When I was about 13 years old, my mother and I took a trip to New York City.
The reason for the trip was so that my mother could check up on my father’s business partners in one of his latest ventures. He had a habit, according to my mother, of getting involved with dubious people, and then leaving my mother to tidy up the resulting mess which inevitably occurred.
My mother often exaggerated the negative aspects of my father to accentuate her positive side, or at least her concept of her positive side – the worse he was, the more saintly she seemed.
Her exaggerations weren’t always based on fiction.
My father would have an idea, sometimes a good one, but he didn’t want to deal with the practical details of it, so he’d find someone else to make it happen, turn it into reality, run the business side of it. His choice of partners was based on whim rather than research and references, and his whim had a tendency to choose the most unsuitable person for the job. His ability to do that was phenomenal.
Things would progress in a crooked line until… at some point he would wash his hands of it because it all went wrong and he would move on to something else.
Except in business you can’t just walk away when it doesn’t work out. Well, he could, but…
That’s when my mother would step in. She saw herself as a ‘fixer’. I used to call her Mrs. Fix-it. Except she wasn’t particularly good at fixing things. She was about as talented as my father was when it came to finding crooked candidates to deal with the practical side of business.
Why were they both so gifted at finding the worst people to help them with business matters?
Because they were both narcissists, and narcissists tend to be attracted to other narcissists and similar disorders when it comes to business matters. Those who sell snake oil, miracle cures, overnight success at a reasonable price, instant riches just by pressing a button, magical beans in a world where magic beans don’t grow… but they’ll grow for a narcissist – at least in their mind they will, because they’re special and they have a Master’s degree in the power of positive thinking. If they think it – it will happen.
Those princes who turn into frogs when you kiss them and those beautiful princesses who are witches in disguise, are the ones most likely to be chosen by a narcissist as a business partner.
When everything doesn’t work out as they positively thought it would, as their ideal had it working out, when their house gets blown down – it’s not their fault, the blame gets handed over to the big bad world of others.
The trip to NYC took place during the in-between stage – that time just before my father washed his hands of another cock-up leaving my mother to tidy it up. My father’s business partners had not quite changed form yet, they still had their attractive masks on, however the masks had slipped a bit. There was an issue which had reared its ugly in the land of beauty which my mother was there to sort out.
Everyone was still in ‘being nice’ mode, and to prove this everyone decided that we should all nice each other to death and socialise as though it was a best friends forever reunion.
My father’s business partners were a couple who had a daughter a few years older than me. My mother and this couple decided that their daughter and I should hang out with each other. Both of us hated this idea. Me, because I was painfully shy. She, because she was a teenager who didn’t want to do what her parents told her to do (and I was younger, therefore… yuk). However we both gave in and did what we were nagged into submission to do.
Surprisingly we got along, and grudgingly admitted that it wasn’t so bad to hang out. I wasn’t as young as she thought I was, she wasn’t as old as she thought she was, or as extroverted as this introvert found intimidating. She introduced me to her lovely best friend, and the three of us went on adventures around NYC without adults, and without the adults seeming to care about where we were, what we were doing, and what time we got back from whatever we were up to as long as we didn’t bother them.
One day the couple suggested that they take the three of us to The Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in New Jersey. I almost exploded from excitement. I loved theme parks, perhaps because I rarely got to go to them or maybe it was because… I was a normal child (cough, cough).
The couple made arrangements with my mother. The outing was planned amongst the adults, itinerary shared, details sorted, and so on. My mother seemed perfectly fine with me going, playing the tune of the wonderful mother, and so… off I went.
It was a superb day, intensely fun, and of course the three teens did not want to leave when the time to leave came. One more ride, just a few minutes longer, pleeeaaaasssseee! The adults agreed to give us a bit more fun time, and so…. when I was dropped off back at the hotel where my mother and I were staying, it was about an hour or so later than the time my mother was expecting me to return.
This was before everyone had mobile phones.
As I crossed the threshold of the door into the room, I was not prepared for the roller coaster ride waiting for me on the inside. None of the usual warning signs had been posted.
My mother exploded the moment she saw me, unleashing one of her tirades. Her words were like the water rushing down the steep slope of a water ride, hitting the sides of the tube, echoing, splashing, gushing, roaring. She had almost called the police, she thought I’d been kidnapped! Just wait until I had kids! She hoped they’d do to me what I had done to her! Did I not realise how worried she would be!?! How dare I do this to her! Was I trying to make us miss our flight back home tomorrow!
That last bit floored me more than any of the other things she screamed at me and accused me of, especially as it eventually became the most important point of her tantrum. There was no logic to it at all – how was my being an hour or so late this afternoon going to affect catching a plane the following morning? And why did she agree to let me go out today if it was going to ruin tomorrow in some way?
The answer to that and the real reason for her psycho mood was – she was stressed out, had been throughout our entire stay, and it had finally reached its breaking point. She’d had time alone to work herself into a very thick frothing at the mouth – and as usual I was her lightning rod.
My being late gave her the excuse she needed to justify her explosion, but she’d have found some other valid reason if I’d returned on time. The fact that I had a beaming smile on my face and looked genuinely happy when I came in the room… that would have been enough to set her off even if I had come back an hour earlier than expected. The only thing which might have mitigated things was if I had had a miserable time, but… she’d have gone off on one anyway, using my misery as the match to a fuse of her bomb.
When a narcissist has a tantrum, it’s because they want and need to have a tantrum – what set them off is rarely if ever what they claim set them off. It’s not about you, it is always about them. When they are ready to blow, they blow – and you could not have stopped it from happening, doing things differently simply changes that for which they blame you. However they need to use you to set the explosion off.
Why was my mother really angry at me?
Because I had betrayed her.
How had I betrayed her?
I’d had fun with people she hated.
Why did she hate these people?
Because she’d found out that they had been embezzling funds from the business, and one of the things the embezzled money had been used for was a boob job.
She hated them because she had forced herself to be nice to them, to kill them with kindness. That was one of her things – killing those she loathed with kindness. It never worked, yet she did it anyway thinking that it worked, and then hating them when they didn’t die from being niced by her.
She hated them because… she hated my father.
She hated me too because… I was just like my father.
She hated my father because… he was never grateful to her for all that she did and had done for him in the name of (obsessive) love.
The biggest thorn was that she had perjured herself in court for him (which completely ruined her perfect persona – a saint is not supposed to lie), and instead of him grovelling with gratitude, kissing her toes, worshiping at her altar forever and ever amen… he walked away from the court case, was found to be in contempt of court, had an arrest warrant issued, and dealt with that by deciding he never needed to return to that country because he hated that country anyway.
He hated that country because… it didn’t bow down to him as it was supposed to.
He hated my mother because… she didn’t bow down to him and his will as she was supposed, and she was a nag, and stupid.
He hated me because… I was just like my mother.
They hated because… Narcissists love to hate. Hate, in many ways, is love for them.
Once my mother had finished spewing her lava all over me, she dismissed me and turned her attention onto the couple. She called them and gave them earfuls of spleen, then called my father to let him know what his daughter had done… or was it what had been done to his daughter… or what had been done to her… or what he had done to himself by choosing such corrupt partners who were laughing all the way to the bank.
The couple called my father to let him know that nothing was their fault. My mother was a crazy bitch. I was a stupid brat.
Why was I a brat according to them?
Because I had forced them (at invisible gunpoint, maybe) to stay at the theme park longer than they had wanted to. I hadn’t been the only one to request to stay, but I was the only one whose request made them a brat. Apparently the adults could not say no to me because I was ‘special’, as in they were sucking up to me to suck up to my father, and keep him where they needed him to be – foolish cash cow central.
This roller coaster of a story ride went on for months, with more and more people queuing up to ride on it. My mother’s car was fairly empty compared to my father’s car which was full of all the sycophants (or psycho-fans) that he collected and managed to keep in his ‘flying monkey’ fold. My mother didn’t need a full car… and since she regularly threw riders out of it, people were less willing to get in it.
What about me in all of this?
Well, it wasn’t about me, I was just a prop. I knew that by then, so I just stayed quiet. Which was in some ways a bonus as I got to witness how a simple story was blown out of all proportion and lost all meaning because it meant something different to every person who weighed in on it and changed it to suit their needs, their version of reality.
I’d never witnessed it in quite that way before, been able to hold on to my version of events, because I used to be more prone to getting caught up in it (it’s very difficult not to get caught up in their crazy web), losing myself in it, and in believing that it somehow concerned me because I was central to it… but that was not the case, just because I was being used as a central character did not mean that I was a central character.
You’re just a writing prompt people use to create a story.
In all of the drama which unfolded, not once did I hear anyone say about me – that I was a child being a child, and that maybe the adults involved needed to be adults.
You’re never allowed to be a child in the land of narcissists and its inhabitants… but you can be a sacrificial lamb to save them all from ever having to grow up while pretending they’re all growed up.
The funny thing about this is… I still liked theme parks, and one of those played an important part in my life later on, which eventually helped me to escape the narcissistic roller coaster ride.
Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with your parents 😉
Thank you 🙂
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Profound. So happy for you that you managed to escape the narc roller coaster ride. It can’t be easy being a child of narc parents where you can’t just walk away. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Thank you 🙂
My mother liked to tease me about a habit I had when I was about 5 of packing a small suitcase, walking out of the house, up the drive to the gate and staring out at the road beyond. I knew that I couldn’t leave, and if I did I’d just be returned by well-meaning adults, but it was nice to pretend that I could.
Leaving a narcissistic family is difficult, narcissist parents think they own their children, and they never let you go. You sort of have to go into your own version of the witness protection program.
One of the hardest parts is learning to deal with other people judging you for cutting ties with your parents. If I had a penny for every person who said to me – “…but your parents love you, how can you do that to them!” – I’d be minted. And narcissist parents are always using that one to suck you back into the family. My mother used The Samaritans once to get me back. My father used to like to call me up and claim he was going to kill himself. When you share this kind of story with people who’ve never seen the dark side of a narcissist, they tend to think that you’re making it up, or they think you deserved to be treated that way because you probably were a brat and they feel sympathy for your parents.
With distance a lot of what happened in the past is humorous, a bit like a French farce. I can now understand why people didn’t believe me when I tried to tell them about my family life. It does seem completely ridiculous.
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There are plenty of people reading your story who can relate and empathize. Thanks for speaking up!
Thank you very much 🙂
That was brave. Narcs suck and I’m so sorry you had to be raised by them.
Thank you 🙂
When you grow up with narcs it takes a long while to realise just how crazy your family is, and that not all families are like that, especially as narc families tend to be insular.
When you’re very young, narc parents can be fun (which mitigates the not fun side as a child lives in the moment, and quickly forgives and forgets) because they’re the same age as you are. But then you start growing up and they don’t, never do – so it’s a bit Lord of the Flies. By the time it you really begin to understand what a nightmare it is, you’re used to a lot of it, and tangled up in it.
One of the tricky parts is dealing with others who are outside looking in and thinking how lucky you are, because narc families tend to have an appealing surface veneer. Say anything about your family which doesn’t go with what it appears to be and people don’t believe you because they’re believing what they’re seeing and what they’re seeing is what the narcs want them to see, as well as what they want to see.
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Oh my. I don’t know what to say except that I’m so glad that you’re able to tell us about your upbringing.
Thank you 🙂
There’s distance now between me and all of that, so it’s quite intriguing to review it with detachment. Telling it helps me to understand why no one ever believed me when I shared this kind of occurrence. It sounds ludicrous. To me ludicrous was normal. That kind of story was a common, I’ve got a lot of them, the difference with that one was that I experienced it at the time more from the outside than on the inside. I didn’t take it as personally as I usually did. So I was able to see how much it was like being in a rather bad soap opera. Drama, drama, drama. It was also when I realised just how much the drama my parents created actually attracted people. It’s why people love watching soap operas, or reality shows like Real Housewives, only with my parents people could actually be in the soap opera, on a reality TV show. They could be a part of the drama, and even stir it up by adding to it.
Of course you were not told that you were just a child being a child, because A. you were most likely a child forced to be an adult, B. they were too busy acting like children to realize that you actually were one, and C. as you mentioned, none of it ever had anything to do with you, which kinda nullifies both A and B, and leaves you with D. none of the above–that which does not exist
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Thank you 🙂
The child of narcissists = that which does not exist*
*conditions apply but those conditions are always changing based on the narcissists’ whim.
You’re a child when they need you to be a child. You’re their parent more often than not, but you’re not their parent (even though they put you in that role) so STFU thing which doesn’t exist except when they need you to exist and even then – figment of their fantasy. The earth beneath your feet is made of quicksand.
You’ve got great insight!
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“”One of the hardest parts is learning to deal with other people judging you for cutting ties with your parents. If I had a penny for every person who said to me – “…but your parents love you, how can you do that to them!” – I’d be minted. And narcissist parents are always using that one to suck you back into the family.””
This is just so TRUE!. People outside have no idea and think we are the ones being horrible.
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Thank you 🙂
I used to try so hard to be ‘good’ – a good person, a good daughter, a goodie two shoes – but then I realised that required sacrificing the self… completely… being who I was not to be who others needed me to be for them to be who they needed to be (and not just for the narcissists). And it was never ‘good’ enough. So at some point I just said ‘eff it!’ and decided that being the ‘bad’ guy was healthier for me.
If people see me as the ‘villain’ so be it. The older I get, the less I care how people see me, and the more I realise that how I see myself tends to be more relevant.
I did go through a period of telling people that if they felt so sorry for my parents for having such a terrible child, they could take my place, adopt my parents, be the perfect child to my parents, and have my parents as their own, make everything better without me involved. The bad guy was leaving it to the good guys to sort their ideal paradise out. That went down like a meal made of lead with mercury sauce. Because when it came down to it… no one wanted what they told me I should put up with and smile about.
If I had a penny for every self-righteous well-meaning person who lectured me about being a good daughter to my poor misunderstood parents who loved me so much… who then got to know the real side of my parents and ran away screaming… often screaming at me for not warning them even though they were the ones who didn’t listen to my very loud warnings… I’d be doubly minted.
As the saying goes… everyone thinks they’re the exception… and have a frigging impossible cognitive dissonance karmic payback to deal with when they find out that the bad guy was right and the good guys are not good guys at all.
This played out recently in such a way that my eyes almost rolled all the way to Narnia. 😉
As children of narcissists, we know what we know… it takes everyone else several lifetimes to get the gist of it. Perhaps it’s better that way… as it means the world isn’t overrun by narcissists. Then again… who knows!
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“….but then I realised that required sacrificing the self… completely… being who I was not to be who others needed me to be for them to be who they needed to be….”
Yip, I relate to that totally too. Think I’ve mentioned this before but it was in about 2002 when an astrologer friend was looking at my chart and my Chiron/Moon/Saturn conjunction in Pisces in the 7th and she mentioned ‘sacrifice and mother’ and I’d already realised by then ( I think ) that I had a choice to make, her (mother) or me and I chose Me !
“As children of narcissists, we know what we know… it takes everyone else several lifetimes to get the gist of it…..”
Yes we do indeed! I think many people just refuse to see though… they prefer living in denial of the reality of the situation. …… the rest of my family comes to mind LOL
I have Chiron/North Node in 7th. I read somewhere that this was a bit of a nightmarish conjunction until the one who has it figures out how to work with it. I’m guessing having Chiron/Moon/Saturn conjunct in 7th is a similar nightmare until you figure it out. And the 7th makes us figure things out while we’re having one-to-one’s with others. Relationships are are discomfort zone, the area where we have our steepest learning curve.
I once had a businessman tell me in front of my mother that he bet that my mother wished she could have a retroactive abortion. He was trying to get a rise out of me, get me to lose my shit so he could gain some bizarre power play advantage. I was at the time protecting my intensely annoying mother from having to deal with the consequences of yet another one of her eff ups. She was remarkable silent in that instance for her (she who usually had verbal diarrhea), typical of a narc who has failed to predict the flow of their own behaviour and therefore hides behind others to save their boney ass. I just looked at him (with that Pluto/Uranus in the 1st kind of look), and told him he was right and now what? His statement of the obvious was useless unless he was a Time Lord. I’ve never seen a pumped up ego deflate quicker.
Luckily there are a great many lovely people in this world who amply make up for all the narcs and the people who suck up to them. I think those with Chiron in the 7th get to see the worst side of people more often than not, it’s part of our wound and our healing, but when we work through our wound to find the healing things slowly flip around and we get to see the best side of people more often 🙂
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Another great N story. Central casting for sure. Not a fun roller coaster ride.
Thank you 🙂
Wow. Sounds about spot on in many ways. Perfect song and vid to add with. lol At least you found some sense of humour about it. Thanks for sharing.
Humour is very useful 🙂
“They hated because… Narcissists love to hate. Hate, in many ways, is love for them.” -Spot on. So much so this was my mom’s mantra(or similiarish) Growing up she would tell us kids, (after attempting to murder dad) that she knows that she loves dad because she wants to kill him but can’t(he was stronger than her, and also twisted). My sisters drank the proverbial koolaid, and I find it perplexing how they can rationalize such madness, but they do and many will follow them. Thank you for your insightful post.
Thank you very much for sharing 🙂
I’ve been there and done that – rationalised the madness – it’s a survival tactic used by children stuck in a narcissist’s reality, not all children of narcissists adopt this particular tactic but many do, and the madness can seem rational or at least it becomes normal if you don’t have anything else as a reference point. It can be hard to stop doing the raionalising tactic once you’ve started as the world outside of the family can be fairly insane too.
We all cope in our own ways, it can be difficult to understand the coping mechanisms of others. Sometimes we drink the koolaid because it’s easier than refusing to drink it.
Took me a long time to break free, and it required finally finding an environment which didn’t support and sponsor that kind of madness. When I’d tried to escape before, other people thought I was the irrational mad one because weren’t my parents wonderful, those within the family aren’t the only koolaid drinkers, and they were my parents so I had to put up with them because society doesn’t like children who speak out against their parents no matter what your parents do to you.
It can be a confusing experience on so many levels, and sometimes the will to break free gets broken. Maybe one day your sisters will feel safe enough to follow in your footsteps and stop drinking the madness rationalising juice.
Enjoy your freedom, and take care of yourself!
My chest is tight as I read your post and subsequent comments. Uncanny similarities to a situation I’ve allowed myself to be involved in. I have a cousin I suspect is a sociopath, her husband a narcissist, they’re divorcing and their children are being torn and shredded to pieces in the process.
My cousin has surrounded herself with people who are deeply caring – and easily suckered into helping – and she has exploited each one of them. From housing, to food, to even paying for a lawyer, she has gotten people to financially support her. Her husband on the other hand is manipulating the children, saying things like “if you really loved me you’d have called me sooner”, and “I’m so depressed, I think I could do something harmful to myself”. They’ve both been using their children as pawns in their game, and the kids – who’ve already been through unimaginable maternal neglect all their lives – are being further destroyed in the process.
This cousin reached out to me two weeks ago, and I got involved because of the children. They all live in a different state, which helps me keep a safe distance, allowing me enough detachment to recognize their patterns. I will fully admit, I do recognize there’s something about me that gets me to succumb and try to help. She’s not the first sociopath I’ve had seek me out, and I truly need to figure out what vibe I’m putting out there to attract those personalities. But that’s not my question. My biggest curiosity is,
How did you cope?
In hind sight, what do you think was the element that helped you have the strength of mind to recognize your parents created constant chaos, and how did you break the cycle?
I’m in the unique position where I have been a mentor and been providing emotional support to my cousin’s 13 year old daughter. If you had someone reach out to help, what kinds of things do you think would’ve been helpful? I feel that validation is a huge one. Would the recognition of reality made it easier to navigate the situation?
I deeply appreciate your insight and input.
Thank you for sharing 🙂
I had a similar experience the first time I came across someone online whose story had uncanny similarities to mine.
When we’re caught up in a narcissist’s drama, we’re often isolated from others (narcissists rely on this and may create the isolation – they like to keep people separate yet intertwined in the knots they make). They also profit from the fact that most of us react, especially in an ’emergency’ – we don’t have time to think things through, we’re required to act – and most people act on their best instincts.
If someone screams “HELP!” we’re going to instinctively help before we have time to think things through.
You haven’t been ‘suckered’, just as other people like you haven’t been ‘suckered’ into your cousin’s drama. All of you are just being the sort of human being who restores most people’s faith in humanity.
For everyone else on this planet, you’re all living examples of the best of being human. For a narcissist – you’re a ‘sucker’ who they can suck into their drama and then leave you to fight their battles for them with the ‘villains’ they manifested who are most probably someone who is just a damaged (probably by the narcissist… not always) human being, while they go off and create even more of a mess into to which they will try to suck more genuinely kind people into it.
They just don’t get it and never will… they’re the ultimate losers, but somehow they manage to make us feel like losers for caring.
The reason you attract these sort of people is because you’re who they want to be… it’s a curse in a blessing. There is so much which is right with you, and it draws them like a magnet – Your shine is a diamond they want and if they can’t have it neither can you – and if you’re exposed to them for long enough you’ll end up thinking that what is right with you is what is wrong with you.
It’s a paradox worth accepting because you’re awesome for caring, even if it can at times become a cause for regret.
You seem to have a handle on this.
What helped me the most in coping with my parents?
Frankly it was people like you who cared enough to notice me and what I was going through. Who for a second made it about me, gave me a second of attention and actually saw me – not what I meant to them, not as an extension of my parents.
One person gave me a letter to read when I was low, this person was a friend of my parents who had a terrible relationship with their own child due to so many human mess things, but because of that they recognised what was going on and how deeply I was falling into a hell from which I might never emerge, all their letter said was – I love your poem, you’ve got a talent, keep believing in it. No one had ever said that to me. I just wrote poems to express my angst in code. I thought what I wrote was shit… this made me think again
If your parents are narcissists… it’s all about them, you don’t exist. So when someone actually sees you… it can be immensely life-changing.
Ultimately though, you can’t rely on anyone for your own identity.
Bottom line – get to know yourself really well. Accept that you’re human and figure out what that means – it often means that your heart will get you into trouble, you will make more mistakes than you’d like to because you care, and you will be wrong more often than you are right, but that’s okay as long as you’re willing to learn from the experience and cut yourself slack – everyone needs that, if you do it for others, do it for yourself too.
People like narcissists are idealistic perfectionists who punish others for being human because they can’t accept being human – they were deeply hurt for being human a long time ago, they got stuck there, and they decided that they never wanted to be hurt again, so… they don’t want to be human and they hurt others for being that way. They don’t really know what they’re doing even when they do.
My parents were flailing against a past which was eating them alive… and through them it tried to eat me.
How do you break the cycle?
First you have to see it, and it hurts like hell to see it. Then you decide to be responsible for your own experience of life, for your cog in the machine. We get so many opportunities to blame others for our own stuff… it’s so tempting not to claim responsibility but to blame someone else. But the moment you blame someone else for everything you do – you give all the power over to them and you become a helpless victim forever.
There is a balance to be found – You don’t benefit from blaming yourself for everything either. You don’t benefit from blaming them for everything. You need to know where and how you participated in a problem, and where the problem was created by someone else.
It can be tricky… what’s mine, what’s yours, what belongs to everyone, what belongs to no one?
As mentor to the 13 year old daughter of your cousin… consider this – what does she appreciate the most about your presence in her life?
Ask her, she’s a 13 yr old – She’ll either tell you bluntly or do a teenager version of that – you’ve been a teenager, you know the lingo. Just letting her be herself around you is a big source of validation for her.
If you’re up for it, let her tell you at her own pace and in her own time and terms about the reality of her situation – her view will most likely be far bleaker than your view of it. Be prepared for that and don’t try to paint rainbows on it unless she requests that you do that.
Want to know about the world of traumatised teenagers and what they want and really need from adults – ask them and if they won’t tell you because they don’t trust you – explore tumblr and other online outlets they use.
Online… teenagers have a very rich world which adults don’t really get, but it’s a beautifully dark place.
They want to be loved and given a reason to keep living… they’re teenagers so don’t BS them with childish or adult stuff.
A teenager isn’t the same as a child. A teenager is very intelligent, almost too intelligent, more intelligent than adults who have given themselves a lobotomy to get through life, their minds are very active.
If that teenager has shitty irresponsible parents – they’ll have a very jaded view of adults. All adults are full of BS. They’re not wrong. So, if you want to help them, and you’re an adult… they’ve heard that story before from their parents and others who then used it to take advantage of them, to use them, and so on. You’ll have to run a a gauntlet of teenage booby traps. Just shrug and use your experience of being a teenager to navigate it.
What she needs from you is – to just be you with her, be really honest, the kind of honest about yourself which makes your toes curl… and let her do the same with you.
You are someone who just lets her be herself, whatever she she says or does… she’s walking a tightrope between child and adult, she’s not afraid to fall, she’s tempted to fall because after that… nothing. Give her a reason not to fall, but make that reason valuable to her.
She has a million reasons to die, she’s a teenager… give her one to live and it will make all the difference.
These are a couple of articles worth reading even thought hey are written by adults:
Don’t worry about yourself, you’re a good person, your heart is in the right place, sure it has been used against you but that’s because narcissists and people like that are idiots… pay attention to others who really appreciate the way that you are, they’re the ones who matter.
If you want to help others, just be yourself and share what makes you a great person with them – let them know that it’s okay to have a heart, to care – it will get used, but those who use it are a-holes, and don’t let those a-holes turn you into one – show them that those a-holes haven’t been able to do that with you. You can survive the hurt because your heart is strong – show them the heart can live on (corny, I know, but…. why do so many people love that concept?).
The best we can to for others is the best we do for ourselves – when we accept being human, we inspire others to accept being human, and we all get a little faith restored in humanity by doing that… and get to cut ourselves some much needed slack.
I went very dark while trying to cope… it wasn’t until I stopped doing that and just accepted myself as is that things got turned around for me.
This book really helped me – http://andywhiteblog.com/2015/06/23/going-mad-to-stay-sane/ – it explained things for me, and made me stop being so defensive and start being more honest.
Your Cousin’s daughter might like it… it includes mythology, all teens speak that lingo even when they pretend not to.
Find out what she loves, and what style she is – if she’s an introvert, her online and inner life will be a very rich place. Ask her about it, and let her take you on a guided tour.
Give her the ability to be her own hero, don’t try too hard to be one for her – the greatest heroes in our lives show us how to be our own life heroes.
I can relate this to my upcoming divorce. I see my narcissistic husband written in these lines..thank you for that!
Thank you very much for sharing 🙂
Best wishes, take good care of yourself!
I happened upon this article and it speaks volumes to me. I believe my dad to be a narcissist. My mom is in end stages of Parkinson’s and dementia. He is trying to keep her out of nursing home, also because he thinks he will lose everything he worked so hard for. He is very stressed out because he can’t control anything anymore. Most of our childhood, he controlled us with his anger. Mom, too. All of my life, our arguments were the same. He told me who I was, how I was, and in the most harsh ways. This left many a scar on my soul. All my sisters felt the same way. Enter the youngest only son. He got out of a lot of the verbal abuse. In retrospect, us girls probably took out on him the anger we never got to express because it was better to stay silent and take our dad’s tirades. Anyway, brother (age 47) moves back home because of some bad choices he made in his life. Brother doesn’t really help out, though dad is financially supporting him. He hasn’t had to do the hard, awkward stuff like cleaning up mom after accidents, or holding a cup for mom to pee in for Doctor to test her urine…Me, I have been helping for years, even though I have my own family. I call my brother out for not helping and I get some vile words thrown at me. I call him out because my dad was complaining about him to me and Also I had hoped his moving in with them would lighten my load. So, I was frustrated. Now, my dad is trying to make me feel bad for not forgiving my brother for saying those vile words, because said brother is going through so much. I took a break from helping with my mom because I can’t be in that toxic environment. Now, the tirades are worse from my dad. Nothing I say about how I feel gets through. He can not even give my perspective on this situation a thought. His last parting shot amongst others the other day was, we will call you when your mother dies! Guilt trip galore. I feel like I betray myself if I return to help without an apology from my brother. Dad says he has to keep some pride in tact…so my brother will not apologize. I can have compassion and forgiveness, but they are not willing to give an inch, but accuse me of not budging. I can’t win no matter what. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. I don’t know what the right thing to do is. If she should pass, I am sure I will be attacked at the funeral for making her last days harder. My heart burns constantly with stress, and blood pressure is up. Am I the narcissist? Or is my dad? I just don’t know how to fix this with all that has been said now.
Thank you for sharing 🙂
You don’t sound in the least bit like a narcissist – if you’ve found narcissistic traits in yourself these are:
1) normal for all humans, and can be healthy.
They have to be looked at in context, as the context of our behaviour tends to explain the behaviour, and tends to be logical (unless you’re dealing with someone who has NPD).
2) a sign that we’re in pain and stressed out. When we’re in pain we tend to close in on ourselves and become more selfish/narcissistic – this is actually a coping mechanism designed by our system to protect us.
You’re in an extremely stressful position, you’re experiencing a lot of pain from different angles, and you feel alone, unsupported, misunderstood, and even worse, you’re being attacked while you’re vulnerable.
3) often a reaction to dealing with narcissists – they make us behave as badly as they do in an effort to protect ourselves from them.
When dealing with a narcissist sometimes the only defense is to meet their behaviour with a similar behaviour, but non-narcissists tend to feel guilt when they behave that way, whereas narcissists feel totally justified and never question themselves, or experience self-doubt.
You dad does sound like a narcissist, but it’s difficult to tell. His narcissistic behaviour may be due to pain and stress.
I once stayed with a friend and helped her care for her husband who was in the advanced stages of Parkinsons. She never slept, she didn’t have time to process her own feelings, thoughts, all her energy went into caring for her husband, and she also did it at home because she did not want him being cared for by strangers. She was not the nicest person to be around at that time, but her behaviour was completely logical within the context of the situation.
The illness of a loved one, and the incredible helplessness it makes all those around them feel, can be devastating. Watching someone who was once vibrant and alive slowly die kills everyone around them slowly.
So the way that your dad and brother are behaving could be explained by the pain, stress and heartbreak they’re experiencing because of your mother’s illness. Everyone deals with pain differently, some people lash out and cause pain to others, sharing and expressing their pain in a very negative manner.
They’re going through the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance – and they’re unable to see that so are you.
The biggest difficulty here is the fact that your dad and brother are expecting you to do everything which they can’t do. You’ve basically become a surrogate mother/nurse for both of them as well as your mother, and their anger at you is influenced by the intense fear they’re feeling. They’re relying on you to be the glue which holds everything and everyone together, and they can’t allow you to be anything other than the strong one – they can’t listen to your side of the story because it makes them scream inside, so they scream at you to shut you up, hoping it’ll shut the screaming inside of them up too.
From the sounds of it, there is not going to be an easy solution here. Your father and brother are entrenched in their positions. Your brother is never going to apologise, especially as long as you demand an apology. He’s caught up in his own pain and that’s all he can see. Your father is supporting him and their joint intransigence and position against you is bonding them – their individual pain has merged. They’re both feeling very sorry for themselves and that can become an impenetrable wall of justification for bad behaviour.
There is no fixing things at the moment.
The difficult decision you have to make is whether to put up with their male version of hysteria so that you can be there for your mother even if she may be oblivious to everyone at this point. You need to do what is right for you and what you can live with once she dies.
If you choose to stay away because being there is too much of a burden for you to bear alone, and you know you’ll continue to get no support from others, your dad and your brother may get worse in the way they treat you, and this may kill you before your mother dies, then you may have to accept that you will be blamed and accused of all sorts of horrible things at the funeral. People do not get suddenly better when a death brings them together, sometimes they get even worse – the way people grieve is often by attacking others and laying unfounded blame upon them.
The way my mother and my father’s long term partner/mistress behaved after he died was just a continued escalation of the bad behaviour they were exhibiting while he was very ill, and before he got ill.
I was unable to grieve in large part due to having to deal with their antics. Don’t expect anyone to respect your need to grieve too, they’ll be too caught up in how things affect them, what they’re feeling, what they need.
Whether you stay away or go back, they’ll probably behave badly either way – they’re wrapped up in themselves and relieving their stress by picking on you – that is now a coping mechanism for them and it is unlikely to change unless they have an epiphany, which only tends to happen in films.
You could try a different tactic and approach towards them which might change the way they behave towards you, and you could use the fact that you’re exhausted to help you with that. Sometimes being too tired to put up with things can change things, but it may also not change a thing. Sometimes when you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t you get given the choice to do as you please rather than what pleases others because you’ll lose either way, which means that it’s a win either way too.
Staying away or going back has to be a choice you make for yourself. What do you really want to do. And you need to consider the personal consequences for you personally. Which will you regret more – being there and putting up with your dad’s and brother’s bad behaviour just to be there for your mother, or not being there for your mother. Do you mind not being there when she dies, or will you end up picking on yourself for it. Make a choice for yourself, not because of your brother of dad. Don’t let your frustration with them influence what really matters for you.
Have you joined a support group for those with terminally ill loved ones? This might be a helpful experience, as you can discuss your side of the story with those who understand, have been through a similar experience, who will let you speak and will listen, and you may find insight from their stories shared with you.
Have you asked your (other) family – I’m guessing you mean you have a partner and children – what they think and feel about it. Their view of the situation with your mother, dad and brother, and how it has been affecting you might be just what you need to figure out how to handle this. Sometimes those closest to us see us more clearly than we see ourselves, especially when we’re lost in a confusing and painful reality.
At the end of the day the only person your are responsible for is yourself – be gentle with yourself (don’t accuse yourself of being a narcissist, especially not at this time, you’re mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted which is never a good time to pass judgment on yourself), take care of yourself, cut yourself lots of slack, and accept that sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all because you’ve already done everything you can.
Wow, this article makes me grateful for having a good dad anda narcissistic mother who ignored me.
Thank you for sharing 🙂
Being ignored by a narcissist, especially is the narcissist is your mother, can be very painful. There are times when it is more hurtful than having their attention. Either way we lose. But we can still find a way to make it something which makes us stronger and wiser.
Having one non-narcissist parent who loves you makes a big difference and can balance out a lot of the shit your narcissist parent puts you through, and how they affect you. They help you learn to deal with the narcissist parent because they have to deal with a narcissist spouse.
Having a narcissist in our lives can be a very tough and painful challenge. It has many positives to it as well as negatives. And it seems to be something which many people are experiencing. Perhaps your experience can help others 🙂
Your story is beautiful ! I read this story and it’s the way my soon to be ex treats our children. After 15 years I have decided to get out of his flying Monkey Circus to save my 5 and 10 year old girls. I didn’t even realize the games he was playing until 2 years ago. I left with nothing but my girls and we are happy! All my stress, fears and drama has ended. We’re making friends and playing at water parks! It takes a lot to see a narcissist for what they truly are, their great liars and control freaks. And play the victim, with all their mind games. I wish you the best life has to offer! And your story has made me know I did the right thing in getting them out. My world revolves around them and always has!
Thank you for sharing 🙂
Noticing the games that a narcissist is playing can take time, many years may pass before they come into focus, and more years may pass before any of it makes sense, because you don’t expect someone to be doing that, especially not with you and not in a relationship which they claim is important to them. People who love you aren’t supposed to behave that way.
Oftentimes narcissists don’t even realise they’re playing the games that they’re playing… it’s not always as calculated as it seems in retrospect or as people online claim that it is. Their manipulations are instinctive, and are the result of a damaged person’s survival and coping mechanisms.
Sometimes the only way things become apparent is afterwards – and then you may wonder why you didn’t see it all as clearly as you see it now. There’s just something about them which has a way of getting through our usual defenses, which blurs lines and visual lenses, but once you see it… you see it.
Best wishes on your continued journey forwards! Take good care of yourself and your girls – they’re lucky to have to watching out for them!
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