Recovery Coach Marie Ellis Cook, the host of the Cook Coterie Podcast, drops by to educate us on the emerging rise of Narcissism Recovery. She explains to us how it has helped her and how she now is able to help others who identify as a victim of a Narcissist.
You can find more information and get in contact with Marie at the websites below
Recovering from Being Raised by Narcissists: Marie Ellis Cook in Action
This post is based on an interview conducted with Marie Ellis Cook on my podcast, “Let’s Go Brandon Green Podcast.” The full interview can be found on the podcast website here. In our 24-minute chat, we talked about:
- What is narcissism?
- What are the signs and symptoms of narcissism?
- Are narcissists born or created?
- What kind of environment or upbringing creates narcissists?
- Why does being raised by narcissists affect people’s mental health as an adult?
- What are the family dynamics of a family with a narcissist in charge?
- What does a narcissism recovery coach help their clients do?
- How can I get help dealing with my toxic relationships?
In an era of conversations about mental health becoming less taboo, more and more resources to help people deal with mental health issues are popping up. Marie Ellis Cook, currently based in Utah, has been on both sides of this evolution. She introduces herself by saying, “I am a recovery coach. I am myself a daughter of a narcissistic parent.” When she discusses narcissism and how she helps her clients recover from toxic relationships, she tap dances between the perspectives that both of these experiences have given her, resulting in an incisive bird’s eye view.
Coach Cook begins by listing the signs and symptoms of narcissism that she has both felt and learned over the years. “These are usually people who demonstrate arrogant behaviors; they envy others; they lack empathy; they have an extreme sense of entitlement; a need for excessive admiration; they believe that they are exceptionally special and should only associate with special people or high-ranking or famous or wealthy people, and they’re usually preoccupied with fantasies, and they are kind of in their own reality…. They struggle with being present because they have a grandiose sense of self-importance.” This is all information that she has learned over and over again from being raised by a narcissistic mother, discussing her mother’s behavior in therapy, receiving recovery coaching, and subsequently being trained as a recovery coach herself, and it shows. She explains it with the precision of someone who has been living and breathing these words for decades.
But far from just intellectually understanding these words, she makes herself vulnerable in explaining what happened when she finally tried to get help. “I actually went to therapy for the first time because my friend suggested it to me,” she says. “And I told my mother, and I shouldn’t have. And she was very, very angry with me, and she said, ‘What would people think?’ And Brandon, I was suicidal. I wanted to kill myself, and she said, ‘What would people think if they know you killed yourself? What would people think if they know you have depression and you go to therapy?’” Here Marie puts on her coach hat again, continuing, “Because part of narcissism is that their image is extremely important to them. People’s perception of them. And so she was more afraid that she would look bad than the health and safety of her daughter.” As a result of this explosion, it took another year for Cook to return to therapy, at which point she was 22. Now, at 28, she is no longer in contact with her mother and has turned those life experiences into her drive to help others.
Cook explains that what she does is different from what a therapist does by design because talk therapy did not result in much progress or growth for her. Her goal is to not just talk about the client’s situation, but to give people trying to navigate relationships with narcissists support, practical help for how to set boundaries, and tools for how to manage their own emotions and behavior. She gives an example of helping someone navigate a co-parenting relationship with a narcissistic ex-spouse who may lie to the children to turn them against the healthy and stable parent. In this situation, she would help the healthy parent set boundaries with the ex-spouse, as well as anticipate and not be provoked by their manipulative tactics.
Marie is deeply familiar with the family dynamics of a family with a narcissistic parent. She details the full taxonomy: the narcissist parent; the enabling parent, who defends the narcissist and allows them to continue their abuse; the scapegoat or black sheep, who is the child who suffers the brunt of the abuse but isn’t believed when they try to sound the alarm to others; the golden child, who is an extension of the narcissistic parent and often gets nothing but praise; and the invisible child, who gets neglected and ignored because they don’t engage with the parent like the scapegoat does. She describes herself as the scapegoat in her family, her father as the enabling parent whom she now only occasionally speaks with and doesn’t share important information with, and her younger brother as the golden child whom she has worked hard to repair her relationship with and is now on good terms with.
Maybe the most personal moment of our conversation came when Marie described how her relationship with her mother affected her relationship with the Mormon church, which her parents joined as teenagers and she has been in her whole life. Because her mother put up a facade of saintliness in public even while being abusive at home, the church saw her mother as someone to be praised and held up as an example. Meanwhile, Cook felt isolated and alienated by a church that celebrated someone who treated her with such cruelty, eventually leading her to leave the church. But as she learned more about narcissism, as she began quieting her mother’s abusive voice in her head which berated her long into adulthood, as she began healing, she was able to rediscover her relationship with God and separate it from her relationship with her mother. She speaks with joy about being able to make that choice for herself as she recovered and being able to rejoin the church. “I’m thriving,” she quips, and it’s clear she hopes to do the same for others. If you are struggling with a toxic relationship—narcissistic or otherwise—and you would like help from someone who understands, you can reach out to Marie @marieelliscook on Instagram.
- 2:52 – 3:34: Marie lists the signs and symptoms of narcissism
- 9:02 – 9:34: Marie gives an example of what she does as a recovery coach
- 12:06 – 13:00: Marie tells the story of being suicidal and her mother being more concerned with her image
- 14:46 – 16:51: Marie explains the family dynamics with a narcissistic parent
- 18:53 – 19:19: Marie explains her mother’s facade of being saintly in public while being abusive in private
- 21:03 – 21:48: How Marie was able to return back to the church after learning about narcissism