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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?

This 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 boundaries, 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. You can also bring the letter to Eucharistic Adoration and share it, along with your emotional pain and tears, with God.

At this time, all that is necessary is the “something” you mentioned—that 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 crazy.

Note also that when the ploys of a narcissist are suspected, the narcissistís characteristic defense is to claim that the accuser is crazy and just one of those “conspiracy theorists.” Yet the truth is that most conspiracy theories are actually true.

 A video about Diabolic Narcissism


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 present—and 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.


Related pages:

How to become a good Catholic despite emotional wounds from an abusive mother
Finding love when love was missing in childhood
Depression because of a narcissistic mother
Anger at a parent
Sending yourself to hell in order to prove to others how much they have hurt you.
Wanting to undo past sins



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