Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No No Contact: Am I a gutless liar? Or just rational? Or neither?

So many of you have gone into No Contact mode with your narcissistic parents. You refused to have a fake relationship and opted for no relationship instead. I respect that greatly.

When I realized my father is suffering from NPD, I mostly felt relieved. You see, I was aware that our relationship had been mostly fake for a long time before that, and I'd been emotionally distant from him since I was around 7. The only difference my discovery made was assuage the guilt I'd felt over that and give me some more strategies.

I was able to draw some important boundaries and it appears that my father sees his narcissistic mother, who he was terrified of, in me, and will behave himself if confronted.

I realized that I'd been engaged in a relationship of cold, polite confrontation with him for decades. We are mostly civil to each other.

Is it fake? The peck on the cheek that my husband and I exchange with him? I guess, but there's little more beside this that even exists or is expected of me in our "relationship". Just polite distance.

Sometimes I think of him as something like a business competitor that I'm on polite terms with. Because that's the most rational way to deal with that relationship. You want to keep your business competitor close and be on polite terms with him, although you might not love him. Because that's just good sense.

I know I can never have a real relationship with a narcissist and I'm not looking for one. I'd felt there was no possibility of a relationship on some level all these years, now I just have objective knowledge to back this up. I'm not hoping to reform him or make him See his problems and mistakes. I'm not looking for an apology or acknowledgement or validation. I get my validation from you, my ACON community (+Jonsi, who married into all this :)) 

Why not cut all ties? First, there's no real reason to. It seemed, every time I set a boundary that he didn't like, that he was giving me a silent treatment with the potential to grow into No Contact, but, as I ignored it and pretended I didn't even notice he was freezing me out, he relented every time and then honored the boundaries. He's not really interested in me or my daughters, so we're pretty safe.

Second, my FOC would be socially isolated if I cut ties in an unprovoked, aggressive way. In this culture, the parent is always right and to be respected. We'd be isolated even from the people who love us - people who know about his NPD and understand the whole story still never fail to tell me, after I come out as an ACON: "How awful for you! And there's nothing you can do - it's not like you can stop seeing your father, is it?" My ILs think the same way. No one would be on our side.

Third, I have no idea what kind of rage would be unleashed on my FOC by my father. He's vengeful. Would he throw us out of the apartment that's still legally his? We'd then legally throw him out of the one that's mine, but we've invested so much into our home, financially and emotionally. Would he call child protective services on us, inventing the same stuff he's already invented about us being neglectful, horrible parents? I really don't want to find out.

The old saying goes: "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." I'm keeping my friends close, and my father... at a polite distance.

Is this cowardice? Lying? Weakness? Being reasonable?


  1. I think this is your choice and your choice alone. If this arrangement works for you now, then I see no reason to change it. This is how my relationship with the Dragon was for years. Superficial, and distant. You really don't need to change that to satisfy those of us that have (or are seriously considering) going NC. I think the majority of us will support you in anything you decide, and wish you the best. Many of us WISH that we could have this type of relationship with our N's.

    But, just pointing out, every reason you listed as reasons for maintaining a relationship are based on Fear, Obligation and Guilt. (F.O.G.). There doesn't have to be any other reason for you choosing to maintain the relationship with NF as long as what you are getting 'back' from him (both negative and positive) is acceptable to you... like the silent treatment, avoidance of rage, and etc. Just don't lose yourself in the process of maintaining.

    I think this is simply a matter doing what works for you right now.

  2. I'm with NON on this one, but I have some of my own points to add. For one, I'm afraid for you. I think it is really dangerous to "rely" on a Narc for any reason. I fear that, the only reason why he hasn't, say, kicked you out of your apartment or called child protective services already, is not because you are maintaining a civil relationship with him, but because he's getting something from you (control and power, most likely.) The minute he stops getting those things from you, or you do something else he doesn't like, he'll pull strings, he'll hurt you and your family, he'll get nasty.

    Your first reason for not cutting ties, that you feel pretty safe, does make me feel at least a little bit better. But still, there is that feeling I've got screaming in my gut that tells me the minute you REALLY piss him off, he's going to go postal.

    Your second reason: No one would be on our side.
    Sigh. My heart aches for you. It must be so hard to lose the support of everyone you've got left, when you're already dealing with the stress and sadness of possibly going NC with your NF. But, the way I see it, were they ever really supporting you if that's how they choose to behave when you do something they don't approve of? Also, if you go NC, you're not asking anyone to understand. You're not even asking anyone to like it. You're just asking that they continue to love and support you and behave in a way that is healthy for you. So, for example, if you were to go LC/NC with your dad, and your aunt/cousin/sibling (whomever!) doesn't like it, they should still be supportive and kind to you and refuse to get involved if he tries to enlist them as flying monkeys.

    And third, I guess this goes back to the control issue - the reason why your NF has any power in the situation, is because you've already given him some. So, when you take it away, he's going to see it as a threat to his control and hate it. If you were to go NC, I have no doubts he'll go after you in sneaky, cruel ways. It would be a huge fight and a scary undertaking, especially because he's already got some power.

    I personally think your freedom is worth fighting for. BUT, that is such a huge, huge undertaking. Like NON said, most of us will support you no matter what you do. None of the paths shown to you in this life seem to be very easy ones. We're here for you.

    Big big hugs,


    PS. You are so not a gutless liar. I would never ever say that. You are a survivor.

  3. PA,

    Your welcome.

    You said, "But I'm not losing myself. I'm politely setting boundaries and they are honored."

    This. This is what we all aim for- THE GOAL. So you are successful! Far MORE successful than many of your fellow ACoNs are. You have reached the ultimate goal... so stay with it!

  4. Indeed, this is your choice and as long as you are comfortable with your decision, any option is just fine. You are accountable to no one but your husband and kids.

    It seems like your choice is heavily influenced by fear of retaliation if you would go no contact though, and that sucks. You must feel as if N Dad is constantly blackmailing you. I also think freedom is worth fighting for.

    Sometimes, the price we pay is too heavy though, and sometimes what we end up with is not freedom at all, but instead a new, uncomfortable prison. Being shunned by tons of people because they think you cruelly betrayed your doting father, who will then get to suck off those individuals by throwing a large pity party is perhaps not really freedom.

  5. NON, thank you. My internal critical parent is telling me I "should" cut ties because that's what I "should" do when I know my parent has NPD. I feel judged and criticized and thought of as weak and fake. But that's just me.

    But I'm not losing myself. I'm politely setting boundaries and they are honored. Every time he thinks he is punishing me or is shocked into silence by a boundary, I ask my husband "Is this it? Is this NC?" and I'm prepared for that option in order to defend myself and my family. And then he calls and acts normal and nothing has even ACTUALLY happened that is unpleasant and that would warrant a "fight". If I set a boundary politely and it gets honored, there's no pretext - and no real reason - for NC.

    One of his sources of narcissistic supply is being perceived - as opposed to his own NM - as tolerant and not controlling.

    Sometimes some relationships in one's life appear to me to have to be based on negative emotions (think horrible co-worker or business competitor you're on polite terms with) - that's not supposed to be the case with family, but here it is. Fear is a valid emotion, especially if it's justified. Obligation is felt more towards the general expectations of my entire culture than to him. Guilt is evaporating.

  6. Jonsi, I don't really rely on him or trust him - and I do agree a narcissist is a ticking time bomb that WILL go off eventually - but I am interested in getting stronger before it happens. It's amazing to me how much I've gained in strength and perspective since the time I was negotiating apartments with him. I'm getting stronger and he knows it. And he has chosen the route of the silent martyr who grudgingly honors my boundaries, which works for now. I don't want the time bomb to go off just yet, and for no good reason.

    Even my young friends wouldn't understand NC unless I had a very good concrete reason.

    And, to be honest, it's not like I WANT NC. It's just that I gathered that this is what I SHOULD do, the only "moral" option i the new-found world of ACONs, which collides with the only moral option in the world of my culture, and I'm not even asking myself "What do I WANT?"


I encourage comments!!!