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Bach therapy exercise lots of time outdoors in this wonderful world time and distance this board!! Thanks everyone enuff-I did try The Work and it helped a lot with a relationship gone bad in the past. I haven't tried it with mom but I appreciate the reminder. I t was almost embarassing how much something so simple did for me. But it was like insta zen or something.
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I am feeling somewhat shaky and wounded lately ... so I hesitated to post on this thread. But whatever my immediate personal problems, I do know that I have healed a great deal over the years since I moved out of my mother's dysfunctional kingdom. So to agree with and add to what others have already said ... Distance. The human spirit is an amazing thing. Just the absence of abuse is half the battle. Left unsquelched, our healthier instincts kick in and begin to lift us up. May take a while, but it happens. That's why it's so tragic when ACON let other narcissists invade their later lives ... we desperately need to be away from this kind of behavior altogether to have the breathing room to truly heal. Happiness in other relationships. Forging bonds with other people capable of giving and receiving authentic love and nurturing is such an astonishing experience after the strange world we grew up in and were convinced was "normal." I actually lump professional therapy into this category because my relationship with my therapists -- the good ones, not the quacks -- was my first successful experience with letting someone nurture me. So restorative. Physical health. Like many ACON, I have had all kinds of ailments and bad habits that commonly spring from experiencing high levels tension and stress and neglect and self hatred from a young age. Beginning to somewhat respect my body has been important of late. Eating a little healthier, getting some exercise, taking vitamins, flossing regularly, grooming properly. Was never taught to do any of those things as a child. Have you ever heard the expression "growing like a weed"? Well that's literal for me ... my mother didn't seem to give much thought to tending to my physical health (as opposed to my appearance). In fact, she always seemed surprised and annoyed when I became ill. One of her comments to this day is: "I suppose I spoiled you, but when you were having one of your 'spells' (her term for any illness I ever had) I just let you sleep until you felt better." Uh, hey mother, how about ... I don't know ... taking me to the doctor? Giving me medicine? Throwing your sick child into a back bedroom and waiting until she either dies or gets up isn't a terribly proactive approach. But I digress ... Freedom. I know, that sounds a lot like distance, but I think it's a separate peace. To be free to accomplish something in life without scrutiny or sabotage. To become myself at last, warts and all. The most healing possibility I can imagine. I'm still working on that one.
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A couple of us were just posting over on the "Narcissistic Parents" thread and our discussion prompted me to add something about healing: The Truth Will Set You Free. My comment on the other thread was that many of us walk around with our heads still weighed down with stubbornly lingering lies and deceptions. It is very healing to drag those out into the open and acknowledge their illegitimacy. And toss out the garbage. It's amazing (and frustrating!) to me when I realize how many misperceptions and ancient tapes are still droning on and on in my head. You would think now that I'm onto my NPD parent's game, I would have figured out that, duh, a whole bunch of the stuff she has spoon fed me over the years is probably lacking a certain element of ... hmmmmmm ... shall we say, accuracy? Not surprising that I feel vaguely unworthy of being loved and valued, that I tolerate being treated shabbily sometimes. I have been conditioned to believe that the most ordinary parental efforts made on my behalf were supreme sacrifices ... that I was basically undeserving of what I got, much less anything more. What's the opposite of entitled? That's me. That's the nagging feeling that dogs me and that I'm determined to shake. I feel overpaid by my clients (I've been consistently told I undercharge by people who should know). I am terrified whenever I reimburse myself for my modest expenses associated with my mother's care (how dare I touch her ample assets and what a failure I must be that I can't manage to absorb the extra expenses with my meager assets). I am too quick to tolerate disrespectful behavior from friends and family, too much a people pleaser. No wonder I'm waiting for every good thing in my life to just vanish -- I live with these pervasive nips of shame and fear and self loathing. Years ago my therapist gave me a set of self help tapes entitled "Permission to be Precious." Frankly the name alone made me want to barf, a little too "precious" for me apparently. I listened a bit and the affirmation and assertions made no sense to me whatsoever at the time. I'm beginning to understand why the very idea of ME being "precious" seemed so ludicrous to me. So I have decided that the day that we can truly stop believing our NPD parent's tired old LIE about our lack of value in the world, we begin to heal. I'm going to get up every morning until further notice and look in the mirror and say, "It is not true, it never was. Let go of the lie."
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I have enjoyed reading everyone's responses. I can relate to every single one.
On another thread, Sheila posted about the brain's memory/emotional management system. This fascinated me. After reading the article, I realized that most of us ACONs have amassed a large collection of "damaged files" in our brains. Over many decades, we've learned to associate pain, guilt, shame, and sorrow with things that never should have had those emotions attached to them. This affected our brain chemistry as well as our unconscious decision-making abilities. Using the computer analogy further, our brain files are littered with many viruses and unnecessary "attachments". Over time, these problems have rendered our systems inefficient and prevented us from fully connecting to the regular human network. Just as we would handle an infected computer, we now must rid ourselves of these damaged files. I think our greatest anti-virus software is "the truth". I see a lot of us coming to that same conclusion. We want to see the truth and live the truth. We want to stop being ashamed, and start living an honest and fulfilling life. I stumbled onto something recently that really intrigued me. Most happy, balanced people are able to integrate their egos (their individual identities) with their souls (the part that connects them to everyone and everything else in the universe.). I think a lot of us learned to to view the world from a perspective outside of ourselves. We thought we had to ignore ourselves and only focus on what the rest of the universe wanted. If we can find a way to balance both, I think we will find lots of healing and comfort. Anyway, I can feel the collective empowerment in everyone's words. It is truly uplifting!
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Wow, reading this is like reading a story of my own life. Thank you guys for being here and being so truthful with your thoughts and suggestions. I'm just taken back right now at the use of the word "assault". I've thought for years I'm the only one who felt that way. My husband and I joke and say its "kicking puppies". Everything you have said about redirection and taking a step back really makes sense. I will truly work on letting my mother have less control of my life. THANK YOU!!!!
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So many things are helping me feel better and they include: This Board!!!! Just being able to talk it all out with others, and receive empathy, support, suggestions, and encouragement is super! It helps me know that I'm not alone! Counseling-To have someone else validate your feelings, and help you find a way to deal with the madness is priceless. I don't know what I would do without the sweet lady I see, and she listens mostly! Though she has had some great suggestions and strategies for coping and dealing with what life hands out. Other Loving Relationships-Knowing that someone (anyone) thinks you're valuable, worthwhile, talented, and lovable does wonders for the wounded ego. Not having to always prove myself to someone, and struggle for validation is freeing! Spiritual Support-Knowing that God loves me, and approves of me is an awesome thing. Knowing that He has a plan for my life, and that He will never leave or forsake me gets me through many a difficult time. Learning How To Nurture Myself-Instead of waiting for someone else to do something kind or fun, I do it for myself! It's so important to learn what makes YOU happy, and then allow yourself to do it. Lighting a scented candle, playing some beautiful, soothing music, shopping in an antique or thrift store, hot chocolate and marshmallows, a warm bath, reading a great book, watching a chick flick, sitting by the ocean, a cup of hot tea, a ride in the country, a walk in a park (or around the neighborhood)--whatever it might be--enjoy!!!! My counselor suggested getting a picture of me as a little girl, and putting it where I will see it often. And then do something that will make the little girl happy. Some people get a doll that resembles them. It's just a way to nurture the inner child that never got to be a child. Sometimes we just have to "mother" ourselves. Living My Dreams-Maybe I can't do all the things that I wanted to when I was younger, but I still can do some of them, or variations of the idea. Dust off those dreams, and renew them again--it's not too late! Relaxing and Releasing Myself From All Expectations-I'm learning to do what I can, and accept that it is enough! I can't fix everything, I can't make everything right. Hugs-Sparkle
Splotchy (for Katie)
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I should have responded sooner, but welcome to the board! Please feel free to post anytime! Take care!
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Hi there, I´ve been reading all of your posts and need some advice. My husband is a adult child of two narcissistic parents. For the longest time he denied that there was anything wrong and excused their behavior as being different or even special. After 15 years I couldn´t take it anymore and wanted out of the marriage , so he decided to talk to a therapist to see what he could do to help this relationship that I have with his parents. The therapist said that I no longer had to have any more contact with them. My husbands parents were furious, called the therapist etc etc . Anyway I think my husband is finally realizing that his parents are no longer a little different and actually quite damaging to everyone they come in contact with. My question is that I see my husband feeling quite low now that his bubble has burst. I want him to see the great person that he is. I want him to be loyal to me and his children not always putting his parents first. I know that he is hurting and I want to know what I can do as his wife to bring him into some healing.
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Hi tanya, It's hard to comment very much without an idea of the kind of behaviors and episodes that led your husband's therapist to recommend that you go 'no contact' with your in-laws. Sounds like the situation must have been pretty dire. But in any event, your husband is in therapy -- and hopefully with a good therapist -- and that is a supportive environment for him to work through his troubled relationships. Just try to be as patient and understanding as possible while he does this ... therapy is often quite traumatic. Even when it's for the best, even when it's way past time to deal with what's going wrong in your life, it's tough to face down some things. You can't fix this for your husband or make him happy -- this is a journey he has to take somewhat alone. He has to walk through the pain to the other side. All you can do is be there for him whenever he's able to let you in. And just keep reminding him that you care. p.s. How the heck did your husband's parents know which therapist to call? Yikes, talk about having 'no boundaries.'
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Thanks for your support. As for no boundaries my in laws really believe that what is their sons is theirs,( even me) not in any loving way, only in a use it if they want it type of way. They even have their son believing that it is true. He says its wrong but that he doesn´t know any other way. He swings from being narcissistic to co- narcissistic to just being a really nice person. The fact that his parents aren´t perfect and he clearly sees it , is devastating for him. As for the therapist talking to his parents. He offered because when my husband said that I didn´t have to be involved with them they said that they never wanted to see my husband again. My husband called his therapist to find out what to do and he offered his phone number if they wanted to talk to him.
For the first 10 years of my marriage I went along with the idea of push all the hurt and emotional abuse under the rug. My husband so desperate to please his parents would try to have me do anything they wanted, and I did! But in doing this I turned into narcissistic supply. Five years ago I started to pull away as I saw the more I tried the more they wanted , even when they had what they wanted they decided that they wanted something else . Everything was distorted nothing ever made any sense, boundaries were constantly crossed . My husband knew I was doing everything they wanted but they were never happy so he kept pushing me harder. The higher they wanted me to jump the higher I would. I was like a new toy .I poured on the admiration and love hoping for acceptance believing my husband, that they didn´t mean to say that or do that ( its not such a big deal) . He would say it is a cultural thing I am from America and they are from Europe. So I kept on believing I was somehow getting it wrong and their behavior was somehow European. The more he realized that there was something wrong, the harder he tried to cover them up . He would blame me for not trying harder ,being nicer, giving more. These people fit into society they have all the bells and whistles they look perfect on the outside. (besides having no friends at all). They change into anything that suits the moment that they will be accepted and admired. Life with them in our lives is full of negative drama, hurt, pain never peace, approval and never ever love. I feel such a relief that I don´t have to see my in laws anymore, but my husband is going to continue to see them once or twice a month with our children. Even though they have caused pain to our family and even our children. My husband is still living in a fantasy that they will one day see that he is such a great person and all the love that he craves will be showered down on him. I know that this is his journey and I will try to be patient but will this ever end? He is 40 now will he ever give up, accept and move on?
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Wow...so his parents said if you wanted nothing to do with them that they would basically disown their own son? Wow. Yeah, that's typical. My narc. father did NOT get along with my brother's wife at all (neither did my mother). They never saw their own wrong doings, only blamed my SIL and brother. I think it will just take some time for your husband to realize that it just "is what it is"...there's nothing he can do to change them. He can't have his parents hurting him, his wife, his marriage and his children. His parents should be responsible for their own bad behavior, but they never will be, so he is left with no choice. After while, we all just get tired of this narc. behavior. It's exhausting and soon we realize that there is just no pleasing them. This realization usually (although not always) seems to happen when we hit the early to mid 40's to mid 50's. I guess we just don't have the energy to do it anymore!
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I think men and women process things differently, so I can only respond as a daughter of narcissists. For most of my life, I was brainwashed into thinking that I HAD to put my parents' needs first. To me it wasn't a matter of choice. I also felt it was supremely important to find a way to actually get them to love me. What kind of a person can't get their own parents to love them? (I thought I was unloved because I was bad, so I kept trying harder and harder to be good enough for them to love me.) My parents also had me convinced that I couldn't survive without them. The world was a very scary place and only they could protect me. If your grow up with this twisted thinking, it's very hard to let go of it. The fear of going against them is huge. I first had to see that my parents were flawed and then I really had to believe it. Once I did, it still was hard to let go of the old patterns. Even after I knew they were wrong, I still was very afraid to go against them. With enough time and information, I came to see the problem and respond to it appropriately. While your husband may now be able to see it, he may not be ready to fight it. It took me a lot of time, and I pretty much had to do the work myself. No one else could do it for me. I'm sorry this is so frustrating. I hope in time that your husband will see the light and choose his own life. Good luck.
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Thanks for all your input. I needed to know from my husbands point of view what he might be feeling. For a "normal" person I would be so angry at my parents for hurting my husband or my kids in anyway. I would walk away, still loving them for being my parents but stand my ground. I think that is why I feel so frustrated. It is so deep the conditioning we do to our kids. If we get it wrong we can change their whole perspective of how they see the world. Thanks again it is easier being patient now that I know he is not trying to hurt me , he is just trying to find his way in a world that isn´t what he thought it was.
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YES!!! You are EXACTLY right. He will learn little by little what things CAN be like...and how twisted and warped his parents are. The conditioning that narc. parents do to their kids is unbelievable. Unfortunately they use fear and belittlement a lot and do whatever is necessary to keep the child dependent upon them in some way for the rest of their lives. Lots of manipulation and game playing.
There are a lot of great books out there. I read Susan Forwards "Toxic Parents" and then read some books geared towards narcissism. Your husband is very lucky that you see his side of things and are willing to be patient.