(Links) Narcissist parents

Raeyn at The Scarlet B blogs thoughtfully & consistently about all kinds of things, including family/life balance and managing the ups & downs of Bipolar 2, but recently she’s been posting about narcissist parents & terminating the relationship, with helpful links to different blogs, including this one at The Invisible Scar.

It’s a subject I’m all over the place about, and still feeling raw & aswirl when I try to write something down.  I’ve gone no-contact with my mother before– and am in the middle of a pretty no-contact phase now, except that I did send her a present for her birthday because she isn’t well off and the stuff I sent her was practical and can be exchanged to the catalog for lots of other practical things, if that’s what she wants.  The feelings I can manage to cohere are:  I don’t want to talk to her.  At all. Right now or for the foreseeable future.  I don’t want to just give her money at her birthday– and I am not going to send her anything for Mother’s Day– because my feelings about my mother and the way she acts about money and the way that it’s affected me, my brother, my father, our relationships with each other– all those feelings can be summarized as: irreconcilably furious & deeply fucked up.

I don’t want to send her a letter explaining why I am not talking to her, because it will be a repeat of conversations we’ve had in the past and the effort on my part doesn’t stick with her– doesn’t matter versus the story she needs to tell to herself.  It will also be a repetition of passive-aggressive ways she would “communicate” with me when I was a kid and I had done something to “hurt” her.  When I think about her, I feel angry, nauseous, anxious, defensive, worried for her and worried for me, guilty, and angry.  When I think about telling her anything at all about anything going on in my life, I start to get tongue-tied– both because she will only be able to listen for a few minutes before she will need to turn the story into something about her, so what the hell is the point, and because I never know when something important I’ve told her that anyone else would understand was in confidence will be used against me to get something she wants, either as a monetary or emotional payout.

It bothers my father that I’ve shut her out, even as she will have nothing to do with him for the sake of preserving her story, even all these years later.  He recognizes she’s crazy, but he thinks I ought to forgive her because she’s crazy, or for family’s sake, or because– who knows, maybe he’s afraid that at some point I will do that same thing to him.  The fact is, though– I can tell him, don’t do the thing and I might have to repeat myself, loudly, a few times to get the message across, but his crazy isn’t so bad that he can’t listen, and, more importantly, he wants to. He’s not a narcissist, simply human, and the fact that he has screwed up in the past & will screw up in the future doesn’t change the fact that he at least tries, and that the story is not 100% All Dad, All the Time.

What I haven’t finished chewing over inside my head to spit out here is that yes– I may indeed feel guilty forever about shutting out my mother, since she won’t ever get it and will always be hurt by my being “cruel.”  I may never get closure, because we can’t have a conversation.  And I may never forgive her.  But I don’t know that 1) I want to or 2) that I have to in order to be an okay person– I don’t hate her, and I don’t wish her ill and when she needs my help in an emergency way I will give it– but I think I am allowed to be angry at her until I’m not, and that the best way to not be angry at her is to not have any contact with her and therefore no provocation.  I cannot forget all the harm that she’s done, whether she “meant” to or not (and I know she didn’t mean to, she’s just damaged beyond repair)– I can’t forget because all my kneejerk behaviors and habits are built on the responses to trying to keep her stable and compensate for her crazy as well as mediate between her and my dad & his crazy when he was drinking.  I can’t forget, and I’m working hard to overcome the worst of those habits & behaviors– and so, if I’m going to keep doing that, I don’t think I “have” to forgive her.  If I were a better person maybe I could, even with her inability to express authentic understanding and remorse– but I’ll take calmer and saner over “better” or “kinder” for now and maybe, with grace and no contact, I’ll find forgiveness at some later point.

2 thoughts on “(Links) Narcissist parents

  1. Raeyn

    One thing my BFFFFF linked me to was a copy of a book called Toxic Parents; I’m working through it right now:

    Click to access TOXIC%20PARENTS.pdf

    It might be a useful read, it might not. The first half of the book is sort of a thought exercise and explanation of toxic behaviors, and the second half is a bit of a workbork-ish section. I’m in part two, and one of the first things it hits up is that forgiveness deeefinitely should not come until we’ve permitted ourselves to be angry and grieve. I’ll c/p the relevant bit:

    People can forgive toxic parents, but they should do it at
    the conclusion—not at the beginning—of their emotional
    housecleaning. People need to get angry about what
    happened to them. They need to grieve over the fact that
    they never had the parental love they yearned for. They
    need to stop diminishing or discounting the damage that
    was done to them. Too often, “forgive and forget” means
    “pretend it didn’t happen.”

    I also believe that forgiveness is appropriate only when
    parents do something to earn it. Toxic parents, especially
    the more abusive ones, need to acknowledge what
    happened, take responsibility, and show a willingness to
    make amends. If you unilaterally absolve parents who
    continue to treat you badly, who deny much of your reality
    and feelings, and who continue to project blame onto you,
    you may seriously impede the emotional work you need to
    do. If one or both parents are dead, you can still heal the
    damage, by forgiving yourself and releasing much of the
    hold that they had over your emotional well-being.

    At this point, you may be wondering, understandably, if
    you will remain bitter and angry for the rest of your life if you
    don’t forgive your parents. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
    What I have seen over the years is that emotional and
    mental peace comes as a result of releasing yourself from
    your toxic parents’ control, without necessarily having to
    forgive them. And that release can come only after you’ve
    worked through your intense feelings of outrage and grief
    and after you’ve put the responsibility on their shoulders,
    where it belongs.

    I suspect that, personally, I have a lot of angry that I haven’t even permitted myself to touch yet. I definitely feel at peace with my decision (she keeps findings to reinforce it, like calling me names, and then doing the gift-buying thing for the n-millionth time), but I recognize that I’ve had to live behind walls for so long… whelp. It’s going to be a messy journey, but I’m glad to be on it.

  2. magpiemusing

    I have no words but … I hear you. Mine was less toxic and less crazy, but fucked up. I miss her, but mostly it’s easier.


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