Tag Archives: mother
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!
Exodus 20:12 “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee….” (KJV)
So many people in the Christian community are quick to remind those of us with abusive parents of the above Scripture. These people believe that we should treat abusive parents well, doing their bidding no matter how cruelly they treat us, & that is precisely the definition of honoring our parents.
In my mind though, that doesn’t sound remotely like the God I know at all!
To honor someone means you give them respect befitting their position. Your parents gave you life, so they deserve thanks for that. (thanks, not worship!) They deserve to be spoken to with basic respect, such as not cussing them out when you’re upset with them.
If you’re blessed with loving, Godly parents, go all out- love them however you see fit. Spend time with them, give them gifts, & let them know you appreciate them.
However, if you’re like most of my readers & I, & aren’t blessed with such parents, that type of honoring behavior probably feels wrong to you. It surely does me! I had to decide on my own with God what honoring my abusive, narcissistic parents felt like.
For me, to honor my parents first & foremost means praying for them. Not always easy, I freely admit that. But, God wants us to pray for our enemies, & sadly, I think my parents fit into that category. (They don’t love me- they only love what I can do for them. They regularly try to hurt, control & manipulate me.) I have an alarm set on my cell to remind me every morning to pray for my parents, other enemies, my friends, family & readers. Praying for them as well as everyone else has become much easier since I’ve been doing it daily for a few months now.
Honoring them also does not include tolerating abuse. If you study what God means by love in the Bible, you’ll see that one thing it basically means wanting the best for others. Allowing someone to be abusive isn’t wanting the best for them. Setting & enforcing good boundaries encourages them to behave right. Granted, it doesn’t always work with narcissists, but at least doing so is a loving & honorable thing to do.
Sometimes setting some distance between or even going no contact with your parents can be honorable. I was no contact with my mother for 6 years. God had been dealing with me for a while about making the step, but I thought that couldn’t be God! I asked Him one day if that was Him, because going no contact seemed so dishonorable to me. His response was among the clearest responses I’ve ever heard from Him. He said, “Where is the honor in the fact that your very presence stirs up strife with your mother? How is that honorable?” That along with some especially horrible things she did to me at the time gave me the courage to end contact with my mother.
As for more specifics, such as do you help out your elderly, abusive parent, that I believe is a decision only you can make. Ask God what you should do. I did this since my parents are now in their late 70’s. I asked if He wanted me to help them. God told me to do as I feel I am able to do, physically as well as emotionally. Due to physical & mental health limitations, it isn’t a lot, & that is fine. God understands! He also understands if I opt to do nothing to help them. My parents may not, but yanno something? I answer to God, not them. Let Him guide you as to what is best in your individual situation. He won’t lead you wrong!
Although I didn’t write a specific Mother’s Day post this year, I was thinking of everyone & praying for you. I hope the day was a good one for all of you, in spite of your narcissistic mother!
I found some humor in the day. The IFC channel showed “Mommie Dearest” over & over all day long.. guessing someone who thought of this has a bad or narcissistic mom.
I noticed my stats for this blog, & as usual, lots of people read my posts on the day. It’s really sad, isn’t it? So many people suffer on what should be a lovely day.
It’s hard to know what to do on Mother’s Day when you have a narcissistic mother, isn’t it? I’ve done many things, such as spend time with my furkids, go out to lunch with hubby, feel sad that my mother & I have such a lousy relationship, watch horror movies & yes, even watch “Mommie Dearest” today. As a child, I spent the day with my mother, made her cards & other little gifts.
I think what is important is to do whatever feels right to you. Some may feel the need to grieve their bad relationship with their narcissistic mother on Mother’s Day while others prefer to focus on doing something fun with their own children. Some celebrate the ladies in their lives who have been good role models for them, others choose to ignore the day completely.
I really don’t see anything wrong with any of those options. You need to do what you feel in your heart is right for you. Coping with the pain of having a narcissistic mother isn’t easy. There is no one size fits all solution, either. Do what feels right to you, that gives you comfort, & ignore what anyone else has to say. Self care is vital to your mental health, especially on one of the hardest days of the year.
Many adult daughters of narcissistic mothers I’ve spoken to say something like, “My mother was terrible, but my dad was a great guy” or, “He was the perfect dad- I couldn’t have asked for better.” They also say things like he didn’t stop Mom from abusing them. It wasn’t his fault though – he traveled for work, worked long hours, she was awful to him too or she was in charge. The roles also can be reversed with narcissistic fathers where the adult children say their mother was a great mom, she couldn’t stop him, but it wasn’t her fault, etc.
They fail to realize that both of their parents were narcissists.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all people who marry narcissists are bad people or are narcissists!! However, many times when a narcissist gets married, it’s to another narcissist.
Narcissists come in two forms – overt & covert. Most familiar are the overt narcissists, since they are the bold type. They are loud, boisterous & cocky. They demand to be the center of attention at all costs, even if it means making them look ridiculous. Covert narcissists are much harder to spot. They tend to fade into the background, look innocent, naive, generous even to the point of martyrdom. If someone is upset in their presence, they claim innocence & turn the situation around to where they are not only innocent but the real victim. Often they expect their adult children to cater to them, even after that child has a spouse & family.
Many times, an overt narcissist & a covert narcissist will get married & have children. This situation is a nightmare for the children.
When you grow up with two narcissistic parents, it is incredibly difficult to accept the fact. Accepting that one parents is a narcissist is bad enough, but both?! That is just too much. Besides, growing up with an overtly narcissistic parent, a child is so starved for love, she often can’t accept that neither parent genuinely love her. So instead, many people accept that the overtly narcissistic parent is a narcissist, & put the other parent on a pedestal. This isn’t healthy!
Being in that situation, you naturally will be closer to the “good” parent than the narcissistic one. The overt narcissist will take this as you & the other parent being against her, often taking the rage she feels out on the child, & the covert narcissist will gain narcissistic supply from your attention.
This situation also sets the stage for emotional incest, a psychologically abusive & damaging situation where the child is responsible for the parent’s emotional well being instead of the other way around. It leads to a great deal of stress & anxiety, guilt, an overdeveloped sense of responsibility & more in the child, even into adulthood.
Covert narcissists are extremely good at creating an emotionally incestuous situation with their child. They come across as needing protection, & often their children feel it is their job to protect them, even protecting them from their other, overtly narcissistic parent. That creates more friction between the child & the overtly narcissistic parent, especially when the child intervenes in their problems. Sometimes the overtly narcissistic parent responds by creating their own emotionally incestuous relationship with the child, & the child is stuck in the middle. This is how it was for me as a child, & my parents still do this to this day. I have to set boundaries by changing the subject or suddenly saying I have to go or hang up the phone to put a stop to it. Even as an adult, it’s still extremely stressful, & has triggered some flashbacks.
When you see that your “good” parent isn’t as good as you thought, it helps you to stop the covertly incestuous situation with him. You see it for the unhealthy relationship it is & learn to set healthy boundaries. You also take that parent off the pedestal & see him in a more realistic light. You accept that you are not responsible for catering to any & every need that parent has especially at the expense of your emotional or physical health, finances or your immediate family. You can relate in a healthier way with that parent, even if he doesn’t like your new boundaries. You no longer fall for the subtle guilt trips & manipulations, possibly even noticing them for the first time.
Although this realization is very good for you, it isn’t easy. I started to get very angry with my father when I realized he wasn’t the great dad I always thought he was. I began to see he had no trouble throwing me under the bus to my mother if it meant he was protecting himself. He has lied to her about me a few times, & she got mad at me for what he said. I also realized he uses me to dump on when he’s angry with my mother, which really makes me feel stuck in the middle. He also wants my comfort, even if I’m having a problem. For example, when my husband’s job eliminated his position a few years back, he said he was scared. How would we keep our home? What would we do if we lost the house? Where was he going to find another job? This is bad & upsetting him! Upsetting him?! He wanted me to reassure him that we’d be ok, when I wasn’t sure if we would be or not. This really added a lot to my anxiety at first, then made me angry. I realized I was the one in need of comfort yet he demanded it from me – how dare he?!
Those revelations made me VERY angry & hurt. It took a long time to process my feelings, but it did happen in time. It took me writing a lot out in my journal, complaining to God about how unfair it was & sometimes talking to understanding friends. Realizing how my father was also showed me how many people have no idea how he can be towards me. They buy his act of innocence & naivete, & accept nothing else. I realized I have to be careful who I talk to about our relationship because some people will get angry with me for not “being more patient” with him. After all, he needs me! He’s married to my mother & needs someone to support him. I’m his daughter so it’s up to me to take care of him, I’ve been told.
This type of situation could easily happen to you too. If you too have come to realize that your “good” parent is a covert narcissist, then by all means, be careful who you discuss the topic with! When this discovery is new, you feel very sensitive & emotionally raw. People who don’t believe you or shame you for exaggerating, lying, etc. will hurt you more than normal when you are in that sensitive state. Make sure to share your feelings only with non-judgmental, supportive people. Maybe even someone who has been through a similar situation.
Even being careful, you may be invalidated or shamed as I have been by those you trusted. If that is the case, I’m so sorry. It’s very painful, I know, to be invalidated, but especially when it comes from someone you didn’t expect to behave that way.
Being invalidated on this topic also may make you doubt your judgement. You may wonder if you’re being too harsh or judgmental. After all, since you learned about narcissism, you feel like you see it everywhere. Maybe you’re reading too much into things. When you feel this way, talk to God. Ask Him to tell you the truth! He truly will! And when He does, stand strong in that truth! Don’t let others make you doubt!
Also ask God what you need to do in this situation. Now that you know just how dysfunctional it is, you’re going to need to respond differently to that covertly narcissistic parent. Naturally, you’re going to need to set & enforce good boundaries, but since each narcissist is an individual, what works for one may not work for another. God can give you creative & effective ideas. All you have to do is ask & listen.
As painful a time as this is for you, it truly is for your best interest to learn this information. Continuing in the dysfunction only will make you miserable. Use this painful situation as an opportunity to learn & grow. Be gentle & understanding with yourself. Don’t get mad at yourself for slipping into old, dysfunctional patterns, but instead understand this happens sometimes. Remember it so you don’t do that again, & go on. Vent your feelings as you need to in a safe way, whether to God, a trusted friend or in your journal. Don’t bottle them up as it will only hurt you to do so. Most of all, trust God to help you get through this painful time.
Mother’s Day is fast approaching. It is possibly the least favorite day of the year for children of narcissistic parents. It’s so hard to find just the right card- something nice, but not too nice as you can’t stand giving her a card thanking her for always being there for you, for her unfailing love, etc. Then there is the gift- should you get her something? If so, what? Chances are she won’t like what you give her anyway, so is a gift even worth it? And, we can’t forget the messages everywhere- on facebook, in stores, online- that say “Don’t forget your mother this Mother’s Day!” (as if we could forget her?!), “She’s always been there for you- give her *fill in the blank* for Mother’s Day!” & other such messages about how great Mom really is. There are also friends & family who tell you that you should do something nice for your mother on Mother’s Day. After all, if it weren’t for her, you wouldn’t be here! She did the best she could! She’s your MOTHER!!! Can’t you just give her this one day?!
Mother’s day pretty much sucks for us who have narcissistic mothers.
If you too are dreading tomorrow, just know that you’re not alone! Many others share your feelings of this disturbing day.
I would like to encourage you to take care of yourself as best you can. Do what you feel you need to regarding your mother. Give her a simple card &/or gift, or do nothing for her- whatever you feel in your heart is the right thing to do. If you aren’t sure, pray. God will guide you as to what is the best way to handle this. Once you have done what you need to do for your mother, then let go of thinking about the day & take care of yourself. If you have children, celebrate with them. If not, enjoy your day however you see fit- go to a spa, buy the new book you’ve been wanting, spend the day at a museum. Do something that you enjoy & that doesn’t involve anything to do with your narcissistic mother.
This may sound disrespectful to you, especially if you are new to learning about narcissism, but rest assured, it’s not. Remember, people reap what they sow. Reaping & sowing a law of the universe- if you plant cantaloupe seeds, you get a harvest of cantaloupe, right? It’s the same thing with behavior. If you kick a dog every time every time he comes near you, he learns to run the other way when he sees you coming. Adult children of narcissistic parents eventually behave much like that kicked dog- we eventually don’t want to spend time with our parents & will go to great lengths to avoid it. It’s often not even a deliberate decision- it just seems to happen because we’re tired of the cruelty. That is your narcissistic mother reaping what she has sown.
So I encourage you- enjoy Mother’s Day your way, guilt-free! What can you do to make it a good day for you?
Boundaries are a very necessary part of life. Having them means you are free of the need to please others or take care of things that should be another person’s problem. They are especially helpful for those of us raised by narcissistic parents since we grew up with very vague or even non-existent boundaries.
Even after you’ve learned about having healthy boundaries, & put what you learned into practice, sometimes it can be hard to maintain those boundaries though, especially with narcissistic parents.
I spoke to my mother yesterday. She mentioned how she & my father rearranged the living room furniture. Knowing her, this means she told him what to move & where to put it. And, knowing him, this means he blindly obeyed her. Normally, I figure if he’s willing to obey her & not stand up for himself, that’s his problem. However, this time it bothers me. He is now 77 years old, & had back surgery just before last Christmas. he should NOT be doing things like this!! But, this isn’t a first. Part of the reason he needed the back surgery in the first place was lifting something very heavy he shouldn’t have been lifting, only because my mother wanted it moved. Why they didn’t ask my husband or I for help, I don’t know…
Times like this can be very difficult for the adult child of narcissistic parents. Old habits tend to want to kick in & you want to fix things or take care of the parent that is being pushed around. However, this is NOT a good idea at all. Fixing things simply enables the dysfunction to go on while drawing you into the middle of it. Chances are it will go on no matter what, so why put yourself in the situation?
I know it’s hard, but remember- it is that parent’s choice to do what he/she is told to do or not. That parent is most likely trying to avoid a narcissistic rage by doing whatever they are doing. While this is understandable to a degree, it’s still not good. Yet, it’s still his/her decision to obey rather than take a chance on standing up to their narcissistic spouse & maybe ending the control.
It is NOT your place to rescue him/her! Your parent is an adult, & needs to take care of his or herself, just like all adults do. Everyone’s actions & choices are their own responsibility, & each person needs to reap the consequences of them, good or bad. Do not allow your parent to draw you into the position of standing up for him/her to the other parent!
Often, the parent needing rescuing is a covert narcissist. Does this parent portray him or herself as a martyr or at least as someone innocent in all of the problems in his/her relationships? Does he/she come across very naive, innocent & in need of frequent rescuing? Here is a link that explains some of the differences between over & covert narcissists: Overt vs Covert Narcissists
Do you really want to get drawn into that dysfunction? No, you don’t. If you’re having trouble with not getting involved, remember how it has hurt you when you’ve been in this type of situation before. Remember how hurt you were, how badly you were treated. I’ve had to do this myself since I’ve been in the situation many times. It’s a horrible position to be in. It makes you feel used, angry, resentful & hurt at how quickly you’re discarded once the problem is solved.
Remember, you deserve better than to be treated as a “fixer.” Most narcissistic families have a “fixer,” someone who is the one who is supposed to fix everything. To the narcissists, the fixer is nothing more than a tool to be used, taken out when needed, then put back on the shelf. Don’t you believe you deserved to be treated better than a hammer, screwdriver or flashlight?
This type of behavior is a part of emotional incest. Emotional incest, covert incest or parentalizing are all terms used to describe the same abusive behavior. When I child is put in a position of an equal or a partner to the parent, that is emotional incest. Being expected to listen to a parent complain about a loveless marriage or sex life, talk to another person (usually the other parent) on the parent’s behalf or providing emotional support to the parent instead of the parent getting it from their partner, friend or family member are all examples of emotional incest. While this may not sound so bad, its effects can truly be devastating to the child. She grows up feeling overly responsible for other people, often becoming involved in co-dependent or abusive relationships. She grows up very anxious, depressed & constantly feeling guilty. You do NOT deserve to be abused like this! Put a stop to it immediately! Refuse to listen if one parent complains to you about the other or to get involved in their arguments. Emotional incest is detrimental to your mental health, & you need to protect yourself from it! You deserve that!
Aging narcissistic parents are a very disturbing group of people. While most people mellow out as they age, narcissists often get more vicious. Not easy to deal with for their adult children!
As I write this, I’m waiting for my husband to come home. He’s at the hospital visiting his mother who was admitted today.
Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t go into much detail, so please bear with me a bit. Both my mother in-law & father in-law are narcissistic, her covert & him overt. As they are getting older & their health is failing them, they are making more demands on my husband. Also, he is facing the truth about them & how he’s been abused by them for the first time. It’s not an easy time for him. I’m very concerned how this situation is going to play out for him, & how he is going to deal with his own feelings.
I’m also a bit nervous about how I’m going to deal with my own feelings as well. You see, there were countless times I considered divorcing him earlier in our marriage because of the abuse his mother put me through & his failure to acknowledge it at the time. Honestly, sometimes I still get angry when I remember those dark days.
I’m sure there are others in similar situations, as many of us with narcissistic parents marry someone who also has at least one narcissistic parent. I’m writing about this to share what God has been showing me about how to cope.
Pray. About what? Whatever comes to mind regarding the situation. Personally, I’ve been praying for my mother in-law’s salvation (I’m unsure if she’s a Christian- I don’t believe she is), asking God to give my husband strength, wisdom & anything else he needs right now, & asking God to help me release my old anger at him. Prayers like this can truly help you as well as the recipients of your prayers! I admit, it isn’t easy to pray for my mother in-law, so sometimes I ask close friends to pray for her. It helps me know she’s getting prayer, plus I don’t have to do it at that time- I can do it later when I feel able to do so.
Distractions. I’m hoping to distract hubby when he gets home with a funny video that we love. We’re big fans of the old TV show, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” with its fun, warped humor, & since it always makes us laugh, I think watching an old episode could do us both some good. After all, it’s unhealthy to focus on the more serious issues in life 24/7. The brain needs a break sometimes!
Nice gestures. A little sweet, thoughtful gesture can go a long way when someone is going through hard times. Hubby will be greeted with raspberry herbal tea (we both love it) when he gets home. I’ll come up with other gestures once I gauge the kind of mood he’s in. Sometimes, he isn’t in the mood for interaction- he just wants to be left alone.
Listening. Before I start the movie, I’ll see if he wants to talk. Often when his mother is in the hospital, he comes home very frazzled. The hospital staff at this particular hospital isn’t the best (as I learned when my father was there last December), his parents are demanding & his sisters want constant updates until they come into town. It can be a lot for him to deal with.
One of my readers made an interesting point. She read my post about The Silent Treatment that I wrote a couple of days ago, & mentioned how she gives her mother what she calls the silent treatment. Hers is a bit different than her narcissistic mother’s silent treatment- she doesn’t try to punish her narcissistic mother with it (as narcissists do). Instead she only speaks to her mother on her terms (when she is able to talk with her), & is very careful with the limited information she shares. This is also what Dr. Karyl McBride, author of “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?” calls the civil connection.
I’ve done this with my mother & mother in-law. Both are narcissists, my mother being the overt type, mother in-law the covert. Both have responded very differently to it. My mother used to get very frustrated, but it didn’t take her long to get to the point where she gives up quickly on me. I’m more stubborn than her, & she knows that, so I assume she realizes there’s no point in trying to get something “juicy” from me once I’ve made up my mind not to give anything up. My mother in-law, however, was a different story. She would become visibly flustered, & try any tactic she could to force me to talk. It became just plain funny to me after a while! Watching her get angrier & angrier, yet unable to say or do anything about it for fear of looking bad, became very entertaining to me.
Have you tried this with your narcissistic mother? If not, you have to try it!! If nothing else, it’ll amuse you!
I like to give one word (or close to it) answers. For example…
Mother: “How are you?”
Mother: “What have you been up to lately?”
Me: “Not much.” (she already thinks I’m lazy, so she’ll believe I haven’t done much)
See how that works? It’s really easy.
Chances are, your narcissistic mother will start to push for more information from you when you give her such curt responses. She will hint around, trying to get you to talk, as she won’t ask outright for fear of looking unreasonable, bad, or whatever. Refuse to respond! Ignore the hints. I’m telling you, it will fluster her, & if you’re lucky, she’ll give up trying to get news from you.
Once, I had a doctor’s appointment on a day when my mother in-law thought I should do something for her (which is amazing in itself- she’s hated me from the day we met, so why would she think I would be willing to help her in any way?!). I told her I couldn’t do it- I had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon. I should have said “prior obligation” instead of admitting what I was doing, but it slipped out. It turned out to be hilarious for me though! She said things like, “Well, if you’re seeing the doctor, it must be serious. I understand why you can’t do this for me…” (I simply said “Thanks” in response), “If you can’t reschedule it, that isn’t a good sign. I’m so worried about you!” (yea, right! She didn’t care- she just wanted information, so I simply told her I was fine.), “Why are you seeing the doctor?” (the only direct question she asked, & I ignored her question, as I was listening to my husband & his father talk- I pretended I didn’t hear her over them), or “I guess you can’t do this for me since you HAVE to see the doctor on that day & no other…I don’t understand why it has to be THAT day..” (to which I responded with, “Nope, I can’t do it.”) By the time my husband & I left her home shortly after, I was surprised her head didn’t explode! I barely made it to the car before I started laughing!
If you haven’t tried this type of interaction with your narcissistic mother, please consider doing so! Not only will it entertain you, it will give her less opportunities to hurt you. You will speak to her only as you are able to do so, & by limiting your conversation as well as your exposure to her, you will give her less to criticize about you. It really will make your interactions with her much easier for you! Also, it’s not disrespectful, so if you are concerned about not honoring your mother, as many Christian daughters of narcissistic mothers are, please don’t worry!
Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
The last few weeks, I’ve been feeling led to focus on helping those with narcissistic mothers who are either unable or unwilling to go no contact with them. There are many in this position, & there is very little information out there for these people. I hope this post will encourage you!
My mother called last night, & hubby & I are going to lunch tomorrow with my folks (my father’s birthday is Monday, hubby is off tomorrow, so I thought this could work). Unfortunately, I learned quickly during the call that my mother’s niceness has ended for now. She was very nasty during the conversation last night, talking quite a bit about how hard it was for her doing so much all by herself for her mother when she was alive. A guilt trip, I suppose, for not doing enough. Not nice considering I was her mother’s primary caregiver for a year… the hardest year of my life, by the way, since she was a very malignant narcissist & just a hateful, heartless human being. And, my mother mentioning this was not surprising, since she has said these exact same things many times over the years, even while her mother was still alive & I was helping her. *sigh*
While this turn of events is disappointing, it’s certainly not unexpected. While some of my readers seemed to think I believed my mother was going to maintain her much nicer demeanor indefinitely, that was never the case. I’m hardly that naive. My mother only can be nice to me for brief periods of time, like many narcissistic mothers, & I am well aware of that fact. I accept that about my mother, because, well, let’s face it- she has no desire to change that about herself. It’s either accept it or try to change her. I’ll accept it, rather than overstep my bounds by trying to make her into something she is not.
While accepting that fact about my mother, that doesn’t mean I accept her abuse however. I’ve learned how to handle this relationship with my mother, how to maintain a civil contact with her.
When my mother is in one of her pleasant moods, I enjoy it. I never know how long it will last, so I don’t think about that. I just enjoy it, whether that mood lasts for a day or a month. I also remember that this change isn’t permanent, & she can go back to full narcissistic mode at any moment. That keeps my expectations realistic (well, low), so I am not disappointed when she changes.
When the narcissistic mode kicks back in, I keep a distance from my mother. I answer her calls less frequently, & spend less time with her.
I’ve noticed her narcissistic mode lasts less time doing this. She is now nicer, or at least civil, more often than not. While I certainly can’t say my relationship with my mother is perfect by any means, it is way better than I ever thought it could be. We have pleasant conversations pretty often now, & I don’t cringe every time the phone rings. I’m also able to relax some during the good times where I wasn’t able to before. I now know they may not last long, so I just live in the moment, enjoying them as they come up. When they stop, I knew it was going to happen, so I am not surprised or disappointed. That is when I keep my distance, & wait for the nice mode to start again.
I believe these changes have happened for a couple of reasons. First, God. I prayed a lot recently as I’ve mentioned before, because I was so close to going no contact with my mother. He told me that decision was up to me. I asked Him to help me be able to stay in this very difficult relationship, at least for now. I assumed that meant He would give me strength & courage as I needed it, but it’s been so much more than I could’ve expected. I am now able to hear my mother’s nasty, cruel words, & not feel devastated. Hurt sometimes, sure, but I am more able to see them as a result of her issues, rather than taking them personally. That helps to take much of the sting out of her words. I also am now able to say “no” & defend myself where that was once very difficult for me to do sometimes. I also, for once, haven’t trouble speaking my mind to my mother. Granted, I don’t do it all the time, but sometimes, it’s just not worth it. Sometimes the topic is trivial & we simply have different opinions- so what? That just means we’re different people. Other times, if I need to speak up to her about how she treats me, I can tell she is going to ignore me, so there just isn’t a point in frustrating myself by speaking up.
God also has enabled me to be much stronger with setting & forcing very strict boundaries with my mother. She has no choice but to go along with them now, whereas I used to have very weak boundaries, if any. Does she like this? No, but I really don’t care. They are reasonable, & I am taking care of myself. I think by doing this, I have gained a slight amount of respect from my mother for the first time ever. Narcissists are bullies, & one thing I’ve learned about bullies is that they respect someone who has the guts to stand up to them. They may not like that person, but they respect her!
I’ve also gotten a real revelation on something else- my mother can’t hurt me anymore! When I was a kid, she threatened me with military or catholic school or to have me locked up in a psyche ward, she screamed in my face, calling me filthy names, she was also strong enough to throw me into a wall so hard when I was 19, my back was injured to the point I had to quit working a few months later. Even in my early 20’s, my mother once threatened to contact my landlord because I had more cats than the lease allowed, all because I disagreed with her about something. Those times are gone now. We’re both much older, & now I’m the physically stronger one. I also don’t need to sit there while anyone screams at me- I can walk out & never come back if I’m so inclined. She also can’t have me taken away or contact my landlord because I am now a home owner. The only weapon my mother has left are her words, & frankly, that weapon is rather lame. She called me so many terrible names & said so many terrible things about me when I was growing up, while her current tactics may hurt me, they really don’t hurt me all that badly. After all, I’ve been through worse! The comic Chris Titus once talked about how critical his father was when he was growing up, & said something like, “Thanks to him, I’m like an insult Navy Seal!” That is how I feel about my mother. My mother accused me of terrible things like doing drugs & having sex with the entire high school football team when I was a teenager (neither of which I did) & called me awful names. After surviving that, what else is there?! What else can she say? Nothing! And, I’ve also realized that my mother needs me much more than I need her. I have my own home & life now- I need nothing from my mother. She has no hold over me.
These things have been very freeing to me, & very helpful in dealing with my narcissistic mother. I pray they will help you to find ways to deal with yours as well.
I just thought I’d let you know that I am making some changes to my website. I’m finally stepping out of the stone ages & no longer using Microsoft Frontpage to make my site (please stop laughing, computer people.. I’m just not good with site creation! lol). As I was working on it today, I thought that it would be a good idea not simply to change the appearance of my site a little, but to ask you, Dear Readers, if there is any other information you’d like me to include on my website. I have quite a bit on there now about narcissistic & abusive mothers, mental health, Christian living & animals (you gotta get off the heavy topics sometimes!), but is there anything else you’d like me to include on my site? Or, any area I mentioned above that you’d like me to expand on?
I welcome your feedback! You can either leave a comment on this post or you can email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com
Have a wonderful evening! xoxo
This past week since my father has been in the hospital has been interesting to say the least.
On a positive note, he seems to be doing quite a bit better. He’s still in pain with the compression fracture in his spine, but at least he’s not screaming in pain anymore. They’ve also cut way back on his pain meds, & I think have eliminated the morphine. Thank God- he reacted terribly to it! He’s been hallucinating & acting very bizarre. Yesterday he was much more coherent though, so I hope this means it’s almost out of his system.
Things with my mother have been very interesting. Several times, she’s thanked me for all I’m doing to help out, said she doesn’t know what she’d do without me, & said she loves me.
Being the adult child of a narcissistic mother, i had the normal reaction to this. Hoping this meant changes were coming to our relationship. I quickly realized this isn’t wise- this is setting myself up for disappointment. Maybe some narcissists change, but I have never seen it. My mother is a malignant narcissist, so the chances of her changing for the better & permanently are slim to none.
I had to learn how to handle moments like this very quickly when a similar situation happened last year. I thought I would share what I have learned with you so hopefully you will be helped when this type of situation arises with your narcissistic mother.
I have learned everything I can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I learned that narcissists approve of you when you are doing what they want or need you to do. If you say no, you are a horrible person, selfish, ungrateful, etc etc. according to them. I keep that in mind when my mother says these nice things to me when I’m helping her.
I also had to talk to myself. I had to tell myself it’s ok to enjoy this pleasant time with her, but it’s not ok to expect it to last. Chances are very good that as soon as my father is out of the hospital, she’ll be back to her old ways. I’ve had to remind myself of this a few times lately. This will help me not to be devastated when she gets mean with me again.
This situation hurts! It feels like everyone’s mother loves them- why doesn’t my mother love me? Is there something wrong with me? Am I unlovable? While it feels like these are valid questions, the truth is they aren’t. It’s her- something is wrong with her! It’s not you! Narcissism is a horrible thing. Something made these people turn so self-centered that they refuse to think of anyone else. To them, other people, including their own children, are simply tools to be used to meet their needs. No one else has real problems- only they do. No one else has feelings- only they do. This has nothing to do with you or some flaws in you. It truly is all their problem!
Good evening, Dear Readers!
I’ve been thinking this afternoon & decided I’d share my thoughts with you. Seeing things in writing helps me clarify things in my mind anyway, & I’m hoping this post will help you as well.
As I mentioned, the last time I helped my parents out was a very difficult day. My narcissistic mother found a new way to degrade me that was so low, I don’t even want to discuss the details. She also knew I was in pain- while helping hubby use the log splitter the previous day, a good sized log landed on my left foot- yet she insisted I do at least 3 loads of laundry & make a couple of extra trips to & from their basement. Oh, & she also insisted on telling me all about the problems she has with her feet, interrupting me explaining what happened to my father.
Stupidly, I put up with it all too. Silently. I did set a boundary on the laundry as she wanted me to keep going, but for some reason, I tolerated the rest. I’ve been kicking myself since.
This is nothing but bullying behavior from my mother. It’s also nothing new to me. My mother has bullied me my entire life. A girl in junior high seemed to think it was her job to bully me from seventh through ninth grades. Another girl did the same briefly in seventh grade. Even my father in-law tried bullying me (like he has done to the rest of his family) occasionally during the first few years of my husband’s & my relationship. And, currently, someone who has been harassing me for the last year periodically uses bullying behavior as well.
Bullies don’t scare me at all, since I am so accustomed to them. I know they are nothing but immature cowards at heart who back down immediately once confronted. My mother is no exception. I’ve made her back down before when calling her out on her actions.
I also realized since that day at my parents’ home, I haven’t been myself at all. I’ve been withdrawn & depressed. My husband keeps asking what’s wrong, & I tell him I’m fine, refusing to show any emotions. I also tried to make him happy when he was in a foul mood yesterday rather than let him work it out on his own. Ridiculous! I know that my behavior is partly because I don’t want to hear his assessment of my situation, but there is more to it. I realized I have reverted back to my childish survival mechanisms.
Tolerating the bullying from my mother is what I knew to do as a child to avoid her anger, shaming me, disappointment, etc. It kept the peace. It’s also a reflex for me to do. I also know that showing any anger at her bullying will only feed her- the more hurt or anger I show my mother, the harder she tries to push every button I have, & the happier she is.
I also realized something else- I’ve been trying to make myself invisible (like I felt I was in childhood) by not bothering anyone with my feelings. WHY?! I asked God this because it makes no sense! Emotions are a part of everyone. God gave them to us, so how can they be bad? Immediately, He began to show me some things. I found it interesting because they reminded me of the dream I had recently where God showed me I need to move away from old ways of thinking. (see that post here: https://cynthiabaileyrug.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/another-interesting-dream-to-share/ )
When I was in the eighth grade, there was an after school dance coming up. All of my friends were asking boys to the dance. I was uncomfortable with the thought of it, but since they were doing it, I figured I should too. At the end of a school day, I asked a boy who it turned out had been asked by several other girls. I was embarrassed, & later my mother saw me crying. She demanded to know what was wrong, & I didn’t want to tell her. Finally after her continued pushing, I did tell her. She told me no man would ever want me because I was so pushy & this was no big deal, stop crying. She acted like I was bothering her with petty problems by sharing this with her. I had always known it’s best to keep my emotions controlled, but this cemented that belief in my mind. I rarely showed any emotions to my mother again except when her abuse was exceptionally bad.
As an adult, there have been a few episodes with my husband where he too has shamed me for feeling certain things. For example, when we first got together, I learned he liked pancakes. I don’t, so I had no idea how to make them. I learned, but frankly, I stunk at it. I would get frustrated sometimes when trying & slam a kitchen cabinet door or something. He then would come into the room, say something like “tsk tsk.. soooo much anger,” then walk away, shaking his head. Also, when I got mad at his mother for her constant verbal abuse, snooping through my purse, criticizing my pets & family, he would tell me I had to understand her better or “be the bigger person” & ignore it. Basically, these behaviors of his showed me that something was wrong with me for having the feelings I did, & I shouldn’t bother him with those petty things. After years of this kind of behavior, it cemented in my mind that I need to keep my emotions from him as well.
Can you relate??
No one needs to tolerate bullying, but especially from their own mother! How ridiculous is that?! What kind of sick woman tries to hurt & intimidate her own child? A narcissist, that’s who. “Honor thy mother & father” does NOT mean tolerating abuse in any way, shape or form. There is nothing good or holy about that. How does anyone benefit from being mistreated or mistreating others? However, it is loving to put an end to such behaviors & making the abuser face uncomfortable consequences for her actions. God’s kind of love wants what is best for others, & that sometimes means confrontation or setting & enforcing boundaries.
And, if you too have been made to feel ashamed of your emotions or like you need to be invisible too, I am so sorry for what you are feeling! I know how miserable this is! You do not need to hide your emotions another moment. You have every right to feel them & process them however you need to. They are a part of you, a part of what makes you the unique person you are! Granted, it’s unwise to share your emotions with just anyone (such as narcissists or even plain old judgmental people), but there is nothing wrong with sharing your feelings with safe people.
As for me, I’m angry right now about this, & odd as it may sound, I think it’s a good thing. As the Bible says, be angry yet do not sin, so I won’t allow it to make me behave foolishly. I will, however, allow my anger to give me courage the next time I help my parents out. I will not allow my mother to bully me anymore, & I will set & enforce some strict boundaries. I also will not allow her to mock or invalidate me again either. If it comes down to it, I will walk out of her house. There is really nothing she can do to hurt me anymore.