Mother’s Day is right around the corner. While most families take this time to shower the mothers in their lives with love and gratitude, what do you do when you have a narcissistic mother? If you grew up with a self-centered or toxic mother, you may be feeling guilt about not wanting to celebrate her on this special day. Or maybe the people around you think you should be feeling guilty, so you feel guilt for not feeling guilty. Sheesh! You can’t seem to win.
Good Mom vs. Self-Centered Mom
Mother’s Day brings back memories of bedtime stories while snuggled up in your favorite blanket, coming home from school to fresh baked cookies, and hugs and ice cream when your heart had been broken. Well, for some people. Certainly, not for everyone.
There is this weird belief that just because you have a mom, she must have been amazing. Or at least decent. But there are many people whose memories of their mothers are more about a woman who was completely self-absorbed, spewed hateful words, and who constantly reminded everyone that things were not good enough. This description is truly not adequate for what many peopled have endured. And yet society stills says things like, “Oh come on, she’s your mother.” Like giving birth somehow means you automatically deserve a basic Mother’s Day card.
I have sat with many clients who felt ashamed of having a narcissistic mother. They worry it was their fault, that maybe they are the problem. Some express feeling isolated from their friends and say that no one really understands. They worry that if others find out they have cut contact with their mother, people will think there is something wrong with them. The dreaded question of “Tell me about your mother” is answered with deflection. Why is it so hard for other people to understand? It seems that if you grew up with a good enough mother then you assume everyone else did too.
Grew Up With A Narcissistic Mother?
It’s okay to acknowledge your mother was/is toxic. You don’t need to honor that. Her narcissism is not your fault. She may turn things around on you and make you feel broken or that you’re the crazy one. But that is wrong.
This is what is true:
- Her narcissism is about her own struggles, not yours.
- You deserved to be loved!
- You are good enough!
Alternative Ways To Celebrate Mother’s Day
If you’ve already cut contact or decided to not spend time with your narcissistic mother, here are some other ways to celebrate the day…
Who else in your life holds that “mother energy” for you?
A friend? An aunt? A neighbor? Being a mother is so much more than giving birth. Look around, you may have someone special in your life who offered you nurturing and love when you needed it. Choose to honor them on Mother’s Day and let them know how much they mean to you.
Write yourself a letter.
If you had a self-centered mom growing up, chances are the mother archetype in you helped get you through life. You probably raised yourself. Write a letter to the mother part of you, thanking it for all that it offered. Writing is a powerful tool. Writing a letter to your own mother archetype can offer a different perspective and can help you to recognize an incredible strength you may not even recognize you have.
Create a cleansing ritual.
It is important to acknowledge the anger and hurt of growing up not receiving the love, nurturing and guidance from your mother that you deserved. Healing is not about staying in the hurt and anger nor is it about ignoring it. There is balance where you need to understand and be sad about what you missed out on but not dwell and live in that space for too long. Create a ritual or ceremony to help acknowledge then let go. Here is one idea…On pieces of paper, list the things you feel angry and hurt about. Take some time to acknowledge each one. Then burn them! Light each one on fire, allowing yourself to feel the pain then let it go.
Every child deserves to be loved by their parents. If you didn’t get that, I’m so sorry. But remember that this isn’t your fault. So let go of any guilt or obligation you feel on Mother’s Day. No need to send a card, make an appearance at a family gathering, or buy her flowers. Find other ways to celebrate the day by honoring special people in your life, including yourself! I hope you find healing and have a beautiful day!