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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I have been verbaly and emotionaly abused by a narcissist

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I have been verbaly and emotionaly abused by a narcissist family members. I have been co dependant of them. This is currently happening. I have distanced myself from them. This is sad to find this out. Wondering how to deal with them and the holidays. Thanksgiving there will be 20 or more people and maybe can avoid my family but Christmas will be more intimate and only 5 of us. How can I handle this?
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

It is very hard to deal with a narcissist. As you may know, Narcissism is a personality disorder which is a category of disorders that are difficult to treat with therapy, even if the person wants help. Everything about a narcissist is "me first". They lack empathy and only want to be involved in something that benefits them in some way. They do not hesitate to say or do hurtful things to someone else. When told about their behavior, they often find ways to make it the other persons fault or they just ignore the information.

Narcissists often provoke emotional reacts in others because their behavior is so offensive and hurtful. To help you cope with your family, you can try training yourself to not react and to remain neutral as possible. Also, it helps to develop a few non emotional responses you can provide to just about anything anyone says to you, especially when someone tries to provoke you. "I'm sorry you feel that way" is a good response to just about any comment. It leaves feelings out of it, negates a reaction and keeps anyone from feeling offended. It also creates a boundary letting the person own the feelings he/she is expressing.

In dealing with your family, it helps to learn as much as you can about narcissism. That way, you are able to respond without feeling provoked. Here are some resources to help you get started:

The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family by Eleanor D. Payson

The Object of My Affection Is in My Reflection: Coping with Narcissists by Rokelle Lerner

Avoiding your family as much as possible is a good option. However, facing a holiday can be difficult. Narcissists are not good at holding back what they feel. So it is up to you to keep your reaction as neutral as possible. Also, try to get a lot of support from other sources such as friends. If possible, take a supportive friend with you so you don’t feel so alone and ganged up on. If that is not possible, let your family know that you will only be able to spend a short time there. That way, you can have some control over the situation. Finally, be sure to acknowledge that anything they say or do is not about you. It is them. And if things ever do get abusive, leave immediately. You are not required to put up with abuse by anyone, even if it is family.

I hope this has helped you,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Kate: Currently they are watching my emotions and trying to label me as bi polar. If I show an emotion they are saying that I have up and down emotions. Like when I have sadness in my voice about storm Sandy victems or was happy at my birthday ie. fluctuating emotions. Does "sorry you feel that way" apply to labeling me?

No it doesn't. When you say that, you are putting the person's feelings back onto them. So if they say to you that you are volatile in your emotions and therefore you are Bipolar, saying "I'm sorry you feel that way" is only saying "Well, that is your opinion and not mine".

If your family is trying to label you as mentally ill, it sounds like all ability to communicate with them has broken down completely. It may be better to avoid them as much as you can like you mentioned doing, and try to see a therapist to help you cope with the difficulty they are causing in your life. People have moved away just to get out of toxic family situations like yours so that is not unrealistic to consider if you feel things are getting bad enough.


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
You may also want to consider this resource:

Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life by ***** *****ez-Lewi


May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or above? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer. Thank you so much!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Kate: I will rate you well, no problem. I have a box pop up that says...we want to help you with your Answer Please clarify what exactly you want to know". I previously asked you one more question. Now I have this pop up. I put in the box....How do I deal with the phone calls when I opt out of exchanging presents by mail or should I. At the bottom of the box says click yes to accept my answer. I can not find the Yes and can not make this box dissapear. You are being very helpful...but I can't make this box go away.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Kate: pop up box has dissapeared.

I am sorry for the inconvenience. If the pop up had continued, I would have contacted the moderators for you to clear it up. But I am glad it went away. And thank you so much for the rating and the bonus. I appreciate it very much!

I hope it works out with your family.

My best to you,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Kate: I have helped so much, thank you. I have informed family that I will not be joining them for the holidays. They expressed that exchanging presents for Christmas would be a lot of trouble. I told them to make it easier since I would not be there we would not need to exchange. I confirmed that my niece also is narcissisc. Breaks my heart, so frustrated and feel helpless and misunderstood. Realize it's not in them to care and they feel is an atribute to show no emotions. Now they are calling & begging me to come and have assured me that I not be anyones focal point. Ignore me? hum. I am wanting to confront my niece about family history and is hard not to do it as our last conversation was a real eye opener with her. My parents were not physicaly abusive I was just something to feed and clothe. Seems, thankfully they were a mild case. I always figured my lesson in life was to live without love as men are unaffectionate/abusive. I quit dating 6 yrs ago. As I have read 1 book and am reading Freeing yourself from Narcissist I have found I am a narcissist magnet and all my friends are narcissistic w/no emotions. The only friend that is not has so many problems and adopted her daughters handicaped son I hesitate to talk to her to much about all this. I have times of deep frustration, sadness anger etc. I am learning to deal but is slow. I don't sleep much as it works on me when I go to bed and is quiet. I have tried Kava tea, sleepy time tea, walking, some times I can not keep my mind off it and it is a misrable feeling. Mom & Dad have passed away. My sister and brother are 16 & 14 years older than I and I think brother is the same, he lives away. It is still a little hard to understand how they were unemotinal and siblings are vicious. I don't care to talk to my sister but my niece is calling and came to the house. I don't pick up and I didn't answer. I will probably be confronted soon. I am wondering how to give them the final answer without setting them in motion. My parents were smart and honorable but not abusive. How are we such a mess? After 54 years of why's I have answers. The world seems full of narcissicist people. I want to be able to spot the quick but not go overboard and think everyone is such. I made it through a hurtful conversation with my niece with out setting her in motion but is still fresh on my mind and is hard realizing how as she grows older she becomes more narcissicistic. I am unemployed and am having a hard time focusing on finding a job. But in many ways this is so freeing. I am begining to want to do things again. I have had the life sucked out of me trying to befriend sis for the last 3 years. I am over her. The nicer I was, apoligizing for anything in our past the meaner she got. Please anymore thoughts on dealing? I still love them all but realize it's not in them.

Hello, it is nice to hear from you.

I would be more than happy to continue working with you on any new
questions you have. All I ask is that you remember to rate my answers for each
new/different question you ask. Or you can start a new question and we can work from there. Does this work for you?



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, absolutly, did not understand to rate after each answer. Thank You. Still a little raw for composure with them as of yet.

It is difficult to say why your siblings and family act as they do without knowing the full details of the childhood you all went through. When you mentioned that your parents were not physically abusive but that you were something to clothe and feed, which hints at possible emotional abuse. There are many ways to abuse even without laying a hand on a child. And sometimes these other ways are even more hurtful.

When dealing with people who are narcissistic, you have to switch from a mode of trying to connect with them and make the relationship work to a stance of protecting yourself. Narcissists typically have little to no insight so you end up getting hurt and their behavior never changes. They may say they see why they act as they do and that they will change, but most of the time it is because they are saying it because they think it is what you want to hear.

Your family may be asking you to come back to the family gatherings because they need to keep the dynamic of abuse going. They need a target and it is easy to try it with someone who is nice and kind rather than someone who will strike back with just as much cruelty. By getting yourself out of that situation, you give them no one to take their feelings out on. So they may get anxious because of that.

What you are doing with your family sounds like it is working for you. Removing yourself as a target from family gatherings is usually the best way to protect yourself. However that does leave you alone and without family so it is tricky. But you may be able to work on developing other relationships with healthier individuals so you don’t have to suffer alone.

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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