I thought I should balance out the negative of the, what I assume to be hurtful to my mother, news of her having narcissistic traits, and being invalidating in many ways, I would list as many of her good mothering qualities as I could. These are in no order, just as they come to me.
- I have never doubted her love for me. She has never given me reason to. Even when she’s being hurtful she’s loving enough that I know it’s there and real.
- She is one of the strongest women I know. In the past year and a half she has lost her sister and a brother, and now she faces losing a daughter. I don’t know how she keeps going, but she does.
- Anytime I leave her house after dark, she makes sure to tell me to text her once I’m home safely. That’s the love of a mother.
- Chicken crescent squares. My favorite meal that she makes when I need it the most, on special occasions, and sometimes just because.
- She is a very loving grandmother. She is very involved in their lives and openly adores my kids.
- She has always complimented my veins. This one came up in the hospital while visiting my sister, as my sister is severely anemic and having trouble offering up good veins to the nurses for them to poke. Anyway, my mom has been a med tech for decades now and has always complimented my veins. As weird as that sounds, from my mom that is a high compliment.
- She always compliments my math skills.
- I have mad budgeting skills that my mom gives props to. I can go into a store with a list and a fifty dollar budget and spent 49.99. It’s a gift.
- With all that is going on with my sister, my mom has kept up-to-date with all appointments and every single individual detail of everything in my sister’s medical life. She’s also very proactive in getting my sister healthy and is organizing the search for a donor list that will take her.
- Mom has never been one to say no to books. Parents can’t say yes to everything their kids ask for. Even if they can afford to, that’s how you raise spoiled brats. My mom, like all moms, said no her fair share of the time. However, when it came to books, I heard yes a lot more often than I heard no. It was my mom’s way of validating what really mattered to me.
That list could and should go on but I got distracted by a dying sister and watching my mom’s shining strength in a horrid situation. I am confident that if I were the sick one, and my sister healthy, my mom would be doing the very same for me.
I can’t say my mom is emotionally neglectful. Not fully. You hear all these stories, including from my readers, and that just isn’t and wasn’t my mom. She says hurtful things and she struggles to validate. However, it’s worth pointing out I can be very closed off, so it is possible the problem isn’t all her.
When I had that conversation with my mom, it wasn’t in therapy like planned. It was sitting in a hospital cafeteria the day before that post went live, because it was the best we could do in the chaos around us. It was looking like mom wasn’t going to be able to make it to the therapy appointment, for valid reasons, and so I just got it out-of-the-way.
I had already typed up what I wanted to say. My words offered validation to my mom while still sharing the observation I had made. I made it quite clear I’m not accusing her of anything, because I’m really not. I didn’t offer up more than one example as to how she is hurtful or invalidating, because I didn’t want this to be about all the things she did wrong, and a huge mudslinging debate.
I instead asked her to consider my words. I asked that I be allowed to write about it. I asked that she be willing to consider a filter between brain and mouth, with assurances it isn’t all her, and I’m working on mine.
I listed and validated that I am a very closed off person in many ways and I see I may not have been easy to validate or that mom may not have known how to, but I still put forth that isn’t the full of it, and she accepts that.
She isn’t emotionally neglectful, she is lacking in skills on how best to approach. There is a huge difference there. At least to me. The difference being that she wants to learn how better to validate. She wants to learn when she’s being hurtful so she can not do it again. We’ve even agreed on a “safe word” of sorts where I say “relationship”, when she’s said something that could hurt our relationship, and she will reflect on what she just said and try to learn from it. She can’t get mad at me for using the word, and I will try to be patient with the learning curve. Because she wants to learn, and I want to teach.
As I lose my sister to a horrible disease, a disease where her days are literally numbered, it has made us all the more aware how precious relationships really are. My mom is not this big horrible figure of pain and agony from my childhood or even now. No, she isn’t perfect but she’s willing to learn. And even when she is being hurtful, she still in her ways is able to show her love.
Yes, her narcissistic traits have helped shape my BPD, but I am able to say without a doubt that she didn’t create that.