There is no simple explanation for your mother. There is no formula that will "fix" her either. If you are looking for either of those you are set up for disappointment. I will tell you what you can do. You can come to understand that you are not the one who is crazy or defective. You will discover in your search on the Internet that there are many people who understand what you've experienced and can validate your experience and feelings. That alone is priceless and will go a long way toward giving you some relief. Next, if you allow yourself, you will come to understand the "malignant" part of "malignant narcissism" and realize your mother has earned the label due to the ill-will betrayed by her behaviors.
This may be the hardest part of your quest. You have spent a lifetime consistently denying to yourself that your mother wishes you ill. You have held tightly to a few precious memories that you think prove that she really does love you. When you've dared to let your mind wander to that awful place...the place where you know deep down you've never really had a mother...you veer away sharply and go back to your little collection of memories you think counter this truth. You turn the memories over and over in your mind, working them like a worry stone, reassuring yourself that your interpretation of those events constitute the truth that your mommy loves you.
So my biggest hurdle in reaching you with the full force of reality where the narcissist mother is concerned is your insistence that she doesn't really mean what she says or does. That she really does love you deep down. I'm not going to tear that cherished belief from you all at once. At this point, I just want you to know that I approach this subject of malignant narcissism from the perspective of a daughter raised by one. So if your search for explanations for your own parasitic, life-sapping, emotional vampire of a mother brought you here then you are in a good place. I understand the spectrum of experience and emotion that being the child of a narcissistic mother represents. I hope you will scope out the entirety of the archives here, as well as the links, to augment your pursuit of knowledge of the "beast". I am not an expert. I am not a trained psychologist. I am intimately acquainted with the subject matter, though, and therefore have the benefit of experience and reflection to share with you.
I recommend you start here to understand some of the meaning wrapped up in the word "malignant". Then I hope you'll go here and thoughtfully read through the author's brilliant capture of the subtleties of the abusive ways of a narcissistic mother.
It's about secret things. The Destructive Narcissistic Parent creates a child that only exists to be an extension of her self. It's about body language. 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.
Not until you are able to fully admit to yourself the ever-present ill-will your mother has toward you will you be able to plot a future course which will free you from her tyranny and allow you the room to live life on healthy terms. Because of your connection with this woman you are a conduit through which she reaches into the lives of those around you. You see the caustic effect of her touch on them, but haven't yet realized your responsibility to protect them from the parasite you call "mother". You have some work to do. You need be brave enough to look squarely in the eyes of truth and admit what you've not been willing to admit before. You need to then act according to this reality. You need to protect yourself and others from her. This may only be accomplished by strictly limiting contact, or it may require you completely cutting off all contact. If you are able to prove to yourself the ever-present malignancy of your mother to your satisfaction, then you will also have to admit to yourself that she is a dangerous person. Dangerous to the minds, bodies and souls of all those in her sphere of contact.
My primary prescription to those who are able to come to these conclusions about a narcissistic mother (or father) is to completely cut-off from them. The reason I end up with this recommendation is because of this hard and fast reality: if someone is a practiced and demonstrably malignant narcissist, they are unreformable. What you see is what you can expect to get forever. That means the only thing you have the power to change is yourself and your circumstances. You can't change your mother, but you can walk away. You can't change her consistently malevolent ways, but you can choose to protect yourself and others from them.
You have a responsibility to face reality and do the right thing most particularly if you have children of your own. Her malevolence does not stop with you. Your children will be touched by it. Even the now "grandmotherly" behavior of your mother is not a sign she is safe. She is a predator. Your children are either going to receive direct ill-treatment, or they may simply be used as a pawn to get to you. Beware. Narcissistic grandparents love to steal your children from you. Sometimes physically steal them, but most often steal their hearts. She will slander you to your own children behind your back. She will create anarchy against your parental authority. She is a danger to the government of your home. You're going to have to be willing to reassess her access to your own children. It feels like a sin to deprive her of her grandchildren. Both she and society consider it such. Think for yourself. Don't let others presume to tell you someone is "safe" when you have clear evidence to the contrary.
You are going to need a sense of moral and psychological strength in order to oppose the destructive spiritual and emotional force of the malignant narcissist. Whether or not you are a religious person, you need to realize that the malignant narcissist carries with them a malignant spirit. The second meaning of the word spiritual is what I'm describing:
concerned with or affecting the spirit or soul.
This is the realm that the narcissist almost entirely operates in. This also explains one reason it is so hard to nail down the evil these people engage in. They move primarily in the spiritual realm. Which means much of what they do seems nearly intangible. Nailing them down resembles trying to nail Jello to the wall. What they do profoundly affects your spirit. When you've tried to explain the effects on your own spirit and the evidence of the spirit of the narcissist, you've often been met with outright skepticism and criticism of you and your motives. This is because people often can not relate to a spirit they've never encountered personally. It is easy enough for them to disbelieve something as ephemeral and intangible as spirit. Who can blame them for being unwilling to believe in the hatefully evil spirit of your mother? They have no way to relate to this spirit if they haven't actually met it intimately as you have. Can you think of a more perfect disguise for evil than motherhood? Mother is supposed to be the embodiment of self-sacrifice and good-will toward the weakest among us...the children. So how better to cover the malignancy of your spirit than to cloak yourself in the armament of iron-clad reputation known as "mother"? As tempting as it may be to fault people for not believing your reports against your mother, you need to understand how it looks from their perspective. They had good mothers. They look around and see society's reverence for good mothers and assume that all mothers are like theirs. On the other hand, you have eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. While you are able to comprehend the truth that most mothers are good, you have experienced the other kind of mother, and so you also know there is such a thing as evil mothers. It is a heavy burden to bear. Be assured, some of us out here understand this lonely and very real place.
What I'm trying to get across here is that you are going to have to wrestle with spiritual issues if you are to come to understand the narcissist. You've entered the realm of good vs. evil. You are going to have to shore up your own spiritual self in order to have the strength to oppose the full force of malignant spirit you will find yourself up against especially as you start to oppose its will.
This blog is one place where you can help fortify your soul for the battle.