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V defended/narcissisti c parents- how to "grieve"

(74 Posts)
Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 17:33:41

Gosh weary myself of my own story but really struggling...
Rather shocked at how v much my parents- df as enabler, as well as dm- let me down as a teen and have done ever aince. More so at how very disloyal they've been even to the extent of trying to get dh/MIL on side against me, quite a revelation, thank God these 2 love and are loyal to me..

Head so full of toxic rubbish which is eating me all up with bitterness that am sorely tempted to just give in and allow contact to resume, as before -on their terms, with me the scapegoat sad

Am seeing counsellor and he's adamant i
should stay firm for my own psychological health and keep contact cut, even mourning
their loss ie tge loss of a vaguely nornal, empathic, accepting, loving, respectful
relationship.

Not sleeping so this probably doesn't
Make sense but any thoughts/support appreciated.

forgetmenots Sun 25-Nov-12 09:36:16

Sorry Ophelia, the scarlet woman post I referred to was on another thread. It is still relevant, because it's what we're discussing - I'm not having a go at you either I'm just interested as it would take a lot for me to come on a thread like this and not be in support, wonder if you have another story

Walkacrossthesand Sun 25-Nov-12 11:04:04

Thanks, forgetmenots - I was worrying s bit that the way I phrased my post made it sound like eldest daughter has the role of 'not nice one' in the family & I really don't think that's the case - I should have put 'being nice' in inverted commas. It's what she feels, not what we think.

forgetmenots Sun 25-Nov-12 11:53:54

It could be just a phase with her, too, she is still young even at 22! It's lovely that you're looking out for her too. Maybe if my MIL and others had mums like you ready to help them things would be different.

Salbertina Sun 25-Nov-12 16:21:16

No expert either but imho teens/20-somethings can tend to have healthy amounts of narcissism/self-absorption which generally be knocked out of them by life's challenges sooner or later. 22 still v young, i think. What makes you concerned, anyone else in family you suspect t of having NPD?

Hi, Salbertina and Forgetmenots! Good to see you both and make that connection. Have really appreciated both your inputs on my thread, as well that of others. Just thought I'd join in with yours Salbertina...

Salbertina, I went through this grief myself, I really did. And it is hideous and gut wrenching when that realisation really dawns - that you cannot explain it to them, or reason with them about it, they certainly aren't going to agree to your terms, not for anything because that would mean admitting to something they've done. Not going to happen.

It takes a while to accept all this and get to the stage where you are just glad to be rid of their unhealthy presence in your life. Because the little child we have inside of us still cries out for 'mummy' or whatever, for love to overcome. Many years ago, I was desperate to make myself understood. But then I had to accept that my m could never see things from my perspective because she is a total law unto herself, existing in her own bubble and unable to walk in anyone else's shoes.

I found it helped to see her as mentally ill.

Salbertina Sun 25-Nov-12 18:12:18

Thanks, Scarlet, you're most wise! It still feels rather a leap to view my dm as mentally ill, but probably necessary. How did that help, enable you to feel some pity, reclaim some power???

It helped by making me feel that this problem was not to do with me, but was because there is SOMETHING ACTUALLY WRONG WITH HER.

It helped me feel less of a target.

It helped me feel less responsible for the outcome.

This was after a lot of grief though, and many pointless explanatory letters I wrote to her, mostly unsent.

I'm so glad I saved my children from having to join in the let's placate her game.

I suppose there was relief in my giving in. I mean by that, that I realised I could not win, I could not make her see any errors on her part, I could not try to explain to her not without my turning into an angry, distressed child

It was a relief to stop.

It has been the right decision for me, as born out my my brothers' continued experience over the last 12-ish years since I resigned my position as emotional punchbag to a mother who told me I wasn't the daughter she wanted and why couldn't I be more like my brothers/her friend's daughter/someone else, anyone else but myself sad

Yes it was a relief to stop hearing this stuff.

It was a relief to be able to be myself and get on with my life.

Lottapianos Mon 26-Nov-12 13:59:04

'It still feels rather a leap to view my dm as mentally ill, but probably necessary'

It was an absolute revelation to me when I discussed my parents both being NPD with my therapist and she said she agreed it was highly likely. It helped me to stop seeing myself as the cause of the problem and helped me to understand their behaviour a little more. I say a little more, because I still don't fully understand how they could be so cruel and so dysfunctional and maybe I never will.

Still huge amounts of grief, because it means they will never ever change - they are actually totally incapable of change. So I will never have the parents I would like to have. I have a lovely DP and great friends, but no-one can replace your parents. I'm trying to work on seeing them as two distant relatives who I have occasional contact with, but it's still hard. I'm definitely grieving for the relationship that I thought I would have one day.

I had a slightly scary moment last night - I heard a piece of music on the radio that reminded me of my childhood, and my immediate thought was of going to the kitchen and cutting my wrists with a knife. I think it just reflects my despair at the whole situation. I had no actual desire to harm myself, but the thought was still there, if that makes sense. It's scary how messed up I am by their behaviour. I'm working on coming to terms with it all though therapy but I feel really depressed and anxious again today. I don't know when this will lift sad

Salbertina Mon 26-Nov-12 14:06:22

Oh lotta, sad
Thinking of that Larkin poem They Fuck you up ( the only poem i ever learnt by heart!) after reading your post. Anyone you can talk to today in RL, book an emergency therapy session to ease it? Hope we all can be of help- i know your wise and understanding posts have certainly helped me at some tricky times...
I try to reflect on the adage "we are not our thoughts" to not feel trapped by them, to try and focus myself in present, if only for a few minutes, thinking only about what i can hear/see etc or just counting my breaths, being mindful in other words. Sort of helps take the edge of the darkest thoughts.

Lottapianos Mon 26-Nov-12 14:11:17

Thanks Salbertina. Because I've grown up not being allowed to have any feelings, it's really hard for me to share what I'm feeling with others and lean on other people for help. DP is really great, but I feel that I 'should' be coping better than I am and that I'm letting him (and everyone) down by being so upset. I feel that I'm wallowing and 'should' be managing better than I am. I'm really hard on myself smile but its hard to shake that 'critical parent' voice.

That's useful advice about trying to focus in the present and coming out of my thoughts for a bit. I will try to give myself time to have a long sob this evening too, think I need it.

Posting here helps so much.

How are you doing today?

ThistlePetal Mon 26-Nov-12 14:36:00

Hello again, Salbertina those are very wise words indeed, I quite often find myself needing to step out of life and be more mindful - but actually giving myself that opportunity is another matter. It's almost like I'm punishing myself by not allowing myself that time.

Lotta, I also find it incredibly difficult to share how I feel, because I've been brought up to "know" that my feelings are irrelevant and just a nuisance, really, so I can understand where you're coming from. On good days it is easier to rationalise where those beliefs come from, but sometimes it totally trips me up.

I did allow myself a good sob last night, and decided to download the Toxic Parents book. I think I have a long road ahead. Having had a big blow out with DM, she is now bombarding me with texts which I think she thinks is proving that she is working on our relationship. However, the texts are usually demands for information (I have to provide her with lists of what the DCs want for Christmas), and sometimes they are asking after the kids or the dog.... She still hasn't asked how I am, how I'm coping when the DCs are round at their dad's, and she certainly hasn't apologised for telling me last week that she wished she had a normal daughter.

So I feel now that if I continue to keep her at arms' length, she's just going to up the ante, turning up on my doorstep in tears, sobbing in front of the DCs, and most of all, demanding to see the DCs on Christmas Day (having recently split with DH, we have told both sides of the family that we are spending the day together with no visitors. If I don't start sorting this now, I know she will just turn up). I'm hoping the book will help me find the way through this, and quickly.

Scarlet, are you completely NC with your mother? I love the idea of being able to be myself and be free from the criticism, but still feel it's not right to keep my DCs from having a relationship with her. Although like you say, I might be saving them from having to spend years placating her too. How do you find the right balance?

Ophelia I can see where you're coming from, I have asked myself this over the years too. But I remember being 17, going off to Uni and being invited to my new friend's parents' house for dinner, and thinking "how strange" that my friend got on so well with her mum, "almost like they're friends". I hadn't paid much attention to other friends' relationships with their parents before then, but that's when I started questioning what my upbringing had been like. Her parents were the same age, from a similar working class background. But they loved their DCs unconditionally. So no, I don't think it's a generational thing.

Lottapianos Mon 26-Nov-12 15:04:11

'and thinking "how strange" that my friend got on so well with her mum'

Same here. I remember my best friend being horrified when I told her about some of the stuff my mum has done to humiliate me and make me feel awful - she said 'but she's your mum! she's supposed to be on your side'. That thought had never occurred to me before but of course she's right sad

Very jealous of people who do have warm supportive relationships with their parents sad

ThistlePetal Mon 26-Nov-12 15:58:30

I've had a similar reaction from my own best friend recently, when I was relaying the account of the bust up with my mother. She has known for ages that my mother was toxic but was still hopeful that we could find an adult way through it. She was appalled by some of the things my mother said. I've started telling more people too, because I just need people to know. Even if they could never understand.

Are you working through your feelings with a therapist? Or are you dealing with it on your own? I am having monthly appointments with a counsellor, which is fine for keeping me on track, and about as much as I can afford at the moment.

Lottapianos Mon 26-Nov-12 16:17:19

'I've started telling more people too, because I just need people to know'

Seeing people's horrified reactions helps me to realise that I'm not being a diva about the situation - not being selfish or irrational or demanding too much. My parents' behaviour is wrong, very wrong. I do tread carefully with telling people though - some people have very deeply-held views about family and duty and honouring parents etc and just cannot get their heads around being angry at your parents or reducing/cutting contact. So I tend to only share with people where I know I can be guaranteed a supportive response.

Yes ThistlePetal I see a therapist every week and have done for 2 and a half years. It's taken such a long time to get to the point where I can feel all the stuff I had shoved down inside me for all these years. I was so well trained to ignore my feelings that I wasn't aware of how angry and sad I am and now that the feelings are tumbling out it's really scary. Therapy is helping hugely but it is a bit like rubbing salt into wounds - extremely painful and dreadful. I know it's something I need to go through. All I really want is to feel content - not doing cartwheels with happiness all the time, but just to feel settled and content deep down instead of lonely and miserable, which is what I have always felt sad

Thistlepetal - We are minimal contact and have been for twelve-ish years.

Minimal is: occasional emails, birthday cards, very quick hello on phone on christmas day when she is at one of my brothers' houses. I've actually seen her once in those years, about six or seven years ago at a family party.

Not sure about the balance question - see, I didn't actually think it would benefit my children to have a relationship with her.

The distance between us has actually benefited my children as it has freed me up to be the best mother I can. The emotional freedom I gained and the good mental health meant that my dcs had a much better childhood.

My mother used to make me feel abused and mental.

this is not the state one wants to be in when nurturing children.

By the way none of this was easy. Not at all. It was gut-wrenching and guilt ridden.

But it has been well worth it.

ThatBintAgain Tue 27-Nov-12 10:33:07

Despite all the counselling and reading in the last few years I still have days where I think it must be me and not them, as they're just so bloody credible and everyone in their circle thinks the sun shines out of them. sad

I've been working on this mindfulness programme, I'll try to find a link. Totally recommend it for getting through the day...

It is eye opening reading this - I for some reason didn't think so many people had such awful parents.

I have had no contact with mine since my stepmother (mother died before my 1st birthday) was in court to stand for my XH whilst he was trying to secure custody of our daughter. My father told me I had disgraced the family daring to get divorced and that he would never speak to me again!!

I greived for the loss of him, although he had always put my sister first and my stepmother, I wanted a dad, one that cared about me and didn't tell me that I didn't need him - obviously being strong and getting on with my life was worse than turning into a needy emotional wreck with no prospects or morals like my sister.

The big thing that helped me when I went for therapy was finally realising that I was not the one at fault - that I didn't need to feel guilty and think that if I had been different then they would have treated me as parents were supposed to. I spent so much of my life thinking how awful I was, what had I done to make then hate me so and treat me so badly, was I such an appalling individual that they couldn't love me??

Now 9 years down the line I am happy, I have nothing to do with them, my stepmother, half brothers and father and my sister - who for all of the bad treatment and rejection goes crawling back wanting their love and acceptance.

I have a great husband, 2 fab kids and sometimes I waver - I think that maybe I was something to do with them not loving me (although I don't think my stepmother had the capacity to love myself or my sister as her own) but then I realise that no - it is not me - I am good, I care about people, I would have over compensated for loss of a parent with my kids not treated them as my father did us.

And I have courage - I am not stuck in an unhappy relationship as my father is with my stepmonster - I had the courage to get away - to believe that I was worth more - that my daughter deserved not having to watch the abuse her father heaped upon me, the alcoholic git he became.

I have a son now with my husband and I know - because I was told so many times over the years how boys were so much better than girls, never caused the same problems - or any at all it seems as myself and my sister did - that to my father it must hurt not knowing his grandson - and he is such a special llittle boy - but you know what he bloody well doesn't deserve to, I am not going to let my son be exposed to the shite that I put up with.

Blimey - I've not thought about this properly for a long time.

Someone asked whether parents actually think that they have done anything wrong - well mine don't - I am the arsehole in this story apparently - I am horrid, uncaring, ungrateful, a slut, a liar and any other derogatroy word they can grapple for - my father would sit in front of me and deny that he has ever done anything that is mean or nasty, he will deny that we were left to be hungry, physically abused and dirty and shoddily clothed but hey - but he is always right - and as for the stepmonster - it's not even worth going there. I hate her so much I pray for the day when she is writhing in pain, dying and I will laugh and tell her it is nothing more than she deserves - so maybe I am not after it.

Sorry for such a long tome - once I started it seems I cannot stop. Just remember ladies - you are great women, great mums and the best thing you have done for your children is not let them become embroiled in the toxicity that you had to deal with.

Am shutting up now.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Tue 27-Nov-12 11:36:21

Do please post that link if you find it, Bint

This thread has been a very useful and appeasing read; thanks to all.

Your low contact arrangement sounds ideal to me, ScarletWoman. I wish I had something so low-key.

I went NC in a somewhat explosive way earlier this year. Now I wish I had been able to hand my anger back to my parents in a symbolic way rather than a direct way, because I am finding it somewhat stressful to maintain complete NC: in a way it means I have to nurse my anger at them in order to justify going NC, which makes it harder to let go of my anger, iyswim.

Then again, this may be just as well: it may be no better to have intermittent contact which sparks my anger and disappointment all over again. And I certainly have no desire for any visits in person.

No ideal solution when you're dealing with inadequate parents, I guess. We're all just doing our best out of a bad situation.

ThistlePetal Tue 27-Nov-12 18:11:52

Therapy is helping hugely but it is a bit like rubbing salt into wounds - extremely painful and dreadful.

I agree - and I've only just scraped the surface so far. I know it's been coming for a while, this need to get to the bottom of it all and this huge need to live life on my own terms - but some days it just feels too huge to deal with.

Scarlet I'm not convinced that my DCs will benefit from having a relationship with my mother/parents either, but it's difficult to even go minimal contact when you live in the same small village, so I'm thinking I have to find a midway that I'm comfortable with. Also another thought which woke me at 5am a couple of nights ago: what if, by minimising contact with my parents, I'm sending a message to my DCs that we just don't need to bother with our parents when we're adults? Because they don't see or hear (much of the) nastiness, they just see me steering well clear. (Actually that's not quite true, DS has been made to feel v uncomfortable by them saying unkind things about me to him). Am I setting myself up for a lonely old-age? Or is that just me feeling worthless, as I've been trained to feel?

Totally agree with what others are saying, this thread is so helpful to me right now. Thank you for sharing your experiences and giving me a space to share mine x

Walkacrossthesand Wed 28-Nov-12 00:34:48

Hi again, salbertina, forgetmenots, picking up the thread after a couple of days. No, I hadn't really thought of NPD in connection with my eldest DD until I started to recognise in her some of the traits being described here in parents. It's the distorted thinking that I really struggle with - and the conviction that she is always the wronged/misunderstood/most suffering party, with the facts as myself & others recall them, being skewed in order to keep her world view in order. And the feeling described above that the only way not to get sucked in is to detach - but she's my daughter, and I want her to be happy! I do hope you're right, forgetmenots, and it's an age thing... I shall continue to try to understand and support her, because I love her - but I don't know if it will ever be enough.

Thistle - my children are grown up now. I had those same fears about the message I was giving them.

The message they actually got was that we don't let people treat us like shit just because they are relatives. And we certainly don't let people treat our children like shit.

God knows how you do this in a village though!

forgetmenots Wed 28-Nov-12 13:28:09

Walkacross I think there is a difference though that you might find helpful - detaching is often the only solution for children of narcissitic parents, but that's because of the inherent power imbalance there with 'mummy knowing best'. Add NPD into that and you basically have kids growing up completely subservient and often as merely extensions of the narcissist's behaviour.
I'm no expert at all, as I've said, but given that she is still young and that he has a caring mum who has already observed these traits I'm willing to bet things will be ok. That said I think it's healthy for her to have this constructed world view challenged in a respectful way - maybe ask her things like 'I know you were really hurt by that, but maybe it happened because you said that' (if you see what I mean). Gently letting her know that she does wrong sometimes and that you can see that and still think she is great and love her might not be a bad thing (a lot of npd people have either absent parents, so they bolster their own self-esteem, or overly attentive parents who are perfectionists and on occasions npd too. Practicing very anti-narcissistic behaviour when you're around her is a good idea). I hope some of this makes sense and helps smile

ThatBintAgain Thu 29-Nov-12 18:02:35

Hi, sorry for the delay. Here's the link to the mindfulness book which I thoroughly recommend.

HotDAMN I totally relate to having to nurse your anger, I feel very much like that. I have to keep reminding myself that being in contact with them never helped matters though, it's not like expressing my anger towards them ever got me anywhere as they are totally teflon. angry

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