Tactics of a Narcissistic Mother by Gail Meyers

Healing from a Narcissistic Mother

narcissistic abuse echo recovery by gail meyers quote
Echo by Alexandre Cabanel,
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
© by Gail Meyers 
It really helped me to map out the recovery process.  I want to know where I am going.  What's the plan?  Volumes have been written about each one of these areas, but in a very general sense there are at least three steps in therapy.  Understanding this helped me understand why the things adult sons and daughters of narcissists are told over and over by professionals are important.

Understanding the Problem

This is the part where you go to therapy without the slightest idea there is a name for the lifetime of abuse and trauma you have endured.  You are convinced at this point that it is all our fault or you are going crazy, or both.  Then the therapist tells you she believes you are a daughter or son of a narcissistic personality disordered mother.  It might also be from reading articles and thinking this sounds hauntingly familiar, then talking to the therapist about it or joining a group or both. 

No matter the way in which we begin to discover the problem, we need to understand it.  We need to understand the disorder, the manipulation tactics, and the effects it has had and is having on us. 

I had already spent three years in sexual abuse therapy, made a lot of changes, done a lot of recovery work and learned a lot about alcoholism, sexual abuse, dysfunctional family roles, etc.  So this is the part where I read every webpage and book I could find on the topic of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder, as so many other adult sons and daughters of narcissists have told me they have done.  So much of narcissistic abuse involves invalidation.  Thus, finally finding validation is a big part of the healing process. 

When I found Dr. McBride's book I had the rare opportunity to spend some time alone at the lake.  So, it was just me, my journal, and the book on CD while being surrounded by the comforting beauty of nature.  It was a cleansing, healing experience.  Being able to listen to the validating words being spoken was even more healing than reading.
I also looked at my family history and put a lot of pieces together.  As I continued learning about the problem, more and more denial crumbled.  This is a time when you have to really be gentle with yourself.  Do not beat yourself up about the denial or not seeing something that appears to have been right in front of your face for years.  The denial protected our minds so we could survive the abuse. 

Dealing with Feelings and Healing Emotionally

This is the hard part that can feel endless and overwhelming at times.  It is processing trauma, anger and feelings.  This is where you come to accept the reality as you are able to and grieve the losses.  It is the hard part, but there is such a release.  Just as someone grieving the death of a loved one bounces around in the five stages of grief articulated in the book, On Death and Dying, we may also bounce around between denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

That is normal, but some professionals like Dr. Karyl McBride instruct us that acceptance must come first in our recovery process.  We need to accept the reality of the situation and the fact that our narcissistic mothers who are high on the spectrum are never going to change.  I spent years nursing that toxic hope. 

The process I experienced is dealing first with the narcissist - anger, grief, acceptance, anger, anger, anger, grief, sadness, and rage, deeper acceptance, then becoming better able to look at my own life and behavior.  For me, as my denial shattered, the anger really kicked in.  The anger so consuming for a season of time that it felt as if it would never end, but it finally did subside. 

There is a huge distinction that must be made at this point.  There is a difference between intellectually processing and feeling the feelings.  I was told I needed to feel the feelings, not just emotionally detach and intellectually process - which is what I much preferred to do!  I was amazed by the fact that when I actually let myself feel the pain associated with the memories how much it began to take the sting out!

As adult children of narcissists many of us have been conditioned our entire lives to pretend and stuff our feelings.  So, this might be the last thing in the world you feel like doing, but it made all the difference for me.  While it is also important to process the anger, it is equally as important to process it in healthy, non-destructive ways.


Many parts of the healing process are empowering, but after all of the hard work of dealing with our feelings, we can then look at our experiences in a healthier more realistic manner - in light of reality.  In other words, you reconsider your experiences in light of the new information you learn.   

You start to get to know yourself and take better care of yourself.  You shed the false image of yourself projected onto you.  You are important, too.

How a personality disordered parent treated you was not your fault, but it is now your responsibility to make choices for yourself.  These are usually totally and completely self-centered personalities who have probably accused you of being the selfish one if you so much as protested the abuse. 

You are not being selfish by taking care of yourself and protecting yourself from further abuse.  If it helps, consider what you would do for a close friend in the same situation.  Then, do that for yourself.  You would not think your friend was selfish, and you are not being selfish either.  
Among other things, recovery results in finding ourselves, setting healthier boundaries, asserting ourselves in healthy ways, finding balance, and engaging in two-way, reciprocal relationships.

Finding the Right Therapist and Support

There are resources across the United States that can be found at 211.org, including sliding scale counseling.  There are also online therapists, such as Dr. Linda Martinez-Lewi, who give telephone consultations.  

Some larger churches provide Christian therapists if you attend the church.  It is very important to find a good fit with a therapist.  The last thing you need is a therapist who does not get it adding more invalidation.  So, find someone who understands this disorder.  Listen to your instincts!  

There are groups and forums online for adult sons and daughters of narcissists, but be sure to do a search of reviews on the group first.  This validation can greatly enhanced the healing process.

Will My Narcissistic Mother Ever Change?

In many ways your healing can be delayed and unnecessary abuse suffered by hanging on to the hope that the narcissist will change. I do not say that lightly, but from more than 40 years of trying at different times myself. Even following a two year terminal illness, with plenty of time to contemplate things, she did not change for the better prior to death.

There is necessary and unnecessary pain.  Feeling the feelings associated with the recovery process is necessary pain in order to recover.  Hanging onto a hope that someone will change who has no desire to change can bring years of unnecessary pain.   

Setting Boundaries with Narcissistic Mother:  No Contact or Low Contact

As you begin to make your way out of the rabbit hole determined to believe you own eyes, ears and gut instead of the lies of a narcissist, you will soon face the decision as to whether to maintain contact with your narcissistic personality disordered mother.

No Contact or Low Contact?  The goal here is to prevent further abuse while working on healing from past abuse. This is a personal choice each adult child son or daughter of a narcissistic personality disordered mother must make for herself or himself. However, the goal is no longer trying to change another person who has no intention of changing and start taking better care of yourself.

This sounds so simple, but it was extremely beneficial to me.  When you think of the behavior of the narcissist, name it. Whatever the tactic, put a name on it. Is it lying, gaslighting, playing the victim while vilifying the true victim, triangulation, forgive and forget? This helps clear the fog, as well as preparing you to recognize the maneuvers in the future.

You can make better choices for yourself. You can heal. You can enjoy life. You can even be happy and healthy. 

List of Tips for Healing from a Narcissist Mother

These are ideas and tips that have helped me along during the healing process:

  • Learn everything you can about narcissism.  As you continue reading it becomes clearer that it was not your fault.  You also learn to recognize the common manipulation tactics.  This helps you be able to understand and put a name on what happened, as well as making them less effective on you in the future.

  • Begin setting healthy boundaries. It is a process, not an event but contemplate and implement healthy boundaries.  Boundary work needs to be done even if you decide to go no contact with your mother, as they are important in every relationship.  It is a process that gets easier as you practice. There is something about putting goals in writing that adds focus and energy. Put your first few new healthy boundaries in writing, ponder them knowing you have decided what is best. Then, when you have a weak or challenging moment, you can look at your paper and tell yourself you thought this out. This process seems to help when you are trying to change. That does not mean you can never change your boundaries or goals or that establishing healthier boundaries is going to happen overnight, but it will be helpful in the beginning. Once the boundaries are better established then it will be easier to see where you can become more flexible. Look at it like trying to learn to ride a bike. When you fall, get back up and try again. Boundaries are important in all relationships, so it is well worth the effort to learn and set healthy boundaries. If someone, anyone, does not respect your boundaries that should send up a red flag of caution to you about that person or relationship. Dr. Henry Cloud's book on boundaries is excellent, as well as widely recommended by therapists.

  • Find some support. You may have been trained by the narcissist to suffer in silence, but begin learning to reach out. Just take baby steps at first. This can be difficult, especially since many adult children of narcissistic personality disordered parents learn to distrust and always be on guard. Begin slowly if you need to so you do not overwhelm yourself. Trust is to be earned, not granted.  Slowly build trust in relationships, instead of jumping in with both feet.  Whether with a therapist or online group or both, find validation.  If you join an online group or forum, check the reviews first.

  • Take your focus off trying to change the narcissist and put it on your recovery. You can not change the narcissist, but you can waste years of your life suffering unnecessary pain hoping and trying. Your focus now is healing and taking care of yourself. You have been through a lifetime of abuse and neglect, but you survived. You have what it takes to heal. If it helps at first, try doing for yourself what you would do for a good friend in the same situation. Pretty soon it will begin to feel more natural until you have developed a new habit of taking better care of yourself.

  • Anger. It is reported by Dr. Paul Meier that up to ninety percent of depression is repressed anger. So do not keep stuffing it. Repressed anger is like trying to hold a beach ball under water. The anger may explode in unexpected places, behaviors or even physical illness. One thing is for sure, it will come out somewhere at some time. In the case of healing from a malignant narcissist, the truth may set you free, but it is going to cause you to be mad as hell first. Anger is a normal human response to hurt and abuse. So the anger is not wrong, it's what you do with it that can make anger healthy or destructive. It may feel like you are going to be angry or even enraged for the rest of your life, but you do not have to be. Once you process the anger in healthy ways, you can be free of it. 

  • Exercise. Once you get in touch with the anger it can feel overwhelming and even frightening. However, it is a necessary part of the healing process. Exercise is a great way to release some of the anger, as well as release pheromones to help fight depression. 

  • A chair for the narcissist. Another way to process anger in a healthy manner is to put two chairs face to face. Now sit in one chair and imagine your narcissistic personality disordered mother sitting in the other chair. Tell her everything you need to say just as if she was actually sitting in the chair. Be prepared because this can really get you in touch with your anger. It may sound silly, but it can really provide a huge release. This is for you, not her.

  • Taking B12 supplement. Taking B12 supplements is the fastest, easiest thing I did for myself and with great results. My doctor told me the years of stress had depleted my B12. Methylcobalamin is the neurologically active form of B12 that exists in nature. The Cyanocobalamin form is not found in nature. B12 is a water soluble vitamin, not fat soluble. Water soluble means you can not overdose on B12, it will be flushed out of your body. (Natural News) Talk to your doctor first.

  • Start a recovery journal. I have been keeping a journal for as long as I can remember.  It is very helpful in processing and validating your thoughts and feelings.

  • If you have repressed memories, that was your mind protecting you. I was instructed not force or prevent memories from coming up. They often come to the surface when you are ready to deal with them. I found a journal to be particularly helpful during that time.

  • Get plenty of sleep. Recovery is hard work. It can be exhausting. Dealing with a narcissist is totally exhausting.  No one can function well without proper sleep.  Remember, this is about taking care of you now. Also, your mind is just as active in REM sleep as it is when you are awake. Keeping your journal and a pen next to your bed can be helpful if you wake up in the night or in the morning with something heavy on your mind, a solution you had not considered before, another incident you are remembering, etc. 

  • Take time to get to know yourself. You have likely spent so much time and energy focused on the narcissist that you may not even know who you are or what you enjoy. Try new things. Find hobbies you enjoy. You are going to be your new best friend.

  • Pay attention to your self-talk. Whether it is out loud or in our mind, we all talk to ourselves. Have you internalized negative messages from your mother? Start paying attention to the things you tell yourself, then start telling yourself encouraging things. Your malignant narcissist mother may have recorded the tapes in your mind, but you can record over them with some time, consistency and effort.  Start telling yourself the truth about yourself and your situation.

  • Discover and develop hobbies, skills and other activities to build your confidence.  Narcissistic mother spent years destroying our confidence while convincing us of her false image of us.  Most things in life require confidence, so discover your natural talents and things you enjoy to restore your confidence.  

  • Healthier Relationships.  Refuse to have any more one-way relationships.  Build reciprocal relationships.  

  • Develop a spiritual relationship with God. It is normal for a child to grow up attributing the characteristics of their parents to God. A hallmark characteristic of a narcissist is an unwillingness to submit their will to a higher being or ideal. An important part of healing and emotional health is to develop a spiritual life. Separate your image of God as being like your parents. Submitting yourself to God, your higher power or a greater good is a hallmark of mental health. (Peck)

  • Eating right is also an important part of taking care of yourself. Give your body what it needs to stay healthy during this stressful time. Learn about proper nutrition and try new things. Learn How to Use Food to Maintain Mental Health.

  • Panic Attacks. Panic attacks seem to be very common in children of narcissistic personality disordered parents. It makes sense due to the conditioning that occurs as a result of growing up in such an environment. I have read many articles from various sources that explain panic attacks as 100% stinking thinking, but I am not so sure I agree with that. I am not a medical doctor, but I do know my own vitamin B12 level was depleted, which was a physical factor. Actually, it was so depleted that the doctor commented to me something to the effect that I would have had to have been under severe stress for 10 years for it to have gotten so low.  Being a narcissist's scapegoat is stressful!  Your nervous system requires B12 to function properly. I had increasingly severe panic attacks for more than a decade, but I have not had one for nearly a decade now. I have also not been on any medication at all. My panic attacks completely stopped after my mother's death, at which time I also started taking B12 and went to therapy for a year.  So if you suffer with panic attacks, there is hope. 

  • Movies Featuring Narcissists. It really helped me in the beginning to watch movies with similar characters. I had gone more than 40 years of my life without anyone in my life who had ever dealt with the same situation or truly understood. Unfortunately, that is not rare for scapegoat daughter or son of a narcissist.  Sometimes these movies can be instrumental in helping you explain your situation or past abuse to loved ones too.

  • Examine your responses. Once you have done some of the other work, begin to take notice of your responses. Are you highly reactive? Ms. Fix It? Look for magical thinking, denial and minimizing unacceptable behavior. You want to address these so you will not turn around and become an inviting Echo for any other narcissistic personality disordered person.

  • Learn to have fun. We adult children of malignant narcissists have been carrying more than our fair share of burdens and may have to learn to have fun. Make a point every weekend, for example, of spending some amount of time just doing something you enjoy. If you do not know what you enjoy, try some new things until you discover things you enjoy. It will give your mind a rest and help rejuvenate you.

In my experience, this is an accurate description of the beginning stages of the recovery process. When I first started setting boundaries all hell broke loose.  However, for me personally, it has been well worth the effort!

*This article was originally published on February 26, 2013.


  1. Blake,

    That would be quite an expensive cup of tea because I am nowhere near San Diego! lol Thank you so much for your comments! Believe me when I tell you I know from experience what a huge relief it is to FINALLY have an explanation that makes some sense out of all of the pain, confusion, lies, etc.

    1. Thank you, Gail, for your insight into this horrendous abuse. Thankfully for me, EFT Tapping has miraculously helped me with the healing. You're also correct on the B12. I'm having B12 injection every other week. Healing is so important and wonderful to push away all the excruciating pain so I can enjoy the goodness of life. Just one more thing about me, I've to learn to love my "enemies" n pray for them. When I started doing it, I feel much better than before. I think God loves us because He what we're made of. Now that I know they're sick ppl, I can love them from afar as well to pray for them. Thank you again for this supporting forum.

  2. Well done and thank you for your sound, sensible and articulate insights and advice. I'm 54 and having a NMother and then of late a Narcissist female boss has really tested my limits. But push through one must. I just thought I'd finished and dealt with it (mother) but apparently I haven't as boss brought up old and new issues that have not been handled at all well by me. My anger has come out in strange inappropriate ways socially. More work if I want any friends left! Any suggestions? Loved the boundary setting videos with examples. Do you have further steps one can take? Thanks again for your sharing. You're right, I don't know many at all with people who had a similar mother, or if they did, they're not faring too well, different socio- economic circles...

  3. Thank you for your comments. Perhaps the issues come to our attention as we are able to address them. It is my opinion there are always further steps we can take whether it is addressing the next issue brought to our attention in our recovery process or building ourselves up in an area we recognize was neglected due to parenting, etc. I always recommend People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck and Will I Ever Be Good Enough by Dr. McBride. Amazon and the public library have several books on the topic too.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, it is really helpful!! I first learnt that my mother is narcissistic about a year ago, I am 39 and currently in therapy, which is helping a lot, but knowing others experience is essential because specially at the beginning when you start realising everything, sometimes it seems pretty surreal! I am from Spain and surprisingly there is almost no information about this in the net in my language. I am glad there is some much info, blogs and support groups in English. This site is really great with tons of helpful information and advice. Many thanks!

  5. Cativa, I am so glad you found my blog helpful. I can very much relate to the surreal feelings as the denial begins to shatter. I double checked and I do have the language translation tool on the blog. So someone should be able to translate it into several languages.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  6. I can hardly believe it! My whole life revealed in these stories, so glad to know recovery can happen for us. I am caretaking for a NMother and my brother just moved in to help. Now I know what happened to us and why we feel this way. We can do this and heal we will there is no turning back once the truth is obtained the process has begun. Thank you for having this website and those stories available for us all to find......

  7. Anonymous, that's the spirit! It's an amazing moment when you realize there is someone else on the planet who not only understands, but has been through it. Then, you realize there are a lot of us who understand and either are there or have been there.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  8. Thank you so much for writing this. I am the scapegoat child and I only recently awoke to this realization after almost 40 years of abuse. I am in the grieving stage but with bouts of anger and depression. Luckily I have worked in mental health for a greater portion of my adult life and am aware of resources and therapies available in my area. I just never thought I would be the one on that end of the chair... My mistake is not wanting to change her but wanting to change myself so she would love me. Problem is every time I changed me to what she wanted, she changed what she wanted. I lost who I was trying. Now I am trying to find out who I am. This post helped a lot to just let me know I am not alone. Thank you again!

    1. Kathy, my heart goes out to you as I can very much relate to what you have shared. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Please join us on Facebook if you have not already done so.

    2. Kathy, I, too, can relate to wanting to change yourself in attempt to get your mother to love you. What bothers me to no end about my own situation is that I was always "strong" enough to hold out and cling on to a tiny piece of my identity. Growing up, even at an early age, her (my mother's) behavior would sometimes infuriate me. On some level, I just KNEW the dynamic in our house/family wasn't right. I used to tell my Dad, who would make excuses for her (saying that she endured emotional abuse from her own mother/my grandmother growing up), that "two wrongs don't make a right" - the "wrong" I was being accused of, mind you, was typically something along the lines of forgetting to put my glass in the dishwasher from the sink after washing it. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. My point was that it wasn't until after I'd had my heart broken for the first time at age 23, as I didn't date (AT ALL) like most did in their earlier years, that she was able to "get inside my head" completely. And I do mean completely. It's been during the most painful times of my adult life, pain stemming from the result of career and romantic relationship failures that I can no longer deny occurred as a direct result of an obvious deficit in emotional maturity/identity and personal development in comparison to my peers (add to that shame and embarrassment, pity, sadness and feelings of guilt stemming from the knowledge that these weaknesses most likely came about as a direct result of my relationship with my mother), that she took the opportunity to point out that she was right and that I should have listened to her. It's almost like I seemed to somehow set myself up (and foolishly stick around) for these potentially hurtful and emotionally damaging situations, where in my mind, my failure was confirmation that the negative things she told me about myself all of these years was right. Anyway, I apologize for rambling. Every now and again, I'm able to get my feelings/thought out about the situation without stifling myself. Unless, of course, I'm unconscious, when I've been known on many, many occasions to cuss my Mom for all she's worth in my dreams - and apparently, I feel so strongly about it, I literally yell it...out loud.

  9. Hello Gail. I was researching the subject of NPD parents today because of my mother. Both of my parents are Narcissistic People. My mother was a princess and my father had a broken family and was raised by a mother who suffered severe depression. I learned to cope years ago, mostly because I have been on my own for most of my life. As the oldest child in my family I was the second mom, the housekeeper.
    I distance myself from my father and keep contact to a minimum but my mother is not so easy.
    The Internet, particularly facebook, has allowed her to keep track of what my kids and I post without her actually taking part in our lives. She is the kind of person who only has use for other people if they make her look or feel good in some way. If they are causie. She is very charismatic and I do admit, if I hadn't grown up with her as a parent, I would want her as a friend.
    She doesn't know me or my kids. She was so distant for so long that when my daughter was 13 and a half she actually asked me why this strange old lady had to be on her friends list. She thought her grandmother was an old family friend. My mother makes a big deal about posts on my Birthday and Mother's Day even though we rarely talk and when we do, it is usually about her.

    I am just so tired of her. Exhausted. The only reason we know anything about each other is the Internet and I am afraid to break that connection because I am afraid her family will get angry with me, including my brother, and that the phone calls and messages will be bothersome. I really don't know what to do. She is completely blind to her own behavior, I cannot resort to back biting on her Internet comments as it is childish and stupid and yet my failure to just cut her from my life because she has no part in it is childlike.
    I just wondered if you have ever dealt with this or run across it.

    1. Anonymous, exhausted is a word often used to describe what it is like to deal with a narcissist. I did not personally have to deal with my late narcissistic mother in the realm of social media, but the essence of the situation and the frustration you articulate is common. There have been others mention Facebook specifically on my Narcissistic Personality Disorder Mother Facebook Resource page. Social media and Facebook are specifically addressed in various "no contact" or levels of contact articles. You can do a Google search or the photo by that name on the above mentioned Facebook page provides links to various articles on the topic.

  10. I don't know how to care about myself. I was never a person. I'm 64 now and I've never counted.

    1. You do count. You were dealt a bad hand and it's not fair, but that doesn't mean you have to continue to suffer. Listen to your survival instinct. It's probably telling you that all that pain and exhaustion is wearing you down and taking its toll on you. You need to try to heal so that you can survive. Start by listening to that survival instinct and over time you will make more progress.

    2. Anonymous, you are anything BUT.
      You were created for a reason, by the same God who created the universe and everyone in it.
      Don't let someone with a personality disorder take that away. Find help, please. You are so much more than your disturbed mother told you. <3

  11. I have managed to escape my family home. I have now total control over the kind and amount of relashionship I am willing to have with my family. they always made me believe it was all my fault but my sisters had to escape as well. We all left the country so we can be as far as possible from her. Now that our relashionship is not as poisonous as it was, my mom says that i grew up. Fact is that she can barely hurt me. She simply has no access. She is so nice with my husband- not with the kids, too much work!-.....What hurts me now, is that i'm conscious that my dad and sisters had the same problems with her and should therefore acknowledge my pain and suffering. But as they had their own bad experiences ten years later, they don't want to recognize that they harmed me by taking her side when I was young. I hate hearing her say i grew up. i tell my husband every time that i never changed. the only thing that did is that i don't depend on her anymore.

    1. I am sorry for your pain, Anonymous. i am glad you took steps to protect yourself. Thank for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  12. Dear Anonymous,
    Coming from a Narc mother and a BPD father, I spent many years reading and studying not only their disorders but my own reasulting difficulties in an effort to make sense of it all. One thing I have consistently found over and over again, is the fact that healing does not occur by other people acknowledging your pain. All that does is reinforce the "victim" status in your psyche. The trick is to shed those feelings thru knowledge and understanding of the disorder and then move on to look at our own dysfunctional coping habits that formed out of that unhealthy relationship. And fix them as best we can. The reality is, we can not change anything but ourselves. Therefore when you find peace with your past you will no longer rely on anyone to validate your feelings. You will know that you have every right to feel the way you do, angry, hurt, unfairly treated whether they agree or take responsiblity or not. Do some reading and focus on YOU and finding any remnants of your past that still might be affecting your judgement and emotions. Once you work on yourself and come to love yourself, you will no longer seek the input of others. You will find more happiness in healing yourself than you will in commiserating with your family about who did what and who is at fault for this or that. Rise above! Because your need for acknowledgement may actually be a window into your own self worth. The self worth of a child who still feels unworthy of her own feelings. I am not a doctor. I am a fellow unworthy child who at the age of 50 is only now starting to feel like a valid member of this race we call human.

    1. Anonymous, I think that is good advice. However, at least in the beginning of the healing process, the validation of others acknowledging the pain is very healing to many people, especially since we spent decades of our lives being invalidated.

  13. Dear Anonymous,
    thank you for your advice. We all met lately for the most important event of the year: Her birthday! I carefully started a conversation with my sister. Yes I'm right but I tended to overreact and she prefers avoiding problems and confrontation...yes She's somehow "selfish"....my father is trying or pretending to be supportive but I don't need any support now. I'm taking very good care of myself by myself. That would have made a difference 20 years ago but I think he will never admit such a thing. I think you're right. I'm looking for something that will never come. They won't invalidate themselves by validating me!!! I'm not really ready to forgive either, even if they have a better attitude. How can you forgive someone whose only offer is a new start without treating the past? I'll just keep it minimal and move forward. You're my best support. Thank you all, sooooo much.
    Gail, you have no idea what your blog has done to me! thank you soooooooooo much!

  14. Thank you so much for your website. I realized several years ago how mentally ill my mother is and with the help of Alanon have been making great progress in making healthy changes after almost every interaction with my mom. Change is painful and I am exhausted but I don't want to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result (definition of insanity). I am so grateful for this website because I was feeling so alone with this. I am grateful there is help. My mom uses illness to manipulate me. Whether someone is sick or not is such a grey area but I catch her in lies when I call a doctor when something she is saying doesn't sound right. If I call her on it, she ups the ante and I NEVER live it down. She is still trying to guilt and shame me so she can justify lies I caught her in years ago. Very painful!! After reading this I realize it will take a miracle from God to heal her. I will continue to pray to God for next steps to take as I continue this journey. Somehow I always thought she would change as she got closer to dying but after reading your story, I doubt it. Have a God filled day :)

    1. Anonymous, I am sorry for your pain. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. You can join us on Facebook if you haven't already. The link is in the right margin.

  15. Gail, what if my mother has already turned my 27 year old daughter against me? Is there any hope? My sister was the golden child but she died and my mother stayed away for quite awhile, she seems so upset that I am still alive. Now my daughter is the new golden child but I am still the scapegoat. Is there any hope?

    1. Marcy, I am sorry for all of the pain you have endured. I also feel for you in your situation with your daughter. However, that is a question for a licensed therapist. I hope you will join us on Facebook.

  16. I'm sorry for all in this situation, My mother has all the characteristics you speak of, and I can't believe it's taken me 56 years to find out what it is and that she's not the only one. My earliest memories are of her not allowing me to be friends with who I liked, not having anyone to visit, not choosing anything for myself etc. This went on in my teens to her banning boyfriends, actually calling one of them (she sounds like me) and dumping him as me!!! Broken hearted as I was, I allowed her to manipulate me into going out with a local boy, totally unsuitable but when I tried to break this off, she forced me to marry him. I went down the aisle in a haze of prescribed anti-depressants and tranquilisers and entered 18 years of even worse hell. They combined forces, she was there all the time and nothing was mine. She'd never had any boundaries, and still hadn't, I'd come in from work to find she'd been through everything and thrown away anything "unsuitable" i.e, mine. Eventually, thanks to a supportive female friend offering me somewhere to hide, I left my husband, which of course set Mum off big style. I allowed her to insist that for the sake of how the family looked, I should move back in with her, I was 40 by now, but back to being a five year old. She went into all my stuff again, objected to make-up, underwear, music choices - seriously! Then I met a man and fell in love, obviously I would want to spend time with him but no, Mum decided this was out of order, I'd chosen to divorce and now I would remain with her. Thankfully I managed to escape and I'm now happily married to him (been together 12 years). Here comes the rub. My lovely Dad, who'd always been there for me and with hindsight had kept her something close to civilized, became terminally ill. Mum wouldn't let us near and caused massive scenes when I tried to visit him which distressed him and so she often got her way. Then he collapsed and was hospitalised, when we went over (it's a long way away) we found she'd not been caring for him at all in any way, I can't/won't put details here it's to horrible. Dad passed away, and I can't stop grieving, and he was in no way an enabler, he sacrificed himself to try and keep her from harming me any more, which the whole family can see now. She gave a good appearance of grieving and I foolishly took leave from work and moved in with her for a while, leaving my husband to fend for himself. After a few weeks though it was obvious that she thought she'd replaced one willing slave to her wishes and whims with another. I moved back out and went home. We then had Social Services move in as everyone thinks she's a poor wobbly bereaved old lady who up until now has coped with life but "needs a bit of support". Except that she's never coped, she's just sat and demanded everything like a malevolent baby bird - a cuckoo maybe? Now, I have phone calls every day from these well meaning carers, telling me that Mum needs me, Mum is lonely, can't I visit more (no, I can't afford the fuel) and on and on. When I try to tell them the truth of how things have always been, and that no, we can't have her to live with us due to her horrendous behaviour, they stand in judgmental silence, I feel like I have a whole colony of government sponsored flying monkeys on my case! Sorry, this is a long rant, before finding this site and reading other peoples stories, I've mostly had to keep quiet about everything as everyone in the world seems to think the biological fact of being a mother makes someone into a saint, it's good to actually speak and to hear others stories. Gail you're doing great work, thank you for this site and God bless you.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am sorry for your pain. Please be sure to join us on Facebook if you haven't already. The link is in the right margin.

  17. Gail, Maybe someday I'll find the words to share my story with you but except for the names and a few other changes my story is the same as yours. It is nothing short of a by-the-hand-of-God miracle that I found your blog. Thank you so much for the time, hard work, and emotional energy you have obviously put into this.

    1. Thank you. I am so glad you found us.

  18. Thank you. You have helped someone today.

  19. This was really helpful!! One thing I am having a really hard time with is the panic attacks..I really want to be done with them without having to go on medication. It was nice to hear you had them and overcame them..hopefully feeling the feelings will let go of some of that:)

  20. HI

    I am a 41 year old mother of 3 girls. I only recently realized what was wrong with everything in my life. Apart from being the scapegoat I was also abused severely emotionally and threatened for as long as I can remember.I was never good enough but also had to be her mother! She ruined my childhood, engagement, wedding, births of my children etc. Everything was Always about her!!! She even managed to convince me that I was crazy,she wanted me to divorce my husband!! Guess I am angry!!But I am thankful that I survived and I am determined to pick up the pieces and move on.I have a family of my own that DO LOVE ME just the way I am.

    1. You are fortunate to have a loving family. I wish you well on your healing journey.

  21. I have been badmouthed by my NMother to family members my whole life, family members I don't even know. I am 46 and was removed from my mother's custody as a little girl but foolishly looked her up as an adult. I enter her life every 5 or 10 years for about a year at a time to offer financial support before she tires of my presence and fakes some reason to be angry at me and orders me to go away. Her hatred of me is obvious and is not letting up with age.

    While it may not do any good to "expose" the lying NMother, I have attempted to do just that today in a two sentence FB post to a family member. I just feel that no one has ever heard from me directly. All they have is the word of this crazy woman. Whether I am believed or not, at least I have said something for myself. It will likely get back to her, but I'm fine with that.

    What's worse is that this time around, I have played caregiver, and she is now threatening to tell her doctor that I have abused her. Why? Because I dare ask why something she said one minute is completely different than something she said earlier. What's scary is that people, including this doctor, would completely believe her as she can cry on demand and knows exactly what to say to get people's attention. Sick and evil is an understatement.

    ...and yet the thought of her being homeless or suffering in a hospital alone eats at me. I have to tell myself this time around to stay away. She is never going to get well. She will always see me as a target of hate. She keeps making it clear. She doesn't want me around. I need to accept that and not look back this time.

    I imagine the general consensus on "clearing the air" of falsehoods told by the NMother would be to let it go. People will believe what they will. Move on.

  22. I am just finding out that my family is N and my husband is N. My NM would often tell people negative things about me. After the end of my first marriage, I moved back in with my parents with my small children. It was pure hell. I began drinking even more to cope with her interference. I have lost jobs, friends, business partners, husbands. My 2nd husband would team up with her against me and it was hell. I just left. Now I am left with the pieces of picking up my life. I am trying to take responsibility for my part in it. I am glad I now have a name to this foolishness. I seem to attract people that hurt me this way. Now I know why. Thanks Lord for this. The healing can begin.

  23. Exhausted is exactly the term I have always used to describe how I feel about my mother...how she makes me feel. Even when I didn't know what NPD was, I knew she exhausted me. When social media became BIG, I knew without a doubt that my mother was the LAST person I would connect with. I even avoided my own sister because I didn't want my mom to know I friended sister but not her. I knew that if I friended mom she would post stupid sappy comments on everything I would post or she would call me to get more "information" that she could spread to other. As I was the Golden Child, she didn't complain about me much, but nothing was sacred. She was completely incapable of keeping information secret. Anonymous, it seems like you could set your privacy so she could not see much of what you post (you can choose). That way you are FB "Friends" but she doesn't really get any information about you. I feel your pain. Mom now has dementia, so I have to deal with her again after 3 years of NC. My kids (teenagers) don't want to see her and I just see her about once a month to bring her spending money (medicaid) and check her mail/bills. Saw her yesterday and no questions about my husband or kids (yay). My sister, the scapegoat, avoids her whenever possible. Good luck to you...you're not alone!

  24. I'm just now realizing that I've hit the nail on the head here. I've known that I'm codependent and that my family is dysfunctional but couldn't understand why. I may be opening Pandoras box, but I want to be healed already. Sometimes I feel like I must be crazy, but it's just unhealthy thinking that I have to unlearn as well as reparenting myself. I don't have the tools to do this alone though and coda meetings don't seem to address these issues. Thanks!

  25. I am 62 years old and just realized that this explains a LOT about what has always been "wrong" with me. I had no siblings or father with whom to do a reality check. My mother was a single parent and I was her only child. She never had any intimate adult relationships (that I was aware of). Everything was about "me" -- but not the real me; it was all about creating a "me" that would fit her fantasy of who "I" was. It was about making me into the partner that she didn't have. She considered herself "too important" to do things like housework, so I was responsible for the cleaning, the laundry, the food shopping (although she did do the cooking), burning the trash, mowing the lawn and shoveling the snow (etc., etc) from the time I was 7 or 8 years old. She would drop me off at the grocery store with $15 and come back to pick me up in 1/2 an hour, and I was supposed to have groceries for the week. I did too. But worse, I was supposed to be the "stable' one. She "fell apart" over just about everything, and I was the one who was responsible for remaining cool, calm and comforting to her. II didn't have any friends. And its no wonder. I was SOO weird. And a lot of the kids weren't supposed to play with me anyway because they didn't want their kids playing with a kid who was "illegitimate."

    Okay, so I believe I need and would benefit from therapy. How do I get that? If I go to my dr they just tell me to lose weight and give me a prescription for Prozac. I don't think the HMO that I get through my employer pays for talk therapy. They pay for a 15 minute consultation with a psychiatrist every 3 months and expect the psychiatrist to prescribe drugs. I don't want medication; I want talk therapy. I can't afford it out of pocket (my income has declined by 25% over the past 5 years due to bad economy and I'm just barely scraping by).

    I dread the very idea of going to my dr and saying, "I think I need talk therapy because I was reading on the Internet..." My dr has deep disdain for people who believe they can diagnose themselves based on what they read on the Internet.

    How do I get un-stuck here? I do want to heal.........

  26. I am 27 years old and just found out a few months ago that my mother is a narcissist and that my oldest sister has narcissistic tendencies. I am just now realizing that my sister might be the golden child and me the scapegoat. Anyways, when I found out about all of this, I had just married my husband and was visiting my family with him last summer. Now that my husband is a part of the family, my mother is not able to hide her narcissistic ways from him. One day things were so bad that we went to went to visit a close friend of mine that has known me and my family for years. She then told me that she strongly believed that my mother was a narcissist. I knew my family had many problems and that things weren´t normal, but I had no idea things were that bad. My family always told me that every family has problems and that even though they looked happy on the outside, I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. It has also been strongly ingrained in me to think that I am the problem, the problem child, and that I am the reason for ruining so many happy memories. I definitely know I can be a handful sometimes, but if you had to deal with them, you would be too. The thing is, I have been told all of this and much more for so long, that hearing that I am not the problem is very confusing. In one way it is a relief because I couldn´t have been wrong every single time. But in another way, it´s hard to believe that it´s true because these people are my family and they are suposed to love me. Is it really possible that they are that far gone? And if it is true, I feel even more angry, sad, and lonely than ever before.

    One thing about my situation is that, if this is all true, I don't think my mother is as bad as others I have heard about. Don't get me wrong, she will make your life a living hell, but there are some symptoms that she doesn't have. Also, besides me, there are only 2 other people in the entire world that see this about her, my husband and my close friend. Everyone else seems to think everything is fine and I know that if I were to tell other people about this, it would not end well. This furthers my unsurity about the whole thing not to mention that the only people who see it this way could all just be on my side of things. But they are both very certain that my mother is a narcissist and the more I read about this disorder, the more I feel it describes my life with her and the rest of my family.

    1. Thank you for sharing some of your story. I encourage you to continue to read about narcissism. Also finding a good therapist familiar with narcissism can make a world of difference.

  27. Oh boy, I always knew there was something wrong with my mother but didn't have a name for it. As a child I was very intelligent so I figured out straight away something was not right. My childhood was pure hell on the inside - to the outside world we looked good. The damage done to me is so deep I can never recover. When you are hurt by your mother starting so young, I do not think anyone can ever hurt you that bad.
    Here are a few incidents...
    My first memory as a baby was my mother demanding I drink milk from a cup (instead of a sippy cup). My baby hands still shook so of course I always spilled the milk. I had to lap it off the table, floor, chair, wherever the milk feel with my tongue until every drop was lapped up and my mother would push my face in the milk and laugh and said I looked like a kitten. As a result I am rarely embarrassed.
    At four years old my mother decided I should go to school even though five was the starting age. Somehow she convinced them I should be in school and off I went. We lived in Philadephia at the time and the first day she took me to school and showed me the route. At the end of the day I had to find my own way home through the streets of Philadephia. I googled the route I took the other day and I couldn't believe the distance I had to attempt as a 4 year old. As a result, I rarely get lost and have a remarkable sense of direction .
    I believe I had a sadistic Nmother. The beatings started early. At 5-6 years old I was supposed to watch my baby sister. When I didn't do the job well enough, I was beaten with a strap. I remember watching my baby sister color the back porch with crayons and thinking - "Now she's going to get in trouble, not me because I'm not the one doing it." Well you can guess who got the beating. When I was about 8 the beatings started everyday. If I cried, I got beaten more. "I'll give you something to cry about." The beatings were in the basement so no one would hear. They continued to high school. She was careful to only beat me around the thigh area so they wouldn't show. Once my enabling father intervened when she was hitting my hands with a ruler. He said, "She plays violin, you could break her hand." So she never hit my hands again, just my thighs. Though one time she hit me in the face with a pole and I went to school with a huge bruise on my lip - no one asked why. Every night I prayed to God to be good so I wouldnt get beaten. As a result, I had questionable belief in God. However since my whole life has been a happy one since I was able to get away, I do have some belief in God that I got a nice life now because I suffered so deeply as a child.
    Fear of black insects. When I was 8 my mother said I did not clean my room well. She called me in to take a look. Then she threw a giant black cricket on me and said it was there because my room was not tidy.

  28. Thanks for all the great info. My mother is supposedly dying and playing it to the hilt. Am working on how to step back from the undertow and keep myself safe. Always been me who is her focus. She says she NEEDS me, and all wonder why I don't want to go near her! Hope to read more of your stuff to help me find my way clear. Being "Christian" makes it harder still

  29. My mom had this song, "Make coffee for your mom [or insert any request here], IF YOU WANT TO BE LOVED... Was all just a big joke. Thank you Gail for bringing this topic to light. There are so many things that I am dealing with today - substance abuse, depression, feelings of guilt or inadequacy, that I can now finally trace back to the source. FINALLY I realise it's not all me.

  30. I am in my mid 50s, and I finally started confronting my mother about a year ago. She thinks I am totally loony from menopause, which may be partially true! Haha! I realize she will never "own" the things I am saying to her, but I do feel SO much stronger, empowered and healthy. It is also true that my mother is telling other family members that I am mean to her for no reason. Those people have separated themselves from me because they don't see her like I do. If that is the way it has to be for me to feel better, then that is the way it has to be.

  31. Thank you so much for creating this website. I'm in my early 30s, and only realised a year ago that I had a NM. I'm married to a great guy, who is really understanding, but I'm scared to move forward and even beginning low contact is so frightening...it is like I am an extension of her. Anything I do has to go through her approval, even if only subconsciously. I'm the golden child and my sister the scapegoat. the amount of sleepless nights, early awakening and distress I feel is so unbearable. I cannot confront her ever, as she will deny everything and say I'm ungrateful etc. I guess I will have to begin little by little setting up boundaries. Otherwise my life will never be my own. I have not been physically abused but the mental abuse of silent treatment etc throughout my life is enough. I hope I will be successful in setting boundaries even if terribly scary. Xx

  32. Thank you so much for this article. About three years ago, I entered intensive and almost unbearable therapy re: narcissistic family of origin, focusing on the relationship I've had with my mother. It was invaluable to me, and I continue to heal. However, since I've gotten stronger and no longer accept her cruelties, scapegoating, etc., she's increased the emotional abuse; her behavior and comments are now more stunning than ever. I've now gone very low contact with her, as I've finally realized that I love life and myself more when free of this abuse. I will always love my mother, but it must be from a distance.


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