Tag Archives: gaslight
So many people seem to think that because an abusive person was pleasant with them, it means that person wasn’t abusive. Nothing could be further from the truth! Abusers are very selective in the specific types of people they wish to abuse. This means not everyone fits into the abusive person’s agenda.
Abusers aim for people who have experienced abuse in their past. Most people, including victims, will assume the victim is the problem if they have had multiple abusive relationships, because he or she is the common denominator in these awful relationships. It makes sense to some degree to think that way. However, it doesn’t mean that is always the truth.
Abusers also aim for empathetic people with a kind heart because they are much more willing to excuse abuse. These people will understand that their abuser has suffered trauma in some way, so they tell themselves that their abuser is only acting out of dysfunction. This leads them to tolerate a great deal of abuse that they normally wouldn’t be willing to tolerate. I did this with my parents & my late mother in-law. I can tell you that it was a huge mistake which led to me being hurt a great deal.
Or, people with a kind heart may want to try to “fix” this “broken” person as a way to help them. Although the fact that they want to help people is quite admirable, this line of thinking can set a person up for abusive people to take advantage of & hurt them.
Insecure people are also a good target for abusive people, because abusers realize that insecure people are very pliable. It won’t take a great deal of work for a narcissist to change someone who is insecure into whatever it is a narcissist wants.
If you aren’t insecure though, chances are good that your self confidence was seen as a challenge to your abuser. While narcissists do like insecure victims, confident ones also are a good thing in their mind. Confident victims are a bit of a challenge. If they can destroy a confident person, then they see themselves as very powerful, which provides a great deal of narcissistic supply.
In order to avoid these awful situations, I have some suggestions.
First, as always I recommend prayer. Turn to God & He will help you. Talk to Him about whatever it is you feel & ask Him to help you. Ask Him to identify easily the red flags & to give you creative ideas to cope with this situation.
If there is something about a person that makes you uncomfortable, even if all outward signs look good, trust that the uncomfortable feeling is there for a reason. Watch the person’s actions closely for either good or bad signs & it won’t take you long before you recognize whether this person is abusive or not.
Also, always remember your boundaries & do NOT compromise them! What are you comfortable with or uncomfortable with? What are you willing to do or not willing to do? You have every right to feel as you do & to enforce those boundaries however you feel is appropriate.
Keep learning, growing & getting healthier. The more you do that, the less abusive people will be attracted to you. Abusers of all types size people up quickly, & if they see right away that you’re emotionally & mentally healthy, they will be more inclined to leave you alone. As an added bonus, the healthier you are, the more other healthy, functional people will be attracted to you.
Lastly, never, ever forget that even if someone does abuse you, that doesn’t mean it’s your fault. Ultimately, the choice to abuse someone belongs squarely on the shoulders of the abuser, not the victim. There is nothing any victim can do to force someone to abuse them.
There is no way to avoid abusive people entirely simply because they are everywhere. However, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of being abused.
Denial is an unhealthy coping mechanism in which people refuse to acknowledge that something is happening in order to make themselves more comfortable & to avoid facing the ugly truth. There are different facets of denial & those with narcissistic parents are well aware of many of them.
One form of denial is when narcissists deny doing anything wrong. They may justify their actions by blaming their victims or deny altogether that they did anything wrong at all. Either way, they refuse to take any responsibility for their actions & deny that their actions are hurting another person.
Those close to a narcissist also often deny the abuse is happening. If a victim reaches out to others, to their family in particular, chances are excellent that they will be met with invalidating & even shaming statements. They may also be accused of lying about the narcissist.
Such forms of denial are destructive to victims. They teach the victim that she can’t trust her own perceptions, feelings, thoughts & even sanity. Denial also teaches victims that their feelings & thoughts are unworthy, that they shouldn’t bother people with them. That easily can lead to the destruction of a victim’s self esteem. In turn, this can lead to a person tolerating all manners of abuse, because they feel unworthy to defend themselves or they simply don’t believe that their feelings or perceptions of a situation are accurate.
Although coping with such awful experiences & the aftermath is hard, it can be done successfully.
You’ll need to depend on God. A lot. He knows the truth of the situation, so you can count on Him to show you what the truth is whenever you have any doubts. Never hesitate to ask Him to help you, because He will be glad to do so!
Keeping a journal is very helpful too. Write about the traumatic events as soon as you can after they happen, & be sure to include dates & lots of details. If later someone says, “That never happened!” you can go back & see that yes, it DID happen! If those things didn’t happen, you wouldn’t have written about them!
I also recommend writing your story. Naturally it’s your choice whether or not to publish it or any part of it, but at the very least, write it out. Seeing your story in writing will help validate your experiences by making them seem more real. Only remembering things isn’t as validating, I think, because you can convince yourself you just don’t remember things right. That is especially easy to do when a narcissist is telling you that you’re remembering things all wrong. Writing your story also can help you to see just what the narcissist is capable of by reminding you of things she already has done, & that can help you to deal with her. Seeing your story in writing is also an excellent reminder never to underestimate her. Writing your story is a very difficult step, but it is truly worth the difficulties.
When either the narcissist or others invalidate you, another good step to take is to remind yourself what they are doing. They don’t want to face the ugly truth that this person is incredibly abusive. They are trying to shut you up only to make themselves more comfortable. The good news is that this means their actions have nothing to do with you. The bad news is that knowing that doesn’t always make their actions not hurt. This knowledge can take some of the sting out of their actions though, & anything that helps to do that is a good thing in my book.
Whether overt or covert, narcissists are control freaks. They must be in control of their environment & the people in it at all times. We all know overt narcissists use fear & covert narcissists guilt to accomplish this, but there are other methods they also use.
Narcissists may use ignoring a person as a means of control. They accomplish this in many ways. They may simply ignore the victim in conversation, acting as if the person didn’t say anything when they did. The narcissist may talk over the victim in conversation. They may conveniently “forget” to invite the victim to a gathering. If the victim arrives with someone, the narcissist may greet that person while ignoring the victim. When a person is ignored this way, they may shut down, fading quietly into the background which leaves more room for the narcissist to get attention. Or, they may question the narcissist, wondering what they did wrong & pleading with the narcissist to forgive them. Ignoring a victim also lets that person know that the narcissist thinks they are unworthy of the narcissist’s attention, so the victim may try harder & harder to please the narcissist.
Interrupting is another display of dominance narcissists use. When most people have a conversation, & someone interrupts them, they stop talking to let the interrupting person talk. Narcissists will use this natural proclivity to their advantage. My father used this tactic a LOT. In fact, he put a unique spin on it. When I started talking, he would open his mouth as if he was going to talk, then close it quickly. Naturally, I thought I was interrupting him, so I encouraged him to talk. One day after a visit, I prayed about it. I don’t usually interrupt people, so why was I doing it with him?! God showed me I wasn’t. My father was using this tactic to get me to stop talking so he could talk. I hate bad manners, he knew it & used that to dominate our conversations.
Shock is a big favorite with narcissists. If a narcissist is a part of a group of people & not the center of attention, that narcissist is incredibly uncomfortable. She feels out of sorts, & will do whatever it takes to restore her position of being in control & being the center of attention. One method she may use to regain her position is by shocking everyone in the group. She may start talking loudly & suddenly about an entirely different topic of conversation. She may blurt out some weird or disturbing facts that is so odd that it gets everyone’s attention. She may walk away while someone is talking, make a loud noise or even spill her purse to restore the balance of power she wants. My mother once broke into song when my father & I left her out of our conversation. Remember the old musical, “Oklahoma!”? Apparently my mother does. She started singing the theme song. Loudly. Since this was well before I knew anything about NPD, my father & I ended our conversation at that point. Attention was focused back on her, as she wanted.
Possibly the most disgusting way narcissist try to assert their dominance is with body functions. Even passing gas or burping isn’t too low for a narcissist desperate enough to establish dominance. They also may blow their nose extremely loudly or make the sounds more disgusting than need be. If they don’t use a body function, they will at least talk about them. My mother has irritable bowel syndrome & has absolutely no trouble discussing all the gory details of it. Body functions are so seldom a part of a conversation in any way that when it happens, people are naturally shocked & notice the person who brought them into the conversation.
The best way I’ve found to deal with these dominant behaviors is very simple. Ignore them. Pretend the narcissist didn’t say or do anything unusual. Carry on with your conversation as usual. If she interrupts you, you can either talk over her or wait until she is finished, then resume your previous conversation. If she ignores you, pretend not to notice. The same goes if she uses shock value or body functions- pretend you notice nothing whatsoever. By ignoring the narcissist’s attempts to dominate, you aren’t allowing her to dominate. You’re depriving her of narcissistic supply, which is the best thing you can do with any narcissist.
Narcissists love to have power over their victims. To hurt someone either mentally, physically or sexually gives them a feeling of power. Possibly the only thing that makes narcissists feel even more powerful is watching their victim suck up to them.
When a victim is genuinely repentant & will do anything to make it up to their abuser, this is a huge power trip for the narcissist. They know they can make that victim do anything at this point. There also is the added bonus of the victim accepting responsibility for whatever the narcissist did. This means the narcissist doesn’t have to take any blame at all. (Not that they would anyway, but at least in this situation, they don’t have to work to pawn that blame off on someone else).
Narcissists are incredibly good at manipulation & gaslighting- making a person doubt their own thoughts, feelings, perceptions & even sanity. Because of this, it’s no wonder many victims in the midst of narcissistic abuse continually apologize & suck up to their abuser. I certainly have done my fair share of it before learning about narcissism. (If you have too, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I doubt there is one victim of narcissistic abuse that hasn’t apologized to their abuser at least a couple of times.)
If you’re still in a relationship with a narcissist, I’m sure you’re faced with the scenario at least periodically, where the narcissist is angry with you & demands that you apologize. Or maybe she prefers suddenly to stop speaking to you, with no explanation whatsoever, in an attempt to make you rush to her side, begging for her to speak to you again.
Having been there, I learned something. Don’t do it!!!
If you have done something wrong, then by all means, apologize. It’s just the right, mature thing to do. Say you’re sorry, make things right if you can, & move on.
If you haven’t done something wrong, then do NOT apologize! If you do it once, the narcissist will demand you do it again & again. She will use you & wear you down to get you to make it up to her for whatever horrible thing you supposedly did.
If a person can’t behave like a mature adult by trying to work out a problem, then don’t treat them as if they are one. Let that narcissist pout like the bratty child she’s acting like while you ignore her ridiculous display. If she’s trying to make you feel guilty, pretend not to notice. If she hints for an apology, also pretend not to notice. Learn to enjoy the silent treatment if you’re on the receiving end of it. It’s a reprieve from unnecessary drama- why not enjoy it?
Stop trying to make it up to a narcissist who isn’t telling you what you’ve done wrong or who blames you for them abusing you! It only provides them with narcissistic supply, & the more you provide, the more they will demand from you.
Making it up to someone you have hurt is one thing. It should be a normal thing for a person to do as well as the one hurt to expect. However, when someone constantly expects another person to make it up to them without trying to talk things out, or because they abused their victim, something is very, very wrong with this situation.
One weapon narcissists use is to tell their victims “I know you better than you know yourself.” While it may sound rather innocuous, that phrase, especially when said by a parent to a child, can be devastating to the self esteem.
My mother said this to me my entire childhood. I ended up feeling like I was stupid (how can a person not know themselves after all?!) & like I had to look to her to know what I liked & didn’t like, my opinions on things, what I should & shouldn’t do. I was so insecure, & partly because of that stupid phrase! Even now, in my mid 40’s, I have issues sometimes with figuring out what I really like & don’t like.
Have you heard this insidious phrase from your narcissistic parent too? If so, you’re not alone!
The key to letting go of the insecurity caused by hearing this phrase is to pay attention to yourself. Get to know you. The real you, the person God made you to be & not the person your narcissistic parent tried to make you into. Notice how you truly feel about everything.
Chances are, when you first start to do this, you’ll feel some guilt, like you’re going against your narcissistic parent’s wishes. That is normal. Just remind yourself that you are allowed to be an individual. God created you to be an individual. You were made to be you, not some cheap imitation of you & certainly not some lump of clay molded by a narcissistic parent only concerned with their wishes.
As you begin to know yourself, your narcissistic parent will disapprove. Don’t let that disapproval discourage you. The disapproval doesn’t mean you’re wrong or a bad person at all! It means the narcissist is disappointed in you for not continuing to allow her to control you. If your narcissistic parent attempts to make you feel bad, wrong, guilty or ashamed because you’ve changed, pretend you don’t notice. Ignore the comments! You do what is best for you, NOT the narcissist!
Narcissists have a way of making their victims feel like we are the problem. This is awful for the victims, because as a result, we end up tolerating their abuse for years. We think they’re good to put up with us, & we try harder & harder to be good enough for them. Meanwhile, as we’re losing ourselves in trying to please the narcissists, the narcissists are gaining tons of supply.
So how does this happen? How can a person honestly believe they’re the problem when the narcissist clearly is? Narcissists accomplish this in several ways.
Projection. Narcissist always accuse others of their own flaws. This makes a person feel inadequate. A person may even become angry but feels they don’t have the right to be angry since they are the flawed one.
Narcissists don’t examine their behavior, only yours. If you’re angry with a narcissist, all that narcissist sees is how you’re acting. They don’t ask themselves why you’re angry or is it something they’ve done. They see you acting in a way they consider irrational, & make you feel crazy for your behavior.
They gaslight. All narcissists love gaslighting their victims. Gaslighting is basically when you say the sky is blue, & the narcissist says it’s clearly green & something is wrong with you for thinking otherwise. Granted, that is an extremely obvious example, but that’s pretty much how gaslighting works. Narcissists see the same thing you see (that blue sky) but don’t want you to see it that way. Rather than agreeing that the sky is blue, they’ll tell you it’s green & try to make you feel crazy for thinking it’s blue. Narcissists do this often with abusive things they have done. They may deny the events happened entirely, or try to convince you that they happened in a very different way.
Narcissists provoke their victims to rage while maintaining their cool. One primary feature of narcissism is their complete lack of empathy. This enables narcissists to feel no guilt or remorse for abusing a victim. This also means they can maintain their calm demeanor while simultaneously driving a victim to the brink of madness. When this happens, a victim feels insane. After all, the victim is the one screaming & crying while the narcissist is cool & collected. The victim looks crazy to herself & anyone else who may be witnessing this phenomenon.
If you’re in a relationship of any sort with a narcissist, these things are most likely happening. When they do, please remember this post & remind yourself that you are NOT the problem! The narcissist is only trying to make you think you are!
When most people think of narcissists, they think of someone loud & obnoxious, who is obviously abusive. That isn’t always the case however. Some tactics narcissists use to abuse their victims are very subtle. So much so that when they happen, a victim may not give them a moment’s thought. That doesn’t make these tactics any less abusive.
Trying to “fix” your appearance. This can be done in very subtle ways, such as suggesting what foods you can eat to help you lose weight or what clothes would look better on you than what you normally wear. It’s a way to shame your looks disguised as offering helpful suggestions. It’s also a good way to make someone look like what the narcissist wants that person to look like.
Isolation. Whether the narcissist in your life is a parent or spouse, it’s a safe bet that person wants to isolate you. They may say things like, “She isn’t really your friend. If she was, she would/wouldn’t ….” “I heard he said …. about you. It was a terrible thing to say, especially since he’s your brother!” “They don’t like me. It really hurts me you’d be friends with people who obviously hate me.” The fewer people in your life, the easier you are to control. You won’t be able to talk about your situation with anyone, so no one can tell you what he or she is doing is wrong.
Disrespecting your boundaries. It starts out small.. a little compromise you don’t object to. Then it’s another, slightly bigger compromise, then another & another. Before you know it, you aren’t allowed to have any boundaries. The old saying, “give him an inch, he’ll take a mile” is the absolute truth with narcissists.
Making you doubt yourself. “Are you sure you said that?” “No, I don’t think you really want that. I think you’d prefer….” Subtle phrases like this are nothing but gaslighting. They make a person doubt their perceptions, feelings, & opinions. It’s a very subtle way of tearing a person down mentally & emotionally.
Using anger to control you. In romantic relationships, they hide their anger until they are comfortable that you’re in it for the long haul, then they start using their anger suddenly. Overt narcissists often will scream & rage, sometimes for hours. Covert narcissists give quiet displays of their rage- they give the silent treatment, give disapproving looks, tell other people how cruel you are to them & play the victim. Some narcissists will punch walls or take their anger out on inanimate objects as a way to intimidate you. My ex husband did this & told me how lucky I was he took his anger out on our microwave instead of me.
If someone is doing these things to you or someone you know, it’s abuse, plain & simple! You have every right to protect yourself from this type of behavior, no matter who is doing it. Take back your power! Set & enforce your boundaries. Leave if the person becomes angry, especially if you’re afraid for your safety. Rekindle old friendships the narcissist forced you to abandon. Start a journal if you don’t currently have one, & keep track of the things the narcissist says- seeing things in writing may give you more clarity. Most of all pray. Ask God what you should do in this situation. He will guide you & give you creative ways to handle it or the strength to go no contact.
What others think of the narcissist is the most important thing in the world to them, so they will do anything to protect it. That can include acting like they are the real victim when you confront them on their abusive ways.
If you tell a narcissist something they do hurts you, you open the door for a world of gaslighting/crazy making behaviors. They may rage, scream, cry, use guilt or calmly state why you are the abusive one.
When my parents & I had our last fight in May, 2016, as I’ve mentioned before, it was because my parents were supposedly upset I hadn’t told them that my mother in-law passed away. They saw her obituary in the local paper after the funeral was done. My parents claimed they wanted to attend, but didn’t learn of the funeral in time, which is the only reason they didn’t go. This hurt me because I’d told them how cruel she had been to me over the years, yet they wanted to “pay their respects” to her?! I told them I felt betrayed, yet neither understood my feelings. In fact, when I told them “she treated me like dirt for years!”, both of my parents had the same reaction: “But that’s Eric’s mother!” My response was, “But I’m your daughter!” Silence for a few seconds then, “But that’s Eric’s mother!” was the response. It became crystal clear to me that the fact that was his mother & my parents want to impress my husband mattered much more than the fact they were hurting their own daughter. Looking like the caring in-laws to the man they want to impress, my husband, was more important than anything else.
This is very typical of narcissists. If taking responsibility for something they have done puts them at risk of looking “less than,”they can’t deal with that. Shaming you or making you look like the bad guy is worth it, so long as their mask doesn’t slip off. There is nothing they won’t do to save face.
If you confront the narcissist in your life, please be well aware that this can happen to you too. If it does, remember this isn’t about you! This is about them protecting their fragile self esteem. The truth isn’t important, neither is not hurting you. Maintaining their reputation is all that matters.
A very common tactic of narcissistic parents is to make the child & everyone else believe that the child is the problem behind the family’s dysfunction. This tactic of discrediting & blaming the child serves a twofold purpose.
Purpose #1 is to be sure that all attention is focused on the child so the narcissistic parent can abuse her child unnoticed. People are so busy looking at the child’s bad behavior, they don’t notice what the parent does to the child to make the child act out. They also won’t believe the child if she says anything about what the parent does to her. After all, the narcissistic mother has everyone convinced the child is a liar, disobedient, rebellious, etc. so why would anyone believe what that child has to say?
Purpose #2 is to create so much doubt in the child, that she doesn’t have time to focus on what is being done to her. She spends so much time thinking about what her narcissistic mother says she is doing wrong, how she can change, what she can do to please her narcissistic mother & more, that she doesn’t question the abuse that is being done to her.
I went through this with my mother as a teenager. Her friends who once liked me suddenly wouldn’t even make eye contact with me anymore. One so-called friend of my mother’s even gave me a lecture one day on how lucky I was to have a mother who loved me so much. I needed to start behaving myself for a change & stop making her life so hard. (Interestingly, just before that call, my mother had been screaming at me, accusing me of terrible things that I didn’t do. I sure didn’t feel so lucky!) I knew I couldn’t say anything to any of them about what my mother was doing to me, because they believed her.
At the time, it hurt me badly. I liked some of my mother’s friends, & was hurt when they no longer liked me. In time though, I realized that although it hurt, it wasn’t a bad thing to lose such people. Normal, intelligent people wouldn’t blindly have believed my mother. I’d always been a well-behaved, quiet child, so why didn’t anyone question my mother when she said I was doing such outrageous things as taking drugs or having sex with the entire high school football team? Such things were completely out of character for me- you would think someone would have said so to her, or maybe questioned me. Neither happened however. Losing people who so readily believed the worst of me really wasn’t a big loss.
If this has happened to you, please think about what I said in the previous paragraph. I know it can hurt when people assume you are the problem, but truly, losing people like that isn’t always a bad thing. You need & deserve people in your life who love you, not people who blindly believe something bad about you then judge & criticize you. In a way, your narcissistic mother did you a favor. She helped you to weed out the unsafe people in your life. Looking at the situation that way can help to take a great deal of the hurt out of the situation.
Since I’m female as are the majority of my readers, I’ll write this directed mostly at the ladies, but the information is important for you gentlemen as well.
Narcissistic mothers love to destroy everything they can about their children, right down to destroying their femininity or masculinity.
I’ve always liked so many of the stereotypical girly things along with some more masculine things (like cars) & while growing up, my mother criticized me for them. I wasn’t feminine enough because I preferred cars to baby dolls, but I was too girly for liking soft, feminine clothing. I wasn’t really allowed to wear anything too feminine either, & my mother had to approve all my clothes until I moved out.
The result was stifled femininity. It’s only been the last few years I’ve been letting my feminine side come out, & I feel so much more comfortable!
Can you relate? Did your narcissistic mother try to destroy your femininity too?
If so, Dear Reader, I’d like to encourage you to take back your femininity! You won’t regret it!
While I realize some women are naturally less “girly” than others, & there is nothing wrong with that, I’d like to encourage you to take back your femininity as well. Whatever your level of femininity, it’s yours, & you need to be in control of it, not your abusive narcissistic mother!
So how do you take it back?
For me, I started paying attention to how I felt about feminine things. I realized some things were more attractive to me when I ignored my mother’s views on femininity. As an example, my mother only thinks clear, soft pink or mauve nail polish is appropriate. I started experimenting with other colors. I now wear almost every color except yellow, red or orange & only because they aren’t good colors for me. Wearing so many different colors is something I enjoy.
I also realized the stereotypical masculine things I like don’t detract from my femininity. I love classic cars & drag racing. I also have no trouble fixing my own car when need be. I don’t think this affects my femininity at all. There is nothing wrong with being diverse in your interests! (Besides, knowing how to fix my car means if I have car trouble, I can make it home, which isn’t a bad thing at all.)
Lastly, I thought about what being a woman, especially a feminine woman, means to me which is what I strive to be. I think a woman is:
- Has integrity
- Open minded
- Doesn’t compromise her principles
- Willing to work hard when needed
- Has the wisdom to know when she needs to help others & when to step back
- Appreciates softness
- Appreciates beauty in all forms
- Takes care of herself & her appearance
- Maintains a clean, inviting, cozy home
- Is always there for her husband, children & others in her life that she loves
- Is self-sufficient but not too proud to ask for help when needed
Now it’s your turn- what does being a woman (or man) mean to you?
I hope this helps you to let the wonderful man or woman inside you come out! God made you the way you are for a reason, so why shouldn’t you enjoy every aspect of yourself?
Narcissists rarely apologize for anything, but when they do, you can be certain it isn’t a genuine apology.
A genuine apology doesn’t include excuses. Someone who is genuinely sorry for their actions won’t say you made them act that way. That person also will try to change their ways as they don’t want to hurt you like that again.
All of these are foreign concepts to the narcissist.
Narcissists hate to admit they are wrong, & will go to great lengths to avoid it. They will offer excuses as to why what they did was not their fault, or even blame you for making them do what they did. They love to offer the passive/aggressive type of apology- “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “I’m sorry you think what I did was wrong/unfair/hurtful.” All of these actions show that the narcissist is not genuinely sorry for what she did. Most likely, she doesn’t care that she hurt you & only cares that she accomplished whatever it was she wanted to accomplish.
I also realized recently another trick of the narcissistic apology. My father has done this one many times & it wasn’t until recently I caught onto it. He recently apologized to me for not being there enough for me in my life. I was touched- there was no blame or excuses so I assumed it was a genuine apology. He apologized for missing my fifth birthday because he had to travel for work. I told him it’s fine- not a big deal, it was just a birthday. He went on to say how terrible it was of him, he shouldn’t have gone on that trip. Again I said it was no big deal. I pointed out how many other birthdays he was there for. It was only one birthday. Plus he did other things for me. By the end of the conversation, he was happy.
While there are times I am more than willing to reassure someone who hurt me, this was not one of those times that was a good option. If someone accidentally hurt me once, fine. Bad things happen sometimes. But this was different. My reassurance would have been providing narcissistic supply. Unfortunately, I realized this after the conversation, & then I felt conned into telling him he was a good father.
Whenever you hear a narcissist apologize to you, remember- it is NOT a genuine apology! Don’t get your hopes up thinking they might finally see the error of their ways & change. The narcissist’s apology is like every other thing they do- it’s only about narcissistic supply.
Being a victim of narcissistic abuse is not an easy thing. You go through the abuse & somehow survive, only to be victimized further by people who invalidate what you have gone through.
I have heard comments such as…
- “That doesn’t sound so bad…”(from my high school guidance counselor, referring to my mother screaming at me for hours in my teen years)
- “You just need to understand her better.”
- “Nobody’s perfect!”
- “You need to fix things with your parents. Get into counseling!”
- “You need to work things out with your parents. They won’t be around forever yanno!”
- (from a different counselor after meeting my mother) “I can’t see you anymore- you’re a terrible daughter!”
- “You need to find things you have in common with your parents!”
- “You’re too negative!”
- “I can’t believe they are that bad!”
- “Are you even sure that happened? That’s a pretty serious accusation.”
- Various excuses as to why my narcissistic parents or mother in-law treated me so poorly such as she isn’t intelligent (she isn’t educated- big difference), her mother in-law didn’t like her, etc.
- Laughing at my story of being abused.
After hearing such things, I felt victimized all over again.
Victim blaming is very common in today’s society, so it’s not surprising these cruel words & more are said to victims of narcissistic abuse daily.
Unfortunately I don’t believe there is any way to avoid them entirely. All you can do is use wisdom on who you share your story with. Even when you do this, sometimes people may hurt you by invalidating your pain.
The fact is though that you can validate yourself. You can heal from narcissistic abuse even if there is no one to support you but God.
To do this, you need to lean on God. Talk to Him about how you feel. He can handle it all & wants to be there for you! Let Him be!
As for you.. you need to trust that what happened was bad. Admit it to yourself. No more excuses, no more telling yourself you’re oversensitive or weak. Narcissistic abuse permeates every part of a person’s being. It can destroy one’s self-esteem, perception of reality or even sanity. It is nothing to take lightly! If you’re having trouble with this, write your story out. When I wrote my autobiography “Emerging from the Chrysalis” a few years ago, it was hard. Very hard. For the first time, I realized just how bad the abuse I have survived really was. Yet, as hard as it was to see things in black & white, it was very freeing too. It gave me a new perspective. I realized I’m a very strong person. I also realized God must love me a great deal to have gotten me through all of that. It also helped me to see my parents as they truly are, instead of making excuses for their behavior or thinking I was the one with the problems- I really wasn’t oversensitive, overreacting, reading too much into things, etc. They have some serious problems & one of those problems is NOT me!
Once you are able to accept the truth about what you have gone through, healing will come. You will grieve, you will be angry, but these are necessary steps to freedom from narcissistic abuse. And, the more you validate yourself & heal, the less other people’s invalidation will bother you. I’m not saying it won’t hurt sometimes- it’s only human to be hurt when your pain is trivialized- but it won’t devastate you as it once did.
Narcissists love to accuse their victims of awful things. Crazy, stupid, selfish & more- there is no end to the hateful things a narcissist will call you. And, like everything else they do, there is a motive behind doing this.
Calling you these awful names doesn’t mean they actually believe you are crazy, stupid or selfish- instead, it gives them power & control.
How, you ask? Because if you are told you are selfish, for example, you are going to work hard to prove that you are not selfish. This gives the narcissist power over you because by saying what she did, she made you work harder for her. She feels better about herself at this point because you working hard to please her shows she has power. Plus, when she sees that she is able to make you do things, that makes her feel better about herself.
When someone tells you awful things about yourself, you need to think about it. Constructive criticism is said gently & to help you. Narcissists however, don’t say things nicely or to help. They say things cruelly or they imply things rather than say them outright, so if you confront them, they can say something like “I never said you were *fill in the blank*” “You read too much into things!” “You have such a vivid imagination!”
The person saying these things.. do they often criticize you? Do they often try to control you?
If you are having trouble determining what is really happening, ask God for discernment on the matter.
You do not deserve to be mistreated! If someone is telling you terrible things about yourself that you know are untrue, always remember that it says more about her than you. Normal people don’t tear down other people, but encourage & empower them instead.
Have you ever heard the phrase “my truth”? I heard it again recently. That phrase is said to describe what you believe. Whether it is really true or not, however, is inconsequential.
This phrase is perfect for describing what narcissists believe. Their truth rarely resembles the real truth.
I think it is used when someone is trying to convince themselves of something that they know is not true, which narcissists love to do frequently. If they say something is their truth, it implies the thing is true, so it’s OK to believe. As an example, my mother believes she was a good, loving, caring mother to me. That is her truth. She has convinced herself of it. It’s how she copes with her guilty conscious. She knows what she did to me was wrong & rather than accept responsibility for it, she reinvents the past & creates her own truth. She has convinced others of her truth as well.
I know just how frustrating this is when you know the real truth & others insist that lies are the truth. Never forget- their truth is just that, theirs. It isn’t yours. So long as you know what the real truth is, that is what matters. Don’t let anyone sway you from what you know to be true. If you have any doubts, ask God to help you to see what the truth really is. He will do so!
There are so many people who think growing up abused by a narcissistic parent isn’t a big deal, we need to get over it, stop wallowing in the past & feeling sorry for ourselves. Today’s post is for them.
And, Dear Reader, if this post doesn’t describe you, feel free to show this to those in your life it describes if you think it will help them to understand just how destructive & evil it is.
Below are some of the problems that narcissistic abuse can cause. If you have not been the victim of narcissistic abuse, I hope you thank God at the end of this list that you don’t have to live with these problems. I live with every single one, & it is extremely hard.
— Constant self doubt. Narcissists are experts at gaslighting (distorting reality) which leads victims to doubt themselves constantly. Narcissists state what they say as if it was the gospel truth, & when a person hears something, especially something said so confidently, over & over, they tend to believe it. Even if it is something they can see clearly & plenty of evidence points to what they see is right, they learn to doubt their perception of reality & believe the narcissist. Even once away from the narcissist, they tend to believe other people over themselves due to not trusting their own perceptions & feelings.
— Low self-esteem. Since insecurity is at the root of narcissism, narcissists love to make others feel as badly about themselves as they do. No matter how beautiful, talented, compassionate or intelligent you are, by the time a narcissist is done with you, you’ll be convinced you are the ugliest, most selfish, useless & stupid person ever to live. Any shred of self-esteem is destroyed, & done so in such as way as not to be obvious. Narcissists rarely tell you outright you’re stupid, for example. Instead they prefer to imply it. ( “A smart person would’ve known that!”) That way, if you confront them, they can reply with something like, “I never said you were stupid!”
“I don’t know where you get these ideas of yours.” ” You’re reading into things!” or something similar. Gaslighting at its finest…
— Anger. It’s only natural that after living through narcissistic abuse, you’ll be angry. It’s unfair, destructive & hurtful. Then those who you tell often invalidate your pain or don’t believe you, because they are fooled by the narcissist’s “good guy” act. Anger is very normal under the circumstances.
— Self destructive or self harming behaviors. Many people who survive abuse do things that are self-destructive. They can make poor choices such as choosing abusive romantic partners, or they can engage in binge eating or cutting.
— Dissociation. Dissociation is a survival skill that many people use to get through traumatic events. Women who were raped often describe it as feeling as if they left their body while the attack was happening. When you are abused, you often dissociate. I thought I was just day dreaming all my life, but I later learned I’ve been dissociating all this time. Sometimes I just get lost in my own mind & emotionally pull away from those around me. It often happens during traumatic situations, but sometimes it does not. It just happens out of the blue.
— Depression. Depression is very common as well. It’s hard to be happy when you feel like an utter failure, when you are certain everything you do/feel/think is wrong & when all you hear about is your faults. Sometimes, the depression can lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts. Yes, it really can be that bad. I spent much of my life suicidal as a result of narcissistic abuse.
— Guilt. Even knowing a lot about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there are still times that I feel guilty for disappointing my narcissistic mother. She is obviously disappointed I’m an author, she hates my house, car & that I haven’t “given her grandchildren”, & is even embarrassed by the fact I don’t speak to my in-laws (narcissistic mother in-law- I can’t deal with her verbal abuse). In spite of the fact I know these things are all right for me, occasionally, I feel guilty for disappointing my mother. This is typical. Children raised by narcissists feel responsible for everything, & that includes the happiness of their narcissistic mother. If they disappoint her, not only do they face her rage, but also the guilt for “failing”. Unfortunately this means they carry the guilt into their adult lives, so even when they know better, sometimes they still can feel guilty when they shouldn’t.
— Attracting abusive people. Once you have been abused, it seems like other abusers seek you out. Being beaten down so badly by a narcissist is no exception. Other narcissists will see you as a potential victim. Thankfully, the more you heal, the less this happens, but it still happens periodically even when you have been focused on your healing for a long time. You end up being on your guard when meeting new people or else you fall back into old, dysfunctional habits.
— Aches, pains & illnesses. Have you ever noticed that most narcissists are quite healthy, yet their victims are often sick? I believe this is because of stress. Narcissists rarely feel stressed, as they put everything unpleasant on others. Their victims, however, are under constant stress because they must appease the narcissist & anticipate her needs 24/7 at any personal cost or else face her volatile rage. Ongoing extreme stress causes a multitude of health problems such as high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease or even diabetes. And, depression can cause aches & pains with no physical cause.
— C-PTSD. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very common among victims of narcissistic abuse. The ongoing, constant trauma of gaslighting, verbal abuse & the rest of the evil that is narcissistic abuse can cause physical changes in the brain which results in C-PTSD. Basically, this means your body is in a constant state of fear. Pete Walker, author of “Complex PTSD: From Surviving To Thriving” states that we have a fear reflex of fight, flight, freeze or faun. Living in a constant state of fear means you will have one of those responses, like it or not, when fear is triggered. For example, when my mother tries to control me as she did when I was a child, my natural reaction is faun- I do as she says & ignore my own anger at this unfair treatment. It takes conscious effort on my part not to behave this way. Plus, C-PTSD includes extreme anxiety, depression, flashbacks, damaged short term memory, sleep problems, nightmares & hyper-vigilance (an extreme awareness of your surroundings & potential danger). I have had C-PTSD since 2012, & frankly, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Living with the symptoms every day is sheer torture.
I would hope after reading this that your eyes are now opened to the truth about narcissistic abuse. It *is* a big deal. It *does* change your life. It has nothing to do with not getting over things or self-pity. The symptoms are a normal result to very abnormal circumstances.
I realized something interesting during a recent visit with my parents that I thought I should share with you, Dear Readers.
My mother has become increasingly controlling lately. My father wanted to visit me alone recently, & she told him & I both that “his days of doing that are over.” She comes along, period. My father has some serious health problems & was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so you might think this is a caring gesture on her part, not to let him drive or be out alone. However- he goes to his doctor appointments alone, because she claims he won’t let her go with him. So obviously, this is about control, not concern for his well being.
As she has seen her tactics working with him, she is attempting to be more controlling of me as well. They day my parents came by my home, she started showing this before they left their house. She called on their way out to tell me I needed to be waiting outside for her so we could go to lunch. I needed to watch for her car to drive past then go outside (from their place, you have to drive past my house, go to the next traffic light & make a U turn then drive about 1/4 of a mile to get to me). I listened to her give me my orders & promptly ignored them. I’m 44 years old- too old to be bossed around by my mother! While they were at my house later, she tried little things to let me know she was in charge. For example, I always sit on my love seat, usually alone or with a couple of cats around me. She insisted on sitting beside me, crowding me a bit. She is very fond of stealing my seat- I think it gives her a feeling of power, like if she sits there, it means she’s now in charge in my home.
By the time they left, I was livid. Livid how she treats my father then complains to me how she doesn’t understand why he thinks she’s “bossy” (Seriously?!). Livid she thought it was acceptable to treat me more like the hired help than her daughter. And to be honest, still angry that I can’t tell her about my own health problems I’ve had for six months & expect any empathy or understanding.
Later when speaking with my husband about the visit, I had a thought. Since my father is now even more under her control, I think it has given her a tremendous amount of confidence, & she thinks she can control me as well. She fails to realize just because he is weaker now doesn’t mean I am as well. Looking back over my life, it seems like when she increased her control over one of us, the other one had to suffer with more control as well. I wish I’d realized this sooner! I would have been more prepared for her control games on her last visit if I had. Instead, I was taken by surprise.
I don’t know for sure if other overt narcissists are this way or not, but I would guess some are since so many narcissists use very similar means of abuse.
Pay attention to your narcissistic mother, Dear Reader! If she is able to control your father (or a sibling or a friend or anyone) more lately, you may be next in line. Remember to keep & strictly enforce your boundaries! Don’t give her an inch no matter what, or she’ll take a mile (or ten…). Protect yourself & never let her control anything about you. You do not need to be controlled by anyone!
When you are subjected to narcissistic abuse, you learn quickly that narcissists are murderers. Maybe not in the typical sense of the word as in they don’t try to shoot you, stab you or run you over with their cars but they are murderers nonetheless. They try to kill the person you are & recreate you into the person they want you to be- blindly obedient, enabling, having no needs, wants or feelings of your own. Basically, a robot here only to do their twisted will.
Once you escape the abuse, a part of your healing should be discovering the person God has created you to be. After all, He made you the way He did for a specific reason which is infinitely more valuable & important than the narcissist’s reasons for trying to turn you into a robot.
God made you to have a special place in this world, blessing others & enjoying being who you are. The narcissist’s only reason for trying to destroy that & remold you into what she wants is selfish- to enable her dysfunctional & abusive behavior. Isn’t it worth shedding the narcissist’s image of you & embracing the person God made you to be?
Rediscovering yourself, or discovering yourself for the first time, is not easy when you are accustomed to being the narcissist’s robot, but it is worth the effort. It also is fun, learning about yourself. Just start paying more attention to your feelings on things- do you like that or not? Are you drawn to things you never were allowed to pay attention to before? Then why not explore those things now? What do you have to lose?
Last February when I got very sick, it really caused me to re-evaluate my life. In my thirties, I tried to discover myself. I made some progress, but I abandoned the effort many times though, slipping back into old, dysfunctional habits. While recovering though, I realized I didn’t want to die knowing I had wasted my life being the person the narcissists in my life had tried to make me into. I didn’t like that person at all. So, I started exploring things that sounded appealing to me. I bought some clay & tried making various items. I tried felting. I also got back into drawing- something I loved to do as a child, but got away from. I feel much more peaceful & more confident doing things just for myself for the first time. I have become more self-confident, even when dealing with my narcissistic parents- I speak up to them more often now when I didn’t used to do so at all. (Using wisdom of course, as many times speaking back to narcissists only causes more problems since they can’t handle criticism or confrontation). I have also begun to take better care of myself & be more understanding & forgiving with myself.
Unfortunately, I also have been slipping back into the old, dysfunctional habits! It’s so frustrating! Like all emotional healing, it’s not a straight uphill path, but a windy one with a few big potholes. One thing helped me a lot, & that was a video I saw on facebook. It’s of Trace Adkins in the movie “Moms Night Out” talking to a lady about her feelings of not being good enough. Watching this brief video was eye opening to me, & I will be watching it over & over again to help keep me on track. I hope it blesses & helps you as it did me, Dear Reader. xoxo
The phrase, “They did the best they could” used to make me feel so guilty. I felt shame for being hurt or angry about the abuse I went through at the hands of my parents & ex husband. After all, my mother had a terrible childhood, abused by her narcissistic, evil mother & no contact with her father- how could she know how to be a good mother? My father was in a near fatal car wreck at 15, & has had problems stemming from the brain damage since, so that must be why he never felt able to intervene with my mother abusing me. As for the ex? Not like his parents modeled a healthy marriage- no wonder he didn’t know how to be a husband.
I’m sure if you’ve been the victim of abuse, you have heard the same tired phrase, & had the same kind of thoughts that I had. I think it’s only natural to think things like that under the circumstances. Today though I want to challenge that phrase regarding how it relates to your situation.
If someone is really doing the best they can, naturally they are going to make mistakes just like anyone does. They will apologize & try to make the wrongs right somehow if possible. They won’t repeat that mistake over & over again, make excuses or blame you for making them do what they did.
Someone who is truly doing their best won’t hide their actions or demand someone not to tell anyone what they are doing.
They also won’t be one way behind closed doors & totally different when in public situations.
They won’t criticize your every word, thought or deed.
People who truly are doing their best don’t try to gaslight others, making people doubt their own sanity.
They will try to build you up, encouraging you to be your own person who exercises whatever talents you have, rather than deliberately tear you down, discouraging you to be the person God made you to be.
They will care about others, not only themselves, & especially their children & spouse.
Now, think about the narcissist in your life. Does this sound like her? If not, then you need to keep in mind that she really didn’t do the best she could! Even if she had been abused or through hard times, that does NOT give an excuse to abuse! If being abused made the victim become an abuser, you would be abusive. If you think she does not know what she’s doing, then think about this- does she hide the abuse from other people, only raging at you in private? That is a sign she knows what she is doing is wrong.
Rather than feel guilty because your narcissistic mother “did the best she could”, instead, I encourage you to have a more realistic view of her situation. In mine for example, with my mother- yes she was abused terribly as a child. Her mother continued abusing her as an adult. She’s been miserable married to my father for 46 years. I do feel sorry for her for those reasons. However, those reasons were NOT my fault or a reason to take her frustrations, anger & hurt out on me, to expect to be able to live the life she actually wanted through me. As her daughter, it was never my job to make her happy, although she expected that. She also knew then & still knows how she treats me is wrong. I know this because she always worked hard to hide her actions from everyone, including my father.
Looking at my situation logically like this has helped me to no longer feel guilty when someone says that she did the best she could. It will help you as well. There is no good reason for you to feel bad when some insensitive, naive person says that obnoxious phrase to you! Don’t accept their delusion as your reality!
One of the most intriguing things I’ve noticed about narcissists is watching one lie in order to convince herself as well as others that something is the truth.
There was a show on TV a few years ago called, “Lie To Me” that I just loved. It was about a deception expert- basically a human lie detector. He would work with the police or military or whoever to help solve mysteries, because he was more able to detect lies than an actual lie detector. The show was fascinating not only because the stories were interesting, but also because it was really educational. It taught me about micro expressions- the fleeting expressions people make without being aware of them. It also would show examples of various faces of people expressing various emotions. Cool stuff if you’re interested in psychology like I am. This show taught me a lot about how to detect the truth about people. Body language & facial expressions are much more reliable than the words they speak.
A few years ago, after watching a marathon of “Lie To Me” on netflix, my husband & I went to dinner with my parents. While my father was away from the table, my mother was telling my husband & I that my father had just recently gotten rid of his cell phone- gave it to a neighbor lady. She said she had no idea why he did that, what was wrong with him? She even paused for a moment after she said that, as if allowing it to sink in. I quickly realized what was going on…
I’d given my father a cheap cell phone a few months prior, because he complained that my mother spent so much time on the phone, he couldn’t use it often. She has a cell, but keeps it in her purse. I thought a simple, cheap cell phone might work for him- it’d eliminate the conflict & it was only about $15/month to maintain. From day one, my mother was mad he had this phone. She griped at him & I both about how he didn’t need a cell phone, how it’s a waste of money, he’s ALWAYS buying minutes for it (yea, once a month..), he spends too much time on the phone & other nonsense. He finally was so tired of her complaints, he gave it away to get her off his back. My mother was glad he got rid of the cell phone, but did not want to be to blame for him doing so. Her solution was to lie & try to convince herself, my father, my husband & I she had no idea why he got rid of it. To admit she nagged him into doing so would make her look bad, & no narcissist can handle looking bad in any way. Lying this way was the best way to handle it, in her mind. Eventually it worked- she is currently convinced she has no idea why he got rid of his cell phone.
My mother isn’t the only person I’ve seen do this. (Her display was only the most obvious one.) In fact, I think it’s a pretty common thing among narcissists. After all, they’ll do anything to prevent them from looking bad. My mother also will talk about what a great, loving mother she was to me. She also has bragged about how upon meeting her, my one parakeet loved her very much (that didn’t happen) & how much my furkids love her (they don’t even like her). She has even said that she can’t keep rescuing me because if she does, I’ll never learn (my mother has not one time “rescued” me in my entire life). She is again trying to convince herself that her lies are the truth.
Unfortunately, I think this phenomenon is a coping skill that narcissists use when the truth is too ugly for them to bear. They simply cannot bear to look anything less than perfect. They especially can’t handle admitting the truth that they were horrible & abusive to their own child. I wonder if the reality of how much damage they have caused would cause them to emotionally & mentally collapse. I find narcissists to be rather weak people, & believe that is a very distinct possibility.
When these situations happen, I know they can be frustrating & hurtful. It especially hurts when your narcissistic mother brags about how much she’s done for you. When this happens though, please do your best to remember, this is how she chooses to cope. Yes, it’s hurtful to you & yes it’s dysfunctional, but it’s her choice. Unfortunately, she has the right to exercise this ridiculous behavior. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to condone it.
When my mother brags about how good she’s been to me, I refuse to give her the validation she is seeking. I won’t say a lie is the truth just to support her dysfunctional coping skills. However, I also don’t tell her she is wrong. She can have her delusions if she wants to, just don’t expect me to agree with them. I get around validating her by saying things like:
- “I don’t remember that.”
- “Uh huh” (shows I’m listening but it’s non-committal)
- changing the subject
Unfortunately this coping mechanism of hers still hurts sometimes, but I have noticed that it hurts much less than it once did. Once I realized that my mother’s bragging about her fantastic mothering skills is all about how she copes with abusing me, it took much of the sting out of what she said. I think this is because I realized although she is refusing to invalidating me & refusing to accept responsibility for it, she knows what she has done. What she did bothers her enough that she feels the need to deal with it, & this just happens to be her way to cope, dysfunctional as it is.
Recently I realized an effective way to put an end to narcissistic games: ask logical questions. I realize that sounds silly, but I’m telling you, it works!
When the narcissist in your life starts their games, whether it is gaslighting or simply being hateful, immediately start asking logical questions, & watch the narcissist become confused & stop what they are doing.
Some good questions you can ask are:
- “How is that supposed to help?”
- “What exactly do you mean?”
- “I don’t understand..explain that?”
- “What are you trying to say?”
Once you ask your question, wait for an answer. The narcissist won’t know what to do! They may ignore your question totally, but you can be sure of two things: 1- she heard what you said, & 2- she will stop what she was doing.
I have done this recently, & have found it to be not only effective, but funny as well. It’s funny watching someone who is usually so confident in their talents in manipulation & cruelty suddenly become flustered. They are so shocked when someone doesn’t just blindly let them get away with what usually works, especially when it’s the person who usually does let them get away with things.
Doing this also helps you to take back some power, while taking away some from the narcissist. When she realizes her games or cruelty aren’t working, that takes power from her. The bonus is at the same time, it gives you power & confidence.
The next time you’re dealing with a narcissist, I would encourage you to try asking questions. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Have you ever heard the term projection regarding to how it relates to narcissists? Projection means that whatever they are doing, they project onto another person, accusing them of doing. For example, narcissists are know liars. Often they accuse others of lying to them while defending how honest & trustworthy they are.
Narcissistic mothers are no exception. They love to project, especially onto their children. The child of a narcissist isn’t viewed as the child of a normal, healthy person is. Most people view their children as separate human beings, with their own wants, emotions, personality & more. Narcissists, however, view their children as tools to be used in any way they see fit, not allowed to have their own wants, emotions or personality. Their children are not allowed to have boundaries. A narcissistic mother has no problem reading her child’s diary or snooping through her personal belongings. Nothing is off limits to the narcissistic mother, so why would projecting her flaws be?
I think another part of projection is also when a narcissist criticizes something about you that she wishes she had or could do. My mother is quick to criticize long hair on women, no matter how beautiful it is, yet has always complained that she can wear her thin, fine hair in only one, short style. She also has ruthlessly criticized my furkids, I think because they don’t like her & are very devoted to me.
Projection doesn’t stop just because a child of a narcissistic mother reaches adulthood. I haven’t heard of one narcissistic mother yet who has given up projection just because she is older or her child has grown up. My mother still gets on me about my weight, as she has my entire life, even though she is a lot heavier than I’ve ever been.
So how do you deal with this frustrating thing called projection?
The best way I’ve found is to remember what projection really is- a dysfunctional coping tool for a narcissist to use to deal with her own shortcomings. Remembering this helps to take some of the sting out of her cruel words, because you know it isn’t a personal attack- it is simply her own dysfunction. It still will hurt or anger you though, as it should, because it is unfair of her to use you in such a way.
Once I learned about projection & realized it was about her dysfunction rather than me, I’ve felt pity several times for my mother when I have caught her doing her projecting. She does it so often, she must truly feel awful about herself. It’s sad when you think of it. However, feeling pity doesn’t mean that I should try to make her feel better about herself. With a narcissist, attempting that puts you in the position of being responsible for her self-esteem, iffy as it may be, & she will use you up in order to gain the coveted narcissistic supply that improves her self-esteem. Please remember that if you too feel any pity.
One of the favorite tools of a narcissistic mother is to groom her child to believe the child is the problem. If the child wasn’t so difficult, the narcissistic mother wouldn’t have to “discipline her” (translation- abuse). The child is rebellious, ungrateful, or has mental problems. Communicating this message to the child ensures that she won’t question her narcissistic mother’s cruelty. She believes the abuse is all her fault. She also may try to please her narcissistic mother endlessly to make it up to her for being such a bad child.
Not only does the narcissistic mother communicate this message to her child, but to anyone else as well. This serves the narcissistic mother well, as people believe her, without question. The child is not believed by people who know her narcissistic mother, even as an adult, even by people who have known her for a long time.
Grooming her child & spreading her vile message to anyone who will listen, along with manipulating people pretty much guarantees the adult child of the narcissistic mother won’t be believed if she ever opts to reveal the dysfunction of her family.
This has happened to me. Most people I have discussed my relationship with my parents with who also know my parents don’t believe me. They think I’m exaggerating, things weren’t so bad, I’m oversensitive or I’m the problem with the relationship. I need to forgive & forget, just let it go- it’s in the past.
When this type of situation happens, it hurts & frustrates you badly. I have had moments where I wondered if the other person was right- was I really the problem? Were things as bad as I thought they were? These people were so adamant about what they believed, maybe they had a point, I thought. It took praying & remembering the horrible events of my past to realize that no, they weren’t right. I was not the problem, & I really was abused.
When evidence of your narcissistic mother’s grooming appears, you will know it immediately, as you will be invalidated & blamed while she is praised. Unfortunately, this will happen at some point. Who does it may surprise you, too. It won’t be only those friends & relatives of your narcissistic mother, but those who aren’t particularly close to her. Those you would think would be more objective. In my case, I have had two people who my mother hates & who hate her rush to my mother’s defense. One told me I was the one who needed to fix the relationship, & the other trivialized what I have been through, telling me I needed to get over it (never admitting “it” was abuse). Imagine my surprise when these two treated me this way!
You need to be very careful who you discuss your situation with. Even then though, sometimes this type of thing may happen anyway. When it does, all you can do is deal with the hurt & anger you feel & cling to the truth. Also, refuse to discuss this topic with that person again, even if they are the ones who bring it up.
Know that this may damage your relationship irreparably with that person. In my case, the love I had once felt for the two people I mentioned above died abruptly. Not that I wish them harm, of course. I just suddenly no longer felt warmly towards them. I’m quite sure that they feel the same towards me as well. One stopped speaking to me for several months after our discussion & was very cold the few times we’ve spoken since. The other became critical of anything & everything about me since. It’s amazing how devoted people can be to narcissists, even when they despise them!
If you have C-PTSD like I do, this can be an especially painful & frustrating experience. It triggers all kinds of awful feelings that you really don’t want to feel. Personally, I felt like I did as a teenager going through the worst of my mother’s abuse- alone, hopeless & like no one cared. It is vital to be especially good to yourself during times like this.
Have you ever tried to confront your narcissistic parent on their abuse? If so, you know the frustration. Nothing changes & you walk away feeling completely confused. You even may have ended up apologizing too, when the fact is you didn’t do anything that warranted an apology!
Confronting narcissists is never an easy thing. They employ so many tactics to avoid the attention being on their bad behaviors. It often gets so frustrating, you prefer just to let the offense go rather than deal with the games & gaslighting.
Some narcissists will accuse their chilld/adult child of various things to deflect the attention off of them. They may say their child is ungrateful, a smart mouth, mean, cold, spoiled, a brat, or other awful things. They also may claim to be doing things for the child’s benefit. My mother used to claim since I was such an awful child, she had to use tough love on me.
My mother in-law likes to pretend to be the victim when she is confronted. My father too. This is a very common tool of the covert narcissist, since they so love the “poor me” or martyr role. When my father was due to come by my home a few weeks ago, alone, my mother came with him. He made it to the door first. Without even saying “hi,” he immediately went into explaining how he had no control over her coming along- it wasn’t his fault. Really? She was driving- he voluntarily got into her car!
Overt narcissists may not play the victim so quietly, but they will play the victim. They will accuse you of being SOOO mean to them! “After all I do for you, this is the thanks I get?” “You don’t appreciate all I do for you!”
Some more overt narcissists will meet your confrontation with rage. When I was a kid, my mother would meet my confrontations with screams &/or accusations &/or trying to hurt me. When I was probably about 12, she & I were coming home from her mother’s home. She was mad at her mother & yelling as she was talking about other things in the car so loud, there was a slight echo. It made my ears ring. I asked her if she could talk a little quieter, & she screamed even louder & mocked me for complaining about my ringing ears until I was in tears.
Many narcissists refuse to apologize at all, but the ones who do often employ the passive/aggressive type of apology. “I’m sorry you got upset.” “I’m sorry if your feelings got hurt.” “I’m sorry you feel that way.” While the words “I’m sorry” are said, the fact they believe you’re at fault is clearly implied. If you mention that, you will be on the receiving end of either tears or rage, because they did say they were sorry after all! Nothing they do is good enough for you!
Still other narcissists will talk non stop, making excuses for their outlandish behavior or talking in circles until you are completely confused. They also may use gaslighting at this point- “That isn’t how that happened!” “That never happened!” “I never said that!”
Until you are very accustomed to these tactics, chances are you’ll be confused, angry & unsure exactly why or even apologetic to the narcissist for their bad behavior. Being aware of such tactics will help you when you have to confront your narcissist. You will be aware of what they are doing, & can deal with it accordingly.
The best way I know to deal with these things is to avoid them as much as possible. Not always a good solution because narcissists are already allowed to get away with too much. Most people instinctively placate them rather than deal with these kinds of situations.
Unfortunately though, there will be times when avoiding a confrontation isn’t wise. Before confronting her, pray. Pray a lot, asking God for wisdom & the right words to say. During those times, remember these tactics. When the narcissist begins to talk in circles, bring the focus back to the original topic. Same for if she plays the victim or gets angry. You can say things like “I understand, but the fact is, I won’t put up with that behavior. If you do it again….” Keep firm boundaries in place, primarily staying on topic. Stay calm- any sign of you being upset will only serve to fuel the narcissist. She’ll see she can upset you & push to do it more.
Most importantly though, besides prayer of course, is to work on your own emotional healing. The healthier you are, the stronger you are & the more self-confident you are. When you are self-confident, narcissists know they don’t have much of a chance at winning with you & either give up easily or fight so hard, they look ridiculous, realize it & then give up.
Dealing with a narcissist is never easy. It’s impossible to have a simple conversation with one, because there is always some ulterior motive. Usually, that motive is to hurt or embarrass you, especially while they appear innocent. They love to say indirect things so if you confront them on their nastiness, they can honestly say, “I never said that!” And it’s true- they didn’t say that. Instead they implied it. The difference is you end up hurt & wondering if they’re right, you are too sensitive, you read into things, you’re crazy, etc. At least if someone out right criticizes you, there is no doubt they are out to hurt you.
If you’re wondering if you’re being oversensitive or if the narcissist in your life really is trying to hurt you, there are some giveaways.
If someone complements you in front of your narcissist, you will have to pay. You can’t get any positive attention, because she deserves it all! At least she thinks so. Either she will say something to negate the complement, or treat you even worse than usual until her anger is done. Many years ago, I recently started dating a man who thought we should meet each other’s parents in spite of my protests & wanted to invite my parents to dinner one night. Just after dinner when my parents went to leave the room, my boyfriend said, “Mrs. Bailey, I just want to say, you raised a really wonderful daughter.” My mother looked Mike in the eye, snorted & said, “Well, at least I tried to” & left the room. Does this type of comment sound familiar to you? If so, no, you aren’t being oversensitive- this type of snarky comment hurts!
If you seem too happy for the narcissist’s liking, you can count on the narcissist saying something designed to destroy that. They are happy squishers, doing anything they can to squish your happiness! Once, I had lost a few pounds. I didn’t need to lose much, but was glad that I lost probably ten pounds or so. I told my mother, who said, “You probably lost weight because you have cancer & are going to die.” No way was that said to benefit me or said out of concern. Comments like that are said to squish any joy you may be feeling, period.
Have you ever heard the comment, “I would NEVER” come from your narcissist? That one is designed to make you feel not good enough because you would stoop so low as to doing whatever she would never do. My mother once told me she would NEVER even ride in a car, let alone own one, with over 100,000 miles on it. It was obviously said because my husband & I both love & own old cars while hers is much newer than anything we own. (At least I had the pleasure of telling her that when we took my parents to Annapolis the previous weekend in hubby’s car, his car had almost 250,000 miles on it at that point. She was speechless. It was a fun moment for me! lol)
Whatever thing you have accomplished or purchased or done that thrills you is fodder for a narcissist making sure you know it isn’t impressing her. So you just got a promotion at work & will be making twice your old salary? She isn’t impressed- you still don’t own the company, do you? Anyone could do that job- it’s nothing special. You just bought your first brand new car? So what? It’s not a “good” car like hers. My mother no longer blatantly criticizes things of mine she finds not good enough. Instead, she gives a blank look like she is bored to tears. The look hurts just as badly as the criticisms because the message is the same- she thinks I’m not good enough. (Thankfully, the more I’ve healed, I’ve learned not to care about what she thinks of me).
So Dear Reader, when you experience these things, please remember- the narcissist is gaslighting you! You aren’t oversensitive or reading into things or crazy! Instead, you are on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse. You are fine! It’s the narcissist who has issues.
I’ve found to deal with these abusive behaviors, you need to learn as much as possible about narcissism & gaslighting. You also need to learn what tactics your narcissist uses so when they happen, you can remind yourself this is simply her weapon of choice- there is nothing wrong with you for feeling the way you do. Also, focus on your own emotional healing. The healthier you get, the harder you are for narcissists to manipulate or control. Their criticisms no longer traumatize you, but simply annoy you that they are so anxious to hurt you. Their games no longer work, which frustrates them to no end. It actually can get funny sometimes when you reach a point in your healing where you understand what is happening & refuse to be abused, but the narcissist is convinced all the old tactics still work on you. Their outrageous behavior can be downright funny sometimes when you understand it, as can the lengths they go to in an attempt to get their way.