights the more negative aspects of their personalities.
The narcissistic mother will become even more unreasonable and demanding. The rigidity of their worldview will grow even more pronounced, and they are even more incapable of showing empathy or compassion.
If the narcissist is additionally suffering from a debilitating illness or dementia, then you can expect more deluded behavior, more paranoia, and more anger. Because they are no longer in control, not only of others but also of themselves, they will lash out with verbal and even physical abuse. Their lack of control frightens them, and as per usual, they cover over their real feelings with bad behavior.
Another unfortunate truth about getting older, in general, is that we often become more isolated. Our friends and partners may be incapacitated or deceased, and we have fewer people around us to interact with. This is disconcerting for the narcissist, in particular, because they need their narcissistic supply of attention and admiration in order to feel whole.
Even if the narcissist isn’t left behind because of disease and death, she might have successfully managed to alienate most of her friends and family. Spouses can no longer take the constant manipulation and abuse. Children have distanced themselves because of her unreasonable demands. Friends and neighbors may have grown weary of her haughty and arrogant airs.
Without external validation, the narcissist loses all sense of self-worth, as her paranoia and delusions grow greater. When she does interact with others, the demands for attention and adoration grow ever shriller and desperate.
Trafficking in Intolerance
While this isn’t always the case with people as they age, it is often true that we become less tolerant of the changing world around us. If your narcissistic mother is of the passive-aggressive variety, then she will likely attempt to find scapegoats for everything that’s wrong in her life and the wider world.
This often devolves into ignorant and casual bigotry, as anything different from her becomes more and more of a challenge. Because she has lost much of her power and no longer has much influence in her own circle, she tries to assert her dominance and superiority over whomever she deems vulnerable.
As she becomes more alienated from her own group of friends and family, she might lash out against marginalized people, immigrants, and minorities. These groups represent an existential threat to her particular and increasingly rigid worldview. This kind of bigotry is a disturbing manifestation of her internalized powerlessness.
While the above assessments about aging narcissistic mothers are largely true, based on my own experience and the anecdotes of other children of narcissists, some research has shown that there may be cause for hope in certain cases. Studies have revealed that narcissists who are on the milder end of the spectrum might actually enjoy longer life spans and a decrease in narcissistic tendencies over time.
Basically, an older narcissistic mother who is grappling with loneliness may, because of her narcissism, have slightly better coping skills. They are happy in their own company, and this protects them from the mental decline often experienced by individuals who are more isolated as they age.
Still, this seems to be true only in the case of narcissists who aren’t diagnosed with full-blown personality disorder. Thus, we can nurture this hope in only some cases, though some hope is infinitely better than none.
The narcissistic tendencies of the aging mother seem to grow more pronounced over time. Narcissistic mothers tend to become bitter over their fading looks and lessening power, while the aging process brings out the worst in their personality. If they are isolated, as well, then those tendencies will be exacerbated by the lack of narcissistic supply of attention and adoration.
Narcissistic mothers may even become intolerant as they get older, expressing bigoted views about groups or individuals that threaten her worldview. While some studies have shown that some aging narcissists may be more well-prepared for certain aspects of aging, this is only a small sample group. Dealing with your aging narcissistic mother is likely to become more challenging over the years.
Sometimes, the only thing you can do is to detach yourself emotionally so that you can protect yourself. This article gives some great insight into how you can do that.
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