Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Elderly Narcissistic Parent Dilemma

If we were to approach this in the manner of an accountant, with neat little columns and an unsentimental eye, you can see how the numbers don't really add up.

Column One: What your parents did for you.

Column Two: What you're now expected to do for your parents.

If you have the lousy lucky of having narcissistic parents, then Column One is a bit of a disappointment. The basics of child-rearing may have been covered, like food, shelter and clothes. The stuff other parents did for their kids you probably didn't get. In fact, you probably had to do stuff for them.

In my case, the roles somehow got switched around and I ended up taking care of my needy, childlike father...blah, blah, blah...and don't get me started on my self-absorbed mother who couldn't stay with me in the hospital when I was a kid and had a cancer-scare because it was too uncomfortable. (Plus, she was too upset and didn't I know what I was putting her through)

So basically, Column One is screwed up. Where there should be parental entries...hey!...there's your name instead! At the bottom of Column One, the parents are running a deficit.

Hop on over to Column Two...that's the really scary one. That's the column with just your name appearing and who knows how long those narcissistic parents are gonna last.

See, that's the dilemma, folks. No bank of goodwill to drawn upon in the tough times. No fond memories of mom sitting by your bedside reading a book to comfort you, no recollection of Dad saying something goofy yet strangely reassuring when your boyfriend broke up with you. No, nada, none. Didn't exist.

Yet, somehow, you're expected to jump up and say...yippee...I have no problem taking on the responsibility of caring for aging narcissistic parent(s)!

Let me be a warning to the rest of you. Although I wouldn't change what I've done, I have now entered my - GASP - seventeenth year of dealing with aging narcissistic parents. It started early in my case, as my mother developed early onset dementia...a decade before I even knew what the term "self-absorbed parent" meant.

This means my columns - technically speaking - are now "equal." My parents raised me to seventeen. I've been financially responsible for myself since then. If one thinks of this in terms of what "we owe" our parents...I'm clear!

I've now contributed seventeen years of my life to helping manage aging parents. I have never, except for a few days and it almost killed me, done the hard work of bathing, changing adult diapers or any of that stuff - so nobody gets the wrong idea - although I do order my father's incontinence gear from Sam's Club.

(Oh my gosh. Is there a link between narcissism and the later development of dementia?)

So it has gone, folks. Most of those years, by the way, were spent in the misery of ignorance...not knowing that my parents were narcissistic...rushing around in a frenzy trying to prove that I was the good, dutiful, perfect daughter...a walking, talking case of generalized anxiety, a raging hypochondriac with a taste for Xanax.

Back to those columns. They never have and never will add up. When other people - who have annoying parents or garden-variety dysfunctional parents - call you ungrateful or try to tell you that you OWE your parents your life because they fed you baby bottles or wiped your butt....fuck 'em. Seriously. Don't even try to argue. Nod your head. Then do your own thing. Do your best. Act as humanely and responsibly as you can. Plan. Anticipate. Use your leverage - you will have it if you're parents have pissed everybody else off and need you - to design a workable solution that may involve some tough in our case...but it did work and I can at least have the satisfaction of knowing that my father is well cared for...even if I'm not doing it with my own little hands.


Mulderfan said...

The ledger idea is kind of interesting if a bit depressing. My parents do have a few pluses from so long ago I can barely remember. I was my dad's sidekick as a youngster (because I was supposed to be a boy) and that's how I learned how to garden and fix/build things. Mum was pretty nurturing back then but was more his victim than part of the tag team they operate now.
By my mid teens the team was well established and operating efficiently. Dad took care of my older brother with beatings and verbal abuse, while mum made excuses for dad, destroyed my self-esteem, and groomed me for my role as the family's unpaid servant. My younger brother was the golden child at this point but he became the target of my older brother's abuse while I got my share in the form of attempted incest. All in all, just one happy family!
Once I was married I sort of cycled in an out of their sick little world depending on whether there was a crisis and I was needed. My husband was always there to support me the many times I said f**k this and managed to get myself "disowned".
Three months prior to the death of my husband, my older brother (abuser) was killed and when I got the call I rushed to my parents' home and supported them through the whole ordeal.
In the three weeks it took my poor husband to die I called my parents almost every day seeking support. At one point mum said, "I don't give a shit about him, I only care about you." How sweet is that when the love of your life is dying?
To make a long story short, they cared so much for me, that when my husband died they didn't come to my house until the celebration of his life....THREE months later! I visited them once in the interim and was told not to speak of my husband again as it was too unpleasant!
The death of my husband should have made me realize just how little these people cared about me but a few months later they had a minor car accident which my mother played for all it was worth and STILL I stepped up to the plate! Over the course of the next two years, the more I did for them the more abusive they became. One of my dad's favourite tactics was making disparaging remarks about my the point that on one visit I was reduced to tears and begging him to stop before I walked out.
Now that I called a halt to this madness by asking that they simply treat me with respect, I am once more disowned! At 87 and 90, having pissed off anyone else who might be of use to them, I'm just enjoying the lull before they need my "services" again. What a shock it will be when they find out things will be on my terms not theirs!
So back to the ledger: I'd have to say it's a "bit" lopsided!
This all makes me think of the old saying, "Only the good die young."

artlover said...

Holy cow! This is where i am at today with caring for an elderly passive-aggressive N-parent; Very difficult to find empathy ( how ironic as that is lacking in the N-parent) as people do not have the same point of reference as we do; so typically, the N-parent treats their own children or 'loved ones' poorly, yet charm the sh1@t out of others who see them as wonderful. BTW: I am publishing a Ebook on Scribd next month titled: It Has A Name: How to Keep Control Freaks & Other
Unhealthy Narcissists from Ruining Your Life. I am writing a 2nd book called The Well of Being, to address life after the unhealthy narcissist.

What is so very annoying is people will say to me after explaining the state of my N-parent, she loves you.... and i have to say, yes, but it is an unhealthy love based on dependency, approval and no reciprocation. Will post more here as I receive comments on my book. Wishing you well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nina,

I've been wondering about the 2nd column: What would a nparent do if the child were to call him by his first name instead of calling him "Mum" or "Dad"? Would that be taken as a personal attack?
I'm asking because being called "Mum" or "Dad" might be an important factor in the grandiose picture nparent has of him/herself.

Nina said...

Yikes Mulderfan...

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your husband...and how both he...and your love and grief for him...were not respected by your parents.

That sort of the guise of caring just for cruel and confusing.

What it all comes down we all that what happens to us isn't important...what happens to them is a crisis, a tragedy, a catastrophe.

Yeah...the ledger concept is rather depressing, but it can help clarify a situation that - generally speaking - is so mired
in dewy eyed sentiment that makes any reasonable discussion of what we children of narcissistic parents are willing to do for them in their old age a frustrating experience!

To put it another way...what if I were to my mother did when I was, I can't stay with her at the hospital because it's too uncomfortable and I'm too upset? People would bitch slap me upside the head. Yet, were I to share my experience of being left alone in the hospital, you could bet people would rush to her defense and say things like, "Well, she must have had her reasons" or crazy-making excuses like, "She loved you so much she couldn't stand to see you in pain."

Hah! Where's OUR hall pass, may I wonder???

Nina said...

2/14 Anonymous...

Mmm...tough question.

I'm not sure.

My kids have always called me Mom and I think I might be upset if they started saying, "Yo, Nina."

Well, okay, they might not say "yo," but it would certainly make me wonder...what the heck? After almost twenty years of hearing...Mom, mommy, Maaaahm!"

A friend's daughter has taken to calling her "Zee" but my friend seems flattered by its a cute nickname.

Have you stopped calling your parents mum and dad? If so, why?

Mulderfan said...

From a Father's Day card my daughter gave my late husband, "Anyone can be a father, it takes someone special to be a dad."

Anonymous said...

Actually, yes - I started calling my father by his first name (at the age of 37) and he got upset and told me he preferred "Pop". This is what he always wanted me to call him, which I basically did until I realized through therapy what he was and how much it had messsed me up. Now I try not to call him at all. :-)

Not for anything, but thank you for this blog - it wasn't until I read it - after almost a year of therapy by that point - that I realized what I'd been through had a name and it was OK for me to be pissed off about it. (My shrink had suggested that I read a book about it but I never did - just your blog - and I found out that just because my father's not as "bad" as some of the other parents in the stories on this site, it doesn't mean he's still not a n-parent.)

So thanks, really - I'm SO glad you're back and blogging.

Anonymous said...

To me, D/M is a name I give to someone who cares about me in a way which truly exceeds "I'm the sperm donor and so I have to take care of my child"... D is more of a name I'd give to someone who is explicitly NOT a nparent.

Susie said...

My N-parents like to leave me with their aging N-parent (my grandmother) when they don't feel like taking care of her anymore. When N-Grandma feels too alone or doesn't get her way, she purposely has panic attacks. To which, of course, she expects me to drop everything and baby her. As soon as she gets the attention she wants, the panic attacks and tears immediately subside, but the harsh cold shoulder lasts. She had one of these episodes when I told her that she wasn't allowed to treat me like crap!

Anonymous said...

"I've now contributed seventeen years of my life to helping manage aging parents. I have never, except for a few days and it almost killed me, done the hard work of bathing, changing adult diapers or any of that stuff - so nobody gets the wrong idea - although I do order my father's incontinence gear from Sam's Club." It's all about You You You and you say that they are Narcissistic.
I am on the other side, an adoptive mother who thinks that adoption sucks and wishes that she could return the brats but unfortunately they came with a non return policy. I'll never love them like I love my own anyway. I should have left them in the Home. So my advice is don't follow your heart and don't try and do a good thing. Help, I want my life back!!

Nina said...


You may have missed the point. This blog IS about feelings about having narcissistic parents and dealing with them...after a lifetime of being numb, being inauthentic and doing stuff for everybody else.

Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm a straight up narcissist online, although IRL, I don't think so.

I won't comment on your other sentiments...although I suggest you find a more appropriate blog to express them where you can find the support you need. Perhaps there is a Disappointed Adoptive Mother Blog...or a...Return Those Ungrateful Little Bastards Blog...dunno.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nina,

Please, PLEASE don't take what the previous poster wrote as an example of your readers' view of you. Seriously, I am going to see my parents this weekend for the first time since September and am dreading it. I don't think it's any kind of coincidence that I've re-discovered your blog in the past 3 days.

Nina said...

Dear Nice Anonymous,

Thank you! I really appreciate your kind word!

Honestly, I don't take that stuff very

I toughened up on my other blog...about coming to grips with being adopted by nutters. Unfortunately, some adoptive parents have personalized my particular situation/feelings as an attack on them and on adoption in general, as practiced opposed to the Closed Era. Boy, talk about being "bitch slapped!"...hah!

Oooo...that feeling of dread preceding a visit...all churned up...yuck. I feel for you! Recently, I've discovered the trick of trying to distract myself with watching escapist movies.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous who wished she could return her adopted brats reminded me of the Dutch diplomat who tried to return his 8 years old adopted daughter Jade (adopted at age 4 months) to South Korea because of "emotional remoteness". Nannies said that the adopted mother refused to treat Jade like a real daughter. The little girl eventually went to live with an English-speaking foster family and attend a Hong Kong school and is reported "living rather haily and she seems to be a norma little girl."

So Anonymous, it's a high liklihood it is YOU that your brats turn out to be brats. My own mother (biological) constantly harp how adopted children should be "GRATEFUL" to their adopted parents until one day I finally shut her up that such prospective parents would not be allowed to adopt in the first place (if good social workers do their job).

Anyhoo, I love your numbers, Nina. The last 17 years of caregiving cancelling out the first 17 years of parastical narcissism. My parents are very number oriented, being mathmaticians after all, and it finally occured to me one day to count how many times they complain about person A,B,C,D, etc and a month later throw it back to their face. Boy were they mad, Mom nearly cried. Show them facts and they react like 6 years old brats.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Opps, double post. Nina, could you please get rid of one of them? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the basics like food, shelter, clothes and school fees don't seem like a big deal to you but for some they mean a huge financial sacrifice and then narcissistic adoptees write them off as nothing.

I also wish that the social workers had done a better job and told me that I was not suitable to adopt. Surely it would have been better for all concerned to find this out before adopting.

All I'm trying to tell you is that adoption sucks for all concerned not just for the adopted child. I never expected or wanted them to be grateful. I thought "I'm a mom, they need a mom, surely I can do this." I just never expected it to be so hard to love children that aren't your own, that look different, act different, smell different, are different. You don't understand them and they don't understand you. My mind wants to love them but my heart won't cooperate.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous right before my post:
Sure finances play an important role in the upbringing of children (adoptive or your own), but financial "sacrifice" (sheesh: Sacrifice? They're your kids!!!) is NOT what children should kiss your feet for.

I more than agree on the fact that people should think ten times before adopting a child. If one can't take it (financially or whatever), don't do it.

Nina said...


Well, that's taking a stand! Refusing to call your father "Pop"...a title you don't think he deserves. I get that...I don't mean to sound judgmental. I'm adopted and my adoptive father has huge insecurity about his he'd get very aggressive around Father's Day and remind me...angrily...that I was his father and not to forget I can just imagine (yikes) how he'd have reacted if I stopped calling him Dad!


I really like the sentiment in the card your daughter gave her Dad!

Nina said...


OMG...a narcissistic grandmother, to boot?

I was extremely lucky because my grandmother and aunt...who got stuck w/me lots b/c my parents loved going out alone...were loving, warm, nuturing women...the opposite of self-centered.

If it wasn't so aggravating to deal with the kind of behavior you would be funny b/c it's so out obviously attention seeking...and histrionic (and exhausting)...and controlling...if if weren't YOU dealing with it. You have my sympathy!

Nina said...


Thank you for stopping by!

Oooo...I forgot about that horrible story about the adopted girl being returned! That was awful!

You brought up an interesting point...that n-parents are allowed to criticize their kids and others...frequently...meanly...yet seem to fall apart when their foibles are pointed out. They suddenly act like victims!

Nina said...

Dear Pissed Off Adoptive Mom,

It's obvious you linked to this blog from my other blog about life as an adoptee of the secretive Closed which I was forced to pretend I was my a-parent's bio child. I suspect what you read there offended you and you came here eager to name call.

You probably missed the point that my adoptive father isn't simply self-centered, he was diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and was a loner his entire life...and that I was - and am - the only person in his life beside my mother...who acted like she couldn't stand him.

You'll be very lucky if one of your adoptive children...whom you so dislike...turn out to be as faithful and loyal as I've been toward my neglectful adoptive father in his old age! I have managed his finances so that he receives the best of care.

It IS unfortunate that social workers don't do a better job of screening prospective adoptive parents...back then and today.

When I had my own children, I just assumed I'd be providing the big deal...

May I also point out that YOU - as an adult - should have done more research on adoption and that YOU had a choice...but your adoptive children had no say in the matter. You had all the control and they had none.

So buck up..."mommy"...and start looking for another blog where you will find the sympathy/understanding and constructive help you need.


Anonymous said...

With regards to the nasty anonymous, there is no shortage of parents eager to adopt healthy babies. Children are a gift. Anyone who thinks they are doing a child a favor by allowing said child the remarkable privilege of being the lucky child of the grand, the amazing, the incredible you, should not adopt or even have biological children. Having a child is about giving, not about getting. It never ceases to amaze me that n's can't wrap their heads around the concept that some things, even having children, is not all about them.

Nina, I only recently discovered your blog, and it has been every educational and helpful. understand that as an adopted child, you have a unique perspective on n-parents. But let me assure you that the biological children of n-parents ask the same kinds of questions you ask-- why these parents? Why didn't God (adoption agency in your case) put me in a different family? It must be doubly frustrating for you because you can put it down to human error, over which society has at least some control. The rest of us might look at it as more of a spiritual question, but really it's all about the same thing-- what was the point, if there was one, of my having to experience this? Maybe there is no point. Sometimes I try to look at it as n-parents being given the opportunity to learn from their children and change, but no one seems to think it's even possible for n's to change, so that seems a useless perspective. More recently I think about how this experience has affected my development of creative talents, and perhaps that was part of the point. N's don't have an inner life of imagination and dreams, but the non-n children of n's often do have a rich inner life. Often, our imaginations are the only place in which we receive nurturing. So maybe part of the point was to develop our imaginations in some special way. I bet there isn't a non-n child of an n-parent who doesn't have a great imagination and creative ability.

Susie said...


I have a pretty unique family situation. My grandmother severely abused my mother (my grandfather passed away in a car crash long before I was born). Out of the three children grandmother had, my mother was the "whipping boy". She singled her out for abuse and expected that she sacrificed everything for her brother and sister. She had no positive relationships with anyone, lacked social skills and ended up marrying my narcissist father because he was the first person to give her any sort of attention. The result of on-going 60 years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse is my mother!

Our family life now is like an old movie, playing over and over again. My mother relives and reproduces the trauma she experienced in her birth family.
She does not know how to relate to people to the point of being antisocial. I want to be mad at her, but I mostly just feel sad for her. She has never known what it is like to be loved for who she (truly) is and not the dream person she believes that she is. She will never know true friendship or happiness either because she thrusts herself into cycles of victimization and self-sabotages her friendships!

Moreover, she is so desperate for narcissistic supply that she allowed her husband to abuse her and her children. She also became a perpetrator because she never got help for her problems.

-On another note-

I'd like to also point out that pissed off Adoptive Mom has her priorities all wrong. Children are not miniature adults. They have no power and are completely dependent on the parent. Yes parents make sacrifices, but they do it because they LOVE their children. They shouldn't hold any of that over the child's head. Children OWE nothing to their parents. Moreover, it is not their fault that they were born into or adopted by the family. Someone famous once said, "You don't get to pick your family!"

You DO, however, have every right to complain about the treatment you received and stand up for yourself. If this were a normal or healthy family, you would be much more likely to want to provide more than the basic care to your parents (without sacrificing your own needs of course! Hello care-giver burnout...) What you are doing now is self-preservation. You have a right to cut off relationships and shield yourself from people that are unhealthy or hurtful.
Parents have the responsibility to provide for their children as best they can (beyond the basics) and ensure that they become well-adjusted adults through positive and healthy relationships. They did the absolute minimum expected of legal guardians, so I think that what you are doing is appropriate.


Susie said...

I think pissed off Adoptive Mother needs to understand that the problem here is not adoption per se but narcissism as a concept. Every person has some level of narcissism, and children/teens have exaggerated levels of egotism. This is a natural part of childhood and with appropriate support and parental guidance, they will develop healthy inter-relational concepts of the self and their needs.
However, this blog is about diagnosed narcissists and/or self-absorbed family systems. It seems that pissed off Adoptive Mom does not understand that adopting children is not simply an equation of "do I have enough money to do it?"; it is a SELFLESS act of love. You should expect that you will get nothing in return because parenting is not a way to get your emotional needs met.


Nina said...


Thank you Susie...not only for sharing you experiences...but the support, too...regarding the adoption's a VERY touchy subject..yikes.

You reminded me about something really worth systems/history...I'll quote from you there if that's okay.

Nina said...


Thanks for stopping by!

As if caring for a difficult, demanding, passive-aggressive n-parent isn't must do it without safe place to vent!

Please let me know how I can link to your ebook when it's ready to go! I need to update my links, if you have a blog...

Anonymous said...

Nina, thank you for sharing your story. Only those who have Narcissists in their lives can have any idea of the effect those with NPD can have on their lives.

I found this awhile back, and think you might find it interesting:

My column one had one item: financial support.

My column two is now empty. After seven decades, I have ceased contact with my verbally abusive NPD father and have phone contact only with my willing victim mother who is his caregiver. It was my last resort in order to keep my health.

Selfish, perhaps. Sad, yes. But, necessary. And not without resultant guilt and stress, due to seven decades of training.

I wish to you all the best, Nina, and to all the others who have abusive parent(s) with NPD.

Losing it said...

I'm so happy I found this site. I had a happy early childhood -- little money but happy. My beloved father passed away from a heart attack when I was 15 and he was in his mid-40's. My mother went back to work to support my younger brother and myself. She madly loved my father and was beyond devastated when he passed and went through deep depression. She never fully recovered, but got over the intense sadness, and turned bitter and resentful. From the age of 15 I became the homemaker of the family -- I cooked all meals, cleaned house, did laundry, basically took care of all things a housewife would, in addition to going to school. During the summers, she wanted me at home -- very little friend interaction, because she didn't feel it was necessary for me to be away from home -- her home. My mother is now in her mid-80s, and has always preferred my brother -- he is the golden boy. She needs me -- yes, but prefers me -- no. At this point she is bossy, sarcastic and demanding. She has few friends, lives alone and is a hypocondriac. Yes she has had some major and minor health issues, but for her age is in fairly good shape. But her attitude is horrible. She wants attention, every ache is life-threatening, every pain means another emergency trip to one of her many doctors. She thinks nothing of calling me at work and expecting me to drop everything and come immediately to her rescue. She does this continuously, and yet demands I don't tell my brother -- who lives out of state (lucky dog), because "he has enough on his plate". I'm tired, frazzled, and feel totally taken advantage of. I have no compassion or patience left. We have recently gotten into more frequent shouting matches, with her insisting that "all I do is scream at her."
I'm sick of the attitude, I'm sick of the tension, and I'm sick of feeling like a total patsy.
And I always feel guilty, the guilt is killing me - I need some advice desperately. I'm a nice person, non-confrontational, and rarely speak up for myself -- I'm exactly the way I was brought up to be. Anyone understand these feelings?

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain my family is so insane that I am not sure which one is more toxic I am 60 now and try to put distance between my npd mom and I for years guilt keeps drawing back in again she can not behave her self for very long she creates dramas for attention her latest one she called crying she could not find her cat in the house come over right away she needs help now but in the mean time if she gets me along or on the phone she will torture me with horrors from my past howw she is not the bad person she left as a child to be molested by father for years while she was out partying then when it came out she wanted to know if I enticed him sexxy 8 year old she says I ruined her life because he was the money in the mean time she had a boyfriend and used the abuse from my father as a excuse to end the marrige but blames me for all her problems now my dad is long dead after trying to abuse 2 stepsisters but she hauts me behind back she calls my son crying and all raltives smearing me my husband is the buffer thank god for my husband I have a brother that is npd too and sister with szafrena who disappeared 8 years ago I just want to have some happiness and peace in this life wornout

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all who posted. I feel some relief knowing there are others who are struggling with the same issues and concerns. Like the previous poster, I too was sexually abused by my father as well as others outside the family . My mother was too focused on drinking and other people, there was no protection from anyone. I've dealt with my parents alcoholic drinking and intense need to be the 'center of attention' as well as episodic violence since my earliest memory at 2 years old...It's hard for me to overestimate the level of mind-manipulation through guilt and the sense that, because I am an unmarried daughter that this is my obligation, to give up my life and care for them, because they are in their mid-80's. I feel this from my cousins as well-many of whom really don't care or want to know what I've surivived. Now, in middle age, I realize that I have lost so many years just recovering from the violence, incest abuse In addition, the insanity doesn't seem to end..2 years ago my brother who has major personality issues coupled with violence, threatened me physically and said that he would kill me when he discovered that I had shared with my cousins that I had been abused. Still, I kept on, in the 'caretaker' role with my parents, even though they were angry that I had called the police and protected myself!! The insanity is unbelievable, but why I've stayed on in a caretaker role after this happened shows the depth of my sense of guilt. But I am also a compassionate person-it isn't all my sickness. I really do care and want to be loving. It's just that it's like pouring water into a sieve . The bottom line for me, is that I've come to the realization that I'm 'done'. I cannot take care of my parents and I can no longer live 20 minutes away-especially with my brother's potential threat of violence...I can barely take care of myself! They are well-off, have a lot of money and resources to get all the support they need-but part of the 'game' for my mother at least is to pretend that she does not have the money or resources to get support and then to expect me to fill in the blanks. My own very low-income status coupled with the potentiality of my brother coming after me again, is just too much. I just cannot do it anymore, and I've decided that I am moving across the country where there are many opportunities for community and work, and to make a very clear separation line. The guilt is sometimes overwhelming, just thinking about it, and I find myself worried about what 'other family members and friends of my parents will think when they find out'. That I'm a terrible selfish daughter. My mother's friends have said things to me like 'your mother can't live without you...I don't know what your mother would do without you' and all I can think is that, if they think I am selfish, these people really have no idea what I've gone through.I have tried to help my parents in tangiable concrete ways, but what I'm really expected to do is be in the middle of their marriage, their screaming arguments and especially listen to my mother's problems with my father! This is how it was since I was 8 years old! I was the therapist for my mother and my father's girlfriend! I have to remember that it doesn't matter what these people think-they don't know...and perhaps they are friends with my mother because they feed into her denial system. Also, I've had to come to the realization my cousins, really don't care about me. I have to be willing to walk through the fire of guilt or whatever projections that people might place on me, to say 'no more', I'm not going to be a martyr anymore. Perhaps then, when I visit perhaps once a year or twice a year, unless they die suddenly, I can be actually feeling compassion. But mostly I have to start with compassion for myself. So thanks for letting me share and I hope what I shared was helpful to some people.

Anonymous said...

Nina, you seem like a very strong person, i am going through a very tough time with my two Nparents and sometimes my head gets dizzy not knowing how to deal with them. But your posts really gave some good tips. I am still trying to figure how to detach from them emotionally even if i have to live with them. I've tried a lot but i tend to slip, i guess i'll just try harder. Thanks for the blog and wish you a healthy happy life!!

Jack said...

The worst part is that people think I am a jerk for distancing myself from the monsters in my life now that they are aging. Some of the comments I get from casual observers are full of venom. They think I am selfish. I raised myself and took care of my sociopath sister when they were too busy living their fantasy. I don't owe them anything.

Jack said...

My parental units hate it when I call them by their first names. When I do they reply , "who's that your speaking of?" as if I am still a child. I do it because they are not my parents, only in their minds.

Anonymous said...

My ledger is like many who have posted here, more lopsided favoring the bad, more of the negative side than positive. My story is a little different with the respect that my stepfather 'conveniently' tossed me to the curb as if a piece of trash once he decided that I no longer wanted to dance when the piper played his tune. For as long as I can recall, I have always felt as if I was a leper, and outsider trying to get in, into his acceptance, his world, his love. I remember always striving to be my best, not being bad/naughty, and I was never able to make him happy. I remember being really little ( 4 or 5) and just having this sense of knowing that no matter what I did I was never going to fit in. While in therapy, it occurred to me that I always knew and remembered this was true. My therapist said, how wonderful it is to feel that I was right all along (to trust my voice and instincts), and how I spoke the truth, but how awful that the truth was real, he never cared, I didn't matter, I still don't. And that at the end of the day, I was just a mere prop to bolster his esteem, his image. Look at that nice man, he adopted a poor little girl with birth defects. And the whole time, I cried for help, I cried for someone to listen to my pains, my needs, my wants. He didn't care.
As for my mother, I really don't know what she told herself. She had this amazing ability to just 'zone' out. It was never her problem, she pushed me in the direction of my stepfather, who did nothing. My mom just recently passed. And, I know this might sound awful, I really had no idea what to think of feel, but I have no sadness. I sometimes feel like I should cry, but nothing comes out. It's like screaming and no sound comes out. Part of me is relieved because there is no more, suffocating, relentless, ongoing drama and chaos. I read in a book that if you aren't treated with love, and it isn't reciprocal, no wonder there is an absence of tears and feelings. I only feel ripped off and sad, and that in her final months, she could have given me and my family the most wonderful gift of really letting us all know that we were loved and wanted. A I'm sorry for ever making you wonder if you were loved or not would be nice too. But, up until the end, it was all about her and the criticism she felt she had to bestow on all of us. Criticism at the end, that's it. I'd rather have had nothing, and sadly, what I have now is an empty hollow feeling. I question whether or not I'm really here.

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Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. I know your work for your parents has been painful. I recently concluded years of caring for my elderly n-mother (she died). I almost didn't survive the task of caring for her (and my father). My religious faith did not spare me the pain of the task, but it helped me hold on for a better future. The better future is now here. Hang on for your better future.

Anonymous said...

I'm grateful for this post and the comments, as I've recently realized mine are also N, and that explains so much of what is wrong our (my siblings and me)relationship with them. Thing is, other people think they are "terrific, warm, wonderful folks". So, of course, I'm an "unattentive ungrateful child", when I distance myself and I don't jump for all their passive-aggressive demands.

Anonymous said...

My father , a Narcissist, died last week. I was his only child but did not find out until 12 hours later, by a curt phone call from a daughter of my mother's first marriage. She too, is a narcissist, or at the very least, has many, many traits. My father signed everything over to her. She claimed to be "his daughter", I was not even allowed to see him, call him during his final hours. I was treated like a heinous criminal. yet had never done a thing to hurt him. I dont drink, smoke, I worked my way through college, bought my own home, have raised my children alone ( and they are kind hearted, wonderful kids !)...I did everything I could to try to "win" his love...and in the end, he found a way to hurt me one last time. The woman who called? She hadn't seen her own father for over 25 years a the time of his death, claimed my father had sexually molested her ( yet moved in with him)abandoned her son and isn't even aware she is a grandmother...nor seems to care.I had allowed myself to dream, to fool myself really, that one day my father would change...that one day he would be nice, caring, show love, an interest in his grandchildren. It never happened. Of course not. There is no cure. But living in that imaginary world was the only way I coped, I think. I was not even "allowed" to decide how his remains were handled and was told i had "no legal right" to his ashes. I've cried so much this week.

VintageGirl said...

Although I am only just now looking at my parents through the filter of narcissism (and, OMG, does it answer so many questions! Weird to realize that what one thought were personal details are in fact general symptoms), I am grateful that while my mother was still living, a therapist suggested that I mourn not having the mother I would have wanted (warm, loving, encouraging, etc). She said it's easier to do while they are still alive. So I did. It helped so much. I just finally accepted that my mother was never going to be That Person. Then as my mother's life spiraled downward, I was able to care for her with the compassion that I would one of the animals that I rescue as a volunteer. I made sure she was not scared or in pain; I advocated on her behalf. I did that for myself -- not b/c I thought she would notice or care (just like rescuing an injured dog -- sometimes they will try to bite. It's easy to not take that personally). And after she died, I have felt only relief. The Energy Vampire could no longer suck the life out of me.
Fortunately my father collects wives to circle around him like planets and lives far away. I have also grieved that he will never ask about me, never show interest in me beyond whatever sheen my latest accomplishment might be able to reflect on him (and now, after reading about narcissists, I know why!).
There was a writer here who shared that children of narcissists often have a deep, creative internal world & that's true for me. I also have been very drawn to spirituality as a result of trying to make sense of my early years. These are good things that enrich my life and perhaps I would not have found them through any other path.
Yes, I am also trying to UNlearn "over-functioning" for others -- but I can do that.
I am grateful to have found this blog and thank Nina for being brave in creating it.

Anonymous said...

VintageGirl I am intrigued by your suggestion that we mourn for the Parents our Parents ought to have been while they are still alive. I hope there is a ray of hope for me. Could you give me some tips? Do you mean I have to cry or make a list and ponder it? I am not sure I can just cry about it. My Father is difficult and I do resent his behaviour and he was far from being a great dad. My Mother died when I was 13 and within weeks he had a new relationship with the most unpleasant egocentric narcissist you could ever meet. He did not care if we were still grieving and so many times he showed us we meant nothing by comparison. Maybe this tip would help me be more compassionate if I could detach myself.

Anonymous said...

"When other people - who have annoying parents or garden-variety dysfunctional parents - call you ungrateful or try to tell you that you OWE your parents your life because they fed you baby bottles or wiped your butt....fuck 'em."

Found your blog after a google search. My sister killed herself a few months ago. She had a lot of AA friends and all my family is in AA. When she was very young she tried to kill herself by eating a mushroom at school. We grew up in a very expensive neighborhood and I think my parents saw this as the pinnicle of lack of gratitude. For the past 15 years of my life I believed she had a "brain disease," as did everyone in the family. I was, not too long after, diagnosed with one and medicated. She was once forced to take medication that made her hair fall out. We had both been in numerous psychiatric offices and facilities, and religious organizations to "cure" these terrible diseases we had. We both have had several jobs, we moved around a lot as children and went to several different schools. My mom had always been very intrusive in both our lives, undermining any attempts we made to establish personal autonomy or identity.

I am now living with my parents and have left the religious "recovery" group I was affiliated with. I came out hear with the simple intentions of just helping my father with his small ebay business. I was fooling myself. 2 weeks later my sister died and a week after that him and my mom decided to move again to "grow the business." I want to be on par with him in the store, but I know this desire is just a figment of my imagination. I am guilted and guilt myself into doing things for him constantly. I have resolved to play the object role I always have been and will be in relation to my parents. I constantly feel like I can do more-like I should go work in a factory to help contribute. My mother worries no one will take care of her if he were to die (as he has a very unhealthy diet). In short, in just a few months, simply helping out a little with the business has transformed into a cross-country move, filing to incorporate the company, and plans to relocate to a 3000 square foot facility, and me worring over the physical health of my father and how I can best show my gratitude. I often feel like I should be further along in my life. For instance, living on my own and taking care of myself. The fact that I am not kills me, yet I wouldn't even know where to start: my purpose in life has always been to please them.

Anonymous said...

I have never left a comment on line before, but could hardly believe the comment by the "bitter adoptive mom" so I wanted to add my thoughts. I appreciate this blog by the way. When I read the "bitter ladies" comments about her adopted children being brats and even "smell" different than her own kids, I felt a great pain in my chest. That is a horrible thing to say. If you can not feel the same way as your own kids, do what you have to to fake it at least. Look into their little eyes to see who "they" really are and find the gold hidden there. Look as hard as you can and have feeling in your heart for all they have come through so far. Think of one thing a day that is a nice thought about them no matter how small or big it is. Make a list of positive things. Flip it around and see the good things that stubborness can be put towards etc. For those kids to be in a family that the "mom" wants to get rid of them they will build hard walls around them simply as a defense to protect themselves. My adoptive mom is very Narcistic. She has told me numerous times that we just never bonded when I was a baby. She has said I just don't know why I don't love you the way I love the other kids. She always seems mad at me for what I don't know, but I have tried all my life to figure out the right words to say or the right laugh to have. (My brother is also adopted) I want to say that children that are adopted haven't a clue that they are suppose to bond, or act a certain cute way to be loved. They are just children. They have gone through trauma at a very young age being given up. Their first experiences in life are that of rejection. They are not born with their first impressions of life being that of a loving touch or haze. I know that some that were not adopted have this same experience with their birth moms too and that is sad also. My b mom was very jealous of my b dads and my relationship. He left when I was 9. My whole life I thought there was something wrong with me to make her resent me so much. She had no clue about anything to do with my life, and never was loving in anyway. Only critical. Mad at me that I didn't know I was suppose to wear a bra when I hit puberty or mad because I had some pimples or didn't know to wear deoderant. Mad because my hair was scraggly etc. Always disappointed. Embarressed. She had no clue I had missed 2 months of grade 4 as my nanny didn't want to be home alone so used to write me notes for school. No clue I was being abused sexually by my babysitter, and even went to bat for him when he was accused by other parents. No clue I broke my tailbone so badly, that 20 years later when I got an xray the doctor said it was the worst he ever saw. On and on. Everyone one here who has Narcisstic parents has the same sort of story. Thank you for your courage in writing this post and hurray for everyone who has come to the revelation that they are worthy, and are valuable as an individual even after being told as a child they were not. This breaks the cycle, and we can use the hidden talents and gifts this experience has brought into our lives and make the experience for our own children (adopted or not) a much much better one.

Anonymous said...


I too have a n-mother. I am in my mid 30's and after seeking therapy for panic attacks, anxiety, and heart palpatations, I found out exactly the mother was narcissistic. What an eye opener. After going over my whole entire childhood, I had realized what a monster she really is and was to me. And to this day she still drives me crazy and she is in her mid 70's. Every time my phone rings and I see her phone number I cringe and I automatically start having palpatations. I go to therapy and take xanax so I don't end up in the hospital. I've been in the hospital a couple times b/c I thought I was having a heart attack. I'm so sick of all the aggravation. I try so hard to learn to deal with this in a positive way, but it is the most difficult issue to deal with. It feels like a no win situation. I feel like cutting my ties with her, but it's hard. I can't do it. I've been trying to limit my time seeing her to once per month but even that is getting difficult. I hate talking to her on the phone too. She is miserable and is a constant complainer. I'm at a loss with this and I just want to be happy! If I don't pick up the phone when she calls, she will keep calling and her messages get more and more frantic. I feel like turning my answering machine off. I moved almost an hour away to get away but I guess i didn't move far enough. Any good advice on how to live normally when dealing with such a crazy n-mom?

Sedum said...

It is a relief to read these posts. It was only in the last 7 years that I realised my mother was narcissistic. An outrageously hurtful episode made me try and find out more. 'Crazymaking' is an ideal word for the effects. Energy draining. Soul destroying. I didn't walk away. It is an option for the future.

I no longer have the luxury of emotional reserves to deal with invented traumas and narcissistic rage.
For now my mother and I have a fragile equilibrium. However, I never answer her question 'who is going to look after me when I am old?” My mother has caused me serious difficulties from when i was 9 years old. I swallowed my hurt and anger. Never being able to get it right. Needless to say it did me a lot of harm.

She had had a difficult relationship with her mother whom she hated, and split away from at the age of 18. I have a close loving relationship with my children. I divorced their n father. They have grown up with a good self-esteem.

My mother genuinely has a lot of nice things about her too, and she is as happy and easy as she has ever been. We have always been on thin ice. At the moment at least it is joined up. There is always the awareness that a comment can open up a chasm very easily.

I can manage to get the best out of the situation because - She now has a close happy relationship with my Dad who is 10 years older and frail and they are making the most of time together. He needs her/ I no longer expect apologies or emotional honesty about the situation/ I no longer fully confide in her/I do far less pointless justifying than I used to/ I withdraw when I need to/sometimes I make a quiet but firm stand /I try not to let her see she has hurt me.

I do still have anger and hurt stuffed away. Fortunately I have had a lot of Qi gong energy healing and do EFT to help me. It has been literally Life saving.

My parents and my brother engineered a situation that caused my brother to avoid seeing me for the last 16 years. I have never really known what happened. My mother put a wedge between us at his birth and we really don't know each other. Our relationship never became an adult one. Now I gather from my son that they expect me to put the situation right and they would like us all to sit round a table like a 'normal' family. The implication is because I have never rushed round to try and put it right, that I caused the trouble. I will be damned if I do and damned if I don’t. The subtle abuse and dishonesty that always makes it look like my fault- so that it is me who looks peevish if I talk to anyone about it is par for the course.

In an ideal world it would be good to get to know my brother and to reunite before a parent dies, but there will be no chance of an emotionally honest relationship. I don't dislike him, but I do dislike the situation and tend to think that the price I will be expected to pay is too high. My brother and I are both in our fifties.

I have done my understanding of the narcissism, my talking about it, my going into the hurts and details. I need to move forward to reclaim the power I gave away -or it could still threaten my relationship with children/grandchildren. A therapist friend said "God help you, when your father dies". The brakes could come off altogether. I am still enough of a foolish optimist to hope that it could be different....

Barelysane said...

I've read several of these blogs and it is helpful and encouraging. However, I find it very rare to read one of these posts where the writer, who claims to be the child of a narcissist, admits any suspicion that they themselves might be narcissistic. As for me, my greatest fear is that as the child of a narcissist I may be one myself.

Anyway, I have just recently come to suspect that both of my parents are narcissistic - at least the idea has just begun to form well enough to recognize. In the case of my dad it would be, "was narcissistic" as he died 7 years ago.

The real problem with narcissistic and self-absorbed parents is that everything is about them. If you get hit by a car it's not, "oh, what can I do to help take care of you." Instead, it's "that scar is going to look terrible" and "I wonder how long you have to wear that cast out in public."

My brother committed suicide in 1997 due in part to his own narcissism but also due in part to my father's narcissistic rage. He expected my brother to be successful and take care of him not the other way around. So my father became resentful and angry and my brother became seriously depressed.

As for my mother, the day she found out my brother was dead she came to my house and collapsed on the sofa and put her head in my 9 year old son's lap and started crying. He was bewildered, and I could kick myself for allowing it to happen. What greater cruelty can there be than an adult expecting a 9 year old boy to fill an emotional void? It is emotional incest which can leave as bad a scar as physical abuse and incest. I lost a brother and when I think back on it now not once did my parents say to me, "are you okay?"

At the end of his life my father was hateful, paranoid and vengeful. He disliked anyone who was more successful than himself and accused them of getting ahead by dishonesty when he had no evidence at all. His rage became uncontrollable and he ended up in a locked dementia unit.

He and I had a relatively peaceful relationship but the week before he died he tried to throw my mother out of the house. Not that she probably didn't deserve it. As two narcissists they were incapable of meeting each others needs intuitively and compassionately. Instead they resorted to manipulation and to some extent force and intimidation.

They reacted with shame and embarrassment to the first serious relationship I had with a woman because she had been married before. Turns out she was like my mother and I was probably like her father and we fought like cats and dogs. I had enough sense to end the relationship but it was years before I tried again. As the child of a narcissist I was attracted to women who had intense unmet needs and were incapable or unwilling to meet mine. I'm quite sure that my own unmet needs were a problem too.

Now I have to deal with my mother in her dotage. She is 91 and whenever her narcissistic supply runs low she now gets this mysterious pain that no doctor can explain. She is on Prozac, Namenda and Aricept and has a formal diagnosis of dementia. However, I am convinced that underlying that is narcissism. She has a followup appointment with a psychiatrist that she doesn't like. (Mainly because her charm and pedigree doesn't work on her.)

It is hard for me to admit that I actually hate my mother ... but I do. Still, I am managing much like the author of this blog - day by day, one step at a time.

scapegoat said...

No one has mentioned the horrible effect dealing with Narcissists has on own your health.

Several years ago I visited my daughter in Seattle and didn't want to return home to my 'caretaking' duties with my narcissistic mother and narcissistic, mentally ill son. I felt like dying the dread was so strong. Several weeks after I got home I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Neither of them had other health problems at that time, but expected me to be there to meet there never ending needs. As my husband tells me, I am a tool.

Now, my mother is 89 and in assisted living. She's demanding and resentful toward me because I've never agreed to her living in my home. It would be the end of me because I would be instructed on how to do every little chore, etc. When I don't do things the way she wants me to she pouts and scowls. She doesn't enjoy my visits, but expects me to stock her apartment, take her to appointments and make certain everything is going the way she wants it. My husband says my questions irritate her, but she doesn't even talk to me unless I ask questions. He says he would do only the minimum to see to her needs.

I've recently hired a sitter for a few hours a day and it is really helping me. I need a lot of distance from her. It's sad and yes, she's old, but it has always been about her and that will never change. I've tried to talk to her about our relationship for many years, but she's always acted like she has no idea what I'm talking about.

Now I just want a little peace. Not love, not forgiveness, not grief, not reconciliation, just peace. I want to have a life, but it's hard to get any momentum going because my life is full of her doctors appts (6 surgeries in 6 years), etc.
I'm hoping the sitter will help me find some space to get something going in my own life.

This relationship keeps me in a state of depression most of the time. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to overcome her snarliness (word?) and disapproval.

She has a whole staff of people to meet her needs and a sitter and still she resents me for not doing more. She recently sang the old song, "Why Don't You Do Right?"...."and get out of here and bring me some money, too". Yowwww! Drives me crazy.

I'm stuck.

scapegoat said...

No one has mentioned the horrible effect dealing with Narcissists has on own your health.

Several years ago I visited my daughter in Seattle and didn't want to return home to my 'caretaking' duties with my narcissistic mother and narcissistic, mentally ill son. I felt like dying the dread was so strong. Several weeks after I got home I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Neither of them had other health problems at that time, but expected me to be there to meet there never ending needs. As my husband tells me, I am a tool.

Now, my mother is 89 and in assisted living. She's demanding and resentful toward me because I've never agreed to her living in my home. It would be the end of me because I would be instructed on how to do every little chore, etc. When I don't do things the way she wants me to she pouts and scowls. She doesn't enjoy my visits, but expects me to stock her apartment, take her to appointments and make certain everything is going the way she wants it. My husband says my questions irritate her, but she doesn't even talk to me unless I ask questions. He says he would do only the minimum to see to her needs.

I've recently hired a sitter for a few hours a day and it is really helping me. I need a lot of distance from her. It's sad and yes, she's old, but it has always been about her and that will never change. I've tried to talk to her about our relationship for many years, but she's always acted like she has no idea what I'm talking about.

Now I just want a little peace. Not love, not forgiveness, not grief, not reconciliation, just peace. I want to have a life, but it's hard to get any momentum going because my life is full of her doctors appts (6 surgeries in 6 years), etc.
I'm hoping the sitter will help me find some space to get something going in my own life.

This relationship keeps me in a state of depression most of the time. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to overcome her snarliness (word?) and disapproval.

She has a whole staff of people to meet her needs and a sitter and still she resents me for not doing more. She recently sang the old song, "Why Don't You Do Right?"...."and get out of here and bring me some money, too". Yowwww! Drives me crazy.

I'm stuck.

scapegoat said...

No one has mentioned the horrible effect dealing with Narcissists has on own your health.

Several years ago I visited my daughter in Seattle and didn't want to return home to my 'caretaking' duties with my narcissistic mother and narcissistic, mentally ill son. I felt like dying the dread was so strong. Several weeks after I got home I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Neither of them had other health problems at that time, but expected me to be there to meet there never ending needs. As my husband tells me, I am a tool.

Now, my mother is 89 and in assisted living. She's demanding and resentful toward me because I've never agreed to her living in my home. It would be the end of me because I would be instructed on how to do every little chore, etc. When I don't do things the way she wants me to she pouts and scowls. She doesn't enjoy my visits, but expects me to stock her apartment, take her to appointments and make certain everything is going the way she wants it. My husband says my questions irritate her, but she doesn't even talk to me unless I ask questions. He says he would do only the minimum to see to her needs.

I've recently hired a sitter for a few hours a day and it is really helping me. I need a lot of distance from her. It's sad and yes, she's old, but it has always been about her and that will never change. I've tried to talk to her about our relationship for many years, but she's always acted like she has no idea what I'm talking about.

Now I just want a little peace. Not love, not forgiveness, not grief, not reconciliation, just peace. I want to have a life, but it's hard to get any momentum going because my life is full of her doctors appts (6 surgeries in 6 years), etc.
I'm hoping the sitter will help me find some space to get something going in my own life.

This relationship keeps me in a state of depression most of the time. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to overcome her snarliness (word?) and disapproval.

She has a whole staff of people to meet her needs and a sitter and still she resents me for not doing more. She recently sang the old song, "Why Don't You Do Right?"...."and get out of here and bring me some money, too". Yowwww! Drives me crazy.

I'm stuck.

scapegoat said...

No one has mentioned the horrible effect dealing with Narcissists has on own your health.

Several years ago I visited my daughter in Seattle and didn't want to return home to my 'caretaking' duties with my narcissistic mother and narcissistic, mentally ill son. I felt like dying the dread was so strong. Several weeks after I got home I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Neither of them had other health problems at that time, but expected me to be there to meet there never ending needs. As my husband tells me, I am a tool.

Now, my mother is 89 and in assisted living. She's demanding and resentful toward me because I've never agreed to her living in my home. It would be the end of me because I would be instructed on how to do every little chore, etc. When I don't do things the way she wants me to she pouts and scowls. She doesn't enjoy my visits, but expects me to stock her apartment, take her to appointments and make certain everything is going the way she wants it. My husband says my questions irritate her, but she doesn't even talk to me unless I ask questions. He says he would do only the minimum to see to her needs.

I've recently hired a sitter for a few hours a day and it is really helping me. I need a lot of distance from her. It's sad and yes, she's old, but it has always been about her and that will never change. I've tried to talk to her about our relationship for many years, but she's always acted like she has no idea what I'm talking about.

Now I just want a little peace. Not love, not forgiveness, not grief, not reconciliation, just peace. I want to have a life, but it's hard to get any momentum going because my life is full of her doctors appts (6 surgeries in 6 years), etc.
I'm hoping the sitter will help me find some space to get something going in my own life.

This relationship keeps me in a state of depression most of the time. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to overcome her snarliness (word?) and disapproval.

She has a whole staff of people to meet her needs and a sitter and still she resents me for not doing more. She recently sang the old song, "Why Don't You Do Right?"...."and get out of here and bring me some money, too". Yowwww! Drives me crazy.

I'm stuck.

Anonymous said...

Just a few days ago my N father told me that he now wants to be buried with my mom's ring because if I die before my husband he said my husband would prob go hawk it My mom passed 17 years ago and he has no regard for me, husband, my children or grandchildren I am now his caregiver in his We mean nothing to him All he talks about is himself and has zero empathy for anyone Told him I dont mean anything to him walked out and have not talked to him in a few days just cant take the verbal abuse anymore I am the only daughter and have two brothers I have been in counseling for a few month In a vicious circle as this happens about once a month with him I used to just take it but now I stand up to him Glad to see this is rather common

fess1960 said...

I cannot even imagine confronting my parents in the way you describe, Here I am 52 working on my second masters degree, happily married to a beautiful woman but worried about getting yelled at or frowned at by my father or mother....compounded by the fact my brother sucked up to them for the last 35 years and is reaping the financial benefits while I am forced to (at least for now) work FOR my brother who answers to them.

Anon 59 said...


How are you? I'm sorry you're having a bad time with cancer.
In this respect I think I know a little of how you must be feeling as I had a similar experience with my mother.
I found out I had cancer, and based on previous experiences with her over illness's I've had, I decided not to tell my parents until I had the op. and radiotherapy. But I have to say it didn't work to my advantage.
When she did know about it, she talked about her hysterectomy and how awful it was, and constantly told me stories of hysterical women she knew of, who "cried wolf" (about having cancer) just to get attention, and anyhow 'most' people (me) over exaggerate, so who can tell when an op. is for cancer or just routine?
Like most people with cancer, it's an on-going situation, it's impossible to forecast with impunity what the future holds. So I found this negating of the seriousness of the situation destructive and humiliating.
To be disbelieved or actively attacked for being ill is a disgusting thing to do to your own flesh and blood.
I think she truly felt that all care and attention I might receive was taken from her! As if there is an alotted amount and she had to have it all.
Through my childhood I've had glandular fever (hospitalised), allergy's to everything, tonsillitus (hospitalised) and a few other bits and bobs, but about the same as most children, but I've been told I'm imagining my illness's, or they're psycho- symptomatic, or attention seeking, or nerves (well that one I agree with, only it was her making my nerves shredded!)
To be afraid of being sick as a child for fear of yet another session of being ridiculed, and being made to feel ashamed because to take tablets or cry was 'weak', is more than unpleasant. It terrorizes and threatens your view of yourself, after all in your childish mind if you're loving mother said you wern't worth worrying over, then you were not. Simple.
This continual treatment is wounding.
I empathize with your comment " this relationship keeps me in a state of depression" and it "takes so much energy to keep on". You're so right it is draining.
I don't want to harp on as I realize many people have had a worse time.
Just your cancer story resonated with me, and triggered a few not-so-good memories!

I really hope things are working out for you!!

Anonymous said...

I spent most of the day yesterday researching this N nightmare and found out why my mother has been the ***** from hell my whole life. At least I'm not alone!

Her father was an N, played his children off one against the other, and her brother was one as well. There was no warmth or love in the home and she often recalls how she had to scrub the kitchen floor the day she got married. She married my father because when told she was seeing someone else as well he cried. Aha, someone should could manipulate!

My father was a wonderful man but now I see a complete enabler. He spent his whole life doting on her, giving her everything she ever wanted, jumping to satisfy any whim or want, but it was never good enough and she'd often sulk and not speak to him for days/weeks. The last 12 years of his life he went everywhere alone and slept alone as she preferred the spare room so her dog could sleep in the bed. He passed away 15 years ago, a sad and lonely man.

There was never any warmth or love when I grew up, just "go play, get out of my way" and I've a scar on my head where she knocked me across the kitchen one day - ended up in hospital. Some time ago she said "I never wanted children hanging on my skirts - we were making a lot of money and I just wanted to go have a good time". I could go on for pages about being hurt, abandoned, vilified and so on.

At age 25 I emigrated to another country. A few years later she insisted on uprooting my father and coming here as well and the control and abuse continued.

I arrived in this country with a job, 2 suitcases, $100 in my pocket and a roof over my head for a week. After years of hard work, often 2 jobs, I bought a small bungalow but she constantly said what a dreadful dump it was - while she lived in a huge house in a swanky neighbourhood a few miles away.

I called her at a certain time each evening. One evening, exhausted, I napped, awakening to 3 cop cars on the doorstep. She called the cops because the phone was off the hook! On and on it went, I could write a book.

Eventually the company I worked for folded and I moved 200km away to the city, bought a condo overlooking the lake and spent the next 12 years really happy, except for the dreaded moaning, complaining, whining phone calls.

Three years ago and obviously unable to manage alone any more, she was (mis)diagnosed with colon cancer so I gave up my career, sold my home and moved back to care for her. It was the worst thing I could ever have done.

Anonymous said...


My father's ashes are scattered in a local park and all these whining crying phone calls included how she missed him and how she'd go visit the spot all the time. In the three years I've been here she hasn't been there once except when I suggested it.

I had the basement renovated so it's like a 1 bedroom apartment - thank God, I have somewhere to escape to. She's had Parkinsons for 10 years, is now very frail and prone to falling so apart from taking the dogs for a run at dawn and grocery shopping I can't leave the house unless I take her with me, which is a slow, painful ordeal along with defending myself from her nastiness as we go along.

She'll needle me and connive and manipulate until I eventually explode, then be nice for a while. She'll be 86 tomorrow and I suppose I have to buy her some flowers and a card though I don't feel like it - have barely spoken to her for 2 days after our last blow up.

I have a small online home business but that's resented "Don't you think it's too much for you?" ... i.e. It's taking time you should be running after and doting on me.

My only escape will be her death and, awful though it sounds, I often wish she would die so I can finally be free after a lifetime of hell.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I just found this blog with the help of my sweet sister. Here I am, 60 years old, still taking care of dear old mom, who is 93, suffering all these years at her vicious hands (and mouth.) Until just a couple of days ago I actually didn't realize that her extreme narcissism could be classified as a personality disorder. Now that my sister has helped me to understand that it is, I'm blown away at how severe our parent's case truly has been. Over the years several of us, mom's victim-offpsring, have attempted to escape by running away, joining the military, getting married or attempting suicide. Due to the brutality of our daily lives during childhood I tried a couple of these myself, always with extremely bad results due to both parents' abuse. (Dad was no winner and, true to form, mom didn't care when he died.)

All my life I've tried to please the apparently unpleasable and from a very early age sacrificed my own happiness in attempts to prove myself to be lovable by those who were incapable of love. Reading the symptoms of NPD made something click in me. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN LOVABLE!!! It seems obvious now that countless people in my life have shown me that but, until now, I didn't believe it possible since my own parents didn't love me! I truly can't express what a freeing revelation this is!!!

So now, how to "start over" at age 60? While I can no longer pursue most of my previously crushed dreams, I am actually starting to believe I CAN find happiness in whatever time I have remaining on this plane of existence.

As for dear old mom, she's in hospice now, dying of cancer and dementia. I will continue to advocate for her care as best I can, but from a far safer distance. I have to say that it will be a great relief when she is gone. Maybe we'll both find peace.

Thank you ALL for sharing your own stories! It is very heartening to know that others have emerged triumphantly from the clutches of narcissistic parents. Thank you for your bravery and perseverence and for showing that my own feelings are not off base and that there are effective ways to ward off the many damages that narcissistic parents can inflict.

If you'll accept them, I send huge blessings to all of you. If blessings aren't your thing, please accept my best wishes and good will. Most of all, I send much much LOVE to you all!!!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the post about health effects on children with a n. parent...I have actually considered suggesting that someone research the connection between children of ns and immune system disorders. One of my closest friends also had a mother who was an n. Both of us developed disabling immune diseases in our 30's. That is when I realized my mother was not normal.

Dispite my severe disability she did very little for me when I desperately needed it, but continued to expect me to take care of her in all kinds of ways. When her parents were aged, she and her sibling neglected them to the point where I moved to their town, and though not physically able to care for them, I was there every day making sure they did not have to feel abandonned. It was such a gift to have had that time with them, and it is something my mother could never take away from me. I feel very clear now that I have done my duty by doing for her parents what she should have done, and don't owe her anything. If I am there for her, it will be because I choose to (IF I choose to). But since she created me to serve her...well, wish me luck when the time comes!

She actually told a close mutual friend that I "really let [her] down" by becoming sick and not continuing to get the pretigious scholarships and research grants that reflected so well on her. And she told me if I ran out of money and ended up on the streets, then so be it. I guess she figured that was a just punishement for getting sick!

I think you've more than paid your parents back...But seriously, how could we ever truly repay them for the childhoods they gave us?

Anonymous said...

My mother once again got mad at me for not jumping when she said jump and lied to my daughter, making her mad so she won't let me see my toddler grandchildren. My mother has shown her nasty side to both my daughters so they should know she does this. She has done it many times before. BUT now that Grandma has cancer she has been given a free pass apparently to be as nasty as she wants to me. NEITHER daughter lives here. One comes to visit more often than the other but I am the one who has had to take care of her for the last six months. Doctors treatments..getting her clothing, buying her groceries, running her errands. I had the nerve two weeks ago to be sick so my husband took her to her monthly checkup without me. All she did was complain that I should be there. Then she got sick and I refused to take her to an appt. at the hospital because I didn't want her horrible cold. She got mad. Lied to my daughters. Told them that I said she didn't NEED the treatment! Now they're both mad at me once again because of this lying, scheming woman. NO..I won't say mom because she has never been one. Her golden son lives with her..has over 50 years. He can do no wrong. He also does NOTHING to help her. Just wanted her to get out of rehab so she could cook his dinner for him so when he got out of bed at 4 or 5 in the afternoon she'd have food ready.
It wasn't until yesterday when I was about to lose it completely that a friend suggested my mom is a narcissist! I started reading and it all sounds way too familiar. I will say that it has helped me calm down a bit to know what it is. I've never been good enough for her. At 17 she told me I'd better have a plan because when I turned 18 and graduated I was out of her house! So at 18 I mistakenly married in order to have a home with someone. My older brother moved across town at 18. She went into a deep depression for 3 weeks and was going to kill herself. So all the comments about narcissists not having feelings for their children are not true. She LOVED her 2 sons. I was Cinderella. Had to do all the house work, cooking, cleaning and laundry. They did nothing. They still do nothing for her.

She has gotten angry at me many many times over the last 20 years and called me dirty names. NO reason. Nothing had happened other than she just went crazy. She wouldn't speak to me for six months at a time. She invited my husband and children to her home for the holidays but not me.

My father used to come visit me before he got sick and died. He said how wrong everything has always been and how sorry he was. He said he couldn't stand up to her and my brother because they would get rid of him. Ultimately they put him away. Not in a nice way. I still remember his tears as she screamed at him that he didnt' need his damn cowboy boots. He could wear his slippers to go to the hospital!

I just don't understand why my daughters still believe her lies. She has treated them both like garbage under her shoes more than once. She refused to attend her great granddaughter's 2nd birthday party. She had to take her baby boy (49 at the time) to the doctor at EXACTLY the same time as the party. My daughters have both said their grandma can go to hell. YET now that she has cancer she's on the golden throne and invincible. I told my daughter I am done being used and lied about. I want to be alive to watch my grandchildren grow up. It was a privilege my mother had and I will NOT let her take it away from me. Her nasty phone calls, her swearing at me and hanging up on me are over.

Anonymous said...

Life is to short to NOT be selfish!
I have always done everything for everyone without a thought. My "mother" has dementia and is still a complete bitch. She tells everyone how wonderful my son is, how she idolized her father, and how great my ex is (who doesnt even speak to her). She complains incessantly about me to anyone who will listen... how horrible I am and how I do nothing for her. I gave half my home to her as a one bedroom apartment and she was very excited to move in. Now... There is NO END TO THE BITCHING! I absolutely hate her, and I dont know why I feel bad to put her somewhere. She didnt care if I ate dinner as a child as she catered to her father and shopped for herself. She wanted a child so badly & I was adopted, all so she could neglect me? She has never been anything but a self absorbed cunt and now I am nothing but a servant to her. "It would make me happy if you would just pay more attention to me", she says. I think to myself, "it would make me happy if you would go fuck yourself, choke, and die". Everyone says, well she does have dementia. Let me tell you, with or without dementia, this bitch hasn't changed one bit. Plus, the type of dementia she has is not alzheimers. It effects reasoning skills sure, but not her opinions- everything she says now is the same as it ever was. After I spent all day at the hospital with her for constipation, a nurse I spoke with said to me.. "fuck it just put her away". Clearly some do see past the dementia to the games she plays and always has. I'm thinking it is my turn to be selfish and take my life back without regard to her want want wants. Life is to short to give any of it away to someone who didnt care if you ate shit on toast for dinner as long as they could go sit with their daddy and enjoy a real meal.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said.....I am on the other side, an adoptive mother who thinks that adoption sucks and wishes that she could return the brats but unfortunately they came with a non return policy. I'll never love them like I love my own anyway. I should have left them in the Home. So my advice is don't follow your heart and don't try and do a good thing. Help, I want my life back!!"


Anonymous said...

Mother’s most recent rage just last week.

My parents just bought my baby brother a house. He is an addictive personality and has been in a variety of rehab and sobriety programs. A few years ago, he switched his addiction to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t pay very well. He sold his successful business for a song and went to work for a local church even though he had two mortgages, a stay-at-home, much-younger second wife, and three children to raise. It caught up with him and he lost his house to the bank. Daddy is always telling me he fears he will outlive his assets. I went over to discuss with the folks their recent largess with my baby brother. Mother went into a rage, told me it was none of my business and called me a fricking snoop. Daddy said, “Well, if we run out of money, we’ll come live with you. “ I said, “No, Daddy, you just bought a nursing home near 5th ST. Both my brothers have benefitted from parental generosity. Me? Not so much. Daddy admitted I got the short end of the stick financially and that is just the way it is. Mother decided my inquiry about their purchase was selfish and unwarranted. She went into a rage saying that they had paid for my college education ($1750) and she had given me lots of jewelry over the years (maybe $3 or $4 thousand dollars worth). She demanded that I give her jewelry back, called me an ungrateful brat a couple times, said “Everything is always about you” three or four times, flipped me off and said F-you several times. I left. In a few days, Daddy will call to tell me I must apologize to my mother because I hurt her feelings. If I don’t apologize, Mother will hold Daddy hostage and not let him have breakfast with me Monday mornings. That is how it works. But I won’t apologize this time. It is too late for Daddy to grow a pair. But I just can’t let Mother emotionally blackmail me anymore. All three of us are old. The folks are 85 and 84. I’m 64. Mother’s behavior may give me a stroke if I don’t end the cycle of abuse. My parents live a few blocks away. My current thinking is I just won’t go over there anymore. But if I don’t go over and if I don’t apologize, then Mother will hold Daddy as ransom. Then I lose him, too. Will I miss Mother? Truth is, I’ve missed her since I was a girl. But I don’t want to lose Daddy.

Anonymous said...

Wow, SO glad I found this blog. When I look up "my aging mom is mean" I find a lot of sites either making excuses for the bad behavior or other kids not knowing what to do, and no answers. Yay, you had some answers! And thanks for reminding me of my "leverage" - I am one of the few people left that will even deal with her. I have this page bookmarked and will be coming back in moments of desperation to read other posts.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate finding this site. It's a great feeling to know my experience is similar to so many other people.
From the time I sat in a high chair, I knew there was something wrong with my mother, but I didn't know what it was.
I distanced myself from my mother 20 years ago, moved to a different state. For the first time in my life, I was able to take off and live my own life my way. A few years ago, She hired a private detective to find me and showed up on my doorstep, one day, wanting to "bury the hatchet." She wanted me to reunite with my sister that now lives close to her, too.
I went along with the plan, feeling fairly safe living at a distance. Two years ago, however, Mom (now in her 90's), called in a panic and said my sister had moved out of her house, that she didn't know where my sister was, and that she was fearful of being alone.
Mom did make me personal rep for her estate, and I reasoned I'd need to move closer to her at some future time, anyway. So at the height of a bad economy, I was, somehow, able to grab a job in her town (not a good job), left my $60,000 salary behind, and moved there. My sister was back within a week, and, suddenly, Mom tells me, "You didn't need to come." She says, "You're no good to me. How can you take care of me when you're working all day? You lied. You're just here for my money." I’ve changed jobs 4 times, each with a different work schedule to appease her. She tells people, "I don't know whether I'm taking care of her or she's taking care of me."
She bought me a house to live in, since my assets were tied up in my own house that couldn't be sold and was rented. I pay for this house she's given me emotionally, though. She wanted me to just close the door on my own house and "let the bank have it." Since I didn't do what she suggested, she blames me for having to provide me with a place to live. Since it's her house, she feels free to barge in whenever she can get my sister to bring her here. She calls me anywhere from 5-10 times a day, wanting this or that. If she can't get me on the phone, she calls every half hour, leaving ever-increasingly frantic messages. Then, if I still don't respond, she has my sister come bang on my door to see if I'm all right. She believes there's a murderer around every corner, and he/she is just waiting for one of her girls.
If I hear anything more about Mom's will and her trust fund, I think I will scream. She keeps changing it. Two weeks ago, she dropped my portion from half to a third, not that it makes much difference to me. Mom won't go into an assisted-living facility as long as my sister and I are around because she doesn't want to use up this estate money.
Now, I'm so stressed that I'm experiencing anxiety attacks with some regularity. I smoke too much and I'm gaining weight. I can't find a job that will meet my requirements in this locale, and every day I stay here, I'm becoming more financially strapped and depressed.
Last week, I applied for a job with my old employer, and I've interviewed with them. I have a good chance of getting this job, albeit at a lesser salary than I received before. I'm thinking of taking it, if it's offered, and leaving Mom and my sister high and dry. The punishment will be severe, as Mom may change the locks on this house and sell off my personal belongings to repay my "debt." I feel guilty, but I realize I just can't do this. If I stay, I'll lose everything, including my sanity.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for this site

Anonymous said...

So relieved to find this site! I am not crazy nor alone in being the grown up child of an N father and weakened by his n behavior mother. I am in my late forties, my parents' health is falling apart, and my elder brother and sister are faarrr faaarrr away... and even though my sister keeps in touch with them, I am left to take them to doc apts etc. I have had to go to counseling apts with them, and it was then I realized I could feel no empathy, no emotions, no caring sad normal feelings about my parents. Scared the heck out of began doing some research and found children of n parents explanations!! Relief!! I'm a good loving person after all! I've been through a lot my entire life, and had no one to explain it to, no one to understand my situation. It always sounded lame and just bad whenever I tried to explain my life to others....and still does until I found this page. We aren't alone guys!! We are awesome too!! I'll write more another day..but just know I am grateful for finding this, and may the healing begin!!

Anonymous said...

Great to find this site and not feel so alone. After being raised with 18 years of neglect and receiving only the most basic of care growing up - my mother said when we were arguing once - "we fed and clothed you", when the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of my children is that "I loved and cared for them".

My older sister, brother and myself were treated worse than animals. My mother remains the most hateful person I know. I do not remember my mother ever hugging me or telling me that she loved me or my brother and sister. The only time my father did was when he wanted another beer - they were especially great to receive when we gave him his first beer of the day on Christmas morning and then we were forced by him to say: "he was the greatest father in the world".

I married a wonderful husband who has an extremely loving and supportive family and I get my strength from him. When I tell him the latest form of abuse via a telephone call about why me and my siblings didn't celebrate my parents 50th anniversary by doing something (meaning a big party), then he just shakes his head. They went on to berate me in an email and always refer to me in any conversation as "that other one". What exactly should we have honored their 50 years with - a childhood of beatings, emotional and verbal abuse, pinching, kicking, screaming? It still continues even as early as yesterday telling me my children are spoiled because they go to skating lessons versus learning to skate on their own.

I couldn't attend a last minute planned family function on my side of the family this year, because we were hosting a family function on my husband's side of the family with the date set four months ahead to ensure the cousins coordinated their flight/vacation times together. My side of the family was also having a function planned at the last minute, which was being the day after my husband's family function.

Leading up to it my mother said "it's okay that you can't make it - we understand". Coming from such a hateful person it was said too pleasantly and I knew something was up. Even though I tried hard to attend my family's function, my house just wasn't ready to receive 40 people the next day and so I didn't go my family's last minute function. Sure enough - the hateful response from my mother was that I was deemed as the one too uppity to attend and that I "always" put my husband's family before mine. BTW - my side of the family has only ever had two functions in the last 25 years.

So this year I had to choose between my husband's caring common sense family or the Hatfield's and McCoys - it wasn't a hard decision.

Anonymous said...

The anonymous adoptive mother should note that anything short of basic childcare constitutes neglect. As a parent who has chosen to have children, she also chose to take on the responsibilities of their care and well being. At this point, it might be fairer to these kids to admit that this is beyond her abilities and seek alternative caregivers for them. The kids should also be offered counselling to help them understand that it's not their fault that their adoptive mother was unable or unwilling to give them the care and love they deserve.

No, kids do not 'owe' their parents anything. The gratitude so many parents wish from their children comes as a natural result of being cared for and loved. It's not something you can force out of anyone. Although reading through this thread I see so many people forcing themselves to care for aging parents who obviously mistreated and continue to mistreat them.

I've vastly limited contact with my aging mother and she's currently trying her best to reestablish forced reciprocity through sending me emails about gifts she has apparently sent. This is after I made a request for 'no gifts' (people with n-parents will understand what 'gifts' actually are in this situation).

Anonymous said...

i just read all the stories posted..Thank you all for sharing, it means a lot, a detail here and there in each story brings me closer to understanding what i went through and still going through.

i am 44 years old and the mother of an 8 year old adopted daughter and an almost 3 year old biological son. i am an adopted single daughter myself, my father passed 10 years ago and my mother is 80 now.

i just recently had the revelation about narcissism and was shocked to realize that the intimate details of my suffering were actually common symptoms of a personality disorder..

First i realized that my husband, whom I divorced 6 months ago after 11 years of marriage, was a narcissist..He drank, abused me verbally and physically, never had any empathy or concern for me, he was remote, selfish and self-absorbed...and i kept on living with him, leaving him and returning to him, building a life together in the, what does that say about me? i started thinking: a co-dependant, a narcissist myself?..i am still trying to understand me(which is the hardest part) through therapy and self study. it is easier to accept labels for others around us, but to truly understand what is wrong with oneself takes longer...

Some very strong experiences i had start making sense when i think that my parents were maybe narcissists?!
When i was 16 during summer holidays with my parents, i went to a party and hung out with a boy until really late, 2 am! kissing on the beach..when i came back to the hotel room, my father was furious, walking up and down in the mother was sitting on the bed anxiously, when my father announced for the first time to me that "i am not his offspring, because a daughter of his own wouldn't do something like That!" which he imagined to be something far more that kissing on the beach..Before i could process any shock i felt, my mother started crying uncontrollably, saying that he ruined Her life, because she intended to never tell me the truth..i went and hugged her and tried to reassure her that nothing would change and we would keep being a was already morning and i suggested we go out to breakfast and we ate together as if nothing had happened...Afterwards the subject was almost a taboo again, except my meager attempts to learn a little more about it, but each time my mother was so upset, that i couldn't bring it up easily..They treated me with caution and paranoia after that and every rebellious act i did was labeled as my reaction to being adopted. i was never asked how i felt!

continues on next post...

Anonymous said...

cont. from previous post

Now, after my divorce I moved back to my childhood neighborhood where my mother still lives, with the hope to find support and be of support to my aging mother, although she is still in good health. Things were good in the beginning, but started to get complicated now..I began to realize that my mother was a narcissist, too..All my childhood and adult experiences with her became clearer to me, as i realized that..She was always the beautiful, desirable "young girl", i could never measure up to her, she made me feel(and said so, too) that if she could have biological children she wouldn't have to put up with what I made her suffer, her long dead brothers and their children were closer to her, she still pretends that i am her biological daughter, and disapproves me for raising my daughter knowing about her adoption, she tries to blame heredity for every aspect she doesn't like in me and in my children. For many years instinctively i had distanced myself from her, i lived abroad first and in another city when married, she was always upset about that and complained about it..Now i live walking distance to her and we celebrated new year together as a family: me, my children and my mother..i made a large dinner and made it a party that was fun for all of us from age 3 to 80..she didnt pick up a plate to take to the kitchen, she was expecting to be served as the elderly..she stayed with us that night and the next day after breakfast i showed her facebook friends' photos (she knew them as children) with their kids, and i showed my pictures, mostly of children..she was sour and quiet, when i asked why, she said there was no picture of hers as mom or grandmother in my facebook page..i reminded her that she doesnt use computer and no one of her friends does either, i give her plenty of printed photos to share..but no, she started loudly about how i never loved her, accepted her as mother, she wishes to die, etc. in front of the children, too..i managed not to react as i would before, kissed her goodbye later that day..İ didn't apologize, which i usually do to calm her, even though i know i didnt do anything wrong..I'm not always that controlled, though.. and sadly sometimes the children are the ones yelled at instead,so identifying problems helps, however i am just starting to walk the road and it's a long road ahead..
i wish to recover from my old wounds growing up in my family, understand better what really happened with my ex-husband (i blame myself so much for everything, when really i was a victim most of the time) and act responsibly and less reactive today, because i really, really want to raise happy and healthy children and wish to end that vicious cycle of cause and effect...

i wish everyone best of luck in their quest for happiness
May we all be happy!

Anonymous said...

Bless all of you who have shared your feelings and stories on this site. I have tried to share my own feelings and story about my
N-parents-in-law, but find that I cannot yet do so. Suffice it to say, that for more than 2 decades, they were cruel to me. They were very careful not to let my husband, their only child, see them treating me poorly. In their eyes he could do no wrong while I could do no right. Now I am fast approaching 70 (my husband is younger) and they are in their
90's, and his family expects me to give up everything in my life so that I can move back across the country to take care of them. I am tired.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this blog site. I too have an Nmother. I now live in another state which upsets her no end. We catch up 2-3 times a year and after only a couple of hours, I'm exhausted, confused and guilty about the feelings I have about her. I struggle that we are so different. If I met her for the first time she's someone that I would never start a friendship with. We have different values on nearly everything and she expects me to change my thinking to hers. She's unbelievably self centred. Now she's getting older she's now ringing around seeing who will look after her in her old age. But she's starting to do it with her check book. So ultimately my brothers and sisters who are willing to sell their soul to her, will inherit. I'm completely cool with that. My souls not for sale to her. She asked me one day, when my husband dies will I move back closer to her?! She has no understanding that for that to happen my husband would have died ... a terrible, terrible loss for me. But no thought to that at all, just when he does can you come and look after me, I'll make it worth your while.
This blog site has helped me enormously and am so grateful that others have shared their stories. I was starting to think I had some major short coming as a person, not loving my mother the way others do. The difference being they have loveable mothers...some of us aren't that lucky.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the blog. At least now i know that i am not alone in this world living in a very miserable life having to live with this wicked women named "mother". She chose to live her life mi$erable and wanted me to follow her. Every life that she touches becomes mi$erable. Started from my dad, to me & my brother and her $iblings a$ well. $he sold her $oul to the devil for money. $he won't care if you're dying in there as long as she knows she will get $$$$$$ from you. She did that to my dad. While my dad was sill fighting for his life & me & my brother was busy discussing over the phone what things could be done just to extend my dad's life even just for a week or two & i could hear her from the background busy asking my brother if i'm sending money & how much. Such a bitch! She even left my father in the hospital so she could start filing for her pension. I was diagnosed with cancer about 15 years ago and needed some money for my surgery & she won't help me until i told her i'm paying her and hat's when she lend me money. So 1 week after surgery, went back to work and paid her. I now call her a murderer. She never liked me. She always tells everybody that i was an unplanned pregnancy, i'm ugly etc. but now that i got a good job & friends with some famous & influencial people in the city, she wants o be part of me now. As if she was there to support me with my struggle & i am where i am now because of her. Everything is just BS. I have struggled and did my very best & i am where i am now because i have sworn to do this and because i know what would be my life living with her. HELL. She cursed me, hoping that i will get very sick and a lot of suffering and she said that i'm gonna have a really bad karma. Hell yeah! To have such a ?mother? Like her is already too much and worst karma one could ever have. It's kind of a relief to know that there's nothing wrong with me. Lol. I thank God every single day for giving me a very loving husband and kids. It's the love that i longed for while gowing up, that i never felt how it feels like being loved. If not for my husband and kids, i would have said bye bye to this universe a long long time ago. Let her grow old on her own. She's living with me but the funny thing is, she's acting like she owns the house & harrasses me too for more money. She wants me to pay for all of the expenses that she incured from the moment she had sex & got pregnant with me etc. i make it just a joke though. I tell my husband, maybe my dad forgot to swipe his card when they had sex. A great business since she never worked. My brother also told me that i should put it in my mind that i don't owe her anything coz she never worked. It's all my dad's money......anyways, it's a great experience and lesson to learn. It's either i become one like her or do my best not to let my kids experience these things. I chose option 2 because i'm the worst daughter one could ever have as far as this bitch is claiming.

Anonymous said...

We're all so pitifully the same.

My parents (of means) did not attend my son's (their only grandchild) birth. I was 41. They were miffed about, among other things, that my child would have his father's surname, not their last name.

When I had a stroke a few years later, no one rushed to my bedside. My health issues were just used as more crises for them.

My 80 year-old widowed mother hissed "If you do that, you'll be sorry!" when I mentioned that my domestic partner of 8 years and father of our 6 year-old child might go ahead and get married. Our child had started asking, and we figured, "Why not?"

My mother actually thinks she can control me, a 47 year-old professional, r/r/t getting married. She thinks she can cut me out of the will based on marriage. She thinks I give a Sh!t. Her memory is failing. She accuses me out outlandish schemes meant to injure her interests. She is a pathetic defanged, rabid, ailing, paranoid animal. Age has made her ridiculous, but when I was a child and she was in her prime, she was terrifying.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's the little things, maybe said only once, that stay in my body like a giant fish hook that can't be removed.

Like when my parents met my current spouse, & he stepped out of the room, the first thing my mother said to me in a vicious mocking tone w/her thick southern accent, "Whadda yew gonna dew when he leaves yew?"

No "congratulations," no "we're so happy for you both"--mind you I was 40, & had about given up on finding the "one" for me.

8 years later, our partnership is stronger than ever, our child is thriving, & still, every chance she gets, she tries to tear us apart. She's never once expressed a positive comment about his very involved parenting or the care he takes of me. She acts as if he doesn't exist. If I mention him, I'm "throwing him in her face" yet she laments that she knows nothing about my life.

She hates my sibling's spouse, too. For years, she's been convinced that the spouse is poisoning my sibling. The spouse isn't allowed in my mother's house. Now, my sibling has had health problems & hospitalizations & it drives my mother crazy that she can't call the shots.

My eldest sibling hasn't seen mom in +/- 35 years. Just after my eldest sibling found a spouse, my mother became convinced that the spouse flirted w/my (now dead) father. So that was that.
Over the years, neighbors, nurses, you name it--all tried to "come on" to my father, according to mother. I never witnessed the phenomena.

No surprise, my parents had no friends & rarely went anywhere. My mother wanted control & familiar surroundings at all times. When my father became ill, he was like her prisoner. But he had decades in which he could have left. He chose to stay. Why, I will never know. Which is understandable, because I never knew either one of them in any meaningful way.

Anonymous said...

On the "forgiveness" question . . .

I've tried all the rationalizations to make sense of my Nmother's behavior, but the simple truth is, she wants to destroy my family & the happiness I've fought to establish--b/c it was my doing, not hers. As far as she's concerned, SHE is my only family, & my child is HER grandchild.

Many people born in the 1930s had very hard lives but not all of them became like my mother. I'm tired of making excuses for her failings. She's sick in the head, & although she has the means to get the best help, she would never do so b/c she's never wrong. She'd never put herself in a position to be judged or evaluated-although she delights in judging others (usually w/o any basis whatsoever).

The older she gets, the worse it gets. She can't remember. She's extremely paranoid. She thinks everyone steals from her (thank g*d I live 15 hours away). After every visit I get calls "just asking" if I happened to take this or that thing that she can't find. She was *positive* that her sister stole a very valuable item, only to find it in plain sight.

The latest is that everyone who disagrees w/her is mentally ill-not that she has compassion for these people. She has no compassion for anyone & any compassion others may've had for her is running out.

She's misery incarnate, & I keep my family away from her as much as possible so they won't be harmed by her constantly abusive nature. She will never "turn into" a real mother. I have stopped wishing. I look forward to her death, the end of the venom, disappointment & loss. No one will mourn her, only a few will grieve the loss of the person she might've been--mourning what she wasn't.

I made peace w/my dead father, but I don't forgive what he did & allowed my mother to do. I pity him, I understand (to some degree) him, I loved him, but he doesn't deserve my forgiveness, & it does no damage to me to withhold it. I don't expect to forgive my mother, either. I've no love left for her. She deserves no pity. She's earned my rage, although I strive for indifference.

I hope to outlive her, so don't have to worry what she might try to do to the lives of my child & my spouse w/o my protection & so I can feel the freedom of self that adults w/normal parents have.

It really is like slavery-having a parent(s) who believes to their marrow that they OWN you. It doesn't matter how old you are, it never changes. You can be married, have children, it never changes. You can earn a PhD, be wildly successful, it never changes. You can move far away, but it never changes. Your life is never yours, it's theirs. The only way to break the chains is going NC or outliving them.

Having a child of my own made it painfully obvious what decent parenting requires-not much. It is no great mystery what to do, what they need, how to treat them. You just have to give a damn that there's a separate little being in your child who depends on you to care about their health & happiness & respect their individuality. And abusing them should make you feel sick and loathsome, not relieved and powerful.

Anonymous said...

About the previous comment

Take heart that you have had someone to show you exactly what NOT to do with regard to being a parent. I have done the complete opposite of what my parents did, mainly just giving unconditional rather than conditional love and am very proud of the wonderful adults my children have become. No it doesn't take much to achieve this but it was beyond the path of choice that my parents took. It saddens and infuriates me alike to think how they ruined my childhood and still attempt to drag me down to their murky depths, but I console myself that they have no more power over me now and I can choose to be free of their malign influence.

Anonymous said...

I have found this blog to be so very liberating, having only recently realised in my late forties that my own parents are a Narc and an enabler. I have struggled my whole life to understand why my parents behave so badly and why they make me feel so uncomfortable. But reading this blog has helped to explain so much. So many people with so many sad stories. However, hopefully a pain shared is a pain diminished. It seems there are so many poor souls out there with a mother shaped void in their hearts. At the moment it feels as if my heart will never heal and that the best I can ever do is put a plaster over it and move on. But the realisation that there is a problem and that there is an explanation for this problem is a big relief since it stops me feeling I'm the crazy one. Sanity brings peace even if it doesn't change your parents.


Anonymous said...

I wish I had known what narcissistic parents were years ago! I have spent my entire life taking care of and doing things for my parents all to be noticed, loved and appreciated. Now I know it was all in vain and it wasn't my problem but theirs!

I like others have an elderly narcissistic mother. She is the most irritating person to be around as she only cares about herself. As an example,if she doesn't get enough attention she fakes being sick and exaggerates everything. If she has a headache it is worse than anyone else in the world ever had. Today she felt nauseous and moaned and groaned so loud the neighbors could have heard her. If I left the room she got quiet but the minute I came back it got louder again. It drives me crazy!! She has been nasty to me and says terrible things then denies it. She lies all the time and is NEVER wrong! She never takes any responsibility for anything she does and puts the blame on others. She's sharp as a tack and doesn't have any dementia so that is not an excuse. She can just be awful!! My sister is the favorite and even though she does little in care for my mother she is still the golden one and mother is never is nasty to her!

My father who has since passed away was an enabler. He babied my mother and let her get away with her behavior. They played their "games" their entire married life, and as sick as it was they thrived on it.

After remembering painful memories I see her narcissism was well established clear back to when I was small.

My childhood was ruined by my parents who never bought us toys (but they never did without anything), having a mother who never took care of me when I was sick, picked on me constantly and criticized me for most everything, used me like a housemaid, downplayed all of my accomplishments, and so much more. And then in later years to find out from her that she never wanted me in the first place. That was devastating!

The things I've learned from all of this is that I will never act like her and will never put my children through what I have gone through. Also, I never treated my children the way I was treated when I was young. I made every effort to be there for them and love them unconditionally. I am a firm believer that you have to learn from the past or you take the chance on repeating it.

Thanks for having your blog and being reassured to know that I'm not alone!

huit said...

When my girlfriend left me for another man all I could think about was getting her back. I was not out of the closet to my family and had lived a straight lifestyle my entire life until recently. My girlfriend cheated on me and moved out of my house when I was away at work. I came home to a
letter that didn't even make sense. I had a love spell cast by and within four (4) days she was at my doorstep once again. I was so relieved of Her coming back to me which gave me the strength to tell my family about us and the time we spent apart really brought us closer together than we ever have been! I highly recommend the love spells because they work very well!

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only one going thru this. You're the 1st I seen that's has a grandmother like that as for myself my mother is just like that the so called panic attacks. If you ask me my nms is more like attention seeking temper tantrums. My whole life was all about her. I call her the princess. God forbid anyone should ever tell her no.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments this evening. On Sunday I have to go visit my narcissistic mother who's now in Assisted Living. I was close to the end of my rope but after reading the comments here, I have been strengthened for the task ahead. I can't wait until my mother dies. Maybe then I will finally be able to heal and enjoy life again. Certainly, having this woman for a mother made me decide to never marry because I couldn't face the possibility of having a child who would hate me as much as I have always hated my own mother.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've ever reached out online for help but here goes. My mother died a couple years ago and my father remarried less than a year after. My wife and I have not met her and honestly, don't really have any reason to meet her except that she is my dad's new wife.

My mom was a wonderful woman but was very much OCD and had to have the best "stuff" there was to offer. She had to make sure our family looked like the best family out there. My dad worked hard to provide for us and was a typical father. No physical abuse or anything.

Now that he's remarried he has admitted to being an alcoholic but won't go to any AA meetings (he can do it on his own). I saw him today for the first time in over 2 years. He looks good but his mental health is off. He says he has TGA and takes medicine for it. However upon researching it there is no cure for it and it's pretty much a one time ordeal. In other words, he's not telling me the whole story and won't.

He doesn't care for my wife anymore because she had called him after my mother died to let him know that his decisions were having a horrible impact on my kids and myself. The call turned into a shouting match and that was the last time they spoke. He called my aunt (my moms sister) and told on her. He called my only sibling, my sister, and told her. Now my sister wants nothing to do with my wife, either.

Now, granted, my sister is also an alcoholic and gay. My parents made her hide that fact from everyone and it was never discussed. Now, however, my dad loves her partner but hates my wife.

I want a relationship with my father but I know I can't have a solid one like I wish. I also know that my relationship with my sister has suffered and we rarely speak.

So what do I do?

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem. Now my mom is 87 and has alzheimer's and just wants me around. My dad has not changed a bit! He is and has been an addicted gambler since Atlantic City opened. He is currently 91 and has dementia also. I have an older brother that ives out out state about 1200 miles away. He calls 3 times a day to tell my dad what to do. I know they are both conspiring against me. He has accused me on sooooo many things. Too much to list. And yet I should still feel sorry for him??? My mom is in and out at times. I am just trying to take care of her but he never lets up. I had broken my back and herniated my disc 2 1/2 yrs ago and was not able to do much. They did visit maybe twice. (But the time away did me a wonder of good. I had finally put a bit of confidence in my pocket!) He still holds that against me for not coming by to help him with my mom when she was in the beginning stages of alzheimer's. Now telling my mom I'm trying to punish her! For what? I just feel numb. He has literally told horrible stories about me and my hubby to just about anyone that will listen!!! I am at the point of caring for my mom and just separating him and my brother from my life. I feel it will be the only way to move on and take control of my life. I do believe some people were not meant to be parents. All we can do is not listen to the negative comments, move on and make OUR lives good!

Stunnedintosubmission said...

I'm sick to my stomach right now. I don't know what to do. Everything here sums up my life minus the adoption. In fact i am so stunned about all this information i'm kinda in a fog. I could walk away from my mom right now and never look back.

Anonymous said...

Greetings to you all. Thank you all for your posts. So good to know we are not alone. I am mid-40s, with 2 children and loving husband. My m is N, and d is enabler. All comments about possessive mother's treating their (adult) children's lives as if put on this earth to serve their (the n mother's/father's) emotional needs resonate. Also all comments about aging n parents focusing on their grandchildren but rejecting their own (adult) children - resonate also.
I have been n/c (no contact) for about 2 yrs now, and today I had a revelation; that the degree of guilt I feel about this, about having aging parents and being n/c - is directly correlated with the degree of responsibility I was made to feel growing up, for the emotional well-being of my n-mother. My n-mother was abused in childhood, never healed, and sought her sense of self-worth and loveability through me, her only daughter. When I failed at times to make her feel fully loved all of the time, I was raged at. So I internalized an incredible sense of responsibility for her (emotional) well being. In hindsight now I can see that she was deeply misguided in seeking her sense of self and self-worth through me, a child at the time, and then an adult with a life of her own. I was destined to fail at this task. And of course, it was a very unfair position for her to put me in. I can see that I am not in fact responsible for her emotional well-being - that we must all in fact be responsible for our own emotional well being - yet I could not shake the guilt. But once I understood that it was wrong of her to assign the responsibility of her emotional world on to me in the first place- it follows that the guilt I feel in not meeting that need of hers - is also misplaced. I let go of my guilt.
I do not have a relationship with my n-mother. For this I feel sadness and resignation. I tried for 43 years, and then I stopped. It became clear that I had to chose; I could fall into a depression, risk losing my husband and children - risk having her turn them against me (she has often behaved without a conscience, turned my father against me, spammed me to all and sundry)- or go n/c. So I don't hold her against herself. I don't hold onto anger. I don't blame her. I try to make the best of the days I have left. Both parents are aging, but have so far Rejected me - so I'm not sure what duties I'll be called upon to perform once they become (should it happen) more infirm. Being disowned and disinherited can sometimes be the most sure-fire way to peace and harmony. I wish you all much inner healing. I have found the work of Melanie Tonia Evans, on Narcissism - to be most helpful.

Anonymous said...

These are such intense stories of childhood pain, neglect and the lasting confusion of the misfortune to have had an Nparent. My own npd mother is now elderly and expects everyone to play along and continue the one-way street of doing for her. Her insatiable need for admiration drowned out the rights of 4 children to be nurtured, loved, and encouraged which is a parents duty. We were captive to her alcoholism on top of it, further me-centered behavior, inability to give and take. Somehow, my siblings and I grew up to be kind, compassionate people who have each enjoyed lovjng relationships with our own children.
Grandma didn't care a whit about the grandkids either, except as accessories to her own status, to parade them in front of even lonelier elderly peers. I knew she simlly could not be trusted with the well-being and safety of my own children, so believe me I never left them alone with her.
It has taken me a lifetime to learn this truth: We are not here to rescue emotionally crippled family members from the chaos and misery they generate. We do not have to accept their crap, as our crap. It IS indeed hard to turn away from an elderly family member in that disabled condition, however, they paved to the way to the living hell with every time they chose to neglect, shut-down or mentally abuse their children. We are not meant to sacrifice our own adult lives nor let the dysfunction taint our own families and children..
Do only the bare minimum.
Dont engage the tantrums, guilt trips or disrespect. Gang up the phone or leave as needed. WE survived the childhood hell and came out ready to give and love the worthy.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading everyone's comments in tears, It isn't me, I'm not bad, I'm not crazy, it's all them. My husbands parents have never really liked me, and have done things over the years to hurt, and , embarrasse me, made me feel worthless. My children have never had the joy of grandparents, and as they've grown older the nastiness towards them has got worse. There are now greatgrandchildren involved and all there is, is criticism.Im 63 and exhausted, I have health problems, but none of that matters if they need something. Now my father in law is getting angry and really abusive, keeps telling us we've been lying to him, we haven't? And created a scene at my sons work which has resulted in him being disciplined by his boss. But I think I'm done I'm going to put my health first for a change.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Love your husband and your children with all of your might! Help educate your hubby with how a narcissist works. There has sure to have been a battle over attention from your husband. IMHO the reason your Father in Law does not like you is because you probably are not a butt kisser and you do not "edify" him enough. Guess what, that is too bad. My father was an abusive nasty narcissist and my kids cant stand him. Better to have few memories than horrible memories. Learn from my bad experiences, keep them at a distance and do not loose sleep over it. Do you have a kind "cousin Walter" from another side of the family. Better to make that person an honorary grandpa than to subject your kids to a crazy maker.

Anonymous said...

My maternal grandma was an alcoholic abuser (beating them up) of her husband and children. Yet she was always coddled and supported by my dear grandpa but would still belittle and make nasty comments about him and all her family as well. She now is 87 years old and lanquishes like a vegetable in expensive assisted living, while being afflicted with dementia. Her youngest daughter is now her Guardian and has basically cut off my mother and my mother's side of the family from visiting the old tyrant. My grandma is considerably wealthy and my mother will at least inherit money along with her siblings when the old lady finally dies. I know this may sound cold the way I have put it, but my grandmother was always only concerned with herself being taken care of, and had plenty of money to not only do so, but to also help out her family who struggled through hard times. She didn't give a shit, though. She didn't even cry when her husband of 59 years died! She was too emotionally dead from all the alcoholism and mental illness. As I said, now her rich youngest daughter has full control and has turned the feelings into hardbitten feuding. It takes a toll on everyone.

vonnyk61 said...

Touche! I am sick and tired of people saying to me "But she's your mother,she gave birth to you". My gerbils gave birth but at least one of the narcissist parents had the decency to eat them.