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Emotional torment from Narcissistic Mother

Community Member

Long story, sorry! Am in such torment.  I'm 50 and my mother (now 79) is a narcissist and emotionally abusive my entire life. My Dad left so it was just her and I. As a child, I had to pretty much parent myself, her behaviour was childish and neglectful. 


As a result of her neglect,  I ended up experiencing trauma at other's hands, several times which only adds to my PTSD. She provided shelter, meals, clothing, and even gifts for Xmas/birthdays But couldn't provide love or interest in me. She used emotional manipulation and a lot of guilting - eg: telling me "Maybe she should just kill herself" if I disagreed with her.  If I were upset, she'd call me a baby and tell me she had it worse her whole life. 


I became a perfectionist, trying to be perfect in every way.  I became overly caring with everyone to the point of neglecting myself and my own needs. 


Still, due to crushing guilt,  I kept her in my life and my children's lives. She continued to rage at me, in front of them for silly issues (always when my husband wasn't present). She snooped in my passwords book and read all my emails in my account, logged into my FB account from her computer and had access for a year before I realised. She told me she hadn't felt love for me since I was a child, she mocked me mercilessly when I cried, mimicking my voice and tears even in front of my kids. There is so, so much more but too much to write here. 


Every now and then she will act nice and send a gift or a card, but whenever I ask her to acknowledge the hurt she's caused me, she goes silent and she has never uttered the word sorry in her life, she tells me I am the disturbed, crazy one and I need help, not her. 


In 2012 I moved with my husband and children to Australia (I am from the US) - for a better life and to be away from her. I have tried to extend olive branches at times, photos and updates of the kids, trying to visit when back in the US. It has always ended badly and with me in tears. Nothing I do is ever enough for her. A visit is "bad" because if I don't give her all of my time on a visit I am horrible. 


I'm going home for a visit soon. She has had other email me and bash me for not giving her enough time when I get home. They don't believe she's abusive and told me I am selfish. 


Now I am not seeing her but the guilt is crushing me...to death. She just wrote that she's 79 and might die soon and I'll be sorry when she is on her deathbed (she's currently very healthy). But I feel crushing guilt. Help. 



33 Replies 33

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome 


I have lived experience in this area. My first wedding was ruined by my mother in 1985 and my 2nd in 2011 she threatened to ruin it. I had no choice but to get an AVO to prevent her gate crashing. The manipulation, the emotional blackmail and using other loved ones as her weapons was all too much to bare.


It wasn't until a friend advised me to read "walking on egg shells" by Dr Chistine Lawson that set my focus as to why she acted like this.


Google- queen witch hermit waif


I'm not saying she has such conditions but your research should give you some reasons for some behaviour. Rarely people like your mum will identify they have such issues nor seek help. This leaves you with few options.


Breaking contact is a personal choice. For me I had to be certain of a few things- that her behaviour was unusual and intolerable,  she was in denial when asked to get help, I  had spoken to professionals to find solutions and I'd pointed out her comments were unacceptable but she would not relent eg "I'll cut you out of the will" or "you're not my favourite,  my nephew is".


So I have had zero contact for 12 years. Sadly my sister has developed into the same behaviour (last xmas) so it is likely the same result.


Your own mental health has to become your priority.


Reply anytime.



Community Member

Ohhh, I just want to extend to you a big virtual hug. That sounds awful.

And the self blame you go through! Thinking "I should be the bigger person" thinking that "If I only try harder maybe this time my mum will love me."


This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with her. Normal people don't go around hurting others!


My absolute biggest help in dealing with a narc was a podcast "insight" with Helen Villiers and Katie Mckenna, both psychotherapists. They have normal people like you and I write in and over the podcast they shed light on what they see. There are quite a few episodes and I kid you not, in every letter they read out, can I relate to something. Whether it be a narc friend or family member.

They also run a FB group for survivors of narc abuse and it is by far the most understanding group I've ever been a part of. No question is too much and you are met with so much love.


Finding people who get "it" will help you so much.



Thank you. Have you found peace in going no contact? I always feel that I will wait until she "does one more awful thing" I don't know why, I guess to have more proof that it's not me, that I'm not being awful (as she says I am). I feel stuck between the grief of having a mother who shows no love and seems to enjoy hurting me and then feeling guilt that maybe it's me. Have tried for so long and to be honest, when I have been around her I feel like the air has gone out of the room, like I'm depleted and then go into a deep depression. I want to be free of her, but then the guilt! It is just soul crushing. 


Community Member

Thank you. I will check out this podcast and group. It is so isolating feeling no one around me "gets it" (except for my husband who has seen it. I am feeling like the guilt is harder to carry around than the grief of having a mother who cannot love me. 

Community Member

Dealing with a narcissist parent is absolutely isolating. People from "normal" families just don't get it..."you only have one mum/dad.." "you should forgive them."

All the stuff that just piles on the guilt.


I've gone low contact with my dad and finally being free from being the good daughter and leaving him live in his toxic existence is so liberating. Hard some days I won't lie, but feeling like I can breathe.


Find people who share your experiences and find a sense of belonging and knowing you are not alone.

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear suzie2,


I’m so sorry you’ve been dealing with this lifelong stress. It sounds like there is a lot of narcissism, gaslighting and crazy-making behaviour going on. Are you currently getting any psychology/counselling support? Sometimes it can help to have that reality check with someone supporting you that you are the normal one and your mother is not. And then they can help you develop strategies for dealing with the behaviour and handling the relationship. I’ve learned quite a bit myself from watching the YouTube channels of people like Meredith Miller and Dr Ramani who deal specifically with narcissism, including the strategies narcissists employ and how to identify them and respond.


Often a narcissistic parent will pick a scapegoat among their children and bully and manipulate that child. I was scapegoated in my family while my sibling was the golden child. My mother was not totally narcissistic and could also have a gentle, good side, but was very damaged by her own childhood trauma. What I have learned is that you must take care of your own well being as a priority. I didn’t do this adequately and I know it’s contributed to health issues I have now. It sounds like you have been scapegoated also. It’s so important not to be manipulated emotionally by behaviour such as your mother saying she might die soon etc. It’s highly manipulative and childish of her and needs to be seen as such.


 I feel like an important thing is building up your own sense of value and worth. The more that’s present the more you can make decisions in your own best interests. I hope you can feel supported by your husband and kids. You deserve a stress free life.


As far as the crushing guilt goes, see her behaviour for what it is and that you have zero to feel guilty about. I know that’s hard when she’s manipulating others in relation to you which is a typical narcissist strategy. But if you can develop a sense of inner calm and self-assurance it can help to deflect her irrational behaviour. Sometimes there has to be a kind of letting go of hoping the person is going to improve one day. When we accept the situation as it is and let go of trying to fix it, that’s the beginning of healing for ourselves.


Take care and seek the support of balanced people who can put things in perspective and help find a way forward. Sending you kindness.

Community Member

Exactly how I feel when I can be away and completely out of contact with my mother, like I can breathe. Thanks for your support. 

Community Member

Thanks so much for your reply. I will look into the You Tube videos. Yes, I am seeing a psychologist, and it happened that this "bottom out" emotionally happened in between visits and I really hit bottom hard. I feel the guilt is probably the worst. I think I could begin to heal from a mother who could not love but the twisted sense of guilt is tormenting. Really appreciate your words. Thanks. 

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear Suzie, I really feel for you and can really relate.


 I think what is so painful is wanting your mother to love you like a normal mother. I had that lifelong wish right up until my Mum died two and a half years ago. As my mother could show caring at times, it was utterly confusing and like being torn in two different directions. I never knew when her unpredictable rage was going to come out. I don’t know if your mother has a trauma history, but sometimes that can explain some of it even though it doesn’t make their behaviour ok. Mine was severely emotionally and physically abused by her mother. Then she had trauma giving birth to me and could not bond with me. Towards the end of her life we started to connect and there was some real healing. Then she completely fell apart again.


I guess my best advice is to develop an independent sense of self. Look to any wise women you’ve known in your life as guides and models of how to be and to receive a sense of nurturing from. I think we can have several mother figures in our lifetime who help to give us what our biological mother could not. Those normal relationships can help stabilise your sense of self too so you are somehow more protected from your actual mother’s behaviour.


My mother used guilt too, telling me I was responsible for all her suffering in life, even her osteoarthritis, and for making it better too. While she had these bouts of total irrationality she had moments of caring, even if in a kind of distant way. I guess what I learned is a mother may never overcome her limitations and it’s not a good idea to try and rescue her from her predicament. You need to make yourself the priority and your immediate family and really nurture your own life. In fact, I think it’s sometimes when you do that that a narcissist family member starts to grow up a bit (or otherwise just goes on to find another source of narcissistic supply).


Sometimes even visualisations can help, such as imagining putting the guilt in a box and placing it in a fast flowing river and letting it disappear. Developing a sense of inner stillness can help too, through meditation or spending time in nature, grounding yourself in the knowledge that you are your own person worthy of a peaceful, fulfilling life. Take care and best wishes with it all.