Hi, I'm Danu Morrigan.
It's not my real name. I don't want to use my real name as staying anonymous means that I can
be more honest about my experiences. If my parents find out that I am saying this, so be it - it's all true. But it
would be kinder to them, and easier for me, not to have that happen.
It's hard to encapsulate a lifetime of experiences here. And in many ways there's no point in doing that. This
website is about YOU, and my experiences are only relevant in as much as they give you examples you can relate
I believe that my mother is Narcissistic, and that my father is Enabling.
In fairness, though, there are many Narcissism Traits she does
She does not seem to have fantasies of unlimited success. Her grandiosity, if it exists at all, is
about her importance in her own sphere rather than any global grandiosity.
She is not rude to people such as waiters and shop staff - on the contrary, she is very
polite and friendly to everybody.
She is not vain - again, the contrary, she never
really bothered about her appearance beyond proper hygiene.
But having said all that, she does share many traits.
Everything is always about her. She's totally self-centred. She demands respect and
obedience without earning them. She gives blatantly unsuitable presents. She talks non-stop about herself and her
doings. She has no real interest in me or mine (or, I presume, anybody else).
She likes my successes so she can boast about them to
others (and then get the kudos and attention) but never celebrates those successes authentically with me. She
has no real empathy for anybody's problems and tragedies, but feeds off the
drama of them. She absolutely does not tolerate me being my real and
She would deny all the above, of course. As she has denied them to my face when I
have said this, often in a bullying and aggressive way. Or in a way which cast doubts on my sanity
and grasp of reality.
And so, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is my totally unqualified best guess as to why things are as they are.
(I also think back to stories told about her half-sister on her father's side, and her father, and I think they
were N too, in retrospect. So I can see the pattern there.)
I went NC - i.e. No Contact - with both her and my Enabling Father in September 2008, after a last-straw meeting with them. It was
just unendurable - we were at a restaurant for two and a half hours, and except for ordering food and other
such exchanges, she talked non-stop about a holiday she'd recently been on.
Such things had happened a million times - it was standard procedure. What was different about that meal was
that a friend of mine came. And it was she, who, horrified, sat me down afterewards and told me just how
dysfunctional this was.
She acknowledged that I had told her beforehand how awful spending time with both my parents was, but said she
just hadn't understood, that she simply couldn't have imagined that depth of dysfunction.
She had been observing, she told me, and saw that my mother never once even so much as looked at my son. Apart
from saying hello to him when we met, she, and my father, ignored him. Likewise with my sister - neither parent
seemed to register her presence. (Needless to say, they didn't have the courtesy to speak to my friend either.) As
for me, my mother latched onto me as the Official Audience and spoke at me, but she didn't
see me or register me either.
It was so liberating to hear this perspective from my friend, and I realised that I really did not want to
see my parents again. Ever. It was as if her validation gave me the permission I had longed for, to cut
off contact with them.
But how to tell them?
I spent two weeks being literally nauseous at the prospect of telling them this. As I said above, the simplest
request to be treated better brought wrath and abuse upon me - I dreaded to think how they'd react to this.
Would I write to them? Or phone them? Or text them? Or just ignore them and hope they got the hint?
Two weeks later, before I had reached any firm decision about how to do it, my father rang and suggested we
meet again for lunch.
I said that I did not want to.
He asked, in a slow and dangerous voice, why I didn't want to.
I - shaking and terrified - said as calmly as I could that the previous lunch had been an ordeal and I was
not anxious to repeat it.
He asked, still in the slow and dangerous voice, how it had been an ordeal.
I told him, still striving for calm - with him repeating this to my mother as I spoke. This was very unnerving,
it was like speaking with an echo on the phone. I asked him not to do this but he insisted he had to, and I
Once I had finished he took a deep breath and the abuse began. He said, as he always did, "Well you think YOU'RE
so perfect!" and proceeded to abuse me. At one stage he said, "You're an awkward something something bitch". The
two 'something's were insults too, but I cannot recall what they were - I was so shocked at this attack. By
'awkward' he meant 'odd and dysfuntional'.
He told me that he and my mother had expected to be invited to stay the night of that meal and had even packed
for the event and were absolutely furious that I had not done so. And that we had left so soon after the
I, like a fool, sat and listened to it and tried to defend myself from his attacks. I was still trying to be
calm and reasonable and use *I* statements, rather than attack back.
Eventually I managed to say that none of this was relevant, that the issue was how they had behaved.
He had an answer for everything, accepting no responsibility. He didn't speak to my son because my son will
never talk to them. (In truth, my son didn't talk to them much, it's true. But that was after a lifetime of such
ignoring. Before the meal we had gone for a walk and he - a 12 year old boy - and my friend - a 40-odd year old
woman, had walked ahead at one stage and had a hugely vibrant conversation together. But she's always been good and
kind to him, and interested in him, and so they have a relationship. My parents never did that.)
They were entitled to talk about the holiday because the meal was a special occasion for them. Which it was, but
as I pointed out, it was always like this, special occasion or not. (I didn't say that their excuse for being so
horrible on my wedding day was because it was their day too, so they were not being consistent.)
I said that they had not even had the courtesy to talk to my friend, and he said it was because they
resented her intruding on a special family occasion. I pointed out that her trip pre-dated this lunch date and they
had known she was coming and had agreed to it. And, I continued, even if she had just landed there, surely pure
manners would have had them talk to her? He allowed the truth of that one, but immediately changed the subject.
After a while my mother came on the phone and took over the second shift of abusing me. She had a different tack
to my father - whereas he accepted the substantive truth of what I said but argued that there was nothing wrong in
their actions, she just gaslighted me to the max.
She denied everything I said, even to the extent of telling me that as a fiction writer I had, quote, 'a very
vivid imagination' - the subtext being that I was psychotic, unable to distinguish reality from fantasy.
And when that didn't work she finished by ending up in tears, saying that she was going into hospital soon
for a major operation and was really worried about it - the subtext being that she didn't need the upset of this
row. I apologised for the timing, but stood over what I said. (I didn't think to point out that it was my father
who had precipitated the conversation - I had not phoned them to have this discussion. And yes, I could
have waited till after the operation, but believe me, she would have found some excuse no matter the timing.)
It was horrible.
It ended with us hanging up the phone in mutual fury, and that was it. We haven't spoken since.
The Narcissism Realisation
It was in about two or three weeks later that it happened: I was doing routine stuff (going to the
bathroom to brush my teeth before bed - it couldn't have been more mundane!) and wasn't thinking about her.
But out of nowhere the realisation hit me, as clear as a voice, "She has Narcissistic Personality Disorder".
My reaction was: "Of course!"
I had researched NPD for a project a few years previously, so did know about it. But I had not equated it with
her until that moment. What I had been researching had been Narcisisstic men, and the grandiosity etc, as I say,
did not apply to her. And the classic idealisation/devaluation pattern did not apply either as she and I had never
met as strangers.
The next day I researched NPD to see if it could be true. And Oh. My. God. The boxes that were ticked! The
lightbulbs that went on!
And so began my DONM (Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers) journey.
I didn't contact her again, but nine months later she sent me a birthday card which included what we call a
fauxpology. This took the form of a bought laminated credit-card sized card which had a corny apology poem
By being so unspecific and generic, it actually apologised for nothing.
I spent a week or so in stress and doubt, not knowing how to handle it. I debated writing back, "What exactly
are you apologising for?" but I realised I did NOT want to open dialogue with her. So eventually I wrote a
No Contact letter, telling her not to contact me again, and that I would not read
or respond to any contact.
And so it finished.
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