Tag Archives: mother
Lately, I’ve been having a problem. I’ve been doubting myself. A LOT. Am I really doing God’s will by writing about narcissism? Am I even writing the things He wants me to write about? Is my information accurate? Am I wrong for being no contact with my parents, even though I know beyond a doubt that relationship would’ve killed me from stress?
God taught me some interesting things while praying about all of this. I think what He taught me can help at least some of you too.
For one thing, this doubt is normal under the circumstances. As God reminded me, I’ve had a lifetime of my parents force-feeding me their views & allowing me no room for freedom of my own. Even fighting it & forming my own, their views will still pop up sometimes, but it will stop in time. Doubting what I write about is normal since my mother used to scream about how I shouldn’t “air our dirty laundry” every time she even suspected I was talking about her abuse. No doubt you’ve been through something similar with your narcissistic mother, Dear Reader. When you find you doubt yourself, that may be what’s happening to you too. You can’t expect a lifetime of programming to vanish quickly. It takes a while! I’ve noticed it happens much less frequently with me than it did even a year ago. I can’t say I’m delivered from self doubt, but I know I’m well on my way.
I also learned that if you ask God to send you confirmations, He doesn’t mess around! lol A couple of days ago, I asked Him to show me if I’m on the right track, & it’s been interesting since! At first, it was a ton of memes on Facebook that spoke directly to me. Then, my father called.. six times in two minutes to be precise. (I didn’t answer of course. My call block lets blocked numbers ring once, then it hangs up on them, which is only long enough for the number to register on the caller ID. That’s how I knew he called). It hit me how that is just like him- he wants to talk to me so that is all that matters to him. The fact I have no desire to talk to him doesn’t matter- only his wants matter. This sort of thing has happened so many times prior to me going no contact. He’d call repeatedly when I wasn’t home or was very busy, & when we later spoke, he was upset I didn’t answer his call. Not being home wasn’t a good enough excuse & neither was having a life. Thinking of this was all good for me to remind me why I’m no contact!
Then, I got a wonderful note telling me how much my work has changed someone’s life. That was an incredible blessing! I do what I do to help people, & hearing that because of my writing, someone’s life was drastically improved made my day! Well, more like month! It was also a good confirmation that I’m doing God’s will.
The icing on the cake however was this Scripture that God brought to my attention this morning. Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (NIV) It was such a wonderful reminder that my pain wasn’t in vain- that God can use even the worst & most painful circumstances for good. Joseph spoke these words to his brothers. If all he suffered could count for something, our pain can as well!
Aside from bragging about the goodness of God, I wanted to share this with you to encourage you, Dear Reader. I know first hand how hard it can be sometimes when self doubts kick in. It can make you feel wrong, bad or even crazy. I want to encourage you to do as I did- talk to God about it. He is so patient & loving, wanting to help & encourage you when you need it! Look at all He did for me when all I did was ask for a little help! Pretty cool stuff, I think! He can & will do the same for you!
There are two types of narcissistic mothers- ignoring & engulfing.
As the name implies. the ignoring narcissistic mother ignores her child. The child’s interests, needs, & feelings mean virtually nothing to the mother. She may meet her child’s basic needs for food, clothing & shelter, but it is done grudgingly. Other needs such as teaching & nurturing aren’t met. The ignoring narcissistic mother simply doesn’t want to be bothered with her child.
Engulfing narcissistic mothers are the polar opposites of ignoring narcissistic mothers. They are deeply involved in every aspect of their child’s life. They control how their child dresses, the child’s interests & even friendships (if friends are allowed, that is). Engulfing narcissistic mothers see their child as an extension of themselves, so they do their best to mold them into what they want the child to be. What their child wants is of absolutely no importance. This is the type of mother I grew up with. I wasn’t allowed to choose my own clothes even in high school- my mother had to approve everything. I wasn’t allowed to spend time away from her other than at school or work, & even then, she would often spend my lunch hours with me during my last two years of high school. Everything about me was scrutinized & criticized.
Both ignoring & engulfing narcissistic mothers also get upset as their children get complements. Narcissists are known for being incredibly envious, especially when it comes to their children. When their child is complemented, they will tell the child the person was lying or reasons why the complement was wrong. Narcissistic parents do NOT want their children to feel good about themselves even for a moment. The worse a child’s self-esteem, the easier that child is to control.
Once the child of an engulfing narcissistic mother gets older, big problems really begin. As a child grows up & naturally becomes more independent, narcissistic mothers take this as a betrayal. They want their children to stay young & obedient forever. Growing up is unacceptable, & narcissistic mothers often act like their child is doing it simply to hurt them. Ignoring narcissistic mothers seem to be more relieved that their child is no longer their responsibility anymore, although some do get angry their child is becoming an adult & harder to control.
Once the child becomes an adult, engulfing narcissistic mothers continue to try to be engulfing. They try to monopolize their adult child’s time, even if the child has a spouse & kids. They demand their child spend holidays, birthdays & special occasions with them. They demand their child frequently visit them.
Ignoring narcissistic mothers often carry their lack of interest in their child into the child’s adulthood. They often even show little to no interest in their grandchildren. Or, they may show some interest in them until the grandchild is old enough to start forming her own likes, dislikes, opinions & personality.
Interestingly, often narcissistic mothers swing back & forth between ignoring & engulfing. This is especially confusing for their child because of the very mixed signals they send.
Both types of narcissistic mothers create a great deal of pain for their children. My mother was an engulfing mother & her mother was ignoring. She used to tell me how she always knew her mother never wanted her, from the moment she found out she was pregnant with my mother. She worked her entire life trying to gain her mother’s approval, which never happened. Heartbreaking, isn’t it? Yet, my mother went on to go in the complete opposite direction with me, which caused me awful anxiety, low self-esteem, C-PTSD & more that I still live with even in my mid 40’s.
Whichever type of narcissistic mother you had, I hope this post reminds you that she was the problem, not you. Nothing you did or didn’t do could have made her treat you as she did. xoxo
A common criticism from narcissistic parents to their children is calling them lazy. I can’t count how many adult children of narcissists have said their parent constantly called them lazy. I’m also one of them. These parents don’t allow their children to rest when sick or simply relax after a long day without criticisms.
While being called lazy & not being allowed to rest & relax doesn’t really sound like a big deal, it actually is.
Being treated this way is surprisingly damaging to a child. It can cause a child to carry a tremendous amount of guilt & even shame until the child dumps the dysfunctional false belief put on her. Many so called lazy kids show the following characteristics that stem from being called lazy…
- Feeling as if you never should rest or relax.
- Feeling intense guilt &/or shame if you need to rest, such as when sick or injured. Along those lines- resuming activities quickly, not giving your body time to recover.
- Feeling unappreciated.
- Feeling as if you never can do enough.
- Developing OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), & being fanatical about cleaning your home or doing your job.
- Going in the opposite direction from OCD & being extremely messy.
If any of this sounds familiar, then it’s time to make some changes.
I have found that looking objectively at myself was a good place to start. I looked at what I do & realized I do quite a bit. Granted, in the past few years, my health has forced me to streamline my routine so I don’t do as much at a time as I once did, but I still do quite a bit.
I also looked at my mother objectively. She is rather lazy. She’s never been one to keep her home spotless. Since marrying my father she put him in charge of not only maintaining her car but cleaning it as well. She doesn’t cook often & never has. She hasn’t held a job since before getting married, other than a part time job for a week or two in 1989. This tells me that her calling me lazy was simply projection rather than fact. (Projection is when a person behaves in a certain way, then accuses another of being that way when they truly aren’t. It allows the accuser to get mad about the flaw without taking responsibility for it. It’s a very common tool used by narcissists.)
I began to tell myself I’m not lazy. I believe in working smarter not harder, but that isn’t a bad thing. It was starting to sink in, until I got sick in 2015 with Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. It took every ounce of energy out of me for months on end, & I felt like the laziest human on the planet since all I could do was lay around. As I lay there recovering, I watched a lot of TV. One evening, out of the blue, God spoke to my heart & told me why He allowed me to get sick. One of the reasons was I needed to rest more. In spite of starting to realize I wasn’t lazy, I still pushed myself too hard. Now I have to rest sometimes- my body just can’t work as hard as it once did. He said if I continued pushing myself too much, it would kill me eventually. It had to stop.
I can’t believe I’m the only person God would do this too, so I’m including it as a warning to you, Dear Reader. If you are that typical adult child of a narcissistic parent who pushes yourself too hard, it’s time to stop. If you don’t, what’s to say God won’t allow something to happen to you that causes you to need to rest? It’s much better to rest on your own terms! Try what I did- look at your situation objectively & you’ll see you aren’t lazy, & there is nothing wrong with resting & relaxing! You also deserve to have joy in your life, & how can you do that if you work non stop? Take better care of yourself, Dear Reader! You deserve it!
Children need to believe that their parents love them. Normally, this is a very good thing, since most parents do love their children. When the child’s parent is a narcissist, however, this is NOT a good thing!
Because of this need, abused children will make excuses for their parent abusing them. I did – I told myself my mother loved me which is why she was “overprotective” rather than admitting she controlled my every move.
Children also will come up with reasons why the abuse was their fault, not the parent’s, taking all the blame while the parent gets away with abusing the child. The child will think that she needs to get better grades in school, be better behaved, etc. to please the parent, so the parent doesn’t have to abuse her anymore. Children don’t realize that narcissists are impossible to please, & will abuse their child even if the child is 100% perfect.
Some parents are actively abusive – they mentally, physically &/or sexually abuse their child – while others are more passive in their abuse, standing by quietly while the other parent obviously abuses the child. Passive abusers also do not care about the child’s pain, & often will turn the active abuser onto the child if that person is mad at the passive abuser, simply to distract them. If a child has one actively abusive parent & one passively abusive one, the need to believe that her parents love her will cloud her discernment greatly. Even if she comes to realize that the actively abusive parent is abusive, it will take much longer to realize the passively abusive one is equally abusive. The desperation to believe that at least one parent loves her will make the child think that the passive abusive parent loves her because at least that parent isn’t verbally, physically or sexually abusing her. The child also may make excuses for that parent, saying that parent just didn’t know what to do or had no power to stop the abuse. In fact, the child may feel pity for that parent, offering comfort after the child has been abused. This happened with my father. My mother would abuse me, & my father would tell me how he couldn’t do anything to stop it, & how hard it was for him knowing how mean she was to me. I would comfort him rather than him comforting & protecting me.
This need to believe parents love their children can cause many problems for adult children of narcissists, as you can see. So I urge you today, Dear Reader, to look at your situation. Are you harboring any beliefs that stem from that need? Are you making excuses for your parent(s) because you think it’s easier than admitting your narcissistic parent never loved you? If so, you’re only hurting yourself.
John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NIV) This Scripture is absolutely true! As difficult as facing the truth about your parents is, it is worth it. Clinging to the childish belief that your parent loves you only hurts you. It’s a domino effect of dysfunction, really. You make more & more excuses for your parent’s abuse because you want to believe she loves you. This only serves to keep you tolerating more & more abuse. Facing the truth is the only thing that will set you free.
Admitting that your narcissistic parent doesn’t love you & never has is painful. I understand this all too well. It causes you to grieve your loss of not having a loving parent. However, doing so will enable you to see things much more clearly & objectively, which helps you to find ways to become healthier. You’ll be able to think more about ways to set & enforce healthy boundaries instead of tolerating abuse so you don’t hurt your parent’s feelings. You may limit your contact with your parent or go full no contact with that parent because you realize that your parent only wants you in her life to provide her with narcissistic supply, & you deserve better than that.
I know admitting your parent doesn’t love you is painful, but I can promise you that it is well worth the pain. And, it’s much less painful than clinging to that false belief!
Last night, I had two extremely vivid nightmares about my parents. I woke up anxious & afraid from both, but especially the second one.
I got to thinking & praying about the dreams, I realized they showed me something. It is incredibly hard to accept a covert narcissist parent as the evil, abuser that they are!
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a LOT of dreams about my father & when I prayed, God would tell me to pay attention to them- they are showing what he is really like, as He did when I asked about last night’s nightmares. Yet in spite of the many warnings, I was still shocked when he did certain things like calling the police twice on me for “welfare checks” after I stopped speaking to him, accused my husband of keeping me from him or sending several flying monkeys after me.
When you’ve been raised with an overt narcissist & a covert narcissist, it is hard to accept the covert narcissist is bad. After all, compared to the overt, the covert doesn’t seem so bad. The covert doesn’t scream at you or hit you or shred your self-esteem. Plus, it’s incredibly hard to accept that both of your parents didn’t love you. One is hard enough, but two? Incredibly painful. So, many people tell themselves that their covertly narcissistic parent isn’t so bad. Sure, that parent has flaws, but it could be worse, right?
I firmly believe covert narcissists are way worse than overts. At least with overt narcissists, you know where you stand & what they’re capable of. Not so with covert narcissists. Due to their subtlety, they can abuse so discreetly, a person doesn’t even realize it’s happening. They also give such a good appearance as a victim that on the off chance you recognize they’re behavior is abusive, you don’t have the heart to upset them by confronting them. They also love to appear naive & innocent. This makes you doubt they know what they’re doing is wrong. It also means if you tell people you both know, you won’t be believed. Covert narcissists also make you feel sorry for them, which is another guarantee that you will let them get away with anything they want to do.
If anyone meets my father, they get the impression he’s a simple country boy- laid back, good sense of humor & a pleasant person. And, now that he’s pushing 80 & has Alzheimer’s & other health problems, they also feel bad for him. They don’t realize the incredibly evil, twisted things he is capable of because they only see the way he presents himself. They don’t believe that when my mother abused me, he not only failed to protect me, he also turned the situation around so I would comfort him because he said he was upset she hurt me. They wouldn’t believe he expected me to apologize to him for breaking a wall when my mother threw me into it when I was 19. Yet, these things are absolutely true.
Dear Reader, if you have a covertly narcissistic parent, please pray about your situation. If you’re maintaining that relationship thinking that parent isn’t as bad as your overtly narcissistic one, you’re probably wrong. I thought that myself & I certainly was. It’s taken me a lot of painful events, & long time to see my father for the wicked narcissist he is. It took many nightmares & painful events to realize it. I would love to spare you the kind of pain that I have had to experience because I didn’t want to accept the truth, so please, please pray about your situation. Ask God to show you the truth about your parent, to enable you to handle it & what you should do about it.
Children of narcissistic parents often experience similar types of abuse when growing up. So many of us have spoken to others & said things like, “Yea!! My mother did that exact same thing!” Many of my readers have told me their stories & they sound oddly similar to my own. Their mothers told them they were crazy, fat, stupid, ugly, worthless, etc. They used similar gaslighting phrases to my mother’s, such as “I don’t remember it that way.” “You’re crazy!” “What is wrong with you?” The similarities are uncanny! In fact, I’ve often wondered if they all have some sort of secret narcissistic instruction manual since so many narcissists act very similar.
The abuse isn’t the only thing that’s similar about being raised by narcissistic parents. The damage done is oddly similar.
- Adult children of narcissists don’t know ourselves. At best, we know who our narcissistic parent told us we were.
- We have incredibly low self-esteem, often even believing we have no right to exist & take up space in this world.
- The low self-esteem makes us incredibly anxious, often terrified of asking people for something,
- We feel incredible amounts of toxic shame about every single thing about us.
- Many adult children of narcissistic parents struggle with issues with their weight. We were told constantly how fat or skinny we were growing up, so we began early in life to see our bodies through our narcissistic parent’s eyes rather than our own. This often leads to eating disorders or other issues with food.
- Boundaries? What are those? They must be for other people, certainly not for children of narcissistic parents!
- We’re exhausted constantly. A lifetime of narcissistic abuse makes people function in survival mode, always trying to put out the next fire as soon as it starts or, better yet, try to make sure the fire doesn’t start in the first place.
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or C-PTSD (Complex PTSD) is common. Being raised by at least one narcissistic parent is traumatic in so many ways, so many adult children are diagnosed with PTSD or C-PTSD.
- Physical problems such as high blood pressure, arthritis, aches & pains with no physical cause, & more.
Dear Reader, chances are you have experienced symptoms like this, probably more. Maybe it’s even what brought you to my blog today. If you are experiencing such things, then please know you aren’t crazy! You’re far from it in fact. You’re a normal person who has experienced extremely abnormal things, & had a normal reaction to them.
I can’t tell you today that the symptoms will all go away quickly, because they won’t. Prayer, love & support from those around you, counseling will help you get healthier. Prayer in particular is the most important thing you can do to help yourself. Remember, the Bible referred to Jesus as “The Great Physician” & “Wonderful Counselor”- who better to help you get through this? Also, the more you learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the more it will help you to see that you were not the real problem, contrary to what you were told. You may need to go no contact for your healing to progress, or at the least go low contact. The more distance between you & your abusive parent, the better it is for your mental & physical health. You’ll gain clarity you can’t have when in their presence often. You also will stop functioning in survival mode, which will allow you to think of yourself for once rather than your parents.
The symptoms resulting from narcissistic abuse are nothing to take lightly. Take care of yourself. You deserve to be happy & healthy! xoxo
**DISCLAIMER: If, like many of my readers, you are in the unfortunate position of not being able to go no contact with your narcissistic parent, please do NOT think this article is aimed at you! It most certainly isn’t!! I’m sure many of you have been shamed enough & I am not trying to add to that shame by implying you’re weak or wrong or whatever for being in that position. Every situation is unique, & I won’t judge you. This post is aimed at those who have gone no contact, not you!**
Going no contact (or even low contact for that matter) with a narcissistic parent isn’t an easy thing to do. There is a tremendous amount of anger & grief at the abnormal, awful circumstances that bring a person to this decision. Then there is society & their warped views of no contact. Some people think you should cut someone out of your life (yes, even a parent) at the first sign of them disagreeing with you. At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who think you’re a horrible person if you even entertain the idea of ending a relationship with your parent, no matter what. Many of those people also think you’re weak for “taking the easy way out”. That is the point I want to address today.
If you’re in the painful place of having gone no contact with your narcissistic parent, my heart breaks for you. I know the pain of this first hand & would tell anyone who thinks it’s easy or cowardly that they are completely, absolutely, 1,000% WRONG.
First of all, a relationship with an abusive parent is incredibly painful. Parents are supposed to love their children unconditionally, & realizing that not only do they not love us but are out to hurt & control us hurts! Really, really freaking hurts! How can anyone continue to subject themselves to that indefinitely? Every person has their limits.
Secondly, even considering how painful it is having an abusive parent, children naturally don’t want to end that relationship. It feels unnatural to end that relationship. How can it not?! That’s your mother or father, not some casual acquaintance.
Third, thinking about going no contact isn’t some easy decision like where to go for dinner. It takes a lot of prayer, thought, time, weighing your options, imagining scenarios.. it’s incredibly draining just to think about, let alone do it.
Lastly, once you are no contact, that doesn’t mean things are going to be easy. Without that narcissistic parent in your life, your emotions that you stifled so long just to survive the toxic relationship are probably going to come to the surface & demand you deal with them. That’s never fun! I’m going through it myself & I can tell you, quite frankly, it’s really rough! (It’s good in the fact I’m finally able to deal with stuff left untouched in so long, but it’s not fun to go through the process). There’s also the distinct possibility your narcissistic parent will send the flying monkeys after you to “talk some sense” into you by attempting to make you feel guilty for going no contact. After all, that parent won’t be around forever yanno! She’s getting older, & she is your mother yanno! Flying monkeys are always fun to deal with. (yes, I’m being totally sarcastic in that comment). Even more fun is the chance your narcissistic parent will attempt to contact you personally. There’s nothing quite like going along with your day, in a good mood, when you open your mailbox & see that parent’s handwriting. So much for that good mood. You can block that parent from emailing, calling, texting or on social media, but you can’t block postal mail.
So if anyone reading this thinks no contact is the cowardly thing to do, the easy route, think again. It’s far from it! Going no contact is actually a very brave, incredibly difficult thing to do.
Proverbs 19:19 “A man of great anger will bear the penalty [for his quick temper and lack of self-control];
For if you rescue him [and do not let him learn from the consequences of his action], you will only have to rescue him over and over again.” (AMP)
Consequences are a valuable thing. They teach people what is & is not acceptable behavior, what is safe & not safe & more. Many children of narcissistic parents are not taught this in a healthy way, however.
Narcissistic parents teach their children to take care of them, instead of the natural order of things, the parent caring for the child. One way they expect their children to take care of them is to interrupt the natural event of consequences for their actions.
- If the narcissistic parent hurts the child’s feelings, the child is to hold the pain inside rather than tell the parent how she feels to protect the parent’s feelings.
- The child should never set boundaries of any sort with her parent, so the parent is free to abuse anytime, any way she is so inclined.
- Most of all, the child never, ever should tell anyone about what her parent does to her. That way, no one thinks badly of the parent or gets her in any trouble for child abuse.
As the child of a narcissistic parent grows up, they get fed up with such nonsense, & rightfully so. It’s not fair this abusive, evil parent skates through life unscathed while her child suffers constantly.
If you’re in this place, Dear Reader, I want you to know that you have ever right to stop protecting your parent from the consequences of their actions. It’s Biblical to allow consequences to happen- just reread the above mentioned Scripture again if you don’t believe that. You have every right to set healthy boundaries & to tell your parent that her actions are not acceptable to you. In fact, you even have the right to go no contact with your parent if you are so inclined. Titus 3:10 says, “After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him],” (AMP) Parents are not excluded from this Scripture, I believe, because God knows that sometimes, even a parent/child relationship comes down to needing that separation.
So Dear Reader, please don’t forget that your parent needs consequences for their actions. It is NOT your job to protect them from consequences. They need them if they are to have any chance of learning to behave better.
The most dreaded day for adult children of narcissistic mothers, Mother’s Day, is upon us.
What are you doing today, Dear Reader?
I hope you are taking some time to celebrate yourself. Whether you are a mom or not, you should be congratulating yourself.
If you’ve gone no contact with your mother, I know, today is especially hard. You should be proud of yourself though- you made possibly the most difficult decision a person can make. It’s incredibly hard to sever ties with your own mother, even when she is incredibly toxic, but you did it. That takes a lot of guts!
If you haven’t gone no contact, but instead maintain a relationship with your narcissistic mother, you too should be proud of yourself. It’s not an easy task finding a way to maintain your sanity with a narcissist, but you found a way that works. That is something to be proud of!
If you’re hurting too much to celebrate yourself, I understand that. Take time to grieve. Cry, pray, write in your journal. Having a toxic relationship with your mother is incredibly painful, & grieving it is totally normal. Maybe you need to take a day to grieve. The more you face your pain, the more you heal & the less painful it becomes.
I know this day is a very difficult, painful one, it is for me too, but you can make it through! xoxo
So many people are quick to defend abusive parents. They may say they did the best they could, or you should forgive & forget what they did to you since they were abused as children so they didn’t know any better. Others simply refuse to believe the abuse happened, accusing you of lying or exaggerating.
Why does this happen so often anyway?! I have some thoughts..
If you notice, people who came from truly loving, functional upbringings aren’t the ones doing this. They know what real, Godly love is, so this means they also know what it is not. When you tell them horror stories of the abuse you endured, they normally are shocked & horrified that a parent could treat their own child that way. Their parents never would have done such a thing to them, & they know that. They won’t make excuses for the abuse or try to normalize it. It’s wrong & they call it wrong. They offer you love & support because they know that is the right thing to do. They may not understand how you feel since they never endured such things, but even so, they empathize with you, & it hurts them you have been so mistreated. I have two friends that I’ve known since Kindergarten & first grade. One male, one female. Both were raised by loving mothers, she had a very kind wonderful father & the his father physically abused his mother. They have no personal experience with being abused narcissistic parents, yet they are very supportive & kind to me.
People who come from dysfunctional upbringings however act much differently. They are the ones who are quick to say, “But those are your parents! They won’t be around forever!” “I’m sure they did the best they could!” “They just don’t know any better!”
I can’t help but think this is because these people are triggered by your openness. You discussing your painful childhood makes them think of theirs, & they aren’t willing to face theirs at all. If they can shut you up, they can resume their denial of their own pain. For years, my husband thought I should try harder with my parents. Ignore their cruelty. He made excuses for what they did. At the same time, he was doing just that with his own abusive parents. It took him many years before he would say anything even remotely negative about his parents, let alone admit his parents were abusive.
Some people also may recognize their own behaviors when you describe the abuse you endured, & they don’t want to face that either. They may be abusing their child the same way you were abused, & don’t want to admit they are abusive or wrong. They like the control they have, & don’t want to lose it.
There are also others who can’t handle anything negative. These are the same people who expect every book & movie to have happy endings, & they want the same from real life. My mother is that way. She hates anything negative. These people don’t want to hear about your problems. They want to hear only about light, fluffy, happy topics, ignoring anything bad or negative. These people don’t seem to have good coping skills, so they avoid anything that is even mildly upsetting. You discussing your pain is upsetting, so they don’t want to hear about it. Unless you can share something light & happy with them, they don’t want you to talk about it with them.
Whatever the reason someone defends abusive parents, take it as a warning for you that this person is NOT safe to discuss your painful experiences with!
Have you ever noticed that almost no one says you are right to have problems with abusive family members? That it is OK to defend yourself to them? Instead, you are encouraged to “just let it go.” Or, excuses are made like, “Well, she’s getting old now…” or “You know how he is.”
Why do so many people think it is wrong to speak your mind & defend yourself when someone says cruel things to you?
I think it is because people do NOT want to leave their comfort zone. They would prefer you stuff your emotions (because that is oh so healthy..not) than make them uncomfortable by standing up for yourself.
Those of us who have been abused have been through more than enough suffering. It isn’t fair to expect us to go through more just to make someone else comfortable by not upsetting them.
When people tell you to “just let it go” or “don’t rock the boat”, ignore them! If you feel you need to speak up when your parent is cruel to you, then by all means, you have that right! There is nothing good, loving or honorable in “not rocking the boat.” People need to be accountable for their actions, like it or not. They need to know when they have said or done something that is inappropriate. Whether or not they change their behavior is not your responsibility, but at least by speaking up you have made them aware of the inappropriateness of their actions.
I have just published my newest book entitled, “The Truth About Elderly Narcissists”. It’s all about identifying their changing abusive behaviors, finding ways to cope with them while taking care of yourself, coping as a caregiver, as well as things to consider if you opt to go no contact.
This book is available in ebook & print formats on my website at:
Some time ago, I added a poll to my blog asking when my readers’ narcissists were born. Since it’s been over 3 years, & this blog has grown quite a bit since then, I thought I’d do the poll again.
I’d love to hear your responses. Please respond to my poll below. Your answers will remain anonymous. Thank you!
Learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an amazing thing. It gives you answers you’ve always wanted & shows you that you were lied to- not everything was your fault. It’s a wonderful thing in that way!
Yet at the same time, learning about NPD also means you grieve. You realize that your narcissistic parents never will be the kind, loving, caring parents you always wanted & hoped they would be. It destroys that hope that one day, they’d see the error of their ways & start treating you well. Thank God, grieving does get easier, but I’m not sure it ever goes away entirely.
In my experience, I’ve realized something else about the grief process. For me, it was easier to grieve when I learned my overtly narcissistic mother was a narcissist than when I learned my covertly narcissistic father was one. Her actions were so obviously wrong, that there was no denial she was that way. There was no questioning that she was out to hurt & control me. I knew that even before learning about NPD.
My father, however, was a different story.
My father always acted naive, even though he’s very intelligent. He can play the victim or pitiful card well, too. When I went to him with problems about my mother, he would act sad & tell me he couldn’t do anything to help me. It was hard on him knowing she was hurting me, he said. I ended up comforting him when he should’ve been comforting & protecting me. He’s also very subtle at his manipulations, so it’s easy to miss what his true motives are unless you’re very familiar with narcissism. For example, there were times when I didn’t answer his phone call or didn’t call him when he thought I should. He would tell other people he’s so worried about me- he doesn’t know why I haven’t called him in a while. If they talk to me would they mind have me call him? Sounds like a concerned father, doesn’t it? Yet, it’s about making me do what he wants, not concern or love for me.
Because my father is so good at being subtle (the opposite of my mother), it’s been really hard to accept that he’s a covert narcissist. I always thought of him as the good, loving parent. He never called me names, verbally tore me down, or screamed at me like my mother did, so he had to be the good parent. Or, so I told myself.
Besides, having two parents who don’t love you is a very painful thing to accept. No one wants to believe neither of their parents care about them. It’s easier to deny that the covertly narcissistic parent is that way. Their actions are so subtle anyway, it’s easy to miss their abuse, unlike overt narcissists. Compared to an overt narcissist parent, the covert seems like a tiptoe through the tulips. At least until you learn about covert narcissists & how diabolical they truly are, hiding behind the mask of the good parent.
If you’re having a tough time accepting that you have a covertly narcissistic parent, please don’t feel bad. It’s tough to accept! It really hurts & is very disappointing when you realize the one parent you thought loved you really didn’t.
You need to grieve & get your hurt out to come to a healthy place of acceptance. As you do, you may find yourself going through an angry phase. I have. Angry about being fooled, angry at being manipulated into thinking he was the good parent, angry about being manipulated & guilt tripped.. lots of anger. I think this is very normal. Covert narcissists work even harder than overts do to fool people. Most overts worry about fooling those they want to impress, while not caring about their victims. Coverts, however, want everyone to think they’re good people, including their victims. Since we do buy their “good guy/good girl” act, it’s incredibly maddening to find out how badly we were duped. So, when the anger surfaces, just know- it ain’t gonna be pretty, but it’s OK. Get it out however works for you- pray, journal, talk to someone safe.
The anger also may come back even when you think it’s all gone. Nothing wrong with that so long as you’re dealing with it when that happens. Anger isn’t always easy to process. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes, you’re only able to deal with it in small doses, so God hides some things from you until you’re able to cope. All you can do is deal with it in whatever ways help you the most.
Never forget, God will help you get through it all. Ask for help & wisdom on how to do what you need to do. Listen to what He tells you. Trust Him, & you will be just fine. xoxo
While I write in the hopes of helping those who are still in a relationship with their narcissistic parent(s), this doesn’t mean I am for staying in that relationship no matter what. I firmly believe everyone has the right to make their own individual choice on whether or not to stay in that relationship, & should not be pressured on what to do. People are different in what they can & can’t handle, plus narcissists are on a spectrum- some are downright dangerous while others are much lower on the spectrum, therefore easier to deal with. Each situation is very unique, so there are no one size fits all answers.
That being said…
Ending relationships is very difficult, but especially when the relationship is with your parent(s). It shouldn’t be done in the heat of the moment, such as during an argument. It should be done after a great deal of prayer & thought on the matter.
If you believe your physical & mental health is in danger, you are certainly well within your rights to sever ties with your parents.
Sometimes, people don’t feel ready to go no contact although they want to. Until they do feel strong enough, going low contact may be a very good option. You don’t have to spend a lot of time visiting or on the phone with your narcissistic parents. You have the right to limit your time with them. You may even learn that low contact works well enough for you.
Low contact is also a good solution when no contact is impossible for various reasons.
If you are unsure what to do, pray. God may ultimately leave the choice up to you, or He may tell you what is best to do in your situation. Either way, it is a very good idea to talk to Him about this important decision.
God also can help you to find creative ways to handle the relationship with your parents if you stay low contact or help you end it if you go no contact. And, He can enable you to be stronger than you are when you need to deal with them. You simply can’t lose with God helping you in this situation.
I’ve read so many times that narcissists never change, but I have to disagree with this.
Narcissists can change for the better, because with God, all things are possible. This is quite rare, but it’s certainly something to hope & pray for. (I believe in hoping for the best but preparing for the worst) It happened with my husband’s father- he improved so much. I don’t know why he changed, but it was wonderful. He was caring & kind to my husband instead of his usual behavior- critical, bossy & generally nasty. Unfortunately though, he later developed dementia, & returned to his old ways. (Dementia & Alzheimer’s can exacerbate narcissistic tendencies. Sadly, this is quite normal.) After his wife (a covert narcissist) died in 2016, he returned to his much better behavior.
More commonly though, narcissists do change as they get older, & they get much more devious & creative. They have to change because as they age, they have to use different tactics if they want to remain in control. In my teens, my mother was a very intimidating & imposing figure. When she screamed at me, as she did so very often, I was always afraid she’d physically hurt me. If she tried this today at age 77, I wouldn’t be so intimidated. How could I be? She is much older & frailer now. Screaming at me now wouldn’t have the desired effect, so she has changed her tactic from screaming to speaking in a soft tone & saying the most vicious things she can come up with.
Narcissists are smart- they know what will be the most effective way to accomplish something they want to accomplish. They are experts at reading people, as they have to be to figure out the best way to use them. They also are smart enough to realize what worked well for them when they were 35 most likely won’t work as well at 75, & they must adapt accordingly. Besides, their children aren’t as easily pushed around at 40 as they were at 10. They have to find new ways to manipulate them if they wish to continue using their children.
Many older narcissists also like to reminisce. They like to talk with you about the past. Often it’s the usual narcissistic rhetoric- bragging about their great accomplishments at work or the vast numbers of people they’ve helped. But, narcissistic parents also can do something very hurtful- brag about the amazing childhood you had. My mother has done this many times. She talks about all the great things she did for me when I was a child. Some things were simply a parent doing what she should for a child, & some things never happened at all. When this happens, it used to hurt me a great deal. She was invalidating & denying abusing me! Instead she made me look like a screw up who needed her. Finally though, God showed me something that has helped me tremendously. This behavior is a coping skill. Dysfunctional as it is, this is how my mother copes with the guilt she feels for being so abusive. Rather than take responsibility & apologize to me, she reinvents the past to make herself look like a good mother. She also even tries to get me to agree with her stories, in the hopes of convincing herself & I both that the stories really are true. Once God showed me this, it made perfect sense to me. I no longer was so hurt by her stories, because I knew they weren’t a personal attack (even though they may feel like it sometimes). I knew instead they were a dysfunctional coping skill. It is her right to use that skill if she wants. It’s also my right not to validate her stories if I am so inclined, & I never do validate them.
Just be forewarned, Dear Reader. As your narcissistic mother ages, she may not mellow out like many folks do. She may seem a bit easier to handle in her golden years because she isn’t screaming, but don’t be fooled- just because she isn’t screaming or physically abusive doesn’t mean she isn’t still capable of hurting you a great deal.
To Those Who Are New To Learning About Narcissistic Abuse- It’s OK, Even Necessary, To Talk About It!
When you grow up with narcissistic parents, the fear of divulging what they do to you is very real. Narcissistic parents don’t always use threats- they don’t need to. They have a certain look that can instill sheer terror into their child. That fear often stays with the child into adulthood. This benefits the narcissistic parent, because she knows her secret is safe. However, it hurts the child.
Not talking about the narcissistic abuse you endured can cause many health problems, such as ulcers, high blood pressure or digestive problems. It affects your mental health too. Depression, anxiety, PTSD & C-PTSD are very common, even under the best of circumstances- a good therapist & caring support system. Without those things, depression, anxiety, PTSD or C-PTSD are pretty much a given.
You need to talk about your experiences! I’m not saying you need to publish books or write a blog like me, unless you feel that is the direction God is leading you, but you do need to talk for the sake of your physical & mental health.
I know talking about your experiences can be a scary prospect. It also can feel like you’re being disloyal. That is not true, however. Telling the truth isn’t being disloyal.
Guilt happens too. I think it’s pretty much impossible not to feel guilty at first. You’re talking about something you were told your entire life you shouldn’t talk about, after all. My mother used to tell me not to “air our dirty laundry.” It took me a long time to realize it wasn’t “our” dirty laundry I was airing, it was hers.
If you’re considering talking about the things that have happened to you, please know that it’s OK to talk about it. If you don’t feel up to talking, how about writing in a journal at first? Writing is very therapeutic- there is something validating in seeing your experiences written out. Also, if you take precautions, no one will see what you write, so you can feel free to let it all out. I love http://www.my-diary.org, as it is a password protected, private online diary.
If you aren’t comfortable talking to another person, why not pray? God is a great listener, & will comfort you like no one else can. You can be completely open with Him without fear of judgment or criticism- it’s very freeing.
If you opt to try therapy, be sure you find a therapist who understands narcissistic abuse. Not all therapists do, so it may take trying a few before you find one you’re comfortable with.
And, if you opt to talk about your experiences with those closest to you, use wisdom with deciding who to open up to. If you share a person with the narcissistic parent who abused you, they may not want to hear about your experiences. They may be very fond of the narcissist, ¬ want to hear anything bad about her. They may not believe you. It is better to find someone to talk to who isn’t close to the narcissist, such as a friend of yours who doesn’t know your parent(s) well. You also need to speak with someone who is caring, supportive, objective & close to God. You need someone who is honest enough to tell you the truth, but caring enough not to be brutal & painful with it. If this person also gets mad for you about what you have experienced, that helps too. I had a friend who in many ways was like a mother to me. She was a very special lady, always had a ready smile & some encouragement. But, when I told her some of the things my parents did to me, she would get angry on my behalf. If this good, Christian lady who was utterly patient & held no bad feelings towards anyone was getting mad, it must be really bad. Her anger helped to validate my pain.
Talking about the painful experiences you endured will help you to heal. It will get the toxicity out of you, preventing further damage to your physical & mental health. It also will help you to keep the blame on the abuser instead of on yourself, which is a battle for many victims of narcissistic abuse. So please, open yourself up to talking about your experiences. You deserve the freedom it brings you. xoxo
Many people have a very skewed view of what it truly means to honor someone, especially their parents. They’ll throw around “honor thy mother & father” while conveniently forgetting the Scriptures directed at parents (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21). They falsely believe that honoring parents means you have to sacrifice yourself or your principles. You must do what they want, no matter what it costs you, or else you aren’t honoring your parents.
Honor isn’t always what people think it is. http://www.merriam-webster.com defines honor as follows: “a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder>” I interpret this to mean basic things like treating a person with basic respect. Using manners, being considerate of them, disagreeing respectfully rather than cussing them out, & the like. Nowhere in this definition does it sound to me like honoring someone means you must cater to their every whim.
Spoiling someone by giving them everything they want or doing everything for them isn’t honorable. It teaches the person nothing at all. It doesn’t help them to learn & grow, which is NOT good for a person. In fact, many people believe some narcissistic adults were once spoiled children. They became entitled, selfish adults by having all of their whims catered to.
Allowing someone to control you isn’t honorable either. All that does is teach a person how to be manipulative, entitled & bossy. There is no honor in that!
Tolerating abuse is certainly not honorable. It encourages awful behavior while hurting you. How could that possibly be an honorable thing?
People need to have boundaries & consequences for their actions. Such things are honorable, especially when done in a respectful way. There are ways to state things in a respectful manner, such as stating in a calm but firm tone, “I’m not going to discuss this with you. If you keep talking about it, I’ll hang up this phone. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about? No? OK, good bye.” *hangs up phone* That is just one example of being respectful while setting boundaries & giving consequences.
In 2002, I stopped speaking to my mother for several years. Coming to that decision wasn’t easy at all for me. I knew I needed to do it to heal, but I believed it wasn’t honorable. I struggled with this decision & prayed a lot. One day, I told God how conflicted I felt. He spoke to my heart so clearly & said, “Where is the honor in the fact your very presence stirs up strife with your mother?” It made sense to me. Being with my mother meant she acted up. She verbally abused me. She insulted every tiny thing about me & those I cared about. She bossed me around like I was the hired help & not her daughter. There was NO honor in that. Going no contact at that time was the most honorable thing I could do. It enabled me to have time to myself to heal, & it put an end to much of her horrible behavior since she doesn’t treat anyone else like she does me. It also showed her that I was done tolerating her abuse. If she chose to abuse me she would have consequences for doing so, like me leaving her life. In situations like this, even going no contact with an abusive parent can be the most honorable thing you can do.
If you struggle with honoring your abusive parent, I would encourage you to pray, Dear Reader. Ask God to show you the truth on this matter. He will, as He has done for me. You will rest much easier when you know the real truth about what it means to honor your parent.
Narcissists have incredibly dysfunctional coping skills. Unfortunately this means that their pain can overflow onto those around them.
When my mother was still speaking to me, for about 2 years or so, she kept telling me what a great mother she was to me. She bragged about forcing me to stand up to a bully in seventh grade (she didn’t), taking me to the doctor when I sprained my foot in ninth grade (as she should have) & other ridiculous things. She also wanted me to validate her delusions, agreeing with how great a mother she was to me.
In talking with others who have a narcissistic parent or two, I have learned this behavior is very common. It’s also very painful.
For me, this used to make me so incredibly angry. How dare she want me to enforce her delusions & pretend I was never abused! I felt invalidated, as if she was pretending the abuse she put me through never happened.
God showed me something though. My mother doesn’t have any healthy coping skills, so this is what she does. She knows what she did to me is wrong, but rather than admit that, she goes into denial. She wants to convince herself she was a great mother, even going as far as to try to force me to agree with her.
As ridiculous & dysfunctional as this is, it is her choice & her right. There is no law against having dysfunctional coping skills. That being said, that choice can be respected while not reinforced.
There is no good reason to reinforce such delusions. It only allows the person to continue in their dysfunction while invalidating your own painful experiences. When approached by a narcissistic parent in this situation, I have found it best to remain as neutral & quiet as possible or to change the subject.
Also never forget- this is the narcissist’s coping skill. It has nothing to do with you even though it feels like it does. It just shows how dysfunctional she is. Remembering that helps you not to take the comments so personally & to put the responsibility right back onto the narcissist. This is all about her dysfunction & lack of coping skills- all the responsibility & baggage belongs squarely on her shoulders, period, so leave it there! Don’t take it on yourself- you deserve so much better than to carry her issues & shame.
I believe picking your battles with a narcissist is among the most challenging thing a person can do when in a relationship with a narcissist. They need to know their behavior is unacceptable, yet when confronted, the person doing the confronting often ends up frustrated & even more hurt than they were after the original event that made them think they should confront the narcissist.
Second only to deciding when to confront a narcissist is how to confront them once you decided to do it. Narcissists love to play the victim & also to twist a situation around so you’re the bad guy. It can feel impossible to know the best way to go about this incredibly difficult situation.
I firmly believe in staying calm & sticking to the facts. Force the conversation to stay on topic, otherwise the narcissist will steer you completely off topic, & most likely onto what they think is wrong with you. They may provoke you into getting so caught up in defending yourself, you forget what the original topic of the conversation was supposed to be.
There is one thing that I have found to be even more important though, & that is prayer. Before talking to a narcissist, pray. If they are calling, quickly ask God should you take the call or let it ring. If you feel you should take the call, ask Him to help you through the conversation. He truly will not let you down!! And, it may be in a different way than you expect, but it will be the best way possible.
Last May just after my mother in-law died, I didn’t tell my parents. I realized they’d see her obituary in the local newspaper. I expected them to call me, & say how sad it was, she was a great woman, blah blah… things I did NOT want to hear about the woman who hated me & treated me like dirt for the first 8 years of my husband’s & my relationship. When my parents called a few days after she died, I knew the call wasn’t going to be pleasant. I also knew I might as well take the call because if I didn’t, they’d call back constantly until I answered since that’s what they do & they’d think this was an important topic. I also asked God to help me have the right words to say. My parents shocked me by saying they wanted to attend the funeral, & were upset they didn’t even know she passed until they saw her obituary. Wasn’t expecting that! It immediately angered me, especially when my parents acted like something was wrong with me for being angry. I ended up yelling at both of my parents, even using some bad language which are all not my normal behaviors with them.
Once I hung up the phone, I told God how sorry I was- I don’t even know what happened to me, why I reacted that way. It’s not like this was the first time my folks cared more about someone who has hurt me than me. God spoke to my heart & said this is exactly what they needed. They needed to know that they hurt me so badly, that I would act that way, so out of character. He answered my prayer- He gave me the right words for the situation at hand- just not in the way I expected.
In the months that have passed, I realized God wanted my parents out of my life, & this was a way to do it. They have cut ties with me, so I can’t be accused of going no contact with them. Anyone who hears about this situation has to see the ridiculousness of it. My parents cared more about someone they saw twice in the 22 years my husband & I have been together, than me, their own daughter. It’s only logical I’d have been upset by that. Not even the most devoted flying monkeys can justify their incredibly hurtful behavior, which is probably why I haven’t heard from any of them.
My point (finally) is that praying before confronting a narcissist is absolutely vital to dealing with them. If I wouldn’t have prayed before talking to my parents last May, I have no doubt our relationship would be as it always was. Extremely painful for me. As it is though, I’m much happier than I’ve been in a long time, in spite of grieving the loss (dysfunctional or not, losing your parents is still a loss that needs to be grieved). It’s amazing the power of prayer. James 5:16 states in the last half of the verse, “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. ” (MSG) That is so true! Utilize that power & God will help you in ways you never imagined, even when it comes to something so complicated as dealing with a narcissistic parent!
Another control tactic narcissists use is by ignoring their victim. Whether it is pretending the person didn’t say anything or the narcissist didn’t hear the person (when they obviously did) or the silent treatment, ignoring a victim is about control.
Being ignored may not sound very effective, but it can be surprisingly so. It communicates the message that the person being ignored is so awful, they don’t even deserve to be acknowledged. This message can be absolutely devastating, especially when done repeatedly.
It also makes the person being ignored work harder, trying to get the ignoring person’s attention. The person feels they must make it up to the ignoring person. Make what up? They rarely know, but they know they have done something so horrible, it made the ignoring person not want to speak to them.
If the narcissist in question has hearing problems, she may use it to help her ignore you. She may have what I refer to as selective hearing. If you say something she doesn’t like, she may act like she doesn’t hear you.
My narcissistic mother has ignored me more times than I can count. She has hearing problems, & uses it to play innocent claiming she didn’t hear me say something. Yet, I’ve tested her hearing. If we’re discussing something & she isn’t happy with what I’m saying, she without fail says, “What’s that Honey? I can’t hear you..” until I’m practically screaming. If the conversation is normal, I can practically whisper & she hears me fine. She also gives me the silent treatment on a regular basis.
Thanks to her ridiculous behavior, I have had to learn healthy ways to cope.
My mother started using the silent treatment with me sometime in my childhood. I don’t remember when exactly, but I remember her using it most often when her abuse was at its peak in my late teens. It used to upset me terribly! I would beg her to tell me what I did that was so bad, & she would respond with, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!” *sigh* I finally had a revelation. If she wouldn’t talk to me like the grown up she was, then whatever I supposedly did couldn’t be so bad. Or, if she wouldn’t tell me, then chances are it was because she didn’t have a leg to stand on- I probably didn’t do anything bad at all. Instead, she was trying to get me to work hard to earn her love back. This knowledge was very helpful for me. I no longer felt the need to work hard to earn her love. I have come to appreciate the silent treatment. I now think of it as a break from the drama & head games my narcissistic mother loves to play.
When she ignores me or uses her selective hearing, I involve my father or whoever else is there. As typical with narcissists, my mother does NOT want to look bad in front of others, so this works to my advantage. If she ignores me, I give my father a look of frustration or ask him to get her attention since she’s ignoring me. Then, he will call my mother by her name & mention me saying something, which forces her to acknowledge me. Once I have her full attention, I can repeat what I was saying. Of course, this works well when someone else is there only, which is another argument for not being alone with a narcissist. Having witnesses can be a very helpful thing, plus the narcissist usually behaves better when there are people around to impress.
I also remind myself whether she is simply ignoring me or giving me the full blown silent treatment that she isn’t doing this because of me. She is doing it because there is something wrong with her. Mature, normal, healthy people don’t treat other people this way. They discuss issues & work things out.
I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me, Dear Reader!