57 comments on “The Tiny TV

  1. Heartbreaking reading this! I can’t imagine treating a child this way.
    I feel so blessed to have had a normal childhood with loving parents.

    • Hi Cheryl!

      I agree, it is heartbreaking. One of the things that makes me realize how bad some of my treatment was is that I now have my own daughter, and I could never imagine treating her like I was treated. It’s sick.

      I hope things are going well with you and your family and your new arrangements!


  2. Yep, inappropriate given your age. After laughing my lack of enthusiasm would have resulted in my mother drawing out my true feelings only to deride them telling me that I should change my attitude, and that I shouldn’t be so sensitive. Boom! Now I’m the problem.

    • Hi Al and welcome!

      I’m sorry that you grew up with an N-mom. It’s horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

      I would submit that such treatment is inappropriate at any age. If I was to let my significant other believe that I was taking her to the Caribbean and then ended up setting her up with a beach chair in the front yard, she’d be more than unhappy with me. It’s not about the TV, it’s the message that is sent.

      I agree, N’s have an amazing ability to redirect the blame back onto others. A child is an easy target, because they can’t see the manipulation. They are easy fodder for N’s. It’s disgusting.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Al, and best wishes on your healing journey!


  3. I am so sorry. I did not have a television as a child in my mother’s house. My father had one, and I could watch a few hours of it on the weekends that I spent with him. I felt so far behind everyone, not understanding the shows they talked about at school. My father got me a tiny tv, after a decade of this. It worked, mostly, it was just very small, and black and white and fuzzy. I could hardly see the picture. I always wondered why he didn’t get me a normal one, which would have been cheaper.

    • Hi TK&I,

      Thank you for your sentiments. The post truthfully has nothing to do with the TV. It’s the manipulation of my feelings to take advantage of me for entertainment purposes. It’s about shaming and humiliation of a child.

      That had to be hard to be so out of touch with your peers growing up. Peers can be very difficult, to say the least, and I’m sure you were frowned upon for not being ‘up with the times’.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and best wishes on your healing journey.


  4. Stephen, I have to limit the time that I spend on your site because it hurts me so much. How could anyone treat a child like this? My heart breaks. Also, I feel rage welling up inside me for those people. I am as troubled by the pain of this memory as I am by what I know would be my instinct to punish the people in power. Was I the only kid of a Narcissist that struggled with white hot rage? And the unending, compelling need to expose the truth, seek out justice, and punish those in need of punishing? It was never just about the pain for me. It was about the violence that began to swirrel up in me towards the narcissist. It was a major factor in my decision to go and ability to stay NO CONTACT with those sick effs. Dude, I am so sorry. I do not understand what makes some people capable of certain behaviors. I know only that a lot of people who have children have no business being parents. Yours, for sure, earned a place on that list. There’s nothing you can do but leave and stay gone. There’s never anything to salvage. They didn’t love you. They didn’t know how. It wasn’t a priority for them to learn. They placed no value on learning and practicing love, whether you existed or not. It just wasn’t part of their nature. When I was able to look myself in the mirror and know that my mother didn’t love me, and still put one foot in front of the other, I knew I was someone that had what it takes to make it on this planet. Your memories are painful. Move on, my friend. God gave you the instinct to seek out truth. That’s grace. That’s everything.

    • Hi Sherri!

      I’ll get to your other comment as soon as I can 🙂

      Thank you for your kind sentiments. I agree, to treat a child like this is horrible. I absolutely can’t fathom the mindset. I look at my daughter and think of treating her that way, and I become sick to my stomach. It’s truly abhorrent. It’s often hard to connect back to that young boy and feel his pain and tell him that he was treated unjustly and that he has every right to be upset. Sometimes he believes me, other times, he doesn’t want to listen. I’m not going to stop trying.

      Your rage is definitely a good thing in some regards. I, for the longest time, was unable to feel anger. I had completely blocked it out. The fact that you can feel that rage is a sign that you still carry that emotion, which is good. My question to you would be, how do you manage it? One of the things that’s challenging for we ACONs is that when we feel rage, we often know of no healthy means to deal with it, because we’ve often been told anger is inappropriate. In my opinion, the rage is a sign of deep seated emotions that you really should address.

      Ah yes, the truth teller. It’s a hat we ACONs often wear. We take to the sword at any sign of injustice. One thing I’ve learned in my journey is that truth telling is not always the right way to go. People don’t want to hear the truth. They want to live in their world of delusions. That’s OK, that’s their choice. For us to hang the truth over their head and confront their denial only serves to piss them off. I’ve gone down this road repeatedly with my brother. He doesn’t want to hear my truth, he just wants me to shut up and play my scapegoat role. In that regard, I’m best to walk away. Holding the truth of our family over his head serves no purpose. It only causes confrontation. People are welcome to live in their own reality. When we expose the truth, we are essentially telling them that their reality isn’t valid. While that may be true, it’s not the best means to confront the issue in my opinion.

      You’re completely right, my parents never loved me. It’s a horribly hard pill to swallow. I was just a tool to be manipulated to glorify their wants and desires. Truthfully, they are incapable of love. Love is all about respect, and without respect, love does not exist. They never had any respect for me, whether I was a child, a teenager, a young adult or middle age. Hence, they never loved me.

      It’s wonderful that you have been able to see the truth for as long as you have; that you’ve been able to let go of the denial that cripples most ACONs for most of their lives. Relish that! Be proud! You’ve survived! Yes, your mother never loved you. Yes, she was incapable of loving you. It sucks. It will never change. Good for you for breaking free!

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Sherri, and best wishes on your healing journey.


  5. Wow. How awful. Isn’t it amazing how a parent like that can actually enjoy doing something like that to their own child?

    It’s always kind of mind-boggling to me to look at situations like these. I just try to imagine doing something like that to my own kid(s), and can’t. To make fun of a kid? To purposefully cause them pain, just for amusement? I could never do something like that. It’s hard to even get your head around.

    I know in this story the TV is not the point. The problem is their willingness to ignore your feelings and trample on them. And it’s worse than that, because the message is “you don’t matter”. Your feelings don’t matter. Your desires don’t matter. Your happiness doesn’t matter. And not only do you not matter, but you’re not worth anything, either. All you are worth is a punchline to a joke, to provide some brief entertainment.

    When these kind of parents do this, they are teaching their message: “you don’t matter”. And by laughing at your pain, they are also teaching you to feel ashamed and embarassed, even when you did nothing to earn it. So it basically trains you to feel ashamed of having your own thoughts and desires.

    I may be overthinking it. That’s how stories that were similar to this worked out in my own life. Since we’re just playthings to a Narcissistic mom, it stands to reason that they would get a kick out of doing things like this to us every now and then. And the fact that you were expected not only to take it, but to show gratefulness and express thanks… That’s just sick.

    Here’s one thing that happened to me that this story reminds me of.

    I was about 7 years old, and had been sent to a neighbor’s house for her to babysit me. We were watching some TV show, and it had Brooke Shields on it. I remember thinking that Brooke Shields was really pretty. The babysitter asked me about that, and I said yes. But I told her, “Please don’t tell my mom because she will make fun of me.”

    So later when my mom picks me up, what does the babysitter do but immediately tell my mom about how I liked Brooke Shields. Why did she do that? Hell if I know. Didn’t believe what I said about my mom, I guess? Thought I was just being cute, maybe?

    But sure enough, my mom asks me about it. She asked in a gentle way, but still digging and probing. Getting into my mind. And then she laughed at me. Me liking Brooke Shields? That’s “funny”!

    And there was my shame. It was wrong for me to feel something for myself. And worse to express it. I didn’t know it, but I undergoing her Narcissist Training Regimen. You know it? That’s the training program where you are taught all your life that your feelings don’t matter, that only her feelings matter. And that you should feel ashamed for having your own feelings. About anything.

    Sick moms!

    • Hi Clint!

      You are spot on with your analysis. Yes, you’re over thinking it, but that’s OK. It’s what we ACONs do. We analyze. One of my ‘blessings of the curse’, as it were, is that I am highly analytic, and it makes me a good engineer. So I have my parents to thank for my highly analytic mind that has given me success in the engineering field.

      You are absolutely correct: Other people’s feelings don’t matter to a narcissist. The only feelings that matter are their own. I went through an episode about 2 years before I broke up with my cheating ex where I knew for certain that my feelings didn’t matter. Yes, i stayed for 2 more years after that until she cheated on me and exposed me to an STD. My programming from childhood was so complete that I accepted such treatment, even though it hurt like hell. (CODEPENDENCY ALERT)

      It is all about shame, isn’t it? I agree, Brooke Shields was hot back then! You were a young boy and discovering what it meant to be a man; to appreciate a beautiful woman. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s nature. It’s part of growing up. Your mother’s comment about you liking Brooke Shields as being ‘funny’ was a way for her to infantilize you. You were growing up and recognizing certain natural male urges. She shamed them right out of you. Sex is part of life. If it wasn’t for sex, none of us would be here. It’s natural. To appreciate a beautiful woman is a natural evolution in a boy’s existence. To shame you for that is to shame you for being male. So what would have happened if you were female and you told her you thought Tom Selleck was handsome? Would she have thought that was “funny”? Most likely not. She would have probably agreed.

      Another piece is that the babysitter would have never said anything to your mom if you didn’t ask her not to tell her. You could have said you thought Brooke Shields was pretty and she would have never thought about it. She probably thought it was ridiculous that you were so concerned, and told your mother because she thought that your concern about your mother finding out was funny. She didn’t know the true ramifications.

      I understand the sting, Clint. The pain. The rampant disregard for your feelings for you as a person. It’s her and not you. It was always her. Yes, it sucks to have your own mother treat you like that, but you know well that it wasn’t right. The goal is to bridge that gap and be able to fully accept that. It’s hard to do, as I well know. But it’s absolutely necessary.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Clint, and best wishes on your healing journey.


      • Stephen,

        Thanks for the comments! Very well put. I almost enjoy reading your follow up comments as much as the original post 🙂

        An Engineer, eh? Well that’s a coincidence, because so am I. I’ve got a Mechanical Engineering degree, graduated from the University of Texas. I guess analyzing and overanalyzing runs in our blood! When I saw a therapist once, she told me I was trying too hard to figure everything out. It’s not the first time I’ve been told that, haha.

        You have a great day!

      • Hi Clint!

        Glad you enjoy my comments! Often I feel that I have a better grasp on whatever post I’m commenting on after I read the comments of others, so I tend to flush out my thoughts a bit more in the comments.

        Ha! I’m also a mechanical engineer. I have a degree from a Big 10 school and currently work as a lead thermal analyst performing CFD simulations at a large defense contractor.

        The overthinking part is something that is difficult to let go. I am highly guilty of it. I am driven by the need to ‘figure it all out’ and end up bypassing the emotional piece of the equation. We’ve spent the bulk of our lives living in our heads and not in our instincts. When we live in our heads, we don’t leave space available for our instincts. When we live in our heads, we can rationalize our way into our out of just about any situation. Our instincts don’t lie. It’s important to listen to them.

        Hope you’re day is fantastic!


  6. Dear Stephen, thanks for taking the time to read my post and respond. How do I manage my rage towards my narcissist mother? I was speaking in the past tense in regard to my rage for her, or my rage in general. I spent many years in therapy, some of it industrial strength. During that time I realized there was no resolution to that rage, and that the healthiest thing for me to do was cut off contact with my mother, which I did. About 15 years ago that I went totally NC, but prior to that I was very much out of their lives. My family members all live in a 5 mile radius of one another in Reno, NV. I have spent the majority of my years on this planet not even living in the state of NV. I have lived in SF, Seattle, and currently inside the beltway, DC. I have spent more than 30 years of holidays not in their presence. My current life is peaceful on the inside and the outside. When I went NC, I actually moved across the country without any notice or forwarding number or address. And I moved across the country again. Eventually they hired a detective to find me, and I told the guy I was fine and wanted NC. When I went NC, I threw away those giant photo albums of my upbringing. I felt like I was ripping physical adhesions apart and throwing away the scarred tissue. The only alternative to that was to allow what felt like poison, instead of blood, to continue to circulate through my body. That’s how my family felt to me. I made a deal with myself that I would only contact them again if I knew I was strong enough not to be effected or injured by them in any way. A couple of years ago I remade contact, only to find, in a matter of months, that there was no such thing as a healthy exchange between me and my parents, especially my mother. I was writing a “I can’t be in your gifting circle” letter when I got the cancer call. “It’s bad. It’s bad. Bubba’s got cancer.” They called her Bubba. It was my father. Three weeks later she was dead and it wasn’t bad. It was a relief. The phone call wasn’t even bad, that was also a relief. No, I didn’t get on a plane. In fact, the last thing I said to her was to stop calling me and leaving stressful messages on my answering machine. I told myself decades earlier that the day that woman dies, even if it’s in the dead of winter, flowers will bloom because this earth will sense that a damaging presence is no more. It was the dead of winter, and inexplicably, when there were nothing but dead trees before me, behind, to the right and to the left of me, there it was: A tiny cherry blossom tree in full bloom. I said to myself, “this is the day she dies.” And it was.
    I thought, after she died, there might be some hope of something healthy with anyone left in that family. But at this stage, I’m done ferreting that out too. And there really isn’t. My mother left the house that she and her husband bought to my brother, the GC. It was in her name because my father had psychiatric issues, and at one point in their lives, he was so erradic, she took control of all the property. She left her jewelry to my sister, which my sister was to supposed to share with me (of course I wanted nothing to do with it.) I consider my brother to be the biggest victim of our narcissistic family system. He is in his 50s and has lived out almost his entire life from his childhood bedroom, where he still lives today. He took her to her Dr. appointments, on his annual vacations with him, she made his lunches. Totally gross, boundary violations, psychologically incestuous. But he feels like he won the golden ticket. When I suggested to him that loving parents actually kick their child out at some point, he really had no idea what I meant. My sister felt resentful of my brother all these years because he got “the love” and she didn’t. The suggestion to her that he gave up his entire life to get that “love” seemed to go in one of her ears and out the other. She just didn’t get it. They had no love to offer any child.
    When I was an adolescent, still living in their home, I went to bat (not with an actual bat, much as I would have loved to) against my mother, not for just me, but for my sister and brother as well. I had an innate sense of justice and injustice, and I tried to bring some of it about. But now I realize these people are just lost. I can’t be their insight for them. So today, I don’t feel like I am NC with them. I don’t have to be that phobic or guarded of them. I just don’t have anything to do with them. They have my number and my address, but we don’t interact. I might hear from someone when my father dies. I might not. I might send a birthday card to my brother. I might not. Rage is not an issue, in my day to day life. But when I roam around your sight, and read these fresh, hot memories, I feel that rage well up in me for that child. And because I’m not reading anywhere about that child’s rage, I’m confused. To me, the hurt, crest fallen pain is half of the reaction, and the other half, is the anger. And I always had both. But it seems like when I read about other children of narcissist’s, I’m not finding that. And it has always confused me a bit. That’s all. Thanks for all your effort in maintaining this site and responding to us. I think you’re on your way to a very peaceful life, where a lot of this stuff just becomes a distant memory. Sherri.

    • Hi Sherri,

      Thanks so much for filling in more details. That really helps. It’s great that you were able to see the situation for what it was, even as a child, and took steps to mitigate it by going no contact a long time ago. I wish I would have had your resolve and insight some 20 years ago. It is what it is.

      You’re right, they’re just lost. And, they also don’t want to be found. They are all bundled up comfortably in their world of delusions. Could they have a more fulfilling existence if they weren’t subjected to a world of abuse? Absolutely! But it’s up to them to decide for themselves if they want to break free. I know it’s hard to watch. It’s like watching your family go down with the ship when all they would have to do is walk over to a life boat and they would be saved. But it’s still much better for you to watch from afar then go down with the ship with them.

      I think your rage may well have been what gave you the impetus to break free at a much earlier point in your life than I did. I never had the rage. I was told from very early on that anger was inappropriate, and I soon learned to block it. I don’t know if you’ve read my inner child post (https://thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/my-inner-child/), but it gives an accurate summation of my emotional makeup as a young boy. The only emotion I had was fear. If I expressed any anger I was being disrespectful and would be damned to hell for disrespecting my parents, so I quickly learned to block it out. Had I kept my anger, I don’t doubt that I would have been forced to address the issues much sooner than I did.

      I am able to feel anger now. I do feel anger towards my family at times, especially my mother, but often I feel more sadness. Sad that they are so dysfunctional. Sad that my family will never resemble anything that could be called normal. Sad that they chose to abuse me and mock me instead of cherishing all the wonderful skills and traits that I have. Sad that my daughter is growing up without any family on my side of the family. Honestly, it’s their loss, even more than it is mine.

      I am working hard on making it all a distant memory. At some point I will have no interest in maintaining this blog anymore. It will seem like a waste of time. When that day comes, I’ll know that none of it really matters to me anymore.

      Thanks for your comment and clarification, Sherri!


    • Sherri,

      Amazing story. Thanks for sharing.

      You talk about rage. I felt a lot like Stephen felt. I wasn’t allowed to be angry at my mom – for anything, EVER. From a very early age, all defiance was (literally) beaten out of me until all that was left was fear. I was so afraid of her that it was crazy. And that never went away.

      It was especially odd to outsiders. Somebody would say, “Gee, you sure are worried about what she thinks about this. Why?” But I couldn’t explain the fear. I was 25 years old before I ever said “no” to my mom, about anything. And that was only at the urging of a counselor. I was just that scared of her. Hell, if I’m honest with myself, I’m still scared of her!

      It kind of reminds me of the “Elephant and the stake”. I don’t know if it’s true, but they say that with a baby circus elephant, they can chain it to a stake. It will try to get away, but finally realize that it can’t and will give up trying. And then as the elephant grows up, the stake always keeps it in place. Even when the elephant is easily strong enough to break free, it still won’t pull at the stake. It’s trapped.

      Again, I don’t know if that’s true or just an urban legend. But it was kind of the same with me. My mom taught me that questioning her orders or thinking for myself in any way was wrong. And not just wrong, but something to be feared. And after she trained me that way as a kid, she didn’t have to tell me I was wrong anymore. She had me programmed to think I was already wrong, all on my own. It’s self-correcting my own thoughts to line up with her expectations. Just brainwashing, really.

      It’s amazing to me how much I can relate to a lot of Stephen’s stories. A Narcissistic mother forms an unholy alliance with her religion of choice, and uses that to make herself feel superior, and to justify anything and everything she does.

      My mom was not just to be feared because she would scream at me and spank me. She also prayed and spoke directly to God. And he (apparently) spoke directly to her too. He was always telling her stuff.

      Like Stephen, I was taught that disobedience – or defiance in any way – was SIN. And sin was evil, and had to be beaten out of me. I was also screamed at – “in the name of Jesus” – for the devils to be cast out of me. There’s nothing quite like being 5 years old and having your mom scream for “that lyin’ spirit to come out of you in Jesus’ name!” while slapping you in the face.

      (BTW – While I’m an atheist now, I don’t hold religion responsible for my mom’s crazy antics. She has a sick mind, and her religion just suits her purposes. I have many loving and good Christian friends who never dream of using their religion in such a sick, self-serving way as she does.)

      As far as anger goes, I never realized how angry I was at her until well into adulthood. Late 20’s, at least.

      At first, I felt that self-righteous sense of injustice. And then I tried to be a crusader, telling my whole family THE TRUTH about my mom. In response, my GC brother came over to my house and tried to start a fistfight in my front yard. And my grandmother said I was flat-out lying.

      I wasn’t surprised by my brother, but my grandmother’s response shocked me. She had treated me with genuine love all my life. And to be told by her that I was a liar – to not be believed – well, that really hurt.

      The rest of the family – aunts and cousins – was silent. They either didn’t want to get involved, or wanted me to shut up and go back to my role. I guess.

      At the same time my grandmother told me I was lying, she also told me that I’m “going to a living, burning hell” if I didn’t repent. (That was because I came out as an atheist at the same time.) But she didn’t use that “going to hell” thing in a loving or honestly concerned way. It was in a super angry, arrogant way. Her Christian equivalent of saying “fuck you.”

      My grandmother made me feel like she had just told me to drop dead, and she wouldn’t have cared if I did. And then she gave me the silent treatment afterward. Her and my mom both.

      So yeah, I’ve learned the hard way not to be a crusader. Don’t shine the light on the roaches – they don’ t like it.

      I still feel a lot of anger for my mom. A lot of rage. I’m dealing with it. I’m facing it.

      Sherri, you mentioned what it was like for you when your mom died. My mom still lives, but I feel the same. Honestly when she goes, it will just feel like a relief. I’m already grieving the fact that she never loved me. She’s gone for me mentally already. When she finally dies, good riddance.

      How do you explain that to people? When someone says, “But she’s your only mother! How can you say / think that about your mom?” I don’t know what to say. It’s like in society you’re expected to love, honor, and forgive your parents no matter how evil they were. But why do people think that way? Seriously, it’s just bullshit!

      • Hi Clint!

        Great thoughts as always! A few things I’d like to pick up on…

        The crusader piece: It’s what we do. I went down the same road. The crusader piece is the truth teller aspect of our personas. We see the TRUTH and feel a strong need to share it. It’s hardly, if ever, productive. All it does is incite more conflict. They don’t want to know the truth. As Les said, they are happy taking their blue pills. Confronting an abuser about their abuse never ends well. I’ve learned that repeatedly throughout my not so glorious past. From my mother to all my ex’s, they all will twist / devalue / gaslight / project until it’s back to being my fault again and I’m the one that’s “unreasonable”. That’s OK, they are welcome to live in their delusional world, we just don’t have to be a part of it.

        How do you explain to people that you have no relationship with your mother? Very good question! I’ve been faced with this dilemma a great deal lately as a single guy that’s been dating. Telling a woman that you are dating that you have no relationship with your mother can often be seen as a red flag. Many women see a man’s relationship to his mother as a means to gauge his approach to the female sex. If he’s too close to mom, it’s a red flag, and if he doesn’t speak to mom, it’s a red flag. What I’ve chosen to do is to be honest. To try and dodge the question only serves to make it seem as though it’s more of an issue than it really is. If asked, I will share that I am no contact with my entire family because of a history of abuse and will not offer any more information unless directly asked. What I’ve found is that it hasn’t really been an issue. Any woman that has any compassion will at least hear me out, and when I’ve explained the situation, most can see why I have made the choices I have. Often, it leads to a conversation about difficult family members she might have and how she’s chosen to deal with them. I think part of our unwillingness to discuss why we have no relationship with family is that we still, in some part, blame ourselves for the impasse. If we truly are completely separated from the situation emotionally, it won’t seem like any big deal to discuss it. I know I still have a tinge of emotional connection to my family, and because of that, I’ve chosen to return to counseling. I need to close the door completely on them.

        It is amazing how similar our stories are, isn’t it? I think your mother was even more nuts than mine was, honestly. My mother was masterfully subversive in her tactics, where yours was more outright. My mother’s subversive nature made it that much harder to pick up on what exactly she was doing and what her intent truly was when she treated me the way she did. I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to see through it all and get on the path to healing.

        Sorry about your grandmother. That had to be hard. It’s hardest when the people you think you can trust turn their back on you.

        Thanks for your comments, Clint, and best wishes on your healing journey!


      • Thanks Stephen!

        I like telling war stories with people to try to compare who’s mom is “worse”. It’s fun! But in the end, most N-mom’s aren’t directly comparable. They’re both horrible in their own original, unique ways 🙂

  7. Wow thats f**cked up. That really is not nice!

    You are absolutely right about people wanting to live in their own world of delusions. It just gets to a point where you either take the blue pill or the red one. The red pill has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, so I can see why people prefer the blue one.

    • Totally agree, Les!

      Yes, the red pill sucks. I totally understand and have been faced with the same choices. When I finally took the red pill, I was a complete wreck from taking blue pills. Staying in my denial was always a more comfortable place, and my mind would not permit me to leave.

      The good part is that the red pill has a chance at actually overcoming your affliction, where the blue pill just tackles a few of the symptoms. The red pill is the path to true healing.

      Thanks as always for your thoughts, Les!


  8. To anyone needing some positivity today… Know that life is awesome. People care about you. You aren’t alone. And you’ve survived. Congratulations! Now go hug somebody 🙂

  9. Such a rotten thing to do to any child. My colleague experienced a similar fate one year when he really wanted a Nintendo gaming system for Christmas. His parents actually went to the trouble of finding a box the same size/shape as what Nintedo came in, and packaged it with grapefruit to be the correct weight. Imagine the sinking feeling in his heart when he opened the box, only to find that he had been tricked, while everyone laughed at him. There is a special place in hell for people who do that to a child.

    • Hi Bob,

      I always find it so amazing how many people have very similar stories to each other. It’s like there is some sort of book on how to abuse and humiliate your child that they’ve all read. You’re right, it’s horrible to treat a child in such a manner, especially your own! I agree, hell was created for such monsters!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Bob, and best wishes on your healing journey!


  10. I’m glad I took the red pill too Stephen, it’s kind of weird that I am glad, as frankly nothing (and I mean nothing) has made me sadder but it’s becoming a much much richer life nevertheless. It has been like learning to walk again in many ways, getting to know my own feelings – insane really.

    Actually my mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer, I have agreed to visit her in hospital today after the operation. For me I need to do what I think is the right thing to do here rather than what I want to do, which is to inflict the same pain on her as she has on me.

    Anyhow I spoke with her on the phone last week and given the circumstances suggested we meet up for a coffee at a suburb near where she lives (she is not actually sick,sick) last weekend (so before the operation). She wouldn’t meet me – I have to go visit her. Over the years 99% of the time I have gone to visit her, until reducing contact down to very very little which is where we are now.

    Anyhow I said I will come to the hospital after the operation and she keeps telling me how much she is ‘really looking forward to seeing me.’

    I said well that’s not true because you are far more interested in where we meet than in seeing me!

    It’s unbelievable really an 80yo woman with breast cancer and she’s worrying about where we meet. It’s like dealing with a warped child, 80 years old going on 8 yo.

    BTW I have a similar dating dilemma to you at the moment as well, I tend not to be overly expansive on the topic for the first few dates if I can get away with it. Let me them get to know me a bit first, hating your own mother is rarely something women have on their checklist. Red flag is the correct expression….


    • Hi Les,

      I can complete empathize with how taking the red pill was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but absolutely necessary. Now that it’s been a few years since I swallowed it, I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and I’m finally free to be the person I want to be. I’m free to work on myself the way I would like. I don’t have to answer to family anymore, and it’s a marvelous feeling!

      80 yrs old going on 8 is a fantastic way to look at it. People with Cluster B issues tend to behave as if they are children – throwing tantrums, making impossible demands, and pouting. It’s ridiculous that she’s more worried about where you might meet than actually meeting you. She has to be in control of the environment as well as the conversation. The show must go on.

      Good luck with your dating! I thankfully have found someone with whom I’m interested in pursuing a relationship. She’s quite empathetic about my past, having come from a similar upbringing. She’s also spent quite a bit of time in counselling to deal with her issues. It’s actually been very good for me. She ‘gets it’, and I think being with someone that ‘gets it’ is probably one of the most important factors for me to be in a relationship with someone. If a person I was dating was regularly behaving as a flying monkey and telling me I “had to have a relationship with my mother” and “she couldn’t be that bad”, it would essentially be like she was acting as my mother’s flying monkey, something I desperately need to avoid. My current girlfriend offers advice without being judgmental about it, and typically only when asked. It’s very refreshing. I’m sure you’ll find someone out there for you, Les!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Les, and best wishes on your healing journey!


  11. Les. I’ve been through this cancer stuff with my own mother. Hers was pancreatic and it moved rather quickly to death. In brief, I chose to help her though it, braving the waters of a dysfunctional extended family who offered me little support but much scorn.

    I chose not to confront her, but do what needed to be done. It was a huge drain of time and energy. And even though she died two years ago there is still fall-out in my family. It will never be the same.

    But if you do the right thing, you’ll always know it in your heart. If all you have to do is visit her in the hospital or over coffee once every week or so, it’s reasonable to go to her and not worry about where the visit is and who called it. If she has someone else as health care advocate (another family member?) count that as a major blessing.

    When it’s over, it’s over and you can’t go back and make things right. So, make things right in the moment. I think you won’t regret it.

    Painful, oh yes. Oh my goodness yes. The red pill is the bitter one, as you already know.

  12. Thank you Denise for that good advice, I will try to take it!

    Unfortunately my other family members all live overseas, although my sister flew in last night.

    My sister left Australia about 1 year ago with her husband and kids and didn’t even call me. After many years of going to visit my sister and her family every week I had cut contact down unless they come to meet me, at least some of the time.

    I just ignored my sister last night but as I walked out of the room my sister says goodbye, I ignored it. I hear my mothers voice, ‘at least say goodbye to your sister’. Unbelievable.

    Actually my mother was in fine form last night, she has just had an operation and the drugs were making her feel particularly omnipotent. I walk in and the first thing out of her mouth is that my hairline is receding. Over the years my mothers snide remarks about how I look have gone on and on.

    The really hilarious thing is that I rarely don’t get noticed by the opposite sex because of my looks! The opposite is actually true.

    Anyhow I shall try to take your advice Denise, the problem for me is that frankly I’m very isolated. And now I’m sounding like a sad fat loser. But I shall try to act decently and not because she deserves it.

    My brother was the golden child and in some ways it is better for him and in some ways worse. He’s more functional in some ways because she has not run him down, but he loves her in a way that I never will. And he married the wrong woman.

    I had best go to work as I need to teach a university class for 5 hours and after taking a valium last night to get to sleep I feel f**cked even having gone for a run this morning.


  13. Hi Denise: I enjoyed reading your comment. It triggered a few thoughts. Some of these aren’t directly related to your comment but here goes….

    From my view, the thing that bothers me about “doing the right thing” in regard to an N-parent (mom in my case), is that that’s what she always counts on. That’s one of the ways she uses and manipulates me. I’ve “done the right thing” with my mom all my life, and what has it gotten me? I’m just treated like her punching back no matter what I do.

    So I’m done “doing the right thing”. She can take “the right thing” and shove it!

    Narcissists always use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to get their way. They use that sense of Obligation (which they themselves don’t have) to keep us at their side. And there’s a fear that you might feel guilty later if you don’t meet the obligation. That was all trained into me by my N-mom from a very early age. To the point that as an adult, I was paying her house payments and even gave my car away when she told me to. I had to be “the good son”. There was always a reason to feel sorry for her, always some sense of duty and obligation to fulfill.

    But I’m done. A lifetime of abuse from my mother does not equal me being at her side in her old age. She’s going to get cancer, dementia, or whatever when she gets old. But I won’t be there for her. Why should I be? Because society has some warped rules about taking care of your parents to put on me? No thanks! I don’t accept it.

    She abused me physically, verbally, mentally. Has shown no pity toward me my entire life. So this woman without compassion… I’m supposed to show some for her? WHY? Just because she’s old? I don’t think so. I’ll save my compassion for actual human beings, not monsters.

    The Low Contact / No Contact decision is one that everyone who deals with a Narcissist has to make. I know for my own sanity, No Contact is the only way I could go.

    Best wishes to you.

  14. I certainly understand your feelings Clint, ditto is all i can say. They don’t deserve to be treated well.

    Its extremely difficult but for me but I think an important part of the healing journey is to try to move past the hatred and act like the adult your parent never was.

  15. Denise, Les and Clint!

    First of all, thank you for your comments! I think it’s wonderful when people who follow my blog are willing to help each other. It’s an outcome I would have never envisioned when I started this blog, so thank you!

    You are all right, there are many facets to dealing with an aging N-parent as they approach their demise, and there’s no “right answer”. The right answer is the one that you can live with. If it means stepping up and fulfilling your perceived obligation to your N-parent, then that’s fine. If it means that you feel they had their chance and you’d rather not be involved with them at this time, then that’s fine, too.

    I think the key is that if you do decide to be there at this time, it has to come from a place of selflessness without any expectations whatsoever. One has to realize that they are accepting the obligation and it was their choice to do so, so no matter what may ultimately happen, it’s something that was “part of the package” when the choice was made to assist the dying N-parent.

    For me, I feel little to no obligation to help my mother. Her surgery that she’s having next week isn’t life threatening per se (hip replacement), but it is a major surgery and there are certainly risks with such a major surgery for a 74 year old woman. Even if it was life threatening, I still don’t believe I would feel inclined to be there for her. I guess one difference for me is that I’ve been through the whole thing once already with my father, who died nearly 20 years ago from cancer. (https://thenarcissistsson.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/his-dying-breath/). The net result of that experience was that I was again reminded of how inferior I was and how much my family perceived me as a failure, even though I had made arrangements to miss nearly 2 weeks of engineering school and my wife at the time had arranged to be off of work for those same two weeks so that we might assist my mother as my father prepared to leave this earth. I never received as much as a “thank you” from my mother during this time. I was just fulfilling my prescribed role. If I had to do it all over again, I would have never sacrificed in such a manner. I most likely would have used school as an excuse to make myself unavailable and put in an appearance at his funeral.

    Will there be some sort of cathartic release for me when she finally does leave this earth? Most likely I think there will be. Do I need to see her in a casket to feel that release? I don’t believe I do. She’s essentially dead to me now.

    Again, thank you for all your comments!


  16. I should emphasize that my mother was dying a predictable death which came quickly. She had pancreatic cancer that no one survives, and my father was going down with her from exhaustion. He was in the early stages of dementia, and as he and I were the target of her rages and dysfunctions (my brother was golden and exempt from help because if his work, he said). What I applied in this situation was MERCY.

    Yes, it took a huge emotional toll on me. No, my mother did not deserve help from me and I would have been blameless if I took my power of attorney and hired help. That would have drained my father’s savings and left him in a welfare state for his last days.

    I made a choice to be her medical advocate, and with my husband’s amazing help, took her to the doctors, clinics, hospitals… and sat by her bed when she died. Mostly because of who I am, not who she was. I helped her let go of her own painful life as best I could, met the funeral director who took away her remains while everyone else hid in the back of the house…. the process took a year of my life, but I’m glad I did it. I’m free in a way I can’t put into words.

    So, sometimes it’s more complicated than what the N deserves and where obligations end.

    If someone else is caring for your mother’s end days, there is no obligation. I think you do what you want to do. Examine your heart for your own path, no need to act out of fear, obligation or guilt because that does no good. If you can offer mercy, that is what is good for your soul and your recovery, but only if it fits the circumstances.

    Pearls before swine? Maybe… your judgment is called for. However you find peace.

    • Hi Denise – I don’t mind saying that I admire you. Making your own decision and powering through regardless of the circumstances must have been really difficult. Everyone’s circumstances is different, it’s true. It sounds like you did what you felt you had to do and – in the long run – came out the better and stronger person for it. None of that sounds easy, at all.

      Best wishes to you.

      • Well, gee, Clint. Thanks for the kind words. I’m still reeling from my mother’s death and it’s been over two years. Not many thanks from the family, except for some teary sessions with my father. My brother and I still are not speaking.

        The hardest part is the realization that I’ll never have the mother I needed and loved. Accept, move on. That’s where I am now. I really enjoy this blog. It’s helping a lot.

        My very best wishes for you, too.


      • Hi Denise,

        I’m sorry that you still feel the effects of your mother’s death some 2 years later. I don’t envy what you must have had to go through with her while she met her demise. I applaud you for having the strength to show your mother mercy. It’s a very difficult thing to do; to show mercy to someone who is incapable of mercy; to show compassion for someone that has no compassion. Not easy at all. I’m glad that your efforts resulted in a feeling of freedom for you! I can certainly see how that might happen!

        Yesterday, at my counseling appointment, my counselor and I discussed the topic of how I might approach my mother’s demise. I told her my thoughts at this time are that I would make no effort to see her and that I most likely would not attend her funeral. I have no plans of breaking no contact to see her, even if she is dying. It’s hard to say for sure until it happens, but that is where my heart is today. My mother has my golden child brother to take care of her. He feels a “moral obligation” (his words) to make sure she is taken care of in her old age. I don’t feel such an obligation, and I even told him that when we had this same conversation some 18 months ago. The time when he called me drunk late at night and talked for two hours. The conversation that he’s half apologized for several times. Seems he’s very well trained to do N-mom’s bidding. Me? Not so much. Somewhat a microcosm of my entire family relationship, honestly.

        Thanks as always for your comments, Denise, and best wishes on your healing journey.


    • I admire what you were able to do for your mother as well Denise.

      The trouble when dealing with my mother it is difficult to know when I’m fulfilling my role as the doormat or acting like a compassionate adult towards what is a very imperfect human being (mother or otherwise). Rigid boundaries with my mother feel way safer for me and in fact always will be safer.

      The reality is that unfortunately I do love (whatever that word means) my mother while at the same time I hate her. Such is the lot of being a human being. I don’t know that I’ll shed a tear when the time comes but I fairly sure I will be both sad, angry and very relieved at the same time.

      The hate has been useful and gives me strength to do what I need to be able to do, but it comes with a price, the price of being consumed by it.

      I was able to look at my mother lying in her hospital bed recently and feel some degree of equanimity (well okay there was some anxiety), which for me is great progress. Having said which I’ve got no intention on us hanging out together. She is very unpleasant under a veneer of being a wonderful Mum.

      While I don’t think I could be quite as generous as you were, not from my current situation, but I would like to be able to find the kind of peace you are talking about which I suspect requires mercy. To feel free sounds wonderful indeed.


      • Well, Les, my relationship with my mother was pretty low contact before she got so sick. There were mandatory Christmases, Thanksgivings, and some birthdays, Mothers and Fathers Days. Some I could skate out of but most of them all of us attended because of that power she had over us. I suppose I didn’t want to let Dad down, and there is that bond you have whether you like it or not.

        I was very aware that the less time I spent with her the better I felt.

        So when she did die, and was indeed gone, I felt a little grief. Mostly over what I couldn’t have with her, and the illusion she kept up with the golden child and certain others she pronounced more lovable than me. That kind of thing cuts like a knife.

        But do I miss her and wish I could talk to her one more time? NO. Definitely NO. Now that the emotional merry go round with her is over, I would not get back on it for anyone. Not for my golden brother, not for his adult kids (they have all formed a mob so they can work on Dad to turn him away from me, but that’s not going to work). All of that hurts real bad, but less and less as time goes by. It’s been over a year since I had a visit with him. And just like with Mom, the less time I spend with any of his clan, the better I feel.

        I have my own husband and family, and I put my energy into that bonding.

        I would not dance on her grave, but I wouldn’t spill any tears there, either. There you go, Les and Stephen, I give you my permission (for what it’s worth) to feel any way you want to about your own N Mothers when they pass away.


  17. I got a mobile phone… Made out of chocolate. I didn’t cry. I had successfully closed off all feelings long ago at that point. I even have a defense for my “parents”: it was expensive chocolate… I’m not sure if I ate that phone or not.

    • Hi Stranger!

      Isn’t it sad how our feelings and emotions are played with for the amusement of our abusers? It’s also very sad that we have to close off all emotions just to survive in such dysfunction.

      I hope you did eat that phone!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and best wishes on your healing journey.


      • I recently shared that story on facebook with the phone. Stressing how the saddest part for me was how this was simply entertainment which a complete disregard for how I feel. Promptly I got a message from my estranged and blocked cousins spouse (who I may or may not have talked to about 4 times in my entire live) who generously told me how I was too materialistic asf. Obviously they know way better than I what happened by only listening to one side of the story decades after it happened.

        Normally my emotions werent played with like that tho. That was the only present like that. Otherwise they were thoughtful and I liked them but they came with emotional coldness. No one expressed their fondness of me. Presents a few times a year have to be enough and I have to figure that out on my own and if they aren’t and or I can’t it’s obvious me whos broken. Well we all now the latter song well…

      • Hi Stranger,

        I’m glad to hear that the phone incident was the only time that you felt your emotions were played in such a fashion. Truthfully, that’s pretty unusual in an N-family situation based on my experience. My N-mom is a TERRIBLE gift giver, with the gifts often being downright insulting and rude to the recipient.

        That’s stinks about your family and your Facebook post, but not really unexpected. Saying that you’re being ‘too materialistic’ totally misses the point. It doesn’t have anything to do with the gift, but has everything to do with the manipulation of feelings surrounding the gift. It’s like promising a kid a car for his 16th birthday, and then giving him a toy car that was purchased at the department store for $5 and then laughing at his crushed reaction, all the while chiding him for not appreciating his $5 gift. It’s terribly sick.

        Thanks as always for your comments, and best wishes on your healing journey!


      • Hey Stephen,

        I feel my family defies many labels. There is some narcisissm, some histronics, some schizoidy, some codependancy , some medication induced bipolar like issues and because that isnt enough we have autism and ADHD too. Its one of the reasons why it took me very long to figure out that what they did is abusive. They don’t fit textbook cases like that. I didn’t give them much opportunity to play with my emotions but as this example clearly shows they could have done that if they wanted too.

        Often I feel material things are the only way my family expresses feelings. Grandmother talks about nothing of substance (town gossip, food, little children being cute and decorative, Grandfather annoying her with something) and expresses any and all emotions through food. She gets viciously offended if you are full at one point.

        I feel the one behind my presents was my mother. She is two faced. The presents are part of the kind face. She does care, she did very very nice things. She worried about stuff which is part of what healthy mothers do too. She just never was productive about anything. I think she genuinely doesn’t know any better. Which is not her fault.

        But she keeps herself in this victim role and that is on her. Bullying, cancer and divorced parents and whatnot ( i blogged about it at length if you want to know more https://rootlessintrospection.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/my-abusersneglectors-perspective-pt-i-mother/ ) is all nice and dandy but its her past. She knew she was having unprotected sex with her partner and thus consented to the very real possibility of needing to take care of another being. This is when someone enters your life who has the damn right to demand you let the past be the past. She still does not figure things out and is offended when you do the outrageous thing and look to your mother for advice and support. And just like that she switches. BAM evil mother in the hood run for your meagre hide. She might just find a reason to unleash her frustration and helplessness through “disciplining” you. The worry suddenly being more about how this all affects her and how ungrateful we are and the usual other projections. It can be a very subtle shift there or explosive. Who knows. And then she becomes pessimistic, hostile, vicious, hollow… I have a feeling you know that drill. Understanding that this is the same woman who once tucked me into bed (exactly once, take that literally. I remember every desperate delusional thing that went through my head that night) is something I still struggle with.

        Mother and father are two different sides of the abusive coin. One occasionally being kind, instilling a stockholm syndrome all the more and the other being so aloof you don’t know when aloofness stops and the silent treatment begins. I stopped looking up to my father and the ripe old age of 3. I never looked back. I couldn’t do the same with mother tho. I was always very aware of how dependant children are in their parents and how children have no lobby.

        Still in the framework of my family their sickness was consistent even with the comment of some weird cousin in law who barely knows how I look let alone anything about me derived from you know interacting with me. The way normal people get to know other people… In a world where emotional needs are a sign of being totally full of yourself, overly entitled, arrogant and self absorbed its obviously materialistic to not be over the moon over your chocolate mobile phone. Regardless of what you write about the accompanying emotional component. Because since when do I get to have emotions? I sometimes wonder if ignoring that part of communication is still an active effort in my family or if it is a backbone reflex for them by now. Frankly I think my mother truly thought I’d take it as a joke. I wonder what the justification for giving brother a piece of coal was.

        Btw no need to always thank me for my comments. Its not a privilege to be seen and heard that you need to earn or acknowledge. I comment because your posts are very interesting and insightful for me. Thus I am growing to care about you. Its all in the quality of your writing and the things you have to say. Considering its very hard to leave old thought patterns behind completely maybe you might want to work on shifting the perception there the same way I try to: you have already earned this privilege 😀 . I am as thankful for finding a good blog to comment on as I assume and hope many bloggers are about my comments. We beaten kids need to learn to take more for granted 🙂

  18. Hey Stephen and everybody else, long time no comment for me, but I frequently visit this site and read how people are doing. I just wanted to share something a bit strange, yet comforting, that happened to me just before I received my mother’s “cancer call.” (It’s bad, it’s bad. Bubba’s got cancer.) Again, it really wasn’t so bad for me. For some reason, the three weeks preceeding that phone call I had the urge to watch, and keep watching, at least a dozen times, the film “One True Thing.” This is a movie starring Meryl Streep, who is a loving mother, who gets cancer. It’s about her dying process, the family dynamics, and how it all plays out. I watched that film repeatedly and wept. I wept openly, long, loud and until I felt wrung out. I didn’t know what brought it on, but I knew the reason I was crying was because I would never be able to grieve my mother in that way. I would only be able to feel relieved by her death. A day or so after I stopped watching that film, I received the call. And it was like I’d done all my grieving already: my grieving for never having had a mother who loved or even liked me. She just had zero maternal joy or love to experience for herself or to give to her children. There was just nothing. She fed on sympathy. Love had no place in her world when it came to family, and she didn’t even know it.
    Years earlier, I’d heard Goldi Hawn speak on the TV about her mother’s death. She said it was going to take a few years for her to learn how to be in the world without her mother (or something to that effect.) And I immediately knew, that was something I would never have to learn, as I’d never known anything else. When there’s nothing to grieve, no place to fall, there’s a great emptiness, an absence, a nothing where there should have been a genuine hurt, loss. Today I find myself thinking the most beautiful thing in the world is a mother who loves being a mother, who cherishes her child, and derives deep joy from that little person just being in her life. And strangely, I find that these are the women by whom I am befriended. I am well beyond child bearing age, 50, but I think my number one job was to not pass on the damage that was passed onto me. And I didn’t. I have no children. And I think if I did have, there would have been major problems. I spent so much of my 30s and 40s in deep therapy. Anyway, just more thoughts on N mothers who will be passing away. It’s just a sad gig for us when there’s really nothing to grieve. Thanks again for maintaining this site Stephen. I think it comforts so many of us.

    • Hi Sherri!

      I wish I could give you a hug! I know exactly what you mean and how you feel. It sucks. It’s crushing to know that we are missing such a large part of the human experience; the experience of having a loving and supportive family.

      Isn’t it curious how we sometimes know what’s coming? I’ve never been a very spiritual person, but I do feel that we live life with a purpose, and often that purpose is not readily apparent to us. Perhaps this purpose led you to watch that movie and grieve what you should have had, but didn’t, to better prepare you for “the call”. I’ve never seen “One True Thing”. It sounds like something I should watch, although it may not be good to watch it if I need to be anywhere or do anything based on your experience with the movie. I often find myself crying through movies where others would never cry. I watched “Tangled” with my daughter, and it was my life story in a nutshell. I cried through the entire movie. My daughter was next to me, and she couldn’t understand why I was crying. I’m sure she thinks I’m some sort of sap! I also remember crying during “Happy Feet”. I cried at the part where Mumble’s father, Memphis, acknowledges to Mumble that he never treated Mumble right because he was different and that he was sorry for treating Mumble the way he did because “it wasn’t right”. The tears came as I realized that such a sentiment from my father would have meant the absolute world to me, but it never happened, and never will, especially now that my father is deceased.

      I believe that if you did have children that you could have still not passed on the family history of abuse. You were aware of the abuse and how it affected you, and I’m sure you would have taken steps to do your best to not pass it on to any children. Furthermore, with a child to protect, I’m sure your counseling would have taken on a very different focus. My daughter has been a godsend. She’s taught me more than I could ever hope to teach her. She’s taught me that it’s possible to love a child without demanding they follow some prescribed role you have for them. It’s possible to give your child that loving hug when they need it, and not view them as weak for having such needs. A child doesn’t deserve to be condemned for every failure, but rather, failures are to be forgiven and turned into an educational experience; a chance for a new approach; a chance to bond and tell her that no matter what happens, I still love her. I love her for exactly who she is, and not for some warped vision of who I think she should be. She’s welcome to be whoever she wants to be, and I’ll be proud to be her dad no matter what path she choses.

      I completely understand the “nothing to grieve” sentiment. There really is no loss to grieve, that loss occurred a very long time ago. I feel that when my mother passes, I will most likely feel a peace of mind. A peace that the letters will now stop, the condemnation of my life will now stop, the massive cloud that has been held over my head for my entire life will finally move away and allow the sun to shine more brightly.

      Thanks as always for your comments, Sherri, and best wishes on your continued healing journey.


  19. Stephen, thanks for replying. Thanks for your insight and sensitivity. This site is so important to some of us. When my mother died, I could literally feel that weight that was on and in my shoulder blades disappear. I felt her expectation of me to be a dutiful daughter, I felt her expectation that I should feel guilty for not being her dutiful daughter. I knew her expectations were confirmed by her friends and just the words “her friends” felt like something nasty to me, like some kind of weapon she used against us. Her daughters were just fodder for gossip among herself and “her friends.” After she died, I could look at Mother’s Day cards without feeling that weight, and consider if there was anyone I knew to whom I wanted to send a Mother’s Day card. It’s so stupid, but I know “her friends” are convinced that I’m sorry now that she’s dead, sorry for estranging myself, sorry for not coming to her death bed, sorry, sorry, sorry. Not even. I’m relieved she’s gone.
    When I was 33 my fiance died unexpectedly. To this day I have painful dreams about him that can last the entire night. But I don’t dream about my mother. I know that I did all my work regarding her. There were no unresolved issues for me about her when she died. And I’m glad. Anyway, onward. Still painful not having a family. I really don’t think many people recover from a N parent. I think a lot of people never become who they were meant to become, because they can’t overcome the abuse, the lies, the confusion. Sad and brutal. But, onward. Yes? Thanks. Sherri.

    • Hi Sherri!

      That had to be so hard for you when your fiance died. I can’t imagine! To have your partner pass at a time when the two of you are just beginning your life together had to be completely devastating. I hope that at some point you are able to find some solace and the dreams will stop.

      I can envision what you mean when you mention the ‘weight being lifted’ at your mother’s passing. I think I will have a similar feeling. It’s hard to predict exactly how I will feel, but based on how I feel about her today, there won’t be any sadness, more a peace that it’s finally over.

      I have no idea how my mother’s friends will behave once she passes, and I honestly don’t care. From what I know, she has very few friends. She’s a master at ostracizing people, and she also refuses to be involved with anyone that she perceives to be below her social status. I remember when I was a teenager and we had a neighbor lady who was a stay at home mother that often would come over to our house during the day to hang out with my mother. My mother loathed her and thought she was ‘too simple and unsophisticated’. She would often complain to our family about her. In truth, the woman was a very nice lady, albeit very quiet. She was married to a man who was seriously deranged. He had once shown me gay porn when I was 12 years old. I didn’t really know what to do when he did that, so I did nothing and never told anyone. Eventually he was arrested for pedophilia. I have no idea what became of the neighbor lady. I don’t doubt that she really needed a friend, but my mother would have none of it. She may well have known what was going on with her husband at the time, but I’m sure she was in severe denial. I can’t say I blame her. It has to be a horrific realization to make, that your husband is a pedophile.

      I agree, I don’t think people entirely recover from having an N parent. It will always be part of who they are, and the damage from the N parent is always deep in their emotional psyche, ready to show up at a most inopportune time, even though they’ve taken great strides to mitigate that damage. It’s all part of the journey after abuse.

      I am definitely doing my best to continue to move forward, but after recent events, it’s become very very hard. My positive energy seems to have been completely sapped and I’m seriously struggling.

      Thanks as always for your comments, Sherri!


  20. Stephen, I just read your reply tonight. Thank eff you were not molested by that man. And yes, it’s sad that your mother couldn’t really have been a good friend to that poor woman. My mother was very good at having friends. It was one of the things that hurt my sister so much, because she literally couldn’t compute a woman who was capable of being a good friend to others, but had none of that love for her own daugter, as a child or an adult. My sister, unfortunately, developed narcissistic characteristics and was very egocentric. So of course, my mother wouldn’t want to be her friend. Still really sad. It was easy for me to see that my mother’s emotional development stopped somewhere around high school. Her friends were literally the most important thing in her life. And we daugters amounted to nothing more than fodder for gossip among them. She was immature and envious, especially of my sister, who married way up financially, and better off emotionally. I read somewhere that when there’s a narcissist parent, there’s usually a housefull of narcissists. And I think that’s true in degrees. My mother was the real thing. My sister, my father; they have narcissistic traits and are both unbelievably egocentric. But a true narcissist is an evil thing in my experience. And they weren’t that. My mother was the power center, the queen, and either you served her like the good subject you were supposed to be, or you were out. I was out. My sister was out, in addition she could never really figure out how to get people to serve her. My sister basically sucked at being a narcissist because she lacked the requisite insight required to be truly manipulative. She wasn’t interested in manipulating, she just thought people should serve her. Poor girl. I realized in my teens that my mother might be the most manipulative human being I might ever have to contend with in my entire life. And now I’m 50 and she’s dead. I was right. I’ve never met a more manipulative human being. My brother, unfortunately, grew up to be the golden child, living out his life from his childhood bedroom, taking my mother on Tuesday date nights, to all her doctor appointments, on his annual vacations with him, and on and on and on. My dad had mental illness, and even though he lived at home, he struggled off and on with stable behaviors, all consuming emotions, inability to socialize like others (staying home by himself instead of going to Christmas dinners with the rest of them.) I’m not him, but I inherited the mental illness gene. Anyway, it’s the big suck. She was the big suck. Such a waste.
    I heard Bill and Melinda Gates say in an interview that no matter where they go, they find parents who want their children to be educated because they realize “that’s the ticket out.” Without love, I’m not sure how meaningful anything is in this world. I got that education ticket and I’d trade it for the love ticket any day of the week and twice on Sunday. My parents told me that I was worthless, good for nothing, useless, on and on and on every day of my life. And they didn’t just say it to me, it was delivered with real venom, especially by my mother. My father was more or less explosive anyway. But my mother would look directly into my eyes, snap her finger at me and point, then proceed to yell at me, explaining how I had no value whatsoever.
    Gosh, however could her death have not caused me to grieve even a little? I’m not sure what the plan was… Treat your children like that and then they love you and continue to want to know you and take care of you in your old age and grieve you when you die? Was that the plan? Hmmmm… didn’t work. Not even a little. Just a waste of motherhood, fatherhood, 3 healthy bright children, a safe neighborhood, employment, safe schools, a roof over our heads. We had everything that people around the world can’t even dream of having, and they filled it up with hatred and misery and a complete absence of gratitude. Our home was volatile for no reason at all, except for the people who lived in it, who then thought it would be wise to procreate. So that went that well. And now here we are. Onward. Can only improve on that mess.

    • Hi Sherri!

      I agree, thankfully I was never molested by that man! He was definitely deranged, but also hugely loved by the many who were not aware of his disgusting secret. I don’t know what might have happened had he actually physically molested me. I do remember the entire episode being very strange, with him showing me pictures of the men in the magazine with huge erections and then asking me which of my classmates were ‘developed’. I had no idea what to say. I just wanted to leave. It was all too creepy.

      I’m really sorry that you had to endure all the issues with your family, Sherri. I think it’s amazing that you have survived not just your family, but other issues as well. You are to be congratulated!

      That’s interesting about your sister. I’ve never thought of describing someone as a ‘lazy narcissist’ before, but that seems to fit her pretty well. She’s not motivated enough to hone her manipulation skills to a level where she is successful with her manipulations with regularity. If she married way up financially, though, she probably doesn’t need to have such great skills when it comes to manipulation. She can readily condemn from her higher status perch without the need for excessive manipulation.

      I never saw my mother as a master of manipulation. Rather, she was the queen of guilt and going pathetic. She carried a ton of guilt, and flung it at others without reservation. It was all a neat, tidy, bundle, and worked well for her psyche. Hyper religiosity is a bastion for abject guilt and shame, and she took her huge personal burden of guilt and shame and slathered it onto a bible and threw it at me. So I don’t just get her personal guilt and shame projected onto me, I also get a big scoop from the mountain of chronic Christian guilt, too. Fancy!

      I really feel for your brother as well, who was brainwashed into giving up his entire life to support your mother. That’s just sad. I’ve seen other similar situations, and it’s often a mother / son scenario. Back in my drinking days, there was a mother / son combo that I would regularly run into at one of the local establishments. They were always together and I believed they lived together. He was in his late 20’s and she was 50ish. I once asked her what she would do if he suddenly met someone and wanted to move in with her and get married. I could tell the thought had never crossed her mind – like it wasn’t even an option. It was all very bizarre.

      I don’t really think there was a plan for our families. I believe narcissists create a family because that was what they were supposed to do in order to achieve that perfect image (2.3 children / white picket fence / starter castle in the ‘burbs, etc). Couple the perfect image mindset with other narcissistic mindsets regarding having children (Someone to love me unconditionally!), and you have a recipe for a “mother” lode of familial dysfunction.

      Totally agree on your point about education. My family was HUGE into education. My mother once told me that she believed that soon you would need a college education to get any sort of job. I laughed. And laughed some more. Yes, there are many college graduates working the deep fryer at McDonald’s, but that’s not because they need the degree to get the job! All very hypocritical. Especially consider my parents were not willing to pay for me to actually get an education and I had to enlist in the Navy to get the money to pay for my schooling!

      I totally agree. I’d take a truly loving family over an education. Anytime. Anywhere.

      Thanks as always for your comments, Sherri, and best wishes on your healing journey!


      • Hey Stephen, I don’t know if I missed this entry or what. Feels like the first time I’m reading it. I wouldn’t say my sister was a “lazy narcissist.” She simply lacked insight into herself and others, which made it impossible to be a manipulator. Plus, she just never struck me as wanting to manipulate anyone. She really just learned the narcissistic behavior from both my mother and my father, and she wasn’t a sensitive child. I think her development was very dependent upon their behavior, and it was something she ended up emulating rather than seriously questioning and rejecting. Both she and my father are comically egocentric, in my opinion. There’s a book called “the narcissistic family”, which was so helpful to me. I read it many years ago. I think my sister just learned that “this is how you do things, this is how it’s done” from them, and then continued with a slightly different version of that same generational nightmare (for herself and her own family.) It’s all very sad and unnecessary to me.
        I wish I could be more understanding of my sister, as I feel like I really get why she is how she is, but I guess I have my own issues with insensitive behavior, and probably intimacy as well. I just can’t figure out a healthy way to know my family. My father was a complete jerk to my mother when we were growing up, so she always had something to legitimately collect sympathy on, but she came off as a saint, which probably contributed to his behaviors. She was the real thing, and in the end, she was the power center of the family, saintly, envious, a liar in too many ways to count, two entirely different faces, abusive, and with no where to run when called out on herself, collapsing into tears as a last defense, but never any acknowledgement, ever. And yeah, the mother/son duo thing is gross. It really bothers me for my brother. But I probably barely overcame this upbringing myself. There’s no way to save anyone else. At the end of the day, my life is my responsibility, and so is every one else’s I guess. Hope you are well.

  21. Oh. My. Gosh. So I discovered your blog this morning and have been reading thru. We have similar experiences! This one made me laugh – not at you, but at my own story. And yes, I am aware that laughter is probably inappropriate, but it helps me to keep it from being personal again. Anyway, this story brought back one of my experiences. I was 8 going on 9, and tape recorders were THE thing. I wanted a tape recorder so bad. I remember letting it be known and I remember being excited about my upcoming birthday and going on how I hoped to get a tape recorder. Of course, I did not get that. I got a lamp. A crystal lamp. For a 9 year old. Unfortunately, my surprise look for the lamp and no doubt look of disappointment was there (I still can still remember the feeling of wanting to cry). And of course my mom saw it right away and became deflated (with that one, who doesn’t when you see your kid disappointed – but really, I am sure it wasn’t about my disappointment, it was about HER present not being the best). Anyway, comments were made by NM, lamp was placed at my bedside and that was that. Years later, my mom took the lamp saying, “I know you have never liked lamp anyway…” Not said: she had a spot that she would like that lamp in and really she wanted it all along.

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