Narcissistic Family Dynamics – Playing The Hand We’re Dealt

Hindsight is an amazing tool for survivors.

When you grow up with a narcissistic parent, there are realities about our environment that don’t exist in a non-narcissistic household. These realities are our healing points, our own issues, that as an adult we realize require healing for us to go on to have healthy adult relationships.
playing cards

The narcissistic parent, incapable of meeting a childs needs because they conflict with their own, becomes the recipient of the child’s care and affection. The npd parent flips the roles and demands that the child be the sacrificial, giving caretaker. Of course in hindsight, its easy to see the error in this behavior, but as a young, impressionable child the modeled behavior has an impact on the things we’ll need to unwind and reparent later in life.

What this does is set us up to be the caretakers, the responsible ones, the fixers, the glue that holds the narcissist together. It sets us up to GIVE caretaking love to a narcissist, while not complaining or making much of a fuss about receiving nothing in return. Because we’re so used to this treatment from the narcissist in our younger years, we don’t put up much resistence at all to this treatment as adults.

Non-Existing Boundaries:

Narcissists do NOT possess the ability to respect boundaries.  They’re boundary busters. Crossing over mental boundaries to tell you what’s going on in YOUR head or what your motivation is, crossing over physical boundaries to touch and hug us when we don’t wish to be touched or hugged, taking our property without permission, crossing over our emotional boundaries to argue with what we feel, why we feel it or if we “should” feel it, when only we can know those things. Sharing secrets we’ve asked them to keep, talking about you as if you’re not in the room, reading your diary without permission, eavesdropping on private conversations, wearing your clothes without asking, triangulating and talking to others in the family or office about you behind your back, all are examples of violation of boundaries and is a list too lengthy to document. If you feel exhausted reading about the many ways narcissists cross their childrens’ boundaries, imagine LIVING IT.

Children of narcissists grow into adults who are accustomed to having boundaries busted quite frequently; so much so, that this feels “familiar” / “like home”. Adult narcissistic predators looking for the perfect “victim”, senses and spots this ingrained trait and automatically realizes that there will be no consequences for exploiting the target. They’ll bust over our boundaries, without much of a fight and realize that they can ‘get away’ with their  bullying and aggressive behavior.

Becoming Needless:

When faced with hopelessness, human beings will resign themselves to a future that resembles the present, same ole same ole, maintenance of the status quo is exactly what happens as a child grows in a narcissistic family. The narcissist never changes, the child learns that their own needs and desires are inferior if not completely non existent to the narcissists needs and wants. What’s the point if your needs are never tended to? So the child adopts the caretaking role of worrying about the narcissists needs, not their own. We resign ourselves to selflessness / needlessness.

It’s a result of both the parentification of the child as well as the sheer inability the narcissist has to think of anyone other than themselves. Even though a narcissist is good to put on a big show to others about what a great parent they are, the kids are the benefactors of this twisted truth:


We learn that we don’t matter. It’s not that we aren’t worthy of this attention to our needs or care & understanding, but that’s what our translation is. We personalize it. We do think it’s because we’re unworthy. It becomes our self concept. We go about giving and loving the narcissist, trying to please them, or prove ourselves giving / caring enough that the narcissist will finally find us “worthy” of some scraps of genuine affection that never come.

This sets us up to be the perfect adult doormat. With no needs, an adult child will feel comfortable when partners demand that their needs be paramount in the “relationship”. It teaches us not to expect reciprocity. It teaches us that a 100 / 0 relationship is “familiar” and “normal”. It’s not normal at all, but when you’re used to someone riding rough shod to get all the goodies, you simply step aside as opposed to telling them to cut it out.

Apologizing for our existence: 

Its a sad state of affairs that a child would feel the need to assert their right to be here or have a childhood drive to PROVE that we’re worth loving, but that’s the reality of a narcissistic family dynamic. The things that narcissists say out of rage for their children, in the presence of no witnesses, is beyond appalling. I recall having thoughts in grade school about being so thankful that abortion wasn’t legal in the 60s. It’s not that 5th graders really care about such lofty matters, its just that the person I depended on and loved most, my mother, let me know repeatedly that I was very lucky abortion wasn’t legal, because I wouldn’t have been alive.  Recalling this reality in hindsight, allows me to feel the remorse and empathy for  myself that I deserved. What my inner child went through  was unfathomable.

What these messages, whether overt as in my above account, or insidious and covert, the message is the same:  WE MAY EXIST, BUT WE OUGHT TO FEEL LUCKY WE DO.

When you constantly feel you’re being treated as an inconvenience or interruption to the perfectly supply driven life of a narcissist, you learn that the best way to live in that regime is to step aside and let the narcissist have the limelight.

No, a home is NOT a stage in a play or melodrama for normal people, but in a narcissistic family, the main seat at the table, the one who “earns” our keep, the top dog in our lives….is the narcissist and WE ALL KNOW IT. We’re all there to fill our part in their play. We will behave however the narcissist has decided our role will be and we will NOT deviate from that, unless we want to incur the narcissist’s rage.

Let’s stop down for a moment and pay a brief word to “the narcissist’s rage”. Many people who don’t live within the narc home, don’t have a clue that the narcissist has a two faced personality. They see the “kind” “giving” blah blah image the narcissist presents to strangers and can never fathom that the same narcissist would be a terroristic tyrant at home.

Narcissistic rage isn’t always the typical big, loud mouth event. It’s more cruel than that. Narcissistic rage is more subdued and insidious. They’d much rather punish  people by WITHHOLDING AND REFUSING TO GIVE what they know those people need from them. A narc parent will be subtly aggressive (raging) by showing the child, that they can disconnect emotionally from the child as if the child doesn’t exist. They’ll not show up, be on time. or give full attention to the things that are important to the child. They’ll disappear emotionally until the child begs for attention through acting out or acting up.

When children who have learned to feel that they don’t want to rock the boat by “existing” grow up, they will not question or stand up to behaviors that cause us to feel unimportant or invalidated by others. Cheating will be tolerated, invalidation will be turned a blind eye to, a narcissist’s double standard for treatment won’t be questioned.


Since narcissists don’t possess empathy, how do we ever get to relax as children and FEEL that someone else really cares about the things that we do at times. When we’ve lost a pet, or been teased at school, if our parent is incapable of really feeling what we feel in response to these events, we are going to feel really disconnected from intimacy. When we are excited about that boy or girl that we’ve been crushing on, returns our affections – its going to hurt when we can’t get our parent off social media or to stop taking pictures of themselves long enough to listen to us fully.

It hurts to have feelings about our parents behavior that we know we can’t ever be heard on. That we know deep down, this person, our parent, doesn’t care enough about us to really hear us is so isolating and disconnecting. We start to realize on a deep level that, we will ONLY have the narcissists full attention or care when it is convenient for them.

Lack of empathy strikes at the very feeling of being loved and cared about that it’s impossible to feel the love of your parent if they are empathy impaired. The narcissist would argue that “they really care” about the people around them, but those people know that the narcissist only “cares” when it behooves them and that, that is not a genuine love for them in the least.

The key to reparenting ourselves in this area is to recognize the disorder for what it is and not internalize this inability to care/ love on the narcissist’s part as being a defect of our own that makes us “unlovable”.

Trouble with Developing our True Identity:

Much like the narcissist, targets who grew up in a narcissistic regime, don’t get a chance to fully explore who we truly are, until we are no longer under the influence of the narcissist’s boundary busting methods of “telling us who we are”. What the narcissist tells us we are, is skewed anyway. We know that through projection, the narcissist casts off the traits hated in themselves onto those closest to them, so when we’re told we’re SELFISH, it’s nothing more than the narcissist accusing us, of what they are guilty of themselves.

But you can see, as a child, with such impressionable identities, being told again and again that you are something you’re not, is going to make you believe it – whether it’s true or not.

As a young child, I was told repeatedly by my narcissistic mother that I was “selfish”. In fact, I was told I was selfish so frequently that I sometimes wondered if my name wasn’t really “selfish little bitch”. What this did to me, was gave me the message that selfish was bad, and I should never be “that kind of bad”. I went on to consider my own selfishness in every interaction with everyone I had; and still do. I don’t want to hurt others. I empathize with how hurtful it is to be selfishly shut out by someone’s blindingly grand ego.

I didn’t learn the important lesson that there is a certain level of “selfishness” that doesn’t hurt anyone, that is a normal part of self care and isn’t bad at all, I felt that it was my “duty” to never be selfish to others. The result? I couldn’t say no to others and never questioned what that did to myself.  In fact, I barely thought of myself at all and was continually frustrated that I gave unselfishly but rarely received that from others. I learned that it was not MY JOB to take care of myself but that through unselfish service to others, someday I’d be loved.

If you are not allowed to be who you really are I think this is the pivotal identity issue that either creates a personality disordered identity vs a strong, resilient surviving type of personality that rises through the ashes and thrives to survive despite all the abuse.

In my own case, I sought outside relationships with neighbors, teachers and clergy who allowed me to be my true identity. My strength of character pushed me to broaden my “frame of reference circle” or my “feedback loop” to encompass those who also lived in reality. My ability to tell the truth despite the terrible consequences of being shamed and shunned by a narcissist who didn’t want to hear the truth, caused me to be the scapegoat in my family – my ability to call a spade a spade, allowed my true identity and authenticity to survive.

Its my thought that this resiliency trait that exists in me, exists in all survivors who have found their way here to the page, telling our truths about this abuse, willing to be honest, and accept responsibility for the things about ourselves that played into this abuse and allow us to make changes that prevent this from ever happening to us again as well as our willingness to be there for others who are hurting the hurts we’ve hurt and seek the same peaceful living that we seek.

As you can see in retrospect, the lessons we learned growing up in a narcissistic family are lessons that we need to unlearn now that we’re adults so that we don’t continue to choose partners who will repeat the abuse of our childhood. We also have a responsibility to protect our children from these patterns and do everything within our power to model HEALTHY parenting roles, boundaries, needs, unconditional love empathy and acceptance of who are children really are.

Posted on October 19, 2014, in Narcissism. Bookmark the permalink. 53 Comments.

  1. thank you for sharing this. I’ve been no contact for 6 years now with my engulfing, cruel, remorseless narcissistic mom (and very limited contact with the rest of my family). The rebuilding process is such a long road; I had to move, cut ties, and step away from every relationship based on my false self. We moved a lot when I was a kid, and I struggled to sustain friendships later in life, so honestly, there weren’t many relationships anyway. The grief after my escape was so intense, it’s the death of the hope that they will change, that they will do what is right. It got a little better with time.

    These days, although I struggle to identify my feelings and desires, and struggle to care for myself, and struggle not to feel like a worthless rejected outcast around people, I’ve come to believe that my life matters, that it’s worth the struggle. This article points out a lot of things I’m excited to work on improving. Thanks again.

    To anyone considering leaving a narcissistic family: my advice is to do it. To be yourself, even if you are sure you don’t matter, even if you don’t have any idea what being yourself would mean–just having a chance to figure it out, really changes everything. If you have to move away, do it. If you have to give up your extended family, do it. It will be a hard road either way, but at least you will get to be you. And it turns out that your dreams will be really achievable and simple, once you get the narcissistic delusions of grandeur out of your system. Just spending time with a pet, doing something creative just for yourself, not for outside validation, is so nice. Ordinary human needs are simple and the answers lie within. You just can’t hear that inner voice when you are constantly fearing the next attack.


  2. Wow! Even though these dynamics seem to “prevail” in our past it is the 64 thousand dollar question-WHAT is that element in each of us that u so eloquently speak. Those of us who have the “strength of character” to encompass & seek the truth as opposed to those whom “personality disorders” develop and never understand intimacy on any other level. I can barely count the suicides in my family that I believe came from “this VERY CORE”. More than Anything else there r 2 things I BELIEVE. #1 When u mess with a person’s Sexuality-You mess with their Spirituality (it is the deepest intimate physical expression as the height of spiritual expression can feel). #2 Our parents are the 1st impression we have of Love, God & Authority (to fail here without help is the dycotomy for potential internal madness). A quote from The Crow Movie “Mother is the name for God on the lips of All Children.” My personal thought Father is who we believe God to be like.


  3. godloverandbeloved

    Reblogged this on Im


  4. The first time I tried to kill myself I was ten years old. At ten I knew (or so I thought I knew) I was nothing but a burden. It is so painful and so liberating to know someone else understands.


  5. I’ve recently left my marriage after 17 years. I realise I’ve been dealing with a narcissist/psychopath. He nearly destroyed me. Thank you for these wonderful articles. They gave given me hope and the tools to get on with my life


  6. This information has saved me. I discovered 9/13 that my mother was and is the N P. I relate to all of this. Where you talk about the importance of the truth to you( I’m sorry I can’t quote, I’m still working on healing) no matter the consequences is so much of my story. In my 58 years I became a open book. The truth is essential to me. What I have realized is I always believed I trusted too much. When with a better understanding I realized I didn’t trust anyone so that the only chance I had of defending myself again the horrible destruction of my integrity and charachter was with the real truth.
    I gained inner strength by realizing that I had known all along what was going on and that I was by myself yet the truth IN ME SURVIVED IT.
    I’m not saying unscathed…… it has been a short time that I learned the truth. I also really suffered at the hands of the NP and the siblings. They do not like there covers pulled. Especially with documentation proving who they really are.

    Again. Looking forward to LOVE LIGHT N LIFEKE


  7. I understand, I’m 39 years old & have had 2 strokes bc of my narcissist Mother. Not to mention bipolar & mental problems. However, it’s not just her I’ve noticed it’s her whole family!


  8. Insightful and well said. Thank you.


  9. Very well written……expressed.
    I am 67 years old, and experienced numerous relationships with men, over the span of my life time, that excluded me from the relationship altogether…….it was all about them. This actually not even being a relationship unfortunetely. It wasn’t until two years ago I received counselling, that was a major breakthrough, in understanding my stuff. I came from a family, of a father and mother that were both Narsissists…….and I lived a life to the present……not even knowing that. My entire life has been all about everyone else, and their needs……totally excluding me.
    Today I am working on taking good care of myself……and their are many times when I need to show people that their stuff is their’s not mine. I don’t allow guilt to convince me……that I don’t matter.
    I wish and hope for the near future that it will be the law……that anyone planning to have a child that it be compulsory……that they take courses on how to parent and raise children…….and write exams, and a must pass of 80% scoring.


  10. Very well written……expressed.
    I am 67 years old, and experienced numerous relationships with men, over the span of my lufe time, that excluded me from the relationship altogether…….it was all about them. This actually not even being a relationship unfortunetly. It wasn’t until two years ago I received counselling, that was a major breakthrough, in understanding my stuff. I came from a family of a father and mother that were both Narsissists…….and I lived a life to the present……not even knowing that. My entire life has been all about everyone else, and their needs……totally excluding me.
    Today I am working on taking goid care of myself……and their are tines when I need yo show people that their stuff is their’s not mine. I don’t allow guilt to convince me……that I don’t matter.


  11. Is there any help for narcissm victims


  12. Thank you so much for this article. I have been out from under my mom for 3 months now and it has been a hard transition. I have had multiple friends and family members turn on me for my decision to leave my mom and find who I am again. It’s so nice to know that someone does understand my pain. What j try to tell people is that I don’t wish to have this relationship with my mother. All I have ever wanted is a mother like all my friends had. My therapist has been a big help in letting me know that I am not wrong for stepping out from the emotional abuse of my mother. I’m a work in progress, but I’m looking forward to a healthier future and healing my self.


  13. These articles are a true Blessing. It is beyond wonderful to read the words in print that internally have been able to digest (thru excrutiating pain of course). This particular article hit Home. I too survived (beyond my N mother, her 2nd husband who ended up in prison for the criminaly insane, a neighbor man who molested me-after investigation-also sent to an asaneysylum). I was completly “Shattered” by age 7 with no healthy adults around me. I was left in guilt & shame to find my own way. God was my Only Resource to wholeness. I walked to church and began to learn his Love for ME. Then my spirituality became a problem bcause I didn’t have “common sense”. I never looked back nor listened to what I knew was false as far as my own being. Unfortunately my mother paid a heavy price-my sister did not survive & committed suicide. Of course I married a Covert Narcacisst (39 yrs) and am healing from that hidden insanity (secret life for most of the marriage). Interesting as I read-the word Insidious comes around Alot!! I have felt it and known it Allll of my life. I can see it for what it is-Everytime! The Beauty these days is not Succombing to it, not Judging it, and not Fighting it anymore. I don’t have to because I Am Whole, Healed and Grounded in KNOWING WHO I AM, something these persons will never understand about themselves. I am a Living Miracle!!! No one can take THAT away!!


  14. Stepmommydearest

    This is a most helpful, insightful article! The “N” is not the parent in this situation though; its a child. In retrospect, I see now that I was an enabler. I’ve ended that behavior, and constantly work at making certain not to go back to my old ways of allowing manipulation. The key is to recognize the manipulation when it starts, and just walk away or block it out. The attempts at boundary-busting are fewer and farther apart now, but I always have to stay on my toes. Its not an easy walk, but life is so much more peaceful and pleasant now that I have a handle on it. Great article!


  15. I can’t thank you for putting this information out there like that …straight to the point and explained in the short bit of what I just read..I finally have an answer to my adult life long question ..? “Why do I always seem to attract the same type of man ..or my relationships with people in general . God forbid they know how I feel really inside myself…seeing that my outward appearance is though I have my shit.. (act ) together . When deep inside me I feel I don’t matter after a while in my marriage or any relationship I ever had ( which would only be a matter of three ..that’s including my marriage) so not many …but enough to know that they all treated me the same after a year ..I noticed it starts where the real person your with is a narsassict and it begins all over again …trying to prove your worthwhile and worthy of them loving you even when we sacrifice our whole being for them and for them to dare not love us. It is the strangest thing ….! How could I not know this behavior was not normal , after all that’s all I knew. This article that I just read finally gave me some peace inside me…I thought I was nuts….deep down, knowing it felt wrong to be treated the way I was in relationships. They would cross the .. NO boundaries I have. It was so true reading in the article about crossing the line so to speak and my partner not caring about anything I thought or felt. After all I was use to being disrespected as I saw it. I truly only just learned about this narsasistic type life I was raised in just recently . Thankful for coming across this wonderful extremely good article.


  16. This article describes what it is like to have a narcissistic parent, without sharing too much of the awful experience. One thing it missed was how if you turn out okay and overcome the mental angst you were subjected to the narcissistic parent will accredit themselves with your success. As if the struggle they made you endure created who you are. Heaven forbid you were smart enough to recognize the signs and fight the negativity everybody and reprogram yourself. Study normal family interactions, befriend people who would be a good influence, sustained from drug use to numb the pain… No, the narcissist doesn’t see you defeat the struggle they helped create. They actually want you to thank them for the struggle, that’s how sick they are.


  17. It’s an old thread, but I just found it today, and it resonated deeply with me.

    It feels so odd to not have preferences sometimes, even as an adult today. Even at college I would meet people who had favorite colors, styles, music and I had absolutley no idea what they were even talking about. Part of it must be social isolation. I never had favorite movies because my family didn’t go to movies. We didn’t select our own clothes, or food, or school or anything, such as a sport. I don’t even remember having any freinds, until we moved and a girl my age lived next door. I immediately thought I had a best friend; yet in school she was horribly jealous that I was smart and well liked. I even remember being struck in the head with a brush by her one day, and treated as if a joke. She was the first chaos maker I met outside my home, gossiping, starting exclusion zones, getting people to isolate from me when I walked to the bus. I thought at the time “what a mean best friend I have!” It’s sad to realize how lost and alone I was as a little kid. I am glad I did not believe I deserved it.


    • I can relate to your statement,”…it’s odd not to have preferences…”! I was also baffled as why I would have to ask others,”do you like this …?”(whatever item of clothing I may want) when out shopping for clothes, or shoes, …! I remember the 1st time I went to purchase a new refrigerator on my own (of course, I’d research -as I am an informed consumer!), my daughter was happily surprised & encouraging beaming with pride over my simplest independent endeavors!!! The more de idioms I make on my own, the more empowered I feel & the discovery of who I am is someone I finally love !
      I remember not having friends & being very insecure but that’s not who you are & friends who care aren’t mean. Only insecure, (unhappy with themselves, dysfunctional PD) people want others to feel negative. So, as we’v read, love yourself & only by letting others in my life who treat me as I would treat them deserve to be in my life (as well
      As any humans) as I grow & learn about myself. Life can be filled with joy as I recover from a NP ex.


  18. THANK YOU.
    I needed to read this and will undoubtedly reread it.


  19. Oh how I loved this article ! I lived it ! Left my family! Happy trying to heal ! I am a true warrior !


  20. Yes … I have thoughts/feelings to share. My inability to hold jobs (or find happiness in any work) is a terrible testament to the abuse. I could use some thoughts and prayers right now.

    Thank you.


  21. Thank you for the message, “We Believe You”. So appreciated. So good to know there are ‘others’ who have dealt with the horrors of narcissism.

    Now if we can just get our presidential candidates ‘tested’ for: sociopathy/psychopathy/narcissism…

    My Cats are the Love of my Life


  22. You articulate this so well, so many things in my own family come up when reading this.


  23. This hits closer to home than i could have ever imagined. I just recently realized that my ‘apparent’ clumsiness isn’t clumsiness at all. I was mainly raised by my grandmother. It took me years took realize she is a narcissist. And i remember everytime i had to help her in the kitchen, she would hold up a plastic measurement cup. And she would always say. I had this cup for twenty years. And it survived all those years without being broken. But five min. In your hands and you would break it. I wasn’t allowed to touch the cup at all because i was so clumsy. For years and p until now i am terrified of holding babies because i am afraid i am gonna drop them or fall. Its hard to change it now but that was like an epiphany. I am not clumsy, but you tried to make me clumsy.


    • I had a grandmother like that ….so critical of everything. Had an aunt who was a b—– she had a sharp nasty tongue. Made me so nervous being around her…I would trip drop things so afraid of her and of course she made fun of me all the time….Cant stand her to this day


    • Wow, Nilki, your comment gave me a huge breakthrough that I’ve never ever had in my life before now. My mom constantly warned me about “not knocking glasses off tables” etc. for my entire life – as if the spilling I did when I was 2 years old was inevitable when I was 18 or 24 or 30 and so on. I never thought of this before, but I have similar worries about being careful. Sorry to hear your grandma instilled that fear in you. 😦 It’s weird how many things in our lives are affected by this type of behavior from caregivers.


    • Nilki
      My God. You hit the nail on the head. I heard so much negative commentary like your grandmother’s that it is impossible for me to hold jobs. I just lost two more…in totally disparate fields…I am now unemployed and going through my retirement monies. How horrific my summer has been.
      I was called ‘stupid’, ‘shy’, ‘timid’ (I especially hate ‘shy’ and ‘timid’), ‘useless’…it went on and on. No wonder jobs are hard for me to hold.
      I got so mad reading your post…especially when your grandmother said, “Five minutes in your hands and you would break it.” I had a visual on that…grabbing the measuring cup from her, deliberately smashing it on the floor, and then saying, “You’re right.”


    • Hi Nikki, the first thing I would do you for right now is smash a few cups and know it doesn’t mean anything at all…! We are a touch bunch and didn’t go through all this for nothing, you’ll see xxx Sarah


  24. It has been a great learning experience for me to read these articles. At first I read them in fear of finding my self in the lines .. then I met all! but one boyfriend I ever had in them .. and last I found both my father and my mother in them. Leaving me with a sadness about my self asking if there ever is a true recovery to a normal and own self after such a long life of dysfunctionality.

    I started out in adult life doing exactly what was done to me, with an internal pain telling I was skizofrenic at least, suffering from a severe personality disorder – the difference in my actions and my feelings about it was 2 different persons.

    It began very slowly to change when I got the courage to ask my self, if my actions were truly mine????? or if I just was on autopilot. I mean all my life I’ve been told how I feel, what Im thinking, who I really am. And it was extremely difficult to find me behind the curtains of what I know now to be abuse and a dysfunctional childhood.

    I was afraid to get children of my own. And in the first 4 years I was a terrible mom, I had this constant fight going on inside my self between how I should be doing it, how I augth to be doing it and what was expected from me. And on top of that, my mother stepped in as the overall ruler and protector, because she knew way better then me, how to be a mother of my children.

    That was when I for the first time truely woke up from the haze and found it in my self, what had always been there, me. I didn’t want her behavior passed on to my children, I wanted to break the circle and do what I felt was right in my Heart, not what I had had beaten into my head. In that process she threathend to comitt me for the sake of the children.

    I left my parents and Family, have no contact with them at all anymore. 10 more years has passed, and when I look at my children, Ive succeeded in breaking the circle. Both my girls are considerate to them selves and others, assertive, strong and caring. However .. I also see traits I wish wasn’t there, my struggle in their early years of life is showing in them, but atleast we talk about it and I tell them, that I might have a different view on certain Things, doesn’t mean Im right about it.

    Something broke in me a long time ago, and I doubt it will ever be completely Whole Again, leaving me at days thinking, fearing Ive misled my self to believe Im a good person. Giving other days confirming me, that I am a good person struggling with a horrific childhood experience.

    If I was to narrow Down my battle in all this to something others can take with them, and maybe guide them in the battle it will be this.

    I grew as me and learned love in me, when my life turned from the fear of becoming my mother, to the wholeheartedly Desire to become me.

    Be strong, you can do it ❤


  25. I just read this. How do you undo the N indoctrination from family and an abusive church?
    So struggle with the self care/selfishness….


  26. I have read hundreds of articles about living in a Narcissist family but this one is by far the best, the detail of the dynamics is right on point. Thanks for sharing


  27. Thank you for creating an informative and relatable page. My brother and I suffered at the hands of a narcissist for many years. Our Mums husband loved to call me a “selfish-pig”. We were “useless, selfish, stupid”. And a lot more. For years I did everything in my power to not be thought of as selfish, to the point were I did things I did not want to do. My brother and I are now adults and understand what ‘he’ is, We know now that we are normal and he is not. Unfortunately I chose a narcissist as my partner, probably because I grew up with the abuse and thought it normal. Fortunately I get it now. And I have recently separated from my partner.
    Be strong and Be true to yourself. Life is too short. I recently lost my Mum to cancer, and our grieving was made that much more difficult because we had to deal with the narcissist (Mums husband), We’ll never get that time back.
    Be Strong, Be True to Yoursef, Be Awesome!


  28. How sad when I read this that every point is me and the relationship with my N mother. I am one of the lucky ones though, where I met an amazing man and have the most amazing in laws! They have taught me real love and what it means to stand up for yourself, to have an opinion without being judged and cut off and have accepted me without having to be any one else. My NMother currently doesn’t make any effort to fix our relationship that she broke! She blames me for her stint in a psych ward even though she had a huge fight with her best friend. She lied to everyone in our family about me and my husband and now the consequences of her lies is that we don’t have any sort of relationship and she still can’t understand what SHE did wrong! She has alienated my sisters from me and continues to use me as her please feel sorry for me as Sue is such a bitch to me! Forgiveness is easy! Trust now that is a whole different story! We were at a function where one of my sisters attended. First time in 2 years I saw her. We ignored each other but my Nmother wanted to walk right past me without talking to me. I grabbed her and said hi. This was all an act so that she can show her Golden Child that ‘look Sue still doesn’t even greet me’. It’s disgusting what they will do to get attention!


  29. Thank you for this read. I can relate to most of it as I have been given this type of abuse from my partners mum who is a N ( she has pushed out to everyone that I am the one with the mental illness). I have been accused of everything that is in her personality while they are trying to make out that it is me and not her. unfortunately my partner is starting to show the same behaviour patterns as she is now coaching him to behave like this. she tells him that this is the way you HAVE to behave, unaware that it is very very wrong behavior to have. My partner grew up with this so he would not know what way he should be behaving. He is also unaware that she does suffers from NPD. I was told by his grandmother.


  30. Fantastic points! That’s where we lose boundaries or have no understanding of them because we were walked on as children. No self respect means no boundaries. I think it’s important to mention that there are varying degrees of narcissism and some of these types of parents can be very subtle in their abuse. One common factor though, is never receiving the love from that parent…no matter the degree of narcissistic personality. IMHO and experience. Thanks for this informative post!


  31. This encompasses everything I’ve experienced. It’s only been a few months since I’ve realized the reality of my family dynamic and have begun trying to undo the conditioning. It has been gut wrenching to pull away actually, from what I thought I knew. I thought I was exaggerating in my own mind the truth of what I felt and experienced. I am still in a sort of shock, but definitely relief that I don’t have to carry the weight that was put on me. Still an uphill battle as Im trying to find gather the means to leave a relationship with a narcissist now, but I have a clearer vision for the future of my broken self, than ever.


  32. I am now beginning week 7 of NC with my narcissistic parents. I am going on 56 years old and all I can tell you is that I wish with all of my heart I had done it sooner. Occurrences from the past are flashing before my eyes left and right. Before, I swept it under the rug because it was just more crazy behavior. Now; it’s like..NO…This really was crazy behavior. They disowned me for the 8th time in my life but this time I turned the tables. Instead of feeling like a failure. .again! for mentioning past physical abuse and being disowned, something clicked. It was like I turned a corner and I knew then and there it would be impossible to go back. These 7 weeks have been an emotional roller coaster ride in many ways because I am changing my life. But, the pride I feel swelling up in my chest for protecting myself makes it all worth it. I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, business owner and friend. .oh and sister to an amazing brother who defended me to them 7 weeks ago. The verbal abuse is over. That’s it.


  33. Your article gave me so much relief that my Grandson can survive the abuse from his Mother, Grandmother (my exN and N daughter) and an N aunt. They took him away from me as the final blow for my non-compliance. We were together for 43 years. the only woman (child, we were both 17) I ever was with.

    Its been three years of separation, 10 months NC. I’m doing OK, but my beloved Grandson is always on my mind. I am SO happy to have the narcs gone. I’ll just have to wait.


  34. This is written as though the parent is the narcissist and that is not always true. We have witnessed these behaviors in our adult daughter. 15 yrs ago she was diagnosed as bipolar. Her most recent psychiatrist said she wasn’t bipolar but was emotionally abused. We did not abuse her, we may have spoiled. I was reading on the internet looking for answers and emailed some info on narcissism. She and her husband had hacked my computer and were regularly reading all my email and following my computer activity. She saw what I was reading and was furious. She has now cut off my entire family and we are not allowed to see our grandchildren. Because we were used as babysitters we had a very strong attachment (they are 4 and 9) No thought was given as to how this would make them feel. This is an example of her self centeredness : One night at a family dinner she was complaining to our son about how much more fun his life was than hers….Because he didn’t have children to take care of. When her 8yr. Old son became visibly upset and started choking on his food he was berated for not chewing his food.
    We have really hurt over this whole mess. We were the ones who always worked, always gave always tried to get along…. Walking on eggshells.
    I’m tired of hearing it’s somehow the parents fault.


    • I am sad to hear of your situation. It is not always parents’ fault when a child/adult child has severe difficulties, and yes, there are children who abuse parents just as parents abuse children. Narcissists will abuse anybody they can find.

      I don’t know if the blog’s author is prepared to cover the topic of narcissistic abuse of parents by their children; perhaps such a blog entry will be forthcoming. There are resources available for people abused by their children also; that’s not the specific topic of this blog, so there may be better resources for your needs.

      Meanwhile, the emphasis on equipping adult children of narcissists here is an understandable one. Many people are severely harmed by narcissistic parents; over 6% of the population has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and many more have levels of narcissistic behavior and traits that don’t qualify them for an NPD diagnosis but surely create problems for them and those around them.

      Moreover, people who are or have been abused by narcissistic parents often struggle to be taken seriously. People still have a tendency to believe an adult over their child and it often takes something quite extreme for anyone to pay attention to a child’s suffering. Waiting years or until one has grown up or longer to be taken seriously when you have been hurt so terribly does damage you can’t imagine if you haven’t had abusive parents.

      If you’re sick and tired of hearing about abusive parents, imagine how sick and tired many of us are of living with them and having our experiences minimized or altogether denied! It sounds as though, unfortunately, your grandchildren may one day need such a blog to begin to heal from your daughter’s behavior toward them, so as much as I don’t wish for you to be blamed if you’ve done nothing abusive, neither do I want society to continue to turn a blind eye or remain largely unaware of the damage narcissists do to their children.

      Liked by 2 people

    • GJ
      You are on the wrong ‘page’ here. I am not angry at you but this is for children of narcissist parents…not the other way around. Good luck with finding what you need….it isn’t here.


  35. Once again, my life story has been told without you ever having met me.

    I am so, so tired. I am tired of living this life. I feel like I never had any shot at a decent life, given the way I grew up. I’ve been in therapy and support groups for years and I can’t say they haven’t helped at all, but every day is a series of exhausting pop quizzes. As damaged as I am, I can’t afford to further ingrain any of these beliefs so I can’t afford to get the questions wrong…but I do. Constantly.

    Everything is going fine, then I get tired because it’s hot and my blood sugar is getting low and something scared me, and something in my brain shorts out and I start to call someone I’ve known for years by the wrong name. One syllable in I catch myself but it’s too late.

    POP QUIZ!!! Question 1: what single word best describes this situation? Answer quickly! 5, 4, 3, 2 –


    Question 2: what are you in light of this? 3, 2 –

    “An idiot!”

    Question 3: what do you do now? Quick! Everyone’s looking at you and wondering what’s wrong with you! 2, 1 –


    No! You’re not that lucky! Try again!


    Congratulations, you’ve made things worse, but you still have to respond somehow!

    “Stammer like an idiot and quickly leave what was an otherwise fine social experience in a cloud of depression and self-loathing?”

    Keep going!

    “Wonder what the point is in having a high IQ, talent, and multiple degrees when thanks to C-PTSD from childhood abuse I just look like an idiot anyway?”…

    Things like this happen all the time. I don’t have the energy to fight through them all. Despite my best efforts I still find myself surrounded with narcissists; I keep wondering where the other 90+% of the population is hiding when I leave the house and why. They’ve left nothing untouched (the narcissistic abusers that is). Mind, emotions, spirit…I used to think I at least had mostly intact physical health but recently I found out my mother literally even conditioned me to walk wrong, and it’s been destroying my knees all my life. Relearning to walk at my age has made me feel even more humiliated and ashamed of myself. Walking…I can’t even do THAT right without special tutoring?!

    I feel totally pathetic. The list above, as I said, basically IS my life, and for all the work I have done and continue to do, it just seems useless.




    • This sounds familiar. I can relate. I always just wanted a real family who loved me. They stole that too. Devastaing, I am so sorry. Few things are more painful. I adore my kids and they were lied to about me. thank you for sharing Janet. My heart goes out to you and I can understand. Jo


  37. I really wish, person who writes this stuff, that I didn’t recognize myself or my family at all. 😦 But I am the parent of my mother, and have been since I was 4 at least. The weight of this recognition is terrifying. At least I have baby kittens and a great dog to help out. They are keeping my heart somewhat whole until I can safely think about this and process it and put it behind me. I wonder who I will be when I’m done with the reparenting and general self-discovery? That part is kind of exciting (and really freaky if I think about it too much)!!


  38. After 41 years of life and just now realizing the marriages to narcissists wouldn’t have occurred if my mother hadn’t been one and my dad a willing enabler; OMG. I don’t even know who I am. I have no preferences of my own — that has never been permitted. Oh I’ve been told I’m allowed to have my own preferences, and everyone gets quite put out with me when i state that I feel punished when i express one that is different from mom’s — but I *do* get punished when I do not conform to what mom needs me to do/be/feel.

    If I make any statements or even remember things that she doesn’t want to be real, I’m told (1) it never happened, or (2) it didn’t happen that way, or (3) you’re just imagining it all! Artists! so imaginative! I used to go to church regularly because she needed the faith community and would refuse to go if *I* wasn’t doing it, too. I attended that church for 7 years. For the majority of that time, MOST people never called me by my name, but by HERS. There IS no me. I am not allowed to exist as anything other than a corollory to my mother’s life. I am the part of her that can function around people pleasantly. I am a tool, not a person.

    A friend of mine got me out of there recently. I have no idea what to do with my days. I am a respecter of boundaries, and I’m trying desperately NOT to enmesh, but how do you NOT DO THAT when that’s all you know? When you were punished every time you tried to individuate?

    I can hear my mother in my head right now. “You can’t keep lying to people about us, honey. You know you’re the’ one who’s sick, right? I swear, they’ll think we’re bad people.” I just want to scream. Because honestly, my doctors don’t concur with her assessment. They have all been pushing for me to get out of there and start over and learn how to be a real person with my own boundaries and a safe place to be who I am and express that fully, not only as permitted so someone else can showcase what a great parent they are.

    I feel physically sick just typing this and I’m terrified to hit post. But I’m going to do it, anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Thank you for such a wonderful insightful post. I can really relate to it.


  1. Pingback: Dinâmicas de uma Família Narcisista – Jogando com as cartas sorteadas |

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