Insight Is 20/20

Exploring the pervasive, and unperceived, patterns that govern our lives

Narcissistic Parents’ Impact On Children – Young and Grown

The young children of narcissistic parents live life in an anxious, confused state; later, they seek stormy romantic partners as a result of having received the metaphoric Narcissistic Parenting Program. Read More

Very Good Article and Spot On

I am adult child of narcissistic parents, however I feel the relationship with my mother had the most negative impact on me. I spent the majority of my early years alone with her and I remember very well the extended silent treatments and any time I expressed sadness I was "too sensitive" anger I had a "nasty temper" and was shamed because of it. These were normal responses to my responding to verbal abuse and emotional neglect.

My first romantic relationship began when I was 14 with a guy who was 2.5 years older. For approximately 4 years I tolerated his silent treatments, gas lighting, stone walling, devalue and discard. He cheated on me, picked fights, would break up with me then come back. I always took him back because for me it was a "normal" relationship. I've had several friendships like this too.

Although I didn't realize at the time how fortunate I was, his final discard of me happened while he was away at college, he met someone else and married as soon as he graduated. I was devastated. I never even got so much as I a "good bye" from him really. But I moved forward in life.

I met someone and we married yet I didn't know about narcissism or understand the emotional neglect and abuse I endured by my parents or my ex boyfriend.

Almost 20 years later the ex boyfriend appeared in my life again, and it caused me a tremendous amount of anxiety yet I was drawn in very easily as he told me how sorry he was for how treated me, how he realized how much he loved me and regretted not appreciating what he had, and that I was the true love of his life. BUT he did really love his wife he claimed. He was just unhappy.

I had very strong feelings for him and believed I still loved him. I began to give him a lot of my attention and turned away from my husband and child. Yet I knew it was wrong on so many levels.

This is a VERY TYPICAL story with narcissists I've learned. THEY ALWAYS RETURN LIKE A BOOMERANG! 5, 10, 20 years later if they believe old supply is available.

Things escalated quickly into an emotional affair. After about 2 months I had a break down and confessed everything that was happening to my husband and began therapy.

I later learned the the ex is a serial cheater and has had multiple affairs during his marriage. So it had nothing to do with his "first love" I was just his first victim and supply which he remembered fondly because I gave him a good high.

My life was shattered. He abruptly discarded me when I told him I told my husband. That's when I began to research what this relationship was all about and learned about narcissism and how my family of origin affected my entire adult life.

It's been a long road of recovery, A LOT of therapy, A LOT of learning AND yep my mother had a fit when I started to learn and we went no contact for a few years. Then I was able to begin limited contact with her and I learned the skills to manage my interactions with her. She can no longer "hook" me nor will the ex ever "hook" me in again.

I now have a stronger sense of self, trust myself more and have solid boundaries in place and today anyone who tries to put me down gets swiftly kicked to the curb.

As far as strict adoption standards, the exN actually has one adopted child so those standards didn't protect him from having a narcissistic father. Poor child.

I have heard though that if a child has even one close adult relative or stable adult in their life that they can rely on they stand a chance of having a better outcome in their adult lives.

Wow!!! Thank you for writing

Wow!!! Thank you for writing these words. I am "waking up" at this moment in time, from years and years and years of narc bullying by my whole family ....I'm finding my voice and strength. Thank God, there are other people out in the world who know what I've been through. It's impossible to describe unless one experiences narc family first hand. I actually feel as though I'm healing from my core being. Can't describe that properly either although I certainly know I feel more free than I ever have in my mind. I'm actually looking forward to the rest of my life instead of wanting to end it. Best wishes and Peace to everyone coping with N people. We can survive.

Amen - almost.

My mother is a Narcissist, and I agree with almost everything in this article.

I particularly like your first paragraph:

"The topic of narcissism begs the following question flashing in neon lights: Why would a narcissist want a child to begin with? Aren’t they so focused on themselves that they wouldn’t have the slightest interest in paying attention to others, much less attending to a needy young child who craves constant attention and praise?"

Ha! Yes, it does sound illogical, doesn't it? And then the truth comes out as, one by one, grown children of narcissistic parents all say the same thing at some point: "I had to be the parent taking care of my N-parent". THIS is why N-people have children: to have eternal slaves ready to take care of their every needs at any hour of the day. I knew by the age of 10 that I was my mother's "parent/husband" who had to be emotionally strong and get good grades and get a good job to take care of my poor, sweet, naive, forever-abandoned-by-evil-men mother. Mind you, that didn't mean I ever had any say at all in how the house was run, or how the money was spent, or any kind of power at all really. I had the duties of a "parent/husband" but none of the rights. I existed only to give her everything, and get nothing back in return. When you look at it this way, it makes complete sense that N-people would make kids, doesn't it?

The only part which makes me uneasy in your article is the conclusion:

"If you happen to be someone who has suffered at the hands of a narcissistic parent, talk to your friends and other family members about your experience, and consider talking to a mental health professional."

I'm sorry, but I really have to add a huge BEWARE warning to this piece of advice. Namely:

1. Family members will most likely dismiss, diminish, excuse or even reverse your claims. That's because family members have interacted with your N-parent for at least as long as they have interacted with you, so they've been gaslighted by that N-parent forever. There's no telling what your N-parent has been telling them about you behind your back. So if you come around and start blaming the N-parent, there's absolutely no telling what Hell might befall you.

2. If your friends know your N-parent, then refer back to the previous point. And whether they do or don't know your N-parent, it's very likely that they will simply not be able to process what you're telling them. Unless they've been there, or someone close to them has gone through such abuse, tales of parental narcissistic abuse will sound like science-fiction to them - with the unspoken implication that there's something wrong with *you* for telling such high tales in the first place.

3. Telling a professional therapist sounds like a good idea - but many, MANY therapists are absolutely NOT ready nor willing to deal with the concept of N-parents. They will not hesitate to ask the victim why they feel such a need to blame their parents who *of course* love them! You can imagine how devastating it can be to be invalidated in such a way by a professional...

In short: there's a reason why so many grown children of N-parents first self-diagnose on the internet, thanks to dedicated forums or through reading the testimonies of other such grown children. And that reason is that pretty much NOBODY in real life is willing to both listen to us and then BELIEVE us. Friends, family, therapists: they all think WE are the crazy one, WE are the trouble-making one, WE are the one trying to hurt a well-meaning person, WE are the one blowing things out of proportions, and most of all, WE are the one being unreasonably unwilling to "make up and forgive already!"

And then one day on the internet, we read our own EXACT life story written by a complete stranger, and finally, FINALLY, we can start digging ourself out of the hole our N-parent trapped us in from before birth...

good points

Thank you! These are very good and precise descriptions; I live in a different country (not the US) but recognize all your comments and correcting remarks, it is usually very difficult to explain the matter to friends or family, whatever perspective or technique you try, and that makes it quite an isolating and lonely experience... and that is also true, the quality support available online is a life boat, when one can find it.
Thank you for expressing your thoughts here, so others can also take some precious moments to reflect.

I am 46 years old. I made

I am 46 years old. I made the mistake of confronting Narc parents and sister. I've since been discarded.
That's all it took. Just three conversations after 45 years of their crazy, abusive, shit.. Now I am trying to process everything. Sometimes I get So angry. I'm hoping this anger is just part of the healing process.
I realize When I stay angry. The Narcissitic Fam is still controlling my life.
Venting feels really good.
Thank you
Best wishes to all.


Dear 46, you've just experienced the freeze out. Narcs can't comprehend that they're crazy and abusive, so to them, your confrontation feels like an assault. They retaliate as only a self-obsessed, manipulative narcissist can-with venom that goes right to your core. Congratulations on your courageous step toward healing. Please don't waste your precious time trying to put any kind of logic on what happened. We all do that at first because it's near impossible to imagine that we can't make them see things clearly. They can't. Ever. Might as well go talk to a tree. Or better yet a counselor who understands this tragic pathology.

My mother froze me out for several years when I divorced the man she chose for me to marry. That's how enmeshed I was. Subsequently, she removed me from her will and added my ex. As devastating as that time was, it proved to me that I was strong. She'd convinced me for years that I wasn't, because that's how she kept me under her control.

I wish you the feeling of relief that WILL come once you realize your family doesn't have any power over your life, so long as you don't let them.


Thank you fellow Scapegoat!
Wasn't expecting a reply but I sure did appreciate one.
I appreciate your support!!!!! And acknowledgement.
I'm sending wishes of health and happiness your way!!!!

It's so weird after learning about this bizarre family dynamic and how it plays out. Suddenly, everything starts to make sense. Thinking processes, relationship choices, coping skills, anger problems.
I feel so stupid I never realized what was going on

I have good days and bad.
Today I am feeling like a Huge Dead weight has been lifted.

I wish I could share all the details of my warped experience. But I wouldn't even know where to start.

I do know. In trying to heal... That I've had to start with self. I've had to learn to love and care for myself just as I would a loved one. I'm learning to be patient, forgiving, and less critical of me. And It's working.

After 46 years, I've had to completely start over rebuilding body, Soul,and mind. Not one aspect of my being went untouched.

After a year or so of trying to Heal and sort out my life. I'm ready for some professional help. Some days I am still very angry. Wallow in self pity. And don't want to get out of bed. Haven't balanced out yet.
Consistency is a completely foreign concept to me.

The One Great thing about all of this is: Suddenly We all have NARC Radar.
No more Narc Therapists, boyfriends, coworkers, etc...

I'm fine tuning my people skills and it feels good.

Thank you .
Everyday is a new and different challenge in this process. Growing Pains?????

Best wishes to all!

Time heals all...I hope

So good to know we're not alone Discarded, and everyone, I know I'm nearing some sort of finalization because my N father is almost ninety. I'm finding that since I was a part of the family business for so long until my GC brother froze me out over a period on ten years, with the blessing and insults of my N father; who had the delusion to say "I never did anything he asked," when I was the one who idolized him more than the GC brother, who ended up sexually abusing me for a few years, and even introduced me to our child molesting male baby sitter my father hired; but what are brothers for after but sometimes I have to laugh at how emotionally ridiculous narcs actually are.

lately I'm struggling with filtering my healthy narcissism, since I became a competitive and outgoing scapegoat, despite there covert soul stealing, which of course only added to my status in the dysfunctional family. Anyway just wanted to say god bless you all...peace and love.

You are not alone

If it's any consolation whatsoever, I am 45 in one week and this year I have "woken up" (with the help of an excellent psychotherapist) to the lifetime of emotional abuse I received at the hands of my narcissistic mother. You have every right to be angry, so be angry. but were I to say one thing to you which might help, it'd be "go and get professional help". I could never have started bouncing back from this abuse without help. I hadn't realized how badly I had been abused and how badly it had affected my life. I can see this with far greater clarity now and it's changed my life; taken away the suicidal feelings and terrible sense of shame, it's empowered me and made me feel more authentic, and as a result a lot happier which has, hopefully, made me a better parent and husband.

Yes there are times when I feel incredibly angry and hurt, I sometimes feel that I've been cheated out of my earlier life by my mother, so much precious time stolen from me. But I've also learned that the here and now and the future is mine to live, not hers to define. I've had to cut off all contact with my parents and sister, but, for all of that, I feel so much better, genuinely happier and lighter of spirit than I've ever been in 45 years.

You are not alone

If it's any consolation whatsoever, I am 45 in one week and this year I have "woken up" (with the help of an excellent psychotherapist) to the lifetime of emotional abuse I received at the hands of my narcissistic mother. You have every right to be angry, so be angry. But were I to say one thing to you which might help, it'd be "go and get professional help". I could never have started bouncing back from this abuse without help. I hadn't realized how badly I had been abused and how badly it had affected my life. I can see this with far greater clarity now and it's changed my life; taken away the suicidal feelings and terrible sense of shame, it's empowered me and made me feel more authentic, and as a result a lot happier which has, hopefully, made me a better parent and husband.

Yes there are times when I feel incredibly angry and hurt, I sometimes feel that I've been cheated out of my earlier life by my mother, so much precious time stolen from me. But I've also learned that the here and now and the future is mine to live, not hers to define. I've had to cut off all contact with my parents and sister, but, for all of that, I feel so much better, genuinely happier and lighter of spirit than I've ever been in 45 years.

Reply to: You are not Alone and all others seeking support

I love hearing about people finding supportive psychotherapists. I have my first appointment this Friday.
I'm excited to get started. This past year...... Has given me plenty of time to think and sort out thoughts.
My mind isn't racing as much and thoughts have become more solid.
I too went No Contact from sis and parents. I can't believe that I still Dont regret my decision.

I hope you continue to share Your progress.
Its so encouraging to hear about your healing process.
Thank you for sharing encouraging words to those of us A few steps behind.
Best Wishes
Many thanks

From Scapegoat Daughter of Narcissistic Mother from Hell

Del, your post really moved me because I have gone through the same kind of personal hell as you, with similar experiences and conclusions. After my abusive narc mother's death, I literally woke up and finally went "no contact" with my user/taker, narcissistic siblings and their equally self-centered children. Why should the whole clan have been any different from my mother? After all, she delighted in denigrating me in front of my siblings when we were kids, and the pattern continued when she continued to trash me in front of my nieces and nephews - a generational cycle of behavior that was artfully confined within the family houses and out of the public eye.

My saving grace is that I have several cousins and friends who totally believe me about my mother's endless childhood physical and verbal abuse, along with her continuous verbal tirades at me that extended across the decades. Like you, reading about this type of dysfunctional narcissism on the internet changed my life because the truth that I had repressed and was in denial about my entire life was just staring me in the face after reading the stories by and about other scapegoat children of nasty narc mothers.

But I was very lucky to find a therapist who completely gets it about narcissism and dysfunctional families. Although my situation was mother-daughter based, my male psychotherapist was fantastic and he believed everything I told him about the abuse, including the worst physical abuse during my toddler and early grade-school years. He totally got the fact that there are plenty of evil, selfish mothers out there like mine who have no love for their children and often focus their hatred on a designated scapegoat child.

You are not alone. I hope my words will inspire you to continue searching for a sympathetic therapist because they are out there.

Indeed, we're not alone!

Thank you for your warm wishes, Anon! I don't personally need them, as I have found a great therapist already, but I'll secretly forward them to my younger sister, who desperately needs one but is so messed-up that it makes it nearly impossible for her to ask for what she needs, and for the professionals she comes accross to see what is *really* the problem.

The thing is, I was the Golden Child, so even through her abuse, my N-mother still had to keep me believing that I could do things. But my sister was the Scapegoat, and our mother utterly and systematically destroyed her. She made her live "through the mirror", in a world where nobody would ever love her except for our mother, where nobody could be trusted except for our mother, where everybody lied except for our mother - while at the same time, our mother showed through her actions that she didn't love her, could absolutely not be trusted, and constantly lied to everybody. To my sister, that was "Normal Life". To say she has to come back from very far indeed is an understatement :/

I SO hear you on this too:

"Why should the whole clan have been any different from my mother? After all, she delighted in denigrating me in front of my siblings when we were kids, and the pattern continued when she continued to trash me in front of my nieces and nephews - a generational cycle of behavior that was artfully confined within the family houses and out of the public eye."

The mindgames that were (and still are) going on in our close and extended family are nothing short of staggering. In front of friends, my N-mother would sigh and complain about how difficult my sister was (and I would stand there wondering why she said that, because personally I thought my sister was a wonderfully agreeable child, but hey, she was our mother, so she *must* know better, right?), and yet recently, I learned from our youngest aunt (the only one I'm still talking to) that in front of her family, my mother presented my sister as perfect and adorable and never doing anything wrong - with the direct result that all our extended family thought my sister was SPOILED! They thought my sister's secrecy and bad moods were the tantrums of a spoiled teenager, and they thought they had to "set her straight", hence adding yet another layer of abuse on the heap she was already under! It was crazy-making, and it worked: my sister did go crazy :(

And yet, when I explained all of that to my aunt, and told her that my sister and I had gone No Contact on our mother, she told me, "I understand, but as for me, she's my sister, so I'll keep talking to her". She can see the damage her pedophile father did to all his grand-daughters, she can see the damage her three sisters have done to their respective kids, she can see how her own children have suffered from being raised in this toxic family - but no, she won't face the truth and take the necessary measures to protect herself, her kids, and my other aunt's daughters whom she's close to and who suffer very much from their own mother's brand of abuse (I suspect BPD). Hopeless.

But not for my sister and myself! We're moving on. And you're moving on, and so many adult children of NPD or BPD parents are finding the clues and moving on too, and that's wonderful :) !

Thank You for Being There for Your Sister

Del, I appreciate your reply. I also want to praise you for being there for your sister and for realizing the truth of how toxic parents (and, likewise, toxic siblings) viciously target the family scapegoats literally from birth.

We scapegoats are the proverbial "punching bags" for everyone else in a dysfunctional family. My three cruel, selfish siblings would continue to carry on the horrible maternal abuse if they could, but I refuse to let them do so any longer, which is why I am "no contact" with them. What I would give to have just ONE kind, loving sibling... But I don't. However, my friends and cousins treat me 1000 times better than my "family" ever did.

Thank you for continuing to do what you can to help your sister heal and thrive. Unfortunately, "blood does not run thicker than water" with ANY of my immediate family.

Don't praise me. I did too little, too late.

As I said, I knew even as a kid that there was something wrong going on whenever our mother would complain that my sister was difficult. I knew my sister very well (Hell, I basically raised her!), and I knew confusedly that she was only problematic around our mother. This was confirmed by everyone who got to meet her without our mother around: they would all tell me how nice and funny and agreeable she was. But at home it was crisis after crisis, and the thing is, I could see it was our mother who was starting them! But I had been programmed to always take my mother's defense, no matter what, so instead of supporting my sister, I tried to teach her how to avoid setting our mother off - not realising that not only was this impossible in her case (since our mother *wanted* these crises with her), but that it was seen by my sister as me taking our mother's side. So instead of only one enemy, now she had two :( It also didn't help that our mother would of course always praise me for whatever I did well, while completely undermining my sister's accomplishments AND her self-confidence that she COULD even do anything good. (Even now my sister thinks she's a complete idiot and I'm "the smart one" - when I think she's as smart if not smarter than I am. But she's literally unable to even hear me when I say that :/ )

So basically, no matter how much I loved her, and no matter that I was trying to do what I thought was best for her, I only made her life even worse.

So I'm grateful if I can do anything to help her now, no matter how small.

Better Late Than Never

Right now the best thing you can do is focus your positive energy on your sister and give her the kind of love and attention that will help her to overcome and heal from this extremely sick upbringing. And once you can find an excellent psychotherapist ASAP who understands what it means to grow up in a dysfunctional family, I would urge you to attend some therapy sessions together with your sister, to help build up trust as you help her to move forward. I cannot stress enough how helpful it was for me to talk out all these sick family dynamics with a trained professional on the outside.

At least you woke up to the family evil and cruelty. Often, when we were kids, my younger sister would lie to my mother and blame me for doing something bad, and I would get beaten in front of her. My sister is - and always will be - in denial about this. Why should she be otherwise? Her behavior was rewarded by my mother. And the narcissistic saga continued for another generation... Such incidents happened constantly. All it took was one time for my loving cousin to see this pattern play out, and she never forgot it. When she, a child herself, had the integrity to confront my mother about the truth, she said my mother just gave the feeble reply that ultimately I was "to blame for everything that goes wrong" in the house. But, most importantly, my cousin never forgot that incident or my mother's reaction, which is why she and my other cousin - her brother - are both my only REAL family today.

I am lucky to have them both. A lot of innocent family scapegoats have NO ONE.

The abuse I experienced as a child translated into a lifelong emptiness and tremendously low self-esteem until I woke up to the truth about the abuse (including lifelong verbal abuse) from my narc mother. Everything in me just exploded up to the surface after her death. Now I realize why I had never married. I froze up like a deer in headlights whenever a man looked at me with interest. Needless to say, I never had children and now it is too late. But my mother was HAPPY about this and reminded me before she died that her ceaseless, sneering predictions that "no man will ever want you" were the truth and she was "right," wasn't she?

I hope your sister still has plenty of decades ahead of her to move forward positively and live her life as fully as possible!


Thank you In the Trenches!

Was very inspiring to hear that you found a compassionate therapist able to help.
I was beginning to wonder if any existed.

I guess I always chose my therapists the way I chose the people I surrounded myself with... The only way I knew how; with the mentality of a Scapegoat of a Narc Fam.

I've gone no contact with Mom dad And Sis.
I Too, had a similar experience with Sis.
And her 2 kids. The kids are 7 year old twins.
As, I'd always had such a close connection to my niece and nephew since their birth.
I was surprised when nephew started talking to me in the same disrespectful way. I put my foot down, explained the rules that must be followed if you want to hang with Auntie.
And felt sick after realizing Sis was allowing it. Even encouraging this kind of behavior. At 6 years old !!
After going no contact with Mom and Dad. I tried to stay connected with sis because of my love for her kids. Especially my niece, A sensitive, artsy,little angel, trying to find her way in the land of The Narcs.
I finally had to let go for good my own sanity.
As I started to heal and get stronger with increasing clarity of situation, my family just amped up the abusive tactics.
I'm not sorry for my decision. Though I have bad depressing days. The good days are the best I've ever had in life.
Thanks again for sharing your story.
Best wishes to all

Hang in There

Yes, it is sad, evil and absurd when the narcissistic siblings brainwash their children against the scapegoats. But, believe me, no contact is the best way to go. I spent decades giving and giving to nieces and nephews who took, belittled and ridiculed me behind my back, dutifully following their parents' scripts. This was and is their NORMAL. I was the only family member who ever did volunteer work, for example, yet I was always tagged the selfish, self-centered one by this clan of users and takers. Again, it all has its roots with my narcissistic mother who smeared me day in and day out in front of my siblings. Brainwashing, pure and simple.

I am still dealing with a lot of shock and anger. But instead of focusing on the negative fact that I never had a loving family - and how it damaged my life's trajectory to have such an unstable emotional foundation - I know it is better to focus on the positive - my cousins and friends who care.

Slowly I get stronger, and you will, too - sounds like you have already made great progress and keep up the great work! Just remember that you are not alone in having had to suffer from this evil, dysfunctional type of family. They will never change, but we did. Thank you for your reply. This is why I shared my story, to let others in the same boat know that "you are not alone" and we are doing the right thing by NOW only associating with kind people who have our best interests at heart.

Thank you for responding!!! I

Thank you for responding!!!
I too, am searching out a male therapist. I decided to look for one that usually treats Veterans with PTSD.

Sounds extreme !!!Right????

I am not comparing my self or my problems to What a Veteran of War is dealing with.
But I think the mindset and coaching techniques of that kind of therapist would prove helpful.

I need somebody to help coach me out of the emotional rubble that once was my life.
I used to have a HUGE connection to me Wacked out family.
I am scared. It's like starting over.
very inspired you found the professional help needed to move on with your life.
Onwards and upwards!!!

Locating a Therapist

Wishing you all the best! Please check out Dr. Karyl McBride's excellent posts about the narcissistic family on this website. Her perspective is illuminating and helped me start in a very healthy way to put the pieces together about the truth of my dysfunctional family.

On her own professional website she also has links to a list of therapists, which may be helpful for you:

My situation has been a

My situation has been a little bit different. My mother and I had a "very good" relationship when I was younger. When I say "very good" I mean I was my mother's stalwart knight, I protected her, loved her, and defended her. My dad was the bad guy, he was the unreasonable one. I do remember knowing from a young age that she was weird for a lack of a better term. She would find a friend and then ultimately, they would start to distance themselves. I remember having to impose limits on my mother. She lives her life as if everyone is against her and also, against her children, which makes sense since we were treated as extensions of her self. It was hard to make sense of it. How there were things that she would do that would be considered a "good" mother, until I realized that. As babies, we ourselves think of our mothers as extensions of ourselves, this is good and healthy for the nurturance of a baby. Incidentally, that made my mother perfect for her babies. It was once, I would say, we started talking that the problems would start. I don't think it's any coincidence that my siblings are all 2 1/2 years apart exactly. The only reason I have 5 year difference between my brother and I is because of a traumatic miscarriage that occurred when I was 2 1/2. Anyways, my parents marriage started to crumble when my my youngest sister was about 3 years old. My dad had, had a vasectomy against my mother's wishes, perhaps the first time he had ever put his foot down during their entire marriage. They are still married in name and household but no longer speak now. I think my first true indication of the reality of who my mother was when on my 20th birthday I caught her in a lie. At the time, my father had been accusing her of having affair, which to this day I cannot qualify whether or not it is true, but while on the phone with my dad trying to make plans for dinner that night, I knocked on my mother's door which was unusually locked. When she answered, she was on the phone and told me that she couldn't talk because she was talking to my dad, who was still on the line with me. When I told her that, that was impossible, she changed stories and told me she was on the phone with my grandmother. I took that, hung up on my dad, and had the first birthday conversation with my grandmother ever, meanwhile, my mother was still on the phone with "her." Anyways, a few months later, I moved out and not even two days later, so did my mother, leading up to one of the worst confrontations I had ever had with her. What surprised me most about it was how unapologetic she was. I didn't talk to her for weeks which turned into a year. The next we spoke was when she dropped off my brother so that I could help him get a new phone (he was on my plan), the entire thing took a total of ten minutes as they just needed my signature but my mother left him at the store, telling him she would come pick him up after running an errand that was easily going to take an hour. Earlier that day, my brother had asked me to take him home but I told him that mom needed to stay because I had an appointment on the other side of town. I called her yelling. A few months later, I would find out that she had blocked my phone number from calling her. I had called her in a moment of weakness, hoping that she would be there for me. That was easily about 4 years ago, I have not called her since and probably never will. During this whole ordeal, she never once made an attempt to heal our relationship, with one exception. She once helped me with a school project I was doing for a class, but I think it was more in her interest than in mine to see if there was any "supply" left. Believe me, I heard about it when I didn't seem grateful enough. Now I'm in therapy, I go twice a week, and I've had no issues. What really resonated with me in this article was the anxiety of a fulfilling relationship. I think there was only one person thus far in my nine years of dating with whom I could have had a real relationship with, but I ran scared. I hope one day soon that I can actually experience a a good, healthy romantic relationship. I think the most important thing though to learn is acceptance. If you reference the Serenity prayer, narcissistic parents, unfortunately are one of those things you cannot change. As children, we tried to nurture our parents so that maybe we could get some in return. That, on the other hand, is something we change. We can change ourselves and we can change how we relate to people but it takes time and quite frankly, it's f***ing painful, but it's worth it. We are worth it.

I also had a

I also had a narcissistic/borderline mother. Personally I think most people with a personality disorder should be executed. Just sayin

Also "no contact"

I don't think I've seen so many people mention "no contact" in a forum before. I, too, have been "no contact" with my parents for over 4 years. My mother was diagnosed bipolar when I was a preteen but after seeing the patterns in her behavior through my adult eyes (and many years of therapy), I suspect she actually has borderline personality disorder.

I maintained a relationship with my parents as long as I could. When I was a teen, she told me that I'd never been wanted. Still, I maintained the relationship. When I was in my twenties, she told me, in reference to the fact that my father molested me as a preteen, "Well, you know your father said you never told him to stop." Later in my twenties, she refused to speak to my husband for a while. Still, I maintained the relationship. In therapy, besides working on healing myself, some sessions I would use the time just to practice role playing with my therapist so I could deal with the bizarre things my mother used to say during phone calls. I was hypervigilant ALL THE TIME. She was the kind of person who would tell me in October that she wanted us to have phone calls only on holidays and emergencies, then in February she'd call and demand to know why I "never called." She'd call and accuse me of talking about her to relatives I hadn't spoken to in years. On occasions when we did have a normal conversation, sometimes in the very next phone call she would twist something that had been said in the normal call and pick a fight about it. If she asked me when I planned to visit next (which always involved hefty travel expenses for me) and I said I didn't know, it got translated as "I don't want to see you."

Still, I maintained the relationship. I maintained it till the day she sent me an email telling me that I was a selfish person and that they'd stopped loving me a long time ago, and they never wanted any contact from me again. It was quite a blow. But it was also... liberating. I changed my email address, phone number and even my legal name. They've pretty much left me alone since then.

I agree with Del in regards to being extra careful who you talk to. Luckily, I've always had very supportive therapists, but family is a mixed bag. Know what my dad used to say when I was a kid and my mother had been picking on me all day and I had begged him to talk to her on my behalf? "You only have to live with her till you're eighteen. I have to live with her the rest of my life." Nice. He was a pedophile anyway so I don't know why I expected help from him. My mother and her mother are two peas in a dysfunctional pod, so no help there, either. My dad's siblings seem to know my mother's not right but don't want to get on her bad side or they risk losing whatever relationship they have with my dad. I maintain loose ties with them (think "exchanging Christmas cards") but don't trust them with anything important, not even my new phone number. I've discovered if the adults in your family have tolerated the narcissist's (or, in my case, borderline's) behavior from the time you were a kid, they're not going to change. Don't expect help from people who can't even help themselves to get away from the narcissist.

Anyway, let me say I really appreciate knowing I'm not alone in being "no contact." Very few people understand what it takes to push an otherwise easy-going, generally happy person (which I am, thank you therapy) to sever such a deep familial tie.

Well said

I'm "no contact" with my narc sister and like you, I'm generally easy-going and generally happy. But I imagine like you, I'm also not going to allow myself to be abused. No contact is the ONLY way to completely protect ourselves. It's sad that we can't have normal connections, but that's not possible with this kind of mental illness.

You are not alone going 'No contact'

Going no contact is hard, then facing people who think you're the mean person for not recognizing what your parents did for you, or having people who never met your parents that your parents loved you, is hard too.

However, once you're really at peace with it, and can stop trying to justify yourself to others... your life becomes such a peaceful place.

The advantage of growing up with bad parents, is that it truly makes you have to take responsibility for your own life. You really get to learn what you're made of.

Response from Seth

Your words couldn't be more true. A very sad reality, but you're totally right that you learn what you're made of when you stop being afraid - and conforming or complying unnecessarily.

So True

Unfortunately, this is our path to struggle. However, it is through the struggle that hopefully brings us to do the spiritual work that enlightens our higher consciousness which enables us to build our self esteem, maintain personal boundaries and achieve true love.

It is so nice to share experiences of other ACoN. There really in no need to maintain loyalty to people who are not capable of being decent human beings to the people they should love.

Wise Words

I read every single post to honor the brave survivors who so articulately shared what it's like to be the child of a Narc parent.

I was mom's surrogate spouse, sounding board, personal confidante, and whipping girl for my entire young life. My first memory is of her beating me when I was 18 months old for not being potty trained- a real inconvenience for her. I married a man she chose, because she convinced me the man I truly loved was "a bum". That's how under her spell I was. After decades of healing growth work with superb therapists, I learned to detach and be strong enough to weather her ensuing rejection, verbal abuse and shunning-until she needed my help, then out came the charm.
One of my sisters is also a narc, even more mentally ill than our mom. For me, the most crazy making feature of dealing with these pathetic souls is that they blame everyone but themselves for the havoc they wreak.

p.s. to Wise Words

I married the wonderful man (aka "the bum") seven years ago, and have never been happier!

Your P.S.

Glad to know you broke completely free from your narc mother's "evil spell" (because it's really like a fairy tale when we escape from that evil dysfunctional realm into a more loving realm) and made that happy ending with your husband!

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Seth Meyers, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.


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