5 Reasons Why Adult Children Estrange From Their Parents

Updated on February 13, 2018
Kim Bryan profile image

I lived in an unhealthy family for more than 40 years, but I didn't make the choice to "break up" with my parents overnight.

Why Would Someone Estrange From Their Parents?

For most people, it's unimaginable for a grown man or woman to choose to stop all contact with their parents. The people who provided food, clothes, and shelter, attended dance recitals, volunteered at school, or cheered from the bleachers during every Friday night's football game don't deserve to be abandoned in their old age just because they made some parenting mistakes, right?

Wrong.

According to Monica Ross, LPC, "If either party feels as though they cannot be respectful, loving, and supportive towards the other, then yes, it's time to move on and find those with whom one can. This is true for family members, friends, coworkers, and really anyone one would surround oneself with."

Dysfunction, especially when combined with abuse, does not end once a child reaches adulthood or because the abuser begins to get old. By then, the abusive parent is well-versed in the tactics needed to make their children do what they want, and these behaviors are likely to continue right up until the parents' death, unless someone—usually the abused—makes it stop.

I am one of those people who recognized slowly what was happening to me. I didn't make the choice to "break up" with my parents overnight, and I'm not happy I have no relationship with them. I'm sad my family is broken. I wish it was different, but it isn't.

If my parents had been willing to really listen to what their adult child had to say, to respect and consider it, the outcome would have been entirely different. Yet as I've learned in my journey to understand and heal, I am not alone. Thread after thread of internet discussions are filled with the stories of people who've made multiple attempts to repair unhealthy relations and have eventually disowned or gone no-contact with the people who raised them.

Alternatively, forums for the parents of estranged children are frequented by those who claim their son or daughter never explained their reasons for walking away. If you are estranged from your adult child, chances are they have told you why—you just chose to ignore it. And it's likely that it was one of these five reasons:

5 Reasons People End Their Relationship With Their Parent

Why Do People Stop Talking to Their Parents?

1. The Parent Disrespects the Adult Child's Spouse

Like me, many consider their parents' behavior normal until they marry. Looking at your parents from your significant other's perspective can be eye-opening.

Not having grown up under your parents' manipulations, as a new daughter- or son-in-law, your spouse may be unwilling to participate in the dysfunction that feels so natural to you. The parent who has always controlled you also expects to control your spouse, and when this fails to happen, it often results in contention, smear campaigns, and petty complaints designed to either force the new son- or daughter-in-law into compliance or get rid of them entirely via divorce.

Parents must respect their adult children and their spouses, regardless of whether they like them or not, even if you have differing expectations about family roles. You do not get to choose whom your children love. Respecting your son/daughter-in-law does not mean condoning or agreeing. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are not—nor can you ever be—the most important person in your adult child's life at all times. He cares about other people just as much as he cares about you. The sooner you understand that, the better off you'll be.

2. The Parent Refuses to Apologize

The refusal to apologize is a red flag for narcissistic personality disorder: It allows someone to justify their hurtful actions and words and blurs reality. Time and again, their children will try to make them understand a different perspective, but they continue to fail to see their own culpability. They gaslight their children into believing they are at fault and force them to apologize in order to mend the family.

To paraphrase the late Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This applies to the relationship you might have with your parents. You've been running for years and yet you're still in exactly the same place as you were as a child. You might realize you have to get off the hamster wheel.

When we hurt people, we ought to apologize without justifying. Just a simple "I'm sorry, please forgive me" is enough. As Dr. Phil once said, "'But' means forget everything I just said."

I confronted my mother.... She gaslighted me, meaning she told me my perceptions were incorrect.... My mother sneered, 'You have a very vivid imagination.'

— Misty Kiwak Jacobs, A Word Please.org

3. Overbearing and Undermining Grandparenting

A disordered parent sees their child as an extension of themselves, not as an individual, and grandchildren are but one more step on the ladder of "me."

  • Did you insist on participating in naming your grandchildren? Not okay.
  • Have you ever said, "It's okay, Grandma will let you do it" when the parents said no? Undermining is not okay.
  • Did you ever demand to have your grandchildren for certain events or visits? Ask, don't demand. If you're told no, respect it.
  • Stop giving the grandchildren sugar when their parents ask you not to. How you did it then wasn't the way they did it before and certainly not the way they do it now.
  • If you still think Mother's Day or Father's Day is all about you, you've got another think coming.
  • You're not smarter than the pediatrician.
  • Sparing the rod does not always spoil the child.
  • No, it's not okay to encourage your grandchild to love you more than his/her parents.
  • Stop trying to buy your grandchild's love with gifts.
  • You're not entitled to "alone time" with your grandchildren and your insistence on such is creepy.
  • Quit taunting your grandchildren with scary stories and insulting "jokes." You're being a bully.
  • And last but not least, for the love of all that is good, quit buying the grandchildren pets without the parents' permission!

The older generation must learn the difference between parenting and grandparenting. Your days of making all the decisions are over. In this new chapter of your life, your role is to give unconditional love and guidance, but it is a privilege, not a right. A grandchild is not your prodigy, nor are they your property. Be thankful for the time you are given rather than resentful over what you think you deserve.

If you want to make sure you don't repeat your toxic parents' mistakes, read 8 Signs of Bad Parenting That Every Parent Should Know.

Parents will always hold their children in their closest circle of relationships. But those children grow up to have children of their own who fill their parents' closest circle, and the oldest generation gets bumped to the outer edges. If this happens, the older generation loses a primary relationship, so you might say that the parent's loss is greater.

4. The Parent Plays Favorites Among Siblings

In early childhood, siblings in disordered families are assigned roles as either a scapegoat or a golden child. A golden child seldom suffers consequences for misbehavior and is often praised and applauded, while the scapegoat shoulders the blame for the family's dysfunction and suffers the brunt of the consequences.

Although the role one plays may be fluid, those who are mostly scapegoats are often the first (and sometimes only) ones to see and name the dysfunction—and this seldom goes very well. Eventually, the scapegoat realizes they are alone, even among family. Some will continue to try, but many will just walk way. Cutting off toxic parents is often the only way to make sure the cycle doesn't continue.

Get therapy if you have been accused of paying favorites. Even if you don't believe it's true, talk to a therapist. Seriously, therapy.

5. Ignored Boundaries

Last but not least is the refusal of the older generation to respect the boundaries of the child/parent relationship. Because disordered minds struggle to understand boundaries, I believe this reason is better explained with examples.

  • Prying into your child's finances and/or offering unsolicited financial advice is overstepping.
  • Insisting on being present for the birth of a grandchild is wrong. Nobody but the mother-to-be and her birthing staff have the right to be in the room.
  • Giving undergarments and sex toys as gifts is inappropriate. Doing this is crossing more boundaries than I have time to list.
  • Stop insisting on spending all holidays with your adult child and behaving badly if it doesn't happen. You're an adult, for goodness sake, quit acting like a child.
  • Quit demanding "alone time" with your adult child away from their significant other. Sure it's nice, but as I mentioned with grandchildren, your insistence on such is downright creepy and concerning.
  • Discussing your marital troubles with your adult child is wrong and crosses so many hill-to-die-on boundaries. Tell it to your best friend, or may I recommend a therapist? Whatever you do, don't discuss it with your child.
  • Criticizing clothing choices, hairstyles, companions, careers, religion or lack thereof, parenting styles, and the like is crossing boundaries. It is an utter and complete disrespect for your children's right to choose what is best for themselves.

A majority of boundary crossing is rooted in a parents' inability to believe in their children. Ask yourself, "Why would my child make a bad choice? Did I not teach him the tools needed to make good decisions?" If your immediate response to is to think, "I did teach them to make good decisions but they've made so many bad ones in the past," your inability to accept your role in their repeated bad decisions is having severely adverse effects on your relationship.

At some point, the older generation must trust they have raised their children to make good decisions and respect those decisions. If you can't do this, you need to work out why with a therapist. In the meantime, keep your opinions to yourself and stop trying to "save them" or "fix" things. You're only making it worse, I promise.

They had been maligning me my whole life. . . not in a way of telling people I was a horrible person but making it seem as if I was a poor, befuddled soul, a hapless idiot, borderline mentally disturbed, a pathetic loser. None of this was true. It never was. Once I got away, my life got so much better. Oh, so much.

— Anonymous, r/raisedbynarcissists, Reddit.com

Statistics About Family Estrangements

A British report called "Hidden Voices: Family Estrangement in Adulthood," which describes a survey of over 800 people who self-identified as having estranged from all or part of their family of origin, offers some relevant data:

Who is more likely to break ties: males or females? How does gender affect closeness?

It's more common to be estranged from a mother than a father or both parents. Conversely, it's more common for daughters to estrange than sons.

However, when males estrange, it seems to be more final or longer-lasting: the average estrangement from fathers lasts 7.9 years (compared to an average of 5.5 years for mothers), and estrangements from sons average 5.2 years (with 3.8 years for daughters).

Who tends to estrange permanently: males or females?

29% of respondees described a final break with a mother, and 37% reported a final break with a daughter. Conversely, 36% described a final break with a father, and 41% with sons. So sons and fathers are more likely to experience permanent closure than daughters and mothers.

What about intermittent estrangements?

We have some insight into on-again-off-again estrangements, where family members cycle in and out of closeness over the years. 21% said their had been five or more of these cycles with mothers, where 16% experienced them with fathers. So it's more likely for mothers to experience intermittent estrangements over the years.

Who is most likely to cut off contact: parents or children?

The younger generation is usually the one to break ties. Over half of people who "divorce" a parent say they were the ones who made the move.

Is there any chance the relationship will be mended?

  • According to the parents, yes: Most parents hold out hope that they will reconcile with their child.
  • But according to the younger generation, no: More than 70% of respondents said there was no chance they'd resume communication.
  • And according to experts like Sheri Heller, LCSW, a NYC psychotherapist and interfaith minister in private practice, "If PD abusers lack the capacity for insight and positive change, it is likely they will persist with predation, denying their perfidious motives, and evidencing an absence of sincere remorse. To re-engage with this degree of pathology puts the adult victim at risk for regressing into dysfunctional interpersonal patterns, succumbing to guilt and cognitive dissonance, getting mired in confused roles, and being flooded by abandonment panic. For many, this constitutes a deal-breaker which results in finality."

If you are having trouble cutting the ties or want to know the healthiest ways to do it, read When and How to Cut the Ties of Bad Family Relationships. On the other hand, if you're looking for ways to deal with your parents rather than disowning them, read 5 Strategies for Dealing With Difficult Parents.

Will You Ever Find Out Why Your Son or Daughter Abandoned the Relationship?

The British study found an interesting generational discrepancy when it came to the communication of the reasons for the estrangement. When asked if they "concretely" told their parents why the relationship ended, over 67% said they had. This contrasts dramatically with the parents' response, where over 60% claimed they were never told why. In other words, many abandoned parents who are rejected by a child don't consciously know the reason, even though they were explicitly told. So they either forgot or didn't listen. In fact, they don't even remember the conversation.

This disparity only emphasizes the breakdown in communication in these families and suggests that the older generation might not be listening or has a hard time hearing what their children are saying, which is probably at the core of the problem.

Is That the End?

In closing, I want to say I am very well aware those listed aren't the only reasons for estrangement, nor will my advice apply in all situations. I haven't mentioned trauma, abuse, divorce, or substance abuse. I haven't talked about undiagnosed mental health issues or those who simply refuse to take their meds. That said, people don't just walk away from families that are healthy. All families have their issues, but functional families talk about them, try to understand one another's perspectives, apologize for any hurt they've caused or wrong they've done, and truly move forward, beyond all that suppressed anger and resentment.

The exact opposite is true of unhealthy, disordered families. I know. I lived in one for more than 40 years. Sadly, I didn't realize it until the abuse was heaped upon my husband and children as well, but when it became obvious, I demanded that it stop. I tried discussing the matter, only to find myself enmeshed in bitter verbal arguments. I tried using parables and comparisons, pointing out other family dysfunctions and relating them to our own, but that failed, too. I tried many ways to rectify the situation, but every time, I was met with anger and resistance.

Contrary to what they think, I didn't estrange from them to punish them, I did so to protect myself and my children. I realized I had become just like them and I made a conscious choice to change myself and to bring to an end the generations of dysfunction in my family tree.

Sadly, our story doesn't end with a happily-ever-after, but I know I made the right decision, and I know I'm not alone. Every day I read stories, online support group threads, estranged child forums, and talk with people around the globe who feel they had no other choice but to walk away. Not a single one of us is happy about it. Relieved it's over, yes, but certainly not happy with how or why.

I'm also privy to the perspectives of rejected parents. One commonly stated complaint among parents who have no contact with their children is that their child's behavior toward them reminds them of how they were treated by their own parents when they were young. If this is you, I want you to ask yourself, "If my parent was that way and my child is that way, isn't it possible I am, too?"

Some will read this and take it to heart. They'll reconsider the things they've said and done because they want to repair their broken relationship with their child and are willing to do whatever is necessary to do so. Unfortunately, however, many readers will be inclined to argue and resort to writing long comments complaining about their child to a bunch of internet strangers.

I can't change everyone. I couldn't even change my own parents. Hopefully, however, I'll get someone's attention and set in motion positive change for another dysfunctional family out there.

Questions & Answers

© 2017 Kim Bryan

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    • profile image

      Leigh 

      5 hours ago

      @Elly The Autistic: Sadly, your words ring very true.

      Two years ago her decision was

      “texting-only”. So...I stalked her Facebook & Instagram, manipulatively looking for ways to fit a question/comment about her private life into each text...to try to force her to have a conversation she was Not ready for.

      In doing that, I think I brought her memories right back to feeling like an unsafe child, when she was powerless against a controlling, overbearing, abusive mother.

      She then protected herself further and extended the boundary to “text on holidays only”. And I finally woke up to see I was still an abuser...just in a different form.

      I’ve seen her once in person since then, and it was to sincerely take responsibility for all that I’ve done to her, and to beg her forgiveness. You guys know the rest.

      Even if her choice is to not ever forgive, and even if she is unable to ever reconcile, I’m being a good mom Now. I didn’t make the right choices when she was growing up, but I can continue to show my sincere remorse and unconditional love by respecting Her choices now.

      If there is anything else I can do; you guys I am so open to ideas or suggestions, always. Thanks, as always for your advice and perspective. Reading your thoughts really helps.

    • profile image

      Leigh 

      29 hours ago

      @Jo Miller: I just wanted to chime in and say first of all, I think you mean well. It’s just that the actual saying “well nobody’s perfect” comes across as a bit disingenuous.

      My thoughts are this: Right now my daughter cannot trust & forgive me for being mentally and emotionally abusive. And she should not be expected to, just “because she or I are not perfect”. She was a child. Period.

      A child cannot “cut a parent some slack” because “they need some slack” too. They should be automatically granted slack/forgiveness...simply by virtue of the fact that they are children and we are parents.

      Maybe the forgiveness you’re speaking about could be reserved for between siblings & other relatives where there is more of a level relationship?

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      38 hours ago

      To Leigh:

      Your line of, “One thing that keeps coming to me that I have to accept is that she might take many many years, or perhaps Never; get to that place where she can trust me again. Especially when we cannot build on anything through communication.” is profound. It also gave me great pause for thought. I think you hit the heart of the matter, how DO you build a relationship after No Contact when, “we cannot build on anything through communication”?

      In reflecting on your question it occurred to me that this may be where so many ‘arguments’ start where Estranged Parents and NC Children meet in places like this. I recently had an encounter with some of my extended family and was explaining the why(s) of my No Contact. They had also been subjected to my mom’s insanity over the years, but because they didn’t have the day to day contact I had living with her, they were shocked. As I explained to them, even IF she “saw the light” I don’t know where we would go moving forward.

      My ‘mom’ believes we had a good and loving relationship while I was growing up/trying to survive. However, the ‘love’ was a house built on sand. It had no foundation and when I had enough/the house collapsed and I went NC all that was left is an empty beach. She used to say things like, “You’re my best-friend in the world!” or, “You’re SOOO much like Me!” (For the Record – I am NOT and never WAS). My ‘mom’ never knew ME and now that I’m a grown adult with my own values, principles’ and morals (ones that clearly didn’t/don’t align with hers) where do we begin to ‘rebuild’?

      The question then becomes, “Do We WANT to ‘rebuild’?” Many NC Children will probably say what my Husband and I have said to each other, “THEY had ‘their time’ in our lives (when we were growing up) to love, cherish and build a healthy relationship that would weather ‘future storms’.” Those weren’t the choices our ‘parents’ made. I once likened Our abuse to a car engine. If you failed to put ‘fuel and oil’ (love and nurturing) into the ‘engine’ (the child) and you run the ‘engine’ dry… Coming along later with ‘fuel and oil’ might not get the ‘engine’/relationship running again. Best intentions aside, the ‘engine’ might just be too BROKEN.

      Also, as has been said many times here before, “Estranged Children (offspring in general) don’t ‘owe’ their parents ANYTHING,” including, not resuming a relationship with an abuser even IF they’ve changed/learned the error of their ways. The abuser(s) had all the power in the PAST. Now all the ‘power’ is with US survivors. We have the ability to choose NOW how we relate with those who abused US – IF at all.

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      2 days ago

      @Jo Miller.

      Research shows that one of the reasons for family members cutting off contact with other family members is abuse (Stand Alone charity website). It's not the only reason, but one of the commonest.

      Forgiveness doesn't stop bad, abusive or dangerous behaviour. Forgiveness doesn't mean that the person being forgiven shouldn't have to stop the bad or abusive thing that they are doing, and take full responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately, many estranged parents won't even admit to what they've done, even after being repeatedly told what they've done. They're most certainly not going to change, and the forgiveness doesn't mean anything. It's just an exercise in futility that keeps you trapped in the abusive situation, so you can be abused, hurt, killed, or take your own life because suicide will be your only way out.

      I should add that forgiveness isn't the same as reconciliation, but you're talking about forgiveness and staying in contact with a parent.

      I tried incredibly hard to try and have a relationship with my abusive parents. I comprised, tried to be more patient, forgiving and understanding, put boundaries in place, tried boundaries plus consequences, explained to them time and time again at least some of what they'd done (too dangerous to discuss everything because of how they might react), spent more than 10 years on and off telling my mother what she'd done. My mother's response - "But I don't know what I've done", "Why won't my daughter tell me what I've done?", 'Why did she cut off contact with me for no reason?", "Why is she being so horrible and treating me this way?". Guess what my parents did to improve the situation and make the relationship work? Nothing!

      My father would repeatedly lie to me and make false promises in order to get me to resume contact with my abusive alcoholic mother. He wanted me to resume contact because when she was abusing the crap out of me, life wasn't so bad for him or anyone else in the family. I still remember his promises and lies. "I promise you, things will be different this time", "I promise you, she's sorry (my mother)", "I promise you, she'll behave", "I promise you, she's stopped drinking". I'd forgive my mother and resume contact. Had she changed? No. She'd abuse the crap out of me all over again and would be drinking more than ever. By the time I cut off contact with my family the situation had become dangerous - again! I was even concerned that my father would shoot me if instructed to do so by my mother (highly manipulative primary abuser who pretty much controlled and orchestrated everything). Repeatedly forgiving my family and resuming contact was an incredibly dangerous thing to do. I'm lucky I didn't lose my life. Some victims of child/adult child abuse aren't so fortunate. Why do we do it? One reason is that there's a societal pressure placed on victims of child/adult child abuse to be more forgiving and stay in contact with the abusive parent. "But she's your mum", "Family is family", "You stick by family no matter what". Far better for the victim to be abused or worse, than ever have the audacity to cut off contact with the abusive parent. Only a selfish, spoilt little snowflake and narcissistic brat would consider doing that!

      It's VERY common for both abusers and enablers (abusers by proxy) to repeatedly use this idea of forgiveness to manipulate victims of child/adult child abuse, in order to keep them trapped in an abusive situation. This is why estranged adult children who've cut off contact with abusive parents don't always respond too well to people telling them to forgive. This idea of forgiveness will also be used to portray the victim and not the abuser as the problem. The abuser isn't the problem for being abusive and refusing to take responsibility for what they've done, the victim is the problem for refusing to forgive and resume contact with the abusive parent so they can be abused. "Selfish, abusive, narcissistic, unforgiving, bitter, hard, hard-hearted". These are just a few of the names you'll be called for refusing to let your parents abuse you.

      Forgiveness has its place, but suggesting that we all just forgive is far too simplistic and can sometimes be dangerous (particularly when we confuse forgiveness with reconciliation). Forgiveness has never been and will never be some kind of panacea. It just doesn't work that way.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      2 days ago

      To Jo Miller:

      Yes. Families need to be forgiving. Sometimes the scapegoat child needs to 'forgive' them-self for not wanting to take any more abuse. Not taking any more abuse from my 'family' has allowed me to make MY Family with my Husband and children easier.

    • profile image

      ElizabethCa 

      2 days ago

      Jo Miller, I think you mean well, but...the trouble for many of us is that "forgiveness" just ends up being a code for "letting yourself be a victim." It's very common to tell us that we need to forgive our parents, when what we're not done is exposing our bellies for them to hurt us again.

      If you read our stories, you'll notice a common thread that the parent effectively holds themselves up as perfect and beyond reproach. They may say that they're "not perfect" as a way to convince us to stay, sure, but they won't admit to faults in any way that might lead to reconciliation. Rather, the child is blamed for being hurt or upset by the parent's behavior, and told if they weren't such an entitled brat they'd just accept it.

      What this means for us as children is that there is no working towards a better relationship. If we are hurt by their behavior, well, that just means there's something wrong with us. Our parents would spit the message of forgiveness back in our faces for having the unmitigated gall to suggest they might need any forgiveness in the first place.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      3 days ago from Tennessee

      I sometimes told my daughters when they were growing up that there were no perfect parents and no perfect children, so families need to be forgiving. I still believe that. And if we work at that it makes all of our other relationships in life so much easier.

    • profile image

      Leigh 

      5 days ago

      Elly The Autistic: Thank you so much for your frank, but honest words.

      One thing that keeps coming to me that I have to accept is that she might take many many years, or perhaps Never; get to that place where she can trust me again. Especially when we cannot build on anything through communication.

      I am trusting what you all have been saying, as well as her dad and above all, her own request, to give her the time & space. That’s all I have left to give, now, that won’t continue to hurt her.

      I realize it has nothing to do with me, or my needs.

      It helps to communicate and to read your experiences on this site because it constantly reminds me of her perspective. It hurts, a lot, but in a way it makes me feel better to know I’m doing all that I can right now to show how sorry I am, and how much I love her.

      Thanks again for your comments. And for your thoughts & prayers. They’re really appreciated.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      8 days ago

      To Leigh:

      I would like to second what Life without Annette said. As another estranged child and married to a man who is also in No Contact with his ‘family’ it is very rare that We hear from a parent who has “seen the light”.

      Two years IS ‘a drop in the bucket’. I’m 42 now and it took me until my late thirties to realize how my ‘family’ was treating me. My husband was much smarter and got ‘it’ in his early thirties… He was No Contact when we met. So from my perspective I endured/was subjected to ‘hell’ for 35 YEARS.

      I routinely follow ‘Estranged Parents’ sites and often I read things like, “They estranged from ME! Even IF ‘they’ wanted to reconnect I don’t know if I can ever trust ‘them’ again!” Or, “The ‘trust’ has been ‘broken’ I just don’t know if I could ever ‘forgive’ my child!” However, there’s no reflection on their part that THEY broke the trust FIRST or that it’s not THEM that needs to ‘forgive’ US. It is US abused children that have to ‘build the trust’ because there never was any! We ‘trust’, that as children, we are being born to loving and capable parents but sometimes that doesn’t happen.

      It sounds to me like you are on the right path. The stand out for me in what you wrote was that you GET that it is up to your daughter to decide where she needs to be in relation to you. Sadly, the answer might be that she will never want a relationship with you. I cannot imagine how my husband and I would react to our parents admitting and speaking as you have, since neither of us can imagine that level of REALITY from them.

      I too pray (and I don’t do THAT often) that things work out for you in your situation.

      Peace be with You.

    • profile image

      Leigh 

      8 days ago

      @Life without Annette Thank you for taking the time to respond, for your words of experience and the example you gave. It made a lot of sense. Two years really is a drop in a bucket when you look at it from her perspective. I can continue with the changes I have made in my own life, knowing her needs are being met. I can continue to just send a text on holidays but nothing more than that so she doesn’t feel pushed. It’s still going to be hard because I miss her but I get it. I’ll gladly take your prayers too :)

      I’m sorry that you’re in a similar situation with your mom. I wish I knew what to say.

      Again, thanks so much for your reply, it helped :)

    • profile image

      Life without Annette 

      8 days ago

      Leigh, I am moved by your post. I’m pushing 20 years of estrangement from my mother. During these years, especially early on, I fantasized about what words or actions I could say or do that would make her acknowledge her behavior, to apologize, to just care about the hurt and harm she caused, and to want to love and comfort me. Ultimately, I realized that there is nothing I can say or do, that her pride would never yield, that her heart would never warm, that I wanted her to respond with a love that never existed.

      Your remorse seems genuine, you seem willing to be transparently humble and vulnerable, and you seem wise enough to recognize your daughter’s father and his girlfriend as allies now. Once trust is broken, and once someone is wounded enough that the pain of terminating a primal relationship is less painful than the relationship itself, it takes time and consistency to rebuild that trust. Two years may be a drop in the bucket of time. How many years were spent wounding her?

      Hypothetical: you marry a man who is the love of your life. He starts drinking in response to the stresses of life. Then, drunkenness becomes a trigger for violence. Over many years, you endure a broken arm, a shattered eye socket, a dislocated jaw, and more welts and bruises than you can remember...to say nothing of numerous humiliations, betrayals, and the trauma of years of living in fear and trepidation. You finally leave him, which becomes his wake-up call to quit drinking, to get help, and to get right with God. He realizes losing you was the second-biggest regret of his life, second only to the fact that he failed you so miserably in the first place. He is a changed man, and wants nothing more than your forgiveness, and a chance to spend the rest of his life loving you with all the tenderness and care he knows you should have received all along. He knows he’s truly changed, he knows where he went wrong, and has a strong support network to make sure he’ll never backslide. In the meantime, you’ve built a new life, with a new career, new friends, and a peace of mind you haven’t known for more than a decade. Even though you still love that man, how long would you need before you warmed to the idea of forgiveness, trust, and reunification?

      Be steadfast in your new life. Know it may take your daughter a lot longer to trust in the changes you’ve made in yourself. If she feels pushed, it may only affirm to her that you haven’t really changed. Let your ex-husband and his girlfriend be the ones to testify to the depth of change in your outlook and behavior. If you have not been a prayerful person, there’s no better time to start than now. I’ll pray for you, your daughter, and for healing in each of you and your relationship with each other, in Jesus name. Amen.

    • profile image

      Leigh 

      9 days ago

      Thank you for your article. I’ve read several comments as well so I hope that I can receive some help.

      I have done very wrong by my daughter. My goal is to know what to do after taking responsibility for your actions and asking for forgiveness.

      My situation is that I have an adult son who I have a great relationship with, and an adult daughter who has no contact with me. She lives with her dad and his gf, and is attending university. There hasn’t been favouritism that I’ve been able to identify, but her brother being younger, meant that she bore the brunt of my anger whenever something went wrong - and most of the time it was out of proportion to whatever had happened.

      I expected her to help me “parent” her brother from the age of around 6 yrs old. I also had major anger/rage issues (“losing it” by yelling at the top of my lungs almost daily), and I constantly expected her to be more grown up, perfectly behaved, and ALWAYS held her to impossible standards. When she got older I shared information about my marriage to her step-dad (especially when we were having issues/arguing). I shared negative information about my ex-husband (their dad) because I hated him for “having the audacity” to leave me. Then when she was older and my husband (her step-dad) and her started having disputes/arguing about things like paying room & board, or the hours she kept (she was 20); I completely took his side and told her she had to move out (even though he was in the wrong).

      Today; I thank God that she has always had a rational, loving & supportive father in her life (the man I used to “hate”). If not for him (and his girlfriend), she would not be the well-spoken, independent and confident young woman she is today. I have thanked him for being there to help mend the damage I did to her heart and psyche.

      I have made changes in my life, and I have taken responsibility for what I’ve done in totality (not just the small list here), with specific examples and events where I know how much I hurt her. To even think about it all now, thinking of her beautiful little perfect soul growing up with a monster like me towering over her makes me sick and still brings hot tears flowing (even now). But I know that’s nothing compared to what she went through...and I can’t just go back and fix it.

      I have begged for forgiveness and offered to do whatever it takes to start mending both her heart, and our relationship, but it’s been almost 2 years now and I feel like I’m just doing more harm than good (bugging her). I’ve asked in person, and she said she’d think about it, but that she thought we needed some space but could text on holidays. Since then I’ve texted on holidays and reminded her that I love her, and that I am so very sorry for every time I let her down or hurt her. But there is just silence.

      I know from speaking with her dad that she is happy and doing great and has become close with his girlfriend (who is a very loving & kind human), so I’m not worried about her well-being. I just want to have a relationship with her. A new one, a fresh one. I miss her so much.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      10 days ago

      Ashley, please visit outofthefog.net to learn how best to go about ceasing contact with one family member when there is fallout from others.

    • profile image

      Ashley Rodriguez 

      12 days ago

      Question: I am an adult now and my father is a substance abuser (alcohol) and has been since I was a young child. He blames others for his addiction, is entitled, manipulative, and forgets his emotional abuse once he is sober. I now have a son and want to cuts all ties with my father but the family we share often gets in the middle of my decision and degrades me because of it. How do I deal with the rest of family? I don’t want to cut ties with them, just my father.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      3 weeks ago

      I just watched an interesting situation unfold on one of my favorite estranged parent’s sites. This poor man wrote a comment (his first and only) telling his story and how he very much played a part in their estrangement. Sure enough, someone replied to him, “Please do NOT blame yourself or take responsibility for your son’s behavior. SHAME ON THEM! And shame on anyone who does not knock some sense into them. They do not want to recall all of those good times and memories that you contributed to their life because they cannot meet it with compassion and respect. What kind of a son would do that? Not one I want.”

      He then replied in part, “However, if I could offer some very humble advice to folks here, it would be that more of us need to recognize and accept the part WE played in our estrangements. Perhaps we want to see our own role as non-existent or minor and affix all the blame to others, particularly our adult children or former spouses. That’s easy to do and may make it easier in the moment, but it actually causes confusion and makes it harder to understand things.”

      Then the ‘Queen Bee’ of the site offered, “I sense a judgmental tone in your post. It’s possible that I’m wrong. It’s also true that there are those who sign onto the forum to cause problems. Most of them are pretty quickly blatantly abusive (which is why no one in the forum ever sees those posts… I delete the mean trolls and their vitriol). I could be sensitive because I do see these. If that’s not at work here, I hope you’ll accept my apology.

      After that the poor man requested to be removed from their site. So it’s not just an, ‘Echo Chamber for Narcissistic Abusers’ it’s also a, “If you don’t think your child is 100% ‘wrong’ – get lost’ site.

      It is unfortunate it was all removed but thanks to good timing I got to see it and grab a few quotes. These are the same people that claim to be so ‘open’ and are ‘seeking answers’ and carry so much ‘hope’ that their estrangements will end. What a joke.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      3 weeks ago

      Hello All:

      On an estranged adult child site, someone had that feeling of, “Did WE have the same ‘mother’?” the reply back was, “WE ALL have the same ‘mother’.” Clearly this is sadly too true because my Husband and I feel the same.

      I’ve been struggling the last few weeks and as per my usual, when I’m struggling, it makes me ‘fight’. By ‘fight’ I mean, trying to find answers. I don’t have the luxury of being able to just let my emotions take me wherever, while actually I DO but I know that would make me into the same monster my ‘Mom’ was/is.

      The breakthrough has been I never learned proper emotional regulation in general. Anger being the biggest one. Never being ‘allowed’ to be angry about ANYTHING has led to a life-time of NEVER getting angry about anything. Even things I should legitimately be angry about.

      The recent conversation on self-soothing and where we learned our emotional coping skills from reminded me of this. There are no ‘bad’ emotions. There are only ‘bad reactions’ to emotions. These are skills we could not learn because there was no one around to TEACH these skills.

      For example, I remember vividly one ‘family’ game night where the game required two teams of two. The question was asked, “Who wants to play with whom?” Of course my Sister and I spent plenty of time with ‘mom’ so of course we both said we wanted to play with ‘dad’. My ‘mom’ lost IT. “No one wants to play with me! Why doesn’t anyone want to play with ME?!?!” and stormed off like a kid younger then I was at the time. Now a ‘normal adult’ in my mind would have laughed and said, “Why don’t we play two rounds of the game and we’ll switch partners each game...” Instead Sis and I got accused by enabler ‘dad’ of, “Ruining family game night,” and then as an added ‘bonus’ of course then Golden Child Sister then said, “No… It’s Elly’s fault. SHE should have volunteered to play with ‘mom’.” And now it’s 100% MY ‘fault’.

      Talk about the confusing that Starlight spoke of. In my ‘child’s mind’ I thought, “WOW. I hold all this ‘power’ in this ‘family’ (the ‘power’ to cause all this discourse) and yet I have no power to STOP IT.” Yes. CONFUSING. Crazy making… and all the other ‘things’ this power dynamic does.

      Of course ANY display of ‘anger’ on my part was ‘proof’ that I was ‘immature’/disrespectful and by display of ‘anger’ I mean I could be ‘angry’ by having ‘enough’ and quietly leaving a room. I would then be mocked for, ‘stomping away angry like a little kid’… Why would THEY think I’m stomping off in ‘anger’ if there was nothing ‘going on’ that should make me angry? Again it’s the basic ADMISSION that the behavior is OCCURING and yet not SEEING ‘it’, just like the estranged mother I quoted in my last comment.

      In that one comment alone it was OBVIOUS that SHE was the ‘issue’ and very much the aggressor. Of course the girl-friend in that case had good reason to take issue with her boy-friends ‘moms’ behavior but heaven forbid the poor girl get ‘angry’. We have no idea what this poor young woman actually said because we only have ‘moms side’ and we all know their ability to judge what is ‘abusive’ or ‘angry’ is VERY flawed. One estranged parent was told by her sister (the estranged child’s Aunt) that she had said, “I am glad that we can both live our own separate lives and be happy. The fact remains that some relationships are just not healthy for either party and unfortunately that will never change.” THAT was viewed as ‘cruel and hurtful’ toward the estranged parent as well as ‘vicious’. That statement was ‘vicious’? How so? Other then saying NOTHING what DON’T these ‘parents’ consider ‘abuse’ toward them? Yet THEY are free to call their estranged children every name under the sun and why should We take offense? After all, THEY are just telling the ‘truth’ about us.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      3 weeks ago

      @ElizabethCa .... I would swear we had the same mother. lol

      You are spot on with your assessment why adults like us can’t cope with these behaviors. Maybe if our own parents were self-soothing we would have learned to do so as well. But they didn’t and we couldn’t so somehow that translates to us being at fault.

      Again.

      I’m done with that. I was over 40 years old before I actually learned how to self-soothe and I was only able to do that by separating myself from the ones who were hindering my ability to do so.

      But yeah, no one, degree or not, needs to be telling adult children to self-soothe when it comes to dealing with parents who failed to teach us such because they are incapable of doing so themselves.

    • profile image

      ElizabethCa 

      3 weeks ago

      Thinking of the whole "self-soothing" thing.

      Guess where people are supposed to learn skills like that? They don't just magically pop into existence when you reach a certain age. You learn them from the adults in your life. That relies on having healthy relationships with adults who both model and encourage those skills.

      I don't know about others, but I was actively discouraged from developing any sort of appropriate emotional control. If I was trying to cope and calm myself down, that was interpreted as a deliberate attack on the parent. The message was that I was choosing these feelings because I was bad and wanted to hurt my family, and I shouldn't need coping skills because all I had to do was decide to stop being bad.

      Meanwhile, my mother's method of emotional control was to lash out and blame me and others for causing it. When she was angry, she would take it out in a tirade of how much of a bad, awful, ungrateful child I was. I was expected to beg and cringe until I could convince her that I was "sincerely sorry" - which I recognize now meant "when she'd calmed down."

      That's not a recipe for the child to grow up into an adult that knows how to "self-soothe", especially not when dealing with the parent. And the continued presence of the parent is liable to push the child to continue old habits of simply suppressing their bad emotions. It's funny how certain parents refuse to teach mature adult skills to their children and then complain that their children aren't mature.

      I did eventually learn, but it's still extremely hard with my mother, both because of old wounds and because she reacts with rage at any display of normal emotions or any boundary or retreat from the situation. And I think I had to be separated from her before I could learn, because otherwise her influence was too much.

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      3 weeks ago

      To Elly,

      "They are allowed to protect themselves and not be ‘disrespected’ but if someone stands up to their abuse? THEY are in the ‘wrong’. Talk about not taking responsibility..."

      Yes, and the endless circular arguments that go round and round, always coming back to the point where the abusive EP is right and the AC is wrong. Talking to them gets you nowhere.

      "This woman gleefully admits that SHE started by ‘pushing the girl-friends buttons’ on PURPOSE to make the girl-friend attack HER and make her into the ‘victim’! But the girl-friend was the ‘aggressor’. RIGHT."

      They bait you. Then they say that they don't know what they've done, but then tell you what they've done, then say they don't know what they've done. Yes, they minimize what they've done and shift responsibility back to the victim, but they're still admitting to what they've done. If they really didn't know what they'd done and that they were in the wrong, they wouldn't be able to tell you what they'd done to begin with.

      It's no wonder the victims get confused!

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      3 weeks ago

      To Starlight:

      Oh Yes, the abusers that seem to think it’s all about THEM. Their feelings and behavior are above reproach and anyone not playing the game is the problem. They are allowed to protect themselves and not be ‘disrespected’ but if someone stands up to their abuse? THEY are in the ‘wrong’. Talk about not taking responsibility...

      For example, this lovely woman complaining about her estranged son’s girl-friend said, “Whenever she was upset, mad or anxious it was because someone had done something to her. Never was it that she started the problem, never was she the pusher or the aggressor. So the day that she attacked me and I let her go on social media and just pushed the buttons I knew would get her going she went on full psycho display,” some more ‘reasonable logic’ on the part of an estranged parent. She goaded the girl into an argument but in HER MIND the girl-friend was the instigator! No one picked up on that.

      This woman gleefully admits that SHE started by ‘pushing the girl-friends buttons’ on PURPOSE to make the girl-friend attack HER and make her into the ‘victim’! But the girl-friend was the ‘aggressor’. RIGHT. Also there is essentially an admission on her part that she has done this before. Obviously she knew which ‘buttons to push’ and then she continued by saying, “Everyone got to see the girl I had been dealing with behind the scenes when she was picking fights or just being nasty to be nasty. She exposed the real “T” to his family and friends.” Ummm… So this ‘parent’ took the fight ‘public’ to show how ‘unreasonable’ the girl-friend is and her son and the girl-friends family took her side. I wonder why… I certainly hope that someone other then the estranged son could see through the obvious manipulation; the manipulation by the estranged MOM.

      And then these same parents wonder why they end up being No Contact with their adult off-spring. In this same comment she also said, “When I exposed who GF really was and everyone got to see it, she lost her mind. She tried to twist the conversation and make it about me and how horrible I am and it didn’t work. Unfortunately for her, I don’t live a pretend existence. In fact the one thing people always say about me is how real I am no matter where I am. I am always the same person.” To me this reads, “I’m a witch ALL the time.”

      She goes on to say, “So, how do you recover from that if you are a liar? How do you turn the tables around to make the facade you have pushed on everyone real again? Especially when you have duped his family and and now they know how you really are? You don’t. You can’t. All you can do is push estrangement. All you can do is tell everyone more lies like, “they are toxic”. “He was raised in a loveless home”. “He is so much happier now that he doesn’t have to listen to the guilt trips his mother took him on his whole life”. Again, lies, facades and scapegoating.” Well, it’s interesting that she admits that the only way to avoid her toxicity is to stay estranged. It’s clear who the liar is and if ‘outsiders’ buy her lies then YES -- All the abused child can DO is go No Contact. She poisoned her family (and anyone else who will listen) against her son and girl-friend and then blames the ES for being No Contact. How rich. But they are the mature/rational ones.

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      3 weeks ago

      Hi Elly,

      “They are hurting YOU therefore THEY are in the ‘wrong’.”

      If I disagreed with my mother, refused to obey or allow her to abuse me, she would accuse me of hurting her. All the bad things she did were never the problem, I was the problem for trying to protect myself. Self protection (something you do to yourself) is not the same as hurting or abusing someone else (something you do to another person). The EP might feel hurt and wronged that the AC has chosen to protect themselves by ending the relationship, but feelings are not a fact. Facts are facts. The AC isn't ACTIVELY hurting the EP. It's the EP who wants to continue hurting the AC and is in the wrong.

      To show how nonsensical and potentially dangerous this 'doctor's' statement really is, you just have to look at how stalkers who stalk celebrities see their victims. Stalkers can feel that their victims love them, even if they've never met in person. The stalker can then start to feel increasingly angry, hurt and betrayed when the victim doesn't want a relationship with them. According to the 'doctor's' logic, the victim is in the wrong, because their actions have made the stalker feel hurt.

      “have their pain acknowledged”.

      Fine, the pain of EPs can be acknowledged, but it's their responsibility to deal with their feelings in a healthy and appropriate way (the 'doctor' clearly doesn't agree with this). The AC isn't responsible for this, and shouldn't have to resume contact with the EP to make them feel better. If this were the case, then none of us would be able to end any kind of relationship, e.g. marriage, friendship, business partnership, because of the hurt that the other person might feel.

      "By validating the estranged parents ‘feelings’ while not acknowledging their ACTIONS there is ZERO chance the situation will get better."

      Yes, the EPs are adults, so why shouldn't they be expected to acknowledge and take full responsibility for their actions?

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      3 weeks ago

      To Starlight:

      You so nailed it. I found a site where both estranged parents and adult children were trying to discuss estrangement. One ‘doctor’ weighed in when it was suggested that the estranged parent look at their behavior. This ‘doctor’ said that when estranged parents seek treatment they should, “have their pain acknowledged”. I could not believe it. So an estranged parent goes to that ‘doctor’ and says, “I’m so hurting from being estranged from my adult child/ren how can I make our relationship better?” and the ‘doctor’ says, “They are hurting YOU therefore THEY are in the ‘wrong’.” This will improve the situation how? By validating the estranged parents ‘feelings’ while not acknowledging their ACTIONS there is ZERO chance the situation will get better.

      The level of denial is shocking in these cases. These types of places are always quick to jump on the mentality of ‘it takes two to tango’ and ‘relationships are a two-way street’ and then immediately go on to say things like, “I won’t let my child bully me!” and by ‘bullying’ I mean setting healthy boundaries. So immediately they go from it’s a ‘relationship issue’ to “It’s MY way or the highway,” which completely invalidates the other person in the ‘relationship’ (the estranged child) which turns the relationship into a one way street. The ‘one way street’ mentality is a big part of the reason I went No Contact and THEY cannot see themselves doing IT.

      Some people are incapable of internal reflection. There is one estranged parent site that has been running for years and I read every single comment. One infamous poster was adamant that there was, “No ‘logical’ reason(s) for going No Contact.” Any time an estranged child would ‘explain’ this ‘person’ would cut apart (gaslight) and deflect, dismiss and even MOCK estranged adult children. The same ‘person’ would also ‘shout down’ other estranged parents that did admit to making terrible choices raising their kids. They would be told, “You did nothing wrong! You were a great parent. Don’t try to figure out what You did! It’s all THEM!” These same people got offended to discover that they were being observed by, “the other side” and that ‘We’ called their site an, “Echo chamber for Narcissistic Abusers”.

      Sadly the ‘proof’ was right there in their very own comments ALL the behaviors ‘We’ were describing and ‘they’ mockingly dismissed the thought by saying, “WE are NOT ‘like’ THAT. WE were ‘good parents’… You estranged kids are ungrateful little snots.” But SURE… THEY don’t ‘act’ like THAT. Shockingly? Very few of those ‘parents’ were making any head-way with their off-spring… Surprise! *shaking head*

      They say things like, “now they are having a baby and I don’t think his bitch of a wife will let us see our grandchild… I think we have to let them go and concentrate on the one son I have left, as the eldest is ruining our lives and stomping all over our feelings at every opportunity …they are spoilt and ungrateful and I do not recognise the son that I brought up and loved…I think only God can fix this so I have to leave it with him…” Sounds like the Golden Child versus the Scapegoat Child to me and the goat walked away.

      And, “My son has rejected me, he had a lovely big wedding last year which i wasn’t invited to. A couple of days before this i sent him a message telling him about my heartache at what he was doing. I said it hurts so much i wished he had never been born. A year on he is having his first child, my grandchild, and i will not be allowed to meet it, ever. I feel suicidal, he is slowly killing me.” Yes… Telling your son two days before his wedding that you wish he never existed… I can’t see why he’d be upset by THAT.

      Of course the justification is that their horrible children drove them to say such things. That is nonsense. This is how they truly feel about their adult off-spring and always HAVE and trust me the ‘adult children’ know it. So how can counseling help? With most of those types and some doctors supporting their ‘victim status’ I agree that it could be dangerous to the real victim.

      P.S. Yes. Ms. Wright’s comments on self-soothing nauseated me. What a bucket full of crap and just as bad as the ‘doctor’ I mentioned above. The fact that these ‘medical professionals’ have those beliefs is frightening.

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      3 weeks ago

      Just read psychologist, Jennifer Wright's comments (7 weeks ago).

      "Matured adults can self-soothe when their parents don't agree or break a boundary, they don't have to disengage, which is actually a form of not being individuated at all."

      This comment doesn't make sense. When a person repeatedly breaks and violates your boundaries, you often have to cut off contact with them in order to live your life as an individual in your own right. If you don't, they will simply keep using you to meet their needs and treat you as an extension of themselves. If you're a victim of abuse and have experienced the latter, you'll know not only how creepy it can be, but how it destroys your sense of self. You're only allowed to like what the abusive parent likes, wear your hair in the way they do, or do things in exactly the same way as them. Attempts to be an individual are met with crying, abusive temper tantrums and rage, the parent's tantrums sometimes continuing for several months or longer until they get their own way.

      Elly responds to Jennifer's comment by saying, "As for ‘self-soothing’ I’ve been doing THAT all my life while trying to also keep my ‘Mom’ ‘happy’. Who ended up ‘happy’ living that way? NOBODY. I’m not nor ever WAS ‘responsible’ for her happiness and the expectation that I WAS is part of the reason I am No Contact with my ‘family’ now."

      I was parentified as a child, most certainly from the age of 6 or 7 years, expected to manage my mother's behaviour, held responsible for her happiness (soothing my mother), and punished for the things she did (apparently, I was such a bad child I made her do these things). I soothed my mother, but there was no-one to soothe me and self-soothing was all I could do, yet according to Jennifer, when adult children cut off contact with a parent it's because of their inability to self-soothe. ???

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      4 weeks ago

      Kim states "If my parents had been willing to really listen to what their adult child had to say, to respect and consider it, the outcome would have been entirely different."

      One thing I've noticed is that estranged parents on EP forums have a tendency to minimize what happened and repeatedly shift responsibility from EP to adult child (ALL EPs completely innocent? Highly unlikely!). They frequently blame estrangement on a lack of communication, a misunderstanding, the AC being overly sensitive and taking things the wrong way, or the AC being childish and immature and refusing to deal with things and talk things through.

      Example from an EP forum: "Still praying for the Holy Spirit to show them how ungrateful and childish they are being."

      In reality, even though there may have been a misunderstanding, this is unlikely to lead to permanent estrangement, and the AC isn't cutting off contact because they're childish and refusing to deal with things, but because it's the parent and family who won't deal with the situation. In these families there's a "don't talk" rule or code of silence, and if you do try and discuss the problem you will be ignored, threatened, punished, shouted down, gaslighted (including the parent pretending that they can't remember the conversation or acting as if nothing happened) e.t.c. In my own family, I would be shouted at for merely suggesting that there was a problem, and accused of upsetting my mother (sadistic abuser and alcoholic), imagining things, hallucinating, being repeatedly told that there was nothing wrong and that I was in need of psychiatric help. If you then cut off contact with a parent in order to protect yourself and because your family continually refuses to address the situation, you're accused of being childish, refusing to talk, and not dealing with things. Your parent and family create a situation where you can't talk about what's happened, but then get angry with you, the person that didn't create the situation, for not being able to talk about it. In order not to be seen as childish you have to remain a child even though you're an adult, always obeying the parent as if you were a toddler, and allowing them to control, hurt and abuse you.

      In these situations, people often suggest FAMILY counselling, but even this can end in disaster. It has the potential to be used by EPs to regain and maintain control (sometimes unreasonable conditions attached), manipulate (includes an EP manipulating the counsellor), convince the AC that they are the problem, browbeat, and isolate, e.g. try to get the AC to attend counselling at a retreat. In my case, even if my family had agreed to counselling, it would have been far too dangerous.

    • profile image

      X krus 

      4 weeks ago

      Thanks Kim for the brutally honest post.

      I will post my words here, I am not estranged from my family per se. I just choose to no longer attend functions for my own sake, and speaking to them only minimally.

      If my parents would have listened and respected my schedule and commitments instead of pushing their BS commitments, I would probably have respected and honor their wishes more.

      1, Work schedule

      My job requires me to work odd hours. There are some functions like weddings and parties I will not be there for. I am not going to call off simply because you told the family I would be there. I am an adult I answer for myself, not anyone else. Also if I have not seen that family in several years, and there was bullying (which a lot of it happened more than said parents will admit) I am not obligated to attend. Your should's are not priority.

      Oh, and do not call my work place to see if I can get off, I am an adult I get to make that choice. If I choose to work that is my right. I am not obligated to attend a family function you consider important. I have better relations with my coworkers than I do family. If I have stated that ask your own self, why does my child prefer work over family, and give said child serious thought and listen.

      2. Favors

      If your adult child states they are going through a crises, the only thing to respond is, "What can I do to help?" Don't preach. just listen. My account was overdrawn by several 1000 dollars because my own stupid financial choices. Let me take care of my own stupid choices. That is the only way I will learn, due to the fact my parents failed to teach me the basic principals of finances is to learn on my own at this point.

    • profile image

      lindsluvsyou 

      5 weeks ago

      To the person that posted last question...if you would have endured ONGOING TRAUMA, especially as a YOUNG child, btw it is called Complex PTSD...believe it or not, it is actually boils down to the parent's fault. Read anything about emotional neglect-NPD abuse/ongoing trauma-Complex PTSD...and you will see that EVERY therapist, psychologist, doctor or anyone with EXTENSIVE experience on this matter, will ALL say it starts with the family (mainly the parents) and the upbringing. It is called ABUSE. And the psychological damages are LIFE LONG. I am 34, and healing quite well considering...I was turning into my mom! NPD big time! I noticed it...sadly,she is 54 and HAS NO CLUE!! And depending if there was ABUSE (emotional neglect, sexual or physical)- something ongoing ... then 100% it IS the parent's FAULT. We are children...I was the nice, funny, good to everyone, thoughful, shy quiet one. THE EMPATH...and it is what it is. But I do not go and blame them. I finally woke up and wanted to change cuz I started seeing my mom in me and I broke down ! I did NOT want to be like her. I did the NO CONTACT rule on my family juust within the past two weeks. You must be a parent? From the "energy and vibe" of your absurd questions, it does seem like you may have gotten a littttle defensive. I believe that is the MAIN REASON why my family pointed fingers at me that i needed the most therapy (lol)..but I beg to differ. WHO the heck wants to get told by a Licensed therapist/psychologist that they are to blame. What parent wants to know that they actually could have PREVENTED a lot of crappy stuff to happen to their child if they were just validated, and spoken to like human beings? How hard is that?? Not so hard to me...however, not everyone can be naturally kind and supportive. My sis turned into one - she is 32 and is not aware of it, i just realized my stepmom is also NPD...and my poor dad was/is an enabler (he just gave up on me already)...but thats okay, because I have NOT given up on myself! I can finally take the "toxicity" relations OUT of my life and feel content with it. I am done trying to keep going in and out of their lives...letting them know I changed. But lets see my mom didnt believe the sexual abuse by EX stepfather was i was ONLY 14 - she went back with him and PUNISHED me with the "silent treatement" for OVER a year!!! She was HORRIBLE. and that is NOT a mother or a mom. Unfortunately, i took her back- being a teenager I NEEDED and WANTED My mother. she hurt me soooo badly (that affected more so as an adult) - i just wanted her back in my life. And she is a transmittent narcissist..I am NON existent in my sisters life and she ONLY stays less than 4 hours from me! that is nothing...I know the REAL them...they will not show the REAL them in front of strangers. stepmom is the same, as well as sister! other aunts too, as well (moms side). But I call them out on their BS...I always have, meaning I knew how they truly were. They are about outward appearances...since I did not make it in their book (LMAO), I am NOT welcomed in their life. Btw 20 years later, my "mother" did the same thing by abandoning me...11 yr ex friend did a number on my face (domestic violence) and a gun to my head...my mom DID NOT visit..Her bf was abusing me over the phone saying he does not believe anything i say (I barely know the guy-he knows nothing about me)! But remember ND's DO not tell the whole story- only the part where i LOOK or SOUND bad! No body is perfect! well all have done things that were horrible or that we felt bad doing! BUt WHY punish for those things or judge me?! I never judged my family and they have done some dirrrttyyy messed up things that would prob or should put them in prison, in a mental institution or at LEASE therapy! But they are "too good" for therapy?? Hey, EVERYONE can benefit from therapy. I see NOTHING wrong with it...i just cannot see a Trauma inforced Therapist yet (NO MONEY)...I realllly need one.

      But I am reading stuff online-writing things about it now-and doing some "soul searching" AGAIN and self healing stuff...it is helping for now. THere is no cure! But as long as I KNOW that i am TRYING to become a better version of MYSELF. Then that is all that frickin matters ;) Nowww I know what It meant when my dad kept telling me to be "Selfish!" I am okay with that..It is coming at a time in my life...probably at the most "PERFECT" timing...anyways sorry got off subject!! SO my mom. had her BF (whom i also believe now has ND), get on the phone with me telling me some mean stuff, that she allowed while I was on the ER Table! She did not believe anything that happened. I REALLY believe she also has complex ptsd as well as well as NPD, she RUNS away from stuff like that- btw NO ONE in my family believed how bad it was UNTIL they saw photos! HORRIBLE right?! I asked my dad on the phone Dad I will love you the same, but did you not believe me when I told you it was bad?? His response: I didn't think it was that bad,,until I saw the photos! I said WOW,,,he basically said YES-just in a "nicer" way...to not sound like a horrible person. But in my mind, what he responsed was HURT more than if he would have just said YES. I don't need excuses....sigh...my moms BF said that "i basically asked 4 it" ithink it is MY time to say bye to the fam. I suffered greatly by telling my DR at 14 (i could have said something at 8 n a half yrs old )..instead I thought of my family FIRST and my brother more than my OWN happiness and me being safe in my home. So to the SURVIVORS-great job y'all! Boy, do i have a life...I will write a book one day, so PLEASE watch for that---mmm 5-10 years max ;) I am healing very interestingly well with NO therapist. I have had crazy epiphanies lately and everything just makes sense! I can finally NOT blame myself and i dont really have the words...just that I feel at peace with myself when it comes to that part. No one is pointing fingers at anyone else. I wont do that to them anymore. however when i started noticing i was turning into my mom, that is WHEN I KNEW i had to make a change. I have more self awareness about A LOT of things..and that is a pretty damn big step! Way to go Lindsey. You are amazing Lindsey -never let anyone tell you anything less than what you are worth ! WHICH IS A LOT! Thank you for reading my LONG message...That felt good writing that out. I think it is time for me to write my FIRST blog on The Mighty website....you all should check it out, if you have not heard of it!!So YES ppl that show signs of NPD, can work to change themselves to be a calmer, self loving, can b more aware of emotions, more patient with themselves and others and To finally LOVE myself again! I believe I Can actually FULLY LOVE myself and accept ALL my flaws and everything in my life quicker than I originally thought i could It was overwhelming to think it may take the rest of my life. However, I believe I will be a new story of a cool PTG individual :) ALso, the ones that can recognize how they are and can change are the strongest ones...and the bravest. Because after all, admitting you have a problem, is the FIRST step to recovery. Having complex ptsd, there is NO cure, but I am aware of most of my triggers now. Omg also I just started this "healing journey" two weeks after the domestic violence incident. May 24th- i started showing ptsd...did research and up came on the screen complex ptsd. That explains why other treatments or medicine did not work! i kept telling my dad there is something else wrong with me (i got agoraphobia at the age of 19) been on benzos since 14. i HATE it but it is what it is. my dad made that choice and i looked up to him and mayyybe the meds will work...but they only made me worse---like i kept telling him prob 8 months to a year after being on xanax...u live and learn, right?? And I know what I finally want to do with my career! I want to be a TRAUMA therapy Specialist!! I have not seen one yet....kids are one of my fortes...i can HELP so many people! I am learning late...but like I say, "Always better late, than never." Thanks everyone!! .xoxo

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 

      5 weeks ago from California

      Kim, thanks so much for the link!

      It’s not the first time I read this article. I like to reread it again and again because I think it’s so great! Thank you for writing it. I think you’re bringing hope and courage to a lot of people.

      Lana

    • profile image

      ElizabethCa 

      5 weeks ago

      @mylongrecovery

      I kind of wish I could say that I thought there was hope, but...in my experience my mother doubles down on insisting she didn't do anything wrong. In fact, you should apologize for making up such nasty, mean things just to hurt her, and anyway you were such a difficult kid, how can you blame her?

      I've seen a little poem entitled a narcissist's prayer that I think applies:

      That didn't happen.

      And if it did, it wasn't that bad.

      And if it was, that's not a big deal.

      And if it is, that's not my fault.

      And if it was, I didn't mean it.

      And if I did...

      You deserved it.

      I've always said that's the biggest reason for issues now. It's not anything that she did when I was a child. It's the ongoing insistence that any boundary or any attempt to discuss her behavior is really some sort of malicious attack on her. (That's of course how the apology game was worded - she was so hurt and afraid that she just couldn't accept an apology without more proof.)

    • profile image

      mylongrecovery 

      6 weeks ago

      @ElizabethCa That sounds terrible. What I found particularly hurtful in it was you were not given a cleans slate. Clean slates are how we try again. You were not asking for a lot. You just wanted to feel like whatever happened would not be held against you. And really painful is the idea you had said it once before, so why in the world are you saying it again?

      That is really sad.

      We all need second chances. In fact, our first chances should be good enough so we don't have to come back begging for understanding. Exactly like you said.

      I cannot help this. When I read stories like yours, I still hold out hope for the parents. Maybe someday they will begin therapy. My own child had a lot of anger toward me before I went into therapy. The second I found out I headed to the therapist.

      I didn't get that with my own mother. If I suggested she was unreasonably hurting me, she would have called out her flying monkeys to swarm. She was incapable of admitting a mistake. She would have made me pay.

      You did a good job of explaining your side. A parent weaponizing a conversation is a terrible thing to experience.

      It says you don't matter. Your voice is a bother. You are wrong. You have no rights. At least not in that situation. It's a very hurtful experience.

      But here is the good news. Any feeling you have is legitimate. It's your feeling. It's your truth.

      You are right to advocate for yourself. You have to advocate for yourself. It is a healthy thing to do.

      I wish your mother would have recognized that as self advocation and had the wisdom to know it was not about her. It was about you and your growth and your sense of serenity.

      Unfortunately, some of us parents started out life with pretty bad coping skills and until there is a helper who can impart better coping skills, we tend to repeat the mistakes over and over again.

    • profile image

      sisyphus123 

      6 weeks ago

      Hey Guys, I have good news!

      I wrote a very straight forward letter to my mom telling her that

      1) Dad's behavior is unacceptable

      2) He needs therapy

      3) I will not have contact with him unless he makes substantial change

      4) she has to choose to be my mom or his enabler

      AND.... She didn't deflect or minimize or forget... she said - yes, he's a narcisicist, yes, he needs help, and so do I and I'm looking for it now.

      Holy mole.

      I think it also helps that I reached out to my mom's sisters and mother before I sent the letter so that she'd have support.

      So, for now, TENTATIVELY optimistic

    • profile image

      ElizabethCa 

      6 weeks ago

      One thing I noticed personally with my own family - my mother tends to put up a front of reasonable, normal behavior that's not actually happening. It took a long time to be able to name what was actually going on.

      On the surface, you had a loving parent who was just trying to raise an unruly, rebellious kid to be on the right path, but who was open and wanted their child to come to them for anything. Underneath, you had a mass of impossible and contradictory expectations, and assumptions that anything the child did was some sort of trick to get away with things. It was not possible to be anything but rebellious because the standards were set where you couldn't win.

      For an easy example, one thing I'd remember is mom making me apologize. Normal parents make their kids apologize when they've done something wrong. But with my own mother it went way farther. We got in a cycle where I would apologize, but it would only anger my mother further. The apology was deemed "insincere" because I'd apologized for the same behavior before. A new, sincere apology was demanded, one that would convince her that I wouldn't do it again. We'd enter rounds of me begging and pleading for her to accept an apology and her repeatedly refusing because she knew I was just saying it to get her to go away (who wouldn't?). But what was presented to everyone else was a parent forcing a bratty kid to accept responsibility for her own actions.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      6 weeks ago

      To mastik8:

      You nailed it. Some people cling to the notion that when people say, “I was a ‘good’ parent!” that that holds some credibility. As a victim of one of these ‘good’ parents, I will say it again… The only person/people in a position to evaluate your parenting is your child(ren).

      Think of raising a family like directing a movie. Of course when the director/parent is done he/she is going to stand proudly and say, “This is the best movie EVER!” and ‘demand’ every Oscar the film is eligible for. The ‘intentions’ of the director/parent are irrelevant if the movie stinks and no one wants to watch it – or didn’t enjoy living it.

      What these Oscar worthy ‘parents’ don’t get is that they are really earning Razzies. If you try to explain why their ‘movie’ isn’t winning Oscars/why their children MIGHT have estranged, it becomes about defending the movie! NOT looking at any potential flaws in the ‘movie’/the way they treat their adult children.

      I guess because society has been trained that ‘parents’ are always ‘right’ and get to have the final ‘say’ is why THEY get to determine whether they were ‘good’ parents or not. That and deep down they KNOW that if it was their ‘adult children’ judging their ‘parenting’ there would be no Oscar coming their way. That would not fit their narrative of being wonderful parents…

      Sadly, as Paula rather gently reminded me of Estranged Parents sites, “Oh Jesus, you can bet your 1st & last dime, they were/are ALL Child abusers. Period, The End.”

    • profile image

      mastik8 

      6 weeks ago

      Interesting how in most aspects of society the victim gets to define abuse - except in the parent child relationship.

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      7 weeks ago

      @Mazie

      Thank you for sharing your story. You worked hard and decided to create a happy and healthy life for yourself, despite being surrounded by people who repeatedly CHOSE to behave and treat you in such a monstrous way. That's no mean feat.

      "I dont have to live that way any longer. I'm living proof that you don't have to have contact. You have a right to protect yourself."

      Yes, I agree, children/adult children do have a right to protect themselves from abuse. It disgusts me that so many people still view children/adult children as the property of their parents, theirs to be used and abused, to serve and obey, or be disposed of or discarded as a parent sees fit. If not property, then someone who's forever tethered to the abusive parent - "You can't cut off contact, they're family", "But she's your mother", "They gave you life", "You stick by family no matter what." Often, there isn't even a family to begin with, just the illusion of one, and it's the actions of a person that tell you whether or not they're a true parent or family. Words can be meaningless or used to manipulate. "Mother" and "Father" mean nothing if they didn't behave as such.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      7 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Elly.....Briefly, my sincere thoughts on those individuals making comments to the discussion on an EP forum: As you explained the general, "consensus" of opinions~~ Oh Jesus, you can bet your 1st & last dime, they were/are ALL Child abusers. Period, The End.

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      7 weeks ago

      @Elly

      The level of disordered thinking on some estranged parent forums is horrifying. Abusive, dangerous and criminal behaviour frequently being supported and encouraged instead of condemned. Some years ago, there was a discussion on an EP forum over whether or not it's okay for adult children to cut off contact with abusive parents. The general consensus was no or only if the child was subjected to severe abuse. One member then described what she felt was severe abuse and justification for cutting off contact, a child being severely beaten every day and the parents setting fire to their hair. Interpretation: a child being severely beaten every single day for 18 years and the parents setting fire to them. Most children would not survive this level of abuse, so severe abuse equates killing your child, meaning the child never gets to leave the abusive situation or cut off contact with the abusive parent, at least not while they're still breathing. The other members of the forum agreed that this level of abuse was the only justification for cutting off contact, and any child who cuts off contact for a lesser reason is clearly the problem and not the abusive parent. These parents were revealing that they found most forms and levels of abuse as acceptable, so what the hell did they do to their own children while insisting that they didn't know what they'd done?

      The comment about the reaction of the grandmother to the death of her grandchild is spot on, and my own mother would think in this way. She often viewed people as an extension of her. This meant that they must do the same things as her or think about things in the same way, after all, they were her.

      "Look how POWERFUL I AM!!!" Controlling, manipulative tyrants who will be obeyed and feared, enjoying the fact that they've terrorized and traumatized their own child to such an extent that even the sound of the parent's voice can leave the adult child a crumpled heap on the floor. Or knowing that a particular insult or simple phrase will activate the adult child's old programming, the adult child obeying even when it will put them at risk.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      7 weeks ago

      To Starlight:

      I remember reading THAT somewhere and I came to the same conclusions as you and I was genuinely befuddled. I wanted to ask, “Are you ‘listening’ to yourself? Maybe you should re-read what you just wrote. Other then the ‘allegedly’ abusive parent, who is getting a ‘benefit’ out of that scenario?” In fact I think it’s almost more insidious then that…

      It reeks of, “I KNOW I can cause You so much distress that You dare NOT come before my ‘awesomeness’ without ‘help’. Look how POWERFUL I AM!!!” And If a person WAS to ‘agree’ to that ‘arrangement’ you can bet that the first interest the grandchild showed to the estranged ‘grand-parent’ would be met with, basically, “Go back to playing -- the ‘adults’ are ‘talking’.” The dismissive attitude MUST be started early after all… “I’m HERE. THAT is ‘good enough’. THAT shows YOU I ‘love’ You.” SURE it does… *rolling eyes*

      The ‘best one’ I think I’ve ever read was the one where a woman claimed that after finally being granted permission from her son to see her grand-child, who was 4 ½ months old, died 2 days before she was scheduled to meet the child – I’m assuming SIDS but... She ‘believed’ that the mother ‘smothered’ the baby to keep HER from meeting HER grand-child.

      Clearly this woman thought/thinks/believes that to be ‘right’ or to ‘extract revenge’ or WHATEVER that someone ‘thinking like her’ would go, “Kill the child. That will show EVERYONE who’s in ‘control’.” And AGAIN – That accusation got made and not a single responder went, “Ummm… IF your Son and DiL heard that YOU are accusing Her of killing THEIR child? That’s going to mend/help the relationship how?” *cue the crickets*

      IF a clearly Narcissistic Parent like THIS can ‘think’ those ‘thoughts’? Why would I (or anyone ELSE in their ‘right’ mind) EVER even THINK of putting Our child(ren) in their arms for ONE SECOND!?!? BY ‘their logic’ (or at least the ‘logic’ being employed by that ‘person’) is that – Her DiL ‘killed’ the grand-child to ‘hurt’ HER. SO in reverse, IF she had/has contact with the new/next ‘beloved’ Grandbaby, wouldn’t she ‘consider’ hurting the CHILD to ‘hurt’ the parents who have ‘wronged’ HER right back? I SHUDDER at the new ‘low’ I have seen. And sadly I have to believe now… THEY can probably think ‘lower’ still.

      And again… NOT a single further commenter went, “YOU JUST ACCUSED YOUR DiL of ‘MURDER’…” I bet that IF that happened to my Husband and I? He would end His ‘No Contact’ with His ‘family’ just long enough to ‘explain’ to THEM that accusing His Wife of murder? NOT the best ‘idea’…

    • profile image

      Mazie 

      7 weeks ago

      It took me 48 years to realize that I needed to "leave" my parents. My mother got pregnant at 16, her parents would not allow her to abort me even though that's what she wanted as she often told me. She married my father who was 18 at the time. After 6 months he beat her up and left. I saw him maybe once a year up to age 16. When I was 3 my mother married a very strange man and they dragged me through 9 different states in 4 years. I remember her looking at me like she hated me. I remember witnessing drug use and lots of screaming and violence between them and being left with strangers frequently. I actually hallucinated once because I either got into their drugs or they gave me some. How scary for a child. I remember being woke up in the middle of the night by them so that they could play jokes on me when I was a small child. They once smeared shaving cream all over my entire body pajamas included. I have memories of her throwing plates of food on to the table in front of me when I was a child like she absolutely hated me. When I was in high school she ignored me. She told me all the time how I messed up her life and how she was supposed to go to college and be a success but because of me it was all ruined. When I got older i was very active in extra curricular activities--track, cheerleading, volleyball. She came to ONE game in 4 years because I asked her why she did not want to attend like the other parents. She sat in front and glared at me with so much hatred I could not believe she was acting that way. She never talked to me when I was a child. She would tell me to shut up and quit crying when I was upset. She refused to to talk to me about anything I was dealing with as a child. I was bullied relentlessly by kids and even one teacher ( in front of the whole class) as I was a fat kid before high school and was extremely socially awkward. She went on vacations every year and never took me. Her parents finally realized someone needed to spend time with me and took me on vacation once when I was 14. I was left alone at least 4 nights a week from the age of 10 until I left her house at 16 so that she could go party. At 16 she kicked me out of the house to go live with my father who had been telling people he did not have any children. Needless to say when I showed up in his life people looked at me like I was an alien. He proceeded to tell me that because I was a girl I did not deserve to go to college and that I would never amount to anything or be as successful as him (he had a good paying factory job). I went to college and have had a great job (in my opinion) since I graduated and make a very comfortable salary. I would not say Im wealthy but I am blessed to have a beautiful home on a beautiful piece of land and I don't have a lot of stress about paying the bill's. I'm lucky. I married when I was 29 and we are still together today. We have no children. When my mothers mother died my mother made me pay for the items my grandmother left me and she told me that because I did not have any children she was not concerned about me getting anything from her estate when she passes away. I am her only child. I tried to stay in touch with my father. He's in his 3rd marriage and had a son with his wife. He paid the full cost for that son to go through 8 years of college and saw that he had every modern convenience a child could ever want or need. (He had quit paying child support when I was in grade school) I tried to have a relationship with my father but he acted so strange around me. We had no connection. There was no interest in each other. It felt fake to me. The final straw came when I invited him to my home for father's day one year. He initially said he could not come but then decided he would come with his wife and son. He did not speak directly to me the entire time they were there and as soon as the meal was over could not get out there fast enough. He acted like he was mad the whole time he was there as if he was angry that I had such a happy life, home, etc. It was like my good fortune and happiness made him angry. I told my husband that would be the last time I was going to try to have a relationship with him. When his son graduated college they were openly mad that I did not attend the big party and give a huge gift. I'm done being treated like a second class citizen. My mother would ask questions acting like she was concerned about me but they were really snarky mean comments to make me feel bad. She would ask questions about my marriage but they werent really questions. She was trying to come between me and my husband. She would ask if he was abusive. Of course he wasn't. He has NEVER done anything like that. My husband has helped me through all my issues, taught me how to live healthy and been totally supportive of me. He is a very strong man and very affectionate. He's awesome. She would ask personal questions about things that were none of her business and when I would answer she would cut me down or make some mean comment about what a loser I was. She demanded keys to every home we had. She tried to move into my current home before construction was done. My husband has made our property so beautiful and she actually stood in my house and said that if I had never met my husband I'd be better off. I about lost it. How could she say that? I've managed to have such a good life and do so much better than she ever did and all she can do is try to cut me down or try to make me feel bad about myself or my life. How EVIL. I finally managed to get my weight under control and have kept it off. I've got a great job/career, a happy marriage, and a beautiful home and all she can do is be snarky, negative, evil, mean, etc. She tried to start all of this with my husband and was starting to become abusive with him. Thats when I said NO MORE. I'm done with the negativity. I have cut her off and i find that all my anxiety and depression issues that I battled my whole life are gone. I feel good in my skin. I'm a stronger person and I treat people better. When I'm around other people I can actually stop and listen and properly communicate with them instead of being a messed up basket case. I know it's not easy being a parent but I dont have to be treated like this any longer. I've had pyhsical manifestations of my stress and suffered from anxiety and depression for years before I admitted I had been enotionally abused and dealt with my issues. I dont have to live that way any longer. I'm living proof that you don't have to have contact. You have a right to protect yourself.

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      7 weeks ago

      @Elly

      Hi!

      So the adult child must always put the wants/needs of the parent first and themselves last, because the wants/needs of the parent are always more important than the needs of the adult child or other responsibilities that the adult child might have, e.g. going to work or taking care of their own children. Maybe this estranged parent should consider joining the world of grown-ups and take at least some responsibility for their own wants/needs. "And only God will change that." Yes, let's throw in a bit of God, because somehow God always seems to want exactly the same things as these parents.

      Here's another (comments in brackets are mine):

      "I had some long conversations with some of them (estranged adult children). I suggested that even if they (the estranged parents) were "toxic" (abusive) that a few minutes for the "toxic" person (abuser) in a neutral place like a park would be beneficial (to the abuser, adult child and grandchild). And to make things more safe if necessary, for the parent to take along someone else with them (for protection from the abusive parent).

      But I am not sure I made much progress. Though the posters were polite and listened.

      I think some parents genuinely fear the "toxic" person (abuser). And in a few cases, some of their concerns might be genuine.

      But I still maintain that a few minutes a week or whatever can be beneficial. Very beneficial. For the child as much as anyone else (beneficial to a child to be forced to have contact with an abuser so that they can be abused). For the parent. And for the "toxic" person."

      More self-entitlement. The poster makes it very clear that the wants/needs of abusive estranged parents (or hers) are more important than the safety of an adult child or grandchild. Family members are not people but things, simply there to meet the needs of the parent. Not once does the poster suggest that the toxic parent stop being abusive. Responsibility for the abuse is shifted from abuser to victim. It is up to the adult child to take a "body-guard" with them to a neutral place so that the parent can't hurt them.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      7 weeks ago

      Hello All!

      I read this quote on an 'estranged parent' forum -- "The problem is that many adult children love themselves more than they love their parents. By this I mean, they love what they want more than they care about our needs. They are selfish… And only God will change that."

      I find it appallingly shocking that no one 'challenges' a statement like that! What makes these 'parents' unique is that they advertise their entitlement and no one notices!

      I always want to ask them 'the question' -- "Since you clearly feel NOW that your 'adult child' is REQUIRED to care about 'your needs'... Was there ever a time it WASN'T about 'your needs'? Did you TRULY put your children's NEEDS first as they were growing up or is the answer the usual, 'But I gave EVERYTHING to my child(ren)!' because that would be a red flag."

      I guess I'm still trying to understand the un-understandable. I'm not quite as sure of myself as I once was.

      Peace be with All.

    • profile image

      Raphael 

      8 weeks ago

      Dear Kim,

      Thank you for this article as it gave me another perspective. I am having some issues with my father where he does not respect me even though he says he does. He wants to visit as often as he can and when he asks me for a permission he couldn't take no as an answer. He would say things like why can't he come as I am his son and he is not disturbing me. I have made it clear to him that it's not that i don't welcome him but visiting every 3-4 weeks is too much for me and my wife. I would accept him coming every 2-3 months. He would make a huge fuss about it and the other disturbing issue is he will do this via my mum. It will be my mum who comes to talk to me and plead for him. It is like he can't take the conversation with me, which bothers me a lot as I love my mum a lot but she is somehow being manipulated to do this for my dad. My sister has walked away from my parents and I am always reminded by my mum to treat my father better given the situation now. Would appreciate some of your advice/thoughts on my situation.

      Thank you

      Raphael

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      8 weeks ago

      @Kim

      Thanks for the lovely welcome.

      @sisyphus

      Glad it was of some use. I know everyone's situation is different.

    • profile image

      sisyphus123 

      2 months ago

      Thanks Judy, Elly and Kim :)

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      2 months ago

      To Sisyphus123:

      You asked about the letter writing... I wrote a 'letter' and like others' here have advised -- YES! WRITE IT -- but... Only You can decide if it is 'worth' sending. In my case, I wrote it, filed it and said to myself, "I'll re-read this in 10 days and see how I feel." I re-read what I wrote and then laughed and cried... For Me? I knew it was pointless.

      After letting what I expressed in my 'letter' sink in to myself and how my words read, I then read the letter using my Mom's 'mind'... For Me that's a terrible 'place' to crawl into but I read IT like SHE would.

      To her, it (my letter) would be ALL ‘lies’ made to make her feel 'bad'. That's a projection thing that I have spoken of earlier. SHE tells lies to purposefully hurt other people so in HER mind that = EVERYONE must be doing THAT including Me (her child). To think otherwise would make her 'wrong' and SHE is NEVER 'wrong'. Also, it's the sub-conscious of, "I know what I 'taught' You so you MUST be acting like Me!"

      It's a huge trait in NPD... "I know I am doing 'wrong' so in order to be 'right' I must put my same 'bad' behavior on everyone else so that MY behavior becomes 'normal'." One glitch with Me... I DO NOT -- 'Act like Her.' I never HAVE. One more reason for her to 'punch' Me mentally. "Didn't I teach you ANYTHING!?!?" What I was ‘taught’ was, “You will never be ‘good enough’ to be ‘right’ about ANYTHING.”

      Besides, I truly believe in my case that if I did send it, even now, after being no contact for almost 2 years that she would still not ‘see’ what I was trying to convey. My feelings don’t matter. They never have. I’m not ‘allowed’ to be sad or angry about how I am/was treated. If I convey those feelings it is just my attempt to ‘manipulate’ HER. I will never ‘win’.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      2 months ago

      @sisyphus, definitely sit on the letter a while. Try to think through all the different reactions you may receive from such and whether or not you are up to dealing with it.

      Father's Day was about the same as Mother's Day for me. I think of them but I remind myself, just as I've had choices to make amends with my own children, so have they but they've chosen not to then I choose to carry on. Every year it gets easier.

      @GreenJeans, @Starlight, and @Judy, from one estranged adult child to another, I'm sorry that life handed you lemons but you'll find most of us here are learning how to make some pretty good lemonade from it. :)

    • profile image

      Judy 

      2 months ago

      I have not spoken to my mother for 11 years and I keep contact to my father to a minimum. Both of my parents are seriously dysfunctional - My father is a narc and my mother is a horder and has other issues but the problem is she doesn't recognise them or thinks she needs help and feels that everyone around her is the problem and should mind their own business. She cheated me into handing over money and never paid it back when I was only 19 - I had recently inherited a little money which enabled me to move out and she was the first one knocking on my door asking for money. She is a user and throws her toys out of the pram if she can't get what she wants. Both my parents taught me that I am good for nothing and my only worth is in what I can give to them to make them look good - a good job, being pretty etc.

      I sometimes wonder why so many of that generation have serious issues and in my case I wonder if being raised by parents after the war had a traumatic effect on families. Of course this is not an excuse but I know so many with these issues that I am seriously considering it. My nan was traumatised from the war, had lost her little daughter, then the German communist regime came. I know a lot of dysfunctional people with dysfunctional parents from eastern European countries as well.

      I wish it was different, I would love to have a loving family and have a loving mother to turn to. But I have to protect myself :-(

    • profile image

      sisyphus123 

      2 months ago

      Starlight444,

      Thank you, your perspective is really helpful.

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      2 months ago

      @sisyphus123

      I sympathize. Father's/Mother's Day can be horrible.

      In regards to the email, you can send it, but it's highly unlikely you'll get the response you want. If you've already stated these points to your mother or father in the past, then repeating yourself isn't going to change anything.

      You say:

      'I'm conflicted about sending it.

      On the one hand, it took a lot for my mom to touch base with reality and send me an email acknowledging the estrangement. For 6 months she's been sending me random links to weird pictures like nothing happened.'

      Pretending that the abuse or estrangement never happened is a form of gaslighting. My parents did that all the time. The reason that your mother has now sent you an email is probably because she's realized that this tactic hasn't worked, and so she's trying something else. Remember that with Ns (helped by enablers), everything is a tactic and form of manipulation.

      Urging you to think well of your abuser is not okay, and shows that your mother won't even acknowledge the abuse. Nobody should be forced or expected to think well of someone who repeatedly chose to hurt them over and over again. That doesn't even make any logical sense. It's like saying that a female victim of spousal abuse should think well of her husband for beating her to a pulp.

      You can't heal or fix your family. They have to get help and heal themselves. In their minds, it's simply easier to get you to return to the abusive situation to be abused, and then things will be as they should be. You'll take the brunt of the abuse and they'll feel better, your family once more being able to continue functioning in their own dysfunctional way. This is what abusive families often mean by healing.

      No apology is a huge red flag.

      It's up to you to decide whether or not to send the letter, just be careful.

    • profile image

      sisyphus123 

      2 months ago

      How was father's day guys? :(

      My mother sent me an email urging me to think well of my dad on father's day. She said she hoped that the family would heal. No mention of change or apology, of course.

      (my situation briefly: father is a Narc, and a white supremacist for extra fun. Mom is a codependent and enabler and "caught fleas" from him. Dad lost his mind defending white supremacy and screamed at me, among other things, to get out of the house (-20F~) which scared the crap out of me.)

      I wrote a response, out of habit I guess. By the time I finished typing my fingernails had turned blue and I was shaking.

      The letter said, in summary:

      1. the estrangement is devastating for me but still preferable to the relationship

      2.His behavior is abusive, it is not normal or acceptable

      3. He needs therapy. He needs to take responsibility and change. If he does I may consider resuming contact. If not, he will never be a part of my life.

      I'm conflicted about sending it.

      On the one hand, it took a lot for my mom to touch base with reality and send me an email acknowledging the estrangement. For 6 months she's been sending me random links to weird pictures like nothing happened.

      On the other hand, I don't believe that either of them will ever get help or change.

      Furthermore, I don't trust either of them at all.

      Deep down, I don't want to try to tell them what I need because when they don't do it- when they choose to lose their only child rather that get therapy- I lose all hope. I know without doubt that nothing will get better.

      And frankly, I don't know if I want it to get better. It's too little too late. They're terrible people and there's decades of abuse and damage to unpack. And I'd rather just move on.

      Thanks for your support!

    • profile image

      GreenJeans00 

      2 months ago

      Thanks for the very helpful article. I've now estranged from my mother after fourteen years due to her pathologically abusive behavior originating in her un-diagnosed mental illnesses. There is zero hope of reconciliation because she engages in viciously spiteful and vindictive behavior and never misses an opportunity to tell others about my worst habits. My mother hates my essence because she told me that I ruined her body, health, and career aspirations. During childhood, she told me how she wished she didn't have me and completely ignored my needs. I learned through another family member, her older sister, that my mother suffered greatly while she was pregnant with me: Their father died unexpectedly from a heart-attack the same year as the family benefactor for whom he and their mother worked. My aunt also said that their mother had stolen the family inheritance leaving her and my father in a dire financial straits, as he only worked part-time while taking care of my older sister. My aunt also said my mother endured serious health complications such as toxemia and edema after gaining nearly 80 pounds, having a difficult delivery and suffering severe post-partum depression. I also later learned from the same aunt, that my mother wanted to keep my father in a broken relationship and loveless marriage and trapped him with a second child (with the hope of having a boy to keep him around). Needless to say, she had another girl, they eventually divorced some time later and she still blames me for everything that ever went wrong in her life. It's because my personality traits and behavior remind her of two people whom she feared and never could control: her mother and my father. My mother never sought professional or spiritual counselling she needed because she never believed in "telling anyone her business". She just thought I was some spoiled brat who simply needed heavy handed punishment and stern lectures in order to break my "insolence". I suffered two nervous breakdowns and landed in psychiatric hospitals before the age of 18, after which everyone had abandoned me emotionally and physically. I left home at age 19 and never looked back. Twenty five years later after severing ties of toxic relationships and generational pathological behavior, I am much happier not having anything to do with sheer madness.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      2 months ago

      The proper authorities have been contacted in regards to the current drama and all information has been provided. Until further notice, all comments will be censored before being posted. I'm sorry it's come to this.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      2 months ago

      @Linda, I'm sorry you got lost in the shuffle.

      Thank you for respecting your son's wishes. I know it's not what you want to do but obviously something he feels he needs to do. Time is what is a healer in this situations.

      Apology is great but if the behaviors off-putting to him continue, the words are hollow. I'm not saying that's the case, I'm simply trying to point out what could be the issue.

      I know folks get tired of me saying it but it is very important: see a therapist. Even if you aren't the problem, s/he can teach you fabulous coping strategies that those of us who grow up in dysfunctional homes tend to have none of.

      I sincerely hope your family finds resolution and peace in the future.

    • profile image

      HCN 

      2 months ago

      This is a great article! I always knew my family had issues. I never really understood it all until well into my 30s. Growing up I was always popular, athletic, successful, got along with everyone & rarely caused problems or got into trouble. However, I would still find myself in highly chaotic over dramatic scenarios with my family that made me wish I could run away & hide for forever. I always just did my own thing, did what I was told & did my best to never upset the “ticking time bombs.”

      I was never physically abused but it was definitely emotional abuse. It’s always been difficult to explain bc it wasn’t always bad either. My parents were somewhat successful & they could be very generous & charming. They buy me all kinds of things & do nice things for me but I never realized all the unwritten contracts I was signing. In hind sight, I realized I was raised to be dependent & controlled. Even when I got old enough to leave, I never did. I felt trapped.

      I also have an older sister. In hind sight again, I realized she is the “golden child” & I am the “scapegoat.” She is an extension of my mother. She has always caused problems everywhere she’s gone, thrives off confrontation, thinks she’s better than everyone, has entitlement issues & has never been held accountable for anything & still always gets whatever she wants. She’s perfectly content being almost 40 & still being dependent on my parents. All my successes have nothing to do with my hard work or good decisions. Everything I am today is bc of all my parents have done for me & all to them I owe. I also get blamed for all the dysfunction.

      Things really started coming “to light” when I got married & far more worse after I had children. My mother definitely gets 5 out of 5 in the article & she continues to keep doubling down on playing the victim & demonizing my wife & I. She’s managed to triangulate very well & turn the whole small family we have against us. There’s really a select few toxic family members that are really good at manipulating the whole family & getting them to believe what they want even though the other family members know how they are. It’s the craziest thing.

      I guess after having children of my own, it really forced me to start calling out the dysfunction. I cannot allow my kids to be manipulated or learn certain behaviors are ok. After several years of our parenting being undermined, our boundaries being violated & a bunch of extreme lashing out, we’ve finally decided it wasn’t worth it. Saddest part is that I was only ever close to my dad. Our relationship has been used against me as leverage several times. Even though he has some control issues, he’s definitely way more normal. I believe he’s just easily manipulated, gets suckered into feeling sorry for his manipulators & gets sucked into all their negativity.

      Anyway, this is a great article. I really hope it helps others escape from toxic people. My family & I are much better now. Sometimes we’ll get texts or letters shaming us or we’ll hear about things being said about us but we know better.

    • profile image

      Linda 

      2 months ago

      I have just happened upon your article...thank you. Our son has chosen to walk away from us. I don’t understand. Yes there was disfunction in both my husband’s child years as well as mine.

      Our son has seven children under the age of 13. His wife has never cared for us. We have told them our door is open to them any time they want to come visit. We have asked forgiveness for whatever has occurred. My husband and I cannot work toward change if we don’t know what we have done. To this point in time we have chosen to live & let live. Our love for our son & his family is what has helped us to make this choice.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      2 months ago

      To Sisyphus:

      I cannot speak on EMDR either. I'm Autistic and already have an 'elephants memory' of my developmental years etc. and the intense memories and reactions thinking of 'that time' invokes... There was no way for me to understand then what was 'wrong' even though I KNEW what I was SEEING and experiencing WAS 'wrong'...

      I wish I had more insight to offer...

      Peace be with You.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      2 months ago

      @Karen Baxter, I'm sad for me too. Also like you, I'm also more sad for my parents.

      Why? Because they couldn't put aside their own idealizations of how parent/adult child relationship is supposed to work and would rather have no relationship with their daughter and grandchildren than to reconsider those outdated ideas.

      We all lose in this. All. of. Us. That's why I wrote this article so that hopefully other estranged parents will take my words into consideration and not have the same ending as my own family.

      If that bothers you because you believe children should tolerate anything their parent does because "it's the right thing to do" or "the bible says honor thy father and thy mother," please seek help from a qualified therapist to better explain to you why such attitudes seldom end well.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      2 months ago

      @sisyphus, EMDR has been suggested but I've been perfectly clear with my therapist that I do not believe I am ready for it. I may never be ready for it, to be honest. And your comment makes me think I'm right in my desire to delay.

      The reason I chose to delay (or possibly not do it all) is because I feel strongly I'm making progress without it. I'm 1000% better (not perfect, just better) than I was even just a year ago and I feel that EMDR might actually take me backwards, at least right now.

      But I'm not everyone so take my opinions on it with a grain of salt. Please feel free to share any info you think might help others in deciding whether to go forward with EMDR or not. :)

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      2 months ago

      @Linda, that's an issue between your sons. Period. I'm not sure what you're looking for me or anyone else to do or say. About the only thing I was suggest is family counseling, but the parties have to be willing or it will NOT be successful.

    • profile image

      Linda 

      2 months ago

      My son and his wife won't accept his brother s partner children and won't let my granddaughter come to play when there here help

    • profile image

      sisyphus123 

      2 months ago

      So I had an EMDR session last week to try to work through some of the pain and anger about my family situation.

      (EMDR is a therapy kind of like a guided meditation where you can revisit traumatic events and process them better.)

      EMDR has been effective for me in other situations.

      But with this, I couldn't find any peace.

      My therapist was trying to give me tools to face the situation... but no matter what we tried, being there made me feel trapped and powerless. There was nothing to make it better.

      Have any of you tried EMDR? Was there a strategy you can share that worked for you?

      Thanks!

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      2 months ago

      Dear Karen:

      For those of Us who support Kim and this site We feel 'sorry' for YOUR 'sad'... You are probably far from being happy... And by trashing Us here? You're not likely to be moving in that direction...

      Peace be with You.

    • profile image

      Karen Baxter 

      2 months ago

      This is the saddest thing I’ve ever read. I feel sorry for you and sorrier for your parents.

    • profile image

      mylongrecovery 

      2 months ago

      To Kim, Ellly and especially ScherryHall, and Paula.

      It's all good. Thanks guys.

      The problem is that in Narcissistic Family Systems we cannot express freely how we feel. There are secrets, ways of behaving, strict unwritten rules.

      This is not good for people. It isn't good to be treated like you are a useful object from the time you are little.

      So, it is okay to disagree on here. It's okay with me and actually really positive that anybody would take exception to what I said. I want people to be people. Not objects who have to make each other happy.

      I do have some radical ideas about narcissism itself. I have read it is not incurable and believe that. But there is a caveat. That person has to be fully willing to change. It does happen.

      However, the devastation people experience at the hands of a powerful narcissist is bad because it sets them up for further abuse, and judgement from outsiders who will not understand their trauma.

      Women who hare abused by a significant other are dehumanized. That's really important to understand because the person you work with or meet casually might be heartbroken over their own loss of identity.

      I could go on and on. But I want to say it's okay to be upset. This is not a no emotion zone.

      I hope that helps and encourages others.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      2 months ago

      To ScherryHall:

      You sound very angry. Did you have a question you wanted to ask? As Kim mentioned in her latest comment and I have said in previous comments as well, WE are trying to build a place where all are free to express their views...

      That said, IF all you want to do is spew venom, there are 'estranged parents' sites, boards and 'discussion' groups (there's not much 'discussion' there in my opinion) that you may find more to your liking.

    • Paula Harding profile image

      Paula Harding 

      2 months ago

      Mylongrecovery

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Your right in everything you've said. I can be my worse enemy with self criticism. I need to start today turning off the guilt and start seeing the good I know that is within me .

      Thank you!

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      2 months ago

      I believe @mylongrecovery 's original comment was misunderstood by a few.

      MLR, I interpreted your comment as someone who understand our plight, has actually lived through it as well, and has found a point of peace for yourself which happens to allow you to keep your mother in your life.

      I can't speak for everyone who comments here but for me, my goal is to help ACoNs (adult children of narcissists) understand they have never been alone, they are not crazy, that it's okay to walk away from abusive situations, and most importantly, find peace.

      What's peaceful for one may not be for another but that's okay. You do you and I'll do me but as ACoNs, we should support one another. Period.

      Don't let differing opinions run you off. Sometimes our interpretations are different but most of us are always open for discussion. :)

    • profile image

      ScherryHall 

      2 months ago

      We all seek answers! Raised my grandchildren over 20 years. Parents seek Glory, grandchildren resent them and feel deprived of choosing their happiness. Parents are unappreciative takers who are anry at Grandparents because children have questions or share opinions. Of course all done is turned against grandparents who only filled empty shoes as needed. Parents now resent and are jealous of loving bond between Grandparents and God. Now want to take granskids and ostersize the relationship.

    • profile image

      mylongrecovery 

      2 months ago

      Thank you so much. I came back here thinking I would peek to see what happened.

      I am so thankful for your response. I learned something important from you.

      Yes the "universal prescriptions for second chances". I accept that. Everything you said about people having to make their own decisions is true.

      People come her for help and insight. I was thinking about my own conclusions.

      Take care. And thanks.

    • profile image

      sisyphus123 

      2 months ago

      Hey mylongrecovery,

      I liked what you wrote, while I see where the others are coming from, I didn't interpret it that way. I'm sorry for what you went through and I hope that you can find support here. It's helped me a lot to know that I'm not alone.

      Everyone here is dealing with a lot of hurt, and often people dimiss our experiences or pass judgement, so it's hard to let go of the need to defend yourself. Especially since parents estranged from their adult children come on here to troll us, telling us we're selfish and immature, that none of the abuse we endured matters. Super nice people.

      Anyway, take care and good luck!

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      Mylongrecovery,

      Yes, you can put five people in the room, and they each will be in a different part of the healing process. The important part is to respect where everybody is, and respect their personal choices. And that includes choices to give, or not give, second, third, fourth and hundredth chances. You decide if You want to give another chance, and let the other 4 people in the room decide for themselves, if they want to give their abusers more chances.

      I'm very far past the point of no return with my abusers. Nothing I read can change my mind (about No Contact). I do have this secret desire that someone had told me about npd literature 20 years ago. I would have started healing much earlier in life. And that's why I get upset when someone posts universal "prescriptions" for second chances. There's a victim out there, who's currently "on the fence" about going No Contact, reading this, and being pushed back into the dangerous hands of their abusers, set up for more emotional anguish.

      You used the words genuine attempt to change, but there's nothing genuine about a person with NPD. Everything they do and say is a calculated ploy, scheme, manipulation. If a person is capable of genuine change, they didn't have NPD to begin with. Genuine narcissist is an oxymoron, and that's what led me to think that perhaps you don't understand this disorder. And perhaps can't tell if they deserve second chances.

      I don't doubt or dispute that you were harmed by your family, that was not the intention of my post. The intention was to push back on the notion that these "people" deserve second chances, or that they are even capable of genuine attempts to change.

      I wish you best in your healing.

    • profile image

      mylongrecovery 

      2 months ago

      I think this will be my last time on this article. My intention is not to hurt or upset anyone.

      If you knew my story you would learn I was very badly harmed by my family and I can guarantee you it took decades to get to this point in my life. I have worked very hard to try and see things from their side when it was almost impossible to do it. Maybe I sounded pushy. That was not my intent.

      I respect you were upset by what I said. Sharing your thoughts is something I can use to make myself more sensitive.

      But this was kind of hard for me too. I have learned to just leave situations that aren't good for me.

      I will take what you said and think about how I can give my ideas more carefully because I would like to write articles. And this can help me if I reflect on what you said.

      Bye and God bless you.

    • profile image

      mylongrecovery 

      2 months ago

      Thank you for commenting on what I was trying to say.

      "Yes, SOME people use the word narcissist to describe anyone they don't like. The word gets misused sometimes by some people who don't even know what NPD is. That does not mean that ALL the rest of us are wrong when calling a narc, a narc.". That was very well put. Thank you.

      I upset you. How can I make it better?

      This is my first post on Hub Pages. Maybe it was too general. If a person writes on here, it may seem they are talking right to you. But I wasn't. I was trying to express things I have learned.

      You got the impression I don't get what narcissistic abuse is about. I didn't tell my story. I know what rage is after narcissistic abuse. I spent almost twenty years in therapy. And I am still trying not to let it eat me alive on a daily basis. I have tried to forgive so I can move on. My intent is not to degrade your experiences.

      We all adopt beliefs. I have had to adopt some beliefs that allow me to be in the now and not back when I was being abused.

      I'm sorry you took it personally that I was talking right to you.

      You could take five people who come here because of narcissistic abuse, put them in a room for an afternoon to share their experiences, and they would all be in a different place in their healing.

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      mylongrecovery,

      Yes, SOME people use the word narcissist to describe anyone they don't like. The word gets misused sometimes by some people who don't even know what NPD is. That does not mean that ALL the rest of us are wrong when calling a narc, a narc.

      What we read on the internet is not only "the most toxic form of narcissism", it is also reality that some of us have been unfortunate enough to live through. Who are you to tell me that my experiences couldn't have been bad enough, or not as bad as what "you" read on the internet? If yours weren't, lucky you, and good for you. You are not familiar with every single case and can't decide who deserves a second chance and who doesn't.

      You go on to describe behaviors that, in your opinion, would warrant a second chance. Well go read about narcissism. All those behaviors you name, by definition, are behaviors a narcissist is incapable of. So yeah, a narc doesn't get a second chance, even according to your own list of conditions.

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      2 months ago

      To mylongrecovery:

      What are you talking about when you say, “In a happy family there is nurturing. We know mothers nurture their children. This is where the family learns kindness toward each other. If not a parent, then a grand parent or other person.” Not all mothers ‘nurture’ their children so please do not say that and in my world there was no one else to nurture Me, my ‘Mom’ made sure of that, so again, please don’t make assumptions. I learned ‘nurturing’ from how I didn’t want to be treated, not from how I WAS treated.

      Then you say, “People don't have the love they needed in childhood, so they try to extract it from each other. The oddball child doesn't play that game. And not playing the game is pretty hard scrabble at times.” However, according to you, ‘Mother’s nurture their children,’ so how would the child have not been loved if to be ‘nurtured’ IS to be loved? Also, please explain what you mean by trying to ‘extract love’ from each other? I don’t understand your meaning.

      As for how I label my ‘Mom’, you said, “I think we label people as narcissists a little too freely because what we have read on the Internet really depicts the most toxic form of narcissism. So we apply that standard to people who hurt us.” I don’t label her ‘that’ because she hurt Me. That’s what she IS. You are making a LOT of assumptions.

      As for whether or not an ‘estranged parent’ deserves a second chance, if they’ve changed, is not up to you. You said, “If you are here, you have probably been hurt a lot.” Yes. This is true and sometimes the hurt We have been through is so bad that a ‘second chance’ is no longer an option.

      Think of it like this, if a child is the engine of a car and you abuse the child/engine not changing the oil or filling the tank with fuel etc. and you seize up the engine? You can abandon the child/vehicle on the side of the road unable to ‘run’ -- coming back later with gasoline and motor oil STILL isn’t going to get the engine running. Sometimes, the damage done is PERMANENT.

    • profile image

      mylongrecovery 

      2 months ago

      @paula harding

      I feel so much for you because I understand what it means to need your mother to be functional toward you.

      You said:

      "Every day I have gulit, everyday I feel like I'm the one with issues, and everyday I grow to resent her more."

      To be honest, it doesn't sound like you are the one with issues. And there are ways to turn off that guilt.

      Maybe you feel you have let yourself down.

      I was told one time that we can carry a "committee" around inside our heads. That is like a group of judgmental people seated in a balcony above you saying how you are failing. No matter what you do, they send a message you will probably fail. It's not a mental illness or delusion. In fact, it is self criticism.

      My committee had my mom and siblings. Perhaps even strangers I feared could see my flaws because I used to think I was such an obvious mess to everyone around me. And there were people who I figured were smarter than me because I used to think I was stupid.

      They kept a real tight reign on my decision making.

      The tapes played whenever I had to take risks. With therapy I slowly diffused the committee. They are just shadows of critical people from my past. It's been years since I faced that.

      As I went along in my recovery I realized the power of that fear of failure just chattering away.

      The people from my past who had really and truly criticized me lost their power over my life.

      They didn't give me a second thought after they felt the pure pleasure of leveling their judgments. Then why should I carry them around in my subconscious?

      Try to be kind to yourself. Do one kind thing a day for yourself that you would do for someone you care about. It seems to me you need to take better care of yourself while you take care of your mom.

      I hope that helps.

    • profile image

      mylongrecovery 

      2 months ago

      .

      One of my favorite quotes by Leo Tolstoy is, "All happy families are happy in the same way. All unhappy families are unhappy in different ways."

      In a happy family there is nurturing. We know mothers nurture their children. This is where the family learns kindness toward each other. If not a parent, then a grand parent or other person.

      It's the same healthy dynamic in all happy families.

      Without that, a family unit will devolve into needy behaviors.

      Needy primary caregivers make for non nurturing family systems.

      People don't have the love they needed in childhood, so they try to extract it from each other. The oddball child doesn't play that game. And not playing the game is pretty hard scrabble at times.

      I think we label people as narcissists a little too freely because what we have read on the Internet really depicts the most toxic form of narcissism. So so we apply that standard to people who hurt us.

      If you are here, you have probably been hurt a lot.

      What really makes a difference is a person's willingness to change once they realize their old tool box was full of terrible things.

      If a person makes a genuine attempt to change and demonstrates it over time, it is likely they have worked really hard at it. And with a therapist is the best sign.

      I think those people deserve a second chance. Recovery is hard work.

      I had a mother who never changed. I stayed close to her despite her abusive behaviors. I had good reason to let her go, but I had to know why she was the way she was. And over many decades I figured it out.

      So for me, I have no unfinished business because that would have been my own personal unfinished business. So I pursued it.

      But I don't begrudge others who feel they must leave either.

    • Paula Harding profile image

      Paula Harding 

      2 months ago

      I'm so thankful I've found this page. I have a passive aggressive mother who's overbearin, doesn't know boundaries and I've been leaving each day feeling alone and hiding my real feelings....because to others I look like the bad child. Know one doesn't understand what I go through and how I feel. So I live a life of hiding my feelings, making others think I have this wonderful parent that I wish I really did have and then I find myself to the point of hate, and that is so hard for me to say because it's not normal. I've been to the point of begging God to please let me have a relationship with my mother, but you can't with her. She's ruined 2 marriages for me, she tries to turn my children against me, she tells her "church family" I'm mean to her and tells lies on me. Then she plays this guilt trip on me that I treat her with no respect and it's my duty to obey my parents. I've been trying to get away from this women for years, but I was stupid and got myself in a bind that I'm stuck. My father couldn't take her passive aggressiveness any longer and finally left her after 42 years of marriage. My mother wasn't working and lived on his income, so thinking at that time of doing the right things I bought my father out so my mother could keep the house they built together. So why don't you just sell it? It's not that easy, her name is on the deed, and when I finally talked her into putting it up forsale, she would sabotage the sale. Every day I have gulit, everyday I feel like I'm the one with issues, and everyday I grow to resent her more

    • profile image

      Moopy70 

      2 months ago

      Thank you for this. I've been struggling with this for years. I finally had it out with my mom last year. She is 100% narcissistic and it's always everyone else's fault. She has never been a "mother" to me, other than feeding me, driving me to school and throwing me bday parties when I was a kid. She was emotionally and physically abusive when I was a kid. Fast forward about 35 years and she is never happy for any milestones in my life, or accomplishments. Long story short, she was never a loving mother yet always expected everyone else to bow down to her. She cares more about herself and her reputation than her child and grandchild. She's always favored my brother, and even though he screwed her financially years ago, he is still her favorite, and I'm the bad child. She never came to see me after several surgeries and even a horrible disease that causes paralysis. She said she "had an appointment" and couldn't make it. I was always there for her when she needed me. I don't talk to her now, but she keeps creeping in. She wants to come to my son's middle school graduation, but none of us want her there. She's just a horribly negative force that makes us all miserable. She called twice but left no message, and then emailed my son directly (putting him in a bad position). She is so passive aggressive and not once has said, I love you, you're my daughter, let's start over. Never. Only wants me to bow down to her. I'm struggling with her continually trying to passive aggressively inch back into my life, I really want her gone. But, I'm not THAT cold-hearted... if something bad happened to her, I'd be there. Not sure she'd be there for me, but that's who I am. Not sure how to handle this, but she causes me SO much anxiety and sleepless nights. Really tough, as a mom myself, I do not understand how a mother can treat their child the way she treats me.

    • profile image

      This one dude 

      2 months ago

      I am fortunate. I was dumped by my dad and brother, and we they decided they wanted to bury the hatchet, I ignored them. My dad died and I realized I was so happy that never had to suffer that dumped feeling again and now that he is dead, here is noway he can break my heart. When I decided to be ok with being dumped, it actually made me feel good and it's so much easier than maintaining a difficult relationship. If I had known how good it would feel to have that stress gone forever, I would have dumped my dad and brother way before they did it to me.

      It doesn't have to be an angry thing, just ignore them, don't go to family gatherings where they will be present and enjoy your new freedom. Don't eish ill on them, just pretend they don't exist. Its very easy with practice and for a regret filled person like I tend to be, I have had zero regrets that I hadn'had a single word. etween me and my dad before he died for 15 years. I did go to his funeral and consoled his wife and his children from a different marriage and it was a good experience. He had already died to me long ago and now I was happy on the knowledge that he would never try to repair the burnt bridges and risk another heart breaking dump and bring up all sorts of awkwardness.

    • profile image

      scapegoatartist 

      2 months ago

      My situation started when I got married almost 10 years ago.

      As you mentioned, I started to notice things that I never noticed before getting married. More and more of the behavior concerning my immediate family was giving me stress and anxiety.

      I was naive at the beginning of this discovery. I wrote a long email to one of my parents, explaining what my issues were. I assumed that parent would read it and be willing to work with me on resolving the issues. Instead I got a long email back which basically denied and/or deflected everything I wrote.

      A few months later I went NC. My parent tried to get my spouse on their side, so to speak. When it didn't work, my parent started telling people that my spouse was controlling me and wouldn't let me talk to my immediate family.

      I lost my entire extended family because what was supposed to be a private situation, was turned into a public situation through real life conversations and social media. The extended family was told I wanted nothing to do with them. This resulted in some of them getting very nasty towards me, which caught me by surprise.

      I've been NC for a few years now. I truly feel that I saved my sanity by going NC. I've learned a lot about personality disorders and I've been able to improve some of my own behavior as well (behavior which I think was influenced by some of what I saw growing up).

      But it can also be lonely when I hear other families reminiscing together. My memories of childhood and family are starting to fade because there is nobody to share them with anymore.

    • profile image

      diranu99 

      2 months ago

      I find it interesting that it seems like people have more problems with mothers than fathers. I have a narc father and my mother is just a victim/prisioner.

      My brother and his wife have already distanced themselves from my father and have very little contact with him other than dealing with a family business.

      My husband and I walked out of my parents lives a month ago after my father went off on my extremely passive husband. My father now does not allow my mother to have any contact with me unless it is an email going to him, which I refuse to do. He told me not to call or text her. I do still text pics of my grandson to her as I will not allow him to control me in that fashion.

      She is in a position physical, financially and emotionally that she must declare her loyalty to him or he will make her life a living hell. I feel horrible that she is in that position, but yet it is a position that she has nurtured for over 60 years.

      At the same time, I feel like she has thrown me under the proverbial bus by agreeing with him that she doesn't want contact with me. (After secretly sending her a mother's day card through a cousin, she did sneak a phone call to me and I know that she is only agreeing with him to save her own a**.) She is so frail physically that I try hard to understand her position. I love and miss her dearly. This has truly broken my heart, and I know that she feels the same.

      My husband and I have been down this road a couple of times before with my father and have always gone back into that lion's den begging his forgiveness. My father uses his money very effectively to control people and it had been quite a motive for us to remain in the toxic relationship.

      This time it is quite different and we know that we will not go back to such a relationship. Breaking away from the money, and probably my inheritance was very hard!!

      But, at the end of the day, it does feel really good to go to bed with some dignity and respect of our own.

      After researching the info on the net, I realize that my father will never see what he is doing to his family and his behavior is only getting worse.

      I am extremely thankful for websites like this that have aided in helping my understanding of the mental issues that we all are dealing with.

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      T,

      Everything you said, I've already heard. From my "mother". She's irrational, out of control, raging beast. YOU don't know what anybody's children will do to them one day. You have no power whatsoever in others' relationships. You're just "saying stuff" to make yourself feel better for the moment. Who's immature now?

      And, you will never have control over other people's regrets. Let it go. Focus on regrets within you.

    • profile image

      Starlight444 

      2 months ago

      @sisyphus123

      I'm really sorry that you're having to go through this right now. I know how terrible it is. Both my parents were abusive and I've not been in contact with my family for many years. I didn't send a letter or no-contact letter to my parents as it was too dangerous, but I did send a letter to my grandmother. Unfortunately, she really didn't care and nothing changed.

      If you are going to write a letter there are some things you'll need to take into consideration. Writing a letter to an abusive parent is not the same as writing a letter to a non-abusive difficult parent. Their reaction will be different and sending a letter can often do more harm than good.

      1. Is it safe? Could the letter trigger the abuse or cause it to escalate? Will other family members turn on you? How will you deal with this? Be prepared for the fact that the abuser and enablers may engage in a smear campaign against you.

      2. What do you hope to achieve? If you are hoping the abuser will care or change they probably won't. If you've already told the abuser what they've done but they won't accept it or take responsibility, then sending the letter won't change anything.

      3. Stay calm. Don't use any derogatory or abusive language. The abuser will portray you as the abuser and themselves as the victim.

      4. Try to keep the letter as short as possible. Focus on facts not feelings. Don't just say 'I feel hurt by what you've done', describe what they did to hurt you. The abusive parent probably isn't going to care about your feelings (my mother would laugh at my suffering), and if you focus on feelings may well insult and mock you, describing you as a special little snowflake, weak, pathetic, a spoilt brat, a whiny little bitch e.t.c. Be prepared for no reply or an abusive reply, e.g. verbal abuse, lying, minimizing, gaslighting, shifting responsibility for the abuse.

      5. Don’t minimize the abuse or take any responsibility for the abuse in order to soften the blow and not upset the abusive parent. The parent is an adult not a child and should be expected to take full responsibility for their actions.

      6. Don't put any information in the letter that can be used against you to control, manipulate and humiliate. Keep in mind that the letter may be shown to other people.

      7. How will the abusive parent interpret terms such as 'I love you' or 'I still care about you'? Some abusive parents see such terms as evidence of the victims guilt. If the parent was truly at fault or abusive, then their victim wouldn't love them. If this is the case with your parent, don't use such terms. It will negate everything else you've written.

      8. Wait a few days or longer after writing the letter before you send it. You may change your mind.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      2 months ago

      @Narc Free, @Elly ... yes, we (not just me, it took all of us) have built ourselves a great little community here. Like survivors in war torn countries, we have climbed our way out of the rubble of our lives and are working every day to overcome the trauma and rebuild ourselves into healthy functioning people. And through it all, we never forget where we came from and are always open to embracing the presence of another broken soul and do what we can to help them out of the darkness as well.

      Thank you, all of you! You are blessings in my life and I'm glad we've found one another. :)

      And Elly, yes, her resume matched to her written words is troubling. However, if you'll dig a little deeper, you'll find the reasons why she landed here and then you'll really find yourself amazed. I won't share her story here because it's not my place, but it is out there.

      @sisyphus, some write letters have written letters and send them; sadly it seldom goes well. It only provides ammunition to an already disordered mind and physical "evidence" they tend to share with relatives and others in an effort to destroy your reputation.

      I'm not saying you shouldn't, just think very long and hard before doing so and understand what could happen.

      That's why alternatively many write letters but then tuck or throw them away as a form of a therapy. I've got an entire notebook full of letters I would love to send but I know it would just be more fodder for my mother to say I was crazy.

      Whatever you decide, we will support you. We get that emotional turmoil in your mind and a need to do something. We've all been there. For more on this topic, I strongly suggest visiting outofthefog.net

      And last but least, @T, sigh. When a disordered parent's child has walked away, taking the last of the power an abusive parent has with them, this is so frequently the line they toss out. My own did. "Your kids will do this too."

      I can't say they won't; especially my oldest two seeing as how their childhood was spent with a manipulative, controlling, naysaying, disorder-minded mother. But, you see, that's where they were headed anyway and I can't say that I blame them. So instead I decided to work on myself and hope that I could change fate. It seems to be working so far and I'm only getting better, not worse. The difference between me then and now, however, is I don't fear it. See, us (and I say us, because I was you at one time) always do fear it because subconsciously we know we're assholes (let's just call it what it is, okay?). Consciously, we justify our behaviors and deny any such thing could happen but really, we know better. But as someone who has crossed that border into a healthy mindset, I understand it is a possibility because actions have consequences (even if we change, consequences can come many, many years later) but I do not fear it. I would still rather work on bettering myself and becoming the mother I should be and have a chance of redeeming the relationship I have with them than sitting on my thumbs, tossing out threats at internet strangers because I'm angry.

      So what are you doing to change what I assume already is a reality for you?

    • profile image

      sisyphus123 

      2 months ago

      Hey guys,

      What are your thoughts on sending a letter to your parents?

      I wrote so many drafts to send to my father after the final blow up. But I didn't send them- because I don't think anything I say will ever matter.

      And that broke my heart. As long as I don't send a last ditch letter, I can have a little hope that if I just said the right thing in the right way, they'd take some responsibility and try to have a relationship with me.

      I also don't want to send the letter because I don't want to give them any more power over me.

      I thought about writing a letter to my extended family, to make my case, tell my truth... but I don't want to make things awkward for them.

      Then there's my mother, who is actually more abusive than my father, but better at hiding it. It's easy to explain why I don't want a relationship with my father, but other people can't understand my situation with my mother...

      Anyway, thanks for all the advice and understanding. It's a big help.

    • profile image

      2 months ago

      Hope your children do the same to you. As an older adult I see your view as nothing short of immature and selfish. Someday YOU will be the only one with regret

    • profile image

      Elly The Autistic 

      2 months ago

      To Kim:

      Isn’t it nice to know if you take some time off and that us ‘kids’ can hold down the fort? LOL. Thank you for the compliment.

      I looked up Ms. Wright and I was horrified to learn that one of her ‘specialties’ is dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome! If I didn’t have mind issues BEFORE going to someone like HER I’m pretty sure I’d walk out with the same ‘issues’ and a few new ones as well! There are some great therapists out there and obviously some very scary ones. The fact that she hasn’t revised to current terminology regarding Autism is telling… WE Autistic’s don’t use that ‘name’ anymore. WE are ‘high-functioning’ Autistic’s. PERIOD. It’s a ‘rainbow spectrum’ disorder.

      As for Ms. Wright and throwing her name/title up as if it makes her an ‘authority’ on the subject material is rather frightening. It reeks of the whole, “Lucky for YOU a ‘real’ authority has ‘arrived’ to tell You how ‘wrong’ you ALL are.” Having initials etc. behind your name doesn’t make you a better, smarter or more socially aware human. Respect from Me is earned and letters behind a name doesn’t automatically ‘buy’ respect, besides, maybe I have some of my own…

      I agree with NarcFree. You really have built quite a little community here. I’d like to think that the ‘Usual Suspects’ (myself included) who regularly comment here are getting something that is sorely lacking elsewhere. On other forums I have watched/followed/read (yet never engaged in) were sadly toxic. Estranged parents, when offered advice from an ‘estranged child’, universally shouted down what was offered and everyone else ‘agreed’ and some of the ‘estranged children’ sites are almost as bad. Here at least, there seems to be open dialogue for both sides to share and hopefully learn something.

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      east of eden,

      The day I realized I will never be good enough for my "mother", I gave myself permission to stop trying. It's liberating.

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      Kim,

      We are building a virtual community on here :) the supportive kind that doesn't kick the victims while they're down.

      I'm really glad I found this discussion board, and I'm really grateful that you took the time to share your experiences, and were brave enough to display your personal struggles openly, for all of us to learn from.

    • profile image

      east of eden 

      2 months ago

      Thank you for this article. I realize now that it is time to quit trying. My mother's obvious, blatant (although she has tried to hide things) disregard for my feelings and total support in every way for my brother means I should quit. When I tried to tell her and open up communication i.e. what he did to me and my daughter she would hear none of it, even though true. Her advice was stay away from him. Pretty direct? I tend to be naive. He works for them and is supported in every way possible. This article I hope and pray will give me the strength to do just what she said, stay away.

    • profile image

      sisyphus123 

      2 months ago

      @Life without Annette and @Narc Free

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. It makes me feel less alone, even though the outlook seems difficult.

      @Sarah all I can say is what I wish my mother would say to me. I wish she would ask "What did I do to hurt you?" and then actually listen and take responsibility, tell me that she's sorry and willing to change. Maybe it's not too late for you and your son.

    • Kim Bryan profile imageAUTHOR

      Kim Bryan 

      2 months ago

      @Narc Free, @Elly, @Life Without Annette, @Antonio ...

      I stepped away for a few days and you guys were champs in helping those seeking help, and a truth-speaker to those wishing to promote themselves in the comment section. THANK YOU!

      Now, @Jennifer Wright -

      First, I want to say I know why you found this article and I know why you left a comment to which you have not since responded. Nonetheless I'll allow your self-promoting comment to stand as I want to counter your points as others have.

      I'm surprised someone whose practice focuses on PTSD and trauma would discourage anyone who feels they've been abused, in any manner, and especially those of us who have been diagnosed with disorders, etc. as a result, to return to their abusers because to do so is immature or for the sake of grandchildren.

      You're not the only psychologist to comment here but you're the only one to imply we should dismiss our concerns and carry on. Why is that exactly? Did this hit a bit too close to home for you?

      Yes, estrangement is a cultural thing. I grieve for our Arabic and Asian counterparts because their culture is one where walking away from family can have dire consequences, legally and socially.

      To that I say, thank God I live in the western world. Change has to begin somewhere and it is starting right here, right now. Americans, Europeans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, we are all ushering in a new era where birthing a child doesn't equate to owning a child; and if you can't follow the boundaries we set for ourselves, treat us with the respect you insist we treat you with, be it as a child or an adult, then you don't get to play with us when we're old enough to make our own choices.

      And I'm definitely not going to force my children into a situation that I wouldn't inject myself because I feel it is dangerous or detrimental to my well-being. What kind of parent would I be if I did that? Hint: an abusive one.

      I said it in my article and I'll say it again: how they did it yesterday is not how we do it today. Let me break that down a little clearer for you: just because your generation or the ones before took abuse and kept on trucking doesn't mean we have to. To have the mindset that things should always be the same is to hinder progress. If we continued to follow that rule, you wouldn't have a title, Ms. Wright because, as I'm sure you're aware, psychiatry was once considered a laughing matter.

      Lastly, pay attention. We estranged adult children ARE self-soothing; we're walking away from the source of our aggravation. You don't see us still harassing or bullying our parents. Nope, we don't demand anything but peace and the respect to live our lives as we see fit, and we do what must be done to get it. Isn't that self-soothing? Just because we're not doing it your way doesn't mean we aren't doing it.

      And to imply we're not mature adults is... well, I'll just recommend you read the comments here and see who is mature and who is not.

      Please, Ms. Wright, work out your personal issues and don't try to belittle us by tossing out your title in hopes of drumming up some new clients.

    • profile image

      Life without Annette 

      2 months ago

      @sisyphus123

      You ask several good questions:

      Q: How can you maintain your relationships with your extended family while maintaining estrangement from your parents?

      A: You may not be able to. Since your extended family is mostly made up of a bunch of older people who’ve known your parents longer than you, they are more likely to defer to your parents’ viewpoint. It is likely that estranged parents will tell a very self-serving explanation of events, perhaps embellished with half-truths or outright lies. In the end, they may not be able to deceive everyone about everything, but you may still end up being viewed as the unjust party, or at least, the unforgiving one. If anyone in your family stands up for you, or makes an effort to keep you included in their lives, terrific. But don’t hold your breath.

      Q: How do you cope with mourning the loss of your family, when they didn't die, but refused to stop hurting you?

      A: I can only speak to my experience, but it has been like being cut off from my entire childhood, as if it never existed. It is almost a surreal sense of disconnection.

      Since I never planned the estrangement in advance, I have no photos of my childhood, and only one picture each of my grandparents. My mother trashed documents that were previously held in her possession (birth certificate, diploma, medical records, etc.); anything of sentiment left in her house is lost to me. And since the estrangement has cost me my entire childhood family, childhood memories can be shared with my husband and children and friends, but not with the people who share the common recollections. It makes the act of reminiscing very lonely sometimes.

      As much as all of that hurts, the thought that I might expose my children to harm by exposing them to my mother is all I need to reassure myself there was no other choice. That I am happier and at peace with myself is important, too.

      Q: How do you forgive the loss and the pain?

      A: How do you forgive someone who neither wants your forgiveness nor is willing to acknowledge there is anything to forgive? I know I’ll forgive my mother when she’s dead, because then her sins and her willingness to hurt me will finally be in the past, once and for all.

      Estrangement is a long, ongoing process. There is no immediate gratification beyond stopping the infliction of fresh wounds. It’s like severing a gangrenous limb: losing a limb is horrid and painful, and you wish it was never diseased in the first place, but you sever it because it will otherwise destroy you.

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      Sarah,

      Make a choice not to allow it to affect your current marriage and your relationship with your daughter. Compartmentalize. Easier said than done, but you don't want to lose what good you have in your life. Take the time to nurture the relationships you do have, and deal with the other issue separately.

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      sisyphus123,

      I'm very sorry to read about the pain you are going through. I had a lot of the same feelings in the past, and still do, to some extent, today. It is painful to lose both parents on the same day, even more painful to know that you're going through this loss when they are both still alive.

      As time went by, I started understanding more and more that these people were never my parents, in the sense of nurturing or protecting, or teaching life skills. They are ruthless selfish Shirkers, who see parenthood as an entitlement, and not as a responsibility. It is a painful truth to accept, but living in denial is no way to live. For a few years, after the initial estrangement, many days I woke up feeling like the light is so painful that I wish I had stayed in darkness and never discovered the truth. But with time, I understand, and hope you will too, that the only chance I have at a normal life is away from my toxic family. Accept and believe, that you are as deserving as any other human being, and push back on those who try to tell you that you aren't.

      Yes, they train you to gaslight yourself, by replaying their sick (and untrue!) messages in your own head. Remove that "tape" and replace it with positive messages. It's a process that will take time, but the sooner you get started, the sooner you get there.

      Don't feel guilty that you don't Want to repair the relationship. The truth is, you Can't. You can't make them stop. You are just unwilling to continue to accept. They can choose to stop, you can't make them.

      And you are right not to trust them. If one or both of your parents are NPD, any information you share about yourself will be used for sabotage and smear campaign. You say you're afraid they are spreading rumors about you. I am sure that they are. And I am sure that they were BEFORE you estranged. And there's not a darn thing you can do about it. They won't stop and you can't make them. You can only remove yourself from the situation and start building a life from scratch and away from them. Other relatives are going to decide if they want to stay away from the drama, or find a way to keep contact with both sides. Only keep in touch with those who respect your decision. I never had a close relationship with anybody in my family, so really I only lost the illusion that I have family. I was expected to please all, when nobody even remembered to call me on my birthday. I'm sure my "mother" helped create this distance. When a narc chooses a scapegoat, they keep the scapegoat isolated. Any abuser wants their victim isolated. It is hard to control and abuse a person with a healthy network of social connections, or with access to information about what's normal and what's abuse.

      I don't think the anger or pain will ever go away. You just learn to live with it. It sucks, but it is still better than staying in the family and accepting the abuse. They say acceptance is the last stage of grieving, but it hasn't been so for me. I've accepted a long time ago that I never had and never will have supportive or accepting parents. However, the anger did not go away. I think that anger is what helps me stay away from them. It's a reminder how cruel they are and how unacceptable their behavior is. It's like remembering that if you touch a hot stove you'll get burned. You don't want to forget that because that's how you know not to do it again.

      How do you forgive? I don't. I didn't. I'm lectured sometimes about forgiveness, do it for me and not for them. But, my definition of forgiveness is, "it's OK, I understand". And it's not OK, and I Don't understand. Even more important, to me, forgiveness means I should accept them back in my life. Forgive and accept are dangerously close. And I will NEVER.

      Therefore I do not forgive. I try my best to Forget and move on. I'm sure you'll be offered advice to forgive, and I don't disagree, I simply share my perspective that's different from those who advocate forgiveness. Everybody is different, and you choose what feels right for you.

      The nightmares will go away. Give it some time. They will first become less frequent, and one day you'll realize you haven't had a nightmare in so long that they probably are gone for good. It took about 10 years of living away from parental home for my nightmares to stop, but I've always had them as a child, so it took a long time to go away. If yours just started during separation, then it probably won't take as long for them to go away. It's a big change to go through, and difficult to say the least, but you can do it! I am rooting for you.

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      2 months ago

      My 18 year old has cut all communication with me. His dad (my ex husband) has encouraged this because of his hatred of me. I have not been told why he won't talk to me. I have texted and emailed with no responses. He graduates high school next week and I don't even know if I am welcome. It is breaking my heart and severely affecting my current marriage, and my relationship with my daughter, his younger sister. help...

    • profile image

      sisyphus123 

      2 months ago

      I'm going through estrangement with both of my parents now. Although my relationships with them have been difficult for my entire adult life, this estrangement is a devastating loss.

      15 years I've dreamt of getting away from them. But now, that they'd rather lose me than apologize, or get help, or change at all... that they finally went too far, and I finally told them how I feel... and nothing changes.

      And I feel guilty, like it's my fault that I couldn't prevent their abuse. Somehow I brought it on myself. Re-examining every word, belief, choice... what could I have done better? It makes me question my own reality. They don't even need to be there to gaslight me now, they taught me to do it to myself.

      And I feel guilty that I don't want to repair our relationships. Nothing could make me trust them. I don't want to try because I can't bear to give them any more of myself.

      Yet, I can't shake this sadness, anger, fear... it's been 5 months, and I still have nightmares and panic attacks.

      It feels like they will always have a part of me.

      And I'm struggling especially to maintain relationships with my other family members. I don't want to put them in an uncomfortable position where they have to choose... but I wish they would stand up for me and support me more. I'm afraid that my parents are spreading rumors about me to my family.

      How can you maintain your relationships with your extended family while maintaining estrangement from your parents?

      How do you cope with mourning the loss of your family, when they didn't die, but refused to stop hurting you?

      How do you forgive the loss and the pain?

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      gr8fulwoman,

      Why do you think that your daughter feels judgement even when none is there? That might be worth discussing with her. Try to get to the same page about what's judgement and what's not. When I told my "mother" that I was in a car accident and my car was totaled, her immediate and only response was "Next time look where you're going, I've been driving for thirty years and not a single accident, you got a car three years ago and already managed to total it". I call it judgement. She calls it teaching me not to be an idiot, no judgement. She never asked if anyone got a ticket, or what exactly happened.

      Rest assured, she did not help pay for my first car, nor did she put a penny towards my next car, nor insurance. Hell, my parents didn't even teach me how to drive. Every time I asked for a driving lesson, my father laughed in my face, said "I owe you nothing" and walked out of the room. Or, he stayed in the room and pretended he didn't hear me speak, just kept doing whatever he was doing, like I'm not even there.

      Her response to my car accident was not my point of no return as far as No Contact. But it was a point where I finally got out of denial, and accepted the truth that my "mommy" is a subtype of human that's missing a heart. No contact came much later. I allowed her to beat me down for quite a few more years after that comment.

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      Life without Annette,

      Jennifer the PsyD purchased her psyd from an online "university" and failed to read the powerPoint that was emailed to her, on the subject of NPD and other destructive personality disorders. Why read / attend lectures if victim blaming is more fun, and so much EASIER.

    • profile image

      NarcFree 

      2 months ago

      Elly,

      You are so articulate.

      We must be half sisters because I think we have the same mother. The misfortune of winning a million comment (how terrible that it's not 2 million lol) made me chuckle. Rings all kinds of bells!.. I'd like to add that the one million winning happened because mother (pure perfection)

      picked the correct ticket. And the misfortune of it not being two million...well that's the daughter's fault.

      Gr8fulwoman

      I hope this doesn't sound too cold, but I think some parents go into parenthood with false expectation. They think they are producing a "forever friend" and will never be alone again and/or will never be wrong again. Reality is, children grow up, and their parents stop being the center of the universe, even in a healthy family, and especially in a healthy family. It is a special bond between a mom and a daughter (in majority of cases, but not all), but the amount of time spent bonding diminishes when kids grow up.

      I also wonder why you ask random people how to change your relationship with your daughter for the better. I say ask your daughter. Nobody can tell you what your daughter needs/wants, and what she doesn't, better than the daughter herself. Maybe she's going through something that she's not yet comfortable sharing. Maybe nothing is going on. Who knows. Just respect that you two are both independent adults. If you had a friend who's not sharing everything with you, you'd probably just accept it, because you can't push someone to tell you things they don't feel comfortable telling you.

      Which brings me to my question, why is it so heartbreaking for you? You said you'd advise someone else in your situation to accept the relationship for what it is, but then you add it is heartbreaking. Why? Is it the unmet expectations? I hope you are not saying that your grown child is responsible for making you happy, or for making sure you are not lonely. I may be very wrong in this assumption, but that's what came to mind when I read your post. Tell your daughter you'd like to improve the relationship, and ask her if there's a way to make it better. AND STOP THERE. DO NOT ADD that it's heart breaking or that you don't want to be a burden. Sounds like guilt tripping. She may be at the distance she wants to be right now. Or she may be on the same page with you. You won't know until you go directly to the source :) keep in mind that no adult owes another adult a relationship. It is purely voluntary regardless of genes.

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