This likely sounds familiar to the backgrounds of others here, but I guess I needed to intro myself a little. I became engaged to my high school sweetheart after college, and we planned to be married, but before that could happen, I caught him cheating, and kicked him out, only to find out not long afterward that I had been pregnant, because I had a miscarriage. When the miscarriage was happening I turned to my mother and said, "What is this, what's happening?" showing her.. the evidence, and she said to me "It's just sh*t, it's nothing." I wound up having issues relating to the miscarriage, and had to see a doctor to handle those issues. I will never forget my mothers response to my situation. Cold, no concern, no anything, this was her in most instances.
Many years went by, and we lived our lives, me being the "good daughter". When I was 35 I got married in 2007, pretty much because my closest friend was also getting married and I had no other close friends, I felt like I was going to be stuck with my mother for the rest of my life. We had been progressively arguing more and more, and our relationship felt so so very bad. I basically was looking for an escape, or was running away.
My marriage didn't last long, and in 2019 I moved back home again and divorced. At this point I was emotionally destroyed. Since I had decided to marry, I had begun to notice things with my mother. I had ALWAYS felt like I was not ever going to be good enough for her. I always asked myself what was I doing that was so wrong or so bad. I was always the one feeling bad.
So, when I divorced, and was going through a lot of emotions, and noticed how gleeful my mother was having me back in her grasp, and how cold and nasty she was still, I paid attention. It wasn't until then that I started feeling like maybe it wasn't ME who was the bad guy, but that she had issues. I started researching NPD in 2012 after I had a pretty traumatic experience with my mother on Christmas Day. Holidays were ALWAYS the worst.
On that horrible day, we were at my brother's for Christmas, he shared custody of two of his kids with his second ex wife, and there was an incident that was building. My brother's ex wife had made it clear that the kids couldn't eat dinner with us because they were being picked up for dinner later and they planned to eat with her parents later. This infuriated my mother, she was a very good cook, and I think it was sort of a dig to her, that they couldn't eat her food and praise her. So she picked at my brother, she nagged at him, over and over, and over for over an hour. It's not right, it's not fair, she's a B*tch, she's hurting them, what if they want to eat. I mean pick pick pick. It was so much so that he lost his temper, and who could blame him. But as I watched my niece walk down the hallway and could also see into the kitchen where my mother was literally hanging right behind my brother nagging him, he put his fist through a solid oak cabinet door in 3 punches. I watched my niece's shocked and scared expression, she turned and walked quickly back to her room. in this moment the most frightening thing I have ever experienced happened. It was like I went deaf, and like someone else took over my body while I watched from above. I could feel the screaming in my throat, my brain knew what my body was saying, but I could literally not hear my own words, and felt like I was watching a scene unfold below me. I knew I was screaming at my mother, saying why did she ruin every holiday, why did she have to do this? I knew inside me that part of me was scared as hell, but I also knew the side of me that wanted to protect my Niece and Nephew wanted to do exactly that, protect them. When my brother hollered my name out saying it's ok stop.. it was like everything snapped back to reality in that moment.
That was when I really started to try to understand my mother, and when I began to realize she was a narcissist. Fast forward 5 years to 2017, and she was diagnosed with Leukemia. In those 5 years I had been slowly working on boundary setting, and being more me. It was a HARD process. I was by no means ready, but I had finally succeeded in a few things, like stopping her from bombarding into my bedroom whether I was changing or not, or trying to control my life in many ways. But everything changes when they get sick. Because she was still my mother, and though I hated her sometimes, or at least felt like I did, I of course still loved her. The year before she passed she was the most hateful cruel and nasty. Saying things like "You just want me to die" or "You want me dead so you can have my money" when I was the one driving her to every chemo appointment every day for a week every month. Going to every trip to Stanford, being with her every day for 37 days the first time she was hospitalized, cleaning her house, making sure we had groceries, doing their laundry, keeping the house clean, and being there again every day when she was re-hospitalized at the end. I was the one who made sure she got her showers, cleaned her up when she had bowel issues, and made sure to maintain her dignity and privacy, I was the one being nice to the nurses, talking to the doctors, and the one asking everything to make sure I could help her in every way I possibly could. I was being the responsible one, the "good daughter". But she made me out to be horrible, to everyone. There were times when she would say these things, and more cruel things to me, that I literally had to take long walks while within the hospital walls, just so I felt like I could breathe and not fall apart. I was the one with her when she decided to take the morphine and when she pulled off the oxygen and took her last breaths. I was the one there when she passed and my father and brother were at home asleep in their homes.
And now, I am the one who still feels like the bad daughter. Like I should have done more, like I am still not good enough. I am the one left wondering how any mother could believe that their child could want them dead, or just want their money, especially after all I had done. I still feel guilty, I know that I admittedly wanted the pain she caused me to stop, and at times I literally felt like I had to give up and not care. But I wanted her to be decent to me, to not be so cruel, I wanted a mother who was loving and caring. Maybe that's where the guilt comes from, because I did want the bad things to stop, and I do have relief now in a way. I do not panic every time there is a knock at the door, I do not jump fearfully at every noise, I don't have her screaming at me for putting a fork in the dishwasher the incorrect way, or because I cooked something different than she wanted. Part of my brain knows I am not the things she said about me. Another part, because there was pain, and some truth to the wanting the pain to end, that feels guilt. I can not help but tell myself that maybe I wasn't strong enough, didn't do enough, and still hurts because I don't feel like she loved me or was proud of me, and part of me still longs for that, and feels the loss of it even though she's gone and I know it will never ever come.
I have been trying to work on the grieving process, and the steps.. including acceptance of who she was, as she was. I'm not honestly sure which part I am still having trouble with, but I feel stuck. I have happy days, days I don't dream of her screaming at me, and I have bad. Days like visiting the cemetery to place flowers for holidays. Days I want the tears to stop. I have had anger, fierce anger. I also never thought that I would think of her with forgiveness, but there was a time I sat in my bathroom forgiving her. I sat there saying that even though she was horrible to me, that I didn't want her soul stuck somewhere bad. Because I do know her NPD came from her own pain. I couldn't have done this part while she was still alive because I was still dealing with her nastiness daily. Every attack just reopened the cut deeper, so I couldn't feel anything past the hurt, and sometimes anger.
She's gone, I know that, and I know holding onto some hope that she loved me, that she was proud, is stupid. I just don't know how to get past that feeling of needing it, or how to stop the guilty feelings when I remember the things she said and feeling like I didn't do enough. I watch shows like, my long lost family, and I see family members finding each other after decades apart and they hug each other, forgive each other and say I love you, and I ache for it in my bones. I hate the sadness and the ache. I hate the wishing I didn't feel so defunct. I hate being skeptical of everyone's motives, the getting annoyed at peoples attention seeking behavior, all those little things about NPD's that you learn and cringe about. I just want to be happy, and free of this guilt and ugh, you know?
Thank you for sharing your story, believe me it is not an uncommon one. Just because a person dies, it doesn't mean the feelings about that person go away too, hence you are feeling a range of emotions that have never really been dealt with with while your mother was alive, so they will persist in death. The one good thing is that no new bad experiences will occur! However,it's important to deal with the sadness, fear, anger and low self esteem, among just a few possible symptoms you may be feeling, that revolve around your mother but which may not always be truth. By that I mean, adult children of narcissists carry a lot of false beliefs about themselves which have been transferred onto them by the NPD parent.
If you haven't done so already, go to the link at the top of the page and read the articles I have written on NPD parents. There are also ones on having a deceased NPD parent. This will help you to get a better idea of what you have been dealing with all your life. If you find that you would benefit from individual counseling, then click onot Services and book a session. The more you know about narcissism, the easier it will be for you to tease out how much is your mom and how much is you allowing her to hurt you, even after death, and learn to set boundaries and change the false beliefs that she may have imposed on you from a young age and you still carry today.
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