All of your life you have been told what to do by overbearing narcissistic family members. You find yourself in your thirties, forties and beyond still trying to please mother, father, sister, brother—the family narcissists. You have tried everything to please them, to make them proud of you, to always try your very best. It was and is never enough—-And It Never Will Be because you are dealing with individuals who have a severe personality disorder that is not going to change. You will always be blamed for their mistakes, their cruelties, their misfortunes. You will be subjected to an endless stream of humiliations, accusations, verbal attacks and outright lies about your character. They will and have talked about you behind your back. One of the worst labels that narcissistic family members use is that you are “crazy.” That gives everyone they speak with a jolt. “They are a wonderful family, except for that ‘crazy daughter’ of theirs. I feel so sorry for them. It is such an embarrassment.” I have communicated with many daughters and sons enmeshed in narcissistic families who have described this experience exactly as I am writing it. In effect the narcissistic family is projecting their psychopathology on to a scapegoated child. This is often a child who is highly sensitive, intelligent and emotionally vulnerable. He or she has had to wear this dreadful label. Some children grow up and believe that they must be crazy since that is how they have been treated. The pain they endure is intolerable.
Fortunately, in many instances the scapegoated child, now grown, accesses the truth about herself/himself and recognizes that it is the family that is highly disturbed not her/him. Some of these children spend a great deal of time trying to understand what happened to them, do research about the psychopathology in narcissistic families and get professional help. Within the security and healing environment of good psychotherapy they get in touch with their true selves. They recognize and appreciate who they are and have been all of their lives–an individual of value and uniqueness with many creative gifts and a new cycle of life that is awaiting them. 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
One thought on “Leaving Your Narcissistic Family–Appreciating Who You Are”
I could respond to almost every one of your articles. It’s as if you know my life and most of my family members. I felt the need to respond to this one as I now see how my mother set me up back when I was a child, and young adult. She set me up to be considered crazy.
When I was about ten years old, I told my mother that I was being picked on at school. I’d been picked on at school before but I’d never told anyone about it. The next thing I know my mother has me going to a psychologist to talk about it. I remember the man asking me why I thought these kids were picking on me, and I’d answered that I didn’t know why they were picking on me, they just were. My mother took me to talk with this man for quite a few times, even though I barely said much of anything to him. I vividly remember thinking how strange and useless it was to be talking with this man when it wasn’t helping me whatsoever in dealing with these kids. He didnt even give me any suggestions for dealing with them.
Later when I was an older teenager, I started dating someone unacceptable by NM standards, and had also gotten to the point where I just did NOT CARE what she thought anymore. So one day she comes to my room and says that my dad and her think I’m doing drugs. I told her that I wasn’t doing drugs, and she told me that she didn’t believe me. I was very matter of fact about it, and simply repeated that I wasn’t on drugs. She then tells me that they have tests at the hospital that can prove whether I’m on drugs or not. Then she starts talking about us going to prove that I’m doing drugs. So l agree to go, figuring it will just prove that I’m not doing drugs. So we go and I end up talking to a doctor who’s asking me if I know what my whole name is, what day it is, who the president is, and other random questions. I answer them all correctly and then he calls my parents into the room and asks me to wait outside. I don’t know what they said to the doctor, or should I say, I don’t know what my mother told them, but I ended up LOCKED UP in the psych ward, which scared the heck out of me. My parents left without even seeing me, and the staff wouldn’t explain why l had to stay there. I was so afraid to go to sleep there that l didnt sleep at all for three days. The lack of sleep, stress, and fear must have made me seem like a basket case. So I ended up in a mental hospital where l was basically forced to TAKE DRUGS that screwed with my thinking. I was so thankful when l finally got out that l didnt even think about how my mother had tricked me. So my mother can always claim that I’m the crazy one, even though I know better NOW. I have had to live with my whole family knowing this embarassing history, that my mother CREATED. The situation also put an end to my dating the young man I had been seeing. Two birds with one stone.
My mother has used me as her sympathy card practically my whole life. Poor woman having to deal with her only daughter having so many ISSUES, as well as being ungrateful. She’s always loved playing the martyr. Well now she can continue to play that sympathy card. She can bemoan the fact that her daughter doesn’t come to cater to her anymore.
Thank you Dr. Linda. At times I feel like l can’t continue on, but reading your articles helps me to see what’s really gone on in my life. Thank you so much.
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