The evidence is clear. You’re certain your parent fits the profile of having narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). You’ve spent hours reliving painful events. Everything that seemed crazy before makes sense now.
The agony, the fear, and the sorrow woven through your life burdens your soul. But now, you feel your disappointment being replaced by anger. Fury, hot as white fire, is scorching you from the inside out.
The only way you think you can soothe your rage is to confront your parent over their neglect, emotional torture, and lack of love. You need them to hear how their narcissism damaged you and made your life hell.
But before you confront them, ask yourself a question.
What’s Your Motive?
Take a little more time to reflect on the urge to confront your parent. Explore what you hope to gain through confrontation.
When you’re angry with someone who isn’t “infected” by NPD, you expect to gain some resolution by challenging them. If your property is damaged or stolen, you hope for some kind of reparation or replacement. If the wrong was emotional—maybe he demeaned you in front of a boss or she hit on your husband—you expect an apology. At a minimum, you presume confrontation will get that anger off your chest and bring closure to the situation.
When confronting a narcissistic parent, you’re probably looking for a deeper resolution than getting anger off your chest. You crave apologies accompanied by tears to demonstrate your parent’s remorse.
And you require promises of change. You need a vow that the future will be different, that she’ll treat you with the love you crave and deserve. The love she withheld all your life.
The Harsh Reality of Confronting a Narcissistic Parent
If your motives include remorse, repentance, and change, do not confront your parent. Your parent isn’t going to experience remorse or apologize.
For one thing, narcissists lack the ability to empathize, so she’s unreceptive to your feelings. Your mom will never understand your pain or experience remorse. She simply lacks the capability. She can’t see herself through your eyes and understand how she makes you feel.
The second reason your mother will never feel remorse is that as a narcissist, she holds a false image of herself in her mind. She sees herself as a grandiose, near perfect being who can do no wrong.
To maintain this false image, the narcissist constantly seeks narcissistic supply. Narcissistic supply is the fuel that powers the false self. Narcissistic supply’s core element is attention which is made up of substances such as admiration, praise, and even other people’s fear of her. The narcissist’s self-image is a ravenous beast and needs a constant flow of narcissistic supply to feed upon.
If you confront her, you’re going to accuse her of not only being imperfect, but defective as well. You will threaten her false image. Faced with this threat, your mother isn’t going to apologize. She’s going to erupt in rage. Like an angry bear protecting her cubs, she will defend her false image by lashing out at the perceived threat—you.
Unfortunately, your narcissist is not open to changing for you or anyone. And she’s likely to take the examples you gave of how she hurt you and turn it around into how you are a disappointment to her.
She will not feel remorse or regret. There will be no resolution.
So What Do You Do With Your Narcissistic Parent?
Accept the fact that she will never change or feel remorse for the havoc she has wrought in your life. While acceptance may not be your optimal solution, you have a choice about the future. You get to choose how involved your narcissistic parent will be in your life.
You can set boundaries. Maybe you only see her on holidays. Perhaps you only meet in a public place where she can’t yell her abusive comments. You can set a rule that you meet somewhere where you can walk away if mistreated.
Or you can break off the relationship forever. You wouldn’t stay friends with someone who treated you that way. So why spend time with someone who abuses you just because you call them mom or dad?
But me saying this is easier than you facing the guilt that separation may bring. I recommend working with a certified mental health counselor to come to a resolution. And you can work with a counselor about your desire to confront your parent.
I wish you peace and the knowledge that there’s nothing wrong with you, but there’s something wrong with what has been done to you.
If you confronted your narcissistic parent, what would you say?
Tell us in the comments below.