Lately, I’ve noticed many people in a relationship with a narcissist often have something that shuts them down with the narcissist. The narcissist says or does something that makes their victim feel like enough is finally enough. They reach the point of being completely fed up with the games, the gaslighting & the abuse. This one thing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The victim is now done. One of my readers calls this the last straw moment.
A while back, I had a big fight with my parents that I have mentioned in this blog before. Long story short, they wanted to attend my late mother in-law’s funeral, & seemed annoyed I didn’t tell them she died- they found out about her death when they saw her obituary in the local paper. In spite of knowing how badly she treated me, both of my parents said they wanted to “pay their respects” to her & “didn’t want to disappoint my father in-law” by not going (my parents & in-laws have seen each other twice in the 20+ years my husband & I have been together). I felt betrayed that they cared more about “paying respects” to her than me, & neither of my parents understood that.
As of the time I’m writing this post, neither of my parents have spoken to me in quite a while. The evening of the fight was the last time I spoke with my mother. That was in May. My father only spoke to me a handful of times after that, but I haven’t heard from him since July. I guess now he’s not speaking to me either. That’s fine- it’s his choice. I realized this situation was my last straw moment with my parents. Granted, this was not the first time they have cared more about someone else than me, even someone who has hurt me. The reason it is my last straw moment is because my parents have the unadulterated gall to be angry at me for defending myself to their complete lack of concern over my feelings. If they had responded by saying something like, “I never thought of it that way. I’m sorry,” I could have lived with them wanting to pay their respects, probably without even being angry since they just tend to be so inconsiderate of me. I accept that about them & don’t expect otherwise from them. But, they didn’t. They acted like something was extremely wrong with me for being upset with them. My father quickly changed the subject after defending himself briefly. My mother even acted bored when I was angry & crying. Bored! Her own daughter is upset to the point of yelling, crying & even using some profanity which are all out of character to me in her presence, yet she was bored. My parents were offended that I defended myself & they couldn’t comprehend why I felt they betrayed me. Wouldn’t even try to comprehend it, for that matter. Those facts are what triggered my last straw moment.
I’m learning from my own experiences & from those of others I’ve spoken with that last straw moments with narcissistic parents are a plethora of conflicting emotions.
When things first happen, there can be a sense of being in shock. Whatever they did may not have been the worst thing they’ve done to you, but you can’t believe it at first. You may think things like, “They did it AGAIN?!” or, “They really don’t care at all how I feel!” While you know they’re capable of such things obviously, you can’t believe it happened, even when it feels like the millionth time. You are amazed anyone can be capable of such cruelty, let alone extending that cruelty to their own child.
Anger kicks in too. You may feel totally fed up. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough is enough! You are done putting up with their abuse!
Sadness kicks in after the anger. Sadness because what they did hurt you & because you realize there is truly no hope for your relationship. Even understanding narcissism, there is usually a tiny part of the adult child of narcissistic parents that clings to the hope that maybe somehow, some day, things will change. Whatever they did to you this time erased that tiny glimmer of hope completely.
Sadness morphs into grief. Grief isn’t only for losing a loved one. Grief happens when you experience loss, & a last straw moment with your narcissistic parent is definitely a loss. Not only have you lost the hope I mentioned in the previous paragraph, but much more. It often hits people in last straw moments how much the narcissist has stolen from them- their childhood, their self-esteem, their ability to be mentally healthy, their joy… Such losses can be very hard to deal with, & trigger grief. That is the stage I’m at with my parents now.
You can bounce back & forth between grief & anger quite often. I certainly have.
Yet, among the negative emotions are some very positive ones as well. For me, once my parents stopped speaking to me, I finally felt free enough to be myself, the person God made me to be, not the person my parents wanted me to be. I’d been getting further from what they wanted me to be for quite some time, but without them in my life, I was able to be completely myself, 100% of the time, for the first time ever. It’s pretty cool! I love feeling so free!
Caring over what my parents think has disappeared as well. I know if I must deal with them at some point, the usual snarky, cruel, hateful criticisms won’t be as hurtful because I really don’t care what they think of me or my life. It’s really not my business anyway, what they think of me. I’m living as I believe God wants me to, & that’s all that matters to me anymore.
It’s also common to feel like a weight has been lifted. Which is natural since it has been. Whether you stopped speaking to your narcissistic parents or they stopped speaking to you, that burden is now gone from your life. Or, if you’re still in a relationship with them, you still may feel the lifted burden feeling. That is because you no longer care about pleasing them or gaining their approval. You may have accepted them as they are- cruel, devious, hate-filled & abusive people- & no longer have any expectations of them to be anything but what they are.
Last straw moments can be difficult & confusing, but oddly, they also can be a blessing in disguise. To deal with all of the conflicting feelings, I recommend a lot of prayer, as well as talking to a trusted, safe friend. Journalling helps too. Anything that helps Writing things out helps you to see things clearly, which really can help you to heal. Anything that helps you to get your feelings out without fear of judgment is a good thing.