1080946_24278190It’s hard celebrating Mother’s Day when you want children and you don’t have them. It’s also hard celebrating mother’s day when you don’t have a mom.

Of course, there are many reasons why you might be momless. Are some of them more painful than others?

Actress Judy Prescott lost her mom Cecy, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, after publishing a beautiful book of poetry and art about her mother. Her tribute stands out as a moving example of a daughter’s love for her mother.

There are, sadly, children who’ve been abandoned at birth. Often, a loving adoptive family (which our friend Pete calls “my super-real parents”) provides the support they need to be emotionally healthy. Still, mother’s day can elicit a twinge (or real heartache).

Some are momless because their mother is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Underneath, sure, she loves you and wants the best for you. But the addiction has control, not her heart. So for all intents and purposes, you cannot count on your mother’s love.

Momlessness has a big sting, too, if it comes about because your mother has narcissistic personality disorder (or another personality disorder) which may make it difficult, if not impossible, for her to have feelings of love and connection to you. Those whose mother’s have personality disorders sometimes express in therapy that it feels worse than having a mother die.

This is more common than you might think. When we posted The Narcissistic Mother’s Game, we had no idea it would generate so many comments and emails.

Recently, nicely timed for Mother’s Day, we got an email from a woman who said our post on narcissistic mothers did more harm than good and that she knew for a fact that daughters who said they had narcissistic mother were liars and that they were the ones with the problem. The email was pretty angry. And attacking. The post—and the comments—must have hit a *nerve.

Let’s face it: Loving moms matter. Although we believe, strongly, that having a mother and father is important for a child’s development, an early mother-child bond is extremely important. Adoptive parents, too, can forge that early bond. A mother’s love is seen as more essential in the early years.

Although having a brutal, unkind, unloving, abandoning, or even narcissistic father is hurtful and harmful to a child’s development, having a mother who fits the above description can be, in many instances, far more debilitating.

Most people feel that a mom is supposed to love you. Unconditionally. Her love isn’t about your performance, your grades, your personality. We believe that mothers can, in general, be relied upon to love you if you mess up. Go to jail. Get divorced. Lose your temper. Lose your job. Forget her birthday. Run over her flower garden with your tricycle.

The narcissistic mother attacks you if you fail, compounding your pain. She attacks you even more, though, if you succeed. Your success galls her. She competes with you. If you fail, she condemns you. If you succeed, she will do her best to sabotage you. It may be in your face. It may be behind your back. But she wants to see you lose what you’ve achieved.

It isn’t easy being momless. Being momless because your mother has a personality disorder can be as painful (or even more painful) than grieving over a loving mother who’s passed away. Mother’s Day might be a hard time for you. You may have had to take a break from having a relationship with your mom for your mental health. Or, your mother may simply pretend you don’t exist. Either way, being momless can at the very least, rankle.

There’s an expression Al-Anon uses: Be your own loving parent. Corny as it sounds, it is an essential piece of healing if your mother (or father) is an alcoholic or drug addict. It can work too if your mother is emotionally unavailable.

This mother’s day, take yourself by the hand. Give yourself a hug. Look at your accomplishments and take pride in them. Identify and brag a bit (to yourself) about your good points, just like any mom might do. (This really is super-important, so go ahead and read Talking and Walking and Loving Your Good Points.)  And be your own loving parent.

*Feeling all alone? Feeling like you’re the only one on the planet with a narcissistic mom? Take a few minutes to read through the nearly 50 comments on The Narcissistic Mother’s Game.