Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Refresher on the Savior Complex

I stumbled across a draft for a blog post that I started almost a year ago and never finished. I'll post it now cuz, hey, it still applies. It was only two paragraphs long when I last saved it, but there is something to be said for brevity. Especially around here where I mostly go on at great length. Hang on, I can probably manage to make this another long post. *grin*

I rankle at the unconsciously grandiose thinking of many Christians that they must save the narcissist. Like their very presence is necessary in order for God to work some miracle in the narcissist. It is this kind of thinking that keeps narcissists fed and good people dancing with evil. Even though there is no biblical foundation for the belief that we must stay in relationships with evil people, Christians go on blithely with their savior complexes never conceptualizing that their savior complex is naive at best, enabling of evil at worst. It is like all the Scriptures which categorically command us to distance ourselves from evil don't apply if we are married to it or related to it. Which flies in the face of Christ's own words. See Matt. 10:37.

Let me say this about a 'savior complex'.

Point one: a savior complex is actually a denial of the power of God to save.

Point two: Therefore, it shows your unbelief, not your great faith, in God's power.

Point three: it is indicative of a need you have to control. You think that by staying in a close relationship with a narcissist that you can somehow be there for that moment where the narcissist is suddenly open to 'salvation'. Only you have the ability to see that crystalline moment of recognition and exploit it to the salvation of the narcissist. A savior complex reveals you think too highly of yourself.

Can you see that thinking you must be there for the narcissist to be saved is not a proof or proclamation of your great faith in God? It is the very opposite! It is proof of how much confidence you have in yourself, not the confidence you have in your God.

A savior complex is a denial of the power of God's own Spirit to work out the mysterious power of salvation in a life without your power accompanying it.

God knows we have no power to save another human being. He doesn't ask us to save. He asks us to present truth. He then tells us that if that truth is rejected we are to move on. "Do not cast your pearls before swine" was Christ's instruction. He told the disciples to carry the truth to the various towns. If the truth was rejected they were to stamp the very dust of that town off of their shoes and leave. Endless importunities were not prescribed. The stamping of the dust off the shoes was a symbol. A symbol of the discharge of their responsibility toward those people. They had presented the truth. The truth was rejected. Therefore, the responsibility toward that truth was now resting on the people, not the bearer of truth. The disciples would be wasting their energy and efforts by staying and pleading with those who rejected truth. Christ would have them move on to more promising fields of labor and not waste their limited time, energy or resources on an endless quest to convince the un-convinceable. Learn from the Word of God that a belief in your powerful presence as an agent of change for the narcissist is not a virtue and is working in opposition to how God actually works.

Side note: Christ didn't declare those towns which rejected the Gospel as damned. He simply told the disciples to move on knowing they were relieved before God of their responsibility. It doesn't mean God was done working with those people. It meant that He would bring in different agencies and circumstances to hopefully open up closed hearts to His truth. Just because you've discharged your duty doesn't mean there is no hope left. It only means you are not going to be the direct instrument of God's hand. Perhaps an indirect one. Maybe God knows you would take the glory if you were there for the moment of someone's conversion. So, He has you plant the seed and move on in order to preserve the integrity of your soul. Think about that.

Now, to the aborted post of last summer.


Christians...listen up. All the platitudes and bromides you've been weaned on do not apply to narcissists. Quit coddling, excusing, justifying and enabling evil to thrive. Your well-intentioned desire to "save" the narcissist is back-firing. You are supporting evil when you don't hold evil people accountable for their behavior.

Christians, of all people, should be the last ones who excuse or support evil people, yet, somehow, they do it everyday thinking themselves to be good Christians by giving a pass to out right evil behaviors just so they look like "nice" people. Turn on your brains and think. Stop acting how you think you should act in order to impress all your friends with your great Christian heart. Sometimes the right thing to do isn't necessarily the "nice" thing. The Gospel of Nice is not the Gospel of Christ. You are morally weak if you are giving a pass to evil narcissists. Period. Yes, even if that narcissist is your parent.

As I've stated in recent posts, when you decide to stop feeding the narcissist, when you quit playing by their rules, you have declared war. The narcissist is in this war to maintain what they value most...power over you. You are in the war to eradicate evil from your sphere of influence.

This is serious business. No one enters war lightly. Count the costs before you engage; once engaged, do not settle for less than victory.


I wrote this abortive post last August. A few days later I wrote, "When Good is Bad". The closing paragraphs from this post go into greater detail on what you've just read above:

It is no small thing to let your goodness be exploited, used, and manipulated by predatory narcissists. Your good qualities are only good if they support good. All too often people fall for the notion that their eternal patience and determined belief in the good of all people will cause others to rise to the occasion. The narcissist will never rise to this occasion in the way you hope. They will only see opportunity for protective coloration by standing very close to you and letting your goodness hide their badness.

It is imperative for you, your family, and your social circle that you engage your rational powers and start discerning between good and evil. Discernment = judgment. Not a bad word. I have said before that "nice people suck". In this context, of how "nice" people often let themselves be used by evil people, I am speaking. There is a time for everything. Always being "nice" is a sign that you do not understand there is a time to not be "nice". There is a time to judge. A time to take an unpopular stand. A time to hold evil-doers to account no matter the cost to you. A time to protect the innocent and abused from those who have very successfully hidden their malignancy heretofore. A time for war.
The only time we should engage with evil is to defeat it. Quit trying to reason with evil. Evil is, by its very nature, unreasonable. Quit trying to save the evil. Evil recognizes no need for salvation.

Show how great your faith in God is by leaving the saving to Him.


Anonymous said...

The "honor thy father and mother" commandment can pose quite a quandry for the child of a narcissist. But they do not deserve our honor because they never honored their roles as father or mother.

At best they behaved like bratty toddlers, at worst they tried to reverse the roles to get us to care for them as if they were the precious child, while they never fulfilled this obligation toward us, and even instilled feelings of worthlessness.

Perversely, some N's try to make themselves seem like great caring parents whenever they are trying to get money or regards from third parties, often with success. They exploit interhuman ethical networks by using the child as a prop. When there is no need to maintain this facade, they turn abusive to vent their frustrations on the child or neglect like a toy that's no longer useful. So the ones who truly deserve help are ignored by the manipulated "saviors" who unwittingly aid and abet truly evil beings.

Anonymous said...

*honor thy mother and father*

I honor my mother and father by living a good life. This honors them and my entire family. I can thereby honor them w/o ever seeing or talking to them.

Another good post, Anna, one many need to think about. I've had it with people who refuse to see the evil the N does and keep coddling said evil because they're afraid God will send them to hell for not honoring their parents. Isn't that in itself a form of deception, of lying? Isn't honoring evil more damning than refusing to honor your evil parents?

I'd rather run the risk of not honoring an evil parent than of allowing evil to run unchecked, especially when I'm its target.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, Anna!

Eight months ago, this was the turning point in my decision to go NC. I had spent most of my life trying to 'make things happen'. I was 'trained' to. Everything was MY job....MY responsibility. I don't know when and where the voices from my upbringing...the imposed 'conscience' inculcated by my parents.....became my own as an adult. I didn't realize what an impossible burden I had placed on myself...and only in the utter futility and failure of my best efforts...could I come to the end of myself....and turn the WholeMiserableMess over to God Himself. Parents included. Not. My. Job. And, all these years...I thought it WAS! Wow. I actually got angry when I was praying about what to do...and I remember yelling inside..."I AM NOT A SAVIOUR!!! YOU ARE!!!! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!!!!????"

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

I don't know how many times I had read this all these years, Anna...but there came a time when I KNEW I could lay these particular, self-imposed burdens of responsibility down. That it was RIGHT to do so. That it would be WRONG to continue as I was. That what God wanted me to do and be was so different than what I had thought.....and whatever it is or will be is not the loathsome, neverending 'expectation' of what I had been living for 50 plus years.

I remember sitting on the couch last fall...exhausted..after one of Nmom's 'hit and run' unannounced visits....I felt totally drained...jumbled...and in that emptiness...hearing the silent 'words' in my heart for the first time: "Something is very, very WRONG with her."...and that started me on the trail of finding out what. I think within a week I had stumbled on this blog by googling every symptom I could think of that described her....and here I am. Thank God. Thank you, Anna...thank you all.

Nymphadora Lupin said...

Hi Anna! :)
It is no small thing to let your goodness be exploited, used, and manipulated by predatory narcissists.
Currently, I am watching, from a safe distance, mind you, my dear sister self-destruct because she is now living with our NMother.
She has invited NMom to live with her and her husband so that eventually, when NMom does actually need care, she will already be incorporated into my sister's household.
Now, my sister, herself, is a strong, beautiful woman with a tremendous work ethic and many, many good qualities
(she was my true mother growing up - thanks to her, I received a tiny bit of nurturing in a family riddled with Ns).
And yet, because she now caters to our NMom, I can not forsee having a normal relationship with my sister any longer.
My sister's behavior as of late, reflects my NMom's attitudes; it is as though the longer she and NMom live
in the same household, the more of a reflection they become of each other. She is showing more and more signs of
being emotionally and mentally damaged.
My sister's personality change is frightening to watch: she has become bitter and angry towards all us other siblings because we all refused to allow NMom to live with us, and she felt she had to "take Mom in", because no one else would. (The savior complex?!)
My NMother is an able-bodied, perfectly healthy person who has no trouble living on her own.
My sister CHOSE to take NMom into her own household. She CHOSE to associate closely with NMom, even after years
of abuse and contempt. And now, she CHOOSES to be angry that the other siblings will not willingly allow themselves and their families, to be re-abused to "take care of Mom". (I posted in honor of Mother's Day my eye surgery incident).
"Taking care of" actually means "pampering" and "catering to" a woman who needs nothing of the sort.

BEWARE OF WHO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH! This is the price of catering to an N; you drive away healthy folks and replace them with a bottomless, thankless pit. It is tearing our family apart, and I fear the fallout will be the loss of my dear sister.

P.S. Now for something completely different... thank you for the lovely email... I will respond to that via email :) and the mirror site is going swimmingly. I'm hoping for a publish date of sometime in July.

none said...

Staying with an abusive parent with idea of "saving" them contradicts the entire message of the New Testament. We can only be saved through Christ alone. It is everyone's personal choice to give ourselves over to Christ or reject him. An N parent has chosen to put him/herself above Christ. They are in love with an image of themselves. They are idolaters worshiping their own delusional image. If they believe themselves to be godlike, how can we ever think we will "save" them.

The Bible teaches us to separate ourselves from sin and sinners. I don't recall any exemptions for abusive parents. We are to forgive those who trespass. How can we forgive those who will not admit to their trespasses? Forgiveness is in the past tense. How can we forgive when the injuries are both past and present? Furthermore, if withholding forgiveness is a sin, why should we continue to stay in contact with someone who would cause us to sin? For me, I can forgive but it comes with the cost of NC. NC is the only way I can put my NF's abuse in the past.

Anonymous said...

"Let her grow up," I told my husband. "Your mother is in her 60s. Let her learn by the consequences of her own actions. It's about time. You can't protect her forever."

Talk about a perverted relationship. The child becomes the parent, the parent becomes the child, the parent becomes elderly, behaving like a child. The parent becomes an even younger child than her grandchild. Obscene.

The adult child protects and coddles, and yet this was never done for him, not when he was a child and needed it. Not even for his own children, only for his mother.

Anna Valerious said...

So the ones who truly deserve help are ignored by the manipulated "saviors" who unwittingly aid and abet truly evil beings.

This is one of the dreadful consequences of defending evil doers. It is the same as crapping on and furthering the abuse of the true victims. It is almost baffling how the 'immoral moralizers' miss what should be a very obvious sequitur. You can't defend evil and evil's victims at the same time. Of course, they get around this moral dilemma by refusing to identify evil. Pretend evil is a victim, voila!, no one is evil.

Then there are the simple-minded. Naive to a fault. Seeing good in everyone, including the evil doer. Any play for their heart is unstintingly responded to as deserving of compassion simply for the asking. It should be painful to be this stupid. This kind of stupidity is painful to the narcissist's victims.

Your other points are well said. *hearty applause*

Anna Valerious said...

I honor my mother and father by living a good life. This honors them and my entire family. I can thereby honor them w/o ever seeing or talking to them.

Excellent. As I stated in this post...


sometimes that is the only way left to us to honor our parents. It is a valid way to honor them...by living honorably. The value of that should not be underestimated or poo-pooed or dismissed.

Anna Valerious said...


Your story is powerful. A compelling proof of the points in this post. I'm thrilled for you that you've finally laid down the very heavy and impossible task you had taken up for most of your life. You quote Matt. 11:28...one of my favorite Bible verses. It is a hard one to grasp when we won't let go of our preconceptions of what is expected of us. It provides absolute relief for when you're finally able to let God do His work instead of trying to do His work for Him.

Anna Valerious said...


It is really sad to hear what is happening to your beloved sister. You tell a compelling story as it so aptly illustrates the contagious nature of evil. It is one of my arguments for going "no contact" with a narcissist. It is a Biblical argument. The Bible recognizes the contagious nature of evil which is why the commands for God's people to distance themselves from it are unequivocal and urgent.

I am sorry for what is happening in your family. I am sure it is difficult to stand back and watch things disintegrate. Thankfully, you are wise enough to be watching this happen from the sidelines. I wonder what character flaw your sister has cultivated that leads her to now put on this martyr routine. There is some attraction your sister has to your mother's pathology. Something to be gained by the association for your sister, because you point out that your mother is by no means in a state that requires being babysat. Interesting. Tragic. It is a revelation of character. Sadly, the revelation is not a positive one.

Anna Valerious said...

Well said, nocaster.

Anonymous said...

Anna, how about writing about spiritual warfare against N's? My XNW is slowly poisoning my kids with a compromised value system and character assaination against me. I'm NC with her and her family but my kids (in thier 20's) aren't.
How do we go to war and win this one?

Stormchild said...

Great post, Anna.

My own programming in this area was drawn heavily from Cain's response to God ["Am I my brother's keeper?"] and the Parable of the Talents.

The idea being that I was somehow obligated to spend my substance and skills taking care of others, lest I show myself close kin to Cain. Failure to do this, whenever and whereever and for however long it was demanded, by anyone, was squandering my God-given talents, and would have dire consequences.

Oddly, though, the flip side - the idea that those others had a reciprocal obligation to support and care for me, and that similar dire results would, symmetrically, await them if they failed in this - was always brushed aside.

Of course, we're all kin to Cain, and we all squander our talents. But it was supreme irony to discover that, through this teaching, I'd been trained from my earliest youth to let any Cain within reach squander my talents for me.

Anna Valerious said...

Anna, how about writing about spiritual warfare against N's?

I am not sure what you mean when you ask about spiritual warfare. For most Christians that refers to engaging in casting out demons. If that is what you are referring to then I'm not going to be able to help you with that. It is not the focus or purview of this blog. My primary recommendation for dealing with narcissists is to disengage...not engage.

I'll toss this thought toward you. In 1 Cor. 10:3-5 Paul says:

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (NIV)

This is a prescription for spiritual warfare. Notice the work of preparation it requires from the Christian. It requires a knowledge of God (i.e. truth) that is comprehensive enough to "demolish arguments" and the "pretensions" of those who set themselves up in opposition to God and truth.

It also requires another aspect of personal work, that of bringing "captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ". This is a description of a dedicated and personal work of bringing your own life into compliance with Christ's Gospel. This is a necessary preparation in order to avoid hypocrisy which would directly oppose any effort you might make to confront evil. I see spiritual warfare as being first and primarily a work of allowing God to change your own life. Without that, you will only be working in your power, not God's.

Arming yourself with a clear understanding of truth is essential for the warfare Paul describes. The other essential aspect is allowing that truth to transform your life. How is this blog not an instruction in spiritual warfare? Knowledge of truth, and living the truth, is power in spiritual battle. Once you really believe that fact, you'll find yourself better equipped.

As to your kids. If you are living your life with consistent integrity and honor, if your life is a living testimony against the slanders of your XNW, it will be much harder for your kids to blindly believe the lies. If they choose to believe the lies in contradiction to the evidence, then the real problem lies within them, not so much the slandering XNW. Time and experience may help them to better believe their own eyes rather than someone else's lies. People often choose to believe lies if the lies fit their personal agenda, whatever that agenda may be.

Remember, character and reputation are two separate things. We often think of them as being somewhat synonymous. This is a logic error. Reputation is simply who others think you are. You really have little control over who people think you are. This is proven by how easily someone can come along and steal your reputation from you. You don't own your reputation. It is public property.

Character, on the other hand, is yours and yours alone. Your reputation can be smeared from here to kingdom come, but you still are what you are. If someone accuses you of being dishonest, for instance, it doesn't mean you are dishonest. If you are as honest and straight as the plumb line, then the accusation will not change the fact of who you are. We are held responsible before God for our characters, not our reputations. In fact, Christians are promised that their reputations will be impugned by evil people, but we are not to swerve from the path of integrity despite it.

Focus on your character. Equip yourself with knowledge. These are the essential preparations for any battle with evil. It is painful to see one self slandered and smeared in the eyes of those we love. Intensely painful. There are few options but to remain true and steadfast in the face of the onslaught.

Hebrews 11 is known as the "faith chapter" of the New Testament. It contains a long list of men and women who were faithful (i.e. full of faith!). Read these several verses and imagine the obvious reality of how the reputations of these people had to have been completely trashed in order to abuse them as they did:

"Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned[f]; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground."

Deprived of freedom, mocked and jeered, tortured and killed, homeless. All of these mistreatments had to have been justified by slanderous lies against the reputations of these harmless and faith-filled people. Don't expect that winning the war against evil means you won't get hurt. Don't imagine that these people felt like conquerors while they suffered. As much as it is painful to suffer a loss of regard from one's children...make sure that loss is not the result of your own actions. That is the part that you have control over.

none said...


I'm not one to pluck Bible verses out of context, but I keep this Proverb near and dear to my heart at all times:

As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come. Proverbs 26:2

I don't have any problem equating the word "curse" with lies and deceit in this Proverb. An undeserved lie is as unlikely to land on you as a bird fluttering on the wind. Proverbs 26, as a whole, contains many nuggets of wisdom in regards to strife and those who sow it.

Disengagement, as Anna stated, is probably the best defense. This is supported with Proverb 26:20

20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

In our case with the N, we must remove ourselves from the talebearer to end the strife.

K said...

Sometimes the right thing to do isn't necessarily the "nice" thing.
Amen Anna, well said again. I totally agree. Years ago I too was stuck in the savior complex with my mom, trying to remain in her life to be there if/when God spoke to her. Only in recent years did I realize she wasn't listening to God at all.
I enjoyed the comments as well. I want to add that the best way to really show others the mercy and goodness of God is to go on with your life and escape such abusive people. God cannot usurp free will to stop abusers but he can help those of us who have left such abusers to live good healthy lives. A wonderful testament to a good God.

Anonymous said...

I did an internet search under the heading "shame-based family systems". It's applicable to this post.

Anonymous said...

Anna - I found your blog recently and I thought it was to help me while disengaging from an N boyfriend. It has helped in that area greatly, but after 48 years of wondering what was wrong with my mother & why I could never please her, now I know. She is an N. She did not raise me but gave custody to my Dad & grandmother who was a strong Christian. This however did not keep me from the hurt inflicted by her. I struggled with the "honor your father & mother so that it shall be well with you". A close friend shared with me that the verse does not mean to honor them to the point of suffering abuse from them. That day I was set free & now after reading your blog, I feel validated. I always felt like the black sheep, never able to be who my Mom wanted me to be. She would even insinuate at times was I really "saved". Thank you Anna for your wisdom, for your willingness to share your heart openly and the boldness that I know only comes from your relationship with the Lord. You are the best!

Nymphadora Lupin said...

Thank you, as always, for your concern, Anna.
Anonymous said something that fits my family situation to a "t" and expresses the whole weird dance between my sister and NMom:
"...The child becomes the parent, the parent becomes the child, the parent becomes elderly, behaving like a child... The adult child protects and coddles..."
Sadly, I followed that whole bizarre chain of events effortlessly. Thank you, Anonymous; that is EXACTLY what is going on. I have had people who are not of the family, who watch them together, remark to me that their behavior is odd. It is as though my NMom is a large toddler and my sister is the patient mother, trying to teach basic manners and basic social skills. It is really bizarre. I'm appalled by it, actually. My NMom has a very high IQ and is very educated, but she is impulsive, mean, and has an enormous sense of entitlement. My sister doesn't seem to get that our NMom does these things *on purpose* because of her *entitlement*. The one thing my NMother is NOT, is ignorant.
And Anna, I too, wondered about why my sister is so attracted to NMom and is so hell-bent on taking her in, and "taking care of her" and excusing and overlooking her consistently horrible behavior. I agree that my sister has cultivated several character flaws that put her in this position. We were all raised from birth to cater to NMom and to assume lots of responsibility at a very young age to relieve our NMom of any. NMom has always scrutinised all four of us very carefully, gleaning which one she would groom to "take care of her". (As an aside, my father died at 56 of heart failure, after doing everything for NMom for over 35 years, and NMom is a widow. He left her well taken care of financially.) I do believe that my sister is the most vulnerable in that, she still needs NMom to pay attention to her and look at her as "special". She's finding out what a booby prize that is. My sister is "rewarded" for her catering and pampering by having an ally and receiving all of our NMom's attention and praise. She never got any as a kid; she was always jealous of the perceived (fictitious) attention that NMom claimed to have given the rest of us. As always, Ns are sowers of discord, and put their children in a competition for their attention and (paltry, conditional) acceptance. I really believe that this is the root of my sister's weakness - she still is competing against the rest of us to be NMom's "favorite". Again, appalling. I'm really glad I'm the black sheep.

Anonymous said...

I discovered your blog several months ago, in my frantic googling trying to understand the behavior of a long-time friend of mine, who I eventually realized is a raging N. Reading your perceptive, articulate posts has really helped me make sense of the years of deception, undermining and backstabbing this person subjected me to, and confirmed that cutting off contact with her was the right, and only, choice. I especially enjoyed your deconstruction of your sister's non-apology apology emails - my (ex) friend's emails to me after I found out she had been sleeping with my boyfriend (and, somehow more chillingly, lying to my face about it for months), contained the EXACT same strategies and even some of the same wording as your sister's emails. That really blew my mind. For people who imagine themselves to be so very much smarter than everyone around them, it's pretty hilarious how similar all Ns seem to be to each other. All the twisting of facts, rewriting history, saying things like "I'm sorry if you were hurt by what I did BUT you have to understand that I really didn't do anything!" blame-shifting, trying to make me look crazy and irrational, pretending to be misunderstood, contradicting statements she just made in a previous email, playing the pity card, and the guilt card, etc., were virtually identical to your sister's emails. Your cool-headed ability to pick that stuff apart and analyze it for what it really is, garbage, is pretty impressive. Anyway, just wanted to say, keep at it. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Anna Valerious said...


Thank you for further describing the dynamic between your sister and your Nmom. I'm sure it'll be helpful for others to read to help them understand another aspect of the perversion of relationships that Nparents design. All narcissists pervert relationships in one way or other, but the parent/child relationship is unique. As is its perversion.

I get the picture very clearly as you describe your mother, who is intelligent and competent in her own right, pretending to be a nearly helpless child. This is a deliberate act designed to turn the relationship between the Nparent and their adult child upside down. They purposely try to provoke the nurturing instincts in others in their bid to get their own way. The narcissist is a case of arrested development anyway, so it is no stretch for them to pretend to be a child. The problem is they can always find someone to fall for the act. Someone who will excuse the FACT that an old fart who should know better is acting like a baby. Someone who will make allowances as if the narcissist is a child instead of insisting the wrinkled baby GROW UP. Someone who will find a reason to expect less from the narcissist than we would from any other adult person.

Your sister is being that sucker. A willing sucker.

I appreciate you confirming my assertion that it is a character flaw in your sister that has made her into a match for your Nmother. I have lived too long and seen too much to believe otherwise. I know for a fact that it is our character weaknesses that are exploited by the narcissist to control us. It is our own defects of character that keep us enslaved.

I am not blaming victims here. Anyone can be a victim of a narcissist through no fault of their own. The phrase I used above is essential to get what I am saying: to control us. I am pointing out that until we really examine our own motivations and our own personal flaws we are likely to not see what handles we've given to the narcissist to control our behaviors. "Know thyself" is a theme I have harped on more than once here. Anyone can be victimized by a narcissist. That is no fault of the victim. But when we find ourselves perpetually enslaved by a narcissist it means it is past time to really look at what is broken in ourselves so we can start the process of breaking free.

It may be as simple as having broken ideas. The idea we must accept abuse from a parent simply because they are our parent is an example of a broken idea or thought process. Correct that thought process and you suddenly find yourself equipped to start defending yourself.

In your sister's case she is locked in a perverted dance with your Nmother because of her need for mommy's approval and attention in a perceived competition with her siblings. This is childish, as you point out. As adults, we all need to make ourselves grow up past the point where we need our mommy's approval before we can feel good about ourselves. This is a dependency that must be broken off before we can mature into autonomous adults. Your sister's persistence in hanging onto a childish need has set up this situation. Even though your sister is parentified by your mother...this relational perversion is the result of a childish need your sister is clinging to. You bear witness to how this is destroying her own character as well as threatening to destroy her sibling relationships. Who knows what other relationship is threatened by her desire for mommy's "love" and "attention" coupled with her sibling rivalry. If she is married I imagine there is real stress in that relationship right now.

I can relate to the helpless parent act. I noticed a dramatic increase in this behavior in my own mother throughout the 1990s. Every time I would go to visit her she would become very child like. I would marvel at how many things she seemed to not be able to do when I was around. A quick logic check told me it was an act because I knew she was carrying on just fine when I was not around. I was a married woman living 300 miles away. My visits were spread out to a half dozen times a year. It wasn't like she needed me for survival. But when I would visit it seemed like she couldn't find her own ass with both hands. It was a new act and a kind of enticingly sweet one because for most of my life she had always projected strength and intelligence and meanness. Looking back I know it was a way to garner more attention by provoking my competence and care-taking to kick into action. She would do the same thing around my sister. If we weren't forthcoming with the proper pampering the fangs would flash. I think my mother was sounding us out to see which one she would bequeath with the "honor" of care-taking her in her old age. She made it clear to me I had won that "booby" prize (as you aptly called it). It was a prize I was never interested in receiving. When I began showing signs of a backbone and putting more distance between us both geographically and emotionally was when my mother started grooming my cousin, "Lee", for the job.

I guess my point in bringing up my own mother is how a N can switch back and forth between being competent and being a helpless baby at a whim. Its just another game they play. I am glad that you, like myself, haven't fallen for the manipulation.

Your sister is a cautionary tale. Thanks for sharing as much of that tale as you have. I, too, am glad you are a black sheep. In the upside down reality of Ns where white is black...that means you are actually a fluffy white sheep. :o)

Anna Valerious said...

I especially enjoyed your deconstruction of your sister's non-apology apology emails

First of all, anonymous, welcome! I'm glad you found this little corner of the internet. Sorry it was a narcissist that brought you here.

I appreciate you letting me know your reaction to my posting my sister's non-apology apology emails. Knowing how non-unique Ns are I wanted to deconstruct a narcissist "apology" for the benefit of others who've been on the receiving end of their piles of shit.

I'm actually rather amused to hear how much your ex-friend's so-called apologies were like my sister's. I, too, have marveled at the sameness of the N creature with others of their ilk. They think they are SO superior and unique when they are actually just another factory edition clone of evil. So when more evidence comes in highlighting how utterly non-unique the N is...it just makes me smile.

So...thanks for the smile.

Congratulations on escaping the N. It sounds like a very painful relationship, and one that is best left in the dustbin of history.

Anna Valerious said...

As usual, I appreciate all the comments. The ones I haven't responded to are just as excellent as those I have. Sometimes a comment is so succinct and spot on that all I would be left to say is "amen". Rather than posting a bunch of 'amens', I let it stand as is. Ya'll are an experienced and insightful bunch. Your comments have content beneficial to other readers. Thanks to you all for contributing to the knowledge base of Ns and their behaviors in the wild. :o)

Anonymous said...

Anna- your advice has worked well. I have not been to the site for a while since my NMom is in NRemission. They never do get better unless they really get saved.

The best advice is to give the NPerson the basic respect due to a human being, then treat them like like you would treat a person in your life or church that needed assistance. Render the basic assistance due to a person. Even the samaritan made sure that the basic needs of the wounded man were met, but he never took him home to live with him and his family or be integrated into his life. He met the BASIC need according to his
ability, then moved along.

If you have a NMom or relative, the best you can do is to be cordial, but not afford them the same access to your life that a parent/ child/ brother/ sister that is not a N would have. Keep them at arms length. I enjoy seeing a tiger at the zoo, but I do not dare take one home- nor do I lower the bars of the cage- it would be self- destroying.

Anonymous said...

i have to admit i went through this savior complex for several months in dealing (or thinking i could deal with) the recent narcissist in my life. but he only seemed to get worse and now i know why. i also realized in reading this blog how narcissistic MY thinking -- he could be saved through some effort of mine -- was. i also started to realize, i was enabling him - much like a person who goes to the store and buys alcohol for an alcoholic. so . . . i did what any caring Christian "friend" would do - I cut him off (of his Narcissitic Supply). Here come to find out, it was the best thing I could have done for HIM and for me! Great post again!

Anonymous said...

After reviewing this post again, I understand something new.

MIL used to say "let go and let God". She meant, of course, that I should give her endless second chances (second-thousand chances), and just forget what she had done to me.

My interpretation is quite different. I have let go of any relationship with her. Just as she requested, she is in God's hands now, and what He does is up to Him. Not my problem.

It was her request, and I have taken it seriously.

Anna Valerious said...


It is almost funny that your MIL would use that statement as an escape hatch which was a perversion of its meaning; now, you are able to apply her over-used bromide the way it was meant to be applied. In the process you're doing what she commanded you to do. I love it when narcissists words trap them in their deserved fate.

Soni Cido said...

...and another thing...
even if you join them in their evil-the narc may well applaud you, but soon, they will make darn sure that you are NOT going to outdo them-they will turn on you and devour you...

Unknown said...


Thank you so much for your beautiful truths. I have been waiting, it seems, my whole life to hear something like this. I have been involved with abusive, narcissistic people literally since my childhood- ALL of whom blamed me for their abuse. Thank you so much for your bravery, the sharing of your intelligence, and your wisdom. Please, please keep writing- you are literally saving the sanity of many people!

llpfister said...

3 years ago my husband and I moved my inlaws in with us due to poor health. We moved upstairs and my in-laws into the master bedroom downstairs. She EXPECTED me to wait on them. During the day they watched TV. She had vodka before dinner, would come to the table, eat, then retire for bed. She would tell me "she NEEDED an appointment to get her nails done"! Weekly I took her to the beauty parlor, to doctors, etc.
I started feeling that my house was no longer mine, and we upsized. We gave them two rooms upstairs, and installed a chairlift.
MIL started having health issues, brought on herself. She refused to take medications or shower. She emotionally declined. She went to specialists, but wouldn't take their advice, saying "she knew her body".
December she had teeth pulled, and for two weeks was "suffering", insisting she needed to go to the ER on my husband's birthday. Tests were run, but after 3 days in the hospital, insisted on going home, that the hospital "doesn't know what they are doing" (they found nothing wrong).
Christmas day, MIL fell when she was drunk, hit her head, and went to the ER. After tests for 2 days, came home with a black face, but no internal bleeding.
February FIL could barely walk. We told them the nursing home was eminent. She said she would go with him. We found a home and said we would move them the following week. MIL was shocked, saying we had never talked about it, calling her friends, telling them we "stuck them in a home".
Since then it's been a nightmare. Constant tears, hatred, lining up allies, putting us down. Treats the staff like servants, berates my FIL. She went to the ER twice for 5 days. When tiring of the hospital, tells them they don't know what they are doing and demands release. Is incontinent- refuses to get up and change the diaper, refuses to leave the room- not wanting to be around the "crazy inmates", refuses to sleep in the bed- "it is a cot", refuses to eat the food- "not fit for consumption-I wouldn't give it to my dog", refuses to take some medication- "they are trying to overmedicate me", prays every day that she'll die, but has a companion to take her out for hair, nails, shopping, eating. Once a week I take groceries (she gives me a list), and we visit on Sunday. The visits are always about her.
Now they are running out of money received when selling their house, and will go on Medicaid. They will receive $60 a month, far less than she spends (now $3500 in debt).
My brother-in-laws give insight into her behavior at a younger age: always spoiled, wanting her way, she will NEVER CHANGE!

Is she an N if her four children are caring adults who would do anything for her?

Financially how much do we provide? Is it best to set an amount each month and let her do what she will?

We are tired, beat down, and as Christians, don't know what is the right thing to do. Thanks.

Anna Valerious said...

Is she an N if her four children are caring adults who would do anything for her?


Financially how much do we provide? Is it best to set an amount each month and let her do what she will?

Food, shelter, medical care. If those are covered then your obligations are met. It doesn't mean it has to be the food she demands, the shelter she deems as what she deserves, or extravagant medical care. It is possible to know objectively that someone has adequate food, shelter and medical care despite the howlings to the contrary that a selfish bitch might contend otherwise. You are not obligated to finance her every whim and desire.

Keep reading the blog posts and you'll likely find more principles to help you know what decisions to make concerning this woman.

AnotherACON said...

Great post. Even though I've already read it several times, I continue to find it helpful.