Chronic Illness as an Adult Child of Narcissists

The pain is chronic and widespread. The exhaustion is REAL. The management of symptoms is a full time job.

Living with chronic illness as an adult child of narcissists is not easy to talk about. Many of us who suffer with it feel pitiful. We’re afraid we’ll be seen as defective, bothersome, and complaining. It’s not enough that we have orphaned and alienated ourselves by cutting ties with our mothers and never having anything to say on the subject, we also have debilitating physical illness that not everyone can relate to. So, we keep it to ourselves and only show up on those days when our pain is tolerable enough to interact with other human beings. We don’t mention that we were on the heating pad all day to spend a couple hours feeling human at a Christmas party. We don’t announce that we will probably be sore the next day from the adrenaline-fueled time we had by being in the company of others. We don’t say anything about the procedure we’re scheduled to have the next week, because it, in all likelihood, will be as ineffective as it has every other time, due to the fact that scar tissue is crowding the area that needs the treatment and getting people’s expectations up is just silly. It just isn’t worth the effort of helping others understand, so it isn’t worth mentioning.

As adult children of narcissists with chronic illness, we don’t want to make people feel badly about our pain. We don’t want to be pitied or preached at. We don’t want to be dismissed by hearing about how someone’s pain was cured with magnets or diet and being told we can live pain-free if only we buy this or do that. We don’t want to feel abnormal or be a burden. We don’t want to be asked how “it” happened or what we did to ourselves, because we have no earthly idea why our discs started rupturing at nineteen and how we ended up with a syndrome that causes widespread pain for no apparent reason by this seemingly imaginary web called fascia. Only those closest to us know our sleepless nights and our days spent in agony, to the degree we are willing to share. We don’t like shining a light on our illness because, no, we don’t love being in pain, and, yes, we would do anything to get better. We realize most people are just trying to be helpful, but it doesn’t make it any easier to explain we’ve tried everything we could think of or afford with it feeling like we haven’t done enough to heal ourselves.

This physical pain is likely caused and compounded by psychological trauma and the messages we received from early childhood development. In fact, when we started to get sick or became debilitated by pain, our childhood caregivers mostly likely used that weakness against us to further shame us or abuse us. The psychological battle of emotional abuse that elevated our heart rates and continually released harmful chemicals into our bodies began to have long-term physical effects that became chronic and life-changing. Our bodies became a living, breathing testament to the abuse we survived and the shame we carry. To talk about our physical pain is to reveal our inner shame, and sometimes, we just don’t have the strength to withstand anything but love, patience, acceptance and empathy from other human beings.about:blankREPORT THIS AD

For a long time, I was ashamed to admit to my own therapist how debilitating my pain is. I was in his office to figure out why my marriage was so tumultuous and the reasons why I cut contact with my own mother, father and sister. I believed I would be thought of as attention-seeking or overly-dramatic if I were to reveal how much my pain affected my life. I was ashamed that not only was I struggling emotionally, relationally, and psychologically, but that I was physically drowning as well. It all seemed too much for any one professional to handle. My physical pain was being addressed by my medical doctors and my psychological pain was being addressed by my psychologist. Depending on the professional I was seeing, my anxiety was due to my pain or my state of mind, never both.

To complicate matters, the healthcare system is broken. After fifteen years of being treated for multiple ruptured discs, complications after surgeries, migraines, Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome it has only recently been suggested I see a pain psychologist and that the healing of my mind may aid in the treatment of my pain. I have been to surgeons, pain clinic doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and bodyworkers. I have undergone every treatment available and tried every exercise, medication, and supplement recommended. I have been misdiagnosed, operated on, tested, injected, poked, prodded, studied, and analyzed and suffer the consequences of each. The most helpful treatments recommended by my pain clinic doctor, such as Myofascial Release and acupuncture are considered holistic and not covered by insurance, making it impossible for someone who can’t work full time to afford. It’s a vicious cycle that seems to lead only to frustration and feeling victimized. Like the Catch 22 of being raised in a narcissistic family, this scenario lends itself to enhancing the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

Some days, my will to get out of bed is nil. Every inch of my body is painful and inflamed, all the time. The 1 to 10 pain scales at the doctors’ offices are confusing to me because I can’t rate a pain that is like a constant ringing in my ears with intermittent spikes throughout the day. The exhaustion I feel just breathing is all-encompassing. I feel let down by my body and disappointed in myself for not being healthy and robust. I feel like a failure who lives in hiding and puts on a mask to present to the world. I sometimes wonder if it’s my pride that keeps me from being vulnerable or if I’m just too damn tired to answer the questions I’ve answered a thousand times before and hear the well-meaning and ill-informed advice I have often received. I worry that I will sound defensive or appear as a victim, so I avoid the uncomfortable exchange altogether. I hate telling my partner that I’m in extra pain because I feel like I am less of a partner when I’m physically weak and emotionally exhausted.

I have come to realize it’s not false humility or unhealthy pride that keeps me from opening myself up. It’s self-preservation. I’m not always strong enough to take on someone else’s opinions or misperceptions and not let them affect me. I can say I don’t care what people think all I want, but I know that I do. It takes practice, and it’s definitely not something I’ve mastered.

As a healing adult child of narcissists, I realize a lot of what I feel has its roots in the internal messages that are replaying inside me. I was taught that seeming blessings and cursings directly correlated with my standing with God — that my suffering was a curse due to the fact I hadn’t learned my lesson about whatever area of life my mother thought I was failing in, and that only by throwing myself on the altar and begging mercy and forgiveness, first from her and then God, could I be healed. And I did. Repeatedly, ritualistically. For years. I filled journals full of lamenting and begging because I was told I was garbage. I wept bitter tears day after day about how sinful and disgusting I was. I went to church and did everything my mother told me to do, chiding myself for the times I would do it begrudgingly then begging God’s forgiveness. I would admit to things my mother wrongly accused me of and take responsibility for things that had nothing to do with me, all in the hope that I was earning extra credit and would be rewarded by being healed.

I have felt like a failure because well-meaning people have told me their success stories and how they were healed by this miracle thing they tried because it backfired or did nothing for me when I tried it. In my eagerness to please everyone else, I fed the lie that I was being punished with chronic pain. So what if someone else is living a pain-free life now since they slept on a magnetized mattress topper and became a vegetarian. In fact, good on them! And, I mean it. Judging myself for not being able to physically heal myself is just perpetuating the abuse I endured for over thirty years. My harsh inner critic is lying to me and I really have no right to listen to it. Stopping the harmful messages begins with identifying them as harmful.

Being present and aware of all that is going on inside of me helps me worry less about what is going on around me so that I can have the space to heal, both physically and mentally. This is what yoga and meditation allow me to do. Together, they make my physical pain more tolerable and help calm my inner self so that the pain and anxiety don’t join forces to keep me locked inside trauma. Most days, lately, my body listens and I can breathe a little

If you are an adult child of a narcissist struggling with chronic illness I highly recommend reading a book called The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. If you are young in your healing from narcissistic abuse, I recommend having your therapist take a look and walk you through it — or at least to give him/her an understanding of what you may be going through. The mind and the body should be treated together so that we can become whole.

Be well, Lovely 


Flashbacks and Breakthroughs as an Adult Daughter of Narcissists

The thing with flashbacks is that you never know what will trigger one, but it can be healing to stay open to the secrets they hold. I have only recently begun experiencing flashbacks. I didn’t know what they were at first, but as I became comfortable sitting with my feelings, I became curious about them and wanted to understand the lessons they had to teach me.


Walking Away from Toxic Relationships

We invest so much into our relationships. Even toxic ones. We give and give of ourselves, we sacrifice our wants and needs for another person. We give them the shirts off our backs, and then we realize they are only taking our love and giving us poison in return. This is what makes the relationship toxic.

It then becomes a choice between our own sanity or maintaining the insanity of the relationship. The home we live in and having to sleep on someone’s couch. Staying put or moving cross-country. Familiarity or the Great Unknown. Financial security or scraping by. Waiting around to be acknowledged for all we are and all we’ve done or acknowledging ourselves and expecting nothing in return but our own freedom.

Whether it’s a narcissistic mother, father, spouse, sibling, in-law, or long-time friend, there will come a time when it is necessary to wash our hands of them and walk away from our investments. The toxic dynamic isn’t just hurting ourselves, it’s permeating throughout all other areas and affecting every aspect. It is stealing from the world around us by sucking the life-force out of us and keeping us from fulfilling our purpose. Once we make the choice to let go of a toxic relationship, it becomes easier to make that choice every time we are called on to do so.

An Evolution of Walking Away from Narcissists

The first time I made a decision to walk away from a toxic relationship was when I went no contact with my mother. My very first human connection was also my very first conscious disconnection. It was a big one, a painful one, and a controversial one but it was the one in which I had the most intimate and intricate knowledge of how deep and real the toxicity was. It had poisoned my life for thirty-three years. It had nearly destroyed my health, self-worth, and my sanity.

I was in therapy and self-educating about the full spectrum of narcissistic personality disorders when I realized my mother was a malignant narcissist and would never be capable of self-awareness or change. She confirmed it when in our last conversation ever, I said I would be willing to work out our differences in the presence of a counselor and she screamed, “THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!” At which point, I had to make a change for myself, my sanity, and my health. I left behind the story of my life. The story that had defined who I was and where I belonged in the world. I left behind the codependent dynamic that would have been a kind of safety net for me in bad times and way of sharing life in the good times. I walked away from any legacy, inheritance, or sense of belonging. I left behind my father and my sister. I walked away from my future children’s grandparents and any hope of being unconditionally loved by a mother and father. It was the best decision I ever made. It caused me to have the space in my head to focus on my marriage which had been tumultuous, to say the least, for all of its three years.

About a year later, I walked away from my marriage. With my therapist, I was able to connect all the ways in which I was drawn to my ex-husband because of his similarities to my mother and father who are both narcissists. I started to understand that my ex-husband’s behavior was triggering my Complex-PTSD symptoms. With every panic attack that caused me to feel like I was losing my mind, I sought answers to what was wrong with me.

By separating from my husband and physically getting away from the toxicity, I realized that, indeed, I was not going insane, my relationship was a crazy-making one, and that my husband was emotionally and psychologically abusive. I made a choice for my own good, for his good, and for the good of his two children to not be a part of the abusive crazy-making any longer. Rather than dragging my husband to therapy and trying to get him to change, I decided to change myself, my location, and my marital status.

As empaths, we can become so focused on reading the other person, that we don’t have any space to be present in our own bodies. When I was able to look inward and sense what I needed, a plan of action became much more clear. I left behind my home, career, a joint bank account, and my life partner with the clothes on my back, the debt I had incurred while supporting him, and my rusted out Chevy Malibu. I borrowed money from a friend to put a deposit down on a rental, and took nothing of my ex-husband’s except his name.

I spent some time out of town, visiting family, and traveling. I started to engage situations in which I felt used or manipulated with a better sense of self. Rather than acquiescing without question or flying off the handle, I started to think, “What is my boundary here? What are my choices as an autonomous human being?” I began to feel less pulled around by my nose, as I had my entire life, and more in control of my feelings, my life, and my choices. It wasn’t my job to tell someone they were overstepping their bounds, it was my job to maintain my own boundaries.

With this newfound sense of self, I came home to file for divorce and move back in with my former roommate. I had been living with her when I got engaged to my ex-husband. I walked back into her house five years later a completely different person than the one who had left. Since I had gotten married, emancipated from my parents, and divorced, I had a stronger sense of myself and a very low tolerance for toxic people. I had become a badass (only in the sense that I wasn’t a complete pushover any longer).

I had been living there about a week, and, in that time, my former roommate tried to gaslight and control me by using manipulation, lying, nitpicking and threats. It quickly dawned on me that our entire relationship had been built on this toxic dynamic. I hadn’t noticed it before, not like this. I knew she was bossy and demanding and left nitpicky post-it notes everywhere, but I didn’t realize that our relationship had only worked because I would jump when she said, “Jump.”

I had become impervious to her narcissism, and this agitated her. By simply maintaining my personal boundaries for a week, she suddenly flew into a narcissistic rage, threw all of my belongings outside and changed the locks while I was away from home. She sent a text telling me what she had done without any explanation as to why. The cops who escorted me into her house stated that I had several grounds on which to sue. I looked her straight in the eye and said, “She isn’t worth it,” and walked out.

Cutting Losses

Toxic people are not worth the energy and resources it would take to get back what they take from us. Whether it’s physical, emotional, or financial, the less contact with a narcissist, the better. Leaving behind the things and emotions that tied us to the narcissist makes room for things of great value; a sense of self-worth, the capacity for real love, and the room to pursue our true passions. Life without a toxic person or the things we left in the past with them is so much more enriching than anything we could have retained.

It’s All About Boundaries

As Adult Children of Narcissists, we never had a chance to develop personal boundaries. I used to tell my therapist, “It’s like I have a sign on my forehead that says, ‘Walk all over me.’” In a way, I did. The fences around my lawn had been removed years before, leaving holes where fence posts should have been, and the muddy footprints from the trampled sod were an open invitation to any and all narcissistic personalities I came in contact with. It isn’t that we are asking to be abused, our lack of boundaries just lets anyone who doesn’t believe in boundaries wander in where other people have deterrents that aren’t worth the narcissist’s trouble.

When we first start placing our boundaries, we’re having to work hard to figure out who’s been trampling our lawns and how to shoo them away when they nonchalantly start climbing the fence to come back in. It may be difficult to fully recognize emotional and psychological abuse as abuse. Once we start making connections and being present in our feelings, it’s like finding clues to whose footprints have done the most damage in our lives. We can then recognize who to enforce those boundaries we are building with, and understand how much energy will need to go into maintaining them Many times, with a narcissist, it will mean packing up and moving to a new homestead altogether.

Hope of Healing

I hope we all find a peaceful place to land in order to heal from our pain. Healing is within our grasp, we only need to take action. Leave the lions, join the empathic herd, and run, gazelle, run to a bigger, brighter future full of love, peace, and happiness.

How have you set boundaries with the narcissist in your life?



Why the Abuse by a Malignant Narcissist Mother is so Insidious

Mothers who are malignant narcissists are the worst kind of narcissists. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The malignant narcissist latches onto to her victims like a cancerous tumor and has a deadly effect. Her narcissism is not only spiteful, malicious, and malevolent, it is dangerous, deadly and incurable. Like a malignant tumor, she is best cut out of one’s life altogether. However, it may be difficult to ascertain if her actions and behavior are abuse. A malignant narcissist mother will couch all of it inside the appearance of being a lovely, caring, and emotionally intelligent human being.

People are easily fooled by her.

Malignant Narcissists are described by Carrie Barron, M.D. as:

 “Intelligent, high functioning, soft-spoken, charming, tearful/seemingly emotional, gracious, well mannered, kind and have the ability to form relationships.”

Living with the toxicity of a malignant narcissist mother is like being slowly poisoned to death. Her daughter will not notice the effects of the poison, because she was nursed on the poison, raised on the poison, sustained by the poison. To her, the poison is Life. She is being slowly killed by the poison. The poison that the malignant narcissist mother feeds her child is the message that the she is unseen, unheard, and unimportant. It is traumatizing to any human being, let alone a child.

Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., author of The Body Keeps the Score says that,

 “Trauma almost invariably involves not being seen, not being mirrored, and not being taken into account.”

Where a nurturing mother responds to her child as a unique individual, helping her learn who she is in the world, a malignant narcissistic mother projects her own fragile, over-inflated ego and self-image onto her child until she elicits the behavior and responses that echo back the things she wants to see and hear about herself . Her child is not an autonomous human being. Her child is an object, born to serve her and her needs. If the mother’s needs are not met by her daughter she can easily cast her aside. She may even neglect or punish her child for trying to express her own needs or desires. Anything about the child that does not serve the mother is obliterated through any means necessary.  From the beginning, the child’s Self is denied. Aborted. Her soul is murdered and her brain and body adapt to living as a puppet in order to survive life with the malignant narcissist. This is all done with the appearance of being a good mother.

The Appearance of Good

The malignant narcissist appears to be a loving and devoted mother to her daughter. She will smother the child with physical affection and flattery to give the appearance of love and trust. Her children will cling to her as though their lives depended on it. This behavior can linger well into teenage years and adulthood. This kind of public display is often so pronounced that people cannot help but comment on what a loving family they seem to be. The mother will use this as proof she is an exceptional mother to her children, and her children will believe it is imperative to keep up the act. This makes the daughter an active participant in the mother’s deception and creates a warped sense of reality.

A malignant narcissist mother can be very religious, having every appearance of being spiritual and pious. The malignant narcissist skillfully uses Christianity as a tool in her abuse. She becomes a kind of god to her own children in the dispensing of arbitrary judgment, punishment, and rules. Scriptures are used as a way of manipulating innocent souls into believing that the whims at which they suffer are decreed by an almighty God and they are powerless to protect themselves. In this way, the malignant narcissist may divert the blame for her daughter’s unhappiness and simultaneously condemn her for being so rebellious against the Lord, the Church, and her parental authority. The mother will subject her children to lengthy and circular monologues that serve as a way of striking fear into her victims. The fear this induces in her daughter is very effective spiritual abuse designed to manipulate her daughter into compliance.

The malignant narcissist can appear to be best friends with her daughter, especially as she enters her teen years. This is a way the mother can have access to controlling her daughter’s relationships and influencing her life choices at a time when she ought to be learning to be independent. The mother and daughter will be enmeshed and codependent under the guise of having a loving mother/daughter relationship and the daughter will struggle with her own identity at a very crucial developmental stage.

Behind the Mask

The malignant narcissist mother utilizes mind games, control, isolation, spying, shaming, name-calling, rage, even the infamous “look”, something she uses with great skill and stealth, to keep her children in line. She keeps her offspring so uncertain of her approval and their own reality that they cannot help but cling to the belief that they are on this earth to make Mama happy. The children who fear abandonment and ridicule quickly learn to fall in line with the erratic behavior and demands of the malignant narcissist.

Any daughter who threatens to tarnish the malignant narcissist mother’s public image by asserting herself, speaking her truth, or trying to escape the abuse is treated as an outcast and her name is smeared to family and friends. Her mother will use triangulation to threaten and bully her into submission. She will start a smear campaign and claim the daughter is victimizing her. Her daughter will feel that there is no area in her life that her mother cannot reach into and destroy, and she will feel there is no escape.

Any spouse of the narcissist who does not enable the malignant narcissist mother in her abuse of his children is smeared to her children and/or banished from her life. This also serves to cut her daughter off from any moral support system that may help her become independent in life. Whether she is psychologically bullied into despising her own father or physically removed from his presence, it is effective enough to prevent any real bond with a parent who can be of help to her. Whether a malignant narcissist mother remains married to her children’s father or not, she will use triangulation and smear campaigns to create distrust between her children and their father.

When a malignant narcissist mother gets divorced it adds another layer of separation, confusion and stress into the family dynamic. Experienced Arizona divorce attorney Chris Hildebrand notes:

“Kids are not only stressed by the family breakup, they are actively solicited to take the narcissist’s side and manipulated by them in ways that will tear them apart.”

The courtroom is just another stage on which the malignant narcissist can perform her martyrdom act, and judges are just as susceptible to being fooled as anyone else. She will be ruthless in her pursuit of her own interests. Her children will simply be pawns used to further her own agenda. Divorce attorney Chris Hildebrand explains she does this because,

“In order to maintain the grandiose and inflated personality he or she has created, your narcissist spouse will go into the divorce court intending to win all issues at all costs.”

This can mean winning full custody, child support, and other financial benefit while maintaining control of the narrative to her friends, family, and offspring to appear as the innocent martyr and savior. This control over the narrative allows for further manipulation of the children and their father for as long as she has influence over them. This can last for as long as she has custody, or well into her daughter’s adult years. Many adult daughters of malignant narcissists are horrified to discover they had believed lies about their estranged fathers for decades, only to find that he too had been lied to and manipulated into staying away.

The malignant narcissist mother is paranoid and wary of anyone who might see through her act. She will only keep friends and lovers who are not capable of seeing her for who she really is. She will prey on those who seem weaker than her. Her relationships will be shallow with an obvious imbalance of power in her favor. The malignant narcissist will surround herself with compliant and naive individuals who will worship the ground she walks on and never set boundaries with her. She will easily write people off as “bad” for seemingly unknown reasons if they do try to set personal boundaries. Because the malignant narcissist is constantly changing alliances, judging others harshly, and presenting herself as superior to all her peers, her daughter can become wary of trusting anyone. The daughter is solely focused on ascertaining the moods and erratic desires of her mother.

The malignant narcissist will see her daughter as competition as she grows older and she will unleash a fresh, unholy hell that involves living vicariously through her and stealing her identity. Her mother will isolate her from friends, control her relationships, and flirt with her romantic interests. She will compete for the attention and affection of her daughter’s peers and think nothing of sabotaging her relationships. She will try to prove her attractiveness and sexual prowess to her daughter so there is no mistaking that she is superior to her daughter. She will act jealous as she faces the reality that her daughter is growing in attractiveness and maturity and will soon surpass her in desirability due to her youth. She will oversexualize her daughter while shaming her about sex and relationships. The daughter will struggle with body image and her own budding sexuality. She may even suppress her own desires and development in order to protect herself from her mother’s scorn.

A daughter may be used as a source of income as she nears adulthood. A malignant narcissist will go so far as taking her daughter’s savings, stealing her daughter’s social security number to start a new line of credit and abuse it, or guilting her into staying close to home to help support her financially and emotionally. The daughter can feel helpless to support herself financially or emotionally and remove herself from her mother’s grip. Her mother has taken credit for her accomplishments so that she feels impotent to achieve anything on her own. Her mother will readily use sabotage to prevent her from following her own life path.

The Physical Symptoms of Psychological Abuse By a Malignant Narcissist

The children of a malignant narcissist feel trapped in a world that is frightening to them while having to act as though all is well. Protecting the malignant narcissist by keeping secrets becomes a way of life. Living a lie in order to survive can cause a child to split from her own Self, and can lead to feeling dissociated, disconnected, alienated, and ashamed for a lifetime. We feel uncertain of ourselves, even in a world of self-deprecating vulnerability. Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D., author of The Body Keeps the Score states:

“As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself…The critical issue is allowing yourself to know what you know. That takes an enormous amount of courage.”

The emotional and psychological abuse by a malignant narcissist can have lasting and devastating physical effects on her daughter as well. Dr. van der Kolk has done extensive research and study on trauma-related health issues and explains what happens with trauma victims:

 “Ideally our stress hormone system should provide a lightning-fast response to threat, but then quickly return us to equilibrium. In PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) patients, however, the stress hormone system fails at this balancing act. Flight/fight/freeze signals continue after the danger is over. . . . Instead, the continued secretion of stress hormones is expressed as agitation and panic and, in the long term, wreaks havoc with their health.”

The psychological war-zone a malignant narcissist mother creates will make her daughter hypervigilant and hyper-alert, causing her to live in a state of continuous elevated cortisol levels. This will manifest itself physically and cause the daughter to develop autoimmune disorders, chronic widespread pain, back pain, stomach problems and signs of post-traumatic stress, such as panic attacks, insomnia, nightmares, and migraines. She will struggle with depression and anxiety to the point of wondering if her life is worth living. Those of us raised by malignant narcissists will struggle with Complex-PTSD, a term coined for people exposed to prolonged periods of trauma. Many of these symptoms and conditions will last throughout the daughter’s life if unaddressed psychologically, as well as medically.

The daughter of a malignant narcissist mother may also act out in ways she cannot understand or explain with risk-taking behaviors that give her a shot of dopamine to ease the effects of her high anxiety. She may develop an eating disorder or an addiction. She may turn to shoplifting or sexual promiscuity. These things give her a temporary sense of control, a means of escape; a feeling of relief in the moment that will only serve to further erode her sense of self worth and affect her well-being.

Narcissistic abuse can become the legacy of a daughter of a malignant narcissist. She may desperately look for a rescuer and fall into the arms of a narcissistic partner. She may be subjected to further abuse and feed the idea that the world is out to get her. Through learned behavior and her own narcissistic injury, she may not have psychologically developed past fourteen years of age and could become narcissistically abusive as well. The cycle of narcissistic abuse will then continue from generation to generation.

Narcissist Abuse Awareness

The malignant narcissist mother is able to thrive because of society’s view that motherhood is equal to sainthood and that loyalty to family is King. These widely peddled beliefs serve to further victimize innocent souls who are being forced to live a tortured existence with no hope of escape. A mother does not deserve respect simply by virtue of giving birth. She deserves respect when she has earned respect by valuing human life and nurturing her offspring, as nature intended, so that they have all they need to thrive in this life.

When a mother abuses her power for her own gain and leaves her child psychologically, emotionally, and physically maimed. She is no better than a child molester or rapist. Her children who are her victims do not owe her their loyalty. They owe themselves a chance to heal. Any daughter courageous enough to become self-aware, emancipate from her abusive mother, and do the work to heal from her abuse should be applauded by society. Narcissistic abuse stops with US. We can overcome as we become self aware, take responsibility for our healing, and speak our TRUTH to lead the way for other abuse survivors.

Run, gazelle, run

There is hope for us as the daughters of a malignant narcissist mothers. The legacy of narcissistic abuse can end with US and we can HEAL from the past. There are thousands who have suffered this type of abuse and there are so many resources available to help in the process of healing from malignant narcissistic abuse. The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are normal, but we are neither hopeless or helpless. We are survivors who deserve to thrive in this life. We can find a therapist or counselor who specializes in working with daughters of narcissistic mothers. Reach out to other survivors. Join an online support group for daughters of narcissistic mothers. Ask someone for advice on where to start. Find the courage to break free of our malignant narcissist mothers and begin the path of healing in a toxic-free environment.

We regain our power as we start to own and speak our truth.

You were born for a purpose and you are worth fighting for. Be encouraged to run, gazelle, run to the hope of a better future.

Feel free to comment on this post if you have a story to share with others about your narcissistic mother. Email me for questions or suggestions on the topic of narcissistic abuse, or to share your story, privately. If you would like to share your story with the world, anonymously, please inquire in the Contact section of this site. I would love to hear from you and I’m so glad you stopped by, today! 


Becoming Self-aware as an Adult Child of Narcissists

As Adult Children of Narcissists we tend to struggle with with self-awareness and relationship issues well into adulthood. We have been victims of prolonged abuse. That has a lasting impact on us for which we are now responsible as adults who are invested in becoming self-aware and seeking healing. As an ACoN, myself, I have struggled with many traits that make life difficult.

I was raised by a mother who has every malignant narcissistic trait listed and a father who is enabling and covertly narcissistic. The important thing to remember as a victim of narcissistic abuse is that it wasn’t ever your fault.

Also, you have the power to take your life back. You have survived an insidious kind of abuse, and you have the strength and ability to find healing from that abuse.

These are some of the areas in which I have struggled as I seek to become self-aware in order to learn how to heal and become whole:

Hyper Criticism

For the first thirty years of my life, I tended to be hyper-critical, not only of myself, but, of others. I acted like I was better than everyone else. I projected onto others all that was projected onto me by my mother. It became very easy to pass the buck and unburden the weight of her scorn onto the people around me.

If my mother suggested I looked like a hooker because I had a knee-length skirt on, my reaction would be to point out how slutty another girl looked at church. By comparison, I looked pretty good by lunchtime. It was a very kill or be killed mentality in my family of origin that stole decades of my life.

I was the worst version of myself. I was codependent, indecisive, secretive, and manipulative. I learned, quite skillfully, to play the narcissistic system.


I could be manipulative. Not in a diabolical way. In the way that a kidnapped victim will try to win over her captor in order to survive. I had Stockholm Syndrome. But it became a life skill that I just couldn’t justify using any longer. I would request permission to do something by highlighting the elements of the outing that most appealed to my mother, talk disparagingly about the individual I would be spending time with, and make sure my mother’s ego was boosted. I would talk about everything, except the real reason I wanted to go out, because if I were requesting to do something that made me happy, she would sabotage it. And, since I needed her permission about every single thing I ever did until I was thirty years old, it was second nature to me.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Passive-aggression is also a learned form of manipulation I struggle with. Because my narcissistic mother could not handle my feelings, I learned to express how I felt about things in an indirect way. I learned to take the most indirect route to what I wanted. I was reactive instead of proactive, I was vague instead of direct.

And it still plays out today. My boyfriend is very direct and literal, similar to someone with Autism, and I often hear, “What are you actually trying to say?” At which point, I have to stop talking and figure out what it is I’m really wanting from the exchange and then state it in a very direct way.

Sometimes, I don’t even know what my true desired destination is when I start feeling my way through a conversation. I feel as though it is selfish of me to have a desire, need, or want and make a request for it. In actuality, it’s selfish to place my passive-aggressive behavior on someone’s shoulders and expect them to decipher those hieroglyphics and tell me what I must be wanting. But I don’t beat myself up over it, because I can’t really help that default setting. I just try to approach it in a healthier way now.


I have such a strange relationship with restaurants and restaurant menus. I often say, “Oh, I’m not picky,” or “I’ll have what he’s having.” When my boyfriend asks me what I want to drink, he adds, “What do YOU really want?” and then high fives me for choosing the whiskey over the beer. It may seem silly and condescending, but it isn’t. It’s a necessary part of life that I’m still learning because my narcissistic mother gaslighted, sabotaged, manipulated, and controlled me into believing that I could not make sound decisions for myself, even the tiniest decisions.

It’s why I lived in her home until I was thirty. I truly believed that I would utterly fail if I made one decision for myself. This was how she kept me as her captive. She sowed the seed of self-doubt into every interaction with me. At times, making the simplest decision can trigger a panic attack.

I’ve since learned to stop, breathe, consider what it is I really want, and then state it as succinctly as possible. Without hemming and hawing, without backtracking or apologizing. The more I do it this way, the better I get.


I crawl deep inside my head when something traumatic is happening, and I see and hear everything as though I am watching myself from outside myself. I also freeze when fight or flight response is triggered in me. This could mean literally freezing my movements or just going into “do something” mode. I help the nearest person without a thought to how I’m feeling or affected, I start organizing my sock drawer to zero in on anything other than what I’m feeling in the moment.

To remove myself from my body was the best way put some distance between the real me and my narcissistic mother for thirty years. The shell of myself was the one getting the brunt of the violent rage, insults, and false accusations, not my true self. It served me well for most of my life, but it cannot serve me well in any current scenario.


I was a pessimist. And I was funny. I used sarcasm and dry humor to deflect attention from myself or what was really going on with me. I developed a public persona that seemed to not have a care in the world and had the ability to laugh everything off and get everyone else to laugh everything off.

I still resort to that at times. To feel my own feelings and to outwardly portray them was impossible for me for the first thirty years of life. I know, now, that was my way of never letting my mother see me genuinely joyful or hopeful in order to protect me from her scorn, criticism, and sabotaging. But, I died a little inside every time I hid my true self.


Living with narcissistic parents caused me to be a very defensive person. And, because I couldn’t defend myself against their false accusations or stand up for the real reasons why I did something I wanted to do, I deflected. It was always someone, or something, else’s fault.

I cannot express how damaging this is. Not being able to own my reality caused me to feel absolutely powerless to live any semblance of a normal adult life. I am learning to take my power back by owning my choices, good, bad, or indifferent. To be proactive instead of reactive, and to be confident that my own conscience can guide me through life to make healthy choices.

Trauma Bonding Addiction

Since going no contact with my narcissistic mother, I have walked away from multiple toxic relationships. I had unknowingly married an emotionally avoidant, sometimes emotionally abusive man, when I was thirty, and, like many of us ACoNs do, I was subconsciously trying to repair the relationships with my parents by repeating that relational pattern with my husband. 

I was behaving as a wounded animal in my marriage and I felt crazy. It actually gave my ex husband pleasure to see me so upset. He would throw his head back a laugh when I was distraught or angry.

He seemed to thrive when I seemed mentally and emotionally unstable. The day I left him almost three years ago was the day I stopped feeling like I needed to check myself into a psychiatric hospital.

Since then, I have let go of some very toxic relationships. As I let these relationships go, I realized I had attracted people with narcissistic traits because I felt like I deserved it.

The more someone tried to dominate me, insult me, and manipulate me, the more I felt I needed to try and please them. Once I realized I was gravitating toward these types of relationships, I also learned why, and am learning the skills necessary to not get entangled with toxic people.


When I  left my mother’s home and entered into my marriage, I had a lot of rage. Being married to my ex triggered a lot of old wounds for me and I would fly into a rage when he treated me in a way my mother had treated me.  I was suffering from my first bouts of C-PTSD.

Once I left, I realized all the things that should have been red flags to me I was seeing as signs that I was supposed to be with that person at the time. I was convinced I could heal him and the relationship.

But all it did was bring up such deeply buried rage for the thirty years I was in that type of relationship. I still feel that familiar bristling when I sense that dynamic with another individual and I am learning to recognize the things that trigger my symptoms and to slow down or remove myself from the situation.

Reacting to a narcissistic person is the worst thing a victim can do, because it will send us careening down a slope of self-doubt, shame, and becoming a source of supply. I am learning to be angry about what the toxic person is doing, but harness that anger into doing something constructive to remove myself from being under their influence.

Trustful Distrust

I don’t know about you, but I can easily open up to strangers, and they easily open up to me. We form a fast bond and then the deeper the relationship gets, I start to distrust it. I’m desperate for open and honest connection, but closer connection also means great potential for getting hurt.

I find that I’m learning to be okay with being a bit more reserved until I understand if I can truly trust someone. It is a difficult balance to strike that I think will come with time, more healing, and being more confident in myself. We need people in our lives, but we shouldn’t need people who aren’t good to us and for us.


I have had so much shame associated with my C-PTSD symptoms and recognizing the ways in which I survived my relationship with my narcissistic mother. I sometimes sound like her and I shrink back in horror at looking like the monster from whom I’ve worked so hard to escape. It is frightening and isolating.

I have learned to forgive myself, ask for forgiveness from others and try to be more mindful moving forward. It would be easy to blame all of this on my mother and just be angry and hyper-sensitive for the rest of my life in order to avoid the feeling of shame. But it would make my life a lot harder in the long run. Becoming self aware is an uncomfortable feeling, but it only lasts a short while.

Healing from narcissistic abuse is nothing to be ashamed of.

Finding Healing as an ACoN

The best thing we can do as ACoNs is strive to be self-aware. To know ourselves. To be the best versions of ourselves we can be. To discover the people we were born to be before we were tampered with in such a destructive way. Our narcissistic parents will have to live with what their lives have come to because of what they have done, but we do not have to continue to live with what they have done. We can break free and learn to heal.

Our parents were unable to love us because they could not love themselves. They could not love themselves, because they could not know themselves. They are incapable of becoming self-aware.

We can give ourselves the love our narcissistic parents were never able to give us by first knowing ourselves and accepting ourselves. It is here that we find the space for renewal, growth, and grace to love ourselves in a way we never were by our parents. It is here where we begin to heal.

If you are starting out on this journey of breaking free of a narcissistic parent, I strongly suggest finding a counselor or psychologist or coach who specializes in narcissistic abuse. It is so important to have emotional support as we delve into the journey of healing from narcissistic abuse.

I know I would never have survived the precarious nature of this journey without my therapist who has an innate understanding of my childhood wounds and the wounds I sustained well into adulthood. Living in psychological bondage was hell, and the journey to freedom and healing is proving to be far better than I could have ever imagined.

There are so many of us ACoNs roaming this earth, and I hope you’ve found this to be a place where you feel less alone and less frightened. You are not alone in your journey. You are not alone, period. Sharing our stories can be so powerful and freeing, and I encourage you to share yours in an environment that feels right to you. Leave a comment below or feel free to contact me if you too are learning to overcome narcissistic abuse by one, or both, parent(s). I would love to hear from you, and you are always welcome! Find your tribe, join the herd, and run, gazelle, run to wholeness, happiness, and freedom.


Narcissistic Abuse and Anxiety

The world we live in is full of stressors.

Finances, relationships, kids, jobs, school, rush hour traffic. It can all be a little too much to handle at times. For everyone.

Handling all of it with the internal voice of your narcissistic mother telling you you’re a fake, a nobody, a whore, and the reason for everyone’s problems, simply by being alive and speaking your truth is another kind of stress altogether.

It kind of feels like you just won’t be able to get anything right.

It’s a hopeless and helpless feeling.

Anyone raised by a narcissistic mother could be struggling with confidence, anxiety, decision-making, over-thinking, unreasonable expectations, self-doubt, dissociation, hypersensitivity, and depression. In some ways, the relationship with the narcissist was what anchored us to the earth during crucial stages of our development. We knew the rules of engagement in that world. Now, we go forth certain that the narcissist was bad for us, yet uncertain about what is good for us. Adapting to a narcissistic mother’s world strips a person bare of her sense of self. With no sense of self there is no solid ground and the world feels like a very scary place.

I feel it today. And it sucks. It’s like my skin is fighting to hold in the boundless energy of my heart and head. It’s exhausting. I feel alert and ready to bound while being held down by an unseen force. I’m too awake to just sleep it off, and too fatigued to do everything on my To Do list. I feel trapped.

For the thirty years I was in my mother’s home, sleep was my only escape. Drifting off into a dreamless oblivion was truly my only respite from being falsely accused or bulldozed. I was trapped within a toxic system that prevented me from moving freely on this earth. I was paralyzed by fear. Of rejection. Of abandonment. Of hellfire. Making one wrong move could do my life and my very soul in. My sleeping body was never at risk of screwing up. Sleep was my safe place.

It’s easy to see why I feel like lying down and closing my eyes whenever I feel panicked. But the source of my panic is only an echo of my past. It only takes a situation or individual to remind me of my mother, and I feel threatened. It’s been over four years since I’ve seen my mother, but my fear of her is ever-present. The anxiety and fatigue sometimes hit me out of the blue, and it’s not as simple as changing my outlook or putting my mind to something. It’s about learning new ways to process the old pain that feels so present.

When you or I feel like we are trudging through the muck and mire, we can choose to do these simple things in our exhaustion and grief.

Pause for a Moment

Just stop. Wherever you are take a moment to pause what you’re doing, close your eyes and just breathe. Feel your body and focus on your breath. One thing I like to do is imagine I’m a tree; sitting tall, deeply rooted. As I breathe in, I imagine my head and hair reaching for the sky like branches, and as I breathe out, I breathe down through my spine and legs which are rooted deep in the ground.

Let’s do it for three breaths…

We’re still alive. The world didn’t implode. We have all we need to keep going in this moment. We’ve done well.

Accept Yourself

As you pause from your breathing, consider yourself. Accept who you are, today. Right now. It’s tempting to want to zone out or crawl back into bed and pretend this day never happened. But, that feeds the old lie that there is something wrong with you and how you feel right now. There isn’t. So, embrace it. Tell yourself, “This is my mind and body’s way of healing, and I am getting better every day.”

Don’t check out of your life today in the hope that tomorrow will be better, because you will miss out on all today has to offer. You will postpone the important work your body is doing to help you heal. Focus on the feelings you feel. Pushing them away will only cause your inner voice to talk negatively to yourself, about yourself. That will not serve you. It will harm you. Be kind to yourself. It’s perfectly okay you feel this way.

Find a safe place to land and just be.

If you’re curled up in bed, hug yourself and give yourself permission to feel all the exhaustion, all the fear, all the sadness, all the uncertainty. Call each one by name. Look each one in the face. They aren’t so big and scary as they seem when your eyes are clamped shut as you try to mentally escape them.

If you are moving through your day at work disconnected and panicked, look at your feelings. Accept them as part of your healing process and welcome them into your day. You don’t have to push them aside. You don’t have to pretend they aren’t with you. They are there for a reason, and you can approach them differently than you have in the past.

Be Patient with Yourself

Don’t judge yourself on your progress. This is not a race. This is not a contest. You don’t need to be any further along in your healing process than you are right this minute. Don’t rush your process. It was designed for you, by you. Your mind and your body are the same mind and body that helped you survive narcissistic abuse. It knows just what to do as you continue to heal from it as well.

Be compassionate toward yourself and allow yourself to be present in your work as you feel anxious or sad or confused. When a genuine soul asks you if you’re okay, tell them what you are struggling with. Saying it outloud can sometimes take its power away. Having emotional support from someone who cares can be extremely beneficial for you and them.

This is not a setback You are exactly where you need to be.

Be Proud of your Progress

Look back to a year ago. In what ways has your life changed for the better?

Look back over the last seven years. Have you taken steps and made strides you never imagined you could?

I daresay, a lot of things have changed and you have grown a lot as a person.

Be proud of what you have accomplished today. Even if it’s one small thing. Whether you made tea, did ten minutes of yoga, or walked the dog, you’ve accomplished something that you were pretty sure you couldn’t today. Enjoy your tea, breathe deeply, and look into your pup’s soulful eyes. A little ritual done with mindfulness can make a huge difference. If that is all you do today, that is enough. You are enough. Live in it. Observe it. Be proud of it.

Tomorrow will be here before you know it, don’t let today disappear without purpose. Don’t dismiss it. Mark this day as progress in your healing. Cry during old movies with abandon, take that long walk without guilt, text a friend that you need their emotional support without shame, be present in your duties at work without feeling like you need to be fake. You are doing great.

Anxiety is Normal

Anxiety and depression after narcissistic abuse is very normal and very common. It can manifest itself in different ways as we break away from toxic relationships. It can look more like the symptoms of PTSD and be completely foreign to us at the onset. Anxiety, rage, and depression are our bodies’ ways of telling us to pay attention, to ‘look here’, to be curious. This is how we learn. This is how we grow. This is how we heal.

I’m feeling better, now, after facing down my demons. I’m proud of myself for doing yoga and meditating and getting some writing done. It’s not everything I had on my list, but it’s more than I would have imagined I could do. I paused, I breathed, I imagined, I exercised, I made coffee, and I’m writing to remind us all we can bound freely over the craigy mountainsides of healing from narcissistic abuse.