Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

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

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

I think it's ok to grieve. And as such, it's normal to go through all the phases of grieving. Which includes denial, which might mean wanting to make it all "ok" again.

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 17:54:01

You have support from DH, MIL and a counsellor so maybe now is a good time to cut contact.

Once you've got some space, you can get some perspective and begin to process the historical stuff. Then, in your own time, you can decide whether or not you ever want, on your own terms, to let them into your life again.

If they add so little to your life, there's little to lose.

Take your time, take care of yourself and let the people who love you do the same.

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 17:56:47

Thanks, yes, i guess... It's just it feels so false and self-indulgent to grieve non-dead parents. In some ways i feel i should just be more tolerant now they're in their twilight years and just accept them despite their failings. Problem is thats made me feel rubbish all these years. sadangry

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 17:57:37

Apologies, I misread your OP - still I think the same about keeping contact cut.

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 18:00:52

Sorry that was to NQC

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 18:04:42

Something, you're right they add v little to my life and yet cause me such pain.
I think I've been projecting the normal parental feelings/behaviours one would expect on to them for years and hadn't realised the lack! Does that even make sense?

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 18:06:01

You are totally justified in grieving the thing you didn't have.

But if, in time, you feel that you've processed everything you need to and that the balance of things is such that some forgiveness, for want of a better word, and contact is better for you then the option is there.

It does sound like you could benefit from some time out to get things straighter in your head but it doesn't have to be forever.

Lottapianos Fri 23-Nov-12 18:08:09

You do need to grieve the parents you wish you had. I know that can sound weird but there is a good reason you're feeling so sad. It's bloody hard. I'm going through it myself. I find it helps to allow myself to sob and crash when I need to. Sometimes you can get on with things and sometimes you can't and you need to give yourself permission to feel shit.

ThatBintAgain Fri 23-Nov-12 18:10:32

Makes sense to me. Have exactly the same relationship with mine. Currently no contact (although there's the occasional prod from them, not sure why as they also have no genuine wish to sort anything out) and I have to say it's easier. Very bloody far from easy though, and you have my utmost sympathy. I'm currently off with stress an I attribute a hell of a lot of it to them.

It isn't self indulgent to mourn the parents you never had, and never will have. It's quite necessary and helps to move forward.

ThatBintAgain Fri 23-Nov-12 18:12:39

Xpost Lotta - I'm sure our paths have crossed on similar threads. smile

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 18:14:59

Hi lotta, how are you? Remember chatting before..hope you're finding more peace.
Hard to function w dc when i feel like this though and dh gets impatient
But you're right, logically i know i need to grieve my real loss of "!normal" caring parents, a real, real loss to me as i love and have needed them , the buggers!!!!!!angryangryangryangry

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 18:25:48

Sorry, I'm on my phone so replies a bit slow!

What you said makes perfect sense. As a child and young person you have emotional needs that parents should meet, yet you have no way of judging how well they are doing - perhaps there's a sense that all is not quite as it should be but as you said, there's also a strong tendency to want things to be right and so to ignore the doubt.

I suppose that as you become an adult, and maybe again when you have children of your own, it becomes clearer what was missing and it can be a very painful time, perhaps more painful than the childhood experience itself because you know it can't be put right, hence the sense of grieving.

It's totally fine to grieve whatever you need to grieve. Did your parents raise you to think that trying to meet emotional needs was 'indulging' someone?

forgetmenots Fri 23-Nov-12 20:35:25

My DH is currently grieving, for the parents he wished he had had and the grandparents he wished our LO might have. It isn't self indulgent, but he thinks it is, because his feelings aren't important, or valid. Years of conditioning, years of being told that only his mother's emotions were worth anything have really left their mark.

You need to grieve the loss of people that you love and hoped could be more, so that you can move on and rebuild some of the damage they've caused. I really feel for you, OP. Take the time you need and find some peace thanks

Salbertina Fri 23-Nov-12 21:01:48

Thanks, guys, it's just doing it, you know? Yea, i was/still am v much invalidated by them so counterintuitive to contradict them, its my default .. I am a work in progress !

SomethingOnce Fri 23-Nov-12 21:31:52

And it is hard work, so look after yourself.

Everything feels worse when you're not getting enough sleep; it's easy to recommend more rest but difficult to achieve when your mind is going over and over things in the small hours.

So, see if this works for you... When you're ready for sleep, tense all the muscles in your body and hold for a few seconds, then release. Then, working from the tips of your toes, focus on relaxing each muscle, moving up your body. Go slowly and don't worry if other thoughts creep in - just acknowledge them, allow them to float away and return to your relaxation.

I think it works so well because it replaces complex thoughts about things you can't fix then and there, with something small and manageable that your mind can more usefully do for you.

Wishing you a peaceful night.

Lottapianos Sat 24-Nov-12 08:21:26

Hey Salbertina, I have had a dreadful week actually. Sobbing and panic attacks and self loathing. Took 2 days off work because I just couldn't cope. Glad I did because it gave me time to deal with the feelings instead of brushing them off. I can't remember if you see a counsellor but I highly recommend it - I see a psychotherapist every week and she helps me so much. It's all so painful - be as kind to yourself as you can and remember that you are doing a really good thing for yourself by living your own life.

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 09:06:48

And hello to Bint also, our paths definitely crossed before. Sorry to hear you're off with stress, that sounds tough. Hope you get the time/space to work through it all.
I am no contact but occasional rather abusive v defended email to dh from df; dm cant even reply hmm

Df kindly pointing out to dh how I am "behaving as badly now" (not at all dh's view) " as i did as a child", no evidence to substantiate this but more to the point neglectful of the fact that HE was the parent, i was the CHILD angry

My current apparently "bad behaviour" has been basically boundary-setting ( and imho fairly basic ones at that):

1. Asking them (firmly but politely) not to speak of me behind my back in front of my young kids
2. Treating me with respect and as a fellow adult when we meet regardless of their actual view of me
3. Not making repeated, unfounded allegations about my mental health - the reason, apparently, why dh and i separated not because of his emotional affair hmm[hmm. They never even bloody asked, just presumed!! Feel the need to point out that I'm fairly high-achieving on paper - had reasonably high flying career before came overseas, finishing masters, got supportive friends and dh, never been off work with MH problems. Dh admits his escapade reason for our separation- hell, i know it was as i left him!! Something my parents failed to 'appreciate! Their default seems to be to blame me sad i had no inkling of this until v recently and am now questioning my life with them and all our conversations over the years. Feels like it was all so false, they were going through the motions while all the time thinking i was being "badly behaved" or mentally ill or thinking any of my problems - like the trivial matter of separation with 2kids @7,000miles- were not "real". angry hmmbiscuit

My bad behaviour encompassed passing my A levels to get to uni, not sleeping around, not getting drunk or ever taking drugs and never getting into trouble at school. So, other than being a moody adolescent who at times challenged parental boundaries as teens do and used to defend my spineless enabler df against being railed at by my mum, i cant quite see how i was so off the scale awful hmm To the extent that as df put it they thought of "turning their backs on me, then as now!"

Sorry fir the essay!

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 09:20:15

Hi lotta, hope you're felling a little better today?? Agree, counselling vital. Also see psychotherapist weekly so much better than Cbt for this imho. Had seen 2x highly recommended, accredited Cbt therapists who both said i needed to reframe negative yhoughts about my childhood hmm

Lottapianos Sat 24-Nov-12 09:37:13

Glad you're seeing a therapist Salbertina, it's just not something that can be fixed with 6 counselling sessions is it? Shocked about what your CBT therapists said! Nice bit of victim blaming there!

I relate to so much of what you say about your parents. They think I'm a raving lunatic who is not capable of having good relationships or making good decisions. Oh the irony! I'm feeling better thank you. Going to start taking St John's Wort because I'm scared of ADs but feel I need a bit of extra lift. Well done for facing all this by the way, it's bloody gruelling!

ThistlePetal Sat 24-Nov-12 09:55:03

Salbertina, I've also spoken with you on other threads, sorry to hear how difficult you are finding this right now. You have every right to grieve the loss of the parents you never had, and I think it's very healthy that you recognise that this is what is causing you so much angst. It means you have an opportunity to break the cycle, and reset your boundaries on your own terms. It's painful though, isn't it? And so sad. I think the other thing that we might be grieving is the loss of all those years which we spent blaming ourselves - I can't help but wonder how different my life might have been if my parents had show me unconditional love and support....

I'm also having to come to terms with the fact that my parents just do not see how their attitude towards me while I was growing up, has had a direct impact on how we relate to each other now. I had been avoiding them since I split from DH, about a month ago, when they told me I'd broken their hearts by leaving my marriage. But I dropped round last weekend and could tell my mother was about to burst, and burst she did. Among the nasty comments and self-absorbed ranting, was the revelation from my dad that all my mum ever wanted was a "normal" daughter who took her out to lunch and shopping etc. I stayed adult as much as I could, and replied that I was well aware that our relationship wasn't normal (so, so tempting to say that I didn't have a normal mum either, but that would just feed the troll), but that if we wanted to improve things we would both have t work hard at that. She simply said she had done all she could. So that's a no to working on our relationship then.

So I came away with evidence, in my mind, that she still does not see me as a worthwhile person with valid opinions. She has absolutely no concept of the fact that her parenting of me is at fault here, and I'm pretty sure that she never will have. She simply sees me as an obstacle to be got round so she can keep in contact with her only grandchildren. Ain't happening, unless I bring them round and stay with them the whole time. She wouldn't be able to stop herself from making inappropriate comments about me to them.

And then we have the guilt, of minimising contact with people in their late 70s, leaving them sad and lonely sad. It's shit, isn't it?

Sorry to rant. I typed all this out into a notebook last weekend and thought I'd dealt with some of my feelings, but reading this thread this morning triggered it again. Thanks for the opportunity for some more catharsis, it's obviously still needed!

I'm also having therapy at the moment, interesting to hear that psychotherapy is working better for you than CBT. Not a fan of CBT myself, but my therapist is a straightforward person-centred counsellor, and that's working well for me. Just to be able to sit in a room and say all these things without being told that what I'm feeling is wrong, or invalid, works wonders for me. Gosh, imagine having had that for the last 40 years?

Anyway, lots of strength to you all - I wish none of us were in this position, but at least we are all doing something positive about it, and that's what we need to hang on to in the darker moments x

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 09:57:47

That's good Lotta, you don't seem raving to me. Rather eminently sensible! St johns wort meant to be good. I take 5htp, fish oils and make myself run, all self-care and all helps. Should probably have a couple of wine-free days a week blush become too much of a crutch at times..tho rarely have more than 1 or 2 glasses it IS every day..

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 10:04:19

Hi TP, yes remember you too. How are you? You seem v brave and pragmatic, quite a load you have w yr recent separation. So much for your parents' support, hey? hmm

agree v cathartic to let it all out, far better out than in - that way depression, shame, toxic self-blame lies..

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 10:08:11

And with you on the guilt at seemingly treating my 70-something parents so shabbily, if only people knew!

Your dm sounds like she nay have NPD, maybe? Have you read "children of the self-absorbed" or "toxic parents" ?

ThistlePetal Sat 24-Nov-12 11:03:35

Yeah, I've been telling friends how little support my parents have offered me since the split, and that I wasn't really expecting anything more. I think folk just don't understand though, and why would they? It must be impossible to imagine that someone's own parents don't even like them! (Was that bad grammar?? Sorry!) So it's very isolating, isn't it?

I haven't read those books. It's been about 5 years since I first started to realise that I wasn't such a bad and shameful person, and I have done some therapy during that time, but I do think it's all coming to a head and I have to do some serious reading and work. Did you find the books useful? Just wondering if I already know enough about my mother's personality!

Think I might need to re-start taking fish oils too, brain is so fuzzy with it all! And re drinking wine, I've used alcohol as a crutch for most of my adult life, and am trying to really cut down now. Drank wine last night and I'm sure it's one of the reasons I feel so down this morning. It's only helpful during the actual drinking process, I think!

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 11:12:58

Well done for cutting down, intention is all.
Yes, people only seem to get it if they have similar parents, in my experience. One friend said she didn't take " to the kind of people who don't get on with their parents", she was talking about a mutual friend but found v off-putting and blaming. Still mates as she's good fun but i hold her at arms' length, rather.

Abitwobblynow Sat 24-Nov-12 11:18:52

Stay well away from them.

To grieve means that you are mourning for something that has died - your hope for parents who really loved you, heard you and accepted you for who you really are.

And in order to do that you have to accept that they are really who they are.

That is a real struggle, to accept the truth and allow those real feelings of pain.

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 11:51:43

Abit, yes am thinking proper nc for next 3 months so dh under orders not to tell me if df contacts him sad

forgetmenots Sat 24-Nov-12 12:00:32

I'm not sure if anyone else has a different slant but from what I've seen, NC only works when it's proper NC, and it's not going to be revoked (to the best of their knowledge). Reduced contact in our case didn't help one but, we were just subjected to harassment and bullying. That still happens from time to time with the full NC but we do not respond and so they don't get to have the satisfaction of upsetting DH... Salbertina are you planning on trialling full NC, or just having a break? How does your DH feel about this? (Good luck)

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 12:09:02

FMN, yes have had similar reaction, horrible, isn't it?
I told them i wouldn't be in touch unless or intil they acknowledged and agreed to my 3 boundaries:
Not speaking of me in front of my kids
Treating me ad a fellow adult regardless of actual view
Not repeating regular - and unfounded- allegations of my supposed mental instability esp in front of my kids
Their reaction?? The 3 points above not even acknowledged by df. In 4 mobths dm has yet to all angryangryangryangrysadsadsad biscuithmm

forgetmenots Sat 24-Nov-12 12:19:41

That's very sad, your requests are very reasonable and anyone who was remotely interested in working on the relationship would immediately agree. I didn't catch that they had just failed to respond, that is strange to say the least.

You've done the right thing though in putting your boundaries very clearly and not altering, well done. (I know how hard that can be!)

I never knew parents like this existed before I met PILs. Now on here I see how common they are and it makes me really sad that lovely people like you and my DH are let down by the very people who are meant to give them unconditional love angry - although my MIL thinks she is the best, most self-sacrificing mother in the world hmm

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 12:37:50

Thanks, good to hear that, it seemed reasonable to me. And yes, if they were properly bothered they would have done some bridge-building by now. Properly floored at how little they really care, assumed they did.

Df says i have said the "cruellest thing imaginable" to my mum (alleging emotional and some physical abuse) and that "she was/is always there for me" . I can understand it is v v hard for them to hear but they've yet to check am i ok/was i ok then and do I as the recipient of dm's supposed support actually agree? Flat-out no, rarely did and rarely has heard me , validated me, allowed my feelings to be.

forgetmenots Sat 24-Nov-12 12:49:30

It's mixed messages isn't it? They make out that you are destroying them through cutting them off, but in reality aren't fussed. This has been a total pattern of my relationship with MIL. She wants control over everything but isn't actually interested in it or us.

Your DF is a classic enabler, and sounds exactly like my FIL (nice enough but completely in support and denial of his wife's behaviour and the damage it causes). Don't allow him to rewrite your history - only you know if your DM was the mother you needed and you seem to have been very sensible and measured in how you have dealt with her. The real threat, this 'cruel behaviour' is that you are allowing your own feelings, of course, something she has spent years trying to stamp out. You are really an incredibly strong person that her conditioning has not been enough to quash your identity completely, remember that.

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 13:07:47

Thanks again, feeling saner by the minute smile
You are incredibly insightful and supportive, FMN, hope yr dh realises and appreciates this..
Yes, they're not up to acknowledging let alone validating my feelings,
Like your FIL, I imagine, my df is rather feeble and possibly guilt-ridden though at a subconscious level, Im sure.

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 13:10:30

And yy, dm was absolutely not the mother i needed as a teen tho happy memories of when i was a little girl. Apparently am wrong in this though, not a "real" issue and i should "be aware how many people envy my life" hmm

forgetmenots Sat 24-Nov-12 13:26:30

No, of course that's unfair and invalidating. You've genuinely done well though to recognise all of this as toxic behaviour, i think sadly that is the bit that is most difficult for a lot of people and they blame themselves forever.
You are very sane! No one reading this thread would think otherwise. You've made some very complex feelings and issues very clear. Your DF may definitely be processing his own guilt (and no doubt subordinate status in his own marriage), and maybe there will be a point where he is strong enough to acknowledge this. (I suspect your DM was ok with you until you got past the age of just agreeing with her and developed views of your won - this is why your boundary requests have threatened her).

You gave some good advice on the other toxic mum thread, too - you're well on your way smile

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 13:32:29

Well, still holed up in bed nesting and feeling sorry for self due to horrendous night's sleep- nightmares, insomnia etc Kind dh picking up the slack. Torn between feeling should pull self together and seize the day and...not. Looks like I've opted for latter option blush.

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 13:35:53

And am on the way due to counsellor's support, doubt would have had strength or insight otherwise (had been tempted to chuck it all in and contact them regardiess the other day til he talked me out of it "for my own psychological health") That and dh being here.

forgetmenots Sat 24-Nov-12 13:40:35

Don't be too hard on yourself, it is not easy and you've taken help from available sources which is the only way any of us can survive at times. A day in bed being looked after will do you no harm, it sounds like you deserve a bit of peaceful time (And your DH sounds lovely, good to know he is the support you need).

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 14:04:02

Now that's validating grin

forgetmenots Sat 24-Nov-12 14:15:29

Enjoy! grin

crescentmoon Sat 24-Nov-12 14:18:37

really empathise here with you salbertina.

Salbertina Sat 24-Nov-12 14:53:01

Thanks Crescent- the gratitude thread certainly a big help and a good focus of the blessings in my life.

Walkacrossthesand Sun 25-Nov-12 07:33:04

Can I ask a question of the assembled crew? Several times on this thread, the narcissistic DM/DF has been reported as saying/feeling that they've 'done all they can' or feel that they are good parents. Is this a characteristic of NPD? I ask because my eldest daughter (22) who has difficulty making/keeping relationships (including with her sisters sad and I increasingly suspect has NPD tendencies, is very fond of stating that 'she has tried really hard to be nice' in any situation where a relationship isn't working. I can't see it, (her being nice, that is) but she genuinely seems to believe it, and it leaves me at a loss to know how to respond! Sorry for sideways move.

OpheliaPayneAgain Sun 25-Nov-12 07:51:55

I sometimes wonder if parents are typical of their time rather than abusive? People then people try and apply todays values to yester-year.

I'm sure if I tried really hard I could think of something really ""abusive"" my parents did - like make me focus on education - by todays standards someone would psychoanalyse me as 'seeking parental approval' - well we all want to achieve and be liked, so that kind of blows that theory out of the water. FWIW I'm not a people pleaser.

When a child feels scapegoated or isolated I do wonder if sometimes the child is just very difficult and I would love to hear the rest of the family views.

Walkacrossthesand Sun 25-Nov-12 08:15:01

PS also, any tips for how I can help my eldest daughter - she seems to have so little insight into how her interactions with other people seem to them.

crescentmoon Sun 25-Nov-12 08:20:57

this year i decided to no longer be a cash cow for my parents, and i decided that i would no longer put strain on my marriage in order to save my parents marriage. part of that was seeing that DH was getting fed up of my priorities and realising that i had to prioritise my children just as my mum had prioritised her children. i am still dealing with the guilt of not being the dutiful daughter that was my role since day dot.

forgetmenots Sun 25-Nov-12 09:29:54

No Ophelia, this goes far beyond this and to blame the child (who already has endured years of blame, for no reason other than they have been singled out) just reinforces that.

Believe me when I say I did not know any of this kind of thing existed until I met my PILs. My own parents are lovely, but yes 'of their time' and like you I'm sure if I was being twisted I could conjure up things about their behaviour - but why would I? confused hmm. This bears no relation to the relationships on display in my DH's family. I have been shocked by this and when I came on here for help I was shocked to find there were others! Did you not read the part where scarlet woman detailed how her DM makes suicide threats in front of children? (My MIL threatens suicide in very graphic detail when she doesn't get her own way over anything and expects us to take her seriously. When I started phoning NHS for advice she was somewhat less amused and flew into a rage). Surely you see that whether we agree on the labelling or not, this is completely out of order and destructive to say the very least.

I'm interested to know why you're unsure of this - have you never come across it (a lucky one like I was) or do you identify with it but from another angle?

forgetmenots Sun 25-Nov-12 09:31:44

She could be, walk - sorry I've no experience of dealing with young people possibly with npd but I'm sure someone fab and helpful will be along soon!

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

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now