After recently being told yet again that I “should just cut ties” with my parents, I felt the need to write this post to remind everyone that only you can decide whether or not no contact is right for you. I know, I’ve written several posts like this, but sometimes information bears repeating!
So many people who write about narcissistic abuse preach the value of no contact for the victim. In fact, many say it is the only solution & you’re wrong to think otherwise.
The simple fact is though, that not every situation is the same. Yes, no contact is a very good solution in many situations. Often, it is the only solution. That being said though, it isn’t the only option.
There are many people who are unable or unwilling to go no contact, especially when it comes to a narcissistic parent. Some are forced to live with this parent due to financial reasons, & have no means to move. Others want to go no contact, but don’t feel they are strong enough to do so just yet. They’re working towards that goal. Still others are fine with low contact, which is what I have chosen. I deal with my parents as I feel able to do so.
There are no “one size fits all” solutions for victims of narcissistic parents. Everyone is different & everyone copes with things differently. Just because eliminating your narcissistic parent(s) from your life worked out great for you doesn’t mean it will work as great for someone else. And, if you’re still in a relationship with your narcissistic parent, that doesn’t mean that solution works for everyone. Never tell someone in similar circumstances to yours that they should just do what you did & if they do it, expect them to have the same results as you. That won’t happen.
It also isn’t right to assume you know best what someone else needs to do with their life. It’s judgmental & makes people feel stupid, as if they aren’t smart enough to figure out solutions on their own. Being raised by a narcissistic parent, chances are the person already feels stupid, no matter how smart they are, especially if their mother was the engulfing type. Telling that person what they need to do with their life reinforces that wrong belief. Obviously you wouldn’t tell them what to do if you thought they were smart enough to figure this out on their own. This is exactly how I feel when someone tells me what to do, especially when I didn’t ask for their input. No matter how well meaning their words, I still have to battle feeling stupid. On some level, it takes me back to my mother constantly telling me what to do or just doing things for me because according to her, I wasn’t doing it right or didn’t know what I was doing. It’s not a nice feeling! Would you really want to make someone feel that way?!
Instead of telling someone they should “just go no contact,” tell them you’re sorry for their pain. Listen without judgment or trying to fix their problems. If they ask for advice, rather than say, “If I were you, I would….”, phrase your advice gentler. Ask, “Have you ever thought about doing…?” “What about doing…do you think that would help?” “Have you tried…?”
Offer to pray for & with that person.
Offer to take the person to lunch, to a movie or do something that person enjoys as a distraction. Sometimes a little time away from problems can be very helpful.
There are ways you can help without telling a person what to do or hurting them any more than they’re already hurting.