My books have helped thousands to step back, and away, from the damaging effects of a narcissistic person, whether it’s a present-day relationship or one that has haunted them from the past. Now, they may help you, too.

Narcissist ruining your life?

Maybe you love one. Or work for one. Maybe you’re related to one. Or were raised by one. Whatever the relationship, you’ve likely been hurt by the narcissist in your life.

If one cannot experience love, is an “I love you” even possible?

Dear [____],

You’re my favorite. My star.

You hold the key to the universe that is me. 

Actually, right now I hold the key. 

And I promise to give it to you. 

When I’m ready. 

I’ll never be ready.

It’s cute how you try.

And try.

Your unswerving devotion to me no matter what I do or say.  

It makes me care about your struggles. 

As a means of using them to fuel my power over you.

I just want the best for me.

Therefore, the first thing you need to do is tell me what I need. 

It better be correct. 

Don’t fuss. You can’t become my star if you fuss. You can’t have the key to the universe that is me, either. That’s what you want, isn’t it?  That’s what you should want. Believe me when I say that others want it—and don’t dare ask me to prove it.

Don’t overestimate your value, dear. 

You are not that special.

I’m your parent so your faults are very obvious to me. 

That’s what parents are for—to point out, to notice, and help their children fix their problems.
I care about you more than you care about yourself…and about me. That’s what really hurts. And that you think you’re better than me.

I have news for you: you’re needy, sensitive, and a bossy, manipulative know-it-all. 

I’m worried about you and it’s my job as a parent to let you know.

But I don’t deserve this; I did not sign up for this. When I brought you into the world, into my family, into my life, I expected you to be better than this. I can’t accept it. 

Or you.

Now, now, don’t look so sad and defeated. You need help. All right, you need my help. No, no, I’m not going to walk away from you now. Whatever gave you that idea?

Stop asking me if I love you. It’s a foolish question. You’re my child. When you make me feel worthwhile I love you more than I love myself. Your siblings don’t understand me because they are selfish and immature. You’ve gotten over that. You’ve transcended yourself. You’re so adult. You’re the good child. I know you’ll never leave me. 

My very own little star that shines on me.

Signed, Your Parent 

—Meredith Gordon Resnick

Adapted from: WHEN YOUR PARENT IS A NARCISSIST: Uncovering origins, patterns, and unconscious dynamics—to help you grow and let go
Copyright 2016 Meredith Gordon Resnick

Game Over image credit: Gerd Altmann via Pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/geralt-9301/

Similar to their young child, the narcissistic parent references their own self in conjunction with someone else. The difference between a narcissist and a developing child, however, is that the child will eventually master this stage of self-identity. People are resilient, and even with a parent who is a narcissist, they will grow and develop and learn to disengage from their narcissistic parent’s patterns.

Adapted from When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

Obsessing is related to my trying to control something that is out of my control. It is how I unconsciously avoid addressing something. I can take this as a sign that I’m avoiding looking at the real problem.

Obsessions are distractions that keep me from feeling the sadness or the anger that’s inside me. While some of these emotions are related to the relationship with the narcissist, they are also connected to buried feelings from the past that, once addressed, can be healed and let go.

Adapted from Surviving the Narcissist: 30 Days of Recovery

In a blog post from Harvard Health, Faculty Editor Claire McCarthy, MD offers an interesting look at how shaming children can impact their lives. She explains the differences between criticizing and shaming:

“Criticizing a child in public may be important, especially if they have been rude or hurtful to someone, or done something that could be unsafe. But outside of those circumstances, public criticism is shaming. It also may not be a great idea to criticize when a child is already upset, or when they are in a situation where they need to keep their composure or not be distracted; that’s less about shaming and more about being kind and effective.”

Read the blog post here

You may feel like you’ve spent a lifetime trying to understand how your narcissistic parent feels. You may have learned to tilt your world to track them as though they are the satellite and you need their signal to survive.

When you feed their ideal self to their satisfaction, you might be rewarded with a compliment or a gift. Or the slightest feeling that maybe, just maybe, you two were starting to connect.

Then again, even if you did everything to your n parent’s satisfaction, maybe you weren’t rewarded. Turns out, you were reading the wrong signal the entire time. And sadly, you were probably the one who felt a bit foolish.

This is what it feels like to have a narcissist parent.

Adapted from When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

Nicole Spector explains what self-awareness entails and how we can better cultivate it. Spector quotes psychologist and author John Duffy who says:

“In effect, self-awareness is the recognition of one’s own emotional state at any given point in time…we are, far too often, wholly unaware of the emotional state we are currently in, and the degree to which that state influences our behavior and thought process. To the degree that we can manage our emotional states, we are better able to manage these other elements of our lives as well.”

Read the article from NBC News here

“Manipulations come in a variety of packages; we often know in our hearts when we’re being played but might not pay attention to the voice within telling us to steer clear. While there are many authentically, genuinely nice people, the narcissist is the one who seems too good to be true.”

Adapted from Narcissism: Surviving the Self-Involved

“With the narcissist parent, a real attachment to their child remains in question. This helps explain why the notion of a child’s launch and independence is so threatening. Launching, or letting go, evokes the narcissist’s deepest fears: abandonment, annihilation, and non-existence. Without the Other—the child—the narcissist may cease to exist.”

Adapted from When Your Parent Is a Narcissist

This article from the New York Times offers practical ways of dealing with difficult or toxic family members during the holidays. Harry Guinness lists some solutions:

“How family members are doing, sports, pop culture and travel are all subjects where you can find commonalities with pretty much any relative. For example, even if you and your nephew fall on opposite sides of the political spectrum, you are both likely to be pretty big fans of his parents. Instead of arguing over divisive issues, talk about what his parents were like when you were all growing up. Or just bond over a shared love of 1980s Tom Cruise movies….”

Read “How to Deal With Difficult Relatives Over the Holidays” here

In a post featured on Psychology Today, Sherry Gaba LCSW explains how growing up with a narcissistic parent impacts relationships later in life. Gaba writes:

“Punishment, emotional isolation, and even threats of leaving the child are all common. At the same time, the narcissist is quick to spot any signs of independence or individuality…which is seen as a threat or a negative reflection on the narcissist.”

Read “Why Codependents Attract Narcissists” here

In an article on NBC News, Nicole Spector explains how diagnosable narcissism is much more than self-absorption or vanity. Spector explains common, toxic traits of narcissism and how to identify them.

“…If you’re worried that you might be a narcissist, you probably are not one. Narcissists generally lack the kind of empathetic self-reflection that might make them wonder if they have a personality disorder. This is partly why narcissism is so seldom treated…”

Read “How to identify a narcissist — and cope with their potentially toxic behavior” here

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