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As I sat in the car line waiting to pick up my 4 year old from preschool, I was reading from the book Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karol McBride, Ph.D.
A lot of things really touch my heart, and it’s difficult not to let the tears fall:
However, one can see that, even with education and awareness, adult daughters of narcissistic mothers can unwittingly fall into the legacy of narcissistic mothering.
Self care does not mean becoming self-absorbed
Healthy self-care means finding fulfillment so that you have energy, love, and empathy for others. Finding the middle ground means realizing that it’s not an either-or situation – you are neither full of self nor drained of self.
This is one of the points of contention a friend and I have had. He felt…
Whether or not I should, I will simply state that–to me–narcissism consists of pathological (utter) self-absorption. As I examine my life, views, thoughts, feelings, actions, reactions, etc., I am not exhibiting narcissistic characteristics. That’s all I need to know about it.
For the record, I personally never said or implied that he was.
I started the conversation about my difficulties in my life and in mothering my children. I tend to disagree that narcissism has to be that extreme. I think, when I spend headspace and take time away from my children to focus on myself, I am at risk for narcissistic thinking and behavior. If I am not careful not to spend TOO much time moping about, feeling sad about what I didn’t get as a child, and feeling uncertain and frustrated about my future goals, or if I actually did make up my mind to go after something and said to heck with how it affects my girls, I could unintentionally slip into narcissism.
It’s part of the reason I’ve been dragging my heels on my own development (aside from the fact I have too many interests and not enough motivation to pick just one). There’s not much I can do at the moment that wouldn’t mean drastic changes – like putting my 4 year old and 6 year old into a daycare setting outside of school hours and putting the other one into after-school “babysitting” programs (and I’ve seen first hand how chaotic the one at our school seems because there’s too many kids in it).
I still have parenting duties and I need to provide guidance, empathy and understanding. I still have household duties to attend to. But I’d MUCH rather forgo all that to blog about my feelings/thoughts/interpretations of things.
To me, that’s a bit narcissistic. If this brooding becomes ALL I ever do, or if I indulge in only things I want to do because I “deserve” it, that’s going to be a LOT more narcissistic.
Except…I do feel stuck. I do feel something is unfinished and I do feel I am in need of grieving and moving on.
And healthy self-care…that’s tricky. I feel like I need to do so much more than I have going on to be fulfilled. Or if I do feel moments of fulfillment…they are short lived. And soon I’m back to feeling drained and sad and lost.
My daughter’s selective mutism and associated difficulties with that sure challenged me for about 3 years, but now that it’s come to a comfortable conclusion, it’s “my turn” to figure where to go from here.
Which brings me to another quote from the book
I wish there were a mental health diagnosis for serial grief. I am not mentally ill. Mostly just sad, and grieving the vision of the mother I so desperately wanted.
– Sonny, aged 39
If I could change that quote to make it my own, it would be this:
I wish there were a mental health diagnosis for serial grief. I am not mentally ill. Mostly just sad, and grieving because I feel the constant conflict of wanting to be the mother I want to be and wanting to be once again, the strong, independent career woman I was.
More to come later…