Adult Children of Narcissists

The Logical Heart Knows Best

If you’ve grown up in a dysfunctional, or abusive environment, you may have been treated as something to be coerced and controlled. Your needs wants and feelings may have been invalidated, shut down, and denied. Or you may have been reprimanded for not behaving or feeling what others thought you should. You were caught in unpredictable, no-win situations, leaving you powerless. You probably tried to accommodate and please to no avail. We learn harmful boundaries as adult children of narcissists.

When this happens it leads to a disconnect from your true thoughts, feelings, and what’s right for you. Eventually, you shut down as a protective mechanism and lose connection to your inner truth by always conforming to what others want from you. If you are in an environment with narcissists and others with personality disorders and faulty, abusive boundaries, then you were treated as an object or an extension of them to use to make them feel better. They used their power over you to help them feel more in control and achieved validation of themselves through you. You existed to serve them and do what they wished so they could live vicariously through you.

When you are disconnected from your emotions it’s difficult to protect yourself. You are cut off from your guidance system. In childhood, this saved you, because it was just too painful, so you learned to pretend, to shut down, to shield yourself from the pain, to survive. We abandon ourselves, it’s just too much for us to handle. You end up betraying yourself.

This leaves you vulnerable to manipulation and coercive control. When you have learned to placate abusive others as a child, it leaves you open to control by the external world. You’re taught to be compliant and this leads to others pulling your strings instead of you having agency over yourself, you let the world dictate what you do. You are codependent. You try to maintain peace by doing what you think others in your life will approve of. You’ve learned that if you don’t comply, there will be hell to pay. You also learn to lie to keep the peace because the people you’ve lived with were so unpredictable, you don’t know what will set them off, so you eventually start lying about everything.

It’s important to reconnect with yourself when you reach adulthood and no longer are dependent on abusive others. The problem is you may not be aware that anything’s amiss? It’s all you know, it’s “normal” to you. You probably are experiencing the same dysfunctional relationships with non-family members in adulthood, because it’s familiar and you were attracted to people who mirrored the same faulty dynamics. So it still seems “normal.” It’s all you’ve known.

Thankfully we have the internet these days and can learn about what dysfunction, codependency, and faulty boundaries are. We have resources to help us discover what’s healthy or not. Here’s an article about adult children of narcissists.


Here’s a short video on this subject.

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Michelle Miyagi
Hi! I was an RN, BSN in mental/behavioral health for 27 years. Now I'm helping empower caring people like me to prioritize themselves by maintaining healthier boundaries for more freedom, peace, and joy. I am also active in Long Covid advocacy.

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