Steps To Undo Immature Behavior Due to a Narcissistic Parent

by Michelle Piper

Narcissistic parents are emotionally immature. When you have a narcissistic mother or narcissistic father as your “role model” you may feel you haven’t been able to evolve and progress the way you want to.

At times, especially under stress, you may see you inadvertently mimic immature behavior of your narcissistic parent.

Or, you may note a return to a behavior that had been essential to protect yourself against someone with pathological narcissism but is now toxic in a healthy relationship, such as lying about an opinion or what you did that day.

Yet, you are far beyond your years in other ways, or you couldn’t have survived your childhood as well as you did.

So, it is especially confusing when you see–or, worse, someone you trust sees–you acting in an immature way that doesn’t match with the majority of your behavior or character.

Many of the people I coach across several cultures–Turkey, Hong Kong and Norway, to name a few–report feeling like they are two different people.

The first person is the “good one” who’s there most of the time. The one who’s responsible for their much improved adult life, the true adult self versus the second. The “other” that shows up once in awhile who acts far less mature and seems to appear without warning.

You can be shocked and ashamed of this other self. You can feel you’re some sort of fake. You’re not. You simply haven’t fully recovered from the narcissist in your life.

You’re just exhibiting behaviors you learned in your childhood, either out of role modeling from the narcissistic parent or out of what you had to do to survive a crazy family system.

Following are a few steps to help you understand your own emotional terrain and decrease actions and feelings you no longer wish to carry.

Step One: As an adult child of a narcissist (ACON), create the safety you couldn’t as a child by surrounding yourself with healthy relationships and avoiding exploitive ones.

Step Two: In your safe adult environment you can assess which behaviors are compatible with your best self versus those “young” behaviors from your childhood so you can extinguish them from your behavior.

Step Three: As an adult, notice what are your own feelings and what are actually “carried feelings” from your narcissistic parents and refuse to carry them or release them as recycled energy for better use as they show up.

In order to better understand what emotional skills your narcissistic mother may have passed on to you, assess how “old” she acts when under stress. You can then better define her behavior and catch it if you act that way.

Is she seven or two years old when she displays her narcissistic behavior? Look at other young children and begin to compare that “behavioral blueprint” to your narcissistic mother.

When children are very young, they can be grandiose and refuse to take blame for their behavior. They’re always trying to get around the rules because they don’t believe the rules apply to them.

A narcissistic mother reverses the roles that apply in normal family dynamics. She wants to be taken care of by her husband and children and sometimes can’t be bothered to care for her children. Her needs come first.

If things don’t go her way, she will throw a tantrum, much like a child would if they candy they wanted at the grocery store was denied. Narcissistic mothers are often too focused on themselves to show concern for others, even their children.

Much like a child at their worst, narcissistic mothers can be incredibly self-serving, looking to get their narcissistic supply from anyone and anything. They depend on others for emotional gratification while being needy and demanding in the process. They fear abandonment and are extremely clingy of their family members. They need admiration and attention “on demand.”

Narcissistic mothers display a defense mechanism called regression. Rather than handling unacceptable impulses in an adult way, there’s a reversion of the ego to an earlier stage of development. This becomes a problem when used frequently to avoid situations and causes problems in life because no new skills are tried out and practiced to advance the maturity of one’s behavior.

Blame is another primitive behavior narcissistic mothers often exhibit and too often, you, the child, are targeted. You can end up “carrying” those projected feelings throughout your adult life. Or, you may carry the habit of blaming. Following are some other areas to assess.

Over-dependence: When children of narcissistic mothers grow up and start their own relationships, they may want to be taken care of like a child, thirsty for the childhood they never got to be because they were always tending to their mother’s needs.

Adult children of narcissistic parents long for the feeling of being loved and can regress back to a time when they should have been taken care of by their parents, felt loved and given attention.

Defensiveness: The pain and trauma a narcissistic parent inflicts on the vulnerable child is substantial. We, as adults, are most sensitive to using defense mechanisms during pivotal developmental times in life, such as adolescence or puberty.

And, poignantly, when the stakes are highest and the ability to be vulnerable to someone healthy is required we may recoil. For instance, the usually trusted other may be now seen as suspect because they have confronted you on a truly troublesome behavior.

Indecisiveness: When a child is growing and developing and doesn’t have the proper guidance on how to take care of themselves and be independent, it can be difficult when they become an adult.

When you’re not allowed to make your own choices and don’t know how to express feelings, being autonomous can be tough.

Inappropriate Guilt: You may feel that your decisions for self care are selfish. Or, you may feel guilty all the time and not know why. This is likely the feeling you carry from your narcissistic mother’s shameless, boundary-less behavior. You are actually carrying guilt because she did not deal with her own shameful lack of control over her needs and actions.

Rage: Though you are usually a calm person, rage may be triggered in you which is actually anger from your narcissistic mother. This oversized, irrational anger is a “carried feeling” from the narcissistic parent who projected their anger onto you in a boundary-less way when you were far to young to process it or realize that you were separate from your narcissistic mother or father.

In sum, learn to define boundaries between you and your narcissistic mother, identify her carried feelings within you versus your own, believe you can be loved unconditionally by someone, and strive to seek self-approval as opposed to trying to gain mother’s approval, you can continue to claim the emotional territory you need to truly be your own person.

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

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

barwin November 12, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Thank you for this post. It made a lot of sense to me. Especially that
Part about feeling like two people and feeling a fake. This so horrible.
I can feel so guilty and so confused and not want to socialise. I once had
An experience where I regresse in therapy because the therapist was
Abandoning me. It was horrible and I was convinced there was something
Very wrong (bad) with me for months. I think what’s confusing is having
Flashbacks that are purely emotional and there’s no memory yo hang them onto
To make sense of them. I had a body massage recently and cried afterwards
For a few days – still battling with sadness and yet a feeling of having been
Intruded upon.

I really like the way you describe the mother and effects – for the first time here I
Feel like I understand that narcissistic behaviour really is about being stuck as a
Child emotionally.

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Michelle Piper November 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Dear Barwin,
Thanks very much for telling me what was helpful. That sensation of feeling like two people is so frustrating. I hope to write more on it. The post coming out tomorrow will talk more about the carried feelings we bring to our adulthood from a narcissistic family system. It’s called Narcissistic Mother and Scapegoat.
Thanks again for reading,
Michelle

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AKenerley March 13, 2013 at 8:13 am

Finding this sight is amazing for me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Reading the various posts helps me to validate my experience. My mother fits these other people’s descriptions to a tee. When I’ve turned to friends regarding this their shock made me feel like even more isolated. None of my friends has ever dealt with anything like this. I have had two therapists before who were aware of this type of thing. One actually brought it to my attention. Its just so mean. And so senseless. I’ve suffered from this my whole life as did my older brother, my sister is as cruel as my mother or worse, I have to stay away from her from now on, I can’t take any more abuse, I won’t take it anymore, she’s not worth it to me anymore. I can’t trust my sister & that’s that.
I don’t know when it became apparent to me that my mother’s cruelty was deliberate to keep me and my siblings from every gaining healthy independence. It is normal to love your mother, its pure evil to undermine a child’s self esteem & potential to feed her own ego. She was more like a jealous sister than a mother. Mine is a long and painful story and I don’t know where to start. I’ve been so manipulated for so long, I just want to get past it. I just want to be happy, I’m still working through the emotions right now. Thank you so much for organizing this sight and giving us all a place to bring our pain where we’ll be understood and believed and not told that she’s your mother. That does not give her the right to do the horrible things. The opportunity, yes, but not the right. To me it makes her actions that much more deplorable and her that much more of a monster.

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Isabelle November 13, 2012 at 10:56 am

Thank you so much for explaining this in such a clear way. While I have been in therapy for many months dealing with the emotional legacy of growing up with a narcissistic mother, it’s like it all goes out the window when I am actually faced with her. This post calmed me down and led me through the rational steps I should take when confronted with her immature and hurtful behavior, and feeling like I’m reverting back to being a child in how I deal with it. Thank you.

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Michelle Piper November 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Hi Isabelle,
Welcome! Think of the narcissistic mother’s behavior as a toxic substance like Superman’s Kryptonite (sp?). Remember how he would become weak when exposed to the substance? So, don’t blame yourself for regressing around her, but do be aware that it happens and try to keep your exposure to narcissistic behavior down to a healthy minimum.
Thanks for your feedback,
Michelle

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barwin November 18, 2012 at 12:18 am

Hi Michelle,
I was very interested in the post about the scapegoat. Its horrific how silent
And silenced the children are in families like these. I am my mother’s identified
Patient and would like some information on this from your perspective and how
This role differs from the scapegoat. I was my stepmother’s scapegoat. -m only
Just beginning to make sene of things. Seems like it’ll take some time.
I am still battling with the sense of unreality that I grew up with.
I’m not sure if my mother is borderline or narcissist but I guess there are some
similarities between cluster bs.

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Michelle Piper November 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Thanks for the request, will put that on the “posts to do” list. There is a difference, in the meantime, check out Munchausen Syndrome on a reputable website (I like Mayo Clinic) and let me know if you think that’s a match for the identified patient behavior that you described.

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barwin November 18, 2012 at 12:39 am

I love the association of mother’s behaviour to kryptonite by the way, very apt!!

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Michelle Piper November 19, 2012 at 5:23 pm

;)!

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lana November 23, 2012 at 8:57 am

I’m very happy to have found this website, it was soo helpful to me! (and, please, excuse me for my English, I’m not a native speaker ). the thing I have the most problems with is not trusting my own perception – maybe because of the gaslighting, but how can I trust my own feeling and judgments when I’m so full of defense mechanisms? My perception of reality is maybe just a reflection of my flaws…Then, how couldn’t I constantly be checking if other people see things in the same way I do, which is only one small step from depending on other people? For example, if I don’t trust a friend, why should I rely on my feelings when they maybe are just a consequence of my regression or whatever? in other words, how to know if I really do have right to be mad at him/her or it is just a projection from my childhood? it is a vicious circle, and I really do have problems with this – I rely to much on others visions of reality. That is because I think I’m not normal, which implies my thinking processes are not normal, and then, of course, conclusions.
How to get out of this?
well, just to mention, I don’t depend on others for a big decisions, I do it to my way. The funny things is, I unconsciuously escaped my parents, I moved to another part of the world, and I did it in a quite socially acceptable way. Reading about narcissistic mother, I was stunned how similar my life story was – everything seemed normal, but in fact it wasn’t, and I was the only one how knew that from the beginning, because everybody else was playing the game, and was comfortable with it, except me – the scapegoat (the one who was always the best in everything and always so socially acceptable, but always criticized and scared ).

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Cj March 4, 2015 at 9:51 am

What a great comment/question –I can very much relate. One thing that I have found helpful over time is not reacting right away and giving myself some time to think about whether my first reaction was my true feelings or a defense mechanism. Often with time the anger (or sadness) cools and it’s easier to see what is underneath. Meditation and yoga have helped a lot with this, and so has therapy! 🙂

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Michelle Piper December 1, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Dear Lana,
Welcome to our community and thanks for a very good question, ‘how do I trust my own feelings and judgments when I’m so full of defense mechanisms?’ One method is to actually remain skeptical of feelings and judgements in high stress situations and measure them against your values. When you’re a survivor of narcissistic parents, it becomes hard to trust yourself because you were told so many times that you were wrong and your perceptions were denied. Start, instead, with listing your values, and within those, list the core characteristics you believe make up good or fair behavior. If the person treats you as you would expect yourself to behave towards them within your values, the relationship is on the right track for you. If they don’t, then acknowledge your feelings or judgements as valid information and act accordingly. Over time, this conscious measurement used in tune with your values will build more trust within yourself.

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barwin December 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Hi michelle, I’m responding to your comment on Munchausen Syndrome.
I found the mayo clinic discussion on it and I can see a few similarities in
My situation except that it wasn’t near as extreme. Also I think that my
Mother took me to many child psychologists to find out what was wrong with
Me because she wanted to prove that my behaviour wasn’t her fault. Eventually
Someone said I had a learning problem and would never pass o’levels/matric.
I’ve just got a masters degree! Anyway, this learning problem was latched onto
By my mother and always pointed to and remarked on. My mother needed
Something to distract others from the fact that she had multiple affairs, abandoned
me etc – in the context of our small community she was trying to escape shame and
Prove she wasn’t a bad mother. As she kept up affairs this didn’t really work so we
Left the country and my dad for a few years.
I never really knew about the ip or knew much of my history till now as it happened
When I was so young and my mother has been telling me her edited version where she
Comes out a lot more caring and others are the baddies! She was an engulfing yet abandoning
Mother.
I only started digging when I had deep emotional flashbacks of abandonment. I really want
to know and understand things so I can be prepared for those flashbacks and develop
Intmacy in relationships. I’m beginning to see how attachment issues can affect many people
And their ways of living in the world. That’s why I’m glad to read your posts and the others here,
It helps.

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Michelle Piper December 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Hi Barwin,
Thanks for looking up and contrasting your experience to Munchausen Syndrome. Often narcissists have a “bad object” onto which they can project their own anxieties and sense of being flawed. When you had this done to you as a child, your narcissistic mother was then able to deal with her discomfort about herself by “fixing” or “saving” you. It also sounds like she was doing the behavior of splitting, too, as she gave you the impression that she was the one protecting you from “the baddies.” This cruelly affects a child’s impression of what intimacy or trust is. You’re right in looking closely at attachment and assessing your own current attachment style. Once aware of your own style and the attachment style of who you are attracted to, you can make changes if needed to attach in a healthy way.
Thanks for your comment, it was good to hear from you again.

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barwin December 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm

After reading Lana’s post: I can definitely relate to ‘knowing’ there is something wrong
And yet living in strange reality where my knowledge is denied. This means I also don’t
Trust my understanding of reality – people growing up with this feel crazy and feel crazy
To have emotions too because our emotions weren’t allowed. It makes so much sense that
When parents can’t be depended on to give a child a sense of what is real the child will keep
Trying to find the sounding board that she never had.
Also I struggle with being ‘bad’ when I have needs and then of course bad because I’m feeling
Bad – because I was a troublemaker due to my needs and acting out!

I like that idea of writing out values and guidelines for behaviour.

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Michelle Piper December 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Your comment about Lana’s post is one I hear a lot from my coaching and therapy clients. One of the things we seek from others is validation for our essential imperfect way of being…meaning because we are human we have needs, and having needs doesn’t make us bad, though an unhealthy person will tell us we are a burden, weak, acting like a victim and so forth. When one has a narcissistic parent, there’ll often be the memory and fear of an inconsistent attachment based upon meeting ever-changing conditions the parent set for giving a semblance of love and attention. One thing that helps is to jot down a “bill of rights” for yourself of decent treatment deserved and normal needs that make you human. A quick way to do this is to imagine someone else you care about and what basic treatment you feel they should expect and then see if you can grant yourself at least that minimum of care. If you try it, let me know a favorite one you came up with, if you’re willing to share.

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Lydia August 19, 2016 at 6:12 am

I like the Bill of Rights idea and am wondering if there could be a designated section of the website where we could contibute our individual lists of ten.( I may only be able to come up with three…….and as an ACON, I am thinking, ‘Wow, I would actually get (10) ten rights? …..and my NM will not be able to dismiss nine of them…..?!?’)

Excellent topic and follow-up Q & A, especially the Q about being able to trust your own judgement vs defense mechanisms/ survival instincts.

Because of that very uncertainty in living, I married an N and am finally divorced from a 22 year marriage. It took forever to feel “right” about leaving him as he was running a smear campaign while we were separated. I was and always have been dismissed as being wrong.

Still in the same small town as my X (Who actually offered to give up custody of our 2 kids.). To reduce trauma, I decided to keep DS, age 10, in same town /school district for his stability. As for me, I want to relocate EVERY day, but question my own judgement on that. (My son is not exactly thriving in this school system.) Small town advice says I should not move / traumatze HS son any more b/c I’ve put him through “so much” already.

I moved here 25 years ago to a town I neve liked to marry, away from family and friends. Post divorce in same town as X, all hope of “‘moving on” has been dashed. He’s run a pretty good smear campaign so I’m constantly hearing comments from others as well as my internal parent tapes of “see what a mess you are/ you’ve made?” I am having trouble finding work and have zero social life.

Would LOVE to read more about how others moved far, far away from their NM or N…My Q: Did it help? It seems overwhelming. DS graduates HS in 2018.

So torn! So much lost self- confidence! And I feel and internal barrage of blame/ shame. How to let it go/ be a better parent to myself?

Loss of 40 years spent tangled up with Ns = grief for lost time.

Maybe I’m still a frog in the pot and need to grab my dear son and hop out!

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Stacey December 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Hello, discovering this website has been like an avalanche of discovery, relief and information. I always knew ‘something’ was off about my mother, how could I have grown up 3 feet away from my siblings (both younger) but have had such a different childhood than them? This is how!
I can not say THANK YOU enough to everyone who helped set up this site and contributed.

Lana and Barwin raise some very good questions that I was asking myself as well. Every action or word I spoke a a kid was wrong, and often harshly punished for. Not.One.Thing. was ever right, while my brother and sister could do no wrong. I always figured I was defective, I wasn’t ‘right’ in the head. I now struggle with crippling fears of intimacy, self-doubt and whenever my supervisor calls me I immediately assume I have done something wrong even though I am very good at my job and usually right.
Getting away from those people was the best thing I ever did. My siblings recently revealed to me that I have been written out of the family will. What surprised me most was that I was not surprised, or felt anything actually, by this revelation. I had long expected that. They cited my choice to live far away as justification.

I grew up on a farm, miles from the nearest town. I had nowhere to go, nowhere to run when my mother was going ape-sh*t. She controlled my every waking moment, right down to how I sat at the dinner table and how many chews I gave my food before swallowing. I was never allowed to have more pocket money than my siblings, I was cruelly punished for not doing as well as them in school (they were gifted students, my brother went to college classes at 14), and the handful of times I did do well I was mocked for not having done more on previous occasions and that it ‘took me so long to finally clue in’.
The slightest misdeed or transgression was met with violent punishment. I was not a bad child at all, I never sought out to misbehave, I simply went about my day until she flipped out, would hit me (on a few occasion into unconsciousness) and then go back to what I was doing. I almost never had a proper explanation.

My birthday typically falls on the first day of school, as such I received school supplies as presents for many years… the same binder, pencils etc. that my siblings got for no special reason.
I was allowed 3 bathroom breaks a day (none after 8pm. If I had to really go I tried to sneak/tip toe down the hall, but she always heard the toilet flush. This usually resulted in a beating) and 2 five minute showers a week. She found me my first job as a nanny for another family friend when I was 12. From that day on I was solely responsible for my own personal effects, clothes and entertainment. I was still not allowed to spend any money without her permission first (we did not have debit cards) and I was rarely allowed to go shopping or stay with friends and see a movie.
I was forbidden from speaking at meal times, only my brother and sister could tell how their day was.

The worst part?… no one I know from my childhood, or who knows my mother will ever believe me.
She is well liked in the community and is a popular dog trainer. My father is an amazing man, but he is an enabler. Everyone who has ever met our family loves my mother and thinks she is wonderful.
The few times I was allowed friends over she changed her demeanor significantly. She walked differently, her voice was gentle and kind, she laughed, made cookies for us, acted like a real mom you would see on TV. As soon as I was alone again, the game was back on.
It never ends…..
The kicker is this… to this day when I visit I have a bed time…. yes, a real bed time of 10pm… I am 30 and have lived on my own since 17.

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Michelle Piper December 8, 2012 at 9:59 am

Hi Stacey,
The face the narcissistic mother shows to those she wants to gain narcissistic supply (her dog training community, her non-scapegoated children) and the face she shows to her scapegoated or lost child causes a lonely torture for that child. Fellow ACON’s believe you and I’m glad you found part of our community.

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barwin December 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Hi Michele,
Thank you for the response to my previous post. It helped me understand splitting better, I’ll still have to read it a few times more.
It makes sense about her distracting herself from her flaws by fixing me. But she also didn’t like it when I wasn’t ok – if I was sad/angry
she’d get upset. Maybe I had to be not ok on her terms. Its so confusing.

It amazes me how extreme it can be – Stacey’s post really got to me – how controlling and overt it was whereas my experience was a lot
More covert.

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Dahir December 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Hello! What a life-changing website. I have just experienced enlightening ‘Aha moments’ for just reading this article and the comments. First for identifying with the two personality concept. My contradicting personality has always puzzled me because as you rightly described, I digress and behave immaturely in certain situations which often brought shame. The second is Munchausen Syndrome. I have always wondered why my mum used to exaggerate her illnesses for attention and it turned out there is a name for such behaviour. Thank you so much for such a wondeful website.
Could you please expand more on the two personality syndrome? Also I would appreciate it if you could tell us any books that address this particular issue to learn more about it. God bless you.
Dahir

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Charles December 22, 2012 at 9:29 am

This is exactly what my ex-wife has. Her mother is a complete narcissist who dangles love in front of her daughter like a carrot on a stick for my wife to get her to do things, but yanks it away and whips her when I stop my wife from playing into her twisted perception of family relationships. Sadly, my wife for all her intelligence and ability, is emotionally trapped in high school. Her need for getting attention fixes from other men drove me to divorce her, and that finally sounded the wake up call that made her admit that it’s an irrational habit and not what she truly wants from life. Hopefully she can seek therapy so that she may be a better mother to our children, she loves them with all her heart but she was letting these tendencies wreak havoc with her relationship with them. I’m watching them like a hawk, and am happy to say they’re her problems with her mother have not robbed her children of their innocence… yet.

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Charles December 22, 2012 at 9:30 am

Hopefully with therapy and counseling, she can make good on her promise to return to our family and be the mother and wife we needed and wanted.

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Maya December 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

Charles I’m new to this life saving forum and I already feel I can’t wait to wake up to a new morning tomorrow… it’s 3.22 am on this side of the world and I’m going to sleep finally but not before I write these words to you: embrace her, comfort her, hold her, reassure her, love her that’s all she needs. Love and acceptance. Let her read this forum. I was devastated after my husband and i divorced. I am now remarried to a wonderful man we have 2 beautiful girls, though it is not easy i know, his patience, love and understanding gives me hope and is my cure…
Good luck to you both and to all of us…

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Oneheart January 1, 2013 at 3:24 pm

This site is so good. I don,t feel so alone anymore. My mother died five months ago. I was the scapegoat to and beyond the grave. I felt compelled to visit and help during her fight with lung cancer. I kept waiting for the swipe at my heart or mind. My mother did not like the way I responded to her golden boy, my brother. He came to help out and decided he was the only one who knew how to talk to people who visited, he also decided to try and tell me when I could speak to my mother. I am a teacher with a Masters degree, my brother sells cars. I never looked down on him, but my mother supported this behavior and would tell my brother how intelligent he was. I wanted the hell to end. One day he pushed e aside as he came to see about my mother. I got upset and yelled at him o keep his hands off me. I went home only to find my moth had banned me from coming back.

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Oneheart January 1, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I seem to keep hitting the post too soon. I need to say this. My ting mom banned me from her home fr getting upset with my brother. I was fold to stay away, the looks were changed, building guards told to remove me from being lowed in the building. He next day I was told to come a runnin, it was beyond stressful, it was toxic. She was moved to a hospice a few days later. My sister, the other golden child told me to Come and bring my kids. If I didn’t,t come I was keeping mommies grands from her on her deathbed, once again I had to go into he fire. My mother was so kind to all the other people, she was sweet and loving, but with me she old become the monster within when others were out of earshot or sight, as soon as they came back, she changed into fluff and sweetness. When I got there she had a meeting to decide if Inshould be allowed to come around. They called me and they were raving a meeting as to whether I should be there. No matter what I did I was suppose to be the bad guy. My mother looked at me with hatred in her eyes, I had to take it. She had told my favorite older aunt how horribly I had acted, she knew this would damage the relationship, my Aunt would not speak to me even at the funeral. All money went to my other siblings, all the jewelry our deceased father gave her went to my sister, I just found out she left my oldest son one of her insurance policies. Me I got the memory . Nothing I did, felt, or expressed mattered. I hoped she would make peace, not a chance. I told her I forgave her, she just looked at me. She resented me for getting my masters degree, she wanted either my brother or sister to be educated. At the funeral I had people asking me what happened, here I was at her funeral still dealing with the character assassinations eft by my mother. I gave up hoping to have good relations with my aunt, all because mercy for the scapegoat has no meaning even during death. If you think death will soften there heart toward you, you are wrong. I suggest building a steel tower around your heart, leave all hope at the door . I will say this, low contact, no contact, is your greatest defense. Expect nothing and you will be fine, surrounds yourself with people who care, and yes, you probably will or have lost family who believed the intricate web of deception.

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Geminigrl March 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

Dear Oneheart,

I love your inspiration and the drive to get an education and excel in life. Your mother dismissed your achievements just like all narcissistic mothers do because you were a shadow of her and she despised your success.
After I read this site, I found out why my childhood was filled with pain and why eventually, I was almost like an orphan jumping from foster home to foster home without any parents. My mother lead me to believe as a child while growing up and trying to figure out who I was, that I was a bad child and deserved the violent beatings that my then alcoholic father put me through. I was labeled the scapegoat while my felon brother was the golden child. My brother has tried to hit me and when he would get drunk he would even try to touch me inappropriately but my mother always seen me as the problem and would blame my appearance as the problem. I have always attracted a lot men and I believe it bothered her in a way.
I recall moments when I would get beatings I would scream so loud; the cops were even called by neighbors. My mother moved us away from my dear grandmother because my grandmother tried to protect me from the violence after seeing half of my leg dark purple when I was a child. After my grandmother passed away, my mother would make me believe my grandmother said I was a bad child and she would have never been capable of taking care of me.
Your story brought tears to my eyes, I admire your strength. I understand your great deal of pain but know that it was never you that was the problem it was your mother’s illness. Your story brings inspiration to many that have gone through the mental torture of being the scapegoat all their lives.

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barwin January 1, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Hi Michelle and everyone,
Happy New Year and I hope you had a fun and love-filled Christmas holiday.
This year I decided to stay away from family environments. This last year was
way too stressful and I needed to recuperate – being with family isn’t usually
conducive to this! I’ve been wondering how people are feeling this holiday –
A painful time for many and confusing too. It was difficult keeping no contact
With my mother – she kept trying to find a way to see me. After reading the above
posts and talking to a friend with an n dad I keep getting new realisations of how
Insidius this abuse is. What hit me recently is how my biggest fear is when I speak
To my mother I always come away feeling that I’m the fake one – there’s something
wrong with me. That post you wrote Michelle – about ns having a bad object hit
Home. What I recently read was that an n’s ‘needs’ is really about their wants –
and they want it now! I feel guilty but this does strike a cord with me. When I think
About how my mother has manipulated men and anyone to get wgat she wants –
Making it seem to be about her legitimate needs. Sometimes I feel she’s not a human
– some kind of alien instead – she pretends to my family that I’m unkind because I’m not
Meeting her needs. So hard not to be defensive and suspicious of others when they try to get close!
That’s what some of the other posters were reminding me of. Its good to be with people who are
trustworthy.
A friend helped me so much recently when she said: don’t see how you relate to your
Mother as the benchmark for how you relate with others – that’s when I realised that I really
Still feel like the bad one with my mother – it must be me kind of feeling!
So my dream to welcome 2013: my mother organised me to see a play therapist who got me to shoot
A beebi gun at a target (mum was just in front of target but I had to miss her) and everytime I got angry
and said something bout her the therapist told me I wasn’t cooperating! He had a thick file on me
(info given him by my mother) and I got the feeling they were conspiring to commit me to some place!
Michelle, I’ve thought about that ‘bill of rights’ we need to have and what treatment I think a friend
should get and I think my favourite is: for her feelings to be accepted as they are for her – even if the listener
Can’t understand why those feelings are as strong as they are. They are valid.
Anyway, I hope you all had a very nurturing time with yourselves.

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barwin January 1, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Dear Oneheart,
I’m so sorry you went through all that – so devastating, dealing with uour mothers
Illness, death and cruelty and the scapegoating by the rest of the family. I hope you
Have some people in your life who can show you acceptance and kindness. I’m trying
At the moment to first see the negative internalised view of myself and then be kind to
Myself instead! Its good that you’ve found this blog, I’ve looked at several and I feel
This is the one I feel most comfortable in. It is informative and yet hope-inspiring too
– I am very encouraged that I can change ny attachment style to become healthier with others
– because focussing on my unhealthy style and buying in to hopelessness about it just
Reinforces my feeling I’m ‘bad’ and also very lonely. So we are not alone and I hope you
Can give yourself lots of comfort and I’m glad you are standing up for yourself with your
Family. No one deserves to be the scapegoat.

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Thetree January 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Hi
Very informative website. I would like some advice or if someone has dealt with the same, how did you deal with it. How, what can you do for a child that is living with a mother with narcissistic trades?
I love the kid and have helped raise her, but I am also going through my own issues, and I find it hard to cope with her mother, because she is so agressive towards me, because I had enough of her behaviour and told her so. Her mother is aware of some of her behavoir and has expressed wanting to change it, but she is unwilling to do the hard work. I have tried beeing a calm and soft person that the child can come to if anything is wrong. But I also had the same narcissistic mother as the kids mother, and I know in stresssituasion I can revert back to how I was brought up. Should I say yes to every demand her mother has, just so I can see the kid, or should I let the child alone, so she will not have to feel she has to choose sides and not having to hear her mother yell at yet another person? I’m torn because I also want the child to know, that is ok to stand up for youself, that yelling and screaming is not accetable behaviour. I don’t want the cycle of dysfuntional family behavior to continue. Because beeing angry and yelling at anything and everybody and not owning up to it, is a family trade. I want to do what is best for the child, but I would also, and I feel so guilt for saying so, to keep my own sanity. I know what would be best for me now, but not what would be best for the child, because I don’t have children myself. Has anybody been in a similar situasion, and how did you deal with it?

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Maus January 10, 2013 at 1:22 am

Hello all,
Wow! This is a very powerful website which has opened a can of very ugly worms in my life. I would like to share my experiences with the above guy worried about a child. In a nutshell, you have to take care of yourself, lest you become the enabler and also put yourself in another toxic situation. My experience, as the wife of someone who has a fiercely narcissistic ex-partner, and as the befuddled owner of a messy memory of feeling fake, rejected and useless is that you are putting yourself back in a co-dependent relationship with a narcissist in the hope that you can save this poor kid. Maybe the Mom would be willing to have therapy. It would be a start. My husband has a 15-year old daughter who is so messed up it’s tragic. Her mum alternately punishes her for behaviour she has labelled bad and rewards her for other excesses such as bitching about her Dad and me. The mother HAS to be the font of knowledge (above all professionals) about her kids and truly believes she is a great Mother. Unfortunately, her daughter’s true solace is with her Father, but at the total denial of me and with the ultimate loss of herself. None of the kids even call me by my name and the daughter has, over the years, kicked and punched me, threatened to kil me, verbally abused me about my looks, age, body etc. I am beginning to think that it kinda suits my husband to be treated like a God by his kid and this is a worry. Since discovering this website I have realized that I am from a very high-functioning narcissistic family who used humor to belittle the scapegoat (me) and that my husband is some kind of a fearing narcissist. He cannot stand me having a relationship with my family (even though I live 10,000 miles away from them). He punishes me if I phone them but rewards me with such sweet loving excess when I stay away. This affection, and my dependence on it, has been the source of much distress for my step-daughter and I feel very badly for her that I may be in the crushing embrace of a very strange man indeed. I would love to be able to help myself and my step-daughter but there is nothing I can do for her. I may, once I have recovered from these revelations, have to make strong changes and leave her to work it all out for herself.

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thetree January 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Hi and thanks for you story. Beeing an enabler, is not what i want to be anymore.
I wish you the best of luck in you sorting and hope you find a bestfriend in yourself.

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Joseph in Egypt February 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Michelle, thank you so much for putting up this website; your prose style is wonderfully clear and pragmatic, it really is great to be able to reality-check one’s experience against both your essays and the survivor stories of other readers. I totally identify with the stuff about how malignant narcissistic moms con other grownups into closing ranks and condemning their children for nonexistent crimes and misdemeanors. My dad was a great guy, but when he died (after a nine-year battle with kidney disease- I was fifteen at the time, my little sister was eleven), there was no one there to keep mom’s NPD in check; I was the Scapegoat, my sister the Golden Child, and mom’s reign of emotional terrorism raged across my teenage years like a Panzer division rolling through Holland and hellbent for Paris. At forty-six, and recovering from a devastating long-distance romance with a histrionically narcissistic femme fatale, or siren, it hit me this year that I have spent my entire adult life taking care of f’d-up narcissistic women. The last one (the long-distance love affair) presented herself as the sweetest, most innocent ex-Mormon damsel in distress, and like many histrionic narcissists, this one’s M.O. was to use a man’s strengths to destroy him, to lure him into her web and drink his blood until he finally succumbed to near-psychotic depression, baffled and lost, and mad with grief for what could have been- except that it never could have been. With the exception of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Robber Bride’ (and some other literary texts and folk legends, such as the story of Odysseos and the siren Circe, or the story of how Lancelot was driven stark, staring mad by Guinevere and ran naked into the woods to live on roots and acorns for three years, in the medieval Arthurian tales, or Frodo and Sam’s escape from Shelob the giant spider in the Mountains of Mordor, or, generally and synoptically, the Wikipedia article one finds if one Googles the phrase ‘femme fatale’) your site has been the first writing I’ve found that portrays the journey of the adult son of a devouring narcissistic mom with any kindness, or understanding. Most of the stuff out there, that I’ve seen, is pretty thoroughly co-opted by the all-American postmodern feminazi hatred and scapegoating of boy and men, all men; while being most kind and sympathetic to female survivors of a narcissistic mother. Thank you for being here, and ‘getting it’. It helps a LOT.

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Eric Anger February 3, 2013 at 1:55 am

A warning to all who read this: If your mother is a MALIGNANT narcissist, you are putting yourself in GRAVE danger by continuing ANY contact with her. I had broken away and just found a happy place when mine decided to bring it all down around me, launching a shadow campaign in my family, social circles AND career that would make a CIA operative envious. Ultimately I wound up nearly losing my life before I discovered what was truly going on. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH: IF YOU THINK YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM A NARCISSISTIC MOTHER, GET COUNSELING OR LEGAL HELP IN SOME WAY, RIGHT AWAY. DO NOT GIVE HER THE UPPER HAND!

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Abbey February 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Hi, my names Abbey.
I’ve been the scapegoated child of my narcissist mother and enabler father for, well, ever.
My sister has always been the golden child, perfect and accepted. My question is…for some reason, despite the fact I know that I need to go ‘no contact’ with both of my parents, I’m frightened to leave. Isn’t that ridiculous? It’s like I’m frightened to go out into the world and build a future for myself. I’m scared of leaving the darkness that I have learned to live in. Only, it’s killing me living here, I had all my boxes packed, but then I felt trapped, And tried to end my life last November and ended up in the ICU with serotonin syndrome. I survived, but It was a stupid mistake, because it has made everything so much worse at home. My parents actually asked me in hospital “Did we do something wrong?” and I just thought “oh god…” You wouldnt believe the way some of the nurses looked at me after seeing how loving and concerned my parents acted in the hospital. “You know your parents love you so much” And then they told my parents I showed the signs of a borderline personality (Realistically a suicide attempt doesnt mean BPD) Can you imagine how muted I am at home now that my parents have all the reason to believe I am the one who is sick and there is something wrong with me? And my reasonings and voice are drowned out because they think I’m ill. Well, I really do look like the black sheep now… I was wondering if you could help my understand why I am so afraid to leave? Is it because I have never known life outside as my families negativity sponge? Maybe i have neglected myself for so long that looking after myself is Confusing? I’m nineteen, and had to defer my university degree in journalism because I was working so much to try and raise money to leave this place. Now I have enough, but I’m stuck here for some reason… Thank you. Abbey x

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thetree February 4, 2013 at 7:37 am

Hi Abbey

Ppl in abusive relationship who chose to stay, often say they felt they deserved the treatment and felt is was their fault. Maybe you have a wish for you parens love and support and by you moving out, feels like closing the door at that ever happening. Change is often scary, because many thing shifts at the same time. You can’t be brave, if you’re not scared, is a quote from an author.

I had a similar experience as you. I was a bit younger and had no meens to earn any money, because i was not allowed to have a job, a paperroute by my parents. I felt so trapt at home and longed for the day i could move out, but knowing my parents would hold on to me with everything they had and for as long as they could. And i felt guilty for hurting their feelings. My escape was moving in to a grouphome for teens with mental illness. Ever since than, i’ve provided for myself and lived on my own. I’ve had some stops at my parents house inbetween trying to find appartments. They always try to get me to stay, saying if i lived with them i would be able to save my money to buy an appartment. I would think about the film Psycho, and imagining myself still living with my parents at the age of 40, and still not having saved enough to buy an appartment, having no life of my own and beeing a real nutcase.

All i knew was that staying meant dying, and leaving i thought would mean my life would be good. Well it has taken me a long time to understand that living on my own and physically removing myself in it self, does not make everything better. I still live with emotional legacy of my childhood. So now i’m working on seperating myself emotionally from my parents.

You have accomplished to earn enough to move out, you should be proud of youself for that. Good job. Seek out ppl that are supportive of you, so you don’t feel so alone when you move out. Maybe having a therapist or a group therapy would help, just knowing that you have someone there that you can turn to, can be a comfort, even if you don’t use it. Wish you the best.

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Misstree March 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

Thanks for the site, like Lana, and a bunch of other stories, I relate only too well all the abuse and ‘cloak and dagger’ torture endured as the scapegoat. (only by a higher power did I survive!)
Only I’d stayed away/overseas for 15 yrs and then thought things would change (unaware of what the true narcissist was) and they would love my children, like they loved my siblings. It didn’t take long for the abuse to start again (and the typical disapproving glances, body language, tone – all things dismiss-able to the outsider as “you’re reading too much into it”). We’ve been back now 3 years and I actually had a baby here, unexpectedly. We had a family row (before I was pregnant), where a sibling verbally abused me in front of the rest of the family and they sat & did nothing, showed me that they all thought it was ok to treat me like a kicked dog. (even before I knew about NPD) So I never told them I was pregnant, but she felt it her duty to inform the family of an imminent arrival, and “who the hell did I think I was telling her when I was 5mths pregnant?”… she’d refused to come out and celebrate my birthday with my family, when I would have told her at 12 weeks. (My dad knew, but even sworn to secrecy, I think he told her). So I got a catalogue of abuse. I’d had enough. I’d decided close to the due date to write a ‘goodbye letter’ to her and emailed it, and ironically the baby arrived that night, a beautiful baby girl. I have been on cloud nine ever since saying goodbye, but also now my father, the enabler, is shutting me out too. He’s also a narcissist (only child & self employed consultant – so always had people pander to him as well). I think I gave him much more tolerance, but he just reinforced her nastiness towards me, and would convince me to apologise (no matter what it was) and ‘keep the peace’.
I’m in a nightmare (of my own stupidity) that I moved my beautiful family back, and after a good portion of those years away mostly happy, and getting to a point of being well-adjusted as possible, I’ve dragged my family back into the hellfire & now siblings are telling me I’m selfish for keeping the cousins away from each other, because of my (imagined) mistreatment by them. sheesh! Worst of all I have a great husband who’s gentle and loving and I’m taking my anger out on him, when he’s not to blame. (We’ve been to counselling – it’s hard but worth it).
The other day my Dad said to me that my mother was on her deathbed (like the past 6 years) and not long later I see her car in the shopping centre, & then she drove into the liquor shop as I was on my way for school pickup. As it happens she’d just booked a cruise! Deathbed? Funny tho’ – they can’t stand eachother, and yet they will have to tolerate each other in a small cabin for 2 weeks…
Yes, expecting to be written out of the will. It hurts. Not the will bit, but the deception, the nastiness, the hatred. I worry how much is filtering thru to my children, hard as I try to be different. It’s a forever mission.
My mother mocked me saying I used to think I was adopted, and ‘how dare I’… actually it was a survival mechanism, that I already recognised I wasn’t like them. It was like a game played that they knew the rules, and as soon as I recognised a small part, they’d move the goalposts, and laugh at me. Subtle bully tactics.
I am sorry that we moved. And now stuck here as the kids are older, and need to be settled. Financially it’s a real struggle, compared with our old life. We just make do with whatever we can. And I will never play my kids off each other. Everyday is hard knowing my folks are geographically so close, and don’t care (or enjoy) that they don’t call.
The latest saga, is my Dad will email to take the older kids somewhere – I’m not invited to go. My husband is of course welcome. I partially think it’s so he can get the cousins (my kids and my abusive siblings kids) to meet up, even tho’ I’m not wanting that to happen – the kids are lovely, but the parents are not.
argh, this really sucks. And the lasting legacy of me (us here) is we are caught as adult/children suffering still.

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Happiness April 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I can relate so much to your story. I moved away from my mother and started my own life…ridding myself of the toxicity. I found my own happiness and joy. I had my children and my mom seemed to turn a corner. She loved my children and encouraged me to move near her….where I grew up and had unhappy memories. She promised to be a support system for me and to let us live with her for two months until we closed on my house. The minute we got here the abuse and mental warfare began. I offered to pay her utilities ….that wasn’t good enough…she demanded rent. My children are now a burden to her and lets me know in her own demeaning way that she is not interested to making my life easy in any way. She recanted almost everything/promise she made on how she would be a support system for me and my family and now sees my children less now then she did when I lived 35 minutes away. We have to remember that WE are in control of our happiness and even though they are in close proximity to us…we cannot let them to continue to control our lives and happiness. I am trying to work through this and want to feel happy where I am. I feel tricked by my spiteful mother and really want to get past that!

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Papillion May 6, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Thank you for sharing, Happiness,

I am reading these comments years after they were posted, but the behaviors described are so common amongst N-women that it doesn’t matter where or when they occur. You described a scenario which also happened to me, one that I never expected–and which could have devastated me if I hadn’t already known that the woman in question had concurrent diagnoses.

Although I certainly wish I had found and read these posts years ago, I will add my own anecdotes not only to validate what has already been said–but as a warning to others who are being led down the proverbial “Garden Path” by diabolical nutcases.

All the advice recommends that those of us who suffer from N-female relatives somehow find good support elsewhere. If only finding that good support were a simple matter. I grew up playing my cards very close to my chest–not letting friends get as close as I would have liked as a teenager, because there was little good news to share about the reality of my day to day life. I also didn’t feel safe enough to confide in family members about my parents’ behavior most of the time, because of course they minimized or denied nearly all of the crap that went on. If I had told a school counselor about certain choice activities, there was a good chance that I would have wound up in a foster home.

Although I have been in my own form of Adult Children Recovery for over a decade now, most of that recovery has taken place very far from the geographic area where I grew up. I chose to go no contact with half of my family for a couple of years, but still never thought it appropriate to discuss the reasons why with anyone other than counsellors.

So to make a long story short, the church which had been supporting me stupidly bought into narcissistic narratives, and decided that I “belonged at home.” My experience was so much like the ones described above, that I decided to share a bit of it here in the hope that the next unsuspecting soul who reads these accounts will either not get caught out–or at least not be surprised when the N reverts to Dr Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

Although of course the inevitable horror show eventually occurred with my N-Mom upon my reluctant return to the area where I grew up, I really wanted to describe the behavior of a woman who had formerly been a fairly close, reasonably reliable friend (until she, too, went manifestly bonkers.) I was struck by the similarity of events which the previous poster, Happiness, described.

So in my case, this former female friend also urged me to come to live with her–emphasizing community amenities, proximity to her own family, and her willingness to accommodate my furniture. I did not think it would work out over the long term, because this person had been diagnosed with a couple of issues several years after we met. But just as Happiness posted, I was eventually convinced to give it a try for the short term–until I found something better.

Things seemed to be okay for the first few weeks, but this woman apparently couldn’t leave our relationship as it was. She seemed to be trying to get me enmeshed with her local set of contacts, and trying to (actually not very subtly) manipulate me with a set of people that I thankfully had no interest in. Meanwhile, I paid all my own expenses, half the utilities, and only saw her for a couple of quiet hours in the evenings.

As long as I was barely functioning (and perhaps seemed easy to manipulate,) she seemed eager to have me around! However, when I began to feel better, and displayed more competency in some areas (perhaps areas of functioning that she never had, or that just pissed her off?) her behavioral circuits began to blow.

This manifested, at first, in bizarre passive aggressive remarks and random household demands–which, in hindsight, look specifically like control and competition, as opposed to just an escalating pattern of manipulation due to mental illness and stress. At one point she reneged on her offer to let me stay for the short term without paying rent, and suddenly commanded me to start paying. Nonetheless, I had enough early warning and experience to know that after the first unprovoked verbal attack, it was time to start packing.

I avoided her during the forthcoming few days that it took me pack up and find another address–but she seemed fixated on her perceived entitlement to verbally abuse and harass me for no reason whatsoever. Sensing that she was going around the bend, I only wanted to get out as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, she started to leave messages on my phone and email, demanding that we have a a face to face “showdown,” presumably, to provide her with an opportunity to act out some crazy apeshit. I understood this to be stalking, and redoubled my efforts to get out as quickly as possible.

She was so screwed up that even as I wordlessly dragged out the last carload of belongings, she whined, “You don’t have to go,” while simultaneously continuing to exhibit the same belligerent, In Your Face attitude with which she had been harassing me for the past week or so.

Her behavior reminded me of a (perhaps) less violent version of the Stephen King movie “Misery,” where Kathy Bates’ character breaks a man’s legs so that he will become her permanently dependent prisoner. By this point, thank God, at least I knew that abusive behavior tends to be progressive–to escalate over time. However, my trust in both male and female adults has now been put on ice.

I forget which media personality is known for saying, “When people tell you who they are, believe them”–maybe Oprah? Anyway, I concur with that bit of wisdom. Watch for behavioral red flags–if something seems off, don’t ignore it. Pay attention to your gut. Observe behavioral patterns over time, and remember that you can’t really know somebody until you’ve known them for years, and seen them in all kinds of situations–especially situations when either they or you are under severe stress. How they choose to behave during those times should be noted.

Reciprocal personal relationships (the healthy kind) are a two-way street. Beneficial personal relationships are supportive, life-affirming, and sometimes joyful. You have the right to be deeply and madly loved, and to deeply, joyfully love yourself. Don’t let a miserable N take that away from you. Live long and prosper–even if you have to go somewhere else to do it!

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Happy April 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

I can relate so much to your story. I moved away from my mother and started my own life…ridding myself of the toxicity. I found my own happiness and joy. I had my children and my mom seemed to turn a corner. She loved my children and encouraged me to move near her….where I grew up and had unhappy memories. She promised to be a support system for me and to let us live with her for two months until we closed on my house. The minute we got here the abuse and mental warfare began. I offered to pay her utilities ….that wasn’t good enough…she demanded rent. My children are now a burden to her and lets me know in her own demeaning way that she is not interested to making my life easy in any way. She recanted almost everything/promise she made on how she would be a support system for me and my family and now sees my children less now then she did when I lived 35 minutes away. We have to remember that WE are in control of our happiness and even though they are in close proximity to us…we cannot let them to continue to control our lives and happiness. I am trying to work through this and want to feel happy where I am. I feel tricked by my spiteful mother and really want to get past that!

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Claire April 14, 2013 at 12:28 am

Thanks so much for this sight. It is so easy to feel alone with this. I told my psychologist about dozens of incedents, her comment was why would I remain in contact. Guilt, disbelief of your story being believed. when the narcisstic (actress) mother has her role so well perfected. I can remember things happening when I was very young, the Nm acting like a five year old. Too bad it took me to be 53 to realize it. Thanks again for this sight.

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Michelle Piper April 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

Hi Claire,
Your comment, ‘I told my psychologist about dozens of incidents, her comment was why would I remain in contact. Guilt, disbelief of your story being believed,’ reflects the experience of many in our community.
You’re not alone; Many people never go “no contact” with their NM for many reasons. There are varied opinions on this in the psychological community and ultimately, it is your well earned right to handle it in the way that works best for you whether that be no contact, low contact, detached contact and so on.
Welcome to our community,
Michelle

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Breesia April 14, 2013 at 4:51 am

Omg! I can’t believe I stumbled upon this site. I am just now starting to wonder what’s wrong with my mother after excusing her behavior for years. It feels good to know that there is actually a name for it.

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Happiness April 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm

I am so happy that I found this website. I have been dealing with these issues for many, many years. I am an adult now and had many boundaries in place before I recently took some of them down. I gave my mother the position of the upper hand and she has now hurt me and my children. I think there is nothing that can be salvaged from our relationship. My whole life, I felt like I was crazy and oversensitive misinterpreting her comments and actions. She was trying to be on her best behavior in front of my husband but now can’t hide it…even he sees through her manipulation and jealousy. On my recent encounter with her she acted as though she was five. It is just so strange and so sad. I have never admitted these issues to anyone accept for very close friends. I have never had so much clarity after taking time away from her. She puts me in situations where she can hurt or belittle me. I am mad at myself for trusting her again. I am trying to redefine my relationship with her and move on with my life.

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Sarah July 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Thank you for this post. Though I my mother is not narcissistic in all regards she definetly did a lot of blaming and was always on the defensive. Both my parents were always willing to do everything they could for me and my brother and always made sacrifices for us. But one both my brother and I suffered was my mother always blaming others for everything that went wrong. I mean even a little suggestion that might result in something totally out of our control would result in me getting blamed. I am also very indescive, and it makes sense, how can I make a decision if I’m used to getting blamed for any choice or not giving an opinion at all. I feel that sense of the other like is stated in this article, where at times I just fall apart at the littlest things crying and yelling. I feel so ashamed. Growing up I struggle a lot with my self esteem because of my mothers constant criticisms and feeling unable to ever make the right choice. I know other people here suffered much worse than I did so I’m not sure if I’m just extra sensitive or I’m just using my mother as an excuse for my immaturity. But I’ve always struggled on how to express my feelings, whenever I fall into one of these immature states I try to learn from it and try to figure out ways to stop it from happening again but I always end up in the same place. Now that I am engaged I take out these feelings on my fiancé and it makes me really afraid that I’m hurting him as well. He try’s to be understanding but there is only so much one can handle. What steps can I take to get over this? I don’t know anything really about therapy or where I should go to get it. I’m hoping to develop better coping mechanisms and be able to build up my self esteem and no longer look for others approval.

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Sarah July 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Sorry for the grammatical errors! I posted while using my phone and didn’t exactly proofread like I should have .

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Rencontre Gratuite Sexe October 2, 2014 at 11:43 am

Heya! I know this is somewhat off-topic but I
needed to ask. Does managing a well-established website like yours take a large amount of work?
I’m brand new to blogging but I do write in my journal every day.

I’d like to start a blog so I can share my experience and feelings online.
Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas
or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

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Danielle November 28, 2014 at 9:05 pm

It’s as if you were inside my own psyche and had been there for years analyzing my thoughts and behaviors. I’m in a lot of pain right now, I have estranged myself from my mother and am still struggling to come to grips with the fact that she will never be able to give me the type of leadership and mothering I needed. She will spend the rest of her life throwing blame, manipulating and deflecting. My entire family is against me at this point, not for anything that I have done, but because I decided to cut ties with my mother. I really appreciate this article, it touched me deeply.

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Blossoming in England February 5, 2015 at 6:47 am

Hi

Thank you for sharing your stories with us. I’m also a daughter of a narcissistic mother. I continue to see her mostly from guilt and because although very flawed, she is the only grandmother my daughter has. And with supervision, she is a much better grandmother than mother.

I’ve been to much counselling – not just about this – my father died when I was 16 and he loved me unconditionally – although he was hardly ever there so in this way, an enabler and in some ways also an abuser – he was the one, who instigated violence, mostly against the family dog and my brother. I was petrified of being hit and I did all I could to stay in line when I was little. At about 15, I rebelled so that I could try to create my own identity and started shouting a lot (which I now know some of this was taking on her anger and wow is she angry!). The way she STILL frequently demeans my behaviour in my teenage years and from that point on, you would think I committed murder – I’m early 40’s. When in fact I went to school every day, never stole, always told her where I was, respected curfews/bedtimes and now have a university degree.

I’m feeling so much freer. I am the black sheep of the family, the one upon whom all of the families problems are projected. I have one brother, older and he is his mother’s child (Golden Boy and superior according to her, because he is male). He also “married his mother” and my brother’s wife is passive aggressive and screams at my mother when in fact she is relatively pleasant to my SIL – they both act superior in their own way. The ironic thing is that my SIL refuses to follow the slightly OCD house rules in my mother’s house, but expects everyone to follow the oppressive rules when they are house guests in their house – no that wasn’t any fun the last time I tried that either! None of them know how to be hosts or guests – much alcohol involved from my brother and SIL. So my SIL refuses to follow the easy rules like cleaning up after yourself properly in the kitchen for the 2/3 nights you sleep there and starts screaming at my mother. Even so, my mother favours her – I’ve been told it is just to spite me. How mad is that?

There were a few brief years in my late twenties or early thirties, when the roles were reversed, when my brother was used as the scapegoat and I could do no wrong. And that felt so good. Being drawn into the spell, it felt like I had come home, so she must have loved me very much when I was very small. In hindsight, definitely not unconditional love. And it didn’t last.

She lavished gifts on my brother’s child (a boy) when he was born, bought the pushchair and even took the time to make him a baby blanket and she brought my daughter, the first born grandchild, three 0-3 month vests from the local supermarket on her first visit. The only offer she gave me was to ask if there was anything she could knit – I asked for a baby blanket – which she told me she didn’t have time to do. Whoops – didn’t you think I’d notice mother?? She does treat them the same now – otherwise she’d have no contact. But she’s missing out on so much – on the odd occasion when we go shopping, she walks in the opposite direction of the children’s toys/clothes, because I’m money grabbing?! Sorry I thought it should be a pleasure to treat the grandkids occasionally when she can richly afford to do so. Luckily my husband and I are able to make up for most of her failings. And she hardly ever gets to see the grandchildren because her husband (who she started going out with within a week of me leaving home – I think she needed a new person to abuse) is unable to move or feed/dress/go to the loo, in a wheelchair and living at home with her as his carer (in her 70’s). She is a martyr, constantly complaining of her struggles and her ill health. She has swollen ankles in old age – this is due to he adrenals not working properly – which can be greatly helped – and I know people/exercises/diet to help. But she refuses – partly because I couldn’t possibly know better than what a doctor told her 45 years ago and partly because she then wouldn’t have anything to complain about. She will only have us to stay when he is in respite care and then she wants us to spend 2-3 hours in the home with her every day. And when that happens, she expects us to put the dog in kennels – I have chronic fatigue syndrome and this extra task is just too much for me, so now that I’m doing better, my husband and I take it in turns to go and see her/them. According to her, if we cared about her at all, we’d come and see them and stay in a hotel. Her husband comes first – not her grandchildren. Because of the chronic fatigue syndrome, I need a bed, my medicine/vitamins and nutritious food nearby and physically cannot do that and have tried to explain, to no avail. She just repeats that I would if I cared about her.

I tried many years ago to get my mother to just admit to how she treated me so that we could draw a line underneath it. Since then, she has hardly said one civil word to me. I know that is because deep down she knows what she did was wrong but cannot admit it to herself. I live 90 minutes away from her and even with severe CFS, where two years ago, I could hardly stand up, she has an inability to be upstaged by me even in the illness front. When I was pregnant and on painkillers, crutches, refusing to be wheelchair bound she went on and on about her swollen legs during pregnancy… Her horrific stories of childbirth when I was about 10 years old made me petrified of giving birth and I employed a private midwife to avoid a C-section when my time came to give birth. She often talks about how her migraines and coughs/bronchitis (she smoked) plagued her when we were kids and how she just got on with it and how I should be like her, continue “mind over matter”. When I try to explain I can’t because it is physically impossible with CFS, her answer is “oh no, no one could be ill like you”. She constantly complains about her health, when I say nothing about mine. Why be jealous of a debilitating illness, which deprives me of a full life with my beautiful 6 year old girl and husband?

Our encounters usually end up in me exploding at her around 36-48 hours into our seeing each other after countless snipes, which I ignore up to that point and don’t retaliate. And then, she gets that – see I told you so – she’s mad – it’s not me, it’s her superiority – that my mother so gleefully taunts me with. And then launches into an attack “everybody around here (where she lives) knows what you’re like”, etc. And I get the urge to whack her around the head with a stick.

It’s ironic because there is so much projection from her – she’s projecting the parts she doesn’t like of herself onto me and I’ve been trained so well to take all this on board. From birth.

My brother can physically push me around when I have stood up to his awful behaviour and threaten to punch me in front of her (when he criticises me for not helping her out, when I am in a state of collapse) and my SIL scream at my face (because I’m an easier target than my mother). She doesn’t bat an eyelid. I can only imagine this is because in her eyes, I deserve it.

Right now, I’m working on my assertiveness and my inner child to get this sick merry go round to stop. I want to get to a point, where I can stop assimilating her anger. I’m doing a lot of visualisation work – grounding, centring and protecting. It’s working for me.

I also see children around me not being treated with the respect they deserve, my nephew included and I am heartbroken. I also see how many parents treat their kids, perhaps not to the point of abuse in public and I worry about them behind closed doors. I know all that I can do is to be there if ever they need a shoulder.

I am also working on forgiving my parents for only in this way, can I set myself free.

I won’t apologise for this long message, because, we children of narcissistic mothers have spent too long apologising for our very existence. We are all equal and perfect in our own way.

This has been so helpful to me, to put this down in black and white and reread it. I hope that you can take any advice I have given through all my ramblings and thank you for reading.

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Caitlin February 23, 2015 at 7:20 am

I nearly cried reading this!
It just made so much sense, especially after just arguing with my mother, I googled “how to deal with an immature parent and this came up. I may not be an adult just yet(17) but I’ve always felt extremely mature for my age while also immature at moments, knowing that there are other people feeling the same way and that there is hope of not turning out like her, makes me extremely…calm.
It’s hard for me at the moment not only dealing with a narcissistic mother but also a alcoholic/abusive father and lazy manipulative younger sister. I love them butI feel more like the adult more often than not. This article real helped me, thank you.

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Michelle Piper February 23, 2015 at 8:41 am

Welcome to our community, Caitlin. You are welcome to sign up for the email list, too, if you haven’t already. Another article on this site you might find helpful is “How Narcissistic Mothers Create Sibling Rivalry” and there’s also a new video up on the post “Narcissistic Mother.”

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Bootstrap Dove March 9, 2015 at 3:02 am

I am 62 years young! I just got my NARC out of my life 4 days ago. He was the second bad marriage. My first bad marriage lasted 27 years. with five daughters.
At age 50 my second, lasted 10, obviously no children. (Thank Goodness!)
I am amazed at all the information I found once I prayed for clarity! The Lord delivered
it! This website is so insightful and helpful!
The Baby Boomer Generation did NOT have the blessing of all this information! It would have taken decades and lots of therapy to even get half of this information that is on this website and others like it. Therapists don’t lay it all out there and “explain” anything! At least not the one I went to and spent thousands of dollars!
Unfortunately, three of my five now adult children are NARCs also. They were the casualty of staying married for religious reasons, as well as being in the FOG caused
by all the abuses I have suffered.
I have been too slow on the uptake, only able to rescue mine own self with God’s help at this time.
My concern is for my adult children that are NOT NARCs they are still constantly bombarded by my x (1st marriage) I want to get them “wised up”, even as it is so late in the game. I hope to therefore preserve whatever part of my posterity makes it out
of all the mayhem created by these “monsters”. That is my today goal. But that makes
me the rescuer and pulls me right back into the triangle.
What to do? Inform or not to inform? I feel inform is the best, though it will be very painful and risk my relationship with them.
So if there is anyone out there in my same shoes, it would be great to hear your opinions. I feel there NEEDS to be a “wising up”.. But I am new at fixing my own life.
Help wanted…God Bless…

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Alexia April 15, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Hi Michelle,

I can’t get over how well you have captured my mother’s traits. I so thought I was alone. It has also helped my partner because it is hard to explain such a subtle form of abuse. We can see the pattern and understand the causes better, which gives us more tools against it and more words to describe it accurately.

I think my mum may have aspects of other PDs, showing signs of Histrionic and Borderline PD at times, even Antisocial PD. Possibly not enough to be characterised with them outright. Is that common? Almost every time she visits me (the Scapegoat/ Lost Child), she steals from me and of course denies it and throws a tantrum and gets everyone on board as to how I’m crazy and accuse her of everything. Yet she barely hides her stealing, putting my things on display in her cabinets.

I moved to the other side of the world because of her but moved back when my grandparents (who spent more time raising us) were ill. Now I have kids, she is still in my life because I don’t want my kids to not have grandparents, though I never leave her alone with them for more than an hour. She doesn’t seem to treat them the same way. Honestly, because she doesn’t see them often, it’s more like watching grooming which frightens me in a different way. She scapegoats me less now. When I moved away, my stepfather became the scapegoat.

Worryingly, I see the signs of enmeshment in my nieces, the daughters of the Golden Child. I don’t know how to help them. If I leave the family there is no hope for them. The eldest becomes distraught leaving my sister for more than a few hours and even contacts her every day from school. My sister thinks it’s my nieces ‘anxiety.’ It is the sort of Enmeshment my mother experienced from her mother, although my mother is the more the ignoring type. Is this kind of family history common, alternating engulfing and ignoring between generations? How do I break through the BS to show my sister what she is doing? She has severe NPD herself.

Finally, lucky me, I realise my father also has NPD but it shows differently. Less manipulative, more honest in its way. They divorced when I was 2. His shows more up in grandiose showing off, big, exaggerated stories, holding court and needing us to be rich and successful to brag about, otherwise he never contacts us. My sister is increasingly like him. I always envied that she was the Golden Child of both of our parents. Now I’m realising how much she needs my pity. Not that I can get close – they both make us compete for their limited affection and make it about throwing us tidbits of help or money, both desperately needed. My father even ‘adopts’ other adults and calls them his children because they serve his needs better. Just lovely, not having a father there for you but there for other people.

Anyway. Thanks again.

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C June 9, 2015 at 4:42 am

Hi Michelle,

You know, everything you write – and those that post – on this site, makes me feel like jumping up and shouting “this is me, this is what happened to me, this is why I have always felt the way I’ve felt about my NM, and this is who she is”. I cannot digest your writings quick enough. I cannot believe someone writes, about what could be almost word for word, my experiences.

This one struck a particular cord. I have exactly often thought to myself, that I feel I am 2 people. I am generally very relaxed (i’m well known for being easy going), very kind (I’m pretty sure I am anyhow!), giving, loving, generally quite happy-go-lucky and positive with loads of friends. This is the me that my husband loves, and that friends/ colleagues know. However, I know what many don’t… that I have a bit of a temper, and it’s my husband who occasionally feels the brunt of it. When we fight (thankfully, not very often) I can say things I really don’t mean – and sometimes, these can be really awful, hateful things – I have always felt out of control in these moments. Unable to process my thoughts, or talk rationally or deal with what’s happening. I definitely behave like a child, slinging mud at him in any way I can (so to speak, not literal mud!). Afterwards I am always deeply ashamed and, honestly, I hate myself in these moments. I can’t understand how I behaved so badly to the person I love the most. I have always felt like two people because of this, and told myself that if my friends could hear me in those moment, they would see me for who I really am. I suppose as a child, I felt the same way because my NM would drag me into arguments that brought out the worst in me… I always felt happ around my friends, but that I could be a really horrible person at home. I’ve often said even in recent years, that my NM makes me feel rotten inside.

I’ve actually always been pretty sure, that my bad behaviour came from my NM. I have known in these moments, I am re-inacting the fights we used to have when she would throw remarks at me such as “ruddy children, I wish i’d never had you” and “I wish you’d never been born” and “well I hate you” and “when you are 18 you can do what you like, until then you do as I say” etc etc etc. However, I’ve never understood how/ why, and I felt pathetic saying to my husband “I’m sorry I behaved badly, I get it from my mum” because it feels like I can’t take responsibility, and I didn’t really know if this was true. (Luckily for me, he’s amazing and forgiving, and tells me i’m really nice the rest of the time etc). But I really beat myself about it for days, telling myself I am actually, a horrible person etc. and I don’t think I ever really feel completely nice.

I’ve desperately needed someone to hold my hand, and explain to me why I behave like this, and that I’m not evil. I’ve really struggled with this, a lot. It’s a real blight on my life 🙁

I went to a therapist a couple of times and found her very unhelpful. (This was before I discovered my mum was an NM). She just made me feel worse actually. She didn’t seem to want me to discuss the past, made me feel silly for having stayed in contact with mum in recent years, and kept on saying that I have a good life, husband, job, kids etc. so I need to be thankful and focus on these things… ie. not to let her get to me. She also started to say my husband was probably behaving like my dad (passive), and that I’m probably not a horrible person (but without really saying why etc)… it was rubbish.

Even now I struggle to think of what my NM did to me, as a form of abuse… it makes me feel better to know that it was….. It was, wasn’t it?

Thank you, thank you.

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Getting There January 31, 2016 at 11:23 am

Regression! This concept is so, so important for me to really grasp.

I’ve been on my own healing journey for about 7 years and there are a lot of conceptual ideas that I work into my life. Over all I feel more independent than before, but gaining confidence and advocating for myself is a slow growth for me. I think a big part of this is the feeling that I have this embarrassing side to myself that pops up out of now where leaving me thinking “what the heck was that?!”

And of course, it comes out at inappropriate times like when stresses come up at work, or friends try to do something nice for me. All of a sudden I feel like crying, melting down or lashing out on the level of a child basically. And I think, why am I so immature, I know better!

But yes, under pressure we look to examples of our parents handling pressure and it wasn’t pretty on the part of my NM. She regresses to tantrums, name calling and blame flinging…I’d say ages 2-9.

So now I have to forge ahead and create healthier responses. I keep looking to people who stay calm and cool in stressful situations to emulate but I feel like I need a TON of time with those people to absorb it into my subconscious.

In the meanwhile, meditation, CBT, reframing…..these tools help. PLUS now I have this amazing website as a resource, thanks!

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Anastasia B. August 22, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Thank-you for helping me sort through my frustration with my Dad. He has been emotionally and mentally abusive to my Mom for 42 years. They moved next door to me 9 years ago. I knew he was “mean” but only now, that I have daily interaction with him do I see the extent of his abuse. He has threatened to leave on many occasions if we don’t do or act the way he wants. He has also threatened suicide if we don’t do what he wants. I lost it a few weeks back. I called his bluff. I said enough is enough, you cannot keep abusing my mom and if you’re going to leave, why are you still here. He hasn’t spoken to me since that day nor has he seen me as he hibernates in his house. I am an only child so I an the only one to say what I said to him because my mom would never say it. She is the enabler and allowed him to do this for so long, so now this is his normal. Well it’s the farthest thing from normal. He is the nicest man when company visits then back to his old ways. He is probably embarrassed and hurt but that is his problem not mine.

Thanks again for this site.

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Carol December 9, 2016 at 3:17 am

Just when I think I have learned to cope with some of the crazy making behavior that my parents engage in something new is thrown into the mix. My parents came to visit and it didn’t go well. To be honest even though I love them I didn’t want them to visit once I understood their intent, which was to fix my condo. I am in my 40s and a recent empty nester. My home is humble but comfortable and my parents acknowledge this fact. However they wanted to gift me a new kitchen counter top and sink. Right now I have more pressing concerns. My son is struggling to find a place in the world and is currently unemployed. I am helping to support him and to pay for classes to give him further skills and contacts for employment. They never fully acknowledged him because I shamed them by having a child out of wedlock. That is their characterization. So though I expressed the wish that if they wanted to help me they could help him, they persisted in pushing for a kitchen remodel. Of course once they arrived and learned the true cost of the remodel they envisioned. it was more than they wanted to spend. That was okay with me because I didn’t want the remodel in the first place. I would rather have a visit where we could just enjoy each other’s company instead of picking apart everything that wasn’t cleaned or updated to their satisfaction. They arrived the day after the election, when I already felt emotionally fragile. Politically we don’t agree. They went to bed and my son called me-he shares my concerns and disbelief. My mother woke up and listened to my conversation. She became angry that I would continue a conversation in her presence and told me to fuck off and gave me the finger and stamped into my bedroom and slammed the door. The next morning she woke up and told me what a terrible hostess I was and what a selfish person I was wagging her finger in my face. I apologized for hurting her feelings. She kept berating me and I asked her calmly why everything had to be about her. All this was being said while I am sitting in the tub try to scrub the tub doors cleaned to please them. I had thoroughly cleaned my entire home before they came. My mother said I was calling the kettle black because I had abandoned them and their values. Somehow I managed to appease my mother and she took a nap and my dad awoke. We were having a good conversation and then he mentioned politics. I said let’s not go there but he persisted. He would throw out some fake news non fact and when I would say that’s not true or I disagree he would run into my bedroom. Then he would pop out and make another absurd assertion and before I could say let’s talk about something else he would pop back into my bedroom. It was like a bizarre comedy routine. We had some good moments but I felt depressed when they left because I can’t have a rational conversation with them about anything intimate. I realize that there way of showing love is to try to fix what they think needs fixing but it’s the emotional aspect of our relationship that needs healing and they aren’t mature enough to have a conversation with me that might heal things. I talked to them afterwards about superficial things and made plans to see them as usual at Christmas along with my siblings and their families. However a few days ago my sister informed me that my parents are no longer coming. I received a letter last night from my parents saying that their presence would cause too m pain to all but one of us. My brother had called and my mom had embroiled him into a political conversation that didn’t go well so my mom hung up on him and then wrote these letters. She has refused to speak any of us… not answering the phone except to tell my sister that we don’t love her unconditionally before hanging up on her. My brother called to apologize and she answered only to slam the landline phone at him. I feel at a loss. This is my mother’s choice. She is clear about how much we have hurt her heart.

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