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Getting Past the Impasse of Living With a Narcissistic Parent

Inspired by personal predicament. Seeking to reach out to those who may be struggling with effects of narcissistic abuse.

The predicament of having a narcissistic parent.

The predicament of having a narcissistic parent can feel as if one's soul has reached an impasse.

This can be particularly frustrating in a world whose parameters of judgement can be succinctly summed up in a formula:

C = Progress (Financial + Professional) / Family Social Status

(where C = Character, Progress is financial and professional progress of that person & denominator is family's social status) i.e, the difference between our progress financially & professionally and the social status of the family we birthed in is the evaluation parameter of all that we are.

We often hear, he or she achieved much in spite of being of middle class origin.Does that ring a bell?

Unfortunately, this is too logical to have any existential relevance. One can't reach an accurate understanding basis such lopsided and shallow parameters.

For example, "X" 's family maybe middle class but his parent may have saved for his education responsibly, supported him in other ways that motivated him and also made the path of his personal and professional development easier.

On the other hand "Y"s parents may have been narcissistic. The elders may not have had the heart or sense to support him, rather they could have put insurmountable hurdles on his way. They could have spent on alcohol and parties while investing little or none in his education. They could have not respected his privacy to the degree of never letting him have his own room so that he is left open & exposed for them to be able to micromanage and control easily. This can tear down potential for independent growth as it is dis-empowering.

In extreme cases this can lead to actual physical violence made worse by misrepresentation that despite being well to do, he isn't able to achieve much.

With boundaries ripped off and personal power broken "Y" can become vulnerable to narcissistic partners. Good news is our destiny is in our hands. With awareness of these undercurrents and a spirit of self responsibility one can find a way out. We'll get to read more of that in the article later.

Deadlock feeling


Demystifying narcissism

This write-up is "NOT" about

  • Putting a limiting belief that children of narcissistic parents cannot be successful in anyway.
  • Putting blame on parents or others for personal failure.
  • Stating that the judgement of the world and success in that regard is the only defining factor for a human being.

This is about

  • Clearing the air on common myths around narcissism.
  • Self responsibility and empowerment to survive narcissistic abuse, and thrive.
  • Giving hope to those stuck in toxic environments so that they do not slip into depression or develop suicidal tendencies or are able to escape from it and recover if they have already fallen prey.
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Contrary to popular belief that a fascination for selfies or being on social media is narcissistic, it is a far more serious disorder than the aforementioned harmless self indulgences.It is downright harmful and destructive.

Narcissists may or may not use social media, some of them are negative about everything including clicking pictures or social media. Others use it to create a false persona to misuse for selfish motives.

Narcissists may be traditionalists who stick forever to a job or a baby boomer, Gen X or Y employee. That is not a determining factor either.

They may or may not be educated.

These external parameters are no authentic guage to tell a narcissist from a non narcissist.

Exemplifying narcissistic traits

1. Habitual lying: especially for selfish motives caring little about the trouble it may put another into.
For instance one narcissist I knew quoted his expected pay at a job to be a certain amount. Later, when he realized his need is more, he blatantly gas-lighted the recruiter that she didn't hear him clearly and he had quoted a higher amount, making her doubt her mind and also making her lose credibility in front of her boss.

2. Victim-mentality: Falsehood is their very nature. They may victimize you but will act victim like themselves. They are carefully disguised victors. This is a sado- masochistic trait in them.

3. Dislike for independent thinkers: They are all about controlling others. This is not the healthy type of control to stop crime. Its about controlling and dictating the preferences of others, they see anyone with a different choice than theirs as anti-them. This is an immature trait to take everything personally.

4. Domination: Being so out of character themselves, it is only natural that they would set out to dominate others.

5. Manipulation: Since they have a "my way or highway attitude" and cannot "live and let live", if one doesn't give in to their command (and let me establish the relevance of context here, it is not about their preference for themselves, it is about their need to dictate your personal preference for in their mind only they are right) they go to any length to manipulate.

For example one narcissist I knew wished for a relative to wear a red saree (an Indian dress). The relative had wished pink saree for herself. The narcissist changed the parcel and kept the dress she had preferred - imposing upon her. In spite of that when the relative got saree of her choice and insisted on wearing her own choice but asked for help to wrap the saree, the narcissist draped it inside out and spoiled it. The relative had no way out but to wear the narcissist's choice, since she didn't know how to drape herself.

6. Stone-walling: A peaceful silence is when the person is emotionally available but doesn't talk unnecessarily. In case of a narcissist it is "silent treatment" where communication is right thing to do.They are methodically erasing your needs. To them a win-win psychologically doesn't occur. To feel powerful they must cut down another. Its "only" their needs that have any significance. They have a win-lose style and every relation to them is a competitive battlefield.

7. Blame-shifting: The narcissist cannot stand being called out on something wrong they truly did to you or another. They lack ability to self review.Their fake apologies are obvious by the fact that they blame another for their own thoughts, words and actions. Naive people may live in self blame in their company-"you made me do it" even when you have treated them fairly well.

8. Emotional cruelty or lack of empathy: While understanding and situational awareness may not be so common, in a narcissist their is a gross blindness to even the most difficult of circumstance that a loved one may be in. They may criticize and blame instead of supporting in a phase of illness. They also do not have their priorities right. They may people please society more than caring for well being for own child.

For example instead of stopping others from draining you further in a fever, they may ask you to serve guests and talk to them even when you are burning 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

They simply don't respect your healthy boundaries.

9. Pretense to a high degree: The narcissist pretends. Not because he is out of touch with his own feelings in a traumatic period, but selfishly to get something from you or to destroy you. Its their basic nature.

10. Defensiveness to constructive criticism: Well, then again, its not that they are standing up for themselves in face of unfairness. The narcissist takes offense at normal communication and at constructive feedback given after appreciating the good in them.

Example :

Person A : "While I appreciate you took time to communicate and sort out the issue, I wish you wouldn't shout at a trifle, I am open to listening, lets discuss"

Narcissist : "Its all in your mind, I never shouted. You have things against me. I don't know what I ever did to deserve this"

There's hope. Freedom and healing is always possible.

There's freedom for you from the narcissist, not for the narcissist from his/her vice. As common sense would suggest, those who lie and blame others for their deeds do not change their harmful ways.The requisite self-honesty for same is lacking.

Swallow that bitter pill of truth.

Most have reportedly done better after having gone no contact with a narcissistic spouse/partner, this is all the more difficult in case of a parent. There's social stigma attached and more than that, parents are supposedly meant to be our safe haven. There's a tendency to look to them for love,tenderness & shelter. In case a no-contact is not possible, minimal contact may help.

Those of little understanding may judge you for making the tough decision but how does that matter more than your happiness and well being.They won't come around when you suffer a relatively permanent damage. You must have your physical and mental space. Also, your experience does not have to be the same as your siblings'. A narcissistic parent holds potential to scapegoat one child and treat another as the golden one. This is part of their divisory tactics. Your experience is yours and it's valid.

Also, a lot many adult-children of narcissistic parents take the higher route of empathy-having faced severe abuse and known the pain they break the pattern and refrain from doing it to others, but they must learn to honour their needs.Having spent their childhood ignoring their own needs to meet those of the narcissistic parent, they may settle for far less than they deserve all too often.

A few others with unhealthy coping mechanisms may not be able to process it but vindictiveness is not the way out.

It takes both understanding and time to heal from narcissistic abuse, the effects of which maybe invisible in a sense. Be patient with yourself in the journey. It may take a while for personal power to be fully restored but rest assured it will happen.As you take the first step, the rest will fall into place.


© 2020 Neha Rohra


Neha Rohra (author) from India on August 20, 2020:

Thank you Sudipta.

Thank you Lee for that thoroughness that can stem only from the sincere and effortless involvement of the heart.

Lee Rutter on August 20, 2020:

Thank you for this in-depth article that puts the terms into perspective that speaks truth without attacking anyone, but focusing on those who have people in their lives that have these tendencies. I will certainly share this article as It is the most comprehensive. Thanks for being a light to the world.

Sudipta Bose from Ideal Enclave society, Kolkata on August 20, 2020:

Read the article. Very good n informative. Made me more knowledgeable about different people. Thank you.

Neha Rohra (author) from India on August 19, 2020:

Thank you Deven

Deven on August 19, 2020:

Nicely written...started with maths, went all the way to philosophy, practical insights! Superb.

Neha Rohra (author) from India on August 18, 2020:

Thank you Captain AK Kalia.

That is encouraging.

Captain AK Kalia on August 17, 2020:

Very informative. It is written in a lucid style and thoughts are coherently organised. Though it is a technical issue, even a layperson can understand and relate to it.

Neha Rohra (author) from India on August 17, 2020:

Glad that the article could be of help Marcia. Thank you for speaking up and asserting your boundaries and protecting yourself from a narc.

Thank you Dr Anindya for that careful appreciation.

Thank you Eric, I was fascinated by your comment. Perhaps your goodness wouldn't recognize anyone as so, but then reality has a way of showing up.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 17, 2020:

I was fascinated here. Thank you. I first thought I had never met a narcissist. Then with some thought I realized I just run over them like a military tank. Let me think on that as I have to take a break to dance.

Marcia Rutter on August 17, 2020:

Thank you for writing this article! I had a mother figure who was a narcissist and had to shut her out of my life even though she is family. Took me a long time to realize what the problem was....much too long. I am healing and appreciate the validation.

Dr Anindya Dasgupta on August 17, 2020:

This article is a rare combination of intuitive empathy and common sense. Very well written and designed. Thank you.

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