7.b. Writing Letters to a Narcissistic Mother



At some point in the recovery process many of us consider writing letters to our narcissistic mother, enabling fathers or various flying monkeys. While it is usually a good idea to write the letters in order to clarify your thoughts and help process your feelings, most of the advice is against actually mailing the letters.  The literature from professionals, comments from others, and my personal experience are all consistent with this advice.  So, I think this is wise in most instances, but not a nicely packaged answer to be imposed on everyone in every situation.      

Reasons Not to Mail Letters

There are valid reasons not to mail the letters

First of all, a narcissistic mother who has spent decades invalidating her child to the core of their being is not suddenly going to validate the content of your letter.  I know you may desperately want or need for her to, but highly narcissistic mothers do not suddenly take responsibility for their actions - ever.  There are no magic words or explanations that are going to change that.  

On the contrary, sending your narcissistic mother a letter can open you up for more invalidation.  She may never open it but leave it on the table in her house for you to see at a later time, just to let you know she never bothered to open it.  She may not even acknowledge receipt of the letter at all.  She may return the letter to you.    

Secondly, it is so easy in the throes of early recovery to believe if you can make the depth of your pain clear you will surely receive an apology.  If you send one of these letters articulating the depth of the devastation your narcissistic mother has caused, you may very well get a peek of the depth of this disorder.  You may also get a glimpse of the depth of the flying monkey's denial, indifference or silence. What you are highly unlikely to get is validation from those who used you as a scapegoat.  Even pouring all of your pain out in a letter does not cause a narcissistic mother to feel true remorse or sincerely apologize.   

Lastly, your narcissistic mother may use your letter against you.  She may use it to prove your emotional instability.  She may present it out of context or with lies to give others a false impression if she tries to play the victim. Flying monkeys may also use your letter against you.

Reasons to Contemplate Mailing Letters

There are only a couple of exceptions I am aware of where adult sons and daughters have shared they mailed letters without regretting it.  

First, is if you simply need to get it off of your chest and express yourself regardless.  By writing you can say what you want to say without interruption, which was always one of my main attractions to writing letters. While I can see why therapists often advise against it, I can also relate to Anna's quote.  

For my family and circumstances letter writing was
the right plan.  I am competent with the written word.
There were many things that had never been said
before and I wanted them out there.  And I 
wanted to be able to say those 
things without interruption. 

Anna Valerious


I wrote letters during my sexual abuse therapy decades ago and mailed the letters against my therapist's advice mostly because I so desperately needed to speak my truth at the time after being silenced as a child. 

However, by the time I did more recovery work, I no longer cared what the flying monkeys thought about it.  There are good reasons why flying monkeys are flying monkeys in the first place.  I lost so much respect for the flying monkeys during recovery that I no longer needed or wanted their validation on the matter. 

So, even in this scenario, because there is so much potential for negative repercussions, consider mailing the letter to yourself first.  Write it all out, put it in an envelope addressed to yourself marked personal and confidential and mail it to yourself.  If by the time you receive the letter back in the mail, read it, and decide you still think you should send it, then perhaps listening to your instincts rather than anyone else is your answer.

Secondly, some therapists recommend writing a letter upon going no contact. There are various reasons for this, including anticipated legal action. If you decide to write a no contact letter make it brief and to the point. If you believe the police or courts are going to be involved before it is all said and done, get competent legal counsel from someone in your area.  If you can not afford legal counsel, most law schools have legal aid clinics.  Your local bar association may also be able to advise you of resources. 



Comments

  1. I could finally name my problem 3 months ago. Until then, I was obsessed with that idea of discussing the issue with other family members. I did some reading on dysfunctional families and bullying and found out that I had absolutely not he slightest chance to get anyone recognize the truth, because they would have to take the consequences for it, which they simply don't want to. No one wants to get in trouble with the bully, end of the story!!!!

    My mother-in-law bullies her own daughter for being overweight. I'd never have imagined such a thing. It's so easy to become a "flying monkey"... It's just scary...how disgusting they all are!

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous, I am so glad you are able to put a name on it. I hope you are also finding validation and support. I think it is very easy to become a flying monkey before you are wise to their tactics.

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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    2. I always come back to your writings and videos because they explain a lot of things and give real practical advice. I started working on my relationship to my mother: ending triangulation, parentification, codependency, stockholm syndrom...we have a low contact since years but still...She is so jealous of me (maybe also of everyone around her), i don't know if it is also typical of NPD. I never sought help or support and am aware now it might be necessary. I spent my entire life rather hiding my problems. I am afraid it could be a disappointing experience. I am too afraid to go to therapy. shall I rather wait? can I make it by myself? what kind of therapy is the most suitable ? i am an atheist by the way.
      my mother-in-law is not NPD but scapegeats her daughter nevertheless because she's not the daughter she dreamed of for herself. my husband and father-in-law are aware of that and try to handle it.
      thank you for your great help.

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    3. Hello Anonymous. I am glad you have found my writings helpful. There is no shame in finding support and guidance during the healing process. I thought that before I went to sexual abuse therapy because it was uncomfortable at first to break that unwritten rule in toxic families. Then I built a trusting relationship with an excellent therapist who helped me beyond what I am able to articulate. The right fit is very important, as is a thorough understanding of narcissistic personality disorder. I think the right therapist can greatly aid in the healing process, but the wrong one can do more harm than good. So you could try it slowly to see what you think. You only have to schedule one hour at a time and you can stop or take a break whenever you want to. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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  2. I am curious about the focus on mothers, as I have seen NPD in fathers?

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  3. I have been a huge fan of your research, Gail Meyers. I found out about a year ago that we have a NPD mother in the family. She has a Golden Child son, and a scapegoat son and forgotten child daughter. She has scapegoated her own mother, her daughter (plus partner), her son (plus partner) all at different points in her life. I once confronted her behavior and she screamed that she "has plenty of ammo" against me. After that, I stumbled across her secondary email(oops!), and found folder after folder labeled for different people in the family (at least 8 labeled by name, and 20+ folders total). She has been saving texts, letters, emails, photos, and messages dating back maybe 10 years of all the dirt that she can get against people. She has drafts saved of nasty messages that she is planning to send (probably waiting for the perfect moment) and I presume it is strictly to get a reaction from them, which she will then save. She has saved emails from her flying monkeys, so that she can have dirt on just about everyone, and she has been updating it every week consistently...

    So I guess something worth elaborating on is that anything written to the narcissist, they might save for eternity. She won't just use it to prove emotional instability, she will use it to turn others against you, or gain control by saying "I have dirt on you, so watch out". Flying Monkeys are no exception to this tactic, in fact from what I found, the flying monkeys are being the most controlled because they played into her gossip and now she has dirt saved about them, things they texted/emailed her in confidence after falling for her stories. So now our limited contact includes NOTHING over email, text, writing, etc. It will all feed into her extremely impressive 10+ year collection of dirt..!

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