I just wanted to share a little something for those of you with narcissistic mothers who struggle on & around Mother’s Day…
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Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder in which a person obsesses over flaws in their appearance. The flaws may be real or not. A person with body dysmorphia also often avoids other people because of feeling such embarrassment & even shame over their flaws. They also may seek surgery or other ways of fixing these supposed flaws in their appearance. The solutions may only provide temporary relief, but often the anxiety over the flaws returns.
Body dysmorphia can result from abnormalities or injuries to the brain. A family history of the disorder also can lead to a person being prone to developing it. I believe it also can be the result of narcissistic abuse.
Negative comments about something can be hurtful. If they are negative enough, they can make a person feel very self conscience. Narcissists don’t simply say a few random negative comments periodically, however. They frequently say the most scathing, cruel, vicious criticisms they can come up with in order to annihilate their victim’s self esteem, because a person with no self esteem is easy to control. One area narcissists often focus on is someone’s appearance.
Naturally when a parent says such things to their child, the likelihood of that child accepting the criticisms as truth is greater than if those same words were spoken to an adult by a stranger. Parents have a tremendous influence over their children, & children naturally accept what their parents say as true, even when it isn’t. Children’s brains are still forming too, which also makes it easier for them to accept their parents’ words as truth rather than question them.
When a child of a narcissistic parent grows up, it’s very likely that they will marry a narcissist. It’s also likely that the narcissist they marry will repeat certain patterns that their parents employed. Insulting the adult child of narcissistic parents in the area of their appearance is a common phenomenon.
When I was growing up, my mother was extremely critical of how I looked. While she never said the word “fat”, she implied I was extremely fat more times than I can count. Looking back at pictures of me as a child now though I realize I wasn’t fat at all, I was a normal weight.
Later when I married my ex husband, he continued her abuse in this area. He also never told me I was fat, but constantly implied that I needed to lose weight. I eventually lost weight & was too thin, yet I still wasn’t thin enough for his liking.
My situation is far from abnormal among adult children of narcissistic parents.
If you have experienced this as well, know that you are far from alone! Many people who have suffered with Body Dysmorphia after experiencing narcissistic abuse.
I never went to therapy about this because I didn’t realize it was something treatable through therapy, plus after bad experiences in therapy, I lacked trust in the mental health system. This caused me to look for my own ways to conquer Body Dysmorphia. While therapy is most likely the most effective way, I thought I would share my ideas anyway in case anyone reading this prefers to handle the situation on their own as I did.
During the time I was going through the worst of the Body Dysmorphia, I didn’t believe in God. Prayer wasn’t going to happen. I wish I had because no doubt God would have helped me so much more than anything I did without Him! Please learn from my mistake & pray.
Also, listen to what other people tell you. I spent my entire life dismissing complements rather than accepting them with a simple “thank you.” People don’t give complements easily. Listen to what they say because they mean them!
Look at yourself objectively. Ask yourself if what the narcissist said makes any sense. Most likely, it won’t.
When you hear the narcissist telling you about all of your flaws, question those things.
Doing these things won’t make Body Dysmorphia disappear overnight. Sometimes I wonder if it’ll ever vanish entirely since even years later, I still am quite insecure about my looks. But, at the very least they will help you to feel much less insecure, & that isn’t a bad worst case scenario!
When someone goes no contact with their parent, it usually comes about after a lot of thought, sometimes even over a period of years. It also comes after preparation for full no contact. What I mean is often the adult child has tried setting boundaries & limiting contact with their parent. Often, they start small & work up to more boundaries & less contact before full no contact is initiated. I did this myself. I contemplated no contact for a long time before deciding it was what I needed to do. I knew I wasn’t ready & also that timing wasn’t right, however. I leaned on God for guidance & also for strength. He showed me small boundaries I could set. That strengthened me to set larger boundaries & limit my contact with my parents. In time, I knew the time was right for no contact, & I also had the ability to do it.
This isn’t the case when narcissistic parents cut ties with their children.
Narcissistic parents don’t go no contact as a way to protect themselves from abusive people. They inatead use the silent treatment as a way to punish & manipulate, although they may claim they are setting a healthy boundary with an abusive person.
This behavior can be incredibly hurtful to the adult child of a narcissist! It also leaves them questioning what they did wrong & what they could’ve done better. Sometimes they even question what they did because they have no idea. My mother stopped speaking to me for 18 months once, & I never learned why.
If you’re in this situation & struggling with these feelings, you’re normal! It can feel otherwise, but I promise, you’re normal!
Please keep in mind your parent is manipulating you. That’s just what narcissistic parents do. It doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. In fact, you probably did something right. If you set a healthy boundary, no doubt your parent is angry & punishing you for it. Maybe you had some personal success. That could have stirred up envy in your parent & he or she wants to hurt you for looking better than them. Whatever the case, your parent is clearly the one with the problem, not you. If you remember that, it will help you not to be as upset about your parent’s behavior. In fact, it may help you to enjoy the repreive from the abusive, awful behavior.
This post is for those of you who have made the bold, painful step of going no contact with your narcissistic parents.
All of us who have gone no contact with our narcissistic parents know that in such situations, the relationship had become utterly intolerable & that pushed us to the desperation of no contact. The constant control, vindictive criticisms & abuse became too much from the overtly narcissistic parent. The constant shaming, manipulation, childish behavior & abuses so subtle most people didn’t see them from the covertly narcissistic parent also were too much. Who can live with this indefinitely?! No one with any normal human emotions could!
Upon ending the relationship, the shock of the flying monkeys & their despicable abuse was next. The constant comments of, “But that’s your mother or father!” “You only get one set of parents!” “They’re getting up in years. How do you think you’ll feel when they die?” & other venom comes from their mouths. When guilt & shame don’t work, they attack your character. They call you ungrateful, spoiled, a brat, evil & more. If you’re a Christian, your faith will be attacked, too. As they like to claim, by severing ties with your abusive parents, you obviously have no idea what it means to honor your parents. You must be a hypocrite!
Trauma doesn’t end with no contact. Thanks to flying monkeys, it often continues for quite some time until they find a new target.
The time immediately after no contact is a very difficult time. The guilt, the doubts & the abuse from flying monkeys are all incredibly hard to deal with! Also many times, C-PTSD goes into overdrive after no contact. No longer needing to function in survival mode seems to make the brain think that since you’re safe now, it’s time to deal with all those old issues you put on the back burner for so long. All of these things can make you wonder if you did the right thing by going no contact. Sometimes it seems easier to remain in the relationship just to keep the peace, but it truly isn’t easier.
Once you are no contact, you’re finally free. Free from the barrage of abuse from your narcissistic parent. Free from your parent trying to make you into whatever they want you to be. Free to do what you want without your parent trying to tell you how wrong you are & shaming you for your so called bad decisions. Free to be the wonderful person God made you to be. You’re finally free!!
From day one, narcissistic parents try to make their children into whatever sick fantasy they have. They don’t care one iota about the child’s talents, interests or anything like that. They are narcissists, after all, so all that matters to them is what they want. Growing up like this, finally experiencing freedom can be scary. The assaults of the flying monkeys & often the harassment from the narcissistic parents can add to the fear. You know something though? Going through the fear is totally worth it. On the other side of that fear are peace, joy & bravery like you have never known!
And, you don’t have to walk through that fear alone. God will be right by your side! Remember, Psalm 23 says that He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. I have experienced that first hand, & I can tell you that as painful as those times were, especially after going no contact with my parents, it was all worth it. I ended up closer to God than ever, & He enabled me to do the unimaginable. He will do the same for you if you allow Him to. Dear Reader, as hard as no contact with narcissistic parents can be, don’t give up. Don’t go back. Don’t listen to the absurd ramblings of those who don’t know your situation like you do. Lean on God. Let Him support & guide you through this process. xoxo
It seems that many people have some very black & white opinions when it comes to those of us raised by abusive parents. No doubt you have experienced some of that thinking first hand. Hasn’t at least one person told you that parents always love their children, you’re not honoring your parent by setting boundaries, your parent didn’t abuse you because they never hit you or other similar comments?
There is another example of black & white thinking & it comes with going no contact with your abusive parent. Many people assume that eliminating your parent from your life means you hate that parent. Not long after my mother died, I ran into an acquaintance. He said, “I’d say I’m sorry to hear about your mom, but I know you’re glad she’s gone.” I thought later that no doubt many people think exactly the same thing.
What people who think this don’t realize is the children of abusive parents don’t always hate their parents. Some do, yes, but not all. In fact, I would guess that most love their parents. It’s their behavior they hate.
These folks also fail to realize that because we don’t hate our abusive parents, we end up with a lot of confusing & mixed feelings about our parents. Those feelings are seldom validated, even by some who have survived similar situations to ours. Some I’ve spoken with actually got angry at me for not hating my parents like they did. Some also said I needed to accept that they’re just evil & forget about them. People can be very cruel sometimes!
For those who are in the position of having gone no contact with their abusive parent(s), I just want you to know that whatever you feel, your feelings are valid!
If you hate your parent(s), that is valid. It’s understandable to feel that way after someone inflicts horrific abuse on you!
If you love your parent(s), that too is valid. We all only get two parents & that gives them a very unique position in our lives. It’s understandable to love them even if they have hurt you terribly.
If deciding to go no contact was an easy decision for you, that is valid as well. You knew what you needed to do & followed through with it. That is great you were able to do that!
If deciding to go no contact was a tough decision for you, that is valid too. It’s a big decision, & not always an easy one to make. Some people naturally struggle with that decision more than others.
I also want you to know that protecting yourself is ok! It’s a good thing to do, even if you are forced to protect yourself from your parents. Not all parents are capable of loving their children or being good parents. It isn’t your job or duty to tolerate their abuse just because they’re your parents.
Protecting yourself from them also doesn’t make you a bad person, heartless, spoiled or a fake Christian. It doesn’t mean you’re dishonoring your abusive parents, either. It means you are putting your mental & emotional health above your parents’ sick need to abuse you, & there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Having chosen no contact with my parents, my heart truly goes out to others in that situation, because I remember the struggles, the guilt, the doubt, the intense anxiety & the useless & even cruel input of others at that time. Many people have been in this situation other than you & I. You’re not alone! If you need support, there are plenty of online options. There are counselors & pastors that can help as well. Mostly, there is a loving God who wants to help you. Let Him. You won’t be sorry!
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Low contact is exactly as it sounds, when a person has low contact with another. It isn’t discussed a lot in the circles that discuss narcissistic abuse, which is really a shame.
If you are in the position of not being able to go full no contact, such as in the situation of having joint custody of children together, low contact is an excellent alternative. Or, if you want to go no contact but don’t feel strong enough to take that step just yet, low contact can help you get to that point. Low contact is different than no contact in that it doesn’t need to be done all at once. It can be done little by little, & each little step you take increases your confidence in your ability to set boundaries with the narcissist. Or, if the narcissist in your life is low on the spectrum, you may find that low contact makes the relationship much more tolerable & decide not to go full no contact. In any case, low contact really can be a very helpful tool!
Whatever your situation with the narcissist, if you are considering low contact, I’m sure it’s for a very valid reason. At their absolute best, narcissists are VERY difficult to deal with & at their worst, impossible to deal with, even dangerous to one’s physical & mental health. Be proud of yourself for taking care of yourself!
If you think low contact is a good option for you, you are probably wondering where to start. I’ll tell you how I did low contact with my parents, & you can decide if this would work for you or not. I started by not answering the phone every time my parents narcissist called. That boundary was clearly a shock to them, but although they were angry, they realized they couldn’t rage without appearing foolish. Rather than rage, they made some snide comments like, “You didn’t answer the phone yesterday.. I thought you were mad at me.” Naturally those comments hurt at first but I realized that was the intent behind them. My parents were simply upset that I was setting a perfectly reasonable boundary.
I also started setting limits on how long we were on the phone together for the first time. My parents always determined how long our calls lasted, so this was a little trickier. Saying, “I have to go” didn’t work so I needed to get creative. I also don’t like to lie, so that also made this really tricky. I sometimes rang my doorbell so my dogs would bark & say, “Doorbell rang. Dixie’s barking, you hear that? I need to go.” Other times I used another phone to trigger the call waiting on the phone I was using so they’d hear the beep & they’d let me go so I could respond to the beep.
My parents lived not far from me, & my father in particular wanted to visit often. He often invited himself to visit my home. Thankfully he would call a few days prior at least rather than just showing up. When he called saying he wanted to visit soon, I would say things like, “Tuesday isn’t good.. how about Thursday instead?” It didn’t take long for him to want to come by less often. Clearly, he didn’t like me taking some control back.
The more boundaries I set, the more confident I became in my ability to set boundaries & eventually go no contact. This is normal! Each small step you take creates not only more space between you & the narcissist, but also builds your confidence. You see you can do one thing, then gain the confidence to do something a little bolder, then a little bolder yet & so forth. Before you know it, you’re ready to implement no contact, if that is your goal.
And something else happened – the more boundaries I set & the more comfortable I was setting them, the less my parents wanted to do with me! They began avoiding me. Their phone calls & visits became much less frequent. Also, their calls & visits became much shorter in duration, too. This also is normal! Narcissists naturally have an aversion to boundaries & to healthy people. Low contact truly is a wonderful thing! It helps victims reclaim some of their power & confidence while repelling narcissists. I want to encourage you to give it a try! I believe you will be very pleased by the results!
I saw a comment on one of my old YouTube videos I thought was rather interesting. The comment said that this person took care of her elderly abusive mother until the end of her life. She suffered health problems that didn’t run in her family as a result of dealing with their “complicated” relationship, but she is glad she didn’t abandon her like I did my parents. She went on to say that although she didn’t like my video, she said she’s glad she watched it anyway because she realized maybe she wasn’t such a terrible daughter like me after all.
Rather than simply delete the stupid comment, I left it up. It’s sort of a lesson within a lesson. The original lesson being my video, & the secondary lesson is how to deal with people like this.
This sort of comment happens all the time with adult children of narcissistic parents. The smug ignoramuses of the world think they have the right to judge how we treated our parents while they truly know nothing of our experiences. We need to be aware that this can happen & how to handle it.
To start with, I believe it’s very important to realize this is a trigger, which is why your reaction may be exceptionally emotional. Mine certainly was. I immediately felt rage & wanted to tell this person exactly what I thought of her judgmental words. I took a few moments to calm down because I recognized my strong reaction was a trigger. It reminded me of things my own family has said. If a comment like this is said to you in person or on the phone, you don’t have the luxury of taking a few minutes to calm yourself before responding as I did. Instead, take a deep breath & let it out slowly. This will calm your mind & body long enough for you to formulate a good response rather than react. Reactions in situations like this only cause more problems. You need to have a calm & calculated response instead.
It’s also important to recognize that a person saying this sort of drivel has some ulterior motive. Often they are flying monkeys, saying such idiocy to hurt you on behalf of the narcissist. They may even know the truth but say this anyway simply to hurt you because you hurt the narcissist that they idolize. In my case, I don’t know this person nor does this person know my parents. Flying monkey obviously can’t be the case. I have another idea of what her problem is though…
The commenter in my situation is, I believe, a covert narcissist or at the very least, has narcissistic tendencies. Covert narcissists will do anything they can to get the word out that they are wonderful, caring, & even martyr like. That is what this person did with me. She came across as a loving, devoted daughter who was willing to sacrifice herself & even her health for her abusive mother. She shamed me for not being a “good daughter” like she obviously was while at the same time building up her martyr image. I’m glad this person was so obvious in displaying those narcissistic tendencies because that enabled me to know how to handle the situation immediately: provide no narcissistic supply. I debated deleting the comment, but that would’ve validated to this person how mean & unreasonable I am. It also would’ve enabled her to look like the victim of my meanness, & provided narcissistic supply. Instead, I figured it best to respond simply, without emotion. I said that everyone has to do what they feel is right in their situation. I did in mine just as she did in hers. I’m not judging her so please don’t judge mine & if she can’t refrain from that, please stay off my page. Simple, to the point & calm.
Whether the person in question in these situations is a narcissist, flying monkey or just some poorly informed person with good intentions, it’s never wise to defend your actions. Somehow, that always seems to make things worse, so don’t do it! If you must say something for whatever reason, keep your comments unemotional & logical. State only the facts, not how you felt. And, ask logical questions like, “I don’t understand how you think me doing what you think I should makes any sense. Why should I subject myself to being treated so poorly?”
Lastly, always remember that God is there for you. If you don’t know what to do, ask Him for help. Even a prayer as simple as “Please help me!” can work wonders! As the adult child of a narcissistic parent, you need to know how to handle yourself when these situations arise & unfortunately, they will arise. I hope my situation has given you ideas on how to do that when the time comes.
Often, two people who were raised by narcissistic parents marry each other when they grow up. Ideally, they understand each other’s past, offer support & help each other cope if their parents are still a part of their lives. Sadly though, this isn’t always the case.
Sometimes when two adult children of narcissistic parents marry, they learn each person is on a very different page. One is trying to be healthy while the other remains in denial of just how toxic his or her parents are. This is hardly an easy position to be in for either person.
If you are in this painful situation, I hope this post can help you today!
To start with, you need to pray. Ask God for any help you need to cope with the situation, whether it be patience, understanding, wisdom or anything. Prayer is always the best place to start in any difficult situation, & situations don’t get much more difficult than this one!
Next, you need to accept that you & your partner are in a different place. Your spouse may never see the truth about their parents. They also may never see the truth about yours, for that matter. You can’t change this, so you need to accept that painful truth.
You also need to accept that you can’t change your partner. As much as you’d like to, you can’t make him or her see the truth. We all have to face the truth as we are able. Forcing someone to see the truth before they’re ready isn’t good for their mental health.
You may need to stop discussing anything about your parents with each other to avoid conflict. I know this is incredibly frustrating because you should be able to discuss any topic with your spouse. In an ideal world, that is how things are. Unfortunately though, when dealing with two fallible human beings, that isn’t always feasible. If discussing anything about parents causes strife, it may be best to find someone else with which to discuss the problems. A close friend or relative, your pastor or even a counselor may be a much better option for you.
If you have issues with your spouse’s narcissistic parent, unfortunately, you can’t expect support from your spouse if he or she doesn’t see that parent is narcissistic. Don’t expect it from him or her. I realize this goes against what is natural & is very painful & hard to accept, but you need to do it anyway. Accepting this painful truth is hard, but it is easier than to be disappointed in your spouse repeatedly.
You also will need to find ways to deal with your narcissistic in-laws on your own, & chances are slim your spouse will approve of how you deal with them. This is tricky. There is no way to avoid your spouse’s anger in this situation. The best you can do is to remain calm when dealing with your awful in-laws & your spouse. Also be logical when your spouse gets angry. If he or she says you’re hurting the narcissistic parent, for example, you can say that parent has hurt you too. Why was that acceptable behavior but you setting a reasonable boundary to protect yourself wasn’t?
Never forget to take care of yourself & your mental health. A spouse in denial can be very good at making the healthier spouse feel as if they are wrong, over sensitive or even crazy. Don’t buy into this gaslighting! You are doing what is right by facing the truth about your narcissistic parents & in-laws. Don’t let anyone, including your spouse, convince you otherwise!
Both of my parents died not terribly long after going no contact with them. My father within a few months in October, 2017 & my mother almost exactly 18 months later in April, 2019. I have done a LOT of thinking since then because, well, that’s what I do, I overthink things. lol One thing I thought about though made a lot of sense & I wanted to share it with you.
When someone goes no contact with their narcissistic parent, it seems most people assume that person hates their parent. They hate them so much, they can’t tolerate that person in their life any longer. I find that is rarely the case. Every person I’ve spoken with about this topic has said they loved their narcissistic parent deeply. It was the abuse they hated, which is why they felt they had no other choice but to go no contact.
I felt the same way. I hated how my parents treated me so badly, I felt I had no other choice but to go no contact. I prayed a lot, I tried a lot of things, & nothing I did or said helped the relationship. In fact, it kept getting worse.
Eventually I felt no contact was my only option & I prayed a LOT about that. I felt God wanted me to wait, so I did even though it was incredibly difficult. When the time felt right, I eliminated my parents from my life. It was the hardest, most painful thing I’ve ever had to do. Later, I learned it was also the right thing to do.
Just before my father died, he accepted Jesus as his Savior. His miraculous story is on my website at www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com if you’d like to read it. Anyway part of the reason he turned to God was because I wouldn’t go say goodbye to him as he was dying, in spite of knowing he wanted me to & the constant harassment & bullying by people trying to force me to. Nothing else in his almost 80 years of life worked to make him turn to God, not even his own near death experience when he was a teenager.
After my mother died, I learned that she too accepted Jesus as her Savior. Apparently she had as a young child, but stepped away from her new faith probably because of the abuse she received at home. Me not having a relationship with her, I believe, helped to turn her towards God as it did my father. During our almost three years of no contact at the time of her passing, I prayed for her daily. During that time, God told me a few times that she was praying, asking God to make me contact her. He said that her motivations were purely selfish, so He didn’t want me to.
I think my story isn’t terribly unique. Many narcissistic parents end up alone in their final years, abandoned by the children they abused for their entire lives. I also can’t help but think many would turn to God in their desperation for help as my parents did. Hopefully they also would accept Jesus into their hearts as my parents did.
Dear Reader, as hard as it can be, please pray for your narcissistic parents. God hears those prayers, even when we pray from an attitude of “I’m only doing this because I know You want me to.” That was my attitude for a long time, yet in spite of it, both of my parents went to Heaven when they passed away. So please, keep praying for your narcissistic parents. Even if prayer is the only thing you can do for them, it is a very powerful & wonderful thing!
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Growing up with narcissistic parents is a horrific experience. Neglect & abuse abound, resulting in a child who grows up with little or even no self-esteem, doubts about their sanity, no real identity beyond what their parents told them they were & other horrible traumas that often result in Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or C-PTSD.
In addition to this trauma, many of these children are met with disbelief & even blame for the way their parents treated them. Sadly, this treatment comes mostly from family members. Even as adults, this invalidation often continues & can be even more heartless & painful.
You may find some of these phrases I mention in this post sound familiar to you. If you do, & if you think they will help the person who said them to you see the error of their ways, feel free to show this to them. However, know many people who invalidate victims of narcissistic abuse are also narcissists, which means they only will use the information to hurt you further. You need to use your best judgment on this.
“Why not just talk to your parents. Tell them how you feel.” Normally, this isn’t bad advice. Two functional people often can create solutions to problems by discussing them. This is impossible with narcissists, however. They lack empathy & feel entitled to do or say anything they want. The way people feel about their words & actions, in particular their children, mean nothing to them. Unless they feel they can gain something by impressing someone by caring about their feelings, no one’s emotions mean anything to them. Narcissistic parents often view their children’s feelings as selfish, unreasonable, stupid, or trivial.. that is if they even notice their feelings at all. Many narcissistic parents don’t even notice their children’s feelings no matter how upset they are. They also are highly likely to use their children’s emotions against them to humiliate, shame or manipulate them.
“You need to find a way to fix this relationship!” My aunt once told me how I needed to get into therapy to find a way to fix things with my parents, & “don’t dare tell her it won’t work!” I thank God I was far along in my healing journey at the time she said this, because such words could’ve been devastating if I wasn’t! I tried to do as she said when I was 17, & even saw a few therapists. No matter how much therapy I got, no matter what I did, I couldn’t fix the relationship with my parents. While one person can destroy a relationship, one person can never fix a relationship. It takes two to make a relationship work. Putting the burden of fixing it on a victim is simply cruel & stupid.
“How do you think your behavior makes your parent feel?” After setting boundaries or going no contact, the flying monkeys love to slither out of the wood work & tell victims how wrong, evil, selfish, & stupid they are along with them being terrible sons or daughters for acting the way they are. They make these adult children sound like spoiled rotten little brats who are throwing a hissy fit because they don’t want to eat their vegetables at dinner. People who say this fail to realize that child of a narcissistic parent or two spend their entire lives are spent considering their parents’ feelings! Every single little thing is about the parent & nothing has to do with them. No wonder the parent is upset about that child setting a boundary or even going no contact. The parent probably never expected this to happen. That doesn’t mean boundaries or no contact are wrong, however!
“Have you ever thought about how you make your parents feel by talking about this?” They may add 1 Peter 4:8 that in part says “love covers a multitude of sins” to make it sound as if God Himself is ashamed of the victim for discussing the abuse. This is incredibly shaming & cruel! Narcissistic parents instill in their children a very large dose of fear about discussing the abuse. Being open about it is incredibly difficult & brave. If those parents wanted their child to discuss them in a positive light, they shouldn’t have been abusive.
“Parents always love their children.. it’s a shame children don’t always love their parents.” This is an utter LIE. There are plenty of parents who lack the ability to love their children. Narcissists may love the narcissistic supply their children provide but truly loving their children in a healthy, Godly way is beyond their abilities. Not to mention, there are plenty of children of narcissistic parents who love them. In fact, almost every adult child of narcissistic parents I have spoken with loved their parent a great deal. It’s the parent’s behavior they hated. I’m the same way. I love my parents, I just couldn’t tolerate the abuse, which is why I went no contact. It wasn’t done out of hatred for them.
“You kids always blame your mother & don’t take any responsibility for yourself.” The fact is children naturally deny bad parts about their parents or find a way why their parent’s bad behavior is their fault. It’s probably a survival skill. If the child can deny the parent doesn’t love them or is abusive, they stand greater chances of receiving care from their parents. These children work harder & harder to please their abusive parents, so the parent will give them some care at least.
“You need to get over it. That’s in the past.” When you have C-PTSD as a result of being raised by a narcissistic parent or two, the past is always a part of your present. Flashbacks, nightmares & intrusive thoughts are triggered very easily & they don’t go away simply because we want them to. If only it was that easy! Even medication can’t stop such things. It takes time & dealing with each event as it comes up to get any semblance of control over it interfering with the present, & even then, it may not go away entirely. I still have flashbacks & nightmares once in a while about events I have dealt with to the best of my ability. It’s rare, but it still happens.
“Your parents have always been so nice to me!” Narcissists work hard to create an image of perfection to those who aren’t their victims. It’s not uncommon for narcissists to have a friendly & pleasant conversation with someone, then once the person is out of their presence or they hang up the phone, they attack their victim. People who haven’t seen behind the narcissist’s mask often have a hard time believing that the person you claim was an abusive parent is anything but the good person they see.
To help those who suffered at the hand of a narcissistic parent or two, if you don’t know about narcissistic abuse, you will need to learn about it. You also will need to remember not everyone has a functional family, & accept that some families are extremely complex & dysfunctional.
If you’re a victim of narcissistic parents & someone says comments like this to you, please remember what they say is wrong. It comes from their own dysfunctional beliefs, not reality. Try your best not to take their words to heart.
Childhood trauma is a terrible thing. It forms so much of who we become as adults, good & bad. Unfortunately usually there is much more bad than good.
The way to help minimize the bad is to heal. To do this, you have to face the trauma, & that involves facing the emotions connected to it. I know, this isn’t exactly fun but it’s quite necessary for healing. Emotions demand to be dealt with, so not doing so will result in them manifesting in such toxic ways. They will negatively affect your mental & physical health. They can draw you to unhealthy relationships & circumstances. That’s why it’s so much healthier to face trauma than to avoid doing so.
An effective way to do this that I have found is loosely based on Craig Hill’s “The Ancient Paths” book & seminars. Start by looking at your life. What areas are you consistently struggling with? From there, you can ask God to show you what the root of the problem is. When I have done this, God has shown me a memory, & usually it’s from childhood. I focus on that memory, remembering everything about it that I can – what happened, where it happened, who was there, even more insignificant things like scents, sounds, who wore what clothing. Remembering as much as possible makes it more real, which triggers many emotions. Once I feel the emotions I tell God that in that situation I felt a certain way, like helpless, ashamed, stupid, ugly. Then I ask Him to tell me if what I felt was right. Was I right to feel the things I did? I then listen for His response. There really is healing & life in God’s word! When He has spoken to me, I end up feeling so much better! So much of the pain just disappears.
There is still a bit of work to do after this, however. You will need to feel your feelings. I mean really feel them. Cry, get angry, yell… do whatever helps you to feel those emotions so you can get them out of you. I often tell God just what I’m feeling. He really can handle that & offer comfort during these painful times. You may need to do this a few times to purge yourself completely of the emotions. That depends on the trauma & how you as an individual feel about the situation.
When I first learned about all of this, I naively thought doing it once or twice would heal me completely. Unfortunately healing from trauma is an ongoing process. You have to heal from one incident at a time instead of all at once. I can’t tell you it’s ever easy, but I can say that the more you do it, the easier it gets. You get stronger as you heal, which enables you to face things better. You also grow closer to God, because facing trauma in this manner makes you depend on Him for help. It naturally strengthens your relationship. It also helps you see God as He is, your Heavenly Father, rather than how you view your earthly parents. So many abused children grow up seeing God as unreliable & untrustworthy as their earthly parents. It’s natural, unfortunately. Working on your healing in this way naturally changes your perspective on Him, & draws you closer to Him.
Also remember that doing this can be very emotionally draining. It’s only natural that dealing with such negative & strong emotions would leave you feeling drained & a bit raw emotionally after. When this happens, take good care of yourself. Rest, be sure to eat healthy & relax as much as you can.
I know this all sounds intimidating, but truly, you can do it & you’ll be very glad you did!
As I write this post, it’s May 5. To many people it’s no special day. To others, it’s Cinco De Mayo. To me, it’s a reminder of a very strange day.
In 2016, my mother in-law died on April 30. Two days later, our oldest kitty died suddenly. Three days after that was our dog, Dixie’s birthday & we really did try to celebrate her special day as usual. Not easy with the sadness we both felt, but we tried & I think Dixie was ok with that since she was a very sweet, sensitive & smart little pup.
Then “it” happened. May 5, 2016, I had a huge fight with my parents. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, as you can tell if you read the original post in the link above.
Today, as I was driving home, the date hit me. I had thought of it earlier remembering my sweet Dixie on her birthday (she passed in 2017), but I hadn’t thought about it relating to the argument with my parents. I also realized I hadn’t thought of it last year, either, but in all fairness, my mother had just passed & I was still in shock at that time. I wasn’t functioning very well.
Anyway, when I thought of the date relating to the argument with my parents, guilt about overwhelmed me. I am so NOT proud of my behavior that evening. That argument also was what led to me being no contact with my parents, & that led to them dying without me in their lives in any capacity. It was my final straw. Yet, I know what I did was the right thing. It seems so unfair to be wracked with guilt even knowing I did the right thing, yet, it also makes sense in a strange way.
Going no contact with your family, in particular your parents, is incredibly hard. Many people have no idea just how hard, but those of us who have done it or are contemplating doing it know. It’s brutal. It goes against nature, stepping away from your own blood! Yet sadly, it also is necessary sometimes.
If you’re contemplating going no contact with your narcissistic parent or parents, my heart goes out to you. It’s incredibly difficult! Having been in your position, I can give you some advice though…
Seriously consider your choice. No contact needs to be permanent, not permanent until you need your parent or miss them. Only do it when you are certain you can make it permanent, no matter what.
Don’t do it on a whim or because you’re angry. My story may sound like I did that but it’s not the case. I’d been considering no contact for a while at that time, yet felt the timing wasn’t right until that argument with my parents. It felt as if God said, “Now”. Timing is important. Trust His timing & ask Him to help you figure out when the time is right.
Know that going no contact can lead to tremendous guilt, even when you know there was no other choice. I know, it seems wrong but it’s a simple fact. As I type this, I still feel guilty about going no contact with my parents even knowing it was God’s will for me to do it. The one thing that helps the guilt is leaning on God for reassurance. At first, it was constant.. especially when my father was dying in 2017. It has lightened up a great deal, but even now, sometimes guilt still kicks in.. like today.
Never, ever stop praying for your parent. I know many people say narcissists aren’t worth praying for, they’re a lost cause, nothing can save them, etc. but you never know. Both of my parents are in Heaven!! When my mother died, a stranger, the funeral director who took care of her, told me that he felt God wanted him to tell me she was in Heaven. In 2017, a former friend told me that God spoke to her about my father being in Heaven. I realize not everyone wants to be saved & God honors the choices of each person. That being said though… never stop praying for your narcissistic parents! The worst case scenario is that parent doesn’t accept Jesus, which of course is terrible, but there is at least some comfort in knowing you did all you can do. God heard your prayers. He won’t forget you praying for your parents. He knows you did all you could do. Your conscience is clear, & that is a good thing.
When you grow up with narcissistic parents, you’re trained from birth to do for them. Do what? Whatever they want. It’s your job to please them in every way, to listen to them, to serve them… naturally this isn’t reciprocated because you aren’t important- only they are!
Once you’re an adult, this “you’re here to do for others” mentality sticks with you. And, other people pick up on it. Users & abusers can sniff this mentality out a mile away. Other Christians can even pick up on it & use Scripture to back up why you should do for them or other people.
The truth is that no one can help everyone who crosses their path. It’s too much! You could ruin your physical & mental health, & even ruin yourself financially if you helped every single person who claims to have a need. You truly need discernment & wisdom to know who God wants you to help, who He doesn’t, & who he simply wants you to pray for.
When you come across someone in need, the smartest thing you can do is pray. Ask God for guidance, & to show you what this person’s position in your life is going to be. Maybe it is to help that person in some way, but maybe it isn’t. Maybe your position is simply to pray for that person or to guide them to someone who can help them. Maybe you need to lead that person to Jesus. Or, maybe you need to set boundaries & refuse to help this person because he or she tends to use people & needs a lesson in the fact not everyone is here to do for them. Until & unless you ask God, you won’t know for sure. So ask! He will guide & help you!
People often don’t understand what it’s like sever ties with parents. It’s easy to understand how shocking it can be to some people. I want people who don’t understand to understand, & I hope to help them to do that with this post.
Looking from the outside in, most people don’t see an abusive family scenario. They see attentive parents & well behaved children. They see parents who are successful at their chosen careers, kids getting good grades in school, active in sports or other after school activities & their parents supporting such things.
They don’t see what happens behind the scenes, though. Screaming, raging, sometimes even physical assaults. Then there are the scathing criticisms said so often that it destroys the child’s self esteem. There also is the fact that narcissistic parents do their level best to destroy their child’s identity & recreate the child into whatever it is they want. The child’s personality, likes, feelings & even morals mean nothing to that parent, only what the parent wants is what matters. While this may not sound so bad to someone who hasn’t experienced it, I can tell you from my own experience & that of others I have spoken to in similar situations, a child in this situation often considers suicide as it feels like the only means of escape.
When the child in this situation grows up, often, that child who is now an adult learns that their upbringing wasn’t normal. They witnessed other people with kind & loving parents. They have friends whose parents bought them their first car when they got their drivers’ license instead of fighting them getting a license & car. Their friends’ parents celebrated when they graduated from high school or college rather than ignoring the accomplishments or finding some way to trivialize them.
Things like this often make this adult child look for answers. Frequently many abused adult children learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder at this time.
Suddenly, so many things make sense! The abuse, the belittling, the manipulation, the control. Then they learn there is almost no hope whatsoever of changing a narcissist. Explaining that their actions hurt only encourages them to do those things more.
After attempting every tactic they can to make the toxic relationship healthier yet failing, the adult child realizes no contact is the only option. Even after the realization, it often takes a long time to work up the inner strength to go through with actually ending the relationship with the toxic parent.
Eventually, they do sever ties though. Suddenly people they know, or barely know, come out of the woodwork to tell them how terrible they are, how they need to fix the relationship, how badly they’re hurting their parents, how selfish they are & more. The guilt is horrific & people like this make it even worse.
There is also the devastation of betrayal, because most of these people are people you never expected to side with anyone who abused you. Actually society in general often sides with parents in these situations rather than the children they abused.
People assume estranged children hate their parents, & treat them accordingly when nothing could be further from the truth. People don’t realize the pain behind going no contact. They don’t realize the intense guilt or the cognitive dissonance because of doing something so extremely abnormal either. They don’t recognize the loneliness because not only did you lose your parents but also most of your family & even friends by choosing to protect your mental health.
This is what happens when someone goes no contact with their parents. This was my experience as well as that of so many others I’ve talked to. If anyone thinks no contact is easy or taking a cowardly way out, they are utterly mistaken. It’s the hardest decision I ever made, yet also the best one.
Growing up with abusive parents, most kids think that once they turn 18 &/or move out, all their problems will be over. Many victims marry very young trying to rush this process along, & who can blame them?
The problem is though, this mindset is wrong. The abuse merely changes, it doesn’t stop.
In my experience, I left home at 19 after my first nervous breakdown. Although I didn’t know exactly what had happened to me at that time, I knew in my heart that I had to leave or lose my sanity. I moved back in 6 months later for only four days. On the last day, my mother & I got into an argument which escalated quickly into a physical fight, & she slammed me into a wall. I believe she wanted to kill me that night. I also believed that since I determined never to live in that house again, the abuse was a thing of the past. My mother never laid another hand on me again after that night, November 28, 1990. That didn’t mean she never abused me again, however.
After that horrible night, my mother continued to verbally abuse me. Everything about me was subject to her harsh judgement & criticisms, just as it had been when I was living with her. When I had to quit work a few months later due to my back pain from her assault, my mother made it clear she was convinced I was faking the pain because I was too lazy to work. She never said those words exactly, but she would slap me in the back where my pain was, hand me heavy items or tell me I needed to help her move something heavy.
As my parents got older & frailer, my mother expected me to help them. When I did help, my parents were cruel, especially my mother. She gave me a diet soda one day when I was there. The cruelty was the artificial sweetener in it was known to cause a laxative effect in some people. She waited until I emptied the bottle to tell me this & how it negatively affected my father. For the remainder of the visit, she & my father continually asked me how my stomach felt or did I need to use the bathroom.
My mother had irritable bowel syndrome. After having an issue, she called to tell me I had to wash her clothes the next day because “I owed it to her since she took care of me as a baby.” The next day I took rubber gloves along in case I had to touch any laundry since I’m not good with body functions. My mother watched me take off those gloves, then told me to hold out my hands. With a smile, she put her nasty clothes in my bare hands & said “I forgot, these need to go in the washer too.”
The point of these stories is this: narcissistic parents don’t stop abusing their children when they become adults. They merely change the ways in which they abuse them.
As narcissists age, they can’t be the physically intimidating presence to their child anymore. And, their child has grown up, so even if they were able to magically stay the same, their child probably wouldn’t be intimidated like they once were. Also, threats of punishment from a parent don’t work on an adult as they would on a child. Due to losing so many of their once successful ways of abusing their child, narcissists have to come up with new ways to abuse.
Some of those new ways may involve financial abuse, guilt trips to make their child think they owe the parent, misusing their medications to make themselves ill, or even threatening suicide.
If such things are happening to you, you’re not alone! You also have nothing to feel ashamed of! The shame lies with your parent, not you! Do what you need to in order to protect yourself. You do NOT deserve to be abused!!
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge true crime buff. Pretty sure my poor husband is sick of it since when I turn the TV on, that’s usually what I end up watching.
I’ve also never been a big fan of stories with happy endings. If it suits the story, that’s fine but if it seems forced, I’m not a fan of that. I prefer real endings, even if they aren’t happy ones.
Growing up, my mother always said how negative & pessimistic I was. She made me feel abnormal for liking such “negative” things instead light, fluffy things like she did. I assumed she was right & something was wrong with me. Yet, nothing changed even into adulthood. I still dislike fluffy stories.
I finally came to a realization about my so called negativity, & I think it may help some of you as well.
So many people I’ve spoken to who were raised by narcissistic parents also dislike light, fluffy stories. They prefer something real even if it is sad. Many also share my interest in true crime.
Many who were abused by narcissistic parents also share some similarities. We often are introverts, very down to earth & interested in the deeper things in life over the superficial, in particular what makes people tick. Knowing these traits, it only makes sense that we prefer what we do.
Another thing I realized is these things allow us to feel the emotions we never were allowed to feel growing up. Narcissistic parents deny their children the right to have emotions, in particular anger or hurt over the abuse. This often carries into adulthood. We grow up not comfortable showing or sharing certain emotions, & aren’t sure how to deal with them. Feeling anything about the abuse perpetrated on us by our own parents is especially not OK, so those emotions are ignored. Since those emotions aren’t felt, they need an outlet. Watching sad movies or true crime, reading sad or unjust stories or even listening to sad songs provides that outlet. They enable you to feel the sadness or anger without feeling it as it relates to the abuse.
Something else narcissistic parents can’t tolerate is their child feeling sorry for themselves. This, too, carries into adulthood, & many struggle with feeling compassion for ourselves because of that dysfunctional teaching. Being able to feel the emotions because of songs, stories or whatever also help you to feel them while not feeling sorry for yourself. If you watch a story of a young woman who was abused & murdered by her parents, as an adult woman who was abused by her parents, you’re going to be able to relate to her story. Your heart will go out to her, & you’ll feel pity, sadness, anger at the injustice. You should be feeling such emotions for yourself, but can’t. Instead it’s redirected.
If you realize that you too behave in this manner, all hope isn’t lost! At least you’re feeling the emotions you need to. That is good. Emotions demand to be felt, so if you don’t feel them in a healthy way, they will find another outlet. This outlet isn’t as destructive as it could be, so that is a definite plus.
Some people think about themselves as a child.. if that child was in front of you, what would you tell him or her now? Wouldn’t you want that child to be open about their feelings & heal? If it helps, talk to that child. Write letters to him or her. It may help you tremendously.
Most of all, never ever forget to talk to God. He truly understands even when we don’t. He wants to help & comfort you, so why not let Him?
When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they grow up dysfunctional in many ways. One of those ways is they learn no healthy coping skills. As a result, lying to themselves becomes a common way for them to cope.
Lying about what? Anything & everything! I remember years ago, I got my father a cell phone & my mother was angry about it. Eventually he was tired of her complaints & got rid of it. When she told me about it, she said she had no idea why he did that. I could see that she was trying to convince herself of that, but she knew the real reason. Remember, my mother’s mother was a narcissist, & extremely cruel to my mother her entire life, including neglecting her emotional health.
That is just one example, of course, but there are many other lies victims of childhood emotional neglect tell themselves.
Another lie is “I don’t matter.” Of course you matter! Everyone matters! The lie stems from being raised by parents who act like you don’t matter. It’s easier for a child to believe they don’t matter than to believe their parent is incapable of treating them as if they do matter. Any problem in a relationship between a child & his parents usually means the child assume he is to blame.
“I’m not good enough” is another lie stemming from childhood emotional neglect. When children are treated by their parents as if they aren’t good enough, they assume it’s because something is wrong with them rather than their parents. That, however is a big lie!
“I’m unworthy to ask for help.” Childhood emotional neglect teaches children that they are undeserving of “bothering” others by asking for help, especially from their parents. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Another common lie is, “I should be happy. I have no reason not to be happy.” When a child’s emotional health is neglected, they very easily can become depressed, yet may not know why, even into adulthood. They fail to realize they have been abused which is a valid reason for depression.
“I don’t need anything.” is a common lie, too. Of course you need something. Every person has needs. Sadly, being emotionally neglected in childhood trains children to believe that their wants & needs aren’t important, so they learn to ignore them. Years of ignoring them means they aren’t in touch with their needs at all.
Another common lie is, “I’m ok.” When someone is mistreated, it’s normal to be angry or hurt. When the child of emotional neglect is mistreated, although they may feel some anger or hurt, they’re disconnected from their feelings enough that they may not realize that. Or, they may recognize the anger & hurt, but believe they aren’t allowed to feel that way so they say, “I’m ok” instead.
“Anything you want is fine with me.” When a child survives emotional neglect, they learn early on it’s easiest just to go with what their parents want so they don’t get in trouble. After a lifetime of this, it becomes such a habit, that these children act this way with everyone about everything.
If you realize you have said these same lies, you are not alone! Start paying attention to what you say more so you become aware of ways you lie to yourself. Ask God to help you to help you recognize those lies. Once you recognize the ways you’re lying to yourself, then you can deal with them. My favorite way is to ask God to tell me the truth. Am I right to feel as I do? Please tell me the truth, Your truth. He does & it really helps me to see things more clearly. Writing about how & why I feel as I do is also helpful because seeing things in writing gives great clarity.
I wish you the best in defeating these lies & living a healthier, happier life! xoxo
Enmeshment is a term used to describe when boundaries are either very weak or non existent in a relationship, most commonly within a family. Enmeshed families aren’t simply close. Closeness is healthy, but enmeshment is not. It can cause a myriad of problems for the children.
Enmeshed families share very similar traits. The children are expected to think & act like their parents, to work in the line of work their parents want them to & basically live the life their parents want them to live rather than what they want to. Children are also usually the only close “friends” of sorts that the parents have. The parents demand or guilt trip their children spend plenty of time with them rather than create an environment that would make their children want to spend time with them. Children, no matter their age, aren’t supposed to do things they want, such as spending time with people other than their parents. In fact, enmeshed parents don’t want their children to leave home. Many adult children from these families didn’t leave home at an appropriate age. Instead they lived with their parents well into their 20’s, 30’s or maybe never even moved out. These children also feel responsible for their parents, starting at a very young age. This can cause them to put their parents’ needs & wants over their own, & later also over their spouse’s needs & wants. It creates a tremendous amount of stress in a marriage.
Children in enmeshed families frequently grow up feeling out of place when they aren’t with their families. They also lack a real identity beyond who their parents tell them they are. Their self esteem is usually quite low as well. Other common problems include a lack of relationship skills & lack of understanding of healthy boundaries. They also tend to be very distrustful of people who aren’t related to them, yet tolerate any abuse their family members heap on them. Many of these adult children seek out romantic partners who need caring for, which is a pattern they learned in childhood from their needy parents.
In order to end this dysfunctional behavior, the child of enmeshed parents needs first to recognize just how dysfunctional & harmful enmeshment is. It can be very hard to do this after a lifetime of believing the lie that the enmeshment means their family is closer & healthier t han others, but it still must be done.
Next, some distance must be set between parent & child. This is also very hard, I know, especially since most likely the parent will shame the child for wanting some space, but it can be done. Start small, such as not answering their call sometimes. If your parent complains, just say you were busy (which you were.. taking care of yourself) & couldn’t get to the phone. Also don’t spend as much time with your parent as you have. Pull away a bit. Don’t be so readily available to your parent. If they need your help, unless it’s a true emergency, tell them you can’t do what they need now but you can in a few days. These small ways to start setting boundaries will strengthen you & enable you to set bigger & better boundaries in the future.
Learn who you are, too. Pay attention to what you truly want, like, think, feel… you may discover you are much different than what your parents always said you were. Or, you may have some similarities. Either way, get to know the real you & enjoy who you are.
Recognize the false guilt. If your parent does their best to make you feel guilty for not taking their call one day or not visiting them, that is ridiculous. You’re an adult with your own life! Don’t accept that false guilt!
If you have close friends who understand your situation, discuss it with them. Let them support you. And if you don’t, check online for support forums. No doubt you can find one that helps you.
Mostly, turn to God. Pray about your situation & let Him help you to heal. He loves you & will be glad to do that for you!
So many children of narcissistic parents end up in many abusive relationships over the course of their lives. It starts out with abusive parents, then moves on to friends, later adding in co-workers & often eventually marrying a narcissist often from an equally narcissistic family.
As if the additional abuse isn’t bad enough, we also tend to verbally abuse ourselves about the situation. We beat ourselves up for getting involved with people who are so much like our abusive parents. We think we’re stupid, hopeless & much more. We can’t imagine why we would do such a thing. The aim of this post is to explain some possible reasons why we end up with these abusive people.
One reason is abuse is normal to us. We’re so accustomed to it, if a person isn’t abusive, we simply don’t know what to think of that sort of behavior. We choose an abuser over a safe, not abusive person simply because it’s familiar. There is a degree of comfort in familiarity, even when it is abusive. Thankfully, the more we heal from childhood, the more abnormal abuse becomes, & we stop attracting & being attracted to abusive people.
Children of narcissists grow up trying to find love, the love we never received as children. In a romantic relationship, this can give an abusive person a great deal of power & control. Until you recognize the signs of abuse, their power & control comes across as confidence, which can make you feel safe & loved, even there isn’t anything safe or loving about someone being controlling.
We also don’t really recognize what healthy love looks like. It’s not like a narcissistic mom & dad could provide good example of that. We think being loved means being abused, even though nothing could be further from the truth. When someone comes along & claims to love you, even if that person treats you like dirt, you think that person actually loves you.
Children of narcissists also settle. My mother told me no man would ever want me, so when my ex husband pursued me when we were in the eleventh grade, I felt like I shouldn’t pass up this opportunity even though he really wasn’t the type of guy I found attractive at all. After all, no one else would ever want me, I thought. Even dating other men after high school didn’t change that false belief I had. Many other adult children of narcissists I’ve spoken with have had similar experiences, & like me, settled for someone they didn’t love & who was abusive.
Gaslighting is your norm. You are so accustomed to being manipulated that you don’t recognize it as a problem. Since you don’t recognize this problem, the abuser can manipulate you in any way he or she sees fit. One common way narcissists keep their victim/spouse down is to make that person think that they are the problem in the relationship. When a person has low (or no) self-esteem, believing they are the problem will make that person feel as if they have to work hard to please their partner to make up for all of the misery they put that partner through.
If you too have experienced abusive relationships, then please stop beating yourself up! As you can see, it’s understandable! What matters is you escaped the abuse & learned from the awful experience. You’ll also find that the healthier you get & the more you learn, the more narcissists & other abusers will leave you alone.
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Overt narcissists & covert narcissists often marry because this creates a perfect, dysfunctional union. The real problem begins when they have children. Overt narcissists are not only able to be the center of attention in this family but also abuse the child without interference from the covert partner who refuses to defend the child. The covert narcissist is able to look like the martyr, the long suffering spouse. People wonder how this wonderful person can put up with being married to that awful spouse. The covert narcissist is also able to convince everyone, including the abused child, that there is no way for him or her to protect the child. In fact, often, the child becomes protective of the covertly narcissistic parent & comforts that parent when the overtly narcissistic parent abuses them rather than the parent comforting the child as it should be. The covertly narcissistic parent appears to be the true victim in this scenario, not the child.
Once that child grows up though, she usually learns first that the overtly narcissistic parent was abusive. She accepts that truth, as painful as it is. She may even change her behavior to be healthier such as setting boundaries.
The problem adult children in this situation often have is the covertly narcissistic parent. Accepting that parent was equally if not more abusive is a very hard pill to swallow.
I wondered why this is for a long time, & came up with some ideas.
When you compare an overt & a covert narcissist, the covert doesn’t look so bad. That person isn’t the one who beat you, cussed you out, tore your self esteem to shreds or destroyed your identity like your overtly narcissistic parent did. It was much harder to deny that your overtly narcissistic parent was abusive when that parent did such awful, hurtful things to you. Your covertly narcissistic parent probably seemed normal or even loving by comparison because of not doing those terrible things.
Chances are, your covertly narcissistic parent also was nice to you sometimes, maybe doing nice little things for you that your other parent didn’t know about. Nice behavior mixed in with abusive creates a great deal of confusion, especially in a child. No one wants to believe that a person who can do such nice things can be abusive.
And, that parent made you feel as if you needed to care for him or her instead of he or she caring for you. That created a strong bond to that parent that wasn’t created with your overtly narcissistic parent. Caring for another person naturally creates a bond. Look at mothers who care for their children or adult children who care for their elderly, frail parents for example.
When discussing this topic with a friend of mine some time ago, she also added that she thinks part of the reason it’s harder to accept that the covertly narcissistic parent is abusive is because that means that neither of your parents truly loved you, which is incredibly hard to face. That is an excellent point.
Accepting one parent was abusive & didn’t love you is hard enough, but BOTH parents?! That is incredibly painful. No one wants to feel they aren’t loved by one parent, let alone both. Even if you know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, realizing both your parents didn’t love you can be devastating to your self esteem. It can make you feel unworthy, because you think if your own parents don’t love you, you must be unworthy of love.
Dear Reader, if you’re in the position of having one overt & one covert narcissistic parent, please know you aren’t alone. This sort of situation happens more often than you might think. And if you’re struggling coming to terms with it, you’re definitely not alone. Many, many people have been there, including me. As painful as it is though, you need to find a way to come to terms with the fact your covertly narcissistic parent is also abusive & not the good parent you thought he or she was. It’s hard, but you can do it! It will help you to accept the truth. After all, the truth sets us free! xoxo
People who grew up with narcissistic parents learned early in their life that their feelings didn’t matter & in fact, they weren’t even allowed to have feelings. The only feelings that are important to any narcissist are the feelings of that narcissist, after all. Growing up in such an environment, it’s very common for children to learn to ignore their feelings or on the off chance they feel something, to stuff that emotion deep down inside & ignore it.
This is very unhealthy behavior!! Feelings don’t just disappear or die. They remain, even when ignored & neglected. Sure, you can ignore or even numb them successfully for a time, but they will demand attention at some point.
Feelings are actually a wonderful thing, in spite of what our narcissistic parents taught us. They let us know when things are good or bad. They warn us when something harmful is happening & give us a release when too many bad things are happening at once. Sharing your feelings also can create intimacy with someone by making you vulnerable with that person. That really is a good thing, provided you share with a safe, loving person.
After a lifetime of ignoring your feelings though, where do you begin?
First, start paying attention to yourself. Notice how you really feel about things. Do some things make you happy? Sad? Angry? Pay attention to what those things are & how they make you feel. This will help you to get to know yourself better as well as how you honestly feel about things. You can journal about your discoveries, too, as having a written record to look back on can be very helpful.
Also, never judge yourself for what you feel. Feelings just are, they just happen, even the strange ones. You aren’t wrong if vanilla ice cream makes you angry. Chances are that if you get angry when you see vanilla ice cream that there is some trauma in your past connected to vanilla ice cream, & that is why you feel that way. Figure out what that trauma is & face it head on. Sure, that sounds odd, but things like that can happen. I believe God lets us face only what we can at a time which is why some repressed memories start as unusual things like the ice cream example. That first strange little thing is a stepping stone to a larger thing that needs your attention.
Don’t forget to talk to safe, good people about your feelings. It helps to have caring people validate your feelings. There is nothing wrong with you for what you feel, but it can feel that way at first. Having someone you can trust tell you that you’re OK, & there is nothing wrong with you for what you feel can be incredibly helpful!
Most of all, don’t forget to pray & pray often. God will help you however you need the help, so let Him! Tell him whatever you think & feel, ask for whatever you need & listen to His voice as He speaks to you. You’ll be glad you did!