Jordie said:My mother is also far from a "worst case" example if I was to measure her by what most people think of her. She is not the "worst case" even when just measured by me. She is a "garden variety" malignant narcissist. Nevertheless, she captures the very essence of the malignant narcissist which is why I am able to describe the "beast" of narcissism in a way that many can relate to. I have distilled down the "spirit" of narcissism and described the underlying principles narcissism operates from. I focus here on principles of narcissism so that regardless of the level of abuse a person has experienced with their narcissist, they will be able to recognize from my descriptions what they've been dealing with.
My problem is the voice inside which says, she's not THAT bad, after reading some of the terrible stories of other N mothers that are out there. How do I wrestle that one to the ground?
I have actually cut her off, after 43 years of blaming myself and excusing her arbitrary, volatile, poisonous lies.
This is harder than I thought.
One of the reasons I stated in this particular post that there are spiritual issues you are up against when dealing with a narcissist is because many of the effects of their behaviors are subtle and intangible to an outsider, yet very real when they are happening to you. This is also why I refer you, in this post, to this web page:
Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers
"It's about disapproving glances. It's about vocal tone. It's very intimate. And it's very powerful. It's part of who the child is."The very premise of this person's description of the N mother is how subtle the abuse is. Then the author goes on to state this:
"Everything she does is deniable. There is always a facile excuse or an explanation. Cruelties are couched in loving terms. Aggressive and hostile acts are paraded as thoughtfulness. Selfish manipulations are presented as gifts. Criticism and slander is slyly disguised as concern. She only wants what is best for you. She only wants to help you."Does any of this description sound like overt abuse? Much of what this person goes on to describe are the very subtle ways a narcissistic mother undermines you and punches you with an iron fist inside a velvet glove. Her role as "mother" is her cover. Her protestations of undying love and devotion to her children are her ruse.
I suggest you look at your mother in terms of what her consistent behaviors over the years have indicated. An occasional misdeed doesn't a narcissist make. It is the consistency of their malicious intent as betrayed by their words and deeds over the years. The aforementioned web page states this:
"Because her abusiveness is part of a lifelong campaign of control and because she is careful to rationalize her abuse, it is extremely difficult to explain to other people what is so bad about her.""Other people" includes yourself.
Narcissists make their "living" by covering up their malignancy. "Plausible deniability" is essential so they can weasel out of all accountability for their deeds. This makes it hard to find "proof" to issue a final "verdict" on them. This is what keeps you trapped in the relationship. The most important measurement of the malignancy of a narcissist is in the effect on you. You can accurately measure the toxicity of the narcissist by the effects on your own soul. Whether they snuffed out their cigarettes on your bare skin or stuffed you in a closet for three years, these are not the only manifestations of a malignant narcissist, nor are they the only justification for going "no contact". Perhaps the only evidence you have of their Nism is how they consistently and sneakily undermined your person-hood and stole who you are from you. The evidence of who they really are is in the effects on you. You need to give yourself permission to issue your "verdict" against your N mother based on the evidence left on your heart, mind and soul.
Malignant narcissism isn't measured by reaching a certain level of hard abuse. It is measured by certain principles. For example, the first and primary characteristic of narcissism is their insatiable need to "have it all". All of what? Attention and regard. All the attention and kindly regard in any circumstance is theirs by right, in their thinking. Since attention is essential for all humans to survive (both physically and psychologically), their demand to "have it all" is malicious. They would deprive you of any of this precious commodity because they MUST have it all. This principle explains everything a narcissist does. It is the underlying motivation, the very core, for whatever expression their narcissism takes.
Because of their need to "have it all", which means "you can't have ANY", they are predatory. They are constantly stalking their "prey". This is how they make their living. The fact that they rarely get "caught" in their mistreatment of you is because they are expert at predation. Like any predator in nature, they seek moments of opportunity. They don't pounce when by doing so there will be witnesses of their predation (witnesses whom the N thinks may hold them accountable and may try to stop them). This is why they seek out what they perceive as "weak" targets. Perceived weakness can include someone who is simply kind to the narcissist (!). A child is perceived as weak. An adult trained by a narcissist parent from childhood who has yet to stand up to the N parent's predations is considered a weak target. Vulnerability is sniffed out by a narcissist with nearly unfailing accuracy.
Their need to "have it all" and their predatory natures are two basic and primary principles of narcissism. How these manifest are different in every situation. The narcissist adapts to their environment which is why the behaviors can widely vary. The underlying principles remain the same.
To sum up:
Measure the narcissist by 1) the effects manifested in you 2) and by the principles of narcissism. The sneaky narcissist is no less guilty than the overt abuser. In my estimation, they are more evil for their sneakiness and their ability to more effectively hide their malicious predations. The more they are able to hide their malicious intent behind a facade of "goodness", the more dangerous they are. It is much easier to hold to account a person who beats you up physically. You at least have marks and bruises to bear witness of the crime. But someone who beats you up mentally and emotionally leaves no outward mark. This is why I say the sneaky narcissist is more dangerous. In my book, they are also more evil. Which is more dangerous? The snake in the open, or the snake in the grass?