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Lemon Moms: A Guide to Understand and Survive Maternal Narcissism
When our mothers are emotionally and/or physically detached, in other words, if they neglected us, were self-absorbed, weren’t interested in anything we had to say, or in our activities or friends, weren’t happy to see us, or didn’t hug, kiss, hold, sing or read to us often, we got the message that we weren’t important. We learned that we didn’t matter. If our mother parented by blaming, shaming, humiliating, intimidating, manipulating, mocking, using sarcasm, or gaslighting, then it’s likely that we often felt unacceptable. Now as adults, we feel “less than” or “not good enough”. We learned that everybody else’s needs, especially our mothers, were more important than ours. If you’re like me, you thought you were a burden.
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Growing up in this kind of environment meant that we couldn’t express our feelings, or ask questions because mom wasn’t interested in them or it didn’t feel safe to share them.
The result was that we never experienced knowing what it’s like to have our thoughts and feelings validated. When we’re not validated we tend to have thoughts of worthlessness, that we don’t matter or aren’t important. We start thinking, feeling and believing that we aren’t good enough and that others are more important than we are. This is important to note because when our feelings become connected with our thoughts, a belief is created. Without intervention, we carry that belief with us into adulthood. (“A belief is a thought that we are emotionally attached to.”–Magnus Dell)
If we believe that we’re fundamentally flawed or undeserving of being treated well, or of being loved, we willingly become a dumping ground for other’s emotional garbage. Even though we don’t like it, we believe we deserve nothing better than this kind of treatment. We haven’t seen healthy boundaries modeled for us, so we don’t know there’s a way to protect ourselves. We unconsciously broadcast the message that we exist to be of service to others and that it doesn’t matter how they treat us. We accept disrespect, unfair or unkind treatment, and even physical, verbal, and emotional abuse.
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recognize symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome, process Narcissism Awareness Grief, deal with anger, begin lovingly detaching, set boundaries, recognize and eliminate codependent behavior, and much more.
The Lemon Moms Companion Workbook
The Lemon Moms Companion Workbook is your safe space for healing. Use it in place of a journal, or in addition to one, as you walk through the chaos and confusion of living with maternal narcissism. Thought-provoking questions and action-oriented steps help you to gain insight and perspective. Additionally, you’ll learn how to decode the crazy-making behavior, heal the damage, and move forward to live your best life.
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“Healing” is not the deletion of the pain or the memories. Healing doesn’t erase what happened, and it certainly doesn’t wipe away the memories or the hurt, or your feelings or thoughts about your childhood experiences or of your mother. Healing isn’t about forgetting.
Healing is about reframing your painful and traumatic experiences so that they add depth and meaning to your personal story. If you were able to erase those experiences, you would also erase a huge opportunity for personal growth and development.
In the process of healing, we take painful memories and experiences and create a whole new understanding around them.
Healing means that when we’ve come out on the other side, we have a scar that’s a permanent reminder of what we’ve survived, and it will be a part of us always. Scars don’t hurt, and after a while, we hardly remember it’s there. It’s simply another aspect of our personal story.
Without that story or that experience, we wouldn’t be who we are today.
Recuperating from abuse requires us to be willing to become new and better versions of ourselves. Being able to forgive our mothers is an important part of this process, but so is cultivating the ability to forgive ourselves. Why? Because we may have unknowingly, or knowingly, hurt others as a result of our own unhealed or unacknowledged childhood wounds.
Healing gives us back the capacity to trust ourselves We begin to trust our judgment and to be able to make healthy and meaningful decisions. We begin to trust others. We become better human beings.
When we self-avoid the healing process, our emotional triggers often become more sensitive. When we’re easily triggered we end up putting even more emotional energy into self-avoidance just to keep from getting triggered. It becomes a cycle of hiding from our pain any time pain is felt. Eventually, we might need the help of substances or activities to keep from feeling this pain; alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping, gambling, etc. Pretty much anything can serve as a distraction to avoid pain. The result is that nothing gets healed and the pain and the emotional triggers continue to grow.
- On beliefs: Remember that beliefs are thoughts that have emotions attached to them. Eliminating inaccurate beliefs is a primary key to healing. Pick one of your childhood beliefs to examine. What thoughts and feelings are still connected to it? For example: “I won’t ever be successful.” List the feelings and thoughts that come up and write about them at length. Are they still relevant to your life today? Why or why not? Explain.
- On codependency: Do you like to “help” and “fix” other people or their problems? Give recent examples of ways that you’ve helped others or tried to fix them or their problems. Did they ask for this help? Did you jump in and get involved because you knew what to do? Did they accept your help? How did they respond? How did this make you feel? What did you think about the outcome? What have you learned? Write about how you felt in this scenario and what you can do differently next time.