Your Narcissistic Mother Will Never Approve

I’ve just been in the kitchen, making a pie that is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and vegan – to cater to the allergies, autoimmune diseases, and dietary preferences of my girls and their boyfriends.

I was suddenly reminded of being in the kitchen about 15 years ago, preparing some food to bring to my mother’s back before I was no-contact with her and the rest of my dangerously abusive family.

She was doing that ‘performative’ thing that so many narcissists do – I’m sure you’re familiar with it: They ‘perform’ being the thing they want to appear, but it’s all about how they appear in front of others rather than how they actually are.

In this instance, she was making a production of having various members of the extended family over for a dinner on a Sunday. She had asked me to cook, and bring, food for myself and my children because she didn’t want to cook vegetarian food for us. That was fine. I was happy to do so.

I made a generous amount of food – certainly more than the three of us could have eaten – which turned out to have been a good move. When I got to Phil’s, I put the veggie stuff on the table with everything else. I hadn’t counted on it being such a hit with the non-veg eaters. Every last bit was devoured.

Now – I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled that my girls are great cooks. I am really proud of the fact that they have been terrific in the kitchen for years. Some dishes they do even better than I do and that fills me with pride; I love that the pupils have surpassed the master in this instance.

My mother, however, because she’s a narcissist, cannot bear when people compliment me, or anything I might do. She gets tight-lipped, and an expression of displeasure crosses her face. If you have a narcissistic mother, chances are you know exactly what I mean. You’ll have grown up with that expression – even if you couldn’t quite process it when you were younger. That’s because to be displeased with your child’s achievements is contrary to the normal order of things. It’s the opposite of what the world would have us believe about mothers.

And it’s so confusing! There we are, we’ve tried really hard to do something, and we’ve done it well. In fact, we’ve done it so well that other people – sometimes even strangers – compliment us on our efforts. And that displeases our mothers! That gives the message to young children that what we’ve done, what we’ve achieved, isn’t quite good enough for our mothers. Which spurs us on to try harder – because every child wants their mother’s approval. If you’re a narcissist’s scapegoat, however – like I was – then you’ll never get her approval.

f recovering from this type of narcissistic abuse is learning that you don’t need it. The only approval you need is the one you get from yourself. And that pie I was talking about? For quality control purposes, I had to try it. And I have to say, I approve. It was absolutely fucking delicious!

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