I am buying this book at my therapist's recommendation. I believe my mother was Narcissic because she assigned each of her children "roles" - The Smart One, The Pretty One, etc.. Now that she is gone, the roles continue to dominate our lives to a destructive extent. My siblings [and I]are emotionally crippled, have no self-esteem - indeed, very little sense of self.
I hope everyone realizes that no book is as good as a real, live therapist who can comment on *Your* history and *your* problems. One of the main problems I have is that I feel that I don't deserve attention - getting into therapy has been incredibly hard but very worth-while.
So, you think I am self-absorbed, in love with myself and have no ability to feel empathy for others ..Well, dont worry about how to break off a relationship. It is already done. Do not call me ever again, as I will not respond. You will never realize that you are the one with the problem. I never treated my own mother as badly as you have treated me; and I have no respect for you whatsoever. N.W.
I finally got away at 27. My mother still occasionally calls my mom-in-law complaining that I won't talk to her and yet she never calls me! Everything I did was wrong and she still just wants to make ppl think she's a great mother, rather than trying to actually BE one. Its sad, but my life has been so great since cutting off contact with her. I've always felt like an orphan, only now I've come to peace with it because I have my husband's family to love and support me.
My mother and step-father and my own father are narcissist. I "found out" from several people I have no needs but they do. My mother never treated me like a child but a parentified child - I cook, clean, bought groceries, took care of pets and her since age 5 or 6. She did not sympatize me when I've got in trouble, did not tried to help one time. I don't remember one time she stood by me. She was absent when I was in swim team, in my school graduation, university graduation. She never visit me once (she did visit me two or three times in 7 years for my birthday parties). And when she did my floor was dirty, I had dust, i was not good enough cook etc. I recently found myself looking at mother in her 50-s and daughter in her 30-s having coffee at the local cafe. I feel envy. I thought why my mom never invite me to have a cup of coffee with her and do some shopping. She bought my son a stroller 11 years ago and it was the best gift from her. I've peanuts for my birthday and loup for Christmas. I thought such a ridiculous presents... When my mom had second baby I become an adult, she did not evn bought clothes for me because I could sew it myself, I knit my own sweater etc. MY sister have all kind of need, including a lot of material goods and something most of the people have way after 30-s when she is just 20-s. I was reluctant to admit my mother is a narcissist. I still think she has a lot of borderline features, but I've already finished two book from Nina Brown and Joan Lockhart and couple other about narcisissts... I am on my way to get better. I moved physically several times from my parents. It does not help, chaning relationship does not help, until all deep issues are worked through.
I am 51 years old. At 36 I wrote a letter to my father telling him that I wanted no more contact with him because of his abuse. I'm sure he didn't understand it or believe my feelings but it was the best thing that I did for myself. I did go to therapy before this to understand why I felt so guilty all the time, why I felt worthless, why I felt like such a failure and discussed the things my father said to me and did to me. I was so beaten down by him that I had to make a choice, him or me and I chose me. Its been wonderful and I don't regret it for a minute. I'm alive! Unfortunately, I have a mother that I have to make a conscious decision to cut all ties with for the right reasons, the same I did with my father. My parents are divorced and we all live in different states. The last 10 years I have lived in the same town as my mother, always leary of her, never felt she liked me, always told me my feelings and thoughts were wrong, lied to me about many things and has this horrible need to control my every move, my marriage, my thoughts and how I should live, down to how I should arrange and clean my house and wear my hair. She presents herself in front of her friends as one person but behind closed doors, she's someone else. Luckily, a few people have seen her harrasment towards me and gave me their condolences.ha! I'm very glad to finally understand what it is, why I feel the way I do about her and that I'm not crazy and I'm not the bad person she also has told me that I am. I will say that without reading the book but reading through the comments on how to protect myself, I learned at a very young age to get a blank look on my face when she started in on me and a look that I was bored and she was annoying me. I still do it, it feels childish when I do it but it stops her. She has said to me that she thinks its funny when I get "that look" on my face and laughs right out loud. I know she is trying to get a rise out of me and I won't give it to her. I know that I cannot be emotional around her because she revels in my anguish and then dismisses it as not real. I've had 6 surgeries and I've been in an extreme amount of pain and she continues to tell me that I am not in pain, tells me that so often that I had to ask my pain doctor if I was really in pain. He empowed me by telling me that I owe no one an explanation. If I ask my mother not to do something, she does it, ie: don't answer my front door when you are here because a man came by the other day and I stopped him from doing a home invasion. My door bell rang, I was in the bathroom, she "ran" to the door as fast as she could and answered it, not once but 3 times. I knew she would continue to do it and if I said anything in front of anyone, she would turn it around and I would look like the bad guy. Since her husband died, she's gotten worse. Has demanded me to service her, so to speak and to be at her beck and call along with telling me what to do in my own home and telling me my husband will cheat on me. She's attacked me for starting my own business and becoming quite successful, telling me that I don't have the education to run a business. I've been in business for myself for 6 years and doing just fine. It seems that no matter what I do, she is there to cut me down, but in front of her friends, I'm just a gem or sets me up to look bad in front of her friends. I thought I was a little "sensitive" but after going on a long vacation and coming back and not having much to do with her and receiving hateful e-mails and not being told my grandmother, her mother, is on her death bed, its very obvious that she thinks that she is punishing me. What its done is confirm to me what a cold and hateful person she is and if she can't control me she will do anything possible to hurt me and telling family members that I have a problem and even that my husband is turning me against her. Of course, she's done nothing wrong - its always that I'm the bad guy. Its a shame that I now have to end a relationship with my mother but I know it will be healthier for me and I can regain my own self worth again and be happy without all the drama, lies and confusion from an unloving mother. If there is any thought of these people changing, they don't. Good luck all!
Responding to the N. Williford post: This might be the author's own mother---and the response is CLASSIC narcissism! The author's whole point is made! This post should be kept in the discussion as a viable example (and proof!) of our subject.
I, and my therapist, think my dad has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I used to think it was sad that he and I have been so distant for my adult life, but now I realize that I'm lucky I haven't been in his world of selfishness and have been able to completely detach from him fairly easily. When I turned 18 and was in therapy, I realized that being distant from him was the best thing for me. His lack of desire to be a parent also caused him to distance himself from me. When I was little I idolized him so much and would have done anything to be in his good graces. He was completely my hero, partially because my mom was so critical and hateful with me (she might be a narcissist too, although it's harder to tell with her). My dad raised me to believe that he was the center of the universe and was the most reasonable, rational person there ever was. I grew up totally believing in the intellectual world he had created. All this while he molested me for years, treating me like his toy that he could use at any time he wanted. Maybe this book doesn't mention child molestation, but it should because narcissistic people believe that their children exist for their own pleasure and use, right?
My dad and the other members of my family scapegoated me - the problem was always me, always me having emotions that rational, "normal" people didn't have. Therefore I was put into therapy at the age of 12. This was actually good for me though. But the therapy remained on a superficial level until I finally had a therapist who recognized how empty I was inside, how my intellectualism actually hid, without my knowledge, a world of pain that I lived and breathed in. Just like my father, I can create such a web of intellectualisms and rationality that I fooled all the therapists. So I've unfortunately learned many negative things from my dad. I wasn't trying to fool the therapists - I just didn't know any other way to be, other than perfect and compliant and fully understanding and rational all the time. This was the way my dad, and the rest of my family's scapegoating, made me. I read lots of books about therapy and self-help and could talk about my problems like there was no tomorrow. It's been painful to realize how I played into keeping the therapy non-functional for so many years. But part of good therapy is realizing where we are sabotaging ourselves.
Anyway, I always realized that both my parents were horrible and had taught me many untrue things that I subconsciously believed, things like I was a terrible person and I caused all the bad things that ever happened in our family. I had always realized this on an intellectual level. Just in the last few years am I starting to really feel, on an emotional level, how badly they treated me and how much pain it has caused me. My therapist has to tell me over and over that they were bad parents and as a child, I deserved much, much better. She's had to describe to me how good parents behave, and I listen with disbelief, comparing that kind of behavior to what I actually got. Disbelief that the way my parents treated me could actually have been so bad. It's painful to really feel this, the heartbreak of really realizing how children are supposed to be treated, and how far from that the treatment that I got was.
Recently I was in more contact with my dad and decided, this time, to really be myself with him. Not to be the little compliant, totally tuned-into-him sheep I always used to be with him. I was my normal self. I started criticizing him for various things, especially the way he treated me as a child, because these things have really been on my mind. I was scared to criticize him, because I knew subconsciously that he wouldn't stand for it. When I was a child, expressing any of my own needs, or responding negatively to anything he did, brought about extreme reprisal and sometimes violent punishment. His authoritarian belief was that he was the father and was therefore morally above me, and he felt almost morally obligated to punish me when I, the lowly child, dared say anything negative to him. So recently, this criticism on my part made me afraid of reprisal. He actually took all my criticisms without reprisal, but he didn't really respond to them. He apologized for how he treated me as a child but wasn't willing to make up for the things he did and how much he damaged me. He didn't really engage with the criticisms I made and didn't respond to them. I don't know how to describe it - it was this weird blankness and refusal to engage. I didn't know what to make of it. So finally I asked him what he thought of our relationship and he decided to opt out. He was SO REFUSING TO TAKE ANY CRITICISM FROM ME that, when I continued to criticize him despite his protests, he decided not to have a further relationship with me. I KNEW that criticizing him would lead to something bad, and his total rejection of me was on the lines of what I had expected. But I had to keep criticizing him, you understand, because it was the only way I could think of to disengage from the previous dynamic we had had, where he controlled me and I totally bought everything he said, like a sheep. It was the only way I could think of to rebel and claim myself for myself. He's so not able to deal with that, that he's decided to break it all off with me.
It's been painful to be rejected by someone whose approval I have always sought, but I realize now it's probably the best thing that could have happened. He can't deal with me being myself, daring to challenge his authority. It'll be a while before I really get it, on an emotional level, that it's his problem and not mine. Even all this explaining that I feel I have to do, it points to how inside, I subconsciously still feel that it's all my fault and I should never have criticized him. Narcissistic parents really make you feel as if it's all your fault - it could never be theirs. It's a trap that I am fighting, fighting fighting to get out of, but I am still mentally putting myself in it. It'll be a long road, but my therapist really helps me believe, at least in some moments, that it's not my fault. I know I'll get there eventually. This really points to how, even if you no longer have any contact with the narcissistic parent, you still bear the psychological scars until you do some healing.
I'm sorry this post has gone on so long. I've had a terrible life, trying to fight my way out of the world they built for me, but I know I'm on the right path.
I too have a narcissistic parent. After many years of dealing with her on both an emotional and intellectual level. I conclude that I understand the way she is intellectuallly. She reacts to everything with high drama and emotional response. She was the last child of "perfect" parents. Had the nearly "perfect" childhood and was doted upon by brothers and sisters as well as parents. Her goals for me as I grew up were to be just like her, and extension of her childhood self. My brothers and I all had roles, the first born was the rebel, as the middle child and only daughter, the extension of herself, and the "baby" as can do no wrong. She constantly criticized the way I wore my hair, hated how I was an intellectually promising student instead of a party girl as she had been. The world must revolve around Mom, according to her behaviour. All of us understand thad Dad gave here everything he could, mostly all of the control in the family. He rolled over and played the fool for 50 years until she finally nagged him to death. Now she wants to control all of our lives, our spouses and grand children's lives as well. I understand intellectually that she is lonely and ill health and we respond with appropriate attention to her needs. Each time there is an interaction I have with her, which is daily, I must prepare to respond, (and not react), with intellect and not emotionally. As such, I sometimes do not pick up the phone until I am ready to deal with her daily onslaught of terrors, orders, opinions and criticisms. I know intellecually that she "owns' this insecure personality and won't deal with family any other way. (She has a most generous and friendly way with non-family members, who think she is a "lovely old dear"...little do they know the truth.) What works is having regular family chats with my brother about how we are going to respond to each new "crisis" she feign and how to ward her game of "let's see the brothers and sisters fight" game that she likes to instigate for her own amusement. It's a daily struggle but we will keep on top of it. We have to.
I feel sorry for you; you've lost your child because you would rather think you are right than admit how wrong you are and take responsibility for your actions as a 'parent'. Voila - a self proclaimed narcissist.
I have discontinued contact. It was not an easy decision, but it was absolutely the right one. Remember, the decision is as permanent as you need it to be - and it does make you feel as if you do have control. Contact with our parents is not supposed to cause us such consistent pain. Do what you feel you need to do - and don't try to explain it to others who have not experienced the same. Trust yourself
It sounds like you're putting in far more effort than it's worth. I finally got fed up with my mother after learning all about narcissism (and two divorces from narcs) that, now, I have no tolerance for it. I take care of my elderly mother's needs, but limit contact and conversation with her, and never let her get the upper hand. It's not worth it. She's the one who needs to learn that her behavior is NOT acceptable. Carmen