While reading this article below, I immediately thought of myself and the difficulties I’ve experienced throughout my life with friends. For me, I believe it’s been a huge trust issue and becoming over-sensitive during many of my friendships.
At times, due to a phone call or an e-mail not being returned, I interpreted this as my mother disregarding me when I was younger, and now friends not giving a hoot about me either. Many other traumatic instances during my childhood came into play, thus losing many friendships.
While rarely mentioned, one common legacy of an unloving mother is the daughter’s diminished ability or total inability to form close and sustaining friendships. This is a significant loss since friendship plays an important role in many women’s lives: our girlfriends are often the people we turn to in times of joy and trouble, when we need company or support, or we just need someone to truly listen.
Unloved daughters often have trouble forging these bonds or maintaining them; the emotional isolation they felt in childhood is often replicated in adulthood when they find themselves with few or no girlfriends, or women they can actually trust.
Why is that? Our mothers are the first females we know in close proximity and we learn, for better or worse, not just what it means to be female but how females connect and relate. As children, we absorb the lessons our mothers model through their behaviors, accepting them as normal—we have nothing to compare them to, after all—and these become the unconscious templates for how we believe women act and relate in the outside world.
Even though we’re unaware of them and their influence, we carry these scripts when we go out into the world as children, adolescents, and adults, and make friends with other girls and, later, women.
The internalized voice of the mother—telling you that you are unlovable, unlikeable, unworthy, inadequate—can become especially shrill when you’re in the company of other women, whether they are neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances or even girlfriends you actually long to be close to.
Gleaned from many conversations, here are four pieces of the maternal legacy that directly affect female friendships.
Lack of trust
A loving and attuned mother models live in a world in which people are trustworthy and that extending yourself—leaving yourself open and vulnerable to another person—has great benefits. The unloved daughter learns the opposite and, even worse because her mother never acknowledges her behaviors, the daughter not only distrusts other people but her own perceptions and feelings.
In friendships, she may be dismissive or wary or in need of constant reassurance and proof that her friend is really on her side. Either way, how she acts—even though she may want and need the friendship desperately—effectively sabotages it.
Absent the validation of self a loving mother provides, unloved daughters have difficulty recognizing what constitutes a healthy boundary; they may vacillate between being overly armored and being much too clingy. While this is partly a result of the daughter’s lack of trust, it also reflects her ongoing unfulfilled need for love and validation. “I think I exhausted my friendships when I was in my twenties and thirties,” one daughter, 48, reported. “It took me a long time to recognize that my friends needed space and that, sometimes, my constant demands for their attention were too much. Therapy helped me see that all I was doing was focusing on my needs without understanding the give-and-take friendship requires.”
All unloved daughters have trouble managing negative emotions—they have difficulty self-regulating and are prone to rumination—and, if their mothers have been dismissive, combative, or hypercritical, are always vigilant and self-protective. A friend’s comment or gesture that wouldn’t even appear on a securely-attached daughter’s radar can be totally misunderstood and blown out of proportion by an insecurely-attached one. These can be small things—an unreturned phone call, a late invitation, an offhand remark—that become triggers and flashpoints.
It’s often hard for the unloved daughter to acknowledge her feelings of competition because the culture tends to look away from or minimize rivalry between and among women. Thinking about sisterhood is so much more pleasant, even though the word frenemy has been around since the 1950s when it was coined to describe politics, not rival girlfriends.
Susan Barash Shapiro’s book Tripping the Prom Queen paints a more realistic picture of the complexity of female connections.
Alas, the loneliness of childhood may be unwittingly extended into adulthood unless conscious awareness is brought to bear on a daughter’s reactivity
That was me, the black sheep in our family of four. There was only me and my brother, he was treated like gold, the golden child, while I….you get the picture. My brother and I were having lunch one day and these words stung “I don’t know why you have problems with Mom, we must have lived in different houses because I never saw any of this”.
On their PsychCentral.com blog, this article, written by: Jonice Webb, Ph.D, explains:
I’ve met many Black Sheep. It’s my job.
In a recent post called Black Sheep, I talked about some common myths, and how Black Sheep are not what they appear to be. Surprisingly, they are simply a product of family dynamics.
But today, Black Sheep, I have three messages just for you:
1. Research Supports You Continue reading “PTSD ~ Are you the Black Sheep of your family? I know I sure am”
As an unloved daughter of a narcissistic mother, the cards or flowers I handed to her with ‘love’ throughout the years were given with the expectations and desires that one day she would hug me with love. Giving her a card each year was presented or mailed with a fake smile or strained “Love you always mom.”
She by no means ever deserved a card, lunch or dinner out, and especially a visit when I was an adult. When I moved across the country, there was one year I ‘neglected’ to send a card or call. This resulted in a ‘hissyfit,’ possibly threw one of her notorious tantrums including tears, resulting with my father phoning me, blasting “how could you treat your mother like this?” I can’t recall my reply, but more than likely, I said I was sorry.
A few days passed, and what do I receive in the mail, a multi-page letter from my mother ranting how self-centred I am, this is the way I treat her after everything she’s done for me throughout my life, took care of me, and will sever our relationship now. This was due to not sending a card?
To be honest, I feel jealous of others who have/had a wonderful mother.
So to all of those who are survivors of narcissistic emotional abuse, or never received the kind of motherly care, empathy, encouragement, and love; this post is dedicated to you. You are all Warriors!
Mom, you scored beautifully on this: 31/33 (and you’re lucky I was being generous!).
How would your mother score out of 33?
For me, I positively don’t owe my narcissistic mother anything. Here is the woman who spewed out vicious words, ignored me, displayed rare empathy, criticized, ranted, raved, and left me feeling worthless and undervalued.
My father passed away in 2012 and I (the scapegoat) only have one sibling (my brother, the golden child).
“Deb, since your dad died it’s been really lonely, I have no friends and have to do everything by myself. You have a husband there all of the time to help you, I have no one. It’s really depressing, all alone in the apartment with nothing to do but watch TV. Your brother is always there if I need him, but you never seem to come over very often. I know you don’t have the car much and I said I could drive you to appointments or to the mall, but you always say you take the bus. We are family and we should do things for each other.”
She wants and needs me now, yet she hasn’t changed her narcissistic personality at all, and most likely never will. Am I expected to ‘be there’ for her now that she’s so lonely, yet ignored me throughout my childhood?
She can’t have me now, it’s too late mom you blew it.
I really enjoyed reading this article today titled “The Debt” in which it asked just that, do we owe parents who have abused us during our lives anything when we are adults?
See article @ Slate.com written by Emily Yoffe “The Debt” When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?
Written and copyrighted by Deb/2016
Originally on my blog niume.com (Deb-Living in Stigma)
My therapist was the first person who ever validated my feelings, allowed me to speak, and believed what troubled me throughout my adult years due to Emotional Abuse. My mother is a Narcissist and void of empathy, never taking the time or ignoring any feelings that I had. The only words out of her mouth were cruel and nasty.
These series of videos have excellent info on the subject of Narcissism.