The Golden Child

A well thought out and thoughtful post!
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Please read it carefully, especially if you relate to the scapegoat role assigned to you by your narcissist parent, before you react. The subject of being a child of a narcissist (ACoN) can trigger our pain and we need to pause before reacting to make sure we don’t allow our pain to do the talking for us and hurt others as we were hurt. We do not want to pass on our wound, to do to others what was done to us. Our goal is to understand and heal through understanding, and to pass the healing on.
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I realise many scapegoat children of narcissists experience their golden child sibling as a narcissist too. It is important to remember that the golden child had that role forced upon them by the narcissist parent, just as the scapegoat had that role forced upon them.
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Not all children of narcissists become narcissists. Not all golden children become narcissists.
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As I said to the author of this post, since I was an only child of two narcissists, I experienced the roles of both the golden child and the scapegoat, plus any other role which was required of me. Sometimes I experienced these roles simultaneously. I was often pitted against myself, which was very confusing. Sometimes my parents played the golden child to my scapegoat (never vice versa).
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We share our stories to figure our stories out, to access our own knowledge and wisdom.
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Pain connects us more than anything else in life, we all feel it, experience it, suffer its consequences… so does healing our pain.
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Sharing our stories can make us vulnerable… vulnerability is healing as well as wounding, it is strength as well as weakness.
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Respect. Of others of ourselves is universally healing.
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Thank you for sharing your story, Lorna.
Best wishes!

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18 thoughts on “The Golden Child

  1. It is so enlightening to learn that the one who was adored, in reality is not so golden, but instead covertly suffers her own invisible trauma.I left a longer comment for Lorna on her blog.

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    1. The child of the narcissist inherits the wound of the narcissistic parent either way. It’s just a matter of perspective. The golden child perhaps thinks the scapegoat child had it better, whereas the scapegoat child thinks the golden child had it better… which is exactly how the narcissistic parent wants their children to view things. As long as the children are competing with each other in some form or another, the parent gets away with what they have done and are doing.

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      1. I wanted to thank you for the link to Lornas blog. She has MANY good posts about having a N mother and about the family dynamics that go along with it. ( under Narcissist Within ), She is very open and has talent for writing about the intricacies of the abuse and interactions that take place.
        I found myself remembering alot of what I had forgotten .but more importantly finally understanding some of the torture, abuse and invisible interactions that occurred which I had never been able to understand, or to articulate. I am finding that I am making great strides in my healing journey as I read some of what she has written.
        In real iife I never meet people who have suffered the unspeakable abuses that I suffered as a child.It so nice to have internet connections where you can connect in some way to others who have traveled similar paths to your own.
        In my adult life I still suffer from it it when people find it strange or suspicious that I am estranged from my entire family of origin, I suffer that pain constantly and especially on holidays when I realize I have no family to invite over. This is not how I would like things to be. I have had to go no contact from all the toxicity after trying fruitlessly over and over again. I had to do it to survive and to try to build a semi normal life for myself. I would highly recommend that anyone who is an ACON read her posts on her blog. You would be sure to find something of great value . (:

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        1. There are many adult children of narcissists who blog about their experiences and share their path to understanding and healing, all of which offer great insight. Their voices resonate, and often help us to find pieces of our own experiences and story, their words give voice to our story too, and give us the words to express ourselves.

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  2. I am so much more than a fucking adult child of narcissists and so are you and everyone else who had the tragedy of being raised by mentally disordered and incapable of love subhumans. You are right though about the problems an only child of narcissists has to deal with because i am one too and it was devastating and confushing that in all my childhood i was the hero of the family one day and a useless piece of garbage the next.

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    1. You’re absolutely right! Being a child of narcissists is not who we are, but it is a part of who we are, it shaped us in some ways, but it is not us. It’s an influence not an identity. What we make of that part, what we made of it as children and now as adults, is up to us not them, our narcissist parents/parent, or anyone else (all those who weigh in on the issue).

      The only child of narcissists lives in an in-between. In their childhood with their narcissist parent or parents, and in their adulthood where the ACoN community is concerned. We don’t really belong to the ACoN ‘club’ because we can’t confine our ‘role’ to one thing or the other – scapegoat or golden child. Which means we’re confusing to those who can define their role.

      Our curse is actually a gift for us.

      The best write up so far which I’ve found on being an only child of narcissist parents/parent is here – http://www.narcissisticmother.com/narcissistic-single-mother-and-only-child – it misses a few details for me because of the context but overall it is spot on.

      Being an only child of narcissists/narcissist is a bit like being a winning lottery ticket and a losing lottery ticket. Either way it’s our fault if the narcissist doesn’t get what they want. Screw what they want, what do we want – that is our real issue!

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      1. Thank you for taking the time to write this answer and send me the link! I agree that there isn’t much research or focus on us, maybe because ACON only children are a minority. I felt the need to state that we are much more than that because in the past i had found myself engulfed in a mindset where everything was about abusers, past, my monster mother etc etc. I was an individual without an identity. My mother would love to see me killed, that is the extent of her hate and this will go on as long as she lives. It took me some time to accept but after coming in terms with the fact that she is an enemy and that won’t change the feeling of liberation was unbelievable. Sometimes i look in my childhood and think that having psychopathic tendencies shielded me from her. If i was an empath i would have either died or remained her puppet for life. I know many nice normal people who can’t accept that they need to disconnect permanently from their toxic family because of ”love”. Their lives will be destroyed, it is really sad to see.( by no means i say people should imitate psychopaths just stating an observation from my own experiences)

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        1. I know what you’re saying about using the ASPD (sociopath/psychopath) type of thinking and behaving to deal with having a narcissist parent, for self-preservation, especially when that narcissist parent is of the malignant type of NPD.

          When I have to deal with my parents (my mother mainly, as my father is now deceased. And since his death my mother had reappeared in my life with a vengeance) I switch to what I call ‘sociopath mode’. It’s not a natural mode for me and I only use it when dealing with those I suspect or know have NPD, but if I don’t do that, then I get royally screwed.

          Most ‘normal’ people won’t understand it, and are more likely to judge us than the one with NPD, judge the ‘child’ rather than the ‘parent’. As in – of course your parent loves you (even though they are consistently abusive and show no signs of being able to do what is commonly known as ‘love’) blah blah blah, etc. Which requires that you throw yourself on a sacrificial altar and everyone else is happy… safely ensconced in their delusions, not really giving a shit about what consequences that entails for you as long as they’re okay.

          Empathy, in my version of it, requires understanding where the other person is coming from. If the other person is coming from a place which doesn’t give a shit about you – this is relevant.

          My version of empathy does not confuse empathy with sympathy. Sympathy is something else entirely and is manipulative. I am empathic, but I’m not an empath (as in a sympath).

          I know this conflicts with others. Including those in the NPD community, ACoNs and other victims of those with NPD. But. I’m the only one who has to live my life and the consequences of it. So… It’s up to us individually to figure out our own story and deal with it accordingly. If others support us, that is a bonus, but we’ve (especially only children of narcs) have been doing this alone all our lives, so if we have to continue on our own, so be it.

          We know the price of being free. πŸ™‚

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          1. I am amazed to meet someone who gets it…for the first time! You gave me strong validation with your words. I read the article you suggested and i agree with its keypoints. I was a substitute parent for my mother since a very young age. She wasn’t technically single but my father was away for large periods of time because he used to work in the military, so it was basically me and her. In one of the big fights before going no contact i told my parents that they are adults and i am not responsible for their happiness. They are.
            The shock and despise i encountered was unbelievable. I can’t understand how they can live by holding onto so many conflicting beliefs same time: hating your child but same time doing whatever it takes in order to prevent it from leaving. Nutjobs.

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            1. Narcissists’ minds work like the minds of children, they do not have the same type of awareness, cognition, logic and reasoning that an adult has, their minds never grew up, they stayed stuck in childhood, only their physical form became that of an adult.

              They do not perceive things as we perceive them. They can’t perceive things as we perceive them.

              In the case of – ‘hating your child but same time doing whatever it takes in order to prevent it from leaving’ – there is no conflict there for them, the conflict is one which they can’t perceive so it does not exist for them.

              They do not perceive themselves as ‘hating’ in the way that we perceive it.

              Children switch between loving and hating all the time. One minute they love their best friend, say lots of wonderful things about them, their friend can do no wrong, then they have a disagreement with their friend and they hate them, say lots of bad things about them, their friend can do no right, then they forget about the disagreement because something new comes up and love their friend again as though the hate never happened.

              If you point out to them that they hated someone or something a minute ago which they are now claiming to love, they look at you as though you’re crazy and deny everything, because for them the only thing which is true is whatever they are saying is true at the moment, now.

              That is what a narcissist does too.

              So they can love you and hate you at the same time. It causes no conflict for them, in fact it makes the relationship more dramatic and interesting for them, like a soap opera. And they often equate hate with love. So the two things are interchangeable. The more they ‘hate’ you the more they ‘love’ you.

              With regards to their own children – we’re a toy, a thing, an object, which belongs to them, no one else can have it or play with it, sometimes we’re their favourite toy, and sometimes we’re broken. They keep us in their toy box, sometimes they remember us, sometimes they forget about us. They play with us when they want to. That’s their prerogative because we’re a toy which belongs to them and they can do whatever they want with us. We however can’t decide to be ‘not a toy’ and ‘not belonging to them’. That’s silly, toys can’t make decisions! They can hurt us, drop us, poke us with a pin, pull our limbs off, and it doesn’t matter because toys can’t feel anything. We only feel when they project a feeling onto us, and that feeling belongs to them.

              They have no problem holding conflicting beliefs, we’re the ones who have a problem with them holding conflicting beliefs. Because it confuses the hell out of us.

              As far as they are concerned we’re the ones who are the nutjobs. We’re the ones who are confused, who have the problem. They’re fine, or at least they would be if we’d sort ourselves out and stop being such a whiny nuisance. we’re broken and they need to fix us. If we’d just do what they want us to do, think what they want us to think, feel what they want us to feel, then we’d be fine and they’d be fine too.

              There’s a link in one of my posts to a rant which another one of my posts caused a self-confessed narcissist to have. It’s a good example of how they think and how they are incapable to ‘getting’ how we think. But the problem is us and not them. The link is in this post – https://anupturnedsoul.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/how-to-piss-off-a-narcissist-without-even-trying/ – be warned reading their rant may trigger all the frustration experienced from having to deal with those with NPD. However it is insightful into how narcissists perceive.

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      2. Sure Ursula and others. I agree, it is an influence and not an identity but it took me decades
        to figure that out. And it wasn’t for lack of trying to figure out the missing puzzle piece

        Years of not quite right partners, self doubt, self loathing, wondering why I seemed to be a magnet for disordered people. wasted years. And there’s no way I can look at them as an adventure bc it was painful and stole happiness from me.

        I had this exact situation with my sister, the golden child, and me , consigned to the part of the scapegoat as I spent time w her as she terminally Ill.

        And the writer did wonderfully with it. Including the part about the fathers role

        I was always envious of her bc I was that outcast in my home. And she had all of my mothers attn. And I was perhaps the only adult in my home at times until I left home and started no contact at a very young age

        Unfortunately I had to change my user name here but I’ve told the story as it was happening to me

        It wasn’t until the final visits w her as an adult I was able to see that she was equally damaged – maybe more so than I was. Watching her 4th marriage to someone that didn’t actually present to me as a NPD but some how sucked the life out of her through his neediness. Just like my mother did to her. I no longer envied her, I felt sad for her

        Her husband’s entire life was through that mirror of her. Her doing for him, living to please him, controlling her w his every need So much so she couldn’t even have a relationship w a sibling

        Something so very bizarre I saw this week that proves to me they, the N, don’t have a fixed identity and mirror others ; – even though she’s been dead for two months now, he’s actually posting from her Facebook account under her name – commenting on what her friends say as her, commenting from her log in as her.

        This is beyond creepy bc I see someone posting I know is dead

        Even beyond the Grave, he’s still controlling her thoughts and actions. Which is prob what my mother would have been doing to her if she hadn’t died

        I wish I could have the philosophical attitude you have Ursula. And even a fraction of the insight

        So glad this blog is here for me

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        1. Thank you very much for sharing πŸ™‚

          There are certain aspects of my own story, especially what is going on right now in RL, which I have not shared. Aspects which tie in with your story about your sister and her husband. How a narcissist deals with the death of their spouse. I haven’t shared this part of my story, although I sometimes allude to it, in comments in particular, because sorting through the confusion and complications which a narcissist creates, and putting it into words, cohesive words, can be challenging. A challenge which is worth taking, but often this has to been done afterwards. As it is happening… that is much harder to express. Hindsight is helpful in putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but hindsight can only happen afterwards. It’s wisdom can only be accessed later. Once the storm has passed.

          Last night I was tossing and turning trying to figure my present situation out, trying to sort through what was me and what was the narcissist, and what I could do to get the situation I’m in with a narcissist resolved. How much am I making things worse than they need to be, and how much is me knowing that the narcissist does not like to resolve problems because then the drama they love so much ceases to exist and so does their persona. It’s a puzzle which looks like an Escher sketch.

          An important part of sorting this out in a way which is healthy for me and others involved (not the narcissist, since they don’t perceive healthy the same way, they think they’re the healthy one and everyone else is ‘insane’ and the problem) is to snap myself out of identifying as an ACoN. That is part of who I am, whom I have been, but it is not who I am. It is not my identity. If I think that is my identity, then I am destined to play this situation out as a pawn in the narcissist’s chess game. I might as well just give them the win (that can sometimes work as a tactic but not in this case – at least I don’t think it will work in this case, however it is an option under consideration).

          My ‘philosophical attitude’ is, underneath how it may appear to others, a coping mechanism for me. I need to remain detached, yet also be aware of my attachment. I have to navigate between my version of reality and the narcissist’s version of reality, as well as keep in mind ‘outsiders’ version of my reality and the narcissist’s reality. This situation I’m in involves lawyers – and their version of reality is making things far more tricky to navigate and work out because… well sometimes I see narcissistic behaviour everywhere (it – narcissist-coloured glasses – comes with the ‘kit’ of growing up surrounded by narcissists).

          The other night, during the tossing and turning trying to figure this mess out, I had a glimpse of how I was only a few years ago versus how I am now. Sometimes I forget because of being so focused on the here and now, how not so long ago I was balls deep in not having figured much out. Still trapped, in spite of going NC for years, in the Narc family dynamic, still playing my ‘role’, still reacting to the narcissists and their games. Still tangled up in their web, their Gordian Knot.

          Nothing is black or white, even when it appears that way.

          I may seem like I have things figured out, like I’m copacetic. That’s only partly true. It’s one of many influences.

          So be gentle with yourself. Don’t judge yourself. See what you’ve done, understand yourself, give credit where it is due to yourself, and cut yourself slack where you still have a way to go. Treat yourself with loving compassion.

          You’re a beautiful soul experiencing your life in living colour. Sometimes we don’t see ourselves as a beautiful soul… and sometimes we do πŸ™‚

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          1. Thinking of you Ursula, I am living a similar patch to yours, accompanied by the same doubts and feelings. Take care, big hug.

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            1. Thank you very much, big hugs to you too ❀

              Our stories have some very uncanny similarities.

              Il sistema legale… la famiglia… dammi una lametta che mi schioppo le vene (Rettore – 1982) πŸ˜‰

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              1. Mi fai ridere con i tuoi riferimenti canori!!! Ecco perchΓ© non credo al karma: non posso essere cosi’ cretina da aver scelto una famiglia da incubo come la mia!!!!.Sapessi come ti capisco.Ti abbraccio xxx

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                1. Sometimes, when I play with the idea that I chose my parents before I was born, I imagine how the conversation about the choice went, and I can hear myself being overly confident/very foolish. I’m one of those fools who rushes in where angels fear to tread, and only realise my error after I’ve rushed in. I remind myself of that tendency every time I face a choice, however if I try to be more cautious/less foolish I can’t make a decision, and eventually I just go ‘Fuck it!’ and charge in. I also know that I tend to make things harder for myself than they need to be, yet when I try to make things easier… I can see how I brought all of this on myself.

                  I often call myself an idiot… sometimes I hear it as a compliment, a term of endearment, and I’m rather pleased with myself for being such an idiot. That ‘name-calling’ usually occurs right after I ask myself – Why the eff did I do that!?! – which is akin to saying – Here’s another fine mess I’ve gotten myself into!

                  I’m a bit of a Laurel and Hardy, with some Harold Lloyd throw in. And when everything goes tits up, I can hear the Harold Lloyd theme tune playing “Hooray for Harold Lloyd, da dat da dat da dat da da dah!”

                  So, I know that I was/am cretina enough da aver scelto una famiglia come la mia! πŸ˜‰

                  ❀

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          2. Thank you for the encouragement. I posted a few weeks ago, under a different log-in, about the entire mess that ensued when my sister contacted me after years of being absent from my life in order to re-connect at at the time she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was always telling me she had ‘a perfect life and a perfect marriage’ and her husband was a prince. This husband #4 was so threatened by her attention to me, that he asked my sister tell me to fly back cross country after i had just flew out there at his request, because he needed time alone with her.

            When i got home, he had blocked me from the little facebook page they used on her health updates, he had blocked me from her cell phone as she was very medicated and wouldn’t notice. He had told the few people there that my sister introduced me to there that kept in touch with me that ‘we no longer got along’ and ‘it was her wish not to speak with me’, which was far from the truth. I left because my sister told me she was afraid he was going to have a breakdown if he couldn’t be alone with her. I think i told you she even sent me a beautiful gift through one of those friends.

            I was not notified of the funeral and while i’m not wrangling with lawyers, there were a few very special childhood things i sent to her during her illness that were very special to me, that she wanted to return to me. I do not even know where her remains are.

            It’s not so much that I judge myself. Even though i know this is the work of the narcissist and a very deranged person, all of this still really hurts. The smear campaign, the inability to say goodbye at the very end, to lose those few tiny special things from my childhood that aren’t even worth $10. It’s as though he’s erased me. This is all stuff I have read happen to ‘other people’. I did the right thing when she contacted me but then i knew i was probably walking smack into a buzz saw.

            But i feel sadness about the other stuff i ‘missed out on’ for lack of a better word by being raised by Narcissistic parents. I know it does no good to keep thinking, well, if i didn’t have the childhood experience i had, i might have had a happy marriage. Or if the internet was here twenty years sooner, and i had all of this info, maybe i could not wasted years in all of those dead ends.

            I have achieved a lot in my life time and yet I am still filled with this very core loneliness. Sometimes I still doubt my own ‘loveability’. Not the sort of thing i try to fill with other people because i know its not the answer, but its that same very alone feeling i had as a child being passed around when i was no longer of interest, or ignored, or afraid to ask for what i needed because who knew what kind of response that might bring. I still have that desire for recognition, for feeling heard, and i can not seem to figure out or understand what ‘healthy’ thing might fulfil it. Like when i see you writing or taking pictures.

            And her husband, this jerk, is just one more of these people in my life but it’s re-opened this very deep wound. Even though i know that i am not that person and i’ve done nothing wrong but run into a narcissist, it still evokes some sense of shame in me – like maybe I did something to some how deserve some of what’s happening. I have to struggle with all of it and reconvince my self, ‘it’s them, it’s not me’ and a little voice says ‘are you sure it’s not you? . I hope this makes sense.

            I hope you will in time be able to write a little bit about when a narcissist loses a hostage, I mean a spouse. I love this blog Ursula and what you’ve given me here. Thank you.

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            1. I recognised your story and remember it and the conversation we had about it. And you did mention the gift, in fact that detail stood out. The gesture was beautiful on many levels.

              It is true that even when we know we are dealing with a narcissist, we still find it hard to deal with a narcissist. Even when we are consciously aware of how they operate, and expect their crazy behaviour, it can still be frustrating and confusing to accept it, understand it. Part of the problem lies with cognitive dissonance, with our minds trying to bring logic to what seems illogical, trying to make sense of the situation, a situation which overflows with nonsense, trying to adjust to the conflicting realities which are clashing and in some ways threatening to tear us apart.

              It’s hard enough to try and figure things out for ourselves, to explain things to ourselves, it becomes even harder to explain it to others, especially if others don’t have the personal points of reference and experience which we do. A part of the loneliness comes from this, because a part of love comes from understanding, from feeling understood. When you know that someone else understands, you feel connected to someone else and no longer alone. A little less alone. When you know that no one else understands, it’s as though there is a wasteland around you and civilisation is everywhere but here. You try to cross the wasteland, but it moves with you keeping the populated world always distant from you, that world which you can only imagine and the way you imagine it to be hurts deeply, everyone together, loving each other, if only you could be a part of it.

              That world is a mirage.

              The world made up of all the things which you are missing out on is a mirage.

              The world made up of all the things which you ‘missed out on’ is a mirage.

              The core loneliness which you feel connects you with every human on earth. The real world is made up of lots of lonely people hanging out together yet feeling alone. We all feel it because it is part of the human experience, even the ‘happiest’ people feel that core loneliness, they just deal with it their own way, as we all do. That loneliness is part of what makes us individual. To be individuals we need to feel separate from others – that’s a purpose of loneliness, to make us feel our separateness. Another part of the human experience is to want to connect and merge with others – loneliness serves a purpose in pushing us to do this. We can’t get rid of the loneliness because we need it, however we can alter how we experience it. We do that by broadening our perspective of it, seeing the many sides of being alone, the positive sides as well as the negative sides, and the areas where negative and positive merge.

              One of the puzzles which being alone poses is that it makes us think we’re alone in being alone, that no one else feels as alone as we do, no one else in the world knows how to feel alone except us. We make a fortress out of it and then can’t see beyond our own walls. And if we can’t see out, then surely no one can see in. So they won’t know we’re lonely, yet we wish they would and would rescue us, or help us to rescue ourselves.

              The problem this poses is that it’s often a narcissist who comes to the rescue like a knight in shining armour. They recognise our loneliness, they have a radar for it, because they know the feeling well. It’s the one feeling they feel strongly. Narcissists are spurred by the terror of being alone, they can only see its frightening side, and so they behave like terrorists, taking people hostage and forcing their hostages to keep them company so that they don’t have to be alone. And Stockholm Syndrome sets in. As far as the narcissist is concerned, that’s love. That’s not having to ever be alone.

              It is them and not you, however because they do not distinguish between themselves and you, because narcissists see other people as extensions of themselves and not as separate individuals, they blur the lines between them and you, and their confusion confuses you. Since you grew up with narcissists you are trained to think what is them is you and what is you is them. That’s why reminding yourself that it’s them and not you is a struggle.

              Narcissists are not the only ones who blur the lines between us and them. Projection is a human trait. It serves a healthy purpose but with a narcissist it is in its unhealthy form.

              When your sister’s husband ‘erased you’ – that’s how narcissists deal with threats to their version of reality. They pretend you don’t exist. He’s afraid of you. He’s projected his fear onto you. His fear of losing your sister, his fear of being alone. Since narcissists never face their fears but fears are the spur for their actions and words, they react to fear and often do it with great hostility. If you don’t exist then neither does the fear which you represent for him. It’s him and not you, but it appears the other way around because that’s how narcissists operate. They blame you for their problem. You become the problem. And they ‘solve’ the problem by getting rid of it, getting rid of you. Then they close their eyes so they can’t see you, stick their fingers in their ears and shout very loudly so they can’t hear you. Problem solved. For the narcissist. Problem created for you.

              You probably won’t be able to get the mementos which you gave your sister back. The more you try to get them back, the more he’ll hold onto them for dear life. Because that means they are valuable, and narcissists are treasure seekers and hoarders. Think of him as Golum and those mementos are the one ring.

              Perhaps you can let go of those mementos and see your sister’s gift to you, which she took such care to get to you, which holds a private message for you, as being a new and precious memento, one which is representative of the now rather than the then. Sometimes we have to give something up to get something, sacrifice what was precious for what is precious now.

              Dealing with narcissists always requires a sacrifice on our part, but not all sacrifices which we make need to benefit them, sometimes they benefit us rather than them, sometimes they free us from them.

              Best wishes, take care of yourself, be compassionate with yourself ❀

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