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Joanna Rose Health and Wellness

Cow Spirit Animal and Discovering Patterns in my Narcissistic Parent

Written 1 month to the day before my Mom passed and the start of me learning how to mother myself and how to be a more loving and connected mother to my son. I'm learning now my Mom did not mother me, and it's why I struggle so much with female friendships

February 19, 2016

What, you say? What on earth does a cow have to do with a narcissist parent? And why should anyone care how the two are related? 

I am finding myself in a place of great insight right now about how my narcissist father impacted my life and the lessons from him taught me how to love myself and others even more. Weird I know, and going into that here and now is not the time as I am still sorting through the patterns. 

I was on a walk today and took some pictures of beautiful items that caught my eye. As I was playing with one of the photos in my editor I saw, clear as anything, a cows face. Have you ever heard of animal spirits, totems, or animal symbolism? Many cultures have their own version depicting qualities of animals and how they communicate information to those who can animal (or nature) speak. I have been fascinated with this for years and found many of the animals who "speak" to me show me new information about where I am in my growth or on my spiritual path. 

Here's what cow means:

Among gentleness, feminine energy, fertility, and new beginnings (all of which are themes I can pick up in other areas right now) I found written "New beginnings are also an appropriate theme associated with cows in conjunction with their maternal auras. Through their pregnancy, birth, nourishment to their offspring, and ultimate bodily gifts, cows show the entire life cycle in its bittersweet beauty from start to finish." 

Day 161-164 of gratitude!

Monday 2/15- 
I'm grateful for rest, which resulted in some serious crazy play time and serious "soul work"  time after my babe went to bed. Love full days like this!!! I wrote and I read and made notes, and on fire once again with passion for my purpose. 

Tuesday 2/16-
Love exploring new philosophies and writing. Writing forces deeper understanding and processing, but also possible more exposure. That's terrifying when I've lived most of my life not sharing my internal process or feelings. I'm grateful for this chapter. 

Wednesday 2/17-

I'm grateful for putting new ideas into practice. Being small degrees rather than the extremely open or closed off I am accustomed to. I'm grateful for loving to cook and finding new tastes and pleasures that also nourish my body. 

Thursday 2/18-
I'm grateful for choosing to move slow as I feel anxiety and stress coming up regarding what direction to move in with writing. To me, that signifies the need to slow down and be even more deliberate about what I'm doing. 


What Does A Narcissistic Parent Look Like?


3/15/16 the last day I heard Mom's voice

Before hearing the term, I thought what I experienced growing up was *just* emotional and mental abuse with a touch of physical abuse thrown in. Discovering the term "narcissistic parent" was eye opening because it occurred to me that it described my father completely and it helped me to understand the crazy thoughts going through my head relating to my own son. 

I am so thankful I have not acted out the abuse I endured on my son. The relationship with my husband, on the other hand, has been the stomping ground for working out all the dysfunctional debris leftover from childhood. I am both grateful (that we've grown so much as a couple and that he can hold space for me to the point where I can FINALLY hold space for him) and horrified at what we've done and said to eachother over the years. 

The thoughts that go through my head feel like a battle inside that I am overcoming one word at a time. Because of these thoughts I recognize what my father must have been thinking about himself and us, even if on a subconscious level, and I feel compassion for him. Sometimes.

It's a struggle, but it's the same compassion I struggle to find for myself. The thoughts echo "how could you be so selfish?" "Who do you think you are?" "You're so needy and annoying". "What about me and my needs?" 

At the same time I can relate to how my Dad must have felt, I feel sad for the little girl (me) who had one seriously abusive parent and an extremely neglectful one who didn't protect me from the abuser and who did nothing to help me cope (you can't teach what you don't know yourself). 

I feel sad for my son because he doesn't deserve a Mom who is battling these thoughts, knowing where they come from and having emotional reactions to them at inappropriate times. He may never hear the harsh words, but knowing what we do about energy, he can certainly feel the energy.

It is because of my son that I am beginning to shed light on my darkest areas by sharing here. The only way to really change is to find the root and expose it, look at it, and intentionally make changes until it becomes second nature. 

For me, slowing down is necessary. It's when I become stressed and do not use my coping skills or move so fast that there is no time to practice my coping skills that my thoughts spin wildly out of control. 

So what does narcissistic parental abuse look like when there is absolutely no awareness and at its absolute worst? Here are some signs:

1. Pitting you and sibling against one another, one of you is the Golden Child and one is the Scape Goat. Oddly, the roles can be changed. Or have you noticed you and your sibling argue, especially when around narcissistic parent? 

2. You consider what your parent thinks when making decisions for yourself or you rely on what they think to determine if something is good for you or not. Or every decision you make for yourself is questioned by them and you get put down for any decision they don't approve of. 

3. Feeling resentful and angry towards your parent, but having a hard time putting your finger on why. Their manipulation can be so covert, it's not easy to detect or describe.

4. Your parent must take center stage in your life. If you're not spending time with them they complain. If your visits aren't long enough, they complain. If you don't call often enough, they complain. Not only do they complain, they become demanding in their needs and wants without any care or concern for yours. 

5. They constantly tell you how they "gave up or lived their life for you!" So, you owe them.

6. They don't take ownership of their feelings or any actions they've done that may have hurt you. As a matter of fact, you caused the problem because you were too difficult or not understanding enough. Abusers don't know how to take's always someone else's fault. 

7. In the eyes of the parent, your needs don't matter. Only theirs does and they make that very clear. Everyday example: when it comes to spending time with them it's on their terms, their preferred location, and at the time that suits them.

More subtle examples include:

1. Giving you the cold shoulder or silent treatment and you're not sure why.
2. Leaving you out of family events.
3. Only showing up in your life when they have a new partner and contact may be made by the new party (it's possible they've told the new partner they've no idea why their kids don't talk to them and the loving new partner wants to help). 
4. Only giving affection when you behave the way they want. 

Does this sound familiar to you? Do your parents do any of the above or do you hear yourself talking this way to your children? 

Day 157-160 of gratitude!

I'm grateful my Mom entrusted her feet to my care. Since cutting Alex's toenails and nails I find I'm quite good at doing pedicures and I enjoy helping to ground the body for myself and others. 


I'm grateful for good books. I'm current reading Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and Natural Child. 

And for circle play time with the kids this morning. 2 year olds are so fun!!!!!!


I'm grateful for "me time"- lunches out with new friends and the energetic whirlwind I don't quite understand yet. I am paying attention though. 

Sunday- Valentines Day

I'm grateful for a massage and energy session and for basically being told to just relax and enjoy myself today. I napped off and on most of the day. 

Day 156 of gratitude- Power of Thought


I'm grateful for the excitement that builds on the brink of creating. Did you know nervous/anxious energy and excitement really come from the same place and can feel similar? The difference is really your thoughts about the former it causes worry and concern and the latter hope and wonder. I'm grateful to be experiencing the hope and wonder more often over these years than the first 30 years of my life.


I'm grateful for this lady and being inspired by her in so many ways! Our conversations melt my heart and she genuinely makes me want to be a more giving person because she gives with her whole heart. She's so rad!!! Thank you, April, for your friendship and thank you to her bodacious husband, Eric,  for connecting us...even if it did take a few years!!! 

Days 152-155 of gratitude!

      "Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together." 



I'm grateful for taking into consideration "what can I do today, right now to get to where I know I'm going?" Slow and steady to avoid burnout and overwhelm yet daily focus because I know myself so well, I know slow and steady is best. 

I'm grateful for Matt and I making an awesome team. Our teamwork gets things done for both of us individually and us as a family. We are unstoppable!!!

I'm grateful my intuition and higher self speaks clearly even if I don't always interpret it the way intended. It's ok, I'm sharpening these tools daily.

I'm grateful for waking up to beautiful snow....sleigh rides, painting, and making our living room into a gym of sorts to include bouncing, running, jumping and yoga. 


Oh and yoga. I am grateful for a new sequence I found tonight to help keep me "adjusted" in between appointments with my chiropractor. Check it out: 

Day 150 & 151 of gratitude!

I am grateful everyone in my life is my mirror and I have awareness of that. 
I am grateful for solitude and silence. 
I am grateful for crazy laughter and a lived in house because play and "my work" is more important than cleaning constantly. I'm grateful for that awareness too. 
I'm grateful my life as I knew it 2 years ago has been completely ripped apart and reshaped and nothing is certain. Exciting to know I can create WHATEVER I WANT. That was always true, but when you have the (soul sucking) job that pays well and the house that can only be afforded by the job that pays well. And a lifestyle to match can feel pretty closed in. I am grateful to be free!!!! Time to recreate.....reminds me of last time I felt like this. It was the beginning of my awareness journey.....