The family dynamic...
The family dynamic with a narcissistic mother is complicated at best. Each family member has a designated "role," and this role often changes from day to day depending on the "mood" of the NM. The accompanying illustration is probably the most accurate I have seen to date. Everything revolves around the NM, like the rings of Saturn revolving around the planet.
Although I did not realize this until recently, my father really was the enabling spouse. He allowed my NM to behave any way she wanted, and when she could not or would not handle a situation, she dumped it on him. Consequently, he was often perceived as the bad guy; the mean, angry father who would never listen to reason, when in reality, he was just a cover for our NM.
My mother loved to use the expression, "you are going to make me sick. I can't cope with this right now, and if you continue I am going to get sick and have to go to the hospital." Over and over she told me how my behavior was going to make her sick, and yet she never got sick (no surprise there). And then, one day, many years ago, I heard her say it to my daughter. She was maybe 6 years old at the time, and a feisty child! for sure. She was giving me a hard time about something, and my mother said to her, "if you don't stop this you are going to make your mommy sick." I slammed my hand down on the table and told my mother not to ever tell my child that again. "don't ever say that to her again. She's not going to make me sick and I don't ever want to hear you say that to either one of my children ever again." My mother was silent--rare as it was. I knew I had done the right thing. I supported my daughter, made her feel safe, and let her know that I would not tolerate anyone threatening her.
The previous paragraph is an example of my mother using me as the scapegoat. The scapegoat is the child who receives the most negative projections from the NM. It is often the most sensitive child, which I was; the one most in touch with her true self. This child may represent the true self of the NM, at least in the NM's eyes. It is an unconscious identification, and why most NMs scapegoat a child of the same sex.
Gender is important to a NM, and as she plays divide and conquer, she is more likely to project her negativity onto the daughter. She can be competitive with and envious of her daughter. The son becomes the all-good golden child, which did happen in my family. But, unlike other families with NMs, there was often role reversal in that at any given moment, I could briefly become the golden child and my brother would be the designated scapegoat. And, it was always a surprise.
The lost child, or forgotten child, is the child who just does not seem to exist in the eyes of the NM. This child keeps a low profile and avoids any kind of conflict with the NM, however, they are still victims of neglect and emotional abuse. Since we were only a two-child family, there was no lost child in the mix.
It is very important to remember that a NM is incapable of loving anyone, including themselves. Anything that resembles love is an illusion; it's a trick, and those of us who are children of NMs have been fooled over and over. It is time to accept the fact that you are being fooled. Once I realized that I was being duped; that my mother was incapable of loving me as a mother should, then I was able to begin the process of surviving, going no contact, and then minimal contact. There are times when she'll still say to me, "the happiest day of my life was the day you were born. I loved you then and I love you so much now. I never loved anyone as much as I loved you." The best feeling in the world is to be able to laugh at this. You can't fool me anymore, and I know that in a second she can turn on me just as she has in the past.
I hope this post helps put your family dynamic into perspective. I would be happy to chat with you if you'd like. You can use the chat in the lower right hand corner of this blog, or you can email me. You can heal; you can survive. And most of all, you are not alone.