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I am so glad to have found this site; to see that there are actually other people who have gone through the same thing I did and still do!! I am a 39 year old happily married woman with 2 young boys. I suffered alot of mental, physical & emotional abuse as a child and today I still feel the emotional manipulation. My mother has always been a strict Catholic and raised me that way. She is also a narcissistic. She had me by her first marriage and since I can remember has always hated her X husband, my father. She remarried when I was 6 and had my brother when I was 7; he was the golden child and I was the piece of dirt. I always saw her hug my brother and smile. She never did that to me but always said that I was "too old now for that and he's still a little baby, etc.". I can't possibly write the entire experience in 1 thread. What I am wondering is; have any of you who have been abused by a Narcissistic mother; have you also been spiritually oppressed? In other words, now that I am older, I see that my mother hid her narcissism behind the dogmas of the Catholic Church. I always thought that it was the Catholic way and that she was good, heavenly, going to heaven and if I didn't follow her whims, I was going to be tortured forever in Hell. I was too young to put 2 & 2 together. So, I took the abuse long after I even was thrown out of the house at 18 because I was brainwashed. If she had just been narcissistic alone, I may have realized she had the problem sooner. But since it was mixed with "Who God Is", I was under the spell well into my 30's. I have in recent years began to break free of that; break free of the thought that she didn't actually take her "belief" seriously!! That she only used the Catholic Church to justify abusing me!! Have any of you experienced this? Thank you for reading and take care... Ashely
Reply with quote #2
No, I've never experienced it - my parents are good Catholics the way Catholics should be.
The way you describe your mother using religion to control you sounds like the way the leader of a cult would control his followers - to question him is to question God. Creepy.
Reply with quote #3
Hi Ashley, I just wanted to welcome you to the group. I was not raised a Catholic and in fact, I had absolutely no religious training. However, as a child, I was abused physically and emotionally and neglected by my mother, so I do understand. My mother was a mentally ill, substance abuser and she definitely had personality disorders, although, I have not figured them all out yet! As an adult, I've come to realize that my dad was the narcissist and the enabler. Please keep talking to us! I'm sure others will welcome you as well! ~ok~
Reply with quote #4
My narcissistic mother is Pentacostal rather than Catholic, but she definitely uses religion as a weapon against me, although I think her basic Christian beliefs are genuine and she's just somewhat deluded in how she applies them. However, often when I would try to talk to her about my problems or ask questions she didn't want to answer, she would make me be quiet while she read to me from the Bible for literally hours. When we disagreed, my mother would frequently have a "dream" in which God told her that she was right and I was wrong. (Strange how God was never on my side ... what are the odds?) When something would go wrong in my life, she would parlay my distress into a campaign for me doing something she wanted – like attending her church or moving back to her home. She'd say, “These things wouldn’t happen to you if you were right with God.” For years I thought I was a bad person and God was punishing me.
Lately mom has latched onto these grisly, hair-raising scriptures that talk about rivers of blood in the streets and bodies piled up … and she likes to read these over and over to me, and talk about this is how the world is going to be shortly after she’s “gone” and that she “worries” about me since this is what’s going to befall me in the future. Basically religion has been used to terrorize and control me all my life. I even have a friend who jokes about Piper Laurie playing my mother in “Carrie.” Thanks to good ole mom, I can’t even set foot in a church without breaking into a cold sweat. I do my praying in the garden.
Reply with quote #5
Prodigal, I know it's mean, but what if you inquired very innocently if the images she dwells upon so much are visions of HER future, not YOURS?
Reply with quote #6
OhDear, you are always trying to get me in trouble.
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I'm another non-Catholic, but lived through experiences similar to Prodigal. I was raised in a Pentecostal church, and my dad was super judgmental & self righteous. Everyone else was wrong and headed for Hades. God was always mad about something. The only way I'd get into heaven was thanks to my dad's prayers. On & on it went.
Prodigal summed it up perfectly: "Basically religion has been used to terrorize and control me all my life." I realized eventually that all this religiosity was a cover up for his own deep seated feelings of inadequacy. Even though he left Greece & came to the US in his late 20s, he never mastered the language. He really couldn't speak or read English, so he was isolated from people & ideas. He could chit chat a bit about baseball, but my mom took care of all the bookkeeping, etc. for his barber business. He never learned to drive, so my mom did all the driving. She took care of all the bills too. Moving away from the Greek Pentecostal church community in Los Angeles made things even worse. The only solace he had was in thinking he was somehow spiritually better than others. I know my dad truly believed in the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith. But he perverted the teachings of Christ to build himself up. He led a sad & bitter life. Unfortunately, the bitterness affected the lives of anyone who came in contact with him, including me, my mom, my husband, and my two children. So, in answer to your question, yes, people can use their religion to justify the abuse of others. It's sad but true.
Reply with quote #8
>OhDear, you are always trying to get me in trouble. Oh Well, even if you don't SAY it, you can think about it.... just don't tell her why you are smirking! ;-p
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Hello Prodigal! That's interesting that you should mention Stephen King's "Carrie" because her mother was alot like my mother as I was growing up. And wouldn't ya know, my mother HATES that movie! I wonder why? My brother (the golden child) and I both have left the Catholic church after we were grown. Even my brother who she treated well couldn't stand her obsession and pushing beliefs and he didn't even get the full force of it like I did. But the strange thing is that a few years after both my brother and I were out of the house, my mother made a comment to me saying, "I probably should have been more religious. I probably should have more vigilant about God by having the family say the rosery every night." It was a phone conversation so she didn't see my expression. I quickly changed the subject and said the first thing I could think of which was, "Hey, Stephen King's "Carrie" is on tonight!!" as if I just saw an announcement on TV. That was the only thing I could think of to defend/protect my emotions at that moment. It worked! Because she totally changed the subject to even something else b but at least it wasn't religion! Thanks for your response and I wish you health & healing, as well. Ashley
Originally Posted by
OhDear Prodigal, I know it's mean, but what if you inquired very innocently if the images she dwells upon so much are visions of HER future, not YOURS?
Reply with quote #10
OhDear: nobody smirks in front of my mother and gets away with it. I will have to harbor the disloyal thoughts you have planted in my head and keep a totally blank expression.
Ashley: Growing up, we had nightly readings from the Bible and prayers for enlightenment and forgiveness. I can see under different circumstances where that kind of touchstone for one's faith might be inspirational and comforting, but for me it was oppressive. Sometimes now I walk out into my yard and look up at the stars and thank God for answering the constant prayer I had for so many years: Please get me out of here.
Reply with quote #11
Ashley, I feel for you with what you have gone through. I think that you need to be able to separate the Catholic Church and mental illness....there are members in both groups that do not belong in either one. The best way to resolve the issues that you are dealing with relating to your childhood is to first sort out your mom's mental disorders.
Reply with quote #12
Hi Ashley, you will encounter many different and useful perspectives on this board regarding any topic, although religion seems to be one of the more sensitive. IMHO, if a religious experience has been forced on you and has been a primary source of trauma for you ... I see no reason why you can't work through that at the same time or even before you address your family of origin issues. Only you know what is immediately blocking your path to a productive and happy life.
Reply with quote #13
Narcissistic people will make reference to religious beliefs/doctrine as an excuse for their bad behavior, or as justification of their demands. Think of "honor your parents" morphed into "obey without question; I own you", religion can be twisted to fit someone's personal agenda. I'm a lapsed Catholic with "cafeteria-style" Catholic parents who religously attend Sunday Mass, complain about my lapsed beliefs, but pick and chose their specific conformance to doctrine and certainly don't "walk the walk". Their religious beliefs certainly didn't improve their parenting skills. Mom is totally self-absorbed, narcissistic, mean-spirited, and yes, has a "golden child" (my sib) and a "scapegoat" (me) to boss around even though we're adults. Dad is a demanding (obey me!) enabler who is willing to enforce her demands while complaining himself about her bad behavior. Both still expect to be able to monopolize my time and my family's time, damn the in-laws, damn our own expectations and responsibilities.
All that you and I can do is remember - we're adults, we're autonomous, and we no longer need to dutifully obey or automatically respond to our parents inappropriate demands and bad behavior. We no longer need to sacrifice ourselves to their narcissistic nature. Don't over analyze situation; remember, even our parents don't necessarily have our best interests at heart. And narcissistic parents will NEVER have that "enlightened moment of realization", will never realize how much damage they have done to their children, particularly to the designated "scapegoat" child. They operate blindly on the base instinct that they are the most important person, the only priority, the sole responsibility of their children. Amen.
Reply with quote #14
Hi Ashley, It sounds like it is common for narcisstic parents to use religion to control their children. Mine sure did. It too made me want to go the other way. (especially because my n father didn't raise me and I felt like he had no say in my life) Actually, both my parents were Protestant but as an adult I chose to attend the Catholic Church with my husband. It drives my n father nuts, which makes it even more fun. I guess it's normal to want something that is totally different from the n parent's beliefs.
I agree with the others, you have to find your own way and what's best for you.
Reply with quote #15
I have done extensive studies in religion since I left home. I have found that religion is something that can't be taught; it can only be experienced. God has got me through many hard times including getting through growing up. And what I found as an adult is that it wasn't because I followed any set of doctrines or dogmas. I found that God helped me when I had a good motivation to do well even if I failed sometimes. I found that he judges people's heart, not their actions and what not. Then I saw that was in the Bible. I am comfortable with God now. I have felt the unconditional love that is talked about in the Bible. But my mother is still twisted and set in her ways (her ways are twisted lololol). Since my step dad passed away, she has been seeing a man who is my age. AND he now LIVES with her!! She's Catholic and that is a no no. But somehow, she justifies it!! If I ever even thought about that, I would be harshly judged. She used to yell when she knew my husband (before we were married) would stay over my house or vise versa. I am married now; my second marriage; he's a wonderful man. My first marriage was to a narcissistic catholic man (imagine that). She loved him. Things didn't work out and we divorced over 8 years ago and I have been married to my husband now for 6 years. She still brings up my X in a good way, "I wonder how he's doing?' Even though my husband and I have 2 boys, her grandkids who she never watches, never has the time, etc. Last time she said she wondered how my X was doing, I interrupted and said, "I don't give a F what the H he's doing. He was an A__ to me!" She got that sadistic smile on her face and then no more discussion. She got what she wanted; to get a dig in. The religion issue just intensifies it for me. But she is the way she is regardless.