There are a number of ways your narcissistic mother can abuse you, but how will it affect you? How do you know if you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse?
There are many different ways a narcissistic mother abuses her children. Read this blog post for five of the more common ways she will lash out at you. The abuse comes from someone who cannot experience empathy and who is obsessed with her own image.
As you can imagine, that kind of abuse can leave you struggling with unresolved issues well into adulthood. You might struggle with PTSD, complex PTSD, or even Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. The aftermath of the abuse you suffered at the hands of your narcissistic mother can leave you depressed, anxious, hypervigilant, pervasively ashamed, and you might even experience emotional flashbacks.
It can leave you feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and worthless. What’s more, the nature of narcissistic abuse can leave you uncertain of your perceptions and even unaware that you’ve been abused. Read on to learn the signs you’ve been abused by a narcissist.
How Can You Know?
Here are seven signs you’ve been the victim of narcissistic abuse:
Many victims of abuse learn to dissociate as a survival mechanism. Dissociation basically means becoming emotionally or even physically detached from your environment. It’s a way to survive the abuse.
Dissociation disrupts your memory, consciousness, perceptions, and even your sense of self. It fragments the experience you survived which allows the emotions, thoughts, images, and physical sensations you perceived to essentially take on a life of their own.
This fragmentation can lead to emotional numbing, addiction, and repression as you continue to seek an escape from your current reality. It’s a technique that helps you survive the moment, but those traumatized inner parts of you that have become disjointed from your personality will keep you from experiencing a full life once you’re away from the abuse.
To heal from this trauma, you’ll need to integrate and reclaim those dissociated parts. That reintegration will allow you to establish a cohesive narrative so that you can assimilate your emotional, cognitive, and physiological realities. This typically requires the assistance of a therapist who specializes in trauma.
2. Walking on Eggshells
People who have been traumatized by narcissists learn early on in life to walk on eggshells so as not to disturb the beast that is their mother. They constantly watch what they say or do around this person so as not to incur their wrath.
That behavior also carries over into other parts of their life. Moreover, it doesn’t really prevent the abuse. As a result, the narcissistic abuse victim is perpetually anxious and avoids confrontations at all costs. They typically have difficulty setting boundaries as well.
Essentially, if you’ve been abused by a narcissistic mother, you become a people-pleaser, you are unable to be assertive in your life, and you suffer from low self-esteem.
No matter what dreams you may have for your life, if you’ve suffered at the hands of a narcissistic mother, you might give those up to fulfill the needs or agenda of other people. That’s what your mother taught you to do.
Narcissistic mothers are unusually focused on their children. They’re controlled to the extreme, and thus, they don’t develop the necessary skills for independence. They learn instead that they need to ensure that their abuser — their mother — is satisfied over all other considerations.
It’s in this way that the victim of narcissistic abuse puts their own needs and desires on the back burner.
4. Struggling with Health Issues
Victims of narcissistic abuse often develop serious health issues due to chronic stress. Your survival instincts are always being triggered by your narcissistic mother, and that results in the overproduction of stress hormones like cortisol.
Stress hormones take a serious toll on your physical health, and that’s on top of the mental health issues that may prevent you from sleeping well and can cause emotional or visual flashbacks. Add all of that together and it’s the perfect recipe for premature aging and other serious health problems.
5. Pervasively Distrustful
Because of the treatment you received from your narcissistic mother, you are unable to trust the intentions of other people. Your mother taught you that you can’t even trust the person who should be your closest ally.
Your caution typically turns into hypervigilance. Much of this results from the gaslighting you experienced at the hands of your mother. You find you can’t even trust your own perceptions of a given situation.
It’s not uncommon for narcissistic mothers to isolate their children, and given how they also undermine their children’s self-esteem, it’s also not surprising that many children of narcissistic mothers will go on to isolate themselves out of shame.
When your mother blames and shames you endlessly for every little thing, and because she gaslights you as well, it’s easy to fear that you’re the real cause of the problem. You also might think that no one will believe you if you talk about the abuse. It’s no wonder you would choose to live in isolation rather than risk being retraumatized by people who invalidate your perceptions and emotions.
7. Comparing Yourself to Others
The narcissistic mother is always comparing her children to one another and to their peers. It’s not surprising, therefore, that as adults, those same children would compare themselves to others as well.
The victims of narcissistic abuse have internalized the fear that they will never be enough, and thus, they have learned to constantly compete for attention and approval. You end up comparing yourself to people in what you see as better situations or healthier relationships. As you constantly wonder, “Why me?” you get stuck in a vicious cycle of self-blame.
The truth is your abuser is responsible for this, but you must free yourself from a lifetime of being blamed for virtually everything wrong in your life.
Narcissistic abuse is a particularly destructive form of abuse in that it destroys your ability to rationally analyze what is happening to you. It leaves you uncertain about your own perceptions.
Your narcissistic mother has taught you that you’re the reason for everything wrong in her life, and her gaslighting has left you confused and unsure of your own interpretations and feelings. The abuse you suffered at her hands may leave you wondering if she is even capable of loving you at all.
It’s a toxic way to grow up, but you can heal from this abusive treatment. Recognizing that you’ve been abused is an important first step in that healing process.
Now you know how to tell if you’ve been abused by a narcissistic mother. You’ll also want to learn more about the different abusive tactics she uses in the post, “Five Toxic Ways Your Narcissistic Mother Abuses You.”
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