Adult Children of Narcissists

by Michelle Piper

Adult Children of Narcissists (ACON’s) sometime fear that narcissism breeds narcissism.

While this may hold true in a minority of cases, it is not always what happens, especially when a child grows to realize that the family he or she was brought up in is not the norm. You may realize and that your childhood experiences are not something you want to replicate in the new life you are making for yourself.

Narcissistic parents are incredibly jealous and envious of their children when they see them grow and develop into an independent self. As you may know, they will do anything in their power to keep you with them as long as possible, to keep stroking their thirsty but fragile egos.

What happens when you grow up, venture out onto your own (reluctantly allowed to do so by your narcissistic parent) and realize that life outside of that narcissistic bubble isn’t what real life is about? It is enough to make anybody’s head reel from the contradictions of what “love” was when you were growing up, to what “love” actually is.

When you, an adult child of narcissistic parents, grows up, you may feel something is wrong but cannot necessarily identify what that is. You may have always associated love and appreciation with conforming to the demands of your parents and therefore assume that is how it all works.

You were “parentified” as a kid, taking on the role of a parent to be emotionally and psychologically responsible for the well-being of your narcissistic parent, when it really should have been the other way around.

You may not have realized the stigmatizing effects that this has had on you until you grew up into your own person. It takes a toll on the self-esteem, self-concept, self-worth, and altogether life satisfaction. During childhood, siblings often mistake “parentification” as favoritism and resent or compete with you.  Quite the burden, I’d say.

There are typically two types of responses displayed by parentified children. Let me know if these sound familiar.

You have the compliant response and the siege response.

The compliant response is much what it sounds like, complacency reigns supreme in your adult life. You may spend a great deal of time caring for others (much like you had to do growing up), always trying to please those around you, and do whatever it takes to maintain a harmonious atmosphere, which usually means that your needs are put on the back burner. This may have caused you to be self-deprecating, feeling that you can give and give, but it will never be good enough.

Then there is the siege response, the complete opposite of the compliant adult child of a narcissist. If this is/was you, then you were probably defiant and rebellious, protecting yourself by becoming less sensitive or walled off and extremely independent.

You would do whatever you had to do to manipulate others and treat them as if they are the parents who wanted you to meet their every expectation. This is more or less a passive-aggressive attack on your parents through other people, doing to others what you wish you could’ve done to your narcissistic parent.

The fear of abandonment is a common theme among children with a narcissistic parent, as you may know. Always having to earn love from them and knowing that it can be taken away if the needs of your parent are not met is a heavy load for any child to carry, especially when you are the one that needs to be nurtured, shown empathy, and be taken care of.

This can carry on into adulthood, feeling that you need to perform to the standards set by your spouse or significant other. You might feel that you are only there to serve your counterpart, always feeling less skilled and deserving than the other, and doing whatever is needed to prove yourself in the relationship.

In many families with a narcissistic parent, children are used as pawns and played off one another for the amusement of the parent. If you have brothers and/or sisters this may be familiar to you. There is typically a golden child and one or more scapegoats. Usually, the daughters of narcissistic mothers are chosen as the scapegoats, while the son(s) are chosen as the golden child(ren).

Your narcissistic mother may have cast you in all of these roles, abruptly changing your purpose when it suited her needs. This sudden demotion or promotion can be enraging or devastating to a child. Which role or roles did you play?

The golden child is the extension of the narcissistic parent, the perfect child that can do no wrong and is mirrored as a replication of the parent’s wonderfulness. Proper boundaries are not made between the golden child and the narcissistic parent, giving a sense of oneness between the two that leaves little or no room for the child to develop his or her own identity. As this adult child of a narcissist grows, he or she feels entitled to this same treatment, expecting others to act in the same way the parent did. Sound familiar?

Then there is the scapegoat, the outcast, the family member or members that take the blame for anything and everything that goes wrong. This child can never measure up to the golden child, even if he or she has greater accomplishments or does better in their life than the puppet of the parent.

Scapegoats are always seeking approval only to be turned down and made to feel inadequate for even attempting to outshine the golden child. This can cause a major rift between siblings, always competing with one another in a lose-lose situation where the referee is not fairly judging the players. Does that hit close to home?

As the scapegoat grows and ventures out into the world of freedom, they have a firmer grasp on their independence than the golden child does, as that child has never been allowed to be independent in their life.

I guess you can say that, retrospectively, the scapegoat is the lucky one. You may or may not agree. Typically, scapegoats can break free from the twisted and distorted dynamics of their dysfunctional family, and break the ties binding them to the abusive life that they were forced to lead. They have more of an opportunity to create a healthy life outside of their family.

However, the burdens they carried from childhood can still play a role in their adult lives. In the workplace, the scapegoat has a tendency to be overworked and underpaid even if their work is superior to others. They can be marginalized and never have the sense that they fit in comfortably with those around them, much like how they felt during childhood.

Scapegoats often do realize that this is a problem and are more apt to seek out professional help and psychotherapy than their other family members. If you happened to be the scapegoat in your family and have taken the steps to recover, you may have sought support from many different sources including meditation, spirituality, and truly loving relationships. What things have helped you to heal and have a better life? I would greatly appreciate your feedback.

With your narcissistic parent, you were most likely devalued and extremely under-appreciated. In the larger world away from the old narcissistic family system, you have the opportunity to be valued for your opinions, values and needs.

You find you can find others who allow you to express yourself and give a nurturing response to your own beliefs and needs. It can help you to recognize that you are an adequate human with positive attributes and skills to share with the world.

You learn that it is not your fault that your parent did not love you or show any empathy towards you, which is something that you really need—to be rid of the guilt and weight you have borne for so long.

I think The Beatles had it right: all you need is love.  And, for those who had narcissistic parents, sometimes it takes awhile to figure out what love is.

If you found this post helpful, please click the “Like” button.

{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

lucy January 28, 2015 at 9:45 am

I’m 77 years old and realized at this late age that my mother was narcissistic. She made me the “golden child”, and I helped in the house and practically raised my younger brother, who is 10 years my junior. My older sister (by 4 years) was the scapegoat and is also narcissistic, dishonest and an hysteric. Similar to my mother, but mother was honest. This sister tried to kill me more times than I like to remember. Mother told me of incidents that I was too young to remember. My sister always threatened me not to tell, and I don’t remember if I did or not, as I was always afraid of her. We haven’t spoken for 4 years and I plan to keep it this way. My mother treated me like I didn’t exist except to criticize me for anything she could.

As a result of my upbringing I am a giver and doer for everyone but myself, essentially a people pleaser. My masters degree was in social work and I know I really didn’t reach my potential, wishing I had realized about my mother much sooner. My father was a better parent, but he didn’t protect me either from my abusive sister. I believe he cared about me, but wouldn’t dare interfere with my mother’s emotional neglect. Naturally, both parents are dead.

I’ve had serious sleeping problems, and depression for most of my adult life. My hope is that realizing now about my mother will help solve some of these issues as well as others.

Thank you for listening to my story and others’. It’s validating to read similar stories and that I’m not alone.

Reply

molly May 12, 2015 at 11:42 am

Your scapegoat may not be as dishonest as your honest mother led you to believe. Narcissists are known liars much of the time

Reply

Maria January 28, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Your blog has helped me so much…thank you! I found therapy and reading books helped me a ton. Also choosing different friendships and relationships than the ones I used to choose. I am still learning how to ‘mother’ myself, and it is not always easy. But I try…and my self-compassion is growing. Today, I managed to tell my mother that the issues she confronted me with might be something she can discuss with a therapist or a trusted friend of her age, not me as her CHILD. As always with her, I am anticipating a delayed, passive-aggressive criticizing response. At best, I will be ignored – like I have been mostly during my life if I dared to speak up for myself.

Reply

C February 12, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Your blog and emails have been an amazing discovery for me, thank you.

I think I am the Scapegoat child, because I was always determined to break away and have a happy life, plus I was always the “difficult” one or “less intelligent” than my brother (despite being in the end the one to get the best grades). So to answer your question “what things have helped you to heal and have a better life?”…

Luckily for me, at 13 I had the opportunity to go to boarding school. So I spent a lot of time age 13-18, living away from my mother. Of course we still had a lot of contact; she wasn’t too far away so would visit, and we spoke a lot on the phone/ wrote letters, and I was home for the holidays. But it did give me some early independence and then critically, I made some amazing friends during those years that I am still close to now (we did live together a lot of the time, after all)…

I then went to uni, and then moved to the city after that for my first job… so I was able to be a bit separate from my NM again. It wasn’t easy – she was always ‘there’, calling me/ texting me/ emailing me/ arranging visits etc. and i’ve been sucked in so so many times over the last 10 years… but that space I did have gave me some perspective, and my amazing friends who have just given so much fun and support over the years, have saved me. And then meeting my now husband, having my own child, reading books, travelling, learning how to exercise and feed myself well… everything outside of my NM just gets better and better so I have a lot to enjoy and be thankful for. I always feel a bit sad that she’s the one missing chink, but at the same time, grateful i’ve been able to make a life for myself, get away, do some good for those I care about, and be happy/ spread a bit of happiness.

Reply

Ruud February 17, 2015 at 4:34 am

Dear all,

Thanks for sharing all your experiences, I’m impressed when reading your stories, and cannot stop reading these stories over and over again.

At this point in time I’m not sure if I have an Narc mother or father. I (a man) do know that I have a dangerous and abusive wife, who is definitely a Narc! On this moment I’m asking the court to get a divorce, but this is taking time, because I have two children, and these children have a Narc mother. They are too young to read all your comments in English. My daughter is 14 years, and my son is 11 years old. There Narc mom treated these beautiful children exactly like the people describe here about their moms.
Yesterday I have read the first time about enabling fathers, I felt very guilty, because I realized that have been one of those enabling fathers. Although I started realizing a while ago that I was helping my wife to abuse the kids, it felt so bad…… I cried…. Last summer, when my wife threatened the children, myself with a ax, and destroyed my car with the ax, and my wife blamed me for it, and demanded excuses from me……….. Luckily I was holding a video camera, and I was able to tape the whole incident on video! When she found out I had to destroy the tape, she almost killed me because I refused. I was able to save the file, made a copy before destroying it. Afterwards I asked the court to remove my wife from the house, and the court ordered her to leave the house immediately, that is now 3 weeks ago.
What I see happening is that there is a lot of hate between my daughter (the scapegoat) and my son (the golden child), I know I have to go to a therapist with my children, but to do so I need a signature from my wife, or the court has to give me full custody over the children, since that is going to take several month. I really would like to get some advice how I can bring my children closer to each other? Besides that I see that my son is so demanding to me and other people, because he could do anything without being corrected by his narc mom in the past, and he is only 11 years old. There is so much anger between my daughter and my son, who has experienced almost everything that was described by other participants on this side. What can I do (besides fighting to get custody) , I feel guilty because I have seen it happen, but I was unable to do anything about it, besides that nobody believed me that my wife was abusive, until the moment I caught here on tape. I feel guilty that I didn’t ran away earlier with my children, but please do understand that although I knew something was wrong, I already wanted to run away for a long time, but I stayed because I wanted to be there, I wanted to protect my children. Although I was there, I was not able to prevent all the abuse, but may be it would have been worse for them if I had leave earlier.
Now I’m really breaking my head how I can raise the children, and how I can help them to grow into adult hood, and into balanced loving and self loving people? How can I prevent that they turn into narcs them self. How can I prevent them from narc relationships in the future.
Hopefully people that have survived a narc mother can give me some ideas on how I have to deal with my lovely children.
Any advise is welcome.
Love to everybody.

Reply

John February 18, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Ruud,
Your doing good, it took me 21 yrs to get out of my abusive marriage.
Two books “Stop Walking on Eggshells- Taking your life back when someone you Love Has Boarderline Personality Disorder” “Tears and Healing-A journey to the light after an abusive relationship”
Also Al-Anon 12 step has been a great blessing. Beatty’s book on 12 steps for codependants is good too.
Lots more. Be good to yourself and your kids.
Blessing,
John

Reply

John February 18, 2015 at 11:16 pm

Youtube : John Bradshaw. His books are great also.
It will take time with your kids. First, I believe they will have to learn the difference between Mom & Dad. Teach them Love & Forgiveness & that they don’t have to accept unacceptable behavior. Ask for help from healthy people.
Get healthy yourself, abuse leaves damage.
Abusers minimalize their behavior and marginalize their victims.
Stay close to God!

Reply

Claudia February 25, 2015 at 7:51 am

Ruud,
You are on the healing path and doing great!
You have come to the awareness and are being pro-active in trying to better the future of your children and yourself.
That’s already a lot of good work. Keep at it!

I can relate to your journey, how painful and confusing it is. I believe the worst is over since you’ve been able to escape the clutches of a tyrant and what lies ahead can only be better.
Therapy is very important to help heal towards creating a life filled with love and serenity.

All the best to you and your children in this journey!
Claudia

Reply

Theresa March 2, 2015 at 4:39 pm

I was adopted into a family who of course at age 6 didn’t know what Narcissist Was. All i remember was “I’ve got a Daddy and a Mommy”. As i got older i remember understanding that what Mom said to me was not right,the blame was always on me,she always set high standards that i could never reach etc. Always put me down when it came to What do you want to be when you grow up? What type of Man do you want to Marry? Her response was always along the line of “Why do you think that they’d want you,with all your problems. What make’s you think you’d achieve being a Famous Actress or Whatever i wanted to be when i was little. It always changed what i wanted to be when i grew up. She’d also Laugh and say That’s Never going to happen etc. I remember around age 7-9 i was learning to make my own bed. She proceeded to show me how to do it and then had me do it. In my young mind i was proud of making my bed to what i thought was really good and exactly the way she showed me…………..Her response was It’s not Good Enough, Do It Again while pulling all the sheets and blankets off and standing their commenting on my every move. It happened repeatedly until i guess she tired of the repitition. I always knew what she was doing was wrong and the blame she placed on me. Her favorite was “I don’t have any problems,You have all the problems. Like she was Absolutely Flawless and Perfect. I have since stopped communicating with her. I speak with my Dad but even that is strained to where i’m probably going to end it with him as well. I left home at 16 and never looked back. Although i have thought about my past upbringing etc. Being on my own is what i like.

Reply

Mimi April 8, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Thank you for this blog,

This has been a major source of enlightenment & healing for me. I am 23 years old, the eldest daughter of six children, and I think that I have a narcissistic mother. My sister and I are only 13 months apart, I also have four other siblings that are 15, 12, 10, and 6 years old. Growing up, I thought I had a pretty normal life. My dad works in chemical engineering so he was out of the country a lot, and I thought that I had a pretty “healthy” relationship with my mother. I don’t know if my mother’s behavior became more prevalent as grew older or just that I started to notice things were different in my friends’ families.

In the home, I’d say that our roles changed to fit whoever she could manipulate the easiest, and it wasn’t uncommon for her to use the other siblings as bullies (I feel quite guilty of the things I said and did to my sisters and brothers to protect my mom’s feelings). My mother was very demanding of us, even in the most minimal tasks (i.e. we would be called upstairs to hand her a remote or drink that sat just out of her reach) and our presentation outside of the home was considered a direct reflection on her.

Her general concern for us kids, was quite minimal. My sister and I would be left alone for 4-8 hours almost daily with our siblings (we were home schooled), sometimes with little to no food in the house. Our schooling, though it started out as a great experience, developed into a burden on her and she would only teach us when it made her look good. She often received praise for being so “sacrificial of her own needs”. She also would make a huge ordeal out the most simple of illnesses, taking us to the ER, calling family down to watch the other kids, and constantly gaining sympathy for herself.

As I grew into a teenager, she grew jealous of my sister and I spending time away from her. She would sabotage our relationships with friends or boys we liked by adding them on social media and harassing them. She constantly tried to dress sexier, prettier, and younger to compete with us. Once she put my dad’s account $700+ in the red just to buy jewelry. Her behavior became more controlling and manipulating, anytime we would disagree with her she would burst into tears and act like she was the victim. She became a hypochondriac going from doctor to doctor to get on tons of narcotic pills, then she would post statues on Facebook complaining about every ailment she had.

Once I graduated high school and went to college, I started to recognize the unhealthy behaviors she had. I slowly started trying to distance myself, and this made things worse. It was about 3 years ago, that my sister and I finally moved out along with my now husband (who she hates).

Today, my mother talks to me only when she thinks she can gain attention. My successful position, my family, my happiness mean nothing to her. I am mostly concerned about the environment of my 4 siblings left at home. If anyone has advice on how I can help them, or advice on narcissistic mothers and grandchildren, I would greatly appreciate your insight. Thank you.

Reply

Sharon April 13, 2015 at 10:54 am

I hate my mother! Looking at a picture of her brings about a boulder feeling in my chest. I have often asked the golden child (my sister) for help. She sides with her mother even if she knows her mother is wrong. She believes that it is better to protect her mother’s feelings than to protect her sister’s feelings. I have cut off ALL contact with the mother, and I feel a horrendous strain in my love for my sister. My brother was the golden child when we were growing up, but now that he no longer lives near us, my sister is the golden child. I am managed to maintain my position of scape goat, dog, pig, whatever you want to call it. If I sound bitter, you’d better believe I am! What I wouldn’t give to be in a safe room with her for a two-hour or more session. I WOULD DESTROY HER!!!!!!!

Reply

Irina April 24, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Thank u for the blog. I’m the 2 child from 13 children in the family and our mother is crazy narcissistically grew up all confused about why we are how we are and you’re web helped a lot I’m 28 and the youngest in our family is 12 years old. We are recovering from our mom and we have long way to go

Reply

Lux May 25, 2015 at 2:26 am

Thank you for this. I’m 24 years old and I can say I’m a golden child right now at least. She kept switching rolls on me and my brother. And as I said above I’m the golden child right now. I graduated college last year with an art degree from the college/uni my parents went too. My dad got his in industrial arts and my mom got hers as a history and art teacher (my mom never used hers shocker she didn’t lil kids too much & my dad is the carpenter at said college).
Now at younge age I was found out to have aspergers ( and later realized I was trans. Make to female). Anyhow I can’t drive because after I got my learning pernit my parents were to critical when teaching me. So as of now I unemployed looking for s job living in my parents basement meanwhile my younger brother by 3 years escaped to the next town over going to college there (she joked about going to the school she did ) but he escaped. But any time we go on trip together they lay in thick harsh words and criticize him. Mostly because of s stiff neck he aquired from staying on the computer for long hours. (Which I believe was his escape from the environment around him.)
Needless to say I know now my parents esp my mother was a narcissistic parent who was emotionally abusive. There is more but I dint wanna prattle on. (By the way idk if it matters but I have tons of empathy fur people ) any how thanks for the wonderful article!

Reply

Heather May 25, 2015 at 10:16 am

I spent my teen years being pulled into arguments and fights that lasted several hours at a time, into the night, even if I had to be at school the next day, usually as the result of something simple, like having a clean room, not doing homework, stuff like that. The knock down drag out fights usually ended with us being emotionally exhausted, her crying, me feeling guilty about things I’d say to her and with me hating her. the fights would escalate because instead of me feeling sympathy for her or pity like she was asking, I would call her out on her terrible behavior. I have memories of her making what were supposed to be good times and events tension filled and horrible, usually because she was having issues in her own head that she would take out on us. We walked on eggshells growing up so much, that in my own family as an adult now, it took me a little while to get used to not feeling that way, and having a home where screaming and yelling and crying and throwing fits was not the mainstay. I think I had to accept in the last few years that my childhood was not normal and not healthy and finally had to accept that nothing I would do with my mother would make her change, even if I changed, it wouldn’t do any good because no matter what, I will always be a disappointment. She has always had such high expectations and will punish you if you don’t meet them, but they are always “unspoken” because she loves to say, “I never expect ANYTHING out of you, I never ask anything of you.” She does, just in her own, passive aggressive way. I think the biggest thing that’s helping me heal has been this week, when I finally put my finger on what it was that caused my mom to be like that for so many years – narcissistic personality disorder. While identifying this will do nothing for my mother, she will never understand she even is that way or that they way she is is wrong, it helps me understand what I want my relationship to be like with her going forward and it helps me to be OK with losing the hope that my mom will never change but it doesn’t mean I have to still be a party to the unhealthy cycle we’ve created for the rest of my life. It’s a work in progress and I have a lot of healing to do, but just knowing that this is a “thing” and that other people have experienced it makes me feel less alone and that my feelings I’ve had all of these years have merit and are not completely in my head.

Reply

Allunga May 26, 2015 at 5:17 pm

I am 38 years old this year and I have a 2 and 2 month old baby girls and a wonderful caring husband. I finally found out what was really wrong with my upbringing and the messed up resentful/hateful dynamics between myself and my siblings and now know I can blame my narcissistic mother for that. However I’ve only recently discovered this information and doing a lot of reading on the subject and want so desperately to learn more about it for my children’s sake.

Where do I start!!! As a daughter of a narcissistic single mother with 3 boys and 2 girls (I was 2nd child), I was bullied into cleaning, baby sitting, shopping and even sent to ask family and friends for money loans because most of the time we had none and no food. My eldest brother is the scapegoat as well as the brother after me, my youngest brother is the golden child and is still living at home with the control freak because she has convinced him he has a disability. my sister did run away when she was younger but her relationship was abusive and ended after 2 years and had one son. Sadly She is back being controlled by mum again (I cringe when calling her mum because now I know that’s not how healthy mums are, now that I have a beautiful mother in-law).

Also I feel bad for my sister having to go back to our mother for support as mum loves to see our relationships fail and always says “well you should have listened to me” or “I told you so”. Also when I was in my teens my mother didn’t pay for the gas and our hot water got turned off and it stayed like that for five years so for five years us kids bathed in cold water, my mothers excuse was well you kids can’t always have everything you are all too spoiled and said she had to boil water to bath when she was a child so can we!

I have only recently decided to end contact with my family for good, because as always they have given me the silent treatment because I hurt my mothers feelings or something along those lines I could never figure it out because she never tells us just makes us feel that we are wrong and she is always right. I have realised my family is not healthy and I don’t want my husband and daughters near them anymore.

My family haven’t even met my new baby girl because of my mothers stupid silent treatments and arrogance and my sisters little son was so excited to meet his new little cousin and now he can’t because his narcissistic grandmother dictates when her children can contact each other. That’s just too messed up for me to handle anymore now that I know what’s really going on here, and that I’m not the one whose to blame or the one who has the problem as my mother always says.

Thank you so much for the enlightenment and everyone for sharing your stories as well.

Reply

NoMoreTears May 31, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Respectfully to All NM Recoverees (hopefully…),

Thanks for all your fascinating stories of your dysfunctional childhoods/adulthoods w/the NM’s. You guys are so inspiring and strong individuals to share so honestly. Many thanks, too to Ms. Piper for sponsoring this extremely helpful site. Your work is invaluable to me.

After reading several articles on the net concerning our mutual concerns, I almost cannot believe how widespread and systemic the narcissistic behavioral patterns are. At age 56, my mother still attempts to enmesh me into her web of control and neediness. I’m presuming that I fall into the scapegoat role… as I seem to never be able to please my mother at all. Yes, even when I will falsely accept blame for any emotional negatives that occurs in our relationship – she will somehow twist things around to an insinuation or outright claim that I’m patronizing her – I can never bond, win favor, nor make things right by her in any capacity. My mother is now 82 years old, and my brother (the golden one) is 55. He, of course can do no wrong by her.

I’m so plagued with insomnia that I couldn’t help but try to discover on the web in the wee hours when I’m wide awake (about 2:30 AM) just what the heck is her pathos. She has even tried many times playing my sweet and docile husband against me… much as she’s ALWAYS done with my brother. It’s so frustrating and has caused numerous conflicts with my husband and friends until lately; when these articles have started to make a great deal of sense to me. I’m off to the bookstore tomorrow to find a few books concerning this impossible personality issue. Her debilitating disorder has definitely had a backlash effect on my own personality; as it stands I definitely think I may have issues with pistanthrophobia at this stage of my life. But I’m learning to trust others more every day.

Talking with many therapists over the years has made me well aware that she has almost never been a support system for me since age 13. But none of the therapists ever hinted around that her disease was so integral in my constant feelings of inadequacy and self-deprecation. Now that I’m helping myself to the joy in life that I realize now totally surrounds me, it’s easier to read between the lines of her cruelties and accept that I must keep developing a thicker skin and not to feed into her addiction. I don’t do the enabling things I used to do… and I cannot beat myself up anymore about her unhappiness. It’s O.K. to love myself – and I will make fully sure I never let her hear that I do… or else!

Reply

C June 8, 2015 at 1:51 am

Heather… I could have written what you wrote about my childhood, especially teenage years. The long draining fights, the special occasions she ruined (my last day of school, my graduation, even to some extent – ie. she tried but I’d put methods in place to prevent! – my wedding day). I sympathise with you, knowing I also went through it and have come out (sort of) the other end and now have this knowledge of what she is. x

Reply

NMT(short f/NoMoreTears) June 20, 2015 at 11:13 pm

Hello Everyone,
I just want to say I read these letters to Michelle Piper and how can I say that… well you are ALL such and inspiration and I feel such a close bond to everyone here! Because you are all on a terrific and astoundingly virtuous path to healing yourselves. I’m sure that many of us are just about completely healed when we consider the source of our mutual cause of pain/disease. Thank you, thank you, thank you forever Michelle for having such a supportive blog that brings so many of us together with this dilemma.

I wrote in about a month ago under the pseudonym: NoMoreTears. Since then I’ve started reading books from Michelle’s list on this site; the reading is a HUGE Godsend. I’ve contacted two of my aunts since then also…both of whom are wholly supportive and concur with me and both have great experience and resignation in dealings with my mother. My older aunt just told me how selfish and self-centered my mother has always been… and how all the while in her relationship my with NM she’s had to “walk on eggshells” to simply relate to her on a remote acquaintance-style manner. By the way, another great book that is very applicable to this topic is: “Stop Walking on Eggshells”, by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger.

I see that now I’m already feeling so much more confident in my everyday life. It’s a hard habit to break, but I’m remembering to affirm to myself to stop beating myself up when she ignores me constantly; or showers me with attention just to slip a sentence or two in the “good times” that lets me know passive-aggressively that she’s still in charge of my life (or as she secretly hopes: My LACK of life).

When reading your letters above, in so many cases I feel as if I’m reading bits of my life written down psychically by you all! You’re all so beautiful and purely honest to share here and make us all feel like we’re NOT alone in this world… and you guys are the bravest people to realize that it’s a sin unto yourselves to keep believing that y’all will never measure up – The REAL sinner is ANYONE who’d tell you NOT to believe in yourselves…or that you’ll NEVER be good enough. At this critical juncture in my life I certainly am learning to leave ALL naysayers alone to stew in their own juices. I have absolutely NO more time for any people without regard or empathy for others.

“Children of the Self-Absorbed” by Nina W. Brown is a great book…it’s sort of workbook style where you take these multiple choice quizzes that enable you to add up scores which really enable you in understanding and assessing just how unnecessarily and needlessly insecure you may have been conditioned as a child to become as an adult. Take your time in reading this… you may need breaks to fully comprehend and process the pain it brings up sometimes from your past; nevertheless, you’ll gain a much keener insight into why you may relate to people in the fashion that you do. That stuff we internalize never quite goes completely away…but we can fortify and strengthen ourselves with the knowledge that endless and infinite love and joy surrounds us whatever we endeavor! Peace and infinite blessings to all my brothers and sisters here – XXXOOOO

Reply

Wiser now June 24, 2015 at 11:48 pm

Being able to say to my mother after 43 that she is sick and that she won’t get help and so I’m cutting her off because of the devastation she has caused me was hard to do. It has been harder than I thought because the initial relief that I felt knowing that I wasn’t going to pretend anymore that nothing was wrong with her, or keep ignoring her lies, stealing, manipulation and general craziness, has been replaced by sorrow that she never loved me. I loved her deeply, I’d do anything for her to try and make her happy and I loved spending time with her when she was in a good mood. Now all that is gone and she doesn’t care. Apart from texting me over and over again that she did nurture me and she did love me she, not surprisingly she hasn’t said sorry or acknowledged the truth of what I said. I am trying not to slip into depression knowing that I have to let go and grieve and deal with the anger and be strong. I’m scared that I’ll regret my decision, but when I recall her narcissistic rages, lies, crazy behaviour, stealing, manipulation and put-downs I realise it’s all worth it. I’m not going to tolerate falseness anymore in my life. This means I’m also not tolerating other narcissists in my life. So many people are manipulative and deceptive!!!! It’s crazy to realise this and I’m angry that I’ve tolerated and even allowed it from people.
I have to relearn how to live my life!!!!
This is completely new for me because I have for so long been the complacent enabling one who does everything for others giving them the benefit of the doubt and neglecting herself and her own needs. I don’t even really know who I am and what I like to do!!! I guess this is the time to find out now!!!

Reply

HC July 19, 2015 at 11:12 am

This was very helpful. I am 49 and grew up the youngest, the only female, and the scapegoat to my oldest half-brother. He was a child molester (I found out myself a few times when he attempted it with me), a drug abuser and a criminal but Mom thought it was never his fault. I however was never good enough, she shot me down every time I did something good, and I was never in trouble and never did drugs. She also always called me a liar about his abuse, yet she slept in my room til I was about 10 or so to “prevent” abuse she knew he was capable of, then turned around again and always called me crazy for trying to tell her what he did. She also blamed her life on me and threatened to cut me up once. She died in 1993 and I still regret never telling her off or confronting her, why would I confront a perpetually sick woman? I am angry at myself for not telling her off and still have dreams about it, and her, she is always angry at me even in dreams. I was married to an abuser, and fell I don’t know how to be happy. I have an eating disorder (binge craving) and have never liked myself. I am in therapy now so maybe one day I’ll get over the anger and appreciate myself.

Reply

HC July 19, 2015 at 11:18 am

I need to clarify one spelling error. I FEEL (not fell) that I am inadequate and undeserving of anything. I also did divorce the abuser and have a good husband now. Older step-brother was the Golden Child. He was always in trouble but she enabled him, even had him selling her medications to his seedy friends for extra cash. He used a handicap (blindness in one eye) to excuse himself for not working, not going to school etc and she fully enabled this. I however was the first in the family to go to college and I was not acknowledged for it, and any goals I had were shot down. “That’ll be the day when YOU do anything” was a typical response. Dad was out of the loop, when he wasn’t working full time (Mom did too) Dad was off with his girlfriend he had on the side. when they were both home they just fought all the time. There was no alcoholism, just foul words and sometimes furniture flying.

Reply

Sarah August 3, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Thank all of you for your insightful comments. I just went through a very emotionally traumatic incident which was and still is very draining. Having grown up in a home I call the Temple of Narcissism during the 1950s and 1960s in which I was the scapegoat and my sister 3 years older was the Golden One (translated Mommy’s Perfect Little Darling) I could so relate to every one of your stories.

The lies and sabotage went on for years and years and still remains fixed in my sister MPLD. I finally parted company with her about 3 years ago and plan to stay away permanently as I simply couldn’t take it anymore. I kept going back time and again because I kept trying to have a better relationship with her, failing to see that simply could not ever happen until I finally woke up after our mother died in 2008.

Some years ago I saw the Narcissism Issue fairly clearly and actually shared some of my information and insight with her (MPLD) which she was open to and we had some very good talks. But it was to no avail, and she just reverted back to her past manipulation and con artist ways before long. It’s interesting that her husband of 45 years who is 11 years older than she is has also been in this dysfunctional system coming from a wealthy family of rip-roaring alcoholics and will not “allow” us to have time to try and work this out.

My life has been blessed in many ways with some lifelong loyal friends but has also been filled with failures, frustrations, feelings of total inadequacy, lack of direction, feelings of abandonment, and inability to have a functional marriage despite a true heartfelt desire to have that. I’ve been blessed with an unwavering faith in a loving God and a healthy spirituality. But the failures and frustrations of loneliness, ongoing financial issues, many of which were truly not my doing, and some were, mostly emerging from my childhood need to feel “taken care of” by someone else, which of course never really happened.

O, it goes on and on, and I’m so grateful to find help, understanding and resources here from so many kindred spirits. Many thanks to all of you for opening your lives and sharing your stories.

Reply

KatNineLives August 8, 2015 at 9:24 pm

My mother is just so toxic.

I am the second of four children, my sisters and I born 3-4 years apart and then my brother came along later, when I was 17. We have two golden children, my older sister, and my kid brother. My younger sister and I are the two scapegoats, although we can be teased with the empty promise of “golden” status at the whim of my NPD mother. She has never been diagnosed, and she has never been wrong. Heaven forbid you should challenge her thoughts, beliefs or demands. I am in my 40’s and never had children; I have trouble maintaining relationships and I think I feared having a child, thinking perhaps I would turn into my mother. After nearly a decade of therapy and thanks to my faith in God and regular meditation, I am proud to say I have learned to establish and maintain healthy boundaries with family members, friends, bosses, coworkers, and acquaintances. I have learned to say “NO,” speak up and not be passive aggressive, and have stopped allowing people to walk all over me. What I should say is, I have learned to try to, every day, and to stop wallowing in self-pity and not really living my life, like I was when these narcissistic wounds hurled me into a corner and I was terrified to move from there. I was in a prison, and I have finally realized that I was keeping myself there, although it was designed by whomever the controlling narcissist was in my life – first my mother, then my ex-husband, then toxic “friends,” you get the picture.

I am writing tonight because I was recently in a sporting accident and suffered two fractures. My mother gave me a helping hand, but there was a lot of backlash involved. First, her “get well” gifts were recycled items that I gave to my father while he was ill. (We lost Dad to cancer within the last year.) This was so hurtful and gut-wrenching, and she has done similar things like this in the past, given me gifts that are meant to hurt or that show very little effort or thought on her part. She then told me she was glad I had run my errands for her before I got injured, an attempt to devalue me and hurl guilt at me for getting hurt, all in one shot. I just laugh inside at this now, realizing how absurd her illness truly is. But I feel like my insides have been shot full of holes and I feel awkward getting close to my boyfriend. Our relationship is a struggle because he is the golden child of an NPD mother and we both have intimacy issues.

He last phone call to me was not to see how I was feeling, but to get into a whole tirade about some issues she is having with her car, although she keeps going back to the same mechanic who is clearly ripping her off. I feel like she always does this to me. During my divorce, she magnified the issues she was going through with my father. It’s so tempting to fall into her little trap and shrug off my injuries and feelings as unimportant. But I refuse to.

There are items piling up outside my apartment that I need to ask my next-door neighbor to move. I am finally focusing on my career in a strong manner, and if I do not get the promotion I have deserved for over a decade, I plan to leave and not look back. If this relationship with my boyfriend doesn’t have a healthy growth soon, I’m going to leave that as well. These are all the big, big changes I am making, but there have been many smaller ones. I have some physical limitation right now, but I have become a lion on the inside.

Thank you so much for this site and for all your insights. I could not have grown to this place without all the help available. I also recommend CODA and Al-Anon, if applicable to you.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: