You Are NOT Simply Being Dramatic

“You know what your mum is like”

“You’re such a drama queen”

“Everyone argues with their mum when they’re growing up”

“She means well”

“You know what your mum is like”

“God, I would love it if *my* mum came and took my kids for the weekend!”

“I wish *I* still had a mum to argue with”

“You only get one mum”

“Were you naughty as a teen then?”

“It’s just what grandma’s do”

“God, I would love it if *my* mum came and took my kids for the weekend!”

“You’ll make it up with her, you always do”

“You can’t not see your mum”

“You need your mum”

“You’re just as bad, though”

 

Sound familiar?

 

If you’re the daughter of a narcissistic, abusive, neglectful or unavailable mother chances are you’ll have heard those tedious lines more times than you care to recall. And boy does it cut you deep. It’s an instant gag over your mouth when you hear it. You’re venting or opening up a bit to someone and they spit one of those gems out, and it’s like everything you’re feeling and having the courage to say out loud is invalid, or not important. Or worse: lies. This kind of dismissal to your feelings is horrible and can more often than not add to the trauma. Trauma is a strong word but we are going to use it because it’s the most appropriate way to describe the things a narcissistic or abusive mother puts you through. It is traumatic, and there is no shame in calling it that, nor is there a reason why you cannot call it that. You can refer to the experiences you had or are still having as trauma and you should not feel as though you are being dramatic or “over the top”, because the word trauma is the most fitting. Trauma means deeply distressing or disturbing, painful, shocking, torture, disturbance, ordeal, nightmare, and it also means a type of wound or damage when used to describe something physical, therefore the experiences you go through with your narcissistic or abusive mother are definitely traumatic.

When someone is dismissive of your feelings or experiences, or doesn’t make an effort to understand them or respect them, as previously said it can more often than not add to the trauma. It seals it in with a coat of varnish, making sure it’s in there under your skin and in your head good and proper. As time goes on, if you don’t find someone who will respect you and your experiences, these unhelpful and hurtful comments such as “You’re a drama queen” or “I wish my mum was still here for me to argue with” or “Oh, you know what your mum’s like!” become ingrained on you and eventually you will find yourself reluctant to speak out. Fear is a factor here; fear of not being believed, fear of yet another dismissal of how you feel, fear of more unhelpful comments being forced into your head and making you doubt yourself. Fear is a major part. A major  part. If you’re feeling particularly vulnerable or fragile one day and you want to open up but can’t, chances are it’s fear stopping you because you know that there’s no way you could handle it if someone reacted flippantly to what you disclose because you’re already on the edge. Keeping everything bottled up is your way of protecting yourself in the short term until you get through that particular difficult day, but in the long run it serves only one purpose and that is to prolong your suffering. You don’t deserve that.

The hard part of opening up to someone about your mother is finding someone who will try to understand. Someone who can’t necessarily empathise, but who can sympathise and who will respect your feelings. Sometimes it can be difficult for the person you disclose to, because they may have a great relationship with their mother and it won’t be that they don’t believe you, it’s more likely that they can’t get their head round how a mother could treat their child in such a way. This similar to something called double deviance theory which is most commonly used when examining the criminal justice system and gender bias; women who commit crimes are given harsher penal sentences due to breaking not one but two norms – committing the crime in the first place, and also the fact that they have acted in such a way that goes against what it means to be a woman, nurturing and chained to the kitchen sink. When applying this theory in part to the narcissistic or abusive mother, people find it shocking that a woman could behave that way towards their child. That is why more often than not you’ll find yourself being dished up the comments at the start of this article. It’s easier for people to believe it’s just teen angst or a storm in a teacup.

Not only is narcissism a disgusting trait to have in any person be it male or female, mother, daughter, father, son, friend and so on, it is even worse when that narcissism is used to abuse a child. Narcissistic mothers are not only displaying and behaving in a way which goes against social norms, they are also going against what behaviours society deems appropriate and expected of a mother, making them also doubly deviant. Because society often has rose tinted glasses on when visualising a mother, when someone speaks up and says that their mother is hurting them, it can be difficult for some to believe. However, when we speak out about abusive fathers, there’s not often any issue in believing the words coming out of the person’s mouth. Swap the male perpetrator for a female one; in this instance, your mother, and people begin to doubt you and chalk it up to teen angst, clashing personalities, and so on. Only when you find someone who does not automatically dismiss what you’ve been through as you simply being childish or dramatic can you start to open up and then there is hope for you when it comes to finally realising that it is not you who is bad, it’s your mum.

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