Should you divorce your Narcissistic Mother? The Pros and Cons
The answer is simple, but it’s far from easy to cut the ties with a Narcissistic Mother - and symbolically 'divorce' her. Very often if you do, you’ll get untold flak from other family members who’ll accuse you of being ‘selfish’ and ‘cruel’ and ‘heartless’… especially if you were the scapegoat in the family growing up. Then you are painted even blacker than ever!
You may also be holding on to the hope that your mother will finally change, and she’ll realize that she really does love you, but I’m sorry to say, that’s not going to happen. She is never going to change because she can’t. Remember she has NPD, a mental disorder, one for which she’s unlikely to ever seek treatment.
She is going to go on insulting, abusing and hating you as long as she lives. And your children won’t be safe either, because she will use and abuse them too. Forget the notion of the ‘Doting Grandmother’… it simply does not apply to a Narcissist. Your children will become pawns in her relentless search for her supply of Narcissistic Fuel too, and she will even try to poison them against you if she gets even half a chance.
Or you do things out of guilt. or you worry that if she's ill and dies, it'll be your fault. You are a BAD person because you didn't jump through more hoops to be at her beck and call when she was ill and 'needed' you. It takes a lot of courage and introspection to realise that when you were a child and needed her, she wasn't there for you and she ruined your childhood with her selfish needs. Her selfishness knows no boundaries and you need to wake up to this fact. She will never stop 'needing' and abusing you. YOU have to decide to stop letting her do this. That means that you have to go no contact... let her be old and ill and die alone. It is not your fault, and you don't owe her anything. Harsh, I know. But it's the truth.
Write out the ‘Pros and Cons’
So your choice is whether to continue to put up with it. You have to think long and hard about this, and you need to write out a list of the pros and cons of staying in contact with her. Generally when clients do this, they are shocked when they realize they can’t identify even ONE ‘Pro’ to staying in touch.
One of my clients was going through tremendous guilt because she felt she would be depriving her kids of their Grandmother if she cut contact. So I asked her what value her kids got from those visits. She told me that when they visited, her mother made the kids sit quietly, ask permission to go to the bathroom, and refused them if they asked for a drink of water. I asked her whether she’d talked to her kids about the visits but she hadn’t. I asked if they expressed excitement or pleasure at seeing their Grandmother. No, and No! She was overlooking one of the most important things, and that was tuning into how her children acted before and after visits to their grandmother. Such visits for children are usually met with joy and excitement. In this case, both were totally absent.
Inadvertently, she was exposing them to the same kind of subtle abuse she’d had to endure growing up. It was a light bulb moment for her. She decided there and then to sever all contact. ‘I’m never going to let my children suffer that again!’ she declared triumphantly.
Sometimes, we just can’t see the forest for the trees, so doing the pros and cons exercise is an easy way to determine if it’s worth remaining in contact. And almost always, there is no value for you at all for staying in contact and YOU have to cut the metaphorical umbilical cord this time.
And allow yourself to believe that you don’t owe your mother anything, that you don’t need to harbor guilt, and that you are not being a ‘bad’ person for doing this. You’re doing it to protect yourself and your children.