Does your narcissistic mother continue to cause turmoil in your life? If you are a fully grown and independent adult who is still being emotionally dominated by your narcissistic mother, then you need to learn how to successfully detach. Going no contact is one option, but that may not be for you.
Narcissistic moms have an outsized influence in our lives. Your mother is usually your primary care-giver and, when your mom is a narcissist, that care is often dysfunctional, unpredictable, and sometimes downright abusive. Your upbringing impacts your adult relationships, as well as your sense of self-worth and emotional stability. It is sometimes painfully necessary to detach from your emotionally damaging mother.
Continue reading for some sage advice on how to emotionally detach from your narcissistic mother, including some thoughts on cutting off contact altogether.
The best first step toward detaching from a narcissistic mother is to learn as much as you can about narcissism and its effects on both the sufferer of the disorder and her victims (primarily, you). Here’s a post that can give you some more insight into what narcissists are like in general as parents.
Without a thorough grounding in how narcissism impacts the family unit as a whole, and more importantly how it has affected you, you won’t be able to sort through your various and tangled emotions. You still love your mom, most likely, so how can you detach and love at the same time?
It’s important to note that narcissists are not emotionless people who have no regard for others entirely—though they often come across that way. It’s more precise to suggest that narcissists have such an abiding sense of worthlessness and overwhelming insecurity that they are unable to consider other people’s emotions at all. They simply have no room for it.
When thinking about your mother’s lack of empathy, as well, consider that she actually has compassion for you, but she is unable to express it. It would cost her too much, emotionally speaking. Of course, all of this has damaged you—this is why you wish to detach—but understanding her disorder helps you to cultivate compassion for her. You can still allow room for love, even as you emotionally detach.
Acknowledging Pain and Loss
Still, you need to make room for your own feelings, not just hers. This is the most important part of the process of detachment. Adult children of narcissists often have difficulty not wanting to please their narcissistic parents. Your mother has always manipulated your emotions in order to serve her self-interest. This is a lifelong habit that you must abandon as you start to detach.
Acknowledging that she has caused you much psychic pain, with her conditional and unpredictable love and her unreasonable demands. To acknowledge the pain and anguish of your childhood is not to relive it, but to relinquish it. Your feelings are legitimate, and you must accept them in order to allow yourself the room to detach.
There is also loss here. The loss of a happy childhood. The loss of your mother’s praise when you quit pleasing her and start to pull away. Potentially the loss of hope for a close relationship with your mother. When you confront all of the tough emotions associated with what you have lost or are losing, then you are better able to set clear boundaries and keep them.
Grieving and Forgiveness
You are more likely to be successful with the process of detachment if you not only allow yourself to grieve but also teach yourself how to forgive. The grieving is important for you to be able to move on; you must mourn your losses. Take as much time as you need to fully experience your grief. Find support, either through your personal network of friends and family or from professional sources, to help you through this process.
Once you have gotten through the grieving process, try to work at forgiveness. The simple fact is that forgiving your mother is important to your healing. It may mean little or nothing to her, your forgiveness. If she is still an active narcissist, then she won’t even be able to understand why she would need forgiveness from you. Forgiving her is about unburdening your heart.
Re-Parenting and Self-Care
Once you’ve gone through grief and hopefully made it toward forgiveness, you need to figure out how to negotiate your relationship with your mother currently. This means that you must train yourself not to react to her tantrums and unreasonable demands, not to respond to her manipulative attempts. Share only what you feel comfortable with her knowing. Stick with your boundaries, and set clear limits.
Now you are ready to forge your own identity, separate from the one that your narcissistic mother has saddled you with. It’s time to embark upon a journey of discovery and to focus your energies on your own needs and happiness. You are now in charge of your own emotional and psychological development.
Instead of always turning your attention to her, you are free to focus on self-care. You are the center of your own life, finally. Keeping a journal for your thoughts, or finding a fulfilling hobby, or even fashioning a new career path are all ways in which you can grow and change. You can come out from underneath her long shadow.
Should You Physically Detach?
After you’ve emotionally detached from your mother, you might be faced with the question of whether or not you should see her at all. Many adult children of narcissists have to cut off contact altogether in order to deal with their own emotions and create their own happiness. Everyone must make this decision for themselves—it’s a tough one.
However, if your mother responds to your detachment with verbal abuse or physical intrusion, then you need to consider what is best for you and your own family. Basically, if she continues to break your boundaries and push your limits, then you might have no other option than to cut off contact, at least for a time.
While emotionally detaching from your narcissistic mother isn’t an easy proposition, it is often the only way in which you can truly grow up. Her parenting was inappropriate and psychologically damaging, and now it is up to you to pick up the pieces. However unfair that might seem, the reward is peace and hope for a new and better life for you.
Emotionally detaching from your narcissistic mother may be the only choice you have, but a free copy of my “Narcissistic Rejection Guide” can also help. You will learn how to say no and even push back against her manipulative tactics. Just click on the link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!
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