Friday, March 13, 2009

Red Flag: Disrespect for Boundaries

We're up to number six of Kathy Krajco's list of eight red flags of narcissism from her book, What Makes Narcissists Tick, pg. 81:

Tramples Privacy/Boundaries as a Control-Freak

Yet another red flag is a universal disrespect for other people's privacy, boundaries. This is a result of the narcissist viewing people as mere objects there for her sake to serve her needs and desires.

I gave an example in the previous section, in the boyfriend who disrespects your right to decide how to wear your hair. It's your body, not his. You're the one who lives with the consequences of the decision, not him. You aren't his car, something he owns and therefore can paint a different color if he wishes. You own you.

But he is treating your body as HIS property by presuming the rights of its owner over it.

Here's another, more literal, example. Your property line affects him like waving a red flag affects a bull. He must violate it and make what's your territory his territory. So, he parks on your lawn, ties his big mean dog out at the edge of his property to use yours (and menace you with Rover). He reacts to your claim of ownership as though you are stealing from him. Nothing short of a big fence will stop him from making your property his. And then he'll probably ram it with his truck if he thinks you'll be intimidated by that.

In other words, he is incapable of "distinguishing between mine and thine." Again, he is treating your property as his by asserting the rights of its owner over it.

Even your mind is not your own in his eyes.

Which is why a narcissist sticks his nose into everything, for he considers your business his business. He feels it incumbent on him to bestow judgment on every single thing people think, say, do, wear, or even feel. His disapproval (or the threat of it) is a stick this control freak with a God Complex herds people with.

He is possessing you.

Individuals with NPD are likely to attempt to get their needs met in relationships without acknowledging the independent existence of those from which they "expect to feed."

-- Sharon C. Ekleberry, Dual Diagnosis and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder [link now dead]
So, he presumptuously makes other people's choices for them. Often to ridiculous extremes, such as telling people how to wear their hair, what clothes to wear, where to buy things and what brands to buy, what chair to sit in, what end to start on, which route to take, and so on. You can tell he's doing it just to do it, because he makes people change their choice to comply with his wishes. In fact, if the same person is doing what he said to do the last time, the narcissist tells her to do it differently this time.

In short, a narcissist views others as objects on a chessboard, or tools, robots, the executioners of his will. One I know of, a private school principal, demonstrates the desperate compulsion narcissist have to control people. He is said to have nearly driven almost a thousand people to justifiable homicide by blasting over an hour's worth of nonstop orders over a blaring squawk box about what to do in an annual Christmas celebration that everybody had carried off without instructions for decades. Nobody can walk into a room and sit down without this clown telling them to sit somewhere else.

I dealt in some length with this red flag of being controlling a couple of months ago in this post so I won't be reinventing the wheel for this post. Controlling Others Vs. Self-Control.


Anonymous said...

I knew things were heading for an explosion when MIL had her H phone me when I was pregnant to tell me that I had to wear sweatpants to work. I worked in a professional office. He called long distance to tell me this, because he didn't want me wasting my money on maternity clothes. I was the sole wage earner supporting his stepson, who was earning a Master's degree. As if any man would care about maternity clothes. This was MIL's agent in action. And hello, it would be nice if they'd said something like, "Congratulations. We're looking forward to the new baby's arrival."

That wasn't all. After the baby arrived, MIL told me that she wanted me to wear H's old, worn-out clothes. She also wanted me to wear men's loafers, like SIL (who looked like a dyke, BTW), because they were cheaper. Such concern for my money!

She shared the fact that she never spent more than $2 on an item of clothing. Yes, I gathered that.

Now, it's all well and fine to decide that your priorities are not clothing, and that your lifestyle does not require a certain style of dress because of the place where you earn your living. It is quite another to dictate these things to people who barely know you, as if you are the law. It's quite outrageous to think that others care or will attend to your ultimatums, just because you say so. And it's even more outrageous to start lobbying your DIL's spouse to "make" you listen.

This was yet another of her hills to die on, and boy, I wish it had been a cliff.

My H wants me to look like a woman. Maybe that's because he doesn't want me to look like his mother. Her opinion is irrelevant. My money, my choice.

Anonymous said...

When I was a girl, I would often catch my N mom searching through my drawers, reading my diary, etc. My N dad would also rifle through our things while we were at school (I could always tell when my space had been violated.) We had to keep our bedroom doors open at all times. The only time I was granted privacy was to shower and go to the bathroom.

I didn't understand it at the time. We kids had never done anything to warrant that kind of monitoring. As I grew older, I came to understand it was all about their sick, creepy need to control us.

Personal boundaries are crazy-making for Ns, because it means they're not the only ones who get to make decisions, enforce rules, and define preferences.

Things really turned ugly as we entered our teens and started trying to establish age-appropriate boundaries. For instance, my N dad decided we weren't allowed to get acne, and punished us accordingly. I once had the audacity to get a haircut he didn't like, and he screamed at me that I was stupid and my hair looked ugly and if I ever did that again he was gonna blah blah blah. Every step we took toward healthy, independent adulthood would bring the crazy.

Graduating college and moving to another city didn't change things. I finally went NC and have never looked back.

the Selfish Ingrate

Anonymous said...

I was raised in captivity by N's, so experienced all sorts of huge boundary violations and ridiculous control [ridiculous because it was control for controls sake, not for a real purpose such as order or safety] as "normal".

Now, as an adult who knows about N's, I consider the tiniest violations of social norms by certain people I get an off vibe from to be "testing" for NS compatibility. One such acquaintance recently PUT A GROCERY ITEM into my cart at the supermarket while we were chatting. I looked her in the eye, took it out, and restated that I don't like that brand. WTF?? I had JUST SAID that I didn't buy that brand for a reason, and then she made some 'friendly' sounding comment and popped it into my cart for me! With a weird gleam in her eye!!

I know if I allowed that, it would have been like a gateway drug to her. What would be next? Eww. These N's are such weird freaks with no real lives! I can't imagine having a life driven by such idiotic compulsions.

The thing is, if I told this incident to someone who doesn't know about N's and their feverish obsession with violating boundaries [especially stated ones] no matter how small or inconsequential, they would probably try very hard to convince me that I had misunderstood the person's intention.

That article you posted last post said ONE OUT OF TEN. Why oh why is their malignant existence not common knowledge?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous / the Selfish Ingrate Mar 13, 2009 12:01:00 PM said...

“When I was a girl, I would often catch my N mom searching through my drawers, reading my diary, etc. My N dad would also rifle through our things while we were at school (I could always tell when my space had been violated.) We had to keep our bedroom doors open at all times. The only time I was granted privacy was to shower and go to the bathroom.”

Yes, yes! But even while showering did your Mom “pop in” to get something from the medicine chest, from under the sink, or laundry from the hamper?

Once I left NMom a note asking that if she was going to go through my things could she at least put them back where she found them. She trashed my entire room. Year after year, she never did find my “secret stashes.” The only thing this aspect of the Ns taught me was to be a better sneak!


Anonymous said...

Oh wow does this sound familiar. I was never allowed basic physical boundaries. I remember getting a very clear sense in my mid-teens that my body was her property. The constant searches were justified by the small amount of acne that I had.

Thanks for the reminder of why I'm leaving. Please pray for me, I'm finally trying to separate from them. I've wanted to do this for a long time but have not had the resources (honestly I still don't). I'm not sure how this is going to go.

Anonymous said...

I LOL (but not in a good way) at the timing and examples in this post. My dd and I were just talking about the "boundaries" issue with MN personalities (and my spouse is one of those). Several years back my MN-h told me he wanted me to grow my hair long. I explained that I don't have nice long hair and that I don't like taking care of long hair anymore and that --- HELLO! --- I'm in my 40s so I'm going to stay with what looks good on me now.

Several weeks later he decided to rage all through the night about various crazy matters that weren't a part of the real world. Part of his rage involved how I wouldn't grow my hair long because I should want to please him and he liked long hair, blah blah blah.

Your site keeps me crazy while I'm still here. I'm still here because MN-h is exactly the type that would become uber crazy and take out his crazy on the daughters if he still had access to them.

Anonymous said...

Hoo-boy this post fit my N-sister to a T. We moved into a house together, I bought a photograph, had it framed, hung it on the wall in the living room. When I got home from work, it was off the wall, and lying on my bed. We had a roll up shade on the living room window, in the morning it was to be rolled up, and the cord wrapped around the hook three times- not two, not four. She would check it daily to make sure it was done right, and God help you if it wasn't done right.

If I was on the phone, she would stay in the room and listen to my conversation. When I hung up, she would ask who was on the phone, if I said my friend J, she would ask what she wanted. If I told her nothing, she just called to chat, my sister would say, "Well I heard you talk about X,Y, and Z, so don't tell me 'nothing'." I wasn't allowed to answer the phone when we were eating. If I was about to make a phone call, she would ask who I was calling. If it was someone she didn't like, she would scream for me to get off the phone because she was expecting a call.

If I had a friend over, my sister would join the conversation uninvited, and either interrupt me constantly or just talk over me. As if what I had to say didn't matter.

If I were making pizza, she would have to butt in and add a ton of extra cheese on top, and then complain that it was too cheesey. If I was painting a chair, she would drop cigarette ash on the seat to mess up the paint job.

She helped herself to my food, wine, laundry detergent, tampons, shampoo, clothes, stamps, music, when she was asked not to. Many times she would rifle through my things when I wasn't home. She loaned out my sewing machine to a friend of hers, without my permission, it was returned broken- and she took no responsibility because she wasn't the one who broke it, her friend was. She would go ballistic if I dared touch a saltine cracker of hers, never mind loan out one of her possessions.

She would snoop in my mail and look at my bank statements. When she decided that we needed a new couch or new bath towels, she would say, "You buy the couch, you've got $XXXX in your savings account, don't be such a cheap bitch."

We were invited to a party, and I had on a shirt I had just bought. She pointed at it and said, "I want to wear that shirt, I have nothing to wear, I didn't do my laundry this week." When I refused, she threatened that if she couldn't wear my shirt, she wasn't going to the party. I left without her.

I remain NC with her.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. I meant that your site keeps me SANE! Not crazy. Sheesh.

Thanks for all of your excellent posts.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, yes! But even while showering did your Mom “pop in” to get something from the medicine chest, from under the sink, or laundry from the hamper?" - JR

They both did. They also tried to listen in on every conversation and phone call, read my mail, choose my clothes and hairstyles, pick my friends, etc. N mom decided I was going to join marching band. I joined drama club instead. Neither of them ever attended a play, told me constantly how stupid it was, and would throw a tantrum everytime I went to rehearsal instead of coming straight home to watch my younger brother, clean the house and start dinner.

Selfish Ingrate

Anonymous said...

I had an N friend who, among other things, kept calling too late at night and waking me up. It suddenly dawned on me one day that he might actually be purposely calling too late. At the time it was almost inconceivable for me to think this was true, but it had become difficult to imagine why he hadn't just avoided repeating the same mistake after the first time like a normal person would, but instead did it again and again. I got my answer after asking him nicely but firmly to be more careful about when he called: he blew up, quite irrationally. He acted personally affronted.

N's seem to love interrupting us and inconveniencing us, but most especially when they know they can get the maximum disturbance mileage from each faked "innocent" incident. Tell an N you are very busy, they suddenly need you. Let an N know you are tired, they will find a reason to keep you on the phone. Tell an N you must stay in and do your taxes, they will suddenly beg you to go out with them this one special time [and it turns out to be something totally mundane]. They are irresistibly attracted to disregarding all normal things that others consider reasonable limits and boundaries, and forever angling to be the special "exception" to the rule. Not only that, but there is always an anger right below the surface, as if to HAVE boundaries and limits at all is some kind of personal attack on them, that already puts you in the wrong and victimizes them. They DO act as if enforcing a boundary is "stealing" from them or depriving them.

Anonymous said...

"The only time I was granted privacy was to shower and go to the bathroom."

I was never allowed this privacy by my MNmom. If she knew I was going to take a shower, she would follow me into the bathroom and chat with me like a girlfriend. Or while I was in the shower she would sit on the toilet to take a crap (we had 3 bathrooms so it wasn't as if she couldn't wait) and then leave me with her stench. My body always had to be available for her to see, if I asked for privacy she would get offended and angry. So when I got a tattoo at the age of 18 in what would be an unseen place to most people, I had to tell her because she would see it, there couldn't be anything I could hide from her. Also, she walked around the house naked or half naked in front of my two older brothers and in front of their friends.

When I moved away to go to school and she would come to visit, she would open my mail or go through my purse or open all of my drawers while in FRONT of me. If I told my friends, they would say "she just loves you and wants to know about your life". What life? My life was hijacked by her.

Even now, as a 30 year old married woman, if I go to her house, she will follow me into the bathroom if I have to go. If she comes to my house I have to hide everything that I feel is private because she goes searching like a fiend. For what? Who knows?

Speaking of boundaries (or lack thereof), my entire life she has told me about her sex life with my father. And tries to get me to tell her about me and my husband...SICK.

I know I have to go NC. I am slowly making steps. Slowly establishing boundaries. Even though I moved away, my parents followed me. Now my husband and I have to move away to get some freedom.

- Breaking Free

Anonymous said...

All of this makes so much sense after a lifetime of living with controlling people but feeling like I was the problem because I became withdrawn, angry and depressed. Over the years I have gone no contact with one sister, although I did not have a name for it - I just knew that it was not good to even have telephone conversations with her. I'm still in contact with another sister but I see the N signs every time we talk. She calls or leaves messages for me with 'helpful hints' of things I should do. Things came to a head several years ago after our mother passed away and she had nobody to prop her up or for her to give advice to.. We had a blowup and didn't talk for several years. She is having financial pressures in her own life now, so it seems she likes to control my life when she is feeling badly about herself! My husband and I are retired, and she made a nasty comment about that yesterday on the phone. I let it pass, but one of these days I will have to set the boundary once again. And it won't be pretty, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Another boundary violation of N's:

The become enraged if you don't follow their "unspoken" rules about what topics you can and can't talk about in their presence, YET - they purposely and sadistically bring up all sorts of topics they know to be disturbing and upsetting to others! They come up with all sorts of "innocent" reasons to bring up embarrassing, shaming or disturbing things, yet flip out if anyone mentions something completely normal and typical if it is against their "rules".

Anonymous said...

"Yes, yes! But even while showering did your Mom “pop in” to get something from the medicine chest, from under the sink, or laundry from the hamper? "

Wow that sounds familar! No privacy at all. Not in the shower - not going to the bathroom. To this day I still lock the restroom door if I'm anywhere but my own home!


Anonymous said...

My N-friend had the same disrespect for boundaries much like the experience like Anonymous 4:06 had- he too would call at inappropriate hours. The worse being when my child was a newborn and I was sleep deprived, he called at 3:00 AM. I leaped out of bed with my heart in my throat- I had an uncle who was dying at the time and I thought that it was "the call". I was furious when it turned out to be my N-friend who was up late watching TV, drinking and was bored. Oh and FYI, he knew about my uncle.

He also suddenly decided in my eighth month of pregnancy, that he was going to be in the delivery room. When I told him that I wasn't comfortable with that, he told me too bad, that he had never seen a baby born and he was going to be there, period. I didn't bother telling him that I had already filled out the paperwork stating that my husband was the only person authorized to be in the delivery room when the time came.

The other thing that I found really creepy, was when he would come over to our house, he would peek in the windows before going to the door and ringing the bell. He did this all of the time, it was almost like he thought he was going to catch us doing something we weren't supposed to, or catch us in a conversation he wasn't privy to. Unfortunately for him, we were
usually doing something mundane like washing dishes or reading the paper. It unnerved me so much that I began to close the curtains when I knew that he was coming for a visit.

Anonymous said...

Reading these posts about bathrooms, I am realizing that the fact that we usually didn't have locks on our bathroom doors like "normal people" was no accident. One house we lived in had a lock on the bathroom door and it was left there, but with the explicit instructions that we can NEVER lock it. That was for GUESTS. I thought it remarkable that I knew kids whose BEDROOM DOORS had locks!! I never kept a diary because I knew it would be absolutely hopeless to expect privacy. And our unlocked bathroom? The kind with glass sliding doors on the shower. The kind you can see through.

Anonymous said...

My Nmom had me so 'trained' by the time I was about 6 that I wouldn't DO anything without asking her....and worse yet....I would wait until SHE was gave me 'permission' to be tired, hungry, etc. I never OWNED my own body or senses....or 'tastes' or much of anything. an adult, I found it enormously difficult to sort all of this out. I often can't tell if I am tired, hungry, angry,lonely, often all feels the same. The 'differentiation' is skewed. She LIKED it that way....her own little puppet.

Anonymous said...

Well, it seems from all the comments written in relation to Anna's post that many of you had frikkin creepy egg/sperm donors dominating your every move!

Looking back, in hindsight, the boundary invasions of your parents must seem so bizarre, so ridiculous, so perverse, controlling and manipulative.

How horrible that most of you couldn't even take a shower by yourself without an invasion of privacy!

I would have flipped out if my Mom or sperm donor ever walked in on me in the bathroom. I was and always will be a very private bathroom person.

When I was a teen-ager, I would spend hours in a hot tub reading my beloved books. It was my unspoken rule that when I was immersed in my sanctuary, my sisters and Mom should leave me alone!

I was so lucky and spared the humiliation that many of you were unfortunate enough to have inflicted on you. I'm sorry, I really, really am that you had to deal with all that retarded behavior (to put it mildly).

Now that we are older, much more capable and self-sufficient as adults we are learning to implement and enforce our own boundaries that we once were oblivious to.

I think when you are clueless as to your definitive right to self-defense, your right to privacy, your right to self-expression, all those God given rights bestowed upon us since the beginning of the human race, how the hell are you even able to protect yourself from predators?

Knowledge IS power, and for us to learn our fundamental rights as human beings by learning and rigidly enforcing our own personal boundaries, we also will realize our own personal power.

As the Lovely and Wise Anna fervently states, it is noone's damn business how we live our own lives. They have no pure ground to stand on themselves as they are also only children of God, not a supreme being themselves.

And predators are so far down the scale of humanity that I consider them basic, primitive and savage. Almost beneath my contempt as I think I'm a hell of a lot more enlightened, loving and caring than they could even imagine in their little reptile brains.

If a person is behaving innapropriately, offensive, cruel, deceitful, spiteful, hateful, and flatout ugly.....we can literally put our hand up in the STOP signal and speak with righteous fury..."No more! Leave or I will!"

Hey, it works for me! :)

Peace, Love and Joy to all you sensitive, kind souls...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.... I don't think my ILs walked in on their chidren during showers, etc., or rifled through their diaries. I think my ILs were more distant, more "hands off" parents. They didn't even know their oldest daughter quit highschool and then did nothing about it when they found out.
They didn't know my DH had hit his head, knocked himself unconscious for several hours when he was about 13. He was in a field for HOURS before he woke up.

No, they were just distant and aloof.

But when they WANT something, you had better jump!! And usually what they want is to invade boundaries and heaven help you if you say No.

- Kathleen

Anonymous said...

Bathrooms!!!! Hilarious!

Growing up, we lived in a Phila row home with 7 kid; and one very small bathroom with a louvered door. A freaking louvered door!!!!

For my many friends who recognize this post, I am eternally sorry. But my mom was crazy!!! Still is!

No Contact with MNmom and MNsister going on 4 wonderful years...

Anonymous said...

I have started to realize that my family had their own little brand of narcissism where they consistently tried to "tag" narcissistic traits on me (and others of course). For example, my mother would hide things on purpose, so that I would look like the nosy one or my sister would be silent on purpose (for example when meeting a third person), so I would look like the chatter-box. She would also often suddenly "ignore" me at gatherings, so I would look insecure and put a lot of effort in getting a connection with her... (which to other may have seen like boundary breaking or being desperate)...They would also make me feel that I felt free to do stuff at their homes, while they could not do the same at my place (sort of implying that I had no problem breaking others boundaries while mine where super rigid). What I've realized now is that I tried to do constructive/loving things (and they always asked for it, only in indirect, manipulative ways so they did not have to acknowledge my effort), while their only aim was to destroy and sabotage. No wonder I had an aversion to them "doing stuff" in my home...

PS: I just had a flashbulb moment - my sister hates closed doors and has given me some sentimental bullshit about being left out a lot as a kid, but the truth is she wants people to have 0 privacy!)

Unknown said...

Yes, Kathlenn--both of my parents are MNs, yet they were more sly in their control of us (by guilt tactics and unspoken body language) and they were totally hands-off and neglectful in their (lack of) parenting.

Anna, do you have any older posts about this? Ns who are so engrossed in themselves that they are totally not there for their children? My MNmom's excuse was that "I back off. My children are on their own journey." Do you write about this aspect or trait of N in older posts? Thanks. And thank you for this post.

Please write a book :)

Anna Valerious said...


No, I haven't written in any depth on the hands-off, uninvolved N parenting because that isn't part of my experience. Judging by most of what I've seen in others experiences this is definitely not the norm with N parenting. I have a dear friend whose mother became an extremely neglectful parent after my friend turned into a teen. Her mother is closer to a narcissistic sociopath in character as has been demonstrated by her mother's utter lack of conscience. Complete neglect can have devastating consequences in children. It can also be demonstrated that there are advantages to the child having room to develop their personality without the constant brain washing and manipulation by a N parent assuming the neglect doesn't mean the child is starving, lacking essential medical care or education.

Sorry I haven't much to say on this type of N parent. You might possibly find reason to be grateful that your N parent(s) wasn't in your business 24/7. If I had to choose between neglect or overly involved I'd pick the former. I longed for the times when my Nmother would ignore me. It was only possible to have peace when she was diverted by something else and suddenly didn't much think about me.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, yes! But even while showering did your Mom “pop in” to get something from the medicine chest, from under the sink, or laundry from the hamper?"

I guess this one hit a nerve with many of us. I can hear the awful sound of the door opening (no knock) and the door and drawers of the vanity slamming as she always had to come in and get something. She couldn't wait the ten minutes until I was out of the damn shower. And she monitored that shower time, if I was in too long I'd hear about it. Then I offered to pay a portion of the water bill and she went ballistic! It wasn't about the money, it was purely about the CONTROL.

Another great thing she did was get dad to finish the attic and I got the entire thing to myself. That should be a kid's dream, except mother needed to store a "few things" up there -stuff she never had to keep up there before. So I couldn't keep her out, she had free access since her things were there. Sneaky.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen, your ILs sound very much like my own n-parents; very hands off and totally absorbed in their own dramas. As Anna said, I would rather have neglectful than overly involved n-parents because it does allow you breathing room to observe. My parents invaded boundaries in other ways such as talking, talking, talking about themselves constantly, forcing my sister and I to listen to their dramas hours everyday. It felt like assault My dad would bite me and my mom tried to talk about her sex life with her daughters.

I never tried to hide my diary because I knew my parents were not interested in the going-ons of their children. They never opened my mail though it does mean looking for my mail in their pile because it wasn't worth their time to let me know a letter came for me. And yes, the moment mom or dad wanted something then I better be there stat. It reminded me in The Bluest Eyes where the narrator (a little girl) said how the adults only gave instructions, no explanations.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if I am off topic with this but I must share this with you.
My young daughter had a sleepover at a friends house. They had a "Chuckie" doll, which is from the movie, "Childs Play", in which the doll comes to life.
I told her that that movie was actually a variation of a TV movie I saw when I was a teenager called, "Trilogy of Terror". She expressed intrest and told me she wanted to see it,so I told her I would see if I could find it on You Tube.
Well, I did find it, and thought I'd better watch it again before I let her see it, (being that I hadn't seen it for 30+ years).
Well lo and behold the main character, Amelia, is an ACON,(as you would say) and the dialogue with her N-mom is almost painful to watch. (great acting by the way)
It's an aspect I didn't notice so many years ago, but am now aware of.
For those who wish to see it, go to You Tube and type in "Trilogy of Terror 1975", it is in 3 parts.
The ending is apropos, if you stick with it to the conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Not having been raised by Ns I really have no right to, nor do I have an, opinion on whether it's better they are super-nosey snoops or aloof and hands-off.

ButI can tell you that my ILs are also aloof, hands-off grandparents, and that HAS hurt my kids. They have NEVER ONCE called my children on their birthdays or taken them for an ice cream cone during our week-long visits. When we believe our youngest DD may have spinal cancer, ILs were told but NEVER followed up with a single phone call inquiring about her health.

My children had always felt personally rejected by their father's parents, and that was painful and confusing. Now they are getting older and no longer feel this way -- now they believe there is something terribly wrong with their grandparents.

They miss my mom, who called and made a fuss about braces coming off and an A in science and even sent a card to the stupid dog after she had surgery!! LOL

So which is better, aloofness or overly-involved? I don't know.
I do know that because their grandparents were so aloof going N/C was pretty easy for my daughters.

- Kathleen

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:04 made a comment about unspoken rules. Wow does that sound familiar! My favorite trick...if you didn't ask and violated one of the unspoken rules then you were in trouble for being stupid...because clearly you should have known! If you did ask...well then you were too needy and dependent.

Anonymous said...

I have had a distant, neglectful N mother and two "smothering" N sisters...

The distant N mother was easier to spot, and also I would have to say, I'd go with the opinion that I found neglect somewhat "better" than constant mind****. But of course, that also depends on the severity of the neglect etc...

Both versions are just as dysfunctional and I think that a smothered narcissist may grow up to become a distant parent, and vice versa (this is the pattern in my family at least). My great grand mother was distant, my grand mother smothering and my mother distant. As we all know, PDs are not exactly known to be great advocators of balance...

But of course, what I prefer most of all, is having nothing to do with any of them :-D

Anonymous said...

Kathleen said:

"So which is better, aloofness or overly-involved? I don't know. "

Honestly I think both are horrible, they will spread pain and hurt where ever they can. But it is possible to have a mix of both. In my FOO you were smothered until you acctually needed somthing- then nothing - you did not even exsist. Medical care was hit or miss. I have the health probelms to prove it. I do tend to think the "hands off" type are less confusing, people tend to pass off the smothering type as have "good intentions"

I'm glad that you and your daughters are NC with the beasts reguardless!

Anonymous said...

Kathleen wrote:
"When we believed our youngest DD may have spinal cancer, ILs were told but NEVER followed up with a single phone call inquiring about her health."

Wow... I never stop being amazed by the inhumanity of these people... there is TRULY no mercy... When my father got terminally ill, my N mother did not even sit at his deathbed, neither did my N sisters (suddenly their smothering behavior disappeared ;). He died in my arms, without another soul supporting us. I was just a young girl then.


Anonymous said...

I used to think being assertive could SOLVE boundary problems within already established relationships with N's. It does with normal humans [and it scares off new N's who come sniffing around], but in established relationships with N's it seems to mainly escalates the tension or lead to being dumped [a godsend in disguise of course]. Apparently being unable to reliably trash the boundaries of others is a deal-breaker for the N's. If you attempt to verbally make or reinforce a boundary, they explode or act victimized - and/or - become nothing less then fanatically obsessed with breaking that exact boundary even more. That article you linked to in the last post so aptly called them relationship destroyers because that is exactly what they are. I think of them spending all their energy on 3 things:

1 - getting NS
2 - "conditioning" victims [ie destroying other's sense of self, normalizing abuse, denying reality, rewriting history etc]
3 - enforcing the idea of the relationship being "inescapable", so even as they destroy it [and you] you MUST STAY FOREVER

Boundary violations are a bad sign in anyone, but N's go one step further. They are not just oblivious or careless or disrespectful or flaky or self absorbed. A person who is simply self-absorbed or whatever violates the same boundaries all around. But N's CUSTOMIZE their violations to each victim and circumstance, so in many ways their behavior really IS actually "all about us" and totally predatory. It is no accident that they might fixate on invading the bathroom time of adolescents in particular! They pick and choose the boundary violations they can covertly get away with that make us feel most helpless or most humiliated, and violate them whenever they can, but - knowingly "respect" them under other circumstances, like the presence of outside witnesses. If we dare complain, then we may get an escalated attack on that exact boundary, and/or punishment for victimizing them with our complaints. This furthers the feeling of an absolutely upside down world, or being trapped in some kind of alternate reality that no one else seems to understand is happening. All this occurs while they insist on an intense bond, test us constantly to "prove" our loyalty, and insist we "love" them unconditionally while they perversely put the "C" in conditional.

Anna, thank you again for making a place where this "upside down" world of lies and distortion is exposed and picked over for exactly what it is, and so we know again and again it is not us but them. Hearing other's stories amazes me no end. The "shower thing" is so typically absurd, and amazing to me to be so common.

And speaking of neglect: I had an absolutely neglectful MNM, but she did make sure she stayed on top of things like coming into the bathroom when I was showering! But if I was sick or had a problem or dared cried? I suddenly had loads of "privacy"! Usually after being mocked first, though.

Anonymous said...

The posts here about "shower violations" has caused me to re-think an incident from adolescence. My brother, about 14 years old, announced to the household (minus Co-NDad) that he was taking a shower and NO ONE was to come into the bathroom! He was emotional and adamant.
He knew he needed to make a big issue of it --- why? --- because we were never, never allowed to lock doors in the house. Never
NMom simply stared at him. As did I ---- like who wanted to come in the bathroom while he was taking a shower?

After my brother was in the shower, my mother rounded up the rest of his siblings, including me, and we all trooped into the bathroom and laughed at my brother. Who was incensed, naturally.

And do you know, it was not until this thread that I even recognized the several elements of narcissism exemplified by this incident?

To whit:

Disrespect for the boundary my brother set -- a more than reasonable boundary.

Disrespect for my brother himself.

Manipulation of us sibs.

There may be others I will discern later.


Anonymous said...

I will also make this comment about neglectful versus in-your-face narcissistic parents. With the caveat that I doubt any N-parent is all one or the other.

My own experience is of non-parenting. Parenting, when it occurred, was authoritarian. Most of my ideas about life and the world around me were formed by what I read --- I read voraciously and indiscriminately -- and turned out dysfunctionally idealistic. Even though I was very attuned to what ideas were approved by NMom and anxious to gain that approval --- what I believed --- I assumed she and Dad believed. There was never a genuine, transparent sharing of self (nothing to share?). I think that may at least partly explain why it took me so long to wake up and smell the coffee. I assumed my mother was a decent human being because I was told she was --- she never articulated who she was. The disconnect between what passed for love and nurture did sometimes nag at me, but . . .I swear it's only been since my dad died that I fully accept the truth of my mother's personality.

At least, if your parent is overtly obnoxious and interfering, you know you have something to resist.

I'm just rambling. Thanks for bearing with me.


Anonymous said...

I happened to watch Jane Austen's "Persuasion" last night, there's definitely an N in there. I had to chuckle when I recognized her!

Anon 10:48 you said:
"1 - getting NS
2 - "conditioning" victims [ie destroying other's sense of self, normalizing abuse, denying reality, rewriting history etc]
3 - enforcing the idea of the relationship being "inescapable", so even as they destroy it [and you] you MUST STAY FOREVER"

I went NC with someone who I'm sure thought I could never leave, and it was not family, but a friend and fellow volunteer. Why it took me so long I will never know. But I see it all so clearly now. My antennae are set high, and will hopefully steer me away from any further relationships like this.

Anonymous said...

My dad went through my things, but what he really liked to do was throw away my things. Or force me to throw away or give away my own things. Oh that was much more satisfying to him than just going through my stuff.

As a teen, I 'kept' my room as if a bomb had gone off in the closet. I never really thought about it before now but that was probably a passive aggressive resistance to my dad.

My dad had MS and increasingly treated me literally like a limb. And I was to anticipate what he physically required or needed as much as possible. But even if I did a splended job as his limb, he would hate hate hate me for it at the same time.

Another thing about boundaries is that he always ignored my independent existence - school, friends, where I lived as an young adult. He refused to know anything about it. He never asked me a single thing about any of it. It always blew my mind that when I went off to college he had no interest in whether I even had the basics like towels.

But by the same token, if something dangerous or bad happened to me - such as having a serious allergic reaction to penicillin, or when there was a peeping tom incident at our house - he was irritated and disgusted by me, somehow, that I was upset and 'making a big deal about it' and such things were 'not his problem.' So although he wanted to use me as his limb, he also completely disowned me and refused to know anything about me - the two contradictory approaches at once were soooo crazy making.

Finally, this post reminds me of the gift issue. You don't know what you want for your birthday. No. You just think you know. In actuality, only the N knows what you should want and have for your birthday, if you deserve to get anything at all (some years a selfish ingrate gets nuthin'!). One year my dad made some vague mention of how we kids should have cameras, because HE was really into photography. So I just knew that if a birthday present was coming my way at all, it was going to be a camera. Which immediately made me not want a camera. I specifically specified that I did not want a camera, anything but a camera, I refused to have a camera, I would return a camera, had no use for a camera.

I got a camera.

God I hated that camera. And yet, in the midst of that time, the worst was feeling that I should find a way to be grateful for it.

Before I wind this up - Anna V you posted something in the last topic that made a really big difference in my life. You had peace about the past because wisdom is hard won and is worth winning. That immediately helped me - as soon as I read it. That has been a big struggle for me because the anxiety and panic attacks I've lived with as a result of the past have in some ways really narrowed my horizons. Your words gave me such a helpful new perspective. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

"It is no accident that they might fixate on invading the bathroom time of adolescents in particular! "

Thats a good point! - I never really thought about it but my NM only did that when I was a teen & I NEEDED the privacy. When I was young I could have drowned & she wouldnt have cared.

Learn (or realize) something everyday.

Anonymous said...

I just posted, but only after posting did I finish reading the previous comments. Yes my dad had to have complete happy compliance with whatever he wanted for as long as he wanted it, and then he absolutely was not to be bothered or troubled by you and your petty selfish stuff when he did not require you. Object goes back on the shelf.

Though it is true I had incredible freedom as a kid - nobody was looking after me at all as long as I turned up to make my dad look good (parenting publicity events basicall) or listen to his monologs or do whatever it was he required. His kind of micromanaging would be supervising chores and making me do every smallest action in exactly the way he dictated and in that order. He would step by step talk through such brain surgery tasks as bagging the garbage, deploying a twist tie, and taking it outside. Just a for example.

So I'm not sure what to think about that. I don't think he was a sociopath, but I will say that he consistently and unwaveringly minimized anything to do with my independent life and if reminded of it by some school achievement - ran it down and mocked me. He also constantly, for years, throughout my childhood always talked about how I would be useless as an adult and wind up unable to support myself and in the gutter and was lacking in even the most basic sense or skills to survive. All my interests were lumped into this - if I liked art I would be starving in future. If I liked archeology - starving and unemployed. If in the school play - starving actress future. Constant visions of future failure. And if I dared to have a thought about science - watch out - that was his thing and I was far too much an ignorant laughable hysterical illogical fool to even listen to my drivel. I think this was part of a bigger picture, along with throwing away my stuff, and demanding endless compliance with his agenda and hostility toward anything of my own - a strategy to blight or even destroy prospects any independent existence.

And I completely agree that if they know you have a boundary they will stop at nothing to push right there.

But also thinking about the posts above, I have some left over social issues that embarrass me to disclose - but this is the place, if anywhere is. I struggle with feeling shame if I make a loving gesture. If I send someone a card, say, I have to overcome feelings of shame and fear to send that card. But if I fail to send the card - also the shame and inner reproach. Even writing this - kind of hard to breathe.


Anonymous said...

My N mom was very disconnected as well. The sad thing is NO ONE and I mean no one was allowed to love us either. If I spent to much time with my grandmother who did love me and gave me the attention I craved as a little girl. It wouldn't be allowed to go on to long before I was flat told that my grandmother loved my cousins more than me..."who do you think you are" As far as dad well he hung around as long as he could for us, but to save himself he left when I was 11 or so. I remember the hatred for him ran so deep. Of course he didn't love me either. One birthday he called to say he was taking me shopping...according to mom, he had abandoned me, therefore, I should get everthing I could. I of course did as ordered. My dad took me shopping and bought every single thing I asked for (happily I might add) I brought it home, pulled it all out, and was quickly told how spoiled I was. WHAT?!?!

I have to say, just a complete undermining of your instincts and judgment. No wonder it takes us forever to sort ourselves out. How can you know whats up and down, when from the very first moments you are told what you feel isn't real.

Well Mom's reality isn't real. Her world is hers. I no longer live in it. My reality is where I reside. Loving whom I choose, how I choose.

Boundaries...there were none. There are now. It has not been well recieved. I spent forty years attempting to please her, warping myself. Only to have her punish me for having a loving husband and happy children. (no one can have something she herself does not have)If you do watch out...Way to many years spent trying to avoid the very outcome that happened anyway.

To have a self, you will loose a mother/father or whomever your N may be.

Sad..but it is the truth.

Anonymous said...

The sad irony of living with N parents' constant monitoring is that is doesn't even guard you from harm. Though they are weirdly aware of pretty much everything about you, they don't take the reasonable, necessary steps when they detect trouble. Exactly the opposite. They instantly detach. You're on your own to sink or swim.

My Nmom knew how many pairs of underwear I had, but let me walk home in pouring rain. My Ndad knew how much I weighed, but wouldn't help with homework. And on and on.

Selfish Ingrate

Anonymous said...

Re: "selfish ingrate" – How interesting it is to me that the most selfish of selfish people, these N monsters, project that very trait so so often. I cannot tell you how many times I was called selfish by my N momster. Ungrateful was big too. She would also tell me I would never have any friends the way I treated people. Ha. I still have the same best friend I did since the age of ten and many high school friends as well. I know all of my friends consider me to be one of the most loyal and caring friends they have. So funny to me that she would tell me I'd never have any friends once they got to know me since that was exactly exactly exactly what happened to her with ever "friend" she ever had.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Mar 16, 2009 1:52:00 PM said

“…As far as dad well he hung around as long as he could for us, but to save himself he left when I was 11 or so…One birthday he called to say he was taking me shopping...according to mom, he had abandoned me, therefore, I should get everthing I could. I of course did as ordered. My dad took me shopping and bought every single thing I asked for (happily I might add) I brought it home, pulled it all out, and was quickly told how spoiled I was.”

The exact same thing happened to me too, but by 11 my NMom was on hubby number three. She discarded men like used tissues.

“…I spent forty years attempting to please her, warping myself. Only to have her punish me for having a loving husband and happy children. (no one can have something she herself does not have)If you do watch out...”

This is the heart of Narcissism for me. We are so blessed to have loving husbands who put up with our strange quirks and f**ked up relatives. We can do a pretty decent job of parenting by not repeating our own pathetic upbringing. But it is our refusal to bleed ourselves to death on the alter of the Ns that gives us the strength and freedom to create amazing "families" for ourselves.

Love and healing and blessing to us all,

Aravis said...

Wow, what a great post and wonderful follow-up posts from you all. We too, had locks on our bathroom doors which we were NOT ALLOWED TO USE. Ironically, my DH and kids and I live in a lovely old farmhouse with ONE, yes ONE full bath upstairs by the bedrooms and yet we manage just fine to not intrude on each other.

But yeah, my sis and I were allowed no boundaries or limits from our Nparents. We were both classic PTSD cases from the get-go due to the violent abuse and intrusive, overbearing parental behavior. Both parents were for some reason OBSESSED with our looks, and good ole Nmom or Ndad would, almost daily, pin one of us down on their bed and inspect us for acne - from the time we were like 7 or 8. My dad would get a paper clip and dig in our ears to see if they were pure and lily white. My nmom was so disturbed about the very idea of us having acne that she started taking us to a dermatologist when we were about 11 - probably the only good medical care we got, other than eye doctors. My sis had CONTACT LENSES in second grade - and they were not cheap back in the 1970s. All I could figure was the 'rents could not bear us looking anything less than little barbie-doll kids. Which is especially hilarious because we are both pretty average looking. I mean, it's lucky we both have regular day jobs, you know?

I repeatedly got strep throat and other illnesses and was not even allowed to miss school much less go to the doctor, but boy, we didn't miss a dermatologist appointment.

As for the intrusive, no privacy thing vs complete neglect, many Nparents (especially men) do that - it is probably more the norm for Ndads than not. They are insanely overbearing, intrusive, controlling, and angry, when they need a victim, but when they don't, their children do not exist. I remember growing up and hearing about kids who were neglected and thinking LUCKY THEM. My MNdad once contradicted me (in his usual fashion, horning in on a conversation between my sis and I when we were talking quietly in her bedroom) about what the girls locker room was like at our middle school. Within seconds, he was screaming at me that I didn't know what I was talking about, the lockers were NOT painted orange, and then slapped me upside the head when I said I ought to know, I was in there every other day during period 3 P.E. class. In retrospect I should have reported him to the police if he really was so well acquainted with the 6th grade girls locker room.

To this day, Ndad could not tell you what either my sister or my college majors were, what color eyes we have, or what years we graduated from high school. He never knew how old I was as a kid, *even though I was born on his BIRTHDAY*.

Like other posters, I am now VERY sensitive for boundary incursions. I have needy, clingy, boundary-busting MN-friend from whom I recently staged a successful escape. This particular histrionic narcissist managed to get herself hired by my former employer, then transferred into my division as my employee (believe me, I had NO CHOICE - I had been avoiding that very scenario for years). Now she not only could demand I be available 24/7 for all her personal "crisis", but I was ALSO now responsible for her professional and work life comfort and convenience, including traffic tie-ups during rush hour and the unbearable hassle of having to perform actual work. I left that job (not because of her) and THOUGHT I had escaped her entirely via caller ID and being BUSY, BUSY, BUSY, but now, another former co-worker who is firmly entrapped as NS by MN-friend, called me and left me a lengthy voicemail message telling me that "N-friend is being picked on by her boss, and yelled at in meetings and is having a hard time at work and is really depressed and so I think YOU should call her and help her find a new job, and you would totally understand her woes and she would REALLY LOVE IT IF YOU CALLED HER".

I could not believe it. Don't you love it when enablers go on their recruitment efforts? Criminy, MN-friend has my email, and all my phone numbers. The phones work both ways, as does email - yet poor needy MN-friend cannot get off her butt and pick up the phone herself??

I am very happy that she clearly isn't going to contact me, but instead will sit there like some sort of freaking King-God-Empress-for-life waiting for me to rush to her aid - but what's up with the Enabler? She is not stupid, and surely she knows that bit about phones working both ways.

Anonymous said...

toni said "And she monitored that shower time, if I was in too long I'd hear about it. Then I offered to pay a portion of the water bill and she went ballistic! It wasn't about the money, it was purely about the CONTROL."

my father did this with everything! and boy did it piss him off when i started a job at 16 and actually tried to start paying for the things he complained about me using in my own home. because exactly as you said, he didn't really want the money, he wanted to CONTROL.

when i was in college - about 23 years old, it was the 5-yr plan ;) i lived at home and commuted. i would go online in the days of dialup his thing was always "get off the internet - someone could be trying to call." ok, fine. i starting going online from 11pm - 2am (I was always up late). He told me to get offline. i bought my computer, i paid for AOL. i wasn't costing him any money. i said why? he said because he said so or i was under his roof or something. no REAL reason. i refused. then he cut the phone line to his 23 year old adult daughter's bedroom!!!

that was the straw that broke the crazy camel's back. i finally moved out. i found some chick online and rented an apt with her. i preferred to take my chances with a total stranger.

Anonymous said...

we were not allowed to lock the bathroom door either. it had a lock on it but we were not allowed to use it. even my parents didn't lock it. there was some story about what if someone slipped and cracked their head open, how would they get in to save us?

Lupita said...

My Nmom and depressed dad were definitely more of the neglectful type. It's weird how I'll be having a conversation with someone about something the books they read their kids....and they'll ask me what books my folks read to me as a kid....and I think..."books....we HAD no childrens books"...despite the fact that my parents both had graduate degrees and my father prided himself of his education and intelligence. I read adult level books or I read no books....

There are many varitions of this, such as "what sports did you do as a kid?" (Sports? My parents never would have paid for/driven me to any sports group). Which parent was better at helping you with homework? (What? I can't recall either one ever helping me with anything...despite all the pressure to get straight A's), What was the best thing you mom cooked? (She gave me food poisoning so many times that I taught myself to cook at age 8 and ate fried egg sandwiches for dinner most nights).

Anyway, I guess my point is that smothering and neglect are both so damaging to a child. It doesn't matter which is worse....they are both warping and awful. They both severely damage your sense of trust in the world.

Oh, and thanks again Anna for this blog. You are truely an angel in this world.


Anonymous said...

I have already told my story. My N exhas stolen my whole private life by putting spywares in my pc. He had it all, passwords, diary, phone calls, bank, email. All. I have been sueing him for 6 months now. He did it again one month ago, after six months of no contact.

This is, definitely, an ill mind.

I smile when I think that......after six months without him, I have regained my enthusiasm for life. I have got new projects and new strengths. I have PEACE. No more is no more my guilt for everything anymore. And I an serene.

I am more serene than him, even if I have no more my emails and my password. I am serene and he is not......I know this. He may seem to have it all....but he has nothing.
I really start to feel pity on him ( when I think of him.....rarely and more rarely every day. I never thought it was possible. But it is)

Thank you Anna. Your blog kept me sane in the most difficult days. May God bless you.

Anonymousfrom Italy

Zydia said...

remember growing up and hearing about kids who were neglected and thinking LUCKY THEM.

Aravis, make no mistake. You WERE neglected - as you pointed out, the emotional needs of you and your sister were totally ignored.

As for no boundaries in my case, I could go on and on:

Bathroom barging - check
Room barging - check. I also kept my room like a pigstye to discourage invasions. Still, my Nmom would feel totally justified in barging in while I was changing my clothes and nattering on about basically nothing. When I asked her politely if I could please finish and then talk to me, she would stomp off in a huff. It She would then be so irritated that she would give me the "silent treament". And she thought that was a punishment.

If my mother ever found and read my journals she never told ME about it. It was all about how much I despised her anyway.

No medical treatment - Neither of my parents ever took me to the doctor for anything. I distinctly remember being extremely ill at least twice - once I was actually hacking up grey-green mucous for over a week - and being totally ignored. I didn't see the inside of a dentist's office from the age of 3 (when I chipped a tooth after falling down) until 17 (when I insisted because I was about to become disqualified from my mother's insurance). The only thing they did was take me for eye exams and glasses, and only that because the SCHOOL told them I couldn't ssee.

I learned never to complain about petty things like that because I would only get a lecture about how expensive it was, how nobody had time to take me, how it was my fault for being sick - didn't you take your vitamins and brush your teeth!!. . . and I didn't really need to go anyway.

Anonymous said...

Re: Lupe at Mar 16, 2009 10:25:00 PM

I too had to learn to survive when it came to eating. When I was too young to feed myself, I was only allowed food when my mother ate, sometimes not even then. We were also not allowed to touch anything in the refrigerator and with all the physical abuse in our household, you can bet we never dared to do so. Being hungry and having food restricted became the norm for me. I still think much of the issues with eating during my childhood have played a role in me having issues with food to this day. I will go to the grocery store and buy food, then it will sit untouched until it has to be thrown out which is very strange because I absolutely despise being wasteful, especially with food since so many in this world are hungry on a daily basis. Honestly, if it weren't for dinner parties and being invited out for meals, I would probably barely eat. It's like I don't even think about eating as an option. How weird. I also have to be one of the most unfussy eaters ever. I remember in college eating something a roommate had made in the microwave and her being upset because it was still a bit frozen in the middle. I hadn't even noticed. If we were lucky enough to have food, we ate it no matter if it was freezing cold, scalding hot or even rotten.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the food issue- did anyone ever have an issue with "failure to thrive" (not gaining weight as a pretteen/teen -not growing properly)-that was my thing, acctually part of the reason I found NPD on the internet (long story).

Anonymous said...

"Speaking of the food issue- did anyone ever have an issue with "failure to thrive" "

I did! I was the only person I knew growing inches taller... in college! I went from one of the smallest in my HS school graduating class to an above average height person. Oh yeah, and I lost my last baby tooth in TENTH GRADE.

Anonymous said...

On the failure to thrive issue. I believe I should have been taller because my foot size is not in proportion to my height. To anyone giggling, I know this is not Scientific, I came to this conclusion on my own. My rationale is, you don't generally see a 6 foot model with a size 5 foot. You don't generally see a 5 foot woman with a size 10 shoe. I have the foot size of one of my sisters who is 3 inches taller than me.

My belief is that I never grew into my feet.

Aravis said...

Failure to thrive - I don't know if my sis and I would precisely qualify that way, but I know what you mean. Our Ndad was a total food control freak. From the time we were in kindergarten, he was absolutely consumed by the terror that his daughters would be FAT. He made sure our mom didn't make us eat vegetables or other stuff that little kids do not like; not because he cared but because he figured anything we didn't put into our mouths would never land on our butts. I remember being in second grade and being screamed at for eating some ice cream (which was in the freezer). He totally went off about how although I was not fat YET he didn't want me "setting up eating habits that would lead to me being a fat ugly teenager". 7-year-old me was thinking during his insane tirade, WTF? I was really tall for my age and weighed about 45 pounds. I used to tell people I was "big boned" because Ndad was always pointedly proud about my sis having "small bones" - which she does, tiny little bones, but both of us are 5 1/2 feet tall and we have never have weighed more than 120 lbs except when pregnant. When I got married, the photographer kept saying what a tiny thing I was and I figured he must be blind. I took ballet in college and could not believe I was graceful enough to go into the pointe' class after a couple of months. To this day, I see myself as a big, clumsy, hulking foolish kid and am stunned when I look at photos of myself and I am thin. I told DH before we got married that I had "big bones" and he said "ARE YOU NUTS ? Look at YOU !" I was in my thirties before I realized I wasn't fat.

That's not quite failure to thrive, but more like eating disorder, right? I didn't stop eating ice cream, but what Ndad taught sis and I was "eat in private, so some crazed man doesn't beat you up for snacking on a Dove bar". There are so many things I absolutely won't let anyone watch me do because of Nparents' controlling lunacy. like, mow the lawn or stupid things such as that.

You know what, I have never told anyone this stuff before it is just so shameful. How awful must one be as a little kid if your parents won't let you eat ice cream because twenty years later you might want ice cream and you will be fat? Thanks everyone. You all are the best.

Anonymous said...

Several posts have mentioned neglect of medical care for children of Ns. The N in my life neglected to get medical care for her spouse. She always had some excuse "why" they didn't see the specialist for her husband's condition. One prevalent excuse was the doctor's office wouldn't call them back to set up the appt. After hearing this several times, I took the liberty of calling the doctor's office - several times- and imploring them to call this woman back(this was BEFORE I realized the woman was an N), so I had actually believed that she was waiting for that phone call. The husband died, by the way, but all the while on his deathbed, the N lied to him. Sickening.

when I think back NOW to all of the numerous lies I was told, and I SWALLOWED so many of them throughout my life, I am astounded.
It makes me question about everything. And sadly, I grew up hearing many nasty things about people in my family (including my parents), and because the N had so much access to me, I BELIEVED the bullcrap. It shocks me that I never figured her out sooner. But halejulia, I've figured it out now!

Something happens when the lightbulb goes off and you suddenly realiize, "this person is full of sh*t", though.
I am at the point now, where lies are being circulated about me (and my family) and it's cruel. I've realized this woman has many, many dark intentions and for most of her 80+ years, she has absolutely gotten away with all of them.
Controlling, manipulative and cruel, she is worthy of an academy award in acting because she is such a skillfull, clever LIAR.

I've stepped WAY back from this situation and am now at the point where I need to protect my own family. She is damaging and I can finally realize that if "you go near an African beehive, you're gonna get stung". After many, many stings I have learned my lesson!

Anonymous said...

In 10th grade I went out for the school track team. After years of clumsiness, I'd finally found a sport at which I could excel. Heck, it was one of the first things in general at which I excelled, so it was good for my pitifully low self-esteem. In 11th grade I began dating a total control freak. He had problems with my hair, clothes, friends, religion, everything. He put me down constantly. One day in the car he was complaining how muscular my legs were from running. Weird complaint, because other guys I knew said they liked the toned look of my legs. Anyway, I'll always remember him saying, "I'm not dating you because you're a runner." It was as if there was no reason for me to be a runner if HE didn't like it. Thank goodness we broke up a couple of months after that.

Anonymous said...

My clinically diagnosed NPD FIL would say to his kids, when they got sick, "What did you want to go and do that for?"

And for the person who posted about an N-enabler calling her and telling her to call her former co-worker who is the N, methinks they're trying to get rid of the problem, hoist it back onto you.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that as for neglectful or overinvolved parenting, i experienced both.

Anything to do with eating and food was completely controlled. My N mother was a terrible cook (on purpose or because of lack of love) and made sure she only gave us kids what we hated. Added to that, because we didn't like the food, she forced it down us. Me in particular. I had and still have a very small appetite and genuinely ended up hating food and wishing I didn't have to eat at all when I was a child. If I didn't eat everything she gave me, I was forced to sit at the table until I finished. i can't remember the number of times I dashed off to the bathroom with a mouthful of masticated food which was so inedible I couldn't swallow it. My N mother and enabling father would sit at the table like Spanish Inquisitors bullying me into eating.

Added to this, I was constantly told I was 'too skinny' (and I wonder why I have eating problems now) and it was because I didn't eat enough. I would be then force fed iron supplements to increase my appetite. Try cooking something decent and I might eat it!

As far as other things like medical attention, school issues, things I wanted to do, it was strictly 'couldn't care less'. You were on your own and if you dared ask for attention, you were told you were just makiing a fuss to get attention. Gee, do you think?

I think N's specialise in 'uproar' anyway. Keep it all off balance, anything to keep your guessing about how they are going to react.

Anonymous said...


I think there are three Ns in Persuasion. The father (completely vain and disinterested in Ann), the older sister (same, and expects Ann to run around after her like a servant and actually states that her friend means more to her than Ann does)and the younger sister for whom the whole world must stop even when her son has fallen out of a tree and dislocated his shoulder - it's all about her and her inconvenience and her sickness, forget that her little boy needs her attention. Ann gets it of course.

Note also every opportunity to put Ann down by all three. Regarding Cpt Wentworth, her friend Mrs Smith, or Mr Elliott's interest in her.

They are all terrible. Thank God she finally gets her man.

Sorry I rambled, it's my favourite movie.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is my mother in law to a T. Her kids are all 30+ and she still wants to control their lives and know every little detail. sick sick sick.

Anonymous said...

I keep having flashbacks with so many of these posted comments! I really continue to be amazed at such uncanny similarities.

Yes to:

unusually large quantities of adult books and barely any children's books. Um, you'd think a genuine book lover would be eager to share books with their kids? And I was never read to that I recall, except in school.

medical care: why go to drs when the public school gave those bare-minimal free checkups? Who cares that they were mainly checking for lice or TB or other group communicable afflictions. I never went to the school nurse on my own, though I would have loved to even if just for the attention. I had already learned an intense fear connection to asking for medical help of any kind. Anyone out there ever hide injuries, treat them yourselves, with or without sib help? Due to fear of getting in trouble? I recall my brother cutting himself so badly you could see bone, but we hid in the basement and fixed it up ourselves, like some kind of underground refugees in the middle of suburbia. Things like this were not untypical among us. As an adult, I had to deal with actual panic attacks over just going to get a physical or my teeth looked at. It was way worse when I had an actual problem, since that required actually verbalizing a problem and asking for help.

food: NM was a bad cook, and was a dictator when it came to finishing every last bit. It took me a while to realize those were power struggles for her, and had nothing to do with whatever she claimed at the time [not being wasteful etc]. She cooked so bad I even begged for some uncooked food, of course to no avail. I once was forced to take something out the garbage and eat it. We were strictly not allowed to salt food, and it was never ever on the table. To this day, I can really loathe when someone serves me anything without asking, since it reminds me of being 'forced' to eat. And I too was an unfussy eater: I was surprised as an adult to hear people talk about bread being "stale", I had not idea what the difference was.

The NM absolutely refused to drive me anywhere, unless she was making me go somewhere I didn't want to go, then of course she had the time to drive. Normally, I walked MILES all over town. Even when I was really little [4 and 5], I was already regularly sent out alone on foot. So it felt totally normal to me. I was astounded when I was at other kids homes and saw their moms just casually agree to drive them places they asked to go, like it was no big deal. I was as astonished as I would be if I saw food falling out of the sky.

No help with homework or any school related problems/issues. Just to ask was considered an assault on my part.

My things were given away without my permission, or I was pressured to give things away.

Neglect even to the point of being "bothered" by truly endangering situations: I once was in a situation as a teen where I had to call the police at a job. Guess who yelled at me? NM, for "scaring her" and "upsetting her" when she heard about it. No questions or concern about me, the situation, etc.

Daring "asking" for a normal boundary was punished by backlash and humiliation, and would often enter the NFOO mythology of the "remember when" variety, and very literally be discussed for YEARS as an example of the most outrageous and ridiculous "grandiosity" on the part of the victim/asker. Yep. They act like WE are the grandiose ones, when we ASK NOT TO BE ABUSED.

Anonymous said...

"My things were given away without my permission, or I was pressured to give things away."

Wow does this strike a nerve with me. My N"M" was a packrack and I wasn't allowed to throw anything away! She would take things OUT of the garbage & put it back in my room. Junk , no longer wanted or useable (no and don't give it either!) -then would give away things I acctually needed or wanted! It was insane. The stupid b****. I remember her giving away furniture out of my room right before I moved out on my own (and needed it!) to my brother who didn't need it & had a house full of furniture. I already had basically nothing and she gave what little I had.

Anonymous said...

Meg - I can't believe you just wrote that about Persuasion because I was thinking the exact same thing literally minutes before getting to your post. It must be something in one of the posts here that set us both thinking along those lines - maybe about how her family paid her no attention at all, but controlled her just the same.
Here I was just wondering if I should mention that the heroine of Persuasion is an ACON and in some ways that makes it the most powerful Austen - because we understand what she really, really had to overcome to win her way free.

Another thing I have realized since learning of NPD is that my favorite childhood author is an ACON and almost all of her bad guys are malignant narcissists and that she specializes in having MN women characters. That writer is Diana Wynne Jones - writes YA sci-fi/fantasies. Do check her out! Even though all those years I was enmeshed and blaming myself and all mixed up etc. at some level I was reaching out for something that spoke to my real experience.

These posts are so moving and so familiar even if the specific details of bizarre N dysfunction vary. My dad signed me up for intramural basketball in jr. high, because I was 'too fat.' Then he drove me to all the practices and games and I mistakenly thought this would be bonding. But he drove there and back like a jailer transporting a prisoner and he sat there the whole time completely ignoring me and his surroundings. In one game, I stole the ball 3 times and made the most points. Other kids dads came up and congratulated me and shook my hand and patted me on the back. He completely ignored it all and was like "Hurry up. Quit dawdling. Time to go." The only reason he did it all was to make me lose weight like making a hamster run in a wheel. Yet how could I explain to any outsider what was going on - though I think it was obvious to those other dads that something was really screwed up - because he was so off kilter in his behavior.

To Anon who buys food and doesn't touch it - your responses remind me of my own in a different area (intellectual - NDad dominated mainly cerebrally) and I came to the conclusion that I was literally conditioned like Pavlov's dogs. Your behavior has been trained into you at a deep level, but you are aware of it and my T always said to me 'to make any change you have to first have awareness.' We have been trained against self-care and nurturing - it is a weak area for us, but however much we work on developing strength in this area - is like winning free from the N's legacy and blighting influence on our lives. The more we learn to thrive, the more we are gaining our freedom at every level. Love to all.

Zydia said...

They act like WE are the grandiose ones, when we ASK NOT TO BE ABUSED.

Or we get the "YOU'RE so sensitive" bit. And to other people, the whispered, "She's got emotional problems" in a tone of feigned concern.

One family friend didn't buy her act for one minute. She's now one of the people who's now my Nmom's "enemies" who's "jealous" of her and must "put up with in Christian love." bleagh.

Anonymous said...

I did get medical care, mainly because Nmom worked at a hospital and loved to play the concerned mommy for her co-workers. We had to pay a little visit to at least a dozen people every time I had an appointment. I remember some of the looks her co-workers would give her, probably wondering why she insisted on dragging an ill child all over the damn place. She was oblivious.

Getting a ride anywhere was a problem. Even if a ride home was promised, it was seldom delivered. I walked home alone in the dark countless times. I would walk through the door and find Nmom watching TV. She'd give me the snarky smile of triumph, and say "I thought someone would give you a ride." Or my favorite "I came to get you, but couldn't find you. Where were you?" When I asked her why the hood of her car was ice cold, I got yelled at. Because, of course, calling her out on a lie was against the rules.

The Selfish Ingrate

Anonymous said...

And do we dare go to the bedroom? My N-husband of 11 years always blamed me for his "early ejaculation" problem. He said I sounded too good or it felt too good, he just couldn't control himself. I would buy him books about that problem and then it was my fault that he couldn't work on HIS problem b\c I didn't take the time with him to work on it. (I am now divorced from him as of February 19th, 2009)
He couldn't diet or exercise unless I did it with him and then it was my fault when he didn't stick to it, b\c I didn't stick to it. Or I always break the diet and then he can't stick to it or I didn't exercise so he couldn't exercise.
I couldn't buy him anything b\c he never liked what I picked out and he wanted to pick his own things out, but if I wanted something, he went and bought it for me even though it wasn't like what I said I wanted. He would say, you can take it back if you want, there's the receipt. And then if I used it, he said, I thought you didn't want that. Before I had left him, he had bought a lamp for me for my bedside. Actually that was the 2nd one he had bought, b\c I didn't use the first one and didn't take it back, and neither did he. So when I was moving out I took both of them, b\c I needed lamps at that point and he said, I thought you didn't like those. And it really wasn't the fact that I didn't like them , they just weren't what I had in mind for the type of lamp I wanted.
If there was something of his that I didnt' like that came into the marriage with him, he would be upset that I didn't like "ANY" of his stuff.
He also retaliates. That is the hardest part now of having to deal with him since we are divorced and share our daughter's custody 50%. He has her for one week and then I have her for one week. If I don't do something he wants or don't like something he has done, you can be sure it will be brought up again at a later date. "You didn't do that for me, why should I do it?" CRAP.
Sometime I get really sad that I lived with that for so long. I thought I was trying to do the "Christian thing" by staying in the marriage no matter what and when I no longer wanted to live, I just finally had to realize that God would rather have me alive and divorced, than married and kill myself. I just had nothing left in me, nothing left to give anyone, cuz I didn't even know who I was anymore. I didn't listen to my heart or even felt like I could trust myself. Now I finally realize I am a worthy person. I am a loving, kind, giving person and the only people that deserve me is someone who is also loving, giving and kind and has self respect and gives respect. There is NO room for takers in my life anymore! The person I have to love and respect the most first, is me. God made me and I have to take care of what he has entrusted to me. Trust your heart, if it's feels crazy, it is crazy.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on "m" day? I think we should all buy a gift for ourselves!

because 1) we were our own parents in a way - having to raise ourselves.

2) we can finally get a gift is thoughtful!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna's gang of wonderful folks,

I read all of your comments, life experiences in an effort to understand who you are and what you have suffered from childhood and ongoing to adulthood.

It literally breaks my heart to contemplate the serious cruelty and abuse you all have had inflicted upon you as innocent, vulnerable babes.

It also gives me powerful surges of fury that these f*cking sick, depraved predatorial egg/sperm donors could do such reprehensible, intolerable, beyond perverse, EVIL actions to you...over and over again.

As I've written on here, I believe I am one of the lucky ones as I had limited contact with my P sperm donor and was blessed to have a loving and concerned Mother.

She was also a fighter for her independence and she just got fed up living with an abusive parasite.

Thank Our Heavenly Father above that she WAS (and is) a fighter and split from him when I was 10. Otherwise, the emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage might have been sooooo much worse for her, me and my sisters.

Of course, I was the perfect candidate for anxiety/depression as I was overwhelmingly shy, self-conscious, hypersensitive, and a constant worrier.

Well, when I finally recognized, five years ago, that my irrational fears and irrational worries were destroying my life and I surrendered to The Lord, with an entirely open heart and spirit....I was free.

For the first time in my 30+ years all that emotional/mental garbage that had consumed me, damaged me, limited me, held me back from experiencing true joy and love for myself...vanished.

I don't write what I write on the Lovely Anna's blog for selfish reasons. Like Anna expressed, this is all in my past.

Yes, I will be healing, recovering and continuing on this awesome spiritual journey I have gleefully pounced on, but my pain and suffering is NOTHING compared to what all of you have suffered. And some are still sadly working through it.

But that's a GOOD thing, working through that pain, speaking up on Anna's blog, sharing and commisserating with each other is so AWESOME!

You are such beautiful, loving, flat out brilliant folks and it truly is an honor to be able to read and care for you from your experiences.

Remember..."When God is all you have...God is all you need"

He loves and accepts you just the way you are.

Anonymous said...

While we are on the topic of these things, I was wondering if anyone here experienced their MN push food on others. Or continually refer to others as "fat". When the MN in my life would see a larger person, she would always refer to that person as "Jaws". Seemingly because the overweight person had to have some "jaws" to eat so much and get so big. It was insulting, but she thought it was funny and would point out "Jaws" here and there whenever she ran errands and saw a larger size person. Which brings me to another thing and that is how MN's don't speak about others using their real names. It's always a label, like "Jaws" or the "Sandwhich Lady" or whatever. It's very strange.
With regard to calling overweight people "Jaws", she would also push, push, push food on other people. Usually junk food, from my experience. Then contiually she would point out how "skinny" she is. How she can never find clothes in her size because she is so thin. How all the styles out now are all unflattering and huge, and nothing fits her (because she is a size 0 and emaciated, in my opinion). But see, FOOD is a control thing in her life. She would also chastise her husband about eating too much, because he will "get fat" or has a big tummy. But all the while, she will sickenly point out how thin her wrists are (and even watchbands are so big on her),and how her legs are so thin. GAG me out the door. I can't tell you how many times I had to LISTEN to these things in my "past". And she loved people to agree with her, "yes, you are thin". "oh my, you are a size 0?" Like we were supposed to be in awe of that. She looks emaciated for Pete's sake, but she was Proud of It.

Oh my ever-lovin' Gosh....this place is a wonderful forum to share these abnormalities, and to read the postings of others. MNs are insensitive and so out of touch with reality, need to control and nasty, nasty human losers.

Aravis said...

The never getting rides from our parents really strikes a chord with me - Nmom didn't work outside the home, and we lived out in the sticks, 8 miles from the small town where sis and I went to school. We got taken to the activity of the Nparents choice (piano lessons) and NOTHING ELSE. We were forced into lessons in second grade, and had to practice 30 minutes a day NO MATTER WHAT - and if we missed a day due to being away from home or whatever we had to "make up" the time the next night. You can do the math and figure out if we were gone for a week-end, on Monday we would each "owe" an extra 60 minutes on the Monday practice - yes, 90 minutes of piano for a 7-year-old, and we only had one piano so it could end up lasting well into the night.In fifth grade, we each were required to also take up the violin - but orchestra met during school so Nparents didn't have to do any work for that. No sports, no dance, no other activities were allowed, and once we were in middle school and old enough to choose our own interests, mine was theater, we were totally on our own to get home, because Nmom could not be bothered to drive 10 minutes down the road to get us. If we wanted to do something after school, we had to wait until Ndad was driving home in his carpool, and then we had to be sure to be outside when he drove by the designated spot because he could not be bothered to stop the car or drive a block out of his way to come inside the town library and collect us. This might be fine in some climates, but we are talking far northern USA here. Many times we were outside in -20 degree F weather in the dark on some street corner waiting for him - and there was a 25 minute "window" on when he might come by. Not surprisingly, sis gave up all after school activities by 10th grade.

We still had to take the damned piano and violin lessons, though.

Interestingly, music was a college major we were not allowed to have (not that we wanted to at that point). Which is especially funny because we paid our own tuition - despite my parents' upper middle class income. They would not spend a dime on us if they could avoid it. Yet they TOLD everyone they paid our tuition.

By the time I was in high school, activities often were in the evening so we could not ride home with Ndad's carpool, and so my boyfriend would come get me, wait around, then take me back home.

Interestingly, though my parents didn't attend church, they made my sister and I go to Wednesday night bible class. Nmom did drive us to that at the Catholic church in town. Being a total feminist I had a BIG PROBLEM with the Catholic church's stand on women. I used to regularily cut class (see boyfriend - above) but idiot parents never figured it out because who would tell them? It isn't like they showed up at church on Sunday. Many years later when I was an adult, my sis and I were talking and Nmom was there and I mentioned that I cut bible class all the time in high school, and she was SO PISSED OFF - it was kind of stunning to be honest. I mean, its 20 years later, I am a self-supporting adult, and she was mad as heck - I asked her - "what's the big deal? YOU never went to church and I sure didn't want to spend Wednesday nights at freaking bible class" and it turned out she was PO'd because she had made this big sacrifice to DRIVE US THERE and wait around for 90 minutes and then drive us home.

Maybe this is one of those perverted responses Anna tells us about.

What awful people.

Anonymous said...

Food: My MNmother was never so home so I started to cook at the age of 8 (even though I had two older brothers), which is also the age when I started to have an overeating problem. Nobody was there to care for me or soothe me so I did it myself with food. Even now, at 30 years old, I still struggle with self soothing with food, especially now that I am in therapy and digging up some awfully painful stuff. I mother myself and others with food.

Medical care: I recently remembered an incident at the age of 5 when my older brother accidentally broke my arm. My mother had recently injured her back, so I went into her bedroom crying, and she told me to stop cying, mommy was in pain too, and that if I stopped crying mommy wouldn't be upset with me. Well, I couldn't stop crying, she was very upset with me, and the cycle continued. Two days later she took me to the doctor, and he couldn't understand why it took her 2 whole days to get me there: well, SHE was in pain, and her pain always came first.

To GraFXGrl re: "M" day, I am already getting an eye twitch and anxious about that terrible day, where my MNmother expects us to get down on our knees and profess our undying love, loyalty and devotion to her for the "role" she plays as a "loving mother" (her performance really is oscar worthy). Every spring it becomes harder and harder for me, since I am still in contact with this toxic *itch, and even putting up little boundaries consumes me with guilt and shame. Between "the holidays", my birthday (which is all about how SHE gave birth to me), mother's day, father's day (where she gets all jealous and makes us feel bad because the day is about our loving father), and her oh so holy birthday, I feel like everytime I turn the corner I am obligated to honor this crazy woman. It's disgusting. I don't know how to fake it anymore.
- Breaking Free

Anonymous said...

"My clinically diagnosed NPD FIL would say to his kids, when they got sick, "What did you want to go and do that for?"

similar to this...

i spent the first month of school every (3rd grade through freshman year) year dry heaving over the bathroom sink before school. this is because i was such a terrified and anxious child thanks to growing up in a dysfunctional family.
my unpd father would say "you are making YOURSELF sick." very helpful. i should have been offered therapy. normal loving parents would have been concerned and wanted to help me. hell, my mother was an elementary school teacher. she would have been m concerned if i were one of her students. there is nothing normal about your child being so nervous about school that she is sick for all of september every year. but it was MY fault. i just needed to chill apparently.

my younger sister had blinding migraines and unpd dad totally ignored her requests for medical attention. she (and he) didn't know they were migraines. she was just a kid. she could have had a freaking brain tumor.

Anonymous said...

Wow Aravis, I felt like I was reading my life story, except we didn't live in the sticks. The whole music lessons requirement and no other school activities thing. Dear Dad expecting us to wait outside when he drove by the designated spot because God forbid he should actually get out of the car to fetch us.

Dad was super pissed when he picked me up at the end of the school year only to find that my neatly packed boxes were in my dorm room and not on the curb at the designated spot. I told him that normal dads actually help their kids pack their stuff into boxes.

And who cares if kids freeze to death outside, it's our own damn fault for not growing furs. Back when I was still making excuses for mom, I didn't think to wonder why it took her 45 minutes to pick me up at the metro until one especially cold day I timed the ride and realized it only took mom 10 minutes to drive from the metro to home. When I asked why it took 45 minutes to drive to the metro, she said, "Oh well, you know... I have to wash my face, brush my teeth blah blah blah." I completely lost it and yelled at her about how cold it was outside. So now to this day mom repeatedly tells the story to her n-supplies how she was late JUST ONCE picking me up from the metro and I went absolutely postal.

Parents didn't attend church either but mom made sure we joined, which turned out to be a good thing for me. Once mom figured out I was having a social life with the church she immediately demanded that I drop out and not be friends with "all those irrational people", even threw a temper tantrum one Sunday. This was before I knew NPD and while I was used to mom changing on a dime, her constant anti-divinity rant in the morning to pro-divinity claims in the afternoon was confusing the heck out of me.

What a bunch of freaks.

Holland said...

Since the post on FORCING SUBMISSION of the 20th of February I went through a kind of shock. And still I am not back to normal. These comments on the post of disrespect for boundaries hit me again like a poker in my neck. Even as a mother of two children she had the nerves to go through my house and entering even the bathroom when I was taking a shower. And I didn't even had the thought that I could say something about that! Hell, what was left of me?! NM could enter our former house in the weekends, when DH and me were still in bed, entering our bedroom and then explaining herself that she was 'only' looking for us, but at 10 AM a 'normal' person would be expected to be out of bed (guilt imposing). I always felt so humiliated and so defenseless. But now I understand atleast what happened to me.
The peaking through the windows before entering the house. I hated it so much. Like we could be caught in some criminal act.
The invading comments in our marriage life. The comments on my eldest son, growing his hear long: I do not understand why you do not say anything about his hair... you can not let him go out on the streets with that kind of hair....
The comments on all my doings, my housekeeping, my parenting, my financial decisions, my friends. And only regarding my kids I was capable of giving normal reply. Maybe my mother instinct knew I had to protect my children? But all the other things, I couldn't. And know I understand why: she took away my human right to defend myself. I wasn't even boss in my own house when she came in.
I still praise the day, my birthday that I became 44 years, and since she did not got her way in my marriage, she told me that I was the lowest of the lowest, and there was not anybody on earth that was lower than me. That great sentence opened my eyes: I would never be good enough. That was the best present I ever got for my birthday. Al the other presents were presents she wanted to give, but were not my wishes. It was, for sure, not my wish to hear such horrible words from the part of the person you think she loves you. But it was the eye opener that gave me back my life. All these comments move me enormously, they help me to the same amount, and I am happy that I found you all.Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I've been there and it aint pretty. Mom sitting outside of the the baseball game in her car to make sure I was not going anywhere else and she could see me if I went out at intermission to speak with my classmates. Following me on dates even though I never gave her any reason to distrust me. Checking the mileage on the car before I was allowed to borrow it to go to Church. She knew just how many miles it would be back and forth. Boundaries, everything I did was because she wanted it. I had a diary she gave me for Christmas and would just write regular child type things in it. I found it in different places when I would go to write in it at night. She was reading it and was not very skilled at putting it back correctly. Hope she got her kicks on "what I had for breakfast this morning."

Aravis said...

Enilina - it is so healing for me to read your post and everyone elses' experiences, because growing up with MNs makes one think maybe the Nparents ARE really great and special, because they always act like anything they do for you is such a huge and amazing sacrifice. I know the Ns will never get it, but I appreciate hearing about others' experiences that show that our N-FOO are just petty, mean-spirited, vindictive people JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER petty, mean-spirited, vindictive N-FOO.

Mother's Day - that one is a toughie, because there are not sarcastic passive-aggressive mothers' day cards. Father's day is a lot easier, because there are many insulting Father's day cards and you can send one and pretend it is all meant in good fun. The last Father's day card I sent my MN-dad showed a couple of kids who had built a giant slingshot device, and tested it out with another kid who ended up plastered face-first into the house siding, wrecking the wall all to heck, and the pot-bellied, balding dad is sitting inside drinking a beer in a Lazy-boy recliner shouting "you damn kids keep it down out there"

The inside of the card says "thanks for always caring".

I tried for years to find something similar for Nmom, but good luck with THAT.

The poster who mentioned her Nmom deriding people for being overweight - wow, that was my Nmom to a T. She was in her mid-thirties and she was normal weight, but boy, let her see some poor twenty-something with a baby or little kids who was overweight, and she would just paint the whole generation with the brush of obesity. She would say things like "It is the YOUNG women who are always fat, the women MY AGE are usually much thinner" She was especially harsh on women with toddlers or babies, because SHE had lost her baby weight with my sister in 4 months - well, gee, lady, you were 19 YEARS OLD when you had my sister - it is a lot harder when you get older.

Ironically, she started putting on weight a few years later, as most of us do, and by the time she was 45 she was obese. She compared herself constantly to my sis after that, who is very thin and foolishly remained living next door to Nparents, and she would go on and on about how SHE never had to worry about her weight at all until she was 40....then when my sis approached 40 and was still thin, Nmom moved the date up to her never having to worry about her weight until 45, then it was menopause, then 50, then 55...WTF ? we have PHOTOGRAPHS of her. A quick scan of a couple photo albums chronicle her increasing girth from her late 30s on.

Each time after either my sis or I gave birth, and then had baby weight to lose, she would go on about how her baby weight just melted away with no effort on her part. She continued to do this after sis and I had finished having kids and were both back to being 120 lbs, like there was some sort of meritorious weight loss medal to be won - even after she was well over 200 lbs herself. It was surreal - like she hadn't looked in a mirror in 25 years. She had the oddest sort of entitlement sense that the universe owed her effortless slenderness.

Both Nparents allowed us no boundaries with our bodies and on food issues. They were hyper consumed with our weight, even though sis and I were significantly underweight all through childhood. Had they ever taken us to a pediatrician like normal parents, the doctor might have told them that. Nmom could not be bothered to get out of bed on school mornings when sis and I were in our early elementary years, so we were on our own to get something to eat before getting on the bus in the dark in below zero temps (cold northern climate) alone. We usually just grabbed a handful of cheerios or something. I remember being sick with hunger all morning at school for years. Then in the evening, we had Ndad going around being the food Nazi and monitoring what we took from the refrigerator or kitchen. He would follow us around and badger us "are you sure you NEED that orange? Cheese has a lot of fat in it. You are not hungry. You are developing poor eating habits and you will be fat later". Then he would grab himself an entire package of Oreos and lie on the couch eating the entire container in front of us. Once when I was younger (3 or 4 years old) and didn't know any better, I got out the Oreos one Saturday morning and sat on the couch to eat some while watching cartoons, and he rushed over and took them away, berating me soundly.

We learned to eat when he was not around. It was like being a member of the underground French Resistance in WW II. Later in life I toyed with joining the CIA or FBI because I figured I'd be great at infiltration and stealth. Even now, decades later, I hate having anyone watch me eat, I will only grocery shop by myself, and I only go out and buy clothes alone. I cannot stand having anyone with me when I try on clothes, or even shoes, and if a salesperson greets me as I enter a store, then does not immediately leave me alone, the anxiety sends me back out the door. I'd like to hear from anyone out there who also, as a result of not being allowed any boundaries cannot stand to have anyone with them while they do normal everyday things. Also if you managed to get over it, and how you did it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

My issue with food was a little different, my NM never cared weather we ate right or not. I never really developed a normal appetite. By the time I was in my "growing years" I just ate when I felt like it - I was very depressed(at 13 - that's a sign of a healthy family). I was always scarey skinny (and went to the doc several times about it - none of the B*@tards caught anything, failure to thrive, depression, or my thyriod disorder! )
And only because I pestered them to take me. Finally caved - NM had no trouble taking me to the doc for a sniffle if she wanted to go shopping afterwards (even when I was really sick she would drag me around "shopping") I was just an excuse (so when she spent money -she could blame it on me, "D" would alwas get mad). But if she didn't want to go anywhere - I could have been on my deathbed and -no doc.

She used have a good figure (back when she was a young bloodsucking vampire b****) and that went to sh*% because she is extemely lazy (no excersize & hardly any house work) and eats only junk food (not exagerating here - half the time a coke and candy car for breakfast!!!) She has the most unhealthly lifestyle (and hygine -eww) of anyone I have ever known.
So I always got snide remarks for being so thin (I would think - then take to the doc b*&^%$!). Teachers always thought I was anorexic (I looked it! literally bones). Did D intervene? Nope. He didn't really care like I used to think he did. He never lifted a finger against "her." Its a pathetic man who will not help a sick child of even his own flesh and blood.

I remember when I moved out - I gained about 25 lbs in 6 months -Coinsidence? I don't think so. I had never felt so healthly in my life! I finally started to "thrive"

Anonymous said...

(or just Google: You Carry the Cure in Your Heart)

I've submitted this article a few times during the past year or so in my posts.....and since I get it out and reread it often....I thought some of you might be encouraged and validated also. Though there is no specific reference to Narcissism, I doubt any of you would not recognize what has happened to you (and by whom...)

It so sickens me to read (and to remember) all the pain and confusion we were subjected to as children. My heart and soul is with almost each we each deal with the aftermaths of our existence.... Putting the pieces together and making stabs at building (or rebuilding) the lives we never had. I mark my days...and hope and pray that I live long enough to die knowing why I lived. (That sounds depressed...but it isn' is meant to be 'purposeful' KNOW that I was important to those who love small ways...that I gave more than I took...)
Hang in there all of you....'Exhaling' all of this history IS cleansing.....but don't forget to BREATHE! Spring is sorta/kinda around the corner.....

Anonymous said...

krl, thats a really good article. I think its true what it said about people stay in the role that they are assigned by their abusers. Its all we know really - esp. those of us who were secluded as children. What made the biggest difference for me was I felt I had to choose - serve God or serve a hateful, vile family (wow hard choice there). When you realize that they want to own you and detroy your soul, as a Christian at least I feel this way, you cannot abide. They do not have a right to what Christ has purchased. Pearls to swine indeed.

Anonymous said...

Found a good article on narcissism on Slate today:


Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ Mar 18, 2009 8:43:00 AM

“Anyone out there ever hide injuries, treat them yourselves, with or without sib help? Due to fear of getting in trouble?”

Yup, those little white sticky things that hold your skin together instead of real stitches were my savior! I’m amazed that I’ve never gotten the tetanus bacteria since I’ve scratched and cut myself with dirty, rusty metal too many times to count. I’m also amazed at how the human body can breakdown and absorb foreign objects stuck under the skin! I would have had to ask for a needle or tweezers to get the stuff out so I was just stuck with it.

“I walked MILES all over town. Even when I was really little [4 and 5], I was already regularly sent out alone on foot. So it felt totally normal to me.”

Ditto again. Kicked out after making breakfast (e.g., cereal) and told not to come back until dark.

“No help with homework or any school related problems/issues. Just to ask was considered an assault on my part.”

I made the mistake of fretting over cursive writing. I was trying to explain what cursive writing was (I didn’t know it was also called script) and even demonstrated it. Since my NMom had never heard of “cursive,” I was punished for making it up.


Anonymous said...

Aravis @ Mar 19, 2009 6:54:00 AM
“I will only grocery shop by myself, and I only go out and buy clothes alone. I cannot stand having anyone with me when I try on clothes, or even shoes, and if a salesperson greets me as I enter a store, then does not immediately leave me alone, the anxiety sends me back out the door. I'd like to hear from anyone out there who also, as a result of not being allowed any boundaries cannot stand to have anyone with them while they do normal everyday things. “

Not…do…them…alone? It has never, ever occurred to me to do these things any other way! I thought I was just self-sufficient, but maybe I’ve taken “alone is better” to an extreme?


Anna Valerious said...

Interesting. The Slate article was written by the woman who interviewed me for an "O" magazine article that was never published. Ms. Yoffe had interviewed multiple people for that particular article. Apparently, "O" didn't accept the article. Things that make ya go, "hmmmmmm". Ms. Yoffe has a good grasp on this subject.

Anonymous said...

From the last article posted:

"Because the caregiver lacks an empathetic understanding of the baby, the baby's ability to become an empathetic person is impaired."

I am having trouble with this and I dare to say I disagree.
Then why are so many of Ns children OVERLY empathetic- most of us were never around any empathy. Empathy is natural.
This seems like a scapegoat to me. Some people just have rotten souls. We just want an excuse for it I guess.

Anonymous said...

Good article though.

Anonymous said...

"I know the Ns will never get it, but I appreciate hearing about others' experiences that show that our N-FOO are just petty, mean-spirited, vindictive people JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER petty, mean-spirited, vindictive N-FOO."

You nail it Aravis. That is so helpful for me too. Thank you to everyone, and of course to Anna first and foremost for her wonderful blog. Not only am I having such an uncanny and continual feeling of recognition with others experiences while I read all these posts [the latest "ah ha" moment: the NM also HATED overweight people and always talked about it and I could never understand why she even CARED what other people's body types were... WTF?], I am finding myself again and again realizing what total ROBOTS these N's are, just so alike to one another in the most bizarre and specific ways. It is like whatever their real personality ever was is completely gone, long ago, if they ever had one, despite what they lead us to believe. And being so low as to pit themselves against children - controlling food and transportation and withholding medical and other typical life assistance while constantly LYING about "reasons". It is just truly beyond words how pathetically cowardly and cruel, no wonder my memories can feel unbelievable, even though I lived them!

Clearly the N's are so very similar in their little strategies, ploys and excuses, I guess like all bullies. But the N's are always the first ones to promote the idea of themselves as "special". My family myth always promoted the idea that we were "superior" to other families, and very unique in a GOOD way. All of these unhealthy and abusive differences from normal folk that we are talking about here were always shrouded in an air of superiority: like having to walk everywhere was somehow spun as just another thing defining "our ways" as "superior". Yet as individuals we were run down endlessly and made to KNOW we were lesser people as individuals constantly. We were continually asked "who do you think you are", and we were "taken down a peg" for every single personal achievement or enjoyment. So anything really ACTUALLY special, like a school achievement, was thwarted or sabotaged or covertly punished. Like everything N's do, it makes NO LOGICAL SENSE, and is self contradicting. So I grew up certain I was personally deeply defective, but from an unquestionably "superior" family.

I don't have kids myself but many of my friends do, and for me that has been a huge eye opener: seeing day to day typical family life and just being amazed by seeing people do all these "landmine" type of things like they were no big deal at all: rides, medical care, helping homework, eating meals, inquiring about friends or school life, supporting hobbies and interests, and none of it is a big emotionally loaded mine field of power struggles and out and out turf battles for the adults to "win". This is why regular people do NOT tend to get what N is. They think child abuse is limited to being hit or yelled at in an uncontrollable way, and probably only when the child really actually screws up first or when a parent is drunk or something. They don't get that it is being mercilessly pitted against an adult who is literally and usually quite soberly scheming and plotting to thwart and sabotage you in every way, no matter how well you behave, and trap you into situations so they can be punishing and demeaning and belittling.

I thank Anna heartily for this blog, it is an amazing and wonderful thing that I know must take loads of work, and I also want to say thanks to all the people who write these great comments that help me figure out the way out of this labyrinth.

Peace to all. I feel a great solidarity with you all in our struggles and triumphs.

[an off topic aside that just occurred to me: I had a dollhouse and never played "family" - I played ORPHANAGE]

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

I just stumbled across this blog and I am SO grateful. I married a wonderful man a year ago, and as part of the package got a manipulative, malignant narcissistic mother-in-law. All of the blog entries and subsequent comments have been eerily familiar. Unfortunately, there’s no way I can cut off all contact with these people at the moment (MIL is most certainly MN, FIL is either N or just great at enabling and denial). However, instead of sharing some horror stories that I know you can all relate to, I was wondering if anyone would be able to give me some real-world advice? I need some good ammunition for dealing with this woman, and I need it fast. I’m currently in a situation where she’s backing me into a corner to engage in a conversation with her about “why I don’t like her” (her words), and I’m concerned that she’s hoping to see it escalate into full-scale warfare. Are there any phrases that you’ve found work well, when repeated over again? Any tactics to minimize involvement, without the N realizing that they are being actively avoided? I’m going to have to see my NMIL in 2 weeks, and if I don’t have some good tools in my arsenal to protect myself with, I believe that some really ugly sh*t might go down. I would be happy to provide more details, if needed. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

I just stumbled across this blog and I am SO grateful. I married a wonderful man a year ago, and as part of the package got a manipulative, malignant narcissistic mother-in-law. All of the blog entries and subsequent comments have been eerily familiar. Unfortunately, there’s no way I can cut off all contact with these people at the moment (MIL is most certainly MN, FIL is either N or just great at enabling and denial). However, instead of sharing some horror stories that I know you can all relate to, I was wondering if anyone would be able to give me some real-world advice? I need some good ammunition for dealing with this woman, and I need it fast. I’m currently in a situation where she’s backing me into a corner to engage in a conversation with her about “why I don’t like her” (her words), and I’m concerned that she’s hoping to see it escalate into full-scale warfare. Are there any phrases that you’ve found work well, when repeated over again? Any tactics to minimize involvement, without the N realizing that they are being actively avoided? I’m going to have to see my NMIL in 2 weeks, and if I don’t have some good tools in my arsenal to protect myself with, I believe that some really ugly sh*t might go down. I would be happy to provide more details, if needed. Thank you!!!

Holland said...

To GraFXGrl Mar 19, 11:17

Your posting was:
"Because the caregiver lacks an empathetic understanding of the baby, the baby's ability to become an empathetic person is impaired."

'I am having trouble with this and I dare to say I disagree.
Then why are so many of Ns children OVERLY empathetic- most of us were never around any empathy. Empathy is natural.
This seems like a scapegoat to me. Some people just have rotten souls. We just want an excuse for it I guess.'

I would like to add something to your post to think over.

In my first posting on Anna's blog (Nov. 8, 2008)I posted the following:

'And finally I would like to ask you all a question. My sister, that became N too, was a baby that cried, cried and cried from the moment she came out, until she was about 2 years old. My mom stated once she wanted to hit my sis on the head with a bottle to get her quiet.
When I was born (1,5 years later)I was a baby you only can dream of. Smiling, sleeping, quiet.
Since my sis became N and never got moms 'loving'attention as a baby. I was as sweet as a doll, mom proud, showing me around and I got moms 'loving'attention.
I thought maybe there is a link.
Do you recognize these situations?'

I never saw any reaction on this question. I wonder if you recognize something in it. If a person is nice, a perfect doll as a baby, he/she will become the scapegoat. The one that is an attention seeking not attention getting, unhappy baby will become N him/herself.

I truly think there is something in the way our NM reacted to us due to our way of being a baby that influenced our way of viewing the world (in the N-way or healthy way at the start).

I also do not agree (like you) with the first statement, in m.h.o. it doesn't make sense in the way how empathic we were all made by the N's. Always thinking about others first, and even never about ourselves. I do not think either that we just want to have an excuse for it. I truly think that there is something that happens between the NM and the baby in the first 8 to 10 months that triggers the way we become.
Thanks for bringing this up.

Anna Valerious said...


My situation growing up was the flip side of yours. I was the first born. I was a dream baby. Very quiet. Non-demanding. Consequently, I was left alone to myself for extended periods of time even as a tiny infant. This is according to my mother's own account. I was an unwanted baby. She treated me that way.

My sister, born three years after me, and was a fuzzy, demanding baby from day one. My mother bought a rocking chair and rocked her for hours. Mother demanded my dad buy an aquarium with fish to entertain my sister as she was being rocked over my mother's shoulder. She breast fed my sister. I was bottle fed. Who turned out to be a narcissist? The fussy, demanding and coddled baby, that's who.

Sister was the wanted child...the child my mother tricked my father into conceiving. My sister came out blonde-haired which was a point of pride for my mother as well since she is dark-haired and of Mexican descent. These account for some of the reasons my mother found enough patience to deal with a fussy and demanding baby. My sister was like a little monkey and hung off my mother for the first three years of her life. And for those times my mother was tired of dealing with my sister there was always me as the fall-back entertainment center and baby-sitter.

There is NO formula that explains these life forms other than at some point they choose to be what they are.

Anna Valerious said...

Hi Emme,

The biggest mistake you could make would be to engage your MIL in any kind of "discussion" along the line she is demanding. I'm sure others will have suggestions...and I'm sure I could come up with some if I thought about it for a bit, but I'll share what is coming off the top of my head.

Key word: disengage. One way to possibly do that would be to ask questions and refuse to answer a question except with a question of your own. Or with a non apology like, "I'm sorry you think that's the case." Or with a complete denial of whatever her assertion is. Truth is never the issue when engaging with a lie if necessary.

Such as...

"What don't you like me?"

you respond with:

"Whatever makes you think that?"

"You said such and so when we were at such and such place."

"Oh, my! You took that all wrong. That isn't at all what I meant." Or, "I'm sorry you took it wrong."

Bullshit her. I have found this to be a very effective tool to keep a narcissist at bay. They hate truth. So if you feed them lies they tend to be mollified much more easily.

Stay emotionally disengaged. Don't invest yourself into the emotions she will try to provoke in you. Walk away at the soonest opportunity.

Aravis said...

Enilina said..."My parents invaded boundaries in other ways such as talking, talking, talking about themselves constantly, forcing my sister and I to listen to their dramas hours everyday. It felt like assault My dad would bite me and my mom tried to talk about her sex life with her daughters"

This was my family EXACTLY. Ndad would grope Nmom in front of us, grabbing her breasts or pubic area right at the dinner table or in public, like he owned her body, and she would tell us how she and Ndad had sex all the time...ack - from when we were in grade school on! Now, any idiot knows that even in highly functional families, the imagining of ones' parents (or grandparents) having sex is completely revolting to children. I think that is well established. To hear them talk, it was like they were the poster couple for the "Joy of Sex". Well, sis told me about four years ago that Nmom had confided to her that frankly, she would be happy to never have sex that both she and her BFF (who was a widow) agreed that one husband in a lifetime was enough because sex was messy and unpleasant.

We also had to hear about their wonderfulness constantly, and Ndad used to entrap us all in a car and make us listen to his woes and minor triumphs at work. Even at age 10, I figured out that the only constant in all his failed employment relationships was HIM. But no, "The Man" was out to get poor old Ndad. He finally got into a job that required international travel, and boy did Nmom jump on that bandwagon, getting herself a passport and essentially seeing the world for the price of her airfare. There is a major multinational corporation in the Midwest that does not know it literally spent tens of thousands of dollars paying for the international entertainment of the parasitic wife of one of their employees. Nparents never took sis and I along, no, that would cost money, and from the time we were 10 or 11, we were free house-sitters while they jet-setted around the world for weeks at a time. They would take a million pictures during their trips and we would be captive audiences for the slide shows when they returned. How we dreaded seeing that damned screen set up in the living room with the shades drawn, because it meant we were going to have another fun-filled evening watching the Nparents fabulous life show and hearing their endless, insanely boring monologues about who was where and what they saw and how marvelous their trips were, all in this gloating happy voice. As the years passed, they developed quite a collection of slides, so the shows got longer and longer. We only escaped once we could drive and had jobs. I sure had to "work" a lot of week-end evenings.

Nmom was on one of these trips when her father became terminally ill, and despite him giving her handouts her whole life (which were described by her as "loans" because "her father didn't believe in just giving his children money" - although he told me she had never repaid a single one) - she could not be bothered to come back when he was dying, no she was enjoying her European vacation too much, despite repeated calls from sis and I telling her if she wanted to see her father before he passed she needed to come back NOW (she didn't).

Once we were in college (paying our own tuition, fees, etc. by working minimum wage waitressing jobs) Nparents said we could come with them on their trips "if we paid our own way". RIGHT. I could afford Europe, or a semester of tuition. Let me think.

I digress. Badly - I was going to say yes, the constant barrage of talk talk talk was exactly like assault. Hearing about Ndad's self-serving little stories about his issues at work made me want to leap from a car going 55 MPH so many times; hearing about Nmom's croissant at a sidewalk cafe on the Siene each morning in Paris, or how BRAVE she was to ride the Underground in London BY HERSELF, or her experiences working at the Federal Reserve bank for the entire 4 months of her life that she was employed, or her 18 hours of labor with sis OVER AND OVER AND OVER again... criminy. Okay, I have to stop now before I reach for the vodka.

Selfish, stupid bastards.

Anonymous said...

Meg, you are right about the other N's in Persuasion.. I was only thinking of the younger sister, but the father and older sister also fit the description. The father has some hilarious lines in the movie, he is so blatant and so clueless lol.. I will have to watch it again!

Aravis said...

Emme - Anna has it exactly correct. There is NOTHING you can do/say with a MN. Its like Miranda rights - "Anything you say can and will be used against you".

A strategy I've employed is to ALWAYS realize that "Just because they ask the question does not mean you have to answer it". Say N-MIL asks you why you are keeping her son away from his "family" (that would be HER, not YOU)- a good response is "you know what, I seem to have misplaced my keys. I thought they were here but they area not. I better go be sure they are not in the ignition".

NM-MIL will also be likely to send out emissaries on her behalf, so you may have a friendly-seeming in-law trying to extract the same information or badger you into becoming MIL's supplicant. They will say things like "MIL is upset that you and DH do not come by for Sunday dinner every week, it is our family tradition". An example of a Bad Response : "All of you sycophants treating MIL like she is the Center of the Known Universe makes me ill for days on end which interferes with my getting to work on Mondays". Good Response: "This is really great Planter Punch. I think I will go get another glass of it".

Once you have kids, protect them from grandma. They try to turn the kids against the normal parents. It is easiest for them to do if MIL convinces you to let her babysit. My Nparents lived next door to sis and her kids their whole lives and sis's kids are paying the price now. Not Ns, but certainly full-fledged N-enablers. Even if you teach them that grandma is somewhat odd, they are still learning that it is acceptable for relatives to treat them badly.

For example, I never tell my kids that "grandpa love them". Grandpa doesn't love anyone but his grandiose image, and if I tell them he loves them absent any behavior on his part that is loving, I will set them up to be enablers. I actually DO tell them that "mommy has many dangerously petty, psychotic, and vindictive relatives who are unsafe at any speed. It is mommy's job to protect you from people like that so no, you will never meet most of them".

Seems to be working out well so far.

Holland said...

You are probably right and there is no explanation why we become as we become, why we do what we do. But I wanted to add that nor my sister nor me we were wanted children, according to NM's information. In that time there was almost no possibility to have none. We, and children in general, were seen as disturbing creatures. But I was just less disturbing in the first period, and became a pain in the butt at the moment a started to express my being. I also was left for hours and hours, and she did not have to take care of me. So convenient (her words). I was just a nice doll to show around if there was an audience. She did not (take)care for my sister nor for me.

Anonymous said...

Your story about the camera reminds me of one of my own favorite stories. I had mild acne as a teen. Being rather a tomboy I didn't particularly care. My mother, however, saw it as a major illness that had to be fixed at all costs. Now, first off, I really didn't want to spend time and energy treating something that didn't bother me at all. Second, I have very sensitive skin and often react to skin products.

So this one time my mother comes home with (yet another) acne face wash. I, by this time, was getting a bit tired of this game. So at first I tried my usual tactic of ignoring it. This time she caught on and confronted me. I said, flat-out, that I didn't care and wasn't going to use it. She got mad. She had bought it as a PRESENT for me and she had NO IDEA that I didn't want it and how dare I waste HER money and I had NEVER told her I didn't care about the acne. Now this just baffled me. First off, upon finding out that the recipient of a gift doesn't need it, most people would apologize, maybe even offer to take it back and get something else. Second, how on earth did she not know I didn't want to do anything? I had told her before that it didn't bother me - multiple times. And even if I hadn't, most people can figure out that when someone repeatedly shows no interest in dealing with something they don't really care.

Anonymous said...

This will probably overlap what Anna has already written, but here's what I saw posted online if you have to deal with Ns. This applied to a public setting such as meetings:

Set some boundaries and stick to them.
Sit on the other side of the room or have people between you.
Only answer questions and do not answer any questions that do not have to do with the business at hand.
Recognize when you are being baited and don't take the bait. Walk away.

Anonymous said...


I 100% agree with Anna.

I'd also add:

Never be alone with them, always have witnesses or be in earshot of others. Stay out of corners! {i wish I was joking!} Corners of rooms, corner seats, every kind of corner! I've loudly repeated their words [so others can hear] when necessary, or made a point to pull others into the conversation and repeated what was just said if it was particularly outrageous.

Always have your own means of transportation/physical escape - ALWAYS!!

Have some kind of PRE-PLANNED "ace" at hand - some multipurpose non-negotiable excuse [invent if you need to or exaggerate something real] like a bad back or terrible work deadline, for anything that may come up.

Play dumb to all hints, cues, suggestions etc, even if they are reasonable. Oddly enough, N's rarely dare to be direct so if you ignore cues they tend to give up.

I'm sure everyone's style is different depending on what is comfortable for them, I personally go the BS/play dumb "miss cheerful" route, though I am also very firm [as I smile pleasantly and vacantly].

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

wow - the posts about rifling through your things, your room, popping in while you're in the bathroom - all SOOOO familiar.

After I was first married my mom, when she visited, ALWAYS made some excuse that she wanted to change clothes in our bedroom. I could hear drawers opening and it pissed me off. ex NH was OBLIVIOUS!! (of course he hacked my computer towards the end HIMSELF...)

So, next time she came I put notes in all the drawers:

She walked out the bedroom that time madder than a wet hen. She didn't speak to me and we all went to dinner then - where she proceeded to throw some tantrum about me being a hateful child... and she wanted to leave. I asked her if by any chance it was the notes I left for her in the bedroom. She refused to cop to it. When we got home I showed my Dad and he said I was "mean." I told him - this is MY ADULT home with MY husband - yet its OK for her to dig through my things? Her excuse when I lived at home was it was HER house. Well, this is MY house and I wouldn't dream of doing that to someone else."

My Dad got it but he was so beated down by my mother there wasn't much he could do. My mother stayed (of course) another day but refused to speak to me. When she left she stared at me on the way out and I just smiled at her and said "BUSTED." She didn't come to visit for about 3-4 years after that. Phew!

Anonymous said...

Meg @ Mar 17, 2009 8:21:00 PM:

[Jane Austen, "Persuasion"]
>it's my favourite movie.<

Another fine example: try (re-)reading J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" with a narc spotter's eye, notably "The Prisoner of Azkaban". Contrast the Dursley family's behaviour with the Weasleys, the nature of the Dementors, the personality of Voldemort, etc, etc. And that for a series of children's books!

Anonymous said...


"When she left she stared at me on the way out and I just smiled at her and said "BUSTED." She didn't come to visit for about 3-4 years after that. Phew!"

LOl!!Another great technique for getting rid of them!


Anonymous said...

My IL's are N as well. My FIL is definitely MN and not sure about MIL. After 23 years of marriage, I told my husband that I just couldn't be around them anymore. I ceased going to any family gatherings or anything where they were present. I told my husband if he wanted to visit them he would have to go without me. This was before I had ever heard of NPD, just knew there was something terribly wrong with these people and knew it had done serious damage to our marriage (my dh was an enabler BIG TIME).
This decision on my part helped my dh begin to see the problems with his parents. Then we researched NPD and eventually went NC (the MIL still stalks us). Our lives are so much happier now.
My advice regarding NIL's is STAY AWAY! There's no way to engage in rational dialogue with them and you're also dealing with family dynamics that were firmly in place before you were ever on the scene. It's really your dh's job to protect you from his NM, not your job to protect yourself.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh, yes, The Adolescent Acne Agony. . .I remember it well. I, too, had mild acne vulgaris as a teen. It did bother me. Doesn't it bother the majority of teens? Tomboys aside :)

MY NM's approach was to buy one of those metal blackead removers - with the little punches at each end. She would periodically require me to lie on the kitchen table (very uncomfortable) while she applied the blackhead remover to my face. I protested these sessions -- weakly -- never prudent to defy NM openly.

I felt like an ingrate for resenting the whole idea. Afterall my mother was concerned for me. HA! I was a very attractive girl and I represented her. Maintaining my appearance was important to her because having such goodlooking children reflected well on her. For some strange reason. God knows she didn't cherish us for the people we were on the inside.

In my mid-thirties I went to a dermatologist for treatment of a minor problem. At one point I said, "I have such terrible skin." His jaw dropped and he exclaimed, "You have wonderful skin!" With those words, he erased one little pixel of the negative self-mage cultivated in me by NM.


Anonymous said...

Thank you all SO much for the responses (and sorry about the double post)! Everything you said makes so much sense, and in thinking about it I can recall seeing the same strategies applied by other family members who are non-N...such as my husband's wonderful grandmother (NMIL's MIL), who is NEVER alone with the N at a family gathering. Luckily, I think I may have a few allies on this side of the family who can teach me some coping mechanisms.

Anna- I just want to thank you for bravely sharing your own personal experiences, and for creating this space for others. Although I know that my NMIL is sick and twisted, it's comforting to know that others are dealing with the same thing, and somehow a bit of a relief to understand what makes her tick. I'm so lucky to have found a team of advisors and confidantes!

Marj aka Thriver said...

What an amazing dialogue going on here! You know, I had this creepy feeling for years that my N mother was really more abusive than my pedophile father. I'm starting to understand why I had that hunch.

I maintain the BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. I would like to encourage you and your readers to consider submitting posts. We have another edition coming up in April. Details are at my blog. Thanks for considering.

Anonymous said...

"When she left she stared at me on the way out and I just smiled at her and said "BUSTED." She didn't come to visit for about 3-4 years after that. Phew!"

I'm so glad it turned out well for you! Calling an N out on her shit can be a very risky move, because you never know what form the payback will take. Luckily, they often believe denying you their company is a horrible punishment. I haven't heard a peep from my Nsis in years, and I sleep just fine. Of course, I'm never letting her know that.

Selfish Ingrate
(who is no dummy!)

Aravis said...

I have a question for you all - okay a couple of them, to see if these are common Nparent experiences.

(1) My parents just delighted in telling sis and I that we were "accidents" and "unplanned", and Nmom in particular liked to tell me (I'm younger by a year) that she "wanted to go to work but then found she was pregnant with me". Sis says it is Nmom's excuse for never getting off her butt and finishing college or getting a job or doing anything useful. I think Nmom was just being a narcissistic jerk.

(2) Nmom delighted in telling sis and I (we were in high school at the time), after her many fabulous European jaunts with ndad, that "you know, I missed you girls, but I really missed my dog". She repeated that little gem incessantly, and for decades after Ndad had retired so she no longer could afford to go anywhere. It just changed to "you know, when I was traveling with your father I missed you girls, but I REALLY missed my dog". The last straw was when she said that to me in front of DD and I finally told her she sounded like a head case saying that and if I ever thought something like that I'd go get intensive inpatient therapy.

Ironically, my dog had to be put down due to cancer which was unresponsive to chemo, a week before Nmom died, and after Nmom's funeral, I looked at my husband and said "you know, I guess I might miss Nmom, but I REALLY MISS MY DOG". I've never actually seen someone snort wine out their nose with laughter before that.

Anonymous said...

Aravis -

My NM sat me down one day for a "talk". About my future. I mean, that was the claim. She told me that now times were different, and a woman could do whatever she liked. For instance, in her case, if she had to do it all over again she would have NEVER HAD KIDS. [emphasis mine, she said this all in a pseudo concerned/helpful mother-daughter talk special voice] She speculated dreamily on how wonderful her life would have been without us.

I had heard many variations of this as a child. Such as how only my dead father "had wanted children", not her. In a classic N turnabout, when we all really left home, she spent the rest of her life trying to get us to live near her or even [I shudder] WITH her again. No more talk about not wanting us, that stopped the moment were weren't around. After we left she suddenly started to refer to her "deep maternal feelings", after all, she couldn't help it could she? She was a mother! [even writing this makes my skin crawl! I have to try not to vomit on the keyboard] She implied we were cruelly depriving her of expressing her "maternal love" by not visiting often enough. That of course doesn't mean she ceased to be abusive. She just wanted better access, like in the good old days.

Typical N, switch on a dime with a completely different story, and if you mention the abandoned tactic, they'd explode.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at
Mar 20, 2009 6:34:00 AM

Yes, Yes, Yes. Dementors - those dark faceless creatures who suck every joy, every happy thought out of your life and leave you with nothing but fear.

I especially loved that Professor Umbridge who took over Hogwarts in Order of the Phoenix was a class A Narcissist.

So lovely and fluffy and pink, but spreading terror, rules, oppression in the nicest possible way of course.

I've often thought that J.K.Rowling must have been an ACON judging by the terrors that poor Harry had to put up with from his own Uncle and Aunt who were obsessed with their own son and hated Harry.

Yet she kept sending Harry back home when he was loved by so many at Hogwarts - how could anyone do that to a child?

OK, getting carried away again... I know its only a story. lol

PS. Just have to say one more thing, Golden Compass - Mrs Coulter cutting children's souls away from them but doing it in such a devious way that no-one suspects she is in fact evil.

Anonymous said...

Thank God you all were here today! I really needed to read all of you.

I just had a final confrontation with my Nparentals.

I never thought my dad was more than an enabler before, but now I think he is a subservient MN, MNmother being the dominant. Is there such a thing? Not that it matters.

Background- I have been in therapy for sometime and finally thought I had a handle on dealing with the Nparentals: Be detached, return only noncommittal answers, and GET OUT AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE!!!!

Unfortunately, my daughter and grandchildren have been living there for 2 years for financial reasons - they came to our city under emergency conditions and my parents had a better house in a better neighborhood with a better school and the money to help support them until my daughter got back on her feet.

My daughter has finally gotten herself straightened out. She has a job, a car and much improved self-esteem. So of course, the relationship with the MNfemale has deteriorated lately. My daughter and I actually decided yesterday that she and the kids would come live with me. She will help me financially and the kids will be less exposed to the MN's nastiness.

This morning I went to pick up my grandson (7) to join my granddaughter (5) and me for the rest of the day. I violated a basic tenant - I didn't have my car with me.

I had gone to breakfast with daughter and granddaughter and she dropped us back off. I've been using my dad's car on days I take the children because my car is old and not safe.

MNmother was in a nasty mood- going after my grandson. I engaged in a stupid disagreement which seriously escalated out of my control. I actually had the nerve to try to correct her- I did not like the way she was talking to me.

She insisted I was distorting an episode that had happened with the grandson in the middle of the night. When I repeated that the issue was not the episode but that I was objecting to the nasty way she was talking to me, the situation deteriorated.

The next thing I know, my father is explaining the episode to me, and when I tried to explain that that was not the problem, he yelled at me to shut up and listen. Twice!! I am 57 years old!!! They are 78 and still trying to act as if I am a child they can control. At which point I lost my temper!!!

I screamed at them at the top of my lungs that I had had enough of being talked to like this, that there was such a thing as NO Contact which I was going to do and I would not come to their F**ing funerals! I got my grandchildren and walked out.

I got their next door neighbor to drive us home. MNmother did come out as I was talking and offer me my father's car. I just said no, thank you and got in the neighbors car.

As soon as I got home, I came to read the blog for strength and support. I just love all of you so much. I sometimes feel that you are my true family - you say what I feel, and help me sort things out.

SOOOOO, no, Emme, there is no way to deal with them. They will get you no matter how strong or prepared you feel you are. They are the professionals at this. You will never win!

By the way, those of you who ask about M'Day- go back and read not only Anna's posts on M'day (Mother’s Day Sucks – It’s in her list of labels; there are 5 related posts) but also all of the replies.

I keep the funniest ones of them on a word document that I keep notes on whenever I read Anna's blog. One of my favorites is from Jordie:

"Jordie said... Every Mother's Day I go to visit my mother's grave... because deep, deep down, I know she is a really nice person.
Apr 14, 2008 2:15:00 AM"

The absolutely best one is one I haven’t been able to track down to properly credit -

"The poster said-
I too once sent my Nmom a sort of rude card on Smothers Day and it still makes me crack up to think of it. Mine said: 'To someone who has been like a mother to me.'"

I wish I could find the one about the obituary written by an MN’s family; I took great comfort in rewriting it with my MNmother’s name and details.

I feel much better now, I'm going to take the kids to the park and truly enjoy the rest of my day. God bless you all.

Anonymous said...

I found the obituary link.

I love it! Although I expect the MNmother to outlive me, I really enjoyed rewriting the obituary with her name.

MNfather probably won't last another year due to health conditions. He wants no funeral, no viewings, no notifications. No problem here!

Anonymous said...

Aravis wrote:

"she was enjoying her European vacation too much, despite repeated calls from sis and I telling her if she wanted to see her father before he passed she needed to come back NOW (she didn't)."

At least your N-mom was in a foreign country. My N-sis couldn't even be bothered to walk out of her bedroom into the next room when my dad passed to tell him goodbye. And he supported her for at least 20 years. The witch.

Anonymous said...

"My parents just delighted in telling sis and I that we were "accidents" and "unplanned" "

Oh wow. Not quite the same but very similar - my NMother once told me that when my dad died (I was two years old), my sister and I suddenly became "precious". She said that, up until that moment, it wouldn't have mattered if me or my sister had died, because she could just have had another baby to replace us. But with my dad gone, she suddenly had to look after us properly because then she wouldn't have been able to get pregnant again.

She told me this (with no witnesses, obviously) in the weirdest, deadpan, pseudo-loving voice. For a long time I was so freaked out I couldn't bring myself to believe she had actually said something that cold.

Regarding boundaries in general, yes yes on the hot-water monitoring, telephone monitoring, etc etc etc.

But the thing that scares me the most is not the physical boundaries they trespass but the emotional ones. In my opinion, I have an absolute right to be separate from anyone I choose to be separate from - I have a right to live a life free from intrusions and without reference to the opinions of any particular person if I choose. To me, this is an essential right the same as my right to draw breath.

But once the N has noticed your existence and clocked you on their N-radar, they feel they have a right to communicate with you and know what you are thinking and doing no matter whether you want them to or not. They seem to feel this is their right in the same way as the right to breathe. If you say to an N "Please go away, I want to be without you" they react with ridicule, as if you've said "I want to live in a pink marshmallow fairy castle on the moon" - like, the idea of being without them is a stupid idealistic nonsense that is Never Going To Happen. They seem to think this even if they hardly know you.

My MNeighbours were furious when they found out I could get in and out of my own apartment without them knowing. They seem to feel they have an absolute right to know whether I'm in or out. Not for any particular purpose though - just to make it completely clear to me that they know what I'm doing. Just for the power. Just so that you can't ever say "no" to them, even implicitly. Just for the sense that they can "tower over" you any time they want and to keep you on the defensive all the time.

Anyone who can think like this is unbelievably dangerous because psychic privacy is just as important as physical privacy, in my opinion - if not more.

Sarah said...

I have question. When a non-narcissist marries a narcissist, is it typical for them to eventually rub off on them? I'm asking because my friend's husband is an obvious N, but she has been doing things that seem to describe narcissism too, but less obvious. Don't know if she has always been this way or if she and her husband were attracted to each other because they both are.

Disrepect for boundaries is her biggest issue. An example: I told her my mom was going to have the kids for the whole weekend and since my husband and I couldn't afford to go anywhere, we were going to have a romantic weekend at home. This was emphasized and she knew what our plans were.

Did it stop her from calling? No. In fact, she acknowledged in her voice mail that she knew were were having our special weekend, but wondered if she could drop something off. I didn't call back.

She showed up at our door and knocked, then she knocked again! She just wanted to drop off some extra silverware she didn't want. Of course, she couldn't just leave it there and go. It was as if she wanted to prove that she was important enough that we would put a hold on our romantic weekend for her.

That is just one example. She doesn't have the arrogance that N's have, but the boundaries issue is a pretty big deal.

Anna Valerious said...

When a non-narcissist marries a narcissist, is it typical for them to eventually rub off on them?Close and prolonged contact with a narcissist can often result in picking up some of their bad behaviors ourselves which is one of my arguments for cutting off contact with narcissists...they are contagious to greater or lesser amounts depending on our own disposition and character. While it is possible your friend picked up her disrespect for boundaries from her N spouse it is just as likely she has always been this way. If she never has had a clear conception of where others boundaries are then she would likely not notice this lack of respect for boundaries in a prospective mate...making her selection of a narcissist to marry all the more likely. Whether or not she "caught" this lack of respect for boundaries from a N is rather immaterial to your situation. You have to deal with what she is in the present. How she got this way doesn't affect the situation on the ground and in the present. If she refuses to respect your boundaries as belligerently as you've described then it is probably time to cross her off your list of friends.

Another thing. She could be N-lite. Narcissistic people often marry each other with one of them being the dominant N. The less narcissistic of the two will modify some of their behaviors to assume the more subservient role to the Alpha N. What can happen is when the Alpha N leaves the picture for some reason (i.e. divorce, death) then the other, more subservient N will suddenly be much more narcissistic revealing the narcissism where before it may have been rather well-masked. Sometimes their narcissism is masked simply by the contrast with the bad behavior of their spouse. They look good in the comparison and therefore escape the label of N themselves.

I am not in any way asserting that all people married to a narcissist are narcissists themselves. I don't believe that in any way nor am I saying it now. I'm simply saying that, yes, narcissists can co-exist and often do so in a marriage. This is made possible by one of them being less dominant and perhaps less narcissistic than the other. Some Ns will subvert some of their own narcissism in order to placate, please or cowtow to a more assertive N.

Whether or not a person is a narcissist, disrespect for boundaries is always a red flag behavior. Something is seriously amiss in someone who so blatantly ignores other people's requests for privacy or space. Decent people don't behave that way. Notice how you made it especially clear how unavailable you were going to be over that weekend. You were specific and, to use your word, you emphasized how important your demand for space was. This produced a perverse effect in your friend. A normal, decent person would have graciously and happily respected your space and would be horrified to intrude on such an intimate occasion. But your friend treated it as a challenge. She used the occasion to try to force you to prove how important of a friend she is that you would set aside your rules to accommodate her demands, her whims. This level of perversity is a BIG RED FLAG. This behavior was itself arrogant. Perhaps you need to re-examine your definition of arrogant if you can't recognize the supreme arrogance of what she did to you that weekend.

Sarah said...

Thanks, Anna!

I guess I typically think of an "arrogant" person as someone with a superiority complex no matter how educated/knowledgable they are. That would be her husband. He is baffled when people dare question is knowledge. She, on the other hand, is perpetually helpless, needs constant advice and validation, and seems to have no faith in herself, which could all be an act.

It's been two months since I have spoken to this woman (and I see her weekly) and I am trying to decide if I should explain the reasons I wanted no more contact or if it would be completely lost on her. If she's an N, then from what I understand, there's no way she will hear it.

She's definitely manipulative. No doubt about it. I want her out of my life and she is still trying to make her way back into it. Some others think she is clueless and needs closure. I'm almost positive that if I had told her, "It was completely inappropriate for you to stop by during our romantic weekend", she would've turned it around with a guilt trip, "Well, you said your silverware was in bad shape and I was just trying to be nice." The way she is, you can't call her on anything. She will always have an excuse, always twist things around, change her story, etc. To add to the awkwardness of this situation, I go to church with her. I wanted to try to distance myself while keeping things semi-friendly. I didn't want others around us to sense the tension. Unfortunately, it couldn't be avoided. She blew up at me on my voice mail because I asked someone else for help. I told her that was inappropriate and that I don't have to justify who I ask for help, adding that I need space - meaning, "Don't contact me." She has given me the opposite of space and said her voice mail was a joke. This was because I didn't grovel like she expected, so she's backpedaling. Here's the deal. If she doesn't get to do anything for me, then I won't owe her. It drives her nuts. I'm done owing her. It feels like there are strings attached with everything she does.

She's one of these people who comes off as wonderful when you first meet her. A year later you're wondering, "What the heck is going on here?" I've seen countless people begin a friendship with her and cut it off now. I'm always tempted to warn them, but they think she's so nice, they would probably think I was being horrible.

Your blog is awesome. Thank you. It was good to see that I'm not alone and seeing what I feel put into words. I'm also grateful that I'm not dealing with people like her in my own family. That would be a million times worse.

Jen Harris / Global Talk Radio said...

There seems to be a tremendous amount of interest in narcissism, and understandably so.

However, has anyone ever conducted a study of what percentage of adults have narcissistic qualities? And of those, what percent are male and female?

If anyone has that information, it might of interest to our listeners.


Anna Valerious said...

No real study of the general population as to the prevalence of narcissism in adults has been done. There have been a lot of guesses by so-called professionals based purely on how many Ns present themselves for treatment which obviously leads to artificially low estimates. Ns only present to therapy in dire circumstances or when forced to by a court order. Studies of sub-groups of adults have been done...such as college students and reality-TV "stars". But both groups seem selective for narcissists. The young being naturally narcissistic and attention whores being disproportionally attracted to reality TV shows.

The phrasing of your question leaves some room to wonder to what extent your knowledge of this subject covers? You said, However, has anyone ever conducted a study of what percentage of adults have narcissistic qualities? It can be safely asserted that all human beings adult and otherwise have narcissistic qualities. You question lacks precision. The real question is, how many adults exhibit the cluster of traits which are consistently seen in NPD (i.e. malignant narcissism). A few narcissistic traits does not equal malignant narcissism. To the more precise question there is no definitive answer. I doubt there ever will be. I believe the best to be hoped for is that people can be taught to identify the prominent traits of a malignant narcissist so they can better know when a relationship needs to be terminated whether it is a family member, spouse, co-worker, boss or clergyman.

Unknown said...

My narc friend loves to tell me where to shop and what to buy, even though I have told her several times my OWN very different preferences. If I buy something (say, my Christmas tree last year) at a location different than her recommendation she gets visibly angry and asks straight up why I didn't listen to her and go where she told me. Funny thing is, her advice is invariably so very wrong and misguided that I would be an utter fool to listen to her. She recently got angry because I told her I didn't like the same brand of mixed nuts as She did. What?!? This just proves how these freaks can not view any other human as in independent entity...also explains why she automatically assumes any bad behavior she exhibits must be a trait I share as well. So twisted!