Tag Archives: adult
Growing up with abusive parents, most kids think that once they turn 18 &/or move out, all their problems will be over. Many victims marry very young trying to rush this process along, & who can blame them?
The problem is though, this mindset is wrong. The abuse merely changes, it doesn’t stop.
In my experience, I left home at 19 after my first nervous breakdown. Although I didn’t know exactly what had happened to me at that time, I knew in my heart that I had to leave or lose my sanity. I moved back in 6 months later for only four days. On the last day, my mother & I got into an argument which escalated quickly into a physical fight, & she slammed me into a wall. I believe she wanted to kill me that night. I also believed that since I determined never to live in that house again, the abuse was a thing of the past. My mother never laid another hand on me again after that night, November 28, 1990. That didn’t mean she never abused me again, however.
After that horrible night, my mother continued to verbally abuse me. Everything about me was subject to her harsh judgement & criticisms, just as it had been when I was living with her. When I had to quit work a few months later due to my back pain from her assault, my mother made it clear she was convinced I was faking the pain because I was too lazy to work. She never said those words exactly, but she would slap me in the back where my pain was, hand me heavy items or tell me I needed to help her move something heavy.
As my parents got older & frailer, my mother expected me to help them. When I did help, my parents were cruel, especially my mother. She gave me a diet soda one day when I was there. The cruelty was the artificial sweetener in it was known to cause a laxative effect in some people. She waited until I emptied the bottle to tell me this & how it negatively affected my father. For the remainder of the visit, she & my father continually asked me how my stomach felt or did I need to use the bathroom.
My mother had irritable bowel syndrome. After having an issue, she called to tell me I had to wash her clothes the next day because “I owed it to her since she took care of me as a baby.” The next day I took rubber gloves along in case I had to touch any laundry since I’m not good with body functions. My mother watched me take off those gloves, then told me to hold out my hands. With a smile, she put her nasty clothes in my bare hands & said “I forgot, these need to go in the washer too.”
The point of these stories is this: narcissistic parents don’t stop abusing their children when they become adults. They merely change the ways in which they abuse them.
As narcissists age, they can’t be the physically intimidating presence to their child anymore. And, their child has grown up, so even if they were able to magically stay the same, their child probably wouldn’t be intimidated like they once were. Also, threats of punishment from a parent don’t work on an adult as they would on a child. Due to losing so many of their once successful ways of abusing their child, narcissists have to come up with new ways to abuse.
Some of those new ways may involve financial abuse, guilt trips to make their child think they owe the parent, misusing their medications to make themselves ill, or even threatening suicide.
If such things are happening to you, you’re not alone! You also have nothing to feel ashamed of! The shame lies with your parent, not you! Do what you need to in order to protect yourself. You do NOT deserve to be abused!!
Growing up with a narcissistic mother is incredibly painful. It causes a great deal of damage too, not only to one’s mental health but sometimes physical as well due to the intense, incredible stress of living with such a cruel person.
Unfortunately, the damage done is still with the child moving out of his or her mother’s home. While some of that damage is obvious, such as a person having C-PTSD, not all of it is so easily identified. There are many behaviors that tend to stick with a person even years after the abuse has ended.
Many victims accept the blame for everything. Growing up with a narcissist, you learn early in life that everything is your fault. If you had any doubts about that, your narcissistic mother would remind you of it. By adulthood, victims have lost all doubts & know everything is their fault.
Closely related is apologizing for everything. Children aren’t allowed to stand up for themselves, especially to their narcissistic mother. In fact, we don’t even have any clue how to stand up for ourselves. Instead, we learn to apologize, whether the problem is our fault or not. This behavior carries over into adulthood.
Narcissistic parents often compare their children unfavorably to their siblings or cousins. Those children grow up comparing themselves unfavorably to others just as their parent did rather than appreciating the differences in each person.
Children of narcissistic parents learned early in life that their purpose was to do for their parent. Children aren’t even thought of as human to their narcissistic parents, but instead they are merely tools to be used as needed by that parent. Knowing this means these children believe they aren’t important. They prioritize everyone else over themselves.
Along these lines, children of narcissistic parents also refuse to ask for help. They believe they are unworthy of help from anyone. Many are also perfectionists & think they should be able to do things by themselves, without any assistance.
Chronic self doubt is another problem narcissistic mothers create in their children. When you grow up hearing how you can’t do anything right, you’re a failure, you’re stupid or other cruel things, self doubt is normal. It can make you doubt every single thing about yourself, even into adulthood. Often it’s like there is a recording in the back of your mind when you try to do something that says those same awful things Mom used to say, & when you hear the recording, it transports you back to childhood, when you felt you were all of those things Mom said you were.
Difficulty making decisions happens often with adult children of narcissistic parents, too. When you suffer with self doubt, decisions can be really difficult to make! Even simple decisions like when your spouse asks where you want to go for dinner can be very challenging, because you feel like whatever you say will be wrong.
Over thinking is another common sign of having grown up with a narcissistic mother. It stems from having to be “on alert” at all times, needing to know what Mom wanted or how to please her or what exactly she needed at any time in order to avoid a narcissistic rage.
The lack of ability to express emotions is common with adult children of narcissistic mothers. So many narcissistic mothers did their best to stop their child from expressing any emotions, negative or positive. My mother used to scold me for having “that Bailey temper” that I learned never to show any anger or even simple frustration. It felt easier to stuff that emotion deep down than to be shamed. My mother also complained that I didn’t look happy, yet if I was happy, if it had nothing to do with her, she would shame me for being happy. Many narcissistic mothers behave in a similar way with their children.
Do you behave in any of these ways, Dear Reader? If so, please know you are NOT alone & you are NOT crazy. I’ve experienced them all, & still do experience some of them. I have found that praying really helps a great deal. I ask God for help or to show me what I can do to change my behavior. Simple? Sure, but also very effective.
I also question things. “Am I really to blame for this? Why?” “Should I apologize for that? Why or why not?” “Why am I comparing myself to that person instead of appreciating our uniqueness?” “Am I really not smart enough/talented enough/etc. to do that? What evidence do I have that shows me I’m not?” “Is it really unreasonable of me to ask my husband for help when I don’t feel good? Why?” These simple questions make me think about the situation at hand more objectively & I can see that sometimes what I’m thinking is nothing more than some old, dysfunctional mindset. Upon seeing that, I am able to act in a more appropriate way. If you have trouble doing this, another approach could be to imagine a friend came to you with the problem you’re facing now. What would you tell that friend? Imagining a friend is confiding in you rather than thinking about yourself facing the problem can give you a very different perspective.
Although these issues are challenging, they can be dealt with with time & work. Do it- you deserve to be rid of these dysfunctional habits!
Being raised by a narcissistic parent or two causes a person to act differently than people raised by healthy, functional parents. Aside from the most obvious common problem, C-PTSD, being raised by narcissists creates certain unique behaviors that almost every victim exhibits. This post addresses those behaviors.
Being afraid to say no. Narcissists don’t allow their children to have boundaries. “No” can be met with abuse- name calling, scathing criticisms, guilt trips & even physical violence. Children use “yes” as a survival skill as a result. They learn early in life that it’s easier to do whatever their narcissistic parent wants than to say “no” & face the consequences. This behavior becomes such a habit that it is often carried into adulthood. While it served a good purpose as a child, it no longer does as an adult. Being a healthy adult means having healthy boundaries. You need to start asking yourself why are you saying yes? Are you saying yes because you want to or because you’re afraid of disappointing someone if you say no? Start saying no when you’re saying yes when you don’t want to. Some people won’t like it, but one thing to keep in mind- healthy, good, caring people respect boundaries. Users & abusers don’t. If someone gets upset with you for having a healthy boundary, that isn’t the kind of person you need in your life.
Apologizing too much. Narcissistic parents blame their children for every single thing, so their children learn to apologize for everything, whether or not it’s their fault. This dysfunctional survival skill also carries into adulthood, & needs to stop. When you feel the urge to apologize, pray. Ask God is this truly your fault? Should you apologize or are you only doing so out of habit?
Being unable to express emotions in a healthy way. Narcissists can’t handle the emotions of other people, including their children. They force their children to stifle their emotions, often by shaming them for having them. This tells children their emotions are bad. To cope, may continue to repress their emotions while others express them in inappropriate ways such as getting angrier than is appropriate for the situation. It can be hard, I know, but you need to learn to get in touch with your emotions & give them a healthy outlet. Ask God to help you to do this, because it will get scary, especially showing anger after a lifetime of stifling it. Journaling can be helpful, too- seeing things in writing brings clarity.
Not trusting your intuition & perception. Constant gaslighting is possibly the most cruel form of abuse there is, & also a favorite of narcissists. Gaslighting makes a person second guess everything about themselves- their instincts, perception, feelings, thoughts- because it makes a victim feel that they are wrong about everything or even crazy. The fact is though that you aren’t wrong or crazy- you are FINE! The gaslighting made you doubt these things but it doesn’t mean that they are actually wrong or flawed somehow. Your instincts, perceptions, feelings & thoughts are just fine. They are trustworthy! Ask God to help you to learn to trust yourself. Pay attention, too. You’ll see that the more you you’re right about little things, the more you learn to trust yourself.
Over explaining yourself. Narcissistic parents demand their children behave in certain ways that are acceptable to them, no matter how their child feels about it. When the child fails to meet the impossibly high expectations, the parent demands an explanation for the failure. One more dysfunctional survival skill children of narcissists learn is to explain anything & everything, & again, this often continues into adulthood. It feels strange at first to stop over explaining yourself, but if you stick with it, it gets more comfortable as time goes on. Always remember, not everyone needs an explanation for what you do.
These behaviors, although dysfunctional, don’t have to be permanent. With prayer & work, you can make healthy changes.