This morning I read an article on the BBC news website which is part of the 100 Women project – The ‘Right Amount’ of Panic for Women in Public. It starts with the question – Have you ever wondered how much time and energy women spend avoiding harassment from men? – and then plunges into familiar territory for women and for girls, discussing incidents which made us aware that we are not safe because we are female, and the ‘Safety Work’, the strategies, we developed to deal with living under constant threat, which have become a part of who we are, second nature, when in public.
Sometimes men mention that women are being unfair to them by assuming that all men are out to get us, are predators, are perverts, etc. To be fair to men – one of the times I was sexually harassed was by a woman, an older lady in a sewing shop suddenly reached out and grabbed one of my tits. Up until then I thought it was ‘safe’ to relax my guard when in the company of women even if they were strangers, after that I realised that ‘beware of strangers’ included females. My mother had actually warned me about female predators, when I was a child she told me cautionary tales about women-strangers who would ask little girls for help and then the little girl was never seen again.
Women often feel guilty both for the things they do to protect themselves and the things they didn’t do to protect themselves.
Shortly before I read this article, I had woken up from a bizarre dream. It started off as rather mundane – I was out shopping with my partner and a male friend of his. We went our separate ways in a department store, and were supposed to meet up afterwards. My partner and I met up at the allocated time and place, but his friend was missing. Apparently his friend had gone on to our next destination – or so we were told by the chauffeur his friend had hired to drive us around town. The chauffeur said he’d take us to our friend, so we got in and off we went. During the trip, which seemed to take ages, I realised that I had to pee…
and it struck me this morning that the feeling of pressure you get, the discomfort, the embarrassment, and sense of urgency, panic, which comes with needing to pee is similar to feeling guilty. Maybe that association only works for me – as a child I tended to feel ashamed, guilty for needing to pee or poo, especially when in public. It bothered the adults, my mother.
the need to pee got stronger and I didn’t know if I could keep it in until we got to our destination, and since I didn’t know when we would get there, what our destination was, and where the toilet was when we did get there and if I would be able to reach it in time… I didn’t want to mention it… I just wanted to go home – I said that to my partner and the chauffeur, but immediately regretted it as they gave me that attitude of – you’re spoiling our fun, we’re on an adventure. I kept quiet after that, I knew it would be pointless to argue, and I felt guilty for being a mood killer, a killjoy.
We finally reached our destination, which turned out to be an Indonesian style luxury resort on a small peninsula jutting out into a lagoon filled with crocodiles. The chauffeur disappeared as soon as he’d dropped us off and we were hustled by a member of staff to a waiting area in a lush courtyard garden, where a crowd of other guests were waiting to be processed and given rooms. The waiting turned into hours, night feel, people lay down on benches, the grass, anywhere to rest. My partner went to sleep. I tried to relax, pretend to be cool with everything, but I chose to put my head down on a ledge of a walkway where another member of staff was walking a couple of pet anacondas and one of them brushed up against my head – I wasn’t afraid of the snake but its action made me aware that something was ‘off’ about the other guests. Oh, and we still hadn’t found my partner’s friend.
I decided to get up and explore. I felt guilty about leaving my partner’s side as he was sleeping and I should probably guard him – but in dreams I often do what I don’t do in real life even when I may feel and think all the things I experience in real life. As I ventured around the grounds, passing through different buildings which were all open – one of these had what seemed to be a breakfast nook on the water’s edge. For a moment I relaxed, forgot my worries, sat down and appreciated the design – I wished my kitchen had a place like this in it, wouldn’t it be nice to have morning coffee while looking out at such a view and resting my feet in cool water (I’d forgotten about the crocodiles). As I was enjoying a moment to myself, a couple approached me – I snapped out of my reverie, and immediately felt guilty, I must have wandered into someone’s room, I was trespassing. The couple were friendly, didn’t seem angry with me, on the contrary they were glad to see me. The man began to come onto me, his wife seemed okay with his behaviour, he seemed okay with his behaviour and they both appeared to expect me to be okay with it. When I moved away as politely as possible, feeling ‘guilty’ for not accepting his advances, they got a bit frustrated with me, and asked me why I was there if I wasn’t going to play. It was then that I understood that this was one of those sexual-free-for-all places.
In the article a young women shared her ‘Safety Work’ tactic – “Or like Shelley, a British Asian woman in her 30s, you’ve developed a death stare, looking tougher than you feel.” – in the dream I used the same tactic, I remember noticing myself doing it, instructing myself to do it, feeling my entire expression shift into a grim-get-the-hell-away-from-me look, and then setting a determined tunnel-vision course to get through all the people, get back to my partner to warn him, and to then get us out of there.
I emerged from the dream before I found my partner, the landscape in the dream had changed and I couldn’t retrace my steps, I had no idea where he was, more and more people were waking up and they had woken up horny, ready to play and enjoy their break from reality, the usual restrictions which apply in society… although for some people, that is their reality.
What has any of this, the article and the dream, got to do with – How Do Children of Narcissists Stop Feeling Guilty for Doing What is Right for Themselves?
A child (male or female) of a Narcissist parent (male or female) develops ‘Safety Work’ strategies to survive living in the hostile environment which is family. They tend to feel safer when in public than they do when in private, but nowhere is safe, free from predators, and the perversions of other people. Everyone is out to get us – and that may include ourselves.
When we finally decide to free ourselves from our Narcissist parents, or should I say when we finally act on our decision to free ourselves from our Narcissist family, get ourselves physically out of there… it can feel as though we’re emerging from a dream, a nightmare. Only we’ve never lived outside of it, so ‘waking up’ can feel foreign, scary, and unknown and uncertain land – is it real?
When we share our stories, our life story, with others, it can often sound like we’re relating a dream, a nightmare – and we all know what it’s like when someone tells us about ‘a weird dream’ that they had. It’s cacophony of symbolic muttering, a confusing assortment of random nonsense, a chaotic flashing sequence of moments without a timeline, freakshow characters parade by too fast to take in, now you see it now you don’t, fact and fiction meet in a danse macabre… they, the teller, may get distracted by the memory, disappear lost in thought – trying to figure out what happened and what didn’t, then return with more words tumbling out of their mouth in no particular order, and you, the listener, may experience cognitive dissonance, a desire to flee the scene, an uncomfortable triggering of something you’d hidden from yourself, and be reminding yourself about all those times you had told yourself to cut people off when they start a conversation with “I had a weird dream…”
But it’s rude to cut people off, isn’t it, even if you genuinely don’t have the time to listen to them, and you’ll feel guilty for doing it, even if a part of you will feel relieved that you didn’t put yourself through another conversation which you don’t want to have. Maybe you’ll get mad at the talker and teller for putting you in this socially awkward situation, but you’ll repress the urge to express your anger which is growing and growing, you always feel guilty for standing up for yourself, losing your temper, especially once you see the look on the face of the person you just shouted at, you’ll see that look anyway even if you politely interrupt them to point out that you’re going to be late to an important meeting which will decide the future of your career, or you have to pick your children up from school and if you’re late they’ll assume you don’t love them anymore and have abandoned them. No matter what you do or don’t do you’ll end up feeling bad about yourself, guilty…
And yes, I did shift from being a child of Narcissists telling our story to being a child of Narcissists trapped in a conversation with a Narcissist.
One of the hardest decisions you can make as a child of Narcissists is to go No Contact from your Narcissist parents, or to reduce contact to the minimum indispensable because going fully No Contact is just not possible.
No Contact is recommended by professionals, experts, and by amateurs like me who share their experiences online and sometimes get asked the question – How do I deal with the Narcissist in my life? – as the best tactic for dealing with Narcissists.
These days if you say you’re going No Contact, people tend to know what you mean, what you’re saying, they may have done this themselves with someone in their life, and you will most likely get support and kudos for doing it. You can even hire people to help you do it.
You might even get pressured by well-meaning people to GO NO CONTACT! the moment that you mention you think you may be in a relationship with a Narcissist.
If you are not a child of Narcissists but had a relationship with a Narcissist and had a child with your Narcissist, or are the underage child of a Narcissist parent, you may be unable to go No Contact or even reduce your contact to a minimum which is bearable for you – it may not be legal for you to do so, and the Narcissist will have the law on their side, and will most likely make the most of it, they may even try to get you officially branded ‘Guilty’ by the powers that be.
and that child gets to feel guilty about all of it and more.
I went fully No Contact with my Narcissist parents. I did not live in the same community as they did, mostly I wasn’t even in the same country as them, and they weren’t together, or in the same country as each other, and they hated each other and were too busy still fighting each other, so they couldn’t gang up on me (a common ‘enemy’ did not bring them back together). I did not have contact with other family members – our extended family was never close. I did not have contact with ‘family friends’, nor did I move in the same social circles as they did. I mainly communicated with my parents via the telephone – Narcissists can turn the telephone into a teleporter, and in some ways it can be worse than having them physically there in the room with you, you’re trapped by telephone usage rules, downloading their voice and what it’s drilling into you straight into your system, viruses and all with no firewall to protect you – you turned that off the moment you answered the phone.
With my father No Contact was easy because it was already a main component of our relationship since I was a child.
Even when he was a regular part of my life we regularly didn’t see each other or talk for months at a time – this was normal. I only suspected it wasn’t normal when the headmistress at one of my schools asked me where my parents were as the meeting we were having to review my settling in to the school was supposed to include them, when I explained… she looked at me slightly horrified and heartbroken. I got annoyed with her and defended my Narcissist parents like a good little soldier. How very dare she question such wonderful parents, I was lucky, LUCKY! Many of my friends had fractured families – at least my parents were still together (even though they rarely lived together, and when they were in the same place it was World War redux).
When I was in my mid-teens I kicked my father out of the family residence on behalf of my mother (she couldn’t do it herself, she was a damsel in distress and I was the knight in shining armor defending her, slaying the dragon). My mother hated that house, and only visited it when she was proving to my father that she was his wife, a good wife, and that she was a good mother who let him see his child – apparently (and this didn’t only come from my mother, it also came directly from my father) he couldn’t come to me, I had to go to him, it hurt him so much that he couldn’t be with me (he traveled a lot and could have stopped off to visit me) yet when I did go to him he was rarely available. My father loved that house and lived in it all the time except when traveling or using his other house to avoid us, spend time with his mistress. I will always feel guilty for having kicked him out of a place which he loved and which was deeply symbolic for him (he had grown up in the slums, and this was his palace he had worked hard to own). I will always feel guilty for having allowed my mother to convince me that throwing him out was my noble duty. That particular guilt is one I am grateful for – it’s the right kind of guilt, it’s logical especially compared to all the other guilt which comes with growing up with Narcissists.
My father had pretty much cut me out of his life before I kicked him out, and afterwards it made sense for him to never want to speak to me or see me again – but this was a Narcissist family living the Narcissistic wound dream/nightmare, and we all still worked together in the family business. Whenever he tried to reach out to me, I’d cut him off at the pass – mostly his contact with me was him trying to use me to get at my mother rather than for ‘fatherly’ reasons.
We had reestablished contact for about a couple of years before I went No Contact, as I had wanted to introduce my partner to him – so my partner could see for himself the not so fine mess that he was potentially getting himself into, and even though my father was in full ‘I’m immortal’ jacket, and did a routine similar to Brando in Apocalypse Now… for a delusional moment I thought we might be able to have a relationship of sorts. But then I made the mistake of telling my mother that my father had my telephone number, and she immediately saw it as an opportunity for her to ‘I just wanted him to know that he could reach me through you in case he needed me, she’s (his mistress) is always watching him, he’s surrounded by her people, and I don’t know if he has anyone he can ask for help’ – is what she told me when I found out what she had done. She didn’t inform me that she’d done that because ‘oh, it didn’t even occur to me to tell you, I completely forgot, haha…’. I found out because my father was suddenly calling me every few days to tell me he was going to kill himself – the tone of his voice, his attitude, told me we were right back where we always ended up, and he was using me to get to my mother, but my mother wasn’t involved… or was she?
[a quick note for anyone who might be reading this who did not grow up with Narcissists, who does not have experience with Narcissists and their sick games, and who may be shocked or otherwise distressed by what appears to be callousness on my part, especially when your FATHER tells you he’s going to KILL HIMSELF! Suicide is a serious matter and if someone threatens to kill themselves you must do everything in your power to help them want to stay alive – yes, I agree with you. No one would ever threaten to kill themselves and not mean it, would they? No one would ever use the threat of suicide as part of a manipulative game to get others upset, alarmed, in a panic rushing to save them, calling for reinforcements, calling his wife, my mother – mummy please save daddy! and when we all turned up on his doorstep, no one would ever laugh at all those who came to save them, ask them what all the fuss is about, then tell everyone – I never said that, why would I say I was going to kill myself, I might tell you to kill yourselves because the world would be a better place without you but… you’re all crazy, go away, stop ruining my life! A Narcissist like my father would do that, especially if he knew how hurtful it would be to his mistress for his wife to turn up out of the blue… and the catfight which would ensue once they were face to face. He could hurt everyone with one carefully thrown stone. If you don’t believe and think I’m a very disturbed person – you’d be right about that, but thankfully you not believing me is no longer something which disturbs me, so I’m making some progress. Oh, and FYI, my father died over a decade later from natural causes.]
excerpt via – Knowing the Narcissist: The Empath’s Riposte Grenades by HG Tudor (a narcissist sociopath according to his About)
I did not go No Contact with my Narcissist parents immediately after that incident like I should have done, I did distance myself a bit more just not enough, and instead I continued to allow them to be a part of my life. I was still not ready to sever their stranglehold. I still couldn’t see how much they hurt those who genuinely loved me through me, through the pain it caused me and how it made me act out.
With my mother No Contact was hard because she had never cut the umbilical cord, it’s how she got her nutrients and she was always so very hungry. In some ways, I was her womb and she was still a baby growing inside of me who wasn’t ready yet to be born, just a few more minutes, hours, days, months, years. Just when I thought she was out, she’d crawl back in.
But eventually I hit the ‘final straw which broke the camel’s back’, the ‘no-fucks-left-to-give‘ (this links to a great post about that on an awesome blog), the ‘I’m mad as hell and won’t take it anymore’, the I’ve cried myself dry of tears, used up what was left of my energy, and I’m sick (in my case I was literally ill with what I later found out was the onset of chicken pox – kind of apt to get a ‘childhood’ disease at that time in my adult life) of it moment.
And I carped that diem, I finally sliced the Gordian Knot… and finally admitted that I could not untie the bloody, messy thing.
If you can deal with the initial guilt of finally saying ‘No’ to your Narcissist parent, and meaning it this time (the other times were practice runs), and can deal with the onslaught of tactics which they throw at you to get you to stop being so unreasonable, illogical, insane, mean to poor them after all they’ve done for you, and can get to that place and point where No Contact becomes your new normal… you may find yourself having to deal with an old foe, guilt, with new forms – Society.
While it’s the old normal for Narcissist parents to use Society to get you to behave the way they want you to behave, and it’s the old normal for Narcissist parents to employ members of society to go after you and bring you back into the fold (did you really think you could get away that easily, they have people everywhere – you have no one), and they’ll even use random strangers to reach out and touch you with the sad and heart-strings pulling story of how much your Narcissist parents love you… and how difficult and terrible you are being.
When my mother resurfaced in my life after over a decade of No Contact from me (and several attempts on her part to contact me, which included using the Samaritans to help a poor bereft mother find her ‘missing’ child – omg I’d forgotten about that, even though it was one of my first experiences of a member of society actually being on my side without my having to explain my story), after my father died, I had to communicate with her, but I did not want to break my No Contact and I had nothing to say. I hired a lawyer to be the go-between, and warned him about her. Shortly after speaking with her, he told me that he would be willing to mediate a reconciliation between my poor mother who loved me very much and me (obviously the rather bitter daughter holding an unreasonable grudge against a sweet old lady). I politely said no, that’s not why I hired you. A little bit later he suddenly had a bunch of personal matters which made it impossible for him to keep working for me, I understood even though it left me a bit in the lurch and he didn’t refer me to anyone else. A little bit after that he admitted that he never wanted to speak with my mother again, and he was sorry, I was right about my mother.
I watched an episode of Lore about Dr. Walter Freeman and his miraculous cure-all for the crazy – the icepick lobotomy. And at the very end of the episode, which is horrifying considering that this all happened a few decades ago rather than in medieval times, we are given a scene where a mother is telling the doctor about the awful experience she is having because her child is so unruly – he is traumatising her and everyone else. The gist of it is that the child is being a normal child but the mother isn’t a normal mother, she’s more typical of a Narcissist parent. The doctor (who by then we know is an evil crackpot) even points out that the problems the mother has identified in the child are normal, and you think – maybe the doctor has finally understood that you don’t solve people problems by irreparably damaging their brain, maybe he’s finally seen the error of his ways.
The purpose of guilt is to help us distinguish between right and wrong (as subjective as those can be, and as confusing as it can sometimes be depending on where you are in the world – the rights and wrongs of certain societies can clash and sometimes lead to war), to make us more self-reflective, self-examining, so we can recognise where we have made mistakes and make amends, change our ways…
No Contact creates a new interaction for you to learn to navigate which stirs up a new way of experiencing guilt – the empathic/sympathetic person who doesn’t know your parents, has never met them, doesn’t know your story, maybe doesn’t even know you, they just met you and they found out that you’re not in contact with your parents…
perhaps because they mentioned their parents and asked you about yours – what are you doing for Christmas or some other seemingly innocuous socially acceptable polite small talk question was asked, and you haven’t yet learned to lie (sure you know how to lie, you grew up with Narcissists and lied to people all the time about what great parents you had, how fine you were, how lucky you were to be their child – but post-Narcissists you were hoping for a life without lies), or shut a conversation topic down before it goes where you have no intention of going…
with a stranger or anyone for that matter, who decides that they must now activate your empathy/sympathy for your poor parents who love you and why are you letting them live without you in their life, don’t you realise that they’re you’re parents – precious beings who gave life to you and who can do no harm or wrong and must be forgiven even when they do for your sake. You’ll be sorry when they’re dead…
When I went No Contact… I’m not even sure the term ‘No Contact’ existed. There certainly wasn’t as much information and awareness about Narcissists as there is today. I couldn’t say to people – my parents are Narcissists – and have that be the end of the conversation because it’s code for ARGH! You really don’t want me to tell you my story, I don’t want to tell you my story, I’m bored of my life always being about them especially now that in theory and hopefully with enough practice I’ve freed myself from them, from it all always being about them, them, THEM! and I really don’t want to hear, see, witness your reaction to my story, you’ll be confused, you’ll struggle with it and it’ll get awkward in a way which may pain you, or you’ll want to tell me all about your Narcissist because you’ve finally found someone who understands the experience, and I’m still processing my own experience, this could get very messy… and we’ve only just met.
Usually I got the guilt-inducing treatment from a really good person who means well and wants to save the world, bring peace and goodwill to all men one person at a time through random acts of empathy overflowing for humanity kindness – like reuniting you and your parents. You won’t regret it, and you’ll be forever grateful to them for making you see the error of your ways, you strayed but the prodigal child gets so much more love than the one who stayed (or something like that). Thank you so much… I will undo everything I’ve done to finally respect myself, give myself personal boundaries, and a life of my own at last, and rush back into the open welcoming arms of my loving Narcissist parents who will be so glad to see me they won’t hold anything against me for eternity, they’ll even admit that they suck as parents, apologise and change (I really feel guilty about lying to you, but you won’t leave me alone, you’ll keep piling on the guilt, until I tell you what you want to hear – I thought I could stop doing that, I feel guilty when I do that)… but first, do you want the shoebox which the shoes you’re buying came in or just the bag?
another excerpt via – WikiHow: How to Eliminate Guilt: 13 Steps (with pictures)
If a child of Narcissists were to write their guilt out like advised in the excerpt above, it would go something like this –
I feel guilty because I didn’t predict that my Narcissist mother would let Fido out and he got run over by a car.
I should have seen it coming.
She was screaming at Fido more than usual, blaming him for her feeling bad about herself because he didn’t love her enough and was getting pets from other people, doesn’t he know how much that hurts her.
It’s my fault, I was supposed to look after Fido even though I’m allergic to dogs, pet hair… my allergies are such a burden to my mother, I must try and stop having them, doing it deliberately to annoy her… my Narcissist mother got Fido for me, for which I am not grateful enough I feel so guilty about that, to prove to another parent how much she was a better parent at least that’s the latest version of the story… is it, am I getting it wrong… I’m always getting it wrong I feel so guilty for being such a screw-up… or has it changed again? I feel guilty for not remembering which version of the story is the one I’m supposed to remember… which one is the one we tell the public? And what do we tell the public now that Fido is…
I was sleeping when it happened, I feel guilty for sleeping, I must never sleep again… did I distract the driver? Poor driver they must feel so bad about it, I feel guilty for causing them to feel guilty…
and I’m guilty for not feeling guilty enough for everything I’ve done to everyone…
and for taking a time out to write this when I should be helping my mother to feel better about Fido being dead all because of me… she needs her meds but she threw them all out when she got angry because they weren’t taking the pain away, it was the doctor’s fault for not understanding her which is my fault too because having me changed her… she was fine until I came along… I feel guilty for having forced her to have me…
I could go on and on and on writing like that. All I have to do is bleed the internal dialogue which I lived with for most of my life (and still live with but our relationship has changed), the negative affirmations which my Narcissist parents drummed into me, the criticisms I’ve absorbed from society (some of which came from my Narcissist parents relaying a message society gave them for me, some from the members of society who were giving me an important memo on behalf of my parents – wind them up and watch them go, some from those I have socialised with who repeat what society has told them and pass it on like a hot potato, some from society in general, the internet, news, media, self-help books, and so on)…
While children of Narcissists are born into guilt soup, eat it, drink it, breathe it and suck it in through every orifice daily, and become highly sensitised to it to the point where we can find it where no one else can see it – it’s there! Right there! Neon sign, blinking on and off so you can’t blank it out like one of those adverts on a webpage which is so afraid you’re ignoring it! – and feel it, oh yes, that feeling bad feeling which is so awful and yet hard to live without…
the truth of it is we’re not special, singled out, when it comes to feeling guilty about everything all the time, it seems all humans do that.
If you’re a child of Narcissists and think your experience of feeling guilty is something regular humans, those outside of the Narcissist family who seem to be blessed while you’re cursed, don’t have…
and theirs isn’t that different from ours. Sure they don’t have their Narcissist parent squeezing the life out of them using emotional blackmail, but ordinary non-narcissist parents use emotional blackmail too, and it can impact their children in a similar manner to how the Narcissist parent impacts their children. The children of non-narcissists are less likely to ever resort to No Contact – maybe we have it better? Maybe our curse is a blessing?
Feeling guilty and inducing feelings of guilt for a specific purpose is endemic to humans. In this respect we’re all subject to Narcissist parents (the government, corporations, advertising, the media all use it), and we may all be ‘Narcissists’ sometimes when we’re in a relationship and indulge in a bit of emotional blackmail – you forgot my birthday *sadface (I can’t even begin to describe how much I hate the sadface emoticon).
yet another excerpt via – WikiHow: How to Eliminate Guilt: 13 Steps (with pictures)
Do Narcissists feel guilty?
When a Narcissist decides that you’re toxic, they have absolutely no problem letting you go, discarding you – society (and instructions like the ones in the image above about letting go of toxic people) tells them it’s okay to do that, not only okay but a must, and that they don’t have to feel guilty about it, so why would they? You’re a Narcissist and they, the non-narcissist, need to No Contact you until you’re obliterated, their friends, family, acquaintances, the guy in the coffee shop, must also No Contact you, your friends, family, postman, must also No Contact you, Social Media must No Contact you – you are the problem and they are solving it with an icepick lobotomy. They must be strong, beautiful, powerful, and brave in the face of such a villain, and all the suffering your existence causes.
They may experience nostalgia later on, a twinge of regret that they tossed you aside when you’d be really useful to them right now, they’re feeling lonely, life has dealt them another disappointment, no one understands them they’re too unique, their specialness keeps being missed, not honoured, but you, you admired them…
and they may feel sorry for themselves, you were so great together, you’re the one who got away, and you may get turned into the perfect ideal fantasy love of their life (as long as you don’t spoil it for them by being real) who no other can ever live up but they will try to get others to live up to you, they’ll bash them over the head with you, sculpting them, through jealousy, envy, fear… others must try to live up to you or feel guilty about it.
Why then do you feel guilty when you decide to finally, after years of narcissistic abuse, of returning to the scene of the crime like a victim who needs to be killed again by the killer just to be sure that you were killed and who the killer is (they keep telling you things did not go down that way, you’re remembering it all wrong) remove yourself from the influence, sphere, world domination dreams of a Narcissist? Because you’re abandoning a Narcissist to live in their own self-made hell and you were supposed to be the saviour who pulled them out of it. You tried, but somehow you kept failing – why? Was it your fault or… I know they made it seem that way and you can make it seem that way because they trained you to do it, but…
I recall once when my mother was once again bitching to me about my father, complaining about their relationship, blaming his mistress for stealing him away and being a witch who cast a spell on him (and she wasn’t using that as a metaphor or being fanciful – she really believed my father’s mistress had used real witchcraft because she found some herbs in the kitchen of their house which were not my mother’s herbs)… this was some time after my father had suffered a stroke, he needed care and my mother was certain that he wasn’t getting it (according to his mistress he had the first stroke on the very day she had decided to finally leave him because she couldn’t take his treatment of her anymore – she stayed and took care of him after that, and was with him until he died, decades later, still caring for him, still being treated like a slave and whipping boy, still loving him)… I suddenly had this insight, and the boldness to share it with her, I asked her – Do you really want to go back to him and care for him? If you do, then do it. If you don’t, then admit that to yourself and accept it.
She had one of those moments of clarity which Narcissists can have and admitted that she liked the idea more than the reality… I mean she was the one who told me every time I got sniffles that she was not good with sick people, so don’t get sick and expect to be cared for. She would have hated taking care of my father, being a good wife… but she just couldn’t let go of the fantasy of proving once and for all that she was ‘the first wife’, the one and only wife, the best thing that every happened to him and he had to bow down and admit that he was not worthy of her wonderfulness.
Narcissists in a relationship with other Narcissists do the same shit they do to non-narcissists, and are affected by it when the shit they do is done to them in a similar manner as non-narcissists. They go just as insane due to the crazy-making and the fact that they’re already screwed up and doing screwed-up stuff in return doesn’t protect them.
My mother played out themes with my father which I found myself playing out with her (although I was never as convinced as she was that she was the innocent one – I always felt like the guilty one. She said she felt that way too sometimes… not so sure but maybe) – she did the ‘if only’ story. If only she could win my father’s love back, if only she could prove to him that she really loved him, if only he could see that everything she did she did it for him, if only he would acknowledge and be grateful for all the sacrifices she had made for him, if only he would admit that he had put her through hell and she had stuck by him, never waning in her passion and commitment to him, if only he would change and become the person she fantasised about him becoming rather than who he was, if only she could save him from his latest drama, from the latest villains in his life, from his mistress, from the most recent emergency, from himself, from the self-destructive path he was on…
and my father echoed her ‘if only’ back (or was she echoing his ‘if only’?)… if only she hadn’t left him he wouldn’t have made that business deal with those schysters, if only she’d been a better wife he wouldn’t have been interested in his mistress, if only she hadn’t stressed him out so much he wouldn’t have had a stroke, if only…
if only you’d been a better child your Narcissist parents would have… there’s still time if they’re still alive for you to go back to them and save them from – what is it this time?
did you abandon your siblings and unlike you they couldn’t get out… please save us, just once could you act like a proper sibling and… it’s alright for you, but what about us… you had it easy, we took the brunt and it’s thanks to us you could sail off into the sunset, did you ever consider that, us…
I found this while searching for an image of the No Contact rule – but this isn’t representing the typical No Contact rule designed to help you distance yourself from a Narcissist, this is a very different and special kind of No Contact rule. It’s from Ex-Boyfriend Recovery, and it’s a super secret method which teaches people how to use No Contact to get their boyfriend back.
Here’s an excerpt: “The no contact rule allows time to go by so that your ex-boyfriend can get into a not-so-highly negative emotional state. He’ll level out a little bit. He’ll get back to the norm. He’ll get back to his normal self. After the no contact rule is over, you can work him to get him into a highly emotional positive state. When a man is in a highly emotional positive state, he’s a lot easier to get back than when he’s in a highly emotional negative state.”
Most people, whether they’ve done it themselves or not, will realise that No Contact is not something you’re doing as a whim, or as a game to mess with someone who just is not that into you but you want them to be, you’re not messing with your ex, or your family to get them to bargain with you and give you better terms, and you won’t have to explain it to them – they can look it up, you can text or email them the link to a blog post or psychological article which sums everything up for you if they need words.
And yes maybe yesterday you said everything was fine, things had been worked out or were being worked out, you were in couples or family therapy and all was going well… you weren’t lying, you were just hoping that this time… and you’ve finally got to that point where hope seems like the worst evil in Pandora’s box rather than the only thing good in it. Things, like the mind, can change overnight, especially if you have one of those nights where it all comes crushing down, it implodes, it is hard to escape… the choice you have to make that the only escape is by doing something which may leave you feeling more guilty than you already feel.
It sometimes takes your heart and the more primal side of you to catch up to the rest of you, the intellect, the… omg, I know you all warned me about him, her… I wanted so badly to prove you wrong and not be your favourite screw-up friend.
I wanted so badly for my parents not to be Narcissists… I was willing to keep hurting myself for a moment when they would stop hurting me. I feel so guilty for hurting them somehow for letting them hurt me.
A relationship with a Narcissist can be experienced similarly to a relationship with a drug, or some other substance which is addictive, with which you have bonded and even though you intellectually understand that it is bad for you – your body, your mind, your emotions can react as though what is bad is being deprived of it and what is good is getting a dose of it.
What addicts people to Narcissists? It depends on the individual, but the most commonly expressed reason is that Narcissists give us high-highs, all their drama can be exciting to our system, it creates a rush of adrenalin, makes our heart palpitate, skip a beat, soar up and out of our throats, similar to how we feel on a funfair ride – many people mention that being with their Narcissist was an emotional rollercoaster.
If you’ve ever been on an actual rollercoaster and had that experience of being terrified while on it, wanting to get off, make it stop… and then when it did stop and you got off, you suddenly had the urge to do it again – you’ll know why you go back to your Narcissist, or why someone you know just can’t seem to stay off the Narcissist ride even though they know it makes them miserable, they’ll suffer the low-lows, and they’ll hate themselves for going back on their word that they’d never do it again.
They just need to talk with, see, the Narcissist one more time to get closure, they’re doing this for themselves, they can’t move on properly without doing this, they have to confront what they’re afraid of to get their power back, this time they’ll be in control, the Narcissist won’t suck them back in…
This time will be different, the Narcissist said sorry and promised never to hurt them again, and it wasn’t really the Narcissist’s fault, it was their fault things got out of hand before because they overreacted, they got confused, they’ve talked it over with the Narcissist calmly and have understood that their version of events was wrong, the Narcissist explained what really happened and several of the Narcissist’s friends backed them up… it’s weird how the mind can play tricks on us, they were so convinced that the Narcissist had stabbed them in the back, betrayed them yet again, punched them in the gut, used their own vulnerability against them, deliberately sacrificed them to save themselves but none of that happened. They got it all wrong, they were wrong. In fact things kind of happened the other way around, they hurt the Narcissist, left the Narcissist in the lurch when the Narcissist needed them the most, and they’re feeling really guilty…
The Monty Python sketch above is one of my favourites. I wonder why it’s a favourite?
I first saw this on TV when I was a child. It’s funny looking back at the things my child self latched onto, the TV shows, films, songs, books, stories, little snippets here and there… so many of them described life with Narcissists. I understood things better then than I did later on when I grew up, even though when I got older in theory I should have had a more refined intellectual capacity, should have been more in touch with my emotions and how to process them, had more information at my disposal, a clearer grasp of perspective (as in the tiny cow in the field is not a tiny cow in a field at all, it’s a normal sized cow in the distance), and the independence of thought to finally confront what I’d been forced to accept to survive being the child of Narcissists.
I was a childish child, and they know nothing compared to the know-it-all teen, and the adulty-adult who knows that real life requires an adult mind to deal with it… or do they?
To me this sketch sums up the process which occurs when a Narcissist convinces us into forgiving them and forgetting what really happened. It captures how a Narcissist can make everyone around you believe their version of events just by turning on the charm, telling people what they want to hear, making fake news become real news, and making you complicit in what they are doing – this last element can keep you forever stuck with a Narcissist for many reasons, the simplest of which is that they can hold it over you, remind you of it when you try to break free.
Oh, you think you’re better than them (holier than thou – that’s reserved for them only, how dare you)… here’s a picture they took of you when you were under them while they did something to you, got you to beg for more, and you wouldn’t want them to show this to others, to those new friends you’ve made with your new persona who is claiming to be what the Narcissist knows you are not. You liked it, you must have done since you accepted it. That you were cornered and acted out of character, didn’t know what to do, made a bad choice because there really wasn’t a good choice available at the time – none of that matters to a Narcissist.
Go ahead, tell your story, tell them how much the Narcissist hurt you… if a Narcissist can’t sacrifice you to save themselves and get people to side with them against you, if they’re done for, their kingdom made of fantasy is falling, they can still drag you down with them, either using your guilt to get you to go with them or just ruin you however they can because they’re not going to hell without company. And they know something you may not know – there are other Narcissists out there who will help them drag you to hell because they’re saving themselves, and your example will be used to keep their hostages from thinking this is a free-for-all. You really don’t want to end up like that, do you. Keep quiet and I’ll take care of you as I always have since you first had the luck to be noticed by me.
Starry Eyes – a film about what it’s like to want to be a Hollywood star, what you have to do and who you have to do it for and with. It is a fictional account, which goes all weird after a normal start and gets very disturbing… or is it and does it? It is disturbing, and there’s one scene in particular which will have you squirming like all those Hollywood actors who are now coming out with their Harvey Weinstein stories.
Both of my parents did a routine similar to the one in the sketch when they wanted to ‘get out of jail’, ‘get away with murder’, and be found ‘not gillcup’ (a reference to another Monty Python courtroom sketch which I also loved and which regularly pops into my mind when I think of the concept of guilty and not guilty – it’s a game of charades).
My father never apologised to anyone for anything. Apologies were a sign of weakness, and they made you vulnerable – someone like him could use your apology and admittance of wrong-doing against you. My father was always paranoid about people being and behaving like him with him, he had to stay one step ahead of the game.
But he did use the tactic of noticing people who did not expect to be noticed, shining a spotlight on them and applauding them for their part in his greatest show on earth. He would make a point of showing them that he had seen what they had done and heard what they had said, and it had impressed him. He could make a person feel like king or queen for a moment – and that person in that moment fell in love with him because he was showering them with love, inspiring them to feel love for, and pride in, themselves. Many of these people remained loyal to him through thick and thin even if he never shone a spotlight on them ever again – they kept waiting for that moment, kept trying to do or say something which would make him notice them again and lift them up as no one had ever lifted them up before or after.
When a Narcissist pats you on the head and tells you that you’ve been a good boy or girl, it can feel as though you’ve been crowned – it’s an addictive experience. And when that same Narcissist is disappointed in you, which becomes the norm after they’ve won you over – for a typical Narcissist once they’ve done the work (and it is work for them) they needed to do to get you to fall in love with them, they no longer need to keep working at it. You must love them forever and love them unconditionally, that’s the contract you signed with them – but it’s not the contract they signed with you, their love for you is conditional, you must love them and never leave no matter what they do to you or else you’re a failure, a liar, someone who pretends to love others… is that who you are, ugh, what did they see in you, you tricked them, you wore a facade but now it has fallen and they can see the real you and you is ugly. You can end up desperately attempting to win their favour back, to prove to them that you’re not the horror show they’ve decided that you are, that you’re worthy, that you’re good enough… and even when you realise what is going on, that they’re a Narcissist, if only you could just get that crown back on your head then you could move on without feeling so icky about it.
A bit extremist and generalising the eff out of things, but thought-provoking and worth pausing to consider – especially if you’re the child of Narcissists and think everyone outside of your Narc family is okay, it’s just you that’s a screw-up, or you’re trying to understand how normal people fall for your Narcissist parents’ BS and will ‘work’ for them against you no matter how illogical it is.
My mother wasn’t as good at the routine as my father was, perhaps because she did apologise, but… there was always a ‘but’ after the apology, and that ‘but’ preceded a list of what you had done wrong, the mistakes you had made, your faults and flaws, typos and grammatical incorrectness highlighted with a red marker and sealed with a big ‘F’ kiss, which eventually justified what she had done. She was apologising because she was the better person, and she was teaching you how to be by example, to give you the chance to apologise because really you should be the one to apologise to her for what you made her do to you which is yet another crime you committed against her to add to the original sin.
She could be very charming, and would notice all the little people and the little things they’d done, she’d let them know that, all things considered, they had done rather well, well done you… because her grandmother taught her that you must be nice to the little people as this proved how great you were – can you see the problem with her version of the routine?
It used to infuriate her to watch my father do it and be loved for it, especially as this meant people who could potentially be her allies against him became his allies against her. She did it just as well as he did, better than he did because she was genuine, her appreciation of the little people was authentic, but his was all an act and those idiots, those fools, those sheeples (she never used that term, but when I hear people use it it reminds me of her), those traitors, fell for his routine instead of falling for hers… she was more lovable than him! Stomp, stomp, stomp! She was more loyal, more trustworthy, more righteous, a saint and a martyr, if they’d been on her side they wouldn’t live to regret it! One day they would be burning in hell and she could laugh at them from heaven and tell them – I told you so!
Where was I in all of this?
Somewhere in the background, waiting for them to remember I existed and then use me one way or another.
My father used me when he wanted to show what a great father he was, and if I didn’t play along I was a brat – which he could spin into a story about how did such a wonderful father end up with such a terrible child, it must be the mother’s fault. His most regular use for and of me was as a weapon against my mother (as previously mentioned) – he could do this in several ways, some of which didn’t need me to participate or be there. Whether I worked with him, willingly or without realising it was happening (you may wonder how someone who is regularly used by a Narcissist and is aware that they are being used could ever think that they’re not being used yet again… yet another reason to feel guilty, I guess), or against him because I did not want to be used, because I was protecting my mother (she would make me pay for not protecting her, so I wasn’t always being a knight in shining armor saving the damsel in permanent distress, sometimes I was just trying to avoid the fallout and radiation burns)… I would invariably end up feeling guilty.
My mother had more uses for me than my father did, I was her shoulder to cry on when she had once again lost a battle to my father, I was a substitute husband when she needed to punish him, win a battle she had just lost – replaying it so she could get the victory she was certain she deserved, and sometimes she would get me to play the part he refused to play for her – I’d take her out to dinner (at Always The Wrong Restaurant – if you’ve never been to that restaurant I highly recommend it as the dining experience which will make eat and drink guilt), or out shopping (at What A Load of Tat, Who Would Buy That, Don’t These People Know Who I Am, and other low end shops for commoners) for a treat to make her feel better, if I bought something too because not buying something would make her feel awful about herself buying something it could become yet another reason to hate me – Did you know that you can actually buy and wear guilt, every time you wear it you feel the weight of guilt dragging you down, but you can’t not wear it as that is a guilty act, you’re ungrateful, don’t appreciate that you have what others don’t have.
So how do you, as a child of Narcissists, stop feeling guilty about… everything?
Particularly about abandoning your poor Narcissist parents and any siblings who are still stuck in the time and reality warp when you go No Contact or Low Contact?
Should you go back one more time? Try to save those who claim you could save them if you just weren’t being so selfish? Or because you got it all wrong, it’s all in your head and your head… needs Dr. Freeman to give it a jab with an icepick through your eye, then a jiggle and wiggle to sever those problematic cords that are making you such a…
What are you? Take a moment to ask those you’re feeling so guilty about abandoning who you are? Shhh… let them talk… let them remind you…
Should you feel guilty? No, probably not, but when has that stopped you from feeling guilty? When has logic stopped those who made you feel guilty about everything?
Yes, mother let Fido out and Fido got run over, and it all got blamed on you one way or another by you and everyone else (would Fido have blamed you too?), and you’ll feel guilty about it for the rest of your life even after you’ve applied reason and logic, and accepted that a large portion of life is just plain chaos.
Something within you is just wired to feel guilty about everything whether you did it or not, whether you could have done something to stop it or not.
There’s a hurricane (Ophelia) passing over the UK today, the sun went red – should I feel guilty about it? No, of course not, but…
How do you deal with it? With the guilt?
Well, in some way coming from background of having Narcissist parents can make dealing with it easier… only after confronting some incredibly difficult stuff (all that stuff which surfaces after No Contact gives you a breather and all those things you’d put on a shelf, fall off the shelf onto your head)… as you’re kind of already bled dry of effs to give. But you don’t want to become inured to it to the point where you don’t feel guilt at all because you’ve blocked it all out – this will in theory turn you into who you never want to be – just like your parents.
You need the guilt, all humans need the guilt – you just need to level it out so you can tell the difference between a Narcissist-induced-guilt-trip and an actual good reason to feel guilty.
Narcissist-induced-guilt-trip = your Narcissist parent is once again tied to some train tracks (did you tie them up to those train tracks? Just because you wish you had and had fantasised about it, and feel super guilty for that, you didn’t do it – why? because it is wrong to do that) and the train is fast approaching. Heylp! Heylp! – they scream. They left you a note on the fridge to know where they are and what’s happening, but they’ve written it in that Narcissist language which is cryptic and hard to decipher even for someone who is an expert in Narc-speak like you have been forced to become. Still somehow you manage to figure it out because you feel so guilty, but… oops. it’s your fault they once again got hit by a train because they were on the track waiting for the train while claiming they were immortal and it would pass through them, or some deity would stop the train and prove to them they were the chosen one, or you were supposed to save them but they fought tooth and nail against your every tug and pull, screeching at you that you didn’t love them enough, and at some point you had no strength left or you untied them and pulled them off the track but they somehow still got hit.
And no matter how many times they get hit by a train… they survive it and live to tell you why you should feel guilty about it.
Real genuine guilt which is useful = you tied someone to the train track (a real one) and they died (because a real train really ran them over). Even if that someone was your Narcissist parent and your defense could use the insanity plea, or self-defense, or… if you don’t feel guilty, you’re most likely not going to be wondering how to stop feeling guilty for going No Contact… or for going minimum contact…
or for finally protecting yourself, standing up for yourself, telling your parents they’re adults and if they can’t stop creating their own dramas from which they need to be saved… you’ll conclude that they like that sort of thing and frankly they never let you save them, and they make you feel guilty for getting close to doing so.
Methods I have used to deal with going No Contact and staying No Contact:
1 – get angry and stay angry.
You can if you want and need to actually get angry at the Narcissist parent in person, but you know where that leads. Knowing where that leads is a good source of anger, and helpful if you’re thinking of going back one more time, giving them one more chance (to screw you up and over and into the ground beneath their feet)
You may feel guilty for being angry at them – ice cold anger is more useful than hot and sweaty anger, the latter subsides and leaves you with a guilt hangover, the former keeps you coolly pissed for a long time.
Get angry at yourself – I know people tell you not to do this (and I’m probably one of those people), but parents who love their children will scream at them if they’re running into traffic.
The anger is there to protect you – let it protect you.
Remind yourself of incidents from the past when your Narcissist parent mistreated you and wind yourself up into a rage against the Family machine. It’s NOT fair! It’s NOT right! It’s NOT your fault!
Light the fuse of that powder keg inside of you… this is an uprising!
at some point much later on when you’re ready, able and stable in your stance, you can start to be less angry at your Narcissist parents but keep an eye on yourself – a loving, caring, gentle eye who is watching out for you.
2 – notice the guilt and other prompts which trigger mechanisms, old patterns, behaviours.
Stop. Pause. Give yourself a Time Out.
Observe the feeling and the reaction, the reflex it’s causing. Have a chat with yourself about it. What’s going on, what’s really going on? What are you thinking, what are you really thinking? How are you feeling, how are you really feeling?
You don’t have to have ready answers, good answers, and it may all be or sound like excuses, let it flow, let yourself get it out in the open where you can hear it and listen – not as in listening to someone who is working you up into a froth, winding you up to watch you go, but as in a therapist listening to their client, an ideal parent listening to their child talk about an upsetting incident…
get to know yourself, get to know yourself again, get to know yourself the way you wish others would take the time to do it, the way you’d wish your Narcissist parents had done and would do, the way you wish you would…
if it all gets too much and you want to escape the bad feeling, feel compelled to follow an old routine… you may have to let yourself do it, don’t be disappointed, it’s okay, you’re there for yourself…
3 – do the opposite to what you would have normally done.
this is something I incorporated into my life while I was still in contact with my parents, after watching an episode of Seinfeld wherein George Costanza decided to do the opposite of what he normally did and his life suddenly got better. I think it may have run for more than one episode but that was a long time ago.
After that I started sporadically, when I could remember to do it, doing things differently with my parents and in other areas of my life – sometimes it was the opposite of what I would normally do, sometimes it was something I wanted to do but never did, sometimes what I did was nothing rather than something.
Sometimes it had a great effect, sometimes it derailed my Narcissist parents (or stop another Narcissist in their train tracks), sometimes nothing I would have done would have made any difference, but overall it caused a shift in me – it made me aware of the personal power I had even when I felt utterly powerless. It was a small step for me in a new direction.
If you find yourself heading back to your Narcissist parents, just one more time because…. and there is no way to stop yourself without being abusive to yourself, and that would probably not stop you since you’re kind of used to abusing yourself (you were trained to do it, and you followed their example of how they treated you)…
see if you can’t just slip in some suggestions into the internal conversation you’re having, the one where you’re practising what you’re going to say and do once you get to your Narcissist parents or when you call them, a small change in the rote, routine.
4 – accept living with guilt, feeling guilty.
Not in a – I’m doomed – manner, or a – it is all my fault – way… although I did do that for awhile, and apologised to everyone for everything, and got so thoroughly fed up with it, and others got fed up with it too – people saw me coming and would apologise to me, quickly point out that something was their fault just to get me to snap out of it, stop, because I didn’t listen when they told me it wasn’t my fault. I did stop, and don’t do that anymore, except occasionally when I’m in a funk.
Feeling like shit, being in a funk, feeling guilty – are elements of a normal human experience of life and living it.
That’s what I mean about accepting it. We pee, we poo, we barf, fart, etc. Those are normal physical experiences, and feeling guilty is the needing to pee of the psyche. Sometimes we’re ashamed of our natural bodily functions and this can cause all sorts of weird behaviours, and get us into strange situations, and then we’re not sure how to undo what we’ve done. Sometimes we’re ashamed of our natural functions… shit happens!
Don’t try to eliminate guilt from your life, from yourself – that isn’t natural.
Love and Time Travel (also known as Chronesthesia) – a lovely film, which has something for those of us who live life weirdly, backwards, with nothing to guide us and yet everything guides us.
5 – flip things around.
This is similar to ‘doing the opposite’ but this one is less action and more thought (the action takes place in thought). This is a philosophical exercise rather than a psychological one.
Okay, you’re guilty – what does that make everyone else? Are they innocent? Are they guilty too? If you’re all guilty and there is no one who is innocent – does guilt exist?
What if what you’re feeling and have come to believe is guilt, isn’t guilt? What else could it be? If it hadn’t been named and had only just been discovered, what would you call it? And why? How would you describe it to others who didn’t know what it was? And if it was a product, how would you package it and sell it?
The last bit isn’t really flip things around but it is a part of the process – you’re stretching your mind muscles to perceive things differently, from another angle, and maybe even get a peak into your blind spot.
Doing this helped me to stop seeing things from my Narcissist parents’ perspective. All those arguments they used against me which I really only dealt with by fighting against them – but when you fight against something a part of you agrees with it, which is often why you fight so hard, and are so determined to prove them wrong at all costs.
One of the major ones was my father telling me that it was my fault he never got to see me. When he said that one Christmas after he had once in a blue moon flown to where I was to spend Christmas with me, rather than me having to fly to where he was to spend Christmas with him. Now, of course, my mother could be blamed for blocking him from seeing me, or if not blocking him for making him so miserable that it was the same as being blocked – as far as I know she never blocked him, every flat we rented always had to have a room for him, and we moved to Paris because he had a studio there which he suddenly stopped using once we were there. This was a logic problem which I couldn’t solve regardless of applied logic – I still kept thinking that 7 yr old me should have made more of an effort to see 50 yr old him, I should have booked flights, got on planes, left school mid term or taken off every weekend, packed my bags and trekked to his place. If I had loved him I would have done it!
Then BAM! I got it – the whole scenario was flipped around, the logic problem was back to front, I was living in an alternate universe where that was a thing!
To be fair to him a lot of random people (ones whom he hadn’t wound up and watched go to me to deliver his message) seemed to agree with him that it is the responsibility of the child to make the effort to be with their parent. Children must honour their parents not the other way around. Why aren’t YOU seeing your father? What’s wrong with YOU? rather than Why isn’t YOUR FATHER seeing you? What’s wrong with HIM?
Flipping things around has made living in this mad, mad, mad, world of ours so much more relaxing and fun.
Oh, yes, I still feel guilty about loads of things – my guilt is almost becoming as good an ally as my anger. In some ways it protects me, but not in as straightforward a manner as the anger. And that’s in large part to flipping things around.
I’ve written too much as always… and yes I do feel _____ about it even though why?
Over to you…
you may have noticed or not because I don’t think I mentioned it, that I am doing a series on being a child of Narcissists and that I am writing posts in answer to questions which you’ve asked in the comments of this series…
ask a question…
please note: my answers are just my answers and you don’t have to make them yours, you don’t have to agree with them, you can totally argue with me – a healthy debate is helpful, not always in the way it thinks it is being helpful.
or share your own answers…
or saying anything…
silence is good too if you prefer…