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narc family?

(15 Posts)
poppysteaparty78 Sat 22-Nov-14 20:18:41

Hi and sorry if this is a subject that has been covered many times before!

I just wondered if anyone very clued up on narcs and families could help...
I have two beautiful and happy DDs, my mother is completely doting and actively helps out with childcare while I work, I'm a single parent and do need this help!
But we have a very complex relationship. Essentially, I'm just not sure if she is a narc or not!
I feel that she loves me conditionally, so if I don't 'behave' or act in the right way, she is annoyed or upset with me. At 36, I am confident in other areas of my life but feel like a pathetic child in her company. Everything seems to be about how upset she is and how hard life is for her, yet she has a loving husband (my step dad), beautiful home and lovely grandchildren.

I simply never felt good enough, and suffered with an eating disorder when I was younger, alcohol abuse, exercise addiction, everything under the sun really! I genuinely recognise I haven't been a walk in the park and boy do I get reminded of it.

My mum thinks my brother can do no wrong; if we fall out, she is straight on the phone to him and subsequently he gives me a hard time about hurting this not triangulation?

I feel like losing my mind, I'm so sorry if this seems incredibly self indulgent.

poppysteaparty78 Sat 22-Nov-14 20:54:30


cafesociety Sat 22-Nov-14 20:57:36

I am not so knowledgeable as many on here, but it does seem your DM is doing the whole Fear Obligation Guilt [FOG] tactic on you - what certain personality types do to control you/to get what they want from you. Google the phrase.

I also think you are right about the triangulation mother used to do this, amongst other behaviours, she would do anything to make me the outsider, the bad guy. Anyone she could get on her side to agree what a trial I was, what an awful life she had [her life wasn't great but it was to do with my stepfather...not me [transference [?] I think, and a denial of a painful truth].

Please don't feel you aren't good enough. These people have issues and flaws that they haven't the insight to identify and get help with. It is they who are the problem. Quote: 'It's people with problems that give other people problems'. See it for the manipulation it is. Shame on your brother for agreeing with everything he is told, he should distance himself and think for himself.

You're ok. Your mum is playing on your vulnerability as a single parent who needs help at the moment. That isn't fair. You're bright enough to see what's happening here.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 22-Nov-14 21:00:50

I'm never sure if labels really help. 'Narc' is used so casually that it's lost meaning. What you're describing is a difficult relationship with someone who is meant to be close and supportive. Your inability to meet some impossible & shifting standard leading to feelings of low self esteem.

If it was anyone other than a parent you'd probably walk away. You could choose to do that, of course. Or you could choose to stand up to this person, marginalise their influence and change the paradigm. Stop being the little kid and turn the tables.

poppysteaparty78 Sat 22-Nov-14 21:05:10

Thanks Cafe..that's given me a lot to think about and I will definitely google FOG.

It's incredibly hard when it's so subtle though, to the outside world my Mum is absolutely lovely and always tells people about how troubled I am and how she wants to help me but doesn't know how. Strange as I'm highly functioning and have three jobs, and do all the school runs etc almost completely by myself. I still feel like a failure in her eyes.
I will do more research though and yes I agree - shame on my brother. He always does enjoy lecturing me I feel on both my shortcomings and how I've hurt mum.

poppysteaparty78 Sat 22-Nov-14 21:07:31

You're right Cogito, reading back my posts, I do sound like a child!
I absolutely would walk away if it were a friendship. My self esteem has been a major issue.

margerybruce Sat 22-Nov-14 21:11:43

One thing that I learnt in psychotherapy was that those feelings that you had as a child, when you had no power so just had to put up with it all - those feelings don't have to follow you into adult hood.

So think how you feel now when she does what she does. Do you recognise that feeling? Is it how you felt when you were small and powerless?

Well do you know? - you don't have to feel like that now - you are an adult with power. You are not that child who turns it all inwards so that you end up with an eating disorder.

She only has the power you give her now. You can start to pull her up about things and question her when she reports to your brother. You can stop listening to your brother.

You are not that child any more.

poppysteaparty78 Sat 22-Nov-14 21:20:46

Thank you Margery. I think I needed to hear that; my emotions and way of thinking have been stuck. I'm not sure it is worth pulling her up on things though; my brother and step dad are so overly protective of her, heaven forbid she should be hurt, that I don't think there would be anything to gain.
I'm contemplating walking away/going low contact with some of the family so I can be the parent (and grown up!) I want to be..and also what my children deserve

cafesociety Sat 22-Nov-14 21:21:09

How the 'favourites' love their status and do not want to fall from the pedestal or lose favours bestowed upon them.

My 2 half siblings loved to hear my mother tell of my shortcomings [when I was just struggling through lack of support, yet actually doing what she couldn't have done, ironically]. It smacks of bullying. They were are very sheep like and actually used my mother in many ways. She got wise to it though eventually but wouldn't admit it.

It took me a while, lots of talking, lots of reading, lots of research to realise what was actually happening in my situation. My mother was feeling threatened and jealous of my life ironically.

It takes a lot of work to unravel and to identify and hopefully change the dynamics within a family. But anything that makes you feel unhappy is worth addressing and making the changes so you don't feel so intimidated.

Knowledge is much info on the internet now.

poppysteaparty78 Sat 22-Nov-14 21:28:57

Oh absolutely Cafe; I have an inkling my brother loves being the favourite and my role as black sheep suits him very well. Conversely I was the golden child for years until early twenties and I know he suffered because of that.
It must have been hard to deal with your half siblings but incredibly helpful to work it out and understand the bonkers dynamics!; I think jealously is possibly often at the core? (Though I'm very inexperienced in all of this).
I just get the feeling mum actively likes to keep me down and actually prefers it when I'm a little depressed and less independent...

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 22-Nov-14 21:32:09

I'd risk a bit of hurt. Bullying.... which is what I think is going on here.... has to be stood up to. Bullies don't like it and will spit dummies and cry crocodile tears all over the place but you have a trump card.... your child. Even the worst bully will rein it in a little if they think the precious grandchild may be taken away. Be your mother's daughter.... use a few nasty tricks back on her.

I can hear cries of 'Oh no Cog! Two wrongs don't make a right!' but I'd rather be a bitch with some self respect than a quivering wreck frightened to speak up.

cafesociety Sat 22-Nov-14 21:41:59

As disturbing as the thought is I think a lot of mothers are unhealthily competitive with their daughters for their own various reasons. A bit like the friend who can't afford to go around with someone more attractive than they are. [I have been that less attractive friend, to make the other person looked good!]

It's their problem/insecurity, but no joke when it affects your own self esteem and well being. You can't change the other person but you can change the way you relate to them, your attitude, your boundaries, what you will and will not accept. Good luck.

poppysteaparty78 Sat 22-Nov-14 21:47:15

I think that's a very good point actually Cog. Have to admit it may not come that naturally to me though. But to be honest my family already don't think that highly of me, so if they thought I was a bitch, it wouldn't really be that bad.
I wish there was some definitive trick or skill to genuinely not caring what people thought or to developing an incredibly thick skin!
I think you have nailed it in that; as I continue to try to please them (and fail of course) I continue to be a quivering wreck with zero self esteem..

poppysteaparty78 Sat 22-Nov-14 21:54:07

Thank you Cafe, and good luck to you too (though you sound much more further along than me and very insightful), I think the jealously thing amongst other things, can be very subtle and not obvious.
My mum I know doesn't like me thinking I'm intelligent and she would seldom compliment me. It's just so different to how I feel abut my girls; they're only very little but I feel I have to keep myself in check from telling them how wonderful, beautiful, lovely and funny they are as it gets a little cringey! but it just feels consuming and I want them to know and feel good!
I do agree a lot of this is about my own attitude and they will react to me differently if I change.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 22-Nov-14 21:55:03

And I know this because....... smile I also have a tricky mother who can be a bit of a bully. Stand up to her and you're 'being nasty' but if you don't, she's completely unmanageable. Poor old thing has dementia now and spends her days ranting about mysterious intruders that have stolen her nightdress, but she was such an irrational hothead at the best of times that it took a while for anyone to notice.

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