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.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I was set up…and so were you!

This post has been a long time coming. A lot of subconscious activity has gone into it, years of sorting and connecting, ferreting out the truth and making sense of nonsense. The only thing left to figure out is whether or not it was conscious and volitional or whether it was totally below my NM’s own consciousness: I suspect there were elements of both, with the subconscious bit occurring early in my life and the conscious, wilful predations beginning to occur as I got older.

My mother was malignant narcissist, a personality most likely combining Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD) and Anti-Social Personality Disorder (AsPD). Like all narcissists, she never took responsibility for her actions or their consequences, instead finding ways to blame others for whatever was wrong in her life. That she engaged in contradictory expectations, cognitive dissonance was never an issue for her: she often wanted irrational things that cancelled each other out, yet wanted them just the same. For example, when she was newly married, my father worked on his parents’ farm. In addition to regular farm work, he also drove a truck and worked as a lumberjack. He worked long hours doing exhausting, back-breaking work because she wanted “things”—and yet she also wanted him at home, paying attention to her. So, if he worked the hours necessary to buy the stuff she wanted, she complained that he was never home (which undoubtedly became her excuse for the affair she had when I was little); if he was home, however, she was always complaining about the lack of “things.” (She didn’t want to keep up with the Joneses…she wanted the Joneses to want to keep up with her!) Nothing ever satisfied her, no effort was good enough, something I have learned is a common trait among narcissists.

Looking back over the stories of my life as told to me at different times by different family members, NM included, if I try to assemble them into a chronological narrative, one glaring element begins to emerge: I was perceived by NM, from my very conception, as the reason for everything that was wrong with her life.

NM married my father expecting he would ship out to China (he was in the Navy) within weeks of their marriage and she would be left behind with an allotment check from the Navy to live on and no husband (or father—she was 16 and eloped to escape her strict old-country father) to tell her what she could and could not do. Her plans were thwarted when two things happened: her mother-in-law wrote to the War Department and secured my father an early discharge from the Navy so he could help on the farm, and NM became pregnant with me, which prevented her father from obtaining an annulment of her elopement. As she told me to my face when I was about 14, if I had never come along, her life would be “different”…a word she obviously interpreted as synonymous for “better.”

She had expectations and I disappointed every one of them. I had colic and eczema from my earliest months, I cried at night, which kept her awake, and at times that were inconvenient for her. “Nobody ever told me I couldn’t just put you away when I was done with you, like a doll,” she complained. I couldn’t stay clean…which she perceived as my fault, not hers for putting me in starched white cotton baby dresses and then putting me out in the dirt chicken yard to play. And nobody would let her walk away from the unwanted responsibility…I was her child so she was obligated to care for me. It was expected by everyone in her small, provincial, world.

It seems to me that her perception that my arrival threw a monkey wrench in her life gave her consent, at least from within, to blame me for everything unpalatable that happened to her afterwards. Certainly having a child changes and even limits your life, but it is a leap of selfish thinking to blame the child for it. But to the mind of a narcissist, if the child had never existed, she would not be prevented from going and doing and enjoying…ergo it is the child who is at fault. This was exactly the way NM’s mind worked, at least when she was younger. When she got a little older, she added refinements that not only made everything the fault of someone else, but made her their victim as well.

The day she told me that I was the cause of everything bad that had happened to her since she was 17, I somehow screwed up the courage to ask her why, if she felt that way, did she have a second child? (She had caesarean sections with both of her children and had her tubes tied when my GCBro was born…she was only 19.) Her answer? “When you are already saddled with one brat clinging to your skirts, what’s two?”

But when my brother came along, he was free of the blame that tainted me. NM had already cast me into the role of being the cause of her every unhappiness, so baby brother was a pure little soul and she was free to indulge and spoil him, whereas she had to punish me for all of my misdeeds, chief among which was being born.

I think there comes a time in all our lives that our NMs perceive us as being somehow unsatisfactory and from that moment forward, that is what we are. It could be as early as conception: a planned pregnancy that either didn’t go as expected or an unplanned one that derailed other, more grandiose plans. Or it could be later: a child in the throes of the Terrible Twos who is suddenly eclipsed by a cooing and compliant newborn sibling. Any number of scenarios might occur in which we were perceived as not living up to our NMs’ expectations and we became their receptacle for blame. And once that turning point occurred, we were doomed: the die was cast, our roles in our families cast in concrete, and nothing we could do could cause a re-casting.

John Bradshaw, psychologist and author of TheFamily: A Revolutionary Way of Self-Discovery says, “In dysfunctional families, the individual exists to keep the system in balance. This is the fate of every individual in a dysfunctional family. The whole family is dis-eased and each person gives up his true self to play a role in keeping the family together.”One of these roles is that of the scapegoat, which Bradshaw defines as “This is the child that the family feels ashamed of. He/she is the trouble maker or problem child. The scapegoat gets into trouble, which helps to take the focus off of the family problems, because everyone is focused on his/her bad behavior. The child is usually strong-willed, rebellious, rude, and sassy, however, the scapegoat is the most emotionally honest child in the family. The scapegoat usually becomes pregnant or addicted as a teenager. On the inside they may feel rejected, misunderstood, shamed, and/or betrayed.” What Bradshaw does not say is that this child does not actually need to misbehave or get into trouble, this child need only be identified by the parent(s) as such, by their own perceptions, for the role to be assigned.

How does this happen? It goes back to expectations. If the parent has an unrealistic expectation of the child and the child fails to measure up, then the child is a disappointment…or worse. If a four-year-old is assigned the responsibility for a younger sibling and that four-year-old is physically incapable of preventing the younger sibling from misbehaving, the parent who unrealistically expects a four-year-old to be an adequate child minder doesn’t blame the younger child, who doesn’t know any better, or herself for her unrealistic expectations, but the older child, the four-year-old, for her failure to do what she was told. The child is perceived as lazy or defiant or careless or inattentive or any number of negative things because of her failure to succeed at an impossible task. She was set up by her parent for failure and then punished for falling into the trap.

Certainly this is not entirely conscious on the part of the parent, at least not in the beginning. But repeated failure at repeated tasks, tasks for which the child is, in truth, ill-equipped, forms a perception in the mind of the parent that this child is a complete and utter disappointment. The parent doesn’t let go of the irrational expectations but, instead, comes to expect this child to fail. This becomes a two-edged sword for the child: if she fails, she did wrong and deserves some kind of punishment; if she succeeds, she disappointed her parent’s expectation, in essence made a liar out of her, and that cannot go unchallenged or unpunished.

Narcissists of all stripes expect others to be predictable. They expect us to follow the rules…the very same rules from which they consider themselves exempt…so that they can predict how we will act or react. This is essential in exploiting us, because if they cannot predict our performance, they cannot make a plan that works for them. So, when a child is expected to fail and the narcissist is expecting to get a lot of Nsupply in the form of sympathy from family and friends for having such a disappointing child (or expects to have an acceptable excuse for a good, old-fashioned narcissistic rage), a monkey wrench is thrown into the works when the child succeeds: the child’s success not only disrupts the flow of Nsupply, it makes the narcissist wrong…a double transgression. And while the narcissist knows she can’t get away with punishing the child for a success, she can take the shine off of it by refusing to praise or even acknowledge, or by tarnishing the achievement either by minimizing its importance—“So you won the spelling bee—that and a quarter won’t even buy you a cup of coffee…”—or denigrating the achievement itself “So, you finally got a straight A report card…you’re supposed to be smart…what took you so long?”

People who cannot see themselves as being wrong or making mistakes have to have a way to place blame outside themselves. They can blame their lateness on traffic rather than their lack of appropriate planning; they can blame their messy house on being too busy or tired to clean up due to job or social demands…or on their kids and husband; they can blame their lack of promotions at work on management favouritism rather than their own off-putting behaviours; they can find a way to blame anything on anybody, but the ideal receptacle for blame is someone who cannot (or fears to) talk back and tell the truth…like a child who is dependent on them for their very subsistence.

And so it grows, from a perception of the child being at fault and/or a disappointment, to a convenient receptacle for blame for any and everything. Rationale need not enter into it: what rational person blames an infant for her own choices to 1) have unprotected sex, 2) carry the resultant pregnancy to term, 3) keep the child rather than adopt out and 4) not follow through on the original plan, baby in tow? A rational person would acknowledge that 1-3 would, inevitably, make changes in a person’s life trajectory, but they would also acknowledge those changes were the choices of the adult female, not the fault of the innocent infant. Narcissists, however, don’t see it that way. Your presence caused the alteration in her fine plans, therefore it is your fault…no matter that your thought processes couldn’t go beyond crying when your bum was wet or your tummy empty.

It is my guess that some…if not most…NMs come across this process rather by happenstance than design. It works to explain that they are tired and haggard looking because baby kept them up all night rather than admit they sneaked out and spent the night drinking and carousing…not only do they escape judgment, they get sympathy—a bonus!

When I was about 7, my mother announced at the dinner table that she was giving our dog, a big blond Collie named Duke, away. And she blamed me because I had to be reminded to feed him, I didn’t make my brother pick up the poop in the back yard, I didn’t brush him adequately, and—the topper, the coup de grace, the one accusation I could not dispute or find a workaround solution for—I was allergic to him. He was the family dog but somehow responsibility for him was mine and my failure to perform to expectation was the reason the whole family was going to be deprived of him.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized how I had been set up. I do not believe my NM got the dog with the intention of creating a situation in which I would fail and for which she could take the dog away, but I do believe that she got the dog with the intent of dumping its care onto me…and with the expectation that I should perform flawlessly. As an adult and the owner of a couple of Collies, I began to realize just how irrational her expectation was: with my big, strong adult arms, I could not brush out their coats when the winter undercoat started to shed out—for that they needed a trip to the groomers where there were the special tools (shedding blades) and people who had the upper body strength and expertise to do the job. No seven-year-old on the planet was capable of brushing out a shedding Collie’s coat and if my NM had bothered to pick up the brush and give it a go herself, she’d have know that in ten minutes or less…not that I believe it would have made any difference to her. No, what I think happened was that she had no intention of caring for the animal herself, she fully intended for me to do it, and for me to do it perfectly, without instruction, without reminder and without failure. When my performance was less than perfect (and the dog, needing grooming, didn’t look like Lassie, the Collie on TV so NM couldn’t show him off), rather than take any one of the many options open to her, from taking over herself, to having him professionally groomed a couple of times per year, to helping me learn to remind myself to feed or groom him, she just decided to get rid of him. At the dinner table that night she blamed me, she even told me that I had no one to blame but myself that Duke was going to a new home. This plagued me with guilt for years until I learned just how inappropriate her expectations were. She set me up to fail and then she blamed me for it.

When I was married to James, I had very similar experiences. The difference between him and NM was that he deliberately and consciously set me up so that I would “learn a lesson.” When I succeeded in the face of his deliberate attempts to make me fail, he was enraged. Being somewhat literal and not given to underhanded subterfuge myself, I would fall for his set-ups and go out and succeed where I was supposed to fail. In one case, I wanted to buy a second car and he was adamant I get a cheap used car. I had a baby and we lived in a new city and I was terrified of a breakdown in some area I didn’t know, with the baby in the car…I wanted a new car with a warranty and in which I could have some confidence in its reliability. So, he gave me a budget (quite low) and said “If you can find a brand new car for this, I’ll buy it.”

Unbeknownst to me, I was supposed to fail to find such a car and in my failure, learn some lessons, chief among which was not to challenge James and his pronouncements or authority. Well, I found a brand new car within budget and James bought it, but instead of being pleased with my ability to find a new car at a used car price, he was furious with me. I was supposed to fail, he later told me…and I was supposed to learn from my failure. And I spoiled it all by succeeding at what he had believed to be an impossible task.

For years after this (and other, similar, set ups) I was hurt and baffled. I had done what he asked, I had succeeded at a difficult task, I had gotten a pristine new, never-used car complete with warranty, for the price of a used one…what had I done wrong? Why was he so angry with me? My joy in my success was trampled and I was left wondering just exactly what I had done that made him so unhappy with me. It reminded me of my childhood and those terrifying moments when I realized my NM was furious with me but I had no idea why…and the fact that I didn’t understand just how I had been “bad”—and therefore appeared innocently baffled rather than contrite and remorseful—just enraged her further.

But now I get it…and I get it I spades: I was set up.

It wasn’t enough to simply be a convenient dumping ground for blame, the blame had to be plausible. Unless other people could agree the blame was appropriately placed, there could be no Nsupply and there was even a risk that NM would be viewed as responsible. So instead of telling the whole story…she dressed my barely toddling self in starched white cotton baby dresses, white shoes and socks, and set me outside in a dirt chicken yard to play…the story becomes that she put me outside (no mention of my attire or my play yard) to play and was told “don’t get dirty” and in five minutes I was filthy from top to toes, necessitating another bath and change of clothes and additional laundry for her. I was disobedient…she told me not to get dirty and I defiantly did just exactly the opposite and in a matter of just a few minutes, proving I did not even TRY to stay clean. Establishing me as defiant and disobedient almost from the day I could walk set the stage for further normal childhood behaviours to be perceived as evidence of my oppositional nature and once I was big enough to be given chores (without being given instructions as to how to do them or what the ultimate outcome should look like), I was a study in insolent rebelliousness.

Except, in reality, I wasn’t. I was simply out of my depth and doing the best I could with what I knew, what I had, what I could physically achieve. And it was never, ever good enough. No matter how close to perfection I came, NM’s agenda did not include acknowledgement of a job well done or praise for effort, her agenda was purely to find fault, no matter how small, no matter how insignificant. Because in finding fault, I was to blame and she was entitled to sympathy for having to put up with my disappointing arse.

How many times have you stretched yourself to achieve, to give, to understand, to do, only to fall short of NM’s mark? Did you see your A+ paper dismissed because there was a typo or your NM fabricated a punctuation issue? Did the birthday cake you baked NM fall short because the bakery cake her neighbour got from her daughter was prettier…or the bakery cake you brought end up criticized because her neighbour’s daughter loved her mother enough to bake a cake from scratch and decorate it herself? Is your best never good enough and so you keep striving and trying and stretching yourself for the carrot of approval that is always just thaaat much out of reach?

You can stop. That carrot will never be in reach. You are not intended to have it. The objective is for you to fail, the carrot is there just to keep you in the game. When you fail, somebody else looks successful, somebody else gets sympathy for having such a blunderer for a child, somebody else gets attention and advice and commiseration…somebody else get NSupply from your failures and so you are expected to fail because your success would take that all away.

You are being set up. You have been set up all your life, conditioned to try, try, try to stay in the game, and to fail in ways that bring Nsupply to the Ns in your family. Eventually, some of us don’t even need to be manipulated by our NMs to provide the source: we drop out of school, get involved with abusive, passive aggressive, or even narcissistic men, we get pregnant without marriage or we get married and have too many kids or we have them too close together; we get involved with drugs and/or alcohol, live marginal life styles, go on welfare, struggle for the barest necessities. And those of us who “make it”? I stood in an elevator in a hotel in Las Vegas with my NM after not seeing her for ten years: I was wearing a silk dress the same size I wore in high school, my hair had been professionally coiffed, my jewellery was real gold and diamonds. My mother said only three words to me “You’ve gotten fat.”

You are being set up. You have been set up all of your life. You have been conditioned not to achieve and succeed, but to fail in ways that give your NParents the greatest amount of Nsupply, whether from without or within. When you do poorly, when you are broke and hungry and on welfare so your kids can eat, your NParents not only get NSupply from others who sympathize with them about how lazy and shiftless and worthless you have become, they get NSupply from within because they feel superior to you. “Such good people,” their friends mutter as a scapegoat son is hauled away in handcuffs, “how sad for them that their son ended up a criminal…” Who is asking that “criminal” how he got to that point?

We are set up by our NParents to fail because it advantages them. Some of us succumb and end up underachievers or worse…some of us prevail and make successes of ourselves in spite of that early programming. But make no mistake, from the point of view of the narcissistic parent, we are and always will be immense disappointments to them. They cannot survive any other way.


  1. I am surprised there are no comments (yet) to this excellent post. I was sitting on the edge of my chair and nodding throughout the paragraphs.

    Yes, we are set up. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but it strikes true.

    When I published a lovely (3rd) book of paintings and 'mother' said on the phone (after I sent a copy to her for mother's day) that "she had seen all my 'drawings' before and I wrote too much about Winter." LOL! She had NEVER seen these complicated watercolor landscapes and the poems were divided up between the seasons. Her bitch? I didn't acknowledge her in this book. I thanked my 100 year old Aunt, who always read everything, every poem, I sent her, even when she had to put it under a magnifying glass to read.

    A year later I got a letter from the NM. "I can never truly be proud of you because you didn't allow me to be part of your 'artistry'. I can only say that THIS is the mark, the full extent and measure of a Narcissist. SHE can't be proud of me....because I ahve done something independent of her. However, there WOULD have been NO 'artistry" as she calls it, IF I had ever let her near my work.

    And isn't this what Narcissists do? They steal and try to claim where they have nothing of credit.

    Yes, we are set up. And the wounds are carried for a lifetime. A have only known peace with No Contact. And that is with the entire family. My dear father is dead, too young by many years, but he also suffered from the narcissism that runs like a river through this very dyfunctional family. And religion plays it's nasty role in there, too.
    Thank you for this post. It runs true.

    Lady Nyo

  2. Hello Violet,
    I always love reading your blog. It's so amazing how you learnt the reality and was not pushed and blinded by lies which many people often are. Every post I read of your is fascinating and I always nod my head. I have not been raised nor witnessed Narcissism like what you have and I really admire you. I really wonder how your mother become like that, I never thought a mother like that would actually exist! It's scary. She should be thrown in jail and forced to experience what you had.

    I have a couple of questions to ask, if you can answer them, it'll be great :)

    Has there ever been a occurrence where a Narcissists has changed for the better? Or has that never occurred? I did a bit of searching around, but couldn't find any.

    What has made a Narcissist what they are? If they run out of Nsupply, and they couldn't find anymore, what will happen? Will they become suicidal and hopeless?

    If someone is called a Narcissist for being boastful/pride in themselves, is that a Narcissist? Or Narcissist should only actually apply to the disorder? (I'm thinking because some people stupidly use "retarded" to describe a annoying person, when really it means someone mentally ill).

    I'm sorry for the heap of questions, whether you can answer them or not, I'll be grateful for your time trying :)

    Thank you ^^

    1. Well, you ask the same questions we...including the professionals who study such things...are still asking.

      The general consensus is that narcissists never get better because in order to do so, they must first admit something is wrong with THEM, which is antithetical to their disorder: everything is always somebody else's fault, so how could they ever come to a viewpoint of their culpability in their dysfunctional relationships?

      In my personal experience, my NM viewed therapy as something other people needed in order to be able to get along with her; my ex-husband went to a therapist for a short time, his goal being to manipulate and co-opt the therapist and make me the blame for our failing marriage and his gaslighting and outright dishonest behaviour (he had a small measure of success). Therapy only works when the patient/client wants to get better and the first step in that is that s/he must admit that there is something wrong over which s/he has a measure of control...that s/he has a part in the dysfunction (even if it is only how s/he reacts to things) and that s/he therefore has power to change things. Narcissists blame other people and as long as the belief that "all my problems are somebody else's fault," no fix is possible.

      How do they get that way? At this point, that is unknown. Some believe the narcissist received some kind of "narcissistic injury" as a child that caused their emotional development to stall (young children are naturally narcissistic--it is part of the survival instinct); others, however, don't buy that, citing people who have suffered severe narcissistic injuries in early life who didn't grow up to be narcissists. Still others believe that there is a familial reason: the child was spoilt and over-indulged and raised to feel entitled. And even others think there may be some kind of genetic component, something in the genes that passes down a tendency towards narcissism that only needs an appropriate trigger (like being spoilt or suffering a great loss at a vulnerable time) to bring to the fore. But the truth is, there is no definitive answer, at least not yet.

      When Narcissists run out of Nsupply, they simply find new sources or try to reactivate old ones. That is why any child of a narcissist who has gone NC has to be wary of hoovering: when the Nsupply is low, the narcissist will go back to former supplies and see if there is anything s/he can get there. My NM had a regular revolving door of friends, people who were in her life for a while, new people she could tell her sad story (about her horrible, incorrigible, defiant, incompetent daughter) and get sympathy from. When she began victimizing them (judging them and complaining about them to yet other "friends" or they realized the ways she was using them), they moved on and she found new "friends." I don't think they become suicidal and hopeless---that is more characteristic of BPD---I think they just hunt up new victims or try to reactivate old ones.

      As far as the boastful/pride thing goes...I can't remember now where I read this example, but if Muhammed Ali boasted "I am the greatest!" he was not being narcissistic, he was stating a fact--he was the greatest boxer of his time. Being proud of your accomplishments is not necessarily narcissistic, either: self pride is the sign of a healthy ego. Excessive pridefulness, inflating or even imagining one's prowess and boasting on that basis...especially if the person believes he is great and wonderful based on those inflated THAT could be narcissism. ("Retarded" doesn't mean mentally ill--mentally ill refers to mental disease like schizophrenia. "Retarded" is an old, out-of-favour phrase describing people with below-average IQs.)

      No problem with the is how we learn. I would recommend that you read M. Scott Peck's book, "People of the Lie" for some fascinating insights into narcissism.

  3. Like you I was a "mistake" which I compounded by being born a girl. At age 8 I was expected to care for my infant brother and by 13 I was expected to pull down As while being responsible for the cooking , cleaning and laundry for a family of five. Well into adulthood they made fun of my the cooking disasters that occurred because no one gave me any direction. Never allowed out to visit or socialize they complained that I was shy and assured me I'd be an "old maid".

    I was conditioned to never be good enough but in spite of them I put myself through two universities while working full time and had a successful 33 year career as a teacher. I married a great guy, we built a beautiful custom home in the country and gave my parents a grandchild who graduated on the Dean's List at one of Canada's finest universities.

    The apple of their eye, the 59 year old NGC, has never held a real job and drinks and smokes himself into oblivion by mid-afternoon daily.

    Last time I spoke with my father he did me a huge favour by saying I had wasted my life sitting on my fat arse.

  4. Sweet Violet, I so understand what you are talking about here. I have so many such memories, I wouldn't even know where to start. Actually, this is why I like journalling so much. Because I get so stuck inside. There's too much stuff that's happened, that I can't express it. I don't know where to start. Maybe that's common. I mean, it's a whole lifestime of being sabotaged so you just can't win. And even when I didn't fail, my mother just character assassinated me anyway, ensuring that I DID fail in everyone's eyes, anyway. I couldn't win for losing. I was just a little girl when this started. My mother even told me, when we were alone, that nothing I could do, would ever make her like me.

    I'm very low contact, almost no contact now. And I agree, it's the ONLY way to stop being cast into that role, the one NM has designated for you, and to stop having that same "you never were any good" message being impressed upon you, like it's being engraved into your mind.

    I did religon when I was young, and it did provide a crutch for a while. Until the minister said I'd feel better if i just apologised to me my mother. (even though he knew it was she who had the problem). Well, what appalling advice to give a young teen who was a mess, from extreme psychological and physical abuse from her mother. I felt even more angry and frustrated inside, and my mother gloated, and bragged for years to all her friends that I'd finally apologized for all I'd put her through. (my crimes apparently started when I was just a baby)

    I left religon, years ago.

    Then I went New Age for a while, but I'm now wary of lots of stuff there too, after encountering some teaching where they blame the victim for the abuse, saying the abused must have attracted the abuse to themselves, and need to forgive themselves for causing the abuser to abuse them.

    Obviously, this poppycock caused me great distress, and I said on the same New Age forum that I thought such a teaching was evil. I mean, tell that to a battered child, lying in a hospital bed.

    Then I found Sweet Violet's blog, where common sense finally prevails!! Thank you so much. I knew I wasn't wrong. I knew my mother was crazy. For me, this webite has become a haven.

  5. Wow! I have read many blogs on NM's and I have to say yours is the best! I have spent the morning reading your many posts and I'm starting to understand that I will NEVER understand my mother. You have opened up this whole new way of looking at things for me. I have the guilt from being "the bad kid"...I have had to cut my entire family from my life because my mother finally crossed the line and started to talk bad to my child about me. I have been in this mess of a place...gravitating between anger at her and then guilt from feeling bad I'm angry. I am so tired of being caught in this world somewhere halfway between my reality and what others think. WOW...I'm blown away..thank you because I feel like my layers of yuck are starting to peel off.

  6. WOW, this is my first time here as I am just discovering that I"m not alone and sadly lots of others have NM's, in fact I didn't even know there was a name for what my mother is until a few days ago. But reading this, I am floored, were you watching my life? I was an "accident" that kept her from graduating high school and it went from there, and the whole setting up part, and striving to be perfect yet having no idea why she's in a rage yet again! I'm spellbound and want to keep reading more, yet terrified of the flashbacks this is all bringing, but regardless of my struggles, thank you SO much for sharing and helping those of us who are just realizing we have an NM that we are not the crazy ones and we are not alone!

  7. Dear Violet,

    I am reading your blog with tears in my eyes. I am over 50 and just a few weeks ago for the FIRST TIME in my life I decided to find out what was wrong with my father, not me.
    I have been the scape goat, my younger brother - golden. My father even gave him a nickname: Goldfish. It came from old stories about a goldfish that was making some fisherman's dream come true.
    My brother was born when I was ten. When I look back - my father rejected me much earlier - when I was seven he told me I was no fun any more because I could not be ...cheated.
    I was fine as long as I did not want anything from him. The best to be invisible.
    I never felt accepted. Anything I did that distorted his comfort was sooooo bad. Let's say I dared to talk when the TV was on. I was given chores that nobody believes . I was looked down at with a real disgust like I was the worst sh... on earth.

    I came to the United States and became very successful in my profession. I have wonderful kids, a husband that loves me and is a professional himself. Yet we do not mean anything to the old narcissist back in my country. He is still waiting for the "real" grandchildren from his son. He never shows any respect to me when I go to visit them. He is rather aggravated and cannot wait for me to leave.

    All these years I have asked myself over and over : What is wrong with me?
    Finally, just two weeks ago I came to a conclusion: I have been abused, disrespected, rejected for no reason. I suffered because I happened to have a father with a problem in his head.

    How do you cut the ties and not feel guilty? Can you be happy knowing that you do not want anything to do with your parents?

    My mom is still there but she never dared to change the crazy ways my father established. I have no idea what I feel to her. I am hurting so much, I just want to stay away.

  8. After 39 yrs of life, and being told I was a "wanted" baby I have realized the reason I was conceived was to put a leash on my father, keep him out of the streets and focused on NM. She realized before I was even born that wasn't happening, so my goose was cooked before I ever drew a breath. She actually told me when the nurse showed me to her, the first reaction was "ugh", because I looked so much like my father. She looked at her 30 seconds-old child and was disgusted!
    The set-ups continued till I went NC. Making "deals" with me and the reneging after I had done my part, having me care for her until my own household was neglected and then criticizing me for being a bad mom. Telling people horrible, untrue things about me, and them making sure I was in their company. She aimed people at me like missles.

  9. 1) THANK YOU for this posting. It is very comforting to know that others have (very) similar experiences to my own.

    2) My wife is the the N in my life, and not my mother, but WOW(!) how this descriptions fits her!

    3) I am in the middle of divorce from her, after 16 years of the misery of trying, trying, TRYING to please her. At least I have the peace of mind of knowing that I really did give all I had to give.

    4) More people should know the contents of this page. I think a lot of people out there are hurting, and need the same comfort I got from reading this.

  10. I tried getting beyond this being "set-up" mentality, but it just holds true too much. Being in NC is giving me a sense of control over my life because my choices are my own today. As a child, the scapegoat of a MNM, I was definately set-up to fail, to not be enough because that gave this very sick woman more narcissistic supply. The "Oh woe is me, look how much of a problem my daughter is" syndrome. If it's not me, it will be another chosen child in the family. Anything for NS. God forbid she say she did anything wrong. She recently lost her husband and she used the widow card for as long as that would last. As soon as she exhausted that card, she turned on me (I was in contact for a while and was there when my stepfather died).

    I have so much anger at her right now. I hope and pray that she will get hers at some point. My brothers are so blind to her. One suffers depression, another has NPD, the youngest has anger issues, and they all have addiction in some form. It is a crazy family. I have kept my daughters away from them for years. They are old enough to understand and they do not want to part of the drama.

    One thing that I recently heard that resonated with me being the daughter of a MNM and her scapegoat is...while this is so very personal, I also have to see that this can be impersonal as well. My mother would have done these things to anyone. I had the priviledge of her "friends" contacting me while they were experiencing some aspects of my mothers narcissistic personality . One said that she made her feel guilty for taking care of herself when she was sick. The other caught her in an outright lie; then she was keeping money from her that belonged to a ministry. The money was clearly not my MNM's to keep. Obviously, it is nothing compared to what scapegoats experience.

  11. You sure you weren't telling my story? I've always found it fascinating the common things narcissistic mothers due to their scapegoated daughters. I'm not sure if my husband is a full blown NPD but his need to blame me is strong and I actually found this article after realizing recently that he set me up for a failure so he could blame all our marital problems on me. Sometimes I just wanna say FML, move away from all that I know and start anew. I'm staring down the barrel of a second divorce and I'm only 35. Becoming aware of the set up to fail in my marriages because of my mother's scapegoating is very hard to deal with.

  12. My NM went even further.... her and a narcissist man set me up in a marriage with him to further the abuse.... I had 3 kids all 3 yrs 3 months apart, give or take a week... I did not plan this.... by the third child, I was 8 months pregnant and my ex broke a broomstick over our 3 yr olds back for getting into Easter baskets we had in a closet for them... my mother came out to support him with him now being under investigation by cps.... when I had my third they convinced me to get my tubes.... I was so young, he had to sign a conscent form.... I filed for divorce 6 months later,won custody but when I came back to our hometown, where they both lived at that point.... took less then a week for them to kidnap my kids and put a restraining order on me.... the court's supported them as did the police.... I eventually lost custody and walked.... I couldn't take it anymore.... fast forward to 20ish years later.... me and my second husband, who was a very good man, were living in a different state but moved back here to take over my childhome after my father died.... it's been hell ever since.... I was heavily stalked and harassed by neighbors... the police would do nothing except encourage it even though I have much of this on video... I don't know how but my NM has completely destroyed my reputation to where I swear other people are after me now, including the police... no, I'm not paranoid.... you have no idea what these people have put us thru.... 11 months in, my otherwise healthy husband (the worst health issue he got was a rash on the top of his feet from his workboots) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.... Dr's and nurses would be abusive towards him.... he would call me crying in the middle of the night from the hospital over the treatment.... they also falsified his medical records claiming he has a history of being bipolar... my husband has never seen a shrink in his life.... they refuse to remove it from his record... he died about 13 months after "diagnosis" just after he turned 37.... 3 months later I get charged with a felony for having a shotgun in my front yard.... the public defender they have me had the same name as my husband and they tried to sentence me on what would of been his 38th birthday..... I did 6 months in jail.... had to have my ex husband watch my house, which he trashed and infested with bed bugs.... I supposedly have 6 mos of probation left..... I can't get a decent job to save my life (I used to be an executive assistant).... I'm being financially ruined..... my cars breaking down, my house falling apart..... I have NO ONE! Still dealing with asshole neighbors.... though they have tamed down alot there's that overall feeling of constantly being threatened.... they act like they own me....I honestly think there's an element of extortion too.... the police did say when they arrested me "have you ever been homeless?".... This is just some of what's happened over the last 4 1/2 years..... it does get worse.... I do plan on writing a book about my experiences, but not until I leave here..... that is if they ever let me.... all thanks to my evil bitch mother. :(

  13. Yes, I finally understood how I was always set up. Over and over. But I never understood it that way, just thought I was the defective one. I understood it now from a Narc friend who brought this all open to my life that he has been setting me up the whole time.... subtle, sneaky cruel things..... I used to think he must be so dense to not get it but now I know.... he got it. he just did it all on purpose. All the drama I supposedly caused? No, it was him creating it all and yes, all I had to do was fall for it over and over. That part my brokeness cause I never understood I was never, ever going to win with my mother. Ever. And I just took that dynamic into all my love relationships (most failed) and many of my friendships.

  14. I just wanted to thank you. Both of my parents were NPD and like many others here I was their scapegoat. I describe my life with them as being like a hungry rat trapped in a maze that had no exits while being taunted with cheese placed outside the walls - unreachable - but still close enough to smell and hunger for. In this post I found many of the answers I've been looking for my entire life. So thank you.

  15. Wow. My eyes opened up wide on the first paragraph, and let some more fresh air into my soul.

    Thank you for this blog. I am in the midst of a strange interaction with my multi-personality mother who is, at her core, just the same as her mother. For many years, my mother's nicer personality had been in control, only recently, the nasty personality I remember so fracture remembers so vividly, is making a reappearance. Always when no one is around. Recently, I even saw the personality I haven't seen since I was in the most abusive stage of my life, too, a person who must be my mother's core. Sadly, that person only comes out very rarely. I have told my 69 year old mother she needs help, so we shall see what the next e-mail brings. =)

    My father is an example of a collapsed narcissist, and while he is a byproduct of molestation by a grandmother, he chose to continue the practice of molestation on me, and while it seems it happened only once, he was pretty sure, someday, I would become his lover by my own choice. What?????? What the heck pedophile fantasy did he read? Anyway, fast forward to now, and my father wants to scream at me on sight. I now know he lost his Nsupply, me, and he was using the methods collapsed narcissist use to keep me, including demanding my forgiveness even before I found my fractured self who took all the abuse from ages 0-60 months, and remembered the abuse. I have also told him he needs help, but I already know, since I had fingers in my diapers fiddling with my private parts for age 0 on (my godfather was very naughty, but he took up with me after my father raped me, and while my godfather's interactions with me were not healthy, I do credit him for removing the fear of sex from me. It turns out I had a 'gentle' or 'kind' pedophile use me until I was five and he *poof* disappeared), my father will say "You came on to me." When I was five, I drew pictures of what my father and I did, so I can see how putting me naked in my parent's bed would be interpreted as a come-on by my naked father. These are very sick people, these narcissists.

    The abuse continued, but it was never as heavy as those first five years. I am thankful we as very young children can fracture off a part of ourselves, and then repress it until we can understand what happened to us, but the process of recall has been exhausting. Not only do I feel the now 40+ year old emotions, I also feel the physical feelings. I am glad I'm almost fifty, there is no way a child can feel these feelings I am feeling now, but I hope it won't take 60 months to go through them all.

    One more thing. I found my fracture while trying to explore this overwhelming opinion I am to forgive my abusers. And we/I feel, since we lived through it, our abusers chose to do what they did, even as it had been done to them. I am descended from two self extincting bloodlines due to the way they treat their children, and sadly, modern medicine stepped in and saved both my grandmothers and my parents on the birthing table. I have no idea how many generations of narcissists, bi-polars and child molesters are in my bloodlines, but that nasty buck has stopped with me. But, in my heart of hearts, I feel no need to forgive them. I have chosen, instead, to love them and let them go.

    None of what happened to me was my fault, and my parents are, in their heart of hearts, jealous of my relative successes, even though, it seems, I was set up to not only fail, but to kill myself, too. Sadly, last year, a cousin did just that. The narcissists run strong in my maternal bloodlines.


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