I've read with interest threads about adults in relationships with narcissistic partners. As an adult, one has the choice to walk away and end the relationship. However, it's different when it's a child growing with a narcissistic parent. A child can't just walk away.
My mother was narcissistic and manipulative. She always had to have things her way. When the rest of the family would want to go somewhere, we couldn't go if she didn't want to. Once, as a kid, I told her we all agreed to go, except her, so the majority wins. Her typical reaction to this situation would be to sulk for a while until finally she would scream at us and tell us how selfish we all were. We only cared about ourselves and didn't care how she felt. At this point, she would usually burst into tears. My father never stood up to her, he would just tell us that because she didn't want to go, then none of us could.
On the rare ocasions that she would agree to let us go out with our father while she stayed home, she would do everything to sabotage it. Once for my birthday, my father said he'd take me to a baseball game. It meant that I couldn't do the dishes that night. My mother screamed at us both--we were so selfish because she would have to do the dishes that night!
I could go on and on with more examples. On top of that, strangers saw her as a very nice and charming person. When I would tell people of her behavior plus how verbally, emotionally and sometimes physically abusive she was, they would never believe me. Worse yet, she would call up relatives and tell them that I was lazy and didn't do any housework while she did it all. In reality, I was treated as an indentured servant. Often relatives would call and ask to speak to me. They would yell at me and ask why I wasn't helping my mother. As a kid, I was raised never to contradict elders or argue with them. The most I could (would) do is tell them that I indeed did help her. Then I would be asked to list just exactly what I did around the house. After giving them the list, the stock answer would be "well, obviously, you're not doing enough". I never knew how to respond to that when I was very young.
My mother passed away over 8 years ago and still she negatively impacts our lives. She had one symptom that is often found in narcissistic personalities--she would get insanely jealous of any woman my father mentioned. If he had a co-worker and he told my mother of an innocent workplace conversation, in no time at all, she would be convinced that he was having an affair. About 25 years ago, she left him because she was convinced he was having an affair with a young woman he was mentoring at work. She moved in with my aunt (her sister) and uncle for a few months. I decided that I wouldn't get into the middle of this and would only talk to my parents or visit them if they called me. That way, I thought (naively) that no one would be keeping score ("you called him more than you called me"). Was I wrong! My aunt really turned on my husband and me. I can only imagine what my mother must have said (all lies). Even after my parents got together again, my aunt was still mean to me. She defends--to this day--all my mother's actions. My mother was an alcoholic and I pointed this out to my aunt, who yelled at me and said "be careful what you say!" To which I said I had to live with her and that's how it was. Of course, she had a ready excuse--your mother went through a lot in her life. Okay--fine, whatever...
My father remarried a year after she died. He rushed into a bad marriage and now is getting divorced. Even after he remarried, he always kept telling me that he missed my mother! Honestly, I don't know why!
So...what can a child do when s/he has to live with a narcissistic parent, especially one that is so manipulative? Tell another adult? If the adult has met the parent, no one believes the child. Plus, the child is brainwashed to think that nothing is the parent's fault so...if I tried harder, she'll be happier. And, of course, the narcissist never is happy.
You had interesting past to tell.
There are people like that. My stepmother was one of them.
Now years after I too can see many details differently. I understand why certain things happened the way they did.
Many times I have been looking answers to childhood that was shaped certain way because her behaviour was little odd to say the least.
Life is learning!
Make the best out of yours and smile.
Are you asking this question about what a child can do, or an adult that lived with that as a child? The reason I ask is that children can have very little control, if any. I suppose that someone could call child protective services, but then what? If the child was not being physically abused, and there were no other signs of abuse, who would protect that child? I fear that there are many children who are now experiencing what you experienced.
My husbands mother was insane, and I am not being glib. She was jealous, egotistical, vain, paranoid, depressed...and in the end I believe schizophrenic (if not the whole time). My husband witnessed her viciously attack her husband for the whole time he lived at home. My husband had no friends growing up, he was kept very close to the vest. And when he didn't do what she wanted she would dissolve in tears, shaming him that he was not a good son...nor a good person. My husband grew up with severe clinical depression which I have been helping him battle for 25 years now. Even when she moved away from us, out of state, 10 years ago he was still suffering terribly. Mostly guilt for not calling her more and visiting her.
She just died about 4 few months ago. My husband has not been depressed since then. In fact, he has been almost like the man I first met. One day he told me that he was relieved. He was very open about it. He said that he felt no shame in this. She was a powerful influence just being alive.
Now I know that sounds harsh, but I am just relaying what has happened here.
Your mother was mentally ill. It's a hard thing to say. Parents are not supposed to be like this. At least you seem to have some very specific self awareness. Your poor Dad was the product of living with that kind of person.
I have no advice for you really. I guess I just saw your post and wanted to relay what has just recently happened at our home. I was so worried about my husband on the advent of my MIL's death, and then the most surprising thing happened. It was like the exorcism of demons.
One thing I do know...you gotta stop talking about your mother to those relatives. Let sleeping dogs lie. And it might help if you start talking about your mother to a professional. You need to wrap your brain around this. Are you saying she is still negatively impacting your life because of your Father, or your personal life? Is your abuse causing you problems in your life aside from others?
I know there are some great posts on similar situations. Try to google mother in this forum and see what you come up with.
I hope that you find peace. I hope my husband has truly found peace too.
I have not talked to my narcissistic dad in over a year. He is getting on, and I know that our time is short, but I don't want to talk to him. I love him very much, and I still do feel extreme guilt for not talking to the Poor-old-man-who-won't-be-around-much-longer. Extreme guilt, which I try to push away, or down, but manifests in gallbladder problems, fairly heavy consumption of wine, and low-level depression. I have worked very hard to heal from him, I hate the guilt, because there is a healthy part of me that knows that I did not earn, but was taught, this sense of guilt. It was handed to me, and dad insisted I ake it, and incorporate it into my hard wiring. I am very proud of all my changes, but wish that I could be set free from the constant knowing that he is only 30 miles up the road, and I don't see or speak to him. As a girl, dad would ruin our holidays often by crying about the family he didn't see, or he would cry about what he could have been had he not stopped his playboy life in order to take us from my mother (kidnapping). My sis and I would do backflips at Xmas. Once I bought him an iron weight set and was too young to drive, so I borrowed a wagon and walked all the way to the store and toted the weights back. They were very heavy for a 13 year old to drag. We wrapped them in individual packages, and he guessed what they were before he opened them and then cried all day about the family. We felt like hell, I will tell you that. I learned my guilt there. Today it is knowing that he is alone while I am at my boyfriends familys' house. I do the best I can to "live with it" - I wonder how it ever COULD go completely away. I will feel relieved when he passes, I know it, but will I still carry the guilt, only this time it is because I feel guilty for feeling relieved?? Does anyone understand this, and can you tell me, if you overcame it, how you did it? I want that freedom. That is the one scary scary thing about trying to recover from the effects of being raised by an NPD - I fear that I am stuck with this "Lurking Presence" forever. It "LURKS"!! And I mean it, it stands in the corner and looks at me with accusing eyes, this Lurking Guilt, especially when I am enjoying myself. And no one knows it but me. It can stop me cold in the middle of a hearty laugh, it stares at me while I watch a sunset and breathe in gods' good air. I hate it. Because I am not free. I only experience brief moments of absolute freedom - when I do, I just expand and it is the most wonderful feeling, better than s*x, but it is brief. I think a person should be able to feel that feeling more. So how, friends??I am open, I have done so much work, can do more, am better than I ever was. Ant input is appreciated...merry christmas, curezone.
The WORDS used to express any idea/concept [that we shold FEEL] are important because VERY often they are undefined, innaccurate, invalid, out of context, subjective bias, not specific, etc.
NOBODY on earth has ever or can BE "guilty". A person can ONLY be guilty OF SOMETHING.
So, the first thing to do is DEFINE what you are guilty OF (I have no doubt that you will find something by using your self-persecuting imagination). Given time, you will learn mercy for yourself (I second that motion). Get off your case, you are here at Curezone because your wish is that everything in general could be BETTER (you are progressive...UNCOMMON).
Coming from a dysfunctional family myself, I understand the effects of a bad family life and the long-lasting GUILT we steal (and parents inflict on their own blood, also society's habit against the children of the world) from our guilty parents and place on the innocent (US, we were only "the child"). We are CONVICTING THE INNOCENT (we should be mad at ourselves for doing that...did you say you are depressed?, now you know why) and we are EXCUSING THE GUILTY (your conscience can find you guilty of that too).
You could honor your father by letting him deal with his own guilt instead of stealing it from him, GUILT THIEF!.
Do you have reason to be angry? I believe you do (whether you or your critics agree). Some people aren't flattered by your anger (relatives, close friends of your dad, etc.), some people are indifferent and simply don't care (strangers, people who CALL themselves friends, etc.), but I don't just BELIEVE, I KNOW you have reason to be angry. Whether anyone wants to extend you the RIGHT to be angry, no one should DENY you the right to be angry (it hurts to be denied that right) even when they simply don't have the ABILITY to RELATE to your experiences of life (it is a human right and they deny/disregard your humanity, but will give $1 a month to charity in order to be "politically correct").
Your reason for being angry/upset is completely legitimate and you should be the first to validate your anger (real friends will also validate your anger IF they have the ability to relate, and will try when they don't).
(what LURKS is your "conscience" because you are convicting an innocent person).
It is not very nice to tell a person "Oh, just LIVE WITH IT" or "Ah, SNAP OUT OF IT", it's like giving them the finger, so don't do it to yourself either. Get in the habit of doing nice things for yourself, like buying flowers for yourself, or buying little knick-knacks for yourself (no matter how silly they are, it's done just to please the person you look up to...yourself).
I was interested in your posts about narcissistic parents. I found them to be very helpful to me who has been in a life long trap with one, being my Mother, who was a control freak since I was born. She denied me of even knowing who and the what abouts about my real father. Then she married a man who spent his life defending her from me for even if I kept my mouth shut and was practically non existence that wasn't enough to stop her attacks against me. She even complained that I was like a little mouse. I started going crazy and went to a psychiatrist when I was 16 when I ran away and was made a ward of the court. After a short stay in the hospital (a psychiatric unit) I had to return home with them. My home life with them was very unlovable and she complained that I complained about the lack of love saying it was all in my fault and it was all in my head. Meanwhile she always put my very superficial step brother on a pedestal. She decide she didn't like his fiancee who is now a Doctor too so he moved in with a gay person and became convinced he was gay. She still puts him on a pedestal despite some of the most ugly things (sex orgy in my dead cousins bed room) that he did. She blamed my aunt for not telling her about it and said the most spitefull things about her. I told her she, the Aunt, should have called the cops on him. I've gone over board with Mom all these years seeking her approval and being a huge gift giver. She won't even acknowledge her grandson-my son. I've decided after this last visit to her home in Florida-I live in Italy with my husband and son to call it quits. She opened an account for inheritance money she planned to put on it then said while I was sleeping on the couch at three o'clock in the morning that it wasn't for my husband to use. He had been working in her garden and her renters garden under the hot sun, grocery shopping and cooking their meals with me as well for them. She showed no appreciation and wouldn't even give as a lift to the grocery store. We had to walk and carry the groceries home under the hot Florida sun.
I feel guilty because I've always loved her dearly despite herself and the child abuse I had to endure (her spitting in my face at bed time when I desperately longed for a hug) for no reason at age 8. Her telling me how horrible I am to expect and want more after "all" the material things she's done for me-next to nothing. The sad think about it is that I've always cared about this non existent relationship but she not only doesn't care about me she doesn't even care to know her own grandson who is now 27. I find it hard to believe that people can be so cruel and unloving to their own children. As far as she is concerned I was just a bad seed. So how does one pick up the pieces of a shattered heart and put them together to go on facing the world as if we were ever meant to be or of any worth at all? Who was I anyway?What does one do about the pain?
As I understand your post, Blue Rose, the only narcissistic person you refer to is your mother who passed away. Are you saying that you are wondering what you could have done in the past to improve the family situation?...NOTHING, a child can do absolutely nothing. It was your father's duty to put a stop to your mother's narcissism and ensure the integrity of the family, but he probably would have ended up in jail for hitting her or for some trumped up charge because your mother didn't want him around any more (I'm serious).
Stopping narcissistic behavior in A LOVED ONE is almost impossible without causing bodily harm to them. Narcissistic people will not respond to mere threats from a loved one,...simply because the narcissist KNOWS that the loved one won't hit them, nevertheless, it was his responsibility to put a stop to it, NOT YOURS, but, as I said before, outside of violence, there's NOTHING that can be done about a narcissist. It would be a MIRACLE if one would agree to go to therapy or a counselor. Narcissists are the most dangerously wreckless people on earth to their relationships because nothing can be done about them short of drugging them or using violence.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family. Narcissistic people are narcissistic BECAUSE (and only when) they know they can get away with it (with certain people...FAMILY MEMBERS, employees, etc.). Forget about all the clinical and scientific research, narcissism is not an involuntary behavior.
Control freaks are, essentially, "spoiled brats" who never grew up and still want their way, but narcissists are people who have found someone to control and manipulate day after day, they are people who KNOW that you won't hit them because you are either a
1) loving person that won't hit them
2) are an employee and won't hit them.
either way, they are "narcissistic" because they know that the particular situation is "safe".
There's nothing a child can do (except if you threatened her with violence AND she took you seriously). I had to learn to realize that also.
Telling another adult is worse than useless. It would have been reported to a child protection agency and if anything was done, you would have ended up in foster care (which is almost always much worse for everyone, especially the child).