The Consequences of Enmeshment

Narcissistic parents tend to adopt one of two styles of parenting: enmeshment or neglectful. Both styles are loaded with negative consequences for children of narcissists. This post explores the consequences of enmeshment for the child. In a future post we’ll explore the consequences of neglect.

What is Enmeshment?

Enmeshment is a dysfunctional state where a two or more people have porous and indistinguishable boundaries. Enmeshment can occur between a parent or child, whole families, or adult couples. This article will be talking about enmeshment between a narcissistic mother and her son. The narcissistic parent could become enmeshed with her daughter or all her offspring, though. The same goes for a narcissistic father.Narcissistic parents will often enmesh with one child and make them appear as they desire.

Since the boundaries between two enmeshed people are permeable, they tend to catch each others emotions. If the narcissistic parent becomes angry at a store clerk who slighted her by waiting on another customer first, her son will grow angry as well.

Emotions are a complicated thing for those in an enmeshed relationships. Unable to tell the difference between each others emotions, each member in the relationship will have times when they feel they need to be rescued from their emotions by the other person. Similarly, they’ll each have time when they feel they have to rescue the other person from their emotions.

Those in an enmeshed relationship come to depend the other enmeshed person for their identity. They become so lost that they lose, or fail to develop, their sense of self.

An enmeshed person depends on the person their enmeshed with for their self-worth. Since narcissists emotionally abuse their children, their enmeshed offspring often have low self-esteem. Continue reading

Why Your Narcissistic Parent Needs You

Isn’t is puzzling? No matter how much you ignore your narcissistic parent they keep coming back to you. Even if Narcissistic Father Makes Demands of Sonyou say “I don’t want any contact with you,” they’re back.

It’s like trying to stop that stray dog from following you home.

When your narcissistic father is pursuing you, it’s almost possible to believe he loves you.

But he doesn’t. He’s not capable of loving you. He’ll tell you he loves you. But when you think back you realize that he’s never demonstrated unconditional love for you. His “love” has always been conditional on how much adoration and praise you shower on him. Continue reading

Narcissistic Parents and Fear Part 2

In my last post I discussed why, as adults, we still fear our narcissistic parents. I wrote about how one way toSign that says Transform Fear into Action which encourages reader to break hold narcissistic parent has over them get through this fear is to get angry at your parent.

But what if you can’t get angry? Or what if the anger doesn’t burn away all your fear?

Then it becomes time to face your fear and work through it. Only by allowing ourselves to confront our fears can we truly be free of them.

Here is how you work through your fear.

Ask, What Am I Afraid Of?

The fear we feel when we’re afraid of something tends to be a generalized fear. For instance we may feel fear when we think of having contact with our narcissistic parent. That fear fills us and our mind stays locked in fear mode. Continue reading

Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents and Fear

As an adult child of narcissistic parents, it is completely normal for you to live in a constant state of fear. Even The word FEAR in capital lettersthough you are free of your narcissistic parent, you may still be afraid of them.

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. Continue reading

Does My Narcissistic Parent Love Me?

We all, at any age, like to think that our parents love and treasure us. We also like to think they will be there toNarcissistic Father demonstrates conditional love for son because son didn't give father narcissistic supply, support us if we have problems or are in need of assistance.

As much as this might hurt to read, none of the above is true for the adult child of a narcissistic parent.

You already know that your parent is not like other parents. Your parent is self-absorbed, talks about themselves in grandiose terms, and is overly critical. You may have come to accept it.

What you may not have come to accept is your parent’s limitations when it comes to loving others, even you. But coming to accept your parent’s limitations in this area will take your further down the road of healing.

Therefore, it’s vital that we explore this painful topic. Continue reading

Your Anger at Your Narcissistic Parent

Do you allow yourself to be angry at your narcissistic parent? Can you allow yourself to feel that Womam expresses anger at her narcissistic parentseething rage burning deep within you fueled by the neglect and abuse you’ve weathered all your life?

Don’t feel bad if you can’t. I’m positive a lot of us survivors cannot.

Even if you are numb to the rage, it’s there, buried like a murdered informant in your subconscious. But anger is energy and energy will not allow itself to remain pent up.

So how does your anger get released?

Who’s the Target of Your Anger at Your Narcissistic Parent?

When we don’t allow ourselves to feel the anger at our parents boiling within us, our pent up anger escapes and attacks other people. Not sure what I’m talking about? Then think about the following scenarios.

Dan grew up with a narcissistic father who made fun of him for not being athletic. From the age of nine on, he suppressed that anger so that now he is unaware of it. Today, Dan is a supervisor for a major corporation. One morning he receives an email from his dad ordering him to come over Sunday and watch the football game. Dan shakes he head over his father’s inability to recognize he doesn’t like football.

Thirty minutes later he takes a walk through the cubicles. He finds Rita reading a gossip website. Dan starts publicly berating Rita for violating the company’s internet policy. The other employees duck their heads. They know that once Dan starts yelling, he’ll keep yelling as he points out the under-performance of other employees.

Cheryl is sitting by the window and watching it snow. She thinks back to when she was a little girl. Her job was to ensure the walkway and driveway were snow free for her mother, no matter how cold it was. Cheryl’s mother would only buy one pair of mittens for the entire winter. If Cheryl lost one, she had to go without or use a sock.

Sighing she gets up and goes and checks on her eight year old twin daughters. They turned the living room into a debris field of toys. “God damn it!” she shouts. “I’m sick of picking up after you.” The twins start crying, but begin picking up. They’ve experienced mother’s rage attacks before.

Someone Will Feel Your Anger at Your Narcissistic Parent

No matter how hard you try to remain calm, someone will provoke you into an angry outburst. Ninety-nine percent of the time they’re not trying to make you mad. That you respond angrily will surprise them.

It may be someone who darts their car into the small space between your car and the vehicle in front of you, making you slam on the breaks. You start screaming, laying on the horn, and driving on their tail. Middle fingers are exchanged. Meanwhile, your kids are screaming “Stop!” from the back.

Or perhaps it will be the store clerk who makes a mistake and rings up the pants you are buying twice. You lay into her, oblivious that everyone in the checkout area is staring at you.

Possibly you’re out taking a run. Convinced you always have the right of way, you don’t pause at intersections. You’re crossing one intersection and a car zips around the corner and passes two feet in front of you. Cursing at the top of your lungs, you throw the thick wad of keys in your hand as hard as you can against the side of the car in hopes of scratching the paint.

The point is, you carry deep, hot pools of rage within you. And until you deal with it, the rage is going to hurt you and whoever you take it out on.

My Pattern for Expressing Rage at My Narcissistic Parents

You are most at danger of going berserk before and after contact with your narcissistic parent. Your anger may be triggered by past wrongs or because you have to see or talk with them. It may be due to things they say while you are visiting with them. It’s possible that you may be angry due to all three things.

My pattern used to be that I’d start getting agitated three days before I saw my mom or dad (I won the jackpot—two narcissistic parents). I’d start snapping at my wife and kids over small irritations that I made into my mountains of agony.

Two days before seeing a parent and my shouting started. My poor wife experienced most of my anger. I blamed her for everything I was unhappy about in my life. I’ll never be able to make up for those times.

The day before I saw my parents, the yelling intensified. I could find nothing right with the world and the fault of that lay with my wife.

Then the next day we’d go to dinner at my mom’s. I would play my family role as the clown. No anger would be expressed on my part.

Then the next day would begin another three days of yelling and agitation, just in reverse with the first day being my angriest.

My wife asks me when I’m being an ass why I can express such anger at her, yet show none towards the people who hurt me. I only have one answer.

I was conditioned so thoroughly from an early age not to show a bit of anger towards my parents and that conditioning still makes me suppress my anger around my parents. Fricken remarkable, isn’t it?

What if You Showed Anger at Your Narcissistic Parent?

As much as I hate to say this, it probably wouldn’t matter.

Many of us possess fantasies of confronting our narcissistic parents with how they abused us as children and the wrongs we do today. Part of this fantasy is that they’ll show remorse. We imagine tearful apologies. Then we believe they’ll completely change and become the parents we always wanted.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Your narcissistic parent has constructed a false image of themselves. This image believes it can do no wrong.

Not only does your narcissistic parent feel they can do no wrong, they’ll take every negative thing you say about them and project it back on you. This means they’ll see you as manipulative, uncaring, etc. And they’ll tell you right then and there that you have all the traits you’re pointing out in them.

Think how hurt and angry you’ll feel after that.

What to Do with Your Anger at Your Narcissistic Parent?

An extremely important part of healing from the pain inflicted by your narcissistic parent is feeling your anger at her. Dealing with that anger will allow you to stop taking it out on your family and other people.

Make sure you don’t deny your anger or convince yourself it is wrong to be angry at your parent. You have every right to be angry at what has been done to you by someone who was supposed to love, nurture, and protect you but abused, ignored, and belittled you instead.

When you have some time alone, thing back over the events of your childhood. Don’t make excuses for your parent. Let yourself get angry.

The intensity of your anger may frighten you. It’s OK. The anger cannot hurt you. Do not suppress your rage. When we suppress anger we turn it inward against ourselves. This can lead you to become clinically depressed, which will halt your recovery.

Now you are angry and need to deal with that anger.

The first thing is to feel it. Recognize who you’re angry about and why. Now it’s time to practice releasing your anger.

One way of releasing the anger is to journal about it. Write about what event from your past is making you so angry. Record why it made you angry. What emotions did you feel in the moment the event happened? How did your parent act? What should have happened instead? Were you angry back then? Can you remember suppressing that rage?

Then if you have the time and ability, get some aerobic exercise in. Or if yoga soothes you, do that. Exercise is good for burning off negative emotions. It leaves you with a cleansed feeling inside.

Another option is if you have an activity that you get lost in and soothes you like painting, crafts, or woodworking you can engage in for a while. This allows the anger not to have a hold on you as you generate positive energies by doing what you enjoy.

And if it helps for you to curl up on the bed and cry for an hour, do that. Whatever will help diminish your anger—besides drugs and alcohol—should help you deal with your rage.

Every few days repeat the process with another memory. Articulate as best you can what connections between the past and what triggered your current episode of anger. The point is to feel the anger at your parent and deal with it. The anger will probably never go away completely. But letting it out should stop you from raging at others.

If you can’t deal with the anger seek the help of a mental health professional. A MSW or psychologist will be able to help you process you anger.

Remember, don’t be angry with yourself, you did nothing wrong. Be angry at what was done to you and the person who did those things. And remember that you survived and that makes you amazing. You deserved, and do deserve, to be treated with kindness and respect. Accept nothing less from this point forward.

Who do you take you anger out on? Tell us in the comments below.

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