Category Archives: ACoNs

Window of Experience: Adult Child with a Toxic Parent

What does narcissistic abuse from a parent look like when you’re an adult with your own family?

It’s so pervasive and unrelenting that it colours your entire reality, it can affect how you see yourself, relate to your husband, wife, children, friends and work colleagues. I was in this half reality for so long and did not even realise how affected I was until going no contact for a length of time. The more time that went by without seeing the toxic parent, the more I was able to see just how damaged my perception of reality was.

Let me explain, before seeing toxic parent, I would strategise and have a plan if certain behaviours were to occur. I was not to allow myself to get baited by her unrelenting comments that were usually highly critical, undermining, and essentially said to try and get a reaction from me in public (so that she could look like a victim). After being in the company of toxic parent, I would de-brief and cry most of the time because she was just so damn mean and dismissive. For days afterwards, my mood would be low, my general interactions with my husband and children would be affected. A week or two goes by, I feel better. Then it happens all over again with the next visit. This cycle of narcissistic abuse continued for years. It wasn’t until going no contact for 2 years now, that a veil has lifted.

Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m happy all the time and completely healed, what I do have are better coping strategies with life in general, I understand self-care, being forgiving of myself and others more easily rather than hold grudges and negative energy. I can handle small obstacles and bumps along the way without over the top reactions, and if I do react, the moment passes quicker and I am able to press on with the day.

A toxic parent stunts your growth as an adult. After such a traumatic childhood filled with all kinds of abuse, I still had so much growing up to do even in my late 30’s! There’s still such a way to go, but I feel confident that I have the skills to continue living a good life, make good decisions and go on protecting my own children from this most toxic person I used to call Mom.

I do not advocate for no contact as the first port of call, each person’s journey is unique and their own. For some, clear boundaries and low contact can work. For other’s it doesn’t, and that was the case with me. Honestly, it wasn’t until I witnessed the same psychological games being played on my children that were played with me that I finally had enough. Not everyone can understand my decision and that’s because I won’t tell everyone all the details. There’s no point re-living this experience just to help someone else make sense of it. The more time that goes by where I remain no contact, I stand on firmer ground and become stronger emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

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Surviving the Narcissistic Parent: ACoNs (Adult Children of Narcissists)

Below is an informative and insightful piece on what it is to be raised by a narcissistic parent. Being able to read this and identify with what is said is part of my healing. More specifically, what I experienced was real. The subtle and pervasive abuse of a narcissistic parent can leave you questioning reality. And here I find comfort that I am not alone.

At this present moment, I have no contact with the Mother, other than through her lawyer. Upon reading this article and seeing that narcissistic parents go on to further traumatise their grandchildren gives me faith in my instinct to protect my children from her. When our first child was born, my husband and I agreed that the Mother would have supervised contact going forward and that she would never have any significant amount of time alone with our children. At these points in time, the Mother had a boyfriend who took on the role of step-dad for me. He is what the article below refers to as an ‘enabler’. If any long period of time went by, I would inevitably get a phone call from my step-dad telling me how sick the Mother is, that she’s really unwell and needs to see me. Or my step-dad would facilitate contact via encouraging lunch and dinners out at restaurants. So eventually we would always see her.

Prior to seeing her, my husband and I would discuss strategies around how I would excuse myself from the table if the Mother was triggering me via mean, subtle sarcastic comments or undermining my role as  a Mum; I was to say I had a phone call and leave. Breathe. Come back. This was for the sake of our children who I did not want seeing their Mum get upset. After seeing the Mother, my husband and I would debrief, I might cry out of the sheer frustration of being in her company and feelings of grief that this woman continues to find happiness in my pain.

Over the years of the Mother having contact with my children, it has become very clear she has a favourite. One Christmas, her favourite received a robotic unicorn that talks and sings (for a great article about Narcs and gift-giving see this link here). My other daughter whilst still young, cried and didn’t understand why she couldn’t play with the unicorn. The Mother refers to her favourite as a small version of herself, always making comments that my daughter is just like her, that they are very similar and “I was like her when I was little”, she will tell her “I love you” and then turn to my youngest and say “oh yes I love you too” with disdain in her voice.

The Mother comments on her ‘favourite’s’ blonde hair and then in the same breath says some comment that my other daughters hair is dark and not as appealing, whilst in their presence.  This kind of subtle emotional abuse of pitting one child against the other based on physical attributes begun very early for my children and did not go unnoticed. It triggered many memories of how the Mother played my brother and I against each other based on looks. I pulled her into line, thinking that I might be able to stop her, this was foolish and I now realise she will never stop. Creating division is what she does, it’s how she creates drama and maintains control over the long term. I know there is no true genuine love for my children, they are merely props to her. Props to make her appear to be a doting grandmother and props for photos. The Mother would yank dummies out of their mouths as babies, making them cry, demonstrating no regard for their wants and needs, only that she requires the perfect photograph. This continued into early childhood, observed by her interrupting their play, forcing them to pose, shaming them for sitting incorrectly. It continued to be point of tension for us, even going so far as to give her a certain number of photographs and my step-dad would then remove her phone.

I have now removed her from our lives and a weight has been lifted. Maybe now I can truly begin to heal. No more preparing, no more debriefing, no more worrying that the cycle of narcissistic abuse will continue.

 

The Invisible Scar

narcissistic-mothers-smApril is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month. At The Invisible Scar, we are focusing on emotional child abuse, such as the various types, how to help emotionally abused children,  resources for healing, adult survivors of emotional child abuse, and the special case of narcissism.

Adult children of narcissistic parents (ACoNs) know a special type of emotional abuse in being raised by narcissists. (Biological mothers, stepmothers, biological fathers, and stepfathers can be N parents.) 

Before we discuss the special case of narcissism, please note that not every emotionally abusive parent has the narcissistic personality disorder. In some circumstances, an emotionally abusive parent who is not a narcissist can change and improve his or her parenting.  The same is not true for the narcissistic parent, however. Every narcissistic parent is an emotional abuser.

A narcissist is a person who has the narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one…

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