Tag Archives: emotional incest

Fixing Your Narcissistic Parents’ Problems- Not A Good Idea!

Boundaries are  a very necessary part of life.  Having them means you are free of the need to please others or take care of things that should be another person’s problem.  They are especially helpful for those of us raised by narcissistic parents since we grew up with very vague or even non-existent boundaries.

Even after you’ve learned about having healthy boundaries, & put what you learned into practice, sometimes it can be hard to maintain those boundaries though, especially with narcissistic parents.

I spoke to my mother yesterday.  She mentioned how she & my father rearranged the living room furniture.  Knowing her, this means she told him what to move & where to put it.  And, knowing him, this means he blindly obeyed her.  Normally, I figure if he’s willing to obey her & not stand up for himself, that’s his problem.  However, this time it bothers me.  He is now 77 years old, & had back surgery just before last Christmas.  he should NOT be doing things like this!!  But, this isn’t a first.  Part of the reason he needed the back surgery in the first place was lifting something very heavy he shouldn’t have been lifting, only because my mother wanted it moved.  Why they didn’t ask my husband or I for help, I don’t know…

Times like this can be very difficult for the adult child of narcissistic parents.  Old habits tend to want to kick in & you want to fix things or take care of the parent that is being pushed around.  However, this is NOT a good idea at all. Fixing things simply enables the dysfunction to go on while drawing you into the middle of it.  Chances are it will go on no matter what, so why put yourself in the situation?

I know it’s hard, but remember- it is that parent’s choice to do what he/she is told to do or not.  That parent is most likely trying to avoid a narcissistic rage by doing whatever they are doing.  While this is understandable to a degree, it’s still not good.  Yet, it’s still his/her decision to obey rather than take a chance on standing up to their narcissistic spouse & maybe ending the control.

It is NOT your place to rescue him/her!  Your parent is an adult, & needs to take care of his or herself, just like all adults do.  Everyone’s actions & choices are their own responsibility, & each person needs to reap the consequences of them, good or bad.  Do not allow your parent to draw you into the position of standing up for him/her to the other parent!

Often, the parent needing rescuing is a covert narcissist.  Does this parent portray him or herself as a martyr or at least as someone innocent in all of the problems in his/her relationships?  Does he/she come across very naive, innocent & in need of frequent rescuing?  Here is a link that explains some of the differences between over & covert narcissists:  Overt vs Covert Narcissists

Do you really want to get drawn into that dysfunction?  No, you don’t.  If you’re having trouble with not getting involved, remember how it has hurt you when you’ve been in this type of situation before.  Remember how hurt you were, how badly you were treated.  I’ve had to do this myself since I’ve been in the situation many times.  It’s a horrible position to be in.  It makes you feel used, angry, resentful & hurt at how quickly you’re discarded once the problem is solved.

Remember, you deserve better than to be treated as a “fixer.”  Most narcissistic families have a “fixer,” someone who is the one who is supposed to fix everything.  To the narcissists, the fixer is nothing more than a tool to be used, taken out when needed, then put back on the shelf.  Don’t you believe you deserved to be treated better than a hammer, screwdriver or flashlight?

This type of behavior is a part of emotional incest.  Emotional incest, covert incest or parentalizing are all terms used to describe the same abusive behavior.  When I child is put in a position of an equal or a partner to the parent, that is emotional incest.  Being expected to listen to a parent complain about a loveless marriage or sex life, talk to another person (usually the other parent) on the parent’s behalf or providing emotional support to the parent instead of the parent getting it from their partner, friend or family member are all examples of emotional incest.  While this may not sound so bad, its effects can truly be devastating to the child.  She grows up feeling overly responsible for other people, often becoming involved in co-dependent or abusive relationships.  She grows up very anxious, depressed & constantly feeling guilty.  You do NOT deserve to be abused like this!  Put a stop to it immediately!  Refuse to listen if one parent complains to you about the other or to get involved in their arguments.  Emotional incest is detrimental to your mental health, & you need to protect yourself from it!  You deserve that!

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Sale on my books!!!!

Good news! My publisher is offering 40% off all print versions of my books until November 4th!! Just enter code FALLSALE40 at checkout. All of my books are available for sale in print & ebook forms at the link below..


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October 25, 2013

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!  I hope this post finds you well today & ready to enjoy a lovely autumn weekend!


Yesterday was a very trying day for me.  I had to run to the vet’s office & get some medicine for my kitty, Pretty Boy.  With agoraphobia, even leaving the house let alone driving 15 miles to the vet is a challenge.  Thankfully, the vet’s office is usually one place that I can handle fairly well.  For good measure, I took my dog, Dixie along for a ride- her presence helped calm me.  So I got home & was quite proud of myself!  I did this trip with no panic!  YAY ME!


I saw when I got home that my mother called while I was out.  I changed into my bumming around the house clothes & was going to call her back when she called me instead.  While I am glad to say she is still not deliberately being cruel to me, it was a rough talk.  She explained what it’s like to have back problems (as usual, not acknowledging the fact I had back pain for 10 years resulting from her throwing me into a wall when I was 19).  She also complained so much about my dad & the problems between them.  *sighs*


After I hung up from that call, I made some chamomile tea & sat down with my computer to goof off for a bit.  As I sat here, snuggling kitties & reading email, a few minutes later I heard a sound.. I knew it was my car- I thought maybe a branch fell off a tree & landed on the car.  I got up to check & saw my dad.  He had a doctor’s appointment not far from me & stopped by on his way home.  While he was here, he spent his time complaining about my mother.  *sighs again*


This is what is called Emotional Incest or Parentalizing.  When a parent treats their child (of any age) as an equal by confiding in them about personal problems (especially romantic ones),  expects that child to take care of their emotional well being &  fix their problems, it is emotionally damaging to the child.  Some problems resulting from being parentalized are:


  • An over-developed sense of responsibility (if someone is upset, you feel it’s your job to fix the problem & make them feel better).
  • Guilt.
  • Putting others first, even when you have genuine needs.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Feeling “in the middle” with your parents.


I have experienced all of these things & more.  On days like yesterday, I was physically shaky for a while.  I also was achy all over, for no physical reason.  This also made the Complex PTSD flare up- I normally cry easily but yesterday was worse, & I was so anxious.  I also felt like I was a child again.  The same fear & anxieties of my parents arguing when I was a child rose up in me.


Unfortunately I have not found a way to stop my parents from doing this entirely.  The best things I have found to do are:


  • Set & enforce boundaries to protect myself.
  • Keep a distance- only talking to them when I am able to handle it emotionally.
  • Change the subject often.  When they start complaining about each other, I bring up any other topic I can think of.  Often, they go right back to their conversation, so I have to change the subject again.  Eventually, they will go along with me.


If you too go through the pain of being your parent’s parent, please know I understand.  You are not alone in this, even if you feel like you are.  Hugs to you!!!


Also, please check out my website.. I have some information on there for adult children of abusive mothers the following link:  http://www.cynthiabaileyrug.com/Problem_Mothers.htm.  And, on my free ebooks page, I have a free ebook available on the topic of Emotional Incest.  Check it out..


God bless you & I’m praying for you!  ❤

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September 8, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers!  I hope this post finds you well.

I had a rough day yesterday.  I needed to run down the street to the craft store to get a couple of things for a project I’m making, but I couldn’t do it.  The agoraphobia was really bad.  The thought of going out terrified me, which ultimately depressed me, & made me feel so trapped.  I talked to hubby about everything when he got home in the afternoon, & he suggested I write more details about my daily battles with these mental health problems.  So, here you are..

As any followers of my writing know, I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It stems from years of emotional incest, plus emotional & verbal abuse starting in childhood, as far back as I can remember.  Symptoms of C-PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, difficultly regulating mood, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, a heightened startle response, hyper vigilance & agoraphobia (fear of public places).   The last few nights I barely have slept at all, even with the help of sleeping pills.  This lack of sleep makes the symptoms flare up worse than usual, which is probably why the agoraphobia was so bad yesterday.  I literally could NOT make myself go to the craft store!  It was depressing & frustrating, leaving me crying most of the day.  When my husband came home, he wanted to know what was wrong & I told him.  I also told him more details about my battle with agoraphobia, which I thought I would share with you.

Before all of the C-PTSD symptoms manifested, I had some- nightmares, anxiety, depression, & an exaggerated startle response.  I lived with these symptoms off & on my entire life & to varying degrees.  Depression was always the worst, leaving me suicidal most of the first twenty five years or so of my life.  Then in September, 1996, my maternal grandmother died.  I hadn’t seen her in a few years at that point, due to first my mother & my ex-husband telling me that my grandparents were ashamed of me & didn’t care about me.  Grandmom’s death was very hard for me- I loved my paternal grandparents dearly, & had missed them so much.  I felt horrible I hadn’t been able to bring myself to say good bye to her (even though I also figured she probably wouldn’t have cared to see me), & my father reinforced my guilt. I had my first full blown panic attack the night before Grandmom’s viewing.  I refused to go to it the following day, or her funeral the day after, much to my father’s dismay.  (To this day, I don’t think he understands why I didn’t go in spite of my explaining things, but we don’t discuss it.)  

Shortly after, I suddenly was having problems with going into public places.  They suddenly terrified me.  I was a little better with someone beside me, but going to these places alone was out of the question.  Eventually, I prayed, asking God what this was all about.  He told me that all my life, I’d been made to feel like I need to be invisible- have no feelings, needs or wants, bother no one in any way, shape or form.  Stay “on a shelf” until I’m needed.  (All of this is a result of the emotional incest I’ve experienced at my parents’ hands.)  Then a few days after Grandmom died, hubby told his mother about my loss when we were visiting his parents one day.  She completely ignored him, & changed the subject.  (She’s never liked me, so this response wasn’t surprising)  Somehow, in my mind, this cemented the fact I am to have no needs, feelings, etc.  When that happened, I somehow also started to believe that I should not even be in a public place.  No one needs to be bothered with my presence.  

Intense, isn’t it?  This knowledge helped me tremendously, though.  I started telling myself I was fine- I could go out, I was doing nothing wrong, bothering no one, & have every right to come & go as I please.  For several years, I would become somewhat anxious, but not terrified any longer, of public places.  

Then in May, 2012, I developed all of the symptoms for C-PTSD, & the agoraphobia came back with a vengeance.  Even armed with the knowledge of why I have it, I still battle it.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because my brain is actually damaged (people with PTSD & C-PTSD actually have physical damage to their brains resulting from the trauma they have experienced).  Maybe it’s because I’ve tried to be strong for too long, & lack the strength to continue fighting agoraphobia.  I don’t know.  But, I’m learning to live with it at least.  It’s a step in the right direction.

I’m learning the importance of relaxing & sleep.  The more relaxed & well-rested I am, the better the chances I can go out alone without having a panic attack in a store.  I am constantly trying to remind myself that I am important- I have needs, feelings & wants just like everyone.  I also remind myself I have limitations, & that is ok.  I have beat myself up for years because I have problems stemming from all of the abuse I’ve experienced in my life.  All it did was make me feel guilty.  That makes no sense!  Those who abused me should feel guilty, not me!  I have reacted in a very normal way to an abnormal amount of crap!  I have started talking some about what I have experienced.  In fact, I wrote about it in my book, “Emerging from the Chrysalis” (ebook: “Emerging from the Chrysalis”).  Writing that book was a huge step for me, as I was always told not to “air our dirty laundry” or made to feel guilty if I did discuss being abused with anyone.  Making my story available to the whole world was (& still is!) terrifying!  But, it is my story & mine alone- I have the right to choose what I do with my story.  And maybe, sharing it will help others.  I pray it will, like I pray sharing my battles with C-PTSD & all of its symptoms will…

Thank you for reading my blog, & may God bless you!  Feel free to share this post or my blog if you like..

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