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Old 11-07-2012, 02:45 PM
 
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My mother has NPD, and I cut contact with her a few years ago. She was not happy about this, and continues to push the boundary periodically.

The issue I am having today stems from an email that I received from her yesterday. To give a bit of relevant background, during my childhood, my mother used to hold people at gunpoint. This was usually done to intimidate others, particularly men. Every time it happened in front of me, it scared the crap out of me. As a child, I never knew whether she would actually pull the trigger some day. She has admitted that she feels she is capable of murder; she once said that she wished she could kill me, but that I wasn't worth going to prison over. Fast forward to yesterday, and she sent an email telling me to update my records with her new email address: [her name]9mm@xxxxx.com

I can't get it out of my head, and the reference to a firearm has left me feeling very disturbed. I was diagnosed with ptsd in the past, and I am not sure whether this is just panic from those memories being triggered. My mom loves to mess with people's minds, especially in a way that makes them feel intimidated. I can't help but feel like she is trying to intimidate me with this email. Am I reading too much into this? It feels like some kind of subtle threat. I was the only recipient of the email. I feel silly admitting this, but I actually feel scared! Any advice is appreciated.

I have not yet read all the posts on this thread, but intend to. It's very helpful to read other people's insights.
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Old 11-08-2012, 07:49 AM
 
Location: So Ca
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Originally Posted by marmom View Post
I can't get it out of my head, and the reference to a firearm has left me feeling very disturbed. My mom loves to mess with people's minds, especially in a way that makes them feel intimidated. I can't help but feel like she is trying to intimidate me with this email. Am I reading too much into this?
No, it doesn't sound as if you are. You have every right to be concerned. IMO, your mother is dangerous and far more toxic than a person with NPD.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:23 AM
 
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Originally Posted by CA4Now View Post
No, it doesn't sound as if you are. You have every right to be concerned. IMO, your mother is dangerous and far more toxic than a person with NPD.
Thanks. It's helpful, but at the same time sad, to have my instincts validated.

I think of my mom as antisocial and narcissistic. She has zero empathy, and also no feelings except rage and loathing. The main reason I classify her as NPD is because she has some of the key criteria such as grandiosity and needing excessive admiration. She is on the far end of the spectrum though. I've known other narcissists who were far less dangerous.

I really feel for everyone who has had one of these monsters in their life. Especially for those of us who were raised with this insanity. The damage done by narcissistic parents is profound, and it can take a long time to realize how messed up they are because for children, their environment growing up is what is "normal" to them.
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Old 11-09-2012, 08:27 AM
 
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I read through this thread, and it is amazing what everyone here has endured. Everyone is at different stages of healing and moving forward, but that's the key, is that everyone is working, or even thinking about overcoming the negative affects of being raised by a narcissist. Many of your stories reminded me of my own experiences. The beating and berating, being forced to smile and act happy, etc.

I wondered whether anyone else here has been told by a therapist that they should not cut contact with their N parent? I have been to therapy a handful of times in my life, and each therapist disagreed with the idea of cutting my N mother out of my life completely. One therapist suggested not seeing her regularly, but keeping minimal contact and maybe spending holidays with her (why the heck would I want to ruin my holidays?). Another therapist suggested that I have lunch once per month with her so that I can realize that I am able to tolerate being with her. Yet, all the therapists agree that I need to keep my mom away from my kids, given her history of physical violence, particularly toward children.

Then there is the pressure from family and friends. Everyone seems to think that it is unhealthy for me to have cut my mother out of my life. I hear things about "forgiveness" and letting go of the past. Also arguments that it can't be that bad, and that I should keep contact because that is what I would want my children to do with me. I even have family members tell me that my mom should be spending time with her grandchildren (as if I am the evil person standing in the way of some kind of loving relationship between my mother and my children).

None of this adds up to me. I have yet to hear a convincing reason why my mother should be in my life. If a complete stranger assaulted and robbed me in a back alley, no one would be telling me to keep contact or have lunch every month with this person. What my mother did was far worse, and she has not changed! It just doesn't make sense to me.

After years of zero contact, last year I decided that since my mom didn't abandon me (something my last therapist pointed out as a good thing), that I owed it to her to at least acknowledge her in some way. So I started sending her a short and pleasant email for major events like holidays, her birthday, etc. Doing this made me feel physically ill, and honestly I have regretted it because it has had repercussions within my family. This initial contact made my mother and other family members think that I was moving toward reuniting with my mother, and it made my mother think that she could start trying to connect with my children again. This has led to me having to set more boundaries, and having to deal with the subsequent anger and resentment of my mother and family members.

I go back and forth. I don't want anything to do with my mom, but the pressure from family, friends and professionals makes me second guess my instincts. I don't miss her one iota. During good times and bad, I have thought about her and been glad that she was not in my life, because she makes bad times worse, and good times bad.
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Old 11-09-2012, 08:44 AM
 
Location: So Ca
5,557 posts, read 5,324,787 times
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Originally Posted by marmom View Post
...there is the pressure from family and friends. Everyone seems to think that it is unhealthy for me to have cut my mother out of my life. I hear things about "forgiveness" and letting go of the past. Also arguments that it can't be that bad...
The problem with cutting off a family member is that the ramifications of what is, in a sense, bottled up inside of you (because you don't communicate with that person) can be destructive to you. There's a lot written about how emotional cut-off affects your other relationships, so that person whom you've cut off really does not "go away." It's sometimes better for a person to remain in contact with the destructive person on a more distant level, e.g. short conversations only when necessary, cordial acknowledgement if you both show up at an event, etc. Limit your contact with her as much as possible.

And I wouldn't initiate contact with her at all. If it makes you physically ill to email a birthday greeting, don't do it. It only opens up another opportunity for her to take advantage of you. I don't know how old your children are but as you mentioned, they need to be protected from someone who is physically and emotionally abusive.

And arguments that it can't be that bad...amazing. Those well meaning people didn't grow up with her, so how could they possibly know?
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Old 11-09-2012, 11:39 AM
 
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Originally Posted by CA4Now View Post
The problem with cutting off a family member is that the ramifications of what is, in a sense, bottled up inside of you (because you don't communicate with that person) can be destructive to you. There's a lot written about how emotional cut-off affects your other relationships, so that person whom you've cut off really does not "go away." It's sometimes better for a person to remain in contact with the destructive person on a more distant level, e.g. short conversations only when necessary, cordial acknowledgement if you both show up at an event, etc. Limit your contact with her as much as possible.
This makes sense. I will do some reading about the emotional impact of cutting off relationships. There is a certain amount of stress caused by the act of cutting my mom out of my life.

I came to the point of estrangement out of desperation. I was just worn out with struggling with her. Even disengaging emotionally as much as I could, she was constantly pushing boundaries. She has openly said that she will make people's lives miserable in order to get what she wants. She will make them miserable to the point that they give in, because not giving in to her is worse than just giving her what she wants. For whatever reason, she is fairly respectful when I tell her not to contact me at all. This has been far more effective than trying to limit or minimize contact (but still allow it to any degree). She sees any little opening as an opportunity to go after what she wants unrelentingly .

As for people who say it can't be that bad, I honestly think they are in denial and enmeshed with my mother. It's mostly family members who have also been victimized by her. One of my aunts said I should just let my mom's words roll off of me. I agree with that to a point, but I think half the problem is that people have let my mom get away with her bad behavior without consequences her entire life. No one ever stands up to her. Also, people seem to think that because my mom doesn't physically beat me anymore, then I should be able to handle having her in my life.

I like your suggestion to not initiate contact. Yes, my children definitely need to be protected. They are very young - the oldest is 5. My children were actually the impetus for me taking a stand with my mom. I saw her beginning to repeat the same patterns with them that happened with me, and there was no way I could let that happen.

Thanks for the reply!
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:13 PM
 
Location: So Ca
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Originally Posted by marmom View Post
I will do some reading about the emotional impact of cutting off relationships.
Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist who helped develop the systems theory of the family, wrote a lot about family triangles and emotional cut off. Here's a link: The Bowen Center - Bowen Theory - Emotional Cutoff
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:17 AM
 
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No Contact is the best way to deal with a narcissistic parent. You can't just see them on occasion or on holidays. If they know they have an "in," they will use it as a way to dig at you. Why do these toxic people deserve to know you? As for the people who claim that it's harmful to not talk to your parents, I have to say that just because these people are your parents, it doesn't give them the right to know you. They screwed up, so they lost the right to know you. They didn't just mess up once or twice. They repeatedly invalidated you as a human being, a person with your own identity, thoughts/feelings/hopes/dreams/wishes/desires separate from theirs. As though you as a person really didn't exist. You were just a shell for them to use as a "projection" dumpster.

And if you're wanting revenge (yes, it's a stage in the recovery process) just know that being ignored is what will get them at back the worst.

Besides, just having a kid doesn't elevate one's status as a human being, so anyone who tells you that you should be grateful that you at least had a roof over your head (while minimizing the abuse you've shared with them) is probably someone you need to stop talking to also. Be aware that your experience with your N parent has prepped you for a lifetime of choosing N friends, N mates, etc. Once your radar gets tuned in to where you can recognize these turds, you'll see that they've attached themselves to you, not because there's something wrong with you, but because you've been conditioned your whole life to tolerate N behavior. No one else would.
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Old 11-12-2012, 07:41 AM
 
1,083 posts, read 1,421,232 times
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Originally Posted by CA4Now View Post
Murray Bowen, a psychiatrist who helped develop the systems theory of the family, wrote a lot about family triangles and emotional cut off. Here's a link: The Bowen Center - Bowen Theory - Emotional Cutoff
Thanks for the link. I read the article, and it makes sense, especially in a family without severe pathology. I don't agree that the theory is as clear cut or that it holds up as well when applied to a family with members who have a severe mental illness, personality disorder, or addiction.

I do agree that cutting off contact is not a way to "solve" the underlying issues that makes a person want to emotionally distance themselves. Those issues have to be dealt with over time (therapy is a good option). However, when a family member is dangerous or destructive, I think that it can be very healthy to put some distance in that relationship.

The article asserts that when a person cuts contact with members of their family of origin, then it will have a negative effect on their other relationships. This has not been true for me. In fact, my marriage has become much more healthy and strong without my mother's influence. She was extremely divisive with me and my husband, and also negatively interfered with our professional lives.
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Old 11-12-2012, 08:05 AM
 
1,083 posts, read 1,421,232 times
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Originally Posted by SweetnessJones View Post
No Contact is the best way to deal with a narcissistic parent. You can't just see them on occasion or on holidays. If they know they have an "in," they will use it as a way to dig at you. Why do these toxic people deserve to know you? As for the people who claim that it's harmful to not talk to your parents, I have to say that just because these people are your parents, it doesn't give them the right to know you. They screwed up, so they lost the right to know you. They didn't just mess up once or twice. They repeatedly invalidated you as a human being, a person with your own identity, thoughts/feelings/hopes/dreams/wishes/desires separate from theirs. As though you as a person really didn't exist. You were just a shell for them to use as a "projection" dumpster.

And if you're wanting revenge (yes, it's a stage in the recovery process) just know that being ignored is what will get them at back the worst.

Besides, just having a kid doesn't elevate one's status as a human being, so anyone who tells you that you should be grateful that you at least had a roof over your head (while minimizing the abuse you've shared with them) is probably someone you need to stop talking to also. Be aware that your experience with your N parent has prepped you for a lifetime of choosing N friends, N mates, etc. Once your radar gets tuned in to where you can recognize these turds, you'll see that they've attached themselves to you, not because there's something wrong with you, but because you've been conditioned your whole life to tolerate N behavior. No one else would.
I agree with you SweetnessJones. My experience has shown that "minimal" contact will never work with my N mom. She has an amazing capacity to exploit even the smallest opening into my and my family's lives.

As for revenge - it's true that indifference and ignoring are the most powerful weapons against a narcissist. After all, the opposite of love is not hate - it's indifference. There were many years that I fantasized about revenge toward my mother, but the current situation where I have cut contact is not out of revenge. It's purely out of self preservation, my children and husband's best interests, and wanting to live a peaceful life - especially since the first three decades were so miserable and filled with turmoil, chaos, violence, etc.

Believe it or not, I have compassion for my mom. She is not happy and never will be. She also does not have insight into her issues, and probably never will. She suffered her own trauma and abuse throughout her life, at the hands of her parents and other victimizing relationships that she naturally fell into. Even though I have compassion though, does not mean that I can allow her to continue to hurt me, and especially not my vulnerable precious children. I have let go of the anger I used to feel toward my mother to the best of my ability, and am mostly left with sadness over the losses in my life (loss of childhood, etc).

The decision to cut contact with my mother was not one that I took lightly. I went to therapy, turned to religion, and most of all, I tried working directly with my mom. I tried talking to her to resolve our issues, offered for us to go to therapy together on my dime, and went through the motions of patiently and consistently setting boundaries. Not only were all of my efforts an emotional drain, but they didn't work. I tried for years. Before deciding to cut her from my life, I gave tremendous thought and consideration to the decision, and only came to the decision with the feeling that it was the only way that I could protect my children from her, and the only way that she would ever stop hurting me.

I still struggle with the decision. Not because I miss her, but because it bothers me to know that my actions hurt her. Yet, I know that narcissists are not really ever "hurt." Our estrangement doesn't hurt her the same way it would hurt someone without narcissism. It hurts her in the sense that she no longer gets to "feed" on me and my family. She has lost an enormous narcissistic supply. She has also lost the appearance of being a perfect mother with a perfect daughter (perfect in the stepford, robotic, inhuman sense), which was something she highly valued.

In other words, I hear you, and agree with you completely sistah!
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