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children with narcissitic parent(s)


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Hi all,


I have posted here several times about the difficult relationship I have with my mother.


With the support of this website, my new husband and some counselling,

I have made huge progress. I went to counselling for several issues- mainly due to my depression and inability to make major life choices...or any choice for that matter.


It transpired during my sessions, from my behaviour (I was always working to "fix" it) and that of my mothers, that my mother has Narcissitic Personality Disoder, or narcissitic traits, at the very least.


I have read loads on it and worked through the management of these personalities and myself- and I am coming to terms with it.


My life is so much better for it. I am less depressed about the why and how things work in my family.

I no longer have counselling. It's explained a lot of the loneliness, nervousnes and depressive episodes I had growing up. I am now happy most times.


I am ar a stage now where I can accept that we will never have a mother-daughter relationship (unless I am the mother). I can recognise how my life choices have challenged her beliefs and threatend her sense of "self" which has made her behaviour escalate.


The only thing I struggle with now is that from time to time, I get a surge of anger and resentment at the injustice, her lies and hurt of my mothers past behaviour, and my own guilt. I am struggling to forgive her for her behaviour in the past and I know that this is holding me back.


I was wondering if anyone in a similiar situation could offer some advice on how to accept and forgive her?

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It sounds like you have come a long, long way in your recovery and reading your post is definitely uplifting. May I congratulate you on so much progress.


Having suffered greatly at the hands of a father with many narcissistic traits -- and I will never know if he actually had NPD -- I can relate to the long and painful process of freeing myself from the rippling aftereffects of his behavior, even after he has died. There are losses in my life that have happened because of it that affect me profoundly to this day that may be irrevocable, and the process of acceptance and forgiveness I expect to be a lifelong one. It's a jagged process, full of setbacks and advances, days where I feel liberated and then days when I feel once again shackled.


But I do feel that I am making strides in an upward direction, and the question of how to forgive a person isn't limited to him. It has become a lesson about life in a very broad sense, and this has been quite a precious pursuit for me.


It no longer matters so much that he was my father, but that he was simply a and could have been any person that has done damage on this planet -- and what is the route to forgiving any such person? This is the first step for me, removing my own personal drama and hurt from the equation, taking my Small Story, and seeing it as a Large Story of oppression and the oppressed. This gives me a sense of greater nonattachment, a field of vision that is more one of the witness than the victim. If you are narrowly focused on the victimized you and engulfed in it, it's nearly impossible to forgive. To forgive you have to stand many paces back.


Then from that point of view, you can seize upon what I consider the main ingredient of forgiveness: compassion. This is the great antidote, I think. THE antidote. One of the greatest sages who ever lived said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."


This is quite true, and it could be said about even the most malicious of deeds. In the case of my own father, it was more a question of "hell is paved with good intentions" -- he was utterly blind to his acts, though his motivations were not evil ones. The results were a disaster but nonetheless, he was BLIND to himself -- arrogant, blind, near-sighted, foolish and trapped in a hell of his own making, which was the life he created for us, for me and ultimately for himself. So, his existence was plagued by the boomeranging of his misdeeds.


For starters -- isn't that just terribly sad? That a person would do that to themselves? To hurt others and thereforee at last, degrade the quality of their lives, this chance on earth to make a positive mark? I have no idea how many times we are here, and all considerations of other lifetimes aside, we've got to live as though this is our only shot at living. Is this how a person should spend this one precious chance? Squandering it on spreading misery, misery that even continues after he's gone?


So that is a life I would hate to have lived. And as much pain as I'm in now, I would choose my life over his -- mine is going to be better, I think. Because even though I'm dealing with the effects of having been a victim of his for many years (more than half my life), I would least of all like to have been the perpetrator of this, and because he was ignorant and blind in that, I first feel sorry for him. So pity is a start. But pity still contains a seed of contempt. I advocate it as a good interim emotion, though!


The next rung up is full compassion, which is a kind of sorrow that is able to see another person's pain as one that could be one's own -- and simply feeling very kind toward it. Compassion is able to say, "This person was/is blind, ignorant [which can even be appplied to intentionally malicious behavior and evil in the end] and thereforee I recognize that painful state of existing -- and wish it weren't so, for their sake."


"They know not what they do."


When you see the other person as suffering as much or more than you, even if they were your tormentor, then the feelings of anger and sorrow for oneself are dissipated and redirected to them as compassion. The path is to see your mother as the one in need of compassion, not just yourself, since she has come to this. And to know that what brought her to this point was a great deal of suffering in her own past, probably from childhood -- so at one point she was the victim, too.


And then simultaneously, you can feel gratitude that you will not be continuing her legacy.


So in this way, she has taught you to be one step forward of her, or many. She has taught you what you don't wish to be, what you won't repeat, what you know doesn't contribute in a positive way to human relationships. She really has taught you a great deal about how to be a strong and loving person by her opposite example. So, another antidote lies in here: being grateful for the "teachings" you have received from her, even though the way you learned them was through an incredibly wounding route. Healing these wounds still has asked you to step up to the plate to create a new outcome of the game, and for this challenge, you can actually thank her.


I know some of this sounds incredibly pie-in-the-sky, but my spiritual inspirations come from people who actually have done this and I feel I've come some ways in being able to bring these reflections to my own story. Wanting to make peace with any person is so much about seeing their pain as clearly as you see your own, and knowing that as long as you do all you can to make your life full and right, you are mending a pain (i.e., inability to create loving relationships) that they could not manage to mend, and thereforee what you are doing is quite a noble undertaking. It's for you, for them, for all pain everywhere, really.


I would never condemn someone who can't forgive atrocious act commited. But to the extent that one can forgive, one becomes freer within themselves.

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