Narcissistic hoovering 

I’m still wrapping my head around the events from Saturday night and the things that my fiancé said on Sunday about it.  I know I am a little preoccupied with it, but it had such a strong effect on me that I can’t help but try to make sense of it a bit more until it lessens its hold.

So far this is where I am at.

Ever since T told me that my mother suffered from NPD, I have made conscious efforts to keep her at arm’s length. I’ve distanced myself from her physically and emotionally. It has been hard because the only way I’ve really been able to do this, to keep that distance emotionally, has been to be on high-alert and I guess, feel angry – perhaps unconsciously.  For a long time when I saw her I felt highly defensive and have been known to be a bit passive with her.  I told T this once and said I was constantly on the look out for digs from her, insults and sometimes when she tripped herself up with lies I would make a point of questioning her.  T said it was anger then, she was right.

Then for a long while I totally switched off my feelings that I grieved for that relationship and felt “over it”.  I wrote a few months back that when T told me I still had hopes for things to be different with my mum, I got angry. It made me want to scream at her “NO I DO NOT!!!”. I reflected at the time that perhaps I was protesting too much.

Then I got engaged. I Facetimed her with my fiancé to tell her the news.  She reacted as predicted with screams etc. but it didn’t feel particularly genuine (although I don’t know if that’s me always assuming the worse or what)… the next day she sent balloons and flowers.  She didn’t tell the whole family, she let me do it – I was surprised. I was pleased.

I was allowed to tell everyone myself, she didn’t make it all about her or tell anyone at all – I thought this is good, she isn’t reacting as I predicted. This was part 1 to me being fooled.  The next thing to happen was that me and my fiancé met her, her husband, my Nan and Granddad for lunch one day.  When we walked towards them at the pub, I had hoped for a bit of a special greeting = maybe they would clap when they saw us or something but it was very normal. I was slightly disappointed secretly but not surprised. She didn’t really mention the engagement, she didn’t ask to see the ring or anything….. BUT she behaved herself well enough at the lunch and I left feeling like it had gone successfully.  Part 2.

I then secretly went to a wedding dress shop without her and found “the dress”.  I loved it and knew it was what I wanted but didn’t feel I could make any decision without her. The shop assistant suggested that I Facetimed her so she could see me in it. I did and she cried. My mother CRIED at me in my wedding dress. I felt so emotional that I cried too and I couldn’t believe she had reacted like that. The shop assistant and my sister-in-law told me how lovely my mum’s reaction had been – how I must have her all wrong (grrr) and I stupidly fell for the tears. I felt instant guilt that I hadn’t invited her to come along – after all, she reacted so well. No insults, digs, no comments that would upset me somehow…… she even PAID for my dress, in full!!!! Part 3.

The next day, she sent me a text to tell me she had transferred money (£2,000!) into my bank account. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked and we discussed it because I didn’t think she could afford it, told her she didn’t need to etc. – I then thanked her (as did my fiancé). I was chuffed. An hour later she asked me if I was inviting someone and I replied to say no. She replied “well, that is awkward” and I thought this could be the start of it all…  I thought to myself then that I shouldn’t spend that money yet as I may need to offer it back if the money comes with a price but she didn’t kick off like I thought she would and she didn’t refer to the fact she had sent me money…. I did feel obligated but I wanted to keep firm. Part 4.

I then made an appointment at the dress shop and we both took a day off work to go and show her my dress. She cried again (I didn’t because it didn’t feel very genuine to me) and then we went for lunch afterwards. She was fine, it wasn’t the stuff dreams are made of but she behaved herelf. She even brought me my veil and a necklace that I was going to buy myself. Part 5

Me and my fiancé saw her about a week later for dinner at her house, she was on good form – good behaviour and because it was a work night, she didn’t get drunk and we left by about 9pm – another successful night! Part 6.

That leads us to Saturday where it all fell to shit. As soon as I saw her I felt it. The change had happened. The closest thing I can relate the feeling to was that I picked up on her anger. She seemed angry or jealous or both. I’m not quite sure. I’ve already written about the specifics of that evening so I won’t go into that again here.. the point is, by Saturday I had been hoovered back in.  I had been fooled that things were finally different. I foolishly thought that because the last month had been “normal” that we had somehow turned a corner where we could maintain a healthier relationship! and then I was rather brutally proved wrong.

I’ve gone over the specific events again and again since then and I think I’ve put most of them down to a lack of attention towards her, too much attention towards me and my fiancé (engagement related), her anger that me and my boyfriend were paying my aunty and uncle attention and genuinely getting along well with them (because she HATES him and constantly slags my aunty off too) and the fact that I was having a better time than her.  But I could be wrong.

I obviously don’t know what was going on inside her mind. The fact that when we got in the car to leave, the first thing she said was “[Uncle] is still a total wanker isn’t he?” to which her husband agreed and me and my fiancé blanked.  She then went on to say how close she was with my other cousin (other side of the family who wasn’t there) and how that cousin wishes she were her mum. I am pretty sure that was said to either spark envy in me or to remind me that she was attractive and wonderful and that it was only me that couldn’t see that.  I didn’t bite.  Her inviting a couple to our wedding who we do not know (and would never invite) I think was her attempt at seeing if she could still have that power over me – testing to see if I would still allow her to do that – if I would let her do what she wanted or not and her complete lack of response at me telling her we had a wedding fare on Sunday I put down to either a lack of interest and an unwillingness to pretend she cared for my sake OR jealousy.

I get the distinct impression that she hates my happiness. My happiness makes her unhappy. That is a bitter pill to swallow and one that is hard to fully comprehend. Not just my happiness, but anyone’s.  She seemed irritated that me and my boyfriend liked my aunty’s new bathroom, that we said how cool their garden was (she even said “I don’t think so – it was better before”).  It made me question, were the tears when I was in my wedding dress about how proud she felt seeing her little girl grown up and happy OR envy related?

Anyway, I feel annoyed with myself that I let my guard down because I had boundaries in place with her that I removed when I (clearly) got sucked back in… I allowed myself to be hoovered back.  I did things/said things that would make her happy – I knew it as I did it but told myself that it was okay this time “because she really was behaving”.  For example, it is her 50th birthday in a few weeks and she has invited the whole word to a weekend away “clubbing”.  I told her we could only go for the Saturday day and overnight and not the entire weekend as she had wanted. I knew it had displeased her considerably but remained firm. I didn’t even want to go but was trying to remove any further drama.  When I got sucked back in recently, I told her me and my fiancé could now come Friday and Saturday – I knew she would be happy about that and she was.  Now I am regretting it hugely.  Lesson learnt.

She also told us thta she had got us tickets to a festival recently. We didn’t know anything about it and she said “didn’t I tell you?” – well it turns out to be on my aunty’s 50th birthday. As that came out that evening she said “Oh no, you are joking! We are all going to this festival!!!”.  I have no doubt it was done on purpose. But we had said we would go.. now what! ?

I feel as though the right thing to do now is to put the boundaries back in. Reinstate the physical and emotional distance and learn my lesson that just because it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck..  doesn’t in fact mean it is one. It’s a hard lesson to learn but I guess an important one.

So now I guess I keep my distance again…. I stay away from her again until I have to see her (at her birthday now) which I am dreading. I have to go, it will be all about her – which, let’s face it is nothing new! She will be drunk and she will have all her flying monkeys there – all the family and friends that think she is the bee’s knees and all those (especially the cousin I refer to earlier) telling her how beautiful, clever, funny she is.. buying her special 50th birthday presents.. she will be absolutely LOVING the spotlight and attention and maybe that will keep any anger or jealousy away from me.. BUT I am now back to feeling angry and dissapointed and hurt and stupid and all the other things from allowing myself to be fooled and so I feel like I’m back to square one of feeling defensive around her and probably becoming passive when she does and says things that are stupid or blatant lies. I will struggle again as she is so fake towards the people she regularly slags off (like uncle for example) and will not enjoy myself at all. It’s a potentially dangerous position for me to be in because the unfairness of it all mixed with alcohol and all these people who think she is great (add for extra annoyance the “your mum misses you so much”) and it makes me want to kill her.

Clearly I wouldn’t actually do anything like that – but it does make me so angry that I find it VERY hard to bite my tongue. VERY HARD and that is the worst thing that I could do because last time I reached my limit and exploded (3 years ago) all that happened was that I “proved” my mother right – apparently she had told everyone how jealous, angry, nasty I was .. and so my explosion confirmed to them all that my poor mother was, in fact, the victim.





26 thoughts on “Narcissistic hoovering 

      1. It’s a vicious cycle and I’ve though the cycle too many times now. Unless she admits to me everything she has done and apologises for it (without blaming me), I know she hasn’t changed. If she comes to me and says “I’ve been abusive and manipulative and I’m sorry” then I might take notice. Unfortunately she is unable to apologise or take responsibility for her actions so that will never really happen.

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  1. I am so sorry you are going through this with your mother. Please don’t beat yourself up. You are dealing with something that is incredibly hard on every level. I think it is easy to get sucked back in… until we are finally able to SEE clearly that no matter what, they cannot be trusted. And even more than that, that they are dangerous for us. Dangerous emotionally and psychologically… and dangerous to our sense of self and our happiness and future. Thank you for sharing this. It was so helpful to see clearly how gaslighting works. When it is your own mother or your daughter, someone you love dearly, it is so much harder to let go completely and save yourself from such evil. My heart goes out to you! This is hard because you are not a narcissist… our minds don’t think like theirs. Therefore, it is impossible to stay ahead of them and to fully protect ourselves in their presence. To engage with them is to lose. Lots of hugs!

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment. It warmed my heart reading it as it felt so genuine.

      That’s the annoying thing you see, I thought I could see clearly that she couldn’t be trusted and that she is dangerous! I thought I was past the stage of being able to be sucked in and past the stage of being able to get hurt by her to this extent but clearly I am not. I guess I’ve learnt the hard way.

      My T told me last night to stop trying to fight her or try to win – she said I never will and the only person getting hurt is me. She has no idea what damage she causes me and that really does hurt.

      I shed a lot of tears at therapy last night over it all. The loss is monumentally huge and I guess I’ve been downplaying it.

      Thank you for the hugs they are gratefully received xx

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      1. Yes, this kind of loss is without words to describe. I was married to a psychopath which was devastating for me. But nothing prepared me to have to face that my own daughter was one. I too spent years being crushed, and then she would be kind, and then I would be sucked in to believe things could be different only to be hurt again. When you love someone that much it is very difficult to believe the truth and to save yourself. It truly is heart breaking. Beware, I just read recently that when they no longer can control you, they begin to control what others think of you. It doesn’t end. Unfortunately, often the only way to survive is to run and never look back. I lost everyone in my life. My husband took me to the other side of the country. But he couldn’t take me away from the pain and anguish left inside of me. I am glad you have your therapist. I wish you the very best. Remember, you are not a bad person for protecting yourself from someone who is. If you are their target, they will try to destroy you… without a conscious.

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      2. Oh that is truly very sad, your daughter! I can’t even imagine the pain and anguish that caused you. In fact, I think that is worse than having a mother like me because you are up against all sorts of taboo about not giving up and being the adult blah blah blah. I honestly want to tell you that I admire and respect your strength to move away and can only imagine how tough that was for you.

        Funnily enough I have wanted to move counties/countries to escape from my mother but it isn’t practical because my fiancé has joint custody of his children.

        As for making others think badly – I’ve heard this is called a “smear campaign” and that’s happened lots of times over, both from my narc mother AND Tina at work. It’s tough, I find myself wanting to defend myself yet I logically know its pointless and that they just want a reaction. It truly feels never-ending. Does it sometimes make you want to ask “what did I do to deserve this??” it does me.

        I often say to T, “I feel bad but” or “I know it sounds awful but…” and she has to constantly tell me I am not a bad person for protecting myself. Boundaries weren’t something I learnt about until recently and they are hard to implement when you are feeling selfish. xx


      3. I don’t think you can compare this kind of hurt. Psychopaths and narcissists wreak havoc on the lives they try to destroy. They toss us around like a cat playing with its prey before the final kill.

        Like you, I live with a tremendous amount of guilt. A tremendous amount of fear of being misunderstood. I am surprised I was able to share this with you. I wanted you to really know that I understand you.

        This is something that is very hard for me to talk about. The layers are so deep. And mostly because it IS my daughter. Every mother loves her daughter. No mother leaves her daughter. Everyone would rather I be destroyed by her and walk the line. It is not easy to talk about or escape from. And in many ways, when it is family, we never do. The pain is too deep… it hurts too much. And worst of all, it is difficult for others to understand.

        I am aware that what I did was the impossible. I had too much trauma already in my life without this. My heart could not continue to bear the unending onslaught of pain that would not end. 

        Yes, like you I am constantly down playing my thoughts and feelings. I learned from a very young age to hide them. My husband is constantly confused by me always prefacing what I say to him by first diminishing them before I speak. I do this even with my writing before I share it with him.

        Unfortunately, my life has been riddled with psychopaths and narcissists my whole life from an early age. It makes for a very crushing existence. There is no room to live your own life. We become nothing more than a supply for their grandiose sense of themselves that needs to diminish us. They envy and hate everything good in us, while at the same time making us feel and believe we are the selfish one. 

        There are no words to sufficiently express or describe this kind of torturous trauma! ❤

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      4. Well thank you for sharing that with me, I truly appreciate it and I understand just how hard it is to write about, I really do. There is so much taboo about what you “should” do as a mother – and also as a daughter. I find so many people tell me that I “will only have one mother” or that “she is still your mother” or “she does the best she can” and it is so invalidating and cruel. If only they knew.

        Guilt is hard. T tells me to “give the guilt back – it is a projection” but it is easier said than done.

        It does make for a crushing existence, I agree. So far I’ve identified my mother as narcissistic and 2 of my closest “friends”. It is so hard seeing the dysfunction in the light of day – sometimes I wish I didn’t know. x

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      5. Not knowing seems as if it would take away the deep pain and guilt. But it would actually keep us stuck in their twisted world without knowing what was happening to us. It wouldn’t change our pain and there would be no way out!

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      6. I wanted to share with you two of my blog posts that may be helpful to you. They contain videos and a book that may help you find closure and clarity in this struggle with your mother:

        I read the book in one day… it was so compelling and gave me clarity I did not have before. I hope these are helpful to you! Lots of hugs!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Ps, do you follow H.G. Tudor? I follow his blogs and just ordered two of this books, one called boundaries after a pathological relationship and one called escape. Mainly based on narcs but could be of interest? I’ll let you know x

        Liked by 1 person

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