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Another narc parent thread (sorry!), lulled into a false sense...again

(31 Posts)
Capitaltrixie Fri 08-Nov-13 13:17:01

Apologies in advance; I have posted and commented on a few narcy threads lately so at the risk of sounding like a broken record, here goes!

Recently I chose to, whilst keeping at arms length, be slightly more friendly again with my mum (a highly passive aggressive/ slightly narcissistic person, all wrapped up in a fluffy, doting, loving grandmother demeanour). Many people in similar situations on here I know have gone NC. I just couldn't bring myself too; the guilt was too much..maybe I'm just too weak. And I haven't ignored previous excellent advice on here (which I'm grateful for), just found the best I could do at the time was take it on board and find my own happy medium. My happy medium was not being close to her or discussing personal issues, but dropping off the grandchildren whilst being superficially polite always. We seemed to be bumbling on ok.

But, she's done it again. Very recently I made a (positive) life changing decision re: DC and me. It's a decision she doesn't like. So she has been talking to my (EA) ex saying she is concerned about me, and many other things. Now I realise this may, in different circumstances, not seem abnormal behaviour. However:
1) she has a history of narc traits
2) on what planet is it ok to moan about ones daughter to their EX?!?
3) How about trusting and supporting and allowing your family to make mistakes (after much soul searching, I don't believe I am making one re: DC or myself)
4) I have told her time and time again if she keeps discussing me (unfavourably) with other family members and my ex, regardless of her motives, I will never be able to trust her and we will never have a close relationship.

I give up. No, I really do this time.

baytree Fri 08-Nov-13 13:34:40

Dear trix, It's Ok that you couldn't bring yourself to go NC. We all do what we can and it is OK.

Your points above list what you and everyone with these people in their lives konw; that they don't change. It is totally unacceptable to discuss you with your EX but she won't change.

Take care of yourself

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 08-Nov-13 13:55:12

What is the positive life changing decision, I wonder? smile I think you have to take the view that anything choose to tell her will be a) challenged and b) broadcast to the world and his wife (or ex wife in this case). If you know this in advance you can choose what and when to divulge. I don't think any of us can expect family to fall in with our plans universally. Being cosy with the ex is pretty insulting, however.

Capitaltrixie Fri 08-Nov-13 14:24:51

Thanks bay It really is accepting the fact that she won't change. I thought I had. But ever the eternal optimist..silly me! sad

Well Cogito, it's moving (only an hour or so), we will be much closer to all other family members. A couple of other details to the move, but I don't want to out myself smile. Of course I can see why she would be upset as we won't be as close by; that's natural. However being, as you put it, so cosy with my Ex is not really on. But you know what, I'm just going to let them get on with it. It definitely bothers me but I can feel a more blasé attitude creeping in (am I getting old??!). I will continue to be careful what I discuss with her..

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 08-Nov-13 14:27:22

Blasé is actually a good place to be. smile Blasé means you don't give a rat's ass... and, speaking personally as someone with let's call it a 'non-traditional' lifestyle which seems to bother the heck out of some people, I've spent the last 15 - 20 years perfecting the art.

Mrspebble Fri 08-Nov-13 14:31:09

I think you will have great comfort being that bit further away. Try to keep up the false happy thing until you get it set in stone.

They can be very manipulative!!!

arthriticfingers Fri 08-Nov-13 14:35:28

Just wanted to send some understanding.
It is like being kicked in the stomach just when you thought things were ok sad
Whatever you decide to do - hold tight at all times to 'it is not me; is is her.'
It really is. It always was.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 08-Nov-13 14:59:54

Narcs are true masters of, "come closer so I can hurt you again". You drop any part of your guard however small, they see that and pounce on it to great effect.

You set boundaries and she'll ignore them particularly with reference to your point 4. Re point 3, she sees you really as a non person, someone who is there to serve her.

There is only one way to please a narcissist (and it won't please you): that is to indulge their every whim, cater to their tiniest impulses, bend to their views on every little thing. There's only one way to get decent treatment from narcissists: keep your distance. They can be pretty nice, even charming, flirtatious, and seductive, to strangers, and will flatter you shamelessly if they want something from you. When you attempt to get close to them in a normal way, they feel you are putting emotional pressure on them and they withdraw because you're too demanding. They can be positively fawning and solicitous as long as they're afraid of you, which is not most people's idea of a real fun relationship.

Run for cover when they start acting normal, maybe expressing a becoming self-doubt or even acknowledging some little fault of their own, such as saying they now realize that they haven't treated you right or that they took advantage of you before. They're just softening you up for something really nasty. These people are geniuses of "Come closer so I can slap you." Except that's not the way they think about it, if they think about it -- no, they're thinking, "Well, maybe you do really care about me, and, if you really care about me, then maybe you'll help me with this," only by "help" they mean do the whole thing, take total responsibility for it, including protecting and defending them and cleaning up the mess they've already made of it (which they will neglect to fill you in on because they haven't really been paying attention, have they, so how would they know??). They will not have considered for one second how much of your time it will take, how much trouble it may get you into in their behalf, that they will owe you BIG for this -- no, you're just going to do it all out of the goodness of your heart, which they are delighted to exploit yet again, and your virtue will be its own reward: it's supposed to just tickle you pink to be offered this generous opportunity of showing how much you love them and/or how lucky you are to be the servant of such a luminous personage. No lie -- they think other people do stuff for the same reason they do: to show off, to perform for an audience. That's one of the reasons they make outrageous demands, put you on the spot and create scenes in public: they're being generous -- they're trying to share the spotlight with you by giving you the chance to show off how absolutely stunningly devoted-to-them you are. It means that they love you; that's why they're hurt and bewildered when you angrily reject this invitation.

Sod feeling guilty as well; do you think she feels guilt?. Not a bit of it, she also has no empathy at all for you and your life either. Narcs have no empathy and their self hatred holds no bounds. She sees a kindred spirit in your ex; I think as well your mother's mad interactions with you from childhood led you into the arms of such an abuser to start with.

Be extremely careful about contact between her and your children. She also I daresay uses your children as narc supply and could well start getting to you via them.

To my mind it is not possible to have any sort of relationship with a narcissist.

What do you get out of any relationship with her anyway?. Its all completely one sided towards her. You may well be in FOG - fear obligation guilt (particularly that one) with regards to your mother. It is NOT your fault she is like this; her parents did that lot of damage to her way back.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 08-Nov-13 15:02:51

I would recommend you read "Children of the Self Absorbed" written by Nina W Brown if you have not already done so.

Capitaltrixie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:09:13

I'd rather have a non traditional lifestyle any day of the week Cogito smile (I'm intrigued!). Blasé all the way.

Yes pebble I'm looking forward to the distance, definitely. And thanks for the understanding fingers. That's it. I was left feeling like saying 'oh bloody hell, here we are again, the Mary Poppins act is just a load of codswallop'.

One thing though..the 'it's not me; it's her.' That is the hardest thing for me. Some days it's ok. Then other days, I doubt myself. Just got to keep thinking blasé blasé blasé. It's having that innate confidence. It is coming...along with my eye wrinkles grin

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 08-Nov-13 15:16:30

I would reiterate, you did not cause her to be this way.

What if anything do you know about this woman's childhood; that could well hold clues. You did not cause her to become a narcissist; her own parents and wider family members did that to her.

MummyBeerest Fri 08-Nov-13 15:22:09

Total empathy a similar situation. It's all bullshit.

Everyone else has given better advice, but remember; she's making you doubt yourself. Taking her out of the equation, you're doing a great, positive thing that no one else would ever judge you for.

Good luck with your new adventures!

Capitaltrixie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:22:10

Excellent post and advice Attila. Your description of how to keep a narcissist happy is very insightful. And very true.

Can narcs have pretend empathy..? It's just that she does the 'there there, my poor thing' if she thinks something is wrong (I pretty much just want to be left alone if there is to be honest!).

My ex is a kindred spirit to her. He is also manipulative and both treat(ed) me like I was an incompetent child at times! It's sad that this interaction probably drew me to someone like him.
I am definitely in has clouded many romantic relationships I think, I've had to do a lot of work on myself..and continuing to do. Getting there.

What do I want? um..a few years ago I would have said a 'normal', loving, kind mum. But now, I'm just grateful for the few healthy, kind, unconditionally loving family members I do have. The other relationship is just not meant to be. Thank you again for putting so much time into your very helpful post. Haven't read it but will check out that book.

Capitaltrixie Fri 08-Nov-13 15:26:44

Ok , so her own childhood Atilla in her view; 'cold', stoic parents, victorian era-esq I suppose (although I have a great relationship with my grandmother I have to say), she always blamed them for being they way they are ('they never gave me anything/were unloving/harsh').

Thanks mummy and for the luck, can't tell you how helpful and lovely it is to hear that; it's very reassuring. I will live to fight another day and she will not get there better of me! smile Hope all is ok with you though, it is indeed bullshit.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 08-Nov-13 15:28:24

This is also from

Trying to reform narcissists by reasoning with them or by appealing to their better nature is about as effective as spitting in the ocean. What you see is what you get: they have no better nature. The fundamental problem here is that narcissists lack empathy.

Lacking empathy is a profound disturbance to the narcissist's thinking (cognition) and feeling (affectivity). Even when very intelligent, narcissists can't reason well. They don't understand the meaning of what people say and they don't grasp the meaning of the written word either -- because so much of the meaning of anything we say depends on context and affect, narcissists (lacking empathy and thus lacking both context and affect) hear only the words.

(my ILs are great ones for this!!)

Discussions with narcissists can be really weird and disconcerting; they seem to think that using some of the same words means that they are following a line of conversation or reasoning. Thus, they will go off on tangents and irrelevancies, apparently in the blithe delusion that they understand what others are talking about. And, frankly, they don't hear all the words, either. They can pay attention only to stuff that has them in it. This is not merely a bad habit -- it's a cognitive deficiency. Narcissists pay attention only to themselves and stuff that affects them personally. However, since they don't know what other people are doing, narcissists can't judge what will affect them personally and seem never to learn that when they cause trouble they will get trouble back. They won't take other people's feelings into consideration and so they overlook the fact that other people will react with feeling when abused or exploited and that most people get really pissed off by being lied to or lied about.

Narcissists lack a mature conscience and seem to be restrained only by fear of being punished or of damaging their reputations -- though, again, this can be obscure to casual observation if you don't know what they think their reputations are, and what they believe others think of them may be way out of touch with reality.

Their moral intelligence is about at the level of a bright five- or six-year-old; the only rules they recognize are things that have been specifically required, permitted, prohibited, or disapproved of by authority figures they know personally. Anyhow, narcissists can't be counted on not to do something just because it's wrong, illegal, or will hurt someone, as long as they think that they can get away with it or that you can't stop them or punish them (i.e., they don't care what you think unless they're afraid of you).

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 08-Nov-13 15:30:47

"Ok , so her own childhood Atilla in her view; 'cold', stoic parents, victorian era-esq I suppose (although I have a great relationship with my grandmother I have to say), she always blamed them for being they way they are ('they never gave me anything/were unloving/harsh')".

Snap re the childhood with regards to my ILs. MILs father was emotionally unavailable and very much an authoritarian figure. FILs father was of a similar bent and very religious with it; that also caused a lot of familial friction.

I can only reiterate the advice to keep your distance; it is the only way I stay relatively sane around my ILs.

Capitaltrixie Sat 09-Nov-13 12:13:17

Thanks again Attila (I actually remember your well informed posts on another narc thread, sounds like you have a lot of experience with your ILs..)

That site you linked was interesting, particularly:
'If you were raised by a narcissistic parent, then you've been taught that the narcissist is always right and you're the one who's wrong. A lifetime of such mistreatment typically instills lack of confidence in your own judgment, along with habitual shame at never getting it right or being good enough to deserve the air that you breathe'

Yes, yes, YES! I very much have difficulty having confidence and trusting my judgement. Also shame has always been there in the background (but I've never known why..till now).

Very interesting what you mentioned about discussions with narcissists. Historically a conversation would go as follows:

Me: Mum, I think sometimes we don't communicate very well and sometimes I feel that you seem annoyed with me but won't tell me what's wrong; I can quite easily feel a bit paranoid..
Mum: I know you think I 'm a bad mother and blame me for everything that goes wrong in your life. I tried my best, yet you hate me.
Me: Um..Mum..I didn't say you were a bad parent; I was telling you how I feel about out interactions sometimes..

You summed it up well Attila, weird and disconcerting in the extreme!

Thank goodness for MN and you all. I would have thought it was me forever I think, without being given another perspective on this..thank you all smile

DeckSwabber Sun 10-Nov-13 09:45:47

Capital my mum's version is that I'm oversensitive and neurotic.

I don't know if she's narcissistic or not but one thing I have noticed with her is that she is lovely as long as she feels someone adores her. Teenagers children go through that rebellious stage and she never got over that with us - she just withdrew her affection and that was that.

Everyone I meet says how lovely she is, and she was always a very popular woman. But every now and again something she says is just wrong - like when someone dies she will say how much that person liked her, and how people will want her to go to the funeral. She also assumes that if anyone is upset with her it's because they are jealous of the attention she is giving someone else. If she tells me about her love life its to give a list of men who fell for her and wanted to marry her.

I wonder if your Ex- sucks up to your mum and makes her feel special, while you, who have the real claim for her loyalty and attention, are less 'rewarding'. What I mean is, perhaps her friends congratulate her on having such a great relationship with him, while she'll get no medals for supporting her own daughter.

Capitaltrixie Mon 11-Nov-13 08:08:04

Hi deck, that sounds similar to my mum, the love that my mum shows (I'm not sure if she feels it!) is dependant on how people are with her. It's not unconditional love.

My Ex does suck up to her; he says all the right things (as he did with me in the early days) to make her feel like a good mother and valuable and special, something I've never been good at doing unless I say exactly the right thing and dance to her tune.
But what Attila sad earlier is very true about pleasing a narcissist and generally the way they function and think (I know you said you're not sure if your mum is one, so I'm referring more to mine!).
Have you got to a good place with your mum, in that, as you understand her and can take it less personally?

I've had an unexpectedly bad weekend concerning family and am now thinking about going NC with around 60% to preserve my own mental health and so that DC are ok; I'm not sure that I actually have much of an option.

So (if anyone is still reading), I just wondered if anyone who has experienced this, how they found going NC. And if anyone has experience of being portrayed as the 'black sheep' in an unhealthy family dynamic but made changes (NC, boundaries or whatever), it would be helpful to hear about as I make the final push to sanity. Thanks smile. I'm looking forward to when this is behind me and I can provide some advice and reassurance to someone else about this.

Ursula8 Mon 11-Nov-13 08:26:32

Hi Capital
You have had some great advice here, especially from Atilla.
My mother is an engulfing narc. She had to know everything and be involved in every aspect of my life. She destroyed my self esteem and criticised everything about me. When, partly due to her interference, my marriage broke down, she too sided with XH, even when he knocked the shit out of me.
This was a turning point for me, and as I slowly pieced me life back together, I went lower and lower contact with her. I told her less and less, spoke to her less frequently and kept it to boring subjects, never discussing people with her. This infuriated her to the point where she blew up in my face, proper narc rage. Almost spitting in fury, and she made the mistake of doing this in my home, in front of all the extended family.
I have been NC for most of this year and I can honestly say it has been the best decision. I am so much happier without all her negativity and the emotional draining and stress she causes. I have grown in confidence and have a great new job. I still have plenty of work to do on myself, but I know it is not my fault. My mother has never ever said she loved me, not even as a small child.
My biggest regret, and this is what you really need to think about, is that I allowed her contact with my DC who are now teenagers. They are old enough to make their own arrangements and one of them sees "Toxic Gran" frequently and is enmeshed with her, which makes my life difficult.
Clearly this is my fault as I should never have allowed my kids contact with her. Now I have to sit back and wait for them to see the truth. If you have the chance to remove her from your DC lives whilst they are still young, then grab it with both hands.
Good luck!

Capitaltrixie Mon 11-Nov-13 08:43:59

Thanks Ursula, I identified with a lot of what you said (engulfing/smother mother). I'm really glad for you it all worked out so much better re: going NC and your confidence has grown such a lot smile. It gives me a lot to hold onto. The knowledge that it's not your fault sounds like it's quite a pivotal thing to achieve..I'm working towards that.

Not allowing her much contact with DC will be the hardest as it goes against the grain; but I can see how there will probably be further problems down the line.

sad at what you said about XH knocking the shit out of you..that's just awful. My mum (as mentioned upthread) has cosy chats with my ex whilst being fully aware that he pulled me across the floor by my hair. If someone has done that to one of my DD's I would have felt murderous towards them and it would have required a lot of self-restraint not to punch him (and I'm a pacifist!). Can't help thinking she thought I drove him to it/deserved it sad. Anyway, I need to stop wallowing, make some positive changes and take control. Thanks again thanks

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 11-Nov-13 08:47:58


A good rule of thumb here is that if your mother is too toxic or difficult for you to deal with then she is certainly too toxic for your children to be anywhere around. You would not tolerate such ill treatment from anyone else and family are truly no different. Your children would be better off with kindly figures in their lives rather than a narc mother who will use them as narc supply. Not all grandparents are both kind and loving and narc grandparents in particular make for being poor grandparents.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 11-Nov-13 08:51:35

Missed out the word "your" here in my message.

Your children would be better off with kindly figures in their lives rather than your mother.

I reiterate, such people like your mother really do make for being an awful grandparent.

Capitaltrixie Mon 11-Nov-13 09:19:55

Thanks..and deep down (rationally and logically) I know you're right Attila. She does the completely devoted and loving 'kindly' grandmother act scarily and incredibly well. There will be huge repercussions with the family if I go NC (I play the role of 'black sheep' with my hard done by mother being unappreciated), but again, I need to trust myself.

I will re-read all posts again, and try to get it all to cement in my head (particularly your descriptions of a 'typical' narcissist Attila). It is logical and I understand the psychology of it. It's just when you apply it, it's silencing the 'doubting thomas' in your head. The FOG you described.

Ursula8 Mon 11-Nov-13 09:29:16

Capital, for me it was the absolute horror of accepting that this was the reality of my life and my family. I had to get my head out of the sand and step out of the FOG.
Accepting that my mother is this toxic, dangerous, malicious and venomous was horrible. I would never go back though.

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