A Daughter’s Pain – a Mother’s Happiness: Growing up with a Jealous, Narcissistic Mother (as published in The Friday Edition of HeartBalm Healing at https://heartbalm.substack.com)

As an adult, you may look back at your childhood self and realize how ill-equipped, poorly protected, vulnerable, and deceived you were. You begin to see how betrayed, used, abused, and manipulated you were by a narcissistic parent. From the adult perspective rage, anger, anxiety, panic disorders, and even sadness and depression may show up in our lives as we become aware of our dysfunctional childhood or may arise in response to coming to terms with this troubling truth.

A narcissistic parent will generally choose a child of the same gender to scapegoat, gaslight, and employ as their object to terrorize. Narcissists see others as merely extensions of themselves, not as individuals or autonomous beings – therefore, their ability to use anything you do or do not do as ammunition against you is easy for them to justify. They believe that who you are, what you do, and how you act and relate to others is a direct reflection of them. They can be competitive with the child, ignore the child’s needs, become jealous and angry when the child innocently outshines the parent, and treat you well in public and around others but revert back to the insensitive, cruel narcissist behind closed doors – in short, the child can never win.

From a child’s perspective being pleasing and pleasing the parent is their instinctual guide, and only tool to sustain their survival – which sadly, is the perfect landscape for the narcissist to exploit. No matter what the child tries to do to appease the abuser, or in frustration throws a tantrum in opposition, and pure overwhelm the abusive parent will use all of it to make the child the “bad one,” and to punish the child further. Conversely, any achievements the child might have, outside adoration or praise, physical looks, beauty, likeability, popularity, or other positive attributes are also theirs, and as a result of them.

In the end, nothing is yours except for the pain, anger, and retribution that they decide is justified, and their right to take it out on you. For the daughters of narcissistic mothers, the unbelievable is endured and internalized.

Exploring the topic of jealous, and narcissistic mothers is complicated, and not always a space that is easy to open ourselves up to. For those that endured a toxic mother, we are left with the fallout of automated coping strategies that loosely served us as a child or teen but make managing adult life difficult. We are left with painful memories, repeating toxic narratives, and systemic familial betrayals and failures that are difficult to face and breathe in our waking moments. It is easier to put them aside and deal with them later, if at all. We can know some truths that bite internally; that ask us to move closer but the reality is this is a tough request to accommodate.

As you begin to qualify what happened by sieving through the everyday reactions and triggers that you now face, and the coping strategies, and extraordinary maneuvers you make in order to maintain your equilibrium, and adult existence you realize the extent of what you endured and ultimately survived. Now comes the work of understanding, releasing, allowing yourself to feel into your being, learning how to love yourself, and excavating your needs, wants, desires, and all that was buried so long ago for the sake of a jealous and narcissistic mother.

This may ring out as a taboo topic but for so many this needs to be heard, aired out, understood, and allowed into the conversation on healing. It needs to be held and felt and no longer minimized! For many growing up with an anti-mother – one who is unable to nurture, to show healthy love and affection, whose parenting style is that of taking rather than giving, of destruction rather than creation – the topic is hidden and rarely discussed. This kind of toxic parent-to-child arrangement creates the Helen Kellers of CPTSD – unable to speak, hear, see, or understand the world around us. Hoping for someone to find and help us, teach us about love – show us what tenderness, safety, understanding, and compassion feel like. Allow us a chance to exhume, understand and make sense of what has transpired, and been hidden like our unmet needs and wants, our own unique and brilliant personality and being, and bring light to our eyes, ears, and hearts, and balm to our shattered being.

For so many that have endured this hellscape and survived finding safe harbor in others that have also lived through similar horrors of childhood, and realizing that there are answers and that you are not alone is so helpful. I want to honor all those that find solidarity and healing in the understanding, hurts, and pains of this kind of lived path. After writing many poems on the subject of narcissist mothers, and going more in-depth here to expand further on this subject I can honestly say I feel lighter and more free from my toxic benefactor, and more easily able to let her go, as well as her enablers and all of the old barbs stuck throughout my body and being that triggered me for so long. I want my freedom, and the ability to walk this earth each day without being haunted by old stories, and voices, feeling under attack or readying for imminent assault, or having anyone else taking up space in my mind, body, heart, and soul.

It is a tragedy when a mother finds happiness, and relief in the anger, fear, and pain she passes on and creates in her daughter.

If you have endured and survived a narcissistic mother or caregiver, I invite you to open the door to your freedom and expand your heart and mind with the intention of pulling yourself close and placing yourself on a pedestal of priority, importance, and deserving.

Daughters of narcissistic mothers go through a grieving process. This is a part of the healing process. We only get one mother, and it is a huge loss accepting that the mother we had was not able to be the mother we hoped for or needed.

I invite you to put yourself first in the process of taking back your individuality, embracing your authentic nature, and independent spirit, and begin to habituate and prioritize your own self-loving, self-nurturing, self-caring, and self-compassionate actions. This is a way to bring solace, consideration, kindness, and nurturing to yourself in a way that ushers in freedom from the past, a release and letting go of the pain, shame, and nonsensical experiences you faced and lived through.

I also invite you to write poetry or free verse, or journal about your experience, and what you endured. You may also consider writing an honest and no-holds-barred letter to your toxic benefactor(s), parent(s), or caregiver(s), and then burn or shred them with glee, relief, mercy, and ceremony.

I offer a poem here that I hope will inspire your own sacred voice and healing journey, bring resonance to your heart, a kindred voice, comfort, and words that resound loudly that “You are not alone!”

She would rather see me in pain,

reeling from heartache, loss, and failure

instead of happy, fulfilled, loved,

and on the precipice

of a hopeful

and abundant future.

Her pain,

her past stories

of her own trauma

clouding her heart

and love for me –

her own daughter.

She saw in me

what was taken from her.

She saw possibility in my world

in a way

that she could not see

in her own.

She could not bear the thought

of me having what she could not.

Freedom, abundance, beauty,

love, and kindness –

these things I may have had,

revealed, possessed,

or been given

at some early time in my life

but each one was ripped away,

broken, taken,

and thrown away like trash.

My pain her happiness –

transferred from biological mother

to innocent child.

She had given birth to the one

that could bear her pain,

the one

that she could torture

and shame,

and treat like dirt –

all the while watching

my tears, suffering, and agony

with a glee, and a relief

that I did not understand.

Her pain now living

in someone outside of her –

in front of her eyes,

and not ruining,

or taunting her


What a wonderful plan

she had for herself

but never for me.

I learned to live in lack.

Learned to expect little,

and give everything.

All for her empty,

and voracious soul –

hungry to have

or destroy what she thought

I was given and she was not.

The unfairness of life

to give an innocent daughter

to a starving,

and traumatized mother.

She gave me her scorn,

her hatred,

her generational trauma,

and familial unfairness,

and saw me as the enemy

to be destroyed.

Yet, my heart still beats,

my lungs breathe,

and I am still here.

I Am.

So, I continue.

Finding understanding, patience,


and breath as the way

to come alive each day –

for myself and those I love.

For the world,

and all that I love and hold dear.

There is no other answer for me –

no other reason to try

and change the past, fix

or figure it out,

or ponder the reasons

why me – yet

there is only ever this moment

and an infinite sky that says

I am here,

and I am not going anywhere.

The endless guiding brilliance,

and shining of the sun,

the stars ages and years away

sparkling on,

and the arc of life

outside my door in every plant,

tree, bird, bee, dandelion,

and deer that I see

tell me what is real,

and show me what is vital.

Her jealousy, rage,

and ignorance all hers now.

Gifted to me

as a nuclear bomb

but now a box of blessings,

light, grace, and the will

to keep moving forward.

There is nothing else but choosing –

choosing to accept, allow and be –

to keep moving forward

in the midst of pain, and agony.

All of it

part of life.

All of it

reminding me what love is,

and is not.

All of it

part of the process

that is a part of me,

and my unfolding,

and evolving journey.

_Sunny Lynn, OMC, HeartBalm

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