My last two blogs, “The Collapse” and “The Sensitive One” were part of a discussion, in the book “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers” by Karyl McBride, Ph.D. in which the author offered the “Internal Mother” as a resource, when one is feeling ‘needy’, when one has experienced a “collapse”.
“The internal mother is best understood as your own maternal instinct. It is the intuitive voice that speaks to you and wants to nurture, love and mother you. While in the past you had to give up on the notion that your external mother could give you what you needed, you can now have an internal mother readily available to you. She makes it possible to parent yourself. “
“To grow the internal mother, you must first give her permission to be there. You allow her kind, maternal voice to resonate within you. You allow yourself to hear it. To begin, find a quiet, lovely healing place where you will have solitude. This may be the bathtub, your deck, office, or on a walk. Whatever works for you. Try to create an atmosphere where you will not be interrupted. After you’ve done this several times, you will be able to do this anywhere and even go through interruptions. But start with having complete quiet and focusing on yourself. Have your journal, writing pad, and pencil with you.
Your first task is making what I call the “I am” list. To do this, it is important to allow your internal mother to share and review your many incredible strengths and characteristics. Write them down in a manner similar to these examples:
“I am strong, I am intelligent, I am wise, I am loving, I am helpful, I am empathetic, I am industrious, I am energetic, …”
“Your next task is to push away negative messages like “I don’t have any good traits.” you know in your heart that you do. If you give her permission, your internal mother will help validate and verify the positive you sitting right there. If the negative thoughts persist, it is a red flag that you have additional grieving and trauma to process and you must go back to first steps.”
“Your “I am” list is the starting point with your internal mother. Practice being with her. Talk to her often and let her console you. I often tell clients to treat themselves at this point as they would treat a two-year-old child. Be gentle, kind, understanding, and sweet. You so deserve this. When you don’t know what to do, ask yourself how your own maternal self would treat a child with this same emotion or struggle and then do that…”
“As you practice conferring with your internal mother, she will begin to grow and strengthen. You will feel a committee forming of “me, myself, and I.”
I have often said, even today when talking to a friend who has similar struggles as my own, that I can never understand, especially now that I’m a mother myself, how a mother could mistreat her child, how she could cause her child pain, be jealous of her child or try to diminish her child in any way. (Of course, now I’m beginning to understand the mentality of the parent who is capable of those things.) I recognize, having read this section of the book, that my inability to imagine treating a child poorly is rooted in my own maternal instinct.
It’s easy for me to care for, love and nurture my son, or any child, most any person, other than myself. My psychologist suggested to me that “old tapes” were constantly playing in my head, the ‘tapes’ of my mother telling me that I was ‘worthless’, ‘good for nothing’, that ‘no one could ever love me’, that she ‘wished she’d never laid eyes on me’, that I was ‘selfish’ and that all I ever did was ‘think about yourself.’
I was conditioned, as were many daughters of narcissistic mothers, to believe that taking care of me, addressing my needs, was selfish, wrong. I was conditioned to be a care giver, whether it was my mother I was caring for, my grandmother after her accident and surgery (at age 8), my grandfather when he became ill and subsequently died (at age 9), my sister when my mother was working, my friends when we left home to start our own lives, my godson, etc.
Even when I struggled to find ‘faith’ and began to attend church I was told the expectation of the church was to put Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last… J.O.Y.
I suspect that ‘nurturing myself’ is likely going to be the most difficult part of ‘recovery’ for me. Allowing myself to acknowledge what is ‘good’ about who I am is going to feel a lot like being conceded, arrogant.
I also realize that there is more grieving to do, still more trauma to be dealt with, as though I have physically separated from my mother, as in put distance between us and not had contact with her in approximately 26 years, she’s still in my head via the “old tapes.”
This is my next task, to deal with whatever pain is still lingering and then to evict her from my head, so I can replace the ‘old tapes’ of her voice that continue to speak to me at times of weakness.
I’m going to start working on identifying good qualities, good characteristics and pushing out any negatives. “Buckle your seat belts, this is going to be a bumpy ride!” LOL