First: A list of The Great Books:
Nina Brown's Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents
Eleanor Payson's The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family
Lindsay Gibson's Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents
Elan Golomb's Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in the Struggle for Self
Susan Forward's Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life (a bit long in tooth now, but still useful) and Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You
Kimberlee Roth & Frieda Friedman's Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds & Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem
Alexander Chapman & Kimberly Gratz's The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living with BPD
Then... further suggested resources:
(I used to be able to provide links, but so doing requires a lot of review-&-approval labor by the moderators here, and one can find all of these with good search engines):
1) The Patterns & Characteristics of Codependence on the Codependents Anonymous website;
2) "The Five Stages of Recovery" at pairadocks.blogspot.com to see where one is in them;
3) The "Karpman Drama Triangle" schematic of control strategies in interpersonal relationships;
4) Codependents Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families and Emotions Anonymous meetings (you can find meeting locators on their websites);
5) "Jiddu Krishnamurti on Loneliness vs. Being Alone" at pairadocks.blogspot.com, further quoting a young Krishnamurti on being alone vs. being lonely;
6) Practicing some thought questioner & mindfulness inducer like the "10 StEPs of Emotion Processing" at pairadocks.blogspot.com, so that one is able to continue to sense what is going on and know what to do about it;
7) Carefully reading the lyrics while listening to Alanis Morrissette's CD / MP3, "Jagged Little Pill";
8) Pia Mellody's book, Facing Codependence;
9) Anne Wilson Schaef's book, Co-Dependence: Misunderstood, Mistreated;
10) Barry & Jane Weinhold's book, Breaking Free of the Codependency Trap;
11) Susan Forward's book, Emotional Blackmail on manipulative relationships;
12) Patricia Evans's book, Controlling People on the same topic;
13) DBT's "FAST" boundary-setting skills set (on DBTSelfHelp.com).
Some of the "Great Books" on the topic:
cc: u/oeu4, u/lampworkz, u/llellsee
> I want to forgive my parents for emotional abuse...
Understanding the following is almost always helpful in deals like this:
1) Anxious and ambivalent attachment,
2) learned helplessness,
3) family systems theory, and the
4) Karpman Drama Triangle.
Once you have those down, reading books like these with a journal close by to make notes and process in as one comes to tease out the truth from the family fantasies and secrets usually works wonders.
Also likely to be helpful: From Bipolar to Borderline to Complex PTSD: The Long Way Around the Recovery Barn.
Three words: Absolutely NO reactivity.
I usually reject the notion of "permanent policy" in favor of "being with what is right now in relationship." But...
Anyone who saps my energy without providing some replacement gets dropped. That may sound totalistic, but figure this: There are only so many minutes in the day to be of service to others who really need and want help. If they show me they are...
1) stuck at stage one of the five stages of therapeutic recovery or Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief processing,
2) resistant to rational and appropriate suggestions, or
3) the third of the four types of BPD, psychotically paranoid, righteously narcissistic and self-obsessed, passive-aggressive, anti-social or sociopathic...
I go into full-on counter-dependent, Ayn Rand Objectivist / lifeguard-with-a-non-swimmer-who-won't-follow-directions mode. (I am not "emotionally bullet-proof." I still need a bullet-proof vest.)
Because... the adequate and capable person who allows him- or herself to get sucked into the denial and/or resistance of those who want to be "rescued" (especially if their real motive is to "persecute") on a Karpman Drama Triangle with me will "victimize" and drown me if I let them. And those who really want and need help won't get it. Will they?
Might be worth reading some or all as processing devices:
Insofar as coping with their intrusions is concerned...
1) Keep the ringer on your phone off, and screen all calls and texts;
2) Change your email address, informing only those you know and trust;
3) Dump any social media accounts you have, or shut them down for the time being;
4) Know your persecutor (get him "right sized" instead of "bigger than you"): On Bullies and interpersonal D.A.R.V.O.;
5) Learn about learned helplessness, emotional blackmail and how to deal with them;
6) Keep this in mind: The Feeling is Always Temporary;
7) Learn & practice Distress Tolerance & Emotion Regulation.
My ma was a crazy maker. She taught me how to be learned helpless. So deeply that my mind pretty much collapsed for nine years in the '90s and early '00s. Began to get it "re-inflated" in '03. MUCH better now. Some of the things I have had to do are explained in the articles at the links below. Hopefully, some of them at least will be helpful for you.
Codependence & Cults and The Effects of Double Binding upon Cult Members & Treatment Thereof (because it sounds like you were sort of raised in a small cult where Ma was the guru)
10 StEPs for Emotional Blackmail
Understanding the Drama Triangle to Understand BPD
From Bipolar to Borderline to Complex PTSD: The Long Way Around the Recovery Barn
I also got a lot from reading these books and getting involved in Codependents Anonymous.
10) Pia Mellody's Facing Codependence;
11) Anne Wilson Schaef's Co-Dependence: Misunderstood, Mistreated;
12) Barry & Janae Weinhold's Breaking Free of the Codependency Trap;
13) Melody Beattie's The Language of Letting Go;
17) Susan Forward's Emotional Blackmail on manipulative relationships;
18) Patricia Evans's Controlling People on the same topic;
19) Patrick Carnes's The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships;
20) DBT's "FAST" interpersonal-boundary-setting skills set (at DBTSelfHelp.com).
> homeschooled me from kindergarten to 7th grade
We're seeing more and more of this from the second-, third- and fourth-generation victims of traumatized mothers who tried to cope with their unfinished business by trying to control everyone and everything around them to whatever extent possible. Sigh.
> the leaders of this church are extremely manipulative, they would tell my mom I️ was the devil, that I️ was possessed because I️ listened to the radio, that I️ was teaching all the other children to do bad things.
Another widely observed phenomenon among survivors. To that end, may I suggest having a look at the articles at the links below? (I was raised in an extreme, evangelical Xtian world, btw. And it set me up to chase "The Answer" in one cult after another in my 20s and 30s.)
Codependence & Cults
Coercive Persuasion in Cults
I had to be de-programmed from the instruction, conditioning, indoctrineation, socialization, habituation and (invisible to me) normalization of my home and church (as well as other cult) upbringing... after all that brainwashing took me the gates of CPTSD hell (including 11 hospitalizations and two wake-up-in-the-ICU suicide attempts) from '94 to '03. I'm not in that box / frame / institution / paradigm anymore. And how I got from there to here is summarized in the earlier post at the link below:
Hmm. Some books that were helpful for me that may be helpful for you:
Kimberlee Roth & Frieda Friedman's Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds & Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem
> ...hateful letters
Are the hateful letters factual? Yes or no?
> ...destroyed what was left of my mental health
Why? If mental health is predicated on being able to see things as they are, while mental illness is predicated on NOT being able to see things as they are, how can one's mental health be destroyed by the perp's lies? (Do you see where I am headed here?)
> Has anyone here had problems with thoughts like that?
I did. For years. Because I bought into, believed and never questioned the lies my perp spread around.
> how do you deal with them?
I got educated. In ways described in part at each of the links below. Finding the actual facts -- regardless of what anyone else ever thought or may still think -- changed everything for me.
How & Why, and the Road Out of CPTSD
Miller, A.: For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child Rearing and the Roots of Violence, London: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979, 1983.
Miller, A.: Prisoners of Childhood / The Drama of the Gifted Child, New York: Basic Books, 1979, 1996.
Miller, A.: Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child, London: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1981, 1984, 1998.
Miller, A.: Breaking Down the Walls of Silence, New York: Dutton/Penguin, 1991.
Why we Tolerate Abuse, in my reply on this earlier thread
Why Memory Retrieval is So Important
10 StEPs of Emotion Processing
Rather than tell you (or anyone else) how to solve their problems my way, I will just share what I had to do to get out of The Box of thinking it was my job to race around the krazy Karpman Drama Triangle with others.
1) See the list in my reply on this earlier thread.
2) Check out some of the books on this additional list:
If one was regularly ignored, abandoned, discounted, disclaimed, and rejected -- as well as invalidated, confused, betrayed, insulted, criticized, judged, blamed, embarrassed, humiliated, ridiculed, victimized, demonized, persecuted, picked on, dumped on, bullied, scapegoated, and/or otherwise abused -- by others upon whom one depended for survival in early life, AND/OR is highly stressed by school, work, relationships or other chronic life challenges, they may develop a case of learned helplessness and C-PTSD.
If you relate to that description above, and it is the case, here's the road map out of the jungle:
1) Substance Abuse: IF one is using alcohol or other substances, they'll have to stop. SA can cause -- or worsen -- this in people with specific genetics and behavioral conditioning (see below). AA, MA and/or NA can be helpful. Or using the SAMHSA facility locator to find a detox & rehab.
2) If one is NOT doing the above, they may need lab work to determine if they have hormonal (e.g.: thyroid) or metabolic (e.g.: low Vitamin D3) imbalances. See a competent MD, DO, PA or NP. (To find one in your area, use this or get a referral from your GP/PC doc.)
3) Medications, but only if really needed to get one stabilized enough to do next seven things on this list: Find a board certified psychopharmacologist in your area by using the clinician locator on the Psychology Today website (see below). Getting psych meds from a GP or primary care doc can be useless or even risky. Psych diagnoses, meds and med interactions are just too complex now for most GPs and primary care docs.
4) Support Groups: AA, MA and/or NA if one is using intoxicants to try to cope with emotional pain; ACA (strongly recommended for you), EA and CoDA... where you will find others in similar boats who have found explanations, answers and solutions.
5) Books and academic, professional websites including Mayo Clinic, WebMD, NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and even Wikipedia (when everything asserted is solidly documented with citations). Strongly recommended because they all understand the upshots of having been stressed for too long, including complex PTSD which sounds like at least a good possibility here: Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine, Patricia Ogden, Ronald Kurtz, Laurence Heller, Bruce McEwen, Sonya Lupien and Robert Sapolsky. This article will get you oriented. Accurate information is power.
In time, you may also want to look into the old books Theodore Lidz, Gregory Bateson, Paul Watzlawick, Don D. Jackson, Jay Haley, Jules Henry, Ronald D. Laing and Aaron Esterson wrote about growing up with a schizophrenic -- or schizophrenogenic -- parent... as well as E. Fuller Torrey's excellent book on dealing with a schizophrenic family member. All that said, he does sound like he may be something other than sz, which suggests looking into these books:
page one of two
Congratulations on the beginning of the rest of your life! Your wife sounds like a NARCISSIST! I know I was with one for 22 years only realized it after he left. You are not at fault nor are you crazy, narcissists are master manipulators. Im happy you did not take your own life, she is not worth it.
Here are some resources that have immensely helped me get through my divorce sanely and without hurting anyone nor myself:
Check out the criteria for a person to be considering as suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD:
To be classified as suffering from NPD the person must meet 5 of the 9 criteria, I have included some links below:
Mayo clinic has a nice concise description
They provide detailed information
-American Psychiatric Association
This one take a bit more searching thru.
If this is your situation consider reading:
"The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists" by Eleanor Payson
This has helped me immensely navigating through my divorce from an NPD and understanding my life with him.
REGARDING YOUR MENTAL WELL BEING:
Go walking, easiest form of exercise and great to help you think and clear your brain. I started walking on my doctors orders and it was the best advice. I also heard from a psychologist that exercise is an antidepressant.
Post on this sub-reddit, just like you did. It has helped me get through the most difficult days.
I highly recommend finding a therapist who specializes in EMDR therapy.
EMDR therapy has helped me immensely, it is amazing I would go in broken in with in 24 - 48 hrs I was so much better. I can't say enough good things about it.
ON THE LEGAL SIDE:
Even if you are going to go through mediation lawyer up. If you do not have enough to hire a lawyer outright see if you can hire one to guide you through the process. Even if you go through mediation it is recommended that you have a professional to provide guidance through the ever changing legal landscape.
Best of luck.
Gonna start with my regular checklist for family members, and then move into some other stuff, understanding that you've already checked some of these off:
Fundamental issues first:
1) Have a look at the CoDA website to try to grasp some of the interpersonal dynamics in play.
2) Take a look at these article on the KDT to see where you and they fit on the triangle (because everyone in this culture is on that thing).
3) Have a look at the five stages of therapeutic recovery to see where they are... and get a sense of whether or not they can move from the stages they are in to the next one.
4) Are they abusing drugs or alcohol? If so, will they go to rehab or to AA, MA or NA? Because if they are substance abusers and will not go to rehab or a 12 Step program, they are firmly at stage one of the five stages of therapeutic recovery, and the only thing you can do is walk away and protect yourself.
Advanced issues second:
1) If they seem caught in the consensus trance, are they capable of understanding that? And are they motivated to dig out?
2) What financial resources (e.g. health insurance or savings) do they have? Are they sufficient to get them into a kick-start for their problems that may be as (relatively) inexpensive as a few visits with a psychiatrist (med prescriber) and/or a clinical psychologist (assessor and treatment suggestor) and/or a psychotherapist (who has experience with the therapies appropriate for her specific condition).
3) Will they go to (and stick with) ACA, EA and CoDA to get an at least somewhat educated support system around her?
4) Will they dig into the information on the Internet, and in thousands of excellent books one can easily find online (there's junk out there, as well; one will need to learn to discern the chicken pooh from the chicken salad), to enlighten her as to her condition and what to do about it? (See all these links: the CBTs including REBT, collegiate critical thinking, CPT, and schema therapy, as well as EMDR, DBT, MBCT, ACT, MBBT, MBSR, SEPt
5) Will they use what they learn to dig into and do workbooks like these, and these and these and these?
If -- after all that -- you're where I think you are, the best thing you can do is get everyone else on board with The Facts by reading books like these:
Naomi Feil: The Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communication with People with Alzheimer's (because, Alzheimer's or not, he has to be treated as though he is demented).
Because there's almost nothing worse than a dry -- but actually untreated -- alcoholic defending himself with the very common distortions of the 12 Steps & 12 Traditions one sees in the rooms of AA among the self-righteously narcissistic. He has his defense mechanisms for a reason, and if he is not experiencing emotional pain himself, that reason will remain outside his consciousness.
You can try the intervention route with someone skilled at motivational interviewing, but based on what you wrote -- and almost 30 years' experience with this sort of thing -- the prospects do not look good for anyone but those of you who do what I suggested.
Call the police, and run all this down, especially if you have personally witnessed him being abusive and or violent with your mother, and be prepared to testify in court. Get an attorney to do a TRO and PRO. Tell the police as soon as the TRO is in place. Get your mother safely moved.
Here are a couple of good introductory books on the subject. Might be worth your while to do some reading about it in order to learn about your own potential vulnerabilities and avoid getting yourself into a similar situation down the road:
YW, OC. Great; here's some more:
> With near unanimity, my never-Trump friends confess a sense of relief. It could have been worse. They thought it would be worse. A deep apprehension still endures but the international order remains intact, the republic still stands, and no “enemy of the people” has (yet) been arrested.
> Admittedly, this is a low bar. And this is not to deny the insanity, incoherence and sheer weirdness emanating daily from the White House, with which we’ve all come up with our own coping technique. Here’s mine: I simply view President Trump as the Wizard of Oz.
> Loud and bombastic. A charlatan. Nothing behind the screen — other than the institutional chaos that defines his White House and the psychic chaos that governs his ever-changing mind. What to do? Ignore what’s behind the curtain. Deal with what comes out in front: the policy, the pronouncements, the actions.
Heh. For those of you who don't know, Charles Krauthammer is a trained psychiatrist. That specific mention is for a very, very particular purpose. Narcissistic personality disorder is often likened to concept of The Wizard of Oz; So much so, that a very popular book on the topic, for lay people, is titled "The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists". I often recommend it to people to learn the lay of the land when dealing (or potentially dealing) with the disorder in one form or another.