Narcissists are adept at presenting a confident front as though they can never be harmed by anything. While they act like they are all-powerful, the truth is that their bravado is simply masking a very fragile self-esteem that is vulnerable to even the slightest pushback.
In fact, narcissists are simply covering up their insecurity with their arrogant, self-assured act of ultra-confidence. In reality, there are many things that frighten a narcissist, and most are related to the fear that someone will discover the truth about them.
If you have a narcissistic mother, it probably doesn’t seem to you like she’s afraid of anything, but if you read on, you’ll discover six things that actually terrify her!
What Scares Her?
Here are just six things that secretly terrify your narcissistic mother:
1. Public Humiliation
One of the worst fears your narcissistic mother has is the idea that she might be unmasked in public. That’s the worst case scenario for any narcissist, and that’s one of the reasons your mother was always so controlling of your behavior when you were out in public together.
Her inflated ego could never have tolerated being exposed as a ‘bad mother’ in front of other people. She has always worked tirelessly to cultivate the image of the perfect, loving, and sacrificing mother. The thought that you could undo all of that with an audience looking on terrifies her.
It’s particularly frightening when children are smaller since any parent has less control over the behavior of younger children who have yet to learn the social rules. That can explain your mother’s careful, controlling behavior whenever you were out in public together. It also explains her fits of rage when you returned home after you might have acted out in public.
2. Being Disrespected
While no one enjoys being treated in a disrespectful manner, your narcissistic mother is actually phobic about the possibility. She is constantly worrying about it and can easily imagine personal attacks even where none exist.
The narcissist works hard to create a false sense of self that constantly requires external validation. That’s why even gentle teasing can provoke a fit of rage. Your job as her child is to keep her fragile ego inflated, and when you tease your narcissistic mother, it’s like you’re crushing her ego. She can feel as if she is going to die.
To defend against that possibility, she’ll deploy every defense mechanism at her disposal — gaslighting, the silent treatment, lying, denial, rage, and false affection — to keep you propping up her carefully crafted false sense of self.
3. Being Ignored
Given the care that went into creating an inflated ego, it’s no surprise that your narcissistic mother would consider it worse to be ignored than to be disliked. She believes her opinion to be important and ignoring her is a form of disrespect.
What’s more, even negative attention is a form of acknowledgement that she exists. Since the narcissist is externally validated, being ignored can actually be frightening to her. It undermines their confidence in their ability to control and manipulate you.
Calling out your narcissistic mother for her abusive behavior will provoke a rageful attack in response. The last thing she wants is to be held accountable for her actions, and since she is incapable of acknowledging the humanity of other people, she will do anything to prevent being exposed as a bad mother.
Narcissists are aware of their imperfections on a subconscious level, and this is evident when they project those imperfections onto you by accusing you of being the one doing what they are doing. If you call your mother an abuser, she’ll accuse you of being the abuser.
That’s why life with a narcissistic parent is a confusing place filled with smoke and mirrors. You can’t be sure what’s real and what’s not because your own mother is always fabricating a massive defensive facade that will prevent you from exposing her shortcomings. If she is forced into acknowledging her shortcomings, that will expose her weaknesses, and that is truly terrifying to her.
5. Loss of Youth and the Trappings of Success
You might have noticed that rather than mellowing with age, your narcissistic mother has become even more abusive. That’s due in part because you may have escaped her direct control and could, therefore, expose her, but it’s also because she is staring down the inevitability of losing her looks, career, health, and maybe even her spouse.
Remember that a narcissist is externally validated, and thus, all of the signs of success represent proof that they have value and should be respected. Whether a somatic narcissist, who is more concerned with her physical health and appearance, or a cerebral narcissist, who is more concerned with her mental acumen, aging threatens both types.
The narcissistic woman is particularly concerned with losing her looks as she ages since there is already a higher level of cultural devaluation of older women. Your narcissistic mother, therefore, is doubly threatened by what she perceives of as a loss of relevance. That makes her even more defensive.
6. Abandonment and Rejection
Because they are externally validated, narcissists need people in their lives to constantly appease their fragile egos. It’s why your mother never wanted you to become independent; if you become independent, you can leave her.
This also explains why the narcissist will love bomb you if they perceive your threat to leave is real or if you do actually escape their grasp. They truly need you to stay in their lives if they are to feel that they have value.
If you leave your mother or cut off all contact, you are rejecting her and that means you are rejecting her false egoic self. In her mind, that negates her reason for existence since her false ego is completely reliant on that external approval.
Most of what terrifies a narcissist is the idea that they will lose the external support system that they believe keeps them alive. They don’t want to face the internal emptiness they see inside themselves.
The problem is that no amount of external validation can ever truly appease your narcissistic mother. The only thing that can ever really help her is to acknowledge she is a narcissist and seek meaningful therapeutic treatment.
For most narcissists, that is simply too difficult a proposition to consider. Instead, they opt to continue to try to manipulate the people around them to keep them in place as their external support system. That’s why it’s critical for you to learn how to protect yourself.
These fears are what make it difficult to confront a narcissist with the truth, but check out this blog post, “What Happens When Confronting A Narcissist With The Truth?,” to learn more about what happens when you have to do just that.
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