How to Break Free from a Parent’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Part Four in a Four-Part Series)

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This is the final post in a four-part series by One Angry Daughter, who shares her experience and resources for Adult Children of Narcissists on her blog, One Angry Daughter

Still Striving for Acceptance

My journey has come full circle when it comes to acceptance.  In the beginning I was still a child seeking the impossible acceptance of a mother who was unable to grant it.  Now, I feel much more like an adult who is seeking her own acceptance of a new, genuine reality.

I now focus on defining my individuality, rejoicing my unique spirit and continuously finding my own voice as the other more critical voices are silenced.

Once I let go of the idea that there was something I could do on my own to make my family dynamic better, I was able to let go of a tremendous amount of guilt and responsibility.  There were four adults that make up my birth family (me, my parents and my sister), all of us one fourth of the dysfunction dynamic.  In my reality I could see that we needed to change in order to have healthier, more enjoyable interactions.  In their reality, there was nothing to change and I was being out of line.  Unless all four of us want to move in the same direction, we are at an impasse.

Although I still get angry or depressed about the outcome, I am grateful for the experience as it has given me the space to come into my own person.  I found the key to accepting a healthier life outside of the control of narcissism is that it is perfectly ok to develop and live by your own standards rather than the impossible standards of another person. External validation from others feels great, but the only person’s acceptance I really need in order to maintain my healthy sense of self is my own.

 

The Full Four-Part Series:

Part 1 – How to Break Free from a Parent’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder, by OneAngryDaughter
Part 2 – How to Break Free from a Parent’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder, by OneAngryDaughter
Part 3 - How to Break Free from a Parent’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder, by OneAngryDaughter
Part 4 - How to Break Free from a Parent’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder, by OneAngryDaughter

Extras:

Recommended Books – How to Break Free from a Parent’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Defined in the DSM.

Comments

  1. Hiknapster says:

    Great series. Both my parents are narcissists. Obviously, they are now divorced! I have had no contact with my father for at least a couple of years but had to finally admit that my mother may have been even more damaging than he. I finally broke off all communication this past Christmas when she hurt my youngest child. She has affected all my kids. This was great positive reinforcement. Thank you.

  2. amy eden says:

    There’s no worse anguish coming to the decision that the best solution is to cut-off one’s own parents. It really cuts deep.
    I agree, OAD’s series is really great. :-) amy

  3. Natassa says:

    This is a great article. It helped me understand better my parents’ dysfunctional system and form a better opinion as to what the root of the problem was.

    Both my parents have passed away by now, but only recently I realised that they must have suffered from personality disorders. My mother was a DPD and my father an NPD. These two PDs attract each other at least in the beggining of a relationship.

    As I grew up my father was always condescending, dismissive and dogmatic towards me; he could not appreciate anything I was doing and never showed empathy for my problems. It is fair to say now that i suffered emotional abuse by him, but at the time I was in denial and always felt I had to prove myself to him.

    My mother was never able to make any decisions or take responsibility and provide emotional and moral support in matters that concerned me. She was also a passive abuser as she tolerated in silence my father’s behaviour throughout my childhood.

    Because of my parents’ dysfunctional behaviour I was an unhappy child, always left alone to figure out what to do with my life without any kind of emotional and moral support. I used to stand out of my peers for being the outsider, the sad kid who did not have any support and was bullied at school. This has affected my ability to form and retain relationships in life.

    After I turned 18, they both mellowed up and stopped being interfering and controlling, they even agreed to sponsor my studies. Support and genuine interest in my life, however, was never there. Since i can remember myself I have been a high achiever so their aloofness and indiference were disappointing.

    Even though they had high value properties and assets in one of Europe’s top holiday destinations, they were never able to manage them properly and everything would have been lost if I had not tried and saved them through bitter court battles.

    Needless to say I had to support them financially towards the end of their lives as they had not made plans for their old age. My mother, in particular, was depending solely on me due to DPD, after my father’s death she could not face up to living by herself or making any decisions. During the last years of her life she was very sick and I had to make sacrifices from my life to be there for her. She never aknowledged my efforts or even tried to apologise for her past behaviour.

    During the years of her illness I went into an emotional roler coaster of anger, bitterness and guilt. After she died part of me felt sad and another part felt relieved. Since then I still go through an emotional cycle of anger, guilt and bitterness. I do not know if these feelings will ever go away and if my life will ever come back to normal, but trying and understand the root of my family’s dysfunctional system is a first step to the right direction of regaining my confidence and enjoying life again.

  4. Nique says:

    This was the best and most clear article I’ve read about dealing with an NPD mother because it actually lays out a plan of action. Thank you very much for sharing your painful/liberating experience! My mother threw a fit and attacked me and my husband when I decided to continue to stay in my marriage that is actually fantastic but I had moments of weakness where she fed on doubt and I let her inside my head. When we mutually agreed that we were overstepping boundaries I thought thinks were going to be better but sure enough less than a week later she was breaching our verbal agreement. She just doesn’t know what respect it. My whole family is upset with me for staying away but I am TERRIFIED to risk this kind of unhealthy exposure and influence to my children any longer who are 3,4 and 6 years old. She would tell me that my 6 year old would rather live with her instead of me and my husband and instead of hearing hours RIDICULOUS that is I would say to myself, “she’s right. If I was a better mother he’d want to be with me but he knows she knows how to take care of him better then I do.” It’s like I gave myself up. He was the “golden grandchild” but my youngest, a spirited strong willed child, was her scapegoat. My entire family, myself included, would watch her be mean to her by making her sit in one place for no reason, calling her names and withholding things she wanted to torment her. I would try to soften the abuse and she would say the baby was bad because I allow it and that when I wasn’t around she didn’t act like that. I feel like I’ve had an awakening. My siblings are upset and have all launched their attacks against me in honor of their queen. Individually, they are good people and I hope that they will save themselves but I cannot help them without sacrificing myself and I won’t do it anymore. They all think they have a right to my children… They are not property that everyone has stake in! I am writing my own script (one that my marriage will compliment) and my children will NOT have relationships with anyone who disrespects any member of this family. I will encourage and teach them to stick together because I don’t want to experience a family be divided and conquered again! I have so many memories coming to surface and there is just more and more proof that I was not ever put before her own self-serving needs. She would dangle me in front of men if she thought it would gain us status or special favors, anyone who had money had better watch out because she would drink from that well until it was dry and then move onto the next one, she would take credit for EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that was good or successful. In the end, you need to take your Oscar and make a big speech about how thankful you are for…. YOUR MOTHER. So far I have terminated contact with everyone in my family and I feel GREAT. Of course every now and then I get wind of her lies which is all part of her character assassination and I’m reminded how I made one of the best choices of MY life.

    • Amy Eden says:

      I’m glad you found and liked the post(s). They’re from OneAngryDaughter, who once guest posted for this blog. Her contribution is so valuable.
      It’s difficult to break free of a narcissist’s web of shame…manipulation…more shame…more attempts at manipulation….then a spoonful of sugar and sweet behavior thrown in to lure us back… Oh yes.

  5. heidi says:

    Thank you for the insightful and well-organized article.
    I wish to suggest you please consider adding material
    which is described below, regarding the POA trap/ trust-trap:

    I am 50 years old, and have a successful career and happy marriage.
    HOWEVER, the power of attorney trap, and trust-trap — caught me off-guard.

    My father, a dangerous narcissist, in his illness and financial ruin at end-of-life,
    somehow got me to sign POA papers, and successor trust papers, etc etc.
    Before long, I am LEGALLY ENTANGLED with my narcissistic parent,
    which now involves a legal process of me “getting out” — once again.

    This was a huge trap I did not see coming, or know about.
    I felt I had “successfully” survived my parents,
    with a life-time of healing and taking responsibility for my self.
    But then — they got me when I am 50 years old, in the old trap
    thru legal complications under the “caring guise” of power of attorney,
    successor to this and that, etc.

    I have never read literature on the POA trap, the trust-trap.
    It is a sad thing to revolve thru this again.
    Please keep up the writing — and please consider writing about the above.

    Sincerely, heidi.

    • Amy Eden says:

      Thanks Heidi. I don’t know about the POA trap. It sounds like you weren’t given a choice in the matter. Ick!!
      Could you tell us more, educate us a bit? Thanks!

  6. Kristen says:

    I’ve been surfing on-line more than 3 hours today, but I never found any attention-grabbing article like yours.
    It’s pretty value sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all
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  7. Jodi B says:

    Wonderful series. Living in the trap of a narcissistic mother. I have 2 older siblings and one has cut off all ties and the other moved across the country so I am the only one left. I feel obligated and guilty to assist in care for her due to her age and limited financial status. However she is evil and mean to me. I attempt to set up services from outside agencies to alleviate the stress on me and limit contact to only what is required and she is so creative and always works around what I have done to set up others to meet her needs. SHe has no car and I am her only “lifeline” in getting to anything she needs to or to get anything she needs. Her behavior towards me has gotten progressively worse and she recently began calling me names and being verbally abusive in front of my children while we were running her around for errands. I am feeling like I am suffocating and I take a few days to deal with the emotions when an interaction is hard with her but the guilt sneaks up that she has none else and I am the only one to help her. Article helped but I am having a terrible internal struggle. I truly want to just walk away but her being elderly I feel like a terrible person. And if I ever didn’t feel that way she would tell me how awful I am along with everything else that she feels is wrong with me. Now she has threatened to call my work and my ex husband to make waves and in her words act “radical” as she was not getting what she wanted from me. I had set a boundary and she is on a war path-

  8. Eileen says:

    Every once in a while, i need to come over and read this series again. It is so very helpful. I cut off contact with my own narcissistic mother and dysfunctional family, but still experience the effects of my husband’s dysfunctional family and controlling (narcissistic?) mother. Especially around the holidays. Then I doubt myself and feel guilt that I am doing something wrong by limiting my exposure to them. Then I come here and read this and remember, no. It’s not me. It’s them. I have to do what is right for my own immediate family and my children, and spending more time with dysfunction and narcissism is most definitely not it.

    Thank you for your site. <3

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