Narcissism: "My mother has kept me from loving me"

Something is wrong with her mother. Meike * knew that early, but she was not sure what it was for a long time. Her mother only talked about her as "the child," as if she were the daughter of another woman, she did not call her by her first name. She ignored her for weeks on family vacations. Visit bothered her, which is why Meike took home no classmates. Her friends were her stuffed animals and invisible friends who existed only in her imagination. But she hardly missed real friends, her parents had none.

When Meike was eight or nine, she decided not to have children later. Because you have to yell at them so often. She hated being shouted at all the time. When she was eleven, there was no more hug and no kiss. When she was 14, she and her sister made a list of things that needed to change, things like: do not cry so much, be more considerate, not smoke at dinner. They had heard that there are families where problems are discussed. But her family does not count. The mother kept the list dead.

Shortly before graduation, Meike considered what career path she should take. Everything she was interested in made the mother bad. Photographer? There is already a photographer in town. Study psychology? Superfluous. To learn something technical? You are too clumsy. Meike heard such phrases most often from her mother anyway: you're not good enough for that. You're too stupid for that. You are unsportsmanlike. That does not look like you. Your nose looks great when you laugh. You fake gum wrong. You chop the garlic too slowly.

Today Meike knows what she is. She is the victim of a narcissistic mother. It was a long way to go before she could name that.

"Suddenly you're there, grown up, totally blocked and do not know how to live," says Meike. She is sitting in a Berlin café, a pale, blonde, slim woman, 32 years old. The jeans and blouse she wears bought her many years ago with her mother. Clothing is not the only thing she has kept from living with her. The mother is also omnipresent in her thoughts. You can tell by how Meike speaks. Her words are so quiet that the clatter at the next tables almost swallow her. Her tone is meek, her gaze averted, she makes embarrassed pauses. Contact with other people means stress for them.

One has to say: I will never get from my mother the love and affection and understanding that I would have liked. It is a meaningless fight.

Claas-Hinrich Lammers, psychotherapist

Near the café, where Meike almost threatens to disappear behind a cup of coffee, lies the place where she meets her self-help group every two weeks. For about two years, victims of narcissists, as they call themselves, dare to go public, at least halfway. Protected by the anonymity of the Internet, in closed Facebook groups or blogs, the first reports of children of narcissistic parents surfaced, suddenly there were more and more, and soon they spoke openly about their experiences. Mostly they are reports of mothers, although theoretically there should be just as many narcissistic fathers.

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