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Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers (Book Review)

Book review by: Cathy DiBella (Guest Blogger)

“I could not recall attachment, closeness, memories of the scent of Mother’s perfume, the feel of her skin, the sound of her voice singing in the kitchen, the solace of her rocking, holding, and comforting me, the intellectual stimulation, and joy of being read to. I knew this was not natural.”  ~ Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers  By: Karyl McBride, Ph.D.

Without understanding our mothers and what their narcissism did to us, it is impossible to recover. That is why Dr. McBride decided to write this book. She couldn’t find a book to help with what she was feeling. This book is broken into 3 Parts.

*Part 1: Explains the problem of maternal narcissism.

*Part 2: Shows the impact of the problem, its many effects, and how it plays out in a daughter’s  lifestyles.

*Part 3: Is a road map for recovery.

Let’s explore each chapter a little more deeply…

Chapter 1: Discusses “The Emotional Burden You Carry.” These can include oversensitivity, indecisiveness, self-consciousness, lack of self-trust, inability to succeed in relationships, lack of confidence regardless of our accomplishments, and a general sense of insecurity. Dr. McBride also includes,”Why Focus on Mothers and Daughters?,” what narcissism is, and a questionnaire to see what narcissistic traits your mother might have had.

Chapter 2: “The Empty Mirror” identifies ten common relationship issues (stingers) that occur between mothers and daughters when the mother is narcissistic.

Chapter 3: Explains the two kinds distorted love of a narcissistic mother – the “engulfing” and the“ignoring” mother. She discusses the six types of narcissistic mothers, all within the engulfing-ignoring spectrum.

Chapter 4: Is all about “Daddy” and his role in the narcissistic nest. Sisters and brothers are also discussed, which ends this chapter with information on the whole family dynamic.

Chapter 5: Tells us how important it is to the narcissistic mother to support the “right” image and hide the profound pain.

Chapter 6: Is about the “high-achieving” daughter and how this can be a gift that provides an inner drive that others may not have to pursue their dreams. Dr. McBride also shares how this can become harmful if you don’t take care of yourself, seek only external validation, and cannot give yourself credit for what you accomplish.

Chapter 7: Discusses the “self-sabotaging” daughter. This daughter takes her anger out on herself, unwittingly sabotaging her own efforts. Some of the symptoms are giving up, numbing the pain with various addictions, staying stuck in self-destructive lifestyles, and underachievement.

Chapter 8: Talks about how common it is for daughters of narcissistic mothers to try to fill their emotional void and emptiness with inappropriate love relationships. It is also about how some learn that love is equivalent to what someone can do for you or what you can do for them. Many unconsciously choose their romantic partners based on this distorted love, which sets them up for dependent or codependent relationships or no relationships at all.

Chapter 9: Hollers“HELP! I’m becoming my mother!” This is a fear of emotionally orphaning your children or harming them in some way. Worrying about not feeling good enough to do the job – whether you carry that nagging belief around with you everywhere or because you know you lack certain skills you will need as a parent. Whatever its origin, the fear is very real.

Chapter 10: Is about the first steps to “breaking the legend.” It tells us that the things that happened to us are important to acknowledge; they play into who we are today BUT they do not define who we are today. By working on recovery, you refuse to allow your past to tell you who you are. You accept and face your past as part of you and you move on.

Chapter 11: Separates us from our mother – “A part of and Apart from.” To become authentic and whole – this is the ultimate goal in recovering from a narcissistic mother. In here, you learn to individuate from your family of origin, the separation criteria, the key to recognizing yourself as an individual woman, and how to realize you only have to be good enough for yourself!

Chapter 12: Is about becoming the woman you truly are! This chapter addresses two serious issues: “How to erect and strengthen your internal mother”, which Dr. McBride describes as,“The intuitive voice that speaks to you and wants to nurture, love and mother you.” Secondly, you explore, “How to understand and manage the collapse.” Dr. McBride describes this as,“How daughters of a narcissistic mother feel as if she just popped their self-esteem balloon and all the air rushed out and they need a bit of time to re-stabilize and refill that balloon.” This chapter also gives several exercises to do to accomplish finding your authentic self.

Chapter 13: Looks at dealing with “mother” during recovery if she is still alive. You’ve changed, she hasn’t.You must explore ways for you to manage your relationship with her and remain healthy yourself. Dr. McBride takes a look at “The Un-treatables” – being those mothers that have more traits that fit the disorder and are less likely to be candidates for successful treatment. “Toxic Mothers” who may be too toxic to be around, and, the “Civil Connection” where there is no attempt to be emotionally close, just “civil.” There is also an excellent section on setting boundaries.

 Chapter 14 – the final chapter: Addresses ending the narcissistic legacy. This chapter is mainly about how to treat your children so they receive what you did not – thus breaking the cycle. It also includes how to be healthy in other relationships such as friendships and romance.

Through reading this book, you have opened yourself to a new, fearless way of thinking and living your life. You know how to express yourself and your needs directly and clearly. You have freed yourself from unrealistic expectations and can follow your own values and passions.

You are on your way to RECOVERY!


If you’re interested in finding out more about the Daughters of the Narcissistic Mother class, click here.

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