Building Boundaries

Dedication: To my very dear friend Tanya who helped coach me through this challenging time.

The most challenging and ongoing struggle in my life is maintaining a relationship with my over-bearing, narcissistic mother. I constantly wrestle with how to preserve my sense of self when interacting with someone who can’t see beyond herself. One key to managing a narcissistic relationship is to create strong boundaries. Boundaries with a parent are hard to establish because the dynamic has been engrained for such a long time and the parent holds the authoritative position as a default.

Getting pregnant had a profound impact on my relationship with my mother because it definitively altered the hierarchy of needs. The most important person in our relationship was no longer my mother. I could unequivocally put myself first because of the need to take care of myself for my unborn babies (twins!).

In my third trimester, I developed preeclampsia and was hospitalized so that the babies and I could be monitored. I couldn’t continue to internalize the stress that came with interacting with my mother. I could no longer wrestle with her demands on me to meet her needs. I cut off from regular contact with her and voiced my need to focus on my health. It was the first time I was able to create the hard boundary I needed without guilt. I was able to put myself first and fundamentally shift the dynamic in our complicated relationship.