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3 Things to expect when a narcissistic parent gets sick

You thought you've seen a narcissist act out??

Oh boy!

Wait until they get sick.

Narcissists love to be the center of attention. When a valid reason arises for them to request attention, they know how to milk it. Guilt trips get taken to the next level. Emotional manipulation comes into play (more than usual, if that's even imaginable). AND victim narrative takes on a whole new life. It takes a really stable and secure person to not get sucked into the drama because the drama is abundant!

My mom and dad were separated when my mother fell ill. However, because my dad felt bad for her, he took her back in to stay at his apartment so she could be cared for there. He arranged for her to have in-home care while he was out working. She would REFUSE to cooperate with the nurse and DEMAND that my father drive home from across town to perform certain tasks. My father, too invested and enmeshed to enforce a boundary, would fall prey to her tactics. It was heartbreaking to watch. He performed manual labor late at night for a living, and he was already so tired. She didn't care. He was her supply.

What is "supply"? has a great definition of supply: "Narcissistic supply is a form of psychological addiction where the narcissist requires, and even demands, limitless special treatment, admiration, importance, or validation to feed their sense of entitlement and self-centeredness."

This attitude is, basically, what's fueling all of their actions and relationships.

Behaviors of sick narcissists

Play the victim card

This one is, perhaps, the most obvious and predictable. I mean, let's keep it real. They've been playing the victim our whole lives (for those of us who had narcissistic parents). Now that they have a diagnosis (or, worse, DON'T have one!), it's over. And be prepared for the symptoms to suddenly appear when it is most convenient for them. If anyone tries to get them to take accountability for something, they might all of a sudden be feeling to unwell to continue the conversation. If someone is depending on them to perform a task, they may wait until the last minute to tell you they couldn't do it because of their ailment. Just be prepared.

Share exaggerated stories about their experience

If you're with the narcissist frequently, you may be a witness to them telling someone how their life has been so severely impacted by their condition, even though you watch them function on a regular basis. (Note: I KNOW that some people can push through and just because you're sick doesn't mean you have to act like you're dying all the can be reeeeeeeal funny/suspicious that these people can push through but then when given an audience, everything becomes so much more intense.)

One thing I've witnessed SEVERAL narcissists do is carry on a normal conversation with me, but then when their phone rings, they answer it with a tired, raspy, strained voice.

Excuse me, what???

I hate that SO much. It's so blatantly performative.

When you're NOT with the narcissist regularly, it can be harder to discern what is truth and what is embellished, but if you've had enough practice, it's easy to start spotting when they're seeking to get a response/some pity out of you. I gray rock so hard. I don't have time for these shenanigans.

Become (more) demanding

Closely connected to the victim card point, the narcissist will leverage their illness to manipulate people into performing various tasks for them, and they may become more and more outlandish and unreasonable. Brace yourself to be presented with different missions, and decide ahead of time how far you're willing to go and how much you're willing to do.

Then ask yourself, "is this REALLY necessary, and does it have to come from ME?". Remember....SUPPLY.

How they act when you don't comply with their request is likely not so much about the actual request as it is about them getting you to jump when they say so. I've had encounters where narcissists make elaborate requests of me, but I simply do not respond because I realize it's probably not that important to them. And what do you know? When I don't bring it up again, they don't either. They've likely forgotten because it was just another ploy to get me worked up into a frenzy over how to do this ridiculous thing.

Sometimes, the narcissist will make note that you never did what they asked, and that's when you gray rock some more. Don't give them the response they're looking for. When you do this, though, be prepared that they will make themselves even bigger and louder in an attempt to get a rise out of you.

How they act when you don't comply with their request is likely not so much about the actual request as it is about them getting you to jump when they say so.

So what have we learned?

Basically, when a narcissist gets sick, they view it as a license to take their act to the next level. Now they have a permit to treat people however they want and request even more sympathy and allowances. They already viewed themselves as special and above the law, but armed with an illness, they're untouchable!!! They are master manipulators and know that they can pull on your heart strings in order to get you to continue putting up with their abuse.

My hope for you is that you will be able to open your eyes and see what is really going on.

Obviously, it is unfortunate that they've developed an illness. I wouldn't wish that for them. BUT, I also wouldn't wish their abuse on anyone either. Their illness is not a license to treat you poorly. You don't have to allow someone to mistreat you because they're sick.

Wishing you healing and peace.


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