Not Measuring up - Why have I never been good enough for my mother ?

This heading has sat around in my Drafts folder for ages and I didn't really know what to do with it.

But today, having a horrible cold and sat in the window seat , clutching tea and skimming through the front pages of a forum I belong to, I was indulging in a sad little game I play, where I read the questions the readers pose, then I think of the shortest possible likely answer without opening the thread.
It goes a bit like this:
"Why doesn't he love me?" Because he loves someone else.
"Why does she hate me?" Because there's something in it for her.
"Is this abuse?" Probably.
"Will I ever be able to trust him again?" Not completely.
"Which washing machine should I buy?" O.K. I've got nothing for that one...but you get the general idea..

Its short snippy and very judgey - but the simple unconscious mechanism at work cuts out all of the noise and crap and even the actual circumstances and talks directly either to the question, or the person who engendered the question. More about 'people generally,' than about any one person in particular.

So when I then skimmed through my own blog this question:

"Why have I never been good enough for my mother?" 

Got the auto response.

"Because she didn't want me to be."

Which stopped me in my tracks. It had the definite feel of truth about it, but I didn't understand it. Stupid sounding I know. But why would she not want be good enough?


I have wondered about the use of Narcissist as a description of  an abusive condition, and I have really always associated it with the histrionic personalities of "Mommy Dearest." An overbearing and pushy character that dominates and demands of people. The type of narcissists that is so prevalent in late C20th American Literature.

I have also read about the covert narcissist, but still the emphasis is on the self absorption and sense of superiority. Again I don't recognize this - yet so many behaviors and effects of my mothers behavior are narcissistic.

The pillars of her behavior are not untypical

  • Her abusive childhood led to an overly controlled life and a very fixed and rigid view of acceptable.

It was my thinking about this that led me to consider The Snow-globe theory of Narcissistic abuse.

  • She tried hard to prevent my individuation and she was clearly not allowed her own.

  • Unable to offer support for individuation or unconditional love she offered endless criticism.
  • She chose to divide the roles of her children within her life as a scapegoat and a golden child.

But I have never been able to associate this person with the image of narcissus, staring at his own reflection.

I have felt like I was in the ballpark - but never quite playing ball..a missing connection somewhere

And there was - and for this I can see that I can be accused of narcissism too - because, "This is not about me"
When I say that I mean:


Not at all.

Not even a little bit.

Intellectually I've said it over and over, but am I really sure I understood the implications of this?
No - Even though I was right in the middle of it and it certainly felt like it was about me, it wasn't.  Once I really did remove myself - the individual me - from the puzzle all of the other pieces suddenly fitted together in a really obvious if slightly surprising way.

The logic behind this is quite simple and obvious - and once you have seen it, it cannot be unseen.

I don't exist as a real person in her world. 
To her this individual (me) is just an extension of her.
I am, to her, a part of her that has gone wrong. 
Because of this I cannot be satisfactory, because nothing in her life is satisfactory. 
This really, really is entirely about her. 

When seen this way, suddenly, Narcissus and the associated self absorption are right there - front and center.

She is a woman who could not love her children, because she could not love herself.
She did not live her own life, but had her feet set on a path of endlessly striving to win the approval of the unforgiving critic. Probably the abusive and unforgiving voice of her own  narcissistic and damaged parents lives on in her head. An unforgiving critic she has unwittingly kept alive from the past.

I feel enormous pity for her, but no so much that it blinds me from seeing how foolish it would be to step back into her reach.