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More Helpful Tips–For Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) With A Narcissistic Parent–Part 1

Hi everyone. As highly sensitive people, many of you are struggling with how to cope with your relationship with your narcissistic parent and your unsupportive siblings and extended family.  First of all I want to tell you that as a life coach for people with childhood wounds, I understand your pain and how hard it is. There is very little support in our society for not having a relationship with ones’ parents no matter how negative and destructive they are to you or were to you in your childhood.  Many people have difficult parents but they tolerate them and seem to get by okay so why can’t you, right?  The pressure is very real.  But let me help you understand the difference between you (an HSP) and everyone else with some more helpful tips that are very important for you to know.

1. Know that your greatest gift is your intuition.

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), you were naturally giving and loving and trusting as children.  You had high hopes for yourselves and others including your parents.  People with loving and supportive parents are more likely living lives full of vitality and creative fulfillment and healthy boundaries to keep negative, manipulative, harmful people at a distance naturally and sharing their unique gifts with others.  These people don’t feel guilty about not getting along with everyone–they just “know” there are some people who are unhealthy and dangerous–they pay attention to their natural instincts.  But people with a narcissistic parent were taught at a very young age, even from birth not to trust their own instincts, their own intuition.  The horrible thing about that is, that was their greatest gift, “their sensitive intuition”, and it was often used against them.

2. Know that you may have repressed a terrible trauma from your childhood–the loss of the knowledge of your gifts.

Possibly, if you had an N parent, then part of your sensitivities were seen as a gift for “them”.  They could control you easily because of your trusting nature–so often they used fear to get you to be quiet, anger to get you to obey, and shame to keep you from feeling independent and strong.  And it worked.  You trusted them and needed them to take care of you and protect you from a world that overwhelmed your sensitive souls so you…experienced a trauma that caused you to shut down your true selves and become what they wanted you to become.   Something happened that was “the last straw” for your fragile but wise self that was developing.  Typically it happens around age 5 or 6, according to Alice Miller (Author of The Drama of the Gifted Child).  After an incident that you can’t remember because you have repressed it, suddenly, you are obedient and sweet wanting only to please.  And please them you did.  And that is why it is so hard for them to let go of you now.  You took care of them.  Completely and amazingly.  They felt loved by you and validated by you filling a void inside of them that was caused in their childhood.  It is as if you were the loving parent that they never had.  That is how gifted you were.  Those gifts of intuiting the needs of others are still there–they were just misused and abused by your needy and narcissistic parent.  Those gifts of being a loving and giving and caretaking soul were mis-directed.

3. Know that your childhood holds the roots of your anxiety, self-doubt, post traumatic stress, and co-dependence issues.

As you grew up and tried to do some of the creative endeavors that were driven by your soul, your parent probably did not support you because they did not want you to leave them or stop taking care of their emotional needs or they just saw no harm in controlling you.  As narcissistic parents with no conscience or guilt, it was easy for them to manipulate you, so they did.  The pain of your original trauma at the age of 5 or 6 would come up for you each time you tried to express your true self and these outbursts of emotion may have been shamed and punished by your parent and made you give up each time.  This is the beginning of the post traumatic stress that still plagues you today. ” Why do I over-react in these explosive ways”, you may have asked yourself.  This is why.  Your true self and all your repressed feelings and desires from childhood still want badly to be heard and understood and validated and “loved”.  Your narcissistic parent was not capable of giving you this love and still is not and never will be.  Your love needs are still unmet.  You searched for love from others but sometimes, because parts of you are still undeveloped and childlike, you end up being attracted to people who seem wonderful and charming at first but then turn out to be needy and manipulative and unable to comfort you when you need it most–just like your N parent.

4. Know that there is hope and you can heal.

So what is a highly sensitive person with an N parent to do?  You can heal and learn to love yourself and slowly unblock all those creative parts of yourself that never got a chance to be expressed.  You can learn to trust your self and your gifts of emotional intelligence and intuition that were seemingly robbed from you and misused and abused.  You can gain clarity amidst all the confusion, and hope amidst all the despair.  You can learn that it is okay for you to say no to other people’s demands and put yourself first.  You need to learn about extreme “self- care” (Cheryl Richardson–author of the book Life Makeovers) and you need a journal to pour into all the feelings from your deepest heart.  You need support from like-minded, highly sensitive, safe people to share the pain and grief from the loss of a childhood that feels as if it was taken away from you.  All your desires and free impulses were repressed so that you could survive with an illusion that your parent’s needs were more important than your own.  But surviving was not really living your life.  Surviving is not good enough.  Your survival skills just cause you trouble because they are not driven by your heart, they are driven by a needy inner child trying to please a parent that felt unpleasable and without remorse about what they did to you.

5. Know that the answers are inside of you and support is available.

You need to take a new direction.  A direction into your own soul.  You need to excavate the desires of a child who never had a say in the development of his/her own life!  Write it out!  Talk it out! Cry it out!  Shout it out!  You can do this in a journal that is meant for your eyes only.  Or you can find a counselor or coach who does inner child healing therapy.  It’s important to find support somewhere so you can find your true voice and express it.  There are HSP meet-up groups in larger cities.  You might also look into Unitarian churches or Unity churches to meet people of a spiritual nature who are not necessarily “religious”.

6. Know that no contact with a malignant narcissistic parent is not just recommended so that you can get the time you need to heal, it is vital!

One of the first steps into this new direction of healing for yourself is ending the old song and dance and unhealthy relationship that you have with your narcissistic parent.  If you’ve tried everything else and you are still miserable, that means setting boundaries on contact is an important step so that you can heal and move on with the life that you always deserved.  The fact that you understand the words Malignant Narcissistic is crucial here.  We are not talking about a parent that is capable of being remorseful about your childhood and trying to change, we are talking about a parent who blames you every time the relationship isn’t going their way–they resent the loss of control over your life that they always had. Control is not love. It may be time to cut off contact so you can finally heal.  You do not owe them another ounce of your precious energy.  You owe it to yourself to stay away from them as you heal, because being around them at all always takes a toll on you,  a toll that is much heavier and destructive and stressful and toxic to you than you may realize.

There are a total of 12 tips that I have written about here today, but I am going to stop here and give you the other 6 in my next post in two weeks because this is getting really long. I hope that what I have written has been helpful to you.  I hope that you can enjoy this last week of summer and get out in the warmth of the sunshine–slow down and feel the connection to God’s love that nature provide’s and really take it in. Walks in nature are a great way to recharge your energy.  Your highly sensitive soul and body deserve this special treatment.  It’s never too late to start on the path to the healing you deserve.

With Love,

Roxanne

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15 responses

  1. Hi Roxanne,

    I hope you are doing well lately. This is such a timely read for me for many reasons. I have been discovering so many different defense mechanisms since I started working with my current T, and some of them are extreme, surprising, and hard to understand when I don’t have immediate access to memories to tell me why I have them in the first place. This helped me be a little more patient with myself as I continue, so thanks! It’s just a bit incredible to realize how pervasive some of this stuff is, and, consequently, how long it will take to unravel it all.

    I think I really got lucky with my T, because I was far too scared and intimidated to ask questions in the beginning (and even now!), but she also just so happens to work with the inner child. It’s definitely interesting and thought provoking work.

    Thanks again,
    Kristen (Freely Floating :))

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    1. Hi Kristen! 🙂 It’s so lovely to hear from you. Thank you for your comment. I am doing very well. Thank you very much. I am so glad to hear that you like your new face-to-face T. and that she works with the inner child. Wonderful! I am so glad that what I have written here is helping you to be patient with yourself about your repressed memories. It does take a long time to “unravel” it all. The memories will come back as you become strong enough to handle the pain that you had to repress. You have so many wonderful gifts that I hope are unfolding to you so that you see them as clearly as I see them. I am so proud of you! I am here for you anytime you want to share insights or have questions. I hope your psychology studies are going well–you’ve got a great future ahead of you.

      I understand the fear that you still feel with your T.–please continue to be patient with yourself as you work through these fears and defense mechanisms that surely originate from childhood.

      Thanks again for your comment. Your thanks mean a lot to me. :).

      Love and warmest wishes, Roxanne

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  2. Roxanne, I can’t even put into words right now what this post means to me. It was an answer, loud and clear, to my unending question of why?.
    You triggered “that moment” for me. Now I see.
    Thank you for parting the clouds. I am going to take the time to study your words, open my heart and finally listen to my truth and find myself again.
    This is a God send.
    Blessings, Christa

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    1. Christa, Wow. Thank you so much for letting me know in such lovely words that my post was helpful to you. I am sorry for the delay in responding…I am also looking for the right words to tell you how much I appreciate you letting me know. Sometimes it is with a “leap of Faith” that I publish these posts that just pour out of me, always with the hope that they will help others to “see the light” about their hidden selves. There is a spiritual connection there. I like your “parting the clouds” description–I am so happy that you have decided to “listen to your truth and find yourself again”! Music to my ears!

      I’d like to hear more about your story but I understand if you are not ready yet to share it. I know that your comment has touched others and they are feeling more support because of it to believe in that faint voice inside that is hiding in fear and not wanting to experience any more pain and rejection. I hope that others will feel that this post (and website) is a safe place to share their childhood traumas that caused them to hide away so completely. I am so happy that I was able to answer your question of why? This is my hope and intention–to help others to trust the truth of their innermost feelings so that they also will understand why?. Thank you again for letting me know, Christa. I hope you will keep in touch! Love and Light, Roxanne

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  3. Hi again,

    Debra here. My NM reached out to my son directly this week by sending him (he’s 9 months old) a package. In the box were some items that’d be helpful with an infant, as well as a track suit for a 2-year-old. But most tellingly, my NM put baby pictures of me in the box, including an 8×10 shot of me at 9 months old. No note.

    I think I’m just going to send a blank thank-you card “from” Jack, saying ‘thanks for the gifts,’ and not much more than that.

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    1. Debra, Thank you for sharing. Sounds like you are aware that this may be her way of putting her “foot in the door” to gain entrance into your son’s life–and that gifts from narcissists could have dangerous strings attached.

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    2. Oh my goodness, while reading this wonderfully helpful blog, the day before “Mother’s Day” and after posting a lengthy response to one of your posts stating that my mother did not acknowledge me last year on my first Mother’s Day, I just got a knock on the door from the postman, and lo and behold, he gave me a package for my toddler, from my mother, whom I am not talking to. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I thought it was for me. I also found a card for my toddler in the pile of mail. Gee… her timing appear uncanny!

      This happened literally 5 minutes ago and I am contemplating not giving the package to my daughter, but then feeling bad about that!

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  4. Hello Roxanne,
    I am an HSP from the Caribbean and have been going through a hard time lately with my parents. As a young woman in her mid-twenties I always thought that something was wrong with me. Because of your work I realized that even though I do not know of any HSP in my town, I am not alone. I thank you very much for that because I am able to accept myself, love others fully and spot a negative person much easier without a rush of emotions. I stopped talking to my N parents and siblings recently. I am being honest…I love my parents and I do not wish them to change anymore. I know they won’t do that. I just wished that in my decision they would at least give me that space. At the beginning my father did not and tried to pass guilt to me through voice mail messages. My mother called me 2 days ago and in the middle of my meditation I picked up, (because I felt so calm I did not really think). Even though I called my mother 1 times per week just to make sure she is okay, a week ago I realized I needed to stop because she was no different from my father. Like him, she tried to pass on her guilt of not knowing where I was in the past 6 weeks and someone who saw me telling her where I had been. She always is concerned deeply about what others think; this affected me growing up because I grew to be a pleaser too. So my questions are:
    1) Can you write something about N parents where HSPs can fully identify because other websites give summaries that I don’t understand
    2) Will I ever stop loving my parents even though they are not good for me and they think me ungrateful ?
    3) Is there any hope for an N parent to change (as I said I do not fully understand N, so I think as a parent you would want your child to be happy no matter what-apparently I have not learned from experience especially given the fact that they always list what they have done for me financially so I do feel guilt)
    Again, thank you for your work…you have help me to finally love me.

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    1. Tahishie, Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate you letting me know that I have helped support you so that you no longer feel that something is wrong with you. This is my hope–to help those sensitive souls who have shame about speaking up with their true voice and expressing their feelings about past and present emotional abuse. You are on a healing journey, Tahishie, and it is wonderful that you are meditating and asking for space to be your own unique self. And it is a very good big step realizing that your parents will not change!

      I remember when I was at this stage, many people struggle with figuring out whether the feelings for their parents are really love or just guilt and obligation. HSPs are loving souls so naturally you feel the need to give of yourself as a means to solving the conflicts with your family members . This is very draining and unhealthy for HSPs when there is no reciprocity in their family relationships. Often HSPs develop health issues which cause them to awaken and see they must stop taking care of them at the expense of our emotional and physical health. Putting themselves first is difficult when N parents teach them guilt for doing so since they were tiny children. This is part of the emotional abuse and I believe getting in touch with their anger for being so manipulated is a necessary step in their healing. Many peace-loving gentle souls have trouble with allowing themselves this anger that they have repressed for fear of being rejected yet again. This anger is healthy when you channel the energy into taking action to make changes in your own life towards your own goals, hopes, and dreams.

      In answer to your wonderful questions: 1) Yes, I have been thinking about writing a page with a description of what a Narcissistic parent is from the view of a Highly Sensitive Person. 2) As you continue to heal and grow stronger in conviction and trust of your own feelings, I believe the answer to this question will become apparent to you. 3) If they are truly a Malignant Narcissist, then NO they are not capable of loving and are only able to “control” and “blame”. It is a complex issue. Hopefully you can read my many blog posts and articles to get support for overcoming the guilt and to continue to see how you deserve space to pursue YOUR dreams without guilt.

      Tahishie, thank you again for your kind words. I am so happy to hear that you are loving your self as you finally deserve to be loved! Yay for you!

      With warmest wishes, Roxanne

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  5. This post really made me cry because I saw my whole life in it. I recently discovered that I am an HSP and initially felt relief, but now rather hopeless about it, especially since I was raised by two narcissistic parents-the mother being worse than the father. My mother engulfed me and stepped over my boundaries. I was not allowed to show emotions, have a voice, or an opinion as a child. I let them control me into adulthood and now I am almost 40 and trying to deal with all this. I even chose the wrong career for myself due to it and I am currently stuck here bitter and miserable in my job until I can do something different. I am filled with shame and guilt since childhood and cannot make successful friendships and relationships due to narcissists constantly seeking me out and getting me to fall for them. I have belt bullied by them and non HSPs who don’t understand me and ridicule and criticize me for being too sensitive and not having “control of my emotions”. I feel as if I spent my whole childhood in a straight jacket and I am finally learning how to get loose. I feel so isolated because of it. Normally as an HSP I don’t mind being alone but sometimes I get occurences of depression from extreme loneliness. I had to go no contact with my N mother last year and she still continues to step over my boundaries. When I am around her I get highly anxious and feel like all the air is being sucked out of the room, total claustrophobic and PTSD feelings. To make things worse I am a lesbian and I have fallen for and become addicted to a non HSP next door who is extremely beautiful but plays tug of war with my emotions. She is beautiful and intelligent but has a lot of narcissistic traits and just as many HSP traits. She sat me down last week and told me that I was her friend, but let me know how weak and defective I am. She doesn’t know the meaning of the word friendship. She made me feel 2 inches tall and now I am avoiding her as much as possible, but all it takes is for her to give me the puppy dog eyes and I get pulled back in. Life is very discouraging for me right now. I can’t get into the career that I was meant to do until I lose about 60-70 more pounds and I possibly have to have knee surgery too. I feel so stuck.

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    1. Erin, I just discovered that I did not reply to your comment–somehow I missed it. I want to thank you for commenting and sharing your story. The feelings and truths you share here are insightful–your courageous honesty has helped many others feel they are not alone. Sending you warm wishes of comfort and caring while you heal, Roxanne

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  6. What if he’s just part time N and also HSP himself and when he was not being N was often the one who understood your HSP better than most?

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    1. Shelley, I don’t know if your addressing me but if so, things have changed dramatically with my neighbor. After much research and behavior watching, she doesn’t appear to be much N but quite histrionic and I believe she is definitely HSP after getting to know her better. We’ve become really close and she finally really trusts me and I believe she has feelings for me but isn’t ready to say it. Her behavior has changed. She wants to be close to me. She doesn’t push and pull me anymore or put me down or do anything to hurt me. I’ve had small dicussions with her about my sensitivity issues and she actually finally admitted to me that she is the same and understands how I feel. Our friendship used to be very non reciprocal and I was doing all the work to develop it but now she’s joining me in developing. We’re meeting each others needs for companionship, emotionally. My trust issues over her push/pull from before are getting a lot better too. Everytime I’ve had a panic attack that she’s going to pull away, she’s been proving me wrong. We’re really enjoying each other and I like it. We have kind of a partnership of sorts. She isa lot older than me with a very traditional family and I think she’s worried about their reaction of her getting romantic with me. Her mom wants her to get out and meet men but she made it clear to her mom that she has zero interest in men. I think that she’s scared to go as far as saying that she likes women. I feel good about the situation now and hopefully it will stay this good and get better. I really love her.

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  7. Wow! Its like you’ve lived my life too! This is so amazing … you communicate exactly how I feel! When I read your site its like I’m reading a journal I wrote – except I didn’t write it!

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    1. Alec, I answered your other longer comments but it looks like I missed this short one here. Thank you for expressing your enthusiasm for my blog! 😀 Wonderful to hear when a post really resonates with someones experiences! Warm wishes, Roxanne

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