Lyall, Thanks for the confirming information. First, let me say it sounds like you've put up with a lot for a very long time. And with NPD this is a constant. It does not change. We'll get to why below, though you seem to have done enough research to already probably know most if not all I am going to say about it.
And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. Your question is how not to feel responsible. You know, Lyall, divorce itself makes many parents feel responsible for their kids shortcomings, even when it is not full blown NPD. There is a lot of guilt with divorce. But you couldn't live with her mom and you certainly are not responsible for her mom's dysfunction.
But there is a more pernicious difficulty in feeling responsible. Mental health disorders are not mechanical disorders: take a blood test, you got it or you don't. They are extremely individual. And you know enough about NPD to know that even the mothering doesn't give us precision in predicting NPD. An overprotective mother can induce NPD in some children; a cold and stiff mother can in others. How bizarre is that? And not all children.
So, who to assign blame to is impossible to know. And we know that personality factors are involved, but not two people with similar dispositions and similar backgrounds will both have the same mental health disorder!! So I need you to let that thought go. It is not a real world thought. In the real world, there are the important questions of whether to have ANY contact with her and how much. These are real questions. And I have worked with family members of NPD sufferers and I support anyone who says they've had enough and are ready to break ties. I have seen the toll NPD sufferers take on those in their orbit.
And you know from your years of experience that she will not accept help. Why not?
Because narcissists never believe the problem is in them. The problem is always in YOU. So if they ever seek help, it is only to get what they want. Then they stop coming to therapy once they've convinced the people who have forced them to that they have tried. And all the while, they keep doing what they believe they should be doing.
I'm concerned more about you. What do I mean?
You've put up with a lot and you are willing to put up with more. Clearly you love her but she's used you up. I need you to understand that she is not going to change because of your giving nature. Your goodness is not going to one day make her see the beauty of also being a good person. Narcissists don't change like that. It takes years and years of therapy. And so all she sees is someone to use. You're a good person and if you stay, I can understand: you've invested a lot into this relationship. I think these are the parameters for your making the decision.
If you choose to break off contact, I am going to recommend a wonderful book that you need to read and with it I'll give the Amazon page for it:
It is called: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life by XXXXX XXXXXez-Lewi.
If you choose to remain in her orbit:
Step 1. You must accept that you cannot change her. This is the heart of the matter: what you see is what you are going to get for a long time (see step 2) if not for the rest of her life. Your job and your goal is to learn how to accept her the way she is and not be affected negatively by her. Yes, this is a tough, big job. But that is what she needs. You cannot be her therapist; you have to accept that this is how she deals with the world and that your job is to be there for her and with her without you getting too hurt by her personality difficulties.
Step 2. You can encourage her to seek professional help. Again, this will have to be only an encouragement. You know better than anyone that even encouraging her will probably not go over well with her, but that is the most you can do in that area. She has to be willing to go to therapy to help herself. No one else will ever be able to get her to stay in therapy and get benefit from it even if they convince him. The chances of her thinking this is a good idea are very slim.
I don't know how appetizing that sounded to you, but here are a couple of excellent books you can get on how to live with a narcissist.
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. Amazon:
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 2 years ago. Amazon:
I wish you the very best and support whatever you choose to do in this difficult situation!
Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, 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