How do I tell my narcissistic mother I don't want her to move to where I live?

I grew up in the U.S.A. but now I live in Canada. One of the reasons that I moved here is that I wanted to create space between myself and my abusive family. This includes my nMom.

My nMom and I have a decent relationship and always have been loving on the surface. She is a covert narc, so I’m really just beginning to understand the extent of the damage she caused and the meaning behind many things she has done to me in the past. She has a pattern of self-destructive behaviour that usually involves a romantic interest. She lures the man in and makes him think that she loves him, and then she suddenly turns on him and leaves him (or divorces him). Between men, she uses me as a surrogate spouse and always uses me as her therapist. Although she rarely - if ever - takes my advice.

Now apparently she is “off men” and living alone. Just retired, she has lots of time on her hands and has recently started talking about moving to Canada to be closer to me. We have discussed the possibility of someday having a house with a granny suite where she can live her final years. I am her only child and feel obligated to help her when she becomes too old to live alone.

Now I regret encouraging her. I told her she should save up the money for the lawyer’s fees and immigration fees, and I will sponsor her when I become a citizen. But when I said this, I didn’t understand what I do now.

I am deflecting for now, and relying on her not being able to save up that much money. I think that will happen when hell freezes over as she is very bad with money and always has been. The amount of money she would need to save is more than she has ever had in her life. So I don’t think it would happen.

But if it does, how can I (gently) tell her that I don’t want her here? She has wreaked havoc on my life and I’m now almost 40 and just beginning to recover from the damage she has done. We have discussed this a little bit, and she acknowledges some of it and has apologized for some of it, but I don’t think that she understands that she is a narc. If you told her this, she would animately deny it. Because she is covert and puts on a very good front.

She has also made comments before about not wanting to live, or that I am the primary reason why she wants to live at all. I don’t know if this is just a tactic to get me to feel more concerned for her, and to make me check up on her more often. I think this is very unfair because she knows that my nDad attempted suicide and blamed it on me and that I’ve had a very hard time coping with his psychological abuse.

She also seeks lots of praise and phishes for compliments almost every time I speak to her. It feels icky and gross. For our wedding gift, she gave us a portrait of ourselves that she painted. I heard a saying which is so applicable to her, and that is, “A gift should never flatter the giver.” She always gives people paintings, and of course if you don’t shower her with praise, she will ask about what you think of it. “Do you think it looks like you? Did I capture your likeness?” I feel bad saying all of this because I am also an artist and don’t want to tear down another artist, but I also don’t think it’s cool to constantly be shoving your art into other people’s face and basically forcing them to say how talented you are.

Anyway, there’s a lot about her that makes me feel icky, and I really don’t want her to live here. The distance that we have now is perfect for me, but she has made it clear that she is not happy about it and she just said yesterday that she “needs” me more than ever. When we speak on the phone, it’s usually 2-4 hour long phone calls. Lately, I have told her that we need to limit to one hour, but I can tell she doesn’t like it because she mentions it often. And she phishes for affirmation that I want to talk to her and that I also need her. When I don’t give her those affirmations, or when I half-heartedly agree (just to get out of the awkward conversation), she acts like she is hurt.

Any advice is welcome. Thank you!

A retired American wants to move to Canada, isn’t this very difficult due to health care? Without a job to support her I would think it would be very difficult. I would use that as an excuse to discourage her since you can play it out as being out of your hands.

My advice based on years struggling with a mother who has Borderline Personality Disorder - it’s time to cut the cord. You are still bending over backward to accommodate her desires when there is a clear unhealthy dynamic. You don’t have to spend hours on the phone with her, you don’t have to affirm her insecurities and you definitely don’t have to play along with her desire to move closer. Not only have you not made it clear you don’t want her to live closer, you’ve helped keep the fantasy alive. Maybe a part of you feels good to be so needed. But at what cost?

When we are so enmeshed with someone that narcissistic it is difficult to entertain the very notion of upsetting them. But that is exactly where their power lies. If your mother gets upset, even outraged, if she cries and carries on and threatens to disown you, you will be okay. You’re never going to break out of this cycle as long as you’re afraid of how she might react.

I know so much of my relationship with my mother revolved around guilt - might that be a factor for you? I felt responsible for her feelings and well-being. Any time her feelings were hurt, I felt guilty and tried to fix it. The guilt was so overwhelming I finally went to an EMDR therapist (can’t reccomend highly enough) and discovered the guilt was part of the trauma she had inflicted when I was a child. Now when I feel guilt I remind myself that it’s just a trauma response. My mother’s feelings no longer run my life. I can’t overstate how good that freedom feels.

Congratulations on getting to this point - recognizing that an unhealthy dynamic exists and knowing that something needs to change. Some people never get that level of insight. Now knowing what you know, it’s time to make the change.

Hi Si_Amigo, no it wouldn’t be difficult at all. All she would need to do is to become a permanent resident of Canada. As her immediate family member and as a dual US/Canadian citizen, I can sponsor her to come here and apply for a PM status. Permanent residents are automatically given a health card and entitled to health care here. And she would be able to continue to collect her pension and social security payments even if she lives in a different country.

If you want to discourage her, why would you explain how easy it is for you to sponsor her? If I were you, I would tell her that it’s really difficult for her get residency in Canada. (This all assumes the mother doesn’t do the research on her own.)

Spice_Weasel, thank you for this. It’s really helpful. You’re right, I have helped keep the fantasy alive. Not because I want to feel needed. In fact, I would love it if she didn’t need me at all. I am just afraid of her reaction and know that it will lead to a huge fight and a long, drawn-out drama fest that I don’t want to deal with. So I guess keeping the fantasy alive has been my easiest way to avoid all of this. And yes I do feel guilty, and that guilt is a relic of the abuse from childhood.

I am thinking about writing her a letter, but I know that it will lead to her demanding that we talk about it, and she will probably deny it and might even try to make me feel like I’m being uncaring. It hurts when she says bad things about me, so that’s something I’ve tried really hard to avoid all these years, too. But I think she knows that, too.

Also, deep down I am afraid that she will kill herself, like my dad tried to do.

Do you think a letter is better, or do you think I should just have a conversation with her?


Dewey_Finn Good point. I wish I had considered this before. I’m just now beginning to realize that she is in fact a narcissist. She is a covert type narcissist, so I hadn’t realized what was actually happening until recently. But to your point, her ability to move completely hinges on my cooperation of sponsoring her.

I’ll move to Canada and marry you, then you can tell her you don’t have room for her because your new husband is so protective and possessive of you. Then you can turn tables on her and talk about your new found strange relationship. Well I met this guy on the internet and . . . :grinning:

I think the “gently” is the source of your problem. You haven’t been demonstrative enough, and you need to rectify that NOW before she moves there. It’s time to lay all your cards on the table.

Are you OK with lying to her and telling her that, “Well, I tried to sponsor you but they denied permission for you to move to Canada”? In other words, blame it on Canada.

Or blame it on Covid19, sorry no nonessential Americans allowed to travel to Canada.

Well, every letter I’ve ever sent to my mother fell on deaf ears, so maybe I’m not the best person to ask. It can be useful for you to get all your feelings down on paper and you may choose to send it or not. But this doesn’t have to be a big conversation, I don’t think. The next time she brings it up, you can say, “I’ve been thinking it over and I don’t think such a move will be healthy for either of us.” She may well try to make you feel like you’re uncaring but that’s okay. She can do whatever she likes. It doesn’t mean you have to give in. You don’t have to discuss it further if you don’t want to.

Listen to @Spice_Weasel.

Your mother will try to rule you until the day she dies. She will do it without the slightest care for your interests, your health, or your wealth. That’s sad, but it’s also an unalterable fact. Let me say that again. It’s a fact. It’s unalterable.

Given the decades of abuse you owe her exactly zero from this moment forward. In fact you owed her zero from WAG 10 years ago but you didn’t know that then.

You do now. So now is the time to act on your new knowledge, not rely on the failed passive conflict-avoidant habits of 10 year old you.

Take no action to help her move to Canada. When she tries to complain or apply guilt, terminate the connection. Hang up the phone, change your number, block her number, change your email, whatever it takes. Don’t fiddle with silly weak excuses or justifications that she will simply ignore in her quest to control destroy your life in pursuit of her own selfish desires. Just cut it off.

Your pain at doing that is a brief pinprick compared to the rest-of-your-life pain of not doing that. Said another way, your healing begins the day after your last contact with that toxic ball of nasty. And not a moment before.

It always seems “easier” to kick the can down the road yet another day. Until you look at the actual cost paid today and every day for that “easy” solution that solves nothing.

It’s a darn shame your Mom has these severe psychological problems. But you can’t fix them. You can’t even make a dent in making them less harmful for her. All you can do is choose to not let her disease destroy your life any more than it already has. Her life is already a write-off.

Being human sucks sometimes. But there it is in black and white.

It’s your move.

I have nothing to offer except sympathy. Me own sweet mother was a profoundly narcissistic manipulative monster who poisoned every life she touched. Various circumstances (including a beloved mentally disabled younger sister who I couldn’t and wouldn’t abandon) made it immpossible for me to cut the cord. Just to spite me, Mom lived to be 90.

This is exactly what I was thinking - I got exhausted just reading the OP!

The good news for the OP is that as she enters middle age, she’s likely to get less tolerant of other people’s bullshit. After turning 50, my frequent thought was, “I’m 50 years old - why am I still putting up with this?!?” :slight_smile:

2 to 4 hour phone calls? My god, that’s torture even with someone you like.

Thank you Jasmine. I agree that I haven’t been demonstrative enough. The thought of laying all my cards on the table is on one hand an exciting and liberating idea, and on the other hand it makes my stomach turn and I feel sick just thinking about the aftermath. But that is my trauma talking.

Cat_Whisperer Yes! Your comment made me LOL so thank you for that. :slight_smile: I am ready to embrace 40 and I’m ready to stop putting up with this bullshit!

Thank you LSLGuy. I agree with everything you said. These comments are so helpful.

Spice_Weasel “I’ve been thinking it over and I don’t think such a move will be healthy for either of us.” I love this. I’m building it up in my mind but you’re right, it doesn’t need to be a huge convo unless I let her make it into one. Thank you so much for your advice!