What is the positive side of being a child of Narcissists?
There’s got to be one, right? It can’t all be negative, can it?
These days with the advent of more awareness about Narcissists, and the fact that Narcissists breed, have children… more and more is being written about – What happens to children of Narcissists.
If you do a search online with just – Children of Narcissists – you will get an abundance of results, many of them written by psychologists and other kinds of professionals and experts.
As much as I appreciate the attention the subject and status is getting from those who can make the issue official, factual, giving it validity, the science seal of approval, and accepted by society, the public at large, thus prompting more research into the matter, for many reasons,
one of which is that I no longer have to say more than – I’m a child of Narcissists, look it up if you want to know what that means
(and yes, I’m aware that the manner in which that was said sounds full of the wrong kind of attitude, and that it still isn’t quite as simple as that)
there’s a part of me which finds a lot of the material written about me, my kind, us, our group to which we inadvertently belong, children of Narcissists, to be negative.
Negative in a way which says you’re doomed, done for, stuck in hell even if you managed on your own to drag yourself through it and pull yourself tooth and nail out of it…
the rest of society sees you as fucked up forever, damaged beyond repair, and they feel empathy/sympathy/very sorry for you… except for those people who have convinced themselves and are trying to convince others that Narcissists were born evil and therefore if the Narcissist had a child, the gene is corrupt (I’ve heard this theory expounded by people who have had a child with a Narcissist, and that always makes me do a shocked double-take – are they seeing their child as the battleground of their good gene against the Narcissist’s evil gene, or are they doing something even more sinister?)
I got an error message while following a link to an article about children of Narcissists, and I tweaked it a bit *
Sometimes even the positive messages come with negative undertones and undertow. An overly optimistic approach from a therapist or one of those self-created healers of victims of Narcissists can feel like a burden to a child of Narcissists. Why? Because we don’t want to let people down, a therapist or positive thinking guru has an ego, and that ego is invested in the work that they’re doing, they’re certain their method can heal you and maybe it can, but what if it doesn’t work for you?
If it doesn’t work for you then that must be your fault, you’re not doing it properly, following the instructions, committing yourself to the cause – the failure comes from you not the method, and certainly not from the pusher of the method. This has worked for countless others, some of whom were far worse off than you…
And once again we’re back where we started.
We got on the hope train and hope proved once again to be the worst of the items in Pandora’s box.
We gave our power away to a figure in ‘authority’, and they used it to batter us. We thought that someone else understood us, what we had been through, what we needed, and they showed us how little they know of a subject they claim to know all about.
We trusted that someone else had our best interests as a priority because they said that they did…
Maybe they’re right, maybe they really are trying to help us and it’s us who made things impossible for them…?
I’m going to use the 13 points made in the excerpt above (from a balanced article on the subject) to offer some alternative effects – some positive ways children of Narcissists were affected.
Please note: this is my take on it, feel free to argue, debate, disagree, and please add your own take on it if you feel free enough to do so.
1 – Have difficulty making decisions? Your parents criticized or second-guessed your choices.
There is no doubt that self-doubt is a royal pain in the arse – it’s kind of funny that we can be so certain about something so uncertain. So sure about what makes us feel so unsure.
Doubt is similar to Guilt – it’s a natural bodily function of the psyche. It has its uses, and when used correctly it is useful. But just like with physical bodily functions, it can malfunction, cause us pain and problems.
I definitely have difficulty making decisions, and a large part of that can be blamed on my Narcissist parents criticising me and my choices, and making me second guess myself and my choices.
It’s more complicated and complex than that for children of Narcissists, that’s just the obvious, the stuff a child of Narcissist may feel less afraid or wary of pointing out to other people, the stuff someone outside of the Narcissist family might see for themselves – because Narcissist parents have no problem at all denigrating their child in public, sometimes it’s part of a show they’re putting on for their audience. If it shocks their audience, the public, then so much the better because then they’re paying attention, and all eyes and minds will be on the Narcissist.
If an outsider has the temerity to interfere, to (GASP!) criticise the Narcissist parent for criticising their child… the child of Narcissist parents must step forward and defend their poor victims of a meanie member of ghastly society Narcissist parents by owning up to having been wrong and deserving what their parents did to them – a public roasting was necessary, and it hurt the Narcissist parents more than it hurts the child. Please don’t be unfair to them you unfair meanie member of ghastly society which just does not understand superior parenting skills.
A Narcissist parent may do this public humiliation routine if their child got complimented by an outsider in front of the Narcissist, or otherwise was ‘stealing attention’ and other narc supply from the hungry Narcissist.
The things which make it difficult for a child of Narcissists to make decisions can stem from more than just dealing with Narcissist parents on a daily basis. Beyond the Narcissist parents are other Narcissists, some of whom can hurt your Narcissist parent who then has to pass on the pain with added extras to you and anyone else who crosses their path, and who you may encounter perhaps at school, at a friend’s house, at a bus stop, when you think you’re ‘safe’ because your Narcissist parents aren’t there. And then there are the non-narcissists out there who can make you feel worse than your Narcissist parents do without meaning to, of course. Sometimes Society comes across as one big Narcissist just waiting for you to make any decision at all so it can shit on you.
The real kicker is trying to configure your survival/coping mechanism – every time you think you have a safety measure in place, and you can rely on it to protect you, something goes wrong – the Narcissist changes tack, because the old tack wasn’t working on you anymore.
So what’s the positive?
That reminds me (and this tangent is relevant) of an excellent post I read the other day – I Am The “So…” Guy by Dysfunctional Literacy – wherein he talks about the horror the horror of finding himself using “So…” to start sentences in conversation, how much his wife hates people who do that, rants about it, mocks them for it, and how he’s trying to cure himself of the sinful habit because he’s sure it’s bothering everyone. It’s a brilliantly clever piece of writing. And it made me laugh because I’m a “So…” person (I’m also the person who starts sentences with “And…”. I do it in Italian too (Allora…). Not sure if I do it in French because I haven’t spoken French in awhile, except in a dream and the usual rules don’t apply in dreams.
Not so long ago, reading a post like that one would have left me feeling bad about my use of “So…”. I know the author of the post would not intend for me to feel bad about it (or maybe I don’t know that). I would have most likely tried, as he is, to stop such a bad habit from inhabiting me and my speak. I would have felt guilty every time I caught myself in the act, and may have even apologised to others for offending their ears and sensitive sensibilities.
I commit an awful lot of verbal crimes – my Narcissist mother was always there for me to point them out, to lecture and nag me clean, put me on the straight and narrow plank (the floor wasn’t lava, it was turgid waters full of ravenous sharks).
At some juncture I realised that part of the reason I was a socially awkward mofo, especially in conversation, was because I was too busy censoring my speech, attempting to construct sentences with only the right grammar, correct usage, exact pronunciation, no typos allowed, nothing offensive, etc, before I said anything.
Am I going to stop using “So…” at the beginning of sentences because someone has pointed out to me (the error of my ways) that other people don’t like it, it pains them, causes them to froth at the mouth, and they’re going to mock me for it?
It pained my mother (and other Narcissists) when I said something as simple as “No.” – that was a wrong decision to do that and now you must pay, take it back, delete and replace with “Yes.”.
Thanks to my Narcissist parents, other Narcissists, and non-narcissists… I have been firmly, roundly, and repeatedly taught that all my decisions are wrong, all my choices are terrible, I should probably kill myself but that would be a bad choice too… I no longer use the same parameters as I used to for making choices and judging the choices I have made (or have not yet made because I’m still dithering – in other words thinking things through, waiting for more data, for the time to be right for me).
Flip side time – Having difficulty making decisions is not something which is exclusive to children of Narcissists, everyone has this problem, if they didn’t advertising wouldn’t badger, nag, shout, and try to brainwash us as much as it does. Next time someone criticises your decision, questions your choice aggressively, makes you second guess… flip it around and look at them instead of yourself. Sometimes people pick your choices apart because your choice has provoked them to second guess themselves, to criticise their own decisions, they’re feeling the self-doubts, and now they need to find out why you made the choice you made. Or they need you to unmake it because they can’t live life like this! With the uncertainty you’re causing them to experience!
Speaking of ads shouting at you to PAY ATTENTION! – doesn’t that just confirm your decision not to listen to them. It does with me – the more you shout and scream at me, the less valid you’re making your point.
Th positive sides of the experience of having difficulty making decisions, and second-guessing choices, are:
You become a critical thinker – this kind of ‘critical thinking’ is the positive kind.
You take the time to listen and hear more than one side of a story, argument, subject, concept, because you know from experience that there is more than one side, there can be thousands of sides and somewhere within them all is a meeting place.
You’re less likely to jump to conclusions. If you do you’re more likely to be open to accepting and admitting that you did that.
You’re not terrified of making mistakes, of course you don’t like making errors but you’re aware that this can happen, does happen, is part of the learning and living as a human process, and that things are sooner mended and amended once a mistake is owned, an error is recognised for what it is. You are less prone to covering up a mistake with another error, or blaming others to save yourself.
You can empathise intelligently with others when they’re umming and erring, having difficulty making a decision, second-guessing their choices, ‘wasting’ time – it’s not wasted time, it’s time which needs to be taken.
And when someone else is peer-pressuring, criticising, bullying, finding problems (often where there isn’t a logical problem), whining, pet-peeving, etc, you can take a time out, step back, and assess what this someone’s problem really is rather than make it yours (but you will check to see if it is yours and whether an adjustment which does not require you throwing yourself into a volcano to appease an angry god can solve it).
this excerpt is one definition of critical thinking which is part of a collection of definitions from many sources gathered by The Critical Thinking Community
2 – Get uncomfortable when good things happen? Your parents ruined good times with selfish behavior or gave gifts with strings attached.
Is there any way to find a positive in a negative such as not being able to enjoy good things and times…
because the moment you relax all hell will break loose…
because the moment you think it’s okay to breathe, your breath will bring the monster out of the closet, or cause a hurricane in some other part of the world and all the death and destruction could have been avoided if you’d just… and now that money you spent on something you didn’t need but wanted because it made you feel good (or you thought it would, but maybe it didn’t) seems to confirm that you’re a spoiled brat, think of all those who don’t have…
because there’s a sword of Damocles hanging over you, the other shoe is going to drop, this beautifully wrapped gift has a very pissed venomous snake inside of it, there’s no point in getting happy, the moment you get happy and make the mistake of showing it, sharing it because happiness makes you share it, damn it, it triggers other people, they get envious, jealous, who do you think you are, how dare you, you don’t deserve it, they deserve it, they want it for themselves and if they can’t have it (hate + love = have), they’ll steal it, if they can’t steal it, they’ll ruin it for you, make sure you can’t have it either…
Of course, I’m a child of Narcissists I can find the silver lining in a permanently blacker than black sky after the Sun has died. And that’s part of the problem – I am trained to deal with the bad times, bad news, when bad things happen… my happy goes to work, whistling as it does, whistling a happy tune.
Yes, I realise now that’s why everyone believed me when I said I was fine and was the opposite of fine. Why all those outside the Narcissist family were impressed with how great my Narcissist parents were, their child always looked so happy, things must be dreamy for that family – some people have all the luck. Why those times when I let my unhappy show for more than a microexpression, brought lectures from strangers who wanted me to know that I did not suffer as others suffer, I couldn’t possibly know the suffering in this world, I was sheltered, and I owed it to people to never look gloomy because I hadn’t earned the right to look that way.
image from – If you look for Perfection, you’ll never be Content
I drew the above image awhile ago (the file says I uploaded it in January 15, 2014 or was it January 14, 2015? and as you can see I can find my own posts in this mess of a blog – so there! to the me who said I couldn’t in a previous post) when I was trying to explain my gift-phobia.
What is gift-phobia?
Well, it’s not the fear of giving gifts… although it can include that too thanks to what happens when giving gifts to Narcissists. For visual and popular reference see the episode of Sex and the City (Just Say Yes) where Carrie Bradshaw hates the beautiful engagement ring bought by the kind, loyal and loving Aidan, which she finds while snooping through his things. As I recall it, the entire episode is her bitching about the ring and whining that it’s not what she wanted, feeling very sorry for herself for having to go through such a trauma, and she concludes that he doesn’t love her or isn’t the right guy for her because he should have known what ring she wanted. Not sure if that’s really what happened in the episode as by then Carrie Bradshaw was Narcissist to me, and I hated the show but watched it sometimes anyway because I was going through a continue to inflict Narcissists upon myself phase (old habits die hard).
It’s the fear of receiving them. Why would anyone be afraid of receiving gifts? Why when someone gives them a present would they act as though it contained the ghost of Christmases past (who isn’t a pleasant and nostalgic bringer of joy)?
For a recent example using the news – Why would an actor halt production on a film for which he has been given financing? Because the ‘strings attached’ to the ‘gift of’ financing are ‘ruining something good’ (Channing Tatum Pulls Sexual Abuse-Themed Film From The Weinstein Company).
Sure, not everyone who gives gifts attaches strings to them, or at least not the type of strings which Narcissist parents attach to the gifts they give (which always come with an UOME), and we do know that, but our Narcissist parents may have made us pay for receiving gifts from other people (the Narcissist does not have to give you a gift to attach strings to a gift), and we’ve learned that it is better to be safe and sorry, than not safe and sorry soon to be sorrier.
So where is the positive in this?
We are what is known as Low Maintenance friends, dates, colleagues, spouses.
If you forget our birthday we won’t give you a ticket on the guilt-trip ship, we may be relieved that you forgot as then we can forget too, don’t have to do anything in return for you remembering.
If you just want to hang out in sweats eating sweets watching eye-candy on TV and saying stupid things, we’re up for the down time. We’ll enjoy it more than doing high maintenance stuff which requires so much work and stress to keep it going, to stay up for the up time, and leaves us exhausted afterwards.
We’ll appreciate all those little things which can be so tiny they’ll seem invisible – that glint in your eye when we show you a pleasing reflection of yourself (we’re excellent mirrors). That thing you do which you think no one notices, the small kindnesses – we notice those.
We are good cheerleaders, supporters, even though we’re often not team players.
If you weird out over an ordinary situation, have an anxiety attack over a ‘nothing’, we’ll understand as we do that too, have those too, and we’ll know the protocol – we can wait calmly and quietly until it passes, and offer a hand if needed, and we won’t take offense if you don’t need our help or snap at us while in phobia mode.
We can find the good in the bad, point it out, shine a light on it, magnify it, and use it as a light saber to keep the darkness at bay. If all there is is a pile of shit, we’ll turn it into fertiliser and grow something worth having out of it.
We know how to live in a permanent state of discomfort, please excuse us if we’re not comfortable when good things happen and that makes you uncomfortable – sometimes we’re right not to be and get comfortable. Should you ever find yourself in an uncomfortable situation we won’t be fair weather friends, and we can share with you our ‘How-to’s’ so you can learn to deal with people whose selfish behaviour is ruining your life, and sharpen your knife to cut those attached strings (and get the gift without them or be happier living without it).
3 – Worry or ruminate over confrontations with others? Your parents forbade you to disagree with them or punished you for doing so.
I’ll deal with it tomorrow (in the next post – this is now a series within a series)…
gotta go and get my chainsaw working, sharpen the blade on my axe, and chop some wood for the fire. Winter is coming.
or maybe I won’t do that, it’s wet, windy, getting dark outside…
but it has to get done, dear grasshopper, the ant says fuel prices are rising and…
*did I use the wrong font when I tweaked the 404 message. Should I have tweaked it, maybe the Huffpost will get in a huff about it and send in the legal vultures… don’t be silly. No one will notice and if they do they’ll think it’s crap and move on. But the font. should I have angled it, perhaps it should have been straight. The font. I like chalkduster but… what if others see it like they do comic sans or papyrus? I wonder if some of all of those people who vociferously claim hatred of comic sans know why they hate comic sans or if they’re just hating it because everyone is supposed to hate it…
I’m tired now, nap? Aren’t there things you should be doing!
Over to you…