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Some of us here are adult children of narcissists (or at least we suspect we are!) A common theme among ACONs is the desire to escape the madness and live a healthy, sane life. When you are raised by parents with personality disorders, you sometimes don't know where to even start.
I thought it might be helpful if we shared some of the things we are doing to help us heal. On the Narcissist thread, Sparkle shared some great ideas about how she is recovering. I hope she won't mind if I summarize some of them. First she mentioned that we need to believe that we are entitled to our own lives. A lot of us have had a hard time figuring out where our parents end and where we begin. We shouldn't feel guilty for wanting what is really our birthright. She also mentioned how we should encourage each other to find ourselves. A lot of us never got the chance to have our own feelings, choices, and dreams. We need to take steps now to find our own identities and build our own lives. Sparkle also talked about connecting with people who truly care about us. When we make more time for the people who love us, it can restore our faith in humanity and renew our spirits. I'd like to add a few of my own. One of the things I have always struggled with is fear. I have always been afraid of what other people think and what my parents might do if I "disobeyed" them. This is clearly the reaction of a child and not an adult. One of the things I have been trying to do is learn how to face life like an adult. I have been learning how to set boundaries and how to think for myself. I have been taking small steps each day to actively choose my life instead of being pulled into things by people who don't have my best interests at heart. I also have been learning how to accept myself and forgive myself for abandoning myself as a child. I have been learning how to surrender to God the things I cannot change, and how to take control of things I can. I am allowing myself to grow at my own pace, and accepting that my path in life might be different from everyone else's. When I get angry at all the time and energy I've wasted, I try to redirect my thoughts. It helps to remember that all those negative experiences helped shape me and give me knowledge. Instead of looking at all the doors that were closed on me, I am now trying to search for all the doors that remain open. I hope all of us can find ways to move the past the unhealthy events of our childhoods to build happy and meaningful lives. As part of that process, I invite you to share what you are now doing to heal.
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Lots of distance between you and the NParent is a good start.
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Dear Splotchy, Thank you for starting this new thread, your timing is just right as it seems that many of us are feeling the same way and need to find ways to make positive changes for ourselves and our loved ones. I like to think of myself as being 'good-enough', not perfect and also not a failure. Just to say the words 'I'm good-enough' makes me feel instantly better about myself. Also find it helpful to look back and see what I have achieved in life...despite all the hardships. Helps too not to think of life being a struggle..but of it being more of a challenge...and to allow myself time to heal, recover and make small steps. I suppose you could say it is about learning to love oneself unconditionally and with compassion.
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Thank you Splotchy for such an insightful post. I found this board while looking for help for my elderly IN-LAWS and was amazed at all the Narcissism support here. I discovered a year ago that both of my parents are Ns. I always knew, from the age of 5, that my family was not normal. I went extremely low contact with my parents a year ago - I still let them see my children. After the latest drama at my children's school, we have gone completely no contact. Although it has only been a week, and I am waiting for the next assault, I have never felt so peaceful in my life.
I believe what you wrote about being entitled to our own lives is so true - and it wasn't until I discovered my parents were N's that I realized I was not living my life. Even thought I have been happily married for 14 years, a mother of three children, and 42 years old, I was still wondering if I was "disobeying" my parents. I like to think that we are capable of a type of "re-birth" after distancing ourselves from the negative (evil) in our lives. I really liked what you said about redirecting your angry thoughts. This was a big one for me. I kept asking myself - how could you not notice? - why did you put up with that behavior? - over and over again. It took me awhile to redirect my thoughts too - and remind myself that I never saw "normal" family dynamics until I married my husband. I am so grateful for this board and all you wonderful people.
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Great idea for a thread!
For me, understanding that my father was a suspected N, and I attracted a variety of N's into my life in relationships and friendships most likely as a result of that, having the information about N's that seemed to not be available before, and making a decision that the second half of my life is going to be better than the first were all things that started me on my healing journey in the right direction. I am using the term "right direction", because I always seemed to be on some kind of healing journey without any real results. Understanding and taking in the information about N's made all the difference. (N father died many years ago.) And, it has been my experience, with all the support and information available now, that once something starts understanding how N's have been running their lives, they really get it, and things started getting much better, and the pieces start fitting together really fast.
What has helped, and continues to help? First it was reading about it, participating in online support groups. Reading about midlife and how we go through a second physical and emotional awakening in midlife, reading Pia Mellody books on codependency and love addiction (not specifically about N's, but very very powerful to me because I was, several years ago, love addicted to an N and my No Contact was more about a few toxic people in my life at the time). And, a lot of this all goes back to recognizing that I am entitled to live my own life, and pursue my own dreams. Do not think I really believed this before I started this journey. Then, committing myself to look at my earlier dreams and do something about this. I prepared and went back to a university in my 50's. Quit a day job that was driving me crazy, rented out my house and got away from an unfortunate set of toxic neighbors, moved miles away to go back to school, realized my creative passions,and will be receiving my degree this spring in a creative field. This is of absolutely little financial benefit, but it is a statement in recognizing my true passions in life and using the skills to take this to a higher level. Kind of making up for something I did not do earlier in life, but, proving it is possible at this stage of life. Faith in God and a regular spiritual practice of prayer and meditation. Exercise (yoga and walking for me). Reconnecting with my mother in a bigger way, because she has really been a positive, loving force in my life, and a loving soul. N father totally overshadowed that in the past. Power of friendships, nurturing my friendships, better able to say no to toxic people and situations and just walk away. Dealing with so-called rejection better. Better boundaries. Better self-control. Therapy. Worked with a therapist using EMDR. Very very powerful, but you can also get fabulous results for free by studying Emotional Free Technique through their online website. Very powerful for emotional healing and not having your life run my emotions. Can tame your negative emotions in minutes. I still have a ways to go, but that it the nature of life. I do not base my whole life on the fact that I have a way to go. I get out and have fun too and do things that are enjoyable. For me it is a day-to-day thing that I need to work on. But, amazingly, it seems like once I began this healing journey with understanding how N's put a total dent in my life, my life, things really started to take off in a new and better direction. And, I think this readily available information in books, support groups here and on other N sites has made such a difference.
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I recently went no contact with my NMom after 2 years of very limited contact. I went NC with my sister last year. I seem to be somewhat of an orphan now as the family is a "packaged" deal...my brother still lives at home (44) and sounds just like my mother. My stepfather is a casualty.
What has helped me is the validation from places like this board! I now realize that none of this was in my head and it really isn't me. What an uplifting feeling! I have to laugh at myself because I have been thinking of the Wizard of Oz here...I like to think of the point in that movie when Glenda (?) the good witch tells Dorothy to hang on tight to her ruby slippers, they are powerful. I feel the same with myself...I am hanging on to my beliefs and standing up for me...no one has the power to "make" me do anything or act a certain way unless I let them. Silly maybe I will say I reached a final straw moment with my mother. I actually confronted her on everything that had been bothering me. I know a BIG NO NO but I felt I needed to do this for me so that I could move on. When I told her what my final straw moment was....she laughed and said "that's it?" I rest my case...she will NEVER get any of this. I am moving on...I honestly believe she doesn't love me. I can't even pretend she's any kind of mother to me. Stephanie
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I have learned in my life that sometimes just forgiving the person helps, I do not mean you need to keep going back and subjecting yourself to what they do to you. I mean just realizing they are troubled people, they may have had parents that treated them the way they treated you. They may have mental problems that have not been diagnosed or they may be just that kind of person, for whatever reason. I do not think it is easy to do this, it is something I have been working on and that in itself has freed me. I know you will think, she can talk her mother is no longer living, and while that is true, the feelings you have concerning a parent live on long after their death if you allow them to. I do know that forgiveness helps, allowing someone to keep hurting you doesn't help, so forgiving someone frees you from thinking about what they have done to you and in doing that you relieve yourself of the pain of re-living what they have done to you. If you forgive, what is left to hurt you? This again, is just my opinion.
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I have recently posted on other narcissistic thread re. forgiveness. I understand what you are saying about there being a possible reason for N's to abuse their children. It is always a condundrum...are they mad or are they bad? So many of us wrestle with this question. I know that when a person becomes paronoid their version of reality is distorted, when a person projects all their own bad and evil traits onto another..it is their way of making themselves feel perfect. All symptoms of mental illness. Such a person can behave rationally and normally when in the company of others..but can turn into something else when in the company of their chosen victim. It is against human nature for a mother to be cruel and evil towards her daughter. Some of us have gone on to have children of our own and we have chosen not to carry on the abuse. Our mother's are our first teachers...and we have had to relearn how to raise our own children by not repeating the abuse, this takes courage and committment. If my mother had her way she would like to destroy all I have achieved, it would make her feel good about herself. I am not ready to forgive, but neither do I feel bitter, just sad that she has lost the respect and love of her close family and now is living a lonely and isolated life on her own. I will just say that I partially forgive her enough to keep a thread of our long-distance relationship alive..and that feels just about right for me.
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Great thread Splotchy!
I think for me my healing has been in stages....... The start or first part of my healing was to be shocked into the awareness that I even had healing to do. I was so far into the 'unknowing' that I could not see anything other then my mother's own N'way, 'the world according to my N'mom.' The second part of my healing was learning as much as I could about what I was dealing with..... 'narcissism' and my own part in the the relationship. By doing this I also learned some important things about myself too. The third part of my healing is what I'm doing right now and that is the digesting of everything and letting it sink in, mentally and emotionally. Also the creating of boundaries and learning how to keep them has been my immediate concern. During this time too I am grieving my illusions of the reality that I held for so many years.....that I have a loving family, that my mom loves me, that all of these behaviors are normal, that I have to stay this way, that I don't have choices etc. It's been like a death to me and I have been going through the different stages of grief just like as is someone (my old self or my old life ) has died.... * Denial (this isn't happening to me!) * Anger (why is this happening to me?) * Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...) * Depression (I don't care anymore) * Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes) I think as some have posted that forgiveness with be the next stage or fourth stage as I can already feel the beginnings of these thoughts. The forgiveness I will have to find will not only be for my mom or my family but also for myself. I think the last stage will be living in harmony with my life and myself. I know my healing is not going to happen in a day, or a month or even a year but will be my ongoing journey. I think too our 'awareness' only happens as we become ready to be able to see the new truth and the time table of 'waking up' is uniquely our own. I think that what has helped me the most is having the support and validation of the members of this board who gave me for the first time permission to look after myself and for this you have my thanks and heartfelt gratitude.
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The grim reaper, who comes to collect the N.
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Hello All, I still have a ways to go but I am so much better than I was a year ago, and a year ago I was better that the year before that. I go back and read my journal and past threads when I start doubting myself. My own words from then to now help me see the growth I've made and the backbone I'm still in the process of finding. Gracenotes mentioned EFT...I still use that and as simple as it is, along with deep breathing and exercise are doing wonders for me. I have my life back. This is the first Thanksgiving I can ever remember, that I didn't invite my mother to come over or go out of town with us...sounds bad??? It's not because she always, year after year preferred to be with my brother and it annually made me feel bad. So there was no need to say a word. Do I feel empowered (?) Yes! Guilty(?) No! She is confused and has asked me about our plans so I told her and ended by saying I knew she'd have wonderful time with my brother. I'VE LEARNED TO TAKE CONTROL OF ME! She still tells me of all of the wonderful people that offer to do this and that for her and I simply tell her she is so blessed to have met such wonderful people and friends offering to do so much for her...and I really mean that! Then there's the follow up of the friends with wonderful daughters and I reply with "They are so fortunate to appreciate one another"...and I mean that as well. I've learned to give myself a few seconds to think, prior to answering a question. We (grown children) have spent a lifetime leaping to answer immediately...and it should certainly be the 'right' thing...no more. I choose my words carefully. If there are things that are none of her business, I say politely, "It's no ones business". Then disregard the huff and puff that follows...and change the subject. I have this wonderful board that I pulled me in when I was drowning. No one understood, no one. Doctors shook their heads, friends thought I was exaggerating, no one saw and heard what I did and I honestly thought I was loosing my mind...you guys got it, had lived it and knew exactly what I was dealing with. I was asked to take her to a medical appointment (alone) tomorrow. I agreed to take her, but not alone. I'm sure she'll be shocked but I know too much, I understand how she works and I know I'm still vulnerable and don't always 'see' baited questions or comments as bait...I see it as 'just talking'...I'm working on it, though. I believe she's rethinking major decisions she made last year, those decisions turned into a blessing for me. I've learned to take a big step back, take a deep breath and say no. All of these things are helping me heal. Will I ever understand fully??? I don't think so. But I do know what empathy is, and realize it's not something that can be taught...you either have it or you don't. I do feel bad for her that she will probably never know (and I don't think ever has known) the joy and happiness I feel in my life. I appreciate my children and love taking care of my beautiful granddaughter...the feeling is priceless and hard to express. Maybe my mother has opened my eyes a bit more and for that I am thankful. Now wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug! Have a great day!!! BD
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Splotchy, good thread, this is something i have been thinking about off & on. my 'N'mother moved away (2-1/2 hrs) for 20 yrs , then 4-5 yrs later i gave my abusive X with 'N' tendencies 30 daze to remove himself from my home. so i was not under 'N' influence, however, i still attracted abusive people to me like i had a bullseye painted on my forhead. my real turning point came when i allowed my 'N'mother to move in with me. such an eye OPENER !! i never realized she was only abusive towards me, i always thought that was how she treated everyone. my next turning point was doing a search on 'nasty mother's' and stumbling upon this wonder board. i read like a thirsty sponge, and began to learn boundaries. learning that i can say NO to abuse has turned my life around . i feel i have forgiven 'N'mother ,, to an extent ,,, this has definitely had a positive effect on my healing. i feel sorry for a life lived as she has lived her life. however, she has such control over her abusive rages, that i cannot forgive her for teaching me that abuse is normal ,,, resulting in my attracting abuse most of my life. MollyTx posting about rumination helped me stop the replaying of memories in my mind ,,, pushing out the negative and focusing on the positive. i have always been one to give thanks & praise, but now make a point of giving thanks & praise for any & everything positive, even if is watching the birds feeding at my bird feeders. it has a snowball affect, as the more i concentrate on the positive, the more the negative is diminished. blessings for the knowledge of 'N's & boundaries
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I'm familiar with as gracenotes has posted about working with a therapist with EMDR and also EFT to help alleviate the traumatic emotions in our memories and lessen the effect that these have on us so these techniques have been helpful.
I was wondering though if anyone is familiar with or has anyone tried using 'the work' from Byron Katie in their healing journey and if so, did it help? http://www.thework.com/thework.asp
Treated like a kid
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Thanks, Spotchy, for starting this thread. Limited Contact is what has helped me heal the most. Not only because I do not have to spend time with my NG and deal with the constant blows and chronic chaos, which can keep you so off balance that it is very hard to ever heal or think straight, but because I had to dig deep in order to go limited contact. What was so hard about going limited contact is that I had to give up the need to always please everyone and always be the good girl. (good girl meaning being a loyal grand-daughter) And being a good girl is what got me into the situation in the first place. I decided that I would set my boundaries and stick to them, not worrying about if my bounds would be popular with the family. (they didn't seem to care about my opinion of their involvement in their own mother's/grandmother's life, so I thought it was only fair to not worry about theirs) It is when I read the book about it freaked me out so much that I decided that I would never consciously try to appease a "gas-lighter" again and will always be aware that unhealthy choices can come from being afraid of disappointing or disapproval. That book is what really helped me make healthy decisions. Every time I feel the urge to do something out of fear of disappointment, I remember the book and happily say no. That book will scare anybody into breaking the pattern of people pleasing! I highly recommend it. Gas-Lighting, Even though I'm still healing, I guess it's been a lot of the small decisions to ultimately choose a healthier life that has helped me heal the most. And not being afraid to saying no or facing disapproval has given me a lot of strength and courage in other areas of my life too. Other things that have helped me too are things that were already mentioned: like respecting myself again, educating myself about Narcissism but also knowing when to take a break from it, praying for guidance and common sense, thinking positively about what I do have, allowing myself to be imperfect, focusing on a good future, and using whatever stubbornness and determination that I have in me to turn the hard N experiences into good. (somehow)
gracenotes for BD & All
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I am so glad to hear that you are doing well and that you have your life back! Also, you mentioned doing EFT. Wonderful. Yes it is simple, but oh so powerful. If anyone is interested in exploring EFT, here is a link to their website. I personally think it is quite wonderful healing stuff and easy and learn and use. All the info to get is there for free. http://www.emofree.com