Tag Archives: should I go no contact
Ending a relationship with anyone is a huge decision, in particular when it comes to family members. If you read anything about people who are victims of narcissistic abuse, they’re frequently told, “Just go no contact.”
No contact is a very viable option for victims, & usually the best one. However, it also isn’t an easy solution. I have yet to talk to one person who has implemented no contact that came to that decision easily. It often came after months or even years of wondering if there was any other solution & much trying to turn a toxic relationship into a healthy one.
The purpose of this post today is to help you to gain some clarity on whether or not no contact is your best option.
To start with, I always recommend prayer. Ask God to show you the truth about your relationship, what you should do, how to handle the situation & to give you strength, courage & wisdom to do what is best.
Then, consider your relationship. There is a difference between someone who is abusive & someone with whom you just don’t get along. Personality clashes can be very challenging & frustrating, but they also don’t leave a person feeling badly about themselves or even doubting their own sanity. How does this relationship make you feel?
Are you the only one in the relationship who is trying to make it healthy? If not, that’s great! If so, that is a sign this person is toxic.
Does the other person make excuses or blame you for their bad behavior? Do you come away from a confrontation feeling as if you’re the problem every single time? That is a huge red flag! Healthy people accept responsibility for what they do wrong. They also apologize, try to fix things when possible & change their behavior.
How does the other person react to you setting reasonable boundaries? Healthy people are fine with boundaries. Unhealthy people, not so much. They get angry, pout, behave in passive/aggressive ways, ignore & mock boundaries.
Probably by now, you have more clarity on whether or not you should end the relationship. If you think you do need to end it, there are other things you should consider too, especially if this person is a family member.
Possibly the most important thing to consider is this. If you go no contact, will you be able to stay no contact, no matter what? Going no contact then later resuming a relationship with an abuser never ends well for the victim. Reason being is abusers see this as a victim having weak boundaries that mean nothing. They can be trampled over with no real consequences for the abuser. This means an abuser will behave worse than ever when they understand this.
For your own peace of mind, I also believe it’s important to know you tried your best in the relationship. No, one person can’t fix any relationship on their own. However, having peace of mind knowing you did your best is very beneficial. So many abusers do anything they can to make a victim think they didn’t do enough before severing ties or if they just would have done that one thing, the relationship wouldn’t have failed. When you truly know you did your best, those sorts of tactics don’t work.
Going no contact also means losing friends & family who side with the abuser. You need to be aware that will happen, even with those who you never expected to abandon you.
Lastly, what do you feel in your heart is the right move for you to make? Instincts are a wonderful thing & I believe God’s still small voice speaking to us. Trust what you feel in your heart, & you’ll know if no contact is the right decision for you.
As I’ve said many times, my heart goes out to those in the position of being unable or unwilling to go no contact with their narcissistic parents. You’re in a tough, tough place, & I understand since I’ve been there. I want to help you if I can, & that is what today’s post is about.
There are some small, easy ways you can set boundaries with your narcissistic parent while not eliminating them from your life entirely.
For starters, reduce the amount of time you spend with your narcissistic parent. Don’t visit or have your parent visit you as often. Stop taking their calls every time they call. Ask yourself if you feel up to dealing with your parent, & if not, don’t take that call or visit.
When you must visit or speak with your parent on the phone, set a time limit. Don’t allow your narcissistic parent to waste half your day when that is so hard on you! Set a limit, then say “I have to go” & go.
Also if you visit your narcissistic parent, have a way out. Plan something to do so you only have a limited time to spend with your parent. If you can’t think of something, say you just remembered something you have to take care of & go. It’s not a lie- you remembered you have to take care of yourself!
Remember to keep the conversation away from you. Your love life, in-laws, job, troubles & even your mental & physical health should be off the table for topics to discuss with your narcissistic parent. Giving any narcissist personal information is just asking for trouble such as criticism & unasked for, useless advice. Change the subject if your parent wants or demands to know something personal about you. If all else fails, ask your parent about something that matters to her. Chances are excellent she’ll drop the matter at the opportunity to talk about herself.
If you’re dependent even slightly on your narcissistic parent financially, find ways to put an end to it. Narcissists love controlling their adult children with money, so remove that tool if at all possible. If not, then at least find ways to reduce the amount.
If you have pets or kids, have strict boundaries in place. It is your job to protect them & that includes from abusive & narcissistic parents.
When it’s time to set boundaries with your parent, remain calm. Show no emotion, simply state the facts. Any signs you are upset will fuel your narcissistic parent’s behavior. Stay calm, state your boundary & the consequence of your parent not respecting the boundary, then enforce it if necessary.
If you’re friends on social media, unfollow your narcissistic parent. You will remain friends, but you won’t see her posts which can reduce stress.
If you must go somewhere with your narcissistic parent, drive separately. That way, you are free to leave at any time if need be. Also, cars are a great weapon for some narcissists. There is no escape- you have to put up with whatever they do when you’re in a car together. My mother loved having me trapped in her car, & used it to scream at me when I was a kid or belittle me as an adult.
Always remember the Gray Rock Method. Think about what gives your narcissistic parent narcissistic supply, & refuse to provide it. Basically, you need to be boring to her. Don’t admire her. Don’t praise her. Don’t get angry at her so she can portray herself as the victim. Don’t coddle her. Don’t share anything personal about yourself that she could use against you or as fuel to spread lies about you. Don’t empathize with her if someone has hurt her. Show no real interest in her problems. If she needs your assistance with something, do the bare minimum, don’t go above & beyond. Gray Rock can be hard at first because every tiny thing can provide narcissistic supply, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Lastly, pray & pray often. Ask God to help you cope with your narcissistic parent, to give you the right words to say, & to give you effective, creative ways to cope with her behavior. He will NOT disappoint you!
While no contact is often the best solution for a person with narcissistic parents, sometimes it isn’t an option or at least isn’t an option in the near future. This post is for those of you in that position.
I understand how difficult it is to be in that situation. I wanted to sever ties with my parents for over a year before the timing felt right. I did learn some things during that time though, & I hope what I learned can help you.
I think it is a good idea first to get to the root of why no contact isn’t an option & eliminate the problem if at all possible. Are you financially dependent? Then try to find other means of supporting yourself. Are you afraid of being alone? It is better to be alone than to have abusive people in your life! God can send you new friends who genuinely love you & become like family. Are you afraid of what may happen if you go no contact such as relatives attacking you? I know that can be pretty intimidating, but think about it- what can they really do to you? If all they can do is tell you what a terrible person you are, that is something you can handle. After all, didn’t your narcissistic parents tell you that often growing up? My mother did. Although it bothered me when the flying monkeys told me the same things, I realized their words only upset me because they reminded me of when my own mother said worse to me. Once your own mother has called you horrific names, you develop a sort of armor to that verbal abuse. Do you somehow know that the timing isn’t right like I did? Then keep praying & follow God’s promptings. When the timing is right, you will know it & He will enable you to follow through with going no contact.
If you are unable to go no contact at this time but want to, then try for low contact. Limit your exposure to your narcissistic parent as much as possible. Don’t be available every time they call. Don’t visit or invite them to your home often. Follow your heart & deal with them only when you feel you are able to. I used to pray before answering my parents’ calls. I’d ask God if I should take it or not & if I felt His answer was yes, I’d ask Him to guide my words & enable me to handle the situation in the best possible way.
When you must deal with your narcissistic parents, there are some helpful skills you can use.
Always remember that your parents are narcissists. You aren’t dealing with normal, stable, healthy people. You can’t expect them to behave as such. Get rid of any expectations for them to behave normally or show love to you.
Also remember- with narcissists, everything boils down to how can they get narcissistic supply? You’re best off depriving them of that supply, but in ways that can’t trigger their narcissistic rage. To do this, the Gray Rock method is best.
I think of Gray Rock as becoming boring to narcissists. What interests them? Deprive them of that. In other words, don’t tell them personal information. In conversation, stick to superficial topics like the weather. If you’re out of ideas for superficial conversation, ask the narcissist about herself. They love talking about themselves, so you might as well make it work for you. In difficult situations, you can ask the narcissist about herself & that should divert the attention off of you since most narcissists can’t resist an opportunity to talk about themselves.
Always stay calm, cool & collected around your narcissistic parent. Narcissists see displays of emotions as weakness, which makes them attack their victim like a hungry lion attacks a weak gazelle. In their presence, show no emotion. Always be cold & emotionless.
Keep firm boundaries in place & offer no explanations for them. You can say NO without explaining yourself further. If your narcissistic parent demands to know why you say no, change the subject. If your narcissistic parent hints at wanting to know, ignore the hints.
Keep learning all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It will help you to keep a healthy perspective of your situation. It will help you not to take your parents’ abuse so personally & it will help you to figure out effective ways of dealing with them.
And, never forget to pray often & talk to your safe, supportive friends who understand your situation. A good support network is extremely important in these situations. Avoid people who tell you what to do. People who don’t understand why you won’t go no contact or think no contact is wrong are not people you need to deal with, especially as you are trying to go no contact.
Last night, I had two extremely vivid nightmares about my parents. I woke up anxious & afraid from both, but especially the second one.
I got to thinking & praying about the dreams, I realized they showed me something. It is incredibly hard to accept a covert narcissist parent as the evil, abuser that they are!
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a LOT of dreams about my father & when I prayed, God would tell me to pay attention to them- they are showing what he is really like, as He did when I asked about last night’s nightmares. Yet in spite of the many warnings, I was still shocked when he did certain things like calling the police twice on me for “welfare checks” after I stopped speaking to him, accused my husband of keeping me from him or sending several flying monkeys after me.
When you’ve been raised with an overt narcissist & a covert narcissist, it is hard to accept the covert narcissist is bad. After all, compared to the overt, the covert doesn’t seem so bad. The covert doesn’t scream at you or hit you or shred your self-esteem. Plus, it’s incredibly hard to accept that both of your parents didn’t love you. One is hard enough, but two? Incredibly painful. So, many people tell themselves that their covertly narcissistic parent isn’t so bad. Sure, that parent has flaws, but it could be worse, right?
I firmly believe covert narcissists are way worse than overts. At least with overt narcissists, you know where you stand & what they’re capable of. Not so with covert narcissists. Due to their subtlety, they can abuse so discreetly, a person doesn’t even realize it’s happening. They also give such a good appearance as a victim that on the off chance you recognize they’re behavior is abusive, you don’t have the heart to upset them by confronting them. They also love to appear naive & innocent. This makes you doubt they know what they’re doing is wrong. It also means if you tell people you both know, you won’t be believed. Covert narcissists also make you feel sorry for them, which is another guarantee that you will let them get away with anything they want to do.
If anyone meets my father, they get the impression he’s a simple country boy- laid back, good sense of humor & a pleasant person. And, now that he’s pushing 80 & has Alzheimer’s & other health problems, they also feel bad for him. They don’t realize the incredibly evil, twisted things he is capable of because they only see the way he presents himself. They don’t believe that when my mother abused me, he not only failed to protect me, he also turned the situation around so I would comfort him because he said he was upset she hurt me. They wouldn’t believe he expected me to apologize to him for breaking a wall when my mother threw me into it when I was 19. Yet, these things are absolutely true.
Dear Reader, if you have a covertly narcissistic parent, please pray about your situation. If you’re maintaining that relationship thinking that parent isn’t as bad as your overtly narcissistic one, you’re probably wrong. I thought that myself & I certainly was. It’s taken me a lot of painful events, & long time to see my father for the wicked narcissist he is. It took many nightmares & painful events to realize it. I would love to spare you the kind of pain that I have had to experience because I didn’t want to accept the truth, so please, please pray about your situation. Ask God to show you the truth about your parent, to enable you to handle it & what you should do about it.
Once upon a time, no contact was a rare thing. It only happened rarely, when the victim of an abuser was at the end of her rope after trying every possible solution she could think of. This is no longer the case.
Today, relationships are much more disposable. No contact is often preached as the only reasonable solution, no matter the situation. Many victims are shamed if they are unwilling or unable to go no contact with their abusive parents or other family members. Often, many who have opted to go no contact no longer see any alternative, especially when an abuser is a narcissist.
Unfortunately, what many people fail to realize is there are no “one size fits all” solutions especially when dealing with narcissists. No contact is not always possible or the desired solution. Some wish to get to that point but do not feel able to at the current time. It depends a great deal on the individuals involved & their specific situation. While I certainly believe no contact is a viable solution in many (well, most) situations, I have spoken with many who are unwilling or unable to go no contact. They have shown me there is a great need for compassion & understanding for them. I hope to help to create that with this post.
Narcissism is a spectrum disorder. Some narcissists aren’t very high on the spectrum, exhibiting few narcissistic behaviors. If someone is firm with their boundaries with those narcissists, chances are the narcissist will respect those boundaries, albeit grudgingly. If someone acts the exact same way with a malignant narcissist instead, someone very high on the spectrum, chances are their results won’t be so good. If a victim feels they can be firm & handle the lower on the spectrum narcissist, is it really necessary for that person to be shamed for maintaining a relationship if that is what they want to do?
Relationships shouldn’t be easily disposable. To tell someone who recently learned about narcissism that she should “just go no contact”, especially if the narcissist in question is a parent, is ridiculous! The victim needs to learn about narcissism & ways to cope with a narcissist, then try some possible ways to cope before deciding if no contact is the right solution. Ending any relationship is an extreme move, & it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
There is also such a thing as filial piety in Asian cultures. This means that the children care for their aging parents no matter the personal cost. Not doing this can result in a ruined reputation or being ostracized, for daughters in particular. It is unfair to shame those in this culture simply because you disagree with it. Agree or not, it is a fact of life, & they need to handle the situation however they see fit. They may need to implement low contact indefinitely to avoid the fallout of going complete no contact. This means they need support, understanding & love to help them in this difficult situation.
While no contact is often the only solution when dealing with a narcissistic personality, it shouldn’t be the first solution that comes to mind. It should be a last resort after other methods have been tried with no success.
**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.
If you have read much at all about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you have read about the benefits of going no contact. It is often the only solution, as many authors on the topic will feverishly tell you. After all, it’s not like you can reason with someone who refuses to accept any responsibility for their actions. Many times, all you can do is hope to escape the narcissist with your sanity in tact.
Unfortunately though, one thing I have noticed is many people who say that no contact is the only solution fail to mention that is it not a cure all.
Certainly, eliminating an abusive narcissist from your life is beneficial. You no longer have the daily struggles. Without their gaslighting, you can think clearer. Your finances may improve as well, if the narcissist was draining your bank accounts. You finally can focus on yourself & healing. However, without the narcissist in your life, you still will have problems that stem from your time being abused by that peson.
Please believe me, I’m not speaking against no contact. While I believe it is an individual decision & no one should attempt to force anyone into making that decision, I also realize it is usually the best solution. I just think it is very important for people who opt to remove the narcissist from their life to realize that doing so won’t solve all of their problems. Yes, it will improve daily life since they won’t have to deal with new, frustrating, abusive situations, which is fantastic. But, it also won’t solve some things.
No contact doesn’t cure PTSD or C-PTSD. In fact, there is no known cure for either. All you can do is manage the symptoms, which, by the way, can be much easier without a narcissist around!
It also doesn’t stop repressed memories from returning to the forefront of one’s mind sometimes.
It also doesn’t mean you won’t have times of missing the narcissist. They all have something that made you love them. If they didn’t, deciding to go no contact wouldn’t have been a difficult decision at all.
No contact doesn’t mean you won’t think of the narcissist anymore. Whether he or she is a parent, relative, romantic interest or friend, you have shared experiences together. You won’t forget them just because that person is no longer in your life. Birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions will pop into your memory periodically.
Please don’t lose hope after reading these things! They don’t mean there is something wrong with you or you are irreparably damaged. They simply mean you are a normal person who has been deeply affected by narcissistic abuse.
These things also don’t mean no contact is a bad idea. Like I said, it is often the only solution to an extremely painful & impossible situation. The reason I wanted to share these things with you, Dear Reader, is so you will be prepared if you do opt to go no contact.
Many people have very definite opinions on the topic of forgiving narcissists. Usually it’s one of two extremes- either you forgive & forget, or you refuse to forgive because narcissists don’t deserve forgiveness & aren’t sorry for the damage they cause anyway.
I am a firm believer in forgiveness, but not in the “forgive & forget” sense.
In a relationship with a narcissist, if someone confronts a narcissist, they can count on any of a variety of possible, ugly scenarios happening: The narcissist denies everything, the narcissist blames the victim for “making” her act that way, the narcissist turns the tables so she is the victim & the real victim is mean/unreasonable, or the narcissist recruits her flying monkeys to talk some “sense” into the victim while taking attention off the narcissist’s actions & making her look like an innocent victim.
When this happens, many people end all contact or greatly limit their contact with the narcissist. Often, especially in Christian circles, this is mistaken as the victim hating the narcissist or holding a grudge. That can be true of course, but in my experience, it’s seldom the case.
Using myself as an example, I’ve had to end friendships. The hardest was with an old friend I’d had for over 20 years. I’d prayed a great deal before doing so, & knew in my heart it was the right choice. Not because I hated my friend, but because I knew I deserved to be treated better than I was being treated. I forgave him for his actions, but since I’d seen him changing, realized I would be hurt again if I continued the friendship. I didn’t trust him anymore.
I’ve seen many scenarios with adult daughters of narcissistic mothers that are very similar. The daughters go no contact because of how awfully their mothers treated them, & they learn their mothers are trash talking them to other people which shows they don’t want to fix things. It also shows they have no desire to apologize or accept responsibility for what they have done. These daughters are seldom angry about what their mothers have done, & almost never say they hate their mothers. I would guess that 99% of the daughters I’ve spoken with in these situations don’t harbor anger. They have forgiven their mothers, but they also know they have to have her out of their lives for the sake of their own mental health &/or to protect their husbands & children.
Unfortunately with narcissists, a normal, functional, healthy pattern of working problems out doesn’t happen. Normally, someone is approached about the hurtful action they did, that person apologizes & if necessary, changes their actions to regain your trust. Since that won’t happen with a narcissist, many times very limited or no contact is the only option left. If you are in that situation, please don’t allow others to make you feel badly for making that choice or accuse you of being unforgiving or un-Christian. Do what you believe you need to do!
And, remember- forgiveness isn’t about the narcissist. It’s something you do for yourself because you deserve better than carrying around anger or bitterness. That is all. It can be done whether or not you’re in a relationship with your abuser. Reconciling the relationship & learning to trust the abuser require that person’s participation, but forgiving her does not.
Lately, I’ve noticed many people in a relationship with a narcissist often have something that shuts them down with the narcissist. The narcissist says or does something that makes their victim feel like enough is finally enough. They reach the point of being completely fed up with the games, the gaslighting & the abuse. This one thing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The victim is now done. One of my readers calls this the last straw moment.
A while back, I had a big fight with my parents that I have mentioned in this blog before. Long story short, they wanted to attend my late mother in-law’s funeral, & seemed annoyed I didn’t tell them she died- they found out about her death when they saw her obituary in the local paper. In spite of knowing how badly she treated me, both of my parents said they wanted to “pay their respects” to her & “didn’t want to disappoint my father in-law” by not going (my parents & in-laws have seen each other twice in the 20+ years my husband & I have been together). I felt betrayed that they cared more about “paying respects” to her than me, & neither of my parents understood that.
As of the time I’m writing this post, neither of my parents have spoken to me in quite a while. The evening of the fight was the last time I spoke with my mother. That was in May. My father only spoke to me a handful of times after that, but I haven’t heard from him since July. I guess now he’s not speaking to me either. That’s fine- it’s his choice. I realized this situation was my last straw moment with my parents. Granted, this was not the first time they have cared more about someone else than me, even someone who has hurt me. The reason it is my last straw moment is because my parents have the unadulterated gall to be angry at me for defending myself to their complete lack of concern over my feelings. If they had responded by saying something like, “I never thought of it that way. I’m sorry,” I could have lived with them wanting to pay their respects, probably without even being angry since they just tend to be so inconsiderate of me. I accept that about them & don’t expect otherwise from them. But, they didn’t. They acted like something was extremely wrong with me for being upset with them. My father quickly changed the subject after defending himself briefly. My mother even acted bored when I was angry & crying. Bored! Her own daughter is upset to the point of yelling, crying & even using some profanity which are all out of character to me in her presence, yet she was bored. My parents were offended that I defended myself & they couldn’t comprehend why I felt they betrayed me. Wouldn’t even try to comprehend it, for that matter. Those facts are what triggered my last straw moment.
I’m learning from my own experiences & from those of others I’ve spoken with that last straw moments with narcissistic parents are a plethora of conflicting emotions.
When things first happen, there can be a sense of being in shock. Whatever they did may not have been the worst thing they’ve done to you, but you can’t believe it at first. You may think things like, “They did it AGAIN?!” or, “They really don’t care at all how I feel!” While you know they’re capable of such things obviously, you can’t believe it happened, even when it feels like the millionth time. You are amazed anyone can be capable of such cruelty, let alone extending that cruelty to their own child.
Anger kicks in too. You may feel totally fed up. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Enough is enough! You are done putting up with their abuse!
Sadness kicks in after the anger. Sadness because what they did hurt you & because you realize there is truly no hope for your relationship. Even understanding narcissism, there is usually a tiny part of the adult child of narcissistic parents that clings to the hope that maybe somehow, some day, things will change. Whatever they did to you this time erased that tiny glimmer of hope completely.
Sadness morphs into grief. Grief isn’t only for losing a loved one. Grief happens when you experience loss, & a last straw moment with your narcissistic parent is definitely a loss. Not only have you lost the hope I mentioned in the previous paragraph, but much more. It often hits people in last straw moments how much the narcissist has stolen from them- their childhood, their self-esteem, their ability to be mentally healthy, their joy… Such losses can be very hard to deal with, & trigger grief. That is the stage I’m at with my parents now.
You can bounce back & forth between grief & anger quite often. I certainly have.
Yet, among the negative emotions are some very positive ones as well. For me, once my parents stopped speaking to me, I finally felt free enough to be myself, the person God made me to be, not the person my parents wanted me to be. I’d been getting further from what they wanted me to be for quite some time, but without them in my life, I was able to be completely myself, 100% of the time, for the first time ever. It’s pretty cool! I love feeling so free!
Caring over what my parents think has disappeared as well. I know if I must deal with them at some point, the usual snarky, cruel, hateful criticisms won’t be as hurtful because I really don’t care what they think of me or my life. It’s really not my business anyway, what they think of me. I’m living as I believe God wants me to, & that’s all that matters to me anymore.
It’s also common to feel like a weight has been lifted. Which is natural since it has been. Whether you stopped speaking to your narcissistic parents or they stopped speaking to you, that burden is now gone from your life. Or, if you’re still in a relationship with them, you still may feel the lifted burden feeling. That is because you no longer care about pleasing them or gaining their approval. You may have accepted them as they are- cruel, devious, hate-filled & abusive people- & no longer have any expectations of them to be anything but what they are.
Last straw moments can be difficult & confusing, but oddly, they also can be a blessing in disguise. To deal with all of the conflicting feelings, I recommend a lot of prayer, as well as talking to a trusted, safe friend. Journalling helps too. Anything that helps Writing things out helps you to see things clearly, which really can help you to heal. Anything that helps you to get your feelings out without fear of judgment is a good thing.
I think many of us who stay in a relationship with our narcissistic mothers have been asked repeatedly, “Why don’t you go no contact with her?” Often, good points follow such as, “You don’t deserve to be treated that way” along with stories of someone else they knew who had a narcissistic mother & has never been happier since she went no contact. I have been called foolish & accused of trying to be a martyr as well.
This conversation really can make you doubt your decision.
The truth of the matter though, is that ending a relationship, any relationship, is no one else’s business. Ending a relationship is a very painful decision, but perhaps ending one with your mother is the most painful of all. Ending a relationship is also a very individual decision. You are a unique individual with unique feelings & responses to things. You may be more willing or able to tolerate certain things than another person. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong & the other person is right or vice versa- it simply means you’re different.
If you’re considering going no contact with your narcissistic mother, then please do NOT let anyone else influence your decision! This is one that you need to make by yourself, & have absolute peace & certainty with your decision. You need to be sure that whatever your choice, you will have no regrets. To do this, I strongly suggest a great deal of prayer. Ask God to help you make this choice & how to handle it whichever way it goes. He will not lead you wrong.
If you opt to go no contact, then you need to remember to stick to your decision. Don’t call your mother up to wish her a happy birthday or ask her advice after telling her you want her out of your life. This only goes to show you have weak boundaries, & a narcissist naturally will use that against you. If you & your mother share relationships, then tell those people that you don’t want them to discuss you with your mother or her with you. It’s just best to keep others out of the situation that should stay between you & your mother so that person doesn’t feel torn between you two. Also, beware of flying monkeys- the people your mother sends after you to “talk sense” into you. They will work hard to make sure you know how badly you’ve hurt your mother & what a terrible daughter you are. Tell these people that the topic of your & your mother’s relationship is not up for discussion. Don’t try to explain your side or defend yourself or your decision- it will not only fall on deaf ears, it will hurt you to be so invalidated. Simply do not engage these people.
If you opt to stay in a relationship with your narcissistic mother, there are ways to manage it. I opted to go limited contact, which means I don’t talk daily to my parents as I once did. I talk to them & visit them as I feel able, not always on their time schedule like it used to be. Continue to work on your healing, not only for yourself, but also because it will change the relationship with your narcissistic mother. The healthier you are, the less interest narcissist will have in you because you are harder to use & abuse. Focus on setting & enforcing healthy boundaries too. Most of all though, remember that it won’t be easy. There will be times you slip up & fall into old, dysfunctional patterns. Don’t beat yourself up for that. These times happen. Just learn from it, try not to let it happen again.
God doesn’t want you to be a martyr & stay in relationship with your narcissistic parent if you feel you can’t do it. It’s not His will you be miserable, but to be happy. However, that doesn’t mean going no contact is the only option.
No contact is a very drastic move, & one that should be made only after a great deal of prayer & thought on the matter. It is also not one that you should let other people tell you to make. You need to decide on your own whether or not it is the right decision for you, & have absolute certainty in your decision.
In 2001 I went no contact with my mother. She contacted me in 2007, & I decided to allow her back into my life at that point. I figured I had learned & grown enough that things would be better. They are, although sometimes they are still extremely hard & painful. Those times often make me think about going no contact again. I have prayed about it many times, but I haven’t done it. In 2001, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was what I had to do. Now, I have yet to feel that certainty. I firmly believe that our instincts are given to us by God, so if my instincts aren’t clearly telling me it’s time, then I won’t do it.
If you too feel no contact is not your answer just now, you are not alone! I talk to many women who are either unwilling or unable to go no contact with their narcissistic mothers. There are several things you can to do help you manage this painful relationship.
- First & foremost, lean on God. Ask Him to help you to know what you need to do, when you need to do it, & how you need to do it.
- Keep your expectations of your narcissistic mother realistic. She’ll never be the caring, loving mother you wish she was. Accept her where she is. Don’t try to change her. At the same time, refuse to tolerate her abuse. Accepting her does NOT mean you need to tolerate being abused!
- Enjoy whatever positive comes out of the relationship. My mother has times where she is super pleasant & we get along well. It started in 2013, lasted for I think two months, & shocked me. It’s happened a few more times since then, & usually doesn’t last more than a couple of days. Even so, I decided to enjoy them when they happen, & accept the fact they will end soon or that she may never be so nice ever again. Acceptance means I am not devastated when the niceness is over.
- Keep conversations as superficial as possible. Telling your narcissistic mother about your problems, feelings or opinions is like giving her permission to crush you with her words, so keep conversations light. If she asks what’s new in your life, you say nothing. How are you- fine. Brief, uninformative answers are your friend!
- Show her NO emotion. Keep all emotions, good bad or indifferent, in check around her, because if you don’t, she will feed off of them. She will know what buttons to push to hurt you, & repeatedly push said buttons. Don’t give her the satisfaction. Then, once you’re away from her, tell God how you feel, write about it in your journal, or talk to a supportive friend. Holding in emotions isn’t healthy, unfortunately doing so temporarily is a wise thing to do with any narcissist rather than let them see how you feel.
- Have time limits. If you only feel strong enough to deal with your mother for an hour visit once a week, that is fine. Respect it. Don’t push yourself to stop by her home every other day or talk to her on the phone daily. It WILL hurt you physically & emotionally. You’ll be very depressed & sick as the stress compromises your immune system.
- Remember to pat yourself on the back when you enforce your boundaries & handle dealing with your narcissistic mother well. Dealing with a narcissist is never easy, so be proud of your successes!
- Learn from your mistakes. There will be times you slip up. You fall for your narcissistic mother’s manipulation or you show her you are angry when she insulted you. Those things are inevitable, unfortunately. Rather than beat yourself up for them, learn from them. How could you have handled the situation better? Do that the next time. And you know there WILL be a next time. Since she saw it upset you this time, she will do it again & again unless you let her know it doesn’t upset you anymore.
- Take care of your emotional & physical health. Dealing with any narcissist can take a toll on you, but perhaps none more than your own mother. If you know you have to see her on Monday, take time on Sunday to relax, to pray, to strengthen yourself in preparation for the visit the following day.
- Check your motives for staying in this relationship on a regular basis. Are you doing so because it feels right in your heart, after much prayer? Or, are you doing so because you’re afraid she’ll tell people you’re a bad daughter or she’ll start some kind of trouble for you? If your motives are good for you, then you know you’re doing the right thing, even if it is painful sometimes.
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.