So many adult children of narcissistic mothers and/or fathers hold on to their suffering—not on purpose but unconsciously because that has been their reality all of their lives. From the time they could barely walk and talk they were psychologically bruised and bloodied by the narcissistic parent. Every day there was a new accusation, a criticism that cut through to the bone, a smirk that said: “You are worthless; I wish you had never been born.” “Why can’t you be like your brilliant older sister who gets all A’s.” “You have an uneven nose and thin lips. We’ll have to take you to a plastic surgeon later on so you don’t embarrass the family.”
“Sometimes you smell; it disgusts me.” And on and on—an endless road of insults that wound the heart and shake the nerves. Yet you have survived this gulag of abuse. That is a great accomplishment and you have done it with you humanity intact.
Know that you have a right to heal—-completely. You can disengage yourself from all of the cruel, malicious blows of your narcissistic parent. You don’t have to carry these burdens any longer. Begin by recognizing that although you share the DNA of your narcissistic parent, you are a separate individual. You are entitled to develop all of your talents and gifts fully. You are entitled to feel a deep inner peace and a love for yourself. You are entitled to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. You have a separate life that is precious. You are entitled to resurrect your humor, the sing when you feel happy, to embrace others, to be spontaneous, to live fully in this moment. Some children of narcissistic parents benefit from psychotherapy.Do the research and make sure that your therapist is highly trained, devoted to her/his clients and very empathic. Make sure you don’t sense a money motive and especially check it out to rule out a narcissistic psychotherapist. They are out there, victimizing vulnerable clients. There are many healing pathways. Find the ones that work for you–gentle yoga, meditation, support groups, creative endeavors that put you in touch with the unlimited use of your imagination. Some form of exercise is very valuable in keeping your body strong, your nerves quiet and your mind clear. Become aware of the precious moment: the tiny sound of the hummingbird over your head–greeting you, the wind wafting through your nostrils, the full smile of a happy baby, the warm hug of a friend, the moon at night darting in and out of the clouds. the lake of stars above like a diamond tiara—-endless moments of beauty. You can and will heal. To learn about the narcissistic personality, visit my website:thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life
13 thoughts on “Children of Narcissists Have a Right to Heal”
I am an ACON. I am 40 years old and it took me all those years to come to that realization.
I broke contact with my narcissist father long time ago, because I knew that he was toxic and I was better on my own. I was the scapegoat for everything. Now reading the articles I started to think that my mother might have been one too.
It brings tears reading all the descriptions and realizing that was what was happening to me. But it also makes me realize that I am not alone and there is still hope to be OK.
I am just now realizing at 49 years of age, that both my parents are narcissists. I’m so hurt to finally know that she really did single me out to be her scapegoat child, to take her 2 hour, non-stop talking phone calls, take her wrath if I should interrupt to say what’s on my mind, take her criticism on any subject, watch her enjoying herself criticizing me, embarrassing me, while I bit my tongue and tried not to start an argument. Now I feel so angry that I’ve let her do this all my life, giving her credit that she must not realize what she’s like, only to find out it’s been intentional because she is a narcissist. She has ruined my reputation, tells people I’m an evil liar, snorts her disgust at anything good I’ve got going on, it just goes on and on, never ending, and for the sake of family, I have taken it, let it eat me up, stress over it, live with constant critical thinking of myself, married a narcissist and took more from him because my psyche is such a mess I don’t know which way is up, but I refused to give up on this relationship, because she’s my mother. Had I known this was an actual disorder and there really are mothers out there who actually enjoy destroying their daughter’s whole life, instead of fighting for respect and for her to please be real and tell the truth, I would’ve left her alone decades ago. They take their lies to the grave, my mother and father have never made a wrong move in their life, everything has been someone else’s fault. With my mum, absolutely every argument has been my fault, and she’ll instantly twist things to make me the instigator. She will insult me and if I take offense to it she’ll blame me for starting it. This is a constant. After walking away for good this time, and realizing my mother is a textbook Narcissist Mother, and I’m a textbook Daughter of a Narcissist Mother, I believed the textbooks were wrong in one regard, that she would never contact me (because she knows it will always be me who picks up the phone) – but she did, just like the textbooks said – she’ll turn pathetic and blame again. I was so interested to see what she had to say when I saw I had a letter from her in the mail, still in the fantasy world that maybe she realizes what she’s been like and will try to fix things… But she just sent me a photocopy of a poem, that basically said I’d be blessed if I just had more patience with this old woman who’s eyesight is fading, and her hearing is fading….making herself the helpless victim yet again. What started our last fight was because a button was pushed on her remote control (yup) and it instantly led to her yelling again that I’m an evil liar and no one in my family wants anything to do with me, I can’t tell a story straight, I just lie and scream all the time, and then she brings God into it, saying that God will show me what a liar I am…..just, WOW…. all because I said I didn’t touch her remote. I’ve learned so much about narcissism lately and it’s sickening to realize the damage they’ve done to me in so many aspects of my life, and even more sickening to know they do it on purpose to protect their ever-so-fragile self. How could anyone be like that to their child??? Because they couldn’t possibly let the world see them for what they are, they have to twist events to make themselves look grander than grand, or a helpless victim. Ya, I should take better care of her. I shouldn’t need to discuss my problems, expect a little support, have someone to rely on, no, that’s too much to ask, I need to listen to her more because 2 hour phone calls are not enough, I should agree when she tells me that I make everything a fight, that I am the critical one, that I am ugly, stupid, make bad decisions, I’m uptight, too sensitive and an evil liar who can’t tell a story straight. Now that I know the game I’ve been wrapped up in my whole life, I can’t wait for months and years to roll by and I pray that each day brings me farther from every hurtful thing they have ever done. I want to look at my new husband and believe him when he tells me I’m awesome, that he loves me, that he doesn’t need or want anyone else. I’m so far away from believing any nice thing about myself it’s not even funny. But I want to, and I’m trying to, but first, I have to make sure I never get the life sucked out of me, by my own parents, ever again.
I have known for years that my mother was a narcissist. I have only discovered recently that she is a narcissistic sociopath and my father is her enabler. I was always close to my father, until recently, when i came to realize he allowed her to abuse me. He allowed her to push me out of the family for the sake of saving himself. I, also, am the scapegoat. I run a very successful business in our town, have 2 beautiful children and a successful husband. She has started treating my children the same and this is where I draw the line. She will not project her bad behavior and psycho crap onto my children. My brother, the golden child, can’t keep a job, drinks and smokes weeds daily, can’t find a girl who will keep him around and at the age of 30, has moved back home. He does no wrong. Still can’t for the life of me, figure out how I am so awful. I refuse to take her abuse anymore, and as for my father, he chose his path. I love him dearly but he never stood up for me, he never told her to stop, he never told her she was wrong because if he did, he would have to face her wrath!! I am 39 years old and the wounds are still fresh. Just as recent as 3 weeks ago, she flipped out on the sidewalk at my office, totally embarrassing me. I really need some pointers on how to stay away, how to let the pain go, how to let my Dad go and actually not feel guilty.
How do I stop them from ruining my life when all they’ve done is cut me off systematically from siblings and family friends, ruining me reputationally (professionally as a teacher) and personally, amongst everyone whom I know. My father used a bullying situation with a previous boss to alert the local parish priest to my situation as he was allegedly seeking his advice and expressing his concern, yet any job I applied for afterwards within the county, with this priest on the interview panel, I’ve not had a chance at any of the jobs as he gave me the lowest marks in the interview.
This after moving back to my home-place after 4/5 years in another permanent job which I had to resign from to move back to look after my Mam on a temporary basis until I secured a more long-term teaching job.
I’m only now beginning to see my life in shreds and reasons for same…my narcissistic and severely dysfunctional mother and enabling narcissistic father. My life and prospects for the future are ruined as I’m broke, ill, jobless, have no self confidence whatsoever and have no contact with anybody as I live in such daily fear and stress as each confrontation or vicious act to undermine, disparage, threaten me is destroying my energy levels and well-being.
Any time I’ve tried to break away free since my 20s, every time they have sabotaged it each and every time. I attended for a job interview at the other end of the country and did a really good interview. I never heard back from them positive or negative after a month. I ran up to enquire why I hadn’t even got an interview result, and learn from the Principal that they had written a job offer out to me indeed but had heard nothing back from me so presumed I wasn’t interested in the post. My father admitted he had intercepted the post man and took my post and didn’t pass it onto me. It was for my own good as why would anyone move all the way from the Southeast of the country to the west of the country to “stab city” for a job?? was the rationale given me.
I’m at the end of my tether now, and 41 with no life, friends, place to call home, funds, job, people in my life who genuinely care about me. Its a very scary place in which to be.
Any and all advice much appreciated.
Thanking you in advance.
First let me say thank you for sharing. I have experienced this type of relationship with my own parents, particularly my mother. I will not go into the details at all the horrific things that have been done to hurt me and sabotage me, but let me say that as soon as I moved away (3,000 miles, to the other side of the country), life started to improve.
You NEED TO GET AWAY. Move anywhere. Just go. Pack up the clothes, computer, and items you need, get in your car, and drive away. You can rent a room on Craigslist under “rooms” or “sublets” to live in while you are figuring out a longer term plan.
Next, after you are physically FAR away from your parents, you can have some breathing room to just decompress and start branching out in areas of your life that have been neglected. Sign up for some recreational classes for adults, something that you like to do, so that you’ll start regaining confidence, and you’ll start meeting other people who you see at these activities, who could eventually become friends. I personally joined Ballet for Adults, and went for 2x a week for going on 5 years now, so I’ve known all those people for 5 years. Many are now like a surrogate family. One person there eventually helped me through a major surgery, bringing me to her house and taking care of me after. Several others are social contacts on a regular basis and now close, close friends.
You need to have the space to start figuring out what you like to do, who you are, what you like, and to know that you are WORTHWHILE. You CANNOT, and I repeat CANNOT successfully do this by living with or near (or having constant contact with, such as by phone or email), abusive, narcissistic parents (or any other narcissist). Once you are away, and you’ve secured a room for rent to live in, you can start figuring out what you’d like to do for your career. You can start to apply for more teaching jobs, or start to take additional education in your profession, or maybe even think about a different career path if you want to.
The main concern I have for you is to GET AWAY as soon as possible. Don’t wait until you plan something and have a job set up. If at all possible, take any money you have saved, pack your stuff, and LEAVE. Find a friend to live with, find a roommate on Craigslist, do SOMETHING. Put as much distance as you can between you and your family. You need to start over new. It will be painful and lonely at first, but I think you’ll find that once you have distance, you’ll start to open up more, be more confident, and you’ll start to make more friends, and establish yourself in your new community. You just need to give yourself a chance.
If you are afraid (and it can be scary to leave, to go into the unknown!), just know that ANYTHING you might experience by leaving and going into new territory has GOT to be better than staying with what you know, in the abusive situation and with abusive parents in that community. Look at it this way – if you leave and go somewhere else and try to establish yourself and build a new life, the WORSE that can happen is you give up and go back to your home town, back to your familiar situation. The best that can happen is you build a good sense of self, you make friends, you build yourself into your new community, and you start to thrive and become truly happy.
Trust me, you can do it! I have been in the worst hell of situations with negative, abusive, narcissistic mother, and it made me suicidal, abusing alcohol, unstable, wanting to cut myself, feeling worthless, chaotic, unhappy, and ready to give up. I was crying all the time, drinking, quitting jobs or having my efforts sabotaged. I couldn’t see a way out if it hit me over the head, and I never thought I’d be happy, let alone just neutral and stable.
In desperation, I moved. I grabbed two suitcases, my laptop, my tennis racket, some clothes (professional looking ones, but I couldn’t bring it all), and threw them all in the suitcases. I used my remaining money to buy a plane ticket OUT OF THERE. I arrived at the other side with no where to stay, no job, nothing, so I stayed with a friend for a couple weeks. I applied for jobs, looked for roommates, etc etc. It took a bit of time to adjust to being away, but I’m now very happy. I have true friends, activities I love (like the ballet, which I never would have tried had I not left), I went to graduate school and got my master’s degree, I’ve had some good relationships, and while there are still scars from my family (I hate to go back and visit even now, because I don’t want to get dragged back into those old feelings of unworthiness), I’m mostly thriving. YOU CAN TOO!
…what ever you do, don’t give up. Realize that even though it may not feel like it, there ARE people out there who will care about you and want to help or be your friend, who will appreciate you and care about you. Don’t let your family ruin the rest of your life. Your only duty now is to protect yourself, free yourself, and launch yourself towards a new life with everything in your power to do so. LEAVE THE ABUSIVE PEOPLE BEHIND. THEY ARE NOT WORTH IT.
I am nearly 40 years old, and in the past few days, I’ve accepted the truth that I am an Adult Child of a Narcissistic Mother. At 20 years old, I took myself to therapy because of a variety of vague feelings of dread, OC tendencies, etc. After shopping around for a good fit (it did take some time to find the right one), I began a wonderfully therapeutic relationship with a counselor who had himself been an anxiety patient years before. He really cared about his patients and we made a lot of progress, but the one thing I could never seem to do was take his advice and set firm boundaries with my mother. I mean, she would demand to know what I talked about in therapy, for crying out loud! I’m sure that shocks no one here. … As expected, I did try some boundaries but with disastrous results. Fast forward some years later and I am married and have moved far enough away to not have daily contact. Still, she has managed to suck me back in and it occurred to me recently: No one in her life is allowed to have a private conversation among themselves if she is aware of it. I could be talking to my step-dad about the most boring, tedious topic and as soon as she enters the room she DEMANDS to know what we are talking about. She also makes herself the source of ‘knowledge’ on everyone else, and of course, makes sure you hear her version of stories before anyone else’s. Funny thing is, I was the Golden Child and completely gullible, believing everything she said, EVEN after catching her in lie after lie – about others, that is. So, it just finally dawned on me recently: If she lies about others to me, who is she lying to about me? I mean, I consider myself keenly shrewd about the motivations and character of others, but with her I’ve been sadly oblivious, until now.
Thing is, I now want No Contact, and not so much because of the years of physical and mental abuse (although it still hurts that she could never sincerely apologize for ANY of it), but because of the current lying about others. She’s gotten a little too comfortable around me these days, bragging about making up a lie that manipulated someone into revealing personal info, etc. And I realized, you know what? She hasn’t changed a day. And of course if I try to change any subject she’s talking about, she rages. It’s odd what us ACoNs get used to.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you’ve all heard it — or lived it — before, so I’ll just close by saying, best of luck and blessings to all of us ACoNs. May we have the peace, self-worth, self-esteem, truly healthy relationships, and love we were deprived of previously. And may we see the truth about our ACoNs. It’s never too late. Take it from me.
P.S. My Scapegoat brother dropped off the radar a long time ago and I don’t blame him one bit for not talking to me anymore. After he fled the scene, I betrayed him at her bidding, of course, and he was right to cut me out. I hope he has peace and goodness, wherever he is. She insists he is a horrible, crazy person who will regret everything he has done to her when she is dead. And yes, she cut him out of her will. Crazy.
I really need help. I am literally forced to live with my mother right now because I am having trouble finding employment but she is screwing with my head badly right now. Today she sabotaged the fourth job interview in a row by screaming at me and throwing me out of the car on the way there because I asked to stop at Kinkos on the way there. (Apparently, I was being manipulative.) My fiance is really fed up that I keep ending up an emotional wreck because of her and he says its insane that I keep letting her do that when I know she is sadistic but its not that simple for me for some reason. He says I should just kiss up to her all the time because I have no house or car until I can become independent but I did that for so long as a kid when I had no idea about NPD, the thought sickens me. I want to give her the cold shoulder or blow up in her face but I know she will eventually make me PAY for that. What do I do? It is literally threatening my life, sanity and sobriety. How do I deal with her?
I just found out my dad is a narcissist,,,
It never even crossed my mind,,,cause I’m a realistic person and I know I done my mistakes too,,,but thinking about it ,,,thinking ,,there must be something wrong with my dad,,his way of thinking,,,my mum holds secrets from the past,,she will not talk,,I ended up thinking there was something wrong in my mind,,,and I’ve now come to learn ,,it wasn’t me ,,,it seemed to me I always made the wrong choices,,from a young age, to me this is how it started,,,when I was 7 ,I had recently come from England ,,I had had several hip operations due to having been born with deformity of the hip,,,as I walked through the corridor at home,,,my dad suddenly jumped from behind a door and smacked me ,,for not walking right,,he said the doctor had said that I must not walk with a pointy foot,,and that he done it for my own good ,and that ,,you have to be cruel to be kind ,,,this affected me ,,as he always made my heart jump,,,when I was in my teens ,,I started listening to hard rock music,,,I had a limp of 5cm one leg shorted that the other,,this made me so insecure,,I was a very she person,,I was very self contious,and hated people staring at me ,,cause of the way I walked,,,I made a group of friends who had a music band,,so I was always in their rehearsal rooms,,I loved singing,,,I bought my guitar,,and started wearing ,,like rock clothing,,,this made me feel confident,,,as if I was going to be stared ,,for once it wasn’t going to be for my limp lol,,,but true,,,my dad was very protective ,,,and did not like me to hang around with the band ,,,no friends of mine was good enough for him,,,he wanted to choose my friends,,but it did not work,,,if I came 5 minitues late ,,he ended up saying 5minitues late 5 slaps on your face,,when I came home ,,he waited for me in the living room in the dark ,,smoking a ciggarette…I used to be terrified,,,I used to buy the material myself and sew my clothes,,,one night I came home and all my clothes were in the bin,,,only cause a neibour made an unfortunate comment,,,it was something like ,,,all the girls that wear short skirts look like bla bla bla,,,,and I got the blame for that comment,,,my heart sunk,,,as to me ,,this was a way of learning to live happy in a different way ,,I was young and this made me confident ,,what was I going to wear now ,,but I needed to be thankful ,,my dad was well off,,,and bought me new clothes the ones they wanted me to wear,,my god ,,many times I felt embarrassed as I had to go to friends houses and change their for the night and then change back before going home ,,.i must have been like 17 but was treated like a 12 year old ,,or mostly I felt as if I was treated as if there was something wrong with me ,,I ended up believing that maybe my parents thought cause I was born with a hip deformerty that I had a mental issue too ,,I don’t know,,but I sure saw back then the relationships my friends had with their family members and mine was so different,,,I could not talk or express myself in my family,,,I continued to go out with all this going on ,,,right now I need to drop writing ,,as even this I feel as if I’m criticizing my own family,,I feel guilty,,,,for me understanding what my dad is ,,I understand better my life mistakes,,,not that it’s all his fault ,,,but at least I have an explanation to the way I’ve felt as I was growing up,,,to be continued.
I come from a family of 7, 4 brothers and 2 sisters. It took my sister and I and one of my brothers moving to another country to get away from our narcissistic mother. Growing up, we thought our mothers behavior was normal. It wasn’t until a year ago, fours years after I moved that I starting looking up personality disorders and realize what had happened to us growing up, and why we all turned out the way we did. My younger sister and I never were close growing up, we’d both interchange between being the golden child and the scapegoat over the years, looking back. Despite being in different countries we independently, simultaneously came to the conclusion our mother has a NPD after doing personal research We have talked a lot since, and have grown closer now, than we have ever been before. I’ve let a lot of my past go, thanks to living halfway around the world from my mother, and having mimimal to no contact. My two sisters are both on therapy, and being able to talk about thing with each other, we’ve come a long way. It is still hard, coming to terms with things, but there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel.
My own childhood was emotionally abusive, but my parents are dead. My mother-in-law is still a horrible NPD b***h at 89. My husband can’t admit that she’s as bad as she is. Even though she expects him to supply all her emotional needs and will typically call 10 to 15 times daily to dump on him (while we each have serious health issues ourselves) and behaves just as described, he won’t go to therapy.
He hates her behavior and manipulation but when he gets so mad he curses or when her horrible behavior is remarked by someone else, he has to chant “I love my mother I love my mother.” It sounds awful but in truth we both wish she wasn’t around anymore. Her brother-in-law just died & we hope her sister moves back here! They can bemoan how horrible their children are to each other 24/7 and give themselves complete agreement and sympathy.
In the meantime I’m trying to find a therapist. My mother was the middle of three girls, I have an older sister and younger brother. There were so many things they never witnessed, and I was cast as overly sensitive etc. At Thanksgiving I mentioned that during one running fight through the house, my brother swept all my doll china off the dresser, smashing it to pieces about 12 feet from where mom was “napping.” She’d refused to dispense justice because she did not see the event. She of course heard it but said without an eyewitness I had no case. I was enraged by the injustice but she said too bad and I shouldn’t get so upset. So when my sister heard this last week, she said that there must have been more to the story while my brother laughed. The framework for any complaint against or criticism of mom is still holding up.
I’m really pissed off and next time I see them I’m going to throw an emotional hand grenade of a true incident which can in no manner be excused. The remarks my brother made caused me to believe he believes incidents at a much earlier age than this. And he has a daughter and son. Let’s get this one out in the open. Let him defend his action, let them both defend mom’s shameful refusal to so anything about it. Sounds petty but I’ve had a gutful of pretense.
dont feel too bad, i am 50 years old and finally moving far away ! what you need is someone who believes you, then you start to feel better that finally someone knows your parents are not what they seem to be but, are abusers to the one child chosen, you. Once the secret is out, theres a certain sense of release and relief.
I hope you’re doing much better! I find myself in the same boat.
Thank you for your post.
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