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.
Narcissists love using shame as a weapon. Not only does it make them feel superior, but it takes attention off of their bad behavior while simultaneously discrediting their victim. It also makes a victim easy to control. Shame is a very effective weapon.
There are various ways narcissists use shame.
Narcissists reinvent the past. They tell stories differently than they actually happened. They either claim to be the reason someone succeeded or twist the story so the other person looks stupid, like a failure, etc. Since narcissists speak with such certainty, this can make a victim doubt their own memories & feel ashamed for something they didn’t even do.
They tell embarrassing stories about their victim. Narcissistic parents in particular seem to love this one. They tell stories that the victim would rather people don’t know about. My mother used this one with me, telling stories (usually in front of other people) of when I was a child & did stupid things. When I said I didn’t want her discussing these stories, she would shame me for how I felt, saying I was wrong & shouldn’t feel the way I did. It took a long time to realize that I wasn’t wrong- my feelings were just & this was nothing but an attempt on her part to make me feel shame.
Playing the role of victim. No matter what a narcissist does to a victim, they have the amazing ability to spin the situation in their favor, so they look like the victim, & the real victim is abusive. This can create shame in a victim very easily unless the victim is well aware of this game.
Religion can become a weapon. No true narcissist can be a Christian at the same time. Narcissism is diametrically opposed to the beliefs of Christianity. However, that doesn’t mean a narcissist won’t use Christianity to shame victims. Growing up, my mother told me I was going to hell for how badly I treated her. Later in life, a flying monkey said I was a bad Christian for treating my parents as I do & claiming to be a Christian. Thankfully, I also have a good enough relationship with God to know what they said was utter nonsense. If I didn’t, that comment would have caused a great deal of hurt & doubting my salvation!
“I was only joking!” “You’re too sensitive!” Nasty comments said to a victim followed by, “I was just kidding!” “Can’t you take a joke?” “You’re so sensitive!” & the like are also designed to make a victim feel ashamed for being righteously angry that they were offended by the narcissist’s cruel words. The goal is to make you feel ashamed of yourself for not realizing the narcissist was only kidding (which they weren’t) or being so sensitive you were offended by their “joke.” Don’t fall for it. You aren’t wrong!
Comparisons. If you & the narcissist have done similar things, you can guarantee the narcissist has done it better, at least if you listen to her side of the story. Everything with narcissists is a pissing contest (sorry to be crude- that’s the best term I know of to describe this situation). If you found a cure for cancer, they found it first, but didn’t want to brag like you’re doing! See what I mean? If they can make you feel badly for not being as good or as talented as them, that sows a seed for shame in you.
Talking down to others. Even a narcissist that isn’t overly intelligent can make a very intelligent victim feel stupid, & ashamed of being so stupid. Narcissists love to talk in circles & use big words (often that they don’t know the proper definition of & not in context). If you leave a conversation with a narcissist & your head is swimming, it’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because narcissists are masters of talking in circles, which is also known as word salad.
Acting as if the narcissist is the adult, the victim the child. This is very common among narcissistic parents. They’re all about keeping their children, children, no matter their child’s age. A person who thinks they’re immature & not wise like the narcissist is very easy to control. Narcissistic parents may continue using a tone of voice that intimidated their children when they were growing up well into that child’s adulthood. They may call victims immature or mock them with phrases like, “You’re such a baby/child!” “You’re so immature!” “You need to grow up!”
Remember this post if you’re faced with these behaviors. You do NOT need to feel shame! No one should put that on you, but narcissists will try to. If they do, never accept it. Ask God to tell you the truth. Also, look at your situation objectively & you will realize the truth. Write about it in a journal, too, since writing often gives a great deal of clarity that speaking can’t. You can deal with this unhealthy behavior in a healthy way!
When people tell you you’re stupid, crazy, ugly, etc., there is a reason for it, & it isn’t what you think.
A person saying such things to you doesn’t necessarily believe that you are those things. In fact, most likely they don’t believe it at all. Quite the contrary, they think you are intelligent, attractive, etc.
So why would a person say such awful things to another when they don’t believe them to be true? There are two very distinct possibilities.
Control. A person with low self-esteem is much easier to control than someone with healthy self-esteem. The more a person is beaten down, thinking they are stupid, worthless & other awful things, the easier that person is to control because they assume the controlling person knows best. Also, a person with low self-esteem will work as hard as they can to get love & approval. This works nicely for the controller because she can get anything she wants from the victim.
Projection. Narcissists love to project their flaws onto others. If the narcissist is a liar, she will accuse you of lying. Overeats? She’ll call you a glutton, pig or fat. By doing this projection thing, it allows the narcissist to be angry about the flaw while not accepting that they have it. It is just one in their arsenal of horrible coping skills.
The next time someone says terrible things about you, take notice. There is a very good reason for it, & chances are that it isn’t that they are offering you constructive criticisms in order to help improve you.
One of the main things all narcissists, be they overt or covert, have in common is that they discredit their victims to anyone who will listen.
Discrediting may be done under the guise of concern. A narcissist may claim to be worried about their daughter because she has serious mental problems- she’s depressed, anxious, or bipolar. Or, it may be more direct, a smear campaign, where a narcissist claims the victim is a drug addict, juvenile delinquent, promiscuous or other awful things.
Discrediting often starts early with narcissistic parents, sowing seeds of disdain & discord among family members & friends, who come to believe this innocent child to be anything but. Instead, they believe the child to be whatever the parent said, & the parent to be completely innocent when nothing could be further from the truth. My mother did this to me in my childhood. When her abuse peaked in my late teens, her friends, who once liked me, suddenly wouldn’t even speak to me.
Discrediting also may be done as a preemptive strike. Narcissists know sometimes when they go too far with a victim, & reach out to others before the victim can. This is an attempt to look like the good guy, so others won’t believe the victim when she shares what happened. My father has done this. Once when I wouldn’t take his call because he called too late (he repeatedly called late, in spite of repeatedly telling him I won’t answer the phone after 9pm), he called my in-laws & one of my cousins. He told them he was extremely worried about me because I didn’t answer the phone when he called at 10 that night. He even asked them to tell me to call him immediately. Both were concerned, & somewhat angry with me for being so “mean” to my father.
It also may be done as revenge. If a narcissist thinks that she has a chance of someone the victim knows well believing her, she may reach out in an attempt to hurt the victim. Again, my mother has done this. Many years ago, my husband’s work downsized, so he lost his job. My father took money from his & my mother’s savings account, & gave it to me, even though I didn’t ask him to. My mother was extremely angry with me about this. She called my in-laws. A few days later, my husband visited his parents, & his father told him about the call. He said my mother said I was doing something terrible, so he told her never to call back. Whatever it was, it was so terrible, he refused to repeat it to my husband.
If these types of things are happening to you, it’s typical narcissist behavior. Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything you can do about it. If you defend yourself, chances are, people will see you as the crazy, irrational, awful person the narcissist said you are, no matter how calm & collected you are when you speak. People in these situations often look for any tiny piece of evidence that the narcissist is right, so no matter how justified your anger or upset, it will be taken as the narcissist being right.
Rather than actively defend yourself when these situations arise, it’s best to let your character shine. The truth has a way of coming out no matter what, so if you are consistently a good, caring, loving, rational person, sooner or later, people will realize that. I know it can be frustrating doing nothing to defend yourself, but truly, it’s your best course of action. Pray- ask God to help you through this hard time & for the truth to be made clear. You will need God’s help during this hard time, so never hesitate to ask for it. He’ll be more than glad to help you!
Being raised by narcissists, I learned early in life how to be a good victim. So good, I’ve been in relationships (friends, romantic & even family) with many abusive people. Not all were narcissists, but they all shared something in common- their need to control me.
Not all controlling people are narcissists, but all narcissists are controlling. Learning to recognize various methods people use to control others can help you to understand what is happening & react accordingly.
Coming on too strong. When you first meet someone & they immediately want to be your best friend or start talking of marriage right away, this is a bad sign. I once had a friend who upon meeting said we were going to be best friends, & she was extremely controlling. The same for a man I once dated who started talking marriage within a month of meeting.
They expect you to read their minds. If the person is acting unhappy, you’re supposed to know why & what they want you to do to make it all better. If you don’t, you aren’t a good friend, you don’t love them, etc.
The silent treatment. Narcissists in particular enjoy this one. The silent treatment means refusing to speak to you or acknowledge you rather than discuss the problem. Withdrawing their love is designed to make you feel as if you have done something terribly wrong, & to make you want to make it up to them. It keeps you off balanced, & until you realize what is happening, working hard to make the person giving you the silent treatment happy with you again.
Talking around the problem at hand. This distraction technique removes your focus from the real problem & puts it wherever the controller wants it. Usually on you & your flaws, real or imagined.
Constant talking. Narcissists love to brag about themselves & never tire of the sound of their own voices. Other controlling people talk constantly as well. This tactic keeps the attention on the controller & the victim giving the controller their full attention.
Projection. Accusing a victim of a behavior that the abuser does is projection. The goal is to change the behavior of the victim. For example, if the victim is called selfish, the victim will work hard to prove how unselfish she is.
Not “walking the walk.” A controlling person has very definite opinions of things. For example, your home should be so clean at all times, when you clean it, it’s hard to tell anything was done because it was that clean before you started. Yet, their house has enough dust on the tables to write your name in, & don’t you dare say a word about it lest you face their wrath.
Using guilt trips. Guilt trips are supposed to make you feel so bad, you’ll never do that action again. Healthy guilt is a good thing. It keeps you from doing things like stealing or cheating on your spouse. You know doing such things would make you feel miserable, so you avoid doing them. Guilt trips are about control & not necessarily about you doing something bad.
Bullying. Bullies come across quite scary & intimidating. The truth however is that they are simply cowards. They try to make themselves look scary by acting intimidating so they’ll get their way. Refusing to give in often makes them stop their ridiculous behavior.
Urgency. By creating a false sense of urgency, it means the victim feels she has no time to think about things, she must act & act right now. Urgency eliminates the chance to consider the situation & evaluate choices.
Do you know someone who is passive/aggressive? Passive/aggressive behavior is when someone is upset with you, but rather than try to work it out, they deny being upset. Instead, they do things to hurt or anger you.
Over a year ago when my parents came to my home, my mother wanted me to do something for her. As usual, she ordered me to do it, rather than asked. For the first time in my life, it ticked me off. I’m her daughter, not the hired help & I don’t like being treated as such. So, I responded with “since you asked me so nicely, of course I’ll do it.” She didn’t say anything, but apparently it sank in.
A few days later, my mother called me, wanting me to look something up on my computer for her. Rather than her usual demand, she asked me nicely, so I looked it up. Small victory for me! I quickly realized though that she wasn’t happy about asking rather than demanding, because she became passive/aggressive. Her hearing isn’t the best, but she also uses that when it benefits her to do so. While I was on the phone with her yesterday, about every other sentence at first was “What did you say? I can’t hear you Honey!” (Interestingly she only calls me Honey when she is playing deaf, which is how I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what she is up to.) I was practically screaming into the phone before she suddenly heard me. However, as the conversation went on, her hearing suddenly became better. I could speak fairly quietly & she heard me. Why? I think partly because I let her ramble on- she gained her narcissistic supply, which pleased her- & partly because she felt that she had satisfactorily let me know she wasn’t pleased with being forced to ask me to do something rather than demand it.
During the conversation, my mother also slipped in snide comments about how much she hates scary movies/books. She doesn’t understand how anyone can like such awful things! Why was this mentioned out of the blue? No doubt because she knows I love scary movies & stories. This is a way to scold me for my “poor choices” without directly doing so. A way to say I’m wrong without using those exact words.
There are other ways a person can exhibit passive/aggressive behavior, such as:
Does any of this behavior sound familiar to you?
A lot of people are passive/aggressive. It’s a very common phenomenon with narcissists, but I think with non-narcissistic people as well. It’s a very immature type of behavior, & since there are a great deal of immature people in the world, it’s no wonder it’s quite common.
So how do you deal with a person who behaves this way?
First, you need to be able to recognize it. If you don’t recognize passive/aggressive behavior, you’ll end up enabling it. You’ll ask the person what is wrong, try to make them happy, do what they seem unable or unwilling to do.
Next, refuse to play along. If the person wants to behave badly, that is his/her choice. If someone is constantly late when you are supposed to get together, tell the person that the next time they are late, you will do whatever you are supposed to do together without that person. Then follow through on it. Or, if the person is obviously upset, ask what is wrong. If she says nothing is wrong, let it go. Don’t try to pry it out of her- she is an adult & can behave as such if she wants to resolve the issue.
Be happy. Pretend not to notice the other person sulking. Go on with your day in peace. It will annoy the other person that her behavior isn’t working as she wanted it to, so she may give up on it.
Passive/aggressive behavior is very common on social media. Vague posts about how “some people” behave or think just after you had a disagreement on that topic, or posting things showing a person is for something you aren’t or vice versa are all too common. Social media is great, but it can be a useful tool for narcissists & passive/aggressives. When these things happen, ignore them. Obviously the person posting what they have wants to make a point without discussing it with you in an adult manner. Opting to try to discuss it with them would most likely only frustrate you. Just ignore them. Unfollow or unfriend them.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I happened to think of the strangest thing recently…
All my life, I’ve known I never wanted to have kids. Also all my life, this has bothered my mother tremendously. She used to tell me I’d change my mind when I grew up, I wasn’t normal, etc. When I was I think about 16 or 17, it really bothered her I felt this way apparently. She was obviously disgusted with me, & said, “I should’ve made you babysit when you were younger. Then you would want kids.” Does this make any sense to you? It sure doesn’t to me.
My mother tried other things to make me want children. She gave me baby dolls as a child & a toy stroller (which I promptly used to push around my favorite sock monkey..) when I preferred stuffed animals & toy cars. She constantly pointed out pretty little girls or cute little boys when we were in public places, expecting me to agree with her. This only made me jealous, hurt & angry because she never praised my looks (or anything about me), then to add insult to injury, she ridiculed me for my feelings. Her control tactics never had the desired effect on me, although I did try briefly in my late teens to convince myself I wanted a baby. When I started dating a man who said he wanted children immediately, I realized I really couldn’t feel the same way at all.
There have been other ways my mother has tried to change me too. To this day, she likes to give me clothing that is her taste, not mine. She also offers to lend me CD’s from her music collection, even though she knows our tastes in music are vastly different. Even in restaurants sometimes she will strongly suggest I get something to eat when that something doesn’t appeal to me at all.
Do these behaviors sound familiar to you? Did your narcissistic mother try to change you as a child, or does she still now that you’re an adult? Please know that you are NOT alone!! I truly understand your pain & frustration! Not only is it maddening when she tries to change you, it is also yet one more way to let you know she believes you aren’t good enough as you are. The message she sends is that you need to change something about yourself to be acceptable to your narcissistic mother. The sad truth of the matter is that even if you changed into what she wanted, there would be something else she would want you to change next. Then something else. It wouldn’t end, because she never will be satisfied.
I have learned the only successful way to deal with this frustrating situation when it arises is to be calm, cool & collected while firmly sticking to my boundaries. I show no emotions (even if I want to scream), while saying something like “Thank you, but I don’t need any new clothes”. Better yet is offering no explanation at all, because, as we all have experienced, any information you give a narcissist can & will be used against you. For example, the music my mother wants me to listen to? When she offers to let me take a CD home, I just politely say “No thank you.” Then change the subject.
The especially important part of this is to show no emotion, because showing your frustration & hurt feeds the narcissist. If your narcissistic mother sees she has hurt you, she will continue to pick at you until you’re in tears. If she sees she has made you angry, then she will push you until you are raging at her, while she sits back quietly, acting like the innocent victim. By refusing to show emotions, you take away her opportunities to do such things.
Another important part of showing your mother no emotions is to hold them in only until you are away from her & can safely express them! Holding in emotions is so unhealthy, but unfortunately, doing so temporarily a necessary survival skill when dealing with a narcissist.
I visited a very good friend of mine yesterday. Like me, her mother was a narcissist. A much more malignant narcissist than mine. While we were talking, she mentioned that her mother never gave her the silent treatment. In fact, instead she would fake illness brought on by the stress my friend caused by either disagreeing with her or disobeying her.
I told her what she was missing out on! The silent treatment can be a wonderful thing! It gives you a break from your narcissistic mother’s drama, cruelty, mind games & more. At first, it may not feel good, but after a while, it really feels like a gift from God. Yes, that sounds awful, I know, but it’s the truth!
Many daughters of narcissistic mothers have faced the silent treatment at some point. As young children, it can be devastating! It certainly was for me. I couldn’t understand why my mother wouldn’t speak to me. I would try anything to gain her attention. I even asked what was wrong, & was met with among the most ridiculous responses ever: “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” At first this made me try harder, but I quickly realized that was why she said it, & stopped trying so hard.
As I grew older, I learned some more things about the silent treatment, & I’d like to share them with you to (hopefully!) help you.
So how does one deal with being on the receiving end of the silent treatment??
It probably will take you some time to stop feeling guilty & to start enjoying the silent treatment. And then, you may feel somewhat guilty for enjoying it. I know I did at first. But, that doesn’t last long once you realize how peaceful your life has become!
I have realized that the last few times my mother has given me the silent treatment, it took me a while to realize it was happening! Weeks would go by, when suddenly I realized she hadn’t called me. Quite an improvement over fretting about how to get her to start speaking to me again & feeling guilty for being such a terrible daughter, don’t you think?
Giving gifts can be a wonderful thing. It makes the receiver feel loved because someone would listen closely enough to know what gift would make the receiver happy, then spend the time to pick out this gift, spend the time to wrap it up pretty & all this shows that they cared enough to want to do these things. The giver is also blessed because there is a great joy in seeing someone’s face light up when they get a special gift that you are responsible for picking out.
Unfortunately with narcissists, this isn’t the case.
For one thing, narcissists are notoriously terrible at giving gifts. To give a good gift, you have to look beyond yourself. You have to listen to what the receiver says about their needs & wants. You have to know things about them, such as their favorite color, the size clothing they wear, styles they like, their favorite author or singer. Narcissists can’t be bothered with such “trivial” matters, so they will choose what they like or what they think you need instead.
Narcissists also give you gifts in order to try to make you more like what they think you should be. Clothing in a color or style that they think you should wear instead of clothing you like, or a CD from a band they like instead of from a band you like. Probably fifteen years ago or so, during a conversation with my mother in-law that took place not long before Christmas, I mentioned the fact I don’t like to cook. I do it of course, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. For Christmas that year, she & both of my sisters in-law gave me a lot of cooking paraphernalia. I got spoons, spatulas, cook books, food & the largest, ugliest pasta dish I have ever seen in my life (I did find a good use for it eventually. When the roof leaked, in the short time before it was fixed, I used that ugly dish to catch the rain water that leaked into the attic ..lol)
And of course, in true narcissistic fashion, when they give gifts, the purpose is self-serving. Giving makes them feel like they are good people. See how caring they are? They gave someone a gift! Yay for the narcissist!! My mother gives me things constantly, often things she has gotten as gifts but didn’t like, clothes she wants rid of, clothes she will buy for me because she likes the color/style (not that I like them), or things she has received in return for donating to a charity. For the longest time, I felt like I should hold onto these things, I think because on some level, I thought these gifts meant she actually cared for me. Once I realized that she was giving me things not to bless me, but to serve her own agenda or clean out her own junk, I didn’t feel that need any longer to hold onto her gifts. Some, yes, but not many.
There also may be another motive when receiving gifts from a narcissist. They may want something from you. They may want you to do something for them, so when they ask for you to do that favor, they can say, “How can you say no after I gave you that great gift?” My in-laws are like that. Gifts come with strings attached. They give my husband birthday & Christmas cards with money, & in return, he is to help them with whatever needs they have, no matter how ridiculous. (Not that he shouldn’t help out his aging parents of course, but when they call him to take one of them to the emergency room rather than 911 in an emergency, something is very wrong!) Have they ever spelled this out? No. It is an unspoken rule, as many narcissistic families have.
Some narcissists also give to others in the hopes of making themselves appear to be the martyr, taken advantage of by ungrateful people. This often makes the recipient of the gifts feel as if they are taking advantage of the giver, & they offer to repay the “generous” narcissist somehow.
If you receive a gift from a narcissist, just be forewarned- the gift probably has some pretty hefty strings attached to it!
Good evening, Dear Readers!
I had an interesting experience a while ago…
My mother called me under the guise of telling me about a Stephen King movie coming on TV tonight. I knew about it already, what with him being my favorite fictional author, as many of you know. Plus it’s a new one based on a story in his book “Full Dark, No Stars” which I really enjoyed.
Anyway she took this opportunity to remind me (as she has probably thousands of times before) that she doesn’t understand what is wrong with me- why do I like scary stories? She certainly doesn’t like them & has no idea where I got my taste in such things! And did I know she saw the movie “Psycho” at the drive in when it came out, & it terrified her? Have I ever seen it? Yes, & it’s among my favorite movies. “GASP!! I just don’t understand what’s wrong with you!”
Same speech, different day. As usual, it annoyed me.
I finally thought to ask God why did she feel the need to do this? More attempting to shame me for liking an author she doesn’t approve of (even though he’s been my favorite since I was 8 & read “Night Shift” for the first time)?? He showed me that the motivation is to spoil my fun in watching this movie. Often her comments are made to shame me, yes, but when she calls to let me know one of his movies is coming on TV soon, it’s to spoil my fun in the hopes that I’ll give up liking this “horrible” author’s works & start liking the more happy, light & fluffy authors she likes.
*sigh* Yea, that ain’t happening. lol
Suddenly I realized she’s done this wet blanket thing so many times, as has my narcissistic mother in-law. When I got my first car, a cute little Buick Skyhawk, my parents took me to the dealer. Since I only had my learner’s permit at the time, my mother rode home with me, & complained the entire way (about 10 miles). “This car is too small!” “There’s no leg room!” & other untrue & snarky comments. It spoiled my very first drive in my first car. When my husband & I first started dating, his mother suggested she & I go to lunch & shopping. I said fine, when? Her response? “You WILL be taking Eric’s car instead of yours, right?” I was surprised & said “No, I’ll be driving mine.” (she doesn’t drive). She said “Oh.” & changed the subject. This exact conversation happened a total of 3 times before she gave up since I wasn’t taking his car & insisted on taking my own. It also set the stage for 8 long years of nasty comments about how awful my Oldsmobile was, how expensive it was to maintain & how I should just junk it, all because it simply needs a paintjob..
There were many other similar incidents with both of them, but I’m sure you get the point.
Amazing isn’t it? Amazing how narcissists think they know best what you should like. And, they can’t accept the fact that you might like something they don’t or vice versa. They act like it’s a crime, or a direct attack on them if you are different than they are, or have an interest they don’t. And, by golly, you better straighten yourself up & only be interested in what THEY deem worthy!
It’s amazing to me that any human being can be so insecure that they will hurt, anger & try to mold another person into liking/not liking the things that they do. How is it a threat to them if you like something they don’t?! Who cares?! Everybody is different, it’s a simple fact of life, so why does this even affect a narcissist?!
They are simply that insecure.
While narcissists may appear overly self-confident, the truth is that behavior is to convince not only other people but also themselves that they are wonderful, special people, & not the lowly, unworthy person they really feel like they are deep down on the inside. So, if you don’t like something they do, then they take that as you don’t approve of them. On the opposite side of the same coin, if you like something they don’t, they also take that as you not approving of them or you thinking you are better than they are.
Narcissists simply can’t see this situation as 2 different people having different tastes.
Remind yourself of this next time the narcissist in your life insults you for not liking something she likes, or for liking something she doesn’t. As always, her behavior speaks volumes about her, not about you! ❤
Good day, Dear Readers!
Over the last few years, I have reached the end of my tolerance for dealing with abusive, selfish, manipulative or narcissistic people. Having dealt with a couple of people like this recently, I thought I’d share some ways to recognize safe people vs. unsafe people. So many people who have survived some type of abuse often attract unsafe people, & have trouble recognizing safe people. I was that way too, but have learned the difference. I hope this post will help you to learn the difference!
Safe people respect your time- they don’t assume you are going to wait for them to call or show up at a certain place. Unsafe people, however, have no respect for your time or life.
Safe people ask, rather than make demands. Unsafe people are entitled, believing they deserve whatever they want or need, even at the expense of others.
Safe people do not jump to conclusions. For example, if you don’t answer the phone, they don’t call you back 15 times in a row. Safe people assume you are unavailable, & either wait for you to call them back or they call you back several hours later or the next day. Unsafe people call you back repeatedly, assume you didn’t answer the phone because you are mad at them, or try to make you feel guilty or get mad at you for not answering their call. That is a control tactic- forcing you to deal with them on their terms.
Safe people aren’t judgmental & critical. They don’t say things like, “well if I were you, I would-” or judge or criticize you for decisions you make, things you like, etc. Those are invalidating behaviors are cruel!
Safe people help & support you, rather than mock you or tell you how your problem affects them. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, as I have experienced this many times. The day my dog, Danya, died suddenly & unexpectedly, while my husband & I were trying to gather his body (he was over 100lbs- not easy to move him!) to take him to the vet’s for cremation, my mother called. I told her what happened & what we were doing. She went on & on about how upset she was over his death, not asking once how my husband, I or our pets were doing.
Safe people don’t expect you to be their “trash can.” What I mean is when a person dumps all of their problems on you, & expects you to listen to whatever they want to talk about while ignoring anything you have to say. That is being a trash can. Unsafe people do this trash can thing all of the time.
I hope this helps you to recognize the safe, good people in your life. Remember, you deserve to be surrounded by safe, loving, compassionate, empathetic people. You do NOT deserve to be abused & mistreated!