Parental Narcissistic Abuse isn’t fun, but practicing setting boundaries can be with this “Choose Your Own Adventure”- style original story. Based on events experienced by the scapegoat of a narcissistic parent.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Section 1

1 It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon. You relax in your comfiest chair, cradling your favorite book. A cool, calming breeze flows through the open windows, gently tussling your hair as you reach for the perfectly prepared steamy beverage beside you.

If you drink tea, scroll to section 2
If you drink coffee, scroll to section 3

Section 2

As you sip your tea, your cat weaves through your legs and then leaps onto the chair, nudging the book with his nose. When you don’t immediately respond, he paws his way between you and the book, placing his rear end in your face. Amused, you mark your page then stroke his fur as he curls into your lap, falling quickly into a purring slumber. It’s a perfect day.

Buzz. Buzz. As you reach for the vibrating phone on the table beside you, your cat startles, then returns to his slumber. A familiar image flashes on the screen. Your parents are calling.

If you are happy, or even excited to talk to your parents scroll to section 4.

If the sight of your parents’ number fills you with cold panic and fear, scroll to section 5.


Section 3

As you sip your coffee, your dog bounds in, dropping his squeaky toy at your feet. He stares at you intently, his tail wagging in anticipation. When you don’t immediately respond, he whimpers, then nudges your arm. Amused, you mark your page, then delight in his joy as he watches the toy sail through the air, dashing to retrieve it. Plop, sail, dash, repeat. It’s a perfect day.

Buzz. Buzz. As you reach for the vibrating phone on the table beside you, your dog finds a sunny spot, circles three times, then plops down, toy wheezing softly in his mouth. A familiar image flashes on the screen. Your parents are calling.

If you are happy, or even excited to talk to your parents scroll to section 4.

If the sight of your parents’ number fills you with cold panic and fear, scroll to section 5.


Section 4

You answer the phone with a big smile. Your parents are “just checking in.” You chat a bit.

If the conversation is easy, they ask about you, really listen without trying to persuade you to do anything, and you hang up feeling loved and heard, scroll to Section 6

If the conversation starts out easy, but they only talk about themselves, then find a way to criticize you disguised as a joke, or persuade you to do something for them, and you hang up feeling empty, anxious, hyper, or confused, scroll to Section 7.


Section 5

You stare at the screen, hand slightly shaking. The joy, peace, and calm have been replaced by fear and dread. The phone continues buzzing. You feel obligated to answer but are unsure of what might be waiting for you on the other end. As your thumb reluctantly reaches for talk, the phone slips from your hand. You missed the call.

If you stare into space, your heart racing, and wait to see how long it takes for “New Voicemail” to pop up, scroll to section 8.

If you panic and call them back right away, scroll to section 9.


Section 6

Congratulations! It appears that you have a healthy relationship with your parents.

If you’d like to understand a narcissistic parent/child relationship, scroll to section 5.


Section 7

A healthy parent/child relationship includes love, support, respect, and trust. A Narcissist parent replaces these with control, manipulation, intimidation, and lies. Your nervous system is reacting to past trauma. Even when the conversation appears pleasant, your body knows that you are in potential danger. That if you say or do “the wrong thing” you could be punished.

If you’re ready to draw a healthy boundary for yourself click the link below:


Section 8

|The Flight Response| You can’t sit with your racing thoughts any longer, so you jump up and head outside. You pace on the sidewalk, then choose a direction to walk. You fake a smile, and a friendly hello to neighbors you pass while your mind attacks you with all of the things that you could have done wrong, all of the things your parents could be angry about.

After what seems like miles of walking, you look up and realize that even though you’re in your neighborhood, things look slightly unfamiliar. Dissociation. Is it left or right to get home? You reach in your pocket. Oh no! Your phone! You attempt to retrace your steps. In a full panic now, you finally find your way back.

You breathe a sigh of relief when you find your phone on the floor where you left it, but the panic quickly returns. 20 missed calls. 5 new voicemails. All from your parents.

Anger, confusion, boundary violation. You’ve asked them many times to call once and leave a message, but they never listen. They’ve obsessively called during important meetings, doctor’s appointments, and special events so you permanently leave it on silent. They don’t respect your boundaries

Anger fades to panic. What if it’s an emergency? It never is, but maybe. As you stare at your phone, they call again.

If you answer, scroll to section 10.

If you let it go to voicemail scroll to section 11.


Section 9

|Fight Response|You call your parents and apologize for missing their call. They just want to “check-in,” a.k.a. gossip about the local person who is “pregnant out of wedlock.” Then to “the real reason they called.” They found a sale on flights this morning and have concocted a plan to travel with you, your partner, and your child across the country, leave you somewhere and take the rest of the trip with only your child (who they’ve been grossly irresponsible with before). They need your driver’s license number to sign you up for the trip.

While they’re giving you the sales pitch, you look around, noticing all of the imperfections in your once peaceful house. The chair in the corner. Your desk. When they were brand new, your parents broke both of them. A result of temper and impatience during a visit. The stack of mail with ads from mailing lists they signed you up for and credit cards they opened and then defaulted in your name. Both are done without your permission or knowledge. Your head swirls. You don’t want to go anywhere with them, but frustration quickly melts into fear.

If you say no to the trip, scroll to section 12. Otherwise, scroll to section 13.


Section 10

You answer the phone. Is it an emergency? No. They just want to “check-in,” a.k.a. gossip about the local person who is “pregnant out of wedlock.” You remind them of your boundary, 1 call, 1 message and they blow past it because they have something really important to talk to you about. They found a sale on flights this morning and have concocted a plan to travel with you, your partner, and your child across the country, leave you somewhere and take the rest of the trip with only your child (who they’ve been grossly irresponsible with before). They need your driver’s license number to sign you up for the trip.

While they’re giving you the sales pitch, you look around your house which was so peaceful earlier. Now you notice all of the imperfections. The chair in the corner. Your desk. Both were broken by your parents when they were brand new. A result of temper and impatience during a visit. The stack of mail with ads from mailing lists they signed you up for and credit cards they opened and then defaulted in your name. Both are done without your permission or knowledge. Your head swirls. You don’t want to go anywhere with them, but frustration quickly melts into fear.

If you say no to the trip, scroll to section 12. Otherwise, scroll to section 13.


Section 11

You throw the phone on the chair and go to the kitchen for a snack. You feel empty, not hungry, but you need a distraction. You absentmindedly eat chip after chip, trying not to check your phone. Reading has become impossible. With each Buzz of your phone, you grow more and more anxious. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz AAAAAHHHH! I’m doing something wrong! I’m in trouble! They’re mad at me!

You gather all of your strength. Doing your best not to look at it, you shakily shut off your phone, but the narcissist abuse has already taken over. Everything aches. I’m doing something wrong! I’m bad! Everybody hates me!

There’s a knock at your door. Your parents found your neighbor on Facebook and messaged them to check to make sure you’re ok. Oh, maybe they just wanted to talk to me. They care. Hope!

You turn your phone back on and are hit with a slew of messages. They got a great deal on a trip and want to take you, your partner, and your child, then continue the trip with just your child. You’ve told them repeatedly that they can’t be alone with your child (they’ve been grossly irresponsible, putting your child in danger in the past). Then:

HELLO?!,

You think you’re so important that you can’t even call your own parents back. Call us immediately!

How dare you ignore us! We have very time sensitive information!

You could put aside your hatred for us for one minute, but instead you’re selfish. You won’t be hearing from us again!

ANSWER US!

We’re worried for your safety. The least you can do is call us back.

You are a terrible child!

You think you can keep us from our GRANDCHILD? Think again!

Your Aunt calls, worried for your safety. When you tell her you’re fine, she asks why you are so mean to your parents. You try to explain, to defend yourself, but no one listens. They’re all defenders (flying monkeys) of the narcissists who “love you so much.” You’re afraid to leave your phone, you’re afraid to answer your phone. You’re afraid.

Meanwhile, you haven’t even spoken to your parents. They’ve concocted all of this in their heads. You aren’t allowed to be busy. You aren’t allowed to miss a call. You aren’t allowed to do anything but be at their beck and call. So much for your relaxing day of reading.

To practice going “no contact” with your parents click the story below:

For TIPS on going “no contact” click the link below

If you’re afraid to “keep your child from her grandparents” scroll to… Just Click the links above. It’s time. They will treat your child poorly, just as they have treated you. You need to protect yourself and your family with strong boundaries. YOU CAN DO THIS!


Section 12

You say no to the trip. They push back. “We’re not going to be around forever” “We’re your only parents.” Still no. Accusations begin “Here we doing this nice thing, you’re always so ungrateful. You treat us like dirt.” No. They bargain “What if we only go here, here, and here.”

You explode. You have a job. Your child has school. They scold you like a child “Watch your tone!” Then they focus on the details to pick apart your argument. They can move it to when school’s out. Suddenly you’re wrapped up in details of a trip you don’t want to take. You draw a strong boundary. No. We’re not going.

Your parents say “then there’s nothing left to say,” and hang up without saying goodbye. They haven’t asked you a single thing about you or your life during this “check-in.” They never do.

You’re already shaking, so you listen to the voicemails to get it over with. The first one is cheery with a little edge of urgency to it at the end. The second has a lot of exasperated sighs. The third has venom. “You think you’re so important that you can’t even call your own parents back. Call us immediately!” Fourth, “How dare you ignore us! We have very time-sensitive information!” Fifth “You could put aside your hatred for us for one minute, but instead, you’re selfish. You won’t be hearing from us again!”

As you listen, your muscles tighten. Your stomach’s in knots. Trauma response from childhood abuse. You’ve done something wrong. You’ve angered them. You’re a bad person. Angry text messages arrive at a furious pace. Your Aunt calls to ask why you are so mean to your parents. You try to explain, to defend yourself, but no one is listening. They are all defenders (flying monkeys) of the narcissists who “love you so much.” You’re afraid to leave your phone, you’re afraid to answer your phone. You’re afraid.

Your partner returns with your child, frantic. They’ve been trying to reach you. It’s dark out. You turned off your phone, and have been staring at the wall for 3 hours. Your parents called your partner, first, to try to persuade, then under the guise that they were “worried that they hadn’t heard from you.” You say you’re fine, but you’re clearly not. So much for a relaxing day of reading.

To practice going “no contact” with your parents click the story below:

For TIPS on going “no contact” click the link below

If you’re afraid to “keep your child from her grandparents” scroll to… Just Click the links above. It’s time. They will treat your child poorly, just as they have treated you. You need to protect yourself and your family with strong boundaries. YOU CAN DO THIS!


Section 13

You don’t want to go on this trip. It’s unrealistic and another grandiose spur-of-the-moment idea, but you fear what happens when you say no, so you throw out some excuses. You have a job. Your child has school. They bargain. They’ll schedule when school is out, take your child, alone, and you can join when you have off.

You remind them of the boundary that your child doesn’t go anywhere alone with them (they have been grossly irresponsible with your child in the past). They push back “what do you think we’ll do? We’re her grandparents. You can’t keep OUR grandchild from us.” You stand strong and say you have to be there when your child is there. They tell you to pick dates. Panicked that they’ll try to take your child, you give them several dates, but say you have to check with your partner.

Having gotten what they want, they get off the phone. They haven’t asked you a single thing about you or your life during this “check-in.” They never do.

Under the narc abuse spell, you text your partner with urgency, explaining the situation and asking which dates will work. Your parents are already sending you pictures from a friend’s trip (ah, that’s where the spur-of-the-moment idea came from). Your partner recognizes that you aren’t thinking clearly and pushes back, carefully mentioning the disasters from previous trips with your parents. Your partner suggests you tell them no.

Panic, fear, urgency. Your parents text asking what your partner said. You text back that your partner said no, they start with guilt “We’re not going to be around forever” and “We’re your only parents.” It escalates to phone calls and texts with accusations. “Here we do this nice thing and you throw it in our face. You’re always so ungrateful. You treat us like dirt.” Phone call after phone call they get angrier and more abusive.

Your partner comes home with your child and is annoyed. Your parents have been texting them too. Panic! Fear! Danger! You feel caught between two worlds. Everything’s your fault. I’m bad. Everybody’s mad at me. I do everything wrong. These are the words your parents raised you on. I mess everything up! I’m in trouble!

Your relaxing day of reading turned into a complete anxiety meltdown. All instigated by one phone call.

To practice going “no contact” with your parents click the story below:

For TIPS on going “no contact” click the link below

If you’re afraid to “keep your child from her grandparents” scroll to… Just Click the links above. It’s time. They will treat your child poorly, just as they have treated you. You need to protect yourself and your family with strong boundaries. YOU CAN DO THIS!

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