Tactics of a Narcissistic Mother by Gail Meyers

Narcissistic Mothers Gaslight the Scapegoat Child

Gaslighting Definition by Dr. Martha Stout Photo Created by Gail Meyers
Gaslighting Definition by Dr. Martha Stout

© by Gail Meyers
What is gaslighting?  What are the signs to look for?  What steps do you take if you are being gaslighted?  Gaslighting is a little known, but insidious form of abuse.  It is also a favorite of abuser, manipulators and narcissistic personality disordered mothers.

"Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another person's reality, by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person." Robin Stern, author of The Gaslight Effect. It is important to note the gaslighting does not have to be severe to have serious psychological consequences.

The term came from this 1944 movie entitled Gaslight. This is an absolute must see for adult sons and daughters of narcissistic personality disordered mothers.  Yes, it is a black and white movie, but I assure you this psychological thriller won't disappoint.  It is an enjoyable movie even if it wasn't so educational for the abuse survivor.

Ingrid Bergman Gaslight
Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight

Gaslight was originally performed on Broadway as Angel Street. The 1944 version was released in the United States after another version was released in the United Kingdom. The 1944 version stars Ingrid Bergman, who won her first Oscar for her performance as Paula.  Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten and a very young Angela Lansbury (Murder She Wrote), makes her file debut.   Charles Boyer plays her psychopath husband, Gregory Anton. Angela Lansbury plays the role of a conniving maid. While Joseph Cotten is Inspector Cameron.

The movie begins with young Paula's aunt being murdered.  However, the murder did not get away with the jewels he was after. Years later Gregory and Paula meet, fall in love and marry.  Gregory then convinces Paula to move back into the house her aunt was murdered in.  Spoiler alert, unbeknownst to Paula, Gregory is the one who murdered her!

Gregory believes the jewels are in the attic.  While searching for them behind Paula's back, he uses a gaslight.  When he does, it causes all the other gaslights to dim.  When Paula notices the dimming of the lights, he tells her she is imagining things.  This is one example of him gaslighting her.  He moves things, then when she can not find them he gives responses designed to cause her to doubt her sense of reality.  Soon, he gets the maid to join in so that no one validates her perceptions, which are 100% accurate by the way.



I do not want to ruin the movie for you, but the gaslighting continues until Paula is on the brink of losing her mind.  Notice he never raised a hand to her, nor did he even raise his voice.  Yet, she is on the brink of losing her mind.  This tactic is also used in workplace mobbings and cause stalkings.

Signs of Gaslighting

Dr. Stern articulates three stages of gaslighting, including disbelief, defense and depression.  You can see this progression in as Ingrid Bergman's character progresses toward losing her mind.
Here are the signs of gaslighting from Dr. Stern's book, The Gaslight Effect:
  • You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
  • You ask yourself, "Am I too sensitive?" a dozen times a day.
  • You often feel confused and even crazy.
  • You're always apologizing to your mother.
  • You can't understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren't happier.
  • You frequently make excuses for your partner's [mother's] behavior to friends and family.
  • You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don't have to explain or make excuses.
  • You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  • You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  • You have trouble making simple decisions.
  • You have the sense that you used to be a very different person - more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  • You feel hopeless and joyless.
  • You feel as though you can't do anything right.
  • You wonder if you are a "good enough" girlfriend, wife, employee, friend. daughter.

 

Real Life Example of Narcissistic Mother's Gaslighting

Gaslighting can be as simple as an unfaithful spouse telling you you're just paranoid when you question him or her.  It can be as simple as narcissistic mother pretending as if the abuse did not happen the night before.  However, it can also be long-term and much more elaborate.

Gaslighting was a favorite abuse tactic of my late narcissist mother and here are some actual, real life examples. For several years right before the holidays my mother started a fight with me, attacking me from out of nowhere.  She then verbally assaulted me, told me to get out of her life and uninvited us to the family holiday gatherings.

This usually happened before Thanksgiving and lasted through Christmas and the new year. Then a couple of months after the holidays were over, I would begin to hear rumors. She had concealed her abuse with a flipped tale, telling that I had verbally assaulted her.  This is more commonly referred to as  playing the victim while vilifying the true victim.

Then we either did not attend the holiday gatherings because I was uninvited, angry or because I had not apologized to her. She would then, and she did this many, many times, stand right in front of me with a straight face and tell me how I had attacked her and owe her an apology.

For the first few years as a young adult she was so convincing that I thought well maybe it is just two different perceptions. However, it did not take me long to start actually writing out exactly what happened in anticipation of her gaslighting, scapegoating and supposedly being owed an apology. I got to the point that when she started an argument from out of nowhere, I would tell her I am not taking the blame. I would actually try to interrupt her script or tell her to stop, but to no avail.

It literally did not matter what I said or did not say, even if I said I had seen this routine before. She would simply carry on with her melodrama regardless of what I said. She would tell me to get out of her life, tell everyone I had done to her what she had actually done to me, and after the holidays act like she deserved an apology. By that time, she had most of the family mad at me because she had told them some ridiculous lie about what happened.

I always thought I was taking the high road and things would work out. It worked out, but not in any way I would have ever imagined. However, I want to warn you when a narcissist does this to a son or daughter over many years, many people just assume it is true because she is your mother.  I witnessed her doing this to both myself and my late brother. A narcissist will destroy relationships in just this manner before you have the slightest idea what is going on.

Another way my mother gaslighted her two scapegoat children was by never admitting the truth. My narcissistic mother continued until the day she died with the martyr routine that she had been treated so poorly by her two (scapegoat) children.  She was playing the victim while vilifying the true victims.

It truly is nothing less than alarming how many people bought it hook, line and sinker. This is also what my pedophile step-father did prior to admitting the truth of the sexual abuse.  The difference is the pedophile actually took responsibility for his abuse before his death, the narcissist never did!

While my narcissistic mother was terminally ill for two years prior to her death, her every action demonstrated her first concern was that her facade remain in place after her death. By their very nature most scapegoats are strong personalities and truth-tellers. It is often their truth telling that gets them in trouble with a narcissist. As a narcissist targets a scapegoat and begins to destroy their reputation and relationships, fewer and fewer people are there to validate their perceptions which are generally 100% accurate.

This happened so gradually, incrementally and consistently to my brother that he did not understand why he was being treated so badly.  He internalized it. She also did this to me, but during those years I had enough contact with extended parts of the family that she did not achieve the same extent of damage.  Oh, she destroyed relationships and reputation in many ways.  It is just that my brother had long since stopped visiting extended family because he was busy with his own family.

 

Physical Gaslighting

If you experience this you can bet you are in a dangerous relationship.  This is a form of what Charles Manson did when they broke into homes.  They would not steal anything, but just moved a few things around to cause distress.  So the person knew someone was in their home, but it was not a burglar because they did not steal anything (which can be even more disturbing).  It is intentional infliction of emotional torment.

For a more on gaslighting, see Gaslighing:  More Than Just Lying.



Updated 11/8/14 - This article was sabotaged the last time this blog was hit.  The bottom half of the article was removed and the first half duplicated.  I returned it to the original.  If you notice anything else, please let me know.  Thank you

Comments

  1. This is exactly what my mother has done to me for 40 years. At this point, my entire family hates me and believes the most outrageous lies about me (which they've told me she's told them). Because they refuse to talk to me, I'm not even allowed to show actual, fact-based evidence that contradicts those lies. Gaslighting is terrifying. The worst thing is, it makes you doubt yourself.

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    1. Well, as a fellow person of a narcissistic mother, if these family members actually believe the lies of this master manipulator, even though you'd suggested proof of the contrary in your defense, and they are not willing to hear you out, then they, too, are part of the problem and not the solution. You do not need this type of people within your life, stay clear of them.

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  2. I could write a book about my narcissistic mother and her controlling manipulative games she's played since I was a child. Even more maddening is my spineless enabling father who goes along with her garbage. The latest game mom played is notifying my brother Tom & John (not their real names) that mother and father would only be having Thanksgiving dinner with my brother Pete, whom she successfully made the scapegoat of the family. Upon much reflection, I realized this is mom's way of getting back at my brothers, John, who finally married at the age of 48. He and his bride got married in Las Vegas. Mom never imagined John would marry, thus mom no longer being the top woman in his life. Then on top of that, John did not get married in the Catholic Church which is a crime in my mother's book. John used to be the Golden Boy, who could do no wrong. My mother is mad at other brother, Tom because when she plays her controlling games, he calls her on it. I see my mother inviting only brother Pete to a Thanksgiving get together, as her using Pete as a pawn in order to hurt Tom and John. Pete might be encouraged that all of a sudden mother has taken an interest in him, when she actually used him as a prop. I do not have any contact with my parents. I got fed up with the abuse over 10 years ago. When ever something happens in our family that just doesn't make sense, it's because mother is behind it, playing some kind of head game in an effort to hurt someone or control them. Christmas is to be held at the former golden boy's home, John and his new bride. It will be interesting to see what kind of garbage mother will pull in order not to go or to ruin the holiday for everyone. She likes to pretend she's sad every Christmas because over 50 years ago, she gave birth to a set of twins, whom both died within days. So you can count on every Christmas mother "grieving" over their loss. FIFTY YEARS AGO! My brother Bob died 7 years ago two days before Christmas and she doesn't put on the grieving act for his memory!

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    1. Anonymous, that "no contact" thing is definitely the way to go. Recently, I took the plunge and went no contact, so far it's scary, frightening, and painful, but freeing, wonderfully terrific, and the best thing I ever did. Enjoy your life, glad you realized who you are and who your mother really is, a narcissistic and manipulating mother. The question I'd like to ask is, are your other family members as intuitive as you to the family dynamics??? The reason I ask is because within my family of four (I am the oldest and have one sister and two brothers) I am the only one that has gone to therapy, take med's for depression (diagnosed bi-polar, it's a wonder am sane), speak out, and take no mess from my mother and call her on her continued manipulating b.s. Thus, I no longer want any or limited involvement with my mother and siblings. My siblings seem to enjoy attacking me as the scapegoat, and although, I understand the dynamic behind their ignorance, it makes me less and less want to have any involvement with them because they are sick and don't have a clue.

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  3. Anonymous, I have had those same experiences. I have had flying monkey relatives refuse to look at documented proof countering scapegoating lies. I have also had broken relationships as a result of her maneuvers. Also, narcissists in an extended family will tag team a scapegoat. I know how infuriating, frustrating and painful it can be. Several years ago I stopped trying to defend myself or even have relationships with flying monkey family members who are committed to misunderstanding me. After I stood back away from the situation with a couple of no contact years, I realized those same flying monkeys have a vested interest in keeping the family secrets in the closet. At this point in my life I truly consider it a blessing that I got them out of my life too. I hope you are also able to have resolution with your situation.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts.

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    1. Flying monkeys is excellent term...I am scapegoat in my family. Oldest daughter, enlisted to raise younger siblings while mother "worked on herself so she could eventually leave" our abusive father. She never left him in time to preserve our safety and her consistent absence left us vulnerable to him. Not that she ever protected us anyway, only I protected anyone and now I am the "crazy" one. She actively works to discredit me after abusing my own children and husband during holidays and my siblings are so desperate for any positive parental affection that no one ever sticks up for me at the risk of losing any hope of her approval.
      It has gone on for decades and we are all so emotionally isolated from one another, each only really in contact with her, that there is no hope of validation of what she does to us. For years, my own sister and I were deliberately driven apart with false stories about the other that led to resentments and eventually, near-estrangement. Not much chance of recovery for our relationship now. My alienation leaves opportunity for my sister to get approval and this is my mother's very compelling and alluring bait/reward. So I have decided no contact with mother is best. Not how I hoped it would turn out, but I realize my mother feels very comfortable abusing my own family, and I will not allow her brand of crazy to trickle into my children's lives.
      I do see my siblings as flying monkeys because they are eager for any affection she shows them, even if they have to allow her to manipulate us all for them to get it. She couldn't excommunicate me without their compliance.
      She is even now painting me as her victimizer in response to my firm disapproval of divisive comments she made to my children about their stepfather over the holidays. She even stated that I am unstable to my own children! She flatly denies any of this happened, even though several of my kids (adults and children) witnessed it firsthand. She attempts to discredit me instead and insists that I have hurt her beyond what she could ever forgive be ause I won't apologize for making up lies about her. She alleges that I "prepped" my kids. It is all very painful for me, because I realize that the only route to her "love" is to accept blame for events that never took place. I guess it took her attack on my own family for me to finally have the guts, at age 45, to close the door to her.

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  4. Anonymous, everything you have shared sounds spot on for a narcissistic mother in my experience. Weddings and holidays seem to be two celebrations they just can't seem to resist ruining. I hope your new sister-in-law watches her back because she is the one narcissist mom will usually compete with or sabotage.

    I am so glad you went no contact! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

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  5. Thanks to this blog for bringing more light to my shattered soul. I have been suffering all kinds of mental abuse from my mother for forty years or so. Thanks God I was raised by my lovely grand mother who was also one of my mother´s scapegoats. My parents separated when I was 6 months old, my mother went to the big city to work. My brother remained with my father¨s family and I was given to my blessed grand parents. That is when the ordeal began, she made my brother her golden child and my grand mother and I were the scapegoats. She used to accuse my grand mother of being too permissive and all kinds of things, in 2006 my grand mother had a stroke and died, one day before she got the stroke my grand mother told me that she did not know what to do with my mother anymore. When I told her that I missed my grand mother she told me to go dig her out of the grave. My mother has 100 percent the narcissist personality but it is getting worse with time, for that reason I started investigating mental illnesses and bingo I discovered the narcissistic disorder. My life has been on the edge of destruction, she accuses me of raising antisocial children, she criticizes my daughters and sons. But she elevates my brothers children to high levels, she gives them all kinds of gifts, she wants my brother to inherit the best properties. The list of manipulation and abuse is too long to explain here.

    Hey friends thanks, I am standing like a skyscraper regardless of the attacks, all my extended family against me, all my friends against me, anyone that she can get her hands on against me. But she missed one point, she has not been able to separate me from God. I hope that one day she repents,

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    1. Anonymous, I am so proud of you. And, I am not against you. You and I share a common bond: God. God is the one thing that mum did not count on, my Heavenly Father saved my life. Just recently after telling her off, and vowing no contact, I told her I prayed that one day she would repent. Keep being strong....

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    2. Oh yeah, God is healing me from all the damage done to me by my family.....

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    3. Also, I am so very sorry that your mother said something so horrible to you regarding your grandmother. As someone else suggested, please get as far away from your mum as possible. Although, I believe all change is possible through God, if one is not able to come to the light of truth, they simply will never change....

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  6. Anonymous, the situation you articulate sounds very familiar. A few months after my mother died after "selflessly" demanding 24/7 care for two years, my scapegoat brother passed alone and ostracized. She nearly took me down to the grave with her, too.

    Thank God she has not been able to separate you from God, although my guess is she has probably tried. What a horrible thing to say to you about your beloved Grandmother. My relationship with God also sustained me through broken relationships and dark days created by her abuse and lies.

    This is very serious and I encourage you to get as physically and emotionally far from her as possible. I also want to remind you of the resources in the right margin of this page.

    I always hoped my mother would one day repent, admit the truth and apologize. Fat chance! While I was hoping for that deathbed apology, she was busy scapegoating and orchestrating one last swift kick in the behind before she died.

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  7. My mother and my brother used to gaslight me tag team style to the point that I asked to go to an institution. I guess to avoid the real truth coming out and social service intervention, my cowardly step-father took me aside and explained that they were lying to me to upset me and that he would get them to stop and say sorry. They never did but that tiny intervention by him stopped me from questioning myself. I no longer have contact with my Mom and Step-dad and limited with my brother. It is sad but the reality is they take pleasure at my demise. Why would anyone continue contact with family like this.

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    1. I am sorry for your pain, but glad you set a boundary of no contact to protect yourself. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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  8. You're welcome. Things sure haven't been easy and most people don't fully understand. With social networking smearing attempts have been quite easy for my Mother. Fortunately, the fires were extinguished without my intervention due to her having burnt many bridges with others and my good reputation. I am however,forever damaged; I was raised being told I was loved but treated cruelly and am now constantly taken advantage of by both males and females wanting to projected their frustrations onto me because I can carry an immense emotional load with a smile on my face. I have had to learn to close the door on many people, lock it, and throw away the key. Being lonely is better than endless emotional drama and psychological torment. I am so thankful to have a beautiful relationship with my children and my chihuahua :) I always knew there was something wrong with my Mom but it really hit home when I had my own children and she started verbally abusing my daughter. I protected my daughter as adults should. Its sad I was not afforded any protection as a child. People protected themselves from my mom and were happy to let me be the whipping boy (girl). I smiled then, I smiled now, as I was trained by the seven headed dragon.

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    1. Wow, I can relate to pretty much every word of your comment. It does shine a whole different light on it when you have your own children, grandchildren, etc. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

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  9. I always go through this with my dad who scapegoats me, blames me for everything, even teaches young children in the family that I am ignoring them or that they should ignore me without telling them the truth, that I am not to speak to them or rather he takes them away so I can't. My mother is his robot/dog. She completely becomes disloyal to me the second he enters the house, even if she was hurt by him recently and then begs him for things or does as he asks because he leaves out information and is so convincing and persuasive that she and everyone else believes his lies, logic, and excuses. If a child is disrespectful to an adult, he actually teaching the child that its ok to that while banishing the adult. I don't know why I didn't see this before, but I actually feel disgusted that no communication, blaming, no forgiveness, lack of harmony is promoted in the family. Everyone is on his side - from my sister, to her kids, to my mom, my brother and his kids. My dad experiments on me and manipulates everyone and eventually does what he wants. When he dies and my mom dies in their old age, there will be no one around me. I will live alone, die alone. I am like The Fockers - yes I do things that are stupid, look hateful and say hurtful things but I just realized that I have BPD, along with agoraphobia and panic/anxiety disorder brought on by my parents stressfull relationship, abuse, attack and abuse by my brother and father and neglect by my dad since I was a child. He would ignore my mom and i for 6 mths at a time. He has even convinced my uncle that I am bad news to the point that he says out loud "oh yes, I see now what you mean" if I do anything remote or say anything remote to what my dad convinced him about me. He leaves a legacy of hatred between siblings. he does not get along with his siblings except for one of my uncles who died from illness a few years ago. I guess that is what it is now. I haven't really talked to my sister for 1.5 years and same with my brother. I feel so alone, not sure if I should ignore my family even though I will look like the ill and crazy one and not him. He is Mr. Nice Guy and then privately a terror and brings misery to everyone.

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    1. Anonymous, my heart goes out to you in the pain you have endured. Your father sounds like a very abusive man. I hope you do remove yourself from abusive situations. What do you mean your father experiments on you? Have you considered getting a therapist? I have also always found that keeping a journal helps provide validation and clarity. Please join us on Facebook. The link is in the right margin. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences.

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  10. Thank you for all your articles. That feeling of going crazy is something I'll never forget. One time when I was a kid, on Christmas Eve while we were all at the table my mother asked if I wanted a second serving of lunch and I said I wasn't hungry anymore. Then she started yelling very angrily at me for talking back and threatened to take my Christmas presents away. I had no idea why she was yelling and I was scared that she was so worked up so I just stared at her. Then she slapped me and yelled at my father for not disciplining me when he was seeing how disrespectful I was. Then she said what she always (and still to this day) says, "you have the mouth of a dog" meaning I keep barking uncontrollably. I mention this because this Christmas Eve experience is a repressed memory that just came through recently for me.

    These accusations throughout the years of talking back and all the punishments I received for talking back really messed me up. It was confusing, no matter what I said, I was always being disrespectful. There were times when I would literally sit in a room full of people for hours looking down at the ground and not utter a word. My wake up call that this wasn't "normal" for me to do was when a classmate specifically asked me, "why do you always sit and stare at the ground?" I didn't know what to say and I don't remember what answer I gave him, all I remember is feeling terrible that he was cross with me. Looking back, he didn't seem mad and didn't say anything to show that he was mad, but I perceived it that way and for days I was, I don't know what I was, it was a mixture of scared, sad, worried that I had made him mad. People would say I was a conceited witch with a b when the truth was that I was scared to speak or look at people in the eye.

    I cried when I found out about NPD. There's a life time of healing I have to do and so many experiences I have to share, but I still feel like I can't talk about them. I feel like I'm betraying my mother, but then I wonder why after all this time I still feel like I owe her. I don't know if I'll ever know. All I know now is that it's o.k. to feel and think. It's resources like this blog that have helped me a lot.

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  11. Continued from above...

    So of course all these tales just left me wanting to know more. Like ok let's go, what is the REAL reason here? But there isn't any. My grandmother is a petty narcissist who holds a grudge closer to her heart than her grandchildren, and a baseless grudge at that. So I get it now. My mom was the scapegoat. And I never understood why they were so awful to my sister and I, especially considering my sister is "perfect' in every way a conservative woman obsessed with appearances like my grandmother would approve of. Always pulled perfect grades, tons of awards adn accolades, put herself through a private Catholic college, is married with two girls living in a brick house in a leafy suburb...but nope. I'd even say she's been meaner to my sister than me. Also, she has lied through her teeth, blaming other people for things I know are her fault, lying about calling me and sending me cards when I know she didn't, and the best part--- telling others in the family that me and my sister went out of our way to stop seeing HER. Complete and utter bull. One day the bi-annual holiday invites just stopped happening. Birthday cards were done and over by age 15, phone calls and requests made to go to lunch were met with ambiguous statements about "being too busy being a homeowner" to go to lunch. Endless lies and evasions. Always made to feel like I had done something wrong. But I knew enough to know I hadn't, but holding onto that knowledge without a full understanding of HOW THE HELL people can be like that has been absolutely exhausting for me. But all this stuff makes perfect sense. My grandmother is a narcissist. Her golden child (my uncle) was even given the silent treatment for two years when he married a divorcee in a Baptist church. THat silent treatment was broken when HE reached out to HER and she to this day thinks that was the best and only way it could have been. Runner up golden child is more a golden child just by default, my aunt who, besides college, has never not lived with her mother at home. You can tell my grandmother is routinely disgusted with this aunt for various reasons, but she's at least clean and quiet and nice looking and very godly so she'll pass. Then my other aunt, the youngest...she tried to ally with the golden's. She took the mantle up against my dead mother even though she and my mom were actually a lot alike and quite close. Her ignoring us and being like them was the hardest part because I knew she loved my mom. Then she finally married after essentially being dumped at the alter, and settled for a man she didn't love. The marriage fell apart, she cheated on him, began heavily drinking. My grandmother and other aunt refused to talk to her anymore, just cut her out. At that point, this aunt reached out to me. Sort of. Showing up at my job drunk. Inviting me over to cut my hair but obviously not knowing really wht to say or how to apologzie or what. She died suddenly, in her early 40's- just like my mother.

    These people and their bullshit put a lot of weight on people. A lot. And I believe that in the case of my mom, aunt and even grandfather, it was lethal. I refuse to allow it in my life as an obvious proxy scapegoat. I get it. These are energetic patterns of control and deceit and it's all a sick way of protecting themselves. And the truth is, not everyone does have a conscience that catches them in the end or that keeps them up at night. Some people are perfectly content to have their lies and their appearances and their control. And that's that. And I don't need it. Thanks.

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  12. This is the first half of Julia's comment that was inadvertently deleted...

    julia.angelinaNovember 18, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    This all makes so much sense to me. So eye opening.

    My mother died when I was 10, and by all accounts of those who knew her she was a warm, funny, intelligent, generous person. Her viewing was the most attended the funeral home had ever seen. Fast forward one year, and her father dies--- pretty clearly of a broken heart. My mom and her dad were a lot alike and decidedly NOT like her mother/his wife and two of the three other siblings. Fast forward another six months and my aunts and grandmother begin unleashing a tremendous amount of vitriol on my sister and I. Every thing we did suddenly became worthy of criticism. Music we liked, how we wore our hair, how we spent our time, beliefs, ideals...they beat me down to the point of tears every time I saw them, usually more than once. When I asked if they had a place to put recyclables after finishing a can of soda, I was bullied by all three of them for being stupid enough to care about recycling. I was eleven years old. Mind you, we never had a whole lot to do with them. While my mother was alive it didn't seem weird to me at all, it was just how it was. But after she died and especially, after my grandfather died, how little the bothered with us seemed odd enough that people around us worried and tried to intervene. And when we did see them, all the abuse.

    Well that summer after my grandfather died, they sat us down to tell us how "your mother wasn't who you thought she was" and started yammering on about how awful of a person she was. I thought this was grossly unfair and disrespectful, and I stood up and said "she isn't even here to defend herself, how can you do this?" and left the room refusing to participate in their smears. According to them, that was just me "not being able to handle the truth" or "not ready to come around." Apparently I'm still not ready and I'm pretty sure that over the years I was able to drag the whole truth out of them. My mother's crimes were these: She was too loud. She wasn't beautiful. She was embarrassing. She lived in a coed apartment in college. She had liberal politics....and the big one- she got pregnant in college and had to give the baby up for adoption.

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  13. I found this website to be particularly helpful. My mother is a narcissist and I can identify with everything posted but gaslighting is a particular favourite of my mother's.

    When I was a young toddler, less than two years old, I was rushed to hospital as I was in extreme pain due to not being able to urinate for the last three days. It was a neighbour who called the ambulance as I was in great distress, not my mother. Isn't it odd that a mother would leave her child in such pain?? When I was admitted, my parents weren't allowed to see me for a month, as I was in such distress. My mother always told me that the reason why she wasn't allowed to see me was due to the hospital's neglect. She claimed that the staff had allowed me to go around the ward floors with no diaper on and as a result, I got an infection. To conceal their (medical staff) apparent neglect, my mother said that's why her and my father weren't allowed to see me. If this was the case, why didn't my parents pursue legal action against the medical staff?? This was 1976. In 1980, I asked my mother what were the marks on my legs. She said that they were birthmarks and that the doctors said they would fade in time. Still have them at 41!

    Roll on to 2009. I was just back from a holiday to New York and met an aunt in town. We went for coffee and after a while she became uneasy. I asked her what was the matter and she replied that she didn't know if she should say anything or not. Too late at that stage, I was curious. She told me that when I was brought into hospital in 1976, a neighbour of my grandmother was a nurse and called down to let them know that she was very concerned, as were the medical staff, as I had sixteen 'corrosive' holes on my legs, probably due to burning. Now I knew why my mother lied about them being birthmarks and not bringing me to a doctor when I was a toddler. It was to cover up her abuse. Not only was it soul destroying to be lied to all those years but it was an added shock that my father's family, including my still living 91 year old grandmother, always knew the truth and never got us away from the abuse.

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  14. To add as I went over the character limit:

    I sent them packing and will not allow others to ruin the happiest day of my life. I would like your readers to know that there is great hope. I did break free and basically have nothing to do with them. I have never been as content and pray that God will continue to bless me. Good luck to you all.

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  15. Wow, Julia Angelina, I identify so much with the story of your mother. It's hard to believe they went on hating and scapegoating her after her death. How much did you have to do with her family when she was still alive? How did your father react to the scapegoating of his wife? Do you think they made your aunt the new scapegoat after your mother's death? Very sad story. I too, have walked away from my scapegoating family. The longer I am away, the easier it is for me to recover. Your mom sounds like an amazing person.

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  16. I have a step-daughter who has been abused for most of her childhood by her gaslighting mother. At one point, her mother told her that she had never been married before nor was she ever pregnant with another child when my step-daughter brought up the man she married. For the record, my step-daughter attended the wedding as a flower girl with pictures and a marriage certificate to prove it. My step-daughter also clearly remembers going to ultrasound appointments with her mom. She also clearly remembers the man she called "Dad" whom her mother told her it was all just a dream. This is just one incident, I have journals full of situations like this. My step-daughter has recently opted to not go home anymore and we are going through the courts.

    The judge actually wants to pave the way for them to have a relationship. Honestly, I'd like to see this judge be forced to have a relationship with someone who manipulates and abuses her. Why are we so far off in our legal system from keeping our children safe?

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    Replies
    1. Emotional abuse doesn't exist in the court's eyes. I hope that some day it will.

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  17. I have never commented on a blog before, but I am feeling more than a little desperate about my mother's relationship with me. I am female. I can remember as a child, I tried so hard to be "good." Not even realizing what I had done wrong - just that mom was unhappy and ignoring me, I remember saying over and over again, "I'm sorry mom, I'm so sorry, I'm sorry, I so sorry mom, please mom, I'm so sorry." Her response? "QUIT SAYING YOU'RE SORRY!" My guess is that I was seeking forgiveness from her - she either couldn't or wouldn't offer forgiveness.
    She is never wrong and everything is about her. Nothing that my three brothers and I do is ever enough. If she can't get to us, she calls our adult children and tells them how we are neglecting her and treating her horribly. Thank goodness our kids are wise to her manipulations and they let us know she has called and what her blown up accusations were. Thank goodness our kids haven't bought into her lies, and love us, and see through her antics.
    My dad was always supportive and loving, but my mom would always do or say something to interrupt or completely end any conversation or snuggle he might have time to have with me. It really upset her when dad and I spent any time together - even talking on the phone. He died a few years ago. One of the first things she said to me after the funeral was "So many people said that Daddy was such a good person. He was a good person, wasn't he?" (She just realized that?). When we were alone she asked me,"Did you love Daddy more than me?" -see, it was still all about her again. (a good tip: try to avoid being alone with such a person - it is just too emotionally draining ).
    As a result of a warped childhood, I believe I suffered from clinical depression and anxiety disorder during the course of my early childhood up until present day. Of course the terminology and treatment options when I was young, were archaic and stygmatizing. My mother's mother (my grandmother) was hospitalized for "nervous breakdowns" and the treatment was "shock treatments." When I was in college and more independent of my mother, I sought out therapy. I was hospitalized for depression and anxiety after my first child was born. It's been a constant ongoing struggle to maintain a balance with depression and anxiety medication since that time. Fortunately, I recently found a therapist who focuses on behavior and problem-solving relationships. She has literally been a lifesaver, helping me recognize relationship dynamics and to find my own truth.
    In my heart I know I need to break ties with her for my own sanity, but I can't seem to step away and leave my brothers to deal with her.
    My question is this: how do we respond to a person who delights in making people feel guilty, lies, refuses to admit wrong-doing, and tries to make her own truth by saying others forgot or got it all wrong. What do we do? What do we say? How do we handle this freakish situation? There are no standards for how to handle a person behaving this way. Hey, even Ceasar on "The Dog Whisperer" TV show can tell a person what to do and what not to do with an out-of-control dog! Why can't we have those tools for an out-of-control mother?
    My brothers and I are just so incredibly sad. She's supposed to be our mother!
    One great thing that has evolved from this whole thing: I have devoted my life to say and do just the opposite of anything she has said or done. I think I decided to be and am a better person in spite of her.
    I do find myself thinking that at 85 years of age, she may not live much longer - now that is a horrible thing to think - that I'm just waiting her out. Unless she is the death of me first.......

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  18. Oh my Goodness. I just found your site as i googled, my narcissistic mother has terminal cancer and is still treating me wrong &now refuses to see me.
    THANK YOU SO MUCH. This is so validating. Reading this, brings me back to my childhood (I am now 43) when I would question her the next day why she had called me all those cruel things, like bitch, witch, "you are evil", and she would reply" I never said those things it's all in your head". How bad can that screw up a 6yr.old girl!?!? God help me. I thought all those years of therapy had helped me but she got to my head once again before dying. She just has to leave this world with a Big Bang.
    Thank you for this site. Christina

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