This book made so much sense to me! Really helped me set healthy boundaries and not have such an emotional response to the constant guilt tripping. The other books in my collection:
I frequently revisit these books when I’m struggling with things. Hang in there!
This book changed a lot for me: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride - I have never seen myself so clearly reflected in something. It was heartbreaking but also very cathartic and validating.
Not sure of your gender, but for other RBN women I always recommend Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers -- it won't fix all the problems, but it's a great place to start even just to validate your feelings and experiences and how damaging they are. The Mother/Daughter dynamic has its unique aspects, and I imagine in general it's tough on kids whose narcissistic parent is the same gender because they're even more likely to want to treat you as an extension or reflection of themselves as opposed to a separate and autonomous person.
I've found a lot of support in this community so far, I hope you will too.
Sure! To start, you can look for patterns. I ended up journaling out everything and looking for similarities. Some of the triggers are things you've been conditioned to respond to from childhood, which is one reason they can be so hard to spot. For me, nDad would do (and still sometimes does) a hysterical "OMG HELP HELP" flail, because I was trained to respond to nDad's flails with "oh no, how can I help?" They can be any type of flail - tech breaks, he's having a depressing day, nMom is making his life awful, he just hates everything, etc. The general pattern is nDad needs help, I am expected to help and take care of him, taking his burdens on as my own. Or, nMom wants something, so I am expected to sacrifice everything so she can have it (except she has no idea what "it" is, but I'm still supposed to give up whatever for whatever and tell her how grateful and wonderful she is).
Grey rocking helps with this. So nDad will flail and send a text - "OMG MY COMPUTER IS BROKEN WHAT DO I DO HELP HELP HELP HELP!!!!!!!!". You always need to think before responding, that's key, because so many triggers are emotional, and you need to reach an emotionally neutral place before responding. So after a few hours or even a day or two, I'll send back something like "That's awful. Have you set up an appointment with tech support?" nDad is used to me immediately trying to fix his problems - pausing the response stops that pattern, and directs him elsewhere. If there's further questions like "HOW DO I DO X, WHAT DO I DO NOW???", I refuse to help. His emergency does not become mine.
With nDad, I was conditioned to be the parent, but with nMom, I was conditioned to always seek her approval. nMom would get upset about something, go into permanent silent treatment mode, and then I was supposed to dance around until I figured out what it was and somehow fixed it. With this one, you just have to realize that a normal relationship is one that has communication and conflict resolution, not you making the other party guess what's wrong (seriously, this doesn't even work in basic friendships). So when she went into silent treatment mode the last time, because I "never answered the phone" (another falsity about myself), I left her there. It was hard at first because as kids we naturally want to reach out to our parents, but it got easier over time. We've spoken about 4 times a years in the last 4 years. You have to learn where your boundaries are. I decided that I was ok with calling them on major holidays - Mother/Father's day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. I plan out a list of topics I want to stick to, and don't let them go onto crazy tangents (nDad likes to rant).
Then, like what we're discussing here, there's the narrative that you are something you're not (which is guaranteed to upset anyone). Honestly, I've given up defending this. It's a natural inclination, but it doesn't get you anywhere because they don't hear you, and it inevitably just makes you upset and leads to an argument that, of course, they had no fault in, which just upsets you more and they are either delighted by your anger or completely oblivious.
When I got engaged, nMom sat me down and said, "But does he know how nasty you are?" The implication being that fiancé would leave once he realized that I'm just pretending to be a kind person and am secretly deep down a seething volcano of hatred and spite, and that I just wasn't being honest with him (because, lest we forget, I'm such a total liar). You need to find out who you are, so that you can tell yourself that you know who you are when you're confronted with this lunacy.
It takes a lot of effort and preparation. It's a total pain with little to no benefit, so I totally understand why many people go NC. I'm LC with nDad and NC with nMom. And, if they really piss me off, I do go NC, just without telling them about it. I'll just stop responding. Some people do write a letter to say "hey, I'm going NC", and at first I felt really guilty about doing it and not telling them. But, then I realized that I AM an adult and I DO have to protect myself. We have to protect our own sanity, and that means learning where your boundaries are. Since they are anxiety causing, some of my boundaries are:
They do not know my home address and they do not have a direct phone number for me. They do have an email address.
These were some books that really helped me out, and I read each of them a few times:
Will I Ever Be Good Enough?
Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You
Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life
If I can be of any help, let me know. :)
This book helped me understand a lot:
If narcissistic personality disorder is in fact what you're dealing with, I strongly recommend you read this book: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers https://www.amazon.com/dp/1439129436/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_iDOVCbCKJJ482
Even through aimed at daughters, there is still a great deal of value in it for sons.
1) Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing The Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers - by Karyl McBride PhD
^(*)^(this is the book that Mac references most often, by McBride*)
2) The Drama Of The Gifted Child; The Search for the True Self - by Alice Miller
Quick, short bonus read:
3) Shakespeare's story of King Lear
Omg I didn't even explain the Divine Feminine!! lolol dude you wouldn't believe it. The book that I'm reading - hell, most books that are aimed at the perspective of the child of a narcissistic parent are for GIRLS. Daughters of narcissistic mothers. That's because typically, mothers latch onto their daughters as an extension of themselves, not their sons. But their sons do still experience some fucked up emotional abuse - it's just the daughter - me - girls take most of the heat. Oh my god I got most of the heat. That's where he got his word "heat" from. He must have took most of the heat in his household, because he didn't have any sisters??? idk if he has a sister.
Fuck I need to answer your question, I just wanted to preface that by saying, don't judge him for reading a book written for girls. The book that I'm reading would be embarrassing for me to tell you guys, because I'm sure Malcolm was embarrassed he was reading them also. They were written for daughters, not sons. So his album, the divine feminine, is quite literally that his experience has a feminine perspective. He is sensitive to emotion, considerate, compassionate... things that aren't typically associated with a heterosexual man. Likely because he took most of his mother's heat, her wrath, her teachings, her shaping him into the ideal son. (But fucking killing him on the inside dammit).
But here's the best part: my younger brother is the spitting image of Mac Miller, just certainly less mature, less self-aware. I thought he was gay at one point because he was so different from most redneck, farmer straight men that I (much to my disdain) grew up knowing. Like my brother is a fucking teddy bear, and my little brother is 100% straight, and he struggles with addiction to escape himself. Just like Malcolm.
Gosh it took me this long to give you the books' names... I pasted it at the top of this shit so you can get your answer quickly. But, in theory, had I not done that lol... without further ado, I give you links to the PDF versions of two of the three books, to save you time/money:
3) The story of King Lear, when Shakespeare first presented the tragedy of the loss of self "at year’s end in 1606, some four hundred years ago. But that moment is still alive to us now," even in 2019 after listening to rapper Mac Miller's album swimming. This story of King Lear was referenced in the book Loneliness As A Way of Life" by Thomas Dumm.
^(* I'm gonna keep blabbing because I'm excited to talk about this so sorry, pardon me, ignore this if you want.... anyways. Loneliness As A Way of Life was in the philosophy section of a bookstore and somehow, the stars aligned, and I picked it out by random. I immediately knew that this is how my mother came to be narcissistic. Before discovering the story of King Lear, I had already sought to learn what my mom went through, to make her treat me the way she did. It turned out, her upbringing and abuse was far beyond what happened to me. Its just that, when someone never is truly loved, they lose the ability to extend true love to their children, and this fate is continued, passed on to generations of empty people. My mom was Shakespeare's Cordelia. And when I asked her to read it, she did so, reading through several times. She couldn't sleep that night. I always knew that she couldn't control her thinking (just like Malcom) ^(but I knew it finally gave an answer to her pain and suffering. She originally met me with defiance, shame, guilt, about her parents. But I made a very purposeful choice to explain to her that she was just a child, and that it wasn't her responsibility to care for everyone else at the cost of her own self. She didn't need to feel guilty that she didn't do more to save her parents. I told her that, as much as I understand her concern for her parents, I couldn't help but think of her as that little blonde kid. I feel sorry for that kid that endured that pain. It was wrong, but I'm not here to tell her what she did wrong. I told her that I am celebrating what she did right. How she protected me as best she could, given her upbringing. The odds were stacked against her, and she did her best. She doesn't need to know how much she killed me on the inside. I'll always love my mom. And after I talked to her about it, it seemed that her ego became less fragile. She didn't seek love/attention from me constantly; amazingly, she started to return the emotional support, reciprocate, and treat me with more love, more understanding. It was beautiful, really. That's the power of validation. That's the power of facing your demons, instead of tucking them away. But even with that success, I know she still feels that emptiness that I feel. It'll always be there.))
Mom might have some mental health issues going on, but it's important to understand that it isn't (never was, never will be) your fault.
At your age, this book might be a little heavy for you, but please find someone to speak with about it. You don't want to hold resentment which will affect your life and health - best to purge it and get your life healthy and on track so that you can have a bright future, with or without her. There are plenty of places that you can go to talk to someone - try Kids Help Phone (if you're in Canada) 1-800-668-6868 - anonymous, free and non-judgmental.