The Pain Of Having A Covert Narcissist Parent

Last night, I had two extremely vivid nightmares about my parents.  I woke up anxious & afraid from both, but especially the second one.


I got to thinking & praying about the dreams, I realized they showed me something.  It is incredibly hard to accept a covert narcissist parent as the evil, abuser that they are!


Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a LOT of dreams about my father & when I prayed, God would tell me to pay attention to them- they are showing what he is really like, as He did when I asked about last night’s nightmares.  Yet in spite of the many warnings, I was still shocked when he did certain things like calling the police twice on me for “welfare checks” after I stopped speaking to him, accused my husband of keeping me from him or sending several flying monkeys after me.


When you’ve been raised with an overt narcissist & a covert narcissist, it is hard to accept the covert narcissist is bad.  After all, compared to the overt, the covert doesn’t seem so bad.  The covert doesn’t scream at you or hit you or shred your self-esteem.  Plus, it’s incredibly hard to accept that both of your parents didn’t love you.  One is hard enough, but two?  Incredibly painful.  So, many people tell themselves that their covertly narcissistic parent isn’t so bad.   Sure, that parent has flaws, but it could be worse, right?




I firmly believe covert narcissists are way worse than overts.  At least with overt narcissists, you know where you stand & what they’re capable of.  Not so with covert narcissists.  Due to their subtlety, they can abuse so discreetly, a person doesn’t even realize it’s happening.  They also give such a good appearance as a victim that on the off chance you recognize they’re behavior is abusive, you don’t have the heart to upset them by confronting them.  They also love to appear naive & innocent.  This makes you doubt they know what they’re doing is wrong.  It also means if you tell people you both know, you won’t be believed.  Covert narcissists also make you feel sorry for them, which is another guarantee that you will let them get away with anything they want to do.


If anyone meets my father, they get the impression he’s a simple country boy- laid back, good sense of humor & a pleasant person.  And, now that he’s pushing 80 & has Alzheimer’s & other health problems, they also feel bad for him.  They don’t realize the incredibly evil, twisted things he is capable of because they only see the way he presents himself.  They don’t believe that when my mother abused me, he not only failed to protect me, he also turned the situation around so I would comfort him because he said he was upset she hurt me.  They wouldn’t believe he expected me to apologize to him for breaking a wall when my mother threw me into it when I was 19.  Yet, these things are absolutely true.


Dear Reader, if you have a covertly narcissistic parent, please pray about your situation.  If you’re maintaining that relationship thinking that parent isn’t as bad as your overtly narcissistic one, you’re probably wrong.  I thought that myself & I certainly was.  It’s taken me a lot of painful events, & long time to see my father for the wicked narcissist he is.  It took many nightmares & painful events to realize it.  I would love to spare you the kind of pain that I have had to experience because I didn’t want to accept the truth, so please, please pray about your situation.  Ask God to show you the truth about your parent, to enable you to handle it & what you should do about it.



Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

18 responses to “The Pain Of Having A Covert Narcissist Parent

  1. My fathers narcissism was very overt. He was over the top abusive to my mother, which is why my siblings and I always viewed her as a victim. That obscured her own N abuse of others (especially her children), something I failed to see for too many years. And it made it even more difficult to go NC with her because she was already viewed as the perpetual victim by everyone else in my family. Coming to her defense was reflexive for them, which is why I believe some of them didn’t even bother to ask why I’d taken such a drastic action (others, who are narcissists, were simply grateful for the excuse to abuse me once again). This status as a victim works so well for her that I don’t believe she’ll ever change. But if my siblings had heeded my pleas over the years not to allow her to be abusive without consequences she might have had enough motivation to stop the criticism, gossip, lies, and triangulation she’s employed over the decades. I’ll never know.


  2. tess

    my N friend ( now no contact), plays the victim at her church, blaming me and making up lies….because of her brilliant acting as a religious person, volunteering and wearing her mask of goodness, she has deceived the pastor, his wife and a lady elder who is mentoring her. None of these naive people have any idea that in secret, this friend is controlling and abusive to 2 ladies within the church……these coverts are so very clever.


  3. tess

    These things are very distressing in a friend, so I cannot imagine the pain and confusion caused by this kind of treatment in a parent

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s rough, that’s for sure. Especially when you also have an overt narcissist parent. Like I said in my post, when they’re side by side, the covert doesn’t look so bad. It’s easy to believe they’re the good parent. It’s painful & difficult to accept they aren’t so good after all, but at least as if not more abusive than the overt

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Angela

    It’s all a long time ago now, but my church going narcissist mother played the victim after my father left. Growing up I realised that she often lied to me. Before she died, she needed her birth certificate for something and I couldn’t find it, so I took all her paperwork home to go through it. None of the dates she’d told me about when things happened matched the dates on the paperwork. I also found two interesting letters. The first one was my father’s leaving letter which I’d never been allowed to read. It wasn’t surprising why – he blamed her for the breakdown of their marriage. The second was a letter to me shortly after he left. I couldn’t remember getting the letter and was never allowed to write to him. I used to think that my mother wasn’t very bright and had a bad memory because there was so much she “couldn’t remember.” Now I realise she was making up her own version of the truth to suit herself. All that gaslighting was very confusing and I feel that I never will know if anything she told me was true or not. God bless you all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tess

      Your story is also sad….I am so sorry to hear about the lies, victim playing and confusion.
      I pray that you are at last finding some peace and value.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Angela

        Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I am much more at peace and have a loving family and friends. Even so, it really helps to have the validation and support of people who truly understand.


    • Angela, I’m so sorry. That behavior is common of so many narcissists, I think. The more we think they aren’t very bright & have bad memories, the more we let them get away with. After all, they can’t help it! *sigh* It’s so frustrating & infuriating when we later learn they aren’t that way at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Angela

        Thank you, Cynthia. I’m sure I’m repeating my stories now. I can’t understand why my mother kept those letters and other papers. It meant that I eventually found out the truth about some of things she’d lied about.


        • One thing I’ve learned- we have to repeat ourselves in order to heal. Something about talking about it over & over helps us to process it all. And, if it helps, I don’t think you told that story before.

          She probably figured you’d never see those things. Narcissists just don’t think too much sometimes. They also underestimate their victims & assume we’re not smart enough to figure out what they’re up to.


  5. tess

    Cynthia you are stronger than you realise.
    to have survived such a traumatic past whilst helping others do the same, shows extraordinary strength!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. That made me remember something..

    My father and I had gotten into a physical fight one time when I was about 12 or 13. He was walking towards my mother saying “Let me tell you something…” and I pulled his attention towards me. We swung at each other, my punches connecting every single time, until my mom shoved me into my room and was closing the door. I yelled “bastard!” at him and he kicked the door open and we got back to throwing hands. I don’t know how I did it, but I put my hands around his throat and started pressing. He was unable to breathe, his eyes were turning red. I kept stepping forward and trying to knee him in the crotch because I wanted him to fall so I could sit on top of him and just finish him. Mother shoves me back in my room, and I see him grab his .38 and start loading bullets into it. He says he’s going to kill me. I grabbed a knife from under my bed, and sat in my closet. I told myself “you’ve got one chance to stand when he opens that door and stab him in the chest and you better make it count.”

    Not sure how long I was in the closet, he never came into my room. But when I tiptoed out of my room and into the living room, my mom was sitting there watching tv with a tear going down her face. I COMFORTED HER.

    Looking back now that I know she’s a narcissist… just eye opening. Thank you for your post.


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