Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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After 16 years of abuse my last straw with my narcissistic mother was while planning my wedding. When I didn't want what she wanted she got angry, stopped speaking to me and wrote me a little stating that I ruined her life and never loved her or the rest of my family. I sent her an invitation anyways. It was a small event at city hall.We sent the invitation over three months before the event and did not receive a reply. Three weeks before my wedding she sent me a letter stating that my invitation was inappropriate and that I did not make it possible for her to attend and that she will only consider coming if I send a proper invitation... I'm not sure what that meant. She also state that my father will not attend under any circumstance. After consulting with my therapist I did not send any reply. My parents did not attend. After posting the pictures online my mother blocked me and that was the end of that. Christmas is now coming up and my husband and I wanted to visit my grandparents who live in the same town as my parents. My parents don't speak to my grandparents either. I'm nervous of going back. I'm scared for my safety both mentally and physically. I'm most nervous about the rest of my relatives who have not spoken to me since confronting me. I've accepted what happened and that the abuse during my childhood was wrong but I'm not ready to confront it. How do I deal?

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    I think you did the right thing. Narcissists thrive on creating drama and chaos so that people are running to them trying to appease them and make them happy.

    Do the relatives you are worried about have contact with your grandparents? Is there a way to visit with your grandparents without the other relatives you don't want to see finding out? If at all possible, you may want to stay at a hotel a little ways away just so you can feel safe and be able to retreat to your own space if any confrontation happens. Or are you able to pay for travel arrangements so your grandparents can come visit you?

    reply to Leslie
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    Cutting off a parent, even for extremely valid reasons, takes some time to get used to. So don't beat yourself up for experiencing perfectly normal emotions.

    If you truly don't feel like you can deal with your other relatives this soon, consider not going to your grandparents' house this year. Schedule a time for a nice long phone call with them or plan to see them after Christmas so that your visit won't be filled with emotional minefields. Or, as Leslie suggests, invite them to visit you.

    Or, you can talk with your therapist specifically about this and get some concentrated coaching on how to deal with potentially unpleasant relatives. Also, other than your grandparents, will there any relatives attending who you are still friendly with? Are there enough of them that you can spend your time with them and your grandparents and avoid the unpleasant ones? And would any of them be willing to speak up for you if you find that your fear will make you freeze and be unable to speak up for yourself? Consider doing a bit of recon over the next few weeks and see if the situation is safe enough for you to venture to your grandparents' place this Christmas.

    There's no way to tell when you're going to eventually be able to deal with all of this calmly, but continue to see your therapist. As I'm sure you've already seen, there will be times when you feel like you're going two steps forward, one step back. But just keep moving forward. You may experience a time in this process when you feel like if you see your mother you'll be tempted to throat-punch her. That's normal, too. But as someone who has gone through a similar situation, I can tell you that the healthiest thing is to keep her out of your life from now on.

    Good luck! Please check in and let us know how you are progressing.

    reply to Jill
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