“You’ll Be Sorry When She’s Dead”—How to Lock Her Out Anyway


 

“You’ll be sorry when she’s dead.” It’s a phrase on Page 1 of the secret handbook for defending toxic mothers—but it just isn’t true.

On a Saturday morning last fall, my neighbor Jane and I drove up Ashdown Road on our way to an antique fair at a nearby farm. Jane and I had only recently met, when I moved into the barn that formerly belonged to the farmhouse she lives in next door.

As the car rolled quietly up the shade dappled road, Jane uttered the dreaded phrase, “I’ve been reading your blog.”

A self-conscious person who paradoxically posts much of my inner life online, I am regularly surprised that people actually read this stuff, and when this blog and real life intersect, I am suddenly divested of the discretion I have worked so hard to learn. (Daughters of narcissists are notoriously bad at setting boundaries.)

I want followers. In fact, please follow my blog now — click “Follow”in the right margin. It’s just that I cringe when followers turn out to be real human beings.

“And I relate very much to your experience with your mother,” Jane said. Deep breath, and we arrived at the farm.

Of all the anecdotes Jane told me that morning, one story was all I needed to know about Jane.
Years before, Jane received a call from England informing her that her mother had died. Jane hung up the phone, told her husband the woman was dead, and continued with her day.

“Well!” her husband remarked, himself no great fan of Jane’s mother. “I do hope you’ll cry when the dog dies!”

And when their dear Labrador died, Jane did cry. And when her father died, Jane cried, because Jane is a perfectly normal person. Love your enemies, et al, but the demise of impossibly cruel mothers does not make their tortured daughters cry.

So, no, creating parameters in your life ensuring your well being will not fill you with an eternity of grief and regret when your mother goes to the great beyond, although many people will tell you differently. Daughters of narcissists start grieving their living mothers in earliest childhood. They go No Contact as a means to heal that grief.

I write about making the decision to go No Contact here,  here and here. It’s not for everyone, and for some people it’s temporary. Below I offer the nuts and bolts of it, constructed from the search terms my readers use to find my blog.

Q & A on Locking your Narcissistic Mother out of your Life.

When do I do it?

Severing ties with your mother is not a passive aggressive ruse or a dose of the silent treatment. The decision usually arises not in the heat of anger, but after a long, slow boil of lifelong, emotional abuse.

“Toxic parents lie, manipulate, ignore, judge, abuse, shame, humiliate and criticise. Nothing is ever good enough,” Karen Young writes on her blog, Hey Sigmund. “They oversee childhoods with no warmth, security or connection. ”

And that cold, toxic stew of disapproval, unpredictability and loneliness marinates long after childhood. Weddings, baptisms, new babies and holidays all have a dark cloud: the crazy your mother brought to the occasion.

Write a letter?

Yes.

Well, a brief note, actually. “I am choosing to sever our relationship. Please do not contact me.”

Explain why?

No.

To write a letter explaining how your mother hurt you leaves you vulnerable. All your powers of persuasion and attempts to conjure compassion will be as effective as fairy dust. You will write hoping your mother will finally understand your woundedness, will finally comprehend the error of her ways, will finally apologize. Again, vulnerability gives her power and puts you in the snare of expectations.

“Maybe now she’ll understand” or “Maybe she’ll be sorry.” I promise, she won’t.

How do I get away?

Block her number on your cell phone and block her email. Sever all ties on social media. Check your privacy settings.

If she literally arrives at your doorstep, don’t open the door. If she refuses to leave, call the police. If it happens continually, file a restraining order.

Mark unopened mail “Return to Sender”.

When do I re-establish contact?

Moving? Having a baby? Diagnosed with a terminal illness? Nope, nope and nope.

Don’t let a life event significant to you cloud your judgment.  Your milestones and your adversities will be propagandized for her own ends, to raise her perceived status or to earn sympathy from her friends.

Celebrate the births of babies, job promotions and new homes with people who are psychologically capable of sharing your joy.

Likewise in times of trial, physical, emotional or financial, remember: your distress gives your narcissistic mother twisted pleasure.

When she wasn’t given a front row pew at my daughter’s baptism, my mother stormed out of the church.

When I said something disagreeable during Thanksgiving dinner, she reached her arm behind her chair and latched onto the frame of an antique hunt print that had belonged to her and my father when they were married. While glaring at me, she pulled the picture out from the wall, the picture wire taut, the nail straining in the drywall. I was speechless. The threat was clear. If I did not behave as she wished, she would take back the painting, or at least let it shatter on the dining room floor.

When my father entered his final illness, I asked my mother to watch my children so I could be at his side in the ICU.  She said, “But I’m saving my vacation days for his funeral.” At that funeral, she complained vociferously, “Nobody allows the ex-wife to grieve!” When I was overcome with grief for my father, she told me, “You need help!”

If you ever decide to reestablish contact for whatever reason, do it from a place of strength. Never attempt to reconnect until you are healed, distant, objective, and prepared.

Prepared for what? Disappointment.

Jane and I spent an hour or two walking through tables laden with dusty, charming “fine dustables” as a friend calls them. I had in my possession a trio of felted, pale yellow chicks— fuzzy, useless charm— and a set of sterling silver salt and pepper shakers—utilitarian. Seriously.

Jane bought a little brass moose. “I think I’ll take it to camp,” she said. In upstate New York, “camp” is a second home, sometimes as modest as a tool shed, sometimes as grand as the Kennedy Compound, that New Yorkers  escape to in the summer.

Anita Diamant wrote, “If you want to understand any woman, you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully.”

Emphasis on carefully.

 

 

 

 

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23 thoughts on ““You’ll Be Sorry When She’s Dead”—How to Lock Her Out Anyway

  1. Teresa

    Misty, I thoroughly enjoy your raw “real” style of writing and I absolutely appreciate your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable. At times I feel as though I am a walking Pandora’s box, if it opens it will be too much.

    Like

  2. Aly

    Misty, great article, and as always your gift of writing coupled with your insight of this topic, leaves me feeling validated and more emotionally, grounded. I haven’t been able to go No Contact, yet, so I am in a constant state of trying to regain my balance; and undo the self-doubt, caused by NM’s Gaslighting, and other related NPD, tactics of abuse. Thank you for this reminder. I needed it:).

    Like

  3. Still always needing to explain the actions of the absent

    Well, it took me until my forties also. No lock necessary. I just stopped pursuing going over there.
    Now it is me who is unreachable they say. I stopped chasing and hoping, needing and explaining, adoring. Missing here are the perpetual questions of the mothers in the workplace etc.. who need to hear where you go for holidays and weekends. The past kept present. Poor you, do you see?
    Another layer is, as your child watches you be treated as this, so they treat you.
    Scapegoating you also, gives them more family members they need besides you on their side in support of them as they get older. They saw you diss your mother, and they diss you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Laurie

    I read the Graceformyheart blog each Friday and thought I would take a look at your blog today. Thank you for writing this…… altough I have not gone no contact, I sometimes dream of it. Your sentence of; “Daughters of narcissists start grieving their living mothers in earliest childhood” is so true. There are few places in our daily walk (I’m 57 and she’s 88 and going strong) where we could talk with anyone who would truly understand. My children don’t understand and neither does my husband. So I am grateful for a place to look and see that I am not alone in the pain. Thank you for writing because it helps those of us who have to bury the abuse inside their soul, forgive, and then continue on as best as they can.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Laurie, Thanks for reading. I’m so sorry we have this in common, but I’m grateful you find some comfort in my story. I am a Christian (Catholic background), and wrote about the religious guilt associated with having a narcissistic parent here: https://awordplease.org/2014/11/09/honor-thy-narcissistic-mother-the-4th-commandment-and-going-no-contact/

      Maybe that will give you some strength. There are ways to establish very limited contact which can give you freedom from abuse without so much guilt. I hope you find what works for you. Be well!

      Like

      1. Laurie

        I am a Christian too! I got saved in 2004. I am eternally grateful for the true love and true care I have received through my brothers and sisters in Christ. We serve the One True and Living God! Thank you for writing as it serves to strengthen me in the healing process which has been VERY LONG and continues. God bless you dear one!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jane Lochowicz

    HI MIsty: Just read your blog and I wanted to tell you I went no contact with NM during the 1990’s. She died in 1997 and I refused to go to her wake (she didn’t want a funeral). My oldest sibling tried to talk me into going but kept refusing. Even after I had hung up on her she kept calling me & I wouldn’t answer the phone. I kept thinking my other 6 siblings would eventually love me for what I am to no avail. I have decided that I will have no contact them as well as they treat me just like how my mother had treated me by ignoring me. FInding sites like this helps me get through the day even though my own therapist & psychiatrist didn’t think to bring up NM as being noteworthy in my therapy. I found NM on my own and it was like a light went on and that the missing pieces were finally found. I will continue on and probably will drop my therapist/psychiatrist as they have given me labels that just don’t fit. Not only did I have to fight my NM now I have to fight with the therapist/psychiatrist for not recognizing I am a daughter scapegoat of an NM. Thanks & Take care

    Like

    1. Hi Jane,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I regularly avoided discussing my mother in therapy. I just wanted to “move on.” This blog was the first time I started working through things. The only advice I ever give to readers is to stay in therapy or counseling. The healing process is lifelong, and counseling is our best chance at a fulfilled, whole self. Be well!

      Like

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  7. Melissa Young

    Hi Misty. I have literally JUST gone no contact yesterday. I’m 47. It’s taken literally YEARS until we had an explosive fight last Friday and as she left I told her never to return and to cut me out of her will. Yesterday my husband (a mental health nurse) and I wrote “THE” email notifying her of no contact with us or the kids. I’ve blocked her on social media, phone and won’t open the door. I’ve just gone through our washing pile and realised most of my clothes were bought by her and our sheets and linen mostly bought by her. I’m in conflict. I don’t want those things in my house any longer. Yet to replace them would cost a huge amount.
    Thank you so much for your honest and raw account of your own experience. When you said, “you have a very vivid imagination” was their mantra, my blood ran cold. This was frequently used against me since an early age. I know I’ve done the right thing. Now to figure out how to heal.
    Many, many thanks and blessings,
    Melissa Young

    Like

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve experienced a lot of healing since going no contact…but it’s a slow process. I hope you have a counselor or spiritual director on your team to help you through the grief. For me, there has been much less disappointment in my life. I always expected my mother to act maternally, a constant recipe for pain.

      As far as the clothing and bedding, wait a month or so. If her gifts still make you uncomfortable, donate them and restock at thrift stores or ebay.

      Stay in touch! I would love to hear how it’s going.

      Best,
      Misty

      Like

  8. Lindsay

    Hi there,

    I have just stumbled upon your blog, and I simply wanted to say, “thank you.” After a lifetime of mental abuse, I went “no-contact” with my narcissistic mother 4 years ago (at the age of twenty-five) and haven’t looked back since. It certainly has not been an easy path (thanks, flying monkeys!), but I have absolutely no regrets.

    It seems her life’s ambition is to make my own life miserable, and the lengths she goes are quite incredible. Her incessant efforts to reach me are tiresome and anxiety-inducing; I never know where she will show up. (From appearing on my door step, to circling my work…I am constantly looking over my shoulder, as I know she is seeking confrontation.)

    Through it all, she never fatigues. I assume this is yet another trait of narcissists? She does everything she can to elicit a response from me: sympathy, anger, feigning illness, etc. I will admit, I have been tempted, like any human would, to respond. But, I realized early on that silence would be my loudest scream.

    You have articulated so well what this rare experience is like – gaslighting, flying monkeys, mental manipulation, shaming….I found myself saying “Finally, someone who gets it.”

    Take good care,

    L

    Like

    1. Thanks, Lindsey, for reading and for the kind words. No, they don’t fatigue. I had a counselor tell me I needed to move far away. I was like, well, okay, married, kids, not possible. But then we did move away, far away, and it has been a relief. My mother would also drive past my house and peek in my windows.

      Good job on not taking the bait. Congratulations on making healthy choices for yourself!

      Like

  9. Miriam

    I pray you will respond to me. ..
    40 years of suffering with a narcissist mother and my suffering continues. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t cry over my father’s death 3 years ago as he was always so sweet. Now I realize I despise him for allowing my mother carte blanche with all her destruction. He would come soothe me in private, and remind me what a loving mother she is, but never stand up for me. He worshipped and adored her to a point that I find no words for. She has hundreds of letters and cards from him with every adjective in the dictionary that puts her above God in virtues. I could vomit.

    My siblings went no contact years ago. I was the golden child, parentified at an early age. Though this woman has stolen my life, I suffer from Stokholm Syndrome as I pity her. She is now in her mid 80”s with dementia and lives with me and my husband.

    My marriages have been empty allowing me to focus on my mother’s every need. I’m in my 60’s, looking to divorce and start a career to become independent for the first time in my life.

    What do I do with my mother? She’s still lucid and very abusive. She doesn’t have the money for assisted living and yet doesn’t qualify for government programs. Also, her enmeshment kept me from a career. I won’t collect Social Security. My life career was pleasing my parents, and now her. I deserve and will need my inheretance thru my old age.

    Please help me with a solution. Thank you and God bless you for your work.

    Like

    1. Hi Miriam,
      Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your story. Before I made the decision to go no contact from my mother, I had spent years in counseling and spiritual direction. I had to learn healthy boundaries, and learn how to keep my thinking straight after years of emotional abuse.

      I sense the pain in your words, and understand the urgency you feel about your life. But please trust me, the best thing to do is find a counselor, therapist or spiritual director. He or she can help you make healthy decisions, and help you face the consequences of those decisions. I hope you’ll make an appointment with someone today. If you don’t have insurance, churches often have counselors who work on a sliding scale.

      I understand your pain, and know what it is to feel trapped. I will be praying for you and hope you check back in.

      Peace and JOY,
      Misty

      Like

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