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I’ve come to Part Three of the book “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers” by Karyl McBride, Ph.D.,  the Recovery section.

The first thing that strikes me about this section of the book is that she encourages the use of a Journal, whether one writes in longhand or uses a computer journal. THANK YOU!

The second thing that struck me about this section of the book is that she encourages the identification of my mother’s limitations and subsequently, accepting those limitations. I do believe I have accomplished this step. I may not have blogged specifically about her limitations, but I have recognized them and discussed them numerous times. I have accepted her limitations and acknowledged that I will never get the maternal nurturing I was entitled to as a child. That time has passed. I tried to replace her maternal nurturing with friends, my mother-in-law and even my husband for a time, but have accepted that they are not responsible for providing that to me and I am responsible for me now, for making sure my needs are met, no one else is. It took this recent “in-law meltdown” for me to finally ‘get’ this.

Now I am tackling an exercise the author recommends, grieving the mother you never had. In this exercise she suggests “start with a list of what the ideal mother would look like to you; think about either what you wanted or what you saw in other mothers you know; contrast what you wanted to what you had with your own mother; face the disappointments and the pain you felt. Find the holes. Write them down. It is okay to do this.

The ideal mother, in my opinion, would be one that listened without thinking about how what she was hearing effected her; she would have been kind, warm and a ‘safe place to land’ when I fell; she would have acknowledged and celebrated my talent for drawing; she would have encouraged me to attend college and improve my future; she would have demonstrated patience and interest for the things that were important to me; she would have allowed me to be independent of her and mature without hindrance; she would have allowed me to grow up naturally, rather than sharing adult concerns and responsibilities with me; she would have been supportive; she would have loved me for being me.

The mother I had thought everything everyone, including me, did was about her, to hurt her, to make her life difficult; she was moody and self-absorbed; she went into unprovoked rages; she demanded perfection and punished anything less; she competed with me in everything I did, from my drawing and art awards, to my friendships, my weight and hobbies; she forbid me from accepting a scholarship to an Art Institute; she belittled everything I liked or was interested in; she wouldn’t allow me to attend school events without her, I never dated, never attended a dance; she made a concerted effort to make me bitter and resentful toward men – to get me to share her feelings and opinions; she actively destroyed any possibility of a healthy relationship with my father by sharing every negative thing she could imagine about him; she took every opportunity to tell me how she knew I would fail, I wasn’t good enough to be anything, I would never hold a man, I would never be successful, I was lazy and good for nothing.

The mother I had did everything in her power to undermine the self-esteem of her children. Rather than loving them, she saw them as a threat to her own sense of ‘self’. She wouldn’t allow her children to have or express feelings, but demanded that they respect and acknowledge her feelings.

She was like a person with a split personality, she would sew homemade Halloween costumes, she was the mom that baked cakes for our birthdays to take to school, the mom that volunteered in the classroom, that was active in PTA, the mom that baked cookies with her kids, made homemade Christmas decorations, spent hours outside building snowmen, gave Halloween parties for our whole school class, the mom that everyone else wanted their mom to be.

I realize that I have made some of the same mistakes, letting my son see me upset with my husband, talking to him about things I probably shouldn’t have, exposing him to ‘adult’ issues when he was too young to know about such things. I have, to some degree, treated him like my confidante.

I needed so much more from my mother than what I got. I was a care giver throughout my entire life, whether it be going to my Grandparents and helping my Grandfather out when my Grandmother had fallen and broken her hip and wrist, or going to look after my bed ridden Grandfather while my Grandmother worked, or caring for my mother’s emotions and needs when she was sick, watching my sister, etc.

I’ve cried at the void I feel in my life, at the lost childhood, the time spent trying to achieve perfection, the family life I didn’t get to have. I’ve searched for a replacement and been disappointed over and over again, until I’ve finally realized I cannot go back and recapture my childhood or the nurturing I needed and deserved as a child. No one is responsible for giving me that any more. The time for that has passed. There is sadness in that fact alone.

Now I realize that I have control, I have to ‘nurture’ the wounded child inside me and make responsible decisions as an adult that will allow me to lead a healthier life, be happy and be able to nurture my own child the way he needs and deserves me to.

I have let go of the ‘mother I never had’ and am ‘indifferent’ to the mother I did have. Her issues are too big and too expansive for me to deal with, since she won’t seek out help, there’s nothing anyone can do, least of all me.