Narcissistic Mother Enmeshment

by Michelle Piper

Narcissistic mother enmeshment is unlike anything else. It is restrictive, confining, and is not real, unconditional love. As Tom Cruise said in the movie Jerry Maguire, “You complete me.” Of course, he was saying it to a woman he fell in love with, not to his children, and hopefully not because of his own selfish needs. When narcissistic parents utter this line or have that mentality, it’s often enmeshment, not the unconditional love of a parent.

Enmeshment is an extreme form of proximity and intensity in family interactions. The literal meaning of the word is to catch or involve in or act as if in a net or snare. This is what narcissistic parents do to their families. They entangle them and wrap them up in their own web of self-absorption.

When you’re a baby, you begin to form boundaries with your family members, dictated by your parents of course, but that is how you learn them. When you are old enough to communicate your boundaries to others, you do so. However, people who grew up in a family with a narcissistic parent or a narcissistic mother boundary problems develop and all those involved become emotionally less functional. Children become victims of her enmeshment and lack of proper boundaries.

She is the one who created you, why shouldn’t she get to have complete control over what you do and how you live?

From her limited point of view, she believes since she took care of you when you weren’t old enough to care for yourself, you owe it to her to never keep a secret from her or have your own space.

You are an extension of her, a product, an object, a mirror. You are a part of her and she gets to treat you as such.

This is the mentality of an enmeshed narcissistic mother.

Narcissistic mothers know how to overtly and covertly control their family, using tactics that may be unbeknownst to others. She may make you feel guilty if you are not attending to her every need. When you are always on pins and needles around her, it may cause you to grow up to be hypersensitive, especially when it comes to rejection.

To the outside world, this enmeshment may come across as intimacy or your narcissistic mother really cherishes you. But in reality, you were never allowed to develop your own identity separate from her. She was always trying to make you take on her identity, whether she was aware of it or not. She may have also tried to live vicariously through you once you were old enough for her to be jealous or want to be more like you, becoming overly involved in your social life, school, sports, etc.

If you are not careful, this enmeshment from your narcissistic mother can persist an entire lifetime. Your own boundaries may be poorly developed as an adult with inadequate self-protection against others and their manipulations. When you have a narcissistic mother, it is hard to tell where your feelings start and hers end. Her feelings take over you and these feelings can generalize into other relationships you may form in your lifetime.

This emotional blueprint of boundary violation may be something you unintentionally allow in or carry to your other important relationships with a partner, friend, boss, or children.

When you finally realize what is going on, you may (or possibly already have) try to move far away from her, distancing yourself physically to try to heal the emotional wounds which are so deep you may not know where they end. You could move across the country or across the world and it still may not seem far enough. Regardless of distance, the emotional enmeshment my still be there because you never got to find out who you really were outside of your narcissistic mother.

When you were young, you were taught to look through the eyes and hear through the ears of your narcissistic mother.

You were forced to make choices, either consciously or subconsciously, based on whether or not you believed she would approve of your decisions. In time, you lose yourself within the narcissistic family system of enmeshment and fuse yourself with your mother. That sense of wholeness which others get from just being themselves is not something you were allowed to know. Your wholeness came from being psychologically bonded to her.

The abusive patterns, psychologically and perhaps even physically, do not stop until you make the conscious decision to end them yourself. For as long as you allow it, your narcissistic mother will continue to go about this boundary-less relationship and keep you from experiencing your true self and true identity.

Narcissistic mothers know exactly how to keep their children close by their sides, making sure their dependence on her is strong and so they are unable to break the ties between the two of them. She rewards her kids for being like her and meeting her needs. As soon as they do something she does not approve of, such as making their own decisions or being unique, the are condemned and made to feel inadequate. She makes them earn their way back, which many desperately try to do.

In your case, and for all those who have to deal with a narcissistic mother, you have the option of severing the enmeshed ties that have kept you overly vulnerable to your mother for so long.

Set boundaries and set them high. Let these boundaries be known and enforce consequences when boundaries are violated. This is about you, your healing, and your recovery from having a narcissistic mother. Decide what is best for you, your happiness, and your overall life’s contentment. Be the change you need, because your narcissistic mother won’t be.

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Dahir February 8, 2013 at 7:47 am

What an enlightening article! This is by far one of the best articles I have ever read on NM. It really made things clear for me and I relate to everything single word you said. So thank you so much.



Dee February 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm

This article is exactly what my life has been about. I’ve been trying to distance myself and it has caused all manner of major problems. Thanks for the encouraging words.


Susanna April 18, 2013 at 6:37 am

Dear Dee,

It has been nearly four years since I cut off ALL CONTACT with my narcissistic mother. The articles on this site are DEAD-ON. It took me three years of therapy – two to three times a week to realize just what I had lived through.

The end for me was when I ended up in ICU, and my “mother” came to visit me once — stayed 20 minutes and complained about the distance of her drive, and the parking fees! She spent her time at my bedside putting on a “show” for the nurses who came in and out to check on me — and who showed more concern and compassion for me than she ever did. She didn’t ask the nurses or the doctors about my condition — which at the time, was very serious.

I’d been diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) and the doctors were not sure if I would make it through. Four years later, I am stronger and happy to be away from this wretched woman who was NEVER a parent to me. I knew the truth all along, but I didn’t want to face it.

It is hard to cut off a parent — especially when, like me, it is your only parent. But I am the better for it.

You will be too.

I wish you and everyone else here well.


Mickey February 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Fantastic article. Once again more enlightening insights and clues to dealing with an NM relationship. Still dealing on my end!!


Roger February 19, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I think so many ACoNs can relate to this article. I know that I was always made to feel like I was part of her and she acted like she needed me all the time. It was always about my NM and what she wanted. She smothered me sometimes and other times, I was nothing to her. It was so confusing and made me so angry when I finally realized what she was doing to me. Great article!


Kim March 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Being that I learned of my mother being a narcisst a couple of years ago, My whole life made sense to me of the way my mom treated me. I am the oldest of 5 siblings, and it has not been easy, but I am learning all the time how to deal with it. And of course new problems come about with my mom and I am like, really, this is still going on . I am not sure if I should confront her about being a narcisist.


Susanna April 18, 2013 at 6:41 am

If you do confront her, prepare yourself for the attack.

That being, her maligning you to friends, family members, everyone. It’s called gaslighting and she will resort to it. Mine did that as well. And there are many of my idiot family members who believed her.

Confronting a narcissistic mother is serious business. First, she will act as if she is being attacked — she will scream and cry and then get angry. Never once thinking about the fact that she has done something to hurt you — never taking responsibility or ownership for what she has done.

If confronting your mother will make you feel better you should. Be strong and have what you want to say ready in your mind. Do not back down. And then be prepared for the inevitable — her rage and revenge.

I wish you well.


Calendula March 9, 2016 at 7:09 am

This why I get do infuriated when well- meaning advice givers say “Why don’t you talk to her about it?” When, the advice givers have no idea that this is not a rational human who will hear my words or empathize!!! Do people really think we haven’t tried literally thousands of times to get justice, to no avail?!


Rebecca April 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Thank you for posting this, I have done distancing and taking myself out of the situation, but recently due to what felt like a positive choice I have come back to my mothers home. At first all was well but now the old dynamic is back with a vengeance and my every move is questioned, my friendships shredded, or at least attempts to, and if I’m not doing something for her I’m ‘lying’ about what I am doing. Fortunately whilst I feel the old feelings, pain anger and rage at what is happening I have the internet this time. I will not be bashed in this way and the advice about clear boundaries is extremely necessary and like a final chapter in an old fight that I am done with I’ve paid the price of attracting similarly abusive partners and acting chaotically in my life time to give myself the unconditional love and know I will not be here for much longer and I will not take any more of it…!!!


Susanna April 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm

When you distance yourself from a narcissistic parent, you can NEVER go back!

They never change. You must change yourself to where it is impossible for you to accept this kind of treatment.

I wish you well.


TLC April 9, 2013 at 7:00 am

I just recently discovered (yesterday lol) that my mother fits this model of being narcissistic. It is such a relief to finally, after decades, have answers to the confusion that was my life. I now understand better what she has done and what she is still trying to do. I understand why my attempts to minimize contact with her end up abysmal failures. I understand better the dynamics of growing up in such a family and how it has affected my adult life. Now I can chart my own course better. I know what to expect and can accept it. It has been a long, rough road and most of my travel on it has been one of bewilderment and confusion and hurt feelings; but no more. Knowledge is power. She no longer has any power over me and I have lost the guilt that seemed to always be there no matter how I tried to ignore it. “I don’t do guilt” I’ve stated over and over and I don’t, but it requires a sustained effort and endless energy to maintain my position. Now, after reading and learning about NMs, I am well and truly free. Not only do I NOT do guilt; I no longer feel guilt either! I know she will continue the battle to her dying breath and so be it. I cannot control what she says or does; I can only control how I chose to act or react or how I chose to not act or not react. It is such a relief for all of this to be OVER!


Saddened April 14, 2013 at 7:02 am

I spent tens yrs in a relationship with a man who took care of his mother all his life, as did his older brother too. Both never married or had children. Two years ago he had to place her in a nursing facility since the brothers could no longer care for her. During the course of our relationship I always thought the dynamics of the family were odd. My boyfriend was always on high alert for “the call” that would indicate that mom was ill. Last fall she became ill, I watched my boyfriend spiral into complete depression and anxiety. We got him on medication and into an out-patient facility with counseling, but he just become worse and worse. He could no longer play in the band he was in for two years, he could no longer work. He withdrew and I couldn’t get him to do any of the things we always enjoyed doing. In January his mother passed, the anxiety diminished somewhat and the depression remained getting worse. A Clinical Psychologist recommended hospitalization…something my boyfriend neglected to tell me. Three days later he took his life. After doing research I realized he was raised by a “narcissitic mother.” I saw all the signs, but never put it all together. He was the “golden boy” and had become so completely and utterly enmeshed with her that he had no identity away from her, and when she passed, he didn’t know what to do, he had lost himself. It is the saddest thing I have ever had happen to me in my life. My heart breaks for the life and childhood he had. All this time I just thought she was a doting, over-protective mother…..I had no idea the damage she had caused all her children. The dynamics played out perfectly with “the golden boy” the “scapegoat” and the “lost one.” The others are damaged, but I think my poor boyfriend got the brunt of it, he never had his own self, his self was her.


Corrine April 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Wow…That’s powerful. I was the golden child who later became the the scapegoat/lost child at 12 years old when I crossed my mother in a big way (by protecting myself form her abuse by going to the authorities), and my sister ( much younger) is the golden child. She dropped me when I went no contact. She told me once that she feels like she and my mother are soulmates. She is 36 and still lives at home. She never developed her own self. She is just like my mother. Over the years when attributes or desires different from my mother’s would leak out, she quickly squelched them, denying them expression or acknowledgement. How sad. I once said to my mother, “What kind of a mother doesn’t tell her child to go out and make a great life, I’ll be fine?” She cussed me out. How dare I! Being the scapegoat has certainly been no bed of roses, and my life has been filled with endless psychological and emotional hurdles I have had to figure out how to overcome, but at least I know the “self” that is trying to break free and fix all the parts of me that she has broken. Not an easy journey to undertake, but what choice do we have if we are to go on living? To all you scapegoats out there, I read on this website that we are the truth tellers. Be proud. You are so brave.


Anonymous April 27, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Yes-we are the truth tellers , and my God, what a shocking and awesome backlash it causes. I’m 51, and I finally only disengaged quietly and have been attacked and maligned from every one in my family. I have no idea yet who I am or where I’m going- I feel homeless. I’m staying in her vacant house while under chiropractic care- another month; (she moved next door to my sister in another state) but I think it was a mistake. I never heard of this website, but it’s amazing. I never understood the implications of growing up with a mother who named all of my dolls and pets, gave them away when we left in the summers to spend time with our Dad, redecorated my room while I was gone, hired someone to dress me in high school, flirted with my boyfriends and husbands, kept me, in grade and highschool for hours talking with her after school, required me to take care of my younger brothers and sister while she traveled or became the star of rehab again and again, took me for repeated plastic surgeries from age twelve to 25 sharing pain medications and serving alcohol and recently gave away my dog without my knowledge after promising to take care of her- I was able to find the new owner and my dog is now with me. Etc etc. I need to get out of her house, but I cannot make up my mind about where to live. From the website I understand the boundary must come from within- it doesn’t matter how far you are away physically, but I’m on edge and angry and confused all the time, even though I only hear from her when she needs something done to prepare this house for sale- first telling me it would be in September, then hearing from my brother that the family company has decided she needs to sell now. My mother maintains I can stay- I’m realizing she’s loving this control over my life. My reaction is fear and that has to change.


Jennifer May 3, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I’ve been in couples counseling with my fiance for the last few months leading up to our wedding in September. My mom has come up a lot during our conversations and when my therapist called her a narcissistic parent a few months ago it was like a light bulb went off. Two months ago, after a confronation, I decided that I had enough and I cut all contact. It hasnt’ been easy since it was just me and her for the last fifteen years.

With the wedding just a few months away I’m questioning whether or not I made the right decision in cutting her out. After reading some of the posts on this site and the comments I am strengthened in my decision and know that it’s the right thing to move on with my life and focus on myself for a while.


Polly July 1, 2016 at 4:56 am

If you are happier and healthier with no contact don’t question it. My narcissistic mother made a scene the morning of my wedding at her house and tried to ruin my day. Come to think of it, she did this on every single milestone life event I ever had, HS graduation, college graduation, the birth of my first child, my daughter’s communion and ultimately my 40th birthday where I had the epiphany that she was not normal. Every fit of rage she unleashed on me somehow she made herself out to be the victim of my ungratefulness and her family members would flock to her side and console her and assist her with spewing venom at me. So my words of advice- spare yourself. Don’t go back. It’s easier now when you don’t have children you have to explain it to.


Susan May 21, 2013 at 3:04 am

Thank you for this article. I had to cut my mother out of my life 12 years ago. I had had a heart attack, and she came to my bedside and lamented in her melodramatic way, “Oh god this is so hard for me, what would I have done if..if..if ?” Then she proceeded to start crying. Here I was, post heart attack, in Cardiac ICU connected to several monitors, and I tried to reach for the kleenex to take care of her!! My sister was with her, and she too tried to take care of our mother’s needs before asking how I was. 9 months later, after working with my therapist, I confronted my mother and decided to sever the relationship for good. It was the absolute best thing I did, and I believe I would not be alive today had I kept her in my life. When people find out I have not spoken to my mother for 12 years, they are appalled. They say, “Wow, that’s your mom, how could you!” My response, “Hey, you are thinking of not seeing YOUR mother, not mine. Not everyone gets a good mother.” Ironically, had my mother been a terrible boyfriend or husband, everyone’s response would be, “Good riddance, thank god you got rid of that jerk.” But because mothers are so revered in our society, “breaking up” with your mother is seen as blaspheme. My mother tells everyone I am “sick and mentally damaged” since my heart attack and that is why I don’t talk to her. That is her classic narcissistic spin to save face. I don’t care what she says as I have discovered, everyone around me saw my mother for who she was, except my father, sister and I.


Avril Sigerson November 1, 2013 at 7:59 am

Really interesting!


Lily January 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Really helpfull article. Would like your book and more information please.


Jillzmom September 11, 2014 at 8:00 am

This is an amazing article and made light bulbs come on and me have quite a few “aha” moments!! Your articles have helped me and will continue to do so thorough my journey of healing from this painful realization I have just recently discovered about myself, and just how shattered I am inside and scared to to the core. I am literally “jacked UP”, suffering from a few chronic illnesses, all because of this all these years and didn’t know it, and I realized it just 1 year prior to turning 40. It’s so sad and I pray everyday, and I pray BIG that I could be someone that helps others recognize and overcome this before its too late. It hurts. It is invisible. It is real. It is toxic to our bodies and souls. It CAN BE OVERCOME!!!! I thank God so much for my amazing husband, who in the midst of a separation and talking us about divorce, him just listening to me over the phone spew things out of my mouth I barely even remember, he dug and dug and figured this out himself!!! He’s my gift from God, my best friend and soul mate. He knew I wasn’t the person he’d knew 16 years, and been married to for 10. I’d never even heard of the word before!!! And like so many others, thought I had the perfect childhood and never though any different!! I’ll end with saying that MANY CHANGES, yes, MANY MANY MANY CHANGES are happening as I type this and are coming in myself and my families future. We are MOVING AWAY and starting ANEW!!! I know once I get through this learning, counseling, and healing, that I am gonna be a BRAND NEW WOMAN, and I can admit right now that I was a pretty darn good one before, even NOW! My
40’s are GONNA BE THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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peaceseeker March 15, 2015 at 4:11 pm

My adult daughter is doing this to her child right now. It breaks my heart to see my grandchild abused so heinously. She cannot move unless it is in lockstep with her narcissistic mother. I did not treat my daughter this way while she was growing up. She had complete freedom to be and do as she wanted her life to be within age appropriate limits. I’m just devastated for my granddaughter.


janetm October 10, 2016 at 11:31 pm

Dear peaceseeker,
I see your post was more than a year ago, so I don’t know if you will see my reply but hope you do. I am also in the unenviable situation of seeing narcissism passed on unwittingly to the next generation. I am looking for people to compare notes with.
I think there is something metabolic in that narcissists do not have a strong sense of self. So they glom onto someone else whom they depend on (like a parasite) but hate at the same time their own dependency that blindingly contrasts to the other person’s self-integrity that they feel they don’t have. Narcissism does run in families in the sense that the identified patient, or the person with the worst case of it, is insistent and charismatic at the same time. She rules by fear which gets into everyone’s system. This is really hard to survive and overcome because fight or flight responses become practically automatic. It’s bad enough to try to get a narcissistic parent out of your system but it is horrifying to see it continue in the next generation. When do we get a break from it? And why do we have to suffer after we paid our dues in our family of origin?


Bhasker March 20, 2015 at 10:57 am

Such a good relevant article. Soothed my frayed nerves and my overworked mind and emotions. The confusion of the medley of intense emotions bubbling in me all the time like in a pressure cooker and the brakes one has to apply over them all at the same time going about my regular day to day work was/ is exhausting to say the least. This article opened windows of understanding in me about my problem and boy the relief of understanding was something I hadn’t felt for a long time- like a soothing breeze blowing through my heart and mind and the wonderful feeling of release of tension and pressure within me- as a result of understanding gained. But I still have this urge to talk to my mother and tell her and explain to her how her actions whether done knowingly or unknowingly has caused so much of trauma and pain to me unnecessarily, shackled the expression of my true self, chained my soul. I am sure then she will cry and wail and make me feel guilty and bad about having been direct. I may not be able to withstand such a torrent of emotion and reaction from her. I don’t know whether it will be worth it or whether on the other hand I am simply being expedient and chicken in not having in me the nerve to talk it out with her for what it is worth. The validation it will provide me will , I feel, be cathartic and healing. Can any one guide me in answering this query?


Daddystilllovesyou August 28, 2015 at 12:25 am

You will get ensnared again I would stay away from her. Again defining what you’d like to do to move past her is see and tell her. She is never going to admit anything and never apologize you know that. She is I’ll in her mind so can only see others in terms of her. Stay away. There are people out there including in all likelihood your dad who she may have cut you off from and lots more people who will find the coolest and best part of you is who you really are. Go to a good codependency or borderline personality specialist if those fit with what issues you think you have. Therapy is much more scientific in the borderline field and it will help you get the balanced and loving reflection back of your self you missed out on by the narcissisist needing you to be a mirror of her instead of being one for you. After three years and about 40-60 sessions with three therapists I felt good about me and that it didn’t matter what people thought. Amazing! And as soon as my desperate need for apprrpval went away I stopped the nuts drinking and seeking lice through sex and desperate chasing after one night stands. My loving me led me to my man of 13 years where o never thought I’d be who loves me for me. So stay away or get ensnared again is my advice


Daddystilllovesyou August 28, 2015 at 12:30 am

You will get ensnared again I would stay away from her. Again defining what you’d like to do to move past her is see and tell her. She is never going to admit anything and never apologize you know that. She is I’ll in her mind so can only see others in terms of her. Stay away. There are people out there including in all likelihood your dad who she may have cut you off from and lots more people who will find the coolest and best part of you is who you really are. Go to a good codependency or borderline personality specialist if those fit with what issues you think you have. Therapy is much more scientific in the borderline field and it will help you get the balanced and loving reflection back of your self you missed out on by the narcissisist needing you to be a mirror of her instead of being one for you. After three years and about 40-60 sessions with three therapists I felt good about me and that it didn’t matter what people thought. Amazing! And as soon as my desperate need for apprrpval went away I stopped the nuts drinking and seeking love through sex and desperate chasing after one night stands. My loving me led me to my man of 13 years where o never thought I’d be who loves me for me. So stay away or get ensnared again is my advice


Girlandme March 23, 2016 at 10:30 am

I understand this struggle completely!


Girlandme March 23, 2016 at 10:40 am

I feel that feeling a lot. Part of me hopes it would be a way to let go. But even if I talk to her it would be like talking to a brick wall. But a brick wall that throws stones back at you. It’s just not worth it. I think it’s our inner child wanting validation want an apology, recognition. It’s never going to happen. We have to try to give that to ourselves. I am having a hard time with her involving my siblings and trying to guilt me in messaging her. Part of you feels you are ‘betraying’ your family. It’s a real messy struggle. I’ve moved away but I am worried she will just try to show up. I have gotta space before and she’s just shown up at my child’s birthday.


Daddystilllovesyou August 27, 2015 at 10:48 pm

There is a good chance that some adult children of narcissist mothers who were divorced were made to choose one parent and give up the other. I’m here to say that the parent you gave up knows that you were like someone in a cult. what you said and thought about yourself and the lost parent was because the narcissist overwhelming a child who was dependant on them. If you have come to clarity about needing to be yourself, please consider that the lost parents welcome any contact from you. Absolutely all the lost parents in all the studies and groups and forums want and will always want their child back in their lives forever. It will heal you both. They have not given up on you no matter what you said or did back then or just yesterday, they never stopped loving you or wanting you to cone back. And the two of you can start from there and that opening and lifting of souls reunited will be one part of you relearning who you really are and what love really is


No Identity & Always Questioning September 7, 2015 at 11:47 am

Thanks for this insightful article.

You write well, very well, by the way, and I thoroughly enjoy your style. Kudos!

…I’m going on 27 here soon, male, with, as hard as it is to admit to myself (not sure why), a narcissistic mother who “showered me” with so much affection, that I now can’t stand the word “love.”

Intimacy is difficult, with anyone.

Smothered. I was smothered. I began dating later than I would have liked, too embarrassed to be attracted to a female… almost like my mom secretly wanted me to be gay.

My ex-girlfriends always felt uncomfortable around my mom and would (gently) try to tell me how creepy or weird or unhealthy her… attraction? …to me was, is. Pretty fuckin’ sick, right?

The last 11 years of my life were spent using drugs to cope with feelings I, until recently, with the help of this website and a great counselor, came to realize are a direct result of an enmeshment relationship.

It clicks. Finally life makes sense. No wonder every decision I make, my brain questions. This deep filter of thoughts not my own block true self-discovery. …There’s much to work through.

The real bitch of it is, I don’t think she even knows what she’s doing, how she operates. No point in trying to tell her how it is, how it was— you’ll just get a guilt-tripping, “I’m sorry I was the worst mom in the world. I’m sorry I ruined your entire life!”

Worst of all is the candy-ass: “I don’t remember that. I really don’t. Hmmm. But ok.”

I appreciate how much she provided for me, did that to the T. But I feel so fucking brainwashed. What a mind fuck.

Again, I appreciate your insight, Michelle. And you’re a great writer. I look forward to exploring this site deeper, particularly to read your articles :).

Thanks so much…


ONLY DAUGHTER August 2, 2016 at 11:12 am

No Identity, You’re lucky you’ve figured it all out at such a young age of 27. I didn’t figure it out until age 47 and I so wish i could have found my freedom at your age. I didn’t have an identity either but now I do and you will too.


Dennis December 23, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Hi there,

I just came across this site after reading ‘When he’s mearried to Mum’. Wow… to come to realize that such a thing happened all of your life is really too hard to accept within a few days. Tears, emptiness and a feeling of beeing lost results. But it will become better. After a while you start with the boundaries and then you grow and grow. My Mum is very religious and started calling mepossesed and so on. Whatever… God may help me and you all.


Anonymous February 13, 2016 at 3:58 pm

What a load of harmful rabbis


Anon March 28, 2016 at 10:50 pm

I cut off my narcissistic mother five years ago. The rest of my family sided with her.

These five years have been by far the best, calmest, most healing time of my life. I got into a new career, found a job on the other side of the country, and cut ties as soon as I got on my feet.

You can’t change them, and they never heal. Narcissism isn’t treatable. They are not capable of love, just casually cruel (or blindly hurtful) self-involved behavior.

But you can change, and you can heal. I can tell you that getting away makes it happen 100x faster. It’s so much better to be alone. l’m getting to know myself! It’s not just a supporting role in mom’s personal drama–I actually do have opinions, ideas, even dreams. It’s still so scary, but freedom is great. It makes all the years of effort worth it, even makes up for losing my family. I would rather be the real me than be surrounded by fake friends living as a fake self.

thanks so much for this article.


Tray February 4, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Thanks, Both parents full blown Narcs. People just have no idea what punishment they put you through,when you see a smiling 3 year old in the park,Thats when i said wait!!!!! what the heck!!! life does NOT SUCK and life is not evil full of strife and walking on eggshells, Its when you get away you realize how sickness is who they are. Yes they will never change yes they put it on you and yes they act like when you blow up its the first thing they have eve done not the Mountain of lifetime hell on a daily they put you through.I DONT DO Guilt for an evil poison toxic make you think you are going crazy when you try to talk to a wall


Bel December 3, 2017 at 11:51 am

Both my parents are narcs too Tray. And yes I thought it was normal to be miserable. I had no idea idea it was my awful parents who were the cause of my misery and fear throughout my childhood and most of my adulthood.
And now my horrible mother is trying to interfere with my parenting. My kids are happy normal kids that laugh and turn things into fun and games- what normal kids do. My mother sees this as being badly behaved. She wants them to act like my siblings and I were expected to behave – quiet little soldiers who have to be perfectly obedient. A quite unnatural state for children. And yes if anyone is wondering I have gone no contact now to protect my children.


Axel April 10, 2016 at 10:02 am

This is a decent site with some good information but, like most of the rest of them, it does not give specifics. Case examples are very useful yet even then it may not answer your question: “is narcissism or enmeshment my problem or is it something else?” Are my parents narcissists or just highly concerned that I turn out ok? People who are manipulating you can be very skilled at covert psychological management and appear not to be using you while setting you up for the next controlling action. They treat you like a fish on the hook that they reel in, let it out to tire it and then haul it back in. They may let you go just enough for you to fail at something or feel bad about something or just get too nervous and come running back to them for rescue. They have already set you up with the inability to function fully without them. They use various methods such as demeaning you, over-praising, overly intrusive parenting, inconsistent parenting, substance abuse and any behavior that leaves you with false or incomplete ideas about yourself, families and society in general. What passes for love/affection for you is a stew of conflicting messages and actions that rather than clarify what and who you are, obscure the real you who you will not get to know until you are able to distance yourself from the situation.
~If you are just annoyed or angry with being told, within reason, what to do as a minor then accept that as part of growing up. Maybe your mother is not a full-blown narcissist or maybe she is so covert and clever that people can’t see through her behavior but you are all to well aware of. Or you can’t see it because Mom praises herself with being a good mother and no one has the fortitude to disagree.
~When you are young and the people who are raising you have a true mental disease it will make you fundamentally unhappy, create focused and/or unfocused anger and leave you feeling confused and doubtful about everything you do. Once you are fully enmeshed you won’t have a functional separate personality to use to get away from them which is what they want. At that point you will need counseling. Someone will have to tell you what appropriate boundaries are or go no contact.
~ I found that getting physically away from them may be impossible if they have you too infantilized to function. It helps to know that they will never feel towards you the way you want them to, they are incapable of it. Not acting like them, learning to mature and not be like them can take years but if you keep letting them have any control over you, you will not be able to really move on or be particularly satisfied with yourself or anything that you do.
~ Thank you for this opportunity to express my dismay over the fact that my sister has infantilized her daughter and there is nothing I can do now to help because I waited too long.


K May 3, 2016 at 6:23 am

I have been reading comments. I have escaped an abusive relationship but I feel like.this much harder. Letting.go and setting boundaries with my mother could destroy my relationship with my dad. I don’t know what to do, I have tried talking to her but she gives me guilt trips and acts like I am a horrible unappreciated person. She Make me miserable. I just moved closer after being an hour and a half away because my dad is getting old and my fiance works closer and I feel like my life has gotten worse since. Howe do you set boundaries with your mom without losing the rest of hour famoly. She has my dad and brother under her control like animals. My brother is 25 and she controls everything even his money. I wish she could could understand but she never will. And I don’t know how to set boundaries or let her go.


Jimmy September 11, 2016 at 7:25 pm

Fantastic article. I dated a wonderful woman who unfortunately had an NM. I would have accepted having an NMIL in order to be with her. Unfortunately, my partner was not the “rebel” or “runner” type (the two healthy responses to an adult parent’s bad behavior), but the quintessential “conformer”. She would never even want to discuss the topic of boundaries and just got angry/emotional. Defended her parents/NM tooth and nail. Sadly, I knew the future would be bleak for all parties if we as husband and wife were not unified in dealing with the outrageous behaviors of the NM. I still miss her (the girl, not the NM!…:-)…) deeply, but am convinced walking was the best thing.


aeb tx September 25, 2016 at 1:38 pm

My husband and I are separated for the 9 or 10th time in the last two years. His mother never liked me. When we married she said, ” OH now you can control him.” I was like are you serious? That says what she was doing with him…controlling him.
Now he lives back at his mom’s just with her. She has him back again that is what she wanted. Always overtly manipulating him against me just to have him live there. She is selfish witch!


janetm October 10, 2016 at 1:19 am

Hi there,
I was searching the internet for something about narcissistic children. My mother is definitely a narcissist and I have been fortunate to learn and share online for quite some time about this horrible disorder, which seems to run in families. So it is not impossible for a child of a narcissist to somehow pass on the negative-positive traits that unwittingly produce narcissism in the next generation.
I think an ego weakness is at its base, perhaps the underlying reason why narcissism or rampant self-absorption is usually not confined to one person in a family. My mother was very dependent on her own mother but hated her at the same time because she couldn’t break loose. This was also borne out practically when my grandmother sold her house to live with us kids. The fact that my mother was still living with her own was very unhealthy for the two of them. But it was disastrous for my grandmother since in her old age, she reaped little else but exploitation and abuse.
Without going into too much detail I am faced with more or less the same scenario as my grandmother but this one has a twist. The adult child has meshed herself with my abusive family of origin. I have been most aware of how much she wanted to break the bonds that bind between us since adolescence but this stage never seems to end.
I always encouraged free thought but she wants something else. She wants me to be enmeshed with her and if I don’t agree with everything she does and the choices she makes, she will extract revenge. Ganging up with my abusive family of origin is a really grotesque way to go about it. The point is they feel strong in numbers and my lousy family will be so happy to have any negative reinforcement against me.
I was just wondering if anyone else has been in this unenviable situation of seeing narcissism poison the next generation. As much as I tried to distance myself, IT follows me with a vengeance somehow.


FreeOfTheNarcissist December 10, 2016 at 5:57 pm

Thank you for this article. I was involved with a man with a narcissistic mother named Jennifer Freeman from Ruthven, Ontario. I had never before understood narcissism or maternal enmeshment until I got involved with him. People always say adulterers are homewreckers, but I never thought a mother could ruin a marriage. Well, I was wrong. With this being my first marriage, I was so excited at the thought of enjoying my new marriage. That never happened. She was so meddling and so controlling (of everyone, mostly her husband and kids), it literally felt like an elephant was sitting on top of me. I couldn’t breathe. I found out she started looking through my purse, taking things out of my purse without asking, and going through my personal things, among many other things. She had to control EVERYTHING. She had no sense of personal boundaries. I was so creeped out and horrified by what I saw. I couldn’t understand why no one was saying anything. When I asked my husband to speak with her, he refused and blamed me. Now I realize, she chopped off his balls a long time ago.
It was not even a year into the marriage and it ended. In only an eight month period, there were two separations. In the end, she believes I was the evil person who stole her son away from her. How dare I hurt her son. Nevermind that he was a major alcoholic with the selfish mentality of a two-year old child, who was on his second divorce. No, that couldn’t mean he was the problem.
I have shared this with many people, and they all think she’s bonkers. I truly believe she is the reason why her son is that way. She has stolen his manhood, his autonomy, and his basic freedom to live his life the way he chooses. He’s chained to his mother, and he doesn’t even know it. 
I have spoken to many people who know her, and they helped me to understand who I was dealing with. That woman is a monster. A narcissistic, selfish monster. Her behavior was so traumatizing at first, but now I realize, what a blessing I got out. People like her are truly poison.


sarah January 12, 2018 at 8:20 am

This article was amazing thank you!


Adam Caplin February 13, 2018 at 1:43 am

great article, thanks!

I am, at the age of 58, still separating from a toxic and narcissistic mother, even though she died many years ago. it’s a lifetimes work. it’s infected all of my past relationships, where i have been the compliant partner, almost encouraging emotional abuse. I needed it like an addiction. Great to be going cold turkey, facing myself with compassion and pushing old habits away. though it’s lonely, it’s less lonely than being with someone where you have to stunt your own growth to feel loved.


Patti May 10, 2018 at 7:33 pm

“If you are not careful….this enmeshment can persist”.
I must strongly object to that characterization, which sounds like the child is responsible and has control over the narcissistic abuser. . There is no “careful” about it, and the child does not have a choice. I didn’t have a choice. That is the problem with enmeshment. The child does not even realize there is a choice to be made. As the only child of a malignant enmeshing narcissistic mother, I didn’t realize it as an adult until I was in my 50s.
I will never accept that I could have avoided any of her soul-killing abuse by being careful.


Martha August 3, 2018 at 11:49 am

I’d like to find a book or books to recommend to my friend on the topic of narcissism and enmeshment. My friend married about eight years ago (he’s 61 now) to a woman the same age who grows more enmeshed with her highly narcissistic mother. The mother is the main caregiver to her husband (both in their late 80’s), although gauging from the number of ER visits, falls, bouts of diarrhea, etc., she is not providing optimal care. She can afford, but won’t allow much of anyone in the home to help with caregiving. The daughter can’t/won’t say no to her mother and spends a lot of time driving the 1 1/2 hours to her parents’ home and staying there for days on end, to appease her mother and make sure her father is well cared for. But the longer this goes on, the more the wife makes excuses to validate why she should be with her parents, and the more she starts to sound like her mother. And she has a business to run, so she is stretched very thin. I feel for both of them, but the husband (my friend) needs some tools to work through this situation and stand up to the m-i-l and the wife. Any suggestions? Thanks.


Beth Madden January 15, 2019 at 12:27 pm

This article is my life to a t.
Im 36, still struggling with anorexia and bulimia for over 18 years because of the covert abuse. The process is so painful.


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