Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rich Inner Lives

An anonymous commenter stopped by to share some well-articulated observations...including that thing we no doubt all do at some point...wonder if there's any "point" to our painful experience as children of narcissists.

For me, I think of it - especially considering that I was placed by a social worker in the clutches of a childlike man who himself needed parenting - as a crap shoot. I could have gone to some fairly normal people eager to give a child a home. Instead, the dice rolled and I ended up parentified...where the child-parent roles were reversed. No real point to it. Just...Really Bad Luck.

For those of you born into narcissistic families, you have a different challenge making sense of it. In some ways, it's harder. I at least can console myself with the undisputed fact that I'm not actually related to my parents. I have a nice fantasy world that I could retreat to...one where my first family was warm and loving and nurturing and where I was allowed to finish the occasional sentence. Believe me, I escaped to my fantasy world whenever I got the chance. (Before anybody gets too excited, my birth mother has her major issues, but one still likes to dream)

So I was really interested when the anonymous commenter shared this observation:

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.

(emphasis mine--this concept rings so true!)

Sometimes, it's hard to find the upside of being raised by narcissists, but it is comforting and probably fairly healthy to try and find at least some positives!

In addition to developing a rich inner life, I bet you are:

--responsible (okay, maybe overly responsible)
--a good listener (this is what happens when you're not allowed to talk)
--proactive (trying to head off the next crisis)
--diplomatic (forced to smooth over troubled waters when your parent insulted somebody)


23 comments:

Mulderfan said...

I can totally relate to this. I'm an over-achiever, very organized, creative (artist) and before I retired I was a kick-ass employee. If you have me as a friend nothing you ask of me is too much trouble. These very useful traits were probably a direct result of trying to please and/or get noticed (in a positive way) by my parents.

On the down side, I take things way too personally and am very easily hurt. Some people, my parents included, see me as just too eager to please and therefore treat me like a doormat.

My younger brother and I marvel that we turned out to be pretty nice people in spite of our upbringing. Our late older brother didn't fare as well and suffered from severe mental illness.


You're also right about how much it can freak a person out to realize they're related by blood to these nasty old buggers! At age 64 I'm hoping if it's a genetic disorder it would have surfaced by now.

Susie said...

Oh yes, this is me to a TEE!

Plus side:
I am very creative. I love to paint, draw, write, compose, arrange...you name it!
As a child, I used to climb trees to find solace and to think. Since my family was either over-involved/enmeshed in my life or completely ignored me, I got used to being my own friend and finding ways to entertain myself. I spent much of my childhood in my dream world or creating something beautiful. I had few friends because I didn't know how to relate to people or I was too afraid of what they would think of me if they "really got to know me". So, I taught myself how to play several instruments such as piano, cello, saxophone, recorder, Native American flute etc. My brother and sister would abandon some hobby and I'd be there to pick up whatever instruments they didn't want.(Unfortunately, I don't play much anymore except for my cello.) I really learned to listen because, frankly, I wasn't allowed to talk much or I simply didn't have anyone to talk to.

I also have this Frida Khalo complex. I like to draw myself into scenes or draw/paint some particular aspect of myself. (I have the hardest time drawing anything else but myself! But I think it has helped me accept parts of myself in a way.) My favorite mediums are oil pastels on canvas and acrylic ink wash on newsprint. I have all of these drawings and paintings of myself hanging in our house in frames. People are going to wonder who the REAL narcissists in my family are! ;)

Down side:
I still have a hard time with criticism and oftentimes my first reaction is to take something personally. I have a hard time brushing off what people think of me; even in cases where the other party is a complete nutter!
I am also very blunt, opinionated and sarcastic which is sometimes unhelpful. I think that this was to compensate for all the times that I wasn't allowed to voice my thoughts or ideas. I still struggle with concepts of self-worth at times, especially my appearance. I am a perfectionist and will do my best at everything I put my efforts into. This was not a good thing for me because I spent a ridiculous amount of time perfecting things. I used to read, reread and edit emails that normally would take someone approximately 10 minutes. I know understand that everything does not deserve the same amount of time, effort and thought, but I still catch myself over-editing posts or emails. (My mother was SUCH a grammar queen!)

My parents seem to be completely devoid of any appreciation for art, music, poetry, or even a good book. They don't do anything mind expanding at all. They don't visit museums, go to parks, can't appreciate a fine piece of art or anything! They don't read anything interesting unless it is a magazine. If they participate in anything, it is because NOT participating makes them seem uncouth somehow. If they have any political "opinions", it sounds more like they're mimicking someone else. They never contribute anything original to a debate or conversation. It is like talking to a brick wall; completely devoid of original thought or appreciation for the world around them.
-Susie

just me said...

Agree! All of the above. Mulderfan, you put who I am into words. That is a wonderful perspective. Thank you for sharing that.

Nina said...

Mulderfan,

Ooo...count me in on on the easily hurt-taking things too seriously club. However, I have tried very hard over the last several years to work on this because I annoy totally annoy myself!

Susie...

You mentioned an aspect of the narcissistic parent I had never framed that way but seems so familiar: that my n-parents too were either overly involved/emeshed or totally uninvolved...mmmm. Which was very confusing.

Well, dearest Frida! I suspect a psychoanalyst would jump with joy if you walked into her office and offered up that tidbit! Doesn't strike me as narcissistic in the least...knowing your background. Actually, it makes perfect sense.

We children of narcissists were invisible...felt invisible...didn't feel quite real because we weren't SEEN by our parents...so each in our own way we try to convince ourselves that we really DO exist. It sounds like you've hit on a very clever way to do it because of your natural talent...to paint yourself over and over again. Now you can say, "Oh, THERE I am!"...providing your own mirroring! Gee, maybe you have paintings of yourself in different moods/emotional states...where you are allowed to be happy or sad or wistful?

Nina said...

Hi Just Me,

Since you're new to this blog and didn't say if you are the adult child of a narcissist, I peeked at your profile and saw that you're reading the Harry Potter series.

Me too! On book five. Love it!
Then again, I love anything with orphans or zombies (World War Z!!!)
and everything by Jane Austen and British author Mo Hayder (Devil of Nanking)

The BIG question is...what do we read after the Potter series ends? Do you have a game plan? I'm kinda worried about the big hole it's gonna leave b/c I'm so enjoying it.

just me said...

Hi Nina,

I'm sort of new to discover and name the craziness I grew up with. I am a daughter of a NMother. Yikes! I have been reading and absorbing all the blogs and information on the net regarding this disorder and I have been so enlightened and more importantly, VALIDATED, that I am not the crazy and awful person I have been told that I am. I am amazed at how familiar all of our stories are. It is such a relief to me to know that I am not alone. It's a hard struggle and I am just 5 months into NC. I daily have to remind myself to stay on task and let go of guilt. I have alot of sadness right now. I know that this will pass.

Thanks for peeking at my profile!! I am new to the blog-o-sphere and haven't done a very good job at keeping up. One of the things I struggle with, while being creative and a lover of all things art and crafty, I am really really bad at finishing things. I think, make that, know it is because as a child I was NEVER encouraged to be creative and grow. Neither of my parents were very interested in what my sister and I did. We never were encouraged to do anything and basically had to sign ourselves up for things. And because no one really cared, it was easy to quit and not finish. I have been working very hard since my NC to reverse that trend. One of the good things to come out of ashes!

What has always been strange to me is that my mother is very creative and we have alot of the same interests. She just never choose to share in that joy with me. She didn't teach me to do anything, she just did them herself. I, on the other hand, if my daughter took up an interest in one of my hobbies I would be THRILLED and would share that love with her!

Yes, I read the Harry Potter series!! All of them in a row! When I was finished I was sooooo sad as Harry had been my morning friend for many many months. I haven't figured out anything to take that place yet. Well, besides and the NPD research!

enilina said...

Hey Susie, we’re twins! Except I have the opposite Frida Khalo complex, I can’t bear to put my own image in canvas but I immortalize my sisters, nephew, niece, and pets in acrylic medium. When my short and dumpy mom saw my painting of my taller sister in a white, long, flowing gown surrounded by field of red flowers and silvery trees, she excitedly asked if the painting was of her. I said no and immediately she lost interest and said nothing more. Oh, and my mom kept trying to get me to write her autobiography, not biography, a-u-t-o-biography; since I'm suuuuuuch a good writer, you know, and of course I should apply that talent to benefit momster!

I’m currently trying to steer my paintings into realism (landscapes, still life, etc) and away from the dominate surrealism, which likely reflects my dream fantasy life of my childhood.

While I haven’t painted myself, I did get a glamour shot done 8 years ago and mailed framed 8X12 pictures to each of my parents. I didn’t understand my motive at the time, only that I remember feeling “up yours!” when I mailed the pictures. Of course they didn’t keep the pictures, not even the frames, but I felt I made a point somehow. It probably goes to what Nina said that “we children of narcissists were invisible, felt invisible, didn't feel quite real because we weren't SEEN by our parents...so each in our own way we try to convince ourselves that we really DO exist.” Getting myself dolled up under tons of makeup and photographed in soft studio light was my way of telling my parents that I do exist and here is the photographic evidence.

Susie said...

Enilina and Nina,

I think that what type of artistic style we choose as children of N-parents is an interesting concept.
I paint and draw mostly bodies and mainly are reflections of myself. I'll sit with a mirror and pick a spot on my body, the curve of an arm perhaps, a part of my face, legs.. whathaveyou and I paint it. I always draw them exactly as they are. For me, being too wistful or surreal feels akin to lying. My mother used to use my body to tear me apart or make me feel guilty, so I think that this is my way of reclaiming what is mine (and that which is not shameful!). I also paint/draw nudes, which pisses off my very Catholic mother.

My mother always wanted me to utilize my talents for her stupid volunteer job. She volunteers at a low-income private school (mostly because it makes her look good) and always asks me to paint this or that for some school function or auction. One year, I drew a life-sized Dora the Explorer jungle scene that hung on the auditorium wall for a school function. There was no thank you or appreciation for any of my work, so that was the last time I did something like that for her!

Pretty much every photograph I have of myself from childhood portrays a very somber and numb child. There a few photos where I'm smiling, but it looks like I am doing it to please someone on the otherside of the camera. Wouldn't it be interesting to share childhood pictures? :)

-Susie

Nina said...

JUST ME,

I really didn't have the option of severing contact (only child/parents who developed dementia)...but I can only imagine how bad things had become to go the route...and how much strength it must take to make that agonizing decision.

I watched my cousin go through this w/her mother...a malignant narcissist with other problems...and the horrible, crippling guilt she endured. But she had no other choice as her mother was trying to destroy her marriage (by insisting her daughter choose her over her husband) and had endangered her kids.

Soon...I think I'll post about NOT FINISHING THINGS..as this is something you, Jeff and others have remarked upon...and I'm a notorious not-finisher!

One of the things seriously lacking in this blog...so far at least...are strategies to overcome our legacy issues. It would be great to collect what's actually worked...

It's funny...you said your mother lead you to believe YOU were the bad one. It seems n-parents have no problem blaming their kids and calling them all sorts of evil names. My mother called me, "ungrateful," "an ingrate," a "spoiled brat," "heartless", etc. and my father once said, "you think your shit doesn't stink"...this because I voiced my opinion on a political subject and he accused me of being a know-it-all because I went to college. Once, in great frustration, I asked my mother what I had to be grateful for and she listed all the stuff mothers do for their kids w/o batting an eyelash...like driving me to school and setting out the cereal.

So I sympathize...it's awful to grow up thinking you are somehow deficient/evil.

Nina said...

Enilina,

OMG...that's kinda funny...in a very sick way.

Your mom trying to get you to write her AUTObiography...hah!...now if THAT doesn't spell out how the parents views the child as simply an extension. Then again, maybe she wanted you as a ghostwriter so she could get all the glory for your excellent writing skills?

just me said...

Nina,

Oh yea, I was brought up being told I was lazy, selfish, ungrateful, etc. I was never told I was good at something or did a great job. I was invisible...unless of course I was annoying her...then I was raged at. And by annoying, I mean, asking for basis needs, permission to do things, eat things, go places.

I lived in my imagination. I learned to detach from her rage, but it caused deep, deep wounds. I lived my childhood on high-alert. Sobbing, that deep, gut wrenching sobbing, was a norm for me. I am proud to say I have never...NEVER...caused my children to cry. What a concept!

I am working thru the damage of my rageoholic mother and alocoholic father. One day at a time.

rachel said...

Fascinating post. I'm so glad that you're encouraging readers to consider the potential positive dimensions of surviving narcissistic parenting, and your list of likely attributes describes me perfectly. I have found the rich inner life to be a two-edged blessing. On the one hand, it sustained me and brought me great pleasure. On the other hand, there were times in middle chidhood and adolescence when I felt like my extreme dependence on my imaginative life was driving me to the brink of madness. It's a blessing now that I've learned to channel it and manage it, but it does bring with it certain vulnerabilities.

I think that growing up with a narcissistic parent also honed my skill in evaluating evidence and placing statements in a wider context-- because I was never sure whether what I was being told was reasonable or unreasonable, I learned to gather comparative material and scrutinize everything I heard. Essentially, I got very rigorous training in logic.

Nina said...

Rachel,

I think it's quite amazing that you were able to question the validity of what your parents said to you....for the longest time I only remember being agitated or upset or numb...but didn't actively process the right or wrong of whatever they said.

Adolescence is tough enough without throwing narcissistic parents into the mix....reading between the lines...I'm wondering...it sounds like maybe you spent a lot of time alone back then? My parents didn't like me having kids over to the house...too much trouble...and I was rarely allowed to visit the homes of friends...so was just wondering.

careena said...

I just found this blog after recently recognizing (in therapy)the dysfunction of narcissism that I have spent my whole life battling.Since I am in the initial stages here, I cannot imagine how much effort it is going to take to un-enmesh myself from the narcissists I am involved with. I am the creative resourceful great worker drone doormat who has unfortunately tied myself financially to a complete narcissist. I also moved to an isolated place so I could work with him. I always had an uneasy feeling about what I was doing, but did it anyway, like I knew no other way to be. Then the veil dropped and the shock of what I have done (my whole life) is still fresh. And so in trying to cultivate putting that creativity and resourcefulness into something for me and not for someone else makes me feel like there is a brick wall in my stomach. It is incomprehensible.
Will this go away? What do I have to do to start re-directing all my hard work toward self-care and self-respect? The only way I know how to express or expose my creativity is in a defensive, "I don't care what they think" attitude. I occasionally have to write and it makes me squirm to think about other people reading what I wrote. It feels like the only way I can express myself is to become the narcissist! I feel that way just about writing this. Help!
Can someone recommend where to start?

Katgrrl said...

Love your blog! I have known for years my dad was npd and my mom bipolar (possibly npd herself too) but the last few years I have been focusing on healing from his alcoholism as an acoa...but I am starting to find out that has affected me so much less than npd has!

I think it is great you have found the positives in our experiences. I have such an over active imagination that I can always guess what is going to happen next on tv shows or movies...which is a fun game I love to play but everyone else finds irritating lol. I am working at channeling this creativity into writing more but that inner voice of "not good enough", "too lazy", and "not talented enough' sadly still wins the day to day battle for me.

Personally I have cut almost all ties with my parents but I am left with my brother who suffers from many mental illnesses and attachment with my parents. I struggle with relationships so needless to say I am still single into my 30's but I am hopeful that by understanding the tapes in my head are from selfish parents who couldn't love, maybe I can record over them and try to learn how to be normal enough to find and maintain unconditional love!

Nina said...

Careena,

It IS alarming to suddenly understand what has gone on in your life...and that it has a name and signs and symptoms and all of that. Mostly, adjusting to the fact that it wasn't YOU who was deficient and there are perfectly good reasons why you are now confused! You may want to give yourself a little time to just adjust to this notion.

A bit of a warning...my blog comes up short in the area of getting over your narcissistic parents (or other relationship)...it's more of a place where we can explore what the heck went on...without people jumping down our throats and calling us ungrateful brats or reminding us that our parents really did love us.

I highly recommend that you start reading books on the recommended list...which contain some excellent advice from experts in the field. I really liked the one written by Nina BROWN, although someone said that it was mostly about learning to EMOTIONALLY DETACH. In my case, this is exactly what was required.

You wrote:

Will this go away? What do I have to do to start re-directing all my hard work toward self-care and self-respect? The only way I know how to express or expose my creativity is in a defensive, "I don't care what they think" attitude. I occasionally have to write and it makes me squirm to think about other people reading what I wrote. It feels like the only

Remember, I'm NOT an expert..but here's my take:
1)Yes, you can break out of the cycle...you will feel overwhelmed and confused at first, but take baby steps...start by educating yourself.
2)How about this? Why not try a period of time, say one week, being extremely mindful and conscious and throughout the day...ask yourself basic questions...such as...do I like this coffee?...what do I think about this radio show I'm listening to?....what would I like to do right now?....what do I really think of the work I'm now doing/is it boring?/satisfying/do I hate it?. In other words, get to know yourself, give yourself permission to allow your opinions and thoughts and feelings to bubble to the surface on the road toward reclaiming your life.
3)Explore the connection between your current attitude toward expressing your creativity and what may have caused it...did your parents criticize your past efforts...make you doubt your abilities? So you have to go on the defensive before you even start?
4) Do YOU like being creative and/or writing? Not all people do. Some absolutely hate writing...is it possible it's something out of your comfort zone and you'd rather be, say, illustrating instead?

Visualize your "journey" wearing a pencil skirt and stilleto heels. Basically, your first steps will be handicapped by your silly outfit! Eventually, you'll ditch the pencil skirt in favor of a skort (hah! just kidding) and comfy walking shoes because you won't want to wear that silly outfit your mom laid out on your bed. (Okay, that's my personal issue...my mother was big on making me dress according to her taste)

You WILL get through this!

Nina said...

Careena,

It IS alarming to suddenly understand what has gone on in your life...and that it has a name and signs and symptoms and all of that. Mostly, adjusting to the fact that it wasn't YOU who was deficient and there are perfectly good reasons why you are now confused! You may want to give yourself a little time to just adjust to this notion.

A bit of a warning...my blog comes up short in the area of getting over your narcissistic parents (or other relationship)...it's more of a place where we can explore what the heck went on...without people jumping down our throats and calling us ungrateful brats or reminding us that our parents really did love us.

I highly recommend that you start reading books on the recommended list...which contain some excellent advice from experts in the field. I really liked the one written by Nina BROWN, although someone said that it was mostly about learning to EMOTIONALLY DETACH. In my case, this is exactly what was required.

You wrote:

Will this go away? What do I have to do to start re-directing all my hard work toward self-care and self-respect? The only way I know how to express or expose my creativity is in a defensive, "I don't care what they think" attitude. I occasionally have to write and it makes me squirm to think about other people reading what I wrote. It feels like the only

Remember, I'm NOT an expert..but here's my take:
1)Yes, you can break out of the cycle...you will feel overwhelmed and confused at first, but take baby steps...start by educating yourself.
2)How about this? Why not try a period of time, say one week, being extremely mindful and conscious and throughout the day...ask yourself basic questions...such as...do I like this coffee?...what do I think about this radio show I'm listening to?....what would I like to do right now?....what do I really think of the work I'm now doing/is it boring?/satisfying/do I hate it?. In other words, get to know yourself, give yourself permission to allow your opinions and thoughts and feelings to bubble to the surface on the road toward reclaiming your life.
3)Explore the connection between your current attitude toward expressing your creativity and what may have caused it...did your parents criticize your past efforts...make you doubt your abilities? So you have to go on the defensive before you even start?
4) Do YOU like being creative and/or writing? Not all people do. Some absolutely hate writing...is it possible it's something out of your comfort zone and you'd rather be, say, illustrating instead?

Visualize your "journey" wearing a pencil skirt and stilleto heels. Basically, your first steps will be handicapped by your silly outfit! Eventually, you'll ditch the pencil skirt in favor of a skort (hah! just kidding) and comfy walking shoes because you won't want to wear that silly outfit your mom laid out on your bed. (Okay, that's my personal issue...my mother was big on making me dress according to her taste)

You'll be fine!

Nina said...

Katgrrl,

Ouch...an NPD dad AND a bipolar mom who's a tad self-centered. A lethal combination...it's amazing you didn't end up like your poor brother.

I've seen the destruction that can be caused by such a mother...there's one in my family...it was like watching a really bad soap opera starring an over-the-top actress given ridiculous dialogue and plotlines...except it was all true. It took my cousin YEARS to emotionally detach because her mother used her health problems to control her daughter and blamed my cousin for any health set-backs ("you made me sick because you didn't invite me to go shopping").

Having seen a little of what can go on...I know this kind of situation far exceeded my own in the Difficulty Department...so you have my sympathy!

It seems you are in very good company with liking to write...but struggling with those dark voices in our heads that tell us we're full of crap!

I mean, honestly, lately I came across a series of thriller books written by a doctor and it was absolute shit...with silly dialogue...apparently, SHE doesn't suffer from self-doubt or she wouldn't allow such stinking prose to see the light of day!

In my case...as in Jeff's and others...we excel at NOT finishing projects!

Hold Fast said...

What a great blog! I can't believe there are so many people just like me when for 40+ years I thought I was all alone in this suffering. I have a total N-father who I am struggling to come to terms that his DNA is part of me. Apparently he began this behavior when I was 2 and has never quit. Old age does not mellow them out, they just become more needy, paranoid and mean. He used to only put his fangs out when we were alone while everyone on the outside thought he was a wonderful, helpful person. He is now smearing my name all over my small community. Oh my mom was there but she was abused by him and I ended up pulling him off of her, playing peacemaker or holding her while she cried. (I have since learned some outside people did know what was going on in the house while I was a child but were scared to say anything. This is a whole other issue I have yet to deal with.) I had no contact with him for 20 years which was the best time I had. I needed to regain contact about 8 years ago because my mom needed help as she developed Alzheimer’s and my only sister, who is developmentally disabled, also needed help. If you can, I highly recommend no contact. It hurts a lot and there is a lot of guilt but slowly you feel like a real, viable human being by not having the constant put downs and guilt being thrown at you. Some positive things that came out of this? I can see an N person or an abusive person a mile away. I have helped my friends out of abusive relationships, am understanding of childhood pains of friends and intervened when I observed others treating their children inappropriately. I also am a wonderful friend who will do anything even at my expense. There is an upside in all the pain, just look deep inside yourself. I know everyone has the “gifts” that were never allowed to shine.

Nina said...

Hold Fast,

I'm sorry to hear about your mom. Alzheimers is such a hideous disease (my mother had it, too)

It sounds like not having contact with your n-father for such an extended period of time, besides being healthier, really gave you a much clearer perspective of how destructive a narcissist can be...and will serve you well as you are forced to deal with him now because of your mother's condition.

You mentioned your father is bad-mouthing you around town...
having had some experience with this...my sympathy!

I'm assuming your mother primarily lives w/your father...and your sister? And that you help out?

Don't know if there's any similarity in situation...but my father expected/wanted me to take care of my mother when she developed Alzheimers..even though my daughters were both under five at the time.

He went around feeling very sorry for himself that I'd dumped the care of my mother on him...until I reminded him that HE was married to her...not me..the whole "in sickness and in health" vow. Sure, I helped managed her care (doctors, choosing help-caregivers, etc.) but he did much of it...although I know he resented me for not taking on full responsibility.

Narcissists want to be taken care of...they aren't good at taking care of others.

Hold Fast said...

Nini, Yes, the 20 years of No Contact were great but he came back at me with a force the minute contact resumed. I again turned into the scared, little girl. I'm trying to keep my emotions at an adult level so he cannot hurt me with his critism but it is a daily struggle and very tiring. He is the provider for my mother but not doing a good job. He actually had forbidden me to see her after I suggested she would be better off in a skilled care facility. Oh my, talk about rage.......spending his hard-earned money on something like that where they would not take care of her anyhow. However, somehow he wants me to take care of her too and attend all her doctor appointments where he just is mean to me anyhow. Very confusing. He does, however, want everyone to feel sorry for him that he is taking care of her 24/7 and doesn't have a life even though there were care givers who were coming into the house to help him until he forced them all to quite. How could he get all the pity if he had help?

Sorry you are badmouthed over the community. Hopefully the people will be wise enough to see the truth. From your blog I have been reading for a while, you appear to be a very kind, caring, healing person. Stay Strong. Thanks so much for having a place to write. I read some of these other blogs and have to remember I didn't write them because I sure could have. Sorry for all of you hurting but happy for all of you healing!

Nina said...

Hold Fast,

Have you read the book Trapped in the Mirror?

At the beginning, the author talks about how her narcissistic father still has the power to turn her mind to mush...that he exerts such a powerful influence over her that she seems to forget what SHE wants and how to exert herself.

When you talked about your experience re-encountering your father after such a long absence, it reminded me of what's it's like to get sucked into their orbit...circling around them...after being free!

Your father's confusing behavior really highlights the dilemma of the narcissist as primary caretaker...trying to stay in control...while positioning himself...as a victim...refusing help...yet blaming everybody for not pulling their weight. Hey...it's not easy being a martyr!

Yuck. As my kids say, you are in one helluva bad situation! My sympathies!

Hah! I've got one for you! A little Catholic humor, I'm afraid!

It takes the patience of a saint to put up with a martyr!

Hold Fast said...

Nina, Isn't that the truth. Ha, Ha. Thanks for the book idea. I'm always looking for more reads on the subject.