You may feel that if you perform some slight—either real or perceived—that there will be shell to pay and retribution. Maybe you receiving a fear punishment from your parent. This fear can be that she still can punish you as she did when you were a child. Or maybe she has some hold over you, perhaps financial, where she can take something away that you need.
Perhaps you fear she may verbally attack you in some way as she did when you were an adolescent. You may simply still fear his disapproval. She conditioned you to want to please her. And even though you’re an adult, that need to please is still here. So you are afraid you’ll do something that she will disprove of.
No matter what you fear about your parent, it’s time to stop being afraid.
You’re and adult now. You can say no to her retribution. You can say no to his punishments, and show you can live without whatever she holds over you. You don’t have to listen as she attacks you. And you don’t need his approval.
Why You’re Afraid of Your Narcissistic Parent
You may not think of your narcissistic parent this way, but she’s an abuser. Maybe there was no physical or sexual abuse in your home, but there was plenty of emotional abuse. Research indicates that emotional abuse is as bad, if not worse, than physical and sexual abuse. And you suffered it for 18 years or more.
Examples of emotional abuse include the following:
- Ignoring: This is when the parent literally ignores the child. She doesn’t answer his cries. She doesn’t respond to him. And when she calls the child, she may not use his or her name.
- Rejecting: The parent literally turns a cold shoulder to her child. She will not respond to any of the child’s needs whether he or she be hurt, hungry, injured, etc. The parent may refuse to touch the child and ridicule him or her while the child is in distress.
- Isolating: Here the narcissistic parent cuts the child off from the world. The child is denied contact with friends, family and/or adults. Children may be literally confined to a room or closet.
- Verbally Assaulting: The child undergoes a constant barrage of shaming, ridiculing, belittling, and threats.
- Terrorizing: The parent creates a climate of fear for the child to live in. She does this by bullying and through threats. The parent may set unbending or unrealistic expectations on the child and threaten to harm the child if he or she doesn’t meet the expectations. Another form is placing something the child loves—pet, sibling, or toy—in a dangerous situation.
Is it any wonder you’re still afraid of your parent? I’m sure that most of us went through multiple forms of emotional abuse. You should feel no shame for your fear. You can’t erase the fear accumulated by living with a monster for 18 years or longer. You’re still going to be afraid of the monster.
Getting Over Your Narcissistic Parent’s Emotional Abuse
The first step to getting over your emotional abuse is to realize your parent cannot hurt you anymore. She can try to. She can scream at you. Belittle you. Call you names. But she can’t put you in harmful situations. She can’t punish you. (And if she has a hold on you by giving you money, refuse to take it anymore. Break the chains.) There’s no way she can isolate you.
The only thing she can do is throw a tantrum and try to hurt you through belittling and name calling. All you have to do is walk away. That’s right. You don’t have to listen to it. Just walk away.
She’s not going to say anything new. She’s called you all the names and belittled you before. It’s time for you to stop identifying with what she says. If she says you’re a selfish little bitch, examine that? Are you? Don’t say yes automatically. Examine your actions.
I’m betting you are not selfish at all. Your mom having called you a “selfish little bitch,” which was probably the opposite of who you were. I know because I was called selfish all my childhood. After introspection I can say I am a giving person whether it be money, love, or time. The same is probably true for you.
What brought out the nasty accusations of selfishness was a narcissist’s inability to tolerate outshining all others. If you in your innocent sweetness were generous or giving, out came the accusation you were selfish. This emotional abuse occurred so you wouldn’t look better than your parent. That’s how twisted narcissists are.
Take each name or belittlement and examine it. You can do so with a close friend who you trust. An objective third party may help convince you of you “innocence”. If you have trouble with this exercise, or you can’t handle the feelings connected to the names, you may benefit from the help of a mental health professional.
Get Angry at Your Narcissistic Parent
Your parents are supposed to love and protect you. They are supposed to gently guide you through childhood and adolescence. Parents have a duty to support their children and build within them a healthy sense of self. Parents should help their children develop a good sense of self-esteem and rock solid self-confidence. These are the gifts parents have an obligation to give their children.
But rather than giving us the gift of compassionate and loving parenting, our narcissistic parents gave us scars that no one can see. Instead of the gifts above, our parents handed us:
- A lack of confidence
- The inability to know what we want
- An inability to express our needs
- A belief that expressing our needs will lead to rejection
- An inability to make a decision on things we figure out we want
- An enduring sense of guilt about everything we do
- Feeling bad about ourselves
- An inability to assert ourselves
- An inability to see our own value
- A habit of accepting what we don’t want
- Being trained to follow others and their wishes
- A habit of taking on two much responsibility
- A habit of sacrificing for the benefit of others
- A belief that we have to present ourselves as inferior and nonthreatening to others
- A mindset that allows us to be frequently taken advantage of
- A habit of landing in unbalanced relationships where we give more than we receive
- Always feeling we are on the verge of “getting in trouble”
- A fear that individuals and organizations with power will use it to abuse us
- A fear that if we say something we’ll be told we’re wrong
- A fear of taking risks
- A habit of trying to remain invisible to protect ourselves
- Difficulty with self-care
- Difficulty with life skills
- Feeling that we’re stuck in childhood no matter how old we are
- Feeling powerless
- Feeling loss
- Feeling afraid
- Difficulty buying what we need
Given the legacy above that is our inheritance from our narcissistic parents, we should not feel afraid of them. We should feel very, very angry with them. Our blood should boil at the thought of them.
Yes. It goes against all those years of conditioning where she taught you to never be angry with her. Well screw that. I know it’s hard. I still have trouble getting angry at my narcissistic parents. But let me tell you, looking at that list and realizing how true it is for me helps.
But here’s what really pisses me off: when I think that it didn’t have to be that way. If my parents loved me and treated me with respect while nurturing me, that horrible list wouldn’t hold true for me. The same goes for you. It’s time to let the hot fires of anger burn away our fears.
Even if you don’t feel angry at your parents, the anger is still within you. It just gets expressed at the wrong people. I raged at my family for years before I figured out what I was really angry at. I let myself hurt people I love because I couldn’t direct my anger at the parents who hurt me.
I can never repay my wife and kids for the misplaced anger. But as I heal, my family heals.
Print off the list above and feel each item deep in your soul. Think of instances for each item. If you can’t get angry after that, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional.
If you’re angry and still afraid, tune in next week. I’ll cover another way to get through fear.
Remember, you’re not broken. You deserve to feel good about yourself. Everything on that list, and your feelings about those items, is because of what was done to you.
You deserve self-confidence, a guilt-free life, and healthy relationship with reciprocity. And you deserve so much more. But you’re going to have to work to get there. It’s not fair, but it’s our fate.
And I’ll be here to walk beside you.
May peace find you and settle in your soul.
What are you most angry over that your narcissistic parent did? Tell us in the comments below.