How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Dr. Mark Your Own Question

Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5107
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
Type Your Relationship Question Here...
Dr. Mark is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I would like advice on how to proceed with interactions from

Resolved Question:

I would like advice on how to proceed with interactions from my mother. To summarize my childhood it was marked by neglect, abuse, betrayal and abandonment. The stuff of made for tv movies. Some highlights..when I was 13 she offered me $200 to run away from home as I was cramping her style with her new boyfriend. I slept that night with my dresser against the door because I was afraid she would kill me in my sleep for refusing her offer. When I was about 11 I caught her shoplifting. I went crying to my brother I was so upset. She joined in the interaction,convincing my brother that I was making up lies about her As my brother started yelling at me about how I could say such awful things about our mother she turned so he couldnt see her face and just smiled at me. I was estranged from her for 2 years from 8th grade to sophomore year of high school ( my brother has not spoken with her for over 30 years)I let her back in my life without even an apology for the years of mistreatment. I missed having a mom and she seemed calmer and broken down from her recent second divorce and becoming a born again Christian. I am 44 now. Its been up and down but we were gradually able to forge a rather good relationship,and enjoy each other as long as I never EVER say anything negative about the past. Things have been hard for me the last 4 years. I took her along on a trip (my treat to DC) when out of the blue we were walking down the street and she stopped and told me how much she wishes I was never born. I was stunned. She took off on the subway. We spoke the next day and she said that I made her mad by saying something positive about Richard Nixon while we were in the Kennedy Center earlier that day??....but that what she said was 100% true and she would never apologize or retract her statement. She then went on to say how disappointed she is in the person I became and many ugly things said just to be cruel &inflict damage. She said her third husband, who I really loved and thought liked me, agreed that I am a horrible daughter and she deserves to be treated better. He doesnt know what my childhood was like. I honestly thought I was amazingly good to her given the circumstances. I dont glowing tell her what a wonderful mother she is like I know she wants because that is not the truth. I have respect for her because she is my mother. I dont love and adore her like most love their moms, its a mild form of love. That's the best I have to offer, and it must be coming across more than I realized. I am a successful nurse and business owner. I am smart, brave, strong and independent. I cant imagine how a parent could be "disappointed" in who I have become. I was crushed by that incident and never got over it. I only resumed contact with her after that because her husband asked me to. He said "she loves you now that you are here but she just wishes she never had you". That REALLY hurt to hear him justify her position but I didnt want to be estranged from her because that hurts too. Its been 4 years since this happened and there have been more of these sniper attacks. I think she feels more freedom to attack since she told me how she feels. She said she has been wanting to tell me for many years and it felt really good to finally say it. I cut off contact with her just recently. I was riding my bike and was hit by a car; she waited almost a week to call and see if I was ok. Her indifference hurt worse than the broken bones and I felt I needed to focus on taking care of myself and healing my body. I dont know how to form a new relationship where I can have contact with her but protect myself as these attacks are leaving me too wounded. Growing up in an abusive household the cycle of abuse was ..build up-attack- then pretend like things are ok by going thru the tasks of the day. Get the crap beaten out of you..cry..get up and go do the dishes or homework or get dressed up and go to a family function never letting on to what just happened. I noticed the same patterns in my 12 year marriage that ended a decade ago. I would find out my husband was cheating on me again. I would cry my eyes out, run thru my options of what to do,then go make dinner because that was easier than leaving him that day. I will be able to forgive her not calling me. She said her husband told her not to and to wait for me to call and ask for help. Its still NOT ok with me. Her husband told me he told her not to because "I always act like she doesnt do anything right" (a favorite hobby is for her to put me on speaker phone and he listens in and comments after I hang up ) I dont think I have it in me to go on and just resume the relationship as is. Nor do I have the energy to spend years in counseling with her going thru the sick twisted last 40 years and her playing victim. I am too tired and she would either cry or turn vicious there is no in between even if I could get her to go. I am looking for practical right now advice beyond "go find a therapist
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how overwhelming and frustrating this situation must be for you. I can see that the situation is getting more untenable with time for you and I'm concerned about you keeping on trying to have a relationship with your mother the way you are.

I promise, I won't tell you to start psychotherapy. However, I will tell you that I do not believe it is safe for you to have any contact with your mother UNLESS you are in psychotherapy with a therapist or psychologist who is experienced with narcissism and with its effect on children. Because your brother has done what is the most effective way of self-protection with a narcissistic parent: he has ceased any contact. This is what the vast majority of adult kids do. And those who try to maintain a relationship can only do so and maintain any personal mental health if they are in therapy. Okay? That's it on therapy.

Now, I've let the cat out of the bag, because your mother is most likely narcissistic. And the problem is that this is still an unlivable situation for you. Why?


Because narcissists cannot access their own ability to give to others so they use up other people's desire to give and to give goodness. You need to live your life, so I want you to focus on this aspect: getting yourself free INSIDE, emotionally, spiritually and in your thoughts from that relationship. I am going to recommend a wonderful book that you need to read that is also available online:


It is called: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life by XXXXX XXXXXez-Lewi.


Let me remind you of what you know within yourself is true because you've experienced it:

It is very difficult for people to imagine how pervasive NPD is. They tend to keep doing things with the narcissist as if she's normal. Then they get burned and they are very hurt. She will alternate charm and invective. You will be hurt. You are a normal person and have a view of personality that we call "whole". Your view does not allow for what has happened to her personality: it has become "fractured". What do I mean?


Let's use a parable of a house. You understand personality as being an open plan. There is the main big room where everything in the personality is and there are some smaller rooms off the main room, but they all have open doorways so that there is a unity there. If a person reacts from one of those smaller areas in his personality, it is coherent with the rest of the house, it fits into the decorating scheme of the main room, etc. It's all unified.

She isn't like that. Se has different closed rooms. When she says something to you, it responds to some need and "truth" of a certain room. When she wants something else, it responds to a different room that contains that "truth". They don't have to agree for her to feel she is being okay and truthful. Because they are responding to different needs in her. Like different closed rooms.


You would not be able to feel whole that way. You would feel rather creepy. Well she doesn't feel whole. But she doesn't know how to feel whole. And she doesn't know what feeling whole is like. So she can lie without feeling any regret or conscience. And her husband backs her up. Why? Because he knows what will happen to her if he doesn't: she'll turn on him instead of you.

So please remember what I said at the beginning: you need to find a way to make starting your own life away from her now practical; you must consider yourself a survivor who is seeking to escape. Perhaps asking your brother for tips and support in this will be possible. If so, do it.

But I'm concerned you will refuse to cut her off. You are searching for "mommy". And that's a good search. But she's not it. She doesn't have the equipment. You need to volunteer in assisted living facilities and find a few lucid women who's kids live out of town. And begin to bond with them. Yes, they will pass on, so then you'll bond with other women and mourn those who passed on. But bond with older women who have love to give but no one to give it to. They have the equipment to be a mommy for you. She doesn't.

I am reluctant to do this, but I'm going to prescribe a couple of excellent books you can get on how to live with a narcissist if you refuse to do those things. These books WILL help you as they have been tried and I've seen them have good effect if you follow the suggestions of the authors:


1. The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship by Eleanor Payson. This is a great book that will help you with the lack of self-esteem that living with a narcissist or being close with a narcissist will do to you.


2. The Object of My Affection is in My Reflection: Coping with Narcissists by Rokelle Lerner. This book is newer but is extremely clear and insightful and has helped people since it came out 3 years ago.

But if you decide to continue with her and use these books, will you at least consider therapy?


Okay, I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Appreciate your reponse. I stumbled upon this website last night and didn’t know what to expect. I was worried I might be paying $60 for a cookie cutter answer from a Dear Abby type.


I feel your assessment of a narissitic personality is a good one. I have thought that myself. My mom used to be in counseling in years past off and on, but isn’t currently. She mentioned being given a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder ,which I thought was also accurate. My understanding that a NPD and BPD are pretty close. She was also given the diagnosis of multiple personality disorder that I don’t agree with. As I understand it someone with MPD isn’t aware of what alter personalities are doing. She knows EXACTLY what she is doing. I like the term fractured personality; that is helpful and more descriptive of what I have seen .


The illustration of the different rooms was very helpful that makes sense out of the completely illogical behavior patterns I have been exposed to.


Whether she is NPD or BPD, or even MPD to the best of my understanding, I am in the same situation. I have been trying to have a healthy relationship with someone who is not equipped to do so. I know if I trust her its at my own peril . The end result is some nice mother daughter contact, but then when I am not looking and am totally unprepared she flings open a “ door marked crazy" and stabs me in the heart.


Let’s assume that one of the therapist who she had actual first hand contact with were more accurate and I have a BPD mother not a NPD mother. Would you still recommended the book freeing yourself from the narcissist in your life, or do you have another suggestion?


I am going to follow your advice to have no further contact with her until I am in counseling. You are right. Its been too ugly and mixed up for too long,the counseling part is easy to accept. I am asking you to counsel me after all. I just needed someone who is not a friend or relative to tell me that it’s ok to cut off contact. Almost everyone, although they are kind and come from a good place, makes me feel guilty because “she is my mother”. I should “honor “my mother. In my mind to honor someone doesn’t mean you are obligated to let them try to destroy you. And I can say with confidence some of her comments are artfully crafted and are of no other value but to inflict as much pain as possible. She has amazing aim !


I was comforted to see your picture that came with the response and noticed the Yamaka. I looked up your profile and I see that you wrote a publication regarding parenting from a spiritual perspective. It was reassuring to me that someone whose values come from the same general place was answering my question. I have always had an affinity for the Jewish people. I feel that Christianity is a Jewish religion. Hope there was nothing offensive to you in the last few sentences.


SO I asked for practical.


1) A counselor with experience with children of NPD and or BPD. Got it


2) I like the sound of that first book and am open to other title you have for me.


3) I like the idea of talking to my brother. I see him once or twice a year and never once have we spoken about our mother. It has been an unspoken understanding that I have respected his position and how he has chosen to cope and he respects mine. I think I should let him into what I have been going thru. Im sure he will talk to me.


 


If your recommendation is that I cut contact how do I handle family functions? My aunts are worried they will never see me again because that is the sacrifice my brother made to keep himself away from her. I didn’t go to a function this week partly because I am not in any condition to drive myself long distances because I am down to the use of only my left hand since accident that I mentioned. But I will be healed hopefully by Christmas and will want to see everyone. I am not prepared to give up that entire side of the family just to avoid her. Is there a healthy way to make this work? During the 2 years of my childhood that I was estranged from her we actually would go to functions and keep our distance and never spoke, not at all. Is that an acceptable way to handle things or is there a better way?


You are right to be concerned that I might not cut off from her. I don’t WANT to cut off from her. If I was just angry that would make it easier. Im not that angry, I am profoundly hurt. It is my nature to want to fix wounded people. I have a tendency never to give up on the people I feel are really important to me..no matter what they do to me. I am quite comfortable casting off and ignoring people I have not “let in the circle of trust “ . But once you are in I will give second, third, fourth chances to people who have betrayed me horribly. I want prove that they are really good and I was right to have trusted them. Man I sound sick ! I am being as truthful as I can.


I am trying to stop, for example telling my mom who lives 25 minutes away, its not ok to go 6 days and never call or email me after being hit by a car. I actually fee bad that was the last straw. She has done so many more ugly things than simply ignoring me. I guess what did it was I really hurt and was at home in pain and couldn’t open a can of soup or pull my hair of off my face into a ponytail. I very much need a mom to rush to my side and take care of me. I kept waiting for her to call.


Your advice confirmed what I know to be true but have been refusing to accept because it’s so painful. I have been trying to have a happy relationship with a “fractured” person who is ill equipped to do so. She can’t help that she is fractured. The only outcome of continuing a relationship is me being hurt.


I hear you that I need to cut things off with her. That makes totally logical sense. It is a very hard, very sad thing to hear. VERY hard Very sad. I don’t really have a “back up parent” to lean on like my brother does. Another long story, no major issue with my dad except him always ignoring me as he lavished love ,attention and material things on my brother. He wasn’t comfortable that I was a girl and he “let my mom have me” I think. I’m ok with that; we all did our best to survive.


Anyways I am trying to take it in because I like myself, and I am all I got. I do have a small number of close friends in “the circle of trust” but a friend isn’t the same as a mom. I guess I need to accept that I have no mom.


Lastly, personality disorders don’t ever reverse themselves. She is 72 years old. Do I need to start accepting that this is a permanent estrangement? I need to hear the cold hard truth as straight as possible. Is this a true statement? If I value myself and my own mental health, I cant ever have much meaningful contact with her ever again.

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
Let's start with the BPD vs. NPD question first because it will help with your practical question: how to not lose your extended family as well and how to accept that your mom is not going to get better (yes, I let the cat out of the bag).


First of all, let's forget about MPD. It's not relevant. I didn't bring up BPD for a specific reason even though I was concerned of the possible presence:


BPD has been brought up, so let's assume it's definitely a disorder your mom suffers from. BPD sufferers aren't always narcissistic as a dominant part of their personality formation. But your mom is. Her emotional drama needs aim toward the creation of narcissistic instability. Meaning: that she needs to create situations with her in the middle as the right, injured, central character and those around her as the wrong ones. She's the sun in the scenario, you're the moon orbiting. She's the important one.


Therefore, it is that narcissistic aspect of her BPD that you brought up as the point of suffering for yourself and your brother. And that's why I wanted to focus on it. But you will certainly gain to some extent as long as you don't get confused by all the psychology by enlarging your view of your mother to include BPD.


Randi Kreger wrote a book along with Paul Mason you will find in the library though it's very popular and may be checked out. So you may want to buy it online. It is called Stop Walking on Eggshells. You will probably recognize what it was like living with your mom and what it's like having a relationship with her. It's easily available online.


She also has a wonderful online group called the Oz Online Community for Family Members. She’s an important resource for you. She's a very nice person, too. Here's the web page:

http://www.bpdcentral.com/support/email.shtml

And, no, BPD does not displace the usefulness of the narcissism books. You see how it can be so much all at once, that's why I limited it originally.

So, your brother found that it was not possible to have a relationship with the extended family w/o having to be in your mom's orbit. And he wasn't willing. That was his choice. You may not be ready for that decision. But you do need to be in contact with him for support and strength. And yo do need active therapeutic support if you embark on a project of trying to have limited contact with your mom on YOUR terms. She will sabotage that effort. So you have to have the support, okay? I can't decide for you if the extended family is more important than your living without the struggle with your mom.

And your mom is not going to change at this age. Not unless she has a true religious epiphany, not unless she's hit by spiritual lightening, so to speak! That is true. That is the definition of personality disorders: they are persistent and the most difficult for the person to change. You may want to begin to pray for her instead of having "this world" contact with her. The power of prayer is something you are imbued with; it may be a better way to have a relationship with her as the "mother".

Okay, I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am very ,very grateful for your excellent counsel. Thank you for listening and for your help
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
You are so welcome. I wish you the very best and please stay in touch!


My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5107
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology helping with relationships
Dr. Mark and 3 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
< Last | Next >
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex Los Angeles, CA
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP Hesperia, CA
  • I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion. Justin Kernersville, NC
  • Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around. Esther Woodstock, NY
  • Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know. Robin Elkton, Maryland
  • He answered my question promptly and gave me accurate, detailed information. If all of your experts are half as good, you have a great thing going here. Diane Dallas, TX
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Dear Debra

    Advice Columnist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1719
    I have been an Advice columnist for 14 years. My column is published weekly in local newpapers.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DE/deedeeham/2011-1-24_51523_408.64x64.JPG Dear Debra's Avatar

    Dear Debra

    Advice Columnist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1719
    I have been an Advice columnist for 14 years. My column is published weekly in local newpapers.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/formybunch/2010-12-06_191055_img_0975.jpg Kate McCoy's Avatar

    Kate McCoy

    Counselor

    Satisfied Customers:

    1235
    Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RE/resolutions66/2011-1-17_05728_IMG8202smilingeditedforJustAnswer.64x64.jpg Elliott, LPCC, NCC's Avatar

    Elliott, LPCC, NCC

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1215
    35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/CO/CoachJenK/2012-3-9_31019_Jen.64x64.jpg Coach Jen K.'s Avatar

    Coach Jen K.

    LMSW, CPC

    Satisfied Customers:

    726
    Providing the utmost care and support.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IN/intrapsyc.com/2012-2-20_161928_RGMTPicturex5002012.64x64.png Rafael M.T.Therapist's Avatar

    Rafael M.T.Therapist

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    549
    MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/HU/hungryjack20/IMG_1281_edit_2.64x64.jpg Dr. L's Avatar

    Dr. L

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    349
    Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/SU/suzmsw/2011-9-2_184634_Thisone.64x64.JPG Suzanne's Avatar

    Suzanne

    Therapist, LCSW

    Satisfied Customers:

    338
    Experienced in treating trauma, relationship issues, co-dependency