Narcissistic Mother

As a psychotherapist in private practice, I’m often asked, “What can you do when you have a narcissistic mother?”

It is a poignant question because we’re all an extension of our mother in some way or another. You, for instance, may have similar physical features or personality characteristics that make people realize you are a product of your mom.

But, how do you protect yourself when your narcissistic mother, the very woman who gave you life or raised you, demands you provide her with the unconditional, one-way love that she feels entitled to…no matter how she treats you?

When this is the case, your narcissistic mother may see you as something that she created with the hope to have a copy of herself for her own amusement. Or, she may see you as an object, like a piece of luggage that should serve her when she needs it and be out of the away when she does not.

If so, you may have been treated with such disrespect and abuse that makes it difficult for you to develop any sort of real relationship with your mother, let alone feel the love towards your mom that she expects you to give. To the outside world, everything may have appeared perfect, but behind closed doors? That’s where the horror was released.

Many a narcissistic mother is aware of her demanding ways and believes everyone should treat her in the fantastical way that she sees herself. She may live in their own little world where her accomplishments, real or fake, are of grand proportions that no one else can live up to.

To this day, her expectations of you may be ever-changing and not truly attainable.  If you have a narcissistic mother, you may feel you are never good enough, or that you must compete with your siblings for her approval or affection. And, no matter how much you achieve or strive to accommodate her, you will not measure up to her unrealistic expectations.

Why do narcissistic moms have children?

When a narcissist has a child, it is not for the same reason that others procreate. She does so because she wants that child to satisfy her unmet needs.

These can vary from the need to feel like she will always be loved by you, or the hope she’ll be more bonded to her husband by providing a child, or the belief she’ll never be alone, or to have the illusion of another chance at life and so on.

Some narcissistic mothers essentially want a real-life extension of themselves, only to be deeply upset about the fact that they did not receive that “mini-me” from you. If, due to being a child, you could not meet her needs, your mother may have withdrawn from you or have become demeaning, critical, and manipulative. In short, it wasn’t acceptable for you to be a child because a child is, by its very nature, needy and “perfectly imperfect.”

The narcissistic mother’s love is typically volatile and conditional.   Below are three common roles in which the sons and daughters of narcissistic mothers often find themselves cast.

The roles can be projected by the narcissist onto one sibling then the next and the roles can last for moments or years.  Even more confusing, you may have been cast in different roles at different time in your childhood.  Read below to try to recall what roles you played and when you were cast.

Lost Child

This role involves a great deal of neglect.  Your narcissistic mother was simply not aware of, or interested in, your needs.  You could be sent to school with clothing too big or small, dirty, or unmatched.

You may have been teased by other kids because you did not have enough positive attention paid to you at home to know what was socially acceptable behavior. You often felt unlovable or unworthy because you were not treated as inherently valuable.

Scapegoated Child

Nothing you did was ever good enough. What may have satisfied your narcissistic mother one day could disappoint her the next.

If you expressed you felt your mother treated you unfairly, she might have led you to believe that you were crazy and ungrateful.  The “love” and “thoughtfulness” she gave you through her constant criticism was to be treasured.

If you did something of value and worth, you may have been cut down and made to believe that your accomplishments had no meaning in your narcissistic mother’s eyes.   Or, you could have been elevated and bragged about to the point of objectification.  (See Chosen, Hero or Golden child below.)

Chosen, Hero or Golden Child

To be the Chosen, Hero or Golden child of a narcissistic mother is usually the complete opposite of the scapegoat child. You are worshipped and idolized by your mother from the moment you are born.

You are the one person in her life that can do nothing wrong and every accomplishment, no matter how small, deserves a parade in her eyes. You’re a representation of the best of her, the golden child.

You may become even more important than her spouse in a sometimes provocative and psychologically seductive way.

Lost Child, Scapegoat & Chosen, Hero or Golden Child in a Narcissistic Family System:

Many times, there’s a golden child and a scapegoat in the narcissistic family. The golden child is a “favorite” of the mother’s choosing. Then there’s the scapegoat, the one who gets the blame for everything, the one who can never be as good as the mother or the golden child.

The scapegoat never measures up in the mother’s eyes. She can win awards, get good grades, get into a great school, but it goes unnoticed or unacknowledged.

If it’s noted, it’s usually done so in a way that makes the mother look good, saying that everything the child has learned is because of the mother’s parenting efforts.

The Lost Child will sometimes be relieved to hide from the narcissistic mother and at other times be pulled into more attention getting roles.

Why Don’t Narcissistic Mothers Change?

Narcissistic moms blame everyone else, and too often their children, for the consequences their own self absorbed choices have caused. It often falls to friends and family members to point out the extreme oddity of the narcissistic mother’s ways and recommend treatment. Even when offered help, a narcissist is more likely to be offended than to seek treatment.

Ironically, though the people around the narcissistic mother can identify the source of their suffering, the narcissist does not believe she is the one who should change.

Therefore, it is unlikely your mother sought treatment for narcissism.  In contrast, she may have put you in treatment with the hope that you would become easier to deal with.

Children and spouses are the ones who often suffer most, not the narcissist themselves, because the narcissist doesn’t feel that their chronically self-absorbed behavior is just that. Quite the opposite, actually. The narcissistic mother feels that everyone else is at fault when things go wrong.

As a child, you had to learn from very early on how to please your mother enough to survive. You may have grown up to think that nothing you ever do is good enough and that you are not worthy of the love you desire.

Narcissism, at its extreme, is a mental disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, (NPD), characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, fantasies of success, power, and physical attractiveness that the person may or may not possess, a constant need for attention and admiration, and obsessive self-interest. These are the obvious symptoms that people think of when they think of the term “narcissism.”

There are a cluster of personality disorders, including NPD, that are on the narcissistic spectrum described by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and they include Borderline Personality Disorder as well as Histrionic Personality Disorder.

These disorders describe different chronic behavioral patterns often exhibited by a narcissistic mother who may not even be aware of how she is treating you.

In sum, the first step in dealing with a narcissist is to identify the repetitive hurtful behaviors rooted in how you were cast in the roles identified above.  Accept that your narcissistic mother is highly resistant to change.  Then, learn how to best respond to her negative behaviors in order to protect your happiness.

Why Narcissists Have Children

Why do narcissists even have kids in the first place?

I’m going to cut straight to the chase on this one. Narcissists do not have children for the same reason that emotionally healthy people do.

They have them because they need more mirrors, more images to remind themselves of how great they are and how they brought someone into the world that is like them.

Unfortunately for the narcissistic parent, this isn’t the case 99.9% of the time because as children age, they develop their own sense of self and their own personality apart from their parents. Then they become more of a burden than a blessing on their narcissistic parent.

Some narcissists become parents out of accident or because of an ill-thought out plan they created to have someone there to love and admire them without having to give it back in return.

They’re looking for the narcissistic supply which they try to obtain from anyone and everyone. They believe that having a child will give them an endless supply because their child must love them and has to be a part of their lives, while they’re young at least.

Narcissists see their kids as someone they can put their name on, a product that they can put out into the world with their branding all over it. They use their children to gain self-esteem and as someone they can easily walk all over. They want their children to take care of them and reverse the roles of how parent-child interactions should be.

Narcissistic parents try to control their children in every facet of their lives.

They try to keep their children from growing up and gaining their own identity, fearing it will lead their children to leave them and go on to live their own lives.

Narcissistic parents try to control their children in four different ways:

  1. Guilt-driven: They make their children feel guilty and making them feel like a burden on the narcissistic parent. They say things like, “I sacrificed my life, my body, for you…”
  2. Dependence-driven: The narcissistic parent makes their child feel that they could not go on living without their child in their life. They tell their kids that they need them and that they cannot take care of themselves, their lives, and their well-being by themselves.
  3. Goal-driven: I like to call this the Tiger Mom Effect. This means that the narcissistic parent, not necessarily the mother (although it usually is), is always striving or making their child strive to be the best no matter what and no matter if the child is truly interested in the goal or not. They live vicariously through their child and ride on the coattails of their achievements. They may say things like, “We have a goal we need to achieve…”
  4. Explicit: This type of control is based on negative repercussions if their child does not do what they want or say. They withhold rewards and give excessive punishment if they do not get their way. This can be very draining on the child because they feel that they can never do anything right.


Most narcissistic mothers see motherhood as a burden and like to let it be known how much work it is. They do not take into account that children are not merely mirrors of themselves and that they are actual human beings with wants, needs, and feelings different than their own.

They often pick a favorite, or a golden child, who can do no wrong and grows up with unrealistic expectations of praise and worth. They also have children that are the scapegoats, the ones who all the blame is put on and are never worthy enough no matter how great their achievements may be.

They play the children off of each other for their own amusement, which causes riffs between the siblings that may not be mended easily. The narcissistic parent is always comparing the children and blaming them for his or her shortcomings.

Narcissistic parents treat their children in different ways. They either try to control them, ignore them completely, or engulf them and make it so they cannot develop into their own self.

A narcissistic mother fails to treat her child as an authentic person with wants and needs which may not match up with hers. She is completely self-centered and needs the attention to be all about her no matter what. If her child’s accomplishment is something to be admired, she’ll take all the credit for it while at the same time telling their child that they could’ve done better.

Parenthood is never about anyone else but them. For most people, having a child means having someone to take care of and love, not the other way around. A narcissist cares about no one but themselves and not even having a child can change their mindset.

Narcissistic Types

There are many faces of narcissism. Some of these may not be scientific or politically correct terms, but I feel that if you have a narcissistic mother in your life, you may be able to recognize some of these and nod your head in agreement.

  1. The Time Hostage: Your mom gets mad at you when you need to reschedule but assumes you will reschedule with her and/or repeatedly cancels on you last minute.
  2. The Quietly Self-Absorbed Narcissist: She’s socially withdrawn and odd thinking, with morose self-doubts and a relentless search for power and has fantasies of great achievements.
  3. The Nice Narcissist: She’s nice. She just needs you to agree with her at all times or she won’t like you.
  4. The Victim: She is unable to take accountability for her choices.  She looks at a problem and blames it on something out of her control instead of searching for anything in the situation she can change.
  5. The Attacker: She comes at you with attacks to see if you admit to anything or, as a way of expressing her fears.
  6. The Downer: She is so busy talking about why everything is lacking that she isn’t emotionally present to you.
  7. The Assessor: It is her job to critique how you measure up and point out anything you could improve on, not to give at least equal time to telling you what you do right.
  8. The Credit Taker: She takes credit for everything, whether she deserves it or not. She passes the blame onto others, whether justified or not. She’s always right, never wrong.
  9. The Jealous Narcissist: If you have it, she wants it or will strive to make it seem worth less than it is and devalue it.
  10. The Competitor: She lets you know you may be good but she is better, or prettier, or smarter, or more accomplished than you’ll ever be.
  11. The Operator: She work’s her own agenda at all times. She’s walled off in her plans for you and everyone else whether you agree with her or not.
  12. The Fading Beauty: She is not handling the aging process well and looks at your comparable youth as an affront.
  13. The Beauty Queen: She identifies herself strongly with her attractiveness and may have been the homecoming queen, the best dressed, or known for her beauty.  She’s especially bothered if you don’t try to make the most of your looks.
  14. The Innocent Narcissist: She’s highly defensive and extremely hostile but masks it behind a “poor me” facade of vulnerability.
  15. The Enraged Narcissist: She screams to get her needs met and projects rage without a filter, not caring who sees it. She doesn’t apologize for her actions.
  16. The Vengeful Narcissist: She enjoys inflicting pain on others and getting back at them if she does not get her way.
  17. The Passive Aggressive Narcissist: She sulks and gives the silent treatment and plots how to punish those who don’t give her what she wants. She is vindictive and capable of becoming a stalker.
  18. The Stealth Narcissist: She fakes an interest in other people and their needs and knows that acting concerned with get her what she wants.
  19. The Cruel Narcissist: She is never fair and her discipline shows that. She knowingly causes you pain and enjoys knowing that you are miserable.
  20. The Character Assassinator: She is always trying to tarnish your reputation by lying, exaggerating, or manipulating the facts to make you look bad and to make her look good.
  21. The Stingy Narcissist: Gifts, compliments, advice and money are given, but look out when you inevitably fail.
  22. The Wounded Narcissist: She feels victimized and the world is against her. She needs you to take care of her and aid in her every want and need.
  23. The Disdainful Narcissist: You are treated as though you are less than what she expected, a disappointment or failure.
  24. The Scapegoating Narcissist: Her life would be better if you were better, or whoever she’s choosing to scapegoat was better. And it will not be better until this person changes.
  25. The User Narcissist: She takes advantage of you and treats you as more of an employee than anything else. She uses you to get ahead in her own life.
  26. The Boundary-less Narcissist: There is no difference between you and her, you are an extension of her and therefore she has no limits. She intrudes on your space and looks through your personal belongings. She embarrasses you constantly.
  27. The Amnesia Narcissist: No matter what healthy requests you’ve made, it is as if you have to repeat yourself every time. For example, “Please don’t hug me or kiss me, it makes me feel uncomfortable,” is ignored.
  28. The Needy Narcissist: “You don’t give me enough calls” or attention. She wants more from you than anyone could deliver.
  29. The Time-Sucker Narcissist: You could spend every minute with this person and they would still feel neglected.
  30. The Mind-Reader Narcissist: You didn’t say it, you didn’t think it, and yet they have read into something and insist it is true.
  31. The Clairvoyant Narcissist: You didn’t say it, you didn’t think it, but once they have said it you realize it’s true and it’s usually something negative about them (can cause identity confusion for you).
  32. The Touchy-Feely Narcissist: You are expected to tolerate her touching you however and whenever they want.
  33. The Holiday Narcissist: You don’t exist unless it is their birthday or a holiday where she feels the need for family time.
  34. The Glamour Narcissist: She is all about making herself look good. She buys the most expensive clothes, gets her hair and nails done, and doesn’t care about the amount of money she spends.
  35. The Rockstar Narcissist: She believes that she is the center of attention and it should always be that way. She’s the main attraction and wants everyone to idolize her, even if she really has no talents or reason to be in the limelight.
  36. The World Traveler Narcissist: She brags about places she’s been and makes up stories about the places she hasn’t been, but tells people she has. She has grandiose fantasies about how worldly she is.
  37. The Professor/Elite Intellectual Narcissist: She is brainy and seeks admiration for her intelligence. She uses her intellect to put others down and make them feel stupid.
  38. The Stage Mom/The Promoter: She lives her fantasies through you. She makes you do the things she wish she could [still] do and believes your achievements are her own.
  39. The Fashionista: She tells you how to dress and what not to wear—often when you’re already wearing it!
  40. Miss Manners: She still meticulously points out your etiquette failures– from how you eat to what family events you should attend.
  41. The Publicist: She brags about you to others but is excessively critical of you when you are alone.
  42. The Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde Narcissist: She is nice in public, but mean under her breath or when alone.
  43. The Forever Young Narcissist: When did you become more mature than your mother? How old is she, really, emotionally?
  44. The Hot Mama Narcissist: Sexualized and distracted.
  45. The Lovesick Narcissist: Always chasing that ideal mate or trying to win the affection of her partner.
  46.  The Enabler Mom: She is too distracted with your rebel siblings’ problems or her partner’s addictive behaviors and seems to get a bit of a rush or power out of rescuing.
  47. The Social Butterfly: Everyone in town loves her, she is a generous host, but she can’t be bothered to make time for you.
  48. The Hypochondriac Narcissist: She believes something’s physically wrong with her, you should be checking in on her. And, if you don’t, as luck would have it, she unfortunately has something real going on every once in awhile. Or, it’s nothing a reputable doctor will confirm but she’s fighting off her cancer, leprosy, etc. with special treatments she’s managed to find through her own sheer will to survive.
  49. The Financially-Challenged Narcissistic: She just needs a little bit of help for this umpteenth self created crisis and she’s sorry she hasn’t paid you back yet for the last time you lent her money.
  50. The Martyr Narcissist: Her refrain is “How Can You Do This to Me?”  She tells you that you make her miserable, suicidal, isolated, or some other negative emotion. You are told that, in one way or another, you control her emotions and that if you would just do what she wanted she would be fine.
  51. The BFF (Best Friends Forever) Narcissist: You are her best friend, she doesn’t know what she would do without you, unless she had a better offer, in that case you’ll just have to wait until the next time she’s lonely. You are brought out like a doll when she wants attention then ignored when she doesn’t need it (but seriously, when doesn’t she need it?). This is also a description of what is experienced when someone is another’s “narcissistic supply.”
  52. The Expensive Narcissist: She has ruined your credit through manipulation to use your credit.
  53. The Criminal Narcissist: Some narcissists exploit their children or others through identity theft, mismanagement of trust funds, and fraudulent financial dealings. You may or may not have been the target of her crime, but she doesn’t see the rule of law applies to her. She may have Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is a pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. As if the narcissism wasn’t enough!

Do you have any types to share?

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{ 490 comments… read them below or add one }

Karl October 21, 2014 at 6:06 am

Thank so much Renee and Dora. All good thoughts. Swimming away from a NM quietly is myultimate wish…but I already sense a big motor boat on my tail. (No sooner do I ask the question about NC, than my NM contacts my daughter, who attends university nearby, to arrange lunch in the coming weeks, with a “glass of wine” to follow with my wife and me. Ie: she has a sixth sense that I won’t respond, so she’ll go through my daughter to set things up.)

I feel like a convict trying to escape from jail at night wearing a pair of those running shoes that light up with every step.

Dora, I don’t quite know my role with my NM. For a long time she has referred to me as her “rock.” (Can’t be any more objectified than that!) My EF father died 17 years ago and I think I was put in the role he had: validating her.) So I think was in the Hero role for many years, but since last year, when I got on to her narcissism, I feel like I became the scapegoat.

Great insight having your husband act as gatekeeper. My NM and siblings are afraid of my wife. She will be a great gatekeeper for me. Calling on her to take care of me like this is new–a little strange–but good. To admit my vulnerability here.

Another question: has anyone initiated NC with the caveat that they would be willing to have contact in a few therapy sessions with the NM? (I can’t imagine my NM going for this, but I think it might play better with my sibs.) Or am I just looking for the easier path that just doesn’t exist? Thanks!


Dora October 21, 2014 at 11:03 am

Karl, I’m so glad your wife might be a gatekeeper/ firewall. I really hated doing that to my husband too….it’s not my style. I’ve never hid behind him in my life. However, this situation is just way to charged for me to handle….particularly since it is me alone against four siblings and a NM. He doesn’t mind at all. Interestingly, he’s finally had it too. It took us both a very long time. We’ve been married 28 years…….and it’s been never ending attacks and stupid drama’s the whole time. Unfortunately we’re all in the same small suburb!

I greatly sympathize with pressure/ potential responsibilities of the only children (or one of two) of NM…but it’s also a real twisted “head trip” to have an entire big family against you. AND, it’s more the norm than the exception to have only one child recognize the narcissist for who she is. Most children of NM stayed enmeshed…and I’m sure we can all understand why.

I’m very nervous about the therapy idea because I only see her manipulating the situation. I have heard nothing/ experienced nothing to indicate that a narcissist is capable of change or owning faults/ misbehavior.

I don’t know your situation Karl, but could you identify specific behaviors that you will no longer permit (badmouthing you to others, giving you the cold shoulder, making unreasonable requests, distorting history to attack you, etc.)? When I reminded my sister of all of the attacks (she led them on behalf of my narcissistic parents), I told her that I needed reassurance they would not happen again. I also told her that if she flipped this on me and made herself out to be the victim in our relationship our relationship was over. So, of course she attacked me (with pathetic falsehoods) and asked me to apologize to her for all I’ve done to her (she couldn’t name one single thing), I said our relationship was over.

My husband keeps reminding me, “you told them that you needed civil behavior and they rejected that request”. My parents constantly cut me off……and many, many other people in their life. For that reason, I always sink into despair that I’ve followed the same behavior (that I abhor). That confusion has led to a lot of anxiety in how to handle my six adult children’s relationship with my family. Basically, we’ve told them our experiences (they were very shielded from most of it), and given them true freedom to handle my family the way they want. It’s now close to six months of NC. It is evolving into the adult children doing less and less…..and getting more and more disgusted by the way my husband and I have been treated. I’m so glad that we gave them room to come to their own decisions…and I’m sure there will be a variety of ways they each decide to interact with them. I dont, btw, consider my family dangerous to them. They will be on their very best behavior…particularly now.

Good luck Karl!


Jane October 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Hi Karl,

I agree with Renee if you are going to offer the caveat of therapy you will need to find a therapist who specialises in narcissism.

I am struggling with the idea of walking away and going no contact also for a couple of reasons;

1) The disorder will never be professionally diagnosed (my mother would never agree to therapy)
2) No contact feels like the ultimate cold shoulder and I don’t want to be her

That said, as time passes it seems to be coming to no contact quite naturally.

Now that I am aware of the disorder I’ve spent the last few months educating myself and looking for affirmations that my diagnosis of her is real.

Not sure if this helps – but I wish you all the best with whatever you decide.



Renee October 22, 2014 at 7:47 am


You’re really progressing! You are spot on when you identified that the disorder would be diagnosed. Why would a NM go to a therapist? Really, the problem is with all of us, never them!

You mentioned that NC feels like a cold shoulder. Perhaps consider NC as a way to care for yourself and love the parts of your NM that are good (they do have tiny bits) from a distant, safe place ~ in your mind. With all that I’ve been with my NM, I do care for her and don’t want her to suffer. But because she is ill with this disorder, NC is best for me, my family and her. I don’t feel ‘cold’ to my NM, but more matter-of-fact. Sounds to me like you are, and never will be, anything like your NM so no worries. You can let go of that one. Survivors of a NM are incredibly compassionate, caring, and patient.

And as the process unfolds, ideas of action become more comfortable and acceptable, ‘natural’. And as you read more, piece things together, recall events that have been buried, it kinda falls into place. Affirming is a good thing, just a ‘check and balance’ action …………… another element that supports that you are not ‘cold shouldering’.

When I fully realized my mother was a true NM, I became soulfully depressed and really felt like an orphan. And then time passes and I am aware of all the wonderful people I have who have stood beside this journey of decades when really, anyone in their right mind should have run from me! And reassuring me that I’m not that kind of mother to my children. You can revel in the fact that you’re another that has broken the cycle of NM ~ and congrats ……. even though it is sad in part.

One day, one moment at a time Jane. You’re getting there. Patience, peace, believe in yourself, you have your husband, you have your sanity. We just don’t have healthy mothers.


Adele October 22, 2014 at 8:20 am

Karl if you can awoid a drama is better no? Your situation is very different from mine since you have bigger kids and live closer to you NM so do not really know what to suggest. When I decided to go NC I really wanted her to know it, I kind of thought that telling her will be a paintfull but fast cut instead of ignoring her for a long time. This second option sounded to me like much longer and more paintful. But we are all different and each one has its own solutions and its own rithyme. I wish you to find a best possibile solution for you. Adele


Zoe October 30, 2014 at 11:50 am

Karl, sadly therapy does not work on personality disorders, especially NPD. Before I found out my mother had NPD, I took my her to a therapist after my brother committed suicide (yes, I partly blame my mother) for grief counseling. These sessions were a waste of time as she manipulated everything the therapist said and refused all of his advice/activities. It was through this experience and the internet that I found out my mother had NPD. It has opened my eyes and allowed me to help other family members that suffer under her wrath.


Renee October 21, 2014 at 8:20 am

First, I would like to thank you all for validating me in my quest for truth. I really try not to ‘tell someone’ what to do because, although we share NMs, each NM has their own little unique story line. I attempt to stay within boundaries of what has worked for me. The last thing I would ever want to happen is to give advice that could back-fire and undermine this fragile-yet-growing-stronger community.

Karl, what is your daughter’s viewpoint on your NM? While, of course, I wanted our family to have an allied front with my NM and EF, and, as time always does play out, they came to really discover that grandma is ill and they want nothing to do with her. It’s very sad and I’m proud of them for standing up for themselves and the ill treatment of me. They’ve learned ‘right from wrong’ ….. so I guess my husband and I didn’t do such a bad job after all (altho my parents told us we were ‘C’ parents …. LOL!). Perhaps you can make clear to your daughter that her arrangements with grandma are fine and that she is not to be put in the middle (now you’re protecting your daughter). Possibly provide her with dialogue, ‘grandma, you’ll have to speak to dad or mom about arranging a meet-up with them ….. I don’t know their schedule.’ ‘How’s your meal grandma?’ ‘Mine is delicious’ ……………….. get it?

I agree, having a buffer can relieve the pressure as the relationship is redefined (crumbling). In protecting my children (cuz my NM has done some pretty nasty things to them too), I firmly indicated that she must contact my husband or myself if she wants to see or visit the children. Now, of course, what NM will respect boundaries? I stuck to my guns. I didn’t want to fight with her but I absolutely demanded she did not cross the line. And boy did she try …… and often I caught her and she just didn’t know how to handle it. They are the biggest, false, empty bullies that just turn to dust. I would think your wife is less vested in this process (of NM) and can mediate. She has your back, not your NM. While you may feel vulnerable, it can also be a time to re-establish yourself, your power, your indictment that you are worthy and to be valued. I think it is a time to repair and heal.

Maybe your role with your NM is to be the son with a balanced mother ……….. dream on but save room for a miracle. Sounds like you have enough roles as it is; a father, a devoted wife, a dutiful, unappreciated son. Maybe dump the last one.

It’s great that you are exploring as many options as you can because, as it was for me, when I really saw how things were and the disorder of my NM (and I’m talking 4 decades), I could walk away without a regret (I tried everything short of hanging myself). As crazy as this sounds, I think that I would be willing to go to therapy sessions with my NM. OMG, I’m INSANE! However, I think the selection of a therapist is crucial and it must be someone who is thoroughly versed in the field of narcissism. Recently diagnosed with ptsd, I was very surprised to find that my shrink knows very little about this subject. Careful, careful, careful. It can be a slippery slope and a therapist could easily fall into the clutch of the NM. I say this from experience ……………. because it happened to me. My NM beat me into the ground, with my EF and GC sister quietly witnessing, and the therapist just sat there and said that ‘this family is just so full of love’.

And why wouldn’t you want an easier path? Hasn’t it been too hard already? Of course! And if NMs had the capability to recognize their aftermath ………… well, we wouldn’t need this site. A path exists …… you just have to machete through it. You’ll get there.


cherie November 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Hi Renee

Hope you are happy? It has been a long time since I have been on this site. How are you? Xmas is approaching and I had that sinking feeling of having to invite my NM for dinner! I spoke to my daughter tonight and thank God – she has made plans of her own (my NM). So I think this NC is paying off and she is getting the message. And I do not feel guilty anymore. That is such a relief! We must stay strong and move on. At least we have each other’s support on this site. People who really know what we are going through.

Love to all – be strong and you will reap the benefits!


Jane October 21, 2014 at 2:05 pm

My mother’s nose surgery is tomorrow – I can’t bring myself to call so I’m sending her a text instead.

My aunt is coming out of hospital today – I’m giving her everything I couldn’t give my mother – a visit with soups, salads, sandwiches, flowers, movies.

I couldn’t care less about the fall-out – I’m doing what I want from now on.

The performing seal is hanging up her worn out ballet shoes and turning off the stage lights.



Dora October 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm

…you’re such a lovely and gifted person Jane. I’m so glad you’re going to devote your time and energy to those who can appreciate and love you, and appreciate your love!

Btw, I’m putting your last line on my frig (in code) for me to look at when I want to remember what this (NC) is all about. I can’t imagine a better way to sum up my past and present life.

Go Jane go!


Anonymous October 28, 2014 at 11:18 am

Are we ever going to be completly free. I explain: I am 3 months NC. as soon as manage not to think of them and to not talk about them and focus on my life, in that same moment I forget why are we here and I miss them and then I have to remain myself about the abuse, recoll memories, repeat to myself one more time the truth and each time it hurts again. What have we done in a previous life to deserve this infinite slow form of tortue.
The trigger for all these tought was f… Christmas. With them it was always a disaster and solely a drama, why am I then feeling so sad about this one that is coming? Maybe because until NC I always had hope that things would change. Now I know that they wont and that we will never be a normal happy family and it is sad. Maybe as time goes it will get easier.
How are you doing Jane, Dora, Renee?Adele


Renee October 22, 2014 at 7:32 am

That a girl Jane! A text will help ease your conscience, that’s just the considerate person you are! No doubt your NM will take the good will given to your aunt and spin it the way NMs are so skillful at …………… spin on!

Click ….. lights off.


Anonymous October 22, 2014 at 7:13 am

Thank you for the article, in particular the different roles the siblings are cast in. My NM has the malignant type, as well as a diagnosed brother. (It was a miracle that he even went to see a psychiatrist with the assistance of someone begging him to go, of course. As you can imagine, it was their fault.)
I am the scapegoat in the family. I have been in NC for a number of years, on and off. I could not give up my siblings entirely. Quite frankly, my NM is worse now than she was before. Maybe it’s more my tolerance level than it is her behavior. This time, I have let go of my siblings because I can now see that they, not only have a choice, but they do their NM’s bidding and the GC has become very much like her…narcisisstic. The others too. It is so sad and I’m so sad.
It’s hard to move on from this story, particularly since I just revisited it.
Your article was a nice refresher and for those in the first stages of this grieving process, it will be worth it when you get past the initial pain. This is the most difficult thing I have done in my life and not for the faint of heart. But scapegoats end up to be the lucky ones, the strongest ones in the end.


Jane October 23, 2014 at 12:12 am

Feeling particularly black today – I guess it’s part and parcel of dealing with NM’s.
Always forgive a writer for well written expressions about a mood or feeling on a particular day – we just can’t help ourselves (!)
There’s an opportunism in the extreme emotion – it’s what drives a writer on any given day.
And so here’s today – faults and all:

There’s such a rich fabric of ideals and wishes
Stitching richly in spite of surrounds
In a fantastic melody
Sometimes proud, though sometimes sullen
Yet always active and seeking to prosper
Against a backdrop of hope and despair
The melody goes on
And so it goes and so it goes
I look around in wonder at those older than me
And feel aghast at the idea of living any older than 40
I’m told it’s the black dog of depression
Yet I love all animals – and black dogs especially
With their rich caramel brown eyes
And swishy active tails
The black dog
The black dog becomes me.

For anyone out there experiencing depression as a result of NM’s – just wanted to share my post so that you are not alone ;)

Jane x


Karl October 23, 2014 at 6:57 am

Jane, I hope the surgery yesterday went well for your mother–and more importantly, for YOU! I offer a NM medical story in the hope that it brings a smile: a decade ago my NM was going to have a medical “procedure”. When the mice (my siblings and myself) didn’t immediately start scurrying with that news, she let it be known through the well-grooved channels (my sister) that there was a “spot” near her eye that the doctors were “concerned about”…family-speak for CANCER. “Mom is having a cancerous lesion removed!” That got the mice moving. Then she comes out of surgery. No mention of the “spot” that had been removed, a biopsy, prognosis, treament, anything. But when the bandages came off she had two black eyes and the skin on her face was as taut as a drum. And the face-lift parading as cancer surgery has never been acknowledged by her–or mentioned by us to her (we know better…).


Truebluesue October 28, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I am going to be 47 yrs old in the new year and I have hit a wall as far as my personal growth. I am depressed, hopeless and ever-fearful of my larger than life , smarter than everyone, more beautiful than all her friends and it really is hard being perfect mother of all mothers. Although I am typical in that I want to tell you everything in order to make you believe me -as all classic scapegoats feel the need to do-, I find I have little energy now to even push myself on to envision a life without criticism, recrimination and cruelty. So I will follow with just a few choice statements from my n mother.
1. I am the satellite that revolves around her planet.
2. I am not upset….that was really fun! (Statement after being breathalyzed after my 40th birthday dinner upon which she would not relinquish her keys to me and subsequently was pulled over )
3. You were always strange…..even as a baby. I could tell things didn’t quite connect in the nerves in your brain.
4. When your father and I came back from Hawaii when u were 3 years old and you came to the airport, you ran right past me and chose your father to hug and kiss! (Non subtle tone of disgust)
5. Stay away from him…he doesn’t like you ( upon me telling her at age 10 my brother was physically injuring me)
6. Your brother is simply amazing! He is so clever and smart…..I am sooooooo proud of him! ( variation of the same conversation over the course of my entire life)

I don’t know what to do. My family is so incestuous. I have suffered for many years and I just want a chance at my own life. DO I go no contact? Which is what I really want or am I too damaged to make it work. (Lots of brothers and sisters and half sibs and step parents and my father still occasionally talks with her “about the kids”…… I have to leave everyone and everything to break the hold of my n mother?
Desperate .


Len October 30, 2014 at 11:40 am

There is a 5th way narces. mothers control their children: they convince you that you cannot
survive without them (past infancy and early childhood.) The classic Italian Version: You can’t trust friends. The only people you can trust is the family. And mom makes herself the center of the family in which no one else exists.


Crystal October 31, 2014 at 5:30 pm

My mother in law is also a narcissist. She acts like an angel to people she wants to use or is trying to impress. She’s gorgeous, used to model, but beauty doesn’t last and her narcissistic ways are becoming exceedingly aparent. She is disgustingly insincere. She constantly brags about how hard she worked and could retire before 60 (she’s never held down a job for more than a year) brags about her associates degree as a paralegal – thinks it’s the equivalent of a law degree, and brags about everything she can come up with. I’ve been working since I was 15 however I lost my job after becoming chronically ill and can only work part time due to chronic pain and fatigue. My husband lost his job and we had to move 1800 miles to live with her. She calls me lazy when I’m in such excuciating pain that I can’t even move, but brags that she’s so healthy because of her healthy choices she made in life. Which is funny because she goes to the ER weekly because she’s a hypochondriac. She belittles me constantly by bragging because our car was repossessed, yet she’s had 3 cars rrposseses in 10 years and filed bankruptsty 4 times. My husband is an alcoholic and she’s always saying it’s my fault, yet buys him liquor and then talks behind our backs that we’re alcoholics, when I can’t drink due to my medical condition. She had 6 kids from 6 different fathers that were all coincidently well off and paid child support which is why she is well off since she was making 6k a month in child support and has been divorced 3 times receiving thousands of dollars to millions from each divorce, yet my husband wasn’t able to go to college and never saw a dime. She’s constantly trying to control our finances and wedge herself between my husband and I. She’s always talking about other people yet are all smiles to their face. My sister in law has a beautiful baby boy who is healthy and perfect, she refuses to baby sit him or even have him come over. Yet in the next breath she’ll go on how I’m not a real woman because I’m infertile and my husband should find someone who isn’t broken. I have been best friends with my husband sine we were 15, we grew up together, so I’m not understanding where her animosity comes from. I’ve been the only one there for him helping him recover through his addiction, working 13 hours a day when he was in rehab, supporting him financially and emotionally- where was she? Oh that’s right she was complaining about her daughter with cancer, complaining that she is a burden and had been her entire life! I seriously cannot wait to move out of here, I want to move at minimum 2 hours away! I dont get what she gets out of being so miserable…. Why can’t she just be normal? I love my mom and we have a great relationship, my mom loves her children unconditionally abd would do anything for us. My mom cooks beautiful meals and makes funny jokes and cares for you when you’re sick. This woman is not a mother and I’m unsure if she’s even human.


Emmy November 1, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I recognised 35 of those….It was painful to read.


Jane November 1, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Thank you so much for posting this. I have lived hell because of how unstable my mother is. I am adult, married, have a daughter and one on the way, working on my doctorate, but still struggle with her. I want to cut her off completely and when I did, she tried to make false reports of abuse and showed up at my house crying and telling me how ungrateful I am. My toddler has autism and my mother keeps telling me she’s normal. She doesn’t respect the way I want to raise my daughter. She always tells me I need to lose weight, grow out my hair, and be more feminine. She criticizes what I feed my daughter, how I dress her, oh and the reason why she has autism is because I didn’t give her enough nutrients. Ever little thing is about her including the my gender reveal party. It needs to be close to her place because it’s better. It’s always about her. She’s a physician and wants me to be a physician like her. My doctorate doesn’t compare to her being a physician. She has lupus and calls me crying saying she might die and that I need to call her and visit her more. “Why do you ignore me? Why don’t you answer? Why are you mad at me? Fine then do whatever you want” is all in one Sentence of a text. My husband dislikes her, but tolerates her for me. Every time I try to confront her she makes me feel like the bad one. She brags to people that she still helps me and makes herself grandiose. She told someone she helps pay for my bills Which is a complete lie. She buys things for my daughter as gifts but she calls that helping me. My mom kicked me out when I was 16 because she thought I was failing school, then she told everyone I ran away. She kicked me out at 18 because I really hated her husband. She withheld my laptop, bed, clothing, and told me that I was going to come back needing her. Homelessness and peace was my greatest gift to see how free I was and how wrong she was. I to drop out of school to work and survive. I got a full ride to a university but lost it when my mom felt that I was abandoning her because the school was in new Mexico. She told me she was dying and family called me to tell me she probably wasn’t going to make it. It was a lie. I lost my full ride. Here I am a 24 year old who fought to have what I have by working hard and she wants to take credit for it! It angers me so much. I was homeless and I work with kids like my daughter. I love my little girl so much and I am terrified of leaving her alone with my mom. My husband is amazing, he has his MA in counseling, but my mom sees him as a POS because he’s Hispanic. I should have married a white guy. That was her dream for me. Now that my sister is going to a good school and studying medicine dating a white guy. My mom tells me I should be an MD like my 19 yr old sister. My parents are paying for her school and everything, but they never helped me once. I just want her out of my life or at least to change. I just really needed to vent


Bridget November 2, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Hi everyone. I’m getting married this week. Finally. It’s been a long road since we got engaged with my NM. It’s very much a one-sided competition for her to see who can win my company, her, my fiancé, or his family. She constantly bad mouths my fiancé behind his back, as well as his family. She demeans every decision I make and gets mad when I don’t agree with her. She is now laying on the guilt, yet another tactic to try to stop me from marrying my fiancé. She tells me that God will make me pay for the way she’s been treated, although anyone that knows me will tell you that I have lived my entire early twenties trying to please her and make her happy. It’s so frustrating because no one really gets it but the people here. I feel like a hypocrite in front of people that know how she is because I find myself having to fake being the “good little daughter” in public and then I am constantly venting to my friends about how horrible she is. Luckily, they’ve seen signs of the potential monster she can be. I only have one more week of this hell, but she keeps trying to put all these doubts in my head.


Joe November 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Excellent website, very well written and researched. My NM was the most complex I have researched. I was both the Scapegoat and the Golden Child. Talk about a massive yo yo. It’s been 2 years of No Contact and I can see light at the end of the tunnel.


Cheryl November 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Holy Cow!!! This is such an exhausting job… Even reading about others & how their situations are similar to mine leaves me exhausted. I was wore out just reading the narcissistic types & counting how many of them that my NM fit into. I spend my day dodging her games & comments. Even in my own home … Where she knows no bounds. If I ignore her I at least realize it’s going to be worse the next time I see her but that doesn’t make it any easier . I’m sure I’d benifit from talking to someone who understands this situation. I do a lot of analyzing. There’s no answers. You just have to stay one step ahead… And that is really exhausting. My friends don’t understand. You can’t talk to them about it. They had wonderful parents & have a hard time rationalizing that mine is/was not exactly like theirs. Some of my friends parents have passed away… So that makes it even harder to discuss it. You just don’t. You feel alone. & tired.


Lisa November 6, 2014 at 7:22 am

My fiance’s 11 year old son is being raised by a NM, and the effects are truly SAD..and showing through his behavior!!! what can we do? Please help.


Foxgood November 18, 2014 at 7:52 am

I cut my NM out of my life a few years ago. She only made one attempt to make her way back in, but I responded with an unambiguous message of “no.” Since then, my siblings have one-by-one also cut her out of their lives. Strangely, once you throw the gauntlet down and tell her, “no more,” she just acquiesces and moves on to the next kid (there are six all together.)

To this day, even many years later, when I have dreams in which my mother is present, they are always nightmares. I call them my “rage” dreams. I am always screaming and yelling at her or the dream is a re-enactment of some terrible childhood memory where she hurt me or let me down for the umpteenth time.

How does one get rid of these nightmares? It’s been almost ten years and they are still around.


Anonymous December 20, 2014 at 7:19 am

Same here, my dreams always center around being back in NM’s home and me anxiously finding a way to move out! I always feel stressed and anxious in the dreams, just confirmation of how deep rooted my issues have been growing up with her. Unfortunately i keep having these dreams from time to time and it has been 2 years, I am uncertain if they ever go away, but at least waking up is always a relief that the dream is not real.


karen November 18, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Yes this was so helpful. My mother is always so nasty. She sees us as people to fill up her time and spends more time with her girl friend. My dad passed away 2 years ago and my mother has become even more selfish! My mother went on a cruise and stayed in Sydney on the way there and on the way back (during the day) and didnt tell me ( my daughter and I) so we could catch up. Then when I found out I was very hurt and she lied about being in Sydney for 2 whole days and didnt even say sorry!

I am going to see her in Melbourne (Australia) at xmas and I told her that I will not put up with the nastiness or disrespect this next trip. I told her that if she is nasty I will go home and not stay!

from Karen


Nicole November 27, 2014 at 9:57 am

“The performing seal is hanging up her worn out ballet shoes and turning off the stage lights.”



Renee December 3, 2014 at 8:42 am

I noted this site was down for several weeks. I hope that all who contributed vital support return and continue our quest for balance, health, acceptance, and healing.


Dora December 4, 2014 at 7:50 am

Yes, I’ve missed my friends! Btw, Dr. Piper’s emails (just sign up for more info) are AMAZING. I’ve never known anyone in my life who had a mother who was really and truly her worst enemy. However, when you find others who suffer from a NM……our stories are remarkably similar. Dr. Piper totally nails it, and provides such concrete guidance and help.
How is everyone?
This is my first Holiday season (plus NM’s 80th Birthday) going NC. I’m the scapegoat, and the only one who isn’t “dancing to the tune” of the NM. It’s so liberating. I have so much more time and energy to devote to good and kind people. I’m free from the constant, overwhelming anger while I was “a performing seal” (thank you Jane) trying to be worthy of love. I HAVE LOST NOTHING with NC. I HAVE GAINED A LIFE.
Karl, your facelift story is hilarious and says it all.
Jane, what’s new?
Renee, are you still staying strong and moving forward? You’ve been such an inspiration!
Wishing everyone the best, particularly at this time of year.


Renee December 4, 2014 at 10:05 am

Hi Everyone!

I’ve waited weeks for the site to be back up and running. I’ve missed ‘checking in’ with my recovering community, realizing we are the soft place to land. We’ve lived it, through it, identifying it, and healing from it ~ or HER, the NM.

Karl, totally enjoyed the story and ironically, as there are no coincidences in the great, perfect universe, it have a story to add and share!

Just yesterday my oldest had an appointment and found my sister (the GC) in the waiting room with her sunglasses on. I’m sure my sister was waiting for my NM. My sister didn’t acknowledge my daughter, just stared straight out the window. Now, you all have to know that you can’t miss my daughter; she’s a 5’10” athlete with a sparkling wit and unassumingly and humbly changes the energy when she walks into any room. LOL, typical of a GC freezing up before a possible encounter of all the NM and all the black sheep (me and my family).

And before I found out all of this, I was driving in town (on a quick break from work) and noticed my dad’s car pulling up from behind. Yes, my dad’s passed forward so it would only be my NM. She looked great for a 76 year old gal with crippling arthritis.

As she pulled beside me, I could see that she had her hair done, make-up and lipstick dialed, jewelry, etc. Looked pretty good to me ….. not someone who requested her (physically) ‘heart to be healed’ from a note she sent my oldest daughter.

Divine intervention; as I was driving to make my co-pay for my daughter, a traffic light stopped me. I knew I was going to see my NM face-to-face, I actually pined for it. Another chance to be so nice to her face and watch how she would just crumble under the pressure. I was so curious and almost excited for the encounter. The traffic light took FOREVER and the message came to me, ‘not going to happen’. And as it was, as I pulled into the parking lot, my NM pulled out. No encounter but a confirmation that I am strong and no longer hiding from HER.

And again, completely unexpected, I had a quick chat with one of my mother-in-laws about a different subject and up pops, ‘did XXXX tell you I talked to your mother?’ Usually I feel betrayed being the last to know but now I feel, ‘here comes another NM whopper.’ My mother-in-law proceeded to tell me my NM was sharing how many heart operations she had, is still so very sick, on the verge of perishing any day/any moment, and has to carry around with her some canister to breathe. How gosh darn interesting! In the two sightings I had of the NM, never one did I see anything wrapped around her head, nose, mouth …… !!!!

I share this because after all these years of my husband’s side of the family knowing what my NM has put me and my children through (the antics, the sick manipulations, cruelty, etc), they still defend my NM; she doesn’t have much time left, she’s your mother, we need to be ‘higher’ and forgive her. I think that it where it cuts the deepest. Even though they know, we are still the one to take the high road.

So I ask, what if she had been sexually assaulting the children? Would it be different? Of course it would. And please know I am not accusing her of this. So why is emotionally assaulting my children (and me) ok?

So, my friends, this is my latest tale to share …. and it was just yesterday.

And yes, do I wish things were different, still do every day. I also realize that I can’t help a psychologically ill person who won’t seek help and lives her life each day as a victim, stubbornly unwilling to acknowledge the entire relationship is one of her building. So I love the perfect/higher part of her soul and let the wicked, sick, NM psycho finish out her pathetic life without the joy of having my family in her life.

Peace and healing to you all!


Dora December 4, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Renee, bravo on your detachment.

I feel your pain living in the same geographical location with your mother and siblings.

My challenge is navigating their relationship with my kids (most are adults). It’s been nice to see that they’re navigating it all very well on their own…charity without being manipulated. They know that we are unwilling to have any relationship with my NM and siblings with out an apology and a assurance that the attacks will end. Obviously, that’s never going to happen. They are super charming and groveling with my kids….because they’re just the nicest people in the whole wide world who would NEVER do what we’ve confronted them with. (Poor Dora is insane). Anyway, we’re free and my kids have been very saavy!
I too have had that lecture about forgiveness from my best friend (who my sister is trying to manipulate), and it’s extremely painful. I’m the least petty person you could ever find. I finally said to her, firmly, “If I’m telling you that I have to do this…NC…you should trust me that it’s necessary whether you understand the situation or not”. But seriously, how could any normal person understand the sneaky cruelty, lies, deception, self-deception in a narcissistic family structure? My husband always tells me that he would never in a million years have believed it if he hadn’t witnessed it first-hand (a big shout-out to those of you battling this alone).
It’s painful to have a family who doesn’t care one bit about you……particularly a mother (my late father was a sociopath-narcissist and his damage to me was nothing compared to not having a mothers love). It helps so much to actively seek out good people. Even as an introvert, I find pushing myself to socialize helps a lot.

Also, I’m working really hard at not being suspicious and scared of female friends. I’m so terrified of jealously (the main reason I was rejected as a very young child) that I end up being a groveling fool (as in, “I think you’re great and wonderful….you don’t have to compete with me!!). It’s so hard because women often are competitive. I don’t know…. something I’m struggling with. I’m sure my perspective is off.
Peace and healing to all of you too!


Molly December 4, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I am happy to have found this place. Like the rest of you, I ‘grew up’ with a NM. I became an over-achiever and her end-of-life caregiver, in an attempt to obtain her love and approval. Never got it. It took me until age 54 to finally put a name to her behavior and associate my life-long pain with her disorder. Even worse, I regularly entered into friendships with other narcissistic persons, including an ex-husband. I tried and tried to redo my actions – still hoping to gain the love and acceptance that I never got from mom.


Jill December 8, 2014 at 10:36 am

Molly, you sound a lot like me. It took me until my late 40s to figure out what was wrong with my mother – she could be the poster child for NPD. I also married a man who was just like her in many ways – how scary is that. Fortunately, I’m divorced and remarried now to a wonderful man. But I shy away from female friendships at this point in my life (I’m 52), and I do think my mother has something to do with it. The last five years with her have been hell on earth and that time frame coincides with my lack of interest in socializing with other women. The effect these non-mothers have on us is life-long, but we have to remember that they are the ones who weren’t good enough.


Molly December 4, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I can relate to Dora’s comment: “I’m working really hard at not being suspicious and scared of female friends.” I never connected my lack of female friendships with mom’s narcissism. It makes good sense, though. After finally giving up on ever enjoying a healthy, non co-dependent intimate relationship with a man, one of my friends suggested I think about swinging the other way. My response to that? ” Great idea! Then I could have a woman tell me I’m not good enough. No thanks.”


Karl December 5, 2014 at 9:25 am

Nice to be back with my new friends, too. And another shout-out to Dr. Piper for a great website, full of wisdom and wise people, herself most of all.

Hard as it is, sad as it is, it does seems that NC is the only way with a NM. I found a certain giddy free-at-last sensation upon delivering the news and in the first days–to finally be off the end of her string. Being off it clued me in to how I much I had been on it. And how much my siblings are still going up and down like yo-yos. One thing that surprised me came a few days later. I was expecting (fearing) push back in the form of a triangulated message from a brother or sister. Some angry, accusative cry. But it didn’t come. (Still hasn’t, a month later.) And I’m chagrined to admit that the silence hurt. I wanted to be free of my NM, but I also wanted her to care enough about me to rail at my cutting off contact with her. (How messed up is that?) Getting the silent treatment was unexpected, and painful. I’m sort of amazed had how a narcissist can reflexively do the exact thing that hurts most, and gives her the greatest sense of power and control. Anyway, talking things through with my wife have helped, and my daughters, and I am once again enjoying the silence and distance–and the new-found sense of control–but this time aware that there will be a new twist from my NM down the line–whatever I least expect, whenever I least expect it.

Hang in there, everyone. We’re all good people!


JaCara Camp December 5, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Im just realizing that this is what my mother is and im 33. Still playing the struggle game with her unfortunately due the fact she has my son and will not return him.


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Dora December 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

Karl, I have the exact same situation 7 months later.

I’ve only had one indirect contact. My MD brother (GC) wrote my husband that he wanted me to have a psych evaluation because “Dora’s version of events does not coincide with reality”. My husband wrote, “I’ve personally witnessed everything Dora told the family for over two decades. It’s time for this family to start facing their vicious behavior rather than question the sanity of the person who dares criticize this way of acting”. Not one more word from anyone.

I have a great psychologist who I’ve leaned on from time to time through this NC period. Apparently my brothers reaction was classic. The scapegoat is often THE ONLY sane person, and the rest of the family will do everything it takes to “protect the castle wall” of the fraud and lies that the family is built on.

I have compassion for my siblings…particularly when I think of my pathetic subservient groveling (my whole life minus seven months) trying to be earn of my families love. A human being will do a lot to “belong” in their family.

On the other hand, I feel more horror and disgust with my family with every passing day. My psychologist tells me that is totally normal………the further I am from being “in” (so to speak) the family, the more clearly I see who they are and how terribly they have behaved. For instance, they’ve been HORRIBLE beyond belief to my saintly and very strong husband (they can’t touch him…so they fear him). Would you believe it never once occurred to me that I shouldn’t have allowed them to treat him so poorly? Unbelievable!

So yes, I sure understand the pain of the “ignoring NM”. Coping is such an “up and down” process. For the most part, I feel like I’ve escaped prison. Often I dream of everyone….anyone…in my family apologizing to me and telling me that I am missed. Well, it’s not going to happen. The slightest admission of ANY wrongdoing on their part would bring the whole “house of cards” crashing down.

My family handles guilt and shame in three ways. 1: Change all facts so that they become the victims vs. victimizers; 2: Attack; 3: Slander to any and all. That is the reason, in a nutshell, why NC is so absolutely necessary when dealing with narcissists (I think). Regardless of their apparent indifference, our “drawing the line in the sand” has provoked extreme guilt and shame… we need to protect ourselves.

I really loved and appreciated your last line, “we’re all good people!”. You know, you can learn a lot of great things by doing the OPPOSITE of what you see bad people do! I know I parented my kids with the “do the opposite” motto, and they’ve ended up extremely nice and kind people (thanks be to God).

I appreciate everyone on this site very much!


Karl December 8, 2014 at 8:56 am

Seven months of NC is quite an accomplishment–bravo, Dora! And YES to the notion of seeing the family pathology in large and small ways once you have removed yourself from the toxic dump called home. One of the worst aspects of that environment for me was that I was not allowed to have feelings. (The only one whose feelings mattered were our NM’s, of course.) Living in a warped environment, it makes perfect sense why wouldn’t see how poorly your family treated your husband until you got free of it. Which it seems you have. You sound very strong. I really admire that. It gives me strength, too. Onward!


Dora December 8, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Thank you so much Karl!


Jill December 8, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I was happy to find this site, although it’s sad to see so many of us dealing with the long-term effects of having NMs. I finally cut off contact with mine in early October, and I can relate to Karl’s feeling of giddiness. What a wonderful feeling it is to be free of her incessant criticism, demands and rages. It took me a long time (too long) to reach the point of realizing that I *had* to go NC with her for my own health (physical as well as psychological). Now I’m in the process of sorting through the wreckage as I’m finally coming to terms with the havoc she has wrought in my life for five decades. Even though I’ve only heard from her once over the past two months (an emailed “apology” for “only trying to be helpful”), my fear is that she’ll do something to try and rein me back in since the last thing a NM can tolerate is loss of control.

She’s remarkably healthy for 77 (although she’d beg to disagree) and very active for her age. But I live in dread of a phone call from the retirement home where she lives that she’s in the hospital, etc. Anyone who doesn’t understand what a NM is like would think this is terrible, but at this point in time, I don’t care what happens to her. I’ve allowed myself to become so beaten down by her that it was starting to affect me physically. I finally realized that I have a right to live a peaceful life, and I have a right to enjoy my life and live it on my terms, not hers. That will not be possible as long as I allow her in my life in any capacity. I tried over the last few years to keep her at a distance, to stick to “safe” topics of discussion with her, etc., but she repeatedly runs roughshod over the basic boundaries I’ve tried to set – namely, that I’m a GROWN WOMAN with a right to make my own decisions, etc. My first husband was an overbearing narcissist, but I am now married to a wonderful, supportive man who has quietly wondered for years why I continued to have anything to do with NM. He comes from a normal family and had never seen anything like NM before. I also have two children, and I have a close, loving, healthy relationship with both of them. NM was a powerful symbol to me of what not to do as a mother.

My parents are divorced, father is remarried. He was a somewhat enabling father, although he did try to stand up for me a few times. This usually resulted in NM’s rage being redirected briefly. He told me later in life he was reluctant to divorce her when we were kids because he was afraid she would gain custody. That may be true, although I have mixed feelings towards him for not better protecting me from NM’s abuse. Also, it was ultimately she who divorced him.

I have one brother who conveniently lives a few thousand miles away. He was the “golden child,” although he is also damaged after growing up in the volatile cesspool of anger and fear that NM created with her frequent rages and tantrums. He actually confronted NM years ago (oh the irony), and they had it out (she admitted to nothing, of course). He speaks to her on the phone a few times a month but hasn’t seen her in three years.

No matter, since her primary focus has been me anyway. My kids (who she’s had little interest in – her only grandchildren) have observed that she seems obsessed with me, directing most of her conversations (many about herself) to me, following me around rooms and invading my personal space by getting right up close to speak to me. She hijacks every conversation I’ve tried to start, bringing the subject back to herself. She “tries to help” by sharing her wisdom on every known topic, even referring to my husband and me as dumbasses once because we have several well-loved and cared-for pets instead of just one. If I have an important event, I can count on her trying to do something to spoil it or cause tension and stress (she has thrown tantrums right before weddings, funerals, at holiday gatherings, etc.). She is the champion gaslighter of all time – nothing happened the way I remember. I confronted her a few years ago over the way she treated me as a child, and her response was along the lines of “I did that?” and “That sounds terrible;” then she accused me of lying. From that point, she began a crusade to convince me that I’m nuts – I was always “angry” starting from the time I was eight months old and cried in the church nursery. My issues with her were all in my imagination; she has only wanted to help. She even started urging me to see a psychologist “for the sake of yourself and your family” (never mind that I have a wonderful relationship with them) because “you have issues” and valiantly offered to accompany me – in order to help the psychologist! I still laugh whenever I think about that.

So here I am, starting a new chapter of my life at 52. It is indeed exhilarating to be free of her, although there are a lot of convoluted feelings, such as regret over what should have been and even guilt – who cuts off her 77-year-old mother? Whenever I feel that way, I open my email file and read through some of her diatribes to me, and I instantly feel better about NC.

Thank you for the opportunity to vent, and I wish all of you strength and peace.


Dora December 8, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Jill, I’m glad your here! AND, I’m glad your in the process of getting FREE.

I’m 48, and it absolutely amazes me how quickly I could claim my life for the first time after NC. I would have thought it would take years to get to the point of freedom that I now have. It’s painful….but it’s always been painful. My overwhelming feeling is, “I’ve lost nothing” because I had nothing, and it’s been a grieving process my entire life. Enough! I’m so glad to move on and actually live life for the first time.

I’m very sorry to read your terrible story. I’m sure you know that you have the classic “engulfing NM”….mine was the “ignoring NM” so I honestly can’t relate to a lot of your experiences. I certainly relate to “you’re crazy, you’ve imagined it all”. Another classic, “you’re just so sensitive”. I know a lot of people on this site have your engulfing situation though. It sounds like a huge mind-bender. I’m routing for you! Get that firewall strong and secure :) ! I’m counting my blessings that my exit was so easy and not protested by anyone.

I do a lot of journaling to process NC. It really helps to write, and then look at the facts and issues in black and white. Sounds like you’re doing something similar thing Jill when you read your NM’s obnoxious emails/ letter.

I never knew how powerful writing can be to process and then leave the issue behind! Also, I’m thinking of Karl when I say…..we just didn’t matter at all to the NM. Writing our feelings is acknowledging our worth. I find that really hard, but really helpful. Even at 48 is transforming!

Peace, healing and strength to all my friends on this site.
Jane, I miss you and I hope you’re doing OK.


Karl December 9, 2014 at 9:05 am

Wow. Dora, you just explained something to me. A while ago, before the light bulb went on about my NM, I found this website: There’s an interesting self-compassion test (I scored low), and some suggestions on how to improve one’s self-compassion. One suggestion I tried was journaling, just ten or fifteen minutes day, looking at what troubled me and write to myself as if writing to a friend. Just a few paragraphs each day. It had a huge impact on me, and now I see it was because, being someone else’s mirror all my life, I just don’t have a developed sense of my own self–I don’t go easy on myself as I do with other people. Time to get back to journaling!

One of the things I love about you folks reading and writing here is that, though I don’t know you, if I were to say something as self-revealing as–I won’t grieve my NM’s death when it comes–I trust that you all will get that this is not because I am a monster who lacks normal human feelings, but rather, that I am sadly admitting the truth of the lack of love and connection to her. I spent my life trying to convince myself that I mattered to her, but I didn’t. She doesn’t have that in her. I was just running in place. And since I’ve stopped running, I see that, though she failed me, I am not a failure. I have that love with my wife and kids, and a few good friends and family members, just not with my mother. Wishing it (as I have for so long) just won’t make it so. Thanks for reading.


Renee December 10, 2014 at 9:50 am

Hi All,

And as this process moves along for me, I just kinda feel numb to it. It is what it is, my NM is what she is, I can and have changed me for the benefit of not only myself but for my husband and children. My nuclear family isn’t divided and fighting to ‘save grandma’s feelings’ and there is peace (well, as much as there can be with two very active, willfull teens under our roof).

As my daughter presented the American Cancer Society a check in the amount of $2,100 (her senior project which raised funds for cancer research), it was the day my dad moved ‘forward’ two years ago. And after I got over missing him and glad that he isn’t suffering any more, I let him have it. ‘Look what your granddaughter did today in your name and you let your $^&#* wife torture all of us for all of those years. And now you’re gone and powerless to fix the mess you left behind. I’m really p&$#@d at you dad.’ And that’s where it is. I’m just numb and moving through what feels like jello.

Perhaps it is true; only the good die young. The mean NMs seem to live forever. Why is that?


Jill December 10, 2014 at 11:45 am

Dora, thank you for your kind and supportive words…it really means a lot. I like your suggestion of keeping a journal, which is something I have thought about but haven’t done…just writing here is therapeutic, so I’m sure it would be very helpful. It does help to re-read my NM’s nasty emails whenever I feel bad or start to second-guess myself…it does validate my feelings and my self-worth and helps strengthen my resolve to keep her out of my life.

She is definitely an engulfing NM, although she’s been an ignoring NM at times…such as when I was a child and she’d get angry with me for some reason, she would ignore and not speak to me for days, even weeks at a time. Even if we were in the same room, she would tell my brother to ask or tell me something. Then suddenly, she would start talking to me again as if nothing ever happened. It was confusing and distressing, and even as a child, I remember wondering why she didn’t love me. She never did this with my brother, of course.

You are so right that we’ve lost nothing. Instead we are gaining by getting away from a horribly toxic force in our lives. I feel some anger at NM now for the hell she’s put me through, but mostly I feel apathy…I’m resigned to what she is and what I need to do to have a healthy, peaceful life. More power to all of us in that regard!


Karl December 11, 2014 at 5:47 am

More power to all of us indeed! (Your words really touched me.) Writing about how you felt as a child, ignored then addressed, all that gaslighting. What craziness you were subjected to. Awful as it is, it may be good for your healing to remember it. (I would like to hear Dr. Piper on subject of what is forgotten and remembered.) I sense big holes in the my early memories, probably because they were too painful, and I have extremely vivid memories of simple beautiful things, like climbing trees.

I have a question for you. You talk about rereading your NM’s nasty emails to validate your feelings and self-worth, and strengthen your resolve to keep your NM out of your life. Have you considered writing down those thoughts yourself–putting all of it in your words and reading your own words whenever you need that kind of strength? The reason I ask is that I’ve found that all of my NM’s communications (the letters are worst–especially the letter she sent to all of us, a group letter last Mother’s Day, extolling her virtues as a mother!!!!!!!!!!!!) poisonous. Just having them around has an insidious effect on me. Laura, in the Forum, writes about destroying this stuff. Ritually. I think that is great idea. Next letter that comes my way gets its own little bonfire in the backyard, perhaps with a mordant sound track in the background…the Rolling Stone’s, Mothers Little Helper. More power to you, Jill!


Susan December 11, 2014 at 7:08 am

I am 57 years old and I am reading these comments I never knew what narcissism meant until this week I can relate to everything that’s written here my mothers in a nursing home and manipulating all the people there and all the friends and family she’s ruined every event in my life and I never knew how to deal with this thank you for sharingI know know where to start the healing


Renee December 11, 2014 at 10:09 am

Just this very morning, I got a work call and we discussed our business.

Then, the poison. ‘Hey, why don’t you call your mother (my MN) and let her know your daughter is in the paper. It’d be a nice thing to do for her.’ And then the exclaimer, he said, ‘and I don’t want to hear about all the family mess. Just reach out to your mother, be the bigger person …… she’s your mother.’

And along this journey, typically I was be mortified and crushed that again, it was up to me to make amends, forgive and move forward, etc. Frankly, although I was irritated, I firmly stated, ‘my mother is psychologically ill and has inflicted abuse on my children (regardless of me!). She has built this scenario and until she finds help and health, she can perish as a lonely, mean, bitter, pathetic old woman’. I wasn’t mean or ‘spitty’, just firm that this is my NM’s dragon.

The he pulled out the bigger gun, ‘well, your mom’s health is failing. She has many medical issues and may not be here for much longer.’ I told him that I was aware she’s had several heart surgeries (or whatever) and has a canister for breathing and then reported that I had just seen her a couple of days ago driving a car and she was spiffed up with her jewelry, make-up, earrings, lipstick ……. I told him, ‘yes, she’s quite close to the end’.

And, as those blind to the sickening charms of the N world, he scoffed me off. And as he did, I again, firmly told him that his suggestions of this nature are best kept to himself. I did ask one thing, ‘hey, if you see the hearse roll up for a pickup at her house, would you let me know?’ He mentioned that he’s sure my sister (GC) would let me know and I reminded him that when my dad passed away, I got a text the next day (remember, we all live in a very small town!) so I’m not counting on much from her.

Yes, I’m a bit ruffled but for the first time I’m strong enough to stand up and tell people to stop making ludicrous suggestions when they are not knowledgeable enough to this illness.

I am valid and will no longer tolerate suggestions that undermine my and my family’s recovery from the horrors of my NM.

and the journey continues …………………………


Dora December 13, 2014 at 5:38 am

Bravo Renee! I admire your clarity in this tough situation! Torture being in the same small town. Torture!
I’m curious, how many siblings do you have…….and how are they all treating you and you NM? What’s their relationship with your kids? It was truly horrifying to hear about GC ignoring your beautiful daughter in the doctors office. What’s the “party line” for your extended family?
I admire your references to “illness”. I wish I could get to that compassionate place. All I can think of is “pathological pride”. My husband says that my whole family has had a lobotomy due to their pride.
This is such a hard time of year. It always has been….but this will be our first NC Christmas. Unlike your family, mine has been great to my kids (heck, they’re the nicest people in the whole wide world). They tried to get my older kids to go to my sisters (1 mile away), but they all ignored her email. I was amazed. I’m wondering if they’ll try at Christmas. Brag alert: my kids are so nice and classy! It’s a mind-bender for them to be in this twisted situation.
I asked my sister (the family attack dog, the totally enmeshed child) for six words back in May, “I will not attack you anymore”. For that, I was attacked (of course). I helped her through the loss of her beautiful son (10 years of illness) by being there 24/7 (while raising 6 children myself). When he was sick and she needed me, I was great. The minute his situation stabilized, I was attacked with everything she’s got (“the whole family thinks……”). Sick! Why?!
I established NC near the 1-year anniversary of my nephew’s death. I said, “I just can’t take it anymore…your life is starting to stabilize, and it’s time to be attacked”. I never reacted to any of their attacks, or their years of giving me the cold shoulder about something my parents (both extreme N) stirred up. The constant help I gave my sister was extreme, and way beyond what charity would have required.
So now in our little community I am the cruel and vicious sister who has arbitrarily “cut off” my grieving sister.
I haven’t heard one single word from my mother. Not on my birthday, holidays…nothing.
I think God is giving me a special Grace to not care one iota what people think. That’s not me!
I’m going to see my sister at a wedding next weekend. My first encounter. Like so many of you, I am horrified at the thought of behaving like my late father/ mother. Constant “cold shoulders” to EVERYONE because of anything. I’ve never been like that, and it’s one of the reasons I was so nice after all of the cruel attacks.
What do I do? I’m honestly afraid of her creating a scene.
Guilt in my family = outrage, indignation, victimhood, slander, attacks.
Thanks my friends!


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Becky December 12, 2014 at 11:25 pm

My childhood was hell living with an NM and a father which enabled her reckless, hurtful behavior. Even in 2014, she still refuses to admit the hell she caused our family. My dad is an abused man. She won’t get help because everyone else is crazy to her. I want her out of my life.


Jude December 14, 2014 at 9:54 am

Hi Fellow brave, courageous survivor’s of the NM. Like many I just discovered this at 54! I just knew something was terribly wrong as the years went by. Like another friend, I too, struggled very hard to make female friends. In fact today,


Jude December 14, 2014 at 10:25 am

Jude.. In fact today I felt so alone. She uses each of us ti pit one off against another. I’m in self-pity mode and angry at her Constant tactics. I have lost my vitality my Dad asked:”What has become of the happy, funny Jude”. Constant put-downs & intrusions into my life. I turned to alcohol to cope & my olda sus to a horrendous religious cult
Both of us began to skip down that road of losing our authentic selves.
Id say the hardest thing about this is nit feekjng guilty when we try to break free as the nastiness(thru using my sibling’s or my ‘out-in the open problem with an evening tipple have me down as seriously ill!!) my shock was going to get help & my peers stating I’m not as bad as them. With emotional scars so so deep, I cannot even begin to express my joy @ such a supportive group and I have Hope that actually maybe I Am that lovely person friends & patients have told me I am. I try to ignore the fact she us back from her annual trip to Sis in Oz which(like the other writer experienced), usually happens without telling one/other of us! Then we, previously, very close siblings, are yet again putted against another! Jealousy we each have towards the other! It is totally insane-mad making stuff! I kept wondering just how people lived me so much but U was such a huge failure in both my parents lives! My lovely ex reminded I had been a trained nurse for a ling time. She is a snob. I cannot stand the way she behaves yet I FEEL GUULTY COMING OUT ABOUT THIS. She said recently that I wasn’t to tell anyone about myself! U gave enough knowledge about abuse ti feel she has emotionally abused me all my life and she is so cleverly tixuc that you find yourself being charmed when the light if her favour just shines on you for a moment. But that only stays if you behave like an exhausted little simpering puppet trying to get scraps of love. Now she is back: ni contact since I cut the cords Spiritually. THIS hurts, when last very happy; went running in phone straight ti my abuser: told her I was lonely but I could see that I could meet someone & be happy.Her reply:”you’ve tried that”. I said I was lonely & homesick for family & Scotland. Her reply”you’ve tried that”!..i never used to reply but this time took courage & stated:”People CAN CHANGE MUM”!! To which just heard a nasty evil grunting disapproving sound! I still am trying to bounce back from that one! But am trying to really cutfree & make my home down here in Sth West England away from ALL MY FAMILY.loneliness bad as find making friends hard due to such hammered self-esteem from her manipulations & madmaking subtle cruelty. People say I’m lively but I don’t feel it! I’m not giving up. I’m breaking away; hence her nastiness. Anytime I get confudent/happy she tries to bring me down. My heart is broken so often that my heart funds it hard to trust people but instead I keep trysting her…or USED TO!


Jude December 14, 2014 at 10:25 am

Jude.. In fact today I felt so alone. She uses each of us ti pit one off against another. I’m in self-pity mode and angry at her Constant tactics. I have lost my vitality my Dad asked:”What has become of the happy, funny Jude”. Constant put-downs & intrusions into my life. I turned to alcohol to cope & my olda sus to a horrendous religious cult
Both of us began to skip down that road of losing our authentic selves.
Id say the hardest thing about this is nit feekjng guilty when we try to break free as the nastiness(thru using my sibling’s or my ‘out-in the open problem with an evening tipple have me down as seriously ill!!) my shock was going to get help & my peers stating I’m not as bad as them. With emotional scars so so deep, I cannot even begin to express my joy @ such a supportive group and I have Hope that actually maybe I Am that lovely person friends & patients have told me I am. I try to ignore the fact she us back from her annual trip to Sis in Oz which(like the other writer experienced), usually happens without telling one/other of us! Then we, previously, very close siblings, are yet again putted against another! Jealousy we each have towards the other! It is totally insane-mad making stuff! I kept wondering just how people lived me so much but U was such a huge failure in both my parents lives! My lovely ex reminded I had been a trained nurse for a ling time. She is a snob. I cannot stand the way she behaves yet I FEEL GUULTY COMING OUT ABOUT THIS. She said recently that I wasn’t to tell anyone about myself! U gave enough knowledge about abuse ti feel she has emotionally abused me all my life and she is so cleverly tixuc that you find yourself being charmed when the light if her favour just shines on you for a moment. But that only stays if you behave like an exhausted little simpering puppet trying to get scraps of love. Now she is back: ni contact since I cut the cords Spiritually. THIS hurts, when last very happy; went running in phone straight ti my abuser: told her I was lonely but I could see that I could meet someone & be happy.Her reply:”you’ve tried that”. I said I was lonely & homesick for family & Scotland. Her reply”you’ve tried that”!..i never used to reply but this time took courage & stated:”People CAN CHANGE MUM”!! To which just heard a nasty evil grunting disapproving sound! I still am trying to bounce back from that one! But am trying to really cutfree & make my home down here in Sth West England away from ALL MY FAMILY.loneliness bad as find making friends hard due to such hammered self-esteem from her manipulations & madmaking subtle cruelty. People say I’m lively but I don’t feel it! I’m not giving up. I’m breaking away; hence her nastiness. Anytime I get confudent/happy she tries to bring me down. My heart is broken so often that my heart funds it hard to trust people but instead I keep trysting her…or USED TO!


Jude December 14, 2014 at 10:39 am

Sorry everyone about all the typing errors up above. I have visual dyslexia & need stronger glasses. I meant to write;”toxic”.


sarah December 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Just realised what my mother is. I am 47. Your stories could be mine. The sheer relief of knowing I am not alone and not insane or horrible or paranoid is amazing. I have a brother (GC) who has not spoken to me for many years. I thought I must be awful. I have never commented on the internet before but felt I had to. Only people in this situation understand. Jude don’t give up. Ever. The NMs make us feel worthless. If your own mother doesn’t love you how horrid must you be? All part of their plan.I have 2 girls of my own to protect now. Being aware is half the battle. I just thought it was me. So sorry you have all had these mothers but so relieved to find people who understand.


Renee December 15, 2014 at 10:09 am

Sweet Dora, even with a lot under my bridge, my heart sang when you acknowledged my experiences and validated me. Please know that while sometimes it feels like I have everything in a good place, I’m teary as I script this.

I deserved not one act of my NM’s, GC’s, or enabling dad’s acts. I don’t mean to whine, it just still spears my heart. And revelation, no wonder I’ve always been an advocate for ‘underdogs’! But the strength of the world relies on those of us who actually can shoulder the burdens unfairly shoved on us and somehow slap a smile on when we’re weeping inside for a caring family.

It all started to click after a friend of mine gave me an article from Parish Miller. As I mentioned many posts back, I actually felt like someone had spied on me my whole life …… almost stalked. I was in my 50s! And I went through everything everyone has said; my parents always asked me, ‘what’s wrong with you, we’d like to take you to a psychologist to help you, did we not hold you enough as a baby, etc.?’ Funny, my NM would tell me stories of when I was an infant and toddler how I would fight against being held, I didn’t like to be touched. I’m kinda piecing it together that I already ‘arrived’ innately knowing my ‘keepers’ touch would be painful, turning into emotional pain. Wow, kinda intense. Just kinda came to me in this post.

Anyways, I have one younger sister. She was always very sickly growing up. While I was ‘bigger’ and athletic (and in the 60s there wasn’t an athletic cut for teens so clothing was a struggle for me), my sister was very petite. I always felt I was the son they never had. It was up to me to mow the grass, wash the cars, do ‘boy’ things while my sister barely dusted furniture and baked cookies. It was clear that she was the baby of the family, always would be, and she ate it up as my parents loved having her.

I vividly recall my NM crabbing that I wasn’t going to just hang around the house after school every day (now that I was in high school). So I went out and was me. I was a Varsity cheerleader as a sophomore (a rarity), active in student government, in all kinds of clubs, went to parties, worked with charities and fundraising. I rarely was home because I was out doing productive stuff. Hilariously in my senior year, my NM b*&$ed that I used the house for a ‘check in’ station, enough to change my clothes and head out.

My sister barely graduated from high school. She wasn’t popular and I really don’t know who her friends were. Once at a game I was cheering at she came into the gym drunk as a skunk. I sheltered her, took care of her, and never told my parents. Looking back, I think she struggled to find herself. She once even said, ‘I shouldn’t be alive’. I don’t know what that meant but I wasn’t aware of what she was doing.

I remember my sister visiting me at college. We were getting ready to come home and my NM told me to take care of her, my sister is all she had. Whoa! And when I would come home, my sister had completely taken over my room; my dresser was filled with her enormous wardrobe of clothes (because she still lived at home) and my closet stuffed. I had to live out of my suitcase on the floor. And she despised when I would come home. I could feel it ….. like I took attention off of her for a simple weekend!

We are just different people. I really don’t like my sister as a person. She’s mean and snippy and uppity. I think she wanted to be a good aunt to my children but when her husband had several inappropriate ‘incidents’ with my oldest, instead of making it clear and calling him out on it (because I was afraid of severing myself from parents), I just kept the children away from him.

There is no relationship with my sister. I don’t care for the way she treats people. She would only invite x amount of people for thanksgiving dinner because that’s all the china place settings she has. Me, on the other hand, after I run out of dishware, it’s onto paper plates. There’s always room in my home for another one or many people. I could go on forever but I think I’ve gagged up enough to enter boredom for readers. I think the fact that when my dad passed away, the best I got from her was a meager text. That says it all.

I believe there is dual triangulation; communication goes through my sister to my mother and communication to my mother goes through my sister. It’s whacked. It’s just as they want it to be; my NM wants a forever baby and my GC sister wants to be the forever baby. I was just the obstacle even though I’ve achieved 1,000% more than any of them put together …… and not to out-do them, but I’m just being me. Because my NM indicated I was dead to her, I still maintain my manners and pass along messages to her through my sister. I really don’t know if my NM gets them but all I can do is put it out there. Triangulation again. Makes my sister feel important ……. and if that’s what validates her, rock it! I believe my sister is whoring herself out for the inheritance ~~ in the end, the Divine knows and heaven help them both when they face their earthly acts.

If you’re referencing my ‘extended family’ as my in-laws, they maintain a position we have to be ‘bigger’ and take the higher road until my NM lashes out onto them …… it’s quite humorous! During my dad’s decline, my NM, in order to stay powerful, didn’t want any visitors. My husband’s dad wanted to go over and visit with my dad, pray with him, and my NM forbade it. This set of in-laws are ‘high’ in the church …….. do you hear the missile started to launch? So after my dad passed away, my NM found comfort in a church and began telling her fellow worshippers how my husband’s family completely abandoned my dad and didn’t visit him or pray for him. Well, now its a different story for my husband’s dad and wife, how dare my NM say untruthful things about them!! LOL!! Apparently what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the Christian gander (no offense to anyone!).

Dora~ I’ve found that people receive the message about psychological illness better than the message my mother is whacked. Mental health is beginning to be accepted as an illness and just not a koo-koo’s nest. I kinda don’t feel that it is compassion, my NM is ill, as my GC sister. It is what it is. Fire needs air ……

As for your quest, only you can really decide what to do. Even as much as we share with each other, we all have had unimaginable undercurrents that have brought us to the island of recovery. As you get used to and find comfort in creating, demanding, and saying NO!, it will become less painful and second nature to you. It just takes time. Even though you’re ending a relationship that never was, in your mind there was. Grief and loss. Feel it, cry, scream into a pillow (I threw up a lot!), get it out. And it comes out over a long period of time. You may even begin to link things together that baffled you over your entire life (I always referred to myself as the ‘black sheep’ of the family before I even knew about narcasissism!).

How important is your attendance to the wedding? Is it more important than your emotional health and welfare? I know early in my discovery I was still crumbly, whiny, whimpy, just how I was trying to deal with something that I didn’t really have tools or a guide map for. If I saw my NM, I fled, unable to face her. I feared her going nuts on me, creating a scene (read my story about the grocery store …… back in October 2013). Now, feeling stronger and healthier, I almost pine for an interaction. I want her to see I am as strong as she feared and she is no longer a contender in my league. I will watch her shrink from me. She can say whatever she wants. I give her no power over me or my family …… so now she has no power. Get it?

If it’s too early in your recovery to take it on, take care of you. Move in a direction and take action that takes care of you. Your husband and children will support you. That’s a huge support system. You’ll most likely they will rally to protect you as you have protected them.

I’ve also found that people turn a deaf ear when you try to explain your side of the situation. What works for me are statements like; ‘My mother is a very psychologically ill person’, ‘My sister enables my mother’s emotional illness’, etc. And I don’t argue. It takes two people to argue so if you don’t engage, what’s to argue?

Lastly, in the instances when I trip across the loons, I’m nice as pie. It drives ‘em nuts! Short, sweet, ‘snow white’ happy, they don’t know what to do because they’re expecting a fight! It short circuits their plan of venom. And we thought our young toddler’s temper tantrums were difficult to endure ………. ridiculous when it’s your 76 year old NM.

The best to you Dora …………. you can do it.

Peace, healing, balance, love.


Dora December 17, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Renee, I found this so helpful I read it several times. Thank you with all my heart! (You’re an amazing writer!) I really needed that last paragraph. I do have to go to this wedding, and I just haven’t known what “tone” to take. Your description is perfect…”short, sweet, snow-white happy”.

I’d like to say I can’t believe your story…but of course I can because I relate to it so much. I can tell that you’re a very strong woman…I am too. Yet, when it comes to our family of origin, it is truly amazing how much we both (and all of us on this site) have endured before we’re finally able to say “enough”. (Btw, so sorry about your brother-in-law!).

Almost all of us in our late 40’s, early 50’s when we finally go NC. We stay so long and put up with so much abuse because there really is no stronger desire than the desire to belong in your family. I remember telling an acupuncturist 20 years ago that I needed help with depression. She asked if there was a reason. I told her that my parents had kicked me out of the family (during a life-threatening pregnancy, no less). She said that in Asia that is the equivalent of having your parents kill you. She nailed it.

I too had no idea that my mother was a narcissist until about 2 years ago. The only time I ever felt any ability to identify the problem was when I saw the movie “Ordinary People” (Mary Tyler Moore) in the 80’s. I didn’t know what the heck the diagnosis was…but that was my mom. Seething hatred towards me….euphoria around my GC brother. Charming, attractive, social climber….and empty.

When I think about, “why me?” I realize that my parents could not figure out a way that they were superior to me and my husband. That was a true torture for them. They surrounded themselves with people they were “helping” and “saving”….when ripping them to shreds when they walked out the door. All of the spouses of my siblings have terrible family backgrounds…….my parents to the rescue! They’d console them, give them books like “Toxic Parents”. My head spins just thinking about the level of hypocrisy.

And yes, I agree about not getting into it with others. Where would we even begin? The con is so sick, twisted, devious and deceptive.

Thank you so much again Renee. I’m going to read your note a few more times before this darn wedding!


sarah December 18, 2014 at 6:56 am

Sorry to jump in on your conversation but just the relief of reading those in the same situations is immense after decades of feeling so alone. And with Christmas just round the corner…a traditionally “happy family” time I am so relieved to have found this site. Also we go to my NM for the Christmas break…more tradition…needs to be broken I think as my two girls have already been earmarked their roles – GC & scapegoat – even tho the youngest is only 2. It’s disgusting and we wouldn’t put up with it from anyone other than our mothers. I am still getting my head round all this but have avoided her for nearly 2 weeks and the reactions from her are just beginning….


Karl December 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm


The more voices the better here, especially the new ones. We keep each other a little more sane. Thank you all for writing.

Ah, Christmas. My unhappiness during these holidays has long made me feel like I was the problem, when the real problem, I now see, was a whacked family dynamic courtesy of my NM.

I’ve been swimming in a raging river all my life, going in all directions except to the shore on either side. It’s right there. We have a right to get the #@%! out of the water!

Kids are smart, and grandparents don’t have nearly the power and influence over them that parents do, regardless of their age. Interactions with your NM can become teachable moments for your girls as they grow up. That’s how it went with my two girls, who are young women now. They’ve got the picture with my NM. I’m NC with her and they aren’t. Somehow it works. I feel very strongly that my daughters have my back.

Good luck!


Renee December 18, 2014 at 9:25 am

Being able to help one another is just the greatest gift! I’ve learned so much and my tribulations mirrored has helped me to ‘settle down’ and be more proactive and less reactive.

I’ll be keeping you in thought at you approach a difficult weekend. I do recall when I first entered the arena of taking care of me, I questioned everything; was I too mushy, too sensitive, too, too, too, too, too!!!! I think I was just too new in my new shoes! This is a super duper big step for you and you can prevail through this. Cut yourself some slack, it’s a refreshed ‘you’ you’re stepping into and you have to get used to it. It even may feel uncomfy (I know if I didn’t run around like a crazy, pleasing chicken, I didn’t feel right ….. which was WRONG!) and you are in a ‘training ground’ for you. Breathe and lots of chilled bottled water.

Here’s what I learned about the security of bottled water. It is a distraction in time. When you need a moment to process, think, absorb and you’re not sure how to respond, the time it takes to undo the cap, bring the bottle to your lips, feel the cool and refreshing water soothe your dry mouth and throat, running down the inside of your core, it truly can settle you down. If you notice, after you intake liquid, your body wants to either inhale or exhale, both settling actions. It, very often, has calmed me to where I can just let it be or respond as needed. This is a tool in negotiations, therapy, public speaking, etc. The very simple, unthought act of sipping water but incredibly powerful. Just something to think about.

Glad you’re hear. This is your safe place to fall and find yourself. It’s been a couple of years of process for me but I feel so much better about it all. I’m sad that we all missed out on having great mothers (and fathers) ~~ like us!! ~~ but it is what it is. NMs just don’t have it in them to give. They are ill. It just is.

It stabs at my heart that you see that your children also have been assigned roles. Please know I am NO EXPERT and my experiences are mine. Knowing what I know, I deeply urge you to take action to break the cycle before it engulfs your children.

You know what this feels like, the horror. I believe it is urgent you must intervene and protect your children, by any means.

As I started to take my life back from my NM, my husband and I started to see her go after our children; giving a gift to one and not to the other because my NM deemed my other daughter to have ‘bad behavior’. My dad always played dumb, the dumb delivery boy. I’d always ask him and he said he didn’t know anything about it ~ how darn convenient!

I gutted up and called her (NM) and said no more. My NM said she’ll do as she pleases and that’s when I told her that all of her gifts, cards, notes, and contact will now go through us (me and my husband). Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, she did not like that. My children know that if a call comes to their cell as restricted, they let it go to voice mail. That was their choice, I didn’t dictate that. And now we’re at a place where they know they are not allowed to go to grandma’s house, that if they want to see her, it must be on neutral ground and that daddy and I must know about it. Sadly but I’m relieved, they don’t want anything to do with her.

Sara~ it’s hard. One of the hardest things you’ll ever do and that you never dreamed you’d have to do. I don’t want to feel hammered about it, I just feel the urgency for you to protect your children. Most survivors of NMs are the best parents (everyone, pat yourselves on the back!!) and I sense that you are a good mom. The way you’re discovering you’ve been treated is the last thing you’d want your own beloved children to feel. You can do it.

It’s a time of caution for me. Even though my ducks appear in a row, my stomach sours each time the children’s birthdays roll around as I don’t know if my NM will pull a stunt or just recoil venomously like a snake, will strike but shaking it’s rattle. My oldest turns 18 tomorrow and the mailbox is a scary spot until the birthdays pass. My NM will not ruin our celebration but once bitten, twice shy! I humbly ask the community keeps me in thought, sending support and courage for the next couple of days. I would really appreciate it.

The best to all.


Dora December 19, 2014 at 4:19 am

Renee, I’m praying for you a lot today!


Renee December 19, 2014 at 8:32 am

Dora~ Thanks so much …. and as with you. This is a weekend for both of us!


Karl December 19, 2014 at 9:51 am

Noted, Renee! Sending healing thoughts to both you and Dora this weekend. You are both so strong. Best wishes–courage and support!–to you both.


Renee December 19, 2014 at 1:50 pm



Dora December 19, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Thank you dear Karl and Renee!


LJ December 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Hello! Thank you for discussing this topic here. It is reassuring that we are not alone!! Still wrapping my brain around the horrific abuse and incest perpetrated by the NM, a.k.a. “X-NM.” I fired her last year, after no contact with her for 15 years. While I knew about abuse starting at the age of 8, when the repetitive bladder infections began, I had a vague sense that there was much more hiding in Pandora’s box.

Last year, a severe fall with multiple injuries forced me into a wheelchair for an extended time. The sense of being trapped with no safe way to ambulate or take care of myself in the most basic of ways forced the lid open. Flashbacks prompted regression to age 2 for the span of a week, and abuse memories floated up in relation to potty training. The better part of the last year has been focused on understanding it, coping with it, and moving beyond it as I work to heal physically. I am writing a book about my journey to healing, having gained insights, a lot of dot connecting, and serendipitous stumbles into information online.

This site came up in a search for understanding the similarities of narcissism with Aspergers. While they are polar opposites; they have many similar traits. Adult Aspies are talkative tech headed 8 year olds in grown up bodies. They operate much like children, with a lack of understanding of generally understood social cues that makes them stand out. They also have a great deal of trouble with organization and order in general. Aspies are the victims that the Narci’s tend to bully.

From the time he arrived, my partner of 2 years has brought a lot of chaos into my life. His gentle but childlike ways demand a level of emotional attentiveness reminiscent of mothering my sons when they were preschoolers years ago. We are both artists, and while initially our talks center around ideas and what we could create together, they rapidly degenerate. They end up in the weird encyclopedic dumping ground of obscurities nobody but an uber geek or a Trekkie would think of. It rarely lets up. His repetitive information dumps on off-the-wall topics become tolerated conversations whereupon I’m disassociating, floating in the corner of the room. (Also did that when XNM was perpetrating abuse.) “Aspies” are typically good in a crisis, and generally my partner has been. It’s been one hell of a year; we are both trying to figure out where “normal” went. Maybe someone finally succeeded in bleaching it off of the setting on the washer. Much like with the X-NM, when I look back, I see a lot of his behaviors that contributed to the situation, that yes, led to the injuries sustained and to our homeless tent adventure of last winter. I do my best to make light of things so they aren’t so awful, but at times, it’s more challenge than I can conquer. Being the daughter of the Princess of Doom is not easy, but somewhere I wonder if even mentioning it makes me become like her.

I’m just trying to figure all of this out and heal.

Yesterday I finally found words for ONE thing he does that mirrors her behavior. He uses the same tactics of emotional one-up-man-ship that the X-NM uses. I working up some grief and releasing it, crying in my room, while he was in the next room. He came in when he heard me. I wasn’t ready to talk yet, had just started working those tears out. He pushed and pushed, with “What can I do?” and then when I couldn’t articulate it, he exploded into his own rant! My tears and feelings were hijacked, becoming a vehicle for his own emotional outburst, which completely overlays any reason for my own emotions, thereby invalidating them and me. She did the exact same thing.

After 15 years away from her, I am doing the math and discovering that my current partner is not the first to have Aspie traits or to use this pattern of emotional hijackery. And although he isn’t vindictive, he has some traits and behaviors that mirror hers in other ways. They are typical Aspie traits, yet the result of my physical and emotional reaction is THE SAME. He’s not the only one; there are at least 2 more relationships I’ve had with this ‘type’. Upon leaving each of those relationships, I swore to never have another, prefer being single forever than have a partner pushing my invisible buttons to undo what I am trying to heal. Yet, here I am. I managed to be relationship free for 4 years before we met. Since he has paid all the bills during my convalescence, and often reminds me in his meltdowns that he is doing everything I am neither in a position to leave, much less work or have an income yet. I am trying to figure this out without the sense of feeling trapped looming over me. It’s much better than last winter, while wheelchair camping in a tent, but I still feel trapped. I can at least get in the car and drive away. But having to do so is another kind of stress; as I don’t walk well or have a sense of confidence in moving yet, unless it’s in the therapy pool.

Does anyone else see correlations with these two types of people in their lives? Is this some weird sense of unconscious gravitation toward what is familiar, even if it’s torture? Part of me feels like no matter what, I’ll never be free of her; and that no matter who is in my life, she is always there. I can’t wrap my brain around conceiving a child for your own wicked means and gain, only to torture and abuse her for having ideas that you didn’t create for her. Even if that idea is as simple and basic as the need to go to the bathroom.


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