Part Two: The Effects of Narcissistic Abuse From Parents on Adult Daughters
The way parents respond to their children has a major impact on the child’s development of self-esteem and an internal sense of themself. If your parent is a narcissist, you likely are not allowed to fully develop your true self-identity growing up. This is due to your parent’s own excessive needs and expectations. You may have taken on several of your parents’ thoughts, feelings, and values as your own in hopes of gaining their approval.
With a narcissistic parent, independent thinking is at best dismissed and ignored. At worst it is admonished and vilified. In addition, you are likely labeled as having traits of the parent that you don’t actually have. However, they project it onto you. In adulthood, children of narcissists often find themselves dealing with issues of low self-esteem, high anxiety, and depression.
The Ways Narcissistic Abuse May Play Out in Your Life
Adult children of narcissistic parents often assume they are to blame for anything that’s not ideal in their lives. As a child, you were dependent on your parents. Seeing parents as flawed or damaged, is a major threat to children who count on their parents for survival. So you took the blame for their criticisms and limited abilities to love. As an adult, you may have internalized your parent’s judgments. You may still be experiencing a harsh inner critic shaming you.
The feeling of not being “good enough” from your childhood may cause you to doubt whether you deserve the successes you achieve. Therefore, you may find yourself accepting less than you deserve. This can be in relationships, work, and other areas of your life. Accepting less can be a way of avoiding the constant criticism you received as a child. On the other hand, you may have also become fixated on trying to achieve this idea of being “perfect.” You may be holding onto a hope that if you can do things perfectly, you will then, finally, be good enough.
In adulthood, you may find you have an insecure attachment style. This is resulting from the insecure attachment you had to your parent. The lack of trust that you felt in your relationship with your narcissistic parent may lead to forming an anxious attachment style. With this attachment style, you find yourself overly dependent on your partner’s attention and dedication. On the other hand, you might find that you avoid intimate relationships altogether, distrustful of others to meet your needs.
Poor Boundaries due to Narcissistic Abuse:
Growing up with a parent who did not respect your own boundaries has an impact. You may find that you have a hard time setting boundaries in other relationships as well. You may find yourself working hard to please others. At the same time, you become overly involved in the feelings of others, as if they were your own. The hypersensitivity you developed to your environment may have served as a protective factor in childhood when dealing with your parent. You could read their moods and adjust your behaviors accordingly. This now, however, may lead you to feel overwhelmed, overworked, anxious, and depressed. Especially without the support of a therapist.
Repeating Unhealthy Relationships:
If you are the adult daughter who experienced narcissistic abuse from a parent, you may also find yourself repeating abusive relationships. As your feelings are repeatedly dismissed and gaslighted over the years, you have a hard time trusting your intuition about people and toxic situations. The dynamic you grew up in was the standard for relationships. Further, the resiliency that you’ve built over the years has helped you to “recover” quicker from abuse. Therefore, you may keep trying to make unhealthy relationships work.
Effects of Complex Trauma:
Complex trauma is repeated traumatic events that usually occur during childhood or adolescence (developmentally vulnerable times), but often have effects lasting into adulthood. The repeated experiences of trauma, whether emotional, verbal and/or physical, can strengthen negative beliefs and responses tied to them over time. Adult children of narcissists often struggle with issues resulting from the complex trauma they’ve experienced throughout their upbringing. If your parent is a narcissist, you possibly experience the effects of complex trauma or symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). You may have a hard time managing your emotions, feeling some to an extreme (and possibly repressing others). You may also experience the following symptoms:
- emotional flashbacks
- hypervigilance (increased alertness to potential threats)
- dissociation (disconnecting from painful memories and even your body)
- poor self-esteem
- feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness.
If you are experiencing any of the above effects, it is important to find healthy coping strategies. These include developing appropriate boundaries and connecting with positive support systems. The high levels of anxiety, low self-worth, and difficulty managing your emotions may lead you towards self-destructive and avoidant behaviors. This could include engaging in toxic situations or self-medicating through drug use. In part three, we will explore tips to effectively manage and resolve some of these issues.
If you missed it read Adult Children of Narcissists for the first part of this series. Then continue onto Part 3: A Trauma Therapists Tips for Adult Children of Narcissists.
Start Therapy to Overcome Narcissistic Abuse in Scotch Plains and Branchburg, NJ
Processing emotional trauma caused by a narcissistic family member(s) can be difficult. That’s why the skilled therapists at our Scotch Plains, NJ office offer EMDR therapy for children, teens, and adults. With EMDR therapy or telehealth counseling, we can help you process your own trauma. If you want to stop the cycle of the narcissistic family and heal your trauma follow these simple steps:
- Reach out to Brave Minds Psychological Services
- Meet with an understanding counselor
- Break the cycle and heal from your emotional trauma
Brave Minds Psychological Services Other Counseling Options
EMDR Therapy isn’t the only service that our skilled therapists offer at Brave Minds Psychological Services. For adults, we provide trauma therapy, food allergy therapy, and couples counseling. We offer counseling for parents along with postpartum counseling, and birth trauma therapy. Supporting teens and children is also important to us. This is why we offer teen anxiety treatment, social phobia therapy for teens, child sexual abuse therapy, child anxiety treatment, and more. If you are wanting to connect with peers going through similar struggles we offer several options for group therapy. Our services are offered in person at our Scotch Plains, NJ office and through telehealth counseling in New Jersey.