“I hate myself…” – this is something I said to myself a few minutes ago while reviewing an interaction I had with someone else.
This is something I say to myself a lot, and have said to myself throughout my life. Why? Why do I say this to myself? Where did it come from? Do I really hate myself? Do I have a justifiable reason to hate myself?
It’s so ‘normal’ for me to say it to myself that sometimes I don’t notice I’ve said it. It used to be an important element of my internal dialogue, almost like quotation marks signalling the beginning and then end of a conversation wherein I would list all the things I’d done and said wrong, what I’d failed to say and do, proving once again to myself that I was a reject, a defective being, and so on. If you’ve had this kind of self-conversation, which is sometimes more popularly known as ‘the inner critic’, you’ll easily fill in the blanks, the etc, the and so on.
These days it’s more of a reflex (the reflex, flex, flex, flex… every little thing the reflex does leaves you answered with a question mark), like the ghost of a hand you no longer have reaching out in a fist to punch you for an atom of your being that appeared to be committing a crime against the whole (of humanity).
I gently shushed it (because I’ve finally understood that being hard on myself doesn’t work, while being gentle does), and nudged myself on from the entire conversation because the reflex now marks the spot where a conversation I don’t need to be having with myself is starting.
What happened in the interaction with the someone else to trigger the reflex?
We talked, we did things, but it was ordinary. Humans socialised. It was a pleasant experience of human socialising which required nothing from me other than to show up – my not showing up might have caused a bit of a problem, but I did show up so no need to think about alternate realities and the consequences of actions which did not happen.
There were no problems to be solved, no issues to go over with a fine tooth comb to find the nit which is making the whole head scratch and infecting others’ heads too, nothing to feel guilty about, ashamed, blame myself for and then pressure myself to make amends, fix, redress. No need for a post-mortem analysis. The only reason for reviewing the interaction would be to remind myself that I can actually have a good time when with other people.
Perhaps that’s what triggered it – things went well, I felt good in the moment and afterwards, I didn’t even feel the stress which introverts are supposed to experience when socialising, when having to be around other humans. Yes, I was a bit spaced out, but I’m always a bit spaced out – and this was the good kind of spacing out which means I am relaxed enough to do that. I didn’t have to be vigilant. There weren’t any problems to worry about…
Feeling good about yourself especially when with other people, having a nice time with people, feeling good about those people, and those people appearing to feel good about themselves, and about you – this is the ideal human social interaction, isn’t it? this is what healthy relationships are like, right? So what’s the problem, what’s my problem? How on earth did I find a reason to hate myself within all of that goodness?
I am a child of Narcissists.
If you’re the child of Narcissists you have a permanent problem in your life, and worrying is what you do for many reasons. Once you get into the habit of worrying, it’s hard to stop, the sky might fall if you stop being constantly anxious, hypervigilant, your worrying is what is keeping the worst case scenarios at bay.
What’s the permanent problem in your life when you’re the child of Narcissists? It’s your Narcissist parents, however you don’t realise that it is them because from the moment you arrive in their life they tell you that the permanent problem is you.
They tell you that you’re the reason why they’re unhappy, miserable, depressed, crying, screaming, shouting, angry, stressed. This tantrum they’re having which is scaring the crap out of you because it came out of nowhere and is ripping the doors and windows off their hinges, objects are flying around your tiny head as the giant towers over you flailing their arms, froth spewing from their mouth – this is your fault, you did or said something wrong, you didn’t do or say something right, they wouldn’t be doing this if you hadn’t provoked them, and it’s hurting them more than it hurts you. You did this to them. You are a monster, dangerous, a source of harm to others, you should kill yourself but since you’re too cowardly and weak to do that, you must cage yourself up, chain yourself down. You’re a burden to them, you’re bad karma they don’t deserve, but they will generously put up with you because they’re good people like that. You owe them and you will never be able to repay the debt – they own you. They’d sell you if they could but no one else is going to want you, you’re unlovable. You’re toxic, poisoning their environment…
maybe you can make an effort to be less toxic. You’ll probably fail, but you could at least try.
You’re the chaos theory butterfly and every time you flap your wings, even just a little bit – don’t move or else people will die, nations will crumble, think of the little children, the baby bunnies.
Maybe that’s why I say ‘I hate myself’ to myself. Maybe that’s where it came from. But do I really hate myself, and it the self-hate justified?
excerpt via – Crazy Herbalist: CPTSD, Allostatic Load and Giving No Fucks – this may be too small to read here that’s why there’s a link, it’s worth clicking on it, this is a great post (thank you, Snakey, for recommending such a wonderful blog!)
If you haven’t been in a relationship with a Narcissist (chances are you won’t be reading this post) and would like a taster of what it’s like, perhaps because you know someone who has and would like to understand what they’ve been through, maybe you’re in a relationship with a child of Narcissists and you’re seeking answers to questions you have about their erratic behaviour, especially when things are going well between you…
did you tell them you loved them, do something nice for them, and instead of responding with joy they look terrified, got angry, were rude, acted as though you’d just slapped them in the face, ran away, burst into tears, sank into a deep depression, went into what appears to be a self-destructive spiral and now they won’t talk to you, every time you ask them what’s wrong they growl and hiss at you that NOTHING IS WRONG!
When I think of what I put my partner through… we were talking about it the other day and he mentioned that during those times he was afraid that I would leave him. WHAT!?! – that was my reaction, because during those times I thought he would be better off without me. I really didn’t know why he was with me in the first place, how could he love me, why would he…
I know I stayed with my Narcissist parents, but from about the age of 5 I would regularly pack a bag (a little green plastic suitcase, which I’d fill with comic books and pizza – the essentials), walk to the big wrought iron gates of their property and stand there imagining the freedom which lay beyond and which I couldn’t have. If I’d tried to escape the world outside would have returned me to them, to hell (I did not belong in the good place). By the time I could escape, and it was less likely that I would be forced to return, at least by those in the outside world… the person who made me stay was me (I had my reasons, as they say – it’s complicated).
Thankfully things are no longer like that between me and my partner, we can now talk casually about those times and laugh about them (and the laughter isn’t nervous hysteria). It’s taken me a long time to be less of a nutcase, and it’s taken him a long time to understand why I was that way. He often thought it was his fault… WHAT!?!
He knew from the get-go that my parents were a-holes because of the way they behaved with him, and how he witnessed them treating me, but grasping how years of living with Narcissists, how growing up with Narcissists, can impact a psyche is something else. If it takes children of Narcissists ages to figure it out… and some children of Narcissists don’t realise their parents are Narcissists until much later in life – while I didn’t have the word ‘Narcissist’ or its definition as it is used these days, to neatly sum things up when I was younger, I knew there was something off about them and that they were screwing me up, but I didn’t realise the depth or extent of it, sometimes told myself it was normal or better than normal, and often settled into my being what was off and what was screwing everything and everyone up… it’s not going to be a cakewalk for someone who doesn’t have experience of Narcissists to figure it out.
So anyway, lets’ get to this taster of a relationship with a Narcissist…
Open your eyes really wide until it hurts your facial muscles – your eyes have to be surprised, terrified, and anxious at the same time (and yes, I realise it’s going to make it hard to read if you keep them like that), clench your teeth until the upper jaw seems to want to swap places with the lower jaw and smile with your lips, tense your body until if a feather landed on you it would break a bone, make sure your hands are fists and your nails are digging into the palms of your hands (once again, I realise this is going to make reading a challenge), hunch your shoulders as though you’re carrying a heavy weight don’t move or it might fall off, hold your breath as though you’re wearing something too tight around the chest (yes, I do see the problem with this, you are allowed to breathe just do it as though you’re hiding under the bed or in a dark closet trying not to be heard by a burglar, killer, or boogeyman who is hunting you), and imagine that you’ve drunk far too much potentially lethal strong coffee… you’re still probably too relaxed, but it’s close enough to the normal physical comfort level of a child of Narcissists, or someone who has spent far too long in the company of a Narcissist.
Why do you have to be in physical pain and discomfort to understand something intellectually? Because the body is an intrinsic part of mental processes – if you truly want to experience what someone else is experiencing you really do have to wear and walk in their shoes. When you copy someone else’s physical posture you can get a better feel for their state of being, their thoughts, their emotions.
Now focus on all the negative and self-negating messages you get from Society, from the News, from the Media, from Magazine Covers, TV and Film, from Adverts, from Online Trolls, Social Justice Warriors, and other people who are under the impression that criticising you, telling you what’s wrong with you, pointing out what you need to fix about yourself, is their noble and righteous purpose.
You are not allowed to talk back, comment, disagree, not allowed to defend yourself, not allowed to explain yourself, not allowed to stand up for yourself, you don’t have any rights, all your rights are wrongs, not allowed to point out the flaws in their argument – you can try but this will only cause the negative and self-negating messages to increase in intensity and make you a singular target for all of it.
Now imagine that all those things are one person with whom you live or are exposed to on a daily basis with no respite to catch a break and feel good about yourself – if you do have a moment of feeling good about yourself, don’t worry, it will be crushed, stripped away, and stomped on using a number of techniques (one of which is sure to get you if you escaped the others).
You’ll probably be familiar with the techniques, especially if you spend a lot of time online – ghosting, blocking, unfriending, flaming, bullying, smearing, spamming, stalking, getting others to harass you, and reporting you to some ‘higher authority’ which will get you banned (because you’re the problem not them).
That’s life and a relationship with a Narcissist.
If you’ve ever deleted your online account to get away from someone, from everyone, from all the ARGH that goes on in this tangled world wide web and how it makes you feel, what it does to the synapses in your brain, how it makes your mind feel as though it’s been on a bender – do you have a social media hangover? Perhaps you deleted it because it was turning you into a nutcase, making you behave in ways which were not really you… but you can’t get away that easily, whatever happened online didn’t get deleted when the account did (and did the account really get deleted, is the stuff is still floating around out there, trapped in the web… only now you no longer have the ability to… did you ever have the ability to control it?), and haunts you in your offline life.
That’s the aftermath of a relationship with a Narcissist.
A relationship with a Narcissist includes self-hate on a regular basis – if you don’t know how to hate yourself, you will learn how to do it so thoroughly that you’ll become a master of self-hate (why would you want to be a master of that?), and will be able to hate yourself for the most ridiculous things and may not even notice how ridiculous it is but if you do you can hate yourself for that too. If you’re not hating yourself – there must be something wrong with you.
With a Narcissist in your life the most insignificant thing can have significant repercussions, that may rumble and ripple on for the rest of eternity (it will feel as though it is an eternity in hell). If you say the wrong thing or forget to mention something, it can leave you hating yourself until you wish you were dead (and death may end up looking like a sleep cure). They will go over and over that conversation, that interaction, that failure of yours to live up to their high standards, that moment when you blinked were supposed to be looking at them unblinkingly, that slight which they found in your tone of voice, that insult they fished out of a casual chat you had with the postman about the weather… you were whispering about them saying bad things and you know how much that hurts them especially with the postman who is jealous envious hates them and they don’t know why but they never liked the postman something is wrong with the postman must be a psycho, that sign that you hate them because you forget to put sugar in their tea, that tragedy when you were in the toilet and they needed your help with an emergency (they’d misplaced their glasses, dropped a contact), they needed to talk to you about a horribly painful experience they had and you didn’t answer you phone, they texted you and you ignored them for 6 seconds too long, you didn’t protect them from that wasp which almost stung them (even though it was on the other side of the window), there are dirty dishes in the sink you don’t love them anymore, there’s a fingerprint on the glass table why must you do this to them…
With a Narcissist you’ll experience alternate realities colliding, whatever happened is never how it happened, their version of events, of you, of others, is not your version, and they’ll make you doubt what you did, said, saw, heard. While you may end up wishing that you could have given them the reality they wanted instead of disappointing them with one they didn’t want, and lived up to their expectations of who they needed you to be for them instead of hurting them by being someone they find repulsive… you will find that those times when you do get it right are wrong too, and you may pay for the actions your alternate self committed in some other dimension (which is all inside the Narcissist’s mind).
And you end up going over and over that conversation, that interaction, doing post-mortems on memories, analysing every move, word, thought, feeling, because somehow, someway there must be a way to stop this.
What’s the point and purpose of this self-hate? Of analysing interactions with others, particularly to find what you did wrong, where you failed? Of checking out alternate realities? Of feeling so awful all the time?
It’s to make yourself better, to become a better person, of course, so that you can win the love of the Narcissist, be worthy of them, be special enough for them to bestow upon you the prize of their immense and superior affections. You are a lowly commoner who has had the good fortune to be given the opportunity to win the hand of the Princess or Prince, the King or Queen, and be given the keys to the kingdom of heavenly wonders, but first you must go on a quest to prove yourself, you will be required to fight dragons and other monsters they invent to throw at you, lose yourself in mazes whose design they keep changing so that you’ll never find your way out, steal treasures for them and kill whoever owns it, sacrifice yourself to break the curse which has been cast upon them and is stopping them from being immortal, and be the hero they deserve – anything less just won’t do.
Once you do that you will be loved by them and live the happily ever after dream…
With Narcissists it’s all about forcing the real to become the ideal. Remove all imperfections and you get perfection, but to do that all imperfections must be pointed out, identified, correctly labeled, gone over and over, re-pointed out, re-identified, re-correctly labeled, gone over and over, re-re-pointed out… and then killing everything because nothing lives up to their perfectionist ideal (this includes the Narcissist themselves who is desperately trying to be who they are not – much of what they do to others is a reflection of what they do to themselves, and what was done to them which made them a Narcissist in the first place. The wound gets passed on as it searches for its healing).
One of the more intriguing aspects of blogging about my experiences with Narcissists, has been listening to the stories which people who did not grow up with Narcissists have shared about their relationship with a Narcissist.
Why is it intriguing?
Because when you’re a child of Narcissists you spend a lot of time investing heavily in fantasies of the world outside of the Narcissist Family (and plotting ways to escape the hell you’re in and get into heaven where everyone else is). You wish that you were normal, that you had a normal family and could be a child like normal children, and grow up to fit seemlessly into society, have the life which others are living, ordered, logical, stable. You long for the simplicity of a healthy relationship which you’re convinced normal people have. You want to be in a Narcissist-free environment, and experience what that is like – which you think is genuinely loving, warm, full of support, protection, encouragement, and many other things which you can only imagine.
And when you hear of people who are normal who willingly enter a relationship with a Narcissist – why would they do that to themselves!?
I guess the same question could be asked of children of Narcissists when we end up in relationships with other Narcissists, perhaps with even more emphasis as we know from experience that this is a bad idea, and we should in theory be able to recognise when someone is a Narcissist, then avoid them and their Wonderland.
Whereas normal people don’t have the personal experience, don’t know that there are wolves out there who like to dress up as Grandma, evil witches and warlocks who hide behind a facade of Prince or Princess Charming, and simply make the mistake of thinking that the Narcissist is who the Narcissist is pretending to be because their experience has taught them that you take people at face value and this has usually worked for them.
If your experience of relationships was mostly normal until your relationship with a Narcissist (your previous relationships probably had drama and issues, was messy, but nothing like what happened with the Narcissist), and this was/is your first experience of a Narcissist, you’ll most likely be reeling for years to come, the devastation they wreaked on your self-image, self-esteem, self-confidence, identity, and status may be something which is never fully repaired, the damage will leave a permanent scar… but the scar is a sign of healing having happened to a wound. After the Narcissist you will be stronger, wiser, and have a deeper connection with yourself, the knowledge you now have, everything you have learned as painful as it is, has value. You can rebuild and build things better for you, turn your experience into personal power.
But how do you do that?
Quite a few of the people who haven’t grown up with Narcissists but who had the misfortune of mistaking a Narcissist for a dream come true, an ideal soul mate, have mentioned having a former life and former self which they’d like to get back to. They have a past self which was beautiful, intelligent, successful, ambitious, confident, independent, happy, etc, who lived a good life filled with friends and family who love them… then the Narcissist shattered it all, but the pieces are still there, albeit scattered and smashed into smithereens. But it’s solid ground upon which to build improved abode for the self. It will take time, patience, and the perseverance to sift through what to keep and what must be let go… but they’re going to be fine.
What about children of Narcissists who don’t have a self and life before the Narcissist? Sure they had one before the new Narcissist in their life which they got involved with because… there was something so comfortable and familiar about them, an easy slotting into a role, a merger where once again the child is an extension of the Narcissist parent…
With a Narcissist parent, are we, their children, doomed to end up in relationship after relationship with other Narcissists, are we stuck repeating the patterns of attracting and being attracted to Narcissists because it’s all we’ve ever known, it shaped our idea of what a relationship should be, it’s familiar, comfortable (not as in a comfy chair… unless the comfy chair is an iron maiden), routine, and our Narcissist parents trained us, groomed us, primed and programmed us to be the compliment to a Narcissist personality.
Are we just too messed up to be with normal people? And if we do get ‘lucky’ and find ourselves with a normal person, will we turn them into a Narcissist?
I asked the last question because I did go through a short phase where I thought I might be turning normal people into Narcissists – that’s a rather Narcissistic magical thinking thought, and thankfully I figured that out quickly. It was interesting to have that thought, it gave me a new view of an old story, the one where it’s your fault that other people are behaving badly. You are turning them into monsters because you’re a monster and that’s what monsters do to good people. Your mother only screamed at you and spanked you because you were bad. Your father only slapped you because you goaded him. You’re bad and make good people do bad things, and then they feel bad about it when you should be the one to be feeling bad – it always hurts them more than it hurts you, you feel nothing.
This wasn’t that long ago, it was when I first entered the fray of social media (awhile before I started blogging) and I made some ‘friends’ online. I initiated contact, and made the effort to be friends (for a shy person this is a bit like those dreams where you’re naked in a public place and everyone else is wearing clothes). I pursued a friendship with them because I know I can appear stand-offish (which I have been repeatedly told is a bad thing to be) and thus it’s up to me to make the first moves (and in some cases do all the work. It’s taken me most of my life to realise that real friendship is not a job). They seemed normal, but then they turned into my mother… and at the time I could only see what I’d done which might have caused that to happen. Mostly what I’d done was be too self-effacing and too concerned about pleasing them, making them feel good about themselves, and other habits a child of Narcissists learns to do to feed the Narcissist with the Narcissistic supply they need.
If you feed a normal person with Narcissistic supply do they turn into a Narcissist? No.
Can I turn people into my mother? No. Although I can perceive a normal person as being like my mother, anything can trigger that (or at least it used to – I don’t trigger so easily these days) and once I start seeing them that way it tends to keep going, like a snowball rolling down a snowy hill until it turns into an avalanche known as Mommie Dearest (do they name avalanches like they do storms?). Most of this is all in my head, and if I get in there and sort things out I can reverse some of the mess it creates (I’ve gotten better at catching myself before this happens, pausing, taking a time out to have a little chat with the part of me which is seeing the ghost of mother in other). Occasionally this habit is useful and I notice something about someone which I need to notice… like that they may indeed be similar to my mother.
My experience of relationships with Narcissists other than my parents tends to be with females who are like my mother. I was doing exactly what the excerpt from Psychology Today discusses – it was a repetition compulsion.
Usually they’re Covert Narcissists, victims in permanent distress who need a knight in shining armor to save them… but who get really aggressive if you offer them solutions to any of their millions of dramatic problems, and suddenly you’re the dragon.
I’ve repeated this pattern more times than I care to remember – but remember I must so that I will stop doing this!
I have sort of stopped, and the attraction I feel towards this type of female has diminished, but… they can be so gosh darn gorgeous, so out there, so wildly wounded! And bang! We’re right into my relationship with my mother with me slotting into the role of the knight in shining armor rescuing a poor damsel in distress who needs to be loved back to health so she can be who she was born to be (if only that jealous witch hadn’t cursed her!) – beautiful, magnificent, powerful, free… only her freedom requires that I and everyone else wear chains, and bleed for her – ’tis but a scratch!
For some reason I didn’t need to do that with my relationship with my father. Overall my relationships with men tend to be fairly healthy, inasmuch as I don’t tend to attract nor am I attracted to Narcissist males. I respect myself when I am with males. With females my self-respect tends to do a vanishing act. Not so much anymore, but I still hold myself back around females, tone myself down, feel shy (not the regular shyness of a shy person but shying away from being myself out loud and proud) and that can open the door for a Narcissist female to step in and take over.
I’m not certain why female Covert Narcissists are attracted to me, but I’ve got plenty of theories because every time it happens I explore the scenario again, see it from a new perspective, notice something I’d missed before, get a chance to spot changes in the pattern and find out why (did I do something right for me this time?), and each time I understand a bit more about the dynamic, about myself within it, and get a tiny bit more closure on my relationship with my mother.
The question of closure crops up regularly in conversations with victims of Narcissists.
Can you get closure from a Narcissist?
Can someone who is certain, convinced, staunchly entrenched in their view and version of reality, that everything is your fault, that the problem is you and all problems, issues, dramas in your relationship stem from you and your dysfunction, that you are the villain and they are the hero, that you’re the Narcissist (these days Narcissists have a great title to bestow, like a king or queen knighting a courtier, upon their victims – Narcissist) and they are the victim of a Narcissist, that they are the ones who suffer and you are the cause of their suffering, ever have a moment of clarity wherein they are faced with who they are to you, how you see and experience them, what they have done to you, all the pain and hurt they’ve inflicted upon you, that they are a Narcissist?
And if they do have that moment of momentary clarity will they apologise, feel bad about it, empathise, sympathise, regret, fall down upon their knees and beg for forgiveness (even if they aren’t going to get anything they need or want out of it)?
Will this fly which is buzzing around my head ever understand that it’s bothering me? And if it does will that make it stop doing it? Does it care if it bothers me? Is bothering me part of its enjoyment of life?
Through this blog I have spoken with people who have claimed that they are Narcissists, and have said that they are genuinely interested in making amends, in sorting themselves out, in not being who they have been and doing what they have done. If they really are Narcissists this would mean that there are Narcissists who can have prolonged clarity, and who may be able to give the people in their lives closure.
In some ways my father gave me closure when he died, and I don’t mean that by being dead that’s the end of that. For a child of Narcissists a dead parent does not necessarily = closure. He actually acknowledged that he had a daughter in a way that he had never done before – it felt foreign and strangely good. I almost cried, but I couldn’t relax and have those kind of feelings as his death and the closure he gave me came with a whole lot of mess which included my mother turning up in my life again after over a decade of No Contact – this did not feel foreign and was the usual shit.
As for being sad that my father had died – I grieved and mourned the loss of my father decades earlier, and gave myself closure.
I accepted that our relationship had been and was what it had been and was, that he was the way he was and in many ways couldn’t be any other way and me hoping that he’d become someone who he wasn’t was… well, in some ways it was me being narcissistic – I wanted him to be the father I wanted to have rather than be the father that he was, which wasn’t a typical father playing the fatherly role. My father was more of a sibling for me – but I don’t have real siblings so I don’t know if that’s how you experience a sibling.
I accepted that he didn’t love me or couldn’t love me, I don’t know if he knew how to love… or maybe his interpretation and definition of love just wasn’t the same as mine – he often said “those who love me, follow me” and then he’d disappear. Even if I’d wanted or tried to follow him, I couldn’t because my mother also had the whole ‘those who love me, follow me’ rule going on and she was invariably going in the opposite direction from my father even when she claimed that she was ‘the great woman behind the great man’. It was better when they were not in the same room or country.
My father kind of abandoned me to my mother and then accused me of taking her side against him. I sort of understand what was going on with that nonsense… and there was nothing I could do about because that was their story. Sure they made me believe that their story was my story and somehow I was supposed to fix what they had broken and kept breaking and was probably never unbroken in the first place. I now accept that their shit is not my shit no matter how much I swam in it and drowned in it, and it seeped into me through cuts and orifices.
The last time I spoke to him was shortly after the last time I spoke with my mother. I called him to tell him that he was right about my mother, and that I was sorry for being a bitch to him. That was closure with him for me – it may not sound like closure, especially since apologising to Narcissists is a regular feature of a relationship with a Narcissist and you have to apologise all the time and for everything regardless of whether an apology from you is warranted. But this apology was genuine and something I needed to say – I did it for me not for him.
It drew a line which created a boundary – I had passed the point of no return and I did not want to return. Returning is a habit most children of Narcissists have – just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
Being out from under the thumb of your Narcissist parents, out of their story, out of their neverending drama, is great. You’ve escaped from hell, from Alcatraz, from a dictatorship, from a wartorn country. Freedom finally, you can get some sleep, relax, enjoy being yourself… or can you?
You’re free now, but what are you going to do with your freedom? You can be yourself now, but who are you? You can do and can be whoever you want, but what do you want?
Sometimes getting out of a relationship with a Narcissist isn’t all you thought it would be because you’ve only fantasised about what it would be like… reality can be scary when you have no reference points on how to live in it. Freedom can be fearsome because it stirs up everything which was hidden inside, contained, repressed, suppressed, and lets it loose.
After a lifetime of having to deal with others, with your Narcissist parents, and their minions (sorry, minions, I couldn’t think of a flattering word to describe how we experience you). After years of having to survive everyone else and what they’re throwing at you… that’s over. You now have to deal with yourself and survive what you will now throw at yourself. There are many pitfalls and if you’re anything like me you’ll fall into every single one of them. Except for one – I did not get involved romantically with a Narcissist, but I didn’t need to because I became a Narcissist to myself, took over where my parents left off, filled the No Contact void, and did it better than they did because they could never reach my core but I could.
Somehow I’m okay (and it’s not because I’m somehow special or anything like that – that’s the realm of Narcissists where it’s all about comparing me with you, you with me, until you’re down there and the Narcissist is way up there), so if you’re wondering if there is a silver lining, if there is any point to putting yourself through this, in keeping on keeping on – Don’t you dare give up on yourself! You can do this! And it’s definitely worth it! You’re most likely never going to not be a mess (here’s a secret – all humans are a mess, the normals are a mess – whodathunkit!), but you will learn to love that mess like a real parent loves a real child who keeps falling over while learning to walk, poops the stinkiest toxic poops in the entire universe, barfs all over the place, all over you, and burps earthquakes.
Will you find unconditional love, and will it be as great, good and magical as you hoped it would be, will it cure all your ailments and bring world peace… slow things up, take them down a notch, remember and remind yourself that you’re human, others are human too, we live on a planet inhabited by humans… as trite as it may seem to say it – shit happens, it is what it is. Unconditional love may be a myth invented by Narcissists who do NOT want to be human, can’t deal with the reality of it, but they do talk a rather addictive talk about lurve, love, and what it should be, how it should feel, etc. Unconditional love according to humans, and especially Narcissists is nigh on impossible for mortals, and may not even be natural – nature works a lot with symbiosis, I do this for you and you do this for me, and together we do this for others and others do something for us. Our human obsession with unconditional love may be killing the planet… maybe not.
Enjoy the small things, they have a tendency to accumulate… big things are made up of millions of small things.
Someone offered you their seat on a bus, someone gave you a smile, someone got out of your way while you were walking, someone in traffic let you in, someone didn’t hassle you when they could have so easily done it, someone ignored you when you were rude to them, someone let you know when you gave them too much change after a transaction, someone didn’t break into your house while you were away, someone picked up your garbage, someone dropped a penny and you picked it up hoping that all day you’d have good luck – did you notice the good luck you had if it was in the shape of tiny things, or something bad which you never knew didn’t happen, and when you made a wish in a well with that penny – did you wish that the person who dropped found a penny too…
all that is a sign of a form of unconditional love… it’s so hard to see sometimes, almost invisible, and we do get so distracted from it by all the little bad things which also accumulate, the bugs which bug us, the peeves which are our pets, the everyday frustrations we chew on and spit out sometimes onto others.
A child of Narcissists needs to see what their Narcissist parents never could see and may have blinded their child to. You’re okay as you are, sure you could be better, but chasing better can mean you don’t appreciate okay, and okay is rather good.
But you’re not okay, are you? You need something and until you get it…
If you, as a child of Narcissists or as any other victim of a Narcissist, want closure you’re going to have to rely on yourself to give it to yourself. If you can’t accept that and insist on trying to get closure from your Narcissist, from your Narcissist parents, because it’s not closure until they participate in it, until they feel your pain, are sorry they hurt you, admit that they did very bad things, etc, you may find yourself forever in limbo. As long as you need closure from them you will continue to need the Narcissist, you will continue to remain attached to them, they will continue to dominate your life and your psyche, they will continue to have control over you and your life – which is exactly what they want, need, feed on. This closure will be one more thing they withhold from you because it keeps you stuck in hell with them, and they can use it to manipulate you.
How do you give yourself closure?
One of the ways a child of Narcissists gets closure is by going through the stages of grief about never having had and never going to have the sort of parents and relationship with your parents which you wish they were and you had had. How you do the five stages and what each means, what denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance means to you, what order you do them in, how long it takes, and everything else depends upon you – you’re in control of the process even if the process will take you out of your comfort zone, and may make you feel out of control.
Below is a version of the 5 stages of grief designed for children of Narcissists:
For me personally, the anger… was far more complex than outlined in the excerpt above (the excerpt above is a guideline to help us – we don’t need to fight it unless we do). Anger was a bonding experience between me and my parents, in some ways it was the only bond we had. It was the main bond which my parents had in their relationship separate from me – before me their child was anger, they loved it, nurtured it, and grew it into a giant octopus.
My own anger was my protector, the shadow which enveloped me, watched over me and could smite anyone who tried to harm me – it rarely did that, but it could, people could feel its presence so it didn’t need to show itself openly. It kept me safe. It was my sugar, my caffeine, if I needed energy, courage, strength, to get through another day, another round of being screamed at, shouted at, lectured, criticised, bullied, etc, it was there for me, kept me going. I had a juggernaut inside – what would I do without it if I let it go?
My anger is a friend and ally which I will always love, be grateful for, owe my life to – it stopped me from exterminating myself as though I was a pest, plague on the world. I have let it go… which frankly surprised me, that I could do that and it would let me do it, even gave me its blessing. Don’t misunderstand me (or do, it’s up to you), I still have my anger… so don’t piss me off or do piss me off, it’s up to you. But it’s not stuck, I’m not stuck, it’s free, I’m free… within reason.
You can also get closure with your original Narcissist by confronting things you need to confront in your relationships with other Narcissists. So if you do find yourself in a relationship with another Narcissist, instead of beating yourself up for yet again… omg will you never learn… why do you keep doing this to yourself… and other whips you lash yourself with… use this relationship as an opportunity to deal with what you didn’t and couldn’t deal with with your Narcissist parents.
It’s actually easier to deal with parental Narcissists through their stand-ins because their stand-ins are often our peers, and they’re not our parents so we don’t have the whole societal ‘respect your parents’ gumpf to deal with on top of everything else.
I was inspired to start blogging about my experiences with Narcissists after yet another ride on the female Covert Narcissist relationship carousel. I was so frustrated with myself, so furious with the Narcissist… by the end of our ‘friendship’ I kept confusing her with my mother to the point where I began to wonder if I had the onset of dementia. And then the floodgates burst open. I did a lot of ranting and was probably more cruel than I needed to be about that ‘friend’, but by then she was my mother. I’m grateful to that friend for being such an awesome catalyst. Little did I know that what she inspired me to do would be vital a little while later when my actual mother resurfaced.
So give yourself a break if you yet again end up in a relationship with a Narcissist – the repetition compulsion has its uses, and we can use it to heal ourselves. But you do have to notice you’re doing it, and actively participate in healing yourself – look where you don’t want to look, feel what you don’t want to feel, listen to all those things you’ve been saying but refuse to hear. Try to gently nudge yourself on from getting stuck in the usual ruts you get stuck in when you find out that once again you’ve fallen for a Narcissist, been attracted to them, attracted them to you, and venture into new territory within the scenario and dynamic.
As a child of Narcissists who is aware that you’re a child of Narcissists, and has come to the conclusion that you’re probably a mess in relationships because of being the child of Narcissists… you have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, in other words that you don’t end up labeling everything you do and are as dysfunctional because of the damage done to you by your Narcissist parents.
You’re not as damaged as you think you are, feel you are, have been told that you are – if your parents are the ones who told you that you were damaged goods, remember Narcissists only ever talk about themselves, and that they know nothing about you, never bothered to get to know you, they just assumed you’re who they tell you that you are (which is whoever they need you to be for them).
A large part of your recovery work involves realising that everything you’ve been told, taught and trained for by your Narcissist parents is not something you actually need. You’re kind of going to have to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch (this is sometimes referred to as re-parenting), figure out for yourself who you are, what you want, what to do, what to think, how to be… it’s rather fun once you get into it, but it can seem like a daunting task.
If you’re in therapy or read a lot of psychology (like articles on children of Narcissists, and Narcissist parents, and Narcissists) be careful that you don’t fill yourself up with too much negativity – those on the professional side of psychology are studying a subject, they have to take it seriously, and they can be a bit heavy in how they view the subjects they work with. They’re trying to help, and they can be very helpful, but certain aspects of it can feel as though you’re right back where you started.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the voices, all the do’s and don’ts, all the critics inner and outer, all the chaos in the airwaves, the sensory overload, too much stimuli… take a time out, pause, and step out of it – you won’t miss anything, you’re not the only one prone to moving in cycles.
I like to remind myself that no one really knows anything, we’re all just making things up as we go along… sure some people think they know know know it all all all, and maybe they do, they certainly make a good show of it and have loads of facts and data to back it up (but that kind of foolproof proof has in the past been debunked and oh how we laugh at those who believed what we now have decided and proven is bunk… and around we go).
Give yourself a break when you need one – sometimes that’s the trick to breaking a cycle.
It’s important to remind yourself that although you may not function as people who did not grow up with Narcissists function, this does not = everything about you is dysfunctional. There are positives to you being you, the way you are, with all of your history, and as you work on yourself those positives will increase because you have the power to turn bad experience into life wisdom… which will help you, and as you help yourself you may bump into the rather gratifying experience of genuinely being of help to others (which will show you how real helping works – as opposed to how unreal helping which goes along with Narcissists doesn’t work).
All those times you tried to ‘fix’ your Narcissist… because they told you they needed it, you told yourself they needed it due to being badgered by them into telling yourself that… real ‘fixing’ is so different from that – other people, the normals, the non-narcissists, fix themselves, and sometimes somethign you did to fix yourself helps them with that, but you don’t have to do anything other than be you, doing you stuff, and that inspires them to do themselves doing their stuff.
So what positives does growing up with Narcissists and being the child of Narcissists have?
For instance, children of Narcissists often have a finely tuned radar for what’s going on under the surface of people, beneath the public appearance they’re showing – we needed to develop this for survival purposes and to serve the Narcissist parent (which are often one and the same thing).
You most likely can pick up on the subtle hints another person is dropping via body language, mood, vocal tone, and many other human data spillovers, and this talent of yours will sometimes amaze them and make them think you’re psychic, or creep them out because you know things about them which they hadn’t consciously acknowledged to themselves. People are surprisingly unaware of how much information they give off about themselves, how much they communicate outside and within their regular communication modes of choice.
What you pick up using your radar can work wonders in social situations. It can smooth over some awkward interaction moments. You can probably calm a storm before it happens or quell one which has kicked off. Offer others relief before the SOS goes out, and so on.
Just keep in mind that this can be an invasion of privacy – sometimes it’s best to keep to yourself what you’ve noticed. Make sure you’ve checked their boundaries and respect those – if you respect their boundaries they will most likely return the favour as your respect for them sets the standard for the way you and others will relate. If they don’t return the respect – pay attention. It may not mean they’re a Narcissist, but not all non-narcissists are good people and/or healthy people.
Boundaries you will encounter with non-narcissists may confuse you. For the most part non-narcissists do not want you to appease their bad moods, they can appease their own bad moods and sometimes they just want to be in a bad mood – they are not going to have a narcissistic meltdown, and they don’t need you to fix things for them.
Keep an eye out for the tendency to be overly concerned for the welfare of others, and protecting them from you and your damage – if those others are adults they can take care of themselves. Non-narcissists are adults when they are adults (not spoiled and twisted children disguised as adults like Narcissists). Sure they have their not-adult moments, but they’re still able to shift back into adult mode should the need arise. It’s wonderfully liberating when you realise that others can indeed take care of themselves, that they do it well, they enjoy doing it, and that they don’t need you to protect them from themselves or from you.
The majority of people in this world aren’t Narcissists, and don’t need other people to cater to them 24/7, don’t play the relationship games which Narcissists play, don’t need you to merge with them and never be your own individual, don’t need you to erase yourself, or be their scapegoat, or the golden child trophy doll where they plunge the knives of their dreams, don’t need you to be anyone or anything other than yourself.
If you are being yourself as you are, they can be themselves as they are – and that’s a healthy relationship. It’ll have dinks, dents, fights, tears, and mess… humans are messy.
Enjoy the mess!
Gotta go, I accidentally (why did I need to say that, would I do ever do that on purpose? Would anyone do something like that on purpose?) let a hornet into the house, and if I don’t panic it’ll find its way out of the house on its own, but I’d better keep an eye on things and guide it if it needs guidance. Hornets are rather sweet, and very intelligent… can’t believe I, the one who has a hornet-phobia, said that.
Over to you…
say something, anything…
let’s talk about Harvey Weinstein… on second thoughts, let’s not do that as too many people are weighing in on it already, and… and that reminds me of the shitstorm which happens when Narcissists take control of a subject…
tell me about a passion of yours!