This comment came by way of a review of The Peaceful Daughter’s Guideon Amazon a couple of years ago.

Your book has some good information, but it’s NOT for those dealing with a gaslighting, lying, manipulative full-blown Narcissist Mother. In that instance, you DO have to divorce yourself and never let her back in. No contact is the only effective means of dealing with that kind of dangerous “I’ll-get-you” psychosis.

True. My book(s) are not about the pathology of narcissism. There are several excellent books and online resources that do a wonderful job in regards to educating adult daughters about what narcissism looks like in a mother. I’ve read some of them 🙂

I will never, ever suggest that you stay in contact with your mother, if you don’t want to. In Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, LIberation & Inspiration, I am more clear about that.

What I DO wish and hope for is that if you choose to go no-contact, you are able to do so in such a way that you are no longer held hostage by the emotions that got you to that point.

And?

All your emotions are valid.

And?

Chronic anger, defensiveness, fear, bitterness, and justifying, are not required to maintain healthy boundaries.

And?

I get it: our culture reveres mothers and if a daughter chooses not to be in contact with her mother, she faces undue criticism, guilt trips, and even outright shaming. So of course she will feel the need to defend and justify her boundaries (or her choice to go no-contact).

And?

Your boundaries (up to and including “no contact”) are most powerful with the least amount of explanation.

And?

If you’ve been traumatized (and I daresay most humans on the planet today have experienced some trauma), anger, defensiveness, fear, and guilt go with the territory.

In the words of Lilia Graue, MD, LMFT:

“…developmental trauma and complex post-traumatic stress disorder activate or enhance all-or-nothing thinking/experiencing, especially in the nervous system. There is no in-between. There is no gray. And because this ties in with our most primal defense mechanisms, many people spend the rest of their lives dwelling in this all-or-nothing space/mode. For others, deliberately cultivating the space in-between, where richness and complexity are possible, and re-wiring our nervous system in a way that makes this possible, requires resources and healing work.”

If you are interested in deliberately cultivating the space in-between, then my writing is for you.

This isn’t about forcing yourself to forgive or bypassing so-called negative emotions.

It isn’t about putting up with or approving of any type of abuse, whether it happened long ago or is happening now.

It’s about learning how to tell the truth about what happened in such a way that it doesn’t hurt or minimize you…so you can stand on your truth, rather than having your story about the truth standing on you.

~~~~~

And what about narcissistic mothers?

At one point, several years ago, I jokingly asked a friend (re the women of our mother’s generation, and their mother’s generation): “What was in the water when they were growing up?” (because it seemed like every other woman I spoke to said, “My mother is a narcissist,” including my own mother!)

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.” ~ Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly

When I think about narcissism in the way that Brené talks about it, it makes sense that so many women get painted with the narcissism brush.

What do you think?

Much, much love,

Karen

P.S. This piece first appeared on Patreon. If you love my writing and would like to have access to it when it debuts, consider joining my exclusive community for as little as $2/month. There you will find all of my best work. There you can ask me for advice and I will give you my very best answer…and if it’s unclear or you need additional insight, I will provide it.