WANTED – Adult Children of Narcissists for a survey

Narcissist parent

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PLEASE NOTE – This survey has been re-opened and is available throughout the month of June 2015 for those wanting to participate in it. You can find it here – Parental Communication Measurement Study

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What do you tell other people about your childhood?

Do you edit it, rewrite it, make it sound normal or tell it like it was?

What do you tell yourself about your childhood?

Do you remember it well? Do your memories of it make you smile or would you prefer to forget it happened, but can’t because it influences your adulthood?

How do you describe your parents to others?

The way they want to be described or the way you experienced them – is that the same thing or different? Or the way others, friends, acquaintances and strangers, want you to describe them for their benefit, but not yours?

Do you speak about your relationship with them openly or keep it to yourself, hiding the truth behind a facade of what is expected of you, how others expect a child to talk about their parents?

What was your relationship with your parents like? Did you feel supported, encouraged, safe, wanted, loved, free to be yourself or is that an ideal, a dream which you fantasised about but knew would never come true, would never be a reality?

Are you honest with yourself about it or do you lie to yourself, hoping that it will make it all better?

Do you question it? Your memories, your versions, their memories and versions? Does your questioning frighten you or others, especially your parents?

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the narcissist parent's worries versus yours

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When did you first suspect that your parents were not normal, that how they treated you was off in some way, not right, that there was something wrong with the family picture and it wasn’t you?

Was it something your parents said, or perhaps didn’t say, something in the way that they communicated with you or in the way that they did not communicate with you?

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The Daily Post asks today in its daily prompt: ProudWhen was the last time someone told you they were proud of you?

If you’re the child of a narcissist parent, this kind of question hurts, truly, madly and deeply. But you put on a brave face when you answer it as you don’t want to disturb anyone.

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don't bother people

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The Daily Post also recently asked WordPress bloggers to share their concept of Scale in their weekly photo challenge. I’ve already done that in a previous post, so perhaps I shouldn’t link to it in this one… but sometimes I override my natural tendency to respect boundaries (due to knowing how awful it is when people don’t respect them) and trespass, because sometimes that’s how you get attention for something which matters (and how you get attention for things which don’t matter too, but…).

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t… when you’re sailing through the Scylla and Charybdis, the rock and the hard place (besides The Daily Post doesn’t mind or care what I do with their prompts… at least that’s the impression it gives).

Some photos are images which we carry in our mind’s eye. Abstract yet real. Some scales are real, and others are abstract… some start off abstract to one day become real.

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There is a survey which is a part of an educational and official study being conducted at the moment to create a scale that will help people to identify Narcissist Parents.

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Parental Communication Measure StudyPlease note the survey ended on 28th of February, 2015.

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This study requires the participation and input of Adult Children of Narcissists (ACoNs) – you have to be 18 years of age or older to participate. It wants to know about your experience, it wants you to tell it like it is and was for you. How it has affected you and still affects you. You are the centre of attention here, not your narcissist parent. Your version of reality is what matters, not theirs.

It is the brainchild of Valerie Coles, Ph.D. and Dr. Jennifer Monahan of the University of Georgia’s Department of Communication Studies.

They have been contacting the Adult Children of Narcissists (ACoNs) who blog about their experiences asking us to spread the word and kindly request the participation of all the Adult Children of Narcissists out there (many of whom are still silent but sometimes read our blogs) to help them create a practical and recognised means which may help them and other children of narcissists identify their parents as narcissists.

This is not an easy thing to do – to identify your parent or parents as a narcissist and yourself as a child of narcissists. It’s a self-analysis and label of identification which others don’t always recognise, our ticket may never be validated. This study is hoping to ease what is very difficult, and to make it mainstream rather than on the fringes.

If you’ve ever wondered about your parents… this study may create the means to know, to turn a wondering into a certainty, and thus answer your questions, those ones you ask but don’t know how to answer or who can help you to answer them.

Your voice counts, you may have always thought otherwise due to growing up with narcissists who silenced you, controlled and censored you, made you silence, control and censor yourself, your voice, and often used others to do it, and others did it… the tide is turning, now is our time to speak out and create change.

We can use our own experience to inform others, and maybe our pain will find a purpose beyond ourselves, perhaps even making this a more understanding and empathic world, one where we no longer need to hide ourselves behind smiles and tell others we are fine, our parents were perfect and there is no problem.

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bill hicks - fake smiles and bs

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Your anonymity will be preserved and respected.

Should you wish to discuss any concerns which you may have, or ask questions, or anything else, please feel free to contactΒ Valerie Coles, Ph.D. and/or Dr. Jennifer Monahan. Their emails are available by following those links – please be respectful, they’re people too, and as far as I can tell neither of them is a narcissist. I have been informed that Dr. Jennifer Monahan is an ACoN.

They are pioneers in some ways, needing our help, our support and encouragement in exploring and bringing awareness to the territory of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). To that part of it which often gets dismissed because it strays into other territories which are uncomfortable for everyone – the parent/child relationship.

I spoke with Valerie Coles and expressed some of the concerns which I had, mostly being that the more ‘introverted’ ACoNs might be reluctant and reticent to participate without knowing what they were getting themselves into. Being overly cautious is something ACoNs learn to be. And many ACoNs are still trying to decide if they are indeed ACoNs or not.

One of the hardest things that an Adult Child of Narcissists has to do is to identify their parent or parents as a narcissist. It is hard for many reasons.

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stop punishing yourself - silver kick

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Valerie Coles was understanding, sensitive and thoughtful, and generously shared the survey’s questions with me – asking me not to share them publicly as this might affect the results. It is a respectful and informative survey. The questions are not invasive of your boundaries, of you or your experience. They are also not particularly triggering – however that is just my take on them. Answering the survey may help you to figure things out. Should you at any time wish to opt out, you can do so.

A financial incentive of sorts is offered. I did mention that this is sometimes how narcissist parents often get their children to cooperate with them. It is entirely optional and only there for you if you would like to participate in that part of it.

The choice is yours. You are in control. You are being offered the opportunity to make your painful experience have another meaning, turn it into something which may eventually become a healing, validating and acknowledging experience for you and others. But don’t worry if you choose not to participate, the world is not on your shoulders, nor is it your responsibility – take care of yourself, respect yourself, look after your own needs first and foremost.

This is an opportunity which is worth taking, but if you want to miss it, that’s okay too. It is a sign that things are shifting, the balance is redressing itself and doing so in our lifetime. It’s copacetic, and so is what you decide to do. Be gentle with yourself.

There are no guarantees, but every step we take towards a more healthy way of relating is, perhaps, worth taking even if we don’t know where the path leads.

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honour thy children

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I am still trying to decide whether to participate in the survey myself. So if you’re dithering… me too. I’m sure many ACoNs can relate to that kind of waffling.

To those who did not grow up with narcissists this can seem bizarre – Just do it – they might say and we might feel bad about ourselves for being anxious about something which is designed to be helpful, we might even talk to ourselves like our narcissist parents did – we tend to do that as we have internalised their voices. Do we choose to listen to them or to ourselves? Do we do what someone else wants us to do, tells us to do or do what we want to do?

The lexicon of a child of narcissists is very different from that of those who grew up in a world of origin not populated by narcissists. Parents who were/are narcissists coloured the landscape with their version of reality and of us and everyone else, and often coloured outside the lines in a way which keeps us trapped even when we are adults (even when they are no longer alive).

There’s a whole section of the lexicon devoted to pointlessness. Our voice won’t matter, no one will hear it, no one cares even if they say they do (perhaps more so when they say they do – never trust someone who tells you they care or are interested in you) is listening anyway unless we tell them what they want to hear and then we’re not listening because… you know.

To survive our childhood, our parents, our family environment, we created coping mechanisms. Many of these were ones which in some ways were given to us by very damaged children masquerading as adults who happened to be our parents, but often felt to us as though they were our children, ones whom we had to care for while we were still children, whose needs pushed our own out of the way and demanded attention, immediate fulfillment. Our needs were irrelevant compared to theirs… and this becomes a theme of our lives.

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parentification

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We were encouraged, supported, made to feel safe, wanted and loved only when we did what they wanted us to do for them, said what they wanted us to say, in other words everything was conditional (conditioned by them) and we were bullied, manipulated and brainwashed by our narcissist parents. 24/7. Our purpose in life was and is to look after them, cater to their needs, protect them even if we have to sacrifice ourselves to do it.

We were hostages in a never-ending hostage situation with no SWAT team or authority of any benevolence towards us sort, there were no heroes coming to our rescue. The world outside of our family unit did not know what was going on on the inside (and didn’t want to know). Narcissist parents make sure of that, they always appear perfect, get admired for their amazing parenting skills and get sympathy for having such problematic children.

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narcissist parents

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And even if someone on the outside noticed that the perfect family picture was a lie, even if they saw the big, sad and haunted eyes of the children (our eyes crying silently for help, but not expecting anyone to help or even notice)… what could they do about it? If they acted on it the narcissist parents would demolish, discredit and discard them. Society would support them in this. And, perhaps worse still, the child that we were would also reject them to protect our parents because that’s what we were trained to do, our survival depended upon it. We had Stockholm Syndrome deeply rooted within our psyche.

Even if we did speak out against the way we were being treated, the truth would soon be silenced. Narcissist parents always have contingency plans in place to enforce their law, their control and censorship. They recruit others to help them with it, voluntarily and involuntarily, consciously and unconsciously – the involuntary and unconscious ones are far worse because they think they’re doing the right thing and are oblivious to the wrong of it and what that inflicts. We are one of their recruits too and ultimately we end up always enforcing their law, consciously and unconsciously, voluntarily and involuntarily, partly due to learning painfully that the world outside prefers the false reality of the narcissist parents and the world inside is dominated by them.

There are many reasons why the world outside does that, why others always seem to support the narcissist parent’s version of reality, the illusion over what is really there. It’s a chaotic world and that frightens people, they want order even if the order is so much worse than the chaos.

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Narcissistic order and communication style

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The chaos of the outside world in some ways pales compared to the chaos of the inside world when your inside world is governed by narcissists. In the end… if you can’t beat them, join them. This is something which we often find ourselves doing, sometimes becoming narcissists of a sort like them because it’s easier than trying to fight the tide, swim against the current. The life of a child of narcissists is a constant experience of living in between, falling through the cracks, repeating patterns, of self-betrayal which can be very hard to stop. We were trained to do that from the moment we took our first breath, entered the world of the narcissist and became their property.

It can take us a long time to finally face the truth. It can be the most exhausting battle of our lives, a life full of battles and the scars which go with it, scars which are rarely visible to anyone but us. It can also be an extremely liberating experience… until we try to speak our truth to others.

A child, whether they are still a child or adult, especially if they are an adult, must never speak against their parents, even if they speak the truth – perhaps especially if they speak the truth.

The truth will set you free… unless you live in a world of narcissists. But the urge to speak out, to tell our story, voice our truth is always there… even if we only say it silently to ourselves.

Now others want to hear it and use it in a way which may not be used against us for a change… Take the survey. Or don’t. But consider it… maybe you can be a part of a shift, one which you’ve dreamed of but never thought would happen. Just do it… or not. It’s there if you want to do it, you can try it out and then back out of it… give it a go, but do it for yourself.

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be a voice not an echo.

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Take care of yourselves!

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