Divorcing Your Narcissistic Family

Some families are so narcissistically toxic, being a part of this highly disturbed family tableau is intolerable. You have been a psychological punching bag most of your life. When one or both parents are narcissists together with one or two golden children, you are crowded out by egos so inflated that there is no room for you. As a young child you are at the mercy of these people from hell. What are you going to do? Walk out of the house at the age of five after you have been screamed out and pushed around most of your young life? You can’t. You have to stay because you are too young and vulnerable. Young children who grow up under these dire conditions are always in a state of siege. Some of them learn to become invisible among their own family members. The hide in their rooms and when they are older spend many hours in the homes of their friends.  Narcissistic mothers love to choose favorites–a son who is handsome, dynamic, talented, bright, cocksure of himself. He moves through the house, treating you like a slave. The scapegoated child is subject to varieties of cruelties by their parents and siblings. In some cases two siblings will get close so that they can make protect one another from constant verbal onslaughts, intimidations, jaw dropping humiliations that sear through the heart of a child.

As the abused child in a narcissistic family grows up it can be difficult to feel entitled to lead your own life, to stop blaming yourself for not fulfilling your parents’ delusional demands, for being imperfect. Even if you had been perfect—this is never enough for the narcissistic personality. If you don’t fit into their image that mirrors them and whom they have chosen, you can’t win. So stop trying. Seek your psychological and emotional freedom from your highly dysfunctional, abusive family.

Adult children who take this step are very courageous and deserve our respect. This is not easy but it is essential to separating out of your highly disturbed family of origin. Some find that excellent psychotherapy will help them. As you stop contact with your family from hell and grow away from them and recognize and appreciate your uniqueness and your creative gifts, you will begin to sense a stillness inside of yourself. You will learn to appreciate your uniqueness and discover there are others whom you meet that enjoy your company and your authenticity. This individuality of yours is delightful. You discover your humor, your joy, your capacity for loving others and receiving this in kind. Enjoy your freedom, your lovely heart, your great creative gifts, your growing evolving self.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Narcissistic Mother Chooses Narcissistic Princess over Other Daughter

Narcissistic mothers are unjust, unfair and downright brutal. When this non mother has seized on the child who is the answer to all of her deepest needs and wishes, she has no interest, let alone a disgust for her other children. One common scenario is the older daughter turned “Princess” versus the young daughter.  From babyhood NM chooses the older daughter as her favorite. The sun rises and sets on this child. She is never corrected for her impulsive mean behaviors. When the younger daughter comes along and the budding narcissist pinches her baby sister, the NM pays no attention at all or she waves it all off as if it never happened. In fact NM may find it amusing to hear her baby cry or watch her wince. In this case “mother” is highly sadistic and dangerous to her little one. There are many occasions when the older blooming narcissistic daughter terrorizes the little child without any witnesses. She pretends like she is playing a funny game and rushes out of the shadows and scares and startles the baby who reacts with crying. Mother is annoyed: “What’s the matter with this kid ? All she does is whimper and cry.” “Why can’t she be like her older sister, calm and composed?” This situation is horrific for the victimized baby, young child and growing sibling who is subject to this malicious abuse. Dad never finds out about these horrors because he is purposely left in the dark. In some cases he is out to lunch and doesn’t want to be involved in any meaningful way with his family.

After growing up under these abusive conditions, victims of narcissistic sisters suffer greatly. Some of them feel that they are obligated to maintain relationships with the ones who tortured them. Well, I am telling you, you don’t. The family may not understand or believe you. But if this previous abuse by your NM and NS is continuing to interrupt the positive trajectory of your life, sever the relationship. The NM and NS are not going to change. They will continue to deride you, disdain you and psychologically injure you.

What is best for you is self  care and beginning the process of psychological and emotional healing. This begins by knowing that you are entitled to lead your own life, to feel deep inner peace, to feel safe and secure inside, to use your creative gifts, to learn to trust only those who are worthy of it. You can and will heal.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

No One Believes You—Psychological Damage Caused by Narcissistic Parent

There is a theme that runs through responses that I receive from children of a narcissistic parent(s). The child is subjected to unbearable levels of ongoing abuse–scalding criticisms, withering humiliations in front of other family members and alone, routine secret physical beatings and other horrendous acts of brutality including psychological and literal abandonment. When the child lets family members know what is happening to him, this person is not believed. When the victim of a narcissist tells the truth about his dreadful pathological parent, he is not treated with kindness or understanding. The family is shocked; the victim is treated with disdain and often told he/she is the sick one or that this is all lies to get attention. The narcissistic mother or father gets a complete pass. A masterful coverup takes place and remains ongoing. The child victims become family pariahs. Often the suggestion is whispered that they belong in a psychiatric institution or are in need of intensive psychotherapy.

In some cases the narcissistic abuse has been so severe that the victim needs to work with an excellent psychotherapist to deal with the painful aftermath of surviving a narcissistic parent. The child of the narcissist is doubly abused—Once throughout childhood and another round when he or she tells the truth about the narcissistic parent. After all the entire family must keep the secret intact especially if the narcissist is highly successful, has a high profile, is generous monetarily with certain family members or cravenly sets one child against the other. Does the narcissistic parent feel any guilt about what he has done to his children. Certainly not! He does not have a conscience. If the marriage and the kids don’t work out, he/she moves on to the next opportunity. What about a younger prettier wife with whom he can make more perfect children? Whom does he think he is? a god? The answer is Yes! These individuals are despicable especially when they disrupt and in some cases destroy their children’s’ lives.

Many children of narcissistic parents do survive although they have suffered horribly. They are courageous individuals who never give up even when they feel like they can’t go one more step. They learn the lessons of survival well. Many of them become hypervigalent and suffer from anxiety and depression. Many benefit from highly skilled empathic psychotherapy and other healing modalities: gentle yoga, a form of meditation that works for you, journaling, exercise that you enjoy and spending time with Nature.

I want you to know that I Believe You. I know what you have endured. You are courageous. You deserve to lead the life that was given to you originally. Keep healing. You are taking the path less traveled–the one with fewer travelers, the way that has deep meaning. Here you will find the peace that you have sought all of your life.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Narcissistic Family Members Distort Your Identity

Growing up with a narcissistic parent you are constantly living with a person who creates his/her pathological reality. This individual is delusional and incapable of having a true relationship with himself or anyone else. A small child growing up with this person he or she calls a parent has a hard road ahead in finally seeing through mother, father, sister or brother’s true nature as a narcissistic personality. There are exceptions I have found where the young child knows very early that something is very wrong with the members of his family. He is on the outs—picked as  a scapegoat or dismissed as not fitting in because he is odd, eccentric or just not good enough. In the world of pathological narcissism delusion begets delusion. Narcissistic family members side with one another against the child who sees reality as it is. In many cases the young child is at the mercy of how his grandiose, unempathic,cruel, manipulative parents and siblings distort his identity. They insist that their view of the world and of reality is the only living definition of reality. Everything outside of the narcissistic zone is peculiar, foreign, eccentric and sick.

Many narcissistic parents or mothers or fathers mold their children into perfect mirrors of themselves. Achieving this will give them bragging rights and better still they will possess living representations of themselves. What could be better for them then to have a living puppet who dances and sings to their tune. Some children in narcissistic families worship their brothers and sisters. They want to be just like them. Unfortunately if your brother or sister is a narcissist, you have not received kindness in return for your love for them. They have turned on you, used you to do their bidding and spat upon your sense of self.

Narcissistic family members always find ways to distort and even destroy your true sense of identity. They do not respect your individuality, your creative gifts, your special brand of intellectual curiosity, your sense of humor. They trample on your tender feelings and humiliate you. They laugh at your displays of emotion, stomping on your feelings of tenderness, your fears, the deepest parts of your loving heart. They make fun of what is most precious to you. You feel like they are trying to destroy you and doing a hell of a job. Their purpose is to distort and even destroy your identity unless you become like them or act as their servants and sycophants.

There are many individuals who grew up in narcissistic families who lived in the desert of delusion for decades before they awakened and recognized that they were “raised” by individuals who didn’t give a damn about their childrens’ individuality and true identities. Finally, many of them begin to stir, open their eyes and realize that this was stolen from them when they were young and was perpetuated by intimidation and severe narcissistic psychopathology within the family.

Those who recognize that they had been forced to disbelieve and reject their inner true selves, make the opposite turn and begin to appreciate how genuine they are. For some it has taken years to see themselves and to love that part of them that is so essential and beautifully genuine and delightful. They are on the road to healing; they are unstoppable. In many cases they reject their families of origin and sever themselves from the pathological narcissistic family gulag.

They live in freedom. They are no longer forced to see through a glass darkly. There is no barrier to perceiving their inner and outer realities. They have a renewed vitality, the flourishing of their creative gifts, the joy of rediscovering their open hearts that are capable of loving deeply and they find an inner peace inside that has been waiting for them to embrace since birth.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Reclaiming Your Identity from Your Narcissistic Mother

Narcissistic mothers steal the true identities of their children. Completely self absorbed, selfish, cold, cruel and dismissive of their child, the narcissistic mother demands that everything in your life revolves around her. You only exist in her mind as an object that she can use to pump up her ego or a receptacle of her out of control rage or both. She is incapable of nurturing or cherishing her child. She cannot soothe them when they feel hurt or afraid. Some narcissistic mothers are always angry. I hear many of these stories from children of narcissistic mothers, saying that all they can remember was her out of control rage at them.The minute she walked in the door her kids went into hiding. She screamed through the house, demanding that they do her bidding–cleaning, waiting on her, cooking–doing every chore under the sun. Even little children at three years of age were expected to be her servants. The older ones raised the younger kids while mother lounged with her friends or went out shopping for long periods of time or they were even left over night to fend for themselves while she was out on dates with her boyfriends. In other cases, a series of men came in and out of the house to party with mother. There were numerous drunken scenes that her children were exposed to that caused them great fear and trepidation.

Narcissistic mothers never apologize for the psychological and emotional harm that they inflict on their children. Instead they blame them—even for being born. “I wish I never had you.” “You cause me nothing but trouble.” “You are to blame for all of my problems.” “I should have given you away.”

As an adult child of a narcissistic mother you have suffered from this psychological burden you have carried. But that does not have to be your identity. You can begin to heal by never blaming yourself for what your mother did to you or for her withholding love (that she never had inside of her).

Acknowledge that you are innocent and that you have survived this difficult family history. Give yourself a lot of credit for this huge accomplishment. Children of narcissistic mothers need to learn Self Care. By this I mean taking time each day to do some activities and practices that will calm your nervous system and give you a feeling of peace inside. These include some form of mindfulness. This can be meditation in a way that works for you. Listening to guided meditation through cds or other methods focuses your attention on the parasympathetic nervous system where you experience peace and calmness. Meditation can be very short. Try to be consistent so that it becomes a habit. Make it pleasant for yourself. Some people like to sit outside and listen to the birds, the wind, the changes in temperatures, natural sounds. Let your mind go free; don’t make judgments. Another healing activity is gentle hatha yoga where the emphasis is on breathing through the nose. You focus on easy poses and use the breath to stay in the moment. Some people find classes helpful; others use a cd or other method and practice on their own. Be open to finding individuals who can support your original identity, the real you. Use your intuition to find those whom you can trust.

Pay attention to the basics: eat healthy unprocessed food, get healing sleep, rest when you need to and exercise in a form that works for you.

Your original self is always there beside you and has been waiting since your birth to be acknowledged. Pay attention to the source of wisdom–the voice of your intuition. It is always speaking softly to you with kindness and truth.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Narcissists Love to Make You Feel Worthless

Narcissists are cunning, tricky and conniving. They must always be in control. When they are “on” and contact you, they always want something from you. They don’t give a damn about how you are feeling or your life struggles. They have decided they want something from you–your time, connections, money, influence—any advance they can and will take. In these circumstances they are playing their game to the max. Their tone and manner couldn’t be more charming. They compliment you in just the right manner that will pull on you emotionally. This is especially the case with an ex boyfriend/girlfriend, ex spouse. You ask yourself: “Why is this person coming back into my life now?” Your answer could be–because he has reconsidered his love for me. Watch out before you become engulfed by this play to your heart.

Narcissistic mothers and fathers and narcissistic siblings suddenly appear out of nowhere and make promises about coming back into your life. They are so clever with their words and their tone. “It’s been too long. Let’s spend some quality time together.” Those are the magic words to an adult child of a narcissistic parent that can bring them back into the psychological ambush and painful entanglement with this NPD. Remember, these personality disorders do not change. They believe they are perfect. Remember that they are predatory–always surveying their environments for narcissistic supplies. They calculate your kindness and come up with the answer: Bingo–They can play you once again, get what they want and then disappear, leaving you feeling abandoned, emotionally battered and confused. Don’t go down this road again. It is a painful acknowledgement to recognize clearly that your parent is narcissistic.

You are a unique individual, worthy of leading the life that you deserve. You are the author of your life story once you have severed the relationship with the narcissist. No one can own you, intimidate you, possess you. You are free to use all of your many gifts, to establish close relationships with others capable of compassion and kindness. Develop a strong pattern of self care–doing those activities that you love and that will make you strong on every level. Enjoy all of your many creative gifts, Learn how to laugh again. Trust you intuition. Seek the beauty and healing of Nature. You will find respite there. Rediscover your original previous self.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers are Highly Empathic

After all of the insults, betrayals, brutality–mental, physical, psychological, exploitations, duplicity, uncontrolled bouts of rage or other abominations, I have found that most daughters of narcissistic mothers are highly empathic. They are capable of feeling and understanding deeply what another person is experiencing. Despite all of their ongoing, unending pain and maternal deprivation in childhood and beyond these daughters care deeply about others and have great insights into the painful experiences of those close to them and many whom they know and don’t know.

I have the deepest respect and feelings of closeness to these forgotten daughters. I think of their life stories, their courage each day, facing a malicious, cold and psychologically dangerous mother whom they never deserved. Some still blame themselves for not being adequate daughters…..Please stop putting the blame on your shoulders. You are a beacon, a bright light to all of those daughters who still struggle to survive and break free of the emotional bonds of the dark cruelties of the narcissistic mother. You didn’t ask to have this mother. It was part of your destiny. You survived and became an extraordinary human being. That is an enormous accomplishment. You give to others out of the depth of your heart. That is one of the reasons why we are here on earth.

Learn to give back to yourself. Take small steps. You will get in touch with the lovely child inside of you. She is waiting to be held and cherished by you. There are many pathways to healing. Discover what works for you. Gentle yoga with emphasis on breathing through the nose, activates the parasympathetic nervous system—All healing begins here in the calmness of the depths of this part of our body/mind. Listen to music that you love and helps you to feel calm. Deeply enjoy the presence of friends whom you trust.  If you like to write, do so spontaneously with joy and abandon. Sketching and writing is a wonderful way of experiencing what is happening in the moment. Some find peace in the garden where they see tiny insects going about their work, buds that have opened and promise to blossom, the scent of the rich soil that speaks of our deep connection with the earth–the eternal mother. Some find great  pleasure in cooking–engaging the senses in a special way. The colors of food are glorious. Preparing food is a form of meditation and creation for those who love it. Spending some time each day in quieting the mind in the way that works for you that is as pleasant as you can make it, is healing to the heart. It loosens fear long held, entrenched self doubts, terrors of long ago, sadness that haunts the body/mind. The power of meditation in the form that works for you cannot be underestimated but make sure that you are doing what is best for you. Here, there is no judgment—only the angels of encouragement and inner peace.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Narcissistic Mothers–Avarice and Huge Egos

There is a type of narcissistic mother who organizes her life around her ambitions not her children’s psychological and emotional needs. 

There are large numbers of mothers who must go to work to provide for their children. Some of them are divorced and the sole responsible parent.  They both work and take full parental responsibility.  These women put their children first even though they must work very hard to provide for them.They love their children and this is reflected in their kids’ deep love for them.

Many women are highly ambitious professionally. They possess the tools to high level success: drive, use of their fine intellects, formal education, talents, ambitions, fearlessness and confidence in themselves. They choose not to have children because their primary life trajectory is succeeding on the highest levels in business, academic, medicine, government, the corporate world.

Narcissistic mothers whether they have professional careers, work outside the home or stay at home, give birth to their children but don’t raise them. It is difficult for some people to understand why these women have children unless you understand the narcissistic mindset. The narcissistic focus is on the external—creating and maintaining the Perfect Image. Having a couple of children is part of their Image Portfolio.These women can be on the high end career track or those who have chosen not to work formally. They spend their days focusing on themselves: enhancing their physical appearance, constant social activities, etc. Their schedules are full and include very little time with their children.

Some narcissistic mothers are filled with avarice (“excessive or insatiable desire for wealth or gain”) ; they are obsessed with getting more. There is no end to their insatiable wants and musts. The narcissistic ego is boundless. She is perfect; others have enormous flaws. She is always right even when she makes huge mistakes that cause intractable pain and psychological damage to her children.

Children of narcissistic mothers suffer horribly under the cruel yoke of this self obsessed, unempathic parent. The pain often lingers after they have become adults. So many adult children feel guilty and take the blame for their mother’s countless cruelties, deprivations, torments, bullying, shaming, exploitation. Many of these adult children discover the pathways toward healing their psyches and minds. I have discovered through a number of years of contact with these children that they are often among the most understanding and compassionate individuals I encounter. They have survived with grace and a loveliness of spirit that heal them and others who cross their path.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Narcissists Accuse You of Being Crazy–Not True

Narcissistic mothers, spouses and siblings accuse their victims of being “crazy”. That can mean anything–that you express your feelings, think independently, call the narcissists out on his mistakes, that you are creating a life of your own, that you have talent and tremendous creativity.  Wherever you don’t fit into the mold that the narcissist has created for you, there will be a target of his/her volcanic rage. Narcissists are so intimidating to most family members that we tend to believe what they are saying to us—even though it is a lie, figment of a deluded person. You are not fitting into the narcissist’s image of how he has molded you.  There’s the rub. Being yourself is not part of his repertoire. Since all reality revolves around him/her, you cannot step out of this very confined psychological space or the doors of Hell will open right before your eyes.

Narcissistic siblings are often sadistic with the chosen victim brother or sister. Having mother or father in your back pocket is a big plus if you want to put your sibling in constant turmoil. He or she gets the blame always for things that the budding narcissist, the golden child has done. The victimized child is not crazy. He lives in terror from one moment to the next.

Narcissistic spouses dispense with their perfect images when they enter the confines of their private spaces and all Hell breaks lose with their screaming demands, their false accusations, their threats to expose you for something you never did. This is crazy making but you are not crazy. The narcissistic spouse is creating chaos inside of you that is intolerable. You don’t think you can live through one more moment. Some husbands and wives on the receiving end are so afraid that they go along with the narcissist and even blame themselves and agree with his delusional accusations.

You are not crazy; you are being severely abused and treated with disrespect, dismissiveness and a complete lack of empathy or compassion. In these instances the narcissist is inhumane. Stop blaming yourself if that has become your pattern of survival–identifying with the aggressor.  Seek excellent professional help and make sure you do all of the research on finding a therapist who is worthy of your trust. Reach out to friends whom you can count on. You only need one. Know deep down that you will prevail over living in a narcissistic family or being married to a narcissistic spouse or having a narcissistic sibling. There are so many alternatives waiting for you. Start to recognize the beauty inside of you–the original self that you always were. There are many pathways to freedom. Trust your intuition to find the one that is suited for you. Listen carefully and let yourself be guided. Meditation in a form that works for you deepens intuition and the guides that lead us to freedom and rediscovering our real selves. You will find individuals whom you can trust along the way. They will help you. Be receptive to the gifts of knowing that don’t come from the intellect. You are learning that you can be calm, that the body, mind and soul are always in the process of healing.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

Psychologically Controlling and Invasive Narcissistic Mothers

There is a specific kind of narcissistic mother who appears to be devoted to her daughter. She pays attention to her when others are watching. She makes sure that her daughter is dressed beautifully and has a perfect room. The narcissistic mother puts her daughter on display for everyone to see. She talks endlessly about how special her little darling is to her friends and relatives. There are many photographs of mother and daughter displayed.  Anyone who didn’t know the secrets of this mother/daughter relationship would never guess what is going on.  These narcissistic mothers use their daughters to burnish their own images of themselves. Playing the role of loving mother means that they can be professionally successful and an extraordinary mother at the same time. From the beginning mother decides what her daughter wants and needs. She is incapable of attuning to the nonverbal and verbal messages that her daughter is communicating.This daughter is like her perfect experiment. She is in complete charge despite the many signs that indicate that this little one is in distress, feels uncomfortable, frightened, etc.

These narcissistic mothers are highly controlling and invasive. As the daughter grows, mother doesn’t allow her to have any privacy. She is always intruding on her child’s private times to be alone, think her own thoughts and express her feelings. This is not allowed, especially since narcissistic mothers don’t have access to their own interior world. They are incapable of empathy–the capacity of understanding how the other person is feeling from her point of view not yours. The mother decides how her daughter should react and is highly critical when she doesn’t behave or respond  according to mother’s expectations.

Narcissistic mothers are invasive to the point of reading their child’s dairies and journals, listening in on their private conversations and trying to control their thinking. If the daughter of the narcissist tends is an an independent, creative thinker, she is ridiculed and sharply criticized. She is often called stupid and naive when she makes attempts to share her original ideas.  Mother mocks her, even laughs at her child.

The core issue is that daughters of narcissistic mothers are not allowed to be their authentic selves. These mothers are often envious of their daughters who in many cases are more intellectually curious, creative and  lively than their tightly wound mothers.

As the daughter grows, the narcissistic mother does not change. Some daughters live in the home only as long as they must and then find ways to leave this psychological  prison created by their narcissistic non-mothers. Other daughters wear themselves out trying to please their narcissistic mothers, wanting the love that this mother is incapable of giving.

Those who recognize that their mothers are narcissists and cannot change, often make the leap forward to separate from the cruel unbending yoke to which they have been attached for so long. They step out on their own, find ways to support themselves and finish their schooling. If they are fortunate, they find female mentors who act as surrogate mothers to them. This is part of their healing process. Having separated psychologically and physically from the controlling and invasive narcissistic mother is an enormous achievement. This is a process of many steps forward and at times, movements backwards but the goal seen ahead is one of ever-deepening belief in one’s original self, an independence of mind, the full use of one’s creative gifts and the knowing that you are a loving human being,: unique and wonderful.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.