Wednesday, February 07, 2007

To cut off from a parent, or not....that is the question

One of the hardest positions you may find yourself in is when having to decide whether to cut off all contact with your parent or parents. It seems unnatural to live your life as if your parents are already dead. (In truth, what is unnatural is how N parents treat their children.) Society tends to disapprove of adult children walking out of a parent's life. Other family members will shame you for it. People seem to dismiss reason in this realm refusing to believe there must be an egregious crime or, more accurately a series of crimes, somewhere for an adult child to make such a drastic step. The very unnaturalness of cutting off from ones parents should be a giant red flag to others that something very wrong has been going on out of sight. The willingness of people to judge what they have not been witness to is a natural human fault. If you've tried to cut off contact from family you've already run into this reality. You're going to have to be very sure of your decision if you're going to be able to deal with this inevitable judgment.

Are you obligated to a relationship simply because of shared genetics? Are those who share your genetics exempt from the law of natural consequences?

That's what I want to talk about today. The concept that there are consequences for bad behaviors.

When I was forcefully confronted with the realization that neither of my parents would accept me on anything but their own terms was when I had to start to conceptualize living my life without them in it. I made a monumental effort to reason with them, to explain my moral framework and how they had no right to try to force me to violate my conscience or sacrifice my family in order to make them happy. When they were confronted with what were now my immovable boundaries, they ratcheted up the emotional pressure, obfuscation and manipulation. What I knew beyond all doubt was my determination to live as an autonomous adult would be like holding up the sign of the cross to a demon. The friction between me and my parents would be continual and unrelenting unless I was the one who capitulated. Considering the difficulties dealing with them when I was actually trying to please them, I had a pretty good idea of the level of misery for them (not to mention myself) when pleasing them would not be the focus of my energy and attention.

When living my life on my own terms, and no longer being willing to tolerate bad behavior on the part of my Nmom or my enabling father began, my Nmom and dad reacted by withdrawal. This has been a useful tactic of theirs. They think they are so wonderful and important that family members feel keen pain when they withdraw their royal presence. So they will withdraw for a time and then sound you out at some future date to see if you are now willing to comply to their demands. Withdrawal would also employed when my Nmom would behave like an ass but was refusing to acknowledge that fact. She pulls away for a period of time hoping that some months down the road when she calls and acts like nothing ever happened that you'll play along. Voila! No accountability. No need to apologize. Clean slate for the narcissist.

Both stages of withdrawal were experienced by me (inverse order) in the wake of my Nmother's sneak attack on my daughter during the Thanksgiving visit of 2002 that I have minimally described in another post. First, she withdrew because she knew she behaved badly and was hoping time would save her from accountability. I didn't hear from her for six months. She was brave enough to make a tentative contact after she received a Mother's Day gift and card from me. She sent me a card with a thank you and a very vague apology. No specificity at all. But I took that as an opening. In June of 2003 I sent her a twelve page letter explaining my reaction to her recent behavior toward my daughter and myself and telling her what a real apology would look like.

To make a long story less long ... I waited six months for a reply. What arrived was a carefully crafted response that was so full of holes as to be ridiculous, but on its face it was a valiant attempt to look like she was sorry while she excused and justified herself every way she could. I may post it here someday as grand example of a non-apology apology. I replied with another, less long, letter. Followed by interminable silence. She had no way to respond. I had her completely boxed in the corner. She saw I could not be bamboozled by her mind games. I wasn't buying her crap anymore. She could only hope I would just relent and make nice at some point.

Meanwhile, her machinations were ongoing. She had been on a continual slander campaign since Thanksgiving 2002 to anyone who would listen to her. Stuff was getting back to me. While pretending to apologize to me, she never stopped justifying herself and painting me and my family as the bad guys to her captive audiences. My father was the most affected by her negative campaigning. Even though he was a witness to the event in question, he surrendered what he saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears to her rewrite of history. He threw me over. He expressed to his own brother that he was done with me. That he would cut me off now but he was being forced by his wife to give it a bit more time. He said he would give me a year to make right with my mother and then he'd be done with me.

A little over a year after my last letter to her (and about a year after my dad's threat to cut me off), Nmom clearly demonstrated she had no intention of retracting her slander and lies to extended family. An ex-sister-in-law reentered her sphere. My mother did not resist in any way beginning a new slander campaign against me. She made all her false accusations against me behind my back yet again even upping the ante as she was now accusing me of being to blame for her health problems. She stated that I was killing her. This newest accusation told me my father was believing I was now responsible for her health problems because she would have convinced him of it. The idea that dad was now seeing me as guilty of attempted murder was a scary thought. My father has a volatile temper. If he believes me responsible for her death (when she finally kicks off) I can see him coming after me. I still dream about him killing me.

All this story is to try to illustrate a hopefully simple point. My parents are the ones who are responsible for the decision to have me out of their lives. By not being willing to negotiate with me, by the continuing slander while faking an apology to me, by withdrawal as a means of showing their disapproval of my perceived recalcitrance, by their refusal to admit to wrong-doing, the reality is that THEY made the decision to not have me in their lives. Because of the law of natural consequences, their ongoing behaviors were guaranteeing that I would be shut off from them.

There are consequences for bad behavior. Or, at least, there should be consequences. The God of heaven relies on this natural law to teach sinners to turn from their destructive behavior. By feeling the results of consequences, reprobates may have a chance of being turned from their evil. We do a grand disservice to the cause of good and right when we interfere in this natural law. If we do not allow bad behavior to culminate in their natural results, we confirm the bad behavior. Any decent parent knows this truth from raising children.

I am hoping you can see where I am going with this. The answer to the questions stated earlier, Are you obligated to a relationship simply because of shared genetics? Are those who share your genetics exempt from the law of natural consequences? is no and no. To remain in a relationship where the bad actors are refusing to change, and when you have determined that their behavior is more than annoying and definitely in the realm of evil and destructive, then you must remove yourself from the relationship if you are going to avoid being an accomplice to their evil. Let the natural law of consequences have its opportunity to work.

Most important to your peace of mind, be willing to know that they made the choice to not have you in their lives because of their persistence in clinging to their evil. Natural consequences is likely the last thing that has any chance of turning the narcissist from their evil ways. The chance is slim to none, but that isn't your problem. If they do happen to change and you don't ever believe those changes to be real, or you are so far removed that you never hear of these changes, then settle your mind by realizing that this, too, is the result of the law of natural consequences. If a person consistently mistreats the people in his or her life then the natural consequence may be that they end up alone. Again, that is not your problem. You are guilty of nothing. They are bearing the consequences of their own guilt. You removing yourself from their life will not condemn them in the eyes of God should they ever choose to make things right with the universe. You don't have the power to stand between them and God should they decide to make things right. Which brings me to an important truth: you don't have responsibility where you don't have power. You don't have the power to change the narcissist, so you don't have the responsibility either. Please let that soak in. Some of us stay way too long in relationships with narcissists because somewhere in our minds we feel responsible for changing them. Give up that thought. Recognize the little bit of grandiosity in your opinion of yourself that allows you to believe you can be so wonderful, wise, loving or compassionate that you can change the narcissist. It is a heavy burden to be a savior...and an effort in futility. Step out of the way and let the law of consequences have a chance. You are without blame. They chose this outcome.

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thank you. I found your post on a very dark day and it did me a lot of good to read your insights. Your post is very articulate and speaks to problems I myself am having. My parents aren't narcissistic, but their behaviors are an unhealthy presence in my life and I'm struggling with feeling like an ingrate for wanting to end contact. Again, I appreciate your words. Hope things are well with you all these months later.

Anna Valerious said...

Thank you, anonymous. I am glad you found the post helpful.

I am doing very well these many months later. Still no contact with parents or sister. Peace and happiness reign.

Barbara said...

Whoa!! My late Nmom said my Dad and I were killing her and causing all her problems (despite a well documented heart disease legacy in her family)

When she died about 6 months later my dad tried to commit suicide. He was convinced her death was his fault.

GRRRRRRRRRR

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I have struggled with similar problems with a woman who was like a mother to me in many ways (long story). Things finally came to a head when my husband and I decided to elope instead of have a wedding and she tried to manipulate me into changing our plans to feed her own ego. Needless to say, we didn't and this March I got a package with no note with all the things I had left at her house from high school (I am 30). It hurt, but truthfully I feel free from the burden of constantly trying to fufill her needs and fit into whatever mold she required of me. I had written her a letter trying to express my feelings about our wedding, but she and her husband just pulled away instead of having an adult conversation with me.

Thank you for sharing and helping me realize that the most important thing is that I continue to live my own life and that I cannot change her.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for taking the time to write this. I have been nearly debilitated by my dysfunctional, selfish, and emotionally manipulative father and have been struggling every day over the guilt of needing to cut him out of my life completely. I am nearly 30 years old and fear that his presence in my life is making it impossible for me to grow up and take care of myself. He left my family when I was a child and let my mother raise two kids by herself, holding down three jobs and working around the clock while he contributed nothing and actually extracted $10k from her. The hardest part is that he exudes an extreme amount of helplessness and self-pity for his lack of money and professional success. My whole childhood I was made to feel sorry for him - on those weekends when he decided to pop into town for dinner - when I was the one without a father and I was the one watching my mother suffer for his laziness and self-centeredness. Now that I have started achieving professional success he behaves as if it is somehow his doing, even writing about me online to show me off, and sees my career as something that he is going to sponge for money and professional contacts. I cut him out of my life for a few years earlier in my twenties and I had never felt healthier. After extreme amounts of guilt were laid on me by outside observers who only saw me cutting off this poor, helpless man (and him, writing me letters telling me what a good father he was and that he did the best he could), I resumed a small amount of contact for holiday and birthday calls, thinking that I should be grown up enough to handle just that. The pain that these encounters brought back into my life has shocked even me - I no longer feel whole or strong enough to take care of myself with this presence in my life and find myself continually undermined and incapacitated by the very thought of having to hear his voice again and having to play the good child to someone I can't stand.
I found your post on a random Google search and it is so good to read the words of others who understand this pain, most importantly how adults who cut off contact with their parents are viewed as terrible children by society. It's come down to the fact that I will not be able to move on in life with my father still in it, no matter how much he plays the victim in all of this. Thanks for the support.

Anonymous said...

It was very helpful for me to read what you have been saying about no contact with N parents.I realize now that I could have or should have cut off contact with Nmom as soon as I began to realize what she was really about---I think I began to understane what a sly, sneaky sicko she was 7 years ago. One of the hundreds of nasty things she has done to me is to systematically slime my reputation with some other relatives such that they won't have contact with me.She has maintained that (she thinks) my 2 sisters are superior to me. Now that she is elderly, she is trying to play on the sympathies of the relative(s) who still have contact with me by saying that she is in need of help and companionship...from me! (She has enough money to hire a nurse; and she has a yard person,a house cleaner, and a handy man!)But since I live in state and my sisters live out of state, her thinking seems to be that I should give up any idea of holding down a job and living my life, and rush to her side to do her bidding as slave and sounding board. I told her several years ago not to phone me, but would accept letters. Now, her letters are full of "Poor me, I fell, I'm so helpless, my world is falling apart, poor me". She has sufficient financial resources and 2 daughters who ----since they are superior to me (and they believe it!! One is N)I am ready to write a "Leave me the heck alone--for good" letter to her.

Anna Valerious said...

I hope you will write that letter!

Amy said...

thanks for your words, I just cut my dad and his wife out of mine and my immediate family's lives. My dad hadn't spoken to my sis in a very long time, so now that he has tried pitting us apart, he is speaking to her now. It's always been that way, but this is the first time I actually said, "that's it, I'm done" I was holding out, for the sake of my two young children having a relationship with him, but his latest blow up was in front of them, with very inappropriate language, of course he blames it on his blood sugar level being out of whack, and says he doesn't remember anything. He's doing the blame thing on me now, saying it was me who cancelled our plans for him to go have a pacemaker/defibrulator put in, when he called and cancelled on me! Unbelievable, I guess all that anger and bitterness will keep destroying his heart...and his total health. Well, atleast my kids got a few decent years out of him, before they witnessed the Jekyll and Hyde. BTW, I'm new to knowing about the NPD....we just always thought he was Bipolar, it was only after this latest blow-up, that I started researching his symptoms, boy, did my mouth drop. I always knew he was narcisssistic, but didn't know about the actual disorder, he has everything, down to a tee. I guess that helps me some, to know it's an actual disorder, not to do the "blame thing" though! : )

Anna Valerious said...

Hi Amy,

Welcome...although it is unfortunate that your father is what he is and is therefore the reason you're here.

Good for you. I hope the break "sticks". Just remember: Narcissistic Personalty Disorder is a character/personality disorder. That is psychology-speak for an intractable,permanent and set construct of someone's way of being. It is not an "illness". It is an explanation of the character traits and behaviors of a person who has CHOSEN to be what they are by a lifetime of choices and behavior. Your dad isn't "ill", he's evil. Strong words which my entire blog tries to buttress and explain.

All sympathy should rightfully go to the victims of the soul-suckers...not the soul-suckers. You are one of many victims of your father. Probably a primary victim. Save your sympathy for yourself in this circumstance. No sympathy for the devil. He has chosen to be what he is.

If your father is truly a malignant narcissist then the best thing you have done for your children, next to giving birth to them, is separating them from your father. I hope you'll read my posts on narcissist grandparents. Then read the comments. The stories of narcissist grandparents are legion. And those stories never end well when the cut-off doesn't come soon enough.

J said...

Thank you for your post. Just last weekend I made the decision to cut ties with my father, which will in turn have meant that I've cut ties with my other family members. There are already moments of doubt, but more importantly, an overwhelming drive to keep moving forward and remember what led to this situation.

Although virtually every other person in my immediate and extended family have moaned, complained or heavily suffered at my father's hands, they are sufficiently frightened of him to feel that they must maintain the semblance of a relationship with him. One sibling will not come and live in the same city because of him. The other communicates with him in a truly childish way and dares not to disagree with him, although she has told me that she knows he is damaging - to her own mental health and that of her children. I was not strong enough to make the mental break prior to having children. But now that my father seems unable to stop himself from unleashing his frustrations, resentment, spite and so on on my two young kids, I just know that staying in touch on any level is wrong. The fear of being vilified by my family for making this break has long gripped me, but now even that doesn't seem so onerous - the prospect of living without fear, being guilt-tripped, insulted, undermined and debased is too alluring! I hope others with the same kind of 'relationship' with (a) parent(s) also choose to liberate themselves and always remember that it won't be easy but it will feel right. Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing this blog.

I, too, had to make the painful decision to finally and completely emotionally detach from an aging abusive NPD mother.

She will never change. I understand all her issues and pity her.

The decision was difficult. It is very difficult to abandon a blood relative, particularly a parent who is emotionally disturbed.

But, I feel so much more sane, when I am away from her. She is always miserable and wants to drag everyone else into her misery.

My mother had refused to talk to me directly for years. She became angry over a minor issue as she usually did, hung up, and cut off direct contact.

She rallied my father to her point of view and he became complicit without bothering to hear my side of the issue.

During our years of no contact, my NPD mother constantly painted me as the one who cut her off to anyone who would listen.....relatives, friends and family.

She also tried to turn my husband against me with lies and innuendo and distorted truths. My husband, however, is too intelligent to be manipulated by her.

Typically, in the past, after an argument, I would reestablish contact and apologize for the rift within days. This last time I did not.

The rift lasted almost 17 years. I have been so happy,and productive during those years.

I feel that life is good, despite the natural ups and downs, losses and gains.

Still, I finally capitulated and contacted her, it was a disaster.

It was the same old manipulative, self-serving games including blame, guilt, attention-seeking behavior on her part, hypochondria, claims that her ungrateful children were killing her, attempts to create turmoil between my siblings, attempts to denigrate me, or my siblings, or anyone who fails to honor her in the way in which she wishes.

I was hoping we could make amends as she ages.

Instead I was faced with a spiteful child/woman whose main intent seemed to be to destroy the healthy sense of self esteem I was able to develop while cut off from any of her in-person shenanigans.

I realize, now, that I was being unrealistic in my belief that things might be fixable. I hoped that maybe she might have grown older and wiser and calmed down some.

Alas, I realized that I have to be done with her.

As you said I can not fix a problem I am not responsible for creating.

The constant pain she inflicts through verbal, psychological and emotional abuse makes it impossible to feel anything but hatred for this woman.

I also realized that I lived at home for 19 years, and have not had a real relationship with her for 25 years and 17 of those years involved no contact.

I realized I do not have a mother. Just a huge piece of walking scar tissue.

Cutting off contact with her is a survival tactic. A way to preserve my own sanity.

Joel said...

My parents are both major-league Ns. They were both REGULARLY physically and emotionally abusive for the 17 years I lived under their authority (although the physical abuse tapered off the bigger I got). I realized in my mid teens that I hated both of them and all I had to do was to look forward to the day that I'd be free of them and keep it in my mind's eye. "Once I get away from these kooks, I'll be fine!"

And I was. I joined the Air Force and WHAMMO! my life was suddenly managable. I was suddenly living among normal emotionally mature people instead of perplexing and unpredictable maniacs. Basic training (as I mentioned in another comment) was a breeze. Tech school was likewise a breeze. And regular duty, guess what, it was a breeze too. I did my job the best I could and for this I was well and expensively trained, praised with good reviews, paid, given awards, fed, clothed and enabled to travel around the world.

For the first time, I realized that this was the NORMAL way good, hard work is rewarded. This realization stood in stark contrast to the results I'd get when I put my best effort into something at home for my Nparents. They would always belittle my accomplishments, tell me I was lazy for not achieving 100% perfection and then send me off with an admonishment that I needed to do better. (Example: A report card with 4 As and 2 Bs and I'd get chastised for the Bs.)

Anyway, a funny thing happened during the 4 years I was treated like a human being in the Air Force. When I got out (at 21), I found that I could hardly remember my childhood at all. I could only remember a few highlights.

According to a few articles I've read, abused children tend to block off or compartmentalize their memories of abuse AS IT OCCURS so that they can continue to function in their insane surroundings. It's a defense mechanism. According to my own experience this is for real AND add to it that memories associated with the abuse ALSO get compartmentalized.

(this is getting long, I'll do a second one).

Joel said...

part 2:

So, if I'd had a good day, say I played really well in a football game at recess or made friends with a pretty girl, I'd come home and within minutes my Nmother would start in on me over something inconsequential, blow it all out of proportion and make me feel rotten. Not only did I suppress the memory of the abuse, I'd suppress the memory of the good day I'd had prior to the abuse. (Hey, mom, thanks a lot, you nasty bitch!)

The result of all this happy crappy is that I didn't really start to remember my childhood until I was almost 40.

Alright, so how does this relate to kicking your Nparents out of your life? I broke off all contact with my Ndad when I was 30. My decision to go NC with him was entirely based on b.s. he'd pulled on my after I got out of the AF. One truly f***ed up thing after another. Every single time I had dealings with him (even when he appeared to be helping me), I wound up getting shortchanged and feeling cheated (and, of course, unloved and unvalued).

Well, at the time I NC'd my Ndad, my Nparents had been divorced for about 5 years. During that time it SEEMED like my Nmom and I were finally developing a real relationship and when I broke off with my Ndad she started sharing some information about him and about my childhood. I thought she was finally becoming my friend.

(okay, one more and I'll really be finished)

Joel said...

For about another 5 years after I NC'd my Ndad, it continued to SEEM like my Nmom and I were building a real relationship. Sure, she'd still do perplexing hurtful things to her kids and she was still manipulative and besotted with feelings of entitlement to our servitude, but she didn't throw as many tantrums and would occasionally even give up on arguments with a "Go ahead and do whatever you want! You're going to anyway! It doesn't matter how I feel!!!" (which is exactly what I'd do -- "Okay, cool, I will.")

Then she met a new guy, had a whirlwind courtship and got married. Immediately, she started in on her OLD tricks again. For those 10 years that she was away from my Ndad we weren't building a relationship. She was just using me as an ally against my Ndad. My job was to listen to her and commisserate with her about what a horrible person my Ndad is. This was not difficult as he is truly horrible. But as soon as she had her new husband I was no longer needed as an ally. She had T to back her up now against her ex-Nhusband and her victim children. (The first time I met this numbnuts he tried drunkenly for 3 hours to convince me that I should resume contact with my Ndad and she was supportive of the idea -- after years of telling me exactly how horrible he really is. WTF?!?)

So, for the next 4 years she and her new hubby kept doing more things to aggravate and perplex me and my wife until one day she called me up sulking about something my little brother had "done to her." I don't need to go into details. Suffice it to say that she had a problem with my brother and I thought she wanted help solving it (I was wrong, she just wanted me to coddle her and agree with her about my brother being a little sh*t -- which he isn't, he's a great guy). I know my little brother pretty well and saw an easy solution to her problem and as soon as I tried to share it with her, thinking it would make her happy to have the problem solved, she started throwing a tantrum on the phone. These are her exact words: "BABABABABABABA I'M NOT LISTENING TO YOU!!!". Then she hung up on me.

And as soon as she hung up on me I got this massive FLOOD of memories of my childhood that I hadn't touched in over 20 years. Holy crap! If I had reasons to cut off my Ndad before, now I had 10 times more! This was also the last time that I spoke to my mother although we traded a few e-mails (my last one to her read "Fine. Leave us alone. Thanks.")

Joel said...

Well, it's been almost 3 years since I NC'd my Nmom. But that whole time I've been trying really hard to process all these memories that still keep coming back. It's really kept me down because I still hadn't grasped the fact that my Nparents are incurable. They will always be assh*les. My Ndad, a couple of years ago, sent me a birthday card (forwarded from our old address) in which he stated: "I don't understand why you don't believe I love you," then went on to say "it's getting harder and harder for me to write to you," and "I could learn to love F (my wife)." Jeez.

For the last couple of years I've been composing a letter to my Ndad where I try to tell him: "I told you back in '98 why I want nothing more to do with you. I don't care how 'hard' it is on you to write since I don't want you to write. And what is this 'learn to love' sh*t? I could give a flying fig is you 'love' my wife. Now, f*** off."

These letters, though, every single time, wound up going on in excess of 10 pages and by the second paragraph every fourth word is either the 'f' word, the 's' word, the 'g-d' word or some variant thereof. This had all really been kicking my ass and making my life unlivable because I mistakenly thought that there could be some form of reasoning with my Nfather if only I could find the right words and stop being carried away by my anger and outrage over past offenses.

So, Anna, thanks again for your wonderful blog. Now I realize that NC was the right decision for both of my horrible parents and, most importantly, I AM NOT REQUIRED TO JUSTIFY MY DECISION TO GO NC TO ANYONE ESPECIALLY MY NPARENTS!!! (And neither is anyone else here.) I am finally beginning to feel like I'm truly free of their negative influence on my life.

Anna Valerious said...

Joel,

Thank you for taking the time to tell some of your experiences. Also, thank you for letting me and others know that you've found some peace and resolution to the things that have long confounded you by reading here. The freedom you say you've found here is exactly what I've hoped to help people find. Not just freedom through no contact but peace of mind to go with it. There is healing after the narcissist but only if one removes the narcissist(s) from their life. All the best to you, Joel, as you continue on into the good life. Thank you for your eloquence.

Sarah said...

I just told my mom for the second time that I'm never talking to her again. Your story sounds SO much like my parents. It's the same people, just a different situation. Thank you for the thought that I'm not responsible for what I have no power over. It's so hard to think that she will never use rational in her thoughts. It's hard because if she loved me I feel like she would, and then people tell me, "she really loves you." I think she wants to LOOK like she loves me.
Anyway, I'm 23. I don't have a family. I don't even have too many friends as I just moved to a new city. This blows. But, your words did help me realize it's time to give up on her.

Anna Valerious said...

Sarah,

I'm sorry you don't have family and are short on friends. That is a tough place to be in, but I want to encourage you in your realization and decision to give up on your mother. To be as young as you are and free from the ball and chain of a relationship with a narcissist parent is a big step in preparing for a good future. How I wish I could have been your age and cutting off for good from my mother. My life and my daughter's life would have been so much simpler and better. It would have changed many things for me for the better. I hope you'll rejoice in your freedom and move ahead with optimism into the future. God bless.

Melissa said...

I'm so glad you posted this. My husband and I are having the same problems with his parents and he's about to cut off all contact. We were sure it was the right decision, but it's nice to have this information right here for us. One of the books we have found helpful is Mending the Soul. It's a christian book about healing abuse. Anyway, I feel so much more confident about our decision and I have been so filled with peace to know that our lives will be lack the chaos it has been turned into. This is not the first cut off attempt. The first one ended in a chance for them to show us they had changed. Now it's for good. We simply can't handle the destructive toxic behavior anymore. Thanks again!

Melissa

Anna Valerious said...

Cool, Melissa! I'm happy you found validation for your and your husband's decision here. I'm very happy to hear that you and your family will be escaping the capricious persecutions of a narcissist parent. Kudos!

ryley said...

i have come to the realization that my mother is co-dependent, narcissistic, something. . . it really doesn't matter what; the important thing is that she is toxic to me. however, i am 20, and i still rely on her for quite a bit in my life. my father is non-existent in my life and she has built a world in which i am necessarily dependent on her as well. i'm moving in the right direction, (own job, car, money, etc.), but there are some things that are just SO much easier with her help. i keep thinking that if i can just put up with her for a little longer, things will be much easier in the long run. however, as she recognizes my attempts to distance myself and becomes more and more controlling/toxic, i am beginning to see that i must get out as soon as possible. i am just finding that 'getting out' isn't necessarily an easy thing to do.

john said...

What a relief to find a site like this. I am wrestling with the idea of cut off with my father. I am feeling guilty about the thought of even doing this, but I just can't handle him any more. I am almost 30 years old and he just turned 60. I have two daughters (ages 7 and 11) who can't stand to be around him. He is a narcissist (I think). Almost all the conflict my wife and I have stems from discussions or incidents about my dad. My wife wants my dad totally out of hers and the girls' lives. I am not sure what I want, I somoetines think I am just holding on to false hope. Here's some specifics about my dad:
Cheated on and divorced my mom while she was in the depths of depression and remarried within six months to a friend he'd been dating for a couple years, got fired from 2 jobs for sexual harrassment and to this day doesn't think he did anything wrong, takes no interest in anything I do, never discusses anything "real" only superficial stuff that inflates his ego, pouts for months when anyone confronts him about anything, is angry because I do not follow his Conservative political ideology, says I am wrong because I am a member of a different protestant Christian church than him, 8 out of 10 people who meet him cannot stand to be around him, only attends to the girls' activities when he can be in a group and brag about himself to others, always wants to have his hands on other women and girls (rubbing their shoulders, etc...this as been going on as long as I can remember-in 1984 he wouldn't leave my teenage female cousin alone, kept wanting her to talk to him, sit by him, to the point where my uncle and he almost came to blows)...the list is endless. My daughters HATE to be around him. Maybe my wife and I have shaped their opinion to some degree, but he NEVER calls them and only sends the obligatory birthday and Christmas cards with a single word "Grandpa" as the signature. Not "Love you Melissa, Grandpa" My daughter recently said "Why doesn't Grandpa want to be around me?" He recently was teasing a classmate of my daughters and told her my daughter was "an idiot" because she failed a math test. His reply was "I was just teasing." I guess the dilemma for me is this: Is this relationship toxic enough to justify cut off? Or, should I just keep trying to engage and love him for who he is instead of who I want him to be? Another thought I have is this: Am I just biased and labeling him a narcissist or is he just a guy with low self-esteem who is non-assertive and emotionally illiterate? Am I just nitpicking him and expecting too much? I have been wrestling with this for 20 years. I sent him a heartfelt e-mail before Christmas, apologizing for some mistakes I have made and telling him that I want our relationship to improve, and to this day hasn't called me or responded in any way. Any thoughts?? Thank you very much for taking the time to read this

Anna Valerious said...

John,

I hope you'll read all the content on this blog over time. Just from what you've described I would categorically agree that you need to get your dad out of your life. The effect on your wife and daughters of his toxic behavior should be enough for you to justify a cut off, let alone what he does to you.

Hanging on for the shred of hope he may someday change is a fool's hope. What you need to be asking yourself is if you can be okay with what he is now (and always has been) because that is what he's always going to be. He is not going to change. By the way, he isn't suffering from low self-esteem. His problems are much more profound and deep than that -- but, trust me, he thinks far too highly of himself. Dump the psychobabble. It doesn't apply to him! Non-assertive? Heh. He is what the author (George Simon, Ph.D) of "In Sheep's Clothing" terms a 'covert aggressive'. Read up here on the blog. Read the books I recommend. Free yourself. No more pity for the abusive, selfish cad. Save your pity for your immediate family.

Augusta333 said...

Hi, calling from England! My father told me today that he had checked how long my conversation was with him yesterday.

Apparently I had talked for "One hour, twenty five minutes". I was actually, at the age of 59, trying to tell him some of the awful life experiences I had endured that my deceased Mother had never shared with him.

It was the final straw, the cold shower that made me realise he is not remotely interested in me as a fellow human and only wants me to fulfil my role as cheerful, dutiful daughter. My Mother never shared my troubles with him, because she knew he was not remotely interested in anyone's human failings.

Instead of one hour and twenty five minutes of pent up grief he wanted:

"Hello Dad, how are you" "Me? Oh, just fine Dad"

I am determined that I am only going to communicate with him via postcard and never on the phone. He can have my two sentences of "Good News" and I will not have to hear his bored, contemptuous, patronising voice, ever again.

Thanks for being there just at the moment I was grappling with 59 years of guilt! I hope those who stumble across this blog get some comfort from our experiences. My Mother used to say: "You can choose your friends, but sadly, not your family"

~K~ said...

I know this post is a bit older, but I want you to know that I have found it to be quite helpful in my own situation and I plan on reading through your others. I made the decision to cut my mother off just this week after a lot of contemplation and realization that things can't be fixed and she is not interested in a rational, adult conversation. I had initially thought that our differences were due to differing MBTI types, but now realize there may be something more to it. I recently sent her an email with passive, non-accusatory language illustrating our personality differences and how we should celebrate those differences and learn about them rather than be angry that they exist. I received a response (that she copied my sister on, I assume to have a witness to her suffering) that all her children ever do is cause her pain and she doesn't care anymore and she just wants peace and quiet and I should use the time not visiting her to prepare for when she is dead and won't be around to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives without her. This is when my SO explained to me that I had no chance of changing her and that he was concerned that my energy in being upset over a condition I couldn't fix was going to affect my happiness and he would rather I direct my energies in a productive manner in preparation for our unborn child - and he's absolutely right! I've started my own blog as a general catch-all to life so I learn to not take the burdens of others onto my shoulders. Guilt trips growing up pretty much made me into a person who constantly needs to solve everyone else's problems - not an effective or healthy way to spend life.

Daniela said...

I have cut off my parents too but now I am dealing with a huge guilt trip that I cannot shake off and is ruining my life... I hate my self but cannot do anything about fixing my relationship with my parents

Anna Valerious said...

Daniela,

I'm very sorry to hear you feel your life has been ruined by your guilt at cutting off your parents. Why don't you feel you did the right thing?

kandicekidd said...

I can't thank you enough for writing this. I am sad to say I have recently cut off my father, mother, brother,aunt, and a cousin. I can not abide being treated so dismissively anymore. My mother only thinks of herself so much that she thinks I exist to give take care of her. This from a woman who locked my sister and I out of the house for hours while she went drinking and return. While she no longer drinks, she still is so emotionally immature that she can not remember anything she's ever done to hurt us only that we don't want to "take care of her". It's unfortunate that my father is completely manipulative as well. He recently tried to guilt trip me out of $2495 by reminding me of how he helped me in college. That was the final painful straw. He barely helped me in college and during painful episodes of my mother's drinking, he would say he couldn't help me because his girlfriend didn't want him to. He allowed my grandmother to struggle raising me and my sister while he lived the life of a bachelor. My aunt has been a bigger monster than my mother and father. I started crying when I read your post about your mother withdrawing so she doesn't have to accept responsibility because that is just what my aunt has done. She has cut off my sister and I because we confronted her about the nasty things she has said. That was the final straw for me. Here I was trying hard to explain to her why I sometimes get upset and feel hurt, and she cut me off before I could say a word and hung up. I have allowed this abuse and neglect for too long. I am sick of living under this cloud and I'm ready to give myself the love I never received from them. While it is scary to cut them off and while I do sometimes feel worried about what people think (that they will think it's my fault because I'm very strong willed and honest which some people don't like) I feel that I don't have a chance for happiness unless I do this. I believe God wants me to feel joyful because it says it in the bible. This is the first step in my doing this. God bless you for writing this and sharing your story. I have felt alone in this journey and you have brought so many of us together so that we can find a family in this decision. Thank you. KK

Anna Valerious said...

KandiceKidd,

I'm glad you now know you're not alone. You're making the right decision. Be strong. Know what you know and don't let the critics convince you to unknow what you know to be true. All the best to you as you move forward into a better life!

Jan said...

I decided to do NC to my mom first (couldn't take her toxic ways). I then tried to stay in touch with other family members, however, it seemed as though my mom brainwashed them into believing that I was a bad person. They did not want to have anything to do with me. My sister was a two faced B#TCH. She would visit me just to have info for NM. After a while I cut her off too. My sister did not take me cutting her off too well. For a while she would try to pop up at my house, by saying that she was going to be in the neighborhood. She knew I was a nice person, so I wouldn't turn her away. Boy oh boy she did not know how much I changed. She finally got the message. After over 10 years of NC with the family I had to get in touch with the mother to get info for my security clearance. She gave me the info right away with no hesitation. I guess she wanted to know more about my life, so she figured that she would give me what I wanted. In my mind I was praying that she was changed. However, after communicating with her about two times, she started to insist that I should give my heart to the Lord and go to church. She wants all her children (she only has 2 daughters) soul to be save....I realized she turned into a religious fanatic, so I decided to return to NC state.
Thanks for much for this blog. Even though I decided to go NC a long time ago. This has confirmed that I made all the right decisions. I feel free from guilt.

Meredith Stanton said...

I usually don't leave comments on blogs, but felt compelled to here. Your site has been somewhat of a Bible for me in dealing with my N inlaws. During my wedding, my N mother in law got furious that her name was not on our invitation (even though for 18 months of our engagement they never congratulated me, asked about any of the details nor offered to pay a single penny for our wedding). She went on to write 2 2-page emails bashing me and my family. They are philanthropists in their community, giving away millions of dollars a year to charities. Our wedding gift were regifted glasses from their China cabinet at home. When I confronted them about their emails, I told them that if their behavior continued, we would have to limit contact with them. They smiled to my face but never really apologized. Well, 1 month later, there was a slanderous email going around their family about me and how my "wicked, ugly" personality was "just part of my DNA". So as of last weekend, I have cut off all contact with them for life. Thank you, Anna for all your wisdom and God Bless You.

Anna Valerious said...

Sorry to hear of your in-law problems, but I'm thrilled you're equipped to deal with them. All the best to you.

ccampbell said...

I have had a difficult relationship with my narcissistic mother and enabling father for the last couple of years. I have been told by family that "your mother talks about you in the most caring way", she's really careful what she says and who she says negative things about me. She has been telling everyone that I am the one who doesn't want this relationship to work and I won't "let it go". I find it difficult to let go of things that never seem to cease happening. I don't even have time to get over it before it happens again. I was struggling on the decision to give up and then I was given validation by a family member that my mother has been trashing me to some people even though I was trying so hard to get along with them. I have given myself permission to not try so hard. It still is a struggle to be sure of my decision completely. I hope it stops being a daily struggle. I empathize with everyone who has to deal with people like this.
Tracey

Melissa Vanalong said...

I cannot begin to thank you enough. I've only just recently realized there was a term for my mother's personality. I always knew our family was different from others. My parents only had a few friends at any given time and the friendships never lasted long. The way my parents acted in public and private were a complete Jeckyl and Hyde scenario. My mother has cut off all family on her side for all the "horrible" things they had done to her. My father is the definition of an enabler. Mother has had a prescription pill addiction for the last 15 years and he has helped her by hiding it from the family. She has stolen every pain medication that I've ever had, even when I've thought they were cleverly hidden. Every intervention that the family has attempted has seen a complete about face by him....even though he had originally agreed to it. The family has been held hostage by her tantrums for years. After the last failed intervention, she disappeared for 3 days. She ended up in the ER and blamed us all for it. I am moving to NC in 4 weeks and it cannot come soon enough. She threatened to disown me once she found out. She's removed my # from her phone. Honestly this only makes my work easier lol. The only problem is that I live in an apartment above the garage. I still hear the screaming about me and the doors being slammed.It honestly makes me happy to know that I'm not the only one dealing with this. It's the best feeling in the world to know that this is not my fault and that I am not the horrible person she claims me to be. Please know that you have helped more people than you'll ever know by sharing your story.

kathyhereagain said...

My brother is an extremely manipulative narcissist. He has been extremely hurtful to just about everyone who has ever been close to him. He has two daughters who he is horribly controlling towards-the poor girls are frightened to do or say anything without his approval. He was awful to his wife as well. One example - he went out and bought a pit sofa, wide-screen tv and huge entertainment center without even consulting his wife - then he announced the living room was his room and the kids weren't allowed wihout his permission. Never mind they couldn't afford all that. His wife was contemplating divorce when she was diagnosed with cancer, unfortunately she passed away rather suddenly before she had the chance. Afterwards I advised him to get counseling for that trauma as well as for his lifetime substance abuse issues. For that he cut me off. Because his mother was traveling out of the country when his wife died, he focused his anger towards her, once physically kicking her and a quilt she made one of his kids out of their house. After some time- a couple years- they started speaking again, but my mom was always so stressed out, always on pins and needles, and my brother manipulated her as much as possible - she would invite them for stays at the beach as her guests, w/her footing all the expense because that was the only way she cold see her granddaughters. He earns decent money and receives SS for his kids, but he didn't want to cut into his spending money when his kids needed braces, so he told my mom he wouldn't pay for them, & she felt obligated to do so. (Knowing him, he probably used the "I'm broke" sob story to milk money from his in-laws as well.) Recently I told a woman he was dating about these things, and she stopped seeing him. He blames me entirely, although I find that rather incredible - I think she must have identified with something I mentioned, because no one would simply walk away after hearing something from someone they don't even know. My mother has had a massive stroke and is now confined to a nursing home. Now my brother is manipulating an aunt, telling her I was entirely to blame for the breakup, so now he is cutting off the entire family because of this.
How bloody convenient! By cutting off his family, he doesn't have to travel to where his mother is, and he doesn't have to deal with his mother's illness or his schizophrenic brother who his mother had been caring for. He is also angry our mother made me her power of attorney and executor. One of his first actions after our mom's stroke was to steal a book that detailed her estate. He has always had money problems, and he tried to charge 4K on one of her credit cards a couple months after she had her stroke. So now my aunt is seeing me as the villian. Prt of me would like to tell her all the crap we've put up with, but I didn't want to drag her into all that. She is my dad's last living sibling. However my brother has found yet another victim to manipulate.

Escape from Oz... said...

I am currently going through the process of cutting off my narcissist mom. It was very helpful to find this post during this time :)

Lisa said...

I am so thankful I came across your post. To leave or not to leave...and I have decided to leave. For over 20 years I could not put my finger on it and my husband kept saying dad is so messed up and so is your mom. I never knew any different and only by the grace of God did my husband marry me. It has been horrific for myself and my children even with the limited interaction we had with them(my parents and two sister's and there husbands).

There was money involved (an inheiritance) and it was constantly dangled in front of my nose. As of day before yesterday my my "sweet" Nsister informed me that my dad left everything to her and if there was any cash left then I would get whats left. Well I know that my mom sat in the lawyers office and let my dad do this and as much as she says there will be something for me.I know there will be nothing. But you know its not the money that matters its how could I have ever trusted my dad and mom to really care for me. My life has been rifed with neglect, emotional abandonment, belittling and that not only came from my mom and dad but from both of my biological sisters. I have always known this was wrong.

But then when my younger sister married her monster and they never lived outside of my parents home accept for a six month period, thats when it really got bad. By that time I was married myself and on my own with my husband. They joined a cult and instantly they had a new family and they were loud and clear that there church family was there family. I just got traded!

I would be drawn in and treated like I was worthy of being family and then I would recieve the silent treatment for months and possibly years if I hadn't been the one calling her and keeping in contact with her. Unfortunately one of there daughters is extremely narcissistic and hurtful and I don't know about there two other children. I believe there son has learned to become invisible

My husband and I decided to cut ties with my mom and sister and brother in law. They have decided very hastily to sell my moms house and run to alabama with the money so the monster can build a "big beautiful house" for all of them to live together in.

The betrayal feels like a death and believe me I never really shed any tears when my dad died a few years back. It just amazes me how when you treat your children like dirt the illnesses that haunt you in your later years are amazing. First he had renal failure and then Lou Gherigs. WOW!!! What a combo. I know I shouldn't talk like that but God's vengence is perfect.

It hurts but it is also freeing at the same time to have released them and to never look back. My mom is in shock right now I am sure of it. I also know they are playing there little triangle game of my sister being the victim and then running to my "adopted" sister to give her little tid bits of some story and then my brother in law calling my husband portraying me as the persecutor and my mom will play the valiant role of the rescuer. The n game they always play with all the drama to stroke one another.

Thank you again for your post because it really validated all that I have been feeling and the decision to cut them off. God bless you in your bravery to have this website. Thank you again.

kjoy82 said...

I read this and can feel your pain.... I went through that with my mother.
My sister is now living with me.... and now its like I am living with my mother all over again. My sister is just like my mom.
She is disabled with R.A.
Has now started recieving her disability checks. I told her it was now time for her to find a place to live. She informed me that she can not afford to live on her own! She can, but she can't live the life she wants without me keeping her up. So now I am trying to get myself together (again) and tell her she needs to go. I have done all that I could to help her and can do no more. In fact I wanted to move out of this area and live somewhere else.
So what does she go and do?! She takes "her" money (she had stashed)that I knew nothing about and bought a dog grooming business! She would not even give me anymore than 100 a month to help with the bills! I have been paying for everything for 2 years now!
So now she is the "queen" of the house lol,.... I know better :).
She is like a cancer to me....
I could go on complaining forever....

Kira Katastro said...

Wow. I would like to say thank you so much for writing this. I have been struggling with my mother for years now and her narcissistic ways. I swear that I thought that I was alone with this. I thought that I was the only one who had to face such a fate. Thank you so much for giving me hope.

I decided that once I go away for school (I am 21) that I will no longer keep in contact with my mother or my other relatives. They all have fed into her ways and have made me miserable. The thing that I had to realize was that I was not the one who was messed up but it is them.

First thing came to mind was that I was going to be guilty, and it was going to be me being evil for leaving them but that is not the case.

I can not say how thankful I am that you wrote this. I am studying psychology in college, and I am looking forward to helping children who have narcissistic parents/family. So your article has helped me a lot with dealing with this.

I hope all is going well for you, and thank you so much for this enlightened article. I now feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Heather said...

Thank You. This is exactly what I needed to read today. My parents have recently divorced and now have reached new levels of manipulation, namely, my NDad claiming that because I am unhappy with him/disagree with him, I have been brainwashed by my mom, because he has done nothing wrong and is the injured party here (he's the one that abandoned his family and ended the marriage, while claiming abuse from my mom[not true]), and my mom, feeling lonely and demanding coddling and companionship from her kids that we can't possibly give her without sacrificing our own needs. I have 3 children and an imperfect (but happy) life of my own, and I have reached the point where I need to decide if I can handle the inevitable judgement that will come from all sides who do not understand my history or position.
So, again, THANK YOU. You perfectly articulated what is in my mind today.

Steve said...

I just made the decision to cut off BOTH of my N-parents. I am 43 years old, and have been thinking of doing this since I left my hometown at 28. It has taken SOOO long to get through the mess of B.S. with those two demons from hell and to sort out what the hell is wrong with them. After reading Malignant Love (Sam Vaknin), I started having all kinds of memories flooding back. I was in total "abuse denial" and didn't realize how much I was abused as a child, teenager, young adult, and onwards. I was physically, mentally, and sexually abused by my parents and both are absolute evil and I wish them a long, tortuous eternity in hell for what they did to me. When it came right down to loving myself or tolerating their never-ending abuse, lies, manipulation, insults, snide remarks, backstabbing, belittling, and outright nihilism and denial, the choice was clear: DUMP THE DEMONS and cut off those S.O.B.s and start enjoying my life as the good person I've been the whole time but was made to feel horrible, guilty, confused, etc. I was in a spell cast by those two jerks and after reading your blog and others about adult children of narcissists and after MUCH counseling and therapy... I dumped "those people" whom I no longer consider "my parents." They don't deserve me. They deserve what God will give 'em if you know what I mean. Thank you for a tremendous and brave and insightful and meaningful blog that has helped me heal and become happier. You have helped VALIDATE me and my decisions. YOU ARE AWESOME!!!

Lisa said...

I left a long comment on February 24, 2012 and I have to say my N-sister tried in July to manipulate me by contacting me as well as my N-mother and as usual the lies flew from their mouths with such great ease. I have committed to no contact with them at all what so ever.

These people that are my biological family are so toxic that they invited my adopted sister to live with them in Alabama. She went for vacation and they convinced her to move out their permanently so they could help her rehab from a stroke she had a few years back and what a horrific nightmare it turned out for my adopted sister.

The N-family of mine asked her to sign over DPA and then got on her checking account. She refused to give them DPA over her and then all hell broke loose. A thousand dollars went missing from her checking account. She was no longer allowed to leave her room, not able have any food in her room and then forced to see a holistic dr against her will. Because of her chronic nerve pain and medication she takes for it, they deemed her a drug addict and slandered her to the people in her church and then to top it off 2 days before Christmas last year my N-mom kicked her out of the house onto the street with nowhere to go. These are such wonderful examples of Christian people wouldn't you say? The pastor's wife even took the side of the N-family. What a bunch of crazy making they did. She even bought 6 acres that my N-brother-in-law was supposed to build a house for her and he refused to build what she wanted. It was to be his way or no way.

On another occasion she feel off her cammode and was left to lay in her urine on the floor. After the first round of screaming my N-sister came back for more screaming and blaming her of the mess she just made. I am telling you I hope there is a special place in hell for my N-sister. My poor adopted sister who is partially paralized could do nothing to help herself up. I hope my N-mother realized what kind of a person is going to be caring for her at the end of her life.

When my adopted sister came back to California a few months ago she even admitted to me that if my husband and I tried to warn her, she would have never believed us and would have thought that we were not right.

It breaks my heart to think of all the pain she had to endure for that 7 month period in her life and the loss of $100,000 in moving costs and the purchase of a piece of property she will never get to live on. And shame on all of those in that church that turned their backs on a disabled woman in a time of need.

I have since experience the most pleasurable holidays of my entire life and without the stress of them around I have lost 30lbs.

To anyone who is ending contact with their toxic family, I pray for you for strength, this is not an easy situation to be in. Please hang in there, you will be so much better off a year from now. I still think about them from time to time, but the wounds are healing. I am so glad I broke free from them. People like these have no idea what family is.

Becca said...

My husband found your post a few days a ago. Thanks for putting yourself out there for others; it is a real challenge to "know" if you are making the right decision. Both my husband and I are leaving the negativity behind and raising the bar as to who we allow the privilege to be in our lives. Life is too short to be stabbed in the back by your family. Thanks again and good luck to others in the same boat. :)

Lisa said...

It's been almost 2 years since I have had any contact with my N mother and family. My adopted sister made the mistake of moving to alabama after my Nmother and Nsister did, and they not only physically abused her, they lied about her and threw her out of their home when she refused to give them money to pay 98% of the rent. I tired warning my adopted sister and she didn't listen because it was something she had to experience in order to believe it. Its sad she lost $100, 000 in costs incured I that move. She has since cut off all communication with them as I have done and life is so much better. Their big house my brother in law wanted to build is sitting incomplete which I know is killing him, but he won't work and he is a MOOCH, every excuse in the book is used and they have managed to weasle themselves in to a pastoral position in a baptist church. They will continue to abuse people and I can only hope that God will reveal them for the people they truly are. Oh and one last thing the pathalogical lying hasn't stopped. She promised me money and she lied, when my sociopath sister's son passed away she promised her to help her with funeral costs and the next day there was an excuse that was in my brother in laws words that she did have the finances for it. Wow keri and jim way to go. So predictable. I am so glad they are forever out of our lives. The holidays have been amazing without them. God will not let this go. Thank you God for your strength.

Dahia said...

Wooow! <3 this! thank you!