Being raised by a narcissistic mother is an experience that often changes the whole course of your life. That is not to say that you cannot get your life back on track, but the narcissist will do their best to squash you into the role that they have carved out for you during childhood, and as a child who does not know what is taking place this role is accepted. As an adult you are left with the task of remembering your authentic self.
Once you are an adult and you leave the family home, it seems as though ‘finding yourself’ will be easy, but it is not. The hooks that a narcissistic mother puts into your psyche run very deep and they are hard to get rid of. Narcissistic mothers often put their children into two categories, the golden child and the scapegoat. The golden child is held up as a shining example for their siblings, they can often do no wrong and they display qualities that the narcissist likes and deems them to be an extension of themselves. I believe that a prerequisite for becoming the golden child is that you do not question the narcissists authority and you are also quite malleable.
You may think that the golden child has the cherished role, but in the long run the scapegoat is the one most likely to escape, heal and lead a healthier life.Gail Myers
There is often a misconception that the golden child does not get abused. It is impossible for children raised in a narcissistic home to not receive some detrimental effects because the narcissist cannot see their children for who they truly are, this is soul destroying. The golden child is also called the “conformer” and by conforming to the expectations of their narcissistic parent they lose more of their authentic self each time. The most damaging element of this is that the golden child does not know that abuse is taking place. Whilst it may be true that the golden child has an air of entitlement, may be encouraged to bully their siblings by the narcissistic parent, they also learn from an early age that love is conditional and can be revoked. They know that if they stop conforming they are at risk of being treated like the scapegoat, or even worse, being discarded by their parent which creates fear of abandonment.
Narcissistic parents use the conformer (golden child) to manipulate their siblings. The conformer’s world would come crashing down if they could comprehend that their parent is using them, and would quickly cast them aside if they ever stopped conforming.Tina Fuller
The scapegoat child is made to take the blame for all of the families issues. The scapegoat is hard pushed to do anything right and nothing that they do is ever good enough. They are often shamed, and compared to the golden child being told that they do not measure up. There are a variety of reasons why the scapegoat may be chosen, a few reasons could be that they are strong willed, see through the narcissistic parents facade, refuse to bolster the narcissists weak self esteem, or they display qualities that the narcissist refuses to acknowledge within themselves.
…the scapegoat is the child who refuses to look content or stay silent in the unbearable atmosphere created in the family home.Glynis Sherwood.
Of the two children it can be said that the scapegoat is more in touch with who they truly are as they refuse to change themselves and conform to how their narcissistic parent thinks they should be. Although this creates a painful childhood for them, they do not lose themselves in the same way that the golden child does, and the wounds that they carry are more visible for them to heal. The scapegoat will need to work on finding the positive qualities that they like about themselves. They have received years of programming which highlighted all of their character traits as negative and they need to know that this is not true.
The golden child carries silent wounds that are buried under layers of their warped belief that their childhood was fine. As an adult the golden child will intuitively know that something is amiss inside them and that they need to do some healing work but because their relationship with their mother seems good on the surface, it is not obvious to them that they need to dig deeper into their childhood. This is where cognitive dissonance occurs, defined as “a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours. This produces a feeling of mental discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviours to reduce the discomfort and restore balance. (www.simplypsychology.org)
Walking away from the entire family is one of the most painful things a scapegoat child in a narcissistic family will ever do.The Black Butterfly
When children of narcissistic mothers become adults, the family can seem calm and almost close knit on the surface to outsiders, if everyone accepts their role and sticks to it. If the scapegoat continues to communicate with their family of origin, they will continue to be blamed and shamed. Alternatively if the scapegoat makes the painful decision to go no contact with their family, they will still be deemed to be in the wrong. The family will not reflect on how they have treated the scapegoat and why they would want to escape. The narcissistic mother will believe that the child is ungrateful after all that she has sacrificed for them, the family will also continue to externalise their problems. Family issues are still swept under the carpet, never discussed, also clear and honest communication remains non existent.
Evil is the use of power to destroy the spiritual growth of others for the purpose of defending and preserving the integrity of our own sick selves. In short, it is scapegoating.M. Scott Peck
If the golden child continues in their role as a conformer then their relationship with their mother will continue to seem like a good one. If the conformer child digs deeper into their true character and begins to wake up to the fact that they have been manipulated for the majority of their life, this begins to challenge the balance in their relationships, especially with the narcissistic mother. As an adult if the conformer child puts healthy boundaries in place and learns to love themselves and put their needs and wants first, they will see that their relationship with the narcissist was built on a false foundation. Your narcissistic mother is not interested in getting to know the real you, or being held accountable for anything that you may want to discuss.
This change in dynamics can be painful and your narcissistic mother will fight tooth and nail to keep you in the box that she has carved out for you. It takes real strength to decide that you want to show up as your authentic self, and it may even mean that your mother gives you the silent treatment or decides to cut you off for while. This can be a trigger for feelings of abandonment to surface but if you remain steadfast and nurture your true self that is emerging you will lead a more fulfilling life. As your true self has been hidden for so many years it will take time for you to build a foundation and it can be best to do this away from those who trigger unhealthy behaviours in you. This does not mean going no contact for ever, but it may be beneficial for a limited period. Your relationship dynamics will change but the ones that are worth having in your life will remain. If people cannot accept your authentic self then allow them to exit your life, and people who can see you and appreciate you will begin to show up in time. Learn to trust yourself.