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Dear Chump Lady, My dad is a narcissist

narcissistegokibblesDear Chump Lady

I don’t know what to do about my narcissistic father. When I was 13 my father found his special OW on the internet — quite a feat in the late 90s. The dissonance of having a wife and two kids but wanting his OW who lived half way across the country made him angry, emotionally abusive, and just plain evil at times until eventually he filed for divorce. My mother did everything she could to keep our family going despite my father financially devastating her, dragging her to court over pieces of furniture, and using a short-lived visitation schedule with me just to scream at her during transfers. Shortly after the divorce my father moved two thousand miles away to live with and marry the OW.

In the past 15 years our relationship has consisted of an email here and there and a handful of visits, all the while he has acknowledged nothing of what transpired and claims to be an all-around good guy. Our conversations always center on him — the good things he has done for people, the fantastic computer programs he has written, and the early age he can retire. He even has helped lead OW to a proper salvation and tells me stories about them watching Joyce Meyer together. As someone with an MDiv this makes me want to vomit.

Over the years I came to accept the shallow relationship that we had. I ate a shit sandwich here and there and I was rewarded with some sort of contact from him. Sometimes it bothers me more than others. But recently I got married to a former chump. My wife was married for nine years until her then husband found his special OW and, like my father, his dissonance about the situation caused him to be abusive and forced her and her 2 month premature baby to leave.

Now I don’t know what to do about my relationship with him. I feel like it is unfair to my wife and a bad example for my step-daughter to just keep eating the shit sandwiches. I want to talk to him about what he did but I am afraid he will cut me out of his life completely. He always seems to hold me at arm’s length. If I try to get too close he backs off. But if I ignore him he sends me texts or emails to remind me he exists. I don’t know what his reaction would be to confronting him. He might act like he doesn’t remember or he might turn into that angry person I knew as a child. Should I just completely go NC with him or should I try to confront him?


Dear AK,

I think you should go back to accepting the shallow relationship that you had.

Here’s the thing with narcissists — they don’t do confrontation well. It’s a direct affront to ego kibbles (what I call narcissistic supply). They don’t get self-reflexive — they get ugly. They don’t accept blame — they blame shift. Confronting your dad about what a total shit he was to your mom, or to you, is not going to result in a conversion experience. The skies are not going to part and a beam of sunshine will not down from the Lord and change his heart. No, he’s still going to be the guy who brags to you about his early retirement.

You need to remember the Dr. Simon axiom we trot out here — “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

He knows what he did. And he doesn’t care. To him, he did what he had to do to protect his kibble supply. The OW was a fresher, more willing supply of kibbles. Your mother was not. She stood between him and greater kibbles. She had to be punished.

Did he cheat? Yeah so what?

It’s not going to make sense to you because you’re an integrated person with a moral compass. You cannot imagine seeing the world the two-dimensional, self-serving way your father does. You can’t imagine treating your wife and child so terribly that it would not fill you with a lifetime’s worth of regret. He’s not you. He doesn’t share your moral compass or he could not have behaved the way he did.

Do people change over time? Some do. Some people grow and mellow. From what you write, he doesn’t sound like one of those people. If he’s truly wired NPD, this stuff is deep in his operating system.

So what do you do? You accept this is who he is. You trust that he sucks. You grieve (as you’ve probably been grieving for years) the father you wished you had and accept the father you actually got — a crashing bore who enjoys televangelists.

But AK, that doesn’t mean you have to eat shit sandwiches. Figure out what you will and will not put up with and act accordingly. Deal with your dad like you would deal with a toddler. Is he going on about his fabulous computer programming? Deflect! “How about those Cubs?” Change the subject to something light and superficial. Find those small areas of common ground that are safe. Toddler wants a sugary kibble cookie, you deflect over to a shiny toy.

But… but… this is so UNSATISFYING.

Well, yeah it is. You can’t have a reciprocal relationship with a narcissist. It’s always going to be about them. Most of us can do that sporadically for a few hours at a time, and then we need a cocktail, or a 7-day cruise in the Caribbean to recover. This shit is DRAINING.

That’s why people avoid narcissists. They sparkle for the people they need to extract value from, but to their intimates, they’re dreadful companions. The OW gets his soul-sucking company every. single. day. Consider the karma.

I don’t think you are dishonoring your wife and daughter by having a superficial relationship with your mostly absent father. I’m sure your wife must have toxic family members. We all can relate. As long as he’s not interfering in your life in a big way, why not contain the threat with an occasional draining phone call or birthday card?

You could go NC on him and that’s your choice. But IMO, unless he’s really trying to fuck you over, that’s probably more trouble than it’s worth. Then he’ll focus his wrath on you. KIBBLE LOSS RED ALERT!

Just toss the occasional kibble. Like feeding monkeys at the zoo.

Happy holidays!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Missing ChumpSon today, as I’m sure many of the old time readers of this blog are after this post. (Chump Son was a great supporter of the blog whose dad was NPD. He passed away last year.)

    • Oh yes, ChumpSon gave the best advise, maybe AK could go back and review some of his old comments.

    • I was thinking about Chump Son the other day. Is there a way to compile all of his advice into one blog?

    • Here is some advice from Chump Son that I saved, because I thought the “burying” and “mourning” also could be applied to my STBX:

      “That which can be destroyed by truth should be.” That’s a powerful statement and 100% the way we should live.

      You gotta get therapy and keep a grip on this thing.

      You also have to do something else.


      You have to bury your father.

      You have to mourn his loss.

      You did not have a real father. You had a very limited, problematic, character-disordered guy for a parent. Despite that, you turned out well. (Just be careful what kind of relationships you get into. Fine a nice Chump!) But you have to face facts. He is not good for you. And you have to mourn. It is sad. In other blog posts, I have described a kind of final conversation that I had with my own father. (He wasn’t nearly as bad as yours, but bad enough.) I gave up on something: on Dad the World War II hero, on Dad the guy who took me sledding for the first time (I can still remember riding on his back. He was so BIG….) The Dad who taught me history. Yes, there were some good things, but — Damn It! — a boundary had to be drawn, and the fact that I waited so long to draw it made it more painful, not less. So, I drew my boundary, felt better, felt sad, mourned the fact that — while my father had good qualities, some of which I admired (mentioned above), on balance, he was not the man/nor the father he should have been. This is hard. But once you do it, you are better off.

      If you draw boundaries, withdraw and detach from these folks, some relationship may be possible later on. The irony of this is that, when it comes to the disordered, the only possibility for a relationship comes when you give up on them, when you are willing to get up and walk away, when you’ve snapped the chain of need that ties you to the anchor of their chaos and despair.

      I know that sounds weird, like some Eastern Philosophy. Well, let’s hear it for Eastern Philosophy. I had a friend, a good friend, a guy who was a kind of father figure to me –(I attract these father figures quite naturally; I must give off some kind of scent-need; this has been a blessing)–and he said to me once, “You know, you only truly keep what you give away.” He was referring to giving gifts, to giving things with real meaning, but giving them in a way that you kept the memory forever.

      That’s a positive paradox.

      But with the disordered, there’s another paradox. You only have a chance with them (and they may reject you) once you have cut the cord. Once they know that if they get out of line, you are going to get up and walk away.

      And you have to accept something. It’s going to hurt.

      But you’ll be better off for the boundaries, you’ll be a better role model to any children you have, you will be better to and for yourself, for your friends. I can imagine that you and your sister’s friends fret about what this situation does to you both.
      — Chump Son

  • Absolutely spot on advice. The hardest thing to accept is that this is who they really, really are. They really are this shallow, superficial and one-dimensional. They really do think this concretely. There really is no symbolic meaning for them in anything. Fuck OW in the marital bed? Well, it is my bed… – there is nothing you can do with that thinking.
    This is the only way they can relate. To try and push for more, to alert them, to change the situation, is to set yourself up for pain.
    The thing that has helped me the most, is al anon. The only thing you can do is learn to be serene, compassionate and non-controlling, in yourself. Anything else is not in your control. My XH and I have a pretty good relationship, because of al anon, and my giving up on all hope that he is anything but who he really is. He can’t operate higher than a toddler emotionally, so we have the conversations of 5 year olds. It hurts, it is sad to see how much of my life and loneliness I wasted but it is what it is, the power struggle is gone and the $$$$ flow just fine.

    • Patsy, what incredible insight. That is exactly it. They have no ability for introspection, they are truly one-dimensional. Which is hilarious because they can sparkle like the most faceted diamond when they are in the over-valuation phase. So no wonder my ex simply had no response to my horrified feelings of violation (he brought the AP’s into our home, with our children, cheated for decades, fooled us in a thousand disgusting ways, went on family outings, had their paintings hanging on our walls etc etc). I always thought he must have gotten some sick thrills from it, but that also never added up either. As a minister friend of ours said after D-day: “[Ex] is a mile wide and an inch deep.”

      • “As a minister friend of ours said after D-day: “[Ex] is a mile wide and an inch deep.”

        OMG, that perfectly describes my ex as well.

  • I think when dealing with a narcissist, we want logic, we want accountability, we want justice or at least a smidge of regret, and it is never going to come. It’s just not the way they’re wired.

    Consider if you’d really want a narc apology. In my experience exh could effortlessly inject an unhealthy dose of blameshifting and gaslightling into any situation at at all. The two months of lying and devauling before I uncovered the truth and kicked hom out were a confusing maelstrom of verbal abuse and deceit. He began to criticize aspects of my personality that I like and really grasp for straws to put me down. The things he brought up would have been easily worked on by two sane spouses without side action, but I was lead to believe it was all my doing. In two months we went from a loving, warm marriage where I nonetheless made all the effort to him insisting he’d been unhappy forever. And it had nothing to do with warming up a new supply! So unhappy spending thousands of my salary!

    On D-Day this is the ‘apology’ I got, and it really is a masterpiece of cruelty and manipulation-

    “I am sorry that I allowed your behaviour to destroy my good feelings for you.”

    If you’d like a similar non-apology/insult/helping of verbal abuse, by all means confront your dad. That isn’t even a shit sandwich, my friend. A narc apology is a veritable Shitball Croquembouche.

    • AK: What are you getting out of your relationship with your father? Anything remotely positive? Healthy relationships show reciprocity. You call me, I call you – we enjoy each other’s conversation. When I’m in need, you’re there for me and when you’re in need, I’m there for you. This isn’t rocket science.

      As I get older, (I’m in my 50’s now) I understand that my time is too precious to be spent on the losing cause of desperately trying to maintain a relationship with a narcissist. I get nothing out of it. No, sorry, actually the relationship happiness barometer dips into negative values. Mostly, I am diminished and depleted by the hopelessness of the experience.

      No contact is the way to go. It will save your sanity.

    • “I am sorry that I allowed your behaviour to destroy my good feelings for you.”

      Luziana–holy sh*t!! That is one masterful piece of narcissistic, passive-aggressive bull-doo! You’re right, it is hopeless to expect fairness or empathy from a narc. My analogy of late has been that of a coiled spring–you work and work and work to smooth out the spring a little, perhaps even succeeded in stretching part of it into a straight line. But as soon as you relax your grip–boing! back it goes to its own coiled pathology, with the same arguments, blame, and lack of empathy.

      Right before D-day my STBX blamed me for the dogs whining at us to play while we watched TV because “I pamper them too much.” After D-day, I related an emotional point that had come in therapy that day–that I had NEVER felt cherished by him. His response, “I guess my anger at your X (insert fault here) affected me more than I thought so I didn’t cherish you.”

      Fucktard. However, I realized I only feel helpless if I EXPECT logic and compassion from him. I don’t anymore, and the knot in my stomach has relaxed somewhat.

      • I love that analogy of trying to straightenout a coil… that was my life… trying desperately to keep everything ‘happy enough’ etc and the moment my grasp of this coil slipped in some insignificant way and all hell would break loose, or he just decided that today, for shits and giggles, the fact that the plant was turning on its access and the sun was still rising and falling was my fault and all hell would break loose. So glad he is out of my house and my life and I do play the game some because as Patsy says, if I do it well the $$$$ flow well and that is what is happening.

          • Not that there’s anything wrong with that (dating a 20 yo, that is). If being a cougar is how you roll, and you’re both single consenting adults, DO YOU. 😉

    • “Shitball Croquembouche” best ever…

      And I third, or fourth, or Kth, the advice above from dearly missed ChumpSon. I had a seriously Narc mother, and ChumpSon’s thoughts were just so completely spot-on.

    • “I am sorry that I allowed your behaviour to destroy my good feelings for you.”

      Luziana, that gets my vote for the greatest non-apology ever. Holy crap! (trying to pick chin up off floor)

  • I get SPAM emails from people that don’t care about me and want something from me all the time. Usually they just want to sell me something I don’t need.

    Other than cleaning out my inbox all the time, there’s not much I can do about it. I could confront them, but that usually doesn’t stop the emails when I do it, and sometimes they sell your name to a bunch of other people when you do that, so I ignore them mostly.

  • AK,

    CL is spot on about grieving here. You probably have already started this process…but it especially long for deep loses like a loss father as well as all the associated losses that went with how it happened.

    As someone with an MDiv as well, we both know from our training that ignoring what obviously happened (leaving a family and remarrying) is not evidence of the slightest repentance/remorse. To talk about converting the OW is to completely ignore the major business he still needs to transact with God and those he’s wronged. Your visceral reaction to him on this number is telling you correctly what he is–i.e. like a religious person without a living relationship with God (for that would require repentance on his part).

    Blessings on you, AK!


  • My dad is a Narcissist, too. I didn’t figure that out until I was a grown woman, who had married two N’s. I originally thought alcoholism was the problem – granddad was a big time alcoholic, my dad the adult child of an alcoholic, and I later found out a “dry” drunk most of his life who graduated into a closet drunk. Anyway you look at it — fun to be around! But I grew up in a clan that practiced “family secrets” and we mostly did not talk about it. So as an adult I had to start unraveling all the clues and following the truth until one day it all fell in place. When you are raised to believe you are responsible for other people and for “causing” their actions, that you have to “take care” of cleaning up the messes others make in order to be a “good” person — it’s hard to figure out what is wrong!
    Once you actually understand that N’s cannot change, and they will always go thru a cycle of behavior and be oblivious to any desires but their own, it is easier to deal with them. If possible, cut them out of your life and go no contact. If that is not possible (family/children) then go to as low contact as you can. My dad does not have my phone number because I do not want to talk with him on the phone. He can write me stupid letters, which I have learned to endure and mostly ignore. I will see him at family functions, on occasion, but it is always for a brief time. He is 83 and has complications of diabetes — so he cannot drive far or stay long, mercifully for the family. When we must invite him to something it is always in the afternoon, and he has to leave to get home before dark. That way we limit the time we have to “enjoy” his company. We also agree to keep shifting the conversation so that he cannot dominate it. I have 4 siblings, and we have developed a very efficient system of Deflecting Dear Old Dad, so that one of us does not have to endure him for very long. It is similar to an old childhood game called “hot potato” if you ever played that??? These are all coping mechanisms. Dad cannot be cured, we will never have closure. We tried intervention and confrontation years ago, and they were spectacularly ineffective. Narc’s don’t learn their “lesson” and cannot change their behavior. It would be like asking a cat to suddenly start seeing things from the bird’s point of view. The cat will always see the bird as a tasty snack. Narc’s view us all as either useful to them, or not. That’s all you are ever going to get. I wish you the best of luck, and hope you find some type of peace.

    • Portia, it wasn’t until I realized my STBX is a raging narcissist that I also realized my mom is one too. It makes me wonder if that’s why it was fairly easy to step into this cockeyed relationship with him.

      And neither my mother nor my STBX are capable of true self reflection, honesty, or change. Period.

      The STBX and I will someday having nothing to do with one another and his memory can fade for me. But my mom is still close and still causing a great deal of misery. My greatest fear now that I am living with my parents is being stuck with her for my remaining days.

      I’ve tried on several occasions to sit down and get her to realize that she is loved in spite of her high maintenance ways so can she please tone it down a bit. She’s a very smart woman. She’d smile and nod at me and in the next moment go back to doing what she does so well: making mountains out of molehills, jumping to conclusions, speaking badly about people she should love, and being blatantly, inexplicably clueless.

      We have all given up on actually “reaching” her. What a sad relationship!

      Actually my biggest fear is realizing I am just like her — it utterly terrorizes me and is a frequent topic at my therapist’s office. Everyone tells me I am not her, but it’s hard getting it through my skull. Thankfully I am at times able to see how very differently we react to things.

      My husband, at his meanest moments would call me by her name, because he knew nothing upset me more. Nothing.

      The cruelty of these people is unfathomable.

  • Wow, this is all very helpful. Thank you to the adult children of narcissists for sharing your stories and ways you’ve learned to cope. I suspect I’m seeing the future for my sweet daughter, which makes me sad.

    I’ll be there for her when she finally figures out that this is who her father is. I do fear for her in her future choices of men, though. A sparkly man is going to feel very familiar to her.

    And Chump Son, you are so missed. He was wonderful. His posts were the best.

    • I too see this as a future for my children. My son has already made his choice. He has nothing to do with his father but I worry for my daughter. She tries to maintain a very intermittent relationship with him now. A few messages, an occasional catch up once every few months. I truly hope that she sees what is happening and who he actually is xx

  • I get where you are coming from. I found this site when I was reading up about my father’s NPD. People with this disorder, and your dad sounds like a classic one, never heal because they cannot entertain the idea that there is anything wrong with them. Psychiatrists basically consider it untreatable. Years ago, my dad kept huge, aggressive dogs that scared people because he enjoyed that feeling of power. His dog killed a young stranger and he refused to accept any responsibility and was sick enough to try to blame the poor woman for her own death! I realized then that he would NEVER change and went NC -being around him meant I would have to tolerate his fantasy that this stranger had caused her own death and I couldn’t do it. He went to jail for it and what do you think he did when he got out? Got a big, Ill-trained German Shepherd that scared his coworkers and he got off on it. He is old and alone now and i tried to have minimal contact with him at some point, but he brought that dog around my baby when I had specifically asked him not to, so I cut him out for good. You’ve got to reach meh with your dad – fully accept that he is a disordered person incapable of change. Since you live far from your dad, minimal contact could be tolerable. The problem with narcissists is that they don’t respect boundaries and really enjoy pissing people off, so living nearby can be hard. I don’t think you are disrespecting your wife with minimal contact. It’s not like you approve of his behavior or anything.just be grateful that you turned out a decent human being – that is not easy when you have an NPD parent!

    • My father is also a gigantic Narcissist, and I relate to most of what you’re all saying. I moved into his house, just to get away from my X, and because it seemed my father had changed. He ‘s 86. Well, as soon as I got here, he started in with his crap, but I do think I can handle him now. I’ve been educated here!
      So, do you really think they enjoy pissing people off? So far, all he’s done is criticize the hell out of me, try to tell me what to do with my life (that didn’t fly!), and become a pissy recluse. Maybe there are different flavors of Narcs, but I haven’t seen him try to anger people, just treat them like they have zero human rights!

  • You know we so badly want to believe that the Narcs in our life will wake up one day and be normal. To realize the havoc they have caused and to make amends, to acknowledge that they have hurt their families. Nope, never going to happen. To my ex our children and I were a source of kibbles. Until we weren’t. And then he raged. Walked out of our home and proceeded to destroy us emotionally and financially. I say no contact, or very limited contact, is the way to go. Luziana, I got, “Every thing is perfect about my life except for you.” This after 28 years together. I was an awesome wife and mother but if I had one opportunity to go back and change one decision it would be to have never even met him. What soul sucks. Life is too short, AK, to spend any time with people who are beyond helping and you now have a beautiful family. What you do every day will honor them and that’s all you need. I told my kids to surround themselves with kindred spirits, that we can choose our own families. Way better than settling. We all deserve people in our lives that treat us well.

    • Drew, my ex’s last words to me after 36 years were “when I look in my future, you’re not in it.” He said such horrible things at the end that I can never get them out of my mind. Another gem was “we never had anything in common but the kids.” After he left, he got pissed that I wouldn’t be his “friend” so he could still look like a good guy. I would definitely say that throughout our marriage he seemed to have no capacity for introspection.

      People always tell me he’ll regret what he did some day, but I say no, he won’t. He lives in the present and doesn’t seem to remember the past. He didn’t even seem to grieve when his grandparents passed, and they were very involved in his life. An on 911, what upset him most was that football games weren’t suspended for a couple of weeks.

      One thing that just flabbergasted me was when my ex told me that he had to ask him counselor why it made him feel sad to see me and our son crying over his decision to leave and break up our family. I think maybe it’s the first time he felt something like empathy, but he didn’t know what it was.

      • “One thing that just flabbergasted me was when my ex told me that he had to ask him counselor why it made him feel sad to see me and our son crying over his decision to leave and break up our family. I think maybe it’s the first time he felt something like empathy, but he didn’t know what it was.”

        Wow, Lyn. That’s a very profound disconnect right there. It sure puts into perspective all the other stuff you’ve told us about your ex. So glad you’re away from all that!

  • AK,
    Your story is very similar to mine. My two siblings cut father off completely. I remained in contact with him and OW after my heartbroken, chumped mother died of cancer. Why? Because I didn’t want his momey to go to the OW’s family. I figured I could be an actress for that. It rotted my socks to make nice, but you know what? When he did die, he left it all to me, and I promptly divided it three ways and shared it equally with siblings.

    I did spend a fair amount of time with him over the years, but in a way, I did it for my Mom, who would have not wanted HER money to go to the OW. However, I never felt fondness for him because everything was always about his glorious self. I have not missed him for a moment since he died, but my mother’s grandchildren now benefit from he estate I managed to keep in the family. Just a thought…why not be as cold and mercenary as the Narc is.

    • Marci –

      I don’t think that as cold and mercenary. I think of that as good investment sense.

      You had a narc and you dealt with him appropriately in order to protect your inheritance.

  • Another thing you might want to consider, AK, is therapy for yourself. You had a terrible father and I’m sure you have a lot of unresolved anger. Your new wife’s problems are probably bringing everything up again for you big time. You may need some kind of outlet for your own sanity. Even if you don’t confront him, there are ways you can get the anger out like writing a letter you don’t send or yelling at a pillow, etc.

    I think one question is how bad are the sandwiches you are eating? How upsetting is it to you to send him e-mails, etc.? You could talk to a therapist about that. Do you need more boundaries for yourself? Are you feeling dishonest in your interactions?

    In terms of showing support to your wife and step-daughter, I think the answer is to be upfront about what’s going on with you. Tell them you are angry at your dad. Talk about his mental problems. Explain why you don’t just confront him. Set whatever boundaries are healthy for you. Get any therapy you need.

    What your wife and step-daughter probably need most is just your love and a shoulder to cry on. Be honest and reliable for them both. Show your step-daughter that men aren’t all jerks and that she is worth a man who treats her well someday.

    • So true; your honesty with your with your wife & daughter are the only way to go. You’ll build a strong relationship with them based on honesty and you’ll get more love than you can imagine. They will help you as you start to value yourself and realize and accept that we are not meant to live eating shit sandwiches. It’s common, but so unnatural to what we really are.

      I’ll bet your dad brags like that to deflect the truth of what he did and to avoid the topic of what he really did. The more he brags the more you can be sure he’s miserable. Happy people just don’t act this way; they’d be more interest in hearing about you.

      You’ll be fine. Be honest with yourself; are you really losing anything if you don’t play along with him? He may try to punish you for a while, but he’d come back. Don’t take the BS anymore; your life and the lives of your family mean more and you get to write that story–entertaining your dad further is allowing him to still have a say in your life experience. Time to move on and trust that all will be ok.

  • Oh, and about schadenfreude…the OW died a painful death two years before father. After he died, Her narc adult kids sued my father’s estate for their “fair” share, which got laughed out of court. It took me three years of legal battles, but we won and they got a big fat zero…and had to pay costs. Yippee for sweet justice.

  • AK,

    Keeping your father in the distance, having a superficial relationship and limited contact is the very best way to handle the situation. You will NEVER bring him to the light regarding how his behavior was hurtful to you and how his immoral behavior bothers you. He doesn’t believe there is a problem. Whatever you do…..DO NOT EAT SHIT SANDWICHES. Draw the line in the sand on that one. If he tells you a lie, confront him on that. If he treats you (your wife and or your child) in a way that offends or hurts…..confront him on that. But getting him to see the error of his ways……..not going to happen.

    My oldest daughter (19) has not had any conversation with her dad since January 2012! He reaches out to her by text only. Says the same standard “Good Morning” and she doesn’t reply. He occasionally asks her if she wants to go to dinner. She doesn’t reply and doesn’t want to go. Her reasoning…….”he just wants to have a fake relationship so he doesn’t look like a bad dad”. “He will never admit his wrong, he will never apologize for the hurt and mean it, he will never apologize for not being the dad I needed”. She doesn’t believe he loves her and he makes no attempt to SHOW her or prove it. So damn sad. It breaks my damn heart. I feel truly awful that I had children with someone who did not have genuine LOVE in his heart for anyone but himself.

    I hope one day she learns to accept him for who he is and have some sort of half-ass relationship. I believe she wants one. She just doesn’t know how to get it. And unfortunately…HE will NEVER be what she deserves!!!!!!!!!

    You are miles ahead in that department. Keep him in your life but determine your boundaries and enforce them!!!


    • My stepson has NC with his mother too. He says he doesn’t like her “drama”, but truthfully I think it’s because she doesn’t respect any boundaries. She has to be “all in” all the time- there’s no respecting privacy, etc. She has BPD and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if NPD as well. It’s all about her, all the time. When we filed for full custody, she showed up to court and sobbed to the judge about her parental rights. When it came down to following the court orders, she didn’t do anything that was required. When she signed the custody agreement, she barely glanced at what she was signing. I still think she only showed up so people wouldn’t think she was a “bad mom”. After all, it’s much easier to blame my ex than it is to own responsibility for her actions.

      She sees my stepdaughter every other weekend- 96 hours a month- and I still think that’s too much. Her influence is poison. I can’t think of one positive thing she brings to their lives.

      If your daughter realizes he’s a turd, consider yourself blessed. My stepdaughter is getting there too, like her brother, but mom is still “cool” because there are no rules at her house. She’ll get it one day.

      • To be honest, I’d probably have everyone in some kind of therapy. Even if they know what they’re dealing with, getting some kind of support to distance themselves and their behavior from the narc parent’s imprinting is a really good idea. Children can both hate and love the dysfunctional parent. If they can manage to detach with kindness, to realize the parent loves them only as much as that parent is able–well, that’s about as good as it can get.

    • My two daughters, now in their late 20’s, have been NC with their narc father since 2003. It’s up to them whether they ever resume contact. But just like NC is often the best choice to handle an ex-spouse, it may also be the best choice for children of a narc.

  • “The dissonance of having a wife and two kids but wanting his OW who lived half way across the country made him angry, emotionally abusive, and just plain evil at times until eventually he filed for divorce.”
    -That doesn’t sound like a father I’d want to be around. His actions separated himself from you and they were intentional. What does your sibling think/do about him?

    “and using a short-lived visitation schedule with me just to scream at her during transfers. Shortly after the divorce my father moved two thousand miles away to live with and marry the OW.”
    -He separated himself from you intentionally by 2,000 miles and then used visitation with you only as a way to attack your mother. You were just a pawn in his game. I’m not hearing anything in what you wrote about any genuine care towards you from him or any fatherly affections towards you. What it sounds like is you’re just a tool for him to pull out of his box every now and then. It sounds like you’re the baby monkey clinging to the barbed wire fake parental monkey.

    “In the past 15 years our relationship has consisted of an email here and there and a handful of visits, all the while he has acknowledged nothing of what transpired and claims to be an all-around good guy. Our conversations always center on him — the good things he has done for people, the fantastic computer programs he has written, and the early age he can retire. He even has helped lead OW to a proper salvation and tells me stories about them watching Joyce Meyer together. As someone with an MDiv this makes me want to vomit.”

    You should want to vomit. That’s a sign that you’ve at least got your head on straight enough to realize it’s all an act. Again, I don’t hear anything about how he was a good guy to you, your sibling or your mother. I bet that’s intentional too. He knows he a shithole of a father but admitting that means his house of cards, ( his whole facade of who he even thinks he is would completely crumble. He’d be vulnerable. Narcissists don’t know how to be vulnerable. They repel it. You’ve held out hope for 15 years, all the while he’s kept you at arms length. He’s intentionally keeping/kept the distance he purposefully put between you two in the first place. Him trying to reel you back in when you try to go NC is his way of keeping you as a pawn in his game. Think about it. He’d lose some of his supposed edge if his own son went NC on him. He’d have to invent a more elaborate story to make himself more sparkly (and he’d lose kibbles). It’s much easier for him to just keep you still in the game, in check, doing what he wants you to do, so he can pretend to others like you have this great relationship because you’re still talking to him, ergo he must be some fabulous person.

    “I want to talk to him about what he did but I am afraid he will cut me out of his life completely. He always seems to hold me at arm’s length. If I try to get too close he backs off. But if I ignore him he sends me texts or emails to remind me he exists. I don’t know what his reaction would be to confronting him. He might act like he doesn’t remember or he might turn into that angry person I knew as a child.”

    -I’m afraid he already did cut you out of his life. On purpose. He’s keeping you at arm’s length on purpose. That’s not the father you wanted. It’s okay to grieve that and you need to grieve that. You, your sibling and your mother all went through hell and have/had your own grieving process to go through. What you’re hoping for is he’ll have a conversion. That doesn’t happen and you can’t control whether it happens or not. You already laid out the 2 ways it will go (conversion isn’t one of them): he continues to deny, continues to play the game he’s been playing for the past 15 years, or he reverts to the angry, abusive guy you remember as a child. Neither one of those is the option you want and both of those options will just keep you in his game, in his way of harm, keep the hook in your mouth so he can pull you (and in turn your family) along whenever he wants. You’ve already played that game for 15 years and it sounds like you want to be done with it, or you wouldn’t be contemplating the whole idea of confrontation in the hopes that he’ll convert.

    You have your own family now. It’s your turn to be a father. You get to start a new legacy, your own legacy, and I’m willing to bet you’re going to stay as far away from the example your father gave you as possible. Your wife can tell you whether or not she feels like you’re in some way disrespecting her, I can’t. Continuing contact with your father is clashing against your own values though, the values and hopes you have for yourself as a father, those you think your wife has and the values/hopes you have for your own family. It’s clashing for a reason, there’s dissonance for a reason. Pay attention to it. I think you already know your answer.

    • Another thing, you can decide who family is. Sometimes it’s through blood, sometimes through law, sometimes it’s by them showing you loyalty and care. You’re an adult. You can decide what you consider to be a “father” and if he doesn’t fit the bill you can choose to boot him out or not. Maybe part of the dissonance is that you’re stuck between who counts as family and what the obligations to family are?

  • OMGosh, Young and Luziana! I totally forgot about the Soulmate Schmoopy videos! Thank you! I’m dying laughing. With my N Ex in town this week, I needed both the reminder and the laughs! Lasagna with 5 cheeses.

      • The bit about the laundry makes me laugh because my STBX bitched when I stopped doing his laundry. You just cannot make this sh*t up.

  • If you still want some sort of connection with your dad, you have to do the little dance every once in a while and just accept him where he is. My mother always said to judge my dad as a dad, not her husband. He walked out of my life completely when I was a kid and tried to get back in touch when I became an adult. I wasn’t having it– Nothing he could say or do meant anything to me. But that is a completely different scenario from you.

  • AK –

    Mourn the death of a good father and have no expectations of the one you were assigned on this planet.

    Treat him respectfully while keeping your boundaries as you would a narc company supervisor. Your “father” is incapable of feeling familial ties.

    If you feel sick after speaking to him, he stepped over a boundary and you need to address that for future conversations. Learn to know yourself. I new concept when you are raised by a narc.

    You are not alone. Everyone here who has children are sorrowful of the person we chose as a father or mother to the innocent children we brought to this world.

    Personally, my Father is in heaven. My belief has helped me to love my family, me, and even the liar cheater fakers, with their limitations and shortcomings. I fall off the “God” wagon every once in a while, but He always grabs me before I get trampled and throws me back on.

    Peace be with you, AK. You deserve loving.

    • CJ…like you, my faith in God, who is everpresent and loves me madly, is the source of my core strength and healing. And i often forget too.

      My biggest struggle lately is balancing forgiveness of XH and adulteress’ deep flaws while protecting myself. They still carry on as if their relationship is perfectly healthy and normal (…4 years of secret affair, blameshifting, gaslighting, exposing me to her STD, etc.) My current stance is: i forgive them while i protect myself from their narcissism.. which means NC with or about them.

      So far it seems to be working. How do i know? My heart is open, not bitter. And everyday i wake up, i feel joy. Chump Nation is a part of that joy…and it is helping me remember my goodness.

      • You have forgiven and are moving on. Forgiveness saved me. It is healed my soul. Continuing a relationship with the tormentors is not my purpose on this planet. That balance you speak about, I totally understand, and I give that over to my Maker. He knows my heart. I give the two losers over to Him, too. After all, they are His. The sun shines on everyone.

        He delivered me to this wonderful site. Like you, all the incredible people who comment are part of my joy.

        It continues to give me faith in mankind.

        Peace be with you, Chumpette. Your goodness is radiant.

  • I agree with chump lady ..leave things how they are and if your uncomfortable with how they are now go no contact.

    I had the same issue with my dad after my parents got divorced. Everytime I would talk to him he would try to get me to tell my mom to get back together. And he he would always talk about the past how he rewrote it accusing my mom of cheating and causing the break up . I knew the truth my dad was very physicslly abusive to my mom and constantly cheated on her as well. My brothers and I endured that abyss as well. I decided at age 19 , that it would be healthier for me to go no contact. I have not spoken to my dad since 1999.

    I’m now in the situation that I kind of married to a person with my dads personality. I’m not sure why but I thought I had picked better than that. To find out after 10 years of marraige that he was not who I thought he was. Cheated on me with a howorker and stemming back a far as 2008 after the birth of our first son he was also having ea’s since I can’t prove he has sex with those other howorkers.

    I know it’s off topic but we are process of divorce and we are disputing what to do with the house and now he is also requesting primary custody if the kids. I have primary custody, I work at home and take care of the kids school and all other things when they come home from school. This is the way it’s always been in our parenting, he has a later shift at work get out at 6 so he is not able to take care of them, my work shift ends 4:20 when the kids gets dropped off at my house.

    I guess I’m concerned as of to why he thinks he should get primary custody. There are no reasons he can use to prove that I’m an unfit mother. I really hope if it comes to a judge to decide that they are able to see through whatever bullshit he dishes out on me.

    Has anyone else encountered this issue I would love any advise chump nation.

    • The primary custody bit is just that-they threaten to go for primary or full custody to manipulate the divorce. Usually it is to have you agree to less ($$) assets. I call it divorce 101-threaten to take the kids to angle a better divorce deal. Trust me they don’t want full custody unless there is a lot of money in ti for them

      • Yes, and if there’s another woman involved, he may be doing it to look like a “good father” in her eyes, and also because he’s spent so much time slamming your mothering abilities, it only makes sense to try to get the courts to pull your mom card. Go to the schmoopie site and play the one about what a wonderful mother the OW is going to be because she has 3 well trained cats that don’t get on the furniture. That’s really how they think. Kids don’t need the love of their mother, they need “structure”.

        • There is or was but the ow is still married and already cheated on him with another coworker plus she moved to another work site so she is not readily available. He is just trying to scare me and make my life miserable. Like a toddler when he does not his way he is going thru a tantrum just did not wish it had to go this way cus it only makes it more expensive in the legal process. Trying to get him to agree to court ordered mediation we’ll see how that goes.

          • Of my two kids, my ex was trying really hard to recruit my son into going with him, telling everyone that a boy should be raised by his father. In his head though, he was thinking that if I had one kid, and he had the other, any child support would cancel each other out! I told this to the custody mediator and she sighed and said “Sooner or later, they all do the math. This is fairly transparent to the court. Besides, the State doesn’t like to see siblings separated”

            Money and control. That’s all there is for them, because they sold their soul quite a long time ago

            Good luck to you. My ex pulled all sorts of obnoxious stunts too. He didn’t win any friends with that except for his lawyer’s checkbook. We had a judge mediated settlement conference instead of a trial. (Schmoopie was pregnant and he didn’t want that to come out). By the time it was over, the judge HATED my ex. “You’re going to be so much better off without that schmuck” is what he said. Entitled narc behavior is it’s own worst enemy. You don’t even really need to defend yourself, just roll your eyes a little and sigh.

            • During divorce proceedings, my ex actually emailed me to say that if I would not agree to the amount of child support he wanted to pay, he would fight for 50/50 custody so he didn’t have to pay anything. So stupid to have put that in writing. Of course, ultimately it didn’t matter, because he never did pay the full amount of what he agreed to pay anyway.

            • That makes sense I think he will try the same.. He will make a fool of himself that the truth will be made clear of what his intentions are I hope the judge I have will also be as observant to realize his crap. And for right now he is actually on a leave from work on vacation outside of the country, I have no idea when he will return and is missing his visitations with his kids and providing me no notice. He paid his child support late and only paid cus I sent him a reminder email and a notice that I was informing my lawyer of his missed payment. And with all that he is requesting primary custody still.!! My lawyer is not very much concerned about it but it seems his lawyer as you said is interested in his checkbook. He also request that I pay his lawyer fees as well!!

      • That’s what I think that it’s a negotiation tactic..and at best he would only get 50/50 and maybe pay less in child support. The house I guess is the sticking point. He wants it but can’t have it. I want it for the kids stability but he does not want just to give it to me without several conditions. I’m starting to debate if all this fight is even worth it and maybe selling it would be best. He is the kind of person that if I do get the house awarded by a judge he will find a wat to screw me over, like not pay child support.

    • Some women will give up some money in order to keep primary custody. Then, if these women can’t afford their household, the ex gets them anyway. Another divorce trick. Be careful…

        • Exactly, if your house mortgage is paid off then fine. If there is still a mortgage that you can’t pay without support money, consider letting it go and getting something cheaper. If there is equity, doing that might give you a savings cushion too. Jedi Hugs!

  • My father was/is a narc. I know for true. I didn’t see him for over 30 years. Went to visit at this time of year about 5 yrs ago. Old, in his 80’s living with/married to my moms good friend with whom he had a torrid affair – broke up 2 families – willful deliberate liar. Blame shifter, mean, spoiled.

    But I thought MAYBE he had changed, had some regret, loved us. Or that maybe my mom was a shrew who deserved it and she was wrong about him. Showed me around his home, gleaming with antiques and pictures of his many travels abroad.

    And then proceeded to ask about my siblings only in terms of $$$$ whether or not they had “done well”, not how they were doing. Horrible , depressing individual. Married one just like him.

    They don’t change they just rearrange in an entitled state. No grace. Disordered, draining, miserable. A grinch with a rotten apple core. You can hate that, you can ignore that. You can tell em what you think. Because it’s true. You owe him nothing. He didn’t care about his family, his vows, your future or your welfare when he imploded your family.

    There’s a Native American saying that we should look 7 generations back and 7 generations ahead when making decisions. Narcs don’t care to consider anyone but themselves.

  • I’ve spent my adult life trying to process and rationalize my N father. He was a horrible father and I longed for the warm and fuzzy fathers that some of my friends had while growing up. He was abusive to my mom and left her for their best couple friends nasty daughter. He embarrassed my brother and I in the community too many times to mention. He was successful financially and will tell you his money is what is most important to him. He’s had multiple girlfriends and has 5 grand kids that he has nothing to with and is not interested in maintaining a relationship with any family member period. He treated his mother horribly and hasn’t spoke to his brother in 25 years and has no valid excuse as to why. He always told my brother and I that the only time he hears from us is when we want something. He is 67 years old and dying a horrible death. He is alone and completely dependant on others to take care of him and he has to “pay” them to do so. My brother and I have zero good memories of life with him and we always said he will die a lonely old man someday. Funny thing is now he only calls us when he wants something and it’s daily…..narcissists do get what they deserve in the end I truly believe that. He cries all the time now but his tears don’t affect us, they are not tears of regret they are selfish tears and all about poor him….mean people stink and that’s my motto! My brother and I are extremely close to our kids and we both vowed that our kids would never grow up feeling like they weren’t good enough and they would know that we love them unconditionally and they are all awesome kids. I guess my point here is as hard as it is if they do ant add value to your life they shouldn’t be in your life. Nowhere does it say in any rule book that “because” they are our parent that we have to tolerate their horrible behavior…I’ve chosen not to and it took me 48 years to get there.

  • This post also hits too close to home. I’ve written on here previously in comments about whom I believe to be NPD mother and so the topic of pure narcissism is unfortunately a topic I’m well familiar with. I’ve only been able to identify my mother as a narcissist later in my life, probably not until I was in my mid 30s, which was only a few years ago. Let me just tell you that coming to terms with this was heartbreaking for me. My mother hid her narcissism relatively well, always disguising it in what she called “concerns” for me or she would reward my behavior with money, only when it suited her. So for example, she basically expected me to do what she says and if I didn’t, I was a bad daughter and she wouldn’t help me financially, as she always has. It’s actually sort of difficult to explain the dynamic but like I said, I’ve known my whole life that sowmthing was “off” in our relationship, I just couldn’t identify what it was. Additionally, she was always hyper critical of all of her children, whether that’s a narcissists trait or not.
    In regards to the whole cheating experience, as I’ve written on here about this previously, my own mother gave me zero support and blamed me for ex’s multiple affairs by saying if I wasn’t fat and depressed and mean to him, he wouldn’t stray. She even gave me such horrid advise like “give him lots of hot sex to show him that you care so he won’t leave you again. Men need that.” Whaa?
    My father is the silent type and said nothing at all about his only daighter having a nervous breakdown shortly after it all blew up. I do wonder about him too but I doubt he’s a narcissist. Maybe just have been brainwashed by mother since he basically agrees with her on all matters. Who knows? My parents are in their late 60s so I know my time with them is limited but I struggle so much with what mother did to me through out this entire experience. How could she say those things? Why wasn’t she on my side? Why would she say she loves me, buy me expensive gifts and then tell me that it is my fault that ex cheated? I just can’t reconcile these two sides to my mother. That’s my story.

    • My mother is very similar and I struggled for years to understand her behavior. When I finally read the book Will I Ever Be Good Enough by Karyl McBride I was finally able to understand her behavior and to get to meh. I no longer expect to ever share true happiness with her as I know that she has a compulsion to destroy my happiness. Now I keep her at low contact and go about my life thinking of the people who are important to me – the people who bring sunshine and happiness into my life and who have the ability to truly love and care for me.

    • MB,
      Sorry for the long post. I wish I knew how to find and post a link to this. I do not know the source & I am not Internet savvy, but this email a friend sent me described my MIL to a T.

      ———- Forwarded message ———-
      Subject: Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers

      1. Everything she does is deniable. There is always a facile excuse or an explanation. Cruelties are couched in loving terms. Aggressive and hostile acts are paraded as thoughtfulness. Selfish manipulations are presented as gifts. Criticism and slander is slyly disguised as concern.

      She rarely says right out that she thinks you’re inadequate. Instead, any time that you tell her you’ve done something good, she counters with something your sibling did that was better or she simply ignores you or she hears you out without saying anything, then in a short time does something cruel to you so you understand not to get above yourself. She will carefully separate cause (your joy in your accomplishment) from effect (refusing to let you borrow the car to go to the awards ceremony).

      Many of her putdowns are simply by comparison. She’ll talk about how wonderful someone else is or what a wonderful job they did on something you’ve also done or how highly she thinks of them. The contrast is left up to you. She has let you know that you’re no good without saying a word. As a result, you’re always afraid, always in the wrong, and can never exactly put your finger on why.

      Because her abusiveness is part of a lifelong campaign of control and because she is careful to rationalize her abuse, it is extremely difficult to explain to other people what is so bad about her. She’s also careful about when and how she engages in her abuses. She’s very secretive, a characteristic of almost all abusers. As a consequence the children of narcissists universally report that no one believes them (“I have to tell you that she always talks about YOU in the most caring way!). Unfortunately therapists, given the deniable actions of the narcissist and eager to defend a fellow parent, will often jump to the narcissist’s defense as well, reinforcing your sense of isolation and helplessness (“I’m sure she didn’t mean it like that!”)

      2. She violates your boundaries. You feel like an extension of her.

      Normal rites of passage (learning to shave, wearing makeup, dating) are grudgingly allowed only if you insist, and you’re punished for your insistence (“Since you’re old enough to date, I think you’re old enough to pay for your own clothes!”) If you demand age-appropriate clothing, grooming, control over your own life, or rights, you are difficult and she ridicules your “independence.”

      3. She favoritizes. Narcissistic mothers commonly choose one (sometimes more) child to be the golden child and one (sometimes more) to be the scapegoat. The narcissist identifies with the golden child and provides privileges to him or her as long as the golden child does just as she wants. The golden child has to be cared for assiduously by everyone in the family. The scapegoat has no needs and instead gets to do the caring. The golden child can do nothing wrong. The scapegoat is always at fault. This creates divisions between the children, one of whom has a large investment in the mother being wise and wonderful, and the other(s) who hate her. That division will be fostered by the narcissist with lies and with blatantly unfair and favoritizing behavior. The golden child will defend the mother and indirectly perpetuate the abuse by finding reasons to blame the scapegoat for the mother’s actions. The golden child may also directly take on the narcissistic mother’s tasks by physically abusing the scapegoat so the narcissistic mother doesn’t have to do that herself.

      4. She undermines. Your accomplishments are acknowledged only to the extent that she can take credit for them. Any success or accomplishment for which she cannot take credit is ignored or diminished. No matter what your success, she has to take you down a peg about it.

      5. She demeans, criticizes and denigrates. She lets you know in all sorts of little ways that she thinks less of you than she does of your siblings or of other people in general. If you complain about mistreatment by someone else, she will take that person’s side even if she doesn’t know them at all. She doesn’t care about those people or the justice of your complaints. She just wants to let you know that you’re never right.

      She will slip little comments into conversation that she really enjoyed something she did with someone else – something she did with you too, but didn’t like as much. She’ll let you know that her relationship with some other person you both know is wonderful in a way your relationship with her isn’t – the carefully unspoken message being that you don’t matter much to her.

      She minimizes, discounts or ignores your opinions and experiences. Your insights are met with condescension, denials and accusations (“I think you read too much!”) and she will brush off your information even on subjects on which you are an acknowledged expert. Whatever you say is met with smirks and amused sounding or exaggerated exclamations (“Uh hunh!” “You don’t say!” “Really!”). She’ll then make it clear that she didn’t listen to a word you said.

      6. She makes you look crazy. If you try to confront her about something she’s done, she’ll tell you that you have “a very vivid imagination” (this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse) that you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that she has no idea what you’re talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will she ever acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten. This is an extremely aggressive and exceptionally infuriating tactic called “gaslighting,” common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser.

      Narcissists gaslight routinely. The narcissist will either insinuate or will tell you outright that you’re unstable, otherwise you wouldn’t believe such ridiculous things or be so uncooperative. You’re oversensitive. You’re imagining things. You’re hysterical. You’re completely unreasonable. You’re over-reacting, like you always do. She’ll talk to you when you’ve calmed down and aren’t so irrational. She may even characterize you as being neurotic or psychotic.

      Once she’s constructed these fantasies of your emotional pathologies, she’ll tell others about them, as always, presenting her smears as expressions of concern and declaring her own helpless victimhood. She didn’t do anything. She has no idea why you’re so irrationally angry with her. You’ve hurt her terribly. She thinks you may need psychotherapy. She loves you very much and would do anything to make you happy, but she just doesn’t know what to do. You keep pushing her away when all she wants to do is help you.

      She has simultaneously absolved herself of any responsibility for your obvious antipathy towards her, implied that it’s something fundamentally wrong with you that makes you angry with her, and undermined your credibility with her listeners. She plays the role of the doting mother so perfectly that no one will believe you.

      7. She’s envious. Any time you get something nice she’s angry and envious and her envy will be apparent when she admires whatever it is. She’ll try to get it from you, spoil it for you, or get the same or better for herself. She’s always working on ways to get what other people have. The envy of narcissistic mothers often includes competing sexually with their daughters or daughters-in-law. They’ll attempt to forbid their daughters to wear makeup, to groom themselves in an age-appropriate way or to date. They will criticize the appearance of their daughters and daughters-in-law. This envy extends to relationships. Narcissistic mothers infamously attempt to damage their children’s marriages and interfere in the upbringing of their grandchildren.

      8. She’s a liar in too many ways to count. Any time she talks about something that has emotional significance for her, it’s a fair bet that she’s lying. Lying is one way that she creates conflict in the relationships and lives of those around her – she’ll lie to them about what other people have said, what they’ve done, or how they feel. She’ll lie about her relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation in order to inflate herself and to undermine your credibility.

      The narcissist is very careful about how she lies. To outsiders she’ll lie thoughtfully and deliberately, always in a way that can be covered up if she’s confronted with her lie. She spins what you said rather than makes something up wholesale. She puts dishonest interpretations on things you actually did. If she’s recently done something particularly egregious she may engage in preventative lying: she lies in advance to discount what you might say before you even say it. Then when you talk about what she did you’ll be cut off with “I already know all about it…your mother told me… (self-justifications and lies).” Because she is so careful about her deniability, it may be very hard to catch her in her lies and the more gullible of her friends may never realize how dishonest she is.

      To you, she’ll lie blatantly. She will claim to be unable to remember bad things she has done, even if she did one of them recently and even if it was something very memorable. Of course, if you try to jog her memory by recounting the circumstances “You have a very vivid imagination” or “That was so long ago. Why do you have to dredge up your old grudges?” Your conversations with her are full of casual brush-offs and diversionary lies and she doesn’t respect you enough to bother making it sound good. For example she’ll start with a self-serving lie: “If I don’t take you as a dependent on my taxes I’ll lose three thousand dollars!” You refute her lie with an obvious truth: “No, three thousand dollars is the amount of the dependent exemption. You’ll only lose about eight hundred dollars.” Her response: “Isn’t that what I said?” You are now in a game with only one rule: You can’t win.

      On the rare occasions she is forced to acknowledge some bad behavior, she will couch the admission deniably. She “guesses” that “maybe” she “might have” done something wrong. The wrongdoing is always heavily spun and trimmed to make it sound better. The words “I guess,” “maybe,” and “might have” are in and of themselves lies because she knows exactly what she did – no guessing, no might haves, no maybes.

      9. She has to be the center of attention all the time. This need is a defining trait of narcissists and particularly of narcissistic mothers for whom their children exist to be sources of attention and adoration. Narcissistic mothers love to be waited on and often pepper their children with little requests. “While you’re up…” or its equivalent is one of their favorite phrases. You couldn’t just be assigned a chore at the beginning of the week or of the day, instead, you had to do it on demand, preferably at a time that was inconvenient for you, or you had to “help” her do it, fetching and carrying for her while she made up to herself for the menial work she had to do as your mother by glorying in your attentions.

      A narcissistic mother may create odd occasions at which she can be the center of attention, such as memorials for someone close to her who died long ago, or major celebrations of small personal milestones. She may love to entertain so she can be the life of her own party. She will try to steal the spotlight or will try to spoil any occasion where someone else is the center of attention, particularly the child she has cast as the scapegoat. She often invites herself along where she isn’t welcome. If she visits you or you visit her, you are required to spend all your time with her. Entertaining herself is unthinkable. She has always pouted, manipulated or raged if you tried to do anything without her, didn’t want to entertain her, refused to wait on her, stymied her plans for a drama or otherwise deprived her of attention.

      Older narcissistic mothers often use the natural limitations of aging to manipulate dramas, often by neglecting their health or by doing things they know will make them ill. This gives them the opportunity to cash in on the investment they made when they trained you to wait on them as a child. Then they call you (or better still, get the neighbor or the nursing home administrator to call you) demanding your immediate attendance. You are to rush to her side, pat her hand, weep over her pain and listen sympathetically to her unending complaints about how hard and awful it is. (“Never get old!”) It’s almost never the case that you can actually do anything useful, and the causes of her disability may have been completely avoidable, but you’ve been put in an extremely difficult position. If you don’t provide the audience and attention she’s manipulating to get, you look extremely bad to everyone else and may even have legal culpability. (Narcissistic behaviors commonly accompany Alzheimer’s disease, so this behavior may also occur in perfectly normal mothers as they age.)

      10. She manipulates your emotions in order to feed on your pain. This exceptionally sick and bizarre behavior is so common among narcissistic mothers that their children often call them “emotional vampires.” Some of this emotional feeding comes in the form of pure sadism. She does and says things just to be wounding or she engages in tormenting teasing or she needles you about things you’re sensitive about, all the while a smile plays over her lips. She may have taken you to scary movies or told you horrifying stories, then mocked you for being a baby when you cried, She will slip a wounding comment into conversation and smile delightedly into your hurt face. You can hear the laughter in her voice as she pressures you or says distressing things to you. Later she’ll gloat over how much she upset you, gaily telling other people that you’re so much fun to tease, and recruiting others to share in her amusement. . She enjoys her cruelties and makes no effort to disguise that. She wants you to know that your pain entertains her. She may bring up subjects that are painful for you and probe you about them, all the while watching you carefully. This is emotional vampirism in its purest form. She’s feeding emotionally off your pain.

      A peculiar form of this emotional vampirism combines attention-seeking behavior with a demand that the audience suffer. Since narcissistic mothers often play the martyr this may take the form of wrenching, self-pitying dramas which she carefully produces, and in which she is the star performer. She sobs and wails that no one loves her and everyone is so selfish, and she doesn’t want to live, she wants to die! She wants to die! She will not seem to care how much the manipulation of their emotions and the self-pity repels other people. One weird behavior that is very common to narcissists: her dramas may also center around the tragedies of other people, often relating how much she suffered by association and trying to distress her listeners, as she cries over the horrible murder of someone she wouldn’t recognize if they had passed her on the street.

      11. She’s selfish and willful. She always makes sure she has the best of everything. She insists on having her own way all the time and she will ruthlessly, manipulatively pursue it, even if what she wants isn’t worth all the effort she’s putting into it and even if that effort goes far beyond normal behavior. She will make a huge effort to get something you denied her, even if it was entirely your right to do so and even if her demand was selfish and unreasonable. If you tell her she cannot bring her friends to your party she will show up with them anyway, and she will have told them that they were invited so that you either have to give in, or be the bad guy to these poor dupes on your doorstep. If you tell her she can’t come over to your house tonight she’ll call your spouse and try get him or her to agree that she can, and to not say anything to you about it because it’s a “surprise.” She has to show you that you can’t tell her “no.”

      One near-universal characteristic of narcissists: because they are so selfish and self-centered, they are very bad gift givers. They’ll give you hand-me-downs or market things for themselves as gifts for you (“I thought I’d give you my old bicycle and buy myself a new one!” “I know how much you love Italian food, so I’m going to take you to my favorite restaurant for your birthday!”) New gifts are often obviously cheap and are usually things that don’t suit you or that you can’t use or are a quid pro quo: if you buy her the gift she wants, she will buy you an item of your choice. She’ll make it clear that it pains her to give you anything. She may buy you a gift and get the identical item for herself, or take you shopping for a gift and get herself something nice at the same time to make herself feel better.
      12. She’s self-absorbed. Her feelings, needs and wants are very important; yours are insignificant to the point that her least whim takes precedence over your most basic needs. Her problems deserve your immediate and full attention; yours are brushed aside. Her wishes always take precedence; if she does something for you, she reminds you constantly of her munificence in doing so and will often try to extract some sort of payment. She will complain constantly, even though your situation may be much worse than hers. If you point that out, she will effortlessly, thoughtlessly brush it aside as of no importance (It’s easy for you…/It’s different for you…).

      13. She is insanely defensive and is extremely sensitive to any criticism. If you criticize her or defy her she will explode with fury, threaten, storm, rage, destroy and may become violent, beating, confining, putting her child outdoors in bad weather or otherwise engaging in classic physical abuse.

      14. She terrorized. For all abusers, fear is a powerful means of control of the victim, and your narcissistic mother used it ruthlessly to train you. Narcissists teach you to beware their wrath even when they aren’tpresent. The only alternative is constant placation. If you give her everything she wants all the time, you might be spared. If you don’t, the punishments will come. Even adult children of narcissists still feel that carefully inculcated fear. Your narcissistic mother can turn it on with a silence or a look that tells the child in you she’s thinking about how she’s going to get even.

      Not all narcissists abuse physically, but most do, often in subtle, deniable ways. It allows them to vent their rage at your failure to be the solution to their internal havoc and simultaneously to teach you to fear them. You may not have been beaten, but you were almost certainly left to endure physical pain when a normal mother would have made an effort to relieve your misery. This deniable form of battery allows her to store up her rage and dole out the punishment at a later time when she’s worked out an airtight rationale for her abuse, so she never risks exposure. You were left hungry because “you eat too much.” (Someone asked her if she was pregnant. She isn’t). You always went to school with stomach flu because “you don’t have a fever. You’re just trying to get out of school.” (She resents having to take care of you. You have a lot of nerve getting sick and adding to her burdens.) She refuses to look at your bloody heels and instead the shoes that wore those blisters on your heels are put back on your feet and you’re sent to the store in them because “You wanted those shoes. Now you can wear them.” (You said the ones she wanted to get you were ugly. She liked them because they were just like what she wore 30 years ago). The dentist was told not to give you Novocaine when he drilled your tooth because “he has to learn to take better care of his teeth.” (She has to pay for a filling and she’s furious at having to spend money on you.)

      Narcissistic mothers also abuse by loosing others on you or by failing to protect you when a normal mother would have. Sometimes the narcissist’s golden child will be encouraged to abuse the scapegoat. Narcissists also abuse by exposing you to violence. If one of your siblings got beaten, she made sure you saw. She effortlessly put the fear of Mom into you, without raising a hand.

      15. She’s infantile and petty. Narcissistic mothers are often simply childish. If you refuse to let her manipulate you into doing something, she will cry that you don’t love her because if you loved her you would do as she wanted. If you hurt her feelings she will aggressively whine to you that you’ll be sorry when she’s dead that you didn’t treat her better. These babyish complaints and responses may sound laughable, but the narcissist is dead serious about them. When you were a child, if you ask her to stop some bad behavior, she would justify it by pointing out something that you did that she feels is comparable, as though the childish behavior of a child is justification for the childish behavior of an adult. “Getting even” is a large part of her dealings with you. Anytime you fail to give her the deference, attention or service she feels she deserves, or you thwart her wishes, she has to show you.

      16. She’s aggressive and shameless. She doesn’t ask. She demands. She makes outrageous requests and she’ll take anything she wants if she thinks she can get away with it. Her demands of her children are posed in a very aggressive way, as are her criticisms. She won’t take no for an answer, pushing and arm-twisting and manipulating to get you to give in.

      17. She “parentifies.” She shed her responsibilities to you as soon as she was able, leaving you to take care of yourself as best you could. She denied you medical care, adequate clothing, necessary transportation or basic comforts that she would never have considered giving up for herself. She never gave you a birthday party or let you have sleepovers. Your friends were never welcome in her house. Shedidn’t like to drive you anywhere, so you turned down invitations because you had no way to get there. She wouldn’t buy your school pictures even if she could easily have afforded it. You had a sparce clothing allowance or she bought you the cheapest clothing she could without embarrassing herself. As soon as you got a job, every request for school supplies, clothing or toiletries was met with “Now that you’re making money, why don’t you pay for that yourself?” You studied up on colleges on your own and choose a cheap one without visiting it. You signed yourself up for the SATs, earned the money to pay for them and talked someone into driving you to the test site. You worked three jobs to pay for that cheap college and when you finally got mononucleosis she chirped at you that she was “so happy you could take care of yourself.”

      She also gave you tasks that were rightfully hers and should not have been placed on a child. You may have been a primary caregiver for young siblings or an incapacitated parent. You may have had responsibility for excessive household tasks. Above all, you were always her emotional caregiver which is one reason any defection from that role caused such enormous eruptions of rage. You were never allowed to be needy or have bad feelings or problems. Those experiences were only for her, and you were responsible for making it right for her. From the time you were very young she would randomly lash out at you any time she was stressed or angry with your father or felt that life was unfair to her, because it made her feel better to hurt you. You were often punished out of the blue, for manufactured offenses. As you got older she directly placed responsibility for her welfare and her emotions on you, weeping on your shoulder and unloading on you any time something went awry for her.

      18. She’s exploitative. She will manipulate to get work, money, or objects she envies out of other people for nothing. This includes her children, of course. If she set up a bank account for you, she was trustee on the account with the right to withdraw money. As you put money into it, she took it out. She may have stolen your identity. She took you as a dependent on her income taxes so you couldn’t file independently without exposing her to criminal penalties. If she made an agreement with you, it was violated the minute it no longer served her needs. If you brought it up demanding she adhere to the agreement, she brushed you off and later punished you so you would know not to defy her again.

      Sometimes the narcissist will exploit a child to absorb punishment that would have been hers from an abusive partner. The husband comes home in a drunken rage, and the mother immediately complains about the child’s bad behavior so the rage is vented on to the child. Sometimes the narcissistic mother simply uses the child to keep a sick marriage intact because the alternative is being divorced or having to go to work. The child is sexually molested but the mother never notices, or worse, calls the child a liar when she tells the mother about the molestation.

      19. She projects. This sounds a little like psycho-babble, but it is something that narcissists all do. Projection means that she will put her own bad behavior, character and traits on you so she can deny them in herself and punish you. This can be very difficult to see if you have traits that she can project on to. An eating-disordered woman who obsesses over her daughter’s weight is projecting. The daughter may not realize it because she has probably internalized an absurdly thin vision of women’s weight and so accepts her mother’s projection. When the narcissist tells the daughter that she eats too much, needs to exercise more, or has to wear extra-large size clothes, the daughter believes it, even if it isn’t true. However, she will sometimes project even though it makes no sense at all. This happens when she feels shamed and needs to put it on her scapegoat child and the projection therefore comes across as being an attack out of the blue. For example: She makes an outrageous request, and you casually refuse to let her have her way. She’s enraged by your refusal and snarls at you that you’ll talk about it when you’ve calmed down and are no longer hysterical.

      You aren’t hysterical at all; she is, but your refusal has made her feel the shame that should have stopped her from making shameless demands in the first place. That’s intolerable. She can transfer that shame to you and rationalize away your response: you only refused her because you’re so unreasonable. Having done that she can reassert her shamelessness and indulge her childish willfulness by turning an unequivocal refusal into a subject for further discussion. You’ll talk about it again “later” – probably when she’s worn you down with histrionics, pouting and the silent treatment so you’re more inclined to do what she wants.

      20. She is never wrong about anything. No matter what she’s done, she won’t ever genuinely apologize for anything. Instead, any time she feels she is being made to apologize she will sulk and pout, issue an insulting apology or negate the apology she has just made with justifications, qualifications or self pity: “I’m sorry you felt that I humiliated you” “I’m sorry if I made you feel bad” “If I did that it was wrong” “I’m sorry, but I there’s nothing I can do about it” “I’m sorry I made you feel clumsy, stupid and disgusting” “I’m sorry but it was just a joke. You’re so over-sensitive” “I’m sorry that my own child feels she has to upset me and make me feel bad.” The last insulting apology is also an example of projection.

      21. She seems to have no awareness that other people even have feelings. She’ll occasionally slip and say something jaw-droppingly callous because of this lack of empathy. It isn’t that she doesn’t care at all about other people’s feelings, though she doesn’t. It would simply never occur to her to think about their feelings. An absence of empathy is the defining trait of a narcissist and underlies most of the other traits I have described. Unlike psychopaths, narcissists do understand right, wrong, and consequences, so they are not ordinarily criminal. She beat you, but not to the point where you went to the hospital. She left you standing out in the cold until you were miserable, but not until you had hypothermia. She put you in the basement in the dark with no clothes on, but she only left you there for two hours.

      22. She blames. She’ll blame you for everything that isn’t right in her life or for what other people do or for whatever has happened. Always, she’ll blame you for her abuse. You made her do it. If only you weren’t so difficult. You upset her so much that she can’t think straight. Things were hard for her and your backtalk pushed her over the brink. This blaming is often so subtle that all you know is that you thought you were wronged and now you feel guilty. Your brother beats you and her response is to bemoan how uncivilized children are. Your boyfriend dumped you, but she can understand – after all, she herself has seen how difficult you are to love. She’ll do something egregiously exploitative to you, and when confronted will screech at you that she can’t believe you were so selfish as to upset her over such a trivial thing. She’ll also blame you for your reaction to her selfish, cruel and exploitative behavior. She can’t believe you are so petty, so small, and so childish as to object to her giving your favorite dress to her friend. She thought you would be happy to let her do something nice for someone else.

      Narcissists are masters of multitasking as this example shows. Simultaneously your narcissistic mother is 1) Lying. She knows what she did was wrong and she knows your reaction is reasonable. 2) Manipulating. She’s making you look like the bad guy for objecting to her cruelties. 3) Being selfish. She doesn’t mind making you feel horrible as long as she gets her own way. 4) Blaming. She did something wrong, but it’s all your fault. 5) Projecting. Her petty, small and childish behavior has become yours. 6) Putting on a self-pitying drama. She’s a martyr who believed the best of you, and you’ve let her down. 7) Parentifying. You’re responsible for her feelings, she has no responsibility for yours.

      23. She destroys your relationships. Narcissistic mothers are like tornadoes: wherever they touch down families are torn apart and wounds are inflicted. Unless the father has control over the narcissist and holds the family together, adult siblings in families with narcissistic mothers characteristically have painful relationships. Typically all communication between siblings is superficial and driven by duty, or they may never talk to each other at all. In part, these women foster dissension between their children because they enjoy the control it gives them. If those children don’t communicate except through the mother, she can decide what everyone hears. Narcissists also love the excitement and drama they create by interfering in their children’s lives. Watching people’s lives explode is better than soap operas, especially when you don’t have any empathy for their misery.

      The narcissist nurtures anger, contempt and envy – the most corrosive emotions – to drive her children apart. While her children are still living at home, any child who stands up to the narcissist guarantees punishment for the rest. In her zest for revenge, the narcissist purposefully turns the siblings’ anger on the dissenter by including everyone in her retaliation. (“I can see that nobody here loves me! Well I’ll just take these Christmas presents back to the store. None of you would want anything I got you anyway!”) The other children, long trained by the narcissist to give in, are furious with the troublemaking child, instead of with the narcissist who actually deserves their anger.

      The narcissist also uses favoritism and gossip to poison her childrens’ relationships. The scapegoat sees the mother as a creature of caprice and cruelty. As is typical of the privileged, the other children don’t see her unfairness and they excuse her abuses. Indeed, they are often recruited by the narcissist to adopt her contemptuous and entitled attitude towards the scapegoat and with her tacit or explicit permission, will inflict further abuse. The scapegoat predictably responds with fury and equal contempt. After her children move on with adult lives, the narcissist makes sure to keep each apprised of the doings of the others, passing on the most discreditable and juicy gossip (as always, disguised as “concern”) about the other children, again, in a way that engenders contempt rather than compassion.

      Having been raised by a narcissist, her children are predisposed to be envious, and she takes full advantage of the opportunity that presents. While she may never praise you to your face, she will likely crow about your victories to the very sibling who is not doing well. She’ll tell you about the generosity she displayed towards that child, leaving you wondering why you got left out and irrationally angry at the favored child rather than at the narcissist who told you about it.

      The end result is a family in which almost all communication is triangular. The narcissist, the spider in the middle of the family web, sensitively monitors all the children for information she can use to retain her unchallenged control over the family. She then passes that on to the others, creating the resentments that prevent them from communicating directly and freely with each other. The result is that the only communication between the children is through the narcissist, exactly the way she wants it.

      24. As a last resort she goes pathetic. It’s all her fault. She can’t do anything right. She feels so bad. What she doesn’t do: own the responsibility for her bad conduct and make it right. Instead, as always, it’s all about her, and her helpless self-pitying weepiness dumps the responsibility for her consequences AND for her unhappiness about it on you. As so often with narcissists, it is also a manipulative behavior. If you fail to excuse her bad behavior and make her feel better, YOU are the bad person for being cold, heartless and unfeeling when your poor mother feels so awful.

  • This post hits home today. My father, too, is a narcissist. He abused and cheated on my mother repeatedly while my siblings and I were growing up. His last affair was 10+ years and blew up their marriage. He never accepted responsibility for what he did. I can’t ever have a real conversation with him- I keep it on the weather, work, etc, and short timed. He has a superficial relationship with all his kids; I find it sad, but it doesn’t seem to bother him one bit. After all, he can brag about our successes as his kids- like he had a thing to do with it! Other people eat up his nice guy routine like it’s candy (*gag*). Years ago, I told his mother (my grandma) who my father really was. It took me hours, but I dumped and unloaded all of it on her. Who knows what she thought (and I don’t care), but I got to say what I needed to.

    I came to the conclusion that my father will never change. He will always be exactly who he’s always been. After all, what kind of man doesn’t know the last name of his son-in-law?

    I’ll keep him at arms length, as long as he toes the line. If he gets obnoxious or abusive, he gets cut off. I’ll go NC without a second thought.

  • My son stopped communicating with his NPD dad shortly after his 18th birthday a few months ago, so this is pretty timely for me. Since then, ex has been in a frenzy of manipulative bullshit to try and drag son back into his world of disorder. Lots of text messages, voice mails, emails, Facebook posts…… the guilt tripping, manipulation, blame and insanity are so over the top. Ex of course blames me for “influencing” son, ex cannot imagine any reason why son would stop communicating with him, although there are dozens of reasons and son has told ex what they are.

    It has been very, very stressful for both son and I. Son now has ex blocked on his phone and on Facebook. So ex gets his sisters to message son, and they are just as disordered as my ex.

    Having a truly disordered person in your life is like a nightmare that never ends. If you can tolerate very brief, infrequent, shallow encounters, and they do not leave you with too much damage, that’s one route to take. If not, then go NC and don’t blame yourself. These people are incredibly destructive and like others have said, they do not ever change, they do not ever apologize and they do not ever see their own actions as being a problem, no matter how bad.

  • I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with such a crappy situation.

    There was just one thing I wanted to touch on:

    The dissonance of having a wife and two kids but wanting his OW who lived half way across the country made him angry, emotionally abusive, and just plain evil at times until eventually he filed for divorce.

    like my father, his dissonance about the situation caused him to be abusive and forced her and her 2 month premature baby to leave.

    Cognitive dissonance is not the reason why these people behaved so appallingly badly towards their spouses and children. They did it because they are terrible, shitty, selfish excuses for human beings. They are not otherwise lovely people who were turned into abusive psychotic monsters by unfortunate circumstances. There is not some secret core of goodness that was subsumed by their overwhelming feelings for their OWs and that can be recovered if only you try hard enough. Their horrible outer behavior in fact perfectly reflects their horrible inner selves. As is often said, you need to trust that they suck, because they really, really do.

  • I slightly disagree with cl on one point. I dont think people fundamentally change, i think they stop behviors that cease to reward them with positive results. Its a skeptical view, but if you think about it, how many of us chumps realized it was beyond our cheater to truly alter what and who they are? Think of how as a faithful and decent moral spouse how hard it is to change something about ourselves, and then add cheater weakness and the answer is…once a cheater…you know the rest

    • Once a cheater always a cheater!
      Some shit you just can’t take back and fucking somebody is at the top of that list!

      • Once a chump, never a chump again! We do have the tools to look within and change and we are and we have and we do!

  • What I realized what I was projecting my fear of abandonment on to my NPD father. I feared my detachment would crush him, and I would be judged a poor son. He simply found a new source of kibbles which I am blissfully unaware of. I see my relationship with my father as a duty. I make certain his basic needs are taken care of and I detach by holding him at a healthy emotional distance. His impression management, grandiosity, victimhood, sheer manipulation and bravado mean nothing to me. I held his hand and saw the fear in his eyes when he almost died of pneumonia a few years back. How sad no person will mourn his passing.

  • I’ve always said that people don’t really change, they simply show more of who they really are.

  • My oldest son has Asperger’s Syndrome, so he knows how to call a spade a spade. His brother was having a particularly difficult time with their father, who had been giving him the silent treatment because he didn’t want to always go out with him and his sparkly bimbo. His brother said,

    “Dad only cares about us kids if we care about him first.”

    Smart kid. But oh how it sucks to know that about your own parent.

  • My cheater pants NPD trait spouse is the son of a diagnosed NPD dad. This yr my cheater pants acknowledged he IS his dad. So despite cheaterpants having a childhood where one parent was a lying cheating manipulative narc, he mirrored and modeled this behavior in my marriage to him. And great big toppers, step dad was a self absorbed cheater and martyr mom is a codependent mess.

    There is no such thing as a healthy relationship with a narc. Keep them at arm’s length and never let them get into your head. They are capable of so much damage. Protect your kids and yourselves. Being civil and polite, and surface-y, is the best way to deal with them. I am so sorry for all of you who had to grow up with such huge role model disappointments.

  • Thanks CL and everyone else for the support and advice. I suppose the way I’ve been handling it the past decade or so is the best option, keeping it shallow and going NC when I can’t take it anymore. I always knew some points in my life would make dealing with my father harder – like getting married and having a child. As so many of you know it is troubling having a parent capable of such apathy and destruction. My half lizard DNA makes me at times question my ability to be a good father and husband. But being the opposite has always been my goal. I don’t think anyone is quite prepared when they realize that someone who should love you doesn’t. And no matter what I do I cannot take this pain away from my daughter if in fact her biological father is like mine. But at least I can be positive example for her and will be able to help her spot who has a flickering tongue.

  • As I said the other day, my mother was a narcissist (herself the only child of a far, far, more narcissistic mother AND father). I’ve been in therapy most of my adult life as a result. My first therapist said that I “might as well have been raised by wolves.” In my misguided search for love, stability and family, I’ve been married and divorced twice, formally and permanently separated from a third husband, had several long-term relationships outside of marriage, and every time picked an alcoholic or a drug abuser or a narcissist or some combination, until the Jackass derailed the serial monogamy train. I’ve dealt with PTSD (result of narcissist M plus explosive rage plus alcoholic father), depression, anger issues, and a lot of truly nutso expectations/hopes/delusions about life. All along the way, I’ve worked to get to mental and emotional health.

    As children, we can’t know it isn’t our fault. We are wired to want our parents’ love and attention. But instead of being raised to be whole, healthy and independent, we are raised to be kibble sources. We learn that our purpose is to make the narcissist parent happy , which requires constant vigilance, and we learn that there is always a price for asserting our own needs and interests. And for many of us, this early learning conditions us to be comfortable in codependent relationships, where our job is to “fix” things for someone who gets to be the “entitled” one. The best thing about DDay is that I absolutely knew (given the facts of the situation) that I didn’t do anything to deserve the Jackass’s abuse. And as I have read and written here, I came to understand that to get to “meh” also involved resolving my first relationship to a narcissist. In a sense, dealing with a narcissist is just a life-or-death version of dealing with anyone else: it’s a matter of establishing boundaries and sticking to them. When I was in my twenties, my maternal grandmother (having cheated on his third wife and abandoned his THIRD set of adolescent kids) wrote to me complaining about his STBX wife. I wrote back and told him to never write me anything negative about his wife, whom I liked and cared about. I never heard from him again. Ever. So sometimes, drawing a line with narcissists means they go away forever. And let me say it didn’t cause me an ounce of pain never to hear from that jerk again. It was harder with my mother, but I finally learned to have no expectations of her and to draw satisfaction from standing up for myself without becoming a whiny adolescent, a cowering child, or an entitled jerk myself. And now that she’s gone and I don’t have her chaos to deal with, I can recognize and appreciate her talents and the things we had in common.

  • My comments are general. I have only limited contact with my parents and that contact is on my terms.

    They weren’t good parents. They were absent and neglectful while being controlling – talk about crazy making. My father is a bully. Both are self-centered. They have expectations for me and always have. I’ve never measured up. They criticize, they judge, they are aloof and cold.

    I will never get the childhood I wanted. They will never be the parents I needed. They think they are great parents so there is nothing to work with in terms of talking it out and trying to resolve anything.

    I beat my head against that brick wall for years.

    At some point you just need to mourn the loss, make a life for yourself and move on. It is heartbreaking and difficult, but it is the only way to deal with it.

    Don’t take shit from anyone. As an adult you get to live your life the way you want to live it. Don’t be subject to guilt or shame or expectations.

    Always be true to yourself and live with integrity. Don’t allow people in your life who don’t have integrity.

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