Having grown up with parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I learned all about this one early in life.
If another person and I experienced the exact same problem, the other person would receive all of my mother’s compassion, while I am told my situation is no big deal. Here are some examples:
When I was 19, I started having awful back pain due to my mother throwing me into a wall while I already had a minor injury to my back. The pain was so severe, I had to quit working a few months later. Immediately she told other people I was faking it so I would not have to work. I was lazy, and not in constant pain, according to her. Since then, my mother has developed several back problems, and has told me how lucky I am that I never had to live with back pain since it is so miserable. She also was very upset when a neighbor developed back problems.
When my precious cat, Poo Kitty, died suddenly in my arms one morning after having her for just under fifteen years, I was told by my mother that I should be glad at least no other pets I had at the time were sick, then she changed the subject. Meanwhile, the neighbors euthanized their small dog about that same time, and she told me repeatedly how painful it was for them to put him down. She actually cried for their suffering.
My mother’s cousin has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I have been suicidal many times in my life, yet even in spite of telling my parents this when I was about six years old (not exactly sure how old I was, but that is at least close) that I wished I never had been born, neither of my parents could offer up any concern for me, only my mother’s cousin. In fact, I do not believe either of my parents even remembered this incident.
Dealing with this can be very difficult and painful, I know. And frankly, I am not entirely sure there is a really effective way to deal with a parent who acts this way. What I have learned in my experience follows..
- Always keep in mind that someone who behaves this way has problems. No, that does NOT give an excuse to hurt you. However, it does help you remember that this hurtful behavior is not your fault, you do not deserve this, and your problem is not less important than another person’s.
- Do not respond as you would like to. I know, you would love to smack your narcissist or cuss him or her out for caring more about that other person than you. That is normal. However, responding in anger could end up hurting you in the long run. The narcissist will pretend he or she is the innocent victim. You are unreasonable for being so mean, and for no reason! Or at least this is what he or she will tell you and anyone else who will listen. You do not need or deserve that aggravation! Besides, did it ever cross your mind your narcissist may be trying to instigate that exact situation in order to appear the innocent victim while making others angry at you?
- Ignore the coldness. Hang up the phone or leave this person’s presence. Say you just remembered something you have to do and you have to go, which is true – you have to take care of yourself! Whatever is happening to you, you do NOT need this negativity and abuse right now. You need to focus on your situation instead.
- Remember, distance is our friend! I’m not saying you need to sever all ties. That is a big decision that only you can make for yourself. However, some time apart may be a very good idea for you. At least do not take calls or visit so often. If you are considering severing ties, please read this link first: Should I Go No Contact?
- Caller ID is also our friend. Do not answer calls if you do not feel up to it! You are going through something difficult, and need compassionate, caring, and loving people around you, not people who like to cause you pain.