Apr
08

Narcissism vs. Narcissistic re Mother Daughter Relationship Problems

By

Narcissism vs. Narcissistic in dysfunctional mother daughterNarcissism vs. Narcissistic in Mother Daughter Relationship Problems

Someone on the EFB facebook page wrote (in a comment to someone else) that I say that my mother is a narcissist and that she was mentally ill. I have never actually said that. I have said that my mother has narcissistic tendencies. I don’t actually think that my mother is a narcissist OR that she is mentally ill. (I don’t give much weight to the way the ‘mentally ill’ diagnosis is used in our society. I recovered by realizing that my depressions were a result of ‘what happened to me’ and that they had become an ineffective coping method for me.) Having said that, my mother suffers from depressions and she has for years and for the most part she has behaved towards me in a way that communicated that she thinks that she is more important than I am. She is disrespectful when it comes to me and she reacts to me in narcissistic ways communicating that my needs are not as valid as hers.

Her actions towards me are very discounting but that doesn’t make her a narcissist. Those things don’t make my mother a narcissist simply because she isn’t the same way with everyone. If my mother is a narcissist, there is a lot of evidence that she is able to control it. At best I might say that when it comes to the way my mother regards ME, she leans toward narcissistic tendencies.

A true mental health disorder is not controllable. People who have a true disorder can’t turn it on and turn it off. They can’t convince other people that they are wonderful and then in the privacy of home treat their own children like dirt. It doesn’t work that way. True narcissists are not well liked in society because they are narcissistic with everyone. They truly believe that they are more important than everyone else and it really shows.  

The reason that I bring this up is because for me a huge part of my healing came by understanding how the abusive parent, teacher, partner or friend, can actually choose how they behave. Just like I can choose how I treat other people, my mother, my family, my friends and co-workers can too.  And if I have a choice, then so does everyone else, unless I excuse their choice by labeling them with a serious disorder like Narcissism or Narcissistic personality disorder.  When their behaviour is within their control, the truth is that they don’t bother to try.

For so long I wanted to believe that my mother could not love me because she was sick. I wanted to believe her incapability because the alternative truth was way too painful to face. When I believed that she was sick and unable to love me and see me for who I am, I felt sorry for her. I believed that if I was the perfect child that she would finally love me so I kept trying harder. I believed that if I walked on egg shells that I would finally be good enough. But the truth is that I WAS always good enough and that she didn’t exercise her CHOICE in how she treated me. She wanted to garner sympathy for herself but it was manipulative and for her own gain, NOT because she had a narcissism problem.  Treating me the way she did “worked for her” ~ it got her what she wanted. She wanted her way. And yes ~ behaving in controlling and manipulative things to get her way is narcissistic, but it isn’t always “narcissism”.  

I don’t doubt that my mother’s depressions were real. I had enough depressions myself to know there is nothing fake about them so I am not saying my mother faked her problems. What I am saying is that she burdened ME with them. And because of her manipulative and controlling ways, I believed that her problems and depressions had something to do with me. I believed that I could help her and of course I couldn’t help her. I have written extensively about the way my belief system formed through the messages communicated to me because of the ways that I was treated and how it became a huge part of my survival mode to keep trying harder to convince the adults and caregivers in my life that I WAS worthy of being loved.

It has been helpful for me as it may be for you to read about narcissistic mothers and narcissistic personality disorder; my mother fits that description so well in so many of the ways she treated me in our dysfunctional mother daughter relationship but the bottom line is that my mother is not a true narcissist and it has been far more helpful towards my freedom, wholeness and recovery to face that truth.  As painful as it is, realizing that my mother excused her behaviour, sometimes even illegal behaviour because she was selfish and put herself first when it came to me, has been far more helpful than when I believed that she could not help the ways she acted and was not really accountable for the danger she put me in because she was ‘sick’ and that she didn’t actually have any choice about the way she behaved when it came to me.

In my early work I wrote a lot about how I came to understand that the ways I behaved and the difficulties that I had were ‘not my fault’ and that my inability to function as an emotionally healthy adult was a result of my dysfunctional and traumatic childhood.

But when it comes to my kids, I can’t use those things as an excuse to my kids. I can see how my abusive childhood ill prepared me to be a loving, healthy and emotionally balanced parent, but that doesn’t change the fact that my kids did not have the best mother I could have been and they have a right to be hurt by some of that stuff.

So although today I still feel sorry for my mother, I have to be honest with myself about the damage that she caused me with her disregard for my emotional health without looking at the dysfunctional and traumatic childhood that SHE herself had. I had to stop trying to diagnose my mother in order to ‘understand her’ because trying to understand her was part of my old survival mode that I was trying so hard to break out of.  

And the truth is that the damage caused to me wasn’t “less” because the person may have been ‘sick’.

I am not attempting to clarify this difference between narcissism and narcissistic behaviour today because of what was said on facebook; I am trying to clarify this because for 20 years I tried to recover from dissociative identity disorder, trauma and serious, continuous depressions without facing the truth about the way I had been raised as “less than” and the way that it affected me because I either believed that I really was ‘less than” or I excused the people who did the damage in the first place because of whatever ‘happened to them’ or ‘was wrong with them’. 

My old survival mode, the one that I developed in childhood, taught me to always blame myself and that ‘the problem’ always had its roots in me and that meant that if my parents actually had something ‘wrong with them’ that my defect was that I was not understanding enough.  I practiced patience and tolerance when I was being abused and mistreated. Freedom came when I learned to call a spade a spade and validate the damage that was caused to me. I threw patience and tolerance for abuse out the window along with diagnosis used to excuse perpetrators of abuse, neglect and trauma, so that I could stop this cycle of abuse and take my life back from the abusers and controllers.  My childhood survival mode no longer serves me as it did when I was a child without a choice so I needed to find a way to go forward with a new view of the real truth.

Narcissism is not my mother’s issue although as I said she has narcissistic tendencies when it comes to me, but it is not my concern anymore what her problem is. All I know is that when I put into words that all I really wanted was mutual respect, she choose not to grant me that and I love myself enough today to decide NOT to tolerate the disrespectful way that she regarded and disregarded me with anymore.  My mother believes that ‘entitlement’ when it comes to me, is her right as a parent and there is nothing that I can do about that when it comes to her. But I DO have a choice when it comes to me.

For the sake of further clarity, I am not saying that some of the readers here don’t have genuinely narcissistic parents.  I am not asking anyone to stop calling their parents narcissists; please feel free to call either or both of your parents a “Narcissist” here in EFB. (I am just saying that through my own investigation about narcissistic parents and narcissism, that diagnosis doesn’t actually apply to my mother.) I know that these people exist and how difficult it is to draw the necessary boundaries. Keep in mind however that the bottom line is still the same; nothing excuses the damage they caused and the damage must be validated (at least by you yourself) before healing takes place.

There are very few people who have genuine narcissism and there is a big difference between narcissism and narcissistic. Please share your thoughts about this subject and please keep in mind what I have said about the bottom line here. It was so easy to go down the rabbit trail leading no-where when I was stuck trying to figure out what was wrong with “them” instead of sticking to what happened to me in order to validate the damage.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

I have been told that EFB and the info here is priceless; but for me it has a price. Please consider making a donation to help cover my expenses. Thanks! (there is a donate button in the right side bar above.)

For related posts see highlighted links throughout the  body of the post.

More Related Posts: Survival Mode and an Alternate View of Narcissism  and Shifting my Thinking On the Journey to Overcoming Emotional Damage

 

Don’t forget to download your copy of the free guide to getting unstuck; just fill out the form under the picture at the top of the right hand sidebar here in this site and you will be sent a confirmation email~ as soon as you confirm your request, you will receive the download link for the guide! I am going to start a discussion on the info in the guide soon! ~ Darlene

Categories : Mother Daughter

172 Comments

1

Thank You once again Darlene for bringing a bit more clarity…. The truth unfolds slowly so that I can understand it…now I have a better label or way of interpreting my family and my life…We really do Emerge !

2

Sometimes you speak to my exact experience and it is completely overwhelming. All I can do is say thank you. When I recover from devastating long-term unemployment, I WILL make a donation.

3

Yes, I agree that there is a difference between true Narcissism & Narcissistic Tendencies. One is a disorder/sickness & the other is abusive, controlling & manipulative behavior. As a child, I had lots of empathy for my mom being an abuse survivor & like you I surely tried to do better & try harder for approval & acceptance. I now see my family & husband differently, in that they can Control their behavior. I’ve seen their best & worse behavior. It can be turned on & off. My mom & husband two constants in my life have excused how they have treated me. For example, now that my emotionally abusive & manipulative husband is out of the picture, due to no contact & a pending divorce, my mother is showering me with love bombing. She turned her back with no support in my marriage, due to her hate/resentment of my husband. I told her that I did not feel supported in my marriage & she said, “I did not mean to hurt you and it was never about you.”…I really don’t believe that, because of te way she treated me. When I set boundaries & limits, she became more controlling. Since my husband left, she has been calling almost every day, bought groceries for me & my kids & gave me money. All nice things, although I can’t count on any emotional support based on her past behavior. Anyway, I’m accepting the help, since I need it. She is backing me up w/ divorcing my husband & has strongly stated she wants him in prison. More to the story. The criminal stuff is in the judges hands and I do have an attorney to represent me. My constants are those that have stood by me through the good & bad. I’m learning who to share with & who not to. Who has my best interests & those who are insulting and kick you when u are down. Some people just can’t handle this heavy stuff for whatever reasons. It’s all a choice. A so-called good friend turned her back on me w/ no contact, after she supported me. I was hurt by that and I am not giving her an excuse, yet she has her share of problems and her actions are fear based. I do believe my family feared my husband too, yet they messed up by not supporting me when I needed it. Story of my life with foo. Well, my mom has shared w/me that she is seeing a professional, since I disclosed my childhood sexual abuse to her recently. She did not want to be blamed & said so. I was really hurt, since how about my feelings as a victim?!! She told me that her counselor said to her, “what are you doing?”…My mom said she is supporting me now. She has shown that yet I will not be controlled with strings attached. I know my mom’s gain is to see er grandchildren and so far she has seen them a couple of times recently. I’m taking it slow, to protect me & my kids. If it’s not my husband, it’s my family. It can be draining, so I’m sticking to My Truth that they are Narcissistic and I have choices to go towards or let go. I like this saying I saw recently, “Wisdom to let go of what we have held on to and Courage to stay, when we wanted to let go.” Wisdom with husband & Courage w/ family. Still going to use my wise mind with both though :)

4

This is a tough one for me. You describe my mother well. I consider her a narcissist in that she is eternally self-centered with everyone. I mean, she will interrupt even her friends in mid-sentence, to start talking about herself. I don’t believe she has no control over it, but I don’t know how much control she has. So far, I don’t believe she has the personality disorder, she’s just self-centered.

As for mental illness, I know that suicidal depression has been a lifelong companion for her, to the point that I don’t think she was always rational. Had she sought medical care, I suspect she may have been diagnosed as bipolar, whether that is true, or whether her mood swings were due to underlying health issues that can sometimes masquerade as bipolar. It’s very hard for me to know how much she could control, and how much she couldn’t. Perhaps I will never know. I try to be compassionate, because I have the same underlying health issues, but in my day, more is known about the disorder, and I have access to more effective treatment options.

And round and round I go. And in the end, I don’t know whether it’s important for me to know how much is her, and how much is the lifelong mental illness. I mostly think she’s selfish and always saw her children as a way to meet her own needs, not as separate entities. I’m trying to do the opposite, with my son.

Sorry, I’m rambling. Your posts stir up a lot of emotions for me, and I guess there is a measure of healing in feeling that someone else has experienced the same thing.

5

Good points Darlene. My mother could also control herself, she bothered to put on a different place in public, where she cared what other people thought of her. But she didn’t care about me in that way, at home she made no effort because her children weren’t worth it to her. I couldn’t care less about a ‘diagnosis’ when I know the truth, that my grandparents and great-grandparents etc. were extremely abusive and my mother chose to continue this cycle of abuse. I choose not to.

6

Darelene,
I’m glad you had a nice trip with your family! So happy to have you back! I always get excited when I see that you’ve put up something new :)

Thank you for this wonderful clarifying post. When I first learned of Narcissism I went “AHA! THIS is an exact description of the treatment I am getting from some of the people I’m dealing with in my FOO.” But … no amount of my labeling these people changed the facts … their behavior is hurtful, manipulative, and confusing. I see now that it IS something they were sure to control in front of ‘outsiders’ – to keep up the ‘family image’ … but, I felt confused – if they show all these traits of Narcissism, but then they can just quickly stop and ‘play nice’ when ‘outsiders’ were present … then, what do you call that? … (as you said, if it’s a TRUE mental illness, they can’t control it.) I see now that I was just searching for another excuse for their behavior, though I wasn’t tolerating the abuse any longer – and I’ve separated myself from their toxicity, internally I still told myself ‘they can’t help it, cause of the whole Narcissism thing’. The truth is – they’ve proven that they can ‘help it’. It was kind of confusing because I thought – “ugh … but they DO still show those characteristics of NPD …” But, I love how you pointed out that a person can show this kind of self-centered behavior and not be a ‘true N.” – Thanks for helping clear it up for me! :)

SMD –
“My mom said she is supporting me now. She has shown that, yet I will not be controlled with strings attached. I know my mom’s gain is to see her grandchildren” – I know what you mean! My FOO has been regularly trying to give gifts and offerings of ‘free’ things – just to be ‘nice’ … but there’s no such thing as free with some people. It just ends up going onto the list of “You owe me because I gave you ____ /or did ___ for you” –

We are struggling right now financially (my husband is now unemployed and has only been able to get called in for a job 1-2 times a week. We have two small kids (2 & 4 yrs) and at the same time are trying to sell the house to get out of living nearby my FOO … its hard for me to not accept the FOO ‘offerings’ – but, I turn them down. Not out of pride – (we do WIC, and I’ve been to food banks – so I’m not above asking for help) – but I turn down my FOO because I cannot allow them to hold one more thing over me. (and trust me, they WOULD) We are getting by, and our basic needs are being met … we are happy and flourishing emotionally – I’d rather be financially poor and yet free of abuse, than be showered with gifts and entangled by all the strings attached to them. :-\ … I hope that things go ok with your mom, and good for you for being able to stand up and not allow the ‘strings attached’ to control you! (I’m sorry about your having to experience losing a friend too … that’s never easy when you think you can trust a person, then they just disappear like that. I’ve experienced something similar and it’s rough.) Best wishes! (((hug)))

KR

7

Thanks Kera for understanding the “free” things & yes there are expectations attached. I need temporary help, yet I do have enough to get me by for a few months until state assistance & child support is granted. I have different financial stuff in the works. Already have an appt w/ state welfare, since I’m unemployed. Financial worries right now yet pusuing my options & job searching. My kids & I are getting by and we have support. Hugs back :)

8

Hi Calvin
I found that more I stayed on the track to truth, the more I emerged!
Thanks for sharing
hugs, Darlene

Hi Kelly
Thank you for your validation :) It is overwhelming, but it was so worth it for me to do this work that I don’t mind overwhelming others in hopes that the same freedom will result in their lives as resulted in mine. :)
hugs, Darlene

9

Hi SMD
Wow, lots going on at your end! Yay for using your wise mind!
Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Hannah
Your post reminded me of the point I am making in this article. :) I went round and round and finally decided to place all that spin on the shelf and focus on me, what happened to me and the damage caused to me without considering what may or may not have happened to them. Every time I started the round and round, I reminded myself that my goal was about ME this time. That is what worked and today I never go into that spin anymore. I am free of it. What happened to her/them is not for me to fix, or even to understand. I was the child. My freedom came when I broke out of that whole spin.
Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene

10

Hi Caden
Exactly. It really comes down to that when it comes to HEALING from this horror. My mother comes from extreme neglect and abuse too ~ so what? That has nothing to do with what happened to me. It doesn’t make me feel better or feel more valued. It doesn’t erase the choices she made. The proof that was so painful was seeing that she could control it and that she didn’t have to be the way she was with me.
Thank you for sharing.
Hugs, Darlene

11

Hi Kera
Although I am sure that this was a typo, I like how you called me “Darelene” ~ I make that typo too and it always makes me smile. I am DARE-LENE. :)
Another typo that I frequently make is to spell my name ‘darklene’ which also makes me smile because those ‘darklene’ days are long gone!
Glad you liked the post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Hugs, Darlene

12

Hi Darlene,

Have to say this is the best explanation I have come across regarding narcissistic behavior. Thank you for writing this & adding some clarity. Being raised in a home where the child is taught that everything about them is wrong, & hearing that everything about the parent is right, really messes with the reality felt by that child. I also know what that feels like, having lived in a similar situation. Both of my parents treated me as a “less than,” too. I have called my parents narcissists, but after reading this, they too probably had/have NPD since they can turn it on or off at will. It never occurred to me that it was a tool for control.

Again, thank you for such a poignant message. :-) Made my day!

January

13

Bravo on you Caden!!!
Thank you forever Darlene for writing from within and enabling us survivors to “emerge” for a much better life.
I can see Narcissitic traits in my Grandson, boy is it scary to have this illness and try and live!

keep on in your survivorship Darlene, we do listen and learn. xoxo

14

@ Darlene – haha you’re right it was a typo – did not even notice it … but, still – it takes a daring person to stand up to all the abusers … so, sure … “Dare-lene” works too ;)

love

KR

15

I love you Darlene and all that you do, (and I totally get what your saying) but I have to speak my thoughts on this and I disagree with this article. I’m glad that you are able to feel sorry for your mother, because my own mothers behavior is something I wouldn’t want to wish on anyone. She IS a narcissist with Narcissism, and yes, she can help it. She had enough sense to to leave me abandoned in the woods with no food or shelter, and she had a choice to protect me from my stepfather who tried to kill me with an axe but she CHOOSE to do nothing to protect me. But your right, the bottom line is still the same; nothing excuses the damage they caused and the damage must be validated before healing takes place. Peace.

16

Caden I loved your saying your mother chose to continue the cycle abuse, and you chose not to.
Darlene, It was a really great article, but now I am confused. I truly thought that this was what most of our mothers and fathers had was Narcissism. (Whether it was really a disease or not.) I thought that this was the defining traits we all shared with our parents on this site. Or shall we call it a severe case of self centeredness? Either way it seemed to have affected many of us in such similar ways. I loved how you made the point, Darlene, that we shouldn’t stay focused on their traits or why they are the way they are. We need to stay focused on ourselves because that’s what was missing all along. Life was always what mother wanted leaving everything else in the dust. Again, don’t get me wrong I loved the post, I’m just confused now about whether they are Narcissists. Thanks for any info.

17

Hi Darlene;
Again another great post…thank you.
I only found out about the whole “daughters of narcissistic mothers” information in December 2012 and was fortunate enough that my mother cut me out of her life due to personal growth I’d been experiencing prior to my realization(s). My intuition kept whispering that I simply had to not react emotionally (old survival patterns)but instead stay true to myself…and just be. It worked and it’s as though my new vibration is no longer a match for her narcissistic traits. It’s still really tough though because I genuinely miss the “nice and loving” aspects of our relationship. But the ultimate price-tag or strings attached are just too high and painful since the negative stuff always prevails. I’ve had NC for about four months now.
It was my birthday in March and my daughter’s 18th also. I didn’t expect to hear from her for mine but felt sad that my daughter also didn’t receive any birthday wishes from her grandmother either. She’s also been cut off as has my 15 year old son. she is in contact with my two older sons though.
Is NPD a mental illness since the behaviour can be controlled depending upon the Narc’s audience / target? I believe it is a disorder; some childhood abuse survivors develop the gift of empathy (my case) and others are devoid of any empathy…that is one of the main characteristics of NPD. And is the main reason why a Narc can turn it on and off so to speak. That is the nature of the disorder. As daughters of narc-parental abuse; it is up to us to take responsibility for our own recovery which usually requires going NC, clear boundaries, self-love, as well as lots of other modalities of self-healing.
Thanks again Darlene…
Dianne :)

18

Hi Darlene,

Although your mother may not have true narcissistic personality disorder, clearly she has some type of mental disorder…but I get your point, which is, that it does not matter. I have spent a lot of time myself trying to diagnose my mother and grandmother as well as others, and what I am have recently realized but not been able to put into words until now, is that ‘labelling’ them is simply more justification for their behavior. The pattern I learned growing up to make up justifications for them, and now I see that they would have me on that pattern for life if they could, and thereby not have to face their own traumas etc. and continue to live the dysfunction.

I strongly feel now that a truly ‘sick’ person is rare indeed. IMHO even most people with physical ailments like cancer and cardiovascular disease for example, have at least in part brought it on themselves. Sick people are not as capable, and so should be held less accountable for their behavior..it’s an excuse.

Thank you so much for posting this. I often tell my child that we are healthy, capable people. I tell him we are not sick, but strong. I tell him that sometimes everyone gets sick, but that we get back up again and stand tall. You have really helped me to see that this is the right way. Your postings here in this thread as well as the EFB blog are bright sign-posts in the road ahead reminding me that I am on the right road.
Anna

19

I just left my monthly $5 for you in Paypal, Darlene. Someday it will be more. I hope everyone you have helped helps you back.

20

Hi Darlene,
I stumbled across your website and am very happy to have read your article. thank you for typing what I’v been feeling for many years. I feel so sorry for my Mum; about a month ago I sent her a message after a long ‘text’ conversation, sorry; monologue to her, I was keeping it in a dialogue that she was behaving badly about myself in front of my brother and at the end I wrote, you are going to get away with your bad behaviour, nothing will happen, the world will still turn and the sun will rise tomorrow but you will miss out on having a wonderful caring beautiful relationship with your daughter and Im beautiful, caring and very loving. So, the next day, she turned up with a gift for my husband who had been ill, just for 5 minutes, she wouldnt look at me in the eye. I felt, kind to her but still felt very sorry for her. Since then, the behaviour has started again.

21

Well, my journey continues…after only 3 months of living with my elderly mother it looks like I will be moving again because I cannot find healing living in the hub of my family’s toxicity. I’ve been reading, writing and seeing a therapist during this time period and I just can’t heal as long as I am here. It’s especially bothersome to me as I worked for over 3 months to remodel the basement where I would be living, and no sooner did I move in the trouble began. I have 11 siblings (all adult wounded children, who are riddled with problems from severe drug abuse, depression, manic episodes and mostly rage). It is because of the toxicity in my family that I have been forced to find a new place, pack up and move out so soon after moving in. Being that I am in active healing mode, my emotions are crazy and confusing, but I have had a complete break from wanting to continue any relationship at all with my Mother and most of my siblings. I wrote my goodbye letter last night. It is written with a sarcastic tone. I don’t know why I did it that way, but that’s how it came out. My Mother also has narcissistic tendancies. Here’s the letter (Names have been changed). Let me know what you think:

Well hello family. I just wanted to let you know that your sister Connie died today. What this family has put me through in the past 3 months with Mom as the ring leader has finally made me realize that I was never loved by this family, never loved by Mom and that the family system we live in is toxic beyond anything I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. Hear me now and believe me later….Mom pits her kids one against the other and is out for only herself. She abused each and every one of us as children by basically treating us like a piece of furniture (there maybe an exception here for you Steven). To deny this, is to deny your very soul.
But I can even get past this, but what has transpired in this family over the last year or so is so toxic, so insane, so inexplicable and abusive to stay part of it would make certain the rest of my life will be nothing but chaos and despair ochestrated by a Mother who pits her unloved children one against the other. You know what really gets me about this family? Every person in this family has been called a fucking asshole by every other member of the family, yet they continue to socialize and “PRETEND” they actually love each other.
My downfall with this family started about a year ago when I started speaking up about people back stabbing and talking about each other behind their backs in a most judgemental and self-righteous way. We’re grandparents…don’t you think we could model just a little bit better behavior for our grandchidren than that? Well, I know that pissed a couple people off, because to change that behavior would be to remove pretty much the only way of communicating they have ever known. Then I moved in with Mom.
My intention when I moved in here was to have a quiet place to try and start addressing and healing the deep emotional scars I carry in an effort to deal with a rage issue that I have struggled with for years. Yep that’s right….rage. Now I know you all realize I am the only one in this family that has rage right? Well the way I’ve been treated since being at Mom’s would certainly make you believe that I am, but anyone that faces the truth knows rage is an issue of every person in this family….yep…even you Steven.
There were 30 witnesses here on Xmas eve that saw what Polly did, and somehow Mom found a way to blame the entire thing on me. Made up flat out lies about what transpired and led me to believe that my mere presence justified Polly’s outrageous behavior. In the days following this realization, I really thought I would go mad with the ridiculousness and malicious nature of how this family lies, manipulates and twists the truth in order to elevate themselves and look down on there siblings with distain and harsh judgement. Again, with Mom at the helm…everyone is whipped up into a frenzy….pity the fool (that would be me) who Mom decides to target….because she is the master of manipulation. Hey Jeff and Mary did you like the little tie the door shut with a rope prop she used to “shock” you tonight? Good one Mom….better tie up that wild animal in the basement…because she has been known to be extremely violent and dangerous…not to mention the multiple murders she’s committed in her life….????
Mom is on the phone all day most every day; doesn’t matter who she’s talking to the gist of the call is usually her berating one of her children to another one of her children. No One is exempt. Every person in this family has been talked badly about by Mom and each and everyone of their siblings. Then I dared to say this type of thing is abusive and I would not accept it. If you talk about me behind my back like a 14 year old school girl would, then you won’t be talking to my face at all. I will not sit across from someone who is “PRETENDING” to be a trusted, even loving family member while at the same time talking badly about me behind my back. This my friends is abuse and it’s been going on in this family for way too long.
Then one day my lovely perfect sister Meg came over hunched over the dining room table as if she was 90 years old. Out of concern, I make the simple comment, “Meg, you are sick alot for your age.” She flew into a rage called me a cunt 30 times in 10 seconds chased me into the basement and then kicked the door in. Again, there was a witness to this, unfortunately the witness was Mom. Mom again somehow took an innocent comment I made and validated Meg’s extremely violent behavior by telling me “Well, you did say it kinda mean.” Oh….really? Even though that is a flat out lie…even if I did….does that excuse Meg’s behavior? I guess it does, because Mom never said one thing to Meg about her bad behavior, I was blamed….and oh, by the way….I also fixed the door.
In my journey to find healing I have found my emotions to be closer to the surface, and that doen’t always feel very good or promote great decision making. But no worries, I know my loving family will be understanding and supportive if they see I’m having a bad day, right? No. Not really. No. Not at all.
Mom has this family so whipped up into a frenzy about what transpired between her and I on Thursday, that it sickens me to the point that I actually puked as I witnessed people raging at me about my rage. People persecuting me for persecuting Mom. People like Lena….who have never thenselves persecuted Mom and Cecil….who would never persecute his mother. No. Not Cecil. Only Connie. Connie is really the only person in this family with any flaws at all.
If just one person in this family took 5 minutes to contact me and get my side of what transpired here on Thursday, they might realize what REALLY HAPPENED, instead of believing the stirred up, sympathy seeking, manipulative version given by Mom. I do not believe that approaching anyone in anger is appropriate for the simple reason it does not solve anything. Did I make a mistake? Yep….see that wasn’t so hard….was it? Am I the only person in this family that knows what humility is? Apparently so. For this family to coldly and cruely use underhanded techniques such as lying and manipulation of the truth to serve there own agendas without giving one consideration to what harm they were causing to me is just more than I can stand. If anyone in this family can honestly say that what Polly did in Mom’s house and/or what Meg did in Mom’s house was in any way my fault, then they are deluded and drinking the Kool Aid Mom’s dishing out every day.
Did anyone ever here of justified anger? Well, have someone lie right to your face about an incident that you both witnessed. Mom “gaslighted” me with the Polly incident and then again with the Meg incident. Gaslighting is a common thing that happens in extremely toxic families. It refers to blaming someone for someone else’s bad behavior and using abusive techniques to convince the innocent person that they were responsible for the unfortunate event, they are crazy and no one likes them. That would be how Mom treated me both after Polly’s ruining of Christmas making little chldren cry and Meg’s violent rage would caused property damage to her home. Yep, that’s right….all my fault.
Again, I realize I’m an awful person and I have never done a nice thing for anyone in this family, so probably deserve my whole family to align against me and throw me in the street, without even trying to get my side of things? Well don’t worry….not only will I be out of this house ASAP, but none of you will ever have the displeasure of having to gaze on my hideous face again.
I have never been so serious about anything in my life. I died today. But for my loving family I’m sure that will come as a great relief.
One final point to ponder, I was called most every filthy name in the book over the last few months, my medical records were read over the telephone between family members, my confidences were broken and most of my siblings felt qualified to diagnose and redefine a treatment plan for my mental health recovery. There’s an old saying this family must not know very well. It goes like this: “People in glass houses should not throw stones.” You people feel so self righteous and justified to attack me for what I MAY or MAY NOT have done. You think you know the skeletons in my closets really well don’t you? Well…get this….I know just as many about each and every one of my siblings. The difference: I’d never be as malicious and cruel as they have been to me over the last few months. I pity the fool in this family that takes my place because this family just keeps getting sicker and sicker.
Well, Mom’s lost 3 daughters now, becasue we saw her for who she really is. There is one pretty simple reason Mom wanted to blame me for Polly’s and then Meg’s actions…..they provide her with her narcissistic supply and I do not. I cooked for Mom. I cleaned for Mom…I even took great interest in her hobbies and became actively involved with vintage clothing; however I do not coddle her. I make her answer for her inappropriate behavior and mostly, I will not coddle a woman who never found 3 seconds in my entire childhood to tell me that she loved me. My time in this family is done. It will be fruitless for anyone even to try and contact me once I leave Mom’s….you will be unsuccessful. I’m going to get some peace. No one will no where I am or how to contact me.

22

Thank you Darlene. This article helps me as well. I have struggled trying to figure out in my head what you so easy say with words.

I have struggled to try to explain how I can forgive my husband but not my mother.

My mother fits the description of a narcissist to perfection. She is the same destructive force with anyone unfortunate enough to cross her path. Everyone suffers because of my mother’s insanity. Her children, grandchildren, siblings, other extended family members, friends, people she does not know….she is mean and cruel and offensive.

My husband is no saint either. But he now is understanding and validating what I am saying to him about my experience of him. And despite being hurt by my husband, I have also known love from my husband. He has also chosen to display narcissist tendancies towards me…..and only me….and I have tolerated it because it was equally served with love. And thankfully, I have been strong enough in recent times to confront him. He has done much to undo damage previously caused by him.

My mother does not know how to love. She knows and uses abuse and manipulation as her tools to get through life. My mother never acknowledges that she has done anything wrong. Perhaps, in her mind, she truly believes it.

Who knows what her sick mind believes…….I don’t care anymore. I just want her sickness to never affect me or my family ever again.

23

Wy do others do this to their children? The article says it so ; My mother gave me so many years of ‘that’ type’ of parenting. Just to refer to the last 2 comments; Yes, I admit, I was crazy when my two children were small, I was in a bad marriage and was’nt coping so did what I personally feel was the best way to express love to my 2 children and that is;
Sell my beautiful house
Spend the interest on psychotherapy and on living next door to support. 17 years ago.
What a difficult decision and one which I don’t regret, I now am married again to the man I adore and you adores me, we live in a very nice Government house in a good area and my 2 children are doing okay. They know that Im not crazy and because I put them both in Psychotherapy as well, live their lives how they want to.

24

Annabelle

My three beautiful children are healthy and happy and strong and loving and caring.

I have always protected my children from abuse. One day, they came home after visiting with their grandparents. My children cried because they told me that my stupid mother decided to start abusing my father in their presence…..and of course, my father bites back and my children witnessed their abusive behaviour.

Thankfully, my parents speak Italian most of the time and my children do not understand what is said between their grandparents….and in conversations I have with their grandparents.

Previously, I told my mother that she would lose visiting privileges if my children ever experienced abused.

When I confronted my parents about upsetting my children, they told me that they could do whatever they wanted in their own house. I agreed….and told them they could go kill themselves if they wanted but never ever in front of my children.

My parents lost visiting privileges for a year. They had to apologise and promise to be respectful and loving and caring to my children before regaining those privileges.

My husband has lost the very same privileges……he has been kicked out numerous times. And on each occasion, I have told my children why. The last time my husband got kicked out, I told him that I had had enough. If he wasn’t going to listen to me, perhaps he would prefer to listen to the police.

Fortunately, for my husband, he has chosen wisely.

Unfortunately, for my parents, they have lost visiting privileges again. I am quite happy to enforce them forever…..because really, I do not believe that are capable of change. It is totally beyond their comprehension. And I will not risk my children with them…..at least not unsupervised ever again.

I guess I am saying…….just because I have suffered doesn’t automatically mean that my children suffer.

As Darlene has said multiple times in a number of her postings, the majority of people (who are not mentally ill) can make choices on how to parent. And those choices allow influence how your children live their lives.

I know in my heart and believe that I am not delusional that I have chosen well for my children……because I see it in them. They are just lovely little people. I wish the world was filled with children like mine.

25

you sound like a lovely lady. I am NOT writing that my story is any better than others I am just writing that I chose not to live like my mother. My case is extreme as my youngest son was ill as well.
He’s better now.
I believe that when someone chooses to say NO this is not happening anymore, it’s a choise and one which sounds like you dont want in your life either.
I always believe that saying in the moment when talking to your closest people in your life is the way to go and you are also doing that as well.

26

Hi Darlene
I would quibble with one point here–narcissists–those with the full-blown disorder–are often very good at fooling the world, other people, those whom they want to suck up to. I don’t believe that saying someone is a narcissist absolves them from the moral responsibility for their actions. Narcissists–those with NPD–still have a character disorder, NOT an “illness,” as psychologists like to claim. A character disorder is a disorder of WILL just as much as it’s a disorder of personality. So your mother could very well be a narcissist. From your posts she sounds to me like she could be–but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t CHOOSE to be ruthless and cold and disrespectful to you. My two cents, fwiw.

27

I have to comment on your statement that people with mental illnesses can’t just turn them on and off. In fact, many people with certain types of mental illnesses DO behave differently with different people. My mother had bipolar disorder and depersonalization disorder. She acted one way in private and a completely different way in public. It wasn’t because she *wasn’t* mentally ill but because of her comfort level. When we were out and about,she was alert and aware. When she was at home, she “let her hair down,” so to speak, and she’d let the abuse fly. (She was not medicated for many years due to religious beliefs).

It wasn’t until much later in life, when her condition started deteriorating dramatically, that other people started to notice she was “off.” Even then, though, I don’t think the full extent of her disease was ever really evident to anyone other than my dad, my sister and me.

28

Hi January
The bottom line is that knowing what may or may not have been wrong with my parents didn’t help me recover from the damage that was done to me. It was really helpful for me to let go of trying to understand them and just face the horrible truth about that damage in order to heal from it.
Thanks for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Susan,
I am not sure what you are disagreeing with here but I will post the same ‘bottom line’ that I just wrote to January. I wouldn’t wish my mothers behaviour (or any other abusive mothers behaviour) on anyone either. I feel sorry that my mother can’t see that there is a way to live and be happy and have fulfilling relationships but I don’t feel sorry for her at MY expense anymore.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

29

Hi Melody
I have never intended to communicate that ‘narcissism’ (re our parents) is the common bond here. The common bond as I see it is that we were all children who were not valued or taken care of in a way that communicated we were worthy of love. It doesn’t matter ‘what they are’ or ‘what they have’ it is the damage that was caused and the message we got from it that has to be overcome.
Hope that helps,
Hugs, Darlene

30

Hi Dianne
Yes, the stings had to be cut. My mother also was not interested in a relationship based on mutual respect. I too was very sad when my mother not only dumped me but she dumped my 3 kids too, but today I am relieved! I am glad that I didn’t have to deal with her trying to have an independent (of me) relationship with my kids! She is toxic and one of the fears that I had deep down even before I stood up to her was that when my kids got old enough she would try to turn them against me!
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

31

Hi Anna
Yes, it is all about the false definition of love that we learned growing up. That false definition of love has to be set back to the truth.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

Hi MZC
Thank you so much for your donation! If even 1% of the readers here sent me a small donation I would never have to ask for help with the expenses for this site. I appreciate yours and the other few people that donate each month more, than I can ever express!
Hugs, Darlene

32

Hi Annabelle
I think that was one of the hardest things to accept; that my mother was going to lose me, her ONLY daughter, and she didn’t care. She just let me go because I wanted a better relationship, one that valued me and not just her. Once I got my head around that though, I realized that survival for me was about drawing boundaries and valuing myself in the way that I deserved, and not about always serving her sick needs as it had been the entire first part of my life.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Connie
I like your letter. It is really clear about the insanity you are walking away from. Thanks for sharing it!
Hugs, Darlene

33

Ginger;
For me this is not about forgiveness. My husband (like yours it sounds like) WANTED to work things out with me. He wanted forgiveness and recognized that he had put himself and his needs/wishes above mine. He wanted to have a different kind of relationship with me and he did his work. My mother did not want to look at herself at all. That was the choice she made and as you say, I don’t really care what the root of that is; a sickness or whatever, I no longer want it in my life as it was so destructive I could not function in a healthy way until I escaped it.
Thank you for your comments!
Hugs, Darlene

34

My mother meets current (soon to change) dx criteria for both borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. She was also high functioning for most of her life. I do believe it is a mental illness. I also absolutely do NOT believe this gives her any kind of pass. I know my mother must have known something was wrong with her, but she never sought help. Never got treatment. So, she never even tried to get better, not even for ‘love’ (in quotes because it’s not actual love) for her children. So she damaged all of her children. This makes her even more culpable in my eyes.

I admit, I had the opposite experience as you. I only realized it was not me after I realized something was truly wrong with my mother. She wasn’t just a ‘mean mommy’ because I was a bad daughter (as she liked to constantly remind me). She was diagnosably mentally ill, and I was NEVER any of the horrific things she said about me. She split and projected those things onto me. That is what borderlines do. Which actually was the first step I needed to move forward and realize that I was never a bad person. Mother is just actually crazy. Mean, crazy, insane, whatever.

Again, doesn’t give her a pass. I’m nc and will remain so. But there are borderlines in this world that realize they are and seek treatment. My mother was just not one of them.

35

Hi Caliban’s Sister and A.
It doesn’t matter to me about the details of any of this. That is the point of my article. What matters is that I live in freedom and wholeness now and HER stuff is not ruling my life anymore. This is about how I had to set aside what was wrong with her long enough to validate me. I am not trying to change anyone’s mind here. I know there are real narcissists, but ‘so what?’ ~ I am trying to share what worked for me after 25 years of trying every other thing that didn’t work.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

36

I had a similar experience to Michelle. When I finally realised there was something actually wrong with my mother I began to accept that I wasn’t the problem like she would have me believe. Even though many others had told me I was not the problem I just couldn’t believe that could be true. I do believe my mother is a true narcissist. She truly believes she is above everyone else. She truly believes the things she says and does and she can be incredibly sweet if she wants to manipulate and impress but put a foot wrong and she’ll dig her claws right in with no mercy.

Darlene I have truly appreciated your take on rejection being when someone refuses to treat you with respect. I felt so guilty for so long that I had cut my mother off. But really she rejected me first and I gave her an option to be in my life. She’d rather not be in it than treat me with respect.

Label or no label though I feel sorry for her only in that she refuses to have any insight into herself. She once told me there was no one good enough for her to see for therapy. Well I do believe that’s a choice mental health disorder or otherwise. She chooses not to do anything to help herself. I do believe she lives in an entirely different reality to the rest of the world and I do feel sorry that I believe she’s probably pretty miserable. But I don’t want to be that way or let my kids see me be that way or see her be that way.

When I first cut her off I really did it to protect my kids. I am very slowly getting to the place where I realise that I too deserve better.

Thank you Darlene for keeping me sane and reminding me when I miss her just exactly what it is my children and I are “missing”

37

Hi Michelle
I don’t know that your exp. was totally opposite to mine. I too found huge relief when I realized that it wasn’t me ~ that it was her. (them) ~ that I was not the problem at all. BUT what I am saying here is that I didn’t find solution in finding out what was WRONG with them. The diagnosis (of them) was not the solution for me is what I am saying. My mother has criteria for all kinds of disorders, but so did I. I was diagnosed with several things before I broke out of the prison I was in.
That is what I am saying.
Hugs, Darlene

38

Ah, ha. I hear you there! Read recently; They are crazy. They are also crazy making. The first one affects them, and we can do nothing about it. The second one affects us, and it’s the only thing we can do something about.

39

Hi Amanda
It was so important for me to see that I was the one that was rejected. It was one of the foundational breakthroughs that I had for sure!
Love your comments; another bottom line is that we all deserved better that what we got!
Hugs, Darlene

40

Michelle
LOVE that comment! I am going to repost it! That is exactly the point! Hugs!

Michelle said ” They are crazy. They are also crazy making. The first one affects them, and we can do nothing about it. The second one affects us, and it’s the only thing we can do something about.”

41

@Darlene, I understood that this was about you and your quest for healing. I was simply commenting because I wanted to clarify the point about mental illness — not at all because I was trying to invalidate or denigrate your experiences.

I’m sorry I did not make that clearer.

42

Hi A
I wasn’t offended or anything by your comments, no worries. :)
Hugs, Darlene

43

Darlene – your articles help me so much. They are so validating and empowering and I agree 100% with what it takes to “emerge from broken.” If I went to a psychiatrist and listed all the behaviors exibited by my FOO I am sure there would be a litany of possible diagnosis ranging from Depression, Narcissism, Alcoholism, etc. etc. etc. None of potential mental labels makes me feel any better about what they did to me.

Like you and others I used to feel sorry for my mother because she was a single parent of 4 children. Being the scapegoat of the group, I really did believe I was the one with the problem for many years. I knew that my mother was neglectful, abusive, and didn’t like me but my siblings never felt that way. My mother told me as a teen that “you kids ruin every day of my life.” She did not say this when my siblings were home. I believed that we did. Without us around fighting and making messes she could be free to lay on the couch all day and not be interrupted from her naps & favorite TV shows. On a visit to my fathers he told us he didn’t know if our mother was crazy on her own or “you kids made her crazy.” One of the first “out-of-control crazy” thing occurred after my parents divorce (I was around 9). My mother’s younger sister and her husband were staying with us. My mother went into a psycho-rage because me & my sisters shared a tiny room with 2 bunk-beds and 1 small closet. Everything we owned (clothes / games) was on the floor which was a usual occurence. It was how we lived. My mother called her 3 daughters in the room and called us every name in the book because our room was a “pig-sty” (btw, my mothers room and the whole house was the same way). My mom said she was going to take her fist and punch us for everything that was ours on the floor. She would pick up an item and say “whose is this?” Then we were punched with her fist over and over while we were sobbing uncontrollable. My aunt reluctantly intervened after she thought we had gotten enough of what we deserved and asked her husband to take us somewhere for an hour to give my mom a break from us. My uncle deepened our shame by saying to us, “I hope you all are happy with yourselves for what you did to your mother by being such slobs.” What we did to our mother!? No one had a second thought about what she was doing to us. Raising us in a pig-sty and then beating / yelling / shaming / blaming us for it.

I could tell a thousand more stories of mental illness, narcissitic behaviors, depression, etc. etc. etc. I agree with Darlene – it does not excuse what my mother did nor does it explain it for me or minimize the pain. She did not beat / yell / shame / blame the oldest child (boy) or anyone else in her life. She saved the special treatment for mainly me but on the rare occasion my sisters were victims with me.

My father was an alcoholic and I realize it is a disease. But whether he was sober or drinking when he made me feel like crap about myself is irrelevant to me.

My journey now is about feeling my feelings and getting healthier and stronger spiritually , physically, emotionally, etc. My FOO is not on this journey with me and to that extent I still feel sorry for them. I can’t imagine the pain of being such a twisted, tortured soul. I’m sure things are very hard for them. But what they did to me is not OK and they have not acknowledged / apologized for it and I acccept that they probably never will. I can make this journey without them.

44

To be honest I haven’t yet read this article or the comments. Really need to vent.

I am struggling with this therapy with me and my mom (some comments over at “Shifting My Thinking”.

I know the therapist wrote a book about trauma and is supposedly well-trained, but I feel so crappy after the appointments. “There are no bad guys here”, “No blame”, etc. Another example, today we are still talking about how my mother was not there for me when I had a medical crisis (fractured my foot – screaming on the floor) when I was ~11 years old. In one of the early conversations when I brought this up, my mother said that I “had a reputation for feigning illness”…to justify why she was so underresponsive. She has since apologized after several weeks of go-rounds and being pushed, but today I brought up how she handled the whole discussion about my foot overall….”doesn’t remember” subject changes, trying to blame me, telling me that the part about feigning illness didn’t have to do with my foot (huh?), telling me “your father DID look at it” (umm…when did he become a medical doctor?)etc. I said it all sounded dishonest. Well, my mother DID admit to feeling defensive, and said she was “trying to get out of it”. Finally. Honesty.

The therapist said that what my mother did was “normal”. “People attack each other when they are hurt”. I told her I didn’t agree that it was normal – I thought it was extreme. I said I didn’t want relationships in my life where it’s extreme like that.(The session before she agreed it was extreme – now she doesn’t). Great. More mixed messages. Just like “home”.

The therapist also never acknowledged a phone message I left for her two weeks ago when I apologized to her for leaking anger toward her when I was angry toward my mother. I told her that I didn’t like the way I sounded. She’s never said a word about it which reflects what happens in my family….no response/underresponse.

I used to have more belief in couples/family therapy, but I’m changing my mind. It seems like the unhealthy dynamics just continue on. I think therapy could be great for two people who have a strong foundation and really want to go to sort out some problems, but trying to put together something that’s essentially shattered seems to be a no-go.

Even my mother said (today) that what she did was unkind! But the therapist is saying “no blame”.

Today I started talking about how maybe my mother and I could have a surface relationship, and I won’t bring up any issues from the past or in the present. My goals are changing…I used to “want to have a better relationship with my mom” but this has been a real trial with my first example of my fractured foot. I don’t want to go through this again. The therapist did try to “support” me and seemed to understand that the process was damaging.

For some reason she seems to easily say that physical abuse is not OK, but when it comes to verbal I’m hearing “no bad guys” “no blame” “normal” “people get defensive” etc etc.

To me it seems like healthy people have limits on what they will say, and will stop short of name calling, insulting, belittling, lying, etc. I am not an angel and in the past I have resorted to demeaning words toward my mother out of sheer frustration. She has this engaging on-the-surface personality, reserved in therapy, loves to play the victim (even said in therapy that she thought she was the victim) while I end up seething in frustration and come across as the emotional, angry, tyrant who won’t put up with her crap.

45

My fractured foot story:

I was around eleven years old and was playing “chicken fights” outside. I was on the shoulder of a friend and we were fighting another duo (one on top of the other across from us) i.e. pushing each other around. Well the person under me fell backward and landed on my bottom of my foot, pushing it up toward my shin.

I got inside the house and was screaming and crying on the floor. My mother and father came into the hallway and eventually my father declared “it’s only a sprain”. I was left to my own devices, my memory is blurry, but I recall being alone in my room in the evening, no meds, no ice, no bandage, no person asking how I was, no one coming upstairs, and certainly no doctor visit or call.

The next morning I managed to find a croquet mallet, and I used that as a crutch so I could get around. I recall being laughed at by my family.

After a month and still limping, my mother finally brought me to the doctor. The xray showed that I had fractured my foot in two places, and fortunately it did heal properly.

By the way, regarding my “history of feigning illness” that my mother brought up, this turned out to be (according to her) two or three times that as a child I supposedly tried to get out of school by saying I was sick. I don’t remember if I was sick or not. I do know that I’ve never had any attendance issues on the job or at school later on. It was never an issue.

46

Thanks for this great post Darlene. I believe I have one of those true narcissist mothers because she was the same whereever she went, and I witnessed many times her offending people in public. Part of the pain was in seeing that being her child made no difference to her outlook. There was no filter, what she thought or wanted to say to you came out, and she moved on without any acknowledgment or care about the emotional cost—only her own feelings mattered.

I know she had a hard life growing up and I feel bad about that, but the damage done is the same. I do think to a certain degree she couldn’t help herself, but that doesn’t change what happened to me.
Both of my parents had rotten childhoods, and while that explains them, it doesn’t excuse them.

When a person is killed or hurt we do not expect the family to take into consideration that the criminal was mentally ill–we can understand in that case that the damage was done and it’s moot to them if the attacker could “help” themselves or not. We seem to have a harder time when it comes to parents being the criminals. (And to me it has to come down to this, that this is criminal behaviour, abusing a child is criminal, and it doesn’t matter if the abuser has a mental illness as far as the damage done).

I know for myself focusing on my Mom’s mental illness was a way to not face that she plain didn’t love me, she never had, and never will. And there wasn’t anything I could do about it, I couldn’t fix it or make her come around. She caused so much damage to me and I need to feel everything I need to about that before I have fully healed.

47

Hi Darlene, I really appreciate this post and it is something we all need to consider. I agree that I don’t have a difinitive diagnosis for my parents even though, I’m sure they have aspects of several different personality disorders. I also, know that I once had several aspects of borderline personality disorder but I don’t have them now because I was proactive in my healing. I will always believe that my parents can do the same, if they choose to, but as long as they prefer the coping mechanisms they’ve adopted, they never will get better and I can’t force them to do that. It’s true that people can’t help being sick when they’re sick but I know from experience that I have made unhealthy choices that caused me to become sick and at times, I make unhealthy choices that keep me from becoming as healthy as I could be. I’m speaking of physical illness now, but I think mental illness is the same. Narcissism is basic to all personalities and I believe that malignant narcissism begins as a character disorder that ends in a personality disorder through unhealthy choices. Just as I made choices to face myself and the traumas of my childhood and apply truth in order to heal myself of PTSD and my borderline pesonality traits, people with other personality disorders can do the same. I suppose there are some people who are so sick that they are beyond hope but I haven’t met anyone that I view as being beyond hope. What I do see happening is people who refuse to acknowledge they are sick, people who view themselves as beyond hope, and people who use a mental diagnosis to avoid the work it takes to get well. I’ve also, known people who do connect their problems with traumas in the past but never move forward and are content to wallow in their problems while blaming others for them. I’ve never seen anyone who wanted to get well, fail at emotional healing or conquering addiction. Character makes a big difference in prognosis.

I have also, had friends with scitzophrenia and extreme manic states with psychosis that I believe are illnesses that were not brought on by trauma but by something malfunctioning in the brain. However, these are also, people of strong character who courageously, battle their illnesses. Because of their character, they have been able to accomplish many things that people with normal brain fuction don’t achieve. We are all unique and no two of us respond in exactly, the same way.

Studying the various personality disorders was helpful in understanding how people behave but like you, I’m shying away from labeling myself and others in such a way that it makes recovery seem impossible. I don’t think the psychiatrists I used for several years would believe I’m where I am today. They really held out no hope for me and I can’t help but think that is because they become wealthy treating symptoms with pills. That too, is a character disorder and abuse that isn’t well recognized.:0/

Love,
Pam

p.s. I hope I don’t sound like I’m not acknowledging the damage that abuse in childhood does to misshape the victims of child abuse. No amount of character can prevent that damage and as children, we respond in ways that are common for all children to respond to abuse. I don’t know what traumas damaged my parents but I’m sure there were traumas that caused them to adopt the coping mechanisms that make them sick. The difference between us is my desire to get well and their desire to avoid the truth and remain as they are.

48

Darlene, Thank you so much for your post here! Once again, you are shedding light on an important topic. It helps me to clarify alot in my mind today, and also,to understand, the point is not to diagnose my mother and her shabby treatment of me, but to do what is right for myself, and not kow tow to her, or my dysfunctional FOO convuluted pecking system! the more I take care of myself, and the less I involve myself with them, the better I feel!

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Light (44)

You said, “She has this engaging on-the-surface personality, reserved in therapy, loves to play the victim (even said in therapy that she thought she was the victim) while I end up seething in frustration and come across as the emotional, angry, tyrant who won’t put up with her crap.”

That had such an impact on me! In company with other people/in mediation session, my mum comes across as such a wonderful, calm, charming woman who also plays the victim (usually turns on the tears as well because she’s such a martyr to put up with me!), whilst I, out of sheer frustration and wanting to “out the truth”, start shouting and getting really emotional making it look like I’m an absolute lunatic who needs “Sectioning under the Mental Health Act”. No matter what I do, as soon as she turns on her charm, I see every shade of red going and can’t control my anger at her pretence. This does me and our situation no good whatsoever. I too came to the conclusion that this sort of family counselling was not for me at all. To be fair our mediator did say to me privately that she felt my mother could do with some private counselling so maybe she could see through my mum’s alter ego!

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Hi OnMyWay
Wow what a nightmare that must have been! Thank you for sharing your story. When I finally stopped making excuses for the adults in my life, I found a new kind of truth and freedom which led to an amazing emotional recovery.
Thanks for sharing
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Light
One of the reasons that I started this website was because I was so ticked at the professional therapy world (not all of it is like this I know) for trying to make everyone happy and see relationships as a 50/50 deal. When it comes to kids and parents it can’t be 50/50 responsibility! Parents have ALL the responsibility for taking care of minor children and when a therapist discounts the neglect that happened there is no healing OR forward movement. Not being allowed to assign blame is just wrong! How can anything be resolved if the perp is still not held accountable? ugg..
Thanks for sharing, this is such valid information!
About your fracture story, what a nightmare!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Doren
Oh yes, the real ones are certainly out there! And you can tell by the filter or lack of filter. My mother had a horrific childhood, but that doesn’t help me heal from the damage she caused me. Such truth helped to set me free way more than trying to excuse her because of her childhood. Great points about the way we are asked to regard criminals… there should be no difference when it comes to parents.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Pam
Thanks for sharing your insights on this!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Janie
Love your last line! yay for taking care of yourself!
Hugs, Darlene

54

If I may … I went through therapy and had a great experience. My therapist was great, so very understanding. But it wasn’t until I got and read Toxic Parents by Susan Forward that I *really* started to move on. I recommend that book to everyone I know who went through a painful childhood.

I underlined my copy ridiculously, and I still go back and reread it when I need a “top off.”

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HI WendyMac
Most abusers believe that they are the victims, that is one of the hardest things about this whole thing. I had to find a way to stop trying to prove that they were wrong, and just get on with the healing for me regardless of what they said or believed. I used this understanding that they all see themselves as the victim, and that the blame is never theirs to empower myself in my healing process. It was very hard to let go of making them see my point of view, but freedom was on the other side.
Hugs, Darlene

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HI,
I have gone through my share of discovering Narcissism and labeling my parents. It did help me immensely to see what is going on. When I was in starting stages of therapy I couldn’t articulate what was the bad thing that was done to me. I was the one that was always wrong. I had the giant brain fog around what abuse was and what my problem really was. 2 or 3 years!! into therapy I finally related a silly entirely insignificant event with my mom that made me upset and my shrink said oh that’s very Narcissistic. I said ..Oh so it is bad what she did. Then I went home and looked up Narcissist and saw the giant list of bs my mom does with confirmation that she is wrong. This was a giant breakthrough, I now knew what was abuse and had confirmation from soooo many sources that indeed it is evil abuse. I was upset with my shrink that he didn’t say this earlier. I spent 3 years meandering in a fog at shrinks office. And he didn’t ask me right questions to steer me out of it. I found the discovery of Narcissism immensely useful to lift the fog and be able to express what has been going on. I read and discovered each thing that they do is evil and confirmed it in my life and was able to draw a line of where abuse is.
In this in depth research I faced the questions of whether we can still blame them because they are ill, and its not their fault because their parents are. I decided to label them and their behavior as evil. Behaviour that destroys life rather then creates is evil. My parents destroy life. It doesn’t matter what diagnosis a person had, they are either crazy but good or crazy but evil. Futhermore, highly narcissistic people are high functioning people. My parents have phd’s and masters. If they know how to figure that out, they sure know how to keep up appearances with me. But because they are evil, they will never make an effort to keep up appearances with me unless there is a threat to them in some way.
The idea that they are not capable of love is appealing because I am no longer to blame for the lack of love. Are narcissist capable of love, I don’t know. Is evil capable of love? What does evil love? Evil loves to destroy. The perfect subject to the devil will be one to be destroyed, preferably in a grand fashion.
In my conclusion I agree that labels do not matter and can confuse proper healing. Regular people use Narcissist manipulation tactics all the time. What matters to me is whether the action is evil or good. With my parents every action they take is evil, regardless if it seems innocent, its not. Its just always evil.

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Another great article! This article was written just for me. I also felt relieved learning that that were names for people like my mom–‘the woman’. I am also so very tired of people excusing these ‘sick’ people by saying that they had no control over their actions. When I was a teenager, I got labeled with ‘depression’ and then somehow it all got twisted around to being my fault and not that I was living in a survival mode in a chaotic home! I was labeled with a ‘chemical imbalance’ and coerced by a shrink and my parents to take an antidepressent drug. (A means for the shink to make money!) This incident lasted for almost two months and finally after much protesting I got my way and went off the drug. I claimed that it did nothing for me, and so I did the right thing. What I found incredibly disturbing was the extreme control that my parents had over this shrink. The man and the woman would gang up together, like being together in some form of collusion, saying how they could not understand their depressed daughter. Of course, the shrink would not hear my side of the story and was trained to take the older parent’s side. No one cared that ‘the woman’ was a Narc and that I was a VERY clean-cut kid with nothing on me–(no addictions, low grades,promiscuity,etc)…Looking back on everything, I feel like this shrink could have also been a Narc or BPD–(someone seriously off)–and got away with it!

What was worse was having ‘the woman’ constantly gossip about me to the neighbors and relatives. She would say erroneous things like “my daughter is selfish and uncaring”….and these labels could have easily applied to her. I can remember too many incidents as a young child, while being physically battered and name-called, like “you’re filled with the very devil!” Now I can see how she dumped these labels onto me, like I was some kind of mirror to her. I know that ‘the woman’ never really loved me and was incapable of understanding unconditional love between a parent and a child. I do not love either one of my parents.

I don’t know but after both of my parents’ deaths, I am seriously considering contacting a couple of my cousins for a visit. We’re not close but it still hurts me to this day with having my reputation slandered. I know that some people would say to just “let it all go” at my age–(like age 40)–and it was all a long time ago. I don’t know but I still want to be heard and understood even at my age.
So very good to have a website like this to be heard!
Thanks again Darlene! Blessed Be!

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Thank you Darlene,

This helps to clarify a LOT. especially… “A true mental health disorder is not controllable. People who have a true disorder can’t turn it on and turn it off.”

But with regards to my mother, I prefer to Thank God for bringing illumination to me so that I might break the cycle with my own kiddos. It seems healthier and happier to do than to focus on the wounds and thus the wrongdoings of my mother. If that kinbd of focus would help, I would gladly do it. But I have learned that there is nothing I can say or do that will bring her the same blessed illumination. I have come to believe that THAT is God’s work and that all I can do is draw boundaries to protect and preserve the new me and pray for God to offer the same grace and illumination to her.

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Hi A.
I love books like that and I underline them like crazy too! One of the books that made a huge impact on me in the beginning was a book by Patricia Evens about abusive relationships. Even though her book was about abusive partner relationships, I saw my mother and my father in law all over the place and saw how the whole thing works for them. I have not read the book by Susan Forward but I have heard a lot about it. I also love the work of Alice Miller on this subject although I only started reading her work about 2 years ago and it was not part of my foundation for healing but rather a validation that I was totally right about what happened to me. Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Kathryn
Yes and that is the point; there is so much evidence of the way that they can cover up things, twist things etc. all in their favor and they seem to know how to keep up appearances! And the point is the damage they have caused and continue to cause.
Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene

Hi Yvonne
This happens a lot too. Alice Miller has written some awesome material explaining why some mental health professionals will side with the parents. (because they themselves have not faced the truth about their own lives and therefore can’t help anyone else.)

When I look back on the events of my childhood and some of the things that my mother said it was as if she was making sure that I was labeled certain ways all along so that she could point to me (and prove it was me all along) if there ever was a spotlight on her. I know today that none of that stuff was really about me.

Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Dory
Yes, and that is a huge reason that I write this stuff; because illumination helps people to find a different way to view this stuff, and that leads to freedom from the issues that plagued so many of us since a very young age! Learning that there is nothing I could do about it, nothing that would change them or get them to hear me was one of the first payoffs in this work! As soon as I was able to see that I could stop trying so hard to prove that I was not what they defined me as, and start to work on my healing. It was when I finally thought about me and my life that I was able to grow.
Thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

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Hi Darlene,
This is the first time I have written to you, I believe, and I am in my two steps backward phase. I love your column and it has literally saved me and helped me get out of my deep, dark hole depression everytime a memory of my mother and her family would come up. I have not spoken with her since mid 2008, after she shoved her foot up my ass when I started treating her like she was treating me. I know, I know, very childish, however, we were both unable to communicate without her blowing up at me (major rage issues) and me crying. Bottom line is that she has become the so called ‘victim’ in this picture even though she was so physically abusive. This took place after I had taken her into my home for 3 years and she continued to violate any trust we may have had between us and continually pitted my sister (who she also had come live with us) against me; along with every other member of the so-called family. I say so-called family because everyone took her side. She lied to some about kicking me and even the ones she told the truth to took her side. Talk about dysfunction. At 52 years of age, I had tried for years to forgive her and then made the mistake of trying to help her. Little did I know, at the time, that she was backstabbing me to everyone else and why I do not know to this day. I finally realized that she was manipulating my sister and I by ‘divide and conquer’. I have the faint hope of reuniting with my sister after my mother is gone but our values are so different that I do realize this for what it is, just a pipe dream. Luckily for me, my son witnessed most of what had happened with his “crazy grandma” and continues to support me regardless of the whole family abandoning me and never once asking for my side of the story. In speaking of abuse along the lines of narcissistic behavior, I have to say that my mother is the queen of manipulation and since I have chosen (not fun to have your mother’s foot shoved hard up your ass, only to have her finally state, “I barely touched you”)to cut her completely out of my life, along with anyone else who supports her as they staunchly do to this day – I have my days where I stumble and fall and this day is one of them… Please give me some guidance as to how to get a handle on this painful issue once again Darlene. Your column has been so helpful in battling depression and pain pill addiction that I fear without some helpful feedback here, today, that I am slipping back into that pattern. At least today I am and am fully aware of what I am doing but the pain I feel is so devastating at this moment. Please, anyone, if you have experienced not only the emotional pain but the physical pain of abuse by your totally dysfunctional mother, can you please reach out to me today?!! I really need some help here. HELP!! Thanking you, someone, in advance, for your kindness and compassion for I, who have stumbled today. Pauline xxx

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Hi Pauline
Welcome to EFB
I am fully aware of what it feels like to be regarded with the attitude ” how dare you stand up to me!” and it is crazy to me that these parents would believe that they have the right to treat us this way when if someone else did it they would be charged instantly by law. The old “I barely touched you” doesn’t cut it when in a court room. Assault is Assault and is clearly defined by law.
I hope that you will keep reading the articles and conversations here; there is so much insight, so much hope for the person who feels alone or sliding backwards. You are not alone in this. Thank you for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Pauline,

Darlene is right, you are not alone. I read your story and my heart goes out to you.

Anna

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Dear Darlene and Anna. Thank you so much for your prompt comments which bring tears to my eyes. I am always amazed by the compassion, understanding and intellectualism of strangers. And, even though I try not to compare, it is difficult to have an unloving/abusive mother along with the rest of my narrow minded family. My aunts and uncles saw what us kids went through when we were growing up with this woman and all they could say, within my earshot, was “Oh God, they are going to grow up to be just like her”. Well, I did not grow up just like my mother and she continued to call me “weird”. However, I am dumbfounded as to the lack of understanding or compassion for me and yet they totally stand loyal to my mother. I ask myself if it is because of her age? Which is only 71. I don’t know the answers but I do find solace in this website. Not only solace, but a sense of hope to carry on in the face of adversity. So yes, I will certainly keep reading here and your website has provided me with a little trick I use for myself which usually works, except today. When memories or negative thoughts come into my mind I just repeat “EFB” over and over and I feel a sense of strength and empowerment come over me. Like I mentioned above, today I have stumbled. Thank you both for helping me to feel worthy of carrying on and I know that will happen soon again. Am hoping for tomorrow if not by tonight;) Hugs from Pauline…

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Hi Pauline,

You are not alone. Your story moved me too. I know how hard it is to accept that the people you think should care about you and support you, for whatever complex set of reasons, may not or don’t. Or they do so in a very limited way. So much different than the images that we are bombarded with in the media of the “happy family”.

I am appalled by the physical violence that you received, and I know emotional abuse can be just as hurtful.

What is helping, for me, is to distance myself from family members. I have avoided all holidays and most get-togethers since Christmas. Christmas was the last straw in many ways. I am feeling better. I live very near to a sibling and parent, and my other siblings are visiting my mother all the time and are aligned with her. It took many tears to get here and I am lucky enough to have the solid compassionate help of an individual therapist. There is some freedom, for me, in giving up hope and viewing my FOO in a different way. I’m also internally cursing a lot as I let go. I’ve definitely hit the anger stage!

My heart goes out to you too.

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WendyMac, A, and Darlene,

Thank you for your comments and support about the therapy. Somehow it will get resolved, in some way.

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Darlene,

I did the same thing you did: felt as though I was the problem.

I’m going through a lot of anger right now…..and it seems that every single day, more and more memories are cropping up, memories in which my mother was dismissive, neglectful, inconsiderate, manipulative, deceitful, and abusive.

I don’t know what to do with all of this anger and all of these memories. But today, I finally had a bit of an “Aha!” moment. I tried to look at all of her behaviors of the past as if a person had done them who wasn’t related to me.

And I became aware that I would never…..never…..hang around in a relationship with any other woman who did to me the things my mother has done to me.

I can only assume that the reason I feel so responsible for her, and feel so sorry for her, is because I was groomed from early childhood. She turned me into a surrogate parent for my siblings and a sounding board and emotional support for herself. Is it any wonder that I am filled with self-doubts and with tremendous guilt whenever I entertain the thought of getting her out of my life?

My mother is an interesting person. She has a knack of acting sort of silly and juvenile, and of making people feel sorry for her. I have no idea how she does it. All of my siblings caretake her, call her daily, take her places, cater to her, buy her gifts. Except for me. I am sure she sees me as the “ungrateful child.”

I so want to get rid of my resentments and anger, Darlene.

I have so many fears about going no-contact. There have been times when I felt very strong in myself, and I have wanted to write a letter spelling out exactly what I remember that she did to me.

But then I have such a soft heart, a pathologically empathic heart (which comes from all of the child abuse?), and I start to feel my old Southern Baptist upbringing weighing heavily upon me, as if I responsible for “making it all better between us,” and “turning the other cheek,” etc. etc.

The woman simply does not know me, nor does she care about me, my husband, or my children except on the most superficial level.

If I do send a letter, I would wish that at least one of my siblings would rally with me, support me, and take a stand against our mother’s manipulative and abusive ways. But none of them will, and I know that. That hurts……

I agree with what you said about how you tended to excuse your mother’s behavior when you thought she had NPD. NPD is a disorder, and I used to think that if my mother had NPD, then I had to overlook her cruelties, and I had to try extra hard to be sympathetic and empathic.

Except that she scapegoats me. And the only reason she scapegoats me is that I believe in truth-telling. She despises me for calling her on her behavior. She really does.

I want to move beyond all of this agony and torment, Darlene.

I wish I could force myself to deal with this. Thank you for your topic.

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Hi Marore,
I just wanted to say about your fears regarding no contact with your mother. I think you will just know IF and WHEN it’s time to go no contact. Myself, I knew about a year ago and went NC when I realized that she was the one who abandoned me (many times over and is many ways). I sometimes though rarely feel anger towards her now. I absolutely do not regret my decision and in fact wish I had done it sooner.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt sometimes. Life’s like that it seems.

I hope this helps.

Anna

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Hi Darlene,
Wow. It is so good to be here. I don’t know how to out into words the truths I am just beginning have revealed to me abut my life long abuse from my parents, and what my sister does to ignite and engage them in her abuse of my son and me. It is so devastating painful and shocking I am not sure what to do. She has taken hold of all of ur personal possessions that we have left and pulled my parents into it and they are all now breaking the law. They are extorting all we have. The threats, lies ,gossip, manipulation, accusations, hate filled screaming is shocking. We have done everything they’ve asked and nothing is ever enough. I lost 30 lbs got sick with bhronchitis and after two months saw a DR (had no ins) whbdx’d COPD. I have to have heart tests now, the weight loss was so severe it may have damaged my organs. My son also had a serious Med crisis at 2.we are in a vulnerable place and at the mercy’ if these abusers. In guess it took being back in their home to see the debt of my moms hate. It is painful but even more so to have them abuse my son like this. My mom is lying and gossiping to any one who will listen…that hurts. My sister has been dong this to and about my son and me. It is libel, slander. How do we get objective legal help and get ahead to be able to move out. This is such a small town. No one has been helpful, they have tried to slander us to harm us from getting help here. HIPPA laws violated. What my sister has done to us, she has been telling othere that WE are doing – what SHE’s dong to us. Every time I just mention that I would like my property..we are screamed at, threatened, accused of all sorts of unbelievable things, gossiped lied about and threatened with physical violence on top of the emotional psychological and spiritual abuses. (Even to her daughters friend in the police dept) When I reach out to get help from Dom. Violence or a ‘ministry’ here I end up feeling worse. This has been going on for months. And I do not know where to turn.

71

So sorry about the all the typos.
This tablet is difficult for me to type on and have to also ‘correct’ predictive texts.

PS. My son is 25, not 2. :-)

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Marore,
If I could put my heart into words it would sound much like your letter. Thank you,
Cindee

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Dear Cindee, I feel for you very much as it has taken me 4 1/2 years to not be afraid to go out for fear I may run into my mother and sister or others of her kind. Now, thanks to EFB and a lot of strife, depression and running away along with abuse of pills to numb the pain, I am finally able to walk outside with my head held high and no longer afraid.

As for your current situation. If you have a camera/cell phone, please take pictures of all your property and then get the hell out! If I were you I would go to another town. If that is not possible because of a job, etc., then I would at least go and rent a furnished room to take you out of your current situation of extreme pain and anxiety. When you feel strong enough, enlist the help of a police escort or some other figure in authority to help you remove your things. And speaking of things, they are not worth the pain you are experiencing right now. When my violent incident occurred, it was 2 weeks later that I finally had the nerve, along with the support of my boyfriend, to give my mother and sister their eviction notice. Even then, it took 4 1/2 long and extremely painful months to get them out. I, too, enlisted the help of police, clergy, therapists who all said the same thing basically; stand up to her for once and for all and get her out! The police I sent to talk to my mother about leaving my house (while I was at my boyfriends with my son refusing to move out of his home) were satisfied that my mother had a place to go to but it would not be ready for another 2 months?! I was too ashamed, at that time, to even talk about what my mother had done to me at my age of 47 years old, let alone charge her with assault which I know I should have but did not have the strength to do. Meanwhile I listened to them backstab me as my mother is very loud and even though we had no communication I would hear her over the phone. The anxiety was more than I could bear and I went down that road of pill popping to even enter my own home as I had to do for the sake of my then 16 year old son. Now I do not take meds on a daily basis and am doing much better but it has been 4 1/2 long years like I mentioned and today I stumbled. Please take strength in what I am telling you and get out for the sake of your own sanity. You can always get your things out later or aquire more things but get yourself and your son out of that situation! My thoughts are with you and please know that there is hope down the line. Hang in there and keep me posted okay?? I truly care about what happens to you and your son as it also mirrors, in some respects, what happened to me and I was so alone or at least felt so alone in my panic and rage at the way I was treated and scorned by my own family members. Thank God for my son and thank God for God as my faith has also been a source of comfort when I could repeat my prayers at night if only as a form of meditation to help me get to sleep. Take care and hope to hear from you soon Cindee…

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Dear Light, Thank you so much for your comforting words above. It is not only nice but essential to know that there are others suffering the indignity of bad treatment from our family of origin or FOO! Well FOO on them and I hear you about the anger. Sometimes it has consumed me and, unfortunately, I have taken it out on myself. After almost 5 years I am finally starting to feel worthy again. I knew, intellectually, that I was worthy but, now I am starting to feel my worthy and it feels great! I owe so much to this website, Darlene, thank you!! If it were not for finding a site like this where we are encouraged to look after ourselves first and that it is okay to let go of so called family members who hurt us, well, I can honestly say that I would not be here today. Yes, I am a very sensitive person and that gives me even more reason to state my case and be heard, instead of feeling ashamed. While growing up I was never allowed to feel. I was laughed at when I cried and sure, I learned not to feel and could not cry if my life depended upon it. Now I have freedom to feel and that, for me, is the greatest gift right now. Thank you again Darlene and all who have the courage to post here;)

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Hi Pauline,

Thank you so much for your reply! :-)
My sister has my son’s and my exp electronics and other prop of mine that she deemed she wanted and needed for herself. Long est patterns of theft. She ha repeatedly cut lock off our storage and entered it so I o not know at this point jut what is where. She won’t answer my questions only retorts with threats and accusations. Her daughter has friends in the police dept. Need an objective person to help me. I am weary now after all these years and really feel I need someone to help ME, having been the strong one, handling everything all my life but ESP these past 20 years raising three children all alone. I am tired. And all this that is being revealed is exhausting, living their midst.
In need of glasses to see, drive, work, heart tests, difficult to breath(COPD). No income to rent anything. Since sons stroke and my med crisis its been very difficut four years, road blocks at every attempt to move forward.. BUT we have received much healing and now this new healing is beginning! Have to keep clinging to hope. Thank full for you and Darlene being here, God bless you.

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Marore and all,
I can so identify, to send a letter explaining your absence from the FOO or not. I am also torn, I want to explain at least so my dad knows it wasn’t him. (Except the fact that he didn’t protect me from my NM in the first place.) But he reached out to my daughter and said that I am mad at him again. I wasn’t mad at him I am livid with NM for her horrible words to me. (She waits until he goes to the bathroom to unleash it all, so he probably doesn’t even know what she said to me that day.)I’m afraid if I send a letter expressing it all she’ll still just twist it all around and use it for more ammunition against me.

I also remember the flood as I call it. Last year after the worst thing happened to me and my light bulb went on in my head that NM is toxic to me. I then got the flood. The flood of emotions as you think about all of the years past where she behaved badly and disrespectful. It is like your entire brain starts sifting through your life. Now at my one year anniversary of her hurtful event I just feel nothing for her. But I still get emotions, as my daughter is pregnant now I am reliving NM’s negativity at that time in my life. I remember telling NM my choice for my daughters’ name, NM said “What kind of name is that and nobody will be able to spell in anyway?” Her name is one of the most popular names out there today, but 26 years ago it wasn’t. To this day my NM spells my daughters’ name wrong, her own grandchild! Little bits and pieces are still popping up, but I’m usually ok unless NM actually comes to town. I get really stressed then… I just need to get through the baby shower to which my NC sisters are invited, which will make it very hard for me. One of whom has already said it would be christian like to forgive mother. Of course, so predictable that I need to forgive her yet again, and when she never has any apologies or remorse EVER! And besides her last words to me were “If you are so bothered by everything I say then why don’t you stop speaking to me?” Being the good daughter that I am that’s just what I did! Peace all and thanks Darlene for the great post…

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Hi Marore
Thanks for sharing how you looked at your mother through the grid of “what if she were not my mother and did those things” ~ that is such a powerful exercise and when I started doing that everything got much more clear for me. It was one of the key things that helped me move beyond the agony! Honestly, there is hope for total healing!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Cindee
Welcome to EFB!
There is so much info in this site about finding clarity about what to do, but it takes a bit of time for the ‘fog’ to clear. I hope you will keep reading other the articles and talking about this! You are not alone!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Melody
As I grew in understanding and clarity, my self esteem started to recover and everything began to change; their actions didn’t effect me anymore the stronger that I got because I KNEW in my heart that they were so dead wrong and that their actions were wrong and not based in any kind of love or respect. As I grew stronger I knew that forgiveness was a guilt trip; something they didn’t even understand and that they had to be sincerely regretful for their actions (which they don’t even acknowledge) and stop doing the offences, if they want forgiveness. I totally get where you are coming from Melody!
Hang in there!
hugs, Darlene

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Darlene, I think it sunk in today, what you say about treating each other with mutual respect. When we approach these relationships, with respect as an intention towards interaction, and the other person has no intention of respecting you, or has been taught by these sick parents since childhood, that you do not even deserve respect, there is no where to go. You can not even take a step that is not fraught with trouble. And it is not necessary to try. It is healthy not to engage any further. That is taking care of,and respecting yourself,and protecting your own loved ones from interactions with these imbalanced people!

Janie

81

Darlene,
Thank you. :)
I was going to delete my posts but saw your reply…not realling likng that I feel so alone and so needy! Never really belonged to anyone or anything..saying that I now feel like I am self pitying. Hate being my own worst critic too. Lord please open the door, please make a way for us…

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This revelation I am coming into here in my ‘parents’ home is wonderful, painful and fearful as I am on edge thinking they will be coming home soon. everything in me is hoping they stay away..
when my ‘mother’ first screamed at me I cried, she said I was just feeling sorry for myself. Days later I was digging my nails in to my arms, chest hands and saying ‘ I hate you, I hate you’ (to myself)
I had not really know the debth of her ‘hate’ for me. The death of the possibility of having her love me is now dead. this journey is so new yet I feel the freedom coming and am so excited to have ME the real true ME to live with the rest of my life FREE.

83

Hi Cindee
I have been in a conference since Friday morning, (today is the last day) so was not able to answer all comments right away.
You are not alone! This site has over 70,000 readers a month and it is amazing how similar everyone feels about themselves! There is lots of info here to help you get started.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Janie
That is awesome. Thanks for sharing this!!!
Hugs, Darlene

85

I haven’t yet completed one month of my committment to back away from mom (we have phone contact only – due to distance and her refusal to do email). My vow is to not allow her to manipulate me into a fight where I end up as usual being the bad guy and the discounted one. Whenever I (gently?)confront her, she has all sorts of tricks carefully orchestrated and ready (no thought involved, it’s so automatic for her). Laughing at me, saying I make her want to puke, saying I purposely try to confuse her, totally rearranging my words, or screaming at me that everything is untrue, etc etc etc. I no longer want to pussyfoot around the issues, nor doI want her gross exagerations and explosions. I really don’t want to talk to her at all! Problem is, I can’t do total NC, for the same reasons expressed by many of you, and she’s in her 80’s. Still bugging me!

Marore,(#68) I relate to so much of what you said, especially how talented mom is at being “silly and juvenile.” And she plays dumb and helpless, sweet and loving, all a well-practiced ACT.She isfensive with FOO and middle-aged stepchildren, so everyone walks on eggshells and fawns over her so there won’t be an incident (“I feel dizzy.. I’m falling.. Oh I just don’t know how to act…”). So when there is a birthday cake involved, presents to be unwrapped, or little kids to coo over, the ACT kicks in big time. People outside FOO/steps have said to me all my life “oh your mother is SO sweet, and she SO deserves happiness.” How can I tell them what life is like being her daughter (or son or stepchild or in-law). Nobody that I know of has ever stood up to her, but me. Even my dad blamed himself for their breakup after 33 yrs. For 20 yrs under their roof I watched them fight, and though they both made their contributions to a negative relationship, it was always my dad’s fault, and I watched her make it that way.

Janie, I have read your post #80 over and over. Yeah.

To Darlene’s subject, mom definitely has narcissistic tendencies, but she adds a big twist. Yes, everything -everything!- is about her, but instead of going around acting superior, she relates to the world by acting like a little girl, helpless, poor little me, displaying her poor self-image like a big award. She is able to keep everyone at arms distance and never has to commit to an opinion or point of view or never express true feelings (negative OR positive)because she presents herself as incapable of doing so. She’s great at anger, but ONLY in private.

I didn’t intend to ramble, but this past week I risked expressing some of the reasons for my new committment to self preservation. The three family members I talked to were all understanding and accepting, but they are dealing with mom in their own ways, and I can only say so much before they go back into their own bubbles. I understand. So here I am because I need help and this is the place to find it.

In anticipation of that next phone call, I cannot figure out HOW TO EXPRESS MY NEW BOUNDARIES to Her. I don’t want a fight, I don’t want phone slamming, I’m so weary and done with that. Not ready to write a letter because something in writing makes it so final and I’m not there. Is there a place on this website where “how to set boundaries” is discussed? thanks

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re post 85, the computer started erasing letters. I wanted to say how “defensive” mom is with family members. One relative told me the other day that it is so hard to converse with mom because she is defensive about “everything!” I just don’t know how to get my message across, but that must be because she has set up that barrier.

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Hi KathyA
I can relate to everything that you say in your description of your mother; there are as many versions of this as there are people, those details are very important to talk about in order to see that in order to recover from the damage this has caused us, we have to make some changes in the way that we either accept or reject the treatment. Until I could see how crazy the treatment was, and that it was not my fault, I didn’t see how I could draw my boundary against it.
Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene

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“A true mental health disorder is not controllable. People who have a true disorder can’t turn it on and turn it off. They can’t convince other people that they are wonderful and then in the privacy of home treat their own children like dirt. It doesn’t work that way. True narcissists are not well liked in society because they are narcissistic with everyone. They truly believe that they are more important than everyone else and it really shows.”

I would like to disagree with you about this statement. My ex is a sociopath (I believe) and is (I believe) a Malignant Narcissist as well as having Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). He can turn it on/turn it off like a lightbulb. In public he is a wonderful family man with a troubled past (who I met/fell in love with), various children by various wives/girlfriends who “just couldn’t understand him” and he has abused every single one of us in ways too horrific to go in to here. In the daylight he is Dr. Jekyl and behind closed doors he is Mr. Hyde. Even the sight of him in public gives me the shakes (we have been separated 2 years, divorced 1).

My ex has been abusing my daughter for almost one year now. Horrifically in ways I never thought you could abuse a child and get away with. He has convinced every investigating agency that I have gone to that it is not him. CONVINCED. This despite over 60 pages of documentation, photos of bruises/abrasions/black eyes/etc, doctor visits before and after his visitations, play therapy and my own therapists testimony. No one will remove my daughter from his care because, “this is just who he is”.

Believe me, they can turn it on and turn it off.

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Darlene-

Question here:

In People of the Lie, Peck talks about how malignant narcissism is basically willful laziness or the sacrifice of others to preserve their ego. I would agree with this, and it also talks about how they need a scapegoat (hence the fact that they can control who they abuse and who they do not like your mother). However, Peck goes on to say that even people who are in control of who they torture and what they do, are still sick, the way an alcoholic is, they deny it and have control over it. However, he still defines it as narcissism/evil/sickness.

When evaluating my parents I think, yes they are narcissists, but they could choose not to be whenever they want, if they just choose to look at themselves (which they don’t…). Totally ok if we have differing opinions on this, but just curious what you think about that POV?

Best wishes and you are awesome!!

G
Gillian

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Hi Kel
Welcome to EFB
That is my point; he can turn it on and off, which proves that he is conscious of what he is doing. That is what I mean by ‘not a true disorder’ a disorder is something that can’t be controlled by the person who has it. He is abusive. He is sick of course, but not so sick that he can’t control when and where he does this stuff.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi GDW
I always look at the truth leaks such as ‘the cover ups’ the fact that certain things are not done in public, the way that the victim is taught that they have no right to object, stuff like that is what tells me if the ‘disorder’ is controllable or not. There are ALWAYS truth leaks, and these are things that can be used to empower the victim. Yes these abusers are sick, but what I am saying is “so what?” It doesn’t make much difference to me when it comes to healing ~ the damage is what needs to be recovered from.
Not sure if this answers your question… (also read my comment to Kel)
Hugs, Darlene

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Kel

Your situation is worrisome, for you and for your daughter.

Can you videotape him, or set up a private investigator to help you? I am so worried for your daughter experiencing continued abuse.

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Darlene, can you explain in more detail what you mean by “truth leaks?” thanks

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Abusers who seemingly have control over their actions because they can control their behavior, do have something in common with those who are abusers with no control. Both are ignorant. The difference is what these two types of abusers are ignorant about. Those who knowingly abuse, are ignorant of the importance of doing the right thing in order to be a healthy happy person. But ignorance is ignorance and it’s all evil in my opinion.

I look at to this way- it doesn’t matter WHY someone is an asshole, they just ARE. It’s about self and healing, removing our own ignorance and assholeishness (is that a word?) and living in the truth.

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Hi Kathy
Not as easy to explain in a few sentences, but I might write a whole article about it one of these days. Meanwhile, a quick example (and different than the ones I have shared in the previous comments today) would be when a parent says something like “after all I have done for you”… followed by the reason that they are upset with you and why you ‘should’ be doing or not doing what they want.. the truth leak is that they believe that the things they ‘did for you’ obligate you to comply with whatever they want. (love is not obligation) ~ when an abuser tells a child that it is normal for kids to have sex with adults etc. and then also teaches the child never to tell on them, the truth leak is that the abuser KNOWS that it is NOT normal OR acceptable by law for adults to have sex with kids.
Hope that helps explain truth leaks a bit more.
Hugs Darlene

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Hi Darlene! I’m in a real venting kind of mood today because I have a lot of anger coming up. So grateful to have this site to come too to express how I really feel. I love knowing that I can say what ever I feel and no one will try to suppress me. I’ve been suppressed all my life and I think I just learned to cope with it. I’m tired of coping, I want to let out all this crap that is acting as an anchor in my life.

Finding out the dynamics behind why my parents had me to begin with really helped put a lot of things in perspective. Classic story of boy and girl have sex with no protection at early age, girl gets pregnant, boy is overpowered by parents to do the “right thing” and they get married. Both parties don’t really want to have children or get married but they go against their own free will or should I say are forced to because of their young age. They can’t handle the first child (my sister)so 3 years later they go ahead and have another one (me) Dad wanted nothing to do with us, mom was forced to take care of us and since she had no parenting skills except for what her mother gave her, that’s when the real fun began. My mom was very abused by her parents which resulted in a very wounded mom for me and my sister. My mom shared lots of details about her life with me which I found out later was very inappropriate. I was put in a position to fill my moms needs that she lacked from her mother. I learned as I went along that it was my job to nurture my mom. My whole life was backwards which helped me understand why I took on so much responsibility for my parents lives. I became like a parent myself with no skills whats so ever and I was expected to be support etc for them. How messed up is this. My whole life has been about making my parents lives as comfortable as possible because after all, they didn’t really want me and I was just lucky that they gave me the care they did. The guilt, shame and frustration that they dumped on me because they were not capable of being good parents was unbearable at times. I swear my mom was testing to see how far she could go before I cracked. I was told by mom that she had this illness and she couldn’t help the way she was so that gave her a free pass to treat me horribly. My dad just let stuff happen because he was exhausted himself from dealing with her self centered ways. The dynamics that were playing out are incredible and it was “how” I took on all this energy etc that really messed me up and led to all my self worth issues. I had no f… clue who I was or how I was going to function in the world. This led me to choose controlling men and to constantly give my power away to others.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have made it this far. I honestly thought I would be dead by now by either over dose, suicide or someone else killing me. I chose some real interesting guys and did things I don’t even want to talk about all in the name of receiving some kind of love and attention. I just wanted someone to see me, value me, cherish me…the list goes on. Learning to love myself unconditionally has been a challenge because I had no clue what that even meant. I have resources now that are teaching me how to love myself and as I learn how, that’s when all the memories surface.

This healing journey really sucks and yet I know it’s the only way to true wellness. No one can ever tell me that I am not brave or courageous because that’s what it takes to do this work. I am facing my demons one by one and I know one day I will find the peace inside that I truly desire.

I had to get all that out because if I don’t I think I will explode. I’m so tired of people saying your parents did the best they could for what they knew. That’s a big fat f… lie because I was there I saw opportunities where there was support and they didn’t want to step up because that would mean “they” would have to take responsibility in changing how they do things. They lied their f… heads off to us and made us take on “their” responsibility. I am so pissed off to find out how many liars there are in my family. I’m so disgusted with my background because no one had the balls to stand up for my sister and I until it was all too late. I found out after the fact that my grandmother offered my dad to take my sister and I in. My dad didn’t tell us this or even give us an opportunity, instead he hooked up with some manipulative bitch with 2 kids and forced us to be one big happy family. she didn’t want us there in the first place and I got to watch my dad give her kids all kinds of attention that we never got. I can’t tell you how deeply hurt I was to see my dad treat someone else’s kids better than me. Guess he just wanted to rub it in my face what a big loser I was or that’s what it felt like anyway.

Bottom line, my parents were horrible parents and they covered it all up with a nice home, food and shelter. I can’t honestly ever remember them saying sorry for anything or admitting they make mistakes. It was always what we did wrong etc. Nice f… world to bring me into and the best f…part is I get to spend the rest of my life cleaning it all up, guess I didn’t have anything better to do with my life. Thanks guys…hope it was all worth it for ya, hope you are enjoying your sweet life now without me in it.

Thanks for letting me vent, feeling a little better now.

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Darlene, thanks for more explanation on ‘truth leaks.’ I’m going to think more on that. After decades of not having a clue why mom treats me like s***, it seems that I (we) need to look for hints or red flags that are common to this syndrome/repetitive behavior in order to zoom in on how to precisely deal with it. This is like brain surgery :)

98

“Success is not only what we have accomplished, it is also what we have overcome”

I felt better after reading this quote this week, because even though it looks like I don’t have a lot to show for my years, I HAVE overcome so much (we all have and are striving to).

This definition of success validates our deep challenges, the deep emotional work and all the feelings that many of us deal with and endure every day. It’s like we didn’t get our basic needs met, and in fact dealt with painful abuse, and at least for me, I was getting stuck there. But, big revelation this year finally!, I keep/kept trying to make it work with people who are hurting me!!

The biggest sticking point is my mother – I do think she loves me, and she can be caring – but she can also be emotionally brutal. It will really hurt her if I stay so estranged, don’t know what to do, she will still hurt me.

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P.S. I think the word was “achieved” not “accomplished”.

100

I look at my family’s behavior like…exactly like many of you. While reading about personality disorders I discovered that my mother fits some descriptions, so does my father, and so does my sister, and for that matter, I recognized many of the behaviors in myself as well, but the fact was if it was called narcissistic personality disorder, or narcissistic tendencies and traits, their behavior towards me is and has always been very damaging. They hurt me, and they taught me to tolerate painful and uncomfortable environments, they taught me to be quiet, to have no voice, to have no needs, no feelings, no wants, no ambition or motivation, and that has really messed me up. Calling it one thing or another doesn’t change the cold, hard reality staring back at me.

They also treat me differently depending on who is around, who they are talking to about me, or whatever. My mother will tell me she wishes she could have aborted my sister while alone with me, but will put her arm through mine and act like such pals when my Dad is around. Or when in front of my eldest sister she will act like she knows me so well, and not just that, but that she is in charge of defining me. There’s all sorts of little digs here and there, but I’ve really began focusing on how each person interacts with me alone, and when with others, and I take note about if they act positively or negatively in those situations. With strangers, my mother acts very proud of my accomplishments, despite the fact when we’re alone she doesn’t ask or care about the material or my feelings, or how I’m doing or anything like a person would ask, but rather what my marks are and then it’s on talking about herself for the next 4 hours. She finds out three things that I let her know (because when you tell her anything, be prepared for her also telling everyone else), and she goes around and around telling everyone those three things, blowing it up to sound like those are the only three things. She has no sense of what others find uncomfortable (what I’ve been learning in school is basically end of life stuff), so she goes on about my accomplishments to people who are ill or dying. She also seems unable to wrap her head around the fact that I’m a very compassionate and kind person with my patients, I really, really care about them (love them, even), when as a child I was a little morbid (when you look at my childhood, gee I wonder why I was a little morbid). She still tries to tell me how morbid I am (without recognizing the reasons why this may have been), and how that makes it easier for me when my patients pass away…which in my opinion really shows how heartless she is. Nothing makes it easy. It’s happened 3 times now, in probably our last 5 conversations, how she’s brought up how morbid “I am”.

My mother’s mother was, I’m certain, full blown narcissistic personality disorder, and my mother suffered greatly. But she’s caused great suffering for me and my sisters. I understand why she is the way she is, but she hurts me and I don’t care that she’s my mother. A person who hurts me (in the way that they have) isn’t worth being around, no matter what is messing with their heads to cause them to behave that way.

The most interesting recent dialogue I’ve been privy to was between my mother and my father. My mother always pinches my sides and belly telling me to eat more cause I’m too skinny, and it doesn’t matter what I say, but then my mother told my Dad how I only drink Starbucks (which is also not true, but it’s one of those few things I’ve told her), my Dad started saying how I would get really fat, just like your auntie (my Dad and his family are all heavy type people, but I am not). My Dad also called me a fat ass when I was 17, when I weighed 110 pounds, and when I tried to run away, told me to sit that fat ass down then he abused me for a while before my mother decided I’d had enough. I don’t think the conversation was about me at all, but about them. My mother being whatever about me being skinny, and my Dad being whatever about me being or getting heavier. It was a weird one, and it happened in the first two minutes of me being in the car with them after not seeing them in ages.

It’s a web of messed up stuff, and it’s scary to think that I don’t really have a family anymore, but I don’t think I ever really had a family. I’m glad that I recognized the signs and symptoms in myself and took the opportunity to try and get better, instead of turning out more like them, as I certainly was walking down that path.

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Hi Darlene-

Hmm…this is heavy stuff….definitely a lot to ‘noodle’ as I say. :)

Jackie- I just have to comment- my mother and father were (since I am currently NC) the same way! My mother is always commenting that I am too thin, but my father, well now that I think about it, sometimes he thinks I’m too thin, other times too heavy. He’s odd about weight, probably because it ‘reflects back on him’. My sister and I have always been around the same weight (except when I was in ballet) but she was somehow too fat when she was 9 years old and I remember he was such a Nazi about how much cream cheese she ate, like it was a criminal offense. I think that was why I had problems with eating for so long- I didn’t want that humiliation.

Same with when my mother read my sister’s diary. Very private stuff, which pretty much caused me to repress my sexuality entirely.

Anyways, when a kid is taught that eating is bad and a teen is taught that sex is bad….it is basically like saying “You can’t live, and if you so much as want to breathe, you better ask my permission, and you better ask me on a good day or else”.

I guess my rather nonlinear point is that these criticisms are about control, not you! I’m sure your weight is fine! For years I thought I needed breast implants because guys told me I did, but guess what? I don’t! I am beautiful, and getting that kind of surgery would make me ugly! Ironically, even those guys would likely find me less attractive physically with that kind of surgery, but more attractive personality wise because they’d see how willing I was to be manipulated and used. I’m good enough and they told me that so they’d feel better knocking down my self esteem. It sounds like that is what your parents are doing- by insulting you and knocking you down they always have the upper hand. Even if you could gain weight to please one parent and lose weight to please another at the same time, they’d both find something else to criticize. Ugh! Makes me so mad. I am so happy you are realizing how messed up abuse really is.

I don’t really think I ever had a family either. Last night I actually had a nightmare about my mother I think I am nervous they will contact me as my b-day is coming up. She is a scary woman precisely because she seems so nice and has this way of making me feel like a monster (its like I must be awful if she is so ‘nice’- but then I realize that no one else seems to villify/demonize me like she does….hmmm).

Hope that made sense, I always try not to rant, but I always seem to on here, it is so helpful sometimes to just get it all out! :o

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May I ask for some advice please? What can I do, what can I say where can I excape when they come back here? I am/we are in their home and until we have a place and some money to go..
what do I say to the abuse when it starts; when I am again accuses of some nonsensical thing? what should I do- how do I excuse myself. This is so new. Thank you for your help.

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Hi Cindee
I don’t give advice. Even with my clients I don’t tell them what to do, I help them find their own answers. I know this is overwhelming especially when it is so new, but it is really important for each of us to find our solutions and on a website it is very easy to receive unhelpful and even distructive advice for a situation that no one knows enough about to really advise on in the first place. I have written over 350 articles in this site over the past 3 years and that will really help you get started with finding your answers.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Lora
I related to your comments in such a big way. That anger stage was huge for me; I was so reluctant to even think about feeling angry and deep down I believed it was ‘useless/pointless’ to be angry over something I could never get back, but wow, the anger was like validation for me. Through feeling that anger and disgust, I finally was saying to myself that what happened was wrong, horrible and I had a RIGHT to be angry. The anger was healing. It was such a necessary stage in healing!
Thank you for venting. Reading someone elses venting is healing too!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Light
You said a ton when you said that you keep trying to make it work with people who are hurting you. That is so common for survivors of this kind of family dysfunction. When I looked at the answers to the questions ~ WHY do I do that, I was able to see things differently enough to make some decisions that supported ME. Decisions that showed love for me.
Thanks for sharing,
Hugs, Darlene

106

Hi Jackie
Great comments. My mother also used the divide and conquer tactic; (talked bad about my siblings and her siblings etc. tearing everyone else down in order to get everyone on her side) and seeing how that worked for her was such an eye opener for me. And as you said, at the end of the day I had to pick ME. That was my only choice if I was going to become healthy and strong. I had to finally pick me.
It felt scary to me too when I realized that I no longer had a family (and it was a scary thing for about a year) but as I kept growing the truth became more and more clear ~ there wasn’t much to miss. There wasn’t any support, there was a lot of anxiety… well you get the picture. Today I am free of all that.
Thank you for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

107

Hi Darlene,
I am just now at almost 50 starting to set boundaries with my family. Not acceptable to my family. One of the biggest things I find is that there is a fierce protection for my parents by other siblings. They do not want me to have conflict or admit there is any conflict in or family or any dysfunction at all. But, even stronger they accuse me of “hurting my parent’s” or that “they gave me life” I have a serious conflict with my mom who steps in the middle, causes divisions, then acts like she is an innocent victim. She betrays my confidence and I have addressed this with her. To her shock and my siblings send me unsolicited advice and hateful emails in her defense as she runs to them with a more extreme version of what transpires. I feel terrible about it. Sad…like others in the family. Wish it were different. And I am purposefully guilted for drawing lines or setting boundaries of which they still barrel their way through like a bull in a china store. HOW DO I DO THIS? I want to heal before I can take more attack and verbal vomit. Please help.

108

Hello all! Dealing with the machine of deceit as I try to plan a simple birthday party for my father. My father has three sisters and 1brother. I was originally planning a large party. But his 2 sisters were out of town, thus they and their extended families would not be able to attend. I had a lengthy email exchange with one of the sisters, my aunt, discussing this, with the end statement from her being: I have discussed with sister B. We say, if you want to have the party that day, go for it. We will just visit with your Dad when we get back. Give him a birthday kiss for us. Im the interim, my mother announces she is paying for the whole party, and tells everyone so. She then invites the other sister, who is unwell, and her husband and family to also celebrate this sister C’s birthday, as it is her b day as well this month. It is now dinner for about 22 at a local restaurant. However, she announces to me, she has no intention of inviting my fathers brother (she is jealous and resentful of his wife). She then pretends to me, last week, that she will contact the brother and invite them. Today she tells me again she will not do it, under the pretense of. If the 2 sisters arent going, no need to invite the brother. She theb Im pretty sure lies, and says. I saw them putting suitcases in their car this afternoon. So they are going away,and wont be home,anyway.
Ithen get sn email to my mom, from Uncle C, saying sister A was offended that she was never invited to the party,that even tho Aunt A and B will be 1500 miles away,and can not attend, they should have had the right to refuse, not just not be invited.
Sigh. So then I forwarded the email exchange with my aunt to mom,Uncle C, and Aunt A, where all could see, in her own words,her declining the invite for her and Aunt B. I also reiterated last weeks conversation with mother, in which she stated she would let Dads brother know about the party. I then sent a copy of the email to Aunt A,in which it is stated that dhe claims she and sister were never invitex: a lie, and made the statement, I imagine it was because your grand baby was sick at the time,and you must have just forgot you said all of this.
Do I believe that. NO. It seems to me like my mother and Aunt A are trying to use this party to get there licks in on me,and trying to manipulatea party for an 86 yr old man and an 89 yr old woman to their advantage. My mother, shunning my brother and his wife out of spite, and Aunt A, trying to imply I am thoughtless, uncaring for an imaginary snub she herself thought up.
Making them face their own words in black and white,puts the onus squarely back on the trouble makers.What is sad, is that in the email exchange, i confide in my aunt A how birthdays upset and depress my Dad, and I just wanted him to feel loved.

109

P.S. Aunt A is in her 60’s, Aunt B is 70. It just proves to me,that they never change. My mothers need to manipulate and control and Aunt A’s need to villify me. Crochety old liars, lol. And, as you can imagine, I have not heard back from any of them, let alone received the apology due me. But, hey! Should be a great party, right?

110

Something that was taught to me early on in 12 step recovery, the other person’s problems don’t really matter that much. It’s MY problems, and my reactions that I need to worry about. I can analyse the other person til the cows come home, and it won’t do me one bit of good until I look at my own actions.

That said, in support for Daughter’s with Narcissistic mothers, I have found the validation I so desperately needed. I really think the key to healing is validation, and I wasn’t getting enough. My 12 step program of Alanon focuses on Alcoholism, and that gives members a big out. They can blame the behaviors on alcohol. It must not have been that bad for me because my mother was not alcoholic. *Sigh…..and then they go on to talk about how crazy we are cause we act out without the alcohol. Anyways…..support from other DoNMs, and people like yourself, has been critical for my own recovery. My mother, like yours, might not be a full blown Narcissist, but she is selfish and abusive, and as victims, we have commonalities—-and we can validate each other.

And Darlene, I would just like to thank you for telling me that you have recovered. I was so focused on areas that I need to grow, I forgot all the areas that I HAVE recovered. We do recover :) I am a work in progress, I have recovered, and I continue to recover daily!

111

OMG! I was just telling my friend this in an email today before I read this….I was telling her that I thought my mother was a narcissist but then I told her through the years I had tried to figure out what was wrong with her that she would abuse me but then I learned that even if I knew she was a narcissist, or depressed or whatever is wrong with her(I still dont know) I dont care what it is as THERE IS NO REASON TO EVER ABUSE YOUR CHILD OR anyone else…..to me now it is like giving them an exucse for their behavior when there isnt any. That was a big one…as I always thought that their was something wrong with me….she drilled that one into my head. So of course my own mother couldnt be wrong. I needed to find a way of dealing with what I needed to do to get well and that is what I do on a daily basis.

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Hi Lesslikescars
Welcome to EFB ~ exactly ~ same for me. My family didn’t like it either.
I have written over 350 articles in this site about how I did it. I know it is a lot to weed through, (I am going to be publishing some collected versions that can be downloaded soon) but it will help you relate to how you can do it too. The shocking part of all of this is that this situation is the same for millions of people, and yet it seems such a taboo to stand up to it! This site is about standing up to it.
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Janie
Yes, they will do anything to keep their version of the truth the one that is believed and that they get their way. Not equality, not about love at all not even about what is best for anyone.
Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene

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Hi Brenda
For me it was more powerful when I looked at the truth about their actions and what my re-actions were, (survival mode etc.) and not so much about my actions when it came to what happened to me in childhood. Where I went wrong in 12 step was that I looked at my childhood reactions/actions through the eyes of an adult who had been taught so much self blame that I could not be objective at all. I had to learn not to give ANY adults who were abusive any out at all. (no excuses that excused them)
Love your comments! It was validation that was so key for me too!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Stacy
Welcome to EFB ~ Sounds like you found the right website! Lots of conversation about this stuff here and lots of support too.
Thanks for sharing, glad you are here.
Hugs, Darlene

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I am definitely at the point where I don’t care what they are or why they are what they are. All I want is to heal. That is what I care about. If someone’s ripping the wound even wider or rubbing salt in it, I don’t care the reason for that, either. I want people in my life who are capable of loving, supporting, appreciating, and respecting me. (And when I get that from others, I’m also capable of giving it as well. After all, it’s pretty darn hard to love, support, appreciate and respect someone who doesn’t show you any of that.)

I think when we get ourselves caught up in this stuff, it obviously keeps us from healing and instead stuck in the fog, but I also wonder if we use it to diffuse our own pain as well. I am finding that the less excuses I give others, the sharper, more real the pain is. Not only is there nowhere for them to hide, there’s nowhere for us to hide the pain.

After some recent communication with my brother, I am spent. I asked him if he’d go see a counsellor, to take all the knowledge he has and all the communication I’ve had with him and see what a counsellor has to say (because my brother has based his opinion of what happened on what our parents have said and his own conclusions, which of course are biased by his upbringing). I received an email from him today saying that he’s booked an appointment (I asked him a week ago), but, you know, when I saw his name in my inbox, I was terrified. And when I read his one-liner, I didn’t feel any better to know that he was going to do this. From all the communication we’ve had, I know he is SO far away from understanding, SO FAR. All I feel these days is how deep the wound and how much I am ready and wanting to heal. There is definitely something wrong when seeing your brother’s name in your inbox produces feelings of terror. I’m intent on doing whatever is best for me, whatever that means. I am not to blame for any of this mess and I am tired of feeling shamed and obligated and all that junk. I deserve to heal.

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Hi Alaina
Yay. When I got to that point, as exhausted as I was, that was the turning point. All the paths that I had been on until then were still necessary, but when I wanted to heal for me, and I knew that I deserved to heal ~ that was when things started to come together in a new way. It was like I was too tired to fight it anymore, although I never knew that true healing was what I had been fighting! (this all makes sense in hindsight!)
Love these comments!!
Hugs, Darlene

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Hi Everyone,
I have published a new article and this one is about ‘crying’ and the difficulties that so many survivors have with crying. I am big on the messages that lived at the roots of all my struggles and last week I made a deeper discovery about crying and my deeper feelings about it. You can read the post and comment here: “Difficulty Crying or Feeling Ashamed or Afraid of Crying”
Hugs, Darlene

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Such an interesting topic! It’s so amazing to me how narcissistic aspects of the parent-child relationship can really impact the child to seek out similar situations later on in life. I recently read a very interesting blog that discussed both sides of the narcissistic relationship, why people are narcissistic and why people choose narcissistic partners, I highly recommend it!

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Hi Everyone!
The discussion page is up for the free guide (in the right hand side bar) to getting unstuck on the journey to emotional healing. (If you didn’t get one yet, please grab one!) The guide addresses several parent issues as well.
Here is the link to the discussion page: http://emergingfrombroken.com/getting-unstuck-on-the-journey-to-emotional-healing-the-discussion/
Hugs, Darlene

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My new post is published! ~ “Honor your mother and father; is drawing a boundary a sin” ~ hope you will visit there and perhaps leave a comment!

http://emergingfrombroken.com/honor-your-mother-and-father-is-drawing-a-boundary-a-sin/

Darlene

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Read the characteristics of a narcissistic mother and I have to say. It blew my mind. My mom doesn’t fit it to a tee, but she comes pretty close. When I read about the sibling relationship I had a real eye opener.

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My mother has always played favorites, been verbally abusive and demanded attention. It’s always been her way or the highway, she cut contact with my brother for 7 years because he wouldn’t come to her house for dinner with his wife. She went 10 years without speaking to her own mother and now she has severed ties with me and my brother once again (who came to my defense in an attempt to stop her from doing it) I moved across the country in 1989 and have called my mother daily ever since. I have always flown her out 3 times a year to see my children and have flown down to see her, I have gifted her money, bought her a car. I have been nothing but good and loving towards my mom. Why did she cut ties? I called to tell her I was coming to visit, My mistake was telling my brothers first and she was really mad. So I asked her to tell me what is wrong with our relationship. Why does she act like she despises me. It appears to me that she can’t loves her three kids at the same time, one of us has to be on the outs. Here is what she said “you treat me like
S**t and you don’t love me…there is nothing you can do to prove to me that you love me”. I was crushed
I said I call you everyday mom, you never call me and she said “no I don’t “. She said when she told me she got a collapsible walker to fit in her car so she could walk 2 miles in the mall 3 times a week I didn’t inquire about her joints, there for I dint love her or give a blank about her. I was crying mom I do love you, you will never convince me of that was her response so I said well I do love you but I should hang up and she said yes you should. So I did. My brother called her to say mom what are you doing? She said its none of your business I’m a big girl. He said mom you are burning bridges here and she responded Ill do what I want and hung up on him. He then relieved an email saying she was getting her own cell phone and would no longer be on his plan. So she changed her number and didn’t give it to either one of us. My youngest brother is barely hanging on emotionally, is disowning his teenage daughter because he doesn’t want to help her pay for a college education ( let her mother do it) they are divorced and he is constantly fighting with his ex wife to the point he sounds installed to me. My brother and I are done with my mom and her
hatefulness. It’s painful and imaging to take time to heal. This website is a lifesaver for me right now. I’m so thankful to have found it
Kathleen

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My mother has always played favorites, been verbally abusive and demanded attention. It’s always been her way or the highway, she cut contact with my brother for 7 years because he wouldn’t come to her house for dinner with his wife. She went 10 years without speaking to her own mother and now she has severed ties with me and my brother once again (who came to my defense in an attempt to stop her from doing it) I moved across the country in 1989 and have called my mother daily ever since. I have always flown her out 3 times a year to see my children and have flown down to see her, I have gifted her money, bought her a car. I have been nothing but good and loving towards my mom. Why did she cut ties? I called to tell her I was coming to visit, My mistake was telling my brothers first and she was really mad. So I asked her to tell me what is wrong with our relationship. Why does she act like she despises me. It appears to me that she can’t loves her three kids at the same time, one of us has to be on the outs. Here is what she said “you treat me like
S**t and you don’t love me…there is nothing you can do to prove to me that you love me”. I was crushed
I said I call you everyday mom, you never call me and she said “no I don’t “. She said when she told me she got a collapsible walker to fit in her car so she could walk 2 miles in the mall 3 times a week I didn’t inquire about her joints, there for I don’t love her or give a blank about her. I was crying mom I do love you, you will never convince me of that was her response so I said well I do love you but I should hang up and she said yes you should. So I did. My brother called her to say mom what are you doing? She said its none of your business I’m a big girl. He said mom you are burning bridges here and she responded Ill do what I want and hung up on him. He then received an email saying she was getting her own cell phone and would no longer be on his plan. So she changed her number and didn’t give it to either one of us. My youngest brother is barely hanging on emotionally, is disowning his teenage daughter because he doesn’t want to help her pay for a college education ( let her mother do it) they are divorced and he is constantly fighting with his ex wife to the point he sounds unstable to me. My brother and I are done with my mom and
her hatred. This website is a lifesaver for me right now. I’m so thankful to have found it
Kathleen

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This article is great in so many ways!

I wasted a whole lot of time trying to figure out my mum and then my brother and then my dad and then …. finally ME! But really who cares what their ‘official diagnosis’ is, the important thing is healing your self after emotional abuse.

For me just the discovery of what ‘Narcissism’ is was a massive lightbulb moment which lifted me out of thinking I was the one with all the problems! I like to keep my Mum and brother neatly filed under NPD, it may be right, it maybe wrong, quite frankly I just don’t care now! They can look after themselves whilst I concentrate on looking after me!

THANK YOU FOR THIS BRILLIANT WEBSITE DARLENE :)

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Wow Kathleen, hugs hugs.

My mom is claiming “health issues” as to why she cannot deal with my issues. Along with “it’s in the past why are you bringing it up?”

My mom’s three biggest lies:

“Do what you want to do.”

Universal Decoder Book Translation: As long as it’s what Dad & Mom want you to do.

“To thine own self be true.”

Universal Decoder Book Translation: Be true to what Dad and Mom want you to be.

“When you grow up you can make your OWN decisions.”

Universal Decoder Book Translation: You had better make the same decisions Dad and Mom would have made and it had better have the appearance that you freely chose whatever and we didn’t influence you in any way.

Deborah Tannen writes very good books on communication: http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/tannend/ I have read three of her books. She talks about “meta messages.” What people say versus what they really mean.

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Robyn, that is a wonderfully positive attitude! The more you do for yourself,, and take care of yourself in ways the Ns couldn’t have been bothered to, the better you will feel!

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One of my insights after reading about narcissism etc. was that these people are devoid of any empathy for other people yet have very fragile egos themselves and get upset easily.

It’s all about them, the world should revolve around them, if they could possibly make that happen. I read somewhere that narcissists show lack of empathy for other children when growing up, hence they would have stood out from the crowd. Children do not have the same inhibitions as adults, so they would pick on these narcissists and soon these narcs learn that if they showed their true nature, people would not tolerate it. So they learn to act empathy in front of other people but show their real side when someone s powerless for ex a child who is dependent on them.

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Hi Sahitha
When ever I get into a discussion about Narcissism the thing that sticks out to me is that the victim of narcissistic behaviour forgets that the damage caused from the narcissist is the most important factor dependant on the victim healing or not. The other important thing that I think about is how much control over their so called disorder that these narcissists actually have. (I haven’t met very many ‘true’ narcissists.) My mother (who many people on this site believe IS a narcissist) doesn’t do certain things in front of certain people and has great control over her actions which has led me to conclude that she doesn’t actually have any sort of disorder at all. A true disorder is not controllable.
Having said that, your points are very interesting. Thanks for sharing!
hugs, Darlene

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Sahitha, I like your points. What you said is exactly my Mom. She puts on this “show” of being “just a housewife” but it’s more than that. I once told a counselor that I didn’t think my Mom was smart enough to be that devious. I think my Mom grew up learning to get what she needed in “covert” ways, and thus she is covert with me. Mom has no confidence in herself, but expects me and my sisters to make up for it. Mom loves to project this “close knit family” thing. HA! My sisters and I don’t talk to each other unless we have to! My sisters and I are all different. No shame in that, it just happened.

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I belong to a group of supportive women and found my way here because of them. I couldn’t be more thankful. You’ve given me more insight in one day than I had in 4 years of therapy.

I totally get the labeling issue. I was in the spin cycle for years trying to diagnose/label my mother. I even went the autism route. But things finally fell into place and I don’t even care about any of that now. It doesn’t matter to me anymore.

I’ve worked hard for my healing. My mother clearly did not. That’s not my problem, it’s not my responsibility and there sure as heck isn’t anything I can do about it anyway! You’re right, I could give her the label of Flowering Elf Fairy and it won’t change anything. We are each responsible for the decisions we make every day and she made hers. She chose to treat me the way she did.

I recently realized that when I think of my childhood I think of myself as chained-up dog. She would throw me crumbs… literally let us go without food… and every single interaction, every everything had to revolve around her or she just wasn’t interested.

My anxiety from trying to please her got so bad that it led to my recent breakthru. My kids are grown, my husband is AWESOME and my life is calm. So WHY was I still feeling so much anxiety?

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that if I didn’t please her, she would abandon me. Period. No love lost, she wouldn’t miss me. Somewhere deep in my mind I’ve always known that.

And she is so highly sensitive that if I so much as refuse to laugh at one of her STUPID jokes (come on, find something NEW to say after 40freakin years), she’ll abandon me.

I’ve run from that realization my entire life. If I don’t please her, she will abandon me. It hurt like heck when I finally admitted it to myself the other day but I’ve had a few days now of yelling and screaming (with just my husband home) and lots of cussing. I was furious. How DARE her be such a coward!

I’m not going to run from it anymore. It is what it is. I don’t feel sorry for her, I really just don’t care. Maybe it’s all still too fresh.

In the past few years I’ve let new friends into my life and have started learning what love looks like. Not just love from my husband but love from others. Because my mom taught me that I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s attention. I was too humiliated by her treatment of me anyway. My friends’ parents took care of them and had baby showers for them and called when there was a nasty storm. My mom never did any of that. She did everything she could to teach me how worthless I was. And she did an expert job of it.

My biggest issue has been her denial of it all. She has always shot me down. No matter what, no matter if tears were involved, no matter how insistent I was. Even when my brother was on board with me (she took care of THAT relationship). I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle that. But after reading your articles and gaining such incredible clarity I thought… ok, since you insist that you did your job as a mother… make a list of all the things you did to teach me love or to make sure I was happy. Her pen would never hit the paper. A normal loving mother would have discussed the things she’s done at length. We all do when times are tough with our kids. My mother never had to have long conversations with friends about what to do about her child’s temper tantrums. lol SHE was the one having them!! lol!

So I’m thinking (hoping) I can just walk away. I feel incredibly blessed to finally have answers.

I read on a blog about narcissistic mothers… What better disguise for evil than motherhood.

I have always carried my faith close to my heart. Even when I was a child and crying into my pillow at night. I prayed that God would make things better. If this was a trial, then I hope I endured it well.

I hated her the past few days and may still feel that way. I don’t right now. Right now I just want to get on with my life. I’m extremely thankful to have survived it; I’m extremely proud of myself for coming out the other side with my dignity intact. She trampled on my morality, tried desperately to get me to do things that I considered humiliating. I think part of her actually admired me for standing my ground.

My goal now is to fill my life with people who uplift me. I never knew to do that before. And I have to practice it too. Uplifting others. Should my mother somehow miraculously ever decide to be a part of that, I will welcome her with open arms.

I have faced the biggest fear of my life and survived. I’ll be ok when she abandons me.

I’m extremely grateful for this site and your incredible insight and wisdom. It feels like a blessing to have found this. Thank you <3

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Karen,

I am sorry that it has been so hard. What kinds of things did your mother do? Not giving you enough to eat is deplorable. I hope that you find more and more emotional freedom. I know for me it seems to come in waves – first lots of crying and anger, then I feel better, then I slide back a bit, then more forward, etc. Mostly I am moving forward.

How did you manage to enter into an intimate relationship (with your husband) and maintain it? I have been struggling and preoccupied emotionally all of these years with FOO issues. I would like to be married but sometimes I feel discouraged – I’d like to find someone understanding like your husband seems to be. Somehow you had the trust confidence to get married and have children which is an achievement given everything you’ve been through.

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Karen, I have just read your post and am very impressed with all that you had to say:) I, too, am in the middle of really trying to forgive myself. I forgive myself for trying to take my mother in and give her a better life. My God, I tried so hard to please her but it was not to happen and ended disastrously. My life is calm now as well as I live with my partner and my son is grown. I have much to be thankful for and through the help of therapy I am beginning to see that I never had that bonding with my mother (she gave me up as a baby and I was looked after by abusive babysitters until I was 2, and my grandmother then took me in). No wonder I have resented her all these years.

I recently read a great book titled “My Mother, My daughter & Me – a Memoir” which was about having your mother come live with you. How it triggers every issue from childhood for both the mother and daughter. Not surprisingly, the author states that statistically, even when you come from a harmonious and peaceful background, only about 16% of these living arrangements work!

I forgive myself for wanting the mother I never had and am trying very hard to accept the fact that I was always trying to please my mother. This has effected my friendships over the years and even my relationships at work. I am now seeing, with great clarity, thanks to this site, how my relationship with my mother (even though it still hurts) could never be.

Thank you, Karen, for sharing your thoughts and I look forward to seeing more and good luck to you.

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Light… thank you so much for asking me for advice. One of the things my mother did, went to my brother and his wife for advice (or at least that’s what she told me) but never came to me. Neither of my parents actually. It is so invalidating as a human being to never so much as be asked for your opinion. It really made me feel good for you to ask me <3
My mom was all about neglect and making me feel worthless. And she is pathologically jealous. She envies anything and everything about me. And the underlying message was always that she would abandon me if I dared to do or have anything that she didn't. I knew some of this but didn't realize the full extent until I finally admitted that my deepest fear was her abandonment. Like she's a hoarder (like you see on tv) and she absolutely disapproves of my having a nice neat home. She would never tell me that outright (and she would absolutely deny it) but I can hear it in her voice when she 'compliments' me and then I know she disapproves. It keeps me from doing the things I want to do bc of the constant underlying fear that if I make her too unhappy, she'll abandon me. But yes, clothes, food, anything necessary she would deny me or disapprove of if I got it myself. It was all to make me feel worthless bc somehow that builds her up.
It's good that you're moving forward as much as possible. This has taken me years to admit to and I think since it's been so long and I've done so much freakin work (therapy, meds, journaling) that once I was able to get over that last hurdle, admitting abandonment, I feel like I'm home free. I mean it's still a shocking thing to have to admit to myself and I feel really sad about it but so far it feels good too. I'm finally free.
I had gotten to the point where I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I hadn't been on meds in years and I asked my doc to put me on zoloft. I was about to ask for xanax (again) but I just didn't want to fall back into all that. It's been a lot of prayer and scripture study too. I do my best, most insightful journaling when I read scripture first. Anyway, my life had calmed down, my boys are now grown and off to school and the only things left really were my husband and my mom. I knew there were serious issues with her and I've worked on that for years but I had decided to spend more time than usual with her this summer (deathwish?) to look at it with my eyes as open as possible and make a decision. NC or not. I actually completely forgot that was goal and throughout the summer she racked up yet again list of things that were abnormal and made me feel like crap about myself. Like she had decided if we went anywhere that even though we were taking her car, I had to drive. And if I protested at all she would insist and I knew the threat was there that if I didn't do as she said, she would leave. I mean come on, really?? She didn't even ask me. It just felt like one more little thing she could do to control me. She puts on the most cheerful face and smiles a super fake smile and acts like she's game for anything fun to do. But she's not. Start making suggestions and she'll cheerfully shoot them down. And it doesn't matter how bad you want to do it or if the grandkids want to do it. If she doesn't want to, it's not gonna happen.
There's no connection. That's something I didn't learn until I managed to find a few good friends with whom I felt not only a strong connection but I was amazed that I could call them up and they would help anytime for anything. Like I had surgery and they dropped off dinner. No expectations, no need to make sure they knew I was thankful. They dropped it off, made sure I was ok, and left. One of them brought dinner in a glass casserole dish and when I gave it back to her she said she didn't even remember my having it. I can feel their love. And I know that when I talk to them they aren't going to judge or act weird or secretly hope I fail somehow. That's how I learned how to uplift others. One of the single greatest things we can do.

Ok so about my husband. I was married twice before. The first one was because I felt completely alone when I graduated high school (my dad isn't in my life) so I married my high school sweetheart. He was a decent enough guy but I guess he had issues of his own. We divorced 5 years later. My 2nd husband was abusive and I left after 10 years. I took our two boys and left. How was I able to trust in the first place? I never really had issues trusting. I've actually thought a lot about this. I wanted to give you the best answer I could. I had a really good relationship with my maternal grandmother and even though my maternal grandfather died when I was a baby, I always felt a connection with him too. My grandmother would tell me stories about when she was growing up and I see now that I've thought about it that she made herself vulnerable (which is normal). There were sad things but she didn't hesitate to talk about them. And there were no expectations from me. I wasn't expected to make her feel better or feel sorry for her or anything. She was just sharing stuff and then we just moved on to other stuff. But I guess that's what helped teach me that it's ok to open up and trust. She didn't get hurt by doing it and I'm sure I told her things too but I never worried that I would suffer any backlash from it.
Anyway by the time my 3rd husband came along I was absolutely bone-weary from years of torment. Both of my parents and my 2nd husband had virtually tortured me. I'll tell you though, my 3rd came into my life and kind of decided he was staying. I knew he was a good guy and I can't help but think that the nice guys I dated long ago, I don't know why I didn't marry one of them instead. I mean I remember knowing how nice they were and I turned them down and married someone abusive. I'm sure Darlene can help answer that one!
So my 3rd, it's been almost 10 years and it's only been recently that I have let my hair down with him. I spent years treating him like I expected him to attack. The least little thing and I would fly into a rage. Talk about a roller coaster. But he hung on for dear life. At one time early in our relationship I was what we came to call a tough girl. I would get angry at the drop of a hat and let him have it. He actually grabbed me one time and held me in a bear hug until I calmed down. He said he was tired of tough girl and it was damn time I learned that he wasn't out to hurt me. I put him thru every test I could think of. Not intentionally but I needed to push him. I needed to know that he would love me unconditionally. I never hurt him, like cheating or anything, I just needed to know that I was safe with him and that he meant it when he said he loved me and wanted to spend his life with me.
I would say learn to trust your intuition and then go from there. That's another thing, I never doubted my intuition. No matter what my mom said, I knew what reality was. Your intuition can be the most important thing you have. It will guide you and keep you safe. If you're already really comfy with it then make note of how you feel around different people. Like how do you feel when you're around your mom and then how do you feel around your neighbor or sister or whoever. What really taught me how to gauge normal was thinking how I felt around my new bff. She's one of the ones who brought dinner. I met her a few years ago and we just clicked. I can tell her absolutely anything and she won't judge. She listens with empathy and then I can see the gears in her head spinning to help me come up with solutions. And if she doesn't hear from me soon after she'll make sure to get in touch with me to see how I am. I've met her parents and family and I really just love them all. And they're just so darn nice. And they uplift me. I was a stranger but that didn't matter! They said the nicest things and made sure I was comfy in their home and I've never felt a moment of judgment or criticism. That was foreign to me!
My 3rd husband helped too. He was the first one I ever felt unconditional love from. And I wouldn't say that I'm particularly close to his family but man, I get tears in my eyes when I think of them. I know they're there for me. And I love how my husband is with his mom and sisters. His baby sister is a pain in the ass sometimes but there is nothing she could ever do to push him away. He loves her deeply, I can see it in his eyes. I was jealous at first but then I realized that if he loves his family that much he must be a really great guy and capable of incredibly deep love.
Another thing I should mention, and this may be why I didn't marry a good guy back then, I may have been able to trust but I was PETRIFIED of opening my heart to 'strangers'. Friends, guys, teachers at school. I always saw others making and keeping deep connections with others but I wasn't able to do it. I was not only petrified, it was UNCOMFORTABLE! I dunno, that does sound like trust doesn't it. But I think it was more. It was just plain uncomfortable to open myself up and form a connection. It's like I could almost feel that my heart was closed. And I had a million reasons to keep it that way (that my mom taught me bc she didn't want me to be able to form intimate relationships, she hated that I even had friends). I didn't think I was good enough or interesting enough or people already had their friends and weren't interested in me as a new one. My hair looked stupid, my outfit wasn't fashionable, I drove an old car, I talk too much, I haven't done a lot of fascinating things, I'm too tall, I'm not big on fake nails, I wasn't a cheerleader in high school, I'm not as much fun as other people, I don't wear a costume every Halloween. I'm serious. These are the kinds of thoughts that would whirl around in my head, telling me I wasn't good enough to be anyone's friend. All my excuses helped keep me at arm's length from everyone. And because of that I wasn't able to build lasting friendships or have the confidence to meet and date a great guy. It took me about a year to even be able to call my husband by a pet name. And I practiced it when he was asleep. No joke. I would lay there and say I love you baby. Just to get the feel of it. I mean how crazy is that?? Now I say it a million times throughout the day every day.
Ok sorry for the novel here :P I had no idea I was going to end up saying so much. It felt really cathartic though! :) I've said things here that I never told anyone so I hope it helps you somehow. I have faith that you're going down the right path and you'll find your way. Ten years ago I was a mess. On a cocktail of meds and depression and ended up agoraphobic. Is that the one where you can't leave the house? I stayed on my couch, crying, journaling, trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me. I put myself thru things you've been smart enough to avoid so it probably won't take you anywhere near as long to find your way. I spent the first several years trying to recover from what my 2nd husband did to me.
Ok I'm going to hush now. Please let me know if you want to talk more or just want to vent and know that someone is listening. There is a lot of evil in the world but there are also a lot of us who love deeply and care <3

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Pauline, wow! I am not used to compliments like that! Thank you!! You’re so sweet! :) That makes me feel like I’m worthy! :)

I am so sorry it ended disastrously for you to try to take care of her. I totally get it though. It’s part of my very being to ‘do the right thing’. And my mom knows that. I’m pretty sure she taught me part of that, it encourages us to go back for more abuse but I already had that as part of who I am and she exploited it. But my drive to do the right thing can lead me down paths I don’t need to be going down. It’s hard to not do it though. Extremely hard. I’ve had such an internal struggle. I can see that vulnerable part of her and that’s the part I was trying to reach. A friend who has an n mom pointed out though that while we’re reaching out to that vulnerable part of them, they see our vulnerabilities and instead of reaching out with motherly love, they exploit it.

And just like you, I tried SO HARD. My message to her was constantly, I love you no matter what. I love you for who you are. I love you no matter how you feel about yourself.

I did that with both of my parents. I knew they were both horribly flawed and that they knew they were horribly flawed and I just kept telling myself to love them and accept them as is and that no matter what they said or did, I would love them.

And I think there’s a part of them that saw that. I think that’s part of what kept me going for so long. But it was kind of an illusion bc when it came down to it, they always opted to hurt me. I mean there were moments of love and times I could see the part of them that wanted to be a mom or dad but those were very fleeting and never lasted. And that’s the thing, I read on a website that narcissists have a massive internal struggle and that’s what I was picking up on. That some deep part of them wanted to do the right thing. But nearly every time, they would let that cruelty take over and lash out at me. At everyone actually. My parents don’t have any kind of normal relationship with anyone (they’re divorced).

Anyway that’s been my biggest hurdle, seeing that they’re struggling but even though they’re both around 70 years old now, they still choose to reach out and hurt. It’s frustrating bc when the rest of us have a disagreement, we talk about it. We acknowledge that the other person has a right to be listened to. But it was like hitting my head against the wall bc I kept thinking maybe THIS TIME my mom will listen. And then when I decided to try and get closer and have that relationship she had always said she wanted with me, she just dished out the abuse even more.

So I know I’ve done the best I can now. I have fulfilled my end of the deal with honoring my parents and trying to do what I knew to be best. I respected them and treated them with dignity. I still love them and unless something happens and they just really piss me off, I’ll continue to treat them with respect. Bc that’s what’s important to ME. I need to know that I did what I consider to be the right thing.

Nowhere does it say that it is my responsibility to allow myself to be harmed in any way. I mean, if that’s in scripture anywhere then someone needs to let me know. The commandments are important to me and the 2nd greatest one is loving others as we love ourselves. That’s something I spent the last few months working on. Where did that leave me with my relationship with my parents. It is my duty to love others as Christ would. I’ve actually become much more spiritual than I ever was before because of all this. I read on a blog where the writer said, what greater disguise for evil than motherhood. That really made me stop and think. If there’s evil in the world, is it just nameless, faceless corporations that are engaging in child labor or polluting our water? That probably wouldn’t affect us that much. But disguise evil as mothers and you can mess up generation after generation.

Anyway I’m not really saying that my mother is evil. But she does choose evil actions. Very harmful evil actions.

I’m sorry I got so chatty with you too :P It really made my day (month, year!) to read yours and Light’s comments to me. I may get that book. I’m super sensitive right now, trying to work thru all these awakenings I’ve had. It’s a hard thing to know that your parents don’t want you.

I am so sorry that your mom gave you up. I bet you were a sweet, adorable baby girl. And I’m sorry that she gave you to people who abused you further. Mine did that too. She had a friend move in with us and later a bf. They both mistreated me horribly. And then she never apologized when her bf molested me. I guess she wanted it that way. She enjoyed seeing me hurt. Still does. Gets a twinkle in her eye when she knows I’m in pain.

You know the thing is, my husband (he’s my 3rd) wanted kids with me but I’ve been working on healing for so long that I lost track of time and I may have missed my chance. I’m 45. My husband wants a daughter so bad we may end up adopting one. I love watching him with his nieces and it breaks my heart that I didn’t do this sooner. I say this because I think of little girls out there who are abused and not wanted and they grow up to be us and here we’ve got this freakin awesome guy who honestly just has too much love for just me and my boys and our dogs. He’s overflowing with it and really needs a daughter or two. You deserved that. You deserved a mom and a dad who loved you like that. Parents who would raise you and teach you. We all deserve that.

Lately I’ve been thinking what it would have been like. I had a good relationship with my grandmother so I think what it would have been like to have just lived with her. I remember how safe I felt sleeping in the bed at her house. My belly was full and I was loved. It was never too hot or too cold. haha I’m not Goldilocks… but my mom loved keeping me freezing cold in the water and sweltering in the summer. I was thinking about that in bed the other night and I actually felt some of my anxiety slipping away. In bed at my mom’s house I usually cried myself to sleep. I prayed hard and cried into my pillow a lot.

I guess I’ve written way too much again. Sorry :( My last post was kind of embarrassing. I didn’t realize it was so long! Anyway thank you for what you said. It really does help heal my soul to read that (yes, I’ve already reread it a few times :) <3

136

Yes, someone can be a Narcissist and still treat some people better than others. Having narcissistic personality disorder does not mean the person is stupid or insane without the ability to control their impulses. It simply means their personality, their character is pathologically SELFISH. Selfish does not necessarily equal stupid. And so they will CHOOSE who they show their bad side to based upon what they get out of the relationship with the other person AND whether or not they can GET AWAY with bold abusive, selfish behavior. They most definately will not treat their friends or coworkers badly because that would have negative consequences for them (the loss of attention, status, a job, respect, social standing). Who gets the narcissists bad side? Usually a child. Yes, a child, not all the children. Narcissist pick a target to abuse. They spin an altogether different image of themselves to the rest of their social environment. WHY? Becuase it serves them. This way they can be abusive power hungry bullies getting their angries out AND still be percieved and treated as GOOD, REPECTABLE PEOPLE. Remember IMAGE is everything for a narcissist. They work hard on maintaining a wonderful image and that means treating most of the people in their life well. It is an act, however. Their victim receives the true nature of this person and is often the only one who sees that side. Now, WHO are the narcissists victims? The narcissist will always choose who they can abuse based on whether they can get away with it. Whoever they can abuse without anyone finding out, without any consequences to their image. They abuse the vulnerable, the one without power or standing to “out” the narcissist. And IF the victim has any social standing or power at all the narcissist will work hard to demolish it completely. Then the abuse goes on unchecked. Since narcissists are defined as purely SELFISH individuals, anyone who appears to receive more attention than them, or appears smarter, or has more, etc will be percieved as a threat and therefore spark the jealousy that will cause a narcissist to target a victim. Narcissitic parents are often jealous of one of their children. A Narcissitic mother will go after the first girl child in the family due to jealousy. She will treat her other children like gold (her narcissistic supply). Narcissists NEVER treat everyone equally. That wouldn’t serve their purposes at all! To assume that a narcissist must treat everyone awful is wrong. They are not stupid, although they may appear to be at times. Its just that their intelligence is lead by their EGO and not reality.

137

Sara, my mom has npd and bpd. She is so difficult to deal with and has been a burden to me my whole life. I always yearn for peace and wish she was no longer a part of my life.

138

@Sara
wow wow wow. Thank you for a spot on definition
All my life I thought my mom was evil and/or insane and/or bi polar and/or hates me.
I realized last year (I’m 26 now) that she definitely is not bipolar as being bipolar does not meant you are nice today and evil tomorrow. You might just be really really sad and depressed. Being bi polar does indeed harm the individual’s familty but foremost the individual him/herself.
My mother never did anything wrong at work, outside of home. She did not treat my older sister the way she has always been treating me. She was abusing my father and me and once my father finally left when I was 14, her forces were focused 110 percent on me.
I got away but last year I got fooled…I thought she changed after my sister gave birth to her kid. I forgot one thing: she was nice in the presence of my sister and unfortunatelly, for the first time ever, my sister who normally lives abroad stayed at her place for a full month.
My sister was a witness of my abuse several times when I was a kid and never stood up for me. however she does not know even a half of what was happening and how she continues to treat me.
I just wish I “diagnosed” her earlier.
There is no way to win a person w npd and there is no way that person is ever going to change

139

Maye it is naive of me but I never understood one thing. How can a person with npd not care about her/his physical appearance. I mean one thing that does not match the picture is the fact that my mother has really let herself go.. Any explanation?

140

Sara, I really enjoyed your post! This is my mother to a tee. She was always very jealous of her sister, who received dancing and singing lessons, the new clothes, and most of the attention. And she despised her own mother. My older sister, well,my mother would tell her, “You are the least brightest of all of my children”. So, no competition there. So it fell to me, to be the narcissist scape goat. She made sure she blocked any semblence of a relationship for me with my father, always painting me in the worst light possible. (I suspect her sister was the apple of her fathers eye, even though I never heard that) I was not allowed to take dance lessons, even though I had some talent, and alot of interest. I was asked to join a choir, and be a cheerleader, both things she said no to. My Dad bought a piano for me, and I took lessons because he allowed it. She would screech and scream for me to “stop all that racket” when I practiced. And all along, I was the bad apple, the “problem”. My little sister was molded into a “mini-me”, ala momster. She thinks she has all of the same interests and desires as my mother, she is oblivious to her own self. So lil sis is ALWAYS set up to win. (Once, her husband told her to “get a hobby”. She said to me, “I have no interests. no talents. I never had a hobby. What should i do?”) Therefore, my mother can succeed through her. My oldest sister, well, remember, she was “not that bright” so, she was easy to manipulate. Older sis has taken over momster’s game of turning my father against me. She never misses a chance to do this!! She’s actually pretty good at something, there! That, and playing the victim.
So, yes, reading back to Darlene’s original post, this is a point well taken! My mother can control her behavior. She likes to pose as a pillar of society. Involved in oh-so-many social groups and charities (of which she says horrible things about those who are recipients of the groups’ work. Dirty, stupid, etc). She is just so kind and caring:in public. At home, she was a ranting maniac, with usually me on the receiving end. It was mostly verbal abuse, some physical, alot of rage directed at me. Now that I am older, it is more backstabbing, the pitting of one child against another, nasty, dirty tricks, and set-ups. Therfore, I would say she has narcissistic tendencies, but not a true narcissist. However, not my job to diagnose! She’s just plain mean and nasty, when no one that matters is looking.
So, I stay away, and am very LC. I try to have a relationship with my father, who she has tricked somewhat. But I have come to believe he is not totally blameless. I think he has been groomed and conditioned, though, yes.
@ Sandra, wow, it sounds as if it was the same for you! my mother is the same with appearance. She wears cheap, bargain basement clothing to her “events”. I think she just thinks she always looks fab. Once, a woman at one of the events came up behind her, and pulled her tag out of the back of her dress or shirt, to see what the name brand was, I guess. She didn’t understand why. I did, but didn’t say anything. Maybe it’s the mean side of me, but her thinking she is the grande dame of the town, and the other society members not accepting her, and realizing she dresses cheaply,kind of makes me smile. To me, if you chose to play in the sandbox of pretension, you should learn the “rules”.

141

I have been a lurker for a while and I am so thankful for this website.

One question: What is a “FOO”? This abbreviation appears often in these threads.

142

Hi Susanna
FOO stands for family of origin. When I first started seeing it used I thought it was slang for ‘fool’ haha
Welcome to emerging from broken
Hugs Darlene

143

I am reading Will I Ever Be Good Enough by Karyl McBride, a book for daughters of Naricissistic mothers. While I font think my mother is a full fledged narcissist, she does have many traits. One exercise that Dr. McBride advises is to write down what is missing in our relationship with our mothers. I did it on paper but would like to also share it here. I did it in the form of what I wishI had from her written from a child/teen perspective.

Mom, I wish you would listen to me. You act like my problems are silly, but I am just learning how to exist in the world and I don’t have many if the answers. I need guidance and I don’t wasn’t my problems laughed at or trivialized.
Mom, I want to be clean, and dressed reasonably like the other girls. Get laughed at for being dirty and because what I wear is so different from the others.
Mom, I want to be able to ask you for things I need and not get yelled at or hit. I shouldn’t get yelled at because I need to bring cookies to a Girl Scout meeting.
I want you to show interest in my life. Ask me what is going on at school instead of dismissing me the second I walk in the door. Be around when Im getting ready for my prom. Don’t move away in the middle of my wedding plans and later on, show interest in your grandchildren. It hurts a lot when my life is not important to you.
Mom, don’t stop speaking to me when I say something you disagree with. You do this yo lord of people, cutting them out of your life over minor disagreements.
Don’t call me ugly or make fun of my appearance. That really hurts. I need to be built up and encouraged. It’s hard enough to be put down by classmates but devastating when my mother does it.
Don’t hit me with that belt. It really hurts both physically and emotionally. And it takes something very minor for you to whip out the strap.
Show me respect. Encourage me to voice my opinions. I have trouble doing it because you don’t allow it.
Show me some affection and love. Don’t treat me as if I am less valuable than my brothers. I don’t deserve less respect for being a girl. And I should be loved and treated equally to my brothers.
I didn’t ask to be born. You had me. And it’s your job to live me, see that my needs are met, respect me and guide me so that I can grow into a healthy, happy, emotionally sound adult.
Your daughter,
Amber

144

Dear Amber,

I breaks my heart to read this, to know that you even have to write this. It helps me as a mom to know how my kids might feel about various things I do. It takes some growing up on a mom’s part to overcome how she was treated to be able to treat her own daughters differently. My own realtonship with my mom came to a head one day when I had to say some difficult thing to her just to keep from exploding. Then we had an 11 month cooling off period where I basically had to remain dark and detached until she wanted to see me again. It was hard as I was facing that real threat of life long rejection form her. So when she finally wanted to see me, that was the chance to ask her to sit down and have a heart to heart. It doesn’t work until the other person wants it too. Ever since, my mother has a new respect for me and I am freer to share my opinions without worry. Without worry because I’ve taken the chance to be honest with her and eventually she came back around. SO bottom line, she WON’T reject me. Now when she gets upset at me, I can actually hug HER as if she was the child and apologize for her pain without much emotional distress anymore. I can recognize all the growing up that she missed out on and chalk it up as just that without being resentful. Its pretty cool. Hopefully it is helpful to her as well. All in God’s timing I like to say. But keep the faith and keeping praying. Prayers that are within his will WILL be answered.

Reading this from you helps me on my own journey as a mom.

Likewise, I hope this helps someone too. Blessings

145

Thank you, Dory for your kind words. I am happy for you that you were able to resolve some of the issues with your mother. I agree that both people have to want to work on these things for there to be the possibility of a resolution.

As I said in my message number 143, I was writing those feelings from a child/teen, and I’d even add, young adult perspective. That’s how I felt then, but Many of these feelings stayed within me for many years unexpressed and some were only recently identified through my own healing journey. My mother is no longer living. She passed away last year. She lived across country from me (she moved away right in the middle of my wedding planning…it wasn’t something important enough for her to want to help plan it). We had limited and even a three year no contact period. I didn’t see her for over a decade. She showed very little interest in her grand kids.

Several years ago, I made a decision to have a relationship with her and went to bid it. I went with the expectation that our relationship was going yo have limitations because the kind of person she is makes it not possible to have a great mother daughter relationship. I expected limitations and also had to put up some boundaries. So we got along for the most part Under these conditions. I think that in my current state of mind which includes partial healing and better understanding of what happened to me, I would have even more boundaries with her. So my point is, that I was able to have a limited relationship with her for her last few years, because I was aware of her shortcomings, and she was able to grasp the boundaries I set and adhered (most of the time) to them. A couple of times I had to reinforce boundaries when she started to cross them.

It was healing to me to write message 143, even to posthumously write my feelings to her that could not be communicated when I was younger. Afterwards I tried to talk to and soothe the young girl/ young woman inside me that is still hurting from these things.

Thank you again Dory for your helpful message.

146

Amber,

I am 49 and have yet to lose a parent. SO can’t imagine what it must be like to have these unresolved issues posthumously. My heart goes out to you for tackling things as the adult in the relationship when you did. I pray you get your healing in due time. God bless you.

147

Amber, I think you are incredibly brave to do the work of writing that message to your mother because I know it must have been difficult for you to do. I really appreciate you sharing it with all of us here. I think that one of the things that I am trying to take from Darlene’s posts and really internalize is that none of this is really about “them” (whoever they are: moms, dads, siblings, bosses, “friends”) When the focus is on the abuser, we really lose so much of our power. I’ve also read Dr. McBrides’s work and I found it to be very, very helpful on my journey. I also believe that my mother has a lot of narcissistic traits. I am absolutely certain that all of my older siblings do. One reason that I think that I have felt so “stuck” and decided to seek out Darlene for more one to one counseling is because of her message that it is not about them. Even if we go no contact, even if the abuser has passed away, we still give them a lot of our power if we continue to focus on them. Since finding this site, I’ve revisited the work of some other authors who have been helpful to me along the way and found that they do touch on some of the message that Darlene is sharing with all of us, but they may not highlight it or explore it in much detail in their writings. Even Brene Brown, who is “hot” right now with her work on vulnerability, states that setting limits and boundaries is key. I’ve read several sites and books that talk all about what awful people they are, but I’ve sort of thought, “OK, I get that they are pretty awful, but now what? I still probably have to be in the same room with them a couple of times a year. What do I say when they start spewing their poison?” That is the skill that I am feeling I am getting here, and that is the power that I feel from reading the posts from Darlene and from everyone who totally gets what I’m feeling.

I am working on some homework for Darlene in which she asked me to write about my older siblings and about their parental role in my life. As I wrote about my oldest sibling, it became so long that I was thinking, “boy, I’m going to have to pay Darlene a whole bunch more money if I expect her to wade through all of this about each one of my siblings!!!” But one revelation that I had after spewing all of this anger about my oldest sibling is that these women are not really relevant to my day to day life right now in the present. I am giving them the power that they have had over my life until very recently. It is my power or my mojo or my light or my soul or whatever you want to call it. I can choose not to give it to them!!! I guess that’s why they call it baggage, because we carry it around and let it weigh us down.

I’m not sure this journey can be rushed. We have been no contact with my husband’s family for almost seven years now. And of course, the final, unbearable breach occurred on Christmas Eve. Always the holidays! I was just so full of anger at that time that I really, really needed to vent about the details of all the myriad insults and slights that I had suffered over the years at the hands of my mother-in-law. It was good for me to vent and I appreciate the friends who were willing to listen to me. I used to get sores inside my mouth if I knew that I had to see my MIL or spend time with her. Once, when we were living in another state and came here to visit, one side of my tongue was basically one big sore by the time we left and I could barely even talk it was so swollen. I cannot even imagine having that reaction to her today. She means less than nothing to me. But it took a long time and a lot of work, and prayer, and tears, to get to that point. There’s no magic way through this, but seeing that there’s actually light on the other side seems to be the heart of this site. I feel so fortunate to have found it!!

Peace!

148

Dory, thank you again for your support. It is very helpful to hear ideas and get encouragement from my “virtual friends” on here.

I am glad that I had the limited relationship that I did with my mother during her last years. We were able to come to some understanding about some of the issues between us, like her not being available for me, but there were others that remained unresolved. . That is why I chose the limited contact. I might have chosen no contact under other conditions( and I fully understand why some people do go NC) I had to set some boundaries to deal with some of the other issues. One was her belief that a woman can’t drive as well as a man. I took over the driving on a winding mountain road and my mother started making snarky comments from the back seat. I really think she thought I was going to crash the car because no woman is capable of driving on a mountain road. I said very firmly to her that the next comment she makes, I would pull over and she can take over the driving. She didn’t say another word, and much later admitted that she thought I did a great job navigating those winding roads.

I know Darlene has mentioned in these articles that you can still heal even if your parents are deceased, and you do it by validating the damage that was done to you. And that’s what Ive been doing….facing the damage and the false beliefs I developed, .and after doing this for the past six months, I definitely believe that this is the way go do it. My parents do not have to be here for me to heal; I am coming along fine by digging for the truth and facing the damage.

149

Jane, I must have been writing my last message at the same time you were writing to me. I really appreciate your ideas. I do a lot of reading too and pick up some ideas from each source. And I do see overlap with Darlene’s work. I find Darlene’s ways of dealing with all of this to be the most helpful of all the resources. I’m glad to hear that you are working with her! Yes, we do give a lot of power to those who mistreated us. My parents are both gone, yet I still feel their power over me. My father was so strict with me and there are times I feel as if a weight is pushing down on me. I realized it was my father and his oppressive rules.

Interesting what you said about the author who stresses boundaries and limits. Yes, I agree, boundaries are important. But I found that they were extremely hard to set as a timid, vulnerable, woman whose self- esteem had been eroded away. As I get stronger, and yes it is a long journey, I am starting to set more boundaries. And it isn’t easy. I wrote on one of the blogs here a few weeks go that when I was speaking up about a problem with a staff member at my doctors office my heart was beating rapidly and I was trembling. But I did speak up!

Thank you Jane for your encouragement and best wishes to you on your healing journey!:) :)

150

stop holding on to anger
stupidies thing I have ever heard
yes let’s just all pretend nothing happened

151

Amber,

As I read over your road trip story with your mom, something occurred to me that hadn’t before….

Our moms may have said snarky things like that ONLY because WE, who were weaker than they, were SAFE enough for them to say it to. Is it right? No. But they are very insecure people too who never had anyone SAFE enough to help them out grow it. I was scanning up through here a bit and I see that Darlene even had a husband who WANTED to work on their stuff. He gave her a safe place to heal and to grow up in.

Amber, if your Dad was as oppressive as you said in a previous post, them it is quite likely that your mother never felt safe as a wife or a mother to grow into a mature and secure woman either.

I believe that every person on this planet needs a safe mentor to help them grow up. Ideally that person should be our parents. But if not, then a husband can help a wife. Rarely does a wife help a husband in this regard because a woman picking a wounded man is usually pretty wounded herself and unable to help him grow up as it requires that she stand her ground. But it can be done, rarely.

But I got off on a rabbit trail. My main point is that, once I realized that I no longer needed my mom’s validation, I was able to see her for the little wounded girl that SHE was and was able to forgive her and stand up to her at the same time. I no longer feared her judgement and was no longer afraid to speak my truth with love.

I hope this makes some sense. We all need someone to give us a safe place to grow up. I am jealous of the ladies for whom that someone IS their husbands. Lucky bugs! :-)

152

Amber,
I decided to check out that book you mentioned and I did one of the grief exercises—on writing about an ideal mom, and like you, I’d like to share with everyone. This is what I wrote:

My ideal mom.
She is wise and secure in herself. She loves me and lets me go. She knows I am my own person. She is down to earth. She is happy. She sings. She has her own life but is always glad to see me. When I am there, she gives me her undivided attention. She listens without imposing her opinions. She sees me. She appreciates me as distinct. She cheers on my independence but not in a phoney, overkill way. She likes the differences between us. She likes herself. She has no need or desire to covet my life. She gives me lots of space and time. She loves me without it ever feeling gross or creepy. She cares when she has hurt me. She doesn’t want to hurt me, so she knows she must listen well to understand how she has affected me. She knows also that we are the same, despite our differences, and that we deserve equal treatment, even when I am a child. In me is the seed of who I will become and I need love and nurturing to see me grow. I know she’s always got my back. She always lets me speak. She treats me like I’m capable and competent but if I need a helping hand, she’ll be there—and not for a second would she have me feeling that there’s something wrong with me, that I’m half a person who needs my mom to fill the holes. We all have strengths and weaknesses. She helps me to find my own way. She is happy when I do, even if it takes me away from her, but it is okay because I will always come back. I love her as she loves me and there are no worries, no insecurities. I do not break her heart. She is solid. She does not belittle my dad or anyone else. She does not posit herself as superior. She knows we are all human. We all struggle and there is no shame in one’s difficulties. She does not have to pretend, she doesn’t have to be the expert. She treats everyone she comes into contact with with respect and equality. She is patient. She doesn’t jump to conclusions. She is sometimes quieter. She doesn’t laugh at things that aren’t really funny. She’s sensitive to when I am embarrassed. She understands that I’m shy and she neither usurps my space/voice nor pushes attention on me when I feel uncomfortable. She sees the girl in me and the grown up. She respects both. She doesn’t impose herself on me. She isn’t jealous or upset by my having a life outside of her. I don’t have to tell her everything. She doesn’t have to be the most important person in my life—she doesn’t require me to run everything by her first, every thought, feeling, inclination, action and decision. She isn’t hurt if I talk to other people, if I love other people. She isn’t a gatekeeper. She doesn’t lock me up inside myself, inside her. She lets me go. She lets me live. She wants to see me fly. She won’t ever dream of dying. She won’t ever think about car accidents and jumping off bridges. She is not in pain. She is healthy and vital. She is a life force. I won’t ever have to worry about her. I can be me. I can let go and live my own life without fear, without guilt. I can be secure in myself because she is secure in herself and has raised me to be the same. She would never let my dad throw me to the curb just to prove his allegiance to her. That would disgust her. She knows love isn’t a competition. There’s lots to go around. It grows deeper, wider the more you let in. Love cares for everyone. It encompasses us all. And she embodies that. She is a role model, not perfect but wise and wonderful and maybe a little silly… fun, thoughtful and kind. Spontaneous. She doesn’t need to control anyone, including herself. She is free and I am free. We don’t judge because we understand life is hard and we’ve come such a long way. We are simply happy to know one another because we are each amazing in our own way. And respect and love flow freely both ways equally without end.

153

Alaina, message 152, Wow!! What an excellent description of an ideal mother. I would ask for many of the same traits!
Although this ideal a Mom will never be a reality for me, I hope to do the re-parenting part of recovery with the spirit of kindness and compassion that you described so beautifully in your message. Best wishes on your journey to wholeness.

154

Hi Dory,
Yes, my mother was definitely insecure and seemed to attach herself to older women like my Dad’s aunt, as sort of a substitute mother. I know she had it rough during her childhood. My focus right now is on how she treated me. My Dad had oppressive rules….for me! Not my brothers, and he didn’t seem to try to restrict my mother either. Just me. But my parents did not get along and divorced when I was 17.
I guess I am one of those lucky ones who does have a good husband, and that certainly has helped me. But although he is supportive and encouraging, the work has to be done by me, and though Ive come far in six months there is still lots more ground to cover. Thanks for your support and ideas Dory. I am glad that you have gotten to the stage where you don’t need validation from your mother.
Hugs,
Amber

155

Thanks, Amber! I wish you all the best in your journey as well! I think you’ve got it right—just focussing on you, how to validate and heal the damage… I’m glad I’m in a place where I can give myself permission to even imagine having a different mom, one capable of really being a mom to me. Being a mother was very important to my mom and a big part of my “job” when I was younger was reflecting the idea back to her and to the world that she had overcome all the family dysfunction and was this wonderful mom capable of giving her children what her mother never gave her. So it’s a definite “betrayal” to my old ways to write this but… I don’t feel that way anymore. It’s a relief now. Maybe a little tinge of scary, too, but it’s honest and I think it’s better to be an honest person than not. It feels more like a betrayal to continue a lie once you know it’s a lie. And I’m glad, too, that in imagining this ideal I know I can use it, too, like you said, in reparenting. She doesn’t have to be real, and that’s a relief, too. I don’t have to depend on my real life mom coming around to a kind of understanding that I don’t know that she’ll ever be able to reach. My life doesn’t have to remain on pause just because hers is. I can go on and that’s a really good thing to realize. She doesn’t have to change. I don’t have to wait for that. It’s hard losing your whole family, especially around this time of year, but there’s hope now, with my life in my own hands and that’s what’s most important. Moving forward. And it’s certainly nice to have fellow travellers. Best, Alaina

156

Hi, Fellow Traveler, Alaina! I think a lot of us believed that in order to recover we had to somehow get our mothers to change, or for those who mistreated us to suddenly see the light and validate us. I actually felt relief when I started reading Darlene’s blog, and learning that we heal by facing the damage and validating what happened to us, and doing rewriting where we change the false beliefs we’ve carried for all these years back to the truth. So I can heal without any contact or validation from my parents, and this is also good to know since both my parents are deceased. It all comes from within us. I’ve had to do a lot of digging and exploring and face a lot of painful things but Ive already noticed that it gets easier. I’ve noticed that I’m not accepting disrespectful behavior from other people anymore and have called a few people out on it when they treat me in the old way that I allowed before I started on this journey. I’m far from through, but I can also see great progress at this point.
I’m glad that you too feel the hope, and that you know that what you are doing with your life isn’t dependent on what your mother does with hers. Learning that healing doesn’t depend on external validation or on other people changing was a real lightbulb moment for me. And as I said before, a big relief because I can do it myself. And Im going to! Here’s to moving forward!
Amber

157

Spellcheck does it again! I meant re wiring!

158

I haven’t read through the other 157 comments, but I want to note that being mentally I’ll does not excuse one for being responsible for his or her actions. It doesn’t matter if your parent is narcissistic or a true narcissist, he or she is still fully responsible for and in control of his or her actions. Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong. I have been diagnosed with a mental illness for nearly a decade now, and yet I know right from wrong and am fully capable of choosing to do what’s right for my children and spouse, even though sometimes it is harder for me than it might be for others. I am still in control of and responsible for how I treat others. My mental illness does not in any way excuse me.

159

Hi Darlene et al,

It has nearly driven me insane to try and understand what was wrong with ME and the my mother.I have realised that this is the wrong way of looking at it.The bottom line is that something DID happen to me otherwise I wouldn’t be in therapy, feeling so bad about myself and hating my mother and the whole family system I was unfortunately born into.For me,the idea is to now accept the abuse I suffered at the hands of the very person who gave me life and was supposed to love me.It has caused me such confusion as my mother can be all sweetness and light when it suits her.I totally get the point that people can have N tendencies without being fully blown Ns.I worry that I am have those tendencies myself.I learnt from the master after all.I can pretend to be something that I am not and I know that this was my survival technique.

160

You get it! You have the right way of teaching it! It’s not about labels. Labels give people excuses to behave a certain way. It’s a out choice and we all have that. It’s what we do with those choices, once we learn we have them and have power, that makes us good people or the opposite, the lack of excuses allows for change and thst is always possible. I love your style!

161

Great blog!

“A true mental health disorder is not controllable. People who have a true disorder can’t turn it on and turn it off. They can’t convince other people that they are wonderful and then in the privacy of home treat their own children like dirt. It doesn’t work that way. True narcissists are not well liked in society because they are narcissistic with everyone. They truly believe that they are more important than everyone else and it really shows.”

Agreed. I read blogs on narc mothers and I read the symptoms that I checked off except for a couple and it spoke about my mom to a T! People think my mom can turn the switch off and be a nice person, I said really? She hasn’t turned the switch off yet and is a terrorist to her own family and other people!

“For so long I wanted to believe that my mother could not love me because she was sick. I wanted to believe her incapability because the alternative truth was way too painful to face. When I believed that she was sick and unable to love me and see me for who I am, I felt sorry for her. I believed that if I was the perfect child that she would finally love me so I kept trying harder. I believed that if I walked on egg shells that I would finally be good enough. But the truth is that I WAS always good enough and that she didn’t exercise her CHOICE in how she treated me. She wanted to garner sympathy for herself but it was manipulative and for her own gain, NOT because she had a narcissism problem. Treating me the way she did “work”

Agreed, still wasn’t good enough for my parents! Walking on eggshells with them sucked really bad always had to please them which people never understood.

“It has been helpful for me as it may be for you to read about narcissistic mothers and narcissistic personality disorder; my mother fits that description so well in so many of the ways she treated me in our dysfunctional mother daughter relationship but the bottom line is that my mother is not a true narcissist and it has been far more helpful towards my freedom, wholeness and recovery to face that truth. As painful as it is, realizing that my mother excused her behaviour, sometimes even illegal behaviour because she was selfish and put herself first when it came to me, has been far more helpful than when I believed that she could not help the ways she acted and was not really accountable for the danger she put me in because she was ‘sick’ and that she didn’t actually have any choice about the way she behaved when it came to me.”

Agreed, my mom always put herself first never her kids. ‘My dead beat dad is more important than her and it’s funny how she yells a man isn’t all that important and it’s wrong to put him above your family.’ I almost fell on the floor hearing that, see how she contradicts herself? A very poor example to her own kids especially her daughters and granddaughters because that saying doesn’t apply to her she says, it applies to other women who need to figure this out for themselves! WTF?!?!? So, if a man isn’t important, why are you still married to him? Why did you have kids for him? Why do you always gotta argue with him on every little thing (including petty shit) and the other whores out there? Why do you always defend (most important question)? Why does he get a say so in something yet complain about it after he goes back to CA?

My dad is a pure narc and has no remorse to anything. He laughs when someone goes insane or dies, he cracks up. It’s like this is what mom is attracted to?!? She had one old boyfriend (been dead for a long time) who’s a dead beat, that who she seems to like!

“My mother believes that ‘entitlement’ when it comes to me, is her right as a parent and there is nothing that I can do about that when it comes to her. But I DO have a choice when it comes to me.”

Exactly! Just like my mom who says how she is entitled to everything because she calls herself a “loving mom,” that we should bow down to her because she gave birth to us – excuse me we didn’t ask to be born! My uncle told me how growing up, mom always had this entitlement thing and she expects you to spend your money on her and take care of her yet she is the first born with zero responsibilities! I told my sister how uncle should have been the first born not mom because she acts like a freakin 10 year old! Her entire behavior is that of a child, she has never acted like an adult ever! People are appalled when I tell them that like they never heard of that; I said oh please, there are plenty of adults who act like children where have you been?!?

“I had to stop trying to diagnose my mother in order to ‘understand her’ because trying to understand her was part of my old survival mode that I was trying so hard to break out of.”

Agreed. People tell me try to understand your parents, sorry there’s nothing there to understand anymore. We could sit here and ask a lot of why’s, but we may get a few/some answers and the rest will always be a mystery. We still don’t know a lot about our parents, we know very few things and the rest is swept under the rug like always. Basically, you could say our parents are like strangers to us because we don’t want them to know anything about us since they were never parents and never cared nor do they wanna be honest about their lives with us so it works both ways!

I agree with reply #160.

162

Your experience with your mother is so close to a reflection of my experience with my mother. My mother was the first person I told that dad raped me. I needed her to explain it. I was lost and bewildered. Her response to me was even more horrific than the rape. She was angry with me and her emotions and energy towards me let me know that I was losing her as my mom and it was then I felt I had to fix her brokenness. She made it all about what I did wrong and her happiness. For years I have looked to make her happy. For years I have formed unhealthy relationships denying myself fullness of joy. I too felt like when someone hurt me even repeatedly, I had to somehow discover why they do this, what was I not understanding to help them, where was I going wrong? But it’s a new day for me too Darlene. Each day through prayer I’m given the courage to accept the truth of what is real. With each challenging step I’m taking back the life and freedom that was stolen from me.I’m forming healthy relationships with a set of healthy core beliefs. I don’t have the fullness of joy yet but I do have a good portion of it. The fullness will come. Thank you for sharing your story. And I do love mother with all my heart. But it is not my responsibility to make her happy. Dad was wrong for raping me, and for whatever reason she treated me ill in the way she did, she has to face it. It’s not for me to search and research.

163

Hi Will
Yes, it makes me sick when a mother responds that way. It is often worse than the abuse; such a betrayal, so discounting, so horrific and defining. And yes, your father was wrong and so was your mother and that is not yours to ‘fix’. Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

164

Hi Diana
Good points and I agree!
And recovery is all about validating the damage anyway so even if there are a few people in the world who actually don’t know right from wrong (they usually end up institutionalized) the consequences of their actions must be validated in order for the victim of that damage to heal.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene

165

Thank you again for pointing out things I needed to have validated. One of the greatest fears I always had was that I would be one of them. I remember meeting my mom’s friends when I was little and as an adult now. I got mean looks, told not to talk to them, that I was a little nut, that I was evil…all from my mom….She spread such hateful lies about me that the community hated me and I never had any friends until high school. When my friends came over she always told them that she wished she had them as a daughter and not me….that she got stuck with the runt of the litter…Like God was punishing her by having me as her child…My older sister had died…She was the first child born then two brothers then me then a brother then a sister….God my mother hated me from the day I was born…My dad refused to buy clothes for me because I was born breech and the doctor said that he wasn’t sure how well oxygenated I was because I was breech. My mother made clothes for me out of spare grocery money…I ended up with my master’s degree in medicine….So much for low oxygen at birth…My father was emotionally absent…He even tried to abuse my daughter once…until a threatened to rip his head off if he ever tried to do it again…He never did try and never, even before that, was ever left alone with my daughter…He and my mother should have been spade and neutered before they could ever have kids. My dad referred to it as “immaturity” but it went further then just immaturity….I did notice that as I recovered and was noted as knowing what was going on the incrimination of my personality got worse….My mom even tried to call my therapist and my sister wanted to go to a therapy session…I had to find a new therapist when my therapist went threw my record with my mom…At least the therapist told me…I was in my 20’s when that happened…I have noticed threw the years that therapists can be bad if not worse then the our parents…They use their degrees to try and find solutions for their own issues around their own abuse but never make any headway so they treat their clients the way they got treated…I have had a few bad apples…I have had depression as well…called dysthymia…I don’t want medication to treat my mild depression…I want to deal with those issues that make me depressed…Down to the source of it…What I am tired of is this being a life long ordeal…Always undoing what was done…It is like a constant thorn in my side…Working threw the damage..trying not to spread it to the next generation…I live in the state and general area where I grew up…We are trying to move…My daughter is a very happy little girl…I feel confident so far that none of this abuse from my parents trickled down to her…I have to say my dad tried to at least be a friend before he died…He never apologized but wanted a relationship of some kind…He was emotionally absent growing up and verbally abusive but dismissed by my mom and the kids as she abused him too…Abusers abusing each other and having kids on top of it all. I am glad that it is all over…

166

I’ve been mulling over how similar narcissism is to alcoholism. Both can be hidden. Both usually start out with childhood abuse. Both make children of the disease crazy. There will probably never be a Narcissists Anonymous, but it would be great to have a Narciss-Anon.

167
Gretchen Robinson
April 9th, 2014 at 5:50 pm

My mother also has narcissistic tendencies, though not like this account. And my siblings and I suffered because of it. She can control it when she wants and in this way, turning it on and off, it seems very manipulative to my siblings. I think she’s emotionally labile, now 90, won’t take anti-depressants, and wants control over every aspect of her life (and us to be there for her 240-7).

I find I am unable to forgive her. Although I am an atheist, I often think in those terms and have read lots on forgiveness. I think of her rigid thinking and the hate she so often showered me with (her anti-Semitism is legion) when I was a child, adult, and now as an older woman myself.

Some things are unforgivable and her own difficult childhood is not an ‘excuse’ I find compelling. And holding onto that feeling of being wronged by a person who was and is willfully blind to her effect on others has, perversely to do two things.
1) appreciate the shadow side of life, to be a truth-teller and go directly to the heart of the issues
2) led me to do chaplaincy work to help other adult children of difficult parents by doing active listening to them. Many forgive an abusive parent and care for them even when they have dementia and are dying.

Traditional beliefs on forgiveness say we forgive for our own good, because that is the only way we can move on. Forgiveness for me is when someone comes to you and has done enough reflection to say, “I’m sorry for what I did, and name instances.” And not expect forgiveness. Religions tell us to forgive because it’s healing. I say, no. There’s a human standard of integrity where you don’t go against that ‘felt sense’ that forgiveness would be the wrong choice for me. ??I do this for me, because ultimately I don’t care much about my mother anymore. I hold to that feeling of being wronged, of injustice. It’s healed but it’s the stone I keep stubbing my toe on that says, ‘other people have it worse’ and ‘what are you doing right now to help them?’ I can’t do nothing really for my mother. But I can take what I learned and have compassion for others who are judging themselves too severely and making excuses for staying enmeshed with their abuser. ??Sorry, Mom but I gave all my child’s joy to you as a child, when I smiled, and smiled, and made up for the sadness and depression in you. I am an adult now and I chose who I ‘love’ and have compassion for. I will always be kind to my mother but she doesn’t own my heart. That belongs to those still bereft and hurting and confused. My mother made me a parentified child, I was the caring child when the love and tenderness and caring was supposed to go from parent to child. So I have known emptiness, and loss, and a well that went dry too often. I’ve been near burnout with overdoing it for others more than once. But I learned how to give in a healthy way. I moved on. My mother never will.

168

Related to so many of you! The narcissistic tendencies..turning it on & off at will ONLY means she KNEW exactly what she was doing and had control over it..but chose not to…never remorse..always entitled to this day… but denies any wrong doings… lying & blaming & self centered…yep to all. I never heard of a narc mom till a year ago and it screamed my mom with exception if a few things….. She had a way of mimicking anyones persona in order to manipulate them..but IF they caught on to her games in time she could turn into a vicious raging monster attack you wherever you are the weakest…she had been carefully tallying & etching them in her mind for future ammunition. Loves to rile up those who threaten her & sit back to watch the fireworks with glee so psychopathic tendencies come to my mind too. No contact was the only way to heal for me..there was never any respect or love from her to me or accountability for one single thing she did to me….it which took me almost 50 years to finally accept that fact. Better to see her clearly than make excuses of her being mentally ill…she was a knowing abuser who CHOSE to inflict pain and damage her children. The facade she puts on in front of others is slowly crumbling..her charms are not as effective as SHE thinks they are. Karma.

169

I think I have trouble seeing the difference because as you said a spade is a spade. I do believe mentally ill people can control some of their behavior enough to pretend to be normal a lot of the time. But I think the most important thing is the point you made that whatever is wrong with her is not your problem. It’s just not for you to fix.

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marquis (female)
April 9th, 2014 at 11:35 pm

“There’s a human standard of integrity where you don’t go against that ‘felt sense’ that forgiveness would be the wrong choice for me. ??I do this for me, because ultimately I don’t care much about my mother anymore. I hold to that feeling of being wronged, of injustice. It’s healed but it’s the stone I keep stubbing my toe on that says, ‘other people have it worse’ and ‘what are you doing right now to help them?’ I can’t do nothing really for my mother.”

Agreed. People have told me that too ‘what have you done?’ Nothing and don’t intend too! You people say ‘you can’t fix your family,’ then send another mix message saying ‘fix the family.’ Which is it?!?

“she was a knowing abuser who CHOSE to inflict pain and damage her children.”

Agreed always tell that to people. These lousy parents make the choices not to be parents yet it’s “our duty to fulfill that family obligation.” A load of bs if you ask me! I have told people that yet they say ‘I don’t have a choice because they are my parents.’ Did I miss something? People say I don’t have a right to be happy because the “family comes first.” Wow, this is why a lot of people have problems.

172

Today while out with a friend I confided in him a little about my childhood in the simplest way by summing it all up in one sentence: I have never and will never ‘matter’ to anyone on either sides of my parents’ families … ever. That started with my mom and dad who are divorced and haven’t spoken to each other in over 30yrs and i haven’t spoken with my dad in ten yrs, since he told me to cross to the other side of the street if I ever see him coming. Suddenly today my mom phones me up to say that she called my dad to ‘chat’. I’m like, “YOU WHAT?!?!?!?!”. Yeah, she said she talked to him for about ten minutes. I asked if my name was brought up in the conversation to which my mom replied, “No.” Kinda sad considering I’m their only child!

I guess I find it very curious why today of all days, when I shared my ‘not mattering’ to my family, with my friend and suddenly my mom and dad speak for the first time in 3 decades! The bottom line is this really: Today my mom called me to remind me that I still don’t matter to her or my dad. Nice eh!

Here is the ‘eff off’ email my dad sent to me:

Maybe you should go by memory! Yesterday you told Gina you heard I was in
Toronto so E-mail me there.
Next time you see Gina at Sears, do her and her friends a favour and just
keep walking.
Have a good life and enjoy whatever it is you are on!!!!

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