Our mothers should be the source of comfort and support, our soft place to fall. But all too often, mothers are toxic and abusive. And one vile form of abuse, the one I write about, is the emotional and psychological abuse caused by Narcissistic Personality Disorder. 

You're Not Crazy- It's Your Mother

You're Not Crazy- It's Your Mother

How do you know if your mother is narcissistic?

Strictly speaking, you will never know for sure, unless she is professionally diagnosed. But you can make an educated guess: if it walks like a narcissistic duck, and quacks like a narcissistic duck…

The bottom line is that for a narcissist absolutely everything is about them, and if it’s not, they will make it about them anyway. This is never more clearly illustrated than during events, both good and bad, which should be about you. Watch how your mother responds when you announce good news, or it’s an event that should be about you (your graduation, your wedding, the birth of your baby), or you announce bad news, or it’s a difficult event such as your husband’s funeral, or your miscarriage. These events have in common that you are the centre of attention at these times, and since a narcissist feels that she should be the centre of attention, events at which you are the centre of attention really trigger her. She will ignore your good news (except to share it with others when she can make it about her) and/or make it about her (“Well I was always very good at that so it’s not surprising you did well.”). And she will hijack your bad news, for example wailing loudly at your husband’s funeral and telling everyone how much she loved him, and even expecting you to comfort her.

These big events are a massive giveaway, but there are smaller clues too. One is to check in with how you feel after being in her company. If you feel exhausted, or emotionally bruised, or even somewhat traumatised, then it’s an indication that she is toxic in some form. 

Another clue is that a narcissist will never ever accept responsibility for anything whatsoever. They’ll either insist it didn’t happen, or if they acknowledge it happened, well then it’s definitely someone else’s fault. And because they never do anything wrong in their own minds, they will never offer a genuine apology. The most you will get is a fauxpology along the lines of ‘I’m sorry you were upset’, or, ‘I’m sorry you felt I was unfair.’

Narcissists need and crave attention, and they’ll look for it in any kind of form. They prefer adoration of course, but failing that will settle for fear, and so they will bully you. And failing even that, pity is good too, so they’ll act all sad and lonely and woe-is-me. 

And yet another clue is that a narcissist will never look for a win-win solution to any conflict. Rather, she will do her best to beat you down and insist on getting her own way.

RELATED: The dos and don'ts if you are divorcing a narcissist by Dr Supriya McKenna and Karin Walker

Divorce is hard - really hard. But if you are left reeling by the heartless behaviour of your ex, who seems to wish to annihilate you on every level, you could be dealing with a narcissist. And even if they’ve hidden their true identity throughout your marriage, the mask will definitely drop in divorce...