Monday, June 1, 2015

Narcissist vs. Borderline

I began reading "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?" by Dr. Karyl McBride. This is actually my second time picking up the book. But since my first endeavor was so long ago, I decided to start at the beginning. I found almost immediately that I'm not quite sure my mother is a narcissist. The traits she does possess are similar to those found in Borderlines. And, I've been told by more than one therapist that (unofficially) she sounds like a Borderline.

The narcissistic traits my mother possesses are making everything about herself, rejecting my feelings and beliefs because they do not align with her own, and placing blame on others for her mistakes/feelings/thoughts rather than taking responsibility. Does this make her a narcissist? Only a doctor can diagnose her.

I find reading these books about neglectful mothers helps me on my journey. One thing that "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?" touches upon is how taboo it is to talk about mothers in a negative sense. Mothers are adored, placed on pedestals; Mother's Day is the most observed holiday. It is more common to speak about neglectful and abusive fathers. But this is my truth - withholding attention and love, shaming and blaming when I did something bad, when I wasn't "good enough" -- actions of my mother toward me.

McBride includes a questionnaire with 33 questions. The questions that I identified with are the following:

  • Have you consistently felt a lack of emotional closeness with your mother?
  • Have you consistently questioned whether or not your mother likes or loves you?
  • Does your mother deny her own feelings?
  • Does your mother blame things on you or others rather than own responsibility for her own feelings and actions?
  • Is your mother hurt easily and does she carry a grudge for a long time without resolving the problem?
  • Do you feel unaccepted by your mother?
  • Do you feel your mother is critical of you?
  • Are you shamed often by your mother?
  • Do you find it difficult to be a separate person from your mother?
  • Did you feel you had to take care of your mother's emotional needs as a child?
  • Is your mother controlling, acting like a victim or martyr?
So, 11 questions out of 33 - 1/3 I identify with. McBride says that more questions that apply to you and your mother, the further down the narcissistic spectrum your mother can be found. 

I'm at a crossroads -- do I continue reading this book, even though I don't fully believe my mother is a narcissist? Or, do I continue reading because I may find that she is? Regardless, the emotions and beliefs held by daughters of narcissist mothers are all too familiar to me, and McBride's words hit me like only truth can:
  • We flail around, we make mistakes, feel deep unworthiness, and sabotage ourselves and our lives (introduction).
  • We have been taught to repress and deny, but we have to face the truth of our experiences that our longing for a maternal warmth and mothering is not going to be fulfilled and our wishing and hoping that things will be different are not going to change things (introduction).
  • You hear familiar inner voices delivering negative messages that weaken your self-respect and confidence (pg. 17).
  • I beat myself up for what I think I've done poorly or should have done better (pg. 5).
  • These incessantly disapproving voices never gave me a moment's peace. They harangued, nagged, and demeaned me with the overall message that no matter how hard I tried, I could never succeed, could never be good enough. They created such an extreme sensitivity in me that I constantly assumed others were judging me as critically as I was judging myself (pg. 4).
The last one above really hits deep. It sums up so much of my life, so much of what has occupied my brain for as long as I can remember. And to think that there are people out there who do not identify with McBride's words -- how lucky they are! How they must feel about themselves and others!

After revisiting my reading of "Will I Ever Be Good Enough" I've decided to keep going. Feelings of sadness are flowing over me, not uncommon when confronting issues and emotions such as these. I'll pepper in these readings with my reading of "Mrs. Hemingway", my newest flapper-day-obsession book.

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