Letter from a Mother to a Daughter to a Mother
Caste, Patriarchy, and Intergenerational Trauma of Narcissistic Abuse
This creative nonfiction piece is an autobiographical narrative of a daughter, career feminist, and survivor of maternal narcissistic abuse. Written as a letter to her daughter, which is frequently interspersed with the author’s own internal monologue with her narcissist mother, it demonstrates how narcissistic abuse by mothers passes on as intergenerational trauma from mother to daughter through the abused body. By centring the intergenerational trauma of narcissistic abuse by mothers, this letter challenges mainstream discourses around motherhood that uphold the image of the sacrificing and loving mother. It also reveals bad mothers not just as cultural tropes or emblems of patriarchy but narcissistic individuals who actively sabotage their daughters’ lives through their own unprocessed traumas. The letter is ultimately a feminist intervention because it shows how systems of caste and patriarchy combine not only to create narcissistic mothers but also to shelter their abuses. In other words, it demonstrates the inseparability of individual and systemic abuse. By centring the body—at once abused and hurt but also loving and desiring—as the main source of experience and healing, it proposes a vision for feminism that acknowledges the intertwined nature of individual and systemic forms of gender violence and elevates queer kinships, as sources of love and nourishment, beyond the figure of the biological mother.
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