There are many ways to be abandoned by a parent. A friend of mine lost both of his parents when he was seventeen in a car accident. They died immediately, while he ended up in a coma for days with a head injury only to wake up and discover they were gone. Life as he knew it no longer existed. I am not sure how people find strength to live through such tragic events, but he shared Psalm 27 with me one day and told me it had helped him.
Perhaps it is even sadder to lose your parents while they are still alive. When Jenny was 43, she hung up the phone and told her husband that her father had no interest in her unless she gave him money. She had spent decades trying to have a relationship with him, but he only wanted her money. Her mother didn’t have time for a relationship either–unless she agreed with everything she said. When her sister got married Jenny wasn’t invited because her parents had decided she was no longer in the family. I didn’t ask if they were Christians, but what a sad example of how NOT to love your daughter.
These stories are not rare, everyone you meet can tell you similar stories. In ACON* support groups the stories are universal. Parents who discover their adult children are no longer meeting their needs often discard them like yesterday’s trash. But we aren’t trash: we are loving and empathetic human beings who have a lot to give to the world. Narc parents just have such narrow vision; they can’t recognize the value of the children they have thrown away–partially because they don’t want their adult children to give their resources to anyone but them.
One of the obvious issues when dealing with a narcissistic parent is the lack of relationship. Most narcs only care about us when we give them their currency–otherwise known as narcissistic feed. Currency is what makes people tick or motivates them–this could be quality time, money, praise or work. Some people’s currency is all about them being right all the time. For others, it’s using the time, energy and resources of other people. Everyone has a currency of some kind. Healthy people consider the currency of others in the relationship and they don’t just take without giving back. The narcissist only cares about people when they meet her needs.
It hurts to be used, it’s hard to stand up when you realize what is happening and then it hurts to be abandoned when the narcissist discards you. However you look at it it hurts, but then you have to consider if you really wanted a relationship with someone who only uses you. Whether it’s your parent or a friend, being used is not love and it has no place in a relationship. Many ACONs have walked away from their parents when they discovered all they wanted to do was control them. Those who go no contact have discovered it is better to be an orphan than a slave. They are accused of shutting out their parents, but the truth is the parent abandoned their child emotionally years ago.
There is one person who will never abandon you and that’s Jesus. Whether you believe in Him or not, He has promised He will never leave you. If you think God doesn’t care about your problems, or maybe He can’t take your tears and despair, just read a few Psalms and you will see that even when all he had to do was find food and water for the sheep, David was carrying a lot of pain inside his heart. Apparently his mother and father walked out on him–maybe he had narcissistic parents too. Or maybe they just died–either way, David realized he was not alone and cried out to God to re-parent him and we can too.
And David was not the only Bible writer who shows us this side of God, Isaiah speaking for God says–
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you.
Wherever you are on the relationship merry go round–whether you are still trying to please a narc parent so you can feel good enough, whether you are still trying to find your voice so you can stand up for yourself or whether you have been shunned as the black sheep for not meeting the narc’s needs, just remember that God loves you with an everlasting love. Even when your own parents lie about you and shun you, God will always take you in.
*ACON-Adult Children of Narcissists