Last week I shared with you what a home is like with a mom with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

I divulged that she was also a “Malignant” and “Covert” Narcissist, sub categories to the disorder.

While a typical Narc expects everyone to love, adore them and tends to make everything about them, the covert Narc sees everything about them but as a negative.

For example, I could say, “Wow mom, you look great today. I love your hair.” And a covert Narc hears “You’re so ugly, but today you’re OK. Your hair doesn’t look as good as mine but that’s OK because I’m better than you anyways. I love the way I look compared to you, you’re disgusting.”

This can be a problem for a great many people who are not Narcissists. A covert Narc will not only hear this, take it to heart as reality, they will also formulate a reaction based on their chosen reality and make you pay for “treating” them so poorly in their mind. Unfortunately this was more than a daily issue for my mother. It seemed the more unhappy she let herself become, the more often she allowed her mind to rewrite reality. The more depressed she became the angrier she was, thus the more confrontational she became. It seemed the older I got the worse she got. I believe it was the fact that I was becoming more and more independent and less likely to be kept under her thumb.

In a traditional Christian home like mine, respecting one’s parents was a huge deal. As it really should be for anyone’s family. My mother took it to extremes. I didn’t fully notice until much later. I subconsciously rebelled against these and lashed out at life under this strain. Everything she thought remotely offensive was punishable. But keep in mind, these things were all determined by someone who’s mind isn’t reliable, as I explained before.

Since my mom told us it was all our fault each time she lost control of her temper we all took steps to reduce stress in the home. But after a while we were accused of keeping things from her and treating her like a child.

She liked to use Christianity to prop herself up. She loved rules. She held us in a legalistic version of Christianity for her sake- but a sneaky legalism. A belief system that we had freedom in Christ and we were cleansed from past sin, but guilt was part of our daily lives. We were bad people and that made my mother mad.

Remember, I was a bad daughter for making my mother so angry that she lost her temper, yelled and broke things. Shame on me for bringing out the worst in her. It was my fault she was a bad person.

She was a master at the outside image she wanted to maintain for the right people. She obsessed over being a good hostess and homemaker. If a wrench was thrown into her plans (sometimes something as small as a cake not rising or running out of dust cloths) she flew into rage.

Her rage was self deprecating on top of all her other projections. “Who forgot to buy dust cloths? You want me to fail don’t you? You distracted me at the store and made me forget eggs, you don’t think you need me, fine, why am I even here? You should just get rid of me since I can’t do anything right. I’ll kill myself, I’ll do the hard work since you can’t.” Halfway through this scenario she’d throw down whatever was in her hands. She’d create the most noise she could. Any time she talked about herself she’d hit her chest with her hand with more force than most people would inflict on themselves. I can still hear the hollow THUD, THUD. Her voice would crack and she’d cough. She’d breathe so loudly through her nose when her voice stopped, she sounded like a horse. It was in these moments I wondered if she was human or acting under another influence. Some of her actions seemed almost superhuman.

Her ability to mold your mind into what she wanted you to believe is something I’ve never seen matched. It’s a slow, constant progression, a brainwashing you barely notice. She used subtle things growing up. Pointing out the failing of another child to back up a claim about disobedience was one of them. Specifically, any child that moved out of the family home either before college or not intending to go to college was a kid that no longer wanted to abide by the rules in their parents home. (wayward child)  This seems tame, but to my mom this was a major disrespect. She had no qualms telling us that if a girl moved from her parents house she wanted to be a slut and no longer respected her parents. Her ideas were black and white, making sure no one left the nest to embarrass her or tarnish her public image.

In some ways public image mattered a lot anyways with our family. Without a whole lot of detail, we were well known in political, christian and homeschooling circles.  The last name rung a bell with just about everybody. Presentation was important but my mom was obsessive about it. Appearances were everything. Hair to toenail polish with the right shoes. Maintaining a well manicured look is not at all bad. But when you are shamed for not being flawless it’s a huge problem.

Once, not finding anything I liked at a clothing store, my mom drove me home and screamed at me the entire time. I’m sure reading this, you can agree that’s not at all unusual! {To not find any clothing you like or need on a shopping day can be disappointing but hey, you saved money right? A normal person would just try again next time. It’s not like the world suddenly began rationing its output of clothing in your size for goodness sake.} But on this particular drive home she told me I was fat, making shopping harder for everyone, and shouldn’t be so arrogant [for not liking her choice of clothing for me] about clothing for a body no one wants to look at anyways. #ThanksMomThatHelps  (you yeah I was maybe 14 at the time)

Like any other screaming session brought on by a wrench in her plans she screamed all the way home as I said. The screaming took the path of suicide again. She drove recklessly, suggested we didn’t need her since we acted like we could handle everything on our own, that she should just kill herself and relieve us of what must be her annoying presence. She beat on herself (while driving, friends) reached over and blindly grabbed and swatted at me with the same force she used on herself. She told me to suggest a bridge or cliff she could drive the car over on the way home. She demanded an answer.

My sister was crying in the back seat, mom drove recklessly, I was crying, mom was screaming. I prayed so hard for a State Trooper to pass us and pull her over, at least then she’d be out of the car, or at least would slow down enough for my sister and I to get out and refuse to get back in.

But then I feared, would it be in the paper? What if she fought the officer and we made it on the news? Would my sister and I get taken away from our parents? Would she and I be split up? Mom did this sort of thing in the car. How would we explain that’s our mom? It was still my fault, all this was over something stupid: Me being picky about clothes (Notice the thought process is already on blaming myself).

“TELL ME!” She screamed again banging her fist against the steering wheel so hard the car swerved again.

Scanning the way home in my head I knew there were no bridges or cliffs on the way so I couldn’t suggest anything. I knew she wouldn’t endanger anyone else’s lives (oddly enough) by hitting an oncoming vehicle. If she did anything damaging she could hit a tree or a pole or at the very least wreck the car in a field. Most likely whatever she did wouldn’t kill my sister in the back seat but mom and I might have a problem. “I don’t know!” I finally yelled back

My mom scoffed in disgust and spoke through gritted teeth, “I guess you’re lucky today. I bet you’re disappointed.”

No State Trooper ever drove passed us. No police cars ever spotted her speeding and swerving. I can’t remember if we even passed any other cars on the road that day. In fact I don’t remember the rest of the drive home. When we pulled into the driveway mom slammed on the brakes, throwing us forward, and she yanked the keys out, marched into the house and slammed the door with such force I don’t know how it stayed intact. My sister was still sniffling but she gathered her bags and went inside after her. I got out of the car and took a walk. I couldn’t breathe correctly and I couldn’t even feel how fast I was walking. I was numb. I couldn’t break down and rationalize what just happened. I didn’t know how to classify it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I didn’t know what to do. I walked for hours. My dad eventually found me, I can’t remember how. We talked about it but I didn’t think he fully knew what happened. I couldn’t explain it, so I didn’t. It wasn’t until much later that I realized what I was feeling was trauma.

All for a simple shopping trip that meant nothing. We didn’t find clothes I liked. It could have been the end of the world for one or all three of us.

We weren’t allowed to speak of it. Mom acted like it wasn’t her fault she got so angry. She rationalized it as “If you hadn’t been so picky I wouldn’t have gotten mad.”

My sister, ever the peacekeeper, just wanted to forget about it and never make mom angry again. What she didn’t realize was that there would be a next time. There would always be a next time.

Christianity was a fun mask for my mom, I think. Every couple of years she’d go through a humility phase where she was so sorry for what she had done. But it was a fake humility. She pulled such extremes to act like a martyr and beg for forgiveness. She made a show of praying around the house. Laying herself down on the floor face down to “pray” for her family. Long, loquacious prayers of thankfulness and righteousness over food she so “selflessly” prepared for us. She’d come to me and say “If I ever hurt you while trying to be your mother, I’m sorry. Can you ever forgive me?” A very backhanded. hollow apology she seemed to painfully deliver to me, as if this was the hardest thing she ever had to do.  She truly thought I needed a strict disciplinarian and I deserved everything I got from her and I had more coming.

I couldn’t feel any emotion when she came to me, kneeling before me, asking for forgiveness. She grew angry when I didn’t shed tears and embrace her like my sister must have. I couldn’t. I may have the first time but she went right back to her abusive words that same night. Using my lack of emotion against me. I never wanted sorrow, I wanted her to show me things like I have just described to you would never happen again. I just wanted it to stop.

She went to prayer groups and acted so self righteous, so enlightened, so set free of burden but would still come home to snap and snarl at the rest of us.

When she wasn’t acting that way, she sat like a stone in church, cold as ice. Never once reacting to worship or the preacher. In multi church events, especially around other women, she acted like the most spiritual woman in the room. At home I saw her crack open her bible for devotions we sometimes had as a family or when we was taking a course a church put on.

Her humility streaks did not last more than a few weeks to a couple months. Then she was right back at it, as if it had all built up over that time.

We became so good at appearances no one had any idea what it was like inside our home for more that 20 years. But that’s natural for the family of an abuser. A couple of my best friends often said I looked tired. A couple teachers or friends parents might have suspected something was off but things said in a classroom, or a reaction by my sister or myself. But no one outright asked us. And if they had we would have said, “Everything is fine.” because it was, that was the norm. If anything was said it’d be a very dark bottomless pit of embarrassment for the family.

** Ultimately I never saw my mother as a Christian leader or a woman to look up to. I should note that this disorder (NPD) is easily hidden in a Christian home and it’s ugly when its exposed. (another story for another day my darlings) But it is by no means represents the majority of Christianity. I have not walked away from my faith because of this. There is evil in the world and in the hearts of man because of the fall of Adam. I in no way hold the sins of my mother against the whole of Christianity. My relationship is between God and I, the Holy Trinity did not include my mother and never will. In fact, Christianity offers the best healing through this kind of emotional injury and suffering. I do not wish to be looked at with pity. This is a story that has many ugly, ugly puzzle pieces but the end result is the most beautiful to behold. I’m still healing, and may be for a great many years from now. But I can happily say I am not my mother, and I am indeed a new creation from that refining fire. I’m not finished, but I am healing.

Any comments, questions and suggestions are greatly welcomed as usual. Although I can’t answer everything, I can certainly find a few links to other helpful articles that may aide you in your search for further knowledge and understanding and possibly awareness.

As always, and with a full heart,

Love&Hugs

The Mild Millennial

17 thoughts on “Toxic Mom: Covert and Malignant Narcissist in a Christian Home Part 2

  1. I know you said no pity, but I couldn’t help but feel such sorrow reading this!! My mom… I don’t know if she was a narc but she had some mental problem for sure. Guilt trips wjg shame were used in my family. I got hit with “the rod” which was a board with the engraved Bible verse. She would blame her kids for our sin issues which obviously caused the problems we had. She never threatened suicide or called me fat, but she did like to use guilt trips to control my siblings and I. Her view of God was messed up. If you prayed and did everything right, God would bless us. But tragedy happened… We lost our house, my dad died, we had to move and live in a tiny apartment. Those things happened because of a lack of faith and because Satan was around every corner. How convenient. The strange thing was my mom drastically changed once we all moved out and had families. She was a wonderful grandma. When she died in 2010, I sobbed for her. I missed her. I still do. She redeemed the years of anger and pain in her final years on this earth and I was able to forgive her. But the pain of being raised that way still is present. I sometimes remember things she did and start feeling angry. Those things won’t just go away. It takes time.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad it hasn’t made you bitter. I’m glad you could share.

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    1. Wow. I’ve encountered subtle versions of that but nothing that strict. I’m so sorry. Although I am very impressed with her 180 change once you all moved out and had your own families. I’d like to hope for that with my mother but I don’t think I’ll get it. Stay strong, let the past be and love who you are and what you are becoming.
      Love&Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Funny but my sister.. Who’s my triplet… Is now the toxic one. I am sitting here all day wondering if I’m toxic after our last fall out. The way she is toxic is subtle. She says she wants to do this or that, then goes out with her coworker instead. She passive aggressively tells me I’m not supportive because I suggested an alternative solution to a problem then she told the lady at the gym I didn’t support her. She ignores me unless she wants something. She broke my expensive steam cleaner and have it back to me without saying anything. Then she wanted me in her wedding (2nd time around… I wasn’t able to go the first time bc she had it half way across the US) and I was so happy because I got axed out of her 1st one. Well then she plans the wedding 1.5 hours away. I have no money for a hotel so I tell her that and she says “you don’t have to stay. You can just drive home.” so after all of that and a bunch of other crap, I snapped and told her I wasn’t going. I told her she an opportunist. And she didn’t even seem to consider that maybe it would be hard for me to go. So she said I was selfish. When I told her how hurt I was, she just said “omg” and explained away her behavior. Then today she told me i was being a dick. Ask anyone. I blocked her and deleted her from my social media. It just proved to me that she thought it OK to solve the issue with me by running her mouth to everyone. But I still wonder if I’m the bad guy. Probably since I grew up in a toxic house… I’m probably screwed up too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/narcissistic-personality-disorder/causes-narcissistic-personality-disorder/
        This site might give you a little more peace in this area. I’m very sorry you have to deal with this. Even though I doubt my mother’s ability to turn from her ways, I do believe in the power of God to change hearts. (I still don’t hold much hope that my mother is open to that, and it will take a very long time for me to be convinced of it myself. ) I think there are parallels to the Jezebel Spirit and the Narcissist. If a Narcissist doesn’t like you, wear that as a badge of honor. They dislike anyone who is a better person than themselves.
        Love&Hugs
        The Mild Millennial

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  2. I enjoyed reading these posts about your mom, and I’m so sorry you had to go through this. Reading this had prompted me to do more research on narcissism which has shed a lot of light on something going on in my life right now. My sister is engaged to someone I believe to be a narcissist. (His parents are both too) I feel weird suggesting that as I have no right to “diagnose” anyone with that disorder. But the things we’ve gone through the last two years all point towards that, and the more I read about it, the more certain I am that’s what they are. And now, after several attempts of convincing my sister of the kind of person he is, I’m losing her as she doesn’t believe a word I say. Neither do my parents. (I should add that her fiancé is related to my husband and his family has know them their whole life, and my sister and family have known them only two years.) My mom is not a narcissist, but some of the things you wrote sadly sounded familiar. She too was extremely spiritual, and whenever I messed up a bit (in her opinion) she’d say things like I wasn’t going to heaven, and one day I’d have to repent. She never talked about killing herself, but she did say several times she wished she could just die already, “then you’ll be sorry!” I’m realizing now she was also trying to make me feel guilty for things beyond my control. I still don’t believe she was narcissistic, but I think now that she was too close to the brink (if that makes any sense) to realize now that my sister’s fiancé is. Every time I’ve almost managed to help my sister out of her relationship, this guy convinces her otherwise and she stays. He’s a charmer to her and a kiss-ass to my dad. It making me lose my family. Thanks again for writing on this topic!

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    1. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. My parents were married for 23 years before things finally came to an end. But this was my mother’s second marriage. Her first lasted for 2 years (that’s what she told me at least.) My advice is pray. PRAY hard. There is so much pain and pressure brought to a marriage with a Narcissist. If the marriage ends, the pain continues. There is healing that has to take place in the victims and children of the victim. But I”m afraid the Narc makes life miserable for the leaving party for as long as they possibly can. My parents have been separated for 4 years, I’ve been out on my own for that same amount of time. She’s spread rumors and done things to ruin the reputations of myself and my dad. I’ve had to go no contact for the last 3 years and those things are still happening.
      There are some great books out there about Narcissism and it’s triggers and such.
      As for your mom, I think some spiritual things like that show a more flawed thinking in grace and forgiveness (Don’t get me wrong, my mom definitely had that too, she never forgave anyone for anything in her life- it fueled such hate!) It is very possible. I encourage looking up what causes Narcissism. I’m fairly certain my mom was neglected emotionally throughout her childhood. This site may shed a little more light on this. https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/narcissistic-personality-disorder/causes-narcissistic-personality-disorder/
      If you have any question please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’m planning one or two more posts on the topic of getting away from the Narcissist.
      Love&Hugs
      The Mild Millennial

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      1. About rumors, “they” have spread awful, disgusting rumors about us. They try to get other people who know us against us. We broke of all contact and no matter how far away we are, it keeps happening. Thank you for your understanding and the advice to pray. I have prayed, but I’m going to pray more and hard. Thank you for those links, I’ll check them out!

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      2. I know exactly what you mean. It’s despicable. Sadly, my mom knew how to prey on the average Christian in our inner circle of friends. The women I looked up to and admired and respected turned against me in an instant and sided with my mom. Narcissists are so skilled in lying that they take an element of truth and spin it into something just a little bigger and while false, it’s extreme enough to be believable. I think that was the most painful of all the things to happen. I lost so much, and it was people whom I trusted, who weren’t like my mom. Female figures I looked to for Motherly counsel and wisdom. I wish you luck and will keep you in my prayers.
        Love&Hugs
        The Mild Millennial

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I do see it as a miracle. I’ve tried to pinpoint what did it in my life, but I was consistently fed truth one way or another. I held fast to the things I knew were right and pressed on. I think there are some things that will come to the surface once I am married and/or a mom. It’s a coninutous battle. I’ve likened it to being an addict at times. One trigger can bring up some issues in my thinking/ thought process or self esteem that takes conscientious redirecting. I have to make a concerted effort to practice grace and patience and confidence with myself. I can still hear my mom whispering damaging tings in my ear when I become overwhelmed or anxious but I have to actively identify them and face them. “You are no longer allowed in my mind. I am in charge. I am not what you said I was.” It’s a battle, but it’s gotten easier. Granted this has been 4 years since the healing process has begun. I’ve come a long way but I’ve still got a ways to go. I’ll be sharing soon about who I am now and so on. Stay tuned!
      Love&Hugs

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