Although it really is hard to believe, my father has been gone for five years now. And, while he certainly had his fair share of flaws and missteps (as we all do), if there's one thing that I found to be really refreshing about him, it was his signature raw candor. Sometimes he would say things that would even leave me taken aback (I've been told that he and I have that in common). But even when what he said came off as jarring or super uncomfortable, at least I knew where he stood, and where I stood as it related to where he was at. And, if there is one thing that he used to constantly warn me about, it's that I had narcissists all up and through my bloodline. On both sides.
Actually, more times than not, he didn't refer to them as "narcissists"; "arrogant assholes" was his phrase of choice, but after getting my heart broken by a narcissist, drawing some clear boundaries lines with a few family members due to mind-boggling toxicity, and doing about 12 months of research on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder (for the record, a lot of people have some of the traits; it's another matter entirely to be officially diagnosed with the disorder), I have to admit that he was right.
I can't remember who said it, but there's a quote that says something along the lines of, "Once you've had an epiphany, you can never go back to who you were before it. It totally alters your being." Now that I know what a narcissist is, I get why I struggled so much with my self-worth while growing up, why I tolerated some of the abuse that I did from people in and outside of my family, and just how many individuals around me have suffered at the hands of narcissistic abuse—some from their very own mother or father.
If you're someone who doesn't have a healthy sense of self; you lean towards codependent relationships; disappointment absolutely devastates you; you know you've got trust issues that you just can't seem to shake; you constantly battle with anxiety and/or depression; you feel empty inside; you don't have any real personal boundaries; you feel guilt or shame for telling others "no"; you still think you have to run major life choices by your parents and/or you have absolutely no clue what you want out of life because you've been doing what others want you to do since forever—while seeing a professional therapist is recommended, what I will say for now, is those are all side effects of being raised by a narcissist.
Wow and ouch, right? Now let's go a little bit deeper.
How Can You Know If Your Parents Are Truly Narcissistic?
Narcissism: selfishness, involving a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration, as characterizing a personality type
There's no way around the fact that, if you have a narcissist parent, that means you also have a toxic one. But because not all toxicity is narcissistic, let's briefly touch on some pretty telling signs that your mom or dad falls into the narcissism parent category (I'm putting these in past tense, but that doesn't mean that it might not still be happening; chances are, they are):
- You grew up feeling controlled (even if it was via passive aggressive behavior)
- They always laid guilt trips on you
- They seemed to compete with you and/or "own" your accomplishments
- You constantly had to walk on eggshells
- They had alter egos—they seemed perfect to those outside of the house yet all-over-the-place at home
- They lied a lot
- They had unrealistic expectations
- They gaslighted you often
- They manipulated religion in order to get their way or justify their questionable behavior
- They made you feel bad for making choices without them
- They always made you question your own thoughts and feelings
- They displayed very little compassion or empathy
- They were possessive
- They were neglectful
- If they were physically or verbally abusive, somehow it was everyone else's fault but their own (they didn't take ownership for their actions)
You know what's crazy about this list? I could actually put about 30 more signs on here, but there's simply not enough space to keep going. Anyway, as you're processing everything that you just read, it's important to keep two things in mind. One, a parent having one or two of these qualities does not automatically make them narcissistic; however, if you can pinpoint a consistency of five or more, you've definitely been affected—if not flat-out traumatized—by a narcissistic mother or father. Secondly, the reason why your parents are this way is typically due to some sort of trauma they experienced themselves while growing up—and by "trauma", I mean there's a pretty good chance that they were raised by a narcissistic parent too, although I should put on record that that is not always the case. Sometimes it's due to other issues.
If you check out articles like "Childhood Roots of Narcissistic Personality Disorder", you'll see that narcissism can also be "birthed out of" childhood bullying; being spoiled and developing a sense of entitlement; arrogance; selfishness; not being taught how to co-exist with peers; not knowing how to handle criticism and correction (or being overly-criticized and corrected); creating a fantasy world where you lie to yourself rather than accepting reality and/or not knowing how to have a healthy sense of self-worth. Something that all of these things have in common is healthy parenting works to make sure that these things do not transpire. When that doesn't happen, the innocence and natural trusting ability that children have becomes tainted. As a direct result, they try and figure out ways to no longer feel vulnerable; they take extreme measures to protect themselves from any more harm. Sometimes those measures are extreme. One of those extreme measures is narcissism—putting themselves above everyone else, at the expense of everyone else. Even their own children.
The reason why it's so important to know the backstory on narcissistic behaviors and tendencies is because, while the actions of a narcissist can oftentimes be perceived as pure evil, they are oftentimes victims (including self-victimizers) themselves. There are very few individuals who "want" to be narcissistic. At the same time, because it is a form of mental illness (especially once someone has been diagnosed with this disorder), it's not something that someone can just turn on or off like a faucet. Narcissism needs professional help in order to work through; that starts with having enough humility and self-awareness to admit that one needs assistance. Ironically, because of the arrogance (which is usually a low form of self-esteem) of a narcissist, rarely does this happen.
So, you know what that means, right? If you one or both of your parents are narcissistic and they refuse to get professional help—tell them that an altar call at church ain't gonna cut it; they need to see a therapist; even the Bible says "Seek wise counsel" (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15 and 12:20)—they are going to remain narcissistic. If that is how it all goes down, what exactly should you do?
How Can You Heal from Being Raised by Narcissistic Parents?
If the narcissistic parent that you happen to have is your mom, do yourself a world of good and read "10 Signs You Might Have Unhealthy Boundaries With Your Mom" (you can't change what you're not fully aware of). Then follow that up by watching a great YouTube video on the topic, "The Problem with Being The Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother, and How to Fix It". In the video, not only does the coach touch on some other signs that you've been infected/affected by a narcissism parent (including not knowing yourself well enough to be aware of your true likes or dislikes, constantly feeling incompetent and not having a clue what self-care looks like), she also talks about how to get onto the road to healing. Between her video and some other research that I've done (and implemented), if you're ready to heal from being raised by a narcissistic parent, here are some of the things that you should do.
1. Take a "vacation" from your narcissistic parent.
The best thing that you need to do is probably the hardest. Since narcissistic parents cultivate such a perfect storm of control, manipulation and playing the victim, announcing to them that you need some time apart, is not going to sit well with them. Not at all.
But I can promise you, sis, that if you clean break, even if it's just for a couple of weeks, it will give you a new perspective on your parents as well as yourself.
At the same time, I'll also say that if you don't do this part, you might as well click out of this article because everything else won't be all that effective. The reason why I say that is because remaining in the presence in or even around the energy of a narcissistic parent is like…trying to get over the flu when someone who has it is kissing you in the mouth. In order to heal, space from what's hurting you is required.
2. Journal what your needs, likes and goals are.
A part of the reason why you need your narcissistic parent out of the way is so the world around you can get quiet enough for you to hear your own thoughts. If in the silence, you have absolutely no idea where to begin dreaming for your own life, that's another sign that your parent was probably narcissistic. The remedy to that is to get a journal (or vision board or create box) and start thinking about what you want for your own self. Stop worrying about what they will think if you change career paths, move to another city, or choose to break-up with someone they really like. Now is the time to put your voice before their own. They have a life to run—theirs. It's time to take back control of yours.
3. Set firm boundaries.
Even the healthiest parent has to adjust to letting their child go. But a narcissistic one? Chile, they wouldn't know a boundary if it kicked them in the face. You're an adult now. This means that you don't need their permission to do…anything, really. And while it would be nice to get their support in your decisions, boundary-setting teaches you that you shouldn't be so caught up in how they feel that you don't live the life that you want to lead. When writer Anne Lamott once said, "'No' is a complete sentence", she didn't say "except when it comes to your parents". Everyone applies. And here's the thing—if a parent loves in a healthy way, they will also respect the boundaries/limits that their adult children have set. If yours doesn't, well.
4. Say what you mean, mean what you say.
One of the narcissistic relatives that I have? It's like the only thing they listen to is what they want to hear. And so, in order to get them to really honor my limits, I've had to be a bit excessive. For instance, there is a particular thing that I requested they do for a year. For three years now, they haven't followed through. So, every time they've violated the request, I've reset the clock. This past year is the first time when they've gotten the memo. That's the thing about boundaries—in order for (some) people to honor them, breaking them needs to come with consequences. Extreme ones, if necessary.
5. Avoid other narcissistic relationships.
Since our parents have such a significant amount of influence in our lives, a lot of us end up with other narcissists in our space; not because we want to but simply because it's familiar to us. I'll tell you what—ever since I've be detoxing from narcissistic relatives, a lot of my social circle has shifted too. That's because I realize that I gravitated to narcissists by proxy. But once you start to love on yourself, set your own life terms and live without permission or apology—you get super picky about your relationships. As you're figuring out how to deal with your parents, be intentional about the other people who are in your life too. Read books likeBoundaries andSafe People (same authors).
Check out two of my favorite YouTube channels that are devoted to healing from narcissism (The Royal We and Divine Truth). Take in the wisdom of articles like "Why Narcissists Struggle With People Who Practice Self-Compassion" and "7 Healing Affirmations For Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse" and videos like "The 3 Stages of Narcissistic Abuse + My Experience" and "The 5 Most Common Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Mistakes". Surround yourself with individuals who not only love you, but will totally allow you to BE you.
I know what it's like to have narcissistic relatives. Because I do, if you have them, I wish I could hug you right now; you've been through a lot. But please don't allow their issues to continue to take over your own life. You deserve to heal from narcissistic abuse and then live freely and fully. My hope and prayer is that this article is a step towards helping you to do just that.
Feature image by Shutterstock
- How parents create narcissistic children - The Washington Post ›
- "YOU'RE NOT CRAZY. IT'S YOUR MOTHER" | Signs That Your ... ›
- Surviving a Narcissistic Parent - Noteworthy - The Journal Blog ›
- Narcissistic Parents Are Literally Incapable Of Loving Their Children ›
- 19 Signs You Were Raised By a Narcissistic Mother or Father ... ›
- The Legacy of a Narcissistic Parent | Goop ›
- How Being Raised By A Narcissist Damages Your Life And Self ... ›
- 10 Signs of a Narcissistic Parent | Psychology Today ›
- 6 Signs You Were Raised By A Narcissist | HuffPost Life ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood