I mentioned in my last post that I grew up with a narcissistic mother. I recall this tale as I find the humour a comforting way to recall, and a way that gives me great understanding into my mother’s worldview and her relationship with her children.
One day out of the blue my mother said: “Ian, I’ll never forget the day you were born.”
This took me somewhat by surprise. Was this the moment when my mother would at last express genuine affection for me? Perhaps something that might demonstrate a spark of genuine caring for someone other than herself? “Really, Mother?” I said. “What is it that you remember the most?”
“Well, Ian, you have to remember it was just after the war, and we still had rationing. I got back from giving birth to you just in time for tea, and we had one of the nicest pieces of boiled ham, salad, and a great big pickled onion. I hadn’t seen anything like that during the war: I’ll never forget that pickled onion.”
At least I can see this for what it is; in fact I find it strangely liberating. Unfortunately, without the benefit of such insight many children of narcissistic mothers blame themselves and are never able to create a stable sense of self and the fulfilled and happy life that they deserve. I work with many such people in psychological counselling, and I am very happy to say that it is one area in which I believe competent counselling can really help.