For everyone: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?
Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride
To paraphrase the wonderful Captain Awkward, “This book is for everyone, woman or otherwise, whether your mother was narcissistic or not.”  It is life-changing.
Nobody’s parents are perfect. No one makes it to adulthood without having suffered some pain. This book helps you face the past, reckon with what happened to you (no matter what it was), and heal from it.
So this is my #1 book recommendation.
However, it’s missing a few things, and for that you may need to turn somewhere else, which is where the books below come in.
For taking care of yourself: Codependent No More
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie
This book is aimed at adult children of alcoholics, but you don’t need to be the child of an alcoholic to benefit from it.
Will I Ever Be Good Enough talks about three courses of action: temporary no contact, permanent no contact, and civil detachment. Notice that all of these involve detaching yourself from the person who is harming you.
The problem is that when you’re trapped in a relationship, detaching feels impossible. This book helps you do it.
For setting boundaries: Stop Walking on Eggshells
Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back when Someone You Care about Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger
The first two books talk a lot about boundaries. If you’ve tried setting boundaries and you’re like:
“But you don’t understand. The people in the books seem to respect the boundary eventually, but the person I’m dealing with NEVER drops it. If I ask them not to do something, they just keep doing it over and over again, like they WANT me to hate them…”
You need this book.
You also need this ten-part guide to dealing with borderline provocations by David Allen (titles below are my paraphrasing):
- “Part 1: The scope of the problem“
- Part 2: How not to respond
- Part 3: The ideal attitude behind your responses
- Part 4: Search for the kernel of truth
- Part 5: Declare helplessness and get out
- Part 6: Logic is not the point
- Part 7: What to do about suicide threats
- Part 8: Beware of splitting
- Part 9: How to respond to hostile-sounding comments
- Part 10: What to do if all else fails
 The writer behind CaptainAwkward.com is named Jennifer Peepas. She calls Will I Ever Be Good Enough “the best book I know about difficult family dynamics, estrangement, and boundaries,” and says:
“You don’t have to be a daughter, you don’t have to be concerned about a mother, and nobody has to be ‘narcissistic’ for the tools on how to navigate setting boundaries and possibly going low contact or no-contact with a parent to be valuable.”
From “‘We Are Spartacus!’: Open Thread & Resources On Family Estrangement And Adult Relationships With Difficult Parents,” https://captainawkward.com/2019/10/29/we-are-spartacus-open-thread-resources-on-family-estrangement-and-adult-relationships-with-difficult-parents/.
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