Melanie grew up with a narcissistic mother who demanded that Melanie conform to her concept of how a child should behave. To protect herself from her mother's anger, blame and disapproval, Melanie tried to be the "perfect child". She got excellent grades in school, was obedient at home, and never did anything to cause her parents to worry about her. She would listen for hours to her mother's complaints, becoming a mother to her mother by the time she was twelve years old. Melanie learned to be a caretaker, and was always trying to prove to her mother that she loved her.
Yet no matter what Melanie did to please her mother, it was never enough. Her mother would always find something to scream at her about, something to blame her for, something which, in her mother's mind, justified her intense disapproval. Not only did her mother not feel loved by Melanie, her mother would often accuse Melanie of being selfish. This crazy making situation created much confusion for Melanie, and she absorbed the belief that there was something wrong with her.
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In Melanie's mind, the only way she could feel like she was a good person was to prove to others who were important to her that she loved them. This pattern continued in her marriage. Melanie married a man much like her mother - a narcissistic man was who constantly demanded Melanie's time and attention. Again, no matter how much time and attention she gave to her husband, and no matter how much sex she had with him, it was never enough. Like her mother, her husband was never happy with her and was frequently angry, blaming and disapproving of her.
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The same pattern continued with her children. Fearing her children's disapproval, Melanie completely gave herself up to her children, attempting to meet her children's every need. The more she did this, the more demanding and bratty her children became.
By the time Melanie consulted with me, she was physically and emotionally exhausted and depleted. She was getting sick a lot and felt profoundly depressed. She felt like she just wanted to give up on life. She was still constantly trying to prove her love to her family as well as to her friends, and it wasn't working at all.