Islamic marriage advice and family advice

My narcissistic mother has me in a prison of her making

Prison cell

Assalam o alaikum,

I am a 24-year-old female, and I just don't know what to do anymore. I live with my family and grandmother, and everything is just so hard to deal with. The main issue is that my mother is extremely verbally, emotionally, and psychologically abusive, and even sometimes physically abusive. I have tried countless times and in every manner possible, from nicely to frustratingly to explain to her that her actions and words hurt me, but it makes no difference whatsoever. She adamantly refuses to admit to her wrongdoings and faults, and instead tells me I am the one that is abusive towards her, which is absolutely false.

The thing is, when she goes on and on calling me names and degrading and demeaning me, after a while I attempt to stand up for myself, and because of the built up frustration, I sometimes come off angry or loud. I regret this, and it is not something I do on my own or on purpose. My argument is that whatever I say to her is a reaction to the things she says to me first. I just cannot take being treated like this because it has just gone on for too long.

I have been put down and belittled for nearly all my life and anyone in my place would be angry. I used to keep quiet, and even now I try my absolute best to keep quiet and not say anything when she starts talking but oftentimes she just provokes me and I snap. Then I get punished for "talking back" when usually when I speak I am trying to stand up for myself and explain to her that what she is saying is incorrect or wrong.

She calls me all the names you could possible think of. I have been called a b****, a "shaytan", a "kaafir", a "harami", evil, stupid, useless, dumb, fat, and countless others that I don't have the energy to remember right now. I've been reminded over and over again how ashamed of me she is, how she would rather have someone else as her daughter, and how I just bring shame upon her and my family. I'm constantly compared to just about every relative my age, or younger, and it just feels like I can never be good enough no matter what.

I've been doing poorly in school because of all this, and then they blame me for that too. They expect me to excel whilst being in a toxic environment, and lately because of Covid, classes have been online so even during exams she comes into my room to lecture me over something petty, like "you left dishes in the sink" WHILE I AM TRYING TO WRITE MY TIMED EXAM. It drives me crazy, and I can't even say anything. I just cry.

After a lot of research and trying to figure things out, I have learned she is a narcissist. She fits every single qualifying characteristic almost to the exact. Upon finding this out, I understood that it would be next to impossible for her to change. If this isn't already bad enough, my grandmother is just like her, if not worse. She's extremely old fashioned and adheres to culture so much that to her it is basically religion. Together, the both of them cause me so much emotional turmoil to the point that I am always always crying. I often feel I'll never escape this awful reality. I get panic attacks and I now have terrible anxiety, and no, I have not been officially diagnosed as there is no possible way for me to see any kind of therapist or psychiatrist or anything like that but I have done a lot of research and I am 98% certain of it.

I am also not allowed to go out at all, even before Covid. I rarely was allowed to see my friends and if I brought this up she would bring up the 1 or 2 times I spent with my friends as a teenager and makes it sound like it was all the time. Honestly there is so much that is wrong that I don't even know how to go about it.

She is extremely controlling, to the point where if I don't ask for explicit permission for the smallest and most mundane things, I get treated to a fit of rage and lectured and punished. For example, if I'm hungry and I want to make myself something to eat she gets livid because I didn't ask her for permission to make food, or if I make something for myself 10 min before class she gets angry because I didn't make for my siblings as well, even though I did not have time to. She's always trying to control my every move. I can't eat certain foods, I'm not allowed. If I make it, she'll take it and throw it away or hide it.

Some days I put on a little bit of makeup just because I'll be feeling like it, and she makes me go take it off or harasses me until I do. The only makeup I have is a few old pencils that I got as gifts and things I bought when I had a wedding to attend, and she didn't really pay attention. I am not allowed to purchase nor use any makeup, even though I like to keep it minimal and not at all extravagant. Her justification for this is that she herself doesn't use it so neither should I.

If I want to eat something else for dinner, I can't. She always makes curries for dinner and it's not really something I like, so I say that I will make something else for myself, and she gets angry and tells me that is haram and that I will only eat what she makes or not eat at all. To add to this, there are a lot of things that her and my grandmother call "haram" which are not, and I have noticed they fabricate a lot of things and pass it off as part of Islam when it has no basis in Islam whatsoever. If I point this out to them they scream and shout and tell me I know nothing because they are older and wiser and have lived longer than me and experienced more of life than I have.

I understand this is sinful, to make things up and call it religion. They both are the type of people who act really religious and pious and are always reading Quran and praying extra prayers and watching Islamic lectures but I find it baffling that even though they watch and listen to all these things and talk about it so much, they follow so little of it. They use foul language with me and hurt me and don't care about my feelings ever, and when I bring this up to them, my mother especially, she says, "I am your mother, I have every right to punish you or say whatever I want to you." And I feel like she just abuses her position as "mother" to do whatever she likes and treats me however she feels like, because she thinks as my mother she has every right.

And then on top of that she'll make me watch these Islamic lectures about how parents are to be highly respected and you cannot say anything to them or question them or talk back to them and I feel like this is used to make me feel guilty or to remind me that I am just a bad child and she is doing everything right. If I tell her she is being abusive towards me, she tells me I am a liar and that if anyone is being abused, it is HER and by me. She acts as though I have no feelings. The sight of me crying only makes her angry. According to her, I deserve to cry because of what a bad person I am, and that Allah is punishing me for being bad to her.

She constantly tells me I am going to hell, that Allah will punish me severely, and that I am going to have a very bad life if I don't "change myself", and sometimes I'll be like, "what about you, are YOU not going to change?" and she tells me that no, there is nothing wrong with her that she would need to change. It is me who must, because I am disobedient and corrupt and in "in full control of Shaytan. Because of this, she treats me like a criminal and has me sit and force me to read numerous duas as a way to almost exorcise me of the devil.

I constantly feel like a failure, like I am nobody, and often times I feel like I AM being punished, and that they are all right, I deserve this treatment because it feels like Allah has favored them. I cry and make dua every day, all day long, and just when I feel like something is going to change, it immediately gets worse. I get treated to another punishment. Because of this I sometimes find myself believing that things are never going to get better and that I am just always going to remain in a state of punishment.

Before anyone says "move out", let me tell you that I desperately want to. But I cannot. I have tried to speak out about this to other family members, only to be met with disappointment because they either don't believe me or they tell me they have their own things going on in their life and cannot help me. Aside from that, sometimes they tell my mom what I have told them and when she finds out she tells me I have betrayed her and badmouthed her to everyone, and then she tells them I am a liar and a bad child and should not be believed or trusted and that if they let me stay at their homes I am going to corrupt their children. So they haven't been any help.

I even tried to talk to a local imam but when I messaged him he ignored me. So you can see why I feel absolutely so hopeless. I have two younger male siblings but they don't give a rat's bum about me, they actually ignore me most of the day and I blame this on my mother, she has made me look like such a horrible person that they just always take her side no matter what, and she favors them and treats them with love and kindness. My dad has been brainwashed by all the things my mom has told him about me. She always comes off as the victim in her retelling of things, and he does not even witness the times she hurts me because he's not home a lot. So when he gets home she immediately tells him her version of events, where I am the villain, and he too, dislikes me.

She has also stated that I will not leave this house until I get married, so moving out on my own seems impossible, especially when I have no help or support from anyone. I am not looking to get married anytime soon, I find it ridiculous that they want to just throw me into some strange man's house after all this, and then what? I'm just expected to adjust to this new life without even healing from my current life? She's also mentioned several times that I won't have my own choice of husband, because she herself will choose him. What I really want is independence and freedom. I yearn to be free.

I don't know what to do. I feel like Allah doesn't even hear me or care, because I've been begging and crying and hurting for years and nothing has changed. Then I think that it's because I deserve all this? 🙁

Sister


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2 Responses »

  1. As-salamu alaykum dear sister. I'm so sorry for all you have gone through, and all the suffering you're experienced. What a truly miserable existence. I'm amazed that you still have your sanity. You must be an extraordinarily strong young woman.

    You said it all. She is an abusive narcissist who does not love you; and she will not change. If you stay, one day (as you said) she will marry you off to someone you might not like, and the nightmare will continue.

    You must escape that environment, before you lose your mind or become completely ruined emotionally.

    Do you not have a single relative or even friend who would be willing to take you in?

    I don't know what country you are in, but most Western countries have shelters for battered women. You could pack a bag secretly, leave the house and check yourself into one of those shelters. Stay there until you find a job (if that means dropping out of school for now, then do so. You can go back later). Then you can rent a room. Perhaps a room in someone's home - we have a lot of those here in the USA, you can find them on Craigslist and they're fairly inexpensive. And gradually build your life from there.

    Allah has NOT given up on you or abandoned you. But Allah's help will not come from the sky like manna and salwa. You must take steps to help yourself, and Allah will aid you. May Allah make a way out for you, heal your heart and give you a bright future.

    Also, please check back here and keep us posted.

    Wael
    IslamicAnswers.com Editor

  2. Asalamualaykum Sister,

    "Your Lord has not at all forsaken you, nor is he displeased with you." (Surah Ad-Duha)

    Do not give up hope sister. As long as Allah has decreed you to be alive on this earth, He will see to it that you get your needs for survival met, as well as your need to thrive.

    MashaAllah you are blessed with such clarity of sight, to be able to see your mother for what she is, your family for who they are, despite all the gaslighting you have experienced, and despite our natural tendency to want to trust our parents. Many others have fallen prey to brainwashing where you are instead enlightened with knowledge. We have to look for our blessings in even the darkest of moments.

    Sister...do not waste an ounce more of your energy on your narcissistic family than you absolutely have to. You must recognize that they are not worth even your thoughts. If you cannot get your thoughts off of them and onto yourself, please see a mental healthcare provider. If you mother forbids you to do so, then follow brother Wael's advice and check yourself into a local domestic violence shelter or womens'-only shelter, and seek a mental healthcare provider, a doctor or counselor, from there. It is nearly impossible for you to have survived in such an environment without your mental health being severely compromised. Even if you are able to intellectualize and label your mother's behavior, it doesn't mean you are in control of the situation; it is merely a defense mechanism.

    In your situation, the most important thing is to pray and make dua to Allah profusely. If your stress-level does not permit you to pray, then make dua only. Make dua, facing the Qibla, as many times a day as you need, to cope with each and every encounter and circumstance. Along with your own duas, which you can either recite out loud or in your heart, recite this following dua:

    Allahumma Rabbas-samaawatis-sabi, wa Rabbal Arshil-Adheem, kun lee jaaran min [here you mention your mother's name] wa' ahzhabini min khalaa 'iqika, 'an yafruta 'alayya 'ahadun minhum 'aw yatghaa, 'azzajaaruka wajalla thanaa 'uka wa laa 'illaha 'Anta.

    Oh Allah, Lord of the heavens and Throne, be for me a support against [my mother] and her helpers from among your creatures, lest any of them abuse me or do me wrong...there is none worthy of worship but You.

    Sister...your mom has a hold on you that only Allah should have. You should feel free to escape and find your own place, such as the room that the above brother suggested. If you do not feel free to escape and are worried about what your mother will think, say, or do, and are truly almost disabled by that, that is once again evidence of her hold on you.

    Only you can decide how best to cope and act, based on your personality and experiece. Trust what Allah has given you in terms of your mind, heart, and intuition. Allah would not leave you on this earth to fend for yourself without aid...He surely has blessed you with whatever you need to survive and act in this situation! For example, right now, He has led you to this site for support, no?

    If you choose to go and feel you can, then Alhamdulillah. We are instructed as Muslims to leave the place we are being oppressed and/or terrorized if it is at all possible, and go to a more peaceful place.

    If you find that you cannot leave or otherwise choose to stay, then there are a few things that might help you. Firstly, narcissists are very aware of what their victims' (survivors') can give them or do for them. It's really the only reason they even have relationships with people. You can use this to your advantage. As your parents start to age, they may need your help with things. Starting now, show them what you are able to do for them, be it chores around the house, knowledge you can impart, favors you can do for them. When your mother sees the value in it for herself, she may back down a bit on the abuse. She'll realize that if you are mentally-incapacitated, she will not have access to those things you can do for her. Furthermore, only do said chores if your mother asks you in a respectful way. If she rudely asks you, tell her that you are busy. She will not be happy, but she will have to accept because she cannot physically force you to do anything.

    If on the other hand, she is still physically abusing you, please call the authorities on her. One or more times of doing this will put her in her place. She may not be the most loving mother after that, but she wasn't to begin with, and at least she won't continue to put her hands on you. Plus, the neighbors seeing the police car outside your place repeatedly will be an embarrassment and deterrent to her, and she may stop abusing you. Remember, narcissists are very superficial people...they can change their attitude on a whim with a flip of a switch because it's never real to begin with. Even "fake nice" in your situation would be better than not nice at all. You just need her to stop stressing you out.

    Say the Istikhara dua daily. You may be thinking this is only for marriage, but honestly, it's such a powerful and beautiful dua that you can say at any time, for any reason, for blessings in all that you undertake. Make a habit of saying the first part of the dua, as it does not require that a decision of any kind is on the table:

    "Allâhumma inni astakhiruka bi ilmika wa astaqdiruka biqudratika wa as’aluka min fadlikal-azimi, fa innaka taqdiru walâ aqdiru wa ta’lamu walâ a’lamu wa anta allamul ghuyub"

    O Allah...I ask you to show me what is best through your knowledge, I ask you to empower me through your power, and I beg you to grant me your tremendous favor. For you have power, while I am without power. You have knowledge, while I am without knowledge, and you are the knower of all things invlisible."

    Sister...I am confident...100%...that you will be fine. This is one of the hardest tests any human being could endure...our parents should be a source of comfort, education, and support, and our mothers in particular have such a high significance in our lives. They should love us more than anyone else aside from Allah, so to be treated this way by your primary source of comfort is a great loss and test for you. You have a "hole" where others have love, and it's the largest hole one can have because it occupies the place of "mother." Allah will reward you immensely for enduring what you have endured, and you will come out on the other side one of the strongest of individuals.

    I hope that you found some solace here dear sister. Please feel free to comment or respond back, and get back in touch with us no matter your circumstances. I pray that Allah grants you steady relief, strength, and wisdom to navigate your situation, Ameen.

    Hugs,

    Nor
    IslamicAnswers

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