Tag Archives: covert narcissist

Sometimes “Less Wrong” Is Your Best Option When Dealing With A Narcissist

When dealing with a narcissistic parent, often there are no right answers, only “less wrong” ones.  This is because narcissists are masters of creating a situation where you can’t win no matter what you do, but they will win.   One example in my life that comes to mind is if I don’t answer the phone when my parents call, they will either call back repeatedly until I do answer, attempt to make me feel guilty for not answering the next time we speak or manipulatively demand to know where I was that I couldn’t answer the phone.  I am left with some poor choices here:  answer the phone & deal with whatever games they are playing at the time, or don’t answer the phone & later deal with guilt trips (which don’t work, but really tick me off!) or their anger & especially nasty treatment because I didn’t bend to their wishes by not answering when they called the first time.  Not nice choices!  So, often times I answer the phone, even when I don’t want to, because it’s the lesser of the evils.  While the phone is ringing though, I am weighing my choices & deciding what I can & can’t handle before I pick it up.

It’s frustrating, but this is often the position you are forced into.  And, equally frustrating is others who don’t understand the situation, tell you what you’re doing is wrong & firmly believe you need to hear their opinions on the matter.  I don’t think most people are aware of how incredibly frustrating it is to be forced into these no win situations with a narcissistic parent.  They just see that you are doing something wrong, & that you should do something else, without realizing that their solution would have even more disastrous results than yours does.  They don’t grasp that you are doing what you are doing because it is going to create slightly less disastrous results than what they think you should do.  Or, if they know about narcissism, they may say you’re giving the narcissist that narcissistic supply they crave so desperately, which is why what you’re doing is wrong.  They aren’t seeing that while yes, sometimes you do give that supply, it’s better to give only a small amount of it than a ton of it.  The times when I do take my parents’ calls?  It seems to give them less supply than when they treat me poorly for not answering the phone right away.  Those times after they’ve given me sufficient grief, they seem happier & lighter by the time they hang up the phone.  I feel like I have chosen the lesser of the two evils when I take their calls immediately.

However you choose to handle situations with your narcissistic parents, choose wisely.  Sometimes your best answer isn’t going to be good or even right, but only less wrong.  Unfortunately that is normal.  Don’t listen blindly to the advice of others- listen to what they say & see if it would make sense  in your situation.  Hopefully others will give you a new & helpful solution, but sometimes they don’t, which is why you must consider carefully what they said. After all, no one knows your specific situation better than you do.  Just make sure you pray about what to do & weigh your options.  Do what you feel is right (well, less wrong) in your heart, & you will be doing the best thing you can do in your particular situation.  And, don’t forget to take care of yourself too.  If you end up frustrated, hurt or angry, vent your feelings in a healthy way.  Be good to yourself, too- dealing with a narcissist, especially a narcissistic parent, is very trying.  You need plenty of self-compassion & self-care after having dealt with a narcissistic parent.

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Abandonment Relating To Children Of Narcissistic Parents.

Abandonment comes in many forms.  It can come about for the newborn baby left in a dumpster, a child whose parents suddenly die in a car wreck, divorce, or death of a loved one.  There is a form of abandonment that many people seldom discuss- when close friends & relatives leave you.

This type of abandonment is common after divorce, especially if you are the one who initiated it.  I lost all but one friend after mine.  No one saw him as the manipulative narcissist he was, so they rallied to his side, abandoning me.  Abandonment also happens after surviving the death of someone you love.  After her daughter died, a good friend of mine said it seemed like once the funeral was done, people thought she should be over losing her daughter, as if the funeral being over meant her grief should be over. Abandonment also can happen after experiencing a traumatic event, as some people think you should “be over it by now.”

It’s also very common for children of narcissistic parents to be abandoned repeatedly in their lives.

First, we’re abandoned in the sense of not having a real mother (&/or father).  Just because a narcissist has conceived & birthed a child doesn’t make that person a parent by any means.  We also may be abandoned by the other parent, usually a covert narcissist, who throws us under the bus to the overtly narcissistic parent to cover their own butts during an argument, & who fails to protect us.  We’re also abandoned by anyone who sees the abuse yet fails to do anything to help us: teachers, counselors, relatives, friends or their parents.  As we grow up, we tend to attract narcissists & other abusive people into our lives, who will drop us in an instant once we’ve outlived our usefulness to them.  They also are often skilled at turning others against us too, so we not only lose that person, but friends as well at the same time.  Then eventually we learn about narcissism & the damage it causes, & we begin to talk about it.  That is when our closest friends & relatives often claim we just want attention, need to get over it, So & So had it much worse, your narcissist wasn’t so bad or seemed like a good person to them, & more before abandoning us for being too negative, living in the past, etc.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  I’m guessing it sounds all too familiar.

Constant abandonment like this cuts a person to the core.  It also can lead to many problems- low self-esteem, depression, anger, self-destructive habits such as addictions, & even losing your self-identity.

So how do you deal with this pain?  You grieve your losses much like you grieve when someone you love dies.

Some people say there are five stages in grief, others say seven.  I tend to believe more in seven..

  1. Denial.  What happened is too shocking to accept.  You can’t believe it happened.
  2. Guilt.  You feel guilty.  “Maybe if I had done *fill in the blank*, this wouldn’t have happened.
  3. Anger &/or bargaining with God.  This is the time when you ask “Why did this happen to me?  I don’t deserve this!” or, “God, if you bring him back, I’ll never do *fill in the blank* again.”
  4. Depression.  The magnitude of what happened becomes real to you at this stage, & it hurts.  Badly.  This is often the longest lasting stage.
  5. Starting to move on.  The depression starts to lift some & you begin to adjust in small ways to life after what happened.
  6. Moving on.  You really begin healing at this stage.  You read & learn about how to adjust & heal.
  7. Acceptance.  You have accepted what happened.  You start to look forward to things once again.  You may never again be the person you once were, but you are moving forward.

***sometimes when grieving, you may bounce back & forth between steps a few times.  This is normal***

While going through the stages of grief is never a fun process, it is a necessary one when it comes to big losses, & being abandoned, especially repeatedly, is a big loss.

While experiencing each stage, it is important to talk things out.  I encourage you to pray a lot.  Tell God everything you feel, & listen for any wisdom He wants to share with you.  Also, if you’re like me & it helps you to see things in writing, then journal.  Sometimes seeing things in black & white brings a clarity that simply talking about them doesn’t.

Always be patient, non-judgmental & gentle with yourself while experiencing the grief process.  You need such things in your life during this time, & especially from yourself.

Exercise wisdom in who you share your experiences with.  Many people don’t understand grief in any form, & others don’t wish to hear such “negativity”. Don’t discuss your journey with people like that- instead only share with people who are non-judgmental, compassionate & who love you unconditionally.

I know this is not an easy time for you, but you can get through this, & you will be a stronger person too.  Also, you’re not alone!  Many people have experienced this same pain you have, including me.  If you would like to meet others, feel free to check out my facebook group & my forum, links to both are on my website at:  www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

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Aging Narcissistic In-laws

Aging narcissistic parents are a very disturbing group of people. While most people mellow out as they age, narcissists often get more vicious.  Not easy to deal with for their adult children!

As I write this, I’m waiting for my husband to come home.  He’s at the hospital visiting his mother who was admitted today.

Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t go into much detail, so please bear with me a bit.  Both my mother in-law & father in-law are narcissistic, her covert & him overt.  As they are getting older & their health is failing them, they are making more demands on my husband.  Also, he is facing the truth about them & how he’s been abused by them for the first time.  It’s not an easy time for him.  I’m very concerned how this situation is going to play out for him, & how he is going to deal with his own feelings.

I’m also a bit nervous about how I’m going to deal with my own feelings as well.  You see, there were countless times I considered divorcing him earlier in our marriage because of the abuse his mother put me through & his failure to acknowledge it at the time.  Honestly, sometimes I still get angry when I remember those dark days.

I’m sure there are others in similar situations, as many of us with narcissistic parents marry someone who also has at least one narcissistic parent.  I’m writing about this to share what God has been showing me about how to cope.

Pray.  About what?  Whatever comes to mind regarding the situation.  Personally, I’ve been praying for my mother in-law’s salvation (I’m unsure if she’s a Christian- I don’t believe she is), asking God to give my husband strength, wisdom & anything else he needs right now, & asking God to help me release my old anger at him.  Prayers like this can truly help you as well as the recipients of your prayers!  I admit, it isn’t easy to pray for my mother in-law, so sometimes I ask close friends to pray for her.  It helps me know she’s getting prayer, plus I don’t have to do it at that time- I can do it later when I feel able to do so.

Distractions.  I’m hoping to distract hubby when he gets home with a funny video that we love.  We’re big fans of the old TV show, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” with its fun, warped humor, & since it always makes us laugh, I think watching an old episode could do us both some good.  After all, it’s unhealthy to focus on the more serious issues in life 24/7.  The brain needs a break sometimes!

Nice gestures.  A little sweet, thoughtful gesture can go a long way when someone is going through hard times.  Hubby will be greeted with raspberry herbal tea (we both love it) when he gets home.  I’ll come up with other gestures once I gauge the kind of mood he’s in.  Sometimes, he isn’t in the mood for interaction- he just wants to be left alone.

Listening.  Before I start the movie, I’ll see if he wants to talk.  Often when his mother is in the hospital, he comes home very frazzled.  The hospital staff at this particular hospital isn’t the best (as I learned when my father was there last December), his parents are demanding & his sisters want constant updates until they come into town.  It can be a lot for him to deal with.

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Why Not Tolerating Abuse Is A Godly, Loving Behavior

One thing it seems like all adult children of narcissists share is the large amount of people who  think that we should continue to tolerate anything & everything our narcissistic parents dish out, because of such logic as, “That’s the only mother you’ll ever have!”, “She’s doing her best!”  or, “She won’t be around forever yanno!”  So many people think tolerating abuse is loving, Godly, martyr-like behavior.  How people can think this is utterly beyond me.

Consider Mark 12:32-33, & notice the last part of verse 33…

Mark 12:32-33   “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  (NIV)

What exactly does it mean to love?  Here is how love is defined in the Bible..

1 Corinthians 13 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  (NIV)

I see nothing in there that states how tolerating abuse is a good thing for anyone.  Basically, I see 1 Corinthians 13 this way- love wants what is best, & tolerating abuse is hardly best for anyone.  The victim certainly doesn’t get what’s best- instead they end up hurt & angry at best, or possibly even doubting their sanity at worst.  Depending on the type of abuse the narcissist dishes out, they may also end up in financial straights or with physical injuries.  The abuser doesn’t end up with what’s best when abuse is tolerated either, because being allowed to get away with bad behavior certainly isn’t loving!  Getting away with bad behavior only encourages that bad behavior to continue, & probably even to escalate.  Narcissists in particular, when not confronted with boundaries or consequences for their behavior, will continue to push the limits to see just how far they can go.

People who try to tell you that you need to let your narcissistic parent abuse  you truly have no inkling of God’s definition of love.  Sadly, many of them are very convicted in their beliefs, so trying to explain this to many of them will be a waste of your time.  However, if this is someone you know well, you will know if this person will be open or not to hearing you explain what God’s definition of love really is.  If they are, then hopefully your relationship will survive this bump in the road unscathed.

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

Some Thoughts For Those Unable To Sever Ties With A Narcissistic Mother

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

The last few weeks, I’ve been feeling led to focus on helping those with narcissistic mothers who are either unable or unwilling to go no contact with them.   There are many in this position, & there is very little information out there for these people.   I hope this post will encourage you!

My mother called last night, & hubby & I are going to lunch tomorrow with my folks (my father’s birthday is Monday, hubby is off tomorrow, so I thought this could work).  Unfortunately, I learned quickly during the call that my mother’s niceness has ended for now.  She was very nasty during the conversation last night, talking quite a bit about how hard it was for her doing so much all by herself for her mother when she was alive.  A guilt trip, I suppose, for not doing enough.  Not nice considering I was her mother’s primary caregiver for a year… the hardest year of my life, by the way, since she was a very malignant narcissist & just a hateful, heartless human being.  And,  my mother mentioning this was not surprising, since she has said these exact same things many times over the years, even while her mother was still alive & I was helping her.  *sigh*

While this turn of events is disappointing, it’s certainly not unexpected.  While some of my readers seemed to think I believed my mother was going to maintain her much nicer demeanor indefinitely, that was never the case.  I’m hardly that naive.  My mother only can be nice to me for brief periods of time, like many narcissistic mothers, & I am well aware of that fact. I accept that about my mother, because, well, let’s face it- she has no desire to change that about herself.  It’s either accept it or try to change her.  I’ll accept it, rather than overstep my bounds by trying to make her into something she is not.

While accepting that fact about my mother, that doesn’t mean I accept her abuse however.  I’ve learned how to handle this relationship with my mother, how to maintain a civil contact with her.

When my mother is in one of her pleasant moods, I enjoy it.  I never know  how long it will last, so I don’t think about that.  I just enjoy it, whether that mood lasts for a day or a month.  I also remember that this change isn’t permanent, & she can go back to full narcissistic mode at any moment.  That keeps my expectations realistic (well, low), so I am not disappointed when she changes.

When the narcissistic mode kicks back in, I keep a distance from my mother.  I answer her calls less frequently, & spend less time with her.

I’ve noticed her narcissistic mode lasts less time doing this.  She is now nicer, or at least civil, more often than not.  While I certainly can’t say my relationship with my mother is perfect by any means, it is way better than I ever thought it could be.  We have pleasant conversations pretty often now, & I don’t cringe every time the phone rings.  I’m also able to relax some during the good times where I wasn’t able to before.  I now know they may not last long, so I just live in the moment, enjoying them as they come up.  When they stop, I knew it was going to  happen, so I am not surprised or disappointed.  That is when I keep my distance, & wait for the nice mode to start again.

I believe these changes have happened for a couple of reasons. First, God. I prayed a lot recently as I’ve mentioned before, because I was so close to going no contact with my mother.  He told me that decision was up to me.  I asked Him to help me be able to stay in this very difficult relationship, at least for now.  I assumed that meant He would give me strength & courage as I needed it, but it’s been so much more than I could’ve expected.  I am now able to hear my mother’s nasty, cruel words, & not feel devastated.  Hurt sometimes, sure, but I am more able to see them as a result of her issues, rather than taking them personally.  That helps to take much of  the sting out of her words.  I also am now able to say “no”  & defend myself where that was once very difficult for me to do sometimes.  I also, for once, haven’t trouble speaking my mind to my mother.  Granted, I don’t do it all the time, but sometimes, it’s just not worth it.  Sometimes the topic is trivial & we simply have different opinions- so what?  That just means we’re different people.  Other times, if I need to speak up to her about how she treats me, I can tell she is going to ignore me, so there just isn’t a point in frustrating myself by speaking up.

God also has enabled me to be much stronger with setting & forcing very strict boundaries with my mother.  She has no choice but to go along with them now, whereas I used to have very weak boundaries, if any.  Does she like this?  No, but I really don’t care.   They are reasonable, & I am taking care of myself.  I think by doing this, I have gained a slight amount of respect from my mother for the first time ever.  Narcissists are bullies, & one thing I’ve learned about bullies is that they respect someone who has the guts to stand up to them.  They may not like that person, but they respect her!

I’ve also gotten a real revelation on something else- my mother can’t hurt me anymore!  When I was a kid, she threatened me with military or catholic school or to have me locked up in a psyche ward, she screamed in my face, calling me filthy names, she was also strong enough to throw me into a wall so hard when I was 19, my back was injured to the point I had to quit working a few months later.  Even in my early 20’s, my mother once threatened to contact my landlord because I had more cats than the lease allowed, all because I disagreed with her about something.  Those times are gone now.  We’re both much older, & now I’m the physically stronger one.  I also don’t need to sit there while anyone screams at me- I can walk out & never come back if I’m so inclined.  She also can’t have me taken away or contact my landlord because I am now a home owner.  The only weapon my mother has left are her words, & frankly, that weapon is rather lame.  She called me so many terrible names & said so many terrible things about me when I was growing up, while her current tactics may hurt me, they really don’t hurt me all that badly.  After all, I’ve been through worse!  The comic Chris Titus once  talked about how critical his father was when he was growing up, & said something like, “Thanks to him, I’m like an insult Navy Seal!”  That is how I feel about my mother.  My mother accused me of terrible things like doing drugs & having sex with the entire high school football team when I was a teenager (neither of which I did) & called me awful names. After surviving that, what else is there?!  What else can she say?  Nothing!  And, I’ve also realized that my mother needs me much more than I need her.  I have my own home & life now- I need nothing from my mother.  She has no hold over me.

These things have been very freeing to me, & very helpful in dealing with my narcissistic mother. I pray they will help you to find ways to deal with yours as well.

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Do Narcissists Really Know What They Are Doing?

The answer is a resounding YES!!!

 

Narcisissts are absolutely aware of what they are doing & the damage they cause.  And, they are well able to control their actions.

 

Anyone who has spent time around a narcissist knows that they act entirely differently around people they want to impress versus people they don’t care about impressing.  That is painfull obvious.  The fact is though that they also are very aware when they have gone too far over the top in their actions.

 

Recently, I posted about my narcissistic mother’s fake concern, get well card & cookies for my (also narcissistic) mother in-law, even though she knows perfectly well that I haven’t spoken to the woman since 2002 due to her abusive ways.  (I posted about that here).  This betrayal by my mother & her flaunting it in my face hurt me more than it usually does when she feigns concern for my mother in-law’s failing health.  It made me physically sick for over a week.  I also ignored the phone several times since then when my mother called, which I normally don’t do. (periodically yes, but not several in a row).  Apparently, she noticed, & this made an impression…

 

I finally took my mother’s call yesterday.  She tried to be pleasant. Even attempted to give me a complement.  She also mentioned something hurtful her mother told her once.  The call was quite odd to say the least.  I was thinking about it & I think it was to “apologize” to me for her behavior regarding my mother in-law.  She is very aware of when her behavior is too over the top, like most narcissists.  Besides, I realized I’ve seen this kind of thing before with my father.  At one point, when I didn’t answer his call, he called my cousin who lives 450 miles away & my father in-law looking for me.  I was livid & let him know that.  After, he began being gentler & kinder with me, & even mirroring me in an attempt to regain my trust.

 

This is very typical of narcissistic behavior.  They know when they have gone just too far, & rather than take responsibility for their behavior & apologize (like normal people), they engage in various behaviors.

 

  • Mirroring: People naturally feel most comfortable with those who share many similiarities. Narcissists will mirror your behavior & likes/dislikes in order to regain your trust.  (“See how much alike we are?  How can you be mad at me??”)
  • Minimizing or temporarily foregoing the criticisms:  In order to get you to forgive & forget their bad behavior, they will stifle their nastiness temporarily until they believe you have forgiven them.  (“See what I nice person I am?  You can’t be mad at me- I’m too nice!”)
  • Feigning thoughtfulness:  The narcissist will call you to let you know a movie you like is coming on TV shortly, for example.  They will perform small acts of showing they were thinking of you to prove how nice they are.
  • Giving you distance, respecting your space: For the narcissist who insists on constant attention such as an engulfing narcissistic mother, this is the hardest thing for her to do.  However, she will do it if it will get her back in your good graces.  If she calls you daily or near daily, she will skip calling for a few days after the incident, then call you, acting much meeker than usual.  She will employ one of the above tactics during that conversation.  If she believes that you have forgiven/forgotten her, this is the last pleasant conversation you will have with the narcissist.  If she believes you’re still upset, the routine will happen repeatedly until she believes you are over what she has done to you.

 

Always remember- the narcissist in your life upsets you, remember- do NOT tell her!  Explaining your hurt feelings to a narcissist only gives them ammunition to hurt you further.  However, if you become angry & the narcissist picks up on your feelings, be aware- the games will begin!  Remember these things & you can be prepared for what to expect.

 

 

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Father’s Day, 2014

Good morning, Dear Readers!

Father’s Day is upon us today.  To all of the great dads reading this, the dads who love, support, encourage & protect their children, I wish you a very happy day!

To those of you who are reading this & have been dreading this day, please know that I understand.

It is so hard to want to celebrate someone who has abused you or, possibly even worse, failed to protect you from being abused.  So many daughters of narcissistic mothers were not only only the victim of their mother, but their father as well.  Maybe your father didn’t belittle, criticize or hit you as your mother did, but by failing to protect you, or even turning her rage on you instead of him to protect himself, he is just as guilty of abuse.  In fact, most men married to narcissistic wives are covert narcissists. Things like this make it very hard to want to bless him on Father’s Day.

I just want you to know, Dear Reader, that I truly understand your pain & frustration.  I hope today that you will take good care of yourself, & only do for your father what you are able to do comfortably.  Remember- if you do not feel able to do much for your father today, there is a very good reason for that.  He is reaping what he has sown.   How could anyone want to bless a neglectful or abusive parent?  That is like planting apple seeds & expecting corn to grow.  It’s not going to happen. 

If you dread Father’s Day, or are feeling bad because you are incapable of fawning over your father today, know you are not alone!  And, think about the kind of father he has been.  I think you’ll realize there are very valid reasons you feel as you do!  ❤

Lastly, don’t forget to thank your Heavenly Father for all He does for you. He loves you so much, & does so much for you- why not take a few moments to thank Him & tell Him how much you love Him?

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