One thing I have learned in the past few years is that people do NOT like unpleasant subject matters, & will go to great lengths to avoid them. Many people with terrible health problems know this all too well- they lose friends & even family after receiving a diagnosis of a dreadful disease. The people who once were closest to them suddenly have no time for them any longer.
This also happens with adult children of narcissistic parents.
It’s happened in my own life. Once I started learning that my mother was abusive when I was seventeen, & talking to a few people about it, my circle of friends became smaller. I talked less about it until many years later, once I started learning about narcissism. Then, I began to talk more & also to write about it. While my writing career suddenly began to take off, my personal relationships changed, especially when I also admitted to having C-PTSD. Some of my relationships became closer, especially with those who also survived a narcissistic upbringing, but many did not. Some people suddenly became very judgmental, telling me how I needed to just get over it, let it go, forgive & forget, stop living in the past, I use having C-PTSD for attention & even how I needed to be the one to fix things in my relationship with my parents.
This hurt & made me so angry! It’s not fair & it’s not right! I began to feel like I did as a child- everything wrong with my parents’ & my relationship was all my fault, I should fix it & if I didn’t, I was a failure. Not a nice way to feel at all!
If you too have experienced similar losses & invalidation in your relationships, you are not alone! I understand your pain & frustration!
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way to completely avoid such situations. The fact is, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, people don’t like unpleasant subject matters. They prefer light, fluffy, happy things, as the unpleasant things make them uncomfortable. Many people also cannot handle discussing unpleasant things about the parent/child relationship. They may come from a good home, & can’t comprehend that a parent would abuse a child, or they came from a dysfunctional home, & you discussing your own painful experiences trigger feelings they aren’t ready to deal with yet. Others may feel that you talk too much about your experiences. (Please see my post on taking breaks– not to make others more comfortable, but for your own mental health!) Whatever the reason, no one has the right to invalidate your pain!
To deal with the pain when this happens, please try to keep the last paragraph in mind. Most people aren’t trying to hurt you by what they say or do- they simply have their own issues or are even convinced they’re trying to help you. In any case, them treating you poorly isn’t about you doing something wrong, it’s about them.
Also, acknowledge your feelings. Yes, you’re hurt &/or angry, & it’s OK. Cry, talk to someone safe, journal or pray, but get your feelings out. Feelings are a natural part of life- respect them, don’t ignore them. Ignoring them never leads to anything good, only bad things like depression & health problems.
Be aware that part of the reason that what was said upsets you so much is it triggers old feelings that you experienced at the hand of your narcissistic mother. Narcissists demand their abuse be kept secret, so when someone else wants to silence you years later, that guilt for “telling” may show up. Or, invalidating your pain makes you feel as you did when your mother did it to you as a child- like you’re not allowed to have feelings because they’re only a nuisance to others. I’m not saying that these triggers mean you’re overreacting to being invalidated, of course. I’m simply saying that those triggers may make you less able to realize at first that you aren’t wrong for discussing this topic.
Be good to yourself afterwards. Once you get a firm grasp on your feelings & triggers, do something nice for yourself. A bubble bath, read a good book or some other little thing that makes you feel good.
And, ask God to help you let go of the hurt & anger you feel. You deserve better than to carry around those negative feelings. Besides, you have too much already to deal with considering you’re recovering from growing up with a narcissistic mother. That needs your attention much more.