Forced to live alone with a PD parent growing up

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blues_cruise

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Forced to live alone with a PD parent growing up
« on: June 11, 2020, 09:32:50 AM »
When I was 15 my mum died of cancer and this left me living alone with my suspected N father. Needless to say, it left me really damaged. The trauma of losing a parent that I loved was devastating, but along with it I had the added stress, confusion and pain of having a parent as a caretaker who never put my needs first and would rage, emotionally manipulate and gaslight me if I ever dared speak up. He never took responsibility for this behaviour and never had to because he was the 'grieving widower' and really played up to it outside of closed doors. He had psychologically abused my mother for years before she passed. For instance, he would criticise her if she tried to socialise with anyone or to better herself, he gave her a 'housekeeping allowance' to spend each month rather than allowing her to earn her own money and criticised her for what she spent it on regardless, would shout and rage at her all the time...things like that. I found out in the last couple of years that she had actually told my sister in law that she wouldn't get a job because she didn't want to leave me alone with him. After she died I pretty much took all the hits when it came to his grief and anger over his new situation and there was so much covert emotional incest directed towards me, like being expected to take on all the domestic duties the way my mum/his housewife had done and to look after his care, even though I was so young myself and at a pivotal point in my life where I was starting to take big school exams and should have been thinking about my future aspirations and having fun with friends. It was such a mess and a miserable time.

Into adulthood, I've found other people who have endured PD parents and others who have lost a non-PD parent young but were left being cared for by a generally emotionally healthy parent, so I relate to aspects of both. I've never come across any others though who have lost one parent young and been left alone with a mentally unhealthy parent or caregiver. I've focused on the trauma of being subjected to narcissistic abuse for the last few years but have only recently realised the whole other host of issues that the grief of losing my mother young brought to the table, or more specifically the fact that I didn't have a safe place to process these emotions and the repercussions of this into adulthood.

Does anyone relate to this at all or had similar experiences? I feel quite alone in it. I've been wondering for years how I'm so socially anxious and untrusting of people but I can see now that I pretty much survived one trauma as a teenager and was launched straight into another one. 
"You are not what has happened to you. You are what you choose to become." - Carl Gustav Jung

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou

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Wilderhearts

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Re: Forced to live alone with a PD parent growing up
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2020, 02:22:18 AM »
One thing I've learned about pwNPD over recent years is that they believe their pain and suffering is truly unique, and it's another basis for their entitlement.  That must have left you so alone in your grief after losing your mom.  I'm so sorry.

I was never in your exact situation, but there are parts of my family history that created some parallel experiences to yours.  Because our parents divorced when we were young and we had unsupervised visits with uNPDf, there was a lot of incredibly traumatizing time alone with him.  One thing my trauma therapist has pointed out repeatedly was that we didn't have protection from him in those times.  Children deserve to be protected from harm, and it's hard to learn that the world can be a safe place if you stop expecting that protection.

Our uNPDf also criticized and belittled our mom for being a homemaker, but expected me to fill that role after they divorced.  I still have very clear memories of feeling violated because he was putting these expectations on me to play "mom" in emotionally manipulative ways.

I've grieved my dad's death alone, since my nonM has never been able to get past grieving the trauma and disappointment of having had him as a husband and father to her children.  My sister went NC a year before he died and refuses to acknowledge the past.  I've tried to reach out to my mom for support in recent years, and was disappointed to learn that hearing my grief over watching a parent die of a terminal illness is something that she's either incapable of, or unwilling, to do.  She literally brushes off my grief with "oh well, it's like that some times."

I've found Jerry Wise's videos really helpful, because he speaks to the core issues that Adult Children of Narcissists experience.  One is that being around people at all is incredibly overwhelming, because we learn as children that the relationships that should be the safest - the ones with our parents - mean harm.  It's definitely something I still struggle with - if people aren't my 'safe' people, I find it exhausting to be around them.

I'm glad to hear you're putting the pieces together now.  Sometimes you need understanding of issues separately (loss of your mom, narcissistic parental abuse) before you delve into how they intersect and possibly have a synergistic effect.  You must have made a lot of progress in you adulthood to be at the place where you are now.

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blues_cruise

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Re: Forced to live alone with a PD parent growing up
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2020, 12:10:12 PM »
Wilderhearts, thank you so much for your kind response and sorry it's taken me so long to come back and say that! It's been a rough few weeks.

Yes, the expectation as a daughter to become some kind of homemaker and wife figure just baffles me and I really fought against that role. I think "violated" is the correct word for it. My female peers were being encouraged to study and express themselves, whereas I was expected to give that path up and become some '50s style housewife. There was never any attempt to meet me halfway and share chores. It got to the point where the house fell into disrepair and was disgusting, which I just had to dissociate from on a daily basis in order to cope. I've felt a lot of shame over having lived like that, but I now realise that as an adult and a parent it was his responsibility to maintain a healthy living environment and make household repairs where needed. I would go for months without properly working sinks or flushing toilets and it was just horrendous looking back.   

One thing my trauma therapist has pointed out repeatedly was that we didn't have protection from him in those times.  Children deserve to be protected from harm, and it's hard to learn that the world can be a safe place if you stop expecting that protection.


That's so true, I've often wondered why I'm so distrustful of other people and constantly on edge but that's exactly it. I can't help but get angry sometimes when I realise how dismissive people were of the situation; people knew it was awful but just turned a blind eye to it all. Even just a kind note now and again from family members would have meant the world to me, just to feel a little less alone. Instead all contact went straight to him or through him as though I didn't matter. I try not to be bitter about it and to see it from their perspective, but it's a struggle.

I've tried to reach out to my mom for support in recent years, and was disappointed to learn that hearing my grief over watching a parent die of a terminal illness is something that she's either incapable of, or unwilling, to do.  She literally brushes off my grief with "oh well, it's like that some times."

That's really difficult, I'm so sorry. The one thing that sort of was a comfort at the time was that NF had experienced the day to day of my mother's terminal illness, so saw how in pain she was and knew what a struggle it was to watch someone gradually deteriorate in the most cruel way. We both lived it day in day out, whereas my siblings had already moved out and lived a distance away and extended family didn't bother to reach out to her until the very end. Looking back though, I think this consolidated the trauma bond I had with him. I don't think brushing off the grief the way your mom does is at all healthy and regardless of the relationship she had with your dad, she should want to be there for you as a parent.   

I've found Jerry Wise's videos really helpful, because he speaks to the core issues that Adult Children of Narcissists experience.  One is that being around people at all is incredibly overwhelming, because we learn as children that the relationships that should be the safest - the ones with our parents - mean harm.  It's definitely something I still struggle with - if people aren't my 'safe' people, I find it exhausting to be around them.

I don't think I've come across Jerry Wise before, I'll check his videos out. I also find it exhausting to be around people and I'm very wary of everyone. Being mistreated by a parent just teaches you all the wrong things when it comes to relationships with other people.

Working on issues separately does help, I think you're right. I've focused on my dad's behaviour for so long that I had forgotten I had even experienced a whole separate range of issues. I do think I'm at a point now where I should probably be looking at trauma therapy because it's too much to keep to myself. Looking on the bright side, acknowledging that could perhaps be considered progress in itself as I've denied help for years.
"You are not what has happened to you. You are what you choose to become." - Carl Gustav Jung

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou