I used to live waiting to be good enough. I thought ~ “as soon as YOU say that I am important, then I will be important. When you say that I am lovable, then I will be lovable. When YOU say that I am worthy then I will BE worthy”. Deep down I believed that someone else would determine my value. I had to learn to stop operating under those beliefs. I had to stop seeing myself through the unloving eyes of others.
When I was 14 years old, I vowed that I would never be like my selfish, unloving, self centered mother. That was a serious vow and that memory is one of the clearest memories that I have. I don’t remember what happened the day that I made that vow but I remember it was one of the only promises that I ever made to myself. I knew somehow that our mother daughter relationship was dysfunctional and that my mother was on the toxic side, I just didn’t know what I could do about it, or how long lasting and deep the effects of her way of relating to me would be.
When I went through my process of recovery from dysfunctional relationships, I took a closer look at the vow I made to never be like my toxic mother. I asked myself what that meant to me and what specifically I had been referring to back then. I saw my mother as someone who didn’t care about others and cared about herself too much. She didn’t care about me. She discounted my feelings and she discounted my needs. She was disloyal and dismissive. She was cutting and mean. She humiliated and embarrassed me in public and her actions and statements made me feel unworthy of respect or love. My mother (who demonstrates many signs of narcissism) was very selfish and self centered. My mother and I had a very dysfunctional and toxic mother daughter relationship.
More recently I took a look at this whole dysfunctional mother daughter relationship and the ongoing damage that it caused to me, in an even deeper way. My narcissistic mother put herself first. So I vowed that I would never put myself first. My mother didn’t go without so I wanted to be the opposite; I would go without many things to prove that I was not like my mother.
Somewhere along the line I decided that my needs would never come before others because that would mean that I was “like my mother” and in putting myself or my needs before anyone else would be showing those same signs of narcissism and since I had learned as a child that my needs didn’t matter, it was easy for me to stop listening to myself and discount my own needs. I was proud of myself for doing it! That decision represented the vow that I made not to be like my mother. And I didn’t realize that I was taking over from all the other abusers in my life by agreeing that my needs would come last. My motive was understandable, but the practice was funky and dysfunctional.
When I decided that I would never be like my mean and toxic mother, I went to the other extreme and ended up being just as dysfunctional and I ended up treating and regarding myself exactly the same way that she treated and regarded me; as unworthy and unimportant. I discounted my feelings and I discounted my own needs. I put myself last. I humiliated and embarrassed myself by not ever standing up for myself and my own actions reinforced the belief that I was unworthy of love.
It’s a long uphill climb, learning to overcome this self discounting treatment. I still catch myself putting myself last under the guise of being a wonderful person and contributing to the greater good of mankind. I have done it with my family and I have done it right here with my website and my readers. Spreading myself so thin that I get sick, all because I vowed that I would never be like my narcissistic, dysfunctional and toxic mother.
I have been rethinking that vow lately.
The way that my mother did relationship with me was dysfunctional and toxic. The way that I learned to do relationship with myself as a result of how I was raised, was also dysfunctional and toxic. By realizing where I got the ideas and teachings about HOW to treat myself, and how to NOT be like my selfish, toxic and dysfunctional Mother, I discounted and devalued ME, in just the same way that she did.
I still vow that I will never be like my unloving mother but today I am learning that what I regarded as the opposite of my mother is still toxic and dysfunctional. I had to take a look at the whole picture in order to see that I was not actually setting things right by being the total opposite of her because I was still disregarding me. (As I had been taught to do by her example)
Putting myself first is not narcissistic at all. The difference between the way that my mother regards herself vs. others and the way that I regard myself vs. others is that I believe all people are equally valuable. The way that my mother operated was that SHE was the most important and that HER needs were the most valuable.
The truth is that we ALL have equal value and that self care and self love when done in a healthy way, will actually benefit all those in contact with the person who practices it.
Everyone is welcome to share. Please feel free to use any name you wish if you feel unsafe about posting with your real name. I look forward to reading your responses to this article.
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time
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