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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No boundaries: 10 Commandments of Dysfunctional Families Pt 7(1)

From The 10 Commandments of Dysfunctional Families 
by Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A

7. Thou shalt allow your boundaries to be violated, especially by those who “love” you.
Sample Situation: A child trying to accomplish a task continues to persist and work on it, hoping to gain a sense of accomplishment and approval. “Don't be so stubborn!” mommy says. “Just give up. There’s more important things than that to be done! Now put that stuff away and clean the house so that mommy knows you love her.”

Lesson Learned: Anything you want is not worth protecting. Only those you love can tell you what is important and what’s not. Quit thinking for yourself and just do what makes everyone else happy.

Motto: Because others are more valuable than you, you don’t have the right to maintain your own boundaries or to make decisions.


Some of us aren’t clear on what boundaries are. According to Wikipedia, “Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits. They are built out of a mix of beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning.

“Personal boundaries define you as an individual, outlining your likes and dislikes, and setting the distances you allow others to approach. They include physical, mental, psychological and spiritual boundaries, involving beliefs, emotions, intuitions and self-esteem.”

If you are the child of a Narcissist and/or grew up in a dysfunctional family, you have been raised to have no boundaries. Nothing you own is yours, not even your body, certainly not your thoughts and beliefs. If you have any boundaries at all, they are in your head and you keep them to yourself because letting your NParent know about them guarantees they will be immediately disregarded, trampled, forbidden. You are not an individual, separate person to your NParent, you are an extension of him, her, or them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change when you grow up.

“Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances— Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions— Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others—”

“…boundaries are a healthy, normal, and necessary part of life. Boundaries are a way to manage one’s life and one’s interpersonal relationships—a way to set limits.”

I spent most of my childhood waiting to be 18. I really didn’t have any plans for my life after that, I was simply focussed on turning 18 because, I believed, once I was 18 I could move out of my mother’s house and she would not be able to hurt me any more. Somehow I expected that when I turned 18, not only would I have boundaries, but NM would be obligated to respect them.

I was wrong.

I had never thought of myself as being an extension of my mother until I learned about boundaries: the better your boundaries, the more autonomous you are…and I was not allowed to be autonomous, nor was I allowed to have boundaries. To even hint at having them was to invite a retaliatory rage; to give away the slightest feeling of dismay or displeasure at having my boundaries violated risked indignance, aroused suspicions, and punishment. Not only did I have to tolerate the constant and unrelenting violation of my boundaries, I had to pretend that it was ok with me, that it was no big deal, that I had no rights and that was fine with me.

Just what are we talking about here? Well, when I was a kid, NM would come into my room and “clean out” my closet, my dresser, my room…usually when I was not home. At the end of one her forays, I would be missing clothes, books, toys, cards from my grandmothers and drawings I did (“worthless trash” in NM’s estimation), and even pets. I had no voice in the matter, things just disappeared when I was not there. And I was expected not to object.

I was not allowed to have physical boundaries: if she wanted me to sit on the lap of a smelly old man who happened to be the producer of a movie she wanted me to have a part in, I was expected to do so (and I faced severe punishment when I refused). When punishing me, she would make me lay across a bed with my bare buttocks and thighs exposed. She had a thin leather strap, once a dog leash but with the metal clip removed, with which she would “spank” me. These were no spankings, they were whippings in the truest sense of the word, because The Strap left the same thin, raised red welts across my tender flesh that a whip would leave. I was not allowed to move during the whipping—if I so much as rolled to one side in my agony, I was given more lashes for attempting to get away—“defiance,” she called it. She could hit, slap, pinch, whip, push, trip, beat me and even pull my hair, but I was not allowed to even look like I wanted to protest. When I had boils (which I did during childhood—lots of them), I was not allowed to object or protest or even cry out in pain when she sat on me (to hold me still, she said) and squeezed them. I had no dominion over my own body whatsoever—any physical boundaries I might try to set were trampled with hob-nailed boots.

When I was an adolescent, she ransacked my dresser and my closet, searched my school books, coat pockets, handbag, even turned my bed out, looking for stuff. Nothing of mine was sacred, anything could—and did—disappear if she either disapproved of it or fancied it for herself. I cannot begin to count the sweaters, skirts, and tops she “borrowed” without asking and subsequently stained, stretched out of shape, or simply never returned. She snooped in everything, demanded explanations for doodles in my school notebooks, even beat the stuffing out of me one afternoon when she found some money in something of mine—I wasn’t allowed to have money until I got a job in high school, and then, only as much as she allowed me to have for bus fare and school lunches. Nothing was private, nothing was sacrosanct, and if I wanted something that she didn’t find necessary in her life (like a can of hair spray), I had to submit a justification for buying it. I could not wait to get out of there and have some privacy and autonomy!

I actually did rebel and set a boundary when I was about 16… We lived about a block from the beach and every afternoon I went down there with a towel, my books, and the dog, and did my homework while working on my tan. I came home one afternoon to find my two-piece bathing suits missing (they were bikinis by the standard of the day, but covered a great deal more than modern bikinis). Outraged—I knew exactly where they were and who took them—I went to NM’s room and searched her drawers and closet as she must have done mine to find my swimsuits. I found them, hidden under some of her lingerie, retrieved them, put one on and went down to the beach. When I got back, she was home and she was livid. How dare I go into her room without permission and go through her things? She had a yardstick in her hand and she smacked me on the bare thigh with it and I—very unexpectedly—went ballistic.

It was like I had split in two, one person standing on the sidelines watching, horrified, as the other put herself in deep, deep trouble. The other, seized by rage and indignation, snatched the yardstick out of NM’s hand and broke it in half, then put her hands on NM’s chest and pushed her, with short, sharp shoves, right out of the bedroom and slammed the door in her face. All the while this was going on, she was screaming her outrage, “Stay out of my room! Stay out of my things! And I’m too old for spanking—don’t you ever hit me again where the marks will show in my gym shorts!”

How pathetic is that? So brainwashed, so lacking in real boundaries or sense of personal power, that I couldn’t tell her not to ever hit me again, just to limit her beatings where I would not be humiliated in front of my peers with the evidence of her brutality. Not only did I not want to reveal to my peers that she still treated my like a little kid, I had come to recognize that those bruises were not badges of my mother’s brutality, they confirmed my culpability…I had gone unbelieved for so long, I no longer expected people to believe me, I just wanted to stop showing them marks on my skin that proclaimed me at fault for my mother’s volatility.

I was careful to keep my thoughts to myself, my opinions and my beliefs. Since my beliefs and values and convictions were pretty much always different from those she expressed, and knowing that she took disagreement as a challenge that she had to win at all costs, I forestalled confrontation with her by simply not informing her of what went on in my head. If she knew what my private thoughts were, she would have done her level best to change or eradicate them.

Before I reached that magical 18th birthday, I got pregnant and married and out of her house. And I expected that would be the end of her predations. She had told me that when times got tough, not to run to her for help—a boundary she set down and I never attempted to cross. And I fully expected her to respect my boundaries after I was on my own. But it didn’t work out that way. As much as she was an ignoring NM, there were times that she decided to visit me—always unannounced—for reasons known only to her. “I was in the neighbourhood” was as false an excuse as one could make, considering that she lived down by the beach and I lived a good 20 miles inland. During those visits she made it clear that even as an adult living on my own, I was not allowed to make decisions for myself without hearing her opinions on where I was wrong. I was supposed to live my life according to her dictates, even though I was on my own and a mother in my own right.

One of the problems with a dysfunctional family and boundaries is that we aren’t allowed to set our own. Someone else sets them for us and they tend to be pretty one-way: they get to set boundaries that keep you out of their business but you are not allowed to do the same. Your boundaries exist only insofar as you are admonished to keep silent about the goings-on inside the family. The problem with growing up this way is that when you reach adulthood, you don’t change: you don’t really know how to set and enforce boundaries and anybody who presumes him/herself your superior will set up the same kind of dynamic with you: your boundaries may be violated at will while you must respect the boundaries of those who have assumed a position of authority over you, be it a boss, a boyfriend, or even another family member like your sister or daughter.

Growing up in a dysfunctional family that tramples all over your boundaries sets you up for two distinct problems in adulthood: 1) an inability to set and enforce boundaries in adulthood and 2) guilt about boundary setting, viewing it as “rejection.”

Learning to set boundaries and enforce boundaries can be tough. We don’t know what is too strict a boundary, what is too lax; we are conditioned to permit any kind of intrusion into our privacy, any kind of control, and sometimes it is difficult for us to even recognize these incursions. After a 13 year marriage to a paranoid malignant narcissist I took a two year hiatus from men and just worked on healing and becoming a healthier person so I would attract healthier men. When I resumed dating I went out with a guy I’ll call Bill who, on the surface, seemed nice enough but I couldn’t quite pin down my unease. One day Bill and I were in a video rental shop and I asked to open an account. The clerk was asking questions and writing down the answers…the problem was, Bill wasn’t letting me answer, he was just taking it over. Finally I interrupted him and said “Bill, who is opening this account, you or me?” He looked puzzled and said “Well, you, of course,” to which I replied “Then kindly allow me to answer the questions, since they are about me, after all.” He sulked all the way back to my place. On another occasion, Bill and I took a car trip down to LA (we lived in Silicon Valley). On the way back, I got food poisoning at lunch and by the time we came into this quaint and romantic little inn he had booked us for the night, I was desperately ill. He was very unhappy with me that I wouldn’t “set it aside” and be romantic and sexual with him…he even complained about how much he paid for the suite and how much trouble he went to in booking just the right room…I was sick and was up and down to the bathroom all night while he sulked. My expectation that he would respect my feeling ill was stomped all over—he moaned and complained all night and in the morning assumed I was well and ready to be frisky when, in fact, I felt like death warmed over. We parted shortly after that trip, for I had seen that nothing, not even my being sick with food poisoning, put a dent in his sense of entitlement.

My brief relationship with Bill taught me a lot about boundaries—setting and maintaining them—and reinforced my resolve to kick to the kerb any man who could not or would not respect them. The next couple of boyfriends didn’t even last as long as Bill because not only was I noticing their boundary violations, I wasn’t sticking around long enough to let them stomp on my sensibilities. Eventually I found a lovely man who understood and respected boundaries and I married him.

We often find boundaries difficult to deal with because we equate them with rejection and we are conditioned to put the feelings of others before our own…and we therefore fear that setting a boundary with someone will be perceived as a rejection. “Dysfunctional families are often dysfunctional in large part because they don't set healthy boundaries. As a result, during their crucial years of development, the children of…dysfunctional parents very frequently are rejected by their loved ones. Children from dysfunctional families commonly develop a hypersensitivity to rejection as a result.” Because setting boundaries is alien to us and because we, unlike our dysfunctional parents, retain our compassion and empathy, setting a boundary may feel like a rejection to us. We feel like we are rejecting the person (or people) who would be most affected by our boundary and we feel guilty for it despite the fact that boundary setting is actually healthy for us and for the people we expect to respect it.

Even though we intellectually recognize the difference between reinforcing boundaries and rejection it does not mean that our emotional perceptions follow suit. This make it difficult to set boundaries for dates such that we end up being promiscuous not because we are lusty, sexual women but because we cannot say “No.” We have been conditioned since the cradle to let someone else be our boss and we know the sting of rejection…and we also know the crush of guilt. We say “yes” to spare the guy what we perceive as rejection and ourselves the guilt that comes from saying “No.”

This carries over into our marriages and our mothering. We agree, we permit, when we don’t want to in order to spare our husband or child the feeling of rejection that we would have felt—and to spare ourselves the guilt that comes along to haunt us when we hurt someone. It is neither good for our marital relationship, as it breeds resentment that our husbands can’t read our minds and just know we wouldn’t like something nor is it good for our children when we cannot set limits for them because we don’t want to bear the irrational guilt our psyches will visit upon us when we violate one of the old boundaries set down by our dysfunctional parents when we were helpless children.

So, for a myriad of reasons, it is important for us to close the door on people violating our boundaries and to learn to set and enforce boundaries in our own lives. It is the only way we can ever gain respect and maintain respect from those around us and teach it to our children.

Next: Ten Commandments of Dysfunctional Families:
7 (2). Thou shalt be hyper-vigilant (there are actually two #7s in the original document!)


  1. Very true, you're raised to think you have no choice in anything in your life.
    Was thinking about this all day. Children taught to not choose for themselves, to be so dis-empowered they aren't allowed
    to choose anything for themselves. (even telling us who to marry or date or where to live or who to TALK to, it's unbelievable.) Meanwhile they are so empowered to 'choose' whatever they want that they choose things that destroy other
    peoples' lives and don't even make any apologies, and those people aren't allowed to say 'no thank you, I choose not to have a destroyed life'. Thanks for posting this!

    1. You make good points...and the problem with being so disempowered as a child is that we remain disempowered as adults and often times don't even realize it.

      And the Ns in our lives who seize and withhold our power just aggregate it to their grandiose selves. Only when we take our power back do we stand a chance of having whole lives--and those Ns are not going to give it up easily or willingly. But it is something we have to do...

    2. When young, like 11 or 12, I started getting these horrible boils. I can't help but wonder if they are symbolic for our repressed rage? Wow, they hurt like hell, it must have been torturous to have them even touched let alone squeezed while being held down! Another thing I can really relate to is not setting boundaries, especially with men. I didn't feel I could or should say no, as well, it was better attention than my family was offering. I still struggle with guilt when setting limits. I gained weight as a subconscious way to repel men, but even that didn't work!
      Oddly, my mother and sociopath brother sometimes went through my stuff and tossed lots of important things away. When confronted they didn't even bother to make up a good excuse. Remind me, once your mom passed away, did you feel any relief...or were you sad/morning? I am on no contact and mom is near 84...just wondering how I might feel.
      Thanks so much for this blog! I started one myself...check it out if you want...there's just three posts so far!

    3. Trisha, I have read your three entries so far and am impressed with the way you can paint such vivid pictures with words! I have added your blog to my list of recommended sites because I think one of the keys to healing is to share--both sharing your own story and sharing the stories of others. From this we learn we are not alone, we are not to blame and that we CAN heal...other women do it, we can too!

      Oh, how well I recognize "not setting boundaries, especially with men. I didn't feel I could or should say no, as well, it was better attention than my family was offering." That was inside my mind as well.

      My NM died just a couple of months after her 69th birthday: she had had a quintuple bypass four years earlier but unlike her own mother, who had followed doctor's orders and lived another 21 years after her bypass, NM refused to stop smoking, eliminate so much animal fat from her diet, or even take her meds properly. This woman, who had inherited a 6-figure sum from her own mother, said the meds were "too expensive" but she had figured out how to cut the cost by half--by taking the meds in half doses! In what was probably my last face-to-face meeting with her, I said "Mother, if half of the dose would do the job, the doctor would have prescribed half of what you're getting. He prescribed that dosage for a reason." Her response? "Oh, that young pup? What does HE know?" She was PROUD of herself for coming up with the scheme to keep more money in her pocket--proud of her arrogance and her ignorance as well. And this arrogance cost her her life...she was dead within 4 years of her bypass instead of after 21 years like her mother.

      So, I wasn't surprised when I got the call that she had died. The first thing I felt was a HUGE sense of relief, like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. What surprised me, however, was a sense of grief which I was quickly able to identify not as a sense of loss over the death of my mother, but a sense of grief for the loss of that last feeble flicker of hope that one day she would wake up and want to be my mother for real. I had thought that all hope had long since extinguished, but a tiny fragment of it remained hidden away, only to be dashed when the news of her death came: while there was life, there was hope, and that hope died with her. My grief over that lasted the better part of half an hour, where I mourned "what might have been." But I am a pragmatist and it was over soon. At no time did I feel grief at my mother's passing--the primary emotion was relief and an overwhelming sense of unprecedented freedom.

      You may not feel as I did. I know a woman whose NM live to be 100. She fell and broke her hip and after the corrective surgery, she changed. For two weeks she was kind and loving to her only child, and then she died. Her daughter was grateful for the two weeks of kindness, but soon it wore off and she remembered her mother as she had really been for nearly 70 years and shook off her pall of grief...narcissists can be the nicest, most charming, sweet and loving people in the world when they want to be...and this woman wanted to be remembered lovingly so over the scorched earth of nearly 70 years of tormenting her daughter she poured some fresh topsoil and planted a few daisies and for a short time they flourished...but the lasting memories will be the ones she inflicted on her daughter for nearly 7 decades.

      I suspect you may mourn the loss of hope, the loss of possibility of a different future, but you seem fairly clear about the past so you will probably just be relieved that the other shoe has finally dropped and now you can get on with your life.



  2. Violet, what an inspiring response, thanks! It was interesting that you still had "...that last feeble flicker of hope that one day she would wake up and want to be my mother for real." Yes, I can imagine the loss of that tiny piece of hope...but now you've perhaps saved me from it by warning me!
    My mother does not take care of her health either...she's in denial about it. Very strange. Maybe on a subconscious level they hate themselves and it is revealed by their lack of self care? Your mother triggers me and she's already gone! To think she's clever splitting the meds in half is irritating and frustrating.
    Thanks so much for being here...I really mean it...Thanks!

    1. I don't know anyone who was at my NM's flat when she died, so this has not been verified, but according to my daughter, NM had sticy notes all over her flat saying "Do Not Resuscitate."

      I suspect it may be a little of what you suggest, but I also cannot help but suspect it being some of her Drama Queenism at work. Yah, we know if nobody resuscitates her, she won't be around to enjoy the drama, but she knew she wouldn't be around for the reading when she wrote her Will and stuck in her nasty little zingers, but she did it anyway.

      She was a mean and nasty piece of work and the world is a better place without her.

  3. Hi Violet, Thanks for writing this. The setting of boundaries is something I have trouble with. Not with physical boundaries but specifically with people saying mean things hidden as comments, prying questions or other sneaky behaviour in general. Often I am perplexed by this behaviour because it is not within my standards of how these people should behave to me or how I would behave to them. I'm afraid they will make me look like the bad guy, rejecting them if I confront them. Sometimes it's very hard for me to discern or label their behaviour as mean, nasty, cruel or backstabbing especially when it's done covertly. I have been setting boundaries out of necessity all my life but I am becoming more and more aware of the more sneaky violations of boundaries (the ones that can be more easily denied). I hope the longer I practice it the more comfortable I will get with doing it and being at ease with it. J.

    1. Boundaries are tough and dealing with those covert boundary violations the toughest of all. I have found a technique that seems to work well: when someone says something that could have a mean interpretation, I say (even in front of other people) "You can't possibly mean xxx, can you?" and give the mean interpretation (i.e., "You can't possibly be implying I am a racist, can you? My own husband isn't white, you know..." This accomplishes two things: 1) it embarrasses them and they either have to justify what they said or back off from it and 2) it puts them on notice that you will call them out when they do such a thing. It also informs them that you are onto their little game and won't be taken advantage of. When they say "Oh, no, of course not!" then I narrow my eyes, like a canny old woman, and say "Oh, of course not. You would NEVER imply such a thing about someone, now would you?"

      Here is a link to an entry on this blog you may find helpful:

  4. Hi Violet, Thanks for your response :-). Just recently I went to have dinner with a friend and I told her about how I found a coach that could help my husband and I deal with his NM. I said to her that I finally found someone who thinks along the same lines as I do (appeasing, ignoring, rising above it, family above all doesn't work). And that I was glad I had found a professional with a lot of experience. Her first response was, so he will not be critical of your behaviour (because we thought along the same lines). Then I started explaining he would of course be critical of me too (sort of Pavlov reaction). She said, oh alright... There I was hit again, it sank in about a minute later. She's the only one (of my friends who behaves this way). I think her way of behaving has something in common with how my own mother always tried to get me in a position where I started defending myself. I don't know if I want to be dealing with these stabs for a lot longer. She always seems to get some sort of satisfaction when things aren't going well for me, and critical when things are going really good. For a start I will not be meeting with her alone anymore. Thanks for providing the link, I remember reading this post before. The response you mention is a real good one, I will start practicing :-). J.

    1. You know, once you open your eyes to Ns, you start seeing them everywhere. So much so, you may even begin to doubt yourself, thinking you are projecting. But trust probably are not, and they probably are.

      Why? Because we have been conditioned since childhood to be the kind of person that Ns will gravitate towards. And they can smell us the way a drug dog can smell cocaine. I have seen it countless times, people finally getting wise to the ways narcissists behave and then realizing to their horror how many narcissists they have surrounded themselves with. If you are like some women I have met, you may need a whole new set of friends because once you weed out the Ns and their enablers, there may be few left!

      Not seeing an N alone is a very good plan. The presence of witnesses can curb their tongues, unless the witness is someone they feel entitled to skewer as well. My late husband refused to talk to his mother or brother unless I was there with him, and he wouldn't let me spend so much as a minute with my NM unless he was there to bear witness to what she had to say. At the very least you have someone else to back you up when your N friend tries to gaslight you later by saying "I never said that!" or "I certainly didn't mean it that way." With a witness you can always say "Well, Mary was there--shall we ask her??" Busting them is the ONLY way to get them to stop, and a witness to their snide and provoking ways is one way to bust them.

      The worst thing a narcissist can imagine is to be exposed for what she really is. It is visceral fear, one they do not even consciously recognize. If you can put the fear of exposure into to her...or any other will go a long way towards getting them to leave you alone and seek another victim. Calling them on their crap by saying something like "You can't possibly be implying I am a racist, can you?" will make them more careful about what they say to you. In the case you mention above, when she said "So, he will not be critical of your behaviour?" I would have said something like "And what part of my behaviour do you think he needs to be critical of?" (She said it because she KNEW you would not call her on it because you would be afraid to hear her answer....which means you need to make her afraid to speak that answer by challenging her.) Of course, this needs to be delivered by sitting back a bit, raising your chin, and delivering your question in an icy cold, almost hostile tone of voice.

      If she calls your bluff and answers you, that is your cue to pick up your handbag, stand up, and say, in as cold a voice as you can muster, "Well, I am sorry you find me so inadequate. Perhaps some better friends are in order." Don't bother to tell her you mean better friends for YOU, not better friends for her.

      If you can't think that fast on your feet, just be quiet and smile slightly like you have an amusing little secret. Let her keep talking. Give her enough rope and she will surely hang herself and then you will be free of what has now been termed a "frenemy." You don't need them. Nobody does.



  5. Hi Violet,

    Yes abusers certainly know where to go. They simply test you and see what you take. Years ago I removed two really toxic 'friends' from my life. One was a girl I knew from the age of 4. When we grew older and in our teens I began to notice that she started behaving really jealous and possessive. We went off to study at university and she continued behaving jealous, threatening to tell things I told her in private when we were out with a group of people, when I dated someone she ceased all contact (and I had to restore it), lying about me, 'accidentally' breaking stuff, throwing things on the floor of my room instead of the bin to provoke me and a lot more. She could also be very charming and very good company (not that it made up for the bad, it made it more difficult to see her for what she was). The most difficult thing here for me was that I knew her since I was 4 years old and I knew her family really well, and when we were kids she was a good friend. However in the end I had to cut her out of my life and that was a relief. No more drama, finally peace. The other was a guy who lived in the same house when we were studying. He was also a backstabber, who started lying and meddling between me and other friends while pretending to be agood friend. One day he thought he could get away with something really outrageous (I won't even mention it) and next day he knocked on my door and thought we could just go on as before, I told him how I thought about him and threw him out. It was a struggle dealing with these two, somehow they always caught me by making me belief I was the bad guy. A pattern I recognize from my childhood too. I always tried really hard to make my mother feel proud of me but I somehow never ever measured up. She never ever gave me what I wanted which was to simply be loved by her, I was the bad guy somehow. My brother on the other hand who ruined everything and could have gotten away with murder always was adored and favoured by my mother. To other people she made it look like I had everything going for me and my poor brother should be pitied. Which made it even worse for me. Nobody would ever belief me. An upside down world.

    'She said it because she KNEW you would not call her on it because you would be afraid to hear her answer....which means you need to make her afraid to speak that answer by challenging her.' Yes that is so true. I will start making cue cards with what I want to say :-). I really need to practice. Thanks for giving the examples, how did you learn to respond like that? The more covert comments are so difficult, although I always feel something is wrong. I know I have to stop starting to defend myself in response as a start.

    Thanks for your support :-), J.

    1. I will pass on to you one of my favourite sayings: what you allow, you teach. You teach people how to treat you by what you allow them to do, by what you put up with, by what you will tolerate.

      I heard this on a TV talk show back in the 1980s. A psychologist, Nina C Miller, was being interviewed by the host. I was about 3 or 4 months out of a marriage to a malignant narcissist and the minute she said this, all kinds of bells and whistles went off in my head. YES!! That is what happened in my marriage! Trained by NM to be nice, to capitulate, to submit to anyone who assumed s/he had authority over me, that is exactly what I did: I taught him it was OK to abuse me emotionally--and he taught my kids it was OK.

      Sure, I got defensive...which only made it worse because Ns take defensiveness as a sign they have hit their mark. It was not until I sat down calmly with a time we were not quarrelling, so he couldn't dismiss what I was saying as a "hysterical reaction"...and said to him "This is not working. One of us has got to leave," that I gained the upper hand from him and began taking my life back. It was not until *I* made an assertive, proactive move that things began to change, and on my terms.

      You are in the same situation: YOU have to take a calm, proactive step to stop her. You have to set a boundary and enforce it. Where did I learn to respond like that? Believe it or not, from Ann Landers!! Somebody wrote in about people asking nosy questions that the person did not want to answer and asked how to politely get out of it. Ann said "Look 'em in the eye and ask them 'whyever would you ask me such a personal question?' Put them on the same spot they put you on." And that stuck with me...and it works. They do it because they CAN. Most people are too polite to tell them to mind their own business, so they answer even if they are uncomfortable about it. But Ann's answer gives another alternative: they are being rude to ask such questions or make such remarks, so you simply ask them to explain themselves. That puts them in the hot seat and if you do it enough times, they will least with you.

      Your "friend" may try to turn the tables and say something like "Why, whatever do you mean?" in which case--she DID ask the question--you have just been given carte blanche to give her what she has coming...the truth. "What is it with you? You are always asking nosy, personal questions or making snide little remarks about me and Susan. Can't you just have a normal conversation with friends without getting catty?"

      You can pretty much count on her saying something like "Well, I'm sorry you took it that way...." That is blaming you, don't let her her get away with it. "I took it exactly as you meant it and you know it. I am putting you on notice, Susan--any more catty remarks or snide comments and we won't be seeing each other any more."

      Learn to trust your gut--if it feels wrong, it probably is. If you can't put your finger on it, just ask "What did you mean by that?" Put her on the spot often enough and she will stop doing it around you because she will not enjoy the scrutiny. If she tries to wriggle out of it with, "oh, nothing, really," or "oh, you know..." keep the challenge going "No, I don't know. Tell me." or "If it was nothing, why did it sound so mean-spirited? What did you mean?" Once she knows you will call her on her nasty little remarks, she will either stop saying them around you or she will stop coming around you. You just have to be certain that if she pokes a boundary, you set her straight--and you MUST do it in front of others she said it in front of others..."I hope you didn't mean that to be as racist as it sounds...did you??"

      If she was my friend, I'd probably drop her...but she's not, so you are the one who has to decide.

      Best of luck,



  6. Hi Violet, I know that saying and the first time I read I really had to let it sink in. It is true. If you don't state your boundaries when they're violated you essentially allow people to overstep them. And narcissists especially are actively looking for holes in the defense. I am slowly applying it (read it in a Dr Phil book). I started with my NMIL by saying to her, why are you asking this (she's really good in prying questions)? That worked really good, she didn't expect it and was off balance for a moment which bought me some time. I will give myself the following assignment: if it feels uneasy, ask what did you mean by that, why did you ask me that, what do you want to say, why are you telling me this. I need to re-train myself and ingrain it in my brain, it helps to read how you've gone about it. I'll save a copy of this post. I am keeping an image in my mind of my place, which is a castle with huge walls and a bridge that can be raised and there are only people allowed who are positively contributing. The other's will not be allowed entrance or be kicked out and can live outside the walls. J.

    1. Sounds like you have a good plan! Let me know how it goes!



  7. First time in my life I set boundaries for my NM and boy did I get a backlash. She made sure everyone in the family knew what a terrible person I was, by lying and being the Martyr (and she quite proudly told my how they want nothing to do with me). When I didn't contact her cause of her lies and abuse she suddenly started trying to get me to 'fix' things. I was tired of her lies and abuse and just kept telling her my boundaries which she tried to push. Even after we 'fixed' things for her own peace of mind (not to actually fix it with me but so she can be right with God), she hasn't contacted me at all. You see I told her that she needs to fix her lies and then she really has to work hard at getting back any kind of relationship with me. Which she isn't willing to do. Those are my boundaries and I won't move them. Harsh they might be but I can't go back to her abuse. If she isn't really repentant I can't have any kind of 'normal' relationship with her. As for gaslighting...she is the queen of that. She said an ugly thing to my H cause he refused to be manipulated by her, in front of myself and 2 other people and she denied ever saying that even though there were 4 other people who heard it! Now I'm in a place where I self doubt my decision. Am I being too harsh? Did she really say those things? Maybe I should have listened to everyone...etc. This is the hard part to keep to my boundaries and keep my head held high even though they are trying to convince me I'm the bad person in the story! That's really hard! I just keep telling myself that saying no is not a sin and does not deserve to be cut off because of it!

    1. That is exactly how a lot of them respond to being spiteful. It is as if they are saying "Oh, you want to control me? Well, control THIS..." as they begin spinning their lies.

      You basically have two choices in a situation like this: give in or stick to your boundaries. Both of them have consequences and only you can determine which consequences you are willing to put up with. One of the ways to bust this game, however, is to simply write to the people she will be slandering you to and warn them. "Dear Auntie, someone in the family is spreading lies about me. I am not entirely sure who it could be anybody, including my mother...but I would ask that you not believe anything negative you hear about me without asking me for my side of the story first. I promise to be honest with you, even if the truth makes me look bad..."

      Narcissists are never willing to "fix" anything about themselves because they do not see themselves as being at fault for anything. It is always someone else's fault or problem, and they are always blameless. Waiting for a narcissist to fix something in themselves is like waiting for the sun to come up in the west---it ain't gonna happen.

      Everybody who goes NC goes through the doubts you are having. And only you can decide what will be most beneficial to you. But any choice you make will have consequences: just know that removing your boundaries will not make things will only make them different, and it will put her back in control of your life. She will not change and if you are willing to live the rest of her life with the lies, manipulation and gaslighting, the petty cruelties and put-downs, then you know what to do. If you aren't willing to live that way for as long as she lives, then you also know what to do.

      But before you decide, think about parenting: what does a parent teach a child if the child throws a tantrum at being told "no" and the parent relents? What does this teach the child? What does this do for the future of their relationship? Once the child learns that throwing a tantrum puts him in control, who do you think runs the parent's life? This is exactly what will happen when you renege on your NC: your NM will now know what she needs to do to control you.

      Psychologist Nina C. Miller once said "What you allow, you teach." That is probably the best thing for you to ponder before you make a decision.



  8. Hello Violet,

    NM rummaging through clothes and throwing them out....a very familiar scenario. My father had recommended that my siblings and I never show our NM the clothes we enjoyed as they would surely vanish. So we would leave red herrings. Pretend we liked what we disliked and vice versa.

    Looking back it was utter madness. And for years my siblings and I would joke about "our crazy mother". The stories were entertaining. But actually it was not funny.

    Our feelings, thoughts and aspirations were jeered at, dismissed as rubbish. My personal boundaries are now shot. Asserting myself is a new concept I have discovered only recently.

    I used to get clammy hands just submitting the request form to my (otherwise agreeable) boss about my holidays.

    With friends, I used to wait uncomfortably for them to go to the loo for me to also go. Excusing myself was scary.

    I didn't know how to say no...even to unwanted sexual advances. I would actually say yes and feel sick.

    Pathetic. Insane. Now I'm learning to distinguish what I think and feel from what (I think) others expect from me. It takes a lot of concentration. I'm learning that what I think and feel matters. It's weird.

    And it feels good to read your experiences and insight. It shows me how much it all matters.



  9. My H has an extremely N Family of Origin that was trained by his NM. We were not respected as a separate adult couple after we were married. Our boundaries were not respected and were seen as a sign of rejection. They would accept our "yes" but not our "no"!

    Our youngest son was born with grave health issues that required multiple surgeries and hospital stays. Ns are very unempathetic people. We learned to set strong boundaries, especially around the holidays, as we never knew if that holiday would be our last with our son and I didn't want to remember it over at the crazy, chaotic, alcoholic in-laws. We hunkered down and kept our distance. Our son survived his childhood and now we are left with just the FOO adult siblings, which I can no longer tolerate being around. I find the visits sterile, superficial, unempathetic, and boring. Now that our kids are grown, I don't feel the desire or need spend time with them anymore, except at the occasional wedding once every year or so.

    They were upset last summer because one of the siblings is married to a NW and she tried causing some drama surrounding our son's wedding by showing up an hour late and missing the ceremony, RSVPing to wedding events that they would attend, then not show up or call, that sort of thing. So I sent an email saying how disappointed, sad and disrespectful I thought their behavior was since the wedding was not about them but about our son and his new wife. Well..... all hell broke loose when I called them out on their rude behavior but their outburst did not surprise me. Ns don't like being called out. This woman is mean, vindictive, holds grudges, holds a score card, likes total control, is not flexible, and is an alcoholic that no one dares mention out loud. The brother married to this woman is mute ( not literally, but figuratively). He will not speak up against her, and even defends her evil tirades by saying " well, she was upset."

    I suggested to the siblings that they might want to consider looking at the relationships within the FOO as part of the problem, instead they want to blame my husband, and most especially me, for setting a distance boundary with this sibling and his wife. The FOO can't identify feelings. They think opinions are feelings and that you are being intrusive if you ask them how they feel. They are at a loss with the painful feelings of others. They were always around for the good times, but I could count on three fingers how many times any of them came to visit us in the hospital with our son in ICU. He was in the hospital so many times throughout his childhood, I've lost count.

    The group is at a standoff. Hearing anything negative about the FOO is more than they can bear. Their NM trained them to believe that they were the "perfect family" and only other people had problems, not them. Because of that, they cannot discuss or even consider looking introspectively at themselves or their family of origin to see where there may be flaws that are interfering with this family becoming anything more than a group of adults who show up out of blind loyalty and participate in stagnant relationships with one another. Thank you for letting me vent. I hope some of this might look familiar to someone else out there and give them comfort in knowing they are not alone in their frustration of having to deal with these types of people.

    Any suggestions would be welcome. The oldest sibling is coming to town next week and wants to get together for dinner. I am already not looking forward to hearing him bloviate on and on in his usual manner as he monologues about his favorite subject: the economy and politics. I thought I would bring my iphone and find some interesting articles to read as he slowly sucks the all of the fresh air out of the room.

    1. Basic tenet of psychology: you cannot change anyone but yourself.

      There is not one thing you can do to change or even moderate this sibling. You CAN, however, change yourself and your attitude. If you only see this guy once in a blue moon, you can consider sitting politely with a fake smile on your face and putting up with his self-indulgence for one evening of the year in the pursuit of family peace. As long as this isn't a regular occurrence or won't trigger a landslide of drop in visits from equally stultifying relatives, think of it as an investment in your immediate family's future: if you do something so rude as to spend the night on the phone while he pontificates, he may notice, say something to other family members, which could start an underground campaign of negativity against you for your rudeness (and what you are proposing IS rude). You have the whole rest of the year free of this man's company: is this one night worth starting a whispering campaign against you? Two wrongs don't make a right and just because he is rude and self-absorbed doesn't make it ok for you to be/do the same.

      An alternative is to not sit passively by while he goes on and on. You and your husband could prepare some topics of conversation that you two will discuss together and invite the windbag to join in (ask his opinion). Like "Oh, Hubby, I read about the most gorgeous tropical vacation spot! Windbag, do you like to vacation in the tropics or do you prefer milder climates?" YOU choose a topic (that is what hostesses do), introduce it, then pull your table mates into it. Brainstorm with your husband to come up with several topics you can introduce. Another ploy could be for you to seize on Windbag's topics and turn them away from politics and economics. If he is prattling on about how the Swiss are implementing a salary cap for corporate executives, when he takes a breath, interject with something like "Switzerland...they make the most divine chocolate! I have always wanted to go to Montreux, ever since Deep Purple's record 'Smoke on the Water." Have you ever been to Montreux, Windbag?" You could even come up with a topic of mutual interest and ask Windbag about it: what is the exchange rate for India and what is the cost of living there? I see these ads on TV for donations for poor people in other countries, saying they live on only $2 per is that possible? Do you think Elizabeth is going to outlive Charles? Will he ever be king? If he is, do you think the Brits will accept him? He doesn't seem nearly as popular as William...

      There are other solutions to the dilemma rather than engaging in the same degree of rudeness that he is exhibiting. If all else fails, you can plead "The Headache," saying, as you arrive and are seated at the restaurant, that you've had a sinus headache all day and please excuse you if you seem a little preoccupied and unfocussed. Then, as soon as he becomes completely unbearable, plead the headache and escape.

      There's more than one way to manage a crushing bore...and its a good skill to have.

  10. Hi Violet

    You're right. Two wrongs never make a right. Unfortunately, self-absorbed people can and never will, appreciate the good manners and kindness of others at the table, so I feel like I'm betraying myself when I bite my tongue and fake a smile, which is what I've been doing for over 30 years with this family. I would rather be honest about my feelings and try to be a person of integrity, even in dysfunctional relationships. I know the N's probably won't get it, it's more about the internal struggle for me. I have to live with myself at the end of the day and I'm ready to be truthful. Is that selfish of me?

    If self-absorbed Ns never hear how they effect others with their behavior, then how will they ever know? And if not from family, then from whom should they hear it? It almost seems like an excuse to say, don't bother telling them the truth, it won't matter anyway, they won't hear it or believe it. Not sure how else to reconcile the inner turmoil every time I fake a smile and bite my tongue, except to relieve it with the truth. How can I be a person of integrity around these people, so I can feel good about myself? Any suggestions other than faking a headache? Help!

    1. "If self-absorbed Ns never hear how they effect others with their behavior, then how will they ever know? " You might as well ask "if a spitting cobra never hears how they affect someone with their behaviour...when they spit venom into the eyes of their victims and blind will they ever know?" Because your question clearly indicates that if they knew, if they really, really knew, you believe they would feel remorse and change (because that is what YOU would do).

      They won't. You can stand him against the wall and tell him in plain words "You are a self-absorbed bore and a narcissistic windbag and we cannot stand to listen to you drone on and on about dry, uninteresting topics," and he won't get it...he will come away thinking there is something wrong with YOU. If he is a narcissist, this is how he is and YOU must accept that. You don't have the right to try to change someone else, not even for what you perceive to be their own good. It is disrespectful to try to remake another human being into what you think they should be. You don't have to like him the way he is, but you don't have the right to try to make him change based on that dislike.

      It is not a choice of "being true to yourself" or not. You are an adult and by now you should have learned that there are times in our lives that we have to do things we would rather not do in the interest of harmony. Sometimes that includes occasionally putting up with rude, boorish people in order to prevent a family rift. What you are proposing is not being true to yourself, it is engaging in a rude, passive aggressive act calculated to punish him for being himself, which you don't like. That is childish and retaliatory...and could backfire on both you and your husband. Being true to yourself would be declining his invitation with an acceptable excuse. A person of integrity does not accept an invitation with the intent of sabotaging the evening, she declines the invitation or she goes and behaves with the good manners that others may not be displaying.

      Either go and behave like an adult who has those manners or decline the invitation: going and behaving like a sullen adolescent hiding in her phone really isn't among your legitimate choices.There is enough conflict and incivility in the world as it is, enough feuding families. Please don't add to it.

      Best of luck to you


  11. Unfortunately, the writer of this original article ( above - at the top ) has used this medium to show his own anguish, deteriorations, indecisivieness, and powerlessness - as he sees it - to all who will read it. It is sad of course, but should not be taken too seriously - after all it is from a person who at the bottom of this blog here, makes the disclaimer ( to protect himself no doubt ) that he is NOT a "mental health professional" ... but none-the-less has traded on his reputation and standing in the community as a pastor of religion, to promote some ideas that are downright dangerous to those in true need, and who are extremely vulnerable to suggestion. Shame on him for doing so. I can think of at least 3 people in my life ( 3 too many ) who, if they read this diatribe, may be so devastated by it's revelations as to sink into further despair. Narcissists come in many forms - some mildly, some badly, and some completely off the rails where their 'me first' attitudes reach out to all. It is difficult to deal with, but most people can do so. It is a form of selfishness, and self-centredness ... and if chronic, a professional counsellor or psychologist can help those on the receiving end of the abuse a narcissist dishes out. It is NOT for a minister / writer to regale readers with his own sad stories. That helps no-one, except himself, in offloading his personal worries to readers. It does cross my mind that perhaps he is truly narcissistic himself. i.e.. Wanting attention. !!

    1. I publish your comment not because I agree with you or even think you make a valid point, but to demonstrate to other readers just how off-the-mark and sunk in denial a person can become. None of your criticisms against the original author are valid: the fact that he is a pastor (who, BTW, do lots of counselling in their work) does not invalidate his views; the fact that he has suffered at the hands of narcissists, nor does his willingness to reveal his personal experiences mean he is an attention seeking narcissist. Sometimes our personal experiences and discoveries put us onto the path of finding useful information and sometimes, instead of being attention-seeking narcissists, we discover that sharing our experiences and insights and discoveries can actually help other people.

      If I tended towards paranoia, I might think your comment was a thinly veiled attack on me, my blog, and my writing since I, too, publish a disclaimer that I am not a mental health professional, either. I am a retired executive secretary who knows therapy from the inside and narcissism from both personal experience as a victim and from extensive research. Do you want to hang the "attention seeking narcissist" label on me as well? Does everything I have written on this blog have no validity because I'm not a psychologist or other mental health professional? Seems rather odd that you would come on the blog written by a layperson who uses her personal experiences as a jumping off point for much of her writing to complain about someone who does the very same thing...

      Your comment " It is difficult to deal with, but most people can do so. It is a form of selfishness, and self-centredness ... " tells me several things about you: 1) you are not the scapegoat child of a narcissistic parent and if you even know one, you have very little empathy for that person's experiences and pain; 2) you have no idea what the personality disorder, NPD, is all about because it is a great deal more than "a form of selfishness, and self-centredness"; and 3) your lack of empathy blinds you to just how much help it is for victims of narcissists to read the personal experiences of other people who have been victimized by narcissists.

      I can't quite tell if you are projecting or if you are simply so deeply entrenched in denial you can't see beyond your own opinions and thoughts. But if you'll take the time to read the comments on this blog from the readers...ignore what I have written, just read the will find a lot of people who clearly state how much it has helped them to learn they are not alone, that they aren't crazy or bad or wrong, that they are part of an unfortunate community of people who, as children, were the scapegoats of narcissistic parents and we all have had similar experiences from parents who behave similarly.

      Finally...professional counsellor or psychologist...I recommend this so often I feel like I should just create a piece of boilerplate to copy and paste into many of my replies. But the truth is, some people can't afford professional therapy, some have had bad experiences with therapy and are not yet strong enough to go back, and there are a lot of therapists out there who know little or nothing about the kind of devastation a narcissistic parent can wreak on the psyche of a little kid. Some therapists actually do not believe the client's stories, thinking them OTT. There is no subspecialty in psychology designed to help the victims of predatory narcissists, particularly the adults who were raised by them.

      You seem to have a lot of opinions based on very little actual knowledge and your attempts to invalidate the efforts of people who are trying to help those who have endured childhood at the hands of narcissists falls on deaf ears here. I'd say more, but I fear I might get rude and then I would have to apologize to you, which I defnitely do not want to have to do.

  12. I don't think anyone must be a mental health professional to be helpful. And telling one's own story can help other people see that they are not alone and are experiencing or have experienced similar situations. Part of the nature of these kind of blogs is belonging. If you cross one that is not your cup or tea, or you disagree with the philosophy, you are all free to leave and find another more suitable. Of course any post will be written as the writer sees it, unless stated otherwise. I think people can judge for themselves what is helpful to them or not, I don't think they need to be told.

  13. I believe that Annie is clearly a Narc. I have been married to a Narc for over 20 years. I am well aware of the tactics that Narcs and their FOO's use when the threat of being "uncovered" hits just a little too close for comfort! The invalidating comments, rude demeanor, insulting another's intelligence, and the little digs all made to make the "normal person" or "true victim" feel as low as humanly possible. I see it all in these comments.
    Annie is a Narc, plain and simple, and in my honest opinion, her comments have confirmed it for all who have ever had in-depth experience with the Narc and his or her family.

  14. Thank you for writing this post. My mother is a narcissist. She never cared about my feelings unless I was agreeing with her or doing what she wanted. I wasn't allowed to say no to her. If she said or did something to upset me, she didn't care. She kept doing it even if I told her to stop it. Sometimes she made me cry. She never apologized. If I had the nerve to get mad at her, I was the bad one. I wasn't allowed to dislike anything she did. She sometimes went through my books without my permission and threw them out. When I was 14 I tried to follow a religion. She passive-aggressively disrespected that. When I grew older and was better able to tell her "no" and actually follow through with it - like when I told her I was moving away from home permanently - she threw a fit of rage. Up until my moving day, she was unbearable to live with as she did things like deliberately exclude me from things, spoke to me rudely, criticized me every chance she got. I even caught her gossiping to my aunt and grandmother about my sex life, even though I never confided anything in her. She had this bizarre preoccupation with making sure I did not become pregnant, even though I was not promiscuous. Still, she would just sit there and speculate about who she thinks I must have slept with or am planning to sleep with. She even asked me if I was going to sleep with someone I was seeing. I refused to tell her and she became angry and kept asking over and over. I was 21 years old, yet she felt entitled to ask me something like that. That is none of her business.

    I have problems saying no to people. I also struggle when someone asks me intrusive questions. Lots of people walk all over me because of this. It took me a long time to realize that this comes from my mother not respecting my boundaries. I have gotten much better at standing up for myself but still, it feels unnatural. I am trying to get rid of someone who disrespects me. He showed up at my door without any warning and I shut the door in his face. I had every right to do that yet I still felt "bad" for doing it.

  15. This is a rare account of narcissism as it emerged in an adult who was not mentally ill before. There are very few like it.

    Btw the violation of childhood boundaries involving the violation of personal space and possessions and the tidying-up was something I experienced too. I am very fussy about boundaries as an adult, keep locks on things and store very important things in a secure storage unit only I can get into. It costs money but gives me a huge feeling of security to know it is there and to visit it. A dysfunctional family has twisted me beyond real repair and the only thing to do is to have strict, even anal boundaries.

  16. Amazing article on boundaries. You cannot abuse people with boundaries so narcissists have to prey on family, partners and children. Both my parents were Narcissists (maybe by mother was BPD though). I never had any privacy as a child and had to tolerate enormous problems as I tried to study through university. My mother had some goodness in her but when she remarried and had me, she was destroyed by my father. My sisters saw a better side to my mother but my father forced them out of the house. As regards my evil father experience, my best advice to victims of such people (male or female) is to reduce contact, eliminate any sort of dependency, restrict the access of the parent to your life in any way and be sure avoid stepping onto their property. In the last few years my father has been totally isolated, chased out of his golf club, avoided by women at his Bowls Club and manipulated by others. He is so evil that I am unable to comprehend it. Total jealousy, envy, stupidity and complete ignorance define him. He has never had a friend, was hated by my mother, despised by the whole family and many years ago got totally ripped off by a partner in business. He continues, amazingly, to blame others. Trying to understand these people is impossible as they are devoid of a moral compass. Others react to them with a most intense hatred and sometimes vindictive anger. Their charm lasts until someone figures them out and a conflict arises. What is interesting is that his body language is strange. He is offensive in his body language. Figure that one out as you can see it but not really define it. One wants to squash him like a roach.

  17. Oh god. I know that.

    My brother would beat me for crying and wailing because he is beating me! Mark you i was only a 5 year old boy and he was 15.

    So i was to be brutalised by this big teenage and not make the slightest sound. Which adult leave a child can manage that?

    Wow. The incidence bring tears for a 42 year old man???

  18. Yep, your stories sound EXACTLY what I went through growing up with my malignant Narcissistic mother. I had NO boundaries or expectation of privacy of any kind....not even when I was in the bathroom using the toilet as a teenager. My mother would barge in on me when I was naked whenever she felt like it as if I were a toddler. She even controlled WHEN I used the toilet even when I was a teenager. She had this weird rule that I HAD to use the bathroom first thing after getting out of bed every morning as if I were a toddler being toilet trained or something. It didn't matter whether or not I actually needed to use the toilet, I just HAD to because she SAID so. There was one morning when I was about 14 when I finally flat out told her that I didn't need to use the toilet at that moment. Her reaction was to punch me in my face and knock me off my feet and then hide my hair brushes and curling iron from me for a week so that I could not groom my hair for school.....all because I dared to tell her that I didn't need to use the toilet when she demanded. I had to go to school for a week with unbrushed and unstyled hair, which did WONDERS for my reputation at school for being an unattractive weirdo outcast. I recently started my own blog about my childhood memories of growing up with a severely Narcisissitic mother, and I invite you to visit it and read it.

  19. Yes,my mother would also barge in on me when I was showering, pull back the curtain and hold it back while she looked at me. I would scream at her that she was sick and perverted, but she would just laugh and say that she was allowed to look at me because she is my mother. She would also try to look at my breasts when I was nursing my children. She is forever locked in some battle about who is thinner, younger and the "real girl". I was also belted. However my NM would make me pull down my pants in front of my father, hold me down over her lap and my father would belt me. I would then be sent to my room, to "think about what you've done". Half an hour later the NM would appear and give some saccherine lecture on how it was for my own good, and of course I understood that didn't I. I counted off my birthdays. I remember being particularly proud of my 10th birthday because I was both still alive, and past the halfway mark to 18. My NM would routinely go through my things, bully me into giving things away and threw out my things but always denied doing so, "I would never do that!". As for boundaries, sheesh, for years I could never "reject" a friend request on Facebook lest it hurt the feelings of that person, even if we had nothing in common and I was just one of dozens of requests they had sent out on the same day. I am in my fifties now. I am getting better at boundaries though I get somewhat pushed around by my kids. Small stuff on the whole. Training to become a teacher and many years in the classroom, have helped me become more assertive and less fearful, and better at boundary setting and communication. As for my NM, the older I get, the more I see her as hugely disordered. A monster that everybody tells me is so nice.


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: