Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is when a person has a deeply inflated ego and is unable to feel empathy for anyone else. If parents have this disorder, this need for unending admiration causes a lot of pain in their families and children. If they feel the slightest hint of criticism, difference of opinion, or lack of attention, it can result in hell for the child. Now imagine growing up with a parent like this for decades.
Children of narcissistic parents often become incredibly sensitive to their narcissistic parent’s mood changes, impending outbursts, and vicious words. Most of the time, parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) will never change.
After being on the receiving end of a parent’s narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), adult children often feel tremendous guilt and blame themselves. Some may have been the victims of gaslighting and are in denial of what truly happened.
The reason adult survivors struggle with guilt and self-blame is because they will do anything to keep their parental bond in place, regardless of how dysfunctional and painful. All of us need this love. But when a narcissistic parent withholds this love, the survivor believes that they have to change to meet their parents’ needs. They feel that they need to gain their love. There aren’t enough words to describe how destructive this is.
With narcissists, it will never be enough. They will never be pleased.
But there are ways to heal from the narcissistic anguish in your life. It’s never too late to start over, free from their presence.
It is necessary that adult survivors commit to regular therapy. Talking to a mental health professional can help you understand your self-worth and how to improve it. This starts with understanding what was done to you and that the way you were treated was not and is not acceptable.
- Keeping Your Distance
You must limit time spent with your parent. This proves to be the most difficult step because of the family bond. But in order to heal, survivors must keep their distance for their own mental health and safety.
If you happen to live with your parent or are dependent on them in some way, find peaceful activities that will keep you out of the house for as long as possible during the day. Find another job to help create your own financial security, which will give you your independence away from them. If time is not an option, find a trusted friend that you can stay with.
- Engage in Healing Activities Outside of Therapy
While therapy is a necessary healing tool, there are many other ways to accelerate your progress. Take the time to calm your mind by engaging in activities like yoga, meditation, eco-therapy (exercising outdoors), and daily journaling. Commit to memory what was done to you so you never forget and go back to them without boundaries set in place. If you think they’ll change, you’re mistaken. NPD is a disorder that is hard to eradicate quickly, if at all.
- Create a New Support System
Parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) tend to isolate their children. Their need for excessive praise and attention is the reason. Friends, teachers, coaches, may all be a threat to their distorted love and the attention that they need. So find a support group, keep connections with trusted friends, and find other people that you can form healthy connections to.
If your parent has told you that no one will ever be there for you like they will (or some other similar script), know that they are wrong. Friends, co-workers, and others in your life have shown how much they enjoy spending time with you. Don’t be fooled by your parent’s vicious words of the past.
- Low Contact and No Contact
Parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) cause hurt and shame, which is incredibly dangerous. And adult children may experience depression, anxiety, panic disorders, or addiction as a result of this shame that unfortunately takes up a place deep down.
It is important to go beyond limiting contact and deciding on a low contact or no contact relationship. This decision usually comes after much consideration and therapy. And while controversial, the decision you make is yours. Whatever you choose will be the right one. Put yourself and your healing first. This cannot be done with a disordered person in your life.
Don’t let their cruelty win. Take care of yourself above all. Attend therapy regularly. Share your experiences with your therapist, no matter how difficult. If your home situation is stressful, start a form of calming exercise. Tap into your hobbies and artistic side.
Listen to your therapist and other supportive figures as you go on this journey. It’s a tough challenge to rectify the cruelty, lies, and games your narcissistic parent played, but now is the time to fix it. You endured a betrayal in the highest form. You were given a counterfeit form of love that said you weren’t good enough. But you are. Therapy and healing will help you remember you are perfect as you are.
Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed by Wendy T. Behary LCSW
Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Dr. Karyl McBride, Ph.D.
Adult Children of Narcissists in their Struggle for Self by Elan Golomb
Have a book or resource you want to share? Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.