I have been estranged
from my narcissistic mother for 10 years. She is 75. She has attempted to contact me and
my children over the years, but mainly with birthday cards, with no real indication of
change and sometimes a little sarcastic message. I am feeling like sending her a letter or
something, for closure on my part ( or maybe itís wishful thinking). I wonder what your
opinion is on contacting her at this point?
his is a problem many persons have had:
someone who gives offense and then, after a time, tries to resume the relationship, ignoring
the past as if no offense had ever been given. If you have proper
however, you will not let it pass. Therefore, in your case, a letter would not be good because,
without your mother acknowledging her dysfunctional behavior, the letter would contain information
your mother has no interest in hearing.
Note that it could be helpful for you to organize
your thoughts and feelings about your mother by writing a letter to her that you do not intend
to send to her; just keep the letter for your own reference.
At this time, all that is necessary is the
something you mentionedthat is, let it be a short note (that you do send to her)
in which you give a one or two sentence summary of how your mother has hurt you, and then state
that, unless she acknowledges her behavior and apologizes to you, you will not engage in any
further communication with her.
What she does then is her
responsibility. But if she tries to contact you in any way
without making a proper heartfelt apology, and if you donít ignore her manipulative ploys,
then you will get sucked right back into a dysfunctional relationship with her.
Note that in colloquial usage
those manipulative ploys used by a narcissist are often called gaslighting.
This term derives from a 1940ís movie called Gaslight. In the movie,
a woman was emotionally tormented and almost driven insane by her narcissistic husband. The
movie was set in a time before electric lighting, when gas lights were used. The husband used
many deceptive ploys wherby he would be the cause of strange events yet would blame them on
his wife. One deception was his causing the lights in the house to flicker when he secretly
entered the attic; when his wife complained that the lights had been flickering, he would
cooly state that flickering lights were nonsense and that his wife was going
Thatís the problem with parental failures. If a
parent cannot admit what he or she did wrong in the past, and then work to change that behavior,
then the same wounds afflicted on the children in the past will be repeated in the presentand
the children will be gaslighted into believing they are bad and deserving of punishment.
In such a case, the adult children have no choice but to distance themselves (emotionally or
physically or both) from their parents to protect themselves.