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.

Friday, August 3, 2012

She’s a liar: Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers Pt 8

 The black text is a shortened version of an original work by Chris, The Harpy’s Child. Original at  Copyright 2007, all rights reserved

[There are two basic types of narcissistic mothers, the ignoring type and the engulfing type. These may—and often do—overlap but most NMs have a basic style and will be primarily one or the other. Some of the following points may not apply to your NM simply because they describe an engulfing characteristic when your NM is an ignoring type—or vice versa. But our mothers are not the only narcissists we will encounter in our lives. In fact, being raised by a narcissistic parent actually sets us up to be prey for more of the self-centred emotional vampires as we go out into the world, from girlfriends who are anything but friends to lovers who love themselves best to husbands who are the mirror image of dear old mom. So, whether something looks like it applies to your NM or not, read and consider it carefully—it may give you the awareness necessary to avoid the predator lurking around the next bend. As ever, my comments are shown in violet. -V]

It's about secret things. The Destructive Narcissistic Parent creates a child that only exists to be an extension of her self. It's about body language. It's about disapproving glances. It's about vocal tone. It's very intimate. And it's very powerful. It's part of who the child is. ~ Chris

Part 8. She's a liar in too many ways to count.

She's a liar in too many ways to count. Any time she talks about something that has emotional significance for her, it's a fair bet that she's lying. Lying is one way that she creates conflict in the relationships and lives of those around her - she'll lie to them about what other people have said, what they've done, or how they feel. She'll lie about her relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation in order to inflate herself and to undermine your credibility.

That last sentence describes my NM perfectly. When Ns do this, often their victims are unaware they are doing it, or at least unaware of the long term consequences of allowing it to go unchallenged. It is a mistake to believe that others can see through her exaggerations, hyperbole and outright fabrications—even people you think know her well can still be blind to such things, perhaps because if they believed her capable of such a thing, they would have to acknowledge not only their own jeopardy (if she lies so egregiously about her own child, what must she say about me?), but their foolishness in making and keeping such a friendship. Some people simply cannot accept that they can be wrong or are unwilling to bear the humiliation of admitting to it.

In my case, my NM began poisoning my well when I was a very small child. She gave me to Child Services when I was 2 (keeping my newborn brother), telling them to find me an adoptive home. She started painting me unmanageable at a very young age. As I got older, the tales got worse. Most of them contained a grain of truth upon which she built an elaborate fabrication, assigning me motive and even thought processes, as if she could read my mind. If I was late coming home from school, it wasn’t because I stopped a moment to chat with a classmate, it was because I was doing something bad, like meeting a boy somewhere and doing rude things, and thinking I was smarter than she was in expecting her to believe I was chatting with Melody outside her house. The truth was, I was late getting home and told her I was talking to Melody—the rest was pure fabrication (and, according to my father, projection).

By the time I was in my teens I was the family scandal (replacing her in that role), the black sheep, the hopeless one. And, of course, teens being who they are, I had the name so I played the game, ending up pregnant and unmarried at 17. By then, my extended family would—and did—believe anything she said about me, no matter how outrageous or untrue. I was ruined in my family’s eyes and my own mother did the ruination.

The narcissist is very careful about how she lies. To outsiders she'll lie thoughtfully and deliberately, always in a way that can be covered up if she's confronted with her lie. She spins what you said rather than makes something up wholesale. She puts dishonest interpretations on things you actually did. If she's recently done something particularly egregious she may engage in preventative lying: she lies in advance to discount what you might say before you even say it. Then when you talk about what she did you'll be cut off with "I already know all about it—your mother told me... (self-justifications and lies)." Because she is so careful about her deniability, it may be very hard to catch her in her lies and the more gullible of her friends may never realize how dishonest she is.

This is an insidious form of undermining. My NM, if ever caught by an outsider (including my father or the extended family) lying about me, shrugged it off with such expressions as “Well, it’s just like her to do it…” or “You can’t blame me for thinking she did it this time as well…” or “I wouldn’t put it past her…” or “It was the kind of thing she would do—remember when she…” She would deftly turn attention away from her own transgression and falsehood and get people focussed on me and mine, real or imagined.

She also engaged in “pre-emptive lying,” often to save her own skin. If she hit me too hard and left marks that other people might question her about, she would be quick to make sure others knew something terrible I had done to justify her. Strangely—or maybe not so strange, considering what she is like in adulthood—my own daughter figured out this tactic as well. When she was 15 or 16 I sent her to her room over cutting school and she jumped out of a second story window into a thorn bush below, getting bruised and cut and scraped in the process. She then went to a friend’s house and used her bruises and marks to beg to be allowed to stay with them. I don’t know exactly what she told the girl’s mother, but I do know that it boiled down to “my mother beat me up for no good reason and now I am afraid of her.” It only took a few weeks for the other mother to figure out what was going on (now her daughter was cutting school as well), but Annie very effectively pre-empted me when it came to discussing her transgressions with her friend’s mother…the woman wouldn’t believe a word I had to say until Annie had co-opted her own daughter.

This kind of behaviour on the part of a parent can leave a child feeling hopeless and powerless. Nothing she does will be recognized, only what her lying mother says she does. Kids do not have the kind of perspective balanced adults have and because their brains are still immature (and soaked in an unstable hormonal soup), they tend not to think their responses through. Instead, they react and rebel and often the result of that is “If I’m going to have the name, I might as well play the game.” If I am going to be shunned or punished or suspected of all these terrible things—if I am going to pay the price for them whether I do them or not—I might as well get the enjoyment of doing them right along with the penalty.” Some kids, like my nephew (GCBro’s felon son) never outgrow the attitude and spend their entire lives in one kind of trouble after another.

To you, she'll lie blatantly. She will claim to be unable to remember bad things she has done, even if she did one of them recently and even if it was something very memorable. Of course, if you try to jog her memory by recounting the circumstances "You have a very vivid imagination" or "That was so long ago. Why do you have to dredge up your old grudges?" Your conversations with her are full of casual brush-offs and diversionary lies and she doesn't respect you enough to bother making it sound good. For example she'll start with a self-serving lie: "If I don't take you as a dependent on my taxes I'll lose three thousand dollars!" You refute her lie with an obvious truth: "No, three thousand dollars is the amount of the dependent exemption. You'll only lose about eight hundred dollars." Her response: "Isn't that what I said?" You are now in a game with only one rule: You can't win.

I could go on and on and on with the many ways NM lied to me, both by outright fabrications and deliberately misleading me, and by more subtle means, like omitting salient information that would change one’s view of her in a tale she told.

For example, NM once told me that her father (a German/Russian immigrant) was “too old fashioned and unreasonably strict.” Well, knowing my grandfather and knowing he was a bit on the old fashioned side (he forbade me to wear two-piece swim suits at the local pool, for example and deplored my use of make up), for many years I believed her teenaged rebellion against him was justifiable. She also told me that she was the unfavoured child, that her parents preferred her brothers and gave them all kinds of privileges and freedoms she did not have. Given that she treated me and my brother that way, it was totally believable.

But it wasn’t true. Over a period of years I picked up tidbits from various family members that indicated my NM was spoiled, especially by her father, and that she was indulged and cosseted. When I was in my late 30s I had occasion to discuss my NM’s youth with her older brother, my uncle Gary, who was angry enough with her for using him in her campaign to steal my kids that he finally broke the “no airing dirty linen” part of his upbringing and told me story after story of NM’s childhood and youth and early adulthood.

Considering the very conservative mores of the time—1940s—my NM’s behaviour was nothing short of scandalous! Yes, her father was strict with her but not because he was a control-freak ignorant immigrant—he did it in response to her antics, things that caused her to be a subject of ugly gossip and rumour—like sneaking out at night at the age of 16 and being seen drinking and smoking and riding around on motorcycles with young men too old to be dating her. She eloped with my father and before my grandfather could get it annulled, she was pregnant with me (an event for which she would never forgive me) and all of her wild ways had to be curtailed.

But, according to my uncle, not for long. Within a short time of my birth she was up to her old tricks again and she created such a scandal this time that we had to leave town. Women crossed the street in town to avoid having to walk past her, if a man looked at her his wife bashed him with her pocketbook. She became the “town tramp,” and to save both her own and her family’s face, she had to get out of town.

But none of this information was offered by NM. No, to hear her tell it, Grandpa was unreasonably strict with her and allowed my uncles to run loose and it just wasn’t fair! And when confronted with these lies of omission, what was her reaction? “Where did you hear this nonsense? From your Uncle Gary? We have never gotten along, he has always been jealous of me, and it doesn’t surprise me that he would make up such lies about me…”

She was no less blatant about telling lies about me, and to call her on them, especially when I was a child, was to invite dire retribution. First, she would deny the lie flatly, throwing in a little gaslighting for good measure: “It didn’t happen that way and you know it!” especially if we were in the presence of others. And once she had me alone and there were no witnesses, my head was handed to me on a platter: “Don’t you ever correct me again, miss, do you understand? Ever! If you do, I will beat you within an inch of your life, do you hear?”

This kind of thing fosters co-dependency. Knowing the truth in your own head but unable to act upon it or express it—indeed to risk punishment for anything other than full support of the dissembler—we learn to enable at our NM’s knees.

On the rare occasions she is forced to acknowledge some bad behavior, she will couch the admission deniably. She "guesses" that "maybe" she "might have" done something wrong. The wrongdoing is always heavily spun and trimmed to make it sound better. The words "I guess," "maybe," and "might have" are in and of themselves lies because she knows exactly what she did - no guessing, no might haves, no maybes.

This is called “dissembling” and it is something many DoNMs seem to pick up as fleas. Ns can’t be wrong because it impinges their sense of self-worth. Many DoNMs can’t be wrong as well, but for a different reason: to be wrong invites punishment. Even as grown up women, inside us the fearful child still quivers, and even though we consciously know nobody is going to tongue-lash or beat us up for our error, that trembling inner child does not. It is a difficult habit to break, if you’ve picked it up, but in the spirit of honesty, if you find yourself doing it, you need to learn to stop, for your own peace of mind.

Ns do this as a fence-sitting exercise, as a way to have their cake and eat it too. Through this type of dissembling, they attempt to placate the accuser while retaining, for themselves, their “innocence.” The worst part of the lying that Ns do is not their lying to us, it is their lying to themselves. When they believe their own lies, any chance of rational interaction is dead.

This, by the way, is the main reason it is so difficult to interact rationally with an N: you live in reality, they live in a fantasy created out of lies, and the two worlds are mutually incompatible.

9. She has to be the center of attention all the time.


  1. "This, by the way, is the main reason it is so difficult to interact rationally with an N: you live in reality, they live in a fantasy created out of lies, and the two worlds are mutually incompatible."

    This is precisely the reason I went NC! My NM's consistent tactic is complete, 100% denial. In our last confrontation, she followed up with apologizing for anything she "might" have done even though she had no clue what that might be since she denied all wrongdoing. So she got to apologize and do the right thing (in her mind) while still refusing to accept any responsibility or admit anything she's done.

    It is impossible to have a relationship with someone when they refuse to live in reality. It is impossible to communicate when they rewrite or erase history on a whim. When I ran up against that the final time, much like running into a brick wall, I gave up. All the lying, denial, and gaslighting leaves no room for enjoyable or worthwhile human interaction.

    1. You are exactly correct--it is impossible to have a relationship with someone who refuses to live in reality. Black is white, wrong is right, things they don't want to acknowledge don't exist, things that didn't really happen outrage and incense them. It is a peculiar kind of madness that only people inside the madness--those who accept the NM's "reality" over objective reality--can live with.

      Your example is archetypal--I have heard it from other DoNMs--we call it a fauxpology--the "sorry" word is spoken but the intent is not there...a sure sign that she is simply placating you to preserve her source of Nsupply. An act done for HER benefit rather than yours, and without even a passing nod to truth and reality. I am sorry to have to meet another person who went through this, but happy to let you know that you are far from alone--you have more sisters in this than you can possibly know!

      I hope NC is working out for you, and if this is your first time here, please let me invite you to join the blog so you can get notifications of updates.

      And thank you so much for visiting and for writing...

    2. Hello, This is my first time here. Please invite me to join the blog so I can get notifications and updates. Thank you!

    3. You join the blog up at the top right of the page where it shows the grid of faces. Everyone is invited to join!

  2. I remember my mother telling me at 17 she dated a guy in a motorbike an he was 23 her brother also warned her then bf off her at he's wedding saying she was a whor n I believe she cheated on my father which probably drive him to drinking in the first place and to think she used to call me a whor for wearing a short school uniform when I hadn't even missed a boy until 17 !! Wasn't ugly but very shy and I think she hated me for resembling my dad which I'm not too are about as I don't remember him well and whenever I got compliments for my looks as I was pretty and better lookin than her she seems reli envious I hate her

    1. You might want to read the entry on Projection-- Sounds like your mother did a lot of that!

      The thing is, hating her actually doesn't hurt her at all, but it CAN hurt you. I'm not saying you have to love her or forgive her or anything like that, but hate often comes from a feeling of powerlessness, which is not healthy. I spent five years in therapy and have read countless books on the subject of child abuse and the one I recommend most is Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward.

      When we hate our parents, because we are part of our parents, we hate ourselves as well. This is a self-destructive thing that eventually hurts us more than they ever did. So, my best suggestion to you is to read this whole blog---print out entries that really speak to you. Find articles on Google that tell you more about these things. Buy and read Dr. Forward's book. If you can afford it, see a therapist who has experience in dealing with the victims of people with Personality Disorders.

      And never stop believing in yourself!

  3. As a child I learned Psychobitch was both proactive and reactive with her lies. I wouldn't dream of broaching this obvious "disconnect" even as delicately as possible-instant rage or a very quiet, almost hissing voice, "You DON'T know what you're talking about...that did NOT happen/I did NOT say that!" etc. I would also hear her on the phone, lying to someone about another "mutual friend," alleging something they had done in Psychob's presence "just yesterday" when the "mutual friend" had not been in her presence for weeks or longer. Children get a sense of other adults and many of the women she lied about (this was waay beyond "gossip" stuff, to just terrible allegations regarding the women) were kind, caring women who were always considerate/thoughtful towards her as well as my sister and I. She would hang up the phone with a smirk and appeared to be invigorated or very satisfied with herself.
    Ultimately, she had NO friends which was odd considering she had 2 children in a community of her contemporaries who also had kids around the same ages as her own. At one time we were involved in a car pool with several other mothers and kids who attended the same school. One of the mommies who I particularly liked was so much fun, always happy, interested in all us kids and had a car with a convertible top -she'd always put the top down so we could all enjoy it. She'd always be on time to pick us up and drop us off at our respective homes, her mood was always consistent etc. I felt so safe with her as well as the other mothers. The car pool didn't last longer than maybe 6 wks. It just ended abruptly. I remember Psychob just showed up one afternoon after school and coldly said, "Come over here-you're going home with me" as the other children ran towards the "car pool mommy" for that week. These were many of the women about whom I had heard her lying/denigrating on the phone. Since I was split every which way like a cheap chain store pizza, I never knew from one day to the next if I was going to be portrayed as the "Devil-Child-From-Hell"/the bane of her existence or if my grades earned her "Bragging Rights" to others-but NEVER to me. Report card time was just a nightmare. Anything less than all A's and oh my......
    As an adult I could only conclude if she was breathing, she was lying. There was absolutely no reason for me to bring up specific instances of her behavior-it was futile. Not only would she re-write history, but when she knew she had done something hurtful and it was still a painful memory for me, she'd be sure to store that "memory" away for future use to use a similar situation to hurt me again. Showing any signs of emotional pain would unleash a "Feeding Frenzy." As a child, if I spoke positively of any other mother, that was it: I'd never see that mother again at my house and I couldn't go to their house to play with my friend(s), their kids. No, other kids were NEVER welcomed in my house, not to play, study etc. As an adult, I was still being split every which way but for "Public Consumption" I was a "mess," "lacking tenacity" and had "Emotional problems: She's brilliant (no, I'm not) but has the emotional development of a child." Interesting, considering I had been her Parent forever.
    Again, if she was breathing, she was lying. And that NEVER changed.

    1. Didn't you ever wonder how you could simultaneously be the Devil Child from Hell AND have her claim bragging rights over your grades?

      I sure did. It too me years to figure it out.

      As the mother of the Devil Child from Hell, the Defiant Little Demon who lived to make her life a chaotic mess, she got Nfeed in the form of sympathy and pity. The more dire she could paint the situation, the more intentional she could make my transgressions look, the more "oh, you poor dear"s she got from her listeners. On the other hand, she can take credit for your grades--like when someone says "your son is a fine athlete" and the parent says "thank you"--without needing to pass any of the credit on to you.

      It's all about her.

  4. YES, yes yes! That's exactly it-it's so hard to explain how you can be a "Public GC" for any achievements yet also be a "Public Devil Child." I still don't understand this in some ways; you're being simultaneously denigrated and yet provided "Bragging Rights." I wonder if any of the adults ever wondered about the disconnect between the two because they were such extremes, yk?
    I know my only "value" to her was in terms of my achievements which of course made me a nervous wreck. The pressure for perfection was unrelenting and anything less than this resulted in all kinds of abuse in addition to the withdrawal of her conditional "love."
    Come to think of it, even "Perfection" was never good enough.

    1. It works like this--as an extension of her, any accomplishment or achievement you do is HER accomplishment or achievement. You don't exist as a separate entity.

      Think of it this way: you have a pair of hands that can play the most beautiful music and when they do, you are proud...but they are also prone to cramps, perhaps arthritis, so that they do not always work as you believe they should. People congratulate you on the beautiful music your hands make and commiserate with you on the knobby knuckles and painful get attention from the music and sympathy for the pain...a "two-fer" if you will, from the same pair of hands.

  5. My narcissistic mothers HATES liars-yet she's one of the biggest ones I know. She just came over to my house yesterday after about three months of me continuing to ignore her. She is a sad, pitiful mess yet can't see and absolutely refuses to see the errors of her ways. She claims she wants to know how I feel just to flip on me as soon as I began to tell her the TRUTH. I told her she is delusional and needs help. She scoffed @ me & told me that I need to give my life over to JESUS. Okay lady...that's your response. Nothing's change nor will it ever change. I've accepted that fact and now I'm moving forward. NMs are such pathetic liars that it doesn't matter to them if you presented to them a court case full of infractions they've done to you...they will deny it, rage on and gaslight you til the end. This article was so good-sadly. Thanks for blogging. Keeping the articles coming.

    1. Well, you certainly have clarity where Ns are concerned!

      They aren't going to change...not unless they see something in it for them that is better, in their minds, than what they are getting now. And, unfortunately, when Ns change, it is seldom for the better--at least not for those around them.

      So, once you are clear on the Ns in your life, you have a make a decision what to do about them or they just keep on trying to get Nsupply from you. Have you decided what to do?

      Hugs to you,


  6. Thank goodnes, I'm not alone. I was reading your blog and you're describing my my to the T. We once got into it because I wouldn't loan her money (because she rarely pays back) . She attacked me then put me out the house then called my whole family and told them I beat her up. I was devastate, mostly because they believed her even though it sounded out of my character by my own aunt's admission. My brother moved to another state to get away. Its funny and sad how she has enstranged us (her kids) from the family and had us thinking we were the black sheep. She was the cause with all her lies. I'm at a point where I don't know what to do anymore.

  7. My mum estranged her kids from our family. Why do they do it?

  8. I too have a very narcissistic mother. I never tried to deal with this until I became an adult and it actually got me in trouble with the law. I do not blame her for my actions but I do blame her for who I am on the inside. I am not perfect and my sisters are not perfect but in our family unless you were you were not accepted. I have always denied and defended my mom to everyone else and I can no longer do that if I am to become a good person. I had hit rock bottom before I realized effect it had on me. I now feel sorry for her because I realize that narcissism is a mental issue and she doesn't even realize that she's got it. I'm not the pitiful embarrassing little child that she always make me out to be and I will no longer be controlled by anyone thoughts about me except for myself. I am a good person who did wrong and I am still a good person and I will make amends and I will be happy and that is something my narcissistic mother never wanted was my happiness.

  9. My mother is a narcissist she loves to put me down in everything i enjoy in life. From my love of playing the piano to my pets that i enjoy to my work life.If i lose my job she laughs about it. Every day she has to nit pick at me for every little thing, the minute i wake up she is yelling at me for something, so i completely avoid her. I am doing well in life it eats her up inside. She is always depressed about something always moping around, with this sour lemon look on her face. One minute she will be nice and the next she is an ultimate bitch to me. She is a spoilt person who hasn't worked in 15 years. She lies about everything and i am tired of it. If she needs something done, she doesn't ask she demands it to be done now, NOW. But if you need help she will make you beg for it until you basically give up and then all of a sudden she is doing you a favor "helping you out" when in reality you would rather do it yourself now. One example she asks to fix an image on the computer, she basically wants a miracle to be done, if you cant do it in 2 minutes, she will start insulting you,calling you stupid, dumb idiot, pathetic, slow just because you cannot perform the miracle that she expects to be done in 2 minutes, where she doesn't realize it takes at least 30 minutes to edit images for her to look good in front of her family. Another example she let me use her car when i smashed my car, the car insurance money went to her so she could have a new fence. I would beg for hours to use the vehicle to go to the shop for 30 min,then she will let me use the car after 5 hours of beging, i would return the car on time. Now she has no car, i let her use my car, but she demands to use the car now, NOW ! regardless if i need it. She takes of with my car for 8 hours each time she takes off with it, doesn't tell me when she is coming back so if i didn't go to the shop the day before i would have no food until she gets home. But if my brother in-law or sister needs the car, she will hand it over immediately no questions asked to them.The even use MY car for their purposes even though they have my mothers car. Right now she is slamming the doors around in the house cause the lie she told my father about leaving a mess after i finished my sewing, i cleaned up everything but she still lied about me leaving needles on the floor. I put every single need in the needle pillow cause i know she will start on me for that. My dad finally got his car back today, and now she is super pissed off cause now we don't have to succumb to her demands. So she will start a fight about me not doing this or that just in time for fathers day. She just loves putting people down, she does the same thing to my father and my father is sick of her shit. She planted a weeping tree in the back yard that has blocked the sewage drain, instead she refuses to take the blame, when my father told her to not plant the weeping tree near the house. The plumber came and opened the pipes and told us that is the weeping tree roots, i have have photos of it. And still she denies that its a root problem . I am sick of her.


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: