Third-Generation Child of a Narcissist
As a third generation child of narcissism, I speak from experience rather than education. All accounts are from my own observations of family dynamics.
The experience I am sharing is from my immediate and extended family and observations of other narcissistic families, many who continue the narcissistic cycle, but many have broken out of its bondage.
My path has lead to great healing and ability to accept and give love freely and unconditionally. In my relationship of 15 years to a wonderful, loving, supportive man, it still surprises me sometimes when his reactions to me are stable and loving.
It seems I still have memories to be released!
The wounds adult children of narcissistic parents still carry are simply the memories which if vigilantly observed for their origin can be released and new beliefs installed. It is no different for a child of a narcissistic parent than any other - memories playing in the subconscious cause the reactions and responses as an adult.
For the adult child of a narcissist, the ability to see clear of the fog to find the self is no doubt the greatest challenge but a certainty if pursued.
If not recognized and questioned, the adult child continues the narcissistic cycle. When the child becomes what it is the narcissistic parent projects upon them and surrenders all sense of self and gets lost. The cycle continues.
The Walls of Protection Go Up
To avoid the feelings of always being uncertain and on unsteady ground, unable to establish self-worth and purpose—the child accepts the narcissistic behavior and avoids relationships that put on any emotional demands.
A maternal narcissist is often the breeder of narcissistic children; more so than a paternal narcissist.
The child of the narcissistic parent is constantly aware that every deed, action, and word is perceived by the parent as a reflection of the parent. In an effort to avoid conflict and drama, the child suppresses desires, needs, and expression of any emotion.
The child pretends to be whatever the parent is pretending or projecting on the child. Of course, our greatest legacy is perfection.
It's All Learned Behavior
That learned behavior causes the adult child of the narcissist to remain unable to express or even understand their own emotions. They surrendered their own feelings to the parent so long - there is no longer an ability to recognize or discern their own.
In my experience and observation, adult children who still struggle with the ability to connect with others at a deep, emotional, and vulnerable level either physically isolate themselves, turn to addictions, or participate in relationships at superficial levels.
In every case, friendships and even intimate relationships have a fortress built around them which no one can penetrate except when the adult child allows it for their own gain.
I see adult children unable to find their own place in the world and still avoid their own feelings.
Concern for the parents' response and desire for love, acceptance, and even if false, a sense of stability, the child suppressed desires, personality, inclinations for so long they appear to wander through life as a hollow shell.
In my personal experience, the second generation maternal narcissist was less stable in finding a mate to provide basic life-supporting skills adding a new dimension of fear and insecurity.
Her unwillingness to open herself to any relationship that would make emotional demands proved isolating and lonely. The burden was on the children to fill all emotional needs.
The fear of uncovering the true self prevented her from seeking the help that could have offered a glimpse into the real world of love.
Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and Me
There is a true story of a psychologist who healed an entire ward of criminally insane patients without ever treating them!
Dr. Hew Len, (pictured to the right) worked as a psychologist at the Hawaii State Hospital Ward for the Criminally Insane. In three years time, he never treated a single patient but healed them all.
You can read about this fascinating story in the book Zero Limits, by Joe Vitale and learn the method he used for your own healing.
You will learn what it is and how to begin releasing erroneous memories that are replaying and creating the life you are experiencing.
It is possible, and actually quite simple, to release the memories, thereby changing your experience. It is not necessary or even possible for you to know what the memories are that are playing in order to be free from them.
You will see amazing examples of burdens and outcomes fall away like leaves falling off of trees as you begin to release erroneous memories.
LIsten to the Zero Limits audio book and hear about seemingly miraculous "cures". The reality is, there is nothing to cure—only memories to be released to reveal God's perfection.
I hope you find the hope to at least consider the possibility.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Michelle How on May 14, 2017:
This was difficult to read for me because I have recently lost my mum who was an alcoholic. Her nature was that of a narcissist but the drinking made that all the worst. Well written and informative. It's tough.
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Nick on May 16, 2012:
Thank you for your article. I can relate to a lot of what you said from my own experience. I really believe it is like a prison that one must break out of- my real self was there all along, and reality was there all along, there was just such a tightly conditioned reality distortion field in my mind stopping me from embracing all of that. It is so painful but ultimately liberating to let it all go and embrace the beauty of our real souls, reality and nature.
Christine Louis de Canonville on April 06, 2012:
I work with victims of narcissistic abuse. I have posted a number of articles on the subject of narcissistic behaviour which you may find interesting.
It is official, Narcissism is on the increase in our culture..... everybody needs to inform themselves on this subject. Most people think that this form of abuse is only likely to happen in romantic relationships. This is a misnomer, anybody can become a victim ..... So, be warned, narcissists are everywhere; they can be mothers or fathers, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, grandmothers or grandfathers, aunts or uncles, bosses or employees, friends or acquaintances. You can find them anywhere from the boardroom to the bedroom, indeed nowhere is free from people displaying narcissistic traits. Probably the best way to recognize a narcissist is to educate yourself about the various narcissistic behaviours and addictions. Then trust your own instinct when your internal alarm goes off.
I have written several articles on the subject, if you want to read more, follow the link below.
Fiona on March 09, 2012:
Hello fran, many thanks for this blog, i have finally discovered after fifteen years of emotional roller coasters that my husband is a narsasist. For the first time in years I can make sense of what's actually going on. It is very helpful to have as much information as I can about his condition, I have struggled so muchover the years believing that I was the root of all problems in our lives.
Christine Louis de Canonville on February 26, 2012:
Thank you Fran. I am dedicating my life to educating people about Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. So much is written about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but little or nothing about the damage that they do to their relationships, whether it be in the home, the workplace, or in Organizations (such as schools, hospitals, churches, social clubs etc.).
I am glad to see so many people on this blog who are educating themselves on the subject. I would advise anyone who has been unfortunate to have been a victim of narcissistic abuse to learn how to "spot a narcissist" in order to protect oneself from further re-victimization by another narcissist. It is well documented that Narcissists spot those victims who know their convoluted dance in an instant, and they become like moths to the flame, which is an irresistible and dangerous attraction that truly excites the narcissist in his hunt for narcissistic supply.
In your research of the subject, please become consciously aware of terms such as
*Narcissistic Victim Syndrome,
Google all of these terms, because they will explain a lot of the behaviours that you have experienced by your abuser, but also you will begin to understand the cleverness of your own survival behaviour that has served you well........ you are all survivors, and I salute you. Enjoy your study, because I guarantee that it will bring you many "Aha! moments" as you get answers to your many questions.
Fran Horvath (author) from Universal on February 10, 2012:
PLEASE READ THIS COMMENT! Thank you Christine Louis de Canonville.
Margi on February 06, 2012:
This is the best idea: "let's go for a cup of tea and meditate." I'm in!!:)
I first read Trapped in the Mirror over 10 years ago. It was a book recommended by my therapist. An initial introduction into my struggles with identity, anxiety and depression, the insight seemed to help and I grew hopeful.
Now, with my 10 year old, I feel I'm doing a better job(..much?)-- or, yes, grandiose thinking--but I still struggle at times with patience, focus, timeliness.
Thanks so much for writing your article. I can relate. Am going to look into the Hawaiian technique..
Sharon on January 30, 2012:
Bless you all! I also have an N for a mom. It was two
years ago that I found out what was wrong with her.
It's torture having a mother like this. I'm 56 and my
51 year old younger brother just passed away and I can't stop crying from her behavior towards him. Why can't they love their children? To strangers she is so nice and puts on such an act but us her children she is horrible and not a mother at all. To honor my dear brother I have decided to go NC with my mom. I just can't take it anymore. Her rages, her verbal abuse, not
caring. I saw her behave in such an uncaring way with my step dad when he was so ill and passed two years ago.
But I thought that she might or I was hoping she would show me some caring and love for my brother. It was not to be. I just can't stop crying. How can these types of mothers not see themselves as cruel.
I feel for all of you with a mother like this.
I'm the scapegoat child and feel I've been punished enough for being born to a mother who never wanted me and who never loved any of us her children.
SunnyVee on October 30, 2011:
I haven't caught up with all the comments, but I am in the middle of processing some 20- years of experiences with my narcissistic family. As someone said above, "both my parents were narcissitic---and I was the scapegoat."...so thank you so much to all who have shared stories of growth and change!!!
I am feeling things so strongly and so explosive that I never stood up for before...BUT on the other hand, I have terrible grief over how I sometimes hurt my parents. (does that make sense?)...despite that narcissistic rage, and the really valid anger that will help me move forward, I also feel like I am being the oversensitive drama queen they accuse me of. Sigh. Sorry this is so rambling.
I aspire, eventually, to not engage in the same old dance with them - but my goal is to detach with more love, or more gently.
Sometimes I am struck (like a hammer in the face) with the madness of my family. And then I cant believe everyone thinks I am so fortunate to have them... and maybe I -AM- an entitled brat.
Well, thanks for your attn. And Peace to all sharing here !!
Christine Louis de Canonville on September 17, 2011:
I am a therapist who has worked with victims of narcissistic abuse for a good many years. Reading the comments on the blog, it is obvious that a lot of people know what Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)is, however, I wonder how many have heard the term Narcissistic Victim Syndrome (NVS). I would think very few people would know about it, including victims and therapists. American therapist are now calling for NVS to be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), which is like a bible for health carers. This will be a good thing, not only will therapists become better informed for working with this victims of narcissistic abuse, but more informed books will be written for the betterment of victims. This would help the victims to understand what has happened to them, that they are not to blame, but actually showed great intelligence and skill in surviving such brutality.
Sadly I must warn you that many therapists do not understand the depth of this abuse on the victim. This is not their fault, because this is not generally part of psychotherapy training (it is more likely the domain of psychiatrists and psychologists training). Many psychotherapists would not know to look for signs of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) being present, nor do they understand that many of the victim are suffering from battle fatigue after living in a war zone for so long, possibly even suffering the effects of Stockholm Syndrome. Often therapists are mystified as to why the victim has a history of going from one narcissistic relationship to another, clearly they don't understand the notion of re-victimization, which is a common phenomenon in narcissistic abuse. The therapist may also fail to look at the effects of the Gaslighting Tango that is part of the narcissists cruel game to make their victim think they are loosing their mind.
When looking for a therapist to work with, I fully recommend that you pick one who is trained in Trauma Therapy, better still if they specialize in narcissistic abuse. You can look up articles online that will explain more fully PTSD, Stockholm Syndrome, re-victimization and Gaslighting. Then you can discuss these with your therapist in more detail. But most importantly, read all that you can about narcissistic personality disorder. Remember, a narcissist does not need to be at the full-blown stage of the spectrum to reek havoc on their families, friends, or co-workers.
Gary on May 09, 2011:
It has been very comforting to read all of your stories. I am a 40 year old man with a 38 year old sister and a 69 year old mother who have all for many years wondered why life has been so hard for us when it comes to Dad. Last year we figured out he is a Cerebral Narcissist. Rage over stupid little things, living on eggshells so as not to make him mad. Feeling like we were always disappointing him. Praise only when it was something he deemed worthy. Being spanked or shaken when I was a small boy by a rage filled man. Never any apologies or understanding of his behavior. He is very good at making us believe we are the problem. Not feeling like I could express my own views or personal creativity or feelings about things. All while being raised in what appeared to be a "normal" upper middle class family. It is hard for outsiders to even comprehend how it has been. I have made it my life goal to rid my life of these negative feelings and back ground sadness I have inside. For many years I found a place for my own rage by focusing all my energy into adrenaline sports. I have been in therapy, meditated to learn to calm myself, seen healers, spent a lot of time in nature, chanted, prayed, cried and even been hospitalized for two weeks in the psychiatric ward of a hospital for what was more or less a nervous breakdown. (I now realize it was a spiritual break through). I can see that I am better than I was and Fran you have given me even more hope that I can continue to awaken to the joys and pleasures of life. I can see some of the narcissist in me and I make steps day by day to listen more to people and to open up my heart to them. I am learning to laugh more at life. I have a loving caring wife who is patient with me and we are able to communicate well. I am able to hear her when she calls me on my sh*t. I want to be better for not only me but for her. I have been afraid to have children because I didn't want the "anger beast" inside me to scar them like my father has scarred us. This cycle of emotional and psychological destruction is going to end in my families bloodline. It is my life's work. My mother is still with my father who is 76 years old now. My heart goes out to him because I know he is not happy inside. His mother did it to him first. He has very little (or no) idea he has a narcissistic personality disorder. My mother is not the same person she was when we were young. Still very caring and supportive but edgy and defensive because of having to survive in her marriage of 45 years. I have great compassion for her. Faith in God and the belief that someday I can be free are what have kept me going. I am going to read some of the books and articles with the techniques for my continued healing. Thank you and Namaste back to you.
Bree on August 16, 2010:
Growing up with a narcissist stepfather I sadly understand the reality of how hard life can be. With the constant lies and bullying I slowly lost my own identity and became obsessed with trying to make it work. I have since moved away from this poisonousness man cutting all contact, this allowed me to move forward with my own life and a loving relationship with my boyfriend. Only the bad dreams cannot be removed.
Jo on January 12, 2010:
Thanks so much! These comments have been wonderful. I think one of the most distressing things of being in this situation is that you sometimes are so insecure you spend so long wondering what is wrong with you until you can finally be secure enough to say it's not you, it's the parent. It's nice to go online and read these examples of what others have been through. It's so funny how similar many of our stories are.
Fran Horvath (author) from Universal on November 20, 2009:
Thank you all for sharing your stories. You are helping others just by opening up here. You are a blessing and I am so grateful for you.
For those of you asking for local support groups - I have no affiliation or resources to assist with this search. If I were looking for such help - google or bing the term "narcissist" and your city.
My greatest learning experience has been that you must incorporate your learnings into your life. Reading, studying, even getting coaching only gives you an intellectual understanding.
If you want change to occur in your life you must make the transition from intellectual understanding to application.
The best way I have found to do this is by comtemplation.
Take one lesson you want to incorporate into your life and pray for the truth of that lesson to be revealed to you. Then contemplate on that lesson all day, all week, for as long as it takes for it to become a part of who you are.
Remember that you are not trying to fix anything. You are perfect just the way you are. When you try to manifest a change from a place of "dis-repair" you are sending out the vibrational energy of the so called problem.
So, maybe the first thing to contemplate is that you are going from perfection to perfection. Not broken to fixed (or less broken).
Think about how you might see this philosophy in nature: the iris that blooms in the summer is not more perfect than the bulb I planted last fall.
The bulb is a perfect bulb, the sprout is a perfect sprout, the bud is a perfect bud, the half opened bloom is a perfect half open bloom and the fully open bloom is a perfect bloom.
If you are stressing about your work or something broken at home...your dryer is a perfectly broken dryer.
If you get this...if you get that at any given moment, all in the world is exactly as it should be you will begin to witness marvelous changes in your experiential reality.
Every moment is one of unfolding truth and an opportunity for our conscious awakening. When you think of your experiences this way - everything is in perfect order.
Make contemplation a part of your intentional life and watch the emergence of your true potentialiaty.
pbfree on November 09, 2009:
Thank you for the information I'm reading. It has opened my eyes to the understanding that knowledge isn't enough. I'm having so much trouble taking action. I'm a 46 year old woman (the bad child?), and my mother was/is a Narcissist. I have always defined myself by my work and have isolated myself instead of making friends. I also have an 11 year old daughter. I was recently laid off and now find that I am lost in a world of uncertainty and I have no idea who I am, what I want, or how I feel. I have no health insurance to get counseling. Do you know of any in-person support groups in the central florida area to get started on healing. I want this horrible feeling inside to stop and I want to learn how to love and be loved. Can you make any suggestions? Thanks.
Neil on November 08, 2009:
Thank you for posting comments and the interesting links to further reading material. My older brother and I, both now in our forties, have struggled to cope with our narsicistic father all our lives. It is only recently that we have come to terms with this and who he really is! Our mother, still married to him, and barely a shell, as she long since retreated to some internal mental place as a coping mechanism many years ago. In other words she is lost to us. A strong woman reduced to vacuity by the all absorbing monstrosity that is our father's ego and self absorption.
However, I still find myself having difficulty connecting with my own wife and daughter and this horrifies me. I have enough self awareness and empathy to understand that I do this, but I find it incredibly difficult to reach out. Should I seek help? This cycle must end.
mary on October 30, 2009:
Thanks for this article. My ex-husband is a narcissist and is emotionally abusive to my 9 year old son and 13 year old daughter. It's so incredibly frustrating and hurtful that everyone around him has to learn to cope because he is incapable of making any behavior changes. I think this is too much to ask of young children. They have been dealing with him without me as a filter for 5 years now. It's only becoming more difficult. I'm so afraid that they are being emotionally damaged, no matter what I do to conteract his effect on them. How do you prove emotional abuse? From everything I've read, it's virtually impossible. But, I think my kids shouldn't be with him at all. They don't want to be, but they are scared of him.
Ross on October 27, 2009:
My Father (and I use that term loosely) was diagnosed with NPD when I was in my late 20s. I always knew that the treatment I received from him was very messed up... from my perspective having an NPD parent is like being on a rollercoaster without the bar to hold you in the car. My Father abused me emotionally and physically at every opportunity. He regularly broke down my ability to defend myself causing me to be a very go with the flow kind of person. My Father manipulated me and anyone around me to get what he wanted no matter the cost to me. He was the most abusive angry person you would ever want to come in contact with if you just said one word..... The word "No". His inability to hear the word no left me very submissive yet angry.. To this day at 40 years old I still see the patterns that were created by having an NPD Father. At 38 I told my Father "No" and he disowned me..... That event while destructive to most people was very liberating to me. I have not called or spoken to him since and my life has never been better. You see he has said "goodbye forever" to me multiple times in the past and then I would do my best to repair the relationship. That is another dimension that the NPD parent creates is our programming to sacrifice ourselves for them.... at all times in any circumstance and especially if they are at fault (well they are never at fault are they). My Father financed his grandiose life while I and my Mother were left in poverty (Didn't pay child support and barely helped with any expenses after my parents were divorced). I chased after his promises and lies for years waiting for him to be my Dad…. NPD parents are incapable of being Dad or Mom…. You must break your programming and not sacrifice yourself for them or others like them. We as NPD children must become a little Narcissistic ourselves when it comes to our relationships. I have been treated like dirt my entire life by someone who had complete access to my life…. Thank God I no longer allow that person access.
Sandy on October 22, 2009:
What are some names of individuals in the Washington DC, VA, or MD who can help a woman I know with this condition?
babs98019 on August 14, 2009:
My ex-husband and I were married for 30 years. All during that time, he always put himself first, was unsupportive, cared a great deal about what others thought of him, and was emotionally distant also with his mother. We have a 22 year old daughter and she got the same treatment. He didn't have anything to do with helping her with homework, music lessons, track. He would just parade her out when he wanted to impress people. She now has had a string of loser boyfriends,because she needs the male attention that she didn't get from him. Finally, one of her therapist suggested that he was narcissistic with borderline Aspergers. It was such a relief for her to know that it wasn't her- it was him. Thank goodness she found out when she did. She could have spent so many wasteful years blaming herself for not being "good enough." As it is, she will have to determine how to deal with him and what kind of relationship, if any, she will have with him. It's so hard to love someone who can't love back. I know.
jcw on August 03, 2009:
Dear Fran, I am learning all about NPD and the efects it has on all involved. I recently had a very blunt conversation with my girlfriend of 14 years regarding her lack of emotional involvement,she fits the descriptions that all the websites talk about,alcoholic mother abused as a child, and 12 years of therapy to "understand it" unfortunatly she never did anything about it.Maybe went to the wrong support group. My question is now that we are taking a break from our relationship,I need to know what to do next,we have had little or no contact in the last several weeks and I feel I am just waiting and waiting for something to happen.If i brought up npd she would disregard it as something I made up to make her look like she had the problem.I know my assessment of this is accurate and I would like to do something about it.Problem is where to start? I would like to appeal to her on a loving and logical level but she is not in that frame of mind. I do not want to have a big blow up for I believe that would set us back farther. What to do next? Please advise jcw
Fran Horvath (author) from Universal on May 11, 2009:
Hi Dear One...Even though you are physically removed from the situation-it seems the distance is not enough to stop the abuse.
As I've stated many times on this post/comments - I am only a child of a narcissist, not a therapist. I do however have a couple suggestions for you: 1. Contact your local child services. Explain the emotional abuse and ask their advice. 2. If you can, put more distance between you. I would move across the country if I had to.
Moving might not be the solution others recommend but if it is in your power and you are legally permitted to do so, it will give you the breathing room to recover.
If you are not legally permitted to do so, I would seek legal council - even legal aid can help. It may be that something can be done given the psychological disorder.
I am not saying it will be easy to just walk away. You may need to keep searching until you find someone who can help you.
Meanwhile, immerse yourself and your daughter in all the support systems you can. I don't mean a place to talk about your problems, you can get into therapy if you choose. I mean, a place that will support your knowing and belief of who you really are and what your true worth is.
Take massive action! It is symptimatic of the narcissistic family member to withdraw and cope by disassociating from the situation. You have to give yourself enough of a chance, enough belief that life can be dramatically different for you to cause you to take action.
If you knew your life and that of your daughters could be changed by taking the steps I suggested - you would do it right? Read the comments above, take me as an example...believe that life can be full of joy and hope.
Start with social services and keep going until you get the help you need.
Please keep us posted.
ps., Please keep your focus on the life you want and not on the life you are trying to escape. You will find strength and energy in focusing on what is good, beautiful and loving.
Happyimdone on May 11, 2009:
I am a single mother of a child who has a severe N for a father. It has been extremely difficult to deal with this man and to raise out daughter in a healthy way. By the way I left him when she was ten months old and I have been made to pay his hell since then...she is five. My question is...This man was raised by a severely sick mother who had NPD/BPD and HPD and he is extremely NPD if not BPD too. Since the death of his mother two years ago...things have gotten even worse if that is even possible? I am extremely concerned about my child growing up with this man in her life because he is so sick. There are no boundries....it is ALL about him, he doesn't so much love her as he loves what she can make him look like. NO one really sees it. He is a cop and he has this whold town convinced that I am a nut job and now is trying to take custody from me. Problem is he is a good liar and a master manipulator...how do I go about rasing my daughter with someone who will be a part of her life and not let her get this sick disease? He will not leave us alone or let us live our own life...and just see her on his visits. He has become an emotional vampire and has tried his best to drain me of everything and has almost succeeded until I woke up and realized that this man is sick and cannot be helped. Reading up on this personality disorder has truly helped me to understand that I am not crazy and that there is something truly wrong with this man and that there is a reason for his unstable behavior that never made any sense to me what so ever. Although he had me convinced that everything and I do mean everything was my fault. I have been very scarred by this man and I am needing to know how I can not let his venom ruin my child's life...I want to BREAK this chain...please answer soon!
Fran Horvath (author) from Universal on May 05, 2009:
Absolutely Not Miss Jamie D! I know you don't see it now but there is nothing stopping you from trusting and loving. I would encourage you to start by noticing love all around you - in everyday experience. It doesn't matter if you notice a stranger expressing love for a child or if you visit an Animal shelter and hug a few puppies.
Get in the practice of feeling love and loved. If you don't know the power of love and healing a dog provides - I recommend you experience it...even if it is just fostering a dog.
It may sound silly, but you need to get your mind out of the way and you can do that in many ways, the easiest way, is to teach it what you want to experience.
Trust and love are easy to witness if you look around. Your perspective will change when your mind starts believing it is possible.
Once you start experiencing the feelings of love, you will start to observe trust and love more and more. You will actually notice it more because you have changed your perspective.
Right now you are viewing the world from that narcissistic place. We don't live there anymore. Your perspective of your world just needs to catch up.
There is so much more you can do - but know it all starts with your thoughts. You might want to keep a journal of the loving thoughts, feelings and expressions you notice each day.
It will serve as a reminder if you slip into your old beliefs. You can also spend time listening to some higher energy speakers, like Wayne Dyer and others you can find on hayhouseradio.com.
I love you. You are absolutely perfect just as you are.
MissJamieD from Minnes-O-ta on May 05, 2009:
I was married to a narcissist for nearly 13 years, in fact we're still legally married, should be final within a couple of months. The pain is deep. I have not felt loved in all of these years, I miss it. But the scars of narcissism, will they prevent me from ever trusting? This is a fabulous hub! Thanks for sharing this:)
Been there on May 04, 2009:
Three sayings have helped me in dealings with a narcissistic father and a passive-aggressive mother and my ex-husband, another passive-aggressive:(1)"I am only his symptom, not his disease, " and another is:(2) "The opposite of love is not hate, but is indifference." (If you don't care about him, he can't use your feelings to hurt you.) The last is, (3)"Progress only earns its name when what you have is better than what you had." (That's a standard by which everything from dysfunctional parents/spouses, chocolate cookies, jobs, etc. to even US Presidents can be judged.)
The Bible's book of Proverbs is also helpful, and can even elicit a few giggles for you, in view of your situations. It did for me.
Journalling also helped me. Seems like writing observations down helps me more than just talking about them to someone.
I had to first get over my distrust of possibly having someone snoop my journalized thoughts, however. The husband I have now allows me complete freedom and could care less about snooping. That was strange at first, but having gotten more used to it, I find freedom in that, and it's refreshing.
I have uncrowned all the self-proclaimed royalty in my past. Check out the Harry Potter scene where the students are being taught to take their most feared thing and imagine it as something ridiculous. One student's fear was huge Black Widow spiders, but when one appeared, he imagined its toes were roller skates and it couldn't stand up, much less threaten him. Uncrowned royalty is rather pathetic and easily distanced.
Prayers to you and all like us.
Fran Horvath (author) from Universal on April 27, 2009:
HisWife...dear one, I am not a counselor and have only written on this subject from my personal experience. I am however, a life coach and would only offer these bits of encouragement...
Your husband's drastic change in behavior was triggered by something - what that is I do not know but I would definitely consult a physician. Review your memory as best you can for anything that might have changed around the time your husband's behavior changed.
ie., had he recently started any new medications, did a parent pass away, did your husband lose his job?
You do not need to be concerned with blame but the only thing you have control over is your own thoughts, feelings and reactions. Consider how you might step back and allow him be who he is being now. Again, I don't know the cause and I don't know if you will ever see your loving husband again - but you can not change him.
I don't know why this is happening...What I do know is if you take responsibility for your response - your circumstance has to improve. If you can clearly see he is reacting out of memories of his childhood - consider how you might be doing the same in response to his behavior.
Remember, I am not assigning blame or taking sides - only suggesting you take ownership of your response. It is the only decision that empowers you.
I would certainly try to find a therapist with more experience with narcissistic personality disorder. If he is truly experiencing a personality disorder, despite his outward behavior, his self image is extremely fragile.
His confused sense of self manifests itself in many ways - including misinterpreting your questions and love for control.
I can feel your sincere desire to hold your family together - do what you can to find a doctor and therapist who are qualified and examine your own thoughts and reactions.
This is not your fault.
For that matter, it is not HIS fault either. It just is.
There are many unanswered questions. Once you have invested the time with appropriate physical and mental care you will be in a better position to understand what is happening.
If he is unwilling to get help - your thoughts need to turn to yourself and your children. There is only one way to protect yourself and your children from the effects of a narcissistic spouse/parent - that is to remove yourself and your children from the influence.
You are not alone and you are not living in a no win situation....and you don't have to believe in your or your husbands ability to change.
You just need to start becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings...just notice them and do not resist them. Just "Look at them".
Decide if they are serving your greater good. You can do this by checking in with your feelings. If you do not feel empowered and good - they are not serving you.
You then get to choose how you want to respond in the future. I like to talk to my thougths and feelings. I Thank the thoughts/feelings for trying to protect me and I let them know that they are free to go now...I have another way to handle the situation.
Then I choose to see the situation for what it is in that moment - without old memories, telling me I'm not loved enough, not good enough...whatever is coming up for you.
See your husbands behaviors for what they are (you don't have to understand the behavior) - not a reflection of who you are or your value. His behavior does not determine your worth.
When you are able to see him and his behavior as separate from your happiness, worth, importance, whatever...you can see him through God's loving eyes.
When you get to this place of true unconditional love - the resentment, bitterness, anger, confusion, denial...you name it...the emotions that if held onto will define you in ways I know you do not want will have no hold on you.
Not only will his behavior have no hold on you; you will let go of the need to "fix" him. That is incredibly empowering. Because dear one - when you let go of wanting to change others and take responsibility for your own inner world - your outer world seemingly miraculously changes.
Please let me know how you are doing.
I love you.
dealmein on April 27, 2009:
Dear hiswife: I, too, was married to a man who was incapable of showing any sort of empathy or real, genuine feelings for me for many years. But, initially he was such a 'nice guy', sweet, and attentive. He was certainly a 'wonderful man' to many who did not know him. He was a successful, and financially a generous person. After only 3 or 4 years of marriage, he revealed a different side of himself. It was hard to believe or understand that this man was incapable; unable to feel or show any 'real' feelings for me or his son/step-daughter. Over the years I hoped things would change. Things did not get better. Initially, he was only angry, disappointed, critical, and cold periodically. Then it became monthly, then constantly. He projected anger, and instilled fear (threatenening to leave the marriage and family). I did not know from one moment to the next what 'new' criticisms or accusations he would hurl. Yet, I THOUGHT I could 'fix the problem' if he would only let me in . . . I begged for him to attend counselling -- he agreed -- on several occasions. He felt counselling was a 'good thing for me' since I was obviously constantly 'depressed', 'suffered from borderline personality', and was not 'cared for by even my own family'. These were his actual untruthful statements to numerous therapists!! I had the great fortune of meeting a wonderful therapist who worked with me individually and an understanding of the unhealthy life I led with this man.
He finally walked out one day. LOL!!! He was, he said, 'Finished with the project.' It was a GIFT!!! His departure was the best thing he ever did for me!
Run, do not walk, away from this man (or anyone else for that matter) if he cannot show you the love, kindness, respect and caring that you and your children deserve. The narcissist is an empty vessel. He is incapable of thinking of you and your needs. He cannot be satisfied and will use you (and your children) and then dispose of you like pond scrum.
Find a therapist who listens. I hope you find the courage to find a new life for yourself and your children. I did!
hiswife on April 13, 2009:
I am desperate! My husband of 10 yrs comes from a narcissistic family of origin. I have no doubt in my mind his mother would be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. After 9 months of prodding, in January of 2009, he told me that I was too controlling, that he no longer loves me & he doesn't know if he wants to continue on in our marriage. He is projecting all of his anger from his family of origin onto me. No matter what I do, I can't get him to show me ANY emotion. I don't believe he has truly been able to feel emotions for a long, long time. He went from being my loving best friend to a cold, emotionless man in the matter of a few months. Everyone I have told is completely shocked - we had the best of times together - people were even envious of our relationship! This hit me out of the blue! Because he says he doesn't love me, he refuses any physical contact with me from hugs to sex for over 3 months. There is not anyone else - I always know where he is, answers his phone, leaves his phone laying out, stays in frequently, etc. If I cry or get angry, he just sits and looks at me - showing no emotion. He will get me coffee, sit & watch tv & talk, sleeps in the same bed, etc. just like he always has. He is willing to go to counseling & has been. He says he is not willing to do anything to "try" to heal our marriage. He wants to see if his feelings of love for me will come back. The other problem is that I don't feel our counselor has experience in dealing with narcissistic families of origin. She is a marriage counselor and keeps trying to get him focused on the fact that I love him & that I am willing to make changes to be less controlling. Although he then says he does not believe people can change. I do not believe I am the real problem & until he can address what it is from his past that he is bringing into our marriage, he will always see me as eternally flawed & incompatible as a spouse for him.
We have 2 young children. I don't want to lose my family. Any help you can give me would be so greatly appreciated. Has anyone else ever encountered anything like this?
Doris Paul on February 28, 2009:
It is an amazing discovery that I've had to grow and mature into being able to recognize, admit, and look into the bare face/fact that both my parents were narcissitic---and I was the scapegoat. I am now 72 years of age; I have been in and out of therapy since age 24, did attend meetings with ACOA for several years, have been hospitalized for lack of diagnoses, in and out of hospitals trying to find the root of the problems, I have divorced after 26 years of a horrible marriage, I have been in therapy for 11 years straight seeking behavioral modification. For the changes that have been accomplished I have to give the credit, all of it, to the God of Mercy. He will still get the credit for the additional changes, but I will continue in therapy and now I will add the tools and encouragement that I find in the topic of "Adult children of Narcissistic parents." This a brand new discovery, as of today. I am of the belief that progress will come much more quickly now, thanks to all of you who have shared your stories that so resemble my own. God bless!!!!
Fran Horvath (author) from Universal on February 21, 2009:
The most important truth is that we each get to choose what we believe. It is not a common thought but it is real. It is not necessary to suffer. It is not necessary to continue to believe the respond with the mechanisms we learned as children. Awareness of our behavior and observation is all that is necessary to move forward.
It is important not to resist our thoughts/feelings/reactions. We should love them for how they have protected us in the past and lovingly thank them and let them be on their way.
Choose a new belief. It really is possible. I love you all.
Jeremy on February 21, 2009:
Hi, I just came across this article. I am adult "child" a of narcissistic father. I amazed by the fact that we all tell the same stories when it comes to describe our feelings. There is little variation. I know the struggle to get out of the negative patterns. It is good to know that there are other people out there facing the same issues as we do. We are not alone.
Natalie Ray on December 07, 2008:
Thanks for the article. I'm glad someone could put this into words. I've a narcissistic mom but I thought it was just her way of expressing love. 25 years of my life went down the drain simply because I was too afraid to say no to her impossible demands. Now that I've read your article, I realise I could pass the agony on to my children, too. I vow not to. Thanks again. May God bless you.
Fran Horvath (author) from Universal on February 29, 2008:
Yeah, never imagined I would ever write about this...way to much insight into my soul! I was just drawn to respond to a request for an answer.
Thanks for reading it...maybe we should both go get a cup of tea and meditate! :-)
C.S.Alexis from NW Indiana on February 29, 2008:
This is some pretty heavy material. Bless you.