It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Triangulation—the narcissist’s secret weapon

Triangulation” can be defined as indirect communication where one person acts as messenger between two others, often times altering or fabricating the message to suit the tale bearer’s objective. Triangulation is a common tool of the narcissist and it goes hand in glove with “gaslighting” (previous entry) and “projection” (next entry).

In the psychology of dysfunctional families, triangulation may take two forms: “[It] is most commonly used to express a situation in which one family member will not communicate directly with another family member, but will communicate with a third family member, forcing the third family member to then be part of the triangle.

“Triangulation can also be used as a label for a form of “splitting” in which one person plays the third family member against one that he or she is upset about. This is playing the two people against each other, but usually the person doing the splitting, will also engage in character assassination…”

Splitting and narcissistic personality disorder: “People who are diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder also use splitting as a central defense mechanism. They do this to preserve their self-esteem, by seeing the self as purely good and the others as purely bad. The use of splitting also implies the use of other defense mechanisms, namely devaluation, idealization and denial.”

Narcissists tend to use both forms of triangulation, sometimes virtually simultaneously. I have a friend—I’ll call her Sandra—who has a malignant narcissist for a mother, a woman so warped and evil, she would give my own a run for the money. Unlike lucky me, however, whose MNM has been dead for nearly 15 years, Sandra’s predatory NM continues to live and torment her. Not everyone in Sandra’s FOO is under the MN’s spell, however, so Sandra has some family support. Sandra’s brother regularly gets letters from their mother outlining how horrible Sandra is and going into great detail about Sandra’s terrible behaviour. Like my MNM, Sandra’s mother will take a tiny grain of truth and build on it, massage it, and twist it to give it new meaning. The brother then calls Sandra and reports the content of the letter to her, sometimes even forwarding the letter on to Sandra. Through these letters, Sandra knows that her NM assassinates her character with other family members through the same splitting technique: uncles, aunts, cousins and even Sandra’s sister, receive similar messages about her. One might be tempted to suggest to the brother that he relinquish his part in the triangle and keep the letters to himself, but then Sandra would not be aware of what her MNM is up to…and since the woman has made threats to have Sandra arrested on trumped up charges, it is in Sandra’s own best interests to know what bee is currently in her MNM’s bonnet.

One of the things that makes triangulation works is the human tendency towards “confirmation bias.” This is a subconscious mechanism that we all have and, unless we are actively aware of it and take steps to control it, we can easily fall prey to it. “Confirmation bias” is our tendency to believe things that support what we already believe (or that which we heard first) coupled with a tendency to discount things that do not support our existing beliefs. “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts,” might be the motto of the person with an active case of confirmation bias going on.

It is very hard to dislodge a person who has made up his/her mind—if they listen to information that is contrary to their existing beliefs and give them credence, they may have to admit they are wrong. Even if their own observations go contrary to their belief, some people will simply discount their observations; they may believe it an anomaly or even an intentional effort to fool them. Whatever they do to discount their observations…or yours…you can be sure that getting them to change their minds is a uphill battle that may never be won.

On the other hand, even when you have a confirmation bias going, if you are bombarded with enough contrary information for a long enough period of time, especially if you seldom have an opportunity to make observations that shore up your own bias—and most especially if a few things happen that seem to support the contrary information—most of us will eventually begin to subconsciously shift our opinions. Confirmation bias is what allows otherwise sensible, intelligent people to disbelieve a truth that may well be obvious to the rest of us.

Indoctrination plays a part in confirmation bias, as does “cognitive dissonance,” which is “the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, [or first-hand observation] something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.” So, if you are indoctrinated over a period of years to believe that your Uncle Bob is an evil man who cannot be trusted, yet your observations of Uncle Bob is that he is a kind-hearted man who goes out of his way to help others, you may experience cognitive dissonance with regard to him. Since few people tolerate cognitive dissonance well, we are motivated to “settle” the matter by choosing one or the other: Uncle Bob is good and the people who have been telling you otherwise have been lying or those people are right and Uncle Bob is someone to be wary of. Confirmation bias will lean you towards Uncle Bob being a bad actor and a little critical thinking may push you further in that direction: why, after all, would these people lie about Uncle Bob? What’s in it for them? And, since you cannot come up with a single good reason that these good people would lie about him, they must be correct, right?

In a normal family primarily peopled with normal people, this deduction would be largely accurate. In the dysfunctional family, particularly a family driven by a narcissist, the deduction based on how normal people think and feel will be largely inaccurate, simply because the narcissist does things the rest of us would never do—like damage Uncle Bob’s reputation out of spite or as an exercise in the narcissist’s power. You think all of those people saying bad things about Uncle Bob cannot be wrong? Actually, they can—it takes only one narcissist feeding ugly misinformation and accusations about Bob to a lot of people over an extended period of time for people, especially those who do not see Bob often, to become indoctrinated to the idea that Bob is bad news. Those who have no frame of reference will uncritically accept the information they receive as truth because, after all, why would anyone lie about this stuff?

Sometimes the triangulation takes the form of “he said/she said” dramas with the narcissist in the middle, controlling the flow of information. Some people will stir up strife between others to take attention off themselves, as an exercise in power, or simply to entertain themselves. Think “mean girls” in school who play people off against each other, meanwhile keeping their own skirts clean. Suzie tells Mary that she saw Jenny flirting with her boyfriend, which makes Mary mad at Jenny and causes her to say some rude things about Jenny’s character. Susie may then tells Jenny that Mary is mad at her and even repeats some of the things Mary said, causing the antipathy to flow in both directions. In the unlikely event that Mary and Jenny stop shouting at each other long enough to compare notes and then jointly confront Suzie, Suzie can feign surprise and claim that she did see what looked like a flirtation to her and those ugly words were spoken. Neither of her victims will have a defense against her claims and the conflict may well resume, providing Suzie with endless entertainment.

Narcissists, however, seem to favour the “splitting” form of triangulation, a circumstance in which the victim is denigrated to others, often for extended periods of time, in order to make the victim to look bad in the eyes of many. Why would anyone do that? Because it is an essential first step to demonize someone, to divide and conquer, to set the stage for the narcissist’s acquisition of Nsupply.

In narcissistic households it is common for one (or more) child(ren) to be designated as a scapegoat. There does not need to be a triggering event to identify the child, although such “sins” as being a colicky baby or even a child demanding attention at a time the narcissistic mother is disinclined to provide it, may make the NM select one child over another. In my case, my NM once informed me that nobody had told her that a baby was not like a doll that you could “just put up on the closet shelf when you were tired of playing with her.” Add to the fact that I was colicky, had eczema from my earliest months, and had the audacity to get dirty when she set me out to play in a dirt chicken yard wearing starched and painstakingly ironed embroidered and pin-tucked white cotton batiste baby dresses like the one show here and—well—it seemed my fate was sealed. I was a lot more work than she bargained for and every need that had to be filled on my timetable instead of hers was an imposition. I was a disappointment, not at all what she wanted or expected, but she couldn’t take me back to the store for a refund. I was not the endless source of adoration she had expected, and so, since I would not provide her with the Nsupply she wanted, NM found another way to get it: by declaring me “bad” and difficult and (as I got older) manipulative and contrary, she got Nsupply in the form of sympathy from people. “Poor Georgia, saddled with that intractable child! How wonderful, how brave she is to be able to deal with her and keep cheerful and positive!”

By the time I reached my teens, I was virtually evil incarnate in the eyes of my NM. I was regularly blindsided by accusations of behaviours and motives that had quite literally never crossed my mind. Such things left me confused and often tearful, for I felt unjustly accused and was not permitted to speak in my defense: anything I said was labelled excuses or lies. On a weekend visit to my father’s I managed to find some time alone with him (I didn’t dare speak my mind in front of my brother, who was already well-groomed as a spy) and poured out my heart particularly about my NM’s accusations of things that I had never even thought of. “She’s assuming you are like her,” my father told me. “These are things she would do, reasons she would have, stuff she would think. It really has nothing to do with you—she doesn’t even see you, she sees what she would have done or thought or said.” My first clue about projection and how the narcissist incorporates it into her dealings.

But, of course, my father knew me…he had spent years living with and observing me at the same time NM was writing those letters back to her family telling them how awful I was. Their own brief observations of me, observations in which I was a rather withdrawn, fearful child (I once refused to “help” my grandmother make mud pies because my mother would be angry if I got dirty—despite the fact that my mother was 1000+ miles away) were offset by more than a decade of indoctrination and triangulating. According to NM, I had not been incarcerated by the juvenile court as “incorrigible” because I had “charmed” the judge; and even though the truth was that I had never even seen the judge and I was not sent to reform school for the simple reason that I had never been in any kind of trouble either at school or with the law. NM pronounced me a “liar” when I told that truth—and nobody believed me. Why, after all, would she lie about her own child that way?

Triangulation depends on one person sitting in the middle controlling information flow between others. The person in the middle is the arbiter of information: she tells people what she wants them to hear and often does her level best to prevent the others from talking to each other and comparing notes. She channels information between parties, removing stuff she doesn’t like, twisting—or even outright fabricating—information that will tend to cause her “correspondents” either take the bait and form opinions that mirror her own or be kept in the dark as to what is really going on. A narcissist’s motives for triangulating those around her are as varied as the narcissists themselves—some do it for power and entertainment, others do it to make others look bad so they can look good by comparison, others may be exacting a spiteful “payback” or retaliation for some real or imagined wrong.

But the legacy of being the victim in narcissist’s triangulation scheme can be long lived—it may even live longer than the narcissist herself. Nearly fifteen years after my MNM’s death and more than thirty years after her treachery in stealing my children and giving them to her brother for adoption was revealed, there are still family members who shun me, who believe the truth is an elaborate lie designed to discredit NM. “Why,” they ask, “Why would a mother say such awful things about her own daughter if they weren’t true?”

Why, indeed?

Next up: Projection


  1. Terrific post. My mother loves triangulation. She had my brother convinced I tried to kill him as a kid. Lord knows what else she's said. My big mistake was avoiding her so much that I didn't realize most of the bullshit she made up about me. And then I was dumb enough to think I maybe had done or said the things she accused me of because even I couldn't comprehend why a mother would say such a thing about her child if it weren't true.

    I got called contrary all the time too. Confused the hell out of me because I felt I couldn't respond "no I'm not" without proving to them I was contrary.

    I'm glad your dad really saw who you were and clued you in on projection. It's too bad he didn't get to have you 100% of the time.

    1. I had to comment because nowhere have I heard this same story. My malignant narcissistic mother also had everyone convinced that I tried to kill my NPD brother (actually diagnosed in his early 40's) when he was a baby and I was 3 years old. That was circulating around forever and no one challenged it, not even me. Not until I learned in therapy who my mother really was. I would bet now that it was another one of her lies. She probably wanted to kill him and just projected it on to me, as usual. Over the years her "divide and conquer" has taken a toll on all relationships in our FOO. She has used splitting so often that my brothers and me have no relationship at all. They believe all of her lies. After a period of 12 years, we all got back together again for one last Christmas. Two weeks later my stepfather died unexpectedly at my house. It was something that he always wanted to have happen (x-mas) and I was eager to see my brothers. My MNM has once again created a drama that has forced NC. There is no peace with evil.

    2. I just had to reply as I too haven't been able to get this off my chest until recently. Despite my brother being a GC my mother (occasionally my brother brings it up also) Brings up stories of how I tried to kill my brother when he was a baby. Disturbingly I remember doing that. Why I will never understand the point being of this comment is that I always wondered why he seemed to hate me, that or really dislike me. I was over the moon when he was born and wanted to protect him but what happened is as a toddler I gave him cushions when he was in his cot. when my mother claimed i was trying kill him. True I overdid it with the cushions and I habitually slept walked back then. Waking up frequently in an act. Had I been just a little older I would have been horrified of what I had done.

      Another story she likes to bring up is that I tried to kill him with my dirty hands because my parents insisted that I played with poo and didn't wash my hands. Though back then in school it was quite frequent that my teacher practically forced kids to hold hands (like group activities such as forming a circle. I was almost compulsive with washing my hands. (Why wouldn't I be my NM let me shower alone using separate taps to make a mixer. Frequently the hot water tap could get scalding. She seemed proud to tell others that I could do all these things like tuck myself in bed at 2/3 years old!)

      Regarding the poisoning stomach bug my brother had contracted of course coming home I wanted to hold my brothers hand and play with him. I remember him giving me a toothless smile back then. To my horror my parents made it seem like it was my entire fault when he had to go to hospital and they had to pump his system with coal down his throat. I was horrified and even now she brings it up and my brother almost as if boasting how evil I am, all whilst making me vaguely lapse into an almost ptsd like trance. Luckily I figured it wasn't my fault.

      To this day some few years back I had difficulty opening a can of soup of something.
      Yes I know shame on me as a teenager, yet I was left handed and can openers frequently broke if I forced too long the wrong way. Not noticing a hole.Least I think not, they made it seem like I put it back or something which I'm sure I did not. Yet again possible crazy making. I actually did not eat in the end. Days later my then teenage brother made a claim that I tried to poison him and give him botulism. I think that was the remaining year before I left due to more preposterous reasons. With only a few years apart he seemed to grow weary of me hence the last incident which he still frequently brings up. It made my stomach churn realising why he doesn't like me.

      As we know the scapegoat can do no right but what has come to bother me is my brother looks at me with disgust every time I confronted my mother (before I knew all this) and has come to be absolutely disrespectful and is perfect synthesis of my mother. They still like to taunt me about these stories. The worst part is they were indeed not made up but it made me feel guilty for even existing at certain points of my life.

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    Unfortunately, in the 1950s when my parents divorced, kids pretty much went to the mother and the children had no say in their custody, even in their teens. My father sought custody on numerous occasions and was always turned down. He was a plain-spoken, honest, "salt-of-the-earth" kind of guy who was not well skilled in diplomacy or sweet-talking. He worked with his hands and had a rough appearance, and even when "cleaned up," his country boy roots showed.

    I am sure this did not sit well with the court when they compared him with my expensively-groomed mother sobbing about losing her "baby." Since kids were never consulted, I was never able to reveal to the courts what a torture chamber her home was. Custody stayed with mom. But even with only weekends with him, my father was able to impart strength and integrity to me that I could never have found in my mother's home. She once tried to insult me by saying "you are too much like your father for your own good." I took it as a compliment.

    Triangulation is a primary tool for the narcissist but it is a secret weapon because few people are able to see it at work. I know how you must have felt, being put in that no-win situation, having been there myself. Aren't we glad we are no longer captive victims? Even if your NM still lives and tries to prey on you, today you have more tools at your command than what you had as a child. I know it sounds mean, but I am glad--and have been glad for nearly 15 years--that my mother is dead. Life got a lot less stressful once she bowed out!

  3. Hi Violet,

    Thanks for writing about triangulation. It never had a name for it until I happened upon your blog. My family life broke down to six people, four of which were cluster B's, two were labeled outright psychopaths by a professional, the other two are close but sometimes show a glimmer of a conscience, sort of flickers like a x-mas light. The other non cluster B was my father,he died when I was a teen.

    I'm fifty years old now but started to wake up from the fog of abuse in my late 30s. It has been a long hard road.

    Triangulation was used on me in two ways, one to send messages and the other to smear and abuse by proxy. This has happened more the I care to remember. A relative who I had a history of being a friend with will morph into a proxy spitting venom word for word similar to a parrot.This after one contact with the narc, usually a phone call, he has leverage. My response is to shut them down and go no contact with no second chance. It's over.

    I have a question. There is no one left. All the relatives are gone, dispatched to the broken proxy pile. The head narc was using them for information (narcissistic supply) and a way to dull out his abuse. He now has nothing. This makes me a free man and him a starving narcissist. I don't think he going to outright give up on me as I was his means of identity by comparison, I am watching for his next in road. Do you have any advice what to be aware of so as not to be pulled back into his pathology?

    1. Thank you for writing.

      Everybody is different, of course, even Ns. But there are certain fairly predictable things you can expect from a starving N.

      If your N is not malignant, in which case you can expect virtually ANYTHING from stalking to accusations to the authorities of abuse on your part, the behaviour will likely fall into one of two patterns: Hoovering (trying to suck you back in with sweetness, apologies, tales of woe, etc.) and drama creation.

      The things about Ns is that often they don't care if the attention is positive or negative because it is all attention and they can put a spin on it to make it into NSupply. So, humiliating themselves to get your attention, for example, would be YOUR fault--and if an audience were to be around to witness some episode of you ignoring your NParent and the NParent makes a scene, so much the better.

      As a DoNM, we kind of have a motto: NC means NO contact. If you are already no contact with your father, then enforce it. Change your phone number or give him a special ringtone so you won't accidentally pick up when he calls; delete emails unopened; destroy mail unread (you might want to open it to make sure there isn't something in it you want to keep, like an old pic or your mother or some such thing). But don't initiate contact with him and if he initiates contact with you, do not take the bait.

      Another tactic, not quite so harsh--but not quite so effective--is Low Contact or LC. Here, you establish and defend a very firm set of boundaries. If you father likes to call you names, you make name calling one of the boundaries. Unfortunately, most of the people I know who try this don't get very good results as the N gets outraged and tries to pull rank "I am the parent here, who the hell do you think you are trying to tell ME what I can and cannot do?" It is worth a try if you think your father is manageable, but too often Ns, especially older Ns, are not.

      Whatever you decide, the best advice I can give you is to find a good therapist who "gets" PDs and have a weekly session. That was my saving grace when reeling from the effects of a malignant N mother, a malignant N husband and looking down the barrel of the Smith and Wesson in my hand. Therapy literally saved my life and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

      Thank you again for writing and please feel free to subscribe so you can get notifications of new posts. And the very best of luck to you--having an N parent is a tough row to hoe.

    2. Thanks for your insight and advice.It is no contact for him or any proxies no matter how much I am demonized for making that choice. I understand how you ended up holding a smith and wesson and am glad you made the right choice. I made the same choice myself and don't regret it even though its been hell. Today I called and inquired about a therapist that has knowledge of personality disorders. The hard part will be to find one that understands the victims of these predators. Thanks again and I have subscribed to your mailing list.

    3. You are perceptive--because you probably WILL be demonized--and being perceptive should be helpful in walking this road. I belong to two support groups where, at this stage in my life, I tend to give more support than need it, and from what I hear from the ones who have gone NC, it is rough in the beginning but the benefits improve with time...assuming yours in not a malignant N. Those suckers will pursue you and come up with all manner of nonsense to make you interact with them. I know one person with a malignant NM who has threatened to have her (the NM's) lawyer have her (the daughter) arrested for "things you know you did." Put the daughter into a right panic until she realized that private attorneys don't prosecute crimes.

      Malignant Ns will retaliate. When my friend's father died, her MNM didn't even tell her, had him cremated in a private ceremony, and left the daughter's name out of the obituary!! My MNM kidnapped my children and through an elaborate plot involving the courts in 3 states and some prodigious lying, got custody of them and then she promptly turned them over to her brother for adoption! Because of the way I was demonized to the family, nobody would even talk to me for 8 years or tell me what was going on!

      So, if your NParent is malignant, I urge you to document, document, document--keep a journal of his behaviour, if you get mails or emails, save them in a place you don't have to look at them all of the time; voicemails, save them if you can. If he isn't malignant, just a "run-of-the-mill N, then just stick to your guns--they will even fake a deathbed scene to get you to come running, so be prepared.

      If you are lucky, however, yours will turn out to be an ignoring, non-malignant type which means there will be little repercussion. Even that hurts ("I haven't spoken to Dad in 18 months and he doesn't seem to have noticed") but it is better than being constantly in the war zone.

      Best of luck to you and welcome to the blog!

  4. It has been over a ten days since I went no contact with the last relative that spoke to me, for years I would loose one at a time to the influence of the head MN. This time it was my older sibling sister,she and I seemed to get along although she had some issues but it was my belief she was a survivor like myself.

    Then out of the blue after a phone call from the head MN she calls me up and in the most sadistic tone imaginable informs me that I can no longer come to visit her house because she now has a dog. ( I am highly allergic to dogs) The sadistic tone sent chills up my spine as it was the same as my dead MN mothers. That was more then enough for me, I had been devalued that way many times as a child.

    I went no contact and waited for the bull sh-t to start. It first came in an e-mail saying how sorry she was and claiming she never said what she said followed by ( I must have been having a bad day.) RIGHT!

    The one thing that came out of going no contact that was a bit of a surprise but in hind site makes perfect sense. For years when it was just my sister and I there was always a feeling that my family and myself were being watched closely,as if they knew everything we did. I thought I was just paranoid because we live in a very isolated area. After cutting contact those feelings disappeared. I now believe she was feeding the narc everything and anything about my family and myself and they were twisting it and smearing us with that very information.

    I do expect them to try to make contact in someway in the near future as all routes of information are cut and the narc needs his supply or his delusion will start to crumble. A deathbed scene is defiantly a possibility or if not that the game where they come off with,( we are so worried about you,your acting so irrationally.)AGAIN RIGHT!

    I am happy it is finely over, fifty years of surviving something that I still can't explain to anyone.People say why don't you have a career and why do you live like you do. How do you tell someone while they were playing little league at ten years of age you were surviving the demonic. Thanks for letting me vent.

    1. Few people who have not experienced a narcissistic parent can really understand what it is like to live with one, but a well-trained therapist with experience with the adult children of narcissists can come close.

      What you describe is gaslighting...there is an entry on this blog about it...and it can make you crazy if you fail to keep the truth firmly in mind.

      I cannot advocate NC over LC for you because I don't know your situation, but you seem to have a good grasp on the reality of your family and know what is healthy for you. I encourage you to search the web for additional information that can enlighten and validate you--and to keep in touch.

  5. Thanks Violet. NC is tough but necessary. I always said when things got rough and my survival was at stake there are no right or wrong actions only necessary ones.

    1. That makes sense. Just be prepared for the Ns to try to violate your NC because when they run out of Nsupply and haven't succeeded in finding a new source, they go back to old ones and try to get just a little bit more...

    2. Good advice. My gut instinct says they are laughing now because they believe they hurt me and isolated me farther.I also suspect that when the juice from that high diminishes
      and the realization comes that they cut their own N supply line they will react.Time will tell.

    3. Sounds like your gut instincts are well honed because I suspect that is EXACTLY what they will do. Be prepared either for "hoovering" (trying to make nice, being pathetic, even apologizing) or attack (even negative attention is attention). I suspect most Ns go for the hoovering, but there are those who prefer attack (mine was one of those) so be ready for anything.

      One woman I know who has the "attack" type of NM was not told that her father had died...and her name was left out of the obituary as well! Another woman I know has a "hoovering" type NM who even suggested they go to therapy together, then proceeded to manipulate the therapist during the session! There is no depths to which these creatures will not sink when desperate for Nsupply. So watch your back!

  6. It has been quiet since going no contact. We did get some strange phone calls so we changed our number and had it made unlisted. Not sure if it had anything to do with the MN or his minions, why take chances. There have been a lot of memories coming to the surface, events that happened as a child up until recently. It is amazing that someone can be abused to such an extent that it becomes normal. With the remembering came a lot of self forgiving, my self image has transformed from the hideous one projected by the MNs to a kinder gentler one. It is still hard to rap my mind around the fact that I was psychologically disturbed as a child and the damage was done willfully with the intention of reaping supply and to destroy. My only fear now is the fear that I somehow can be pulled back into to the Ns dance. They tried guilt with my mother, it didn't work. They smeared me to the point that people would literally point at me with a frown on their faces and walk away. Accomplishments have been undermined and I have been devalued in ways that would boggle the mind, yet i'm still here, wife and son by my side. No contact is the last word. H

    1. This is what Ns do--they lie, they smear, they do anything they feel is necessary to make themselves look good by making others look bad.

      You are right...No Contact is the last word. The VERY last word!

  7. My gut said they were going to try to make contact and the question lingered just how and when would that happen. The answer came a few days ago in an e-mail to my wife and son. In a letter laced with hugs and kisses the unmistakable message came loud and clear that I'm unstable, arrogant and a prick. Furthermore everyone else is doing just fine but I will be the one that will suffer.

    The letter had the potential to be devastating had it not been for the many months studying the pathology of MNs. Instead it was more amusing then anything else. The best part there was no desire on my part to respond in any shape of form. NO CONTACT! H

    1. Sounds like you are progressing well. One of my husband's favourite sayings is "Knowledge is power," and when it comes to dealing with Ns, this is SO true, as your recent experience demonstrates. The more you know about Ns and how they operate, the less you blame yourself and the more clarity you get. NC can be tough, but it is the best way to protect yourself and your family from the predatory Ns in your family because THEY are not going to change and anything you say or do (other than go NC) they will use against you to get even more Nsupply. You know what is best for your family--don't let N-guilt trips sway you from your resolve. Best of luck to you.

    2. I have been NO for 26 days now. I also received an email telling me NM hopes I'll go on medication and that my Dad always knew something wasn't right about me since infancy. For the first time ever I got a smile on my face because it's textbook N tactics. I didn't respond. 2 days later she sent an e-card saying she hoped that "we" could get our emotions under control enough to have a loving relationship. Again, I smiled and didn't respond. I sent myself an email predicting a health crisis is coming and a family member will be calling me. I am 55 yrs. Old. My parents recently disowned me for the 8th time over standing up for myself. I'm done. It's over. I actually gave peace deep within my soul this time and I can't ever turn back. It's so good for all if us to be strong for each other.

  8. Hi Violet, Still strong and still NC. There was one attempt from my loving sadistic sister shortly after the hurricane Sandy went through. We live very near a creek inland from the coast so with news of Sandy we hightailed it to a motel. After all was said and done we came back blessed with no damage.

    The next day I went running and half way home my cell phone rang,not being able to see who was calling I assumed it was my wife. The voice on the other end was garbled because of my location down in a hollow.Believing it was my wife I said I'm fine and I will be home soon just in case she could hear me. When I got home and looked it turned out it was my dear sister using the storm for an excuse to make contact.In the past when there was a possibility of flooding we would go to her house to wait out the storm.If you recall she is the one that called one day out of the blue after she spoke to the head MN telling me in the most sadistic tone imaginable that I can no longer come to visit because she now has a dog. ( I am highly allergic to dogs)

    And I was supposed to believe she was concerned. RIGHT! Thanks for letting me post on your blog. H

    1. I suppose she was calling to remind you about the dog so you wouldn't show up on her doorstep...

      Sounds to me like your NC is working and you are benefitting from it. Good for you!

      Have you started journalling? Most people, when they go NC, reach a point at which they begin to second-guess their decision. They think maybe they overreacted, or time has changed and NM may have mellowed, or a host of other things that make them willing to risk re-contact. Those people I know who have done it invariably regret it because if their NMs changed at all, the change was NOT an improvement! The best way to guard against this is to start a journal in which you write, in detail, about experiences in your life with your NM. You write it in great detail, as if you were reliving it. You record your feelings about it, both when it happened and how you feel as you write. Do this several times a week until you can no longer think of experiences you have not already recorded. When you weaken and start thinking you may have been hasty in your decision to go NC, take out your journal and read what caused you to go NC in the first place. It may stiffen your resolve.

      Anyway, best of luck to you--sounds to me like you are doing very well at this time!



  9. Second guessing is something that hasn't been an issue for me, I suffered way too much most of my life and am really conscious of the dangers of even making eye contact with any of them. The only thing that scares me is as I get older if I become ill I will be vulnerable. With a little luck though and me being the youngest my prospects are good in out living them all.

    I haven't done any journaling, it is hard for me to put the words down,what I had become at their hands in my youth and the things done to me and the things I did still sicken me. The costs were high and there is so much I regret but the objective was to survive at any cost which I did and have never regretted. Like you I never asked for this or deserved this,we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. H

    1. Journalling is a good way to get it OUT. Each time you write it down, it loses its power over you; each time you read it, it loses its power. It is the secrecy and shame that have power. Take away the secrecy and shame and the memories lose their power.

      We must each, however, do what is right for ourselves and the right times for ourselves. You do not seek healing for the wellbeing of others but for the wellbeing of yourself. How you go about that must work for you or there is not point in the effort.

      Best of luck to you.


  10. Violet, I received a holiday card today from one of my narcissistic siblings. On the bottom of the card written in pen it said, P.S. If you ever wanna bury the hatchet,have shovel,willing to travel.

    Joke is on them, I don't own a hatchet.

    Naturally there will be no response on my part. Dare I speculate they are running low on n supply and are trolling.Poor dears.

    Took your advice on journalling, it does take the edge off and has been more helpful then I ever could have imagined. Have a nice holiday. H

  11. Well, I don't know the circumstances with your sibling, so I can't advise. I have six sibs and if one of them sent me such a note, I'd have different reactions to different sibs...a couple of them I would expect hoovering and trolling from and toss the card...but a couple of others I would think "maybe s/he is finally seeing the truth" and give 'em a chance. Only YOU can know which is appropriate for your sib.

    I am glad to hear you are trying journalling. It isn't a cure, by any stretch, but it certainly does take some of the urgency and emotionalism and dials them down a notch or two. I have found it to be helpful not only in purging some of the crap I used to carry around, it was helpful in reminding me of why I did some things (like why I went NC and why I tossed NHusband out on his ear) in moments when I felt weakened. It was also useful in keeping facts from fading (something I am very terrible with--I "forget" abuses until they are repeated, so I have to work hard at remembering why I set myself apart from some people) and helpful with my therapist, as I sometimes found it very difficult to articulate stuff I could more easily write about. I would get a thick, painful lump in my throat and be unable to speak, but could hand her a page or two from my journal to get things going.

    So, I found numerous benefits in journalling and am glad for you that you are finding it helpful.

    Happy holidays to you



  12. I myself have gone NC and have been there for about 3 months now. Upon realizing that I was dealing with a NM things started to make sense and finally fall into place and click.

    Reliving all of the experiences after realizing narcissism and going NC was a pretty painful experience. I was a scapegoat; and the form of triangulation you describe whereby my character was repeatedly assasinated to virtually anyone who would listen, even to my father and my own girlfriends and in once case, my now former fiancee's parents.

    In realizing that it was a NM's triangulation that was going on, while it made some sense of things it also made things more hurtful. To lose girlfriends, a fiancee, job opportunities, contact with siblings, to have my acheivements belittled and my accomplishments downplayed, to be kicked out of the house before I could complete high school and sent in the runaround with welfare because I was "welcome back home anytime" and then told to my face I was not... and to realize that it was all just for Nsupply and not oversights, or misunderstandings, or a poor memory, or due to mental instability or something, made it all hurt a lot more.

    But in reliving those experiences with a new perspective things are getting better. While I've gone NC, the triangulation continues. I'm sure its no coincidence that my GC sister couldnt make it to my annual holiday gathering because she was "away for the week", and that my EF copied me in on an email describing how my GC sister was actually leaving town the very day of my gathering to see them. It was an attempt to triangulate and get me to say something mean to my GC sister, and to show me who's side she's on.

    When I went NC I did it big time and I'm glad. I posted about it on my facebook, I called all my siblings and described and talked to them about what I was doing and why, pointed to narcissism and encouraged them to learn about it, called my extended family who might have gotten wrapped up in the mess pre-emptively to ensure I was on the right side of confirmation bias, and pointed out some of what to expect from my NM; some of the things she might say suggest or do. In short, I had to do an end-run on my NM to protect my reputation and maintain a relationship with the family. I had no choice.

    Because the whole NC started over me reporting the childhood molestation of my friend by my NM's brother and attempted on me, something that she swept under the rug (I told her when I was 12 and it was never reported to the cops) and she accused me of being a liar - I also end-runned her by telling her biggest client (a native reserve on which she leases the land her house sits on) about how this guy has come to visit them several times and of course the cops know everything.

    So far, it's seemed to have worked. I've gotten an odd phone call from my EF like nothing ever happened and a couple of emails from my NM asking if we can have a "fresh start".

    No more fresh starts for them. I got kicked out for no real reason just before I started Grade 12. I couldnt finish because I couldnt get youth supports and I had to work to support myself because of her. Years later I forgave and tried the "fresh start" thing, and then over the ensuing years the N games continued and the more successful I became the more my character was assasinated.

    As they say the "fresh start" hoover isnt genuine because the NM doesn't want to even touch the real issues nor acknowledge them. to my NM, a "fresh start" means me forgiving her for behavior in the past and her continuing to exhibit that behvaior.

    Once bitten twice shy!

    1. I am with you...and kudos for recognizing that the "fresh start" thing is merely a hoovering technique.

      Have you read the entry on forgiveness? You might find it enlightening:

      You might want to tighten up your NC--no responding to their overtures, carefully documenting their slanders, and taking some legal action--sometimes only a threat from a lawyer is all that is needed to get an NM to back off. The one thing they fear most is being exposed: if your NM fears that the predations against you will become public knowledge and SHE will be held up in a bad light, it might throttle her back.

      If you are not communicating with your NM and she is still finding out personal information about you and using it to hurt you, you may have a flying monkey or two in amongst those you count as friends or believe to be personally loyal. The information NM gets about you may be inadvertently passed on or it could be deliberate. Until NM ceases gaining intel about you she will continue to create problems, so you may want to consider planting some false info with the ones you suspect being the "leaks," so you can know who you can no longer trust to keep personal info private.

      Any way you look at it, though, so seem to be doing a fine job of getting control of the situation. Your preemptive strike was brilliantly executed, taking the "poor little me, my child abandoned me for no reason" ploy right out of your NM's hands. Don't expect her give up without a fight...but know you are on the right track. Yay to your empowerment!!



  13. Anoymous: I am sorry that we have to deal with so much unfairness from our own families. At the same time, this is my first time really reading about what I have gone through for years, and could not explain. I appreciate the explanations and recommendations.

    Be Blessed

    1. Will, there are SO many resources available on the web! I especially recommend Joanna Ashmun and Kathy Krajco (Google to find them) and their work. Joanna specifically addresses narcissistic parents, Kathy addresses narcissism in romantic relationships, but her insights can apply to our parents and other relationships as well. I recommend them highly. Sadly, both ladies have passed away, but they left a tremendous legacy for people like you and me.

      Best of luck on your voyage of discovery and please feel free to visit and comment here any time.



  14. The suggestion of a new start has not come my way yet but perhaps someday after they get tired of telling me that I am only hurting myself and I should bury the hatchet . It is creepy that the messages that have found their way to me all sound as if they are being directed at a child, as if they believe I am some sort of kid throwing the equivalent of a temper tantrum. I wonder when and if they will figure out this isn’t a game and that NC means what it says, not for a few months or a year but forever.
    There is a theory I have as to why their messages sound like they are being directed at a child. One thing noticed about the Ns is they never grow or change, 40 years can pass and they are still talk and act the same way. It might be because they never changed they believe no one else ever does either. There defiantly is an advantage in being grossly underestimated and if not an advantage it is at least amusing. H

    1. Your theory is sound, and it is based on the "projection" that Ns are so good at: they project their own beliefs, behaviours and expectations on others, assuming that everyone is like why not project their failure to mature on others as well?

      There is also the possibility that they continue to view you as a child because if they viewed you as an adult, they would have to accord you at least a modicum of respect and take you seriously...which a narcissist is never going to do. The narcissist believes s/he has the right to continue to control you, to manipulate you, to dictate to you, just as if you were still a child and any refusal on your part to go along is viewed as rebellion against legitimate authority. Pointing out that you are an adult ("But Ma, I am FORTY years old!!") is futile because the N will not view you as competent to manage your own affairs, any error you have made (divorced?) or hard time you have had (laid off in the recession?) proof of your lack of competence that reinforces the N's perception that you may be an adult in years, but are still a child s/he has a right (a parental obligation, in their minds, for "your own good") to control.

      NC is a tough choice but often a necessary one. Once they get past their condescending tolerance of your rebellion and realize that you really ARE serious about this, expect some backlash, some attempt to hoover you into breaking your NC. Ns are shameless, they will use ANYTHING they can think of to get you to respond, from faking grave illness to reporting deaths of family and friends "you should know about," to triangulation--sending other family members after you. If you can weather that, most Ns will back off, although you may have to weather intermittent hoovering attempts over the years as they occasionally try their luck to see if you've softened with time.

      Expect to be punished for it--written out of the will, reputation blackened with other members of the family and long-term friends, etc. Expect a greater measure of peace as you no longer have to deal with their regular incursions into your life.

      Once you have been been able to decompress for a while, you may find yourself with a lot of questions about them and an awareness of yourself and how you have developed certain traits as a response to them. When that happens, I recommend finding a therapist who specializes in helping people who grew up in dysfunctional, abusive families. It's amazing how much help they can really provide us.

      Best of luck to you and stick to your NC--you have taken a life-saving step and I wish you the best in it.

      Hugs to you,


  15. Hello, i have a nm who pairs up with my brother, she maligns my character to him and it became evident they talk about me on a semi regular basis. He seems to get some benefit in feeling special that she talks about me to him. Its really obvious when one of them is just parroting what the other says. Its very painful that she treats him as the golden child and gushes over how wonderful, smart,helpful etc he is but she doesnt appreciate or acknowledge all that i do. Since my dad passed away my brother has been really playing the golden child role and she praises him in front of me and other family, with rarely a word of thanks to me. How should i handle the fact that the two of them talk about me behind my back and make up insulting false attacks on my character? The other day i asked my brother to please not talk about me to our mother unless im present to speak on my own behalf and he made a joke about it and then he basically refused to honor my request by saying that the two of them just talk about me "because they care about me".....i feel if they really cared about me they would not engage in character assasination behind my back. If they have a real concern why dont they bring it up in an open manner when I am there?

    1. The answer is simple: they don't really care because if they did, they WOULD bring it up in an open manner and in front of you.

      When you asked your brother not to talk about you behind your back, what you essentially did was ask an inveterate gossip not to gossip...and you know that is not going to happen. They do it because it entertains them, they do it so that they can feel superior to you and therefore better about themselves. Your brother obviously enjoys the Golden Child role and he may also have a wide streak of narcissism in him because his desire to be entertained obviously outmatches any compassion he might have for your feelings.

      What you do next determines how the game all plays out. You can set boundaries (which must be stringently enforced and come with consequences if they are violated), you can go No Contact with both of them (if you go NC with just one, the other one will keep the game going by feeding info to the one you are NC with), or you can keep the status quo, knowing what they are up to. Keep in mind that if you choose the last option, you are giving tacit consent for them to continue with their amusement at your expense.

      You cannot control anyone but yourself, so you cannot make them do (or stop doing) anything. You can only change your own behaviour with respect to them. If it were me, I would go NC, but not everybody is prepared to do that.

      You basically have three choices and the good news is, YOU are the one who gets to choose...nobody else can choose for you and cram it down your throat. Avoiding choosing because you don't like the available choices is, essentially, choosing Option 3 because by taking no action you permit the status to remain quo. You can try talking to them, explaining why you don't like what they are doing and how it hurts you, but that only works if they care about your feelings and, based on what you have said here, they don't: do people behave the way they are going towards people they truly love and whose feelings matter to them?

      You might want to visit a counsellor and lay this out to him/her and see if you can get some suggestions I may not have seen...but in the final analysis, you have to make a choice and then live with it. It isn't fair, I know, but life frequently isn't and few of us have the power to change that.



  16. I had a narcissistic mother. Family life was hell. She even used to manipulate my stepfather into beating me, then would weep in the corner, woefully crying "Why are you doing this to me?" I became aware of how sick the family dynamic was and my role in it early on, about the age of 10. One day when I was barely 16, out of the blue, the police arrested me at work. At the station, my mother was there and surrendered custody of me to the courts on the basis that I was incorrigible, though I never broke any rules. Ever. My sister came to visit me in the holding jail, where I told her, "You are next. If I'm gone, they will turn this on you." She was incredulous. She told me it was all my fault, and she got along with them fine. I was the problem. I just smiled. Several months later she came to visit me in the reformatory with a horror story about what was happening at home with her. She said, "You were right. They are all over me now, just like they were on you before." She even got her first taste of physical confrontation from dear ole step-dad, with mom as the catalyst. My last contact with her was in the hospital before an elective surgery she was having. She wanted me to give her the address and phone number of my half-brother by my biological father, so she could stalk him. I refused, and told her I didn't want to ever talk about my father with her again, as I found it disturbing. She began to shriek and wail and all the nurses came into the room. I just quietly slipped out of the hospital and never looked back or saw her again, well, not until she had dementia and I had to have an LPS conservatorship while she died in a locked rest home for the violent elderly. The best choice I have made for myself, in terms of healing and a sense of well-being, was to cut off all contact with my entire family, with the exception of low contact with my biological sister. I had to remake myself from the time I left home. It took over a decade. I wasn't just ill prepared for life, I was maladaptive. It was worth the effort though. I've been married happily for over 20 years, and am content and at ease. Thanks for this site full of information. I've never told this story to anyone online before, but I just needed to put it out there. I was so full of anger and shame in my early life, but now I can tell you about this and not have it all rush back in and overwhelm me.

    1. Your comment brought back creepy memories for me. When I was barely in my teens my mother took me to court and tried to have me declared an "incorrigible child" and sent to reform school. Fortunately, we had been before this judge before and I think he was onto my NM...because I had excellent grades in school, no arrest record, and the school vouched for my not being a trouble maker, he refused to commit me. Interestingly enough, I did not appear in court during the hearing, so I don't know what kind of lies she tried to tell the judge, but later on I overheard her tell a friend that I "got away with it" because I had "charmed the judge." So, if you ever thought you were the only person in the world whose own mother trumped up a charge of incorrigible and wanted her child sent to reform school, you aren't---mine did it too. Unfortunately, you didn't have a sympathetic judge and I am so sorry to hear how it turned out for you.

      Another bizarre parallel: when I was 14 I went to live with my father and my GCbrother, who considered my choice to be a betrayal of the worst kind, chose to stay with NM. I gave him much the same warning you gave your sister--and with a similar outcome: within two months, my brother was living with my father, too. It took him only 6 weeks to tire of being the maid and the cause of every problem in the house!

      I am glad you found your way to a sane and emotionally healthy life peopled by emotionally healthy individuals. It took me five years of therapy to be able to stand up straight and put the anger in its proper place. Sad to say, but I am glad my NM died...that finally closed the door on my fear and with the real threat of another of her toxic incursions into my life finally over, I was able to move on. I wish no less for you.

      Hugs to you,


    2. I'm about to be 20 and I want to establish NC now but I know that will have very negative effects for me..ever since I was 16 my mom cut me off and made me work to provide for myself she would take almost all my money from my checks, by force, talk bad about me to my family and use my sisters and brother against me and have them talk about me and laugh in front of my middle school she would tell me I was gonna end up like her single with five kids while everyone else was "living the life" I was called a hoe all the time a slut, skank all types of names even if I did nothing highschool I made the goal of going to college even though to my family I would never make it and would be the first to fail, but thanks to my mentors I proved her wrong which seemed to make it worse.

      My family and my mom would talk about even though I did make it I would have to drop out because I got preggo or I was just stupid,despite making a 4.0 they still doubted I would make it again and the only time my mom calls me is for money...I'm still in college by the it's just the fact that she always hits me and she is not getting upset cause I tell her to not touch me anymore, she will yell about everything in the house to me when I get home from 2 in the morn at work but not at my 19 yr old sisters , one has a job and one doesn't have to get one (the scapegoat) I'm 20 anyways she always threatens to kick me out since I was 16 probably younger,she tells me she doesn't want me home and why do I come home if I know the same stuff will happen. I have a boyfriend and she will use that against me, or say things as I'll never get married, no one will ever want to be with me. And she always drilled it in my head to not let anyone about my feelings..because they won't like me if I do, at least a man wouldn't "because no one wants a girl with problems"

      She also uses my financial aid against me cause I'm an dependent

      I just don't know what to do anymore, my boyfriend is mad cause he doesn't want me here, and I don't want to be here either, I'm only here for the summer

      But I have no choice she gets upset because she wants my money she wants me to pay the lights, electricity, water, food (even though when I get home they eat the food so I cant eat anything I eat at work or walk down the street for food and that upsets her)
      I know when I go back to school I wanna cut her off but I know it will have negative consequences, my sisters don't talk to me and I know she will make my family turn against me

      Please help

    3. Only YOU can help yourself and you do it through the choices you make.

      Let's begin with clarifying a misconception--the child who doesn't have to get a job when the rest of you do is not the scapegoat, she is the Golden Child. From what you tell me, YOU are the scapegoat in your family...I've been there (complete with a mother who took my wages away from me) and I know it is an awful place to be.

      You have mentioned "negative consequences" more than once. Tell me, what can be worse than the consequences you are dealing with now? She will make your family turn against you? I'm sorry, but it doesn't look to me like they are in your corner right now--who is defending you when she attacks you? Who is saying "Mom, stop that! You're being unfair and you are hurting her!"? Looks to me like they are already in her corner instead of yours.

      All of life is a series of choices and you have made the choice to stay in an abusive situation when you don't have to, when you have the right--and opportunities--to get out. You are doing it out of fear: but what can she do that she has not already done? She has already turned your family against you: nobody is defending you, taking your part against her--they are already siding with her. She bullies you--takes your money, calls you names, tries to drag you down into the dirt because if you succeed, she will feel like you have put her down...she will have to face HER choices, the ones that brought her to where she is today. If she can make you fail, then she feels superior to you...if you succeed, she will feel inferior.

      Your boyfriend is right--for your own mental health and even your personal safety, you have to get out. You say you are still in college--does your school have a health centre? Because if it does, you should be able to speak with a counsellor at no cost and that is the best thing you will ever do for yourself. Because if you stay where you are, she will eventually grind you down until her predictions come true. She is an angry and hurtful person who WANTS you to fail, is trying to make you fail, is working hard to bring you down to her level so SHE will feel good about herself.

      This is common in personality disordered people: they want you to fail so they feel like they are succeeding; they want you to feel stupid so they can feel smart; they want you to be slutty so they can feel virtuous. It is all about THEM and making them feel good about themselves and the only way they can do it is to make you feel bad about yourself.

      Do yourself and your future a favour: go see a counsellor at school and see if you can go regularly for counselling, and get the hell out of that snake pit before you are beaten so far down that you can't. You deserve much, much better than you are getting from your family, but you are going to have to take steps to get it, and those first steps are counselling and a calm, safe place to live.

      Hugs to you and please keep in touch


  17. Hi there

    Thanks for explaining the triangulation mechanism so clearly.

    Here is my input on NM and the lifelong consequences of their acts:

    A few years ago, my boyfriend (thankfully now ex) led a smearing campaign against me. Behind my back he depicted me to friends as a particularly awful person. People who bought in to his stories (and sadly there were a lot of them) started behaving aggressively towards me. As a result, I became very paranoid and defensive. And people responded to me in kind. This went on over years and I eventually broke down.

    I had an inkling of what was going on but I didn't face up to it. I decided I was the problem or other people were the problem. I didn't admit to my boyfriend's hand in all this until members of my (ex) boyfriend's own family pointed out to me what was going on and urged me to get out of the relationship and run for my life. They had seen it all before and were saddened by their son's/brother's behavior.

    The whole experience left me in a psychological mess. I decided to consult a psychotherapist. During my therapy, I realized that I had been brought up by a narcissistic mother. This had paved the way to a lifetime of abusive relationships unless I REALLY opened my eyes. My upbringing had made me particularly vulnerable to partners such as my ex boyfriend. Though I understand that someone with healthy boundaries and self esteem can also be a victim because such a behavior is so incredible that it goes undetected.

    Years later, and feeling much better, I am still bemused. I still read up about narcissism, gas lighting...other people's stories. It explains so much about my own story. But I still can't quite believe that these things happen. A smearing campaign against someone you supposedly love?!? People eagerly and uncritically buying into the BS?!? And the victim looking on passively not wanting to believe what he/she sees as he/she sinks in oblivion. It's CRAZY.

    So thank you for your blog!

    1. "But I still can't quite believe that these things happen. A smearing campaign against someone you supposedly love?!? People eagerly and uncritically buying into the BS?!? And the victim looking on passively not wanting to believe what he/she sees as he/she sinks in oblivion."

      This happens everyday--this kind of negativity appeals to our darker selves, and to our baser instincts: the primitive need to know all the bad stuff about everyone and everything in order to know what is safe and what is not. It is even possible that our psyches are hard-wired to believe that kind of thing in the absence of irrefutable proof to the contrary because there was a time, not all that long ago in the history of humankind, that the word from others was our primary means of knowing what dangers were out there, from prehistoric beasts to highwaymen, from treacherous bogs and tar pits to marauding hordes to approaching armies. I think we are preprogrammed to believe negative news and even extrapolate it to a logical extreme. And I further think that narcissists instintively know this and use it to their advantage.

      The part of the victim passively and not wanting to believe I think is connected to our survival instinct. Children MUST view their primary caretakers as virtuous and loving because they depend on them for survival. To believe your mother hates you is to put you in fear of your life: will she feed me? will she shelter me? will she get rid of me...what will happen to me? So we don't want to believe that the people we love do not love us in return and we discount or simply refuse to believe the evidence before us. I suspect battered women fall into a similar emotional mind-set. And for some of us, we even believe the abuse is indicative of love because "he loves me enough to correct me, to help me be perfect."

      Too often we see what we want to see, we believe what we want to believe, because we know on some level, that if we acknowledge reality then the fairy tale we are clinging to will disappear. Some of us eventually wake up (as you obviously did) but, sadly, some of us continue to cling to our obliviousness for decades.

      I'm glad you woke up...



  18. Thank you for your post, everything which you said I can relate to. It has really helped me that someone else has experienced the same as me. Though I am sorry you had to go through this and wish you all the best for the future. Take care. Lots of love. Frankie x

  19. Oh my word. A friend sent me your blog and I am dumb founded. I had initially posted this blog to my FB page, in support for my friend. To my astonishment, after rereading and going through a horrible ordeal with one of my daughters, I now realize I am dealing with a narc. For YEARS this has been going on...everything you wrote about, she has done, from alienating me from some of my other children, I had suspected this was happening, but had no proof until last night. To her sucking me in with "starting over" through promised visits with her and my grandkids. I truly had NO idea I was dealing with a Narc. I didn't understand why, what was happening, why the lies, or twisting everything I said. Why the apologies were not accepted. Why some of my other children, after having extended contact with my Narc Daughter stopped contact with me and one left me completely off the birth announcement for his daughter, my newest grandchild. She even took custody of my youngest child, after he ran away, sue to getting into drugs and since I am a Christian, me not allowing him to have his GF spend the night. Last night, she sucked me back in with a "coming visit" and health issues and the same old stuff started all over again. Everything was my fault..all the things you described happened, even her sending our private message to my family and friends. I have finally decided to go NC. I can't keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. The pain is too deep. I fear I have lost atleast 2, maybe 3 of my other children, permanently due the horrible things she says about me. Like another poster said, I too fear that as I get older and even more vunerable than I already am, since she is in school to become a lawyer, she will attempt to do something, like get me put away in a home for crazy people or something even worse. I never understood why she did what she did. Even after reading your blog, in support of my friend, until rereading this, after another incidence last night. Thank you sooo much for explaining and sharing your own pain. I am now seeing and understanding the situation for what it is, and although I will always love my daughter, I have no choice, for my own sanity, to make sure I keep to the NC. I have also got in touch with a counseling group and am waiting on getting a counselor. My Narc daughter spends one night a week at my Mom's house, and tonight is the night. My Mom is older and I am sooo afraid that the stress my daughter will put on my Mom could cause health issues and my Mom does not understand any of this, nor does she have the skills for the internet, so I can't even send the blog to her. Do you have any suggestions on how I can help my Mom learn about this? Thanks again for all you are doing, you are helping soo many!

    1. If the blog has been helpful to you and you think it would be helpful to your mother, you can print out the sections you think are relevant, give them to your mother to read, then engage her in a discussion about what she read and how it relates to your daughter.

      Your fears, unfortunately, are well-founded. My daughter is also a narcissist, much like my mother, and she has succeeded in alienating one of my sons as well has her own son. When I began publishing the blog (the prototype of this blog first went public about 5 years ago) she also tried to alienate my father and siblings and had some limited success.

      Protecting yourself is is a good time to start documenting how she is working against you. Keep a journal. If she ever tries to take you to court for competency or something like that, your journal will show a pattern of callous disregard for your feelings and her attempts to alienate family from you. It could make the difference between you winning or losing...

      I am sorry you, too, are facing the Narcissistic Daughter issue. I found the sense of betrayal to be even greater coming from her than from my own hurts. But one of the things we do when we are adults is we acknowledge a hurt and then move on. And that is what you have to do.

      Hugs and best wishes


  20. My Mum has been dead 3 years and i'm glad. I lost all contact with her family. The worst is her mother was my real mother mum was more like a crazy sister. Many times l tried to explain but nobody wanted to know. The only person who saw and believed me was my Dad. I never knew what her problem was and now l do because my step daughter is exactly the same. I tried many times to brake from my mum. With my step daughter there will be no more interaction. I use to feel guilty but l don't anymore.

  21. I am close to my 50th birthday, and my narcissistic mother has engulfed my life with nothing but verbal and physical put-downs the entire life-time. I was only 11 years old, and engulfed with caring for my 2 younger sisters every single day, while the mother watched soap operas all day long. I was then entrenched into cleaning the entire house, doing all the laundry for 5 of us, cooking lunch and dinners, setting the table, cleaning the dishes, entertaining my siblings and making sure their school work was completed.

    At 17 years of age, when I was close to graduating from high school (which she never did), she decided I was "pregnant" and forced me into an abortion procedure which ruined my uterus for ever having children. I had a hysterectomy at 43 - her denying any involvement and telling my high school friends I had cancer.

    This narcissistic mother has used gaslighting and alienation for over 30 years now --- amongst the entire family to make me into the crazy person. I have done all I could to support my sisters my entire life. Every single time I do something kind, this narcissistic mother turns all that I do into a Sham. If I give this gift, it must mean evil. If I show up, it must mean I want something. If I DONT show up, it must mean more evil (sometimes we can't be there for every single family function because of BUDGET constraints).

    I don't know what to say. When this Narcissistic Mother passes, maybe I'll purchase her a straw hat - with a pink ribbon - to wear on her perfect face and hair and head. For all the straws that broke my back

  22. I deal with my NM by being very bland and making all the excuses under the sun why I can't see her. I know she does all her bitching and machinations and frankly I just let her get on with it. She has had nothing better to do, out of 50 years, by choice. Her sister is not dissimilar and they are two women in their 70s behaving like 7 year olds. The GC is my cousin who is a doctor and even though other family members are astonished by my high level of creativity she has no interest whatsoever in what I do, which is actually not normal. It's like she has to really work hard to not be interested, which makes me think she is desperately jealous as she is bone idle.
    Thankfully I live several hours away from her, rarely phone her and we are not in each other's pocket. My Dad is more reasonable with me but she is still trying to play games with me through him. I just tell it like it is in a non blaming way and in such a reasonable manner that one would be hard pressed to disbelieve me. I make bland statements, as when (today of all days) she tells my father she is ill and not very happy because she wants me to ring her (and I know she is faking it). I just say something like "oh I'm sorry to hear that" and then pretty much shut up. Frankly I am so friggen' busy I haven't got time to get involved in arguments, narcissistic or otherwise.

  23. Oh and further to the comments above, I had all the reform school threats as well!!! Both my schools questioned my parents as my home life was affecting my school work and the result was that my mother refused to go for therapy of any sort, whether family therapy or otherwise.
    She wants to live to 120 and I can't imagine what for, all she has ever done is walk the dog over the EXACT same route a few thousand times... I hope the Good Lord takes her before then, I really do.

  24. Do you have any advice on how to handle the triangulation tactics and more specifically, damaging lies they tell? This person (an in-law) has absolutely no shame, I don't know how to defend my reputation against her. I feel as though I have to enlist character witnesses to protect an important but fragile relationship from being sabotaged; and then at the same time, I am concerned about giving it too much attention then when perhaps it's smarter to just rise above it. Would really appreciate all the help I can get when dealing with this type of person.

    1. The best advice I can offer is to shame the third party in the triangle. Triangulation cannot happen unless ALL parties take part.

      You can't refute the lies...and trying to will just take over your life because they can tell lies faster than you can dredge up the evidence to prove yourself right.

      If you want to address this, then you speak to the people who are listening to and spreading your N's lies. You start by using words like "spreading malicious gossip" then you ask questions like "why would you believe this before checking with me to see if it was true or not?" This will shame some people into checking with you, whereupon you can point out how a grain of truth was embroidered into a bouquet of lies, or you can provide context for something that is based in truth but blown out of proportion or tainted by mean-spirited speculation.

      For me, however, I use a much more blunt (and often offensive) approach. I take the attitude that anyone who will believe slander against me without bothering to check with me for the truth, anyone who will actually believe I would be or do the things the N has claimed, is not a person who loves me and believes in me, so defending myself is a waste of my is the person in question. And I write that person off because that person has done me a HUGE favour by identifying him/herself as one of the Ns flying monkeys and I now know that this person is not to be trusted.

      If someone DOES come to me to check something out, I thank them for taking the time to seek the truth, then I tell them the truth. Everybody else I say "You believed that kind of swill without checking with me for the truth? You would rather believe her than me? Then you aren't worth my time." And then I put them on my No Contact list.

      This has a price: I do not speak to most of my biological family because most of the ones still living are the kind of people who enjoy a good back-stabbing gossip more than a kind-but-boring truth. I don't have room in my life for people like that. They don't love me...if they did, they would not enjoy clucking their tongues over my supposed misdeeds so much, they would be wanting to know how much of what they heard was true and what my side of the story is...they don't want to know, they want to shake their heads and point their fingers. The are not redeemable, they do not want to view me kindly and with love because if they did, they would have to feel ashamed of their participation, and they are having too much malicious fun for that.

      So, if you want to put in the effort to try to redeem yourself in their eyes, shame the ones who participate (and do it in front of others if you can, because private shaming may just motivate them to redouble their efforts) and repeatedly tell the rest of them "get both sides of the story before you believe it."

      Then ask yourself why their opinions matter to you so much that it overshadows YOUR opinions of their misdeeds...

  25. I just happened upon this today, and it's perfect timing. My mother has always been a malignant narcissist (I used to joke that she suffered from 47 years of Post Partem Depression, but now I see things more clearly). Today is her 84th birthday, and she has dementia. She's not in a facility yet because she refuses to go, but I've heard from neighbors and others that she's way overdue. I agree, but it won't happen.
    Anyway, I've read a lot about triangulation and demonizing a person, but didn't connect the dots until today. That is EXACTLY what she's done, in a much more subtle way, all my life. And now that she's beyond confused, and I have exerted control (for her safety, and as POA for her), she's furious.
    I have tried different methods for trying to clear the air to the people she's badmouthed me to. I've become very emotional and defensive, I've calmly stated my side of the story, and other times, I just let time run its course, and have faith that her mask will continue to slip, as it has been for a while now. It's harder though, with people who rarely speak to her, and for those who are easily sucked into her pity parties.
    Due to the latest incident, where I needed to do something without her consent (again, for her own safety -- I had to take away her car after her license was revoked -- she kept driving anyway), I decided to take a time out, and am not having contact with her. It's the first time I haven't acknowledged her birthday, and I feel quite content, actually. I always anticipated stopping contact with her when the time comes she no longer remembers me, but honestly, it may have stopped as of this latest incident. I really can't be sure yet, but I am ready if this is the case.

  26. Thank you for this! I just stumbled upon this and it was like i entered Validation City. I grew up with 2 narcissistic parents and the effects on me and my sibling is deep and scarred and ugly. Now that I have my own child, my self work is profound and takes on a whole dimension and the importance great.

  27. Email is a great way to fight triangulation, projection & gaslighting.

    Only communicate via email.

  28. I was verbally and emotionally abused starting at age 15 to 21 when I decided to get marry and leave. My mother would tell me she hated me, wish she had an abortion, she would fly into rages and destroy my room. She thought this was normal behavior for a mother. I was suicidal at age 16 thinking of different ways to die. I was the scapegoat in the family and my brother was the Golden Child (still to this day). My story is a long one so I will try to shorten it. After I got married and had my daughters there were plenty of times that she would act up and we wouldn't speak for months. I discovered that my mother was jealous of me whether my husband did something nice for me, someone paid me a compliment, of my education, my looks..etc.....She was also envious when I decided to end my marriage and become independent. She hated when I started dating again and would make negative comments if my partners would help me out around the house. Both of my parents would always speak bad about me to my daughters which made them resent spending time with their grandparents. Fast forward to mother is sick both physically and mentally. Now she expects us to take care of her. I forgave her and tried to help my father deal with her. I have taken her to doctors, stayed with her at hospitals when she had surgery, etc....She now has mild dementia and at times can still get nasty. She is now fighting with my father and is accusing me of taking his side against hers. The other day was a disaster and police were called. She said to me when we were alone " I will hate you until you are in your coffin." I answered back very calmly..." I am so used to you saying that to me, it doesnt bother me anymore". With that she stayed silent. My brother, the Golden Child, unfortunately takes after my mother. He has no compassion or empathy for me and treats me like an imbecile. I am thinking of writing my life story and hopefully one day having it published.


I don't publish rudeness, so please keep your comments respectful, not only to me, but to those who comment as well. We are not all at the same point in our recovery.

Not clear on what constitutes "rudeness"? You can read this blog post for clarification: