If you watched the Swedish movie Autumn Sonata, you probably know that one of its themes is ‘narcissistic parents’. If you didn’t watch it, I can write a short summary for you. Charlotte (played by Ingrid Bergman) is a worldwide famous pianist who decides to drop by her daughter’s home in Sweden after a tour abroad. Her daughter, Eva is married but childless. She lost her child from drowning and is still grieving his premature death.
On top of her grief, Eva also needs to handle her mother’s childish behavior, her unreasonable expectations of her and her blatant ignorance toward her and her life. Throughout the movie, the two of them start picking each other’s brain, and blaming each other for the absence of love they both dealt with in their childhood. Charlotte in her family, and Eva in Charlotte’s house as a kid.
We find out how Eva was left alone as a child for months in a row. Imagine a mother abandoning her kid for long time (the kid stayed with the nannies but that doesn’t make it OK) without a glimpse of regret in her heart. Just to further her own career.
Narcissistic parents are unable to feel guilt for something that is perceived ‘wrong’ by others outside their family circle. That’s because narcissists believe everything they do (even bad things) are worthy of praise. They can’t see any flaw within themselves, thus, how can one expect them to apologize for hurting others?
Charlotte, the ignoring narcissist
Narcissistic parents who ignore their children are guilty of abuse and neglect. Children need constant attention and their needs need to be fulfilled daily. That’s how small kids are. However, a narcissist would not understand that the kid has needs. And this is the tricky part of grasping what’s going on in the narcissist’s mind.
This person believes that the kid has the same issues, the same needs and emotions as the narcissist. She treats children as if they are adults. That is why a narcissist is not able to satisfy the child’s most basic emotional needs. They truly believe that their kids are self-sufficient. Because, if they accepted the fact that their kids are extremely vulnerable and in need of them, they’d freak out. Taking care of someone means that you should become vulnerable otherwise, you won’t be able to empathize with them. However, narcissistic parents are dead inside, thus, the ability to be vulnerable with others is impaired.
Narcissistic parents are also engulfing
An engulfing mother is one who doesn’t allow any boundary between her and her daughter or son. For example, she will make her daughter feel guilty for taking a trip with their friends and not include her. She will constantly force her child to talk about the most intimate details of her life or barge into the bathroom when the adult child needs time for herself.
Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development is definitely an engulfing narcissist.
She doesn’t want to let her adult son, Buster be independent. She checks up on him each time she brings a woman home and doesn’t allow the guy to make a move without her advice.
In my case, my mother’s narcissism falls into the first category. My mother rarely talked to me as a kid. She never played with me or helped me with my homework. Mom also never tried to make plans with me and my two brothers, for example, plans of spending time together as a family. We also never had birthday parties or presents for Christmas or other holidays. I was not asked how I felt, what do I wanna eat, what I like to do most, if I am happy with school or how are my friends doing (dad asked us a lot of questions though).
All in all, living for years with an ignoring narcissist can and will send you into a pit of depression.
You will feel like as a ghost or as an idea of a person and not like a real person. If your mom was an ignoring narcissist, you probably do not know who you are.You may be 20, 50 or 60 and have no clue what you like to do, what your hobbies are or who is the person behind the version your mother created for you. That version of a person that she wanted to use as a crutch for her pain or unmet needs.
Now that you know what types of narcissistic parents are out there, you can decide which one your mother is. Knowing more about your mother’s narcissism and her behavior will make you stronger. And will certainly allow you to set boundaries and take control over the confusing relationship you have with your entire family.
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