Tag Archives: father
One very popular weapon in the narcissistic arsenal is guilt. Covert narcissists in particular are very fond of using guilt as a means of control. It’s understandable it’s such a common weapon considering how very effective guilt can be. It also is unfair & even cruel.
So how can you cope when your narcissistic parent uses guilt trips?
First, pray. Ask God for wisdom & discernment so you understand when guilt is being used on you & ways to cope with it.
You also need to recognize what is a guilt trip & what isn’t. You need to know when someone is saying something to manipulate you or to help you to change & improve yourself. Statements like, “It hurt my feelings when you said/did….” can help you. Statements that simply make you feel guilty like, “After all I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me?” however aren’t to help you, but to control you.
You also need to be aware of the fact narcissistic supply is at the root of every single thing a narcissist does. Guilt trips are a part of that. Being able to control someone via guilt provides supply as does seeing that person upset about the guilt. The more you allow the guilt trips to work on you, the more the narcissist will use them on you. The best thing you can do is to pretend not to notice the guilt at all when you’re in the narcissist’s presence. Later, when away from her, vent to your heart’s content of course, but when in her presence or even on the phone with her, pretend you didn’t notice a thing. If she realizes guilt trips don’t work on you, she’ll stop using them since she sees they aren’t effective.
Don’t justify yourself or your actions. If you do, you’re only making yourself look guilty, which could mean the narcissist will get meaner. Probably my most successful interaction with my late covert narcissist mother in-law involved guilt from her. She wanted me to do something for her one day but I had plans. Granted, I could’ve changed them, but I didn’t want to. Not for someone who hated me & treated me so poorly. She kept trying to find out what my plans were. She said things like, “You sure must have something important to do if you won’t do this for me.” “I guess you’re doing something for your parents since you won’t help me…” Rather than explain my plans (which weren’t her business!), I ignored her. Since I didn’t tell her, she got mad, but couldn’t be mad at me without looking foolish in front of her husband & mine. By not justifying my actions, I protected my privacy, avoided more nastiness from her & she never tried to guilt trip me again. In fact, I found the entire thing funny because her behavior was so ridiculous. Much better to laugh than to be angry or hurt!
Remember, if you have done something wrong, you should feel some guilt since it will help you to improve your behavior. However, if you haven’t done anything wrong, then do NOT allow the guilt trip to work on you.
A major pet peeve of mine when it comes to narcissism is how so many people think the victim is responsible for the feelings of the narcissist. Here are a couple of examples from my life…
- When my mother’s abuse hit its peak when I was in my late teens, she spent a great deal of time daily screaming at me, telling me how terrible I was. One afternoon, her friend called. I answered the phone since my mother was busy. This person told me how I needed to start ‘behaving myself’, obeying my mother & how lucky I was to have a mother who loved me so much. I didn’t feel lucky!
- When I broke my engagement with my ex husband in 1990, everyone who knew us told me I was making him miserable & should get back together with him. No one cared that I was miserable with him or asked why I even broke up with him.
- When my father was dying in October, 2017, I can’t even tell you how many people told me I needed to say good bye to him so he could die in peace, I wasn’t honoring my parents, I was a “bad Christian,” I needed to “put my feelings aside” & more nonsense. Not one person cared why I was no contact with my parents.
Pretty disgusting, isn’t it? And I know I am far from the only person who has experienced situations like this. It seems to me every victim of a narcissist has been made to feel responsible for their narcissist’s feelings not only because of the narcissist making them feel this way, but other people too.
Dear Reader, although you may know this already, this is WRONG! You are absolutely NOT responsible for the narcissist’s feelings any more than you are responsible for any other human being’s feelings. Each person is responsible for their own, & that includes narcissists. Even though narcissists often act like spoiled, bratty little kids in adult bodies, they’re still adults & that means that their feelings are their responsibility, not yours.
When faced with people who do their best to make you feel responsible for the feelings of the narcissist in your life, chances are slim you will make them see the error of their thinking. Probably it will be best for you simply to ignore what they say. Change the subject, tell them you won’t discuss this topic with them, or ignore their text or email. Why frustrate yourself trying to change the mind of someone who is determined that their thinking is right while you are absolutely wrong?
If you feel you must say something to the person, treat them as you treat any flying monkey. Remain calm & don’t let them see that you’re frustrated with them. You can ask them logical questions too. “What makes this person’s feelings so much more important than mine?” “Why are this person’s feelings my responsibility?” “Other people take responsibility for their own feelings- what makes her exempt from doing that?” Questions like that may shut the person down because really, there is no reasonable answer to those questions. Of course, they may try to come up with excuses, such as the infamous, “But that’s your MOTHER/FATHER/etc.!” If they do, let logic prevail again. “So you’re saying that because this is my mother/father/etc we’re talking about, that I should be responsible for his/her feelings?” “You mean that you honestly think I should do ___ to make him/her happy, even knowing how miserable that would make me? That really makes sense to you?!”
Whenever these situations come up (& they will if you have any relationship at all with a narcissist), be sure to pray about the best way to handle them. God won’t let you down & He will give you some very creative & effective ways to shut these people down.
When a relationship ends, the average person is sad for some time. They may fondly remember special times with the other person or great conversations. They miss such things, but in time, they’re ok. They move on & get involved in other relationships. This is a healthy way to cope, because it allows a person to heal.
Nothing like this happens with narcissists.
Narcissists are incapable of truly loving. Because of this, a relationship that has ended doesn’t affect them in the same way as it affects your average person.. They don’t miss the person they love, but instead, they miss their favorite source of narcissistic supply. This is why they act differently than functional people when a relationship ends. Narcissistic supply is like a drug to them. When a relationship ends, they’re losing their “fix”, if you will. That isn’t an easy thing for any addict to handle.
To start with, narcissists don’t usually understand why someone ends a relationship with them. To understand, they would need at least some empathy, which most people know is something that all narcissists lack. They don’t understand why their ex would object to them cheating, why that former friend complained that they took advantage of their good nature, or why their adult child was hurt when they cut their child out of the will for simply telling the parent, “no.” Narcissists are incapable of grasping such concepts. In their minds, they’re entitled to whatever they want. Besides, the behavior didn’t hurt them, so it isn’t important to them. If it had hurt them, they’d change their behavior at the speed of sound. Since it didn’t though, they are left baffled why their partner, friend or child ended the relationship. What the other person wanted or felt wasn’t so much as a blip on their radar. All that matters to a narcissist is what they want, which usually boils down to their precious narcissistic supply. Since the wants of the narcissist & victim are vastly different & the victim’s are not even considered by the narcissist, usually the end of a relationship catches them by surprise. Their victims often warn them for months or even years in advance that they won’t tolerate the abuse forever, yet still, narcissists are shocked when someone ends a relationship with them.
Narcissists also don’t like rejection. No one does, of course, but narcissists are infuriated by it. Rejection is a narcissistic injury. It makes them feel badly about themselves, so the person who rejected them must pay for making them feel that way. Rather than walk away from the failed relationship with some semblance of dignity, most narcissists opt for revenge. Overt narcissists often harass & stalk their victim, & get their flying monkeys in on the process as well. They also will unleash a very impressive smear campaign, lying about the victim being the cause for the failure of the relationship because of being selfish, crazy, controlling & even abusive. This often isolates the victim from friends & even family who believe the lies. Covert narcissists are much less likely to harass & stalk their victim, since they prefer to look like a good person, but some will or have their flying monkeys do their dirty work for them. They also don’t have any trouble creating a smear campaign, but it is much different than their overt counterparts. Rather than say outright their victim is crazy & abusive, they phrase their smear campaign in a way so as not to sound critical, but concerned instead. They may say something along the lines of, “I’m not surprised my ex left me. She got so mean when she took drugs. She just wasn’t herself. I hope she’ll be ok…” See how this smear is? It makes the person saying these things sound concerned & as if he isn’t trying to destroy the reputation of his ex girlfriend. People will believe this type of smear campaign very easily, even if they know the ex in question & know she never took drugs.
There is also the likelihood of the narcissist trying to “hoover” the victim back into the relationship. When this happens, the narcissist may do their best to make the victim believe they have changed. They may make promises that they have no intention of keeping such as they won’t do whatever the victim complained about anymore. Some other empty promises are if the victim would only take the narcissist back, he or she will be faithful, they’ll be less selfish, they’ll think more of their victim’s needs. The narcissist also may shower the victim with expensive gifts or love letters. They may send their flying monkeys to tell the victim how miserable they are without the victim, & how desperately they want to resume the relationship. This is a tough one, I know. When I first broke up with my now ex husband, it seemed like everyone we knew was telling me how sad he was, how miserable he was, how much he missed me & how I really should get back together with him. I felt so incredibly guilty at that time that I agreed not only to return to him but to marry him after only a short time apart.
Sometimes, narcissists fall into depression after a relationship ends, too. They have no coping skills & aren’t fully aware of their emotions, plus they just lost their narcissistic supply. It’s normal they wouldn’t handle any break up well when you consider these facts. This can be so hard for the person who ended the relationship. When people tell you how sad this person is or he says he doesn’t want to live without you, it can be incredibly hard to take. It can make you feel incredibly guilty & responsible, which is truly unfair.
If you experience these things after ending a relationship with a narcissist, I urge you to remember that the narcissist is acting this way not out of a genuine & healthy love for you, but because he or she is a narcissist. They are incredibly dysfunctional people. You stick to no contact, & remind yourself often exactly why you came to that decision. Write things down if it helps, since writing can be an incredibly useful tool. Also remember that person’s emotions aren’t your responsibility. Don’t forget to document everything in case you need to involve the law at some point. Even if you don’t, the documentation will help you a great deal to remember why you’re no contact. It’ll also help you to see the way this person tries to manipulate you. And, if the narcissist creates a smear campaign against you, never, ever react to it. Any reaction would give this person narcissistic supply, so you deprive this person of that supply. In time, he or she will get bored with your lack of reaction & give up the smearing. Lastly, if the narcissist sends the flying monkeys after you, remember that few are truly innocent people who are fooled by the narcissist. Most are also narcissists, I believe. Treat them accordingly. Remember to tell them nothing that you would object to the original narcissist knowing, in particular anything about the original narcissist. Chances are the flying monkey will share everything you say with that person, so give them no material to work with. Most importantly, pray & lean on God to help you get through this. He truly will help you!
I remember when I first realized that my mother was a narcissist. Although it was painful, I was glad finally to understand why she treated me as she did. The raging, the silent treatments, the manipulation & control.. suddenly it all made sense. She blamed me for all of it, but the truth was it wasn’t me. It was her!
It was another few years before I realized my father was a narcissist as well. It took me so long because he was a covert narcissist.
My mother being an overt narcissist made it obvious something wasn’t right. Normal mothers didn’t keep their daughters from getting to know their extended family. They also didn’t scream at their teenage daughters daily, often multiple times in a day. They didn’t accuse their daughters of completely uncharacteristic behaviors, such as having sex with their entire high school football team, especially when there was no evidence to support this wild claim.
My father was nothing like this at all. For most of my life, I was convinced he was my one nice, normal parent. I was wrong.
While my father didn’t scream at me or accuse me of outrageous behaviors, he abused me nonetheless. He didn’t protect me from my mother. In fact, when I told him of some of her abusive behaviors, he would tell me how hard this was on him, & how there was nothing he could do to protect me. In spite of my pain, I often ended up comforting him after my mother abused me.
Compared to my mother’s constant criticisms & rages, I didn’t think this was a problem. He told me he loved me, unlike my mother who stopped saying it when I was in my teens. My father also complemented me, & bragged about me to other people. My mother didn’t do either.
As an adult, married with my own home, I finally noticed some subtle changes in my father’s behavior. He became critical. Nothing obvious like my mother at first, but still critical. He became more critical over the years. He also became more controlling in subtle ways. If I didn’t answer his call immediately, the next time we spoke, he would tell me how he thought I must be mad at him since I didn’t answer the phone. If I said I wasn’t home at the time, he didn’t believe me. Or, he would call folks we both knew, asking them to contact me & have me call him immediately because he was worried about me.
Eventually, I realized my father was a covert narcissist, & that fact truly hurt.
My situation is quite similar to that of many adult children of narcissistic parents. Accepting the overtly narcissistic parent is abusive is difficult, but it can be done. Accepting their covertly narcissistic parent is abusive is a much more difficult task, & can be impossible for some people.
The nature of a covert narcissist’s abuse is what makes the abuse so hard to comprehend. There is no obvious abuse. They don’t hit or scream. Their abuse is so much more subtle. They use guilt, disapproval, silence & portraying themselves as innocent, naive, in need of saving or protection. They also can turn a situation around to where they look like the innocent victim instead of the abuser, rather than the other way around as it should be.
This creates a cognitive dissonance in victims. In other words, the victim often may see the truth, but doesn’t want to accept it because it’s so painful.
There is also the fact that it’s hurtful enough to accept that one parent didn’t love you. Accepting both parents didn’t is even more so. Even when you understand it’s because they’re narcissists, knowing both of your parents didn’t love you can make you feel unlovable.
If this describes your situation, I’m so sorry, Dear Reader. You are in an extremely painful situation. Pray, journal, talk to safe people… do whatever you have to do to help you face this ugly truth & to heal. It will help you in the long run to face this awful situation. You can do this!
I’ve been working on a book for a while now about toxic/narcissistic in-laws. I’m struggling to write it for a few reasons. I’ve been really distracted by things going on in my life since I started this book 2 years ago. I also felt that I needed to put it on the back burner to write other books. The topic is such a hard one for me to write about too, because I honestly have been through hell because of some of my husband’s family, & I’m still healing. And, in spite of taking frequent breaks, I’m pretty burned out on all things narcissism. These issues make this one tough book to write. That being said, I believe the topic is an important one so I will finish it. It just may take some time.
Since my book is delayed, here is a post to help identify whether or not your in-laws are toxic. I will write from the perspective of a daughter in-law with a toxic mother in-law, since that is the bulk of my experience as well as the bulk of the experiences of people I’ve spoken with. The information is good for toxic sisters in-law, fathers in-law, etc. though.
Does your mother in-law ignore you? The purpose of this behavior is to show you that you mean nothing to her.
Does she refuse to accept responsibility for treating you badly? Rather than say something like, “I shouldn’t have said that.. I’m sorry,” does she make excuses for her words or actions or deny them completely? This is a big red flag. Functional people accept responsibility for what they say & do.
Does your mother in-law have a different personality depending on whether or not you are alone with her or others are around? Another big red flag! Any abuser will behave differently to their victim depending on whether or not there are witnesses. They want to hide their abuse from other people.
Does she expect you to be blindly devoted to her family, even to the point of rejecting your own family & friends? Many toxic mothers in-law remind me of the Borg from the tv show “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” They expect their son’s or daughter’s new spouse to become completely enmeshed in their new in-law family.
Like the Borg, toxic mothers in-law expect their new sons or daughters in-law to adapt to their opinions, religion, way of life, etc. Individuality is highly discouraged by toxic mothers in-law. I once told my late mother in-law I hate to cook. I do it, but hate it. For Christmas a few months later, she & her 2 daughters gave me nothing but cookbooks, utensils, food & other cooking paraphernalia.
Toxic in-laws show no respect. Toxic in-laws show no respect for personal space, choices, likes/dislikes, parenting, & even boundaries.
And speaking of a lack of respect, your mother in-law makes it clear to you that she doesn’t like you. Unless you abuse your mother in-law’s adult child or your children, if your mother in-law had any respect whatsoever for her child, she would be civil to you no matter how much she disliked you. The inability to be civil even only for the sake of her adult child proves she is toxic.
Is she manipulative & controlling? Toxic people, in particular narcissists, must be in charge. Chances are, your mother in-law controls her spouse & children. Since you married one of her children, she expects you to be as control-able & easily manipulated as everyone else. When you say no, she is NOT happy.
If your toxic mother in-law is nice to you, it’s short lived & in front of others only. Very few people are cruel 100% of the time. Toxic people bring out their nice side when it can be advantageous to them. Being nice sometimes will make their victim want to see it more, so they work harder to please the toxic person. Also, being nice to a victim in front of others helps the toxic person prove to others that if you complain about the relationship, you are obviously the problem.
Mothers in-law like this care nothing of their adult child beyond what he can do for her. They clearly have no respect for him either, since they treat the person he chose to spend his life with so badly. His marriage is nothing more to this kind of mother than an embarrassment, & she would like it simply to go away. Since she can’t file for divorce on his behalf, she becomes extremely destructive to the adult child’s marriage with her abusive ways.
Your spouse no doubt suffers greatly from his mother’s abusive behavior, yet tolerates it anyway. This is because he is accustomed to how his mother behaves. This is his norm & many adults in this situation have accepted this as their permanent reality. By complaining about his mother’s behavior or even confronting her, this threatens his norm. Facing the truth can be incredibly painful for many in this position, which is why many refuse to face the truth. This feeling is known as cognitive dissonance. Rather than face this miserable feeling, many people in this situation will do their best to shut down their spouse. They don’t want to hear about the bad things their mother is doing, so they will tell their wife they don’t believe her, she is over sensitive, she just doesn’t understand Mom, that’s her problem so she needs to leave him out of it & more. They refuse to confront their mother on behalf of their wife.
Naturally, the wife in this position feels rejected, unloved & hurt. She wants to fight for her marriage, but it seems whatever she does is wrong, & whatever his mother does is right. Her trying to save her marriage only causes more problems. The reason for this is she doesn’t know that when you’re dealing with a narcissist, normal ways to cope don’t work.
For anyone in this position, you need to think of this situation more like a game of strategy than a relationship.
As always pray. Ask God to help you to know what to do & to give you whatever you need to enable you to do it. Pray for your husband to see the truth & for God to enable him to be able to cope with it, too.
Cope with your emotions as best you can by journaling, talking to a safe friend, pray.. whatever works for you. Whatever you do, don’t hold in your emotions!
Don’t focus on your mother in-law’s bad behavior when it can be avoided. Instead, focus on being the loving wife that you are. Don’t neglect to remind your husband how much you love him. If he complains about his mother to you for any reason, don’t join in. Listen quietly to him & give him objective advice if he asks for it. The reason being, the mindset of many people in this situation is they can complain about Mom, but if anyone else does, they jump to her defense. This would only cause more problems in your marriage.
Along those lines, if you discuss his mother’s behavior with him, stay calm. State your issues in a matter of fact way, lacking emotion. If you rant & rave, that too will make him feel he must defend his mother, which only will hurt you & possibly your marriage.
Limit your exposure to your mother in-law as much as possible, but especially alone. No narcissist wants to abuse their victim in front of the person they want to think well of them, so stay glued to your husband’s side as much as possible.
Keep your emotions in check around your mother in-law. Narcissists love to twist a victim’s normal reaction around to prove how mentally unstable or even abusive the victim is to other people. In her presence, stay calm. Vent later when you’re away from her as needed though, so you don’t hold in all the bad emotions.
Having to deal with toxic, narcissistic in-laws is tough. I know, I’ve been there. But, with prayer, love, patience & wisdom, you can survive it with your marriage in tact.
Many survivors of childhood narcissistic abuse grow up showing virtually no anger. Even when they have valid reasons for being angry, they don’t show anger, in particular anger at their abusers.
Rather than get in touch with their anger, they often stuff it deep down inside & make excuses for their abusers. “If only I hadn’t done…” “It’s not his fault, he had a bad childhood.” “She was right, & I’m oversensitive. I always have been.”
Sometimes, abused children grow up depressed. They aren’t necessarily depressed though. They may be incredibly angry about the traumas they endured. Repressed anger can manifest as depression.
Anger really is a scary thing when you’ve never been allowed to express it, & even more when you were shamed for feeling anger by your parent. The only anger that was allowed in the home where I grew up was my mother’s. If I showed even a bit of frustration let alone anger, she shamed me for having “that Bailey temper.” It took me until well into my 30’s before I could express any anger at all, & into my 40’s before I got comfortable with it.
Anger really isn’t a bad thing at all, Dear Reader. I know so many people say it is, Christians in particular, but it truly isn’t. Anger is simply an emotion & emotions are from God. Would He give a bad gift?! Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (NIV)
What is bad about anger is when you do bad things with it. You shouldn’t let your anger motivate you to get revenge, for example. Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (NIV)
What is good about anger is it can let you know when you’re being mistreated. If someone treats you well, you won’t feel anger, but let that person steal from you for example, & you WILL feel anger!
Anger also can motivate you to make positive changes. No one ever started a diet who was happy with the state of their body. They started it because they were fed up with not wearing a smaller size, getting winded walking up the steps or because they were having health problems.
So how can you learn to feel & express your anger in a healthy way?
You need to accept that you have the right to be angry sometimes. Every single living being has the right to feel anger about some things, & that includes you. Hiding it as a child was no doubt a very useful survival skill, but you’re not that child anymore. You are an adult who has every right to feel it & express it in healthy ways. Remind yourself of that & do so often.
You also need to gain a good understanding of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It helps in so many ways, but one way that helps you is because you understand projection. A narcissist who shames you for being angry or having a bad temper is simply projecting their bad temper or anger issues onto you. Their cruel comments are absolutely no reflection on you.
You need to recognize that you have the right to be angry at your abuser(s). During the abuse, you obviously couldn’t show your anger. Now that the abuse is done, get angry! Let out all that old anger you stuffed inside you for so long! It’s hurting you physically & emotionally to hold it in so let it out. It’s long overdue! It’ll help to free you of shame, guilt & feeling worthless to do so.
**I’m not saying that by getting angry at your abusive parents you need to confront them. That is entirely your decision. All I am saying is you need to feel & express that anger.**
Everyone has ways to deal with anger that work for them, & you need to do the same. You can journal, get a punching bag, punch pillows, yell when home alone… there are all kinds of different ways you can cope.
Don’t think that if you decide to forgive your abusive parents, the anger will vanish. I made that mistake early in my healing, & thought there was something really wrong with me for still feeling angry with my parents after deciding to forgive them. I didn’t realize that deciding to forgive them wouldn’t make all the anger I felt magically disappear. I believe forgiving & getting rid of anger are two separate things. At least they have been for me. I make the decision to forgive those who have done me wrong immediately, but even so, it takes time to work through & release the anger.
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I’m writing this post for those of you who are currently unwilling or unable to go no contact with a narcissist.
Almost every article out there regarding victims of narcissistic abuse says the same thing – “just go no contact.” The tone in many of these articles & even some fellow survivors can be downright shaming. They make it sound like being unable or unwilling to go no contact means you’re weak, stupid or something is very wrong with you.
No contact is almost always the best way to deal with a narcissist, but that still doesn’t make it an easy solution. It always hurts to end a relationship, even when the person with whom you’re ending it is abusive. The closer the relationship the more it hurts, too. If you’re ending a relationship with your parent, that is going to hurt a great deal more than ending it with someone you have dated only a month. Narcissists usually abuse those closest to them. This is why the most abusive relationships with a narcissist are close relationships, such as parents & spouses.
There is also the fact that narcissists are able to behave & treat people right (they just prefer acting the way they do because it gets them what they want). When they behave, they can be so very good & loving! Seeing that, it’s hard to want to leave them because you can’t help but hoping that good part of them will stick around for good.
Not wanting to end a relationship with a narcissist doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or you’re weak. It means you’re normal!
It often takes a lot of time to work up the inner strength to be able to go no contact. Narcissists beat their victims down so badly, they can utterly destroy their victim’s self esteem. Even when you learn what is happening, it still takes time to repair your self esteem & to build up enough strength to sever ties.
Or, maybe you believe in your heart that the timing isn’t right just yet for no contact. That happened to me with my parents. I wanted to go no contact with them for well over a year before I felt God was saying it was time.
A lot of times, a victim who lives with a narcissist is financially dependent on that narcissist. Narcissists love using money as a means of control, so often they take away any access a victim has to money, even if it’s his or her own paycheck. It takes time to be able to find means of supporting oneself in these situations.
There are also some narcissists who are pretty low on the spectrum. Yes, that person causes problems but they aren’t over the top in their behavior. In cases like this, some people would prefer to learn ways to deal with these people than end those relationships, & it is their right to do that.
None of the above situations make a person weak or flawed.
For those of you who are in situations like these, I want to encourage you today.
It’s very difficult at best being in a relationship with a narcissist, I know. Until the time comes when you are ready & willing to go no contact, there are some things you can do to make your relationship with this person a little easier.
The first thing you should do is ask God to show you creative & effective ways to cope with this person & also to enable you to go no contact if that is your desired result.
Always remember that narcissists are all about gaining narcissistic supply. It’s the motivation behind everything they do. Any attention or reaction you give them, good or bad, provides supply. Learn to be as boring to the narcissist as possible. Show them no anger, sadness or happiness. Be calm & collected in the presence of the narcissist. Offer simple answers without explanations. Provide no personal information. This is known as the Gray Rock method.
Don’t forget to question whatever the narcissist says. They are masters of gaslighting & manipulation, so basically almost everything they say needs to be examined. Ask yourself if what they say is true or not. You also can question the narcissist directly. If you opt to do that, do it calmly in your best gray rock way. “Why do you think that?” “Explain how that makes sense.. I don’t follow you.” Logical & calmly asked questions can throw a narcissist off balance. They show her that you’re onto her.
Never forget to keep & enforce healthy boundaries. You have every right to tell the narcissist no & to expect to be treated with respect. Don’t explain your boundaries either, as the narcissist will tell you why your boundaries are wrong, & may make you doubt yourself. Or, if you feel you absolutely must explain something, remember to stay gray rock & keep all explanations minimal.
Never forget that whatever any narcissist is doing isn’t about you. It’s about them. Everything is always all about them! Yes, that person is hurting & abusing you, but it’s because it makes her feel better. It’s not because you have done something to deserve it. Also, nothing that person says about you is true. Narcissists project their own flaws onto their victims. It doesn’t mean you actually are whatever the narcissist says you are. In fact, if you listen to what the narcissist says about you, you can learn a lot about that person. If she calls you a liar, it’s because she lies often.
If your goal is to go no contact in the future, low contact may be an excellent option for you. It’s as the name describes – you are in low contact with the narcissist. You don’t take phone calls or visit often, but only when you feel able instead. Low contact can be a really good stepping stone to no contact.
While there are no easy, one size fits all solutions for narcissists, these tactics can help you at least. And, don’t forget – there is nothing wrong with you for being unable or unwilling to go no contact. It’s a very big decision, & every person has to do it only when & if they feel equipped to do so.
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I think it’s a very safe assumption that almost everyone who has gone no contact with a narcissist, in particular a narcissistic parent or other family member, has had more than their share of doubts. Ending relationships is tough, but especially when the relationship is a close one such as in the case of family.
What makes the doubts worse is when after not speaking for some time, you learn through the grapevine that the narcissist is sick, lost their job, or going through some very difficult situation. Considering this is someone you were once very close to, it’s only natural to want to help them & to feel bad they are in this situation. Those desires may make start to override the terrible things that made you sever ties in the first place.
Today, I want to tell you.. DON’T DO IT!!
No, I don’t know you or the narcissist personally, but I do know a lot about narcissists & have more than a little experience with them. I have learned that once you end a relationship with a narcissist, resuming it will only cause you heartache as it did me.
At first, the narcissist will behave, & probably even be respectful & caring. This lulls you into thinking this person has changed. All is right in the world now. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth!
In time, little things will change. Maybe a comment here or there about how you shouldn’t have left in the first place. Or, instead of 10 complements a day, it’s dropped to 9 & a nasty criticism. Everyone has a bad day sometimes, so you rationalize the comments as nothing more & let it go. After all, things have been going so well.
Gradually more things change. Things get worse. There are more criticisms. Now there are also some manipulation attempts too. “I never did that.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” There are also guilt trips about you “abandoning” the narcissist in the first place. They may even have their friends or family mention how hard it was for them when you weren’t in their life. You begin to feel guilty for hurting the narcissist, so you go along with what they do.
Before you know it, the relationship is as bad, if not worse as it was before you went no contact in the first place.
Maybe you’re thinking this won’t happen to you but I can tell you, the chances of it happening to you are excellent. I was fooled into thinking that myself in three very different relationships.
One was a friendship. Upon meeting, she told me we were going to be best friends. I was young, naive & knew nothing of narcissistic personality disorder, so I blindly obeyed, & became her good friend. The friendship ended a couple of years later, then a couple of years after that, resumed. At first, things were good. We had a lot of laughs together. Then things changed. She constantly demanded my attention. I spent a lot of time with her, no matter what I had going on. She expected me to watch her small kids while with her too, which is something I’m not good at doing. I ended that friendship again after about a year & a half.
One was my first marriage. I broke my engagement to my ex husband because I realized I wasn’t happy with him. While we were apart, he insisted we remain “friends.” We spoke often & he told me how miserable he was. Our mutual friends told me the same. We got back together, & married a few months later. I knew that although he was acting better, I shouldn’t marry him but I did. He made me feel like I owed it to him. In fact, when he proposed again, he said, “I’m not letting you go this time.” We separated a bit over 4 years later.
The other one was my mother. In 2001, I had enough, & finally cut ties with my mother. In 2007, my father told me that she needed heart surgery. I said I’d pray for her. Once she got home, she called me to thank me for praying for her. I honestly believed at that the change in her personality was from facing a near death experience. The more time passed, the more she regressed into the abusive person she’d always been, which is why when I went no contact in 2016, I determined this time, it’s forever.
My stories are very typical, Dear Reader. I told them because you need to know that if you have doubts about being no contact, they need to be ignored. Take care of yourself. Your mental health is very important! Resuming a toxic relationship does no good to you or the toxic person in question. It simply enables their awful behavior while you sacrifice yourself. There is NOTHING good about that!
Some covert narcissists are what I think of as the consummate victim. They are the ones who are always wronged, always the victim, & never at fault for anything. Some examples of their behavior are as follows.
The narcissist says something cruel. You get angry, & rightfully so. She claims she never meant to hurt your feelings. She was just trying to help & had no idea what she said would upset you. She then stops speaking to you for weeks, even if you apologized.
The narcissist tries to manipulate you into doing something you don’t want to do. Naturally, you refuse to do it. She claims you don’t love her. How could you refuse to do this one little thing for her, especially after all she’s done for you?!
The narcissist is your elderly parent who expects you to come at their beck & call. You tell your parent you only are available one day a week to do what she needs. She tells your family how you refused to help her, & they attack you for being a bad daughter, ungrateful, a spoiled brat & more.
Narcissists who claim life is so unfair to them or that they are mistreated when people confront them on their abusive behavior are also consummate victims. There are also those who blame their victims for their abusive behavior. They are also consummate victims, as are those who complain about their problems, yet refuse to do something to change the situation.
Dealing with these people is incredibly frustrating, I know. My late father & late mother in-law were both covert narcissists & consummate victims. I repeatedly asked my father not to call after 9 at night. When I refused to take his call when he called at 10 one evening, he called my in-laws & a cousin who lives almost 500 miles away. He told both he was so concerned about me for not answering the phone, & asked them to have me call him immediately. Another time, I was angry with my mother in-law because she had snooped through my purse yet again. She asked my husband why I was angry, & he told her. I overheard the conversation. She claimed not to know what she did would be upsetting to me.
Both situations were similar. As a result of my father’s & mother in-law’s actions, my husband & I got into an argument about his mother & my cousin & I argued about my father. Being the typical consummate victims, their obnoxious behavior caused problems for the real victim while making themselves look good.
There are some things that you can do that can help you if you must deal with this behavior in covert narcissists.
Always rely on God to help you in this situation. He will be glad to help you discern the truth & strengthen you to do whatever you need to do!
Remember the type of person that you’re dealing with. No matter what you do, this person will twist the situation around to make you look bad & them look like the innocent victim of your cruelty. Expect nothing else because this person has no desire to behave any other way.
Also remember that there is nothing wrong with you setting boundaries or confronting this person on their abusive behavior. Both of those are good things to do. They are healthy & show you have self respect.
Consummate victims are very skilled at recruiting flying monkeys. When you set those boundaries or confront the narcissist about her behavior, no matter how gently & reasonably you do so, it’s a safe bet someone will tell you how cruel, unreasonable, wrong, etc. you are. When this happens, ignore whatever these flying monkeys have to say. They don’t know the truth, only what the narcissist has told them. Also, it’s best to refuse to discuss the narcissist with them.
Lastly, it’s also important to remember that consummate victims may project their status on their real victims. It can be easy to believe their lies since narcissists are talented actors who give very convincing performances. To avoid believing their lies, remember that you are NOT a consummate victim if you are angry about being abused, setting healthy boundaries or refusing to be manipulated.
If you are faced with a covert narcissist who portrays herself as a consummate victim, you can cope. You have the knowledge & strength to handle this ugly situation.
As children, we’re supposed to figure out what we want to do when we grow up & plan for it accordingly by the time we graduate high school. Many plans change but at least most kids have an idea of what they want to do with their lives.
I didn’t. I never could figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t even know if I wanted to get married or not, but I assumed I wouldn’t because my mother told me no man would ever want me. I’ve kind of fallen into things rather than having a plan to get there my entire life.
I’ve thought this was strange since it seemed to me everyone else I knew growing up had some goals. They knew if they wanted to get married, have kids, travel the world, go to college, & what kind of career they wanted.
Recently I realized something. I believe this is because when you grow up with a narcissistic parent (or two), you learn early on that you’re wrong about anything & everything. What you think, feel, like, don’t like, want, believe, etc. is all wrong. So, if you believe you’re wrong, how can you set any goals? The goals will automatically be stupid, bad, wrong, etc. because you set them. Why bother even trying to set goals that are going to be so bad? It’s a waste of time.
Plus, many of us with narcissistic parents were told by that parent that they knew us better than we knew ourselves. Believing this lie would also inhibit us from making goals because obviously we are too stupid to know what we should do & what we want to do.
Even realizing this, I still have trouble setting goals but am improving a bit at it. I have learned I’m not the stupid, ugly, fat, horrible, useless person my mother told me I was growing up. I have also learned she has absolutely no clue who I am, so saying she knows me better than I know myself was an absolute lie. I know me much better than she ever has & ever will. Learning these things have helped me some in this area as well as healing my virtually destroyed self-esteem. Realizing these truths about yourself can help you too. Talk to supportive, loving & safe people. Write in a journal. Those things will help you to discover the real you, the good person that you are as well as what you want to do with your life. They also will help you to see that maybe what your narcissistic parent said you wanted, liked or didn’t like was absolutely wrong, & enable you to figure out what makes you truly happy.
Dear Reader, if you have this same problem with setting goals, know you aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy or stupid for not being able to do so. It is simply one more side effect of growing up with a narcissistic parent. Focus on healing your wounded self-esteem, & I believe goals will become more natural & easy to set in time. Ask God for help, too- He will not let you down!
One thing that every adult victim of narcissistic parents I have spoken with has struggled with is forgiving their parents.
So many people, particularly Christians, think that these victims need to forgive & forget. They often quote Ephesians 4:26 which says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” When victims struggle with forgiving & forgetting, they are shamed & even shunned by the very people who should support them, creating even more pain, guilt & shame in the victim.
I want to give you a new perspective on forgiveness that I think can help you today.
If you look at the definition of forgive, nowhere does it say you don’t feel anger. According to Merriam-Webster.com, to forgive means:
1 : to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : PARDON; forgive one’s enemies
2a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for; forgive an insult
b : to grant relief from payment of; forgive a debt
It’s possible to forgive someone while still feeling anger for them. What I mean is when you forgive someone, you decide that they don’t owe you an apology or repentance. You won’t try to collect that “debt” from them. You have released that person from paying you the debt that they owe you. This is what I try to do any time someone mistreats me- give up expectations of an apology immediately. That way, I have forgiven that person, as God wants me to do. Yet, even forgiving quickly doesn’t mean I may not still feel some anger for that person for a while. See what I mean? You can forgive while still feeling anger.
I also firmly believe that releasing the anger you feel can be a process. If the waitress makes a mistake on your order or a clerk is rude, those minor incidents are easy to forgive. Big issues though, it takes time to work through the anger. Processing anger from years of abuse takes a lot of time & work, especially if you learned early in life to ignore your anger which is the case with most children of narcissistic parents.
There is also the fact many people think to forgive your abusive parents is a one time thing. You just forgive everything in one fell swoop & *poof* you’re not angry & you never will be angry again with them. As anyone who has tried to forgive their narcissistic parents knows, that isn’t how it works. You have to work through many different traumas individually, not lump them all together as one big trauma.
I honestly can say I have forgiven my narcissistic parents. However, there are still some times I feel anger at them.
When a repressed memory comes back to mind, I feel anger at my parents about the incident. When I have flashbacks, nightmares, the anxiety & depression get bad, I also feel anger. It’s their fault I have C-PTSD, after all. Plus, when I told my father about having it, he ignored me then changed the subject. Sometimes I also feel anger when others talk about what a great relationship they have with their parents. I wanted that with mine, but wasn’t able to have it, because their narcissism was more important to them than me.
Do you think this means I haven’t forgiven my parents? If so, I’d have to respectfully disagree. I have released my parents from any responsibility to apologize or make amends with me, which is the definition of forgiving.
Yes, there are times I still feel anger at them, as I admitted, & I think it’s very normal. I also work through the anger & release it quickly. That is the best I can do, & I know God honors that I am trying. That’s all He asks of us, to try our best.
If someone tells you you’re wrong for not forgiving your narcissistic parents, Dear Reader, please remember what I said in this post. If you don’t expect your parents to apologize or repay you for the trauma they inflicted on you, you already have forgiven them. The more you heal, the less anger you’ll feel towards them. It just takes some time.
Many years before my father died, he gave me his Bible and asked that I place it in his casket when he died.
He died October 23, 2017. I remembered the Bible, and knew that even though I hadn’t spoken to him or my mother in quite some time, I needed to keep my promise about placing it in his casket. The day after he passed away, I got it off the closet shelf, and opened it up for the first time. I skimmed through things, putting aside things that didn’t look sentimental and putting the sentimental things back into the Bible. I came across a piece of paper that was folded up very small. It was something my father had written & I’d never seen. Notes documenting some things my mother did to me & said about me to him. Pretty sure my heart skipped a beat when I realized what I was looking at! I was absolutely shocked! I assume because my father’s memory was so damaged from a TBI at age 15, he documented things to be sure he wouldn’t forget. It was a smart move, especially considering the gaslighting my mother put him through (yes, knowing about the brain damage, she used it to her advantage!). Anyway, I put his notes aside to read later since I couldn’t cope with that at the time. My focus had to be to get that Bible to the funeral parlor to be placed in his casket. I accomplished my mission with the help of my husband that day, by the way.
A few days later, I read the notes. It was quite overwhelming to put it mildly. Even after all of this time, it’s still pretty overwhelming. I’m still glad I have them though. They helped validate my pain as well as give me some insight into my father & why he failed to protect me from my mother.
I thought I’d share them here. Now you, Dear Reader, can see what I experienced, & know you’re not alone. Narcissistic mother’s do terrible, terrible things, & I have written evidence of some of those things.
I also wrote comments of what I believe was happening in these events so others can learn about narcissistic behavior from examples.
I have another purpose for sharing this information, & that purpose is selfish, I admit it. I have zero doubt at least one of my abusive flying monkey relatives (but I believe more) read my work. I want them to see this undeniable proof that my mother abused me & my father didn’t protect me. These people are what they were so blindly devoted to. I know I can’t make them accept the truth, of course, but I can fling it at them & hope for the best. Maybe a seed will be planted…
Reading these can be very triggering. If you don’t feel strong enough to read details of narcissistic abuse at this time, you really should consider skipping this post. You can always come back to it at another time.
Here we are… my father’s notes. His handwriting can be a bit hard to read so I typed everything out. I’m showing both versions to see side by side, so no one can say I’m lying. I typed each line out exactly as he wrote it for clarity, & my comments are on the side.
My father’s notes…
Second page of my father’s notes
Last page of my father’s notes
Most people assume there is only one type of grief, the grief that happens when someone you love dies, but there are other types as well.
People also can grieve when they move, get a divorce or lose a job. There is also something known as anticipatory grief, which happens when you know someone is dying. This is especially common in families where someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s due to how this terrible disease destroys a person’s personality before it destroys their body.
Unconventional grief is different. It is grief that is triggered by unique circumstances. I experienced it when learning about the many new limitations because of how damaged my brain was after surviving Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. It also can happen when someone is diagnosed with mental illness or when a loved one has a substance abuse problem. Unconventional grief also can happen as a result of trauma & abuse.
When you grow up with a narcissistic parent or two, & you finally learn about narcissism, although it is a great thing, it can trigger grief. Suddenly you realize that you aren’t the problem, which is certainly good news of course, but realizing what your parent was is difficult & painful to accept. It hurts that the one person who was supposed to love you unconditionally didn’t, & lacks the ability to do so. You also realize how much your parent took from you, such as your childhood & self-esteem. And, it suddenly hits you that there is no hope for your relationship. Prior to learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, most people have some hope that one day their parent will realize what she did, apologize & change for the better. Learning about NPD squelches that hope completely. That is a tough pill to swallow!
Facing these ugly truths absolutely can cause a person to grieve, & it’s extremely painful. It’s also difficult to understand because of the limited view of grief that most people have. How can you grieve when the person in question is still alive?! Well, it’s surprisingly easy to do actually.
When my father died in October, 2017, I didn’t cry. I cry easily especially when losing someone I love, but I didn’t cry. I barely have felt sad at all since he’s been gone. No doubt any of my family that may be reading this thinks it’s because I’m a cold, evil person, but that isn’t the case. It’s because I grieved him enough when he was alive that his death didn’t have a very profound effect on me. And you know something? Many other adult children of narcissistic parents I’ve spoken with have said that they felt the same exact thing when their parent died.
Unconventional grief can be incredibly difficult, but you can get through it.
Pray & pray often. You will need the wisdom, guidance & comfort of God to get through this.
Don’t judge your emotions. Accept them. Examine them without judgement or criticism. Feel them. Pray, talk or write about them to cope with them.
Anger is an especially common part of this sort of grief. If you feel a lot of anger, it’s normal! I know, you probably grew up like most of us with narcissistic parents did, believing you aren’t allowed to be angry. Stop that now! Why are you angry? Face it head on & deal with your feelings. The pain will lose its power over you if you face it.
You also may start to remember only the good times. They are good to remember, but don’t forget the bad as well. Embrace the good & heal from the bad.
Write in a journal. Writing is very cathartic, plus it will help you to have documentation. You may even decide that you enjoy writing, & opt to start a blog or write a book.
Find online support groups & websites. Learning that others are experiencing similar things to you is very helpful.
Don’t expect this grief to end entirely. It will get better, but it may never end entirely. It’s like losing a loved one- you grieve most right after the person died, but even many years later, the pain is still there, just not as intense as it was at first.
If you’re experiencing unconventional grief, Dear Reader, know you aren’t alone. You can survive this! It will take hard work & won’t be easy, but you can do it!