I’m going to dive right in, pick up where I left off yesterday, so if you want an intro, are new to this series within a series, can’t remember what happened yesterday, go here – What Are The Strange Gifts of Children of Narcissists?
Am I being too bossy? Abrupt? Rude?
I didn’t say please, did I?
Was I being insensitive? Did I not take your feelings into consideration?
If yes, please (I said please this time) leave a message after the beep, I don’t have time to take your call right now.
So, where was I?
3 – Worry or ruminate over confrontations with others? Your parents forbade you to disagree with them or punished you for doing so.
Do I worry or ruminate (chew on the cud) over confrontations with others?
Yes, of course, I do. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be human… seriously, if you know a human who doesn’t do this – are they really a human!?
How many conversations have others had with you which started with – I can’t stop thinking about the argument we had/I had with Entername…?
How many blog posts have you read which were all about a blogger’s confrontation with someone in their life or online which they are sharing as a way of thinking out loud and maybe getting some fresh input from strangers?
How many tweets or Facebook posts have you noticed drifting along your timeline which are about some discussion someone had with someone else which they’re still stuck in?
How many of us are still fighting in our heads with some troll or flamer who deliberately bumped into us online?
How many of us are still grumbling about that rude person who pushed in front of us, that shop attendant who was offhand, that customer service operator who put us on hold, hung up on us…?
And as much as we and others may tell us to get over it… we keep worrying and ruminating, regurgitating what has been fermenting inside of us, and shewing on it some more.
All people, not just children of Narcissists, do this.
Narcissists do this a lot… omg do they do this a lot!
I’ve had to sit through interminable (obviously there were not actually interminable or I’d still be stuck there – somewhere inside of my mind, in an alternate universe, I may still be stuck there) verbal diarrhea sessions, wherein in one or the other of my Narcissist parents would go over and over and over ad nauseum, ad infinitum an interaction they had had with someone else which had left them frustrated and worried and ruminating.
I can’t believe what Soandso said, did you hear what Soandso said to me, who do they think they are to say such a thing to someone like me, let me repeat what they said, it’s awful isn’t it, let me repeat what I said, I was so upset, I wish I had said this instead of that, if we were having the conversation now I would say this, ha that would shut them up, show them who they were messing with, they really shouldn’t have messed with me, they’ll regret it I’ll make them regret it, next time I won’t let them get away with it, how did I look during the interaction, they made me feel foolish but I’m not a fool, they should not have done that, I’ll show them who the fool really is, how do I look now, I’ve lost weight from all the stress of it, how did I come across, bet you couldn’t tell how I really felt, why couldn’t you tell, why didn’t you protect me, defend me, you let it happen, what did you think of me, I looked impressive didn’t I, what did they think of me, do they really think what they said, they were envious, jealous, that’s why they did it, they wanted to humiliate me in front of everyone, they have an inferiority complex, what did everyone think of me, they were all looking at me, what do those who will hear the version told by the other person which is totally false think of me?
If you’re one of those people who wonders… does my Narcissist ex ever think of me? If you had a confrontation (or any conversation at all since a Narcissist can turn each and every interaction they have into a confrontation) and you miraculously won, or didn’t win but still left them frustrated… then yes, they think of you…
and people like me, their children, their confidantes (prisoners, hostages) will know all about you and what you did to them. What’s that? It didn’t happen the way they’re telling it… are they lying, rewriting history, doing a smear campaign on you?
I have burned into my mind confrontations which aren’t mine, with people I’ve never met, to which I was not a witness, because of listening to someone else worry and ruminate over it – and that someone else wasn’t always a Narcissist, but Narcissists tend to leave a bigger dent because they just won’t shut up.
Their worrying and ruminating is a broken record, the same bit played repeatedly at high volume and you can’t lift the needle, turn it off. They’ll wake you up in the middle of the night just to give you the next installment of their rumination and worries about the confrontation – and no, you can’t hang up (you’ll never be forgiven and you will hear about this confrontation, so will others), tell them you need to sleep (how selfish of you, this reminds them of all the other times you’ve been selfish, they have the list right here and will share it with you), or tell them they’re making a big deal over nothing (how insensitive of you, this isn’t a nothing to them, they’re deeply hurt, how could you cause them such intolerable pain) and that the other person has probably forgotten about it – since it happened ten years ago (no one could ever forget them! Everything they say and do is epic, legendary, special… the other person wouldn’t have forgotten about that moment, not if the Narcissist hasn’t forgotten about it, surely not – this is awful news! How could you say such a thing!).
Do I worry and ruminate over confrontations because my Narcissist parents forbade me to disagree with them or punished me for doing so?
If only it was as simple and simplistic as that. That would make sense. That’s a normal confrontation. Parents who are not Narcissists do that with their children. Teachers do it with their pupils. Bosses do it with their employees. The law and legal system does it with all of us. The military does it with their soldiers. The government does it with their citizens. That’s a typical interaction with an authoritarian authority. While it may not be fair, while it may be dangerously unfair, while it may be poisonous pedagogy, it’s a common feature of the past, present, and probable future of human affairs.
If that’s all that Narcissist parents did to their children, then children of Narcissists would be as screwed up as everyone else, and no one would notice because its normal to be that way. The coping mechanisms have been in place for centuries, and are now, for the most part, considered healthy behaviours, habits, and patterns.
excerpt from – Authoritarian Schooling: Poisonous Pedagogy by David Gribble
So what is it that Narcissist parents do which screws their children up more than everyone else? Why is our worrying and ruminating over a confrontation not the normal and typical kind which everyone does?
I often disagreed with my Narcissist parents.
My father actively encouraged it – it was a trap of course. He liked to play human chess, he’d goad me into disagreeing, set me up so I couldn’t possibly agree, and then he’d beat me up with a word barrage, deconstruct my structure of thinking, or some other fun tactic. What a rush! for him.
My mother was a bit more stern disciplinarian, speak when you’re spoken to, mind your manners, don’t talk back to your superiors – she spent much of her childhood at strict boarding schools (which told her to not make a fuss when her mother died) and with her grandparents who were staunch Victorians – children should never be seen nor heard. But she also spent a lot of time being my daughter, she started calling me mummy when I was about 4 yrs old (how cute, right).
Usually being forbidden to disagree with them was reserved for public appearances. Do not behave with us in public, with outsiders, as you do in private – because they didn’t. The juxtaposition of how Narcissist parents behave and treat you in public, when other people are around, and how they do so in private, behind closed doors and shuttered windows, can be a significant cause of the child of Narcissists’ ‘worrying and ruminating’ as we try to make sense of the clashing ‘realities’.
I did sometimes get punished for disagreeing with them (or being disagreeable) in private, especially if I argued that their version of a conversation/interaction did not go down like they claimed it did – I developed an almost recording device level of memory and could repeat back to them word-for-word with facial expressions and gestures what they had said (this is one of the ways ‘worrying and ruminating’ can work – it inspires you to pay full attention to what is happening in the now).
Of course they would regularly deny it and tell me I was crazy, got it all wrong, hadn’t seen what I’d seen, had a terrible memory, hadn’t been listening properly (if only for once I would listen to them I might learn something useful, but yet again they will have to repeat themselves for the millionth time to get through my thick skull to my stupid brain a very important memo) and attention would be deflected away from them, and what they had said and done, onto me, and what I had said and done or had failed to say and do.
excerpt from – Slideshare: Power Plays & Mind Games
I mostly got punished for random weird shit which is hard to explain to logical and normal people.
Logical and normal people don’t believe you when you tell them that you got screamed at, sent to your room to ‘think about what you did wrong’ (to worry and ruminate), because you were watching Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Normal, healthy, logical people think you must have done something as a parent would not get angry and punish a child if the child had not been bad, naughty, broken a rule designed to protect them and teach them to be good little girls and boys – and their minds will begin to imagine all the possible things which you did wrong, using things their children have done wrong (perhaps I had been scribbling with coloured crayons on the TV, the walls, and now the room had badly-drawn reindeer all over it, or I was supposed to be doing my homework, or it was way passed my bedtime, or I hadn’t been given permission to watch TV, or…) or what they had done wrong as children which they now as an adult realise was indeed a punishable offence and their parents were right to be angry with them. It’s time I grew up and moved on. Forgive and forget.
If I explain the incident to them in more detail…
I asked and received permission to watch the TV, they don’t show films like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer late at night because it’s for children, it was during the Christmas school holidays and I had already done all of my holiday homework (I was about 7 yrs old – there wasn’t much of it to do), I never scribbled with crayons outside of the lines of my drawing book and I didn’t use crayons because my mother didn’t like them, I was in my mother’s bedroom, sitting very still too close to the TV because I had the volume on low so as not to bother her.
I thought everything was okay, I had made my checks (my checklist had improved thanks to worrying and ruminating over previous incidents). My mother’s fury came out of nowhere, as it often does with Narcissist parents, you, their child, don’t actually have to do or say anything to incur their wrath and a punishment. I suppose she could have been triggered by a confrontation with my father on the phone (he was in another country) as was often the case, but she was out of range until she suddenly appeared and the walls and ceiling crashed in on me. She could have been doing the cleaning and couldn’t get a tiny stain on the counter out, her mind would have blamed me for it and that would have set her off (she once screamed at me and lectured me for at least an hour about some missing teaspoons I had ‘thrown in the bin’, it was later discovered that these missing teaspoons did not exist – all the cutlery was in sixes but there were ever only four teaspoons, you can understand why she jumped to such a rational conclusion).
A normal, healthy, logical person on hearing my story will have a hard time processing the information, cognitive dissonance will occur and the easiest way of dealing with the discomfort is to conclude that I’m probably crazy, got it all wrong, hadn’t seen what I’d seen, had a terrible memory, hadn’t been listening properly…
which will then lead to me worrying and ruminating about having shared my story. I shouldn’t have said what I said, I should have stayed silent, I should have kept lying the way my Narcissist parents taught me to when in public, with outsiders, about them and myself. Was there anyway to tell it which wouldn’t result in confusing regular people whose minds aren’t flexible enough to handle the truth of what it’s like to grow up with Narcissists, be a child of Narcissist parents.
Not if your car is a Narcissist.
So what’s the positive side of all of this?
All our worrying and ruminating is not for nothing. It’s not a curse. It’s not just more damage which was done to us by our Narcissist parents which we will never be able to repair. It’s not something we need to fix… on the contrary, it is a strange gift.
While everyone does the whole ‘worrying and ruminating over confrontations’ thing, we do it slightly differently than they do and that difference is actually a positive addition to the usual system.
The great minds of our times, and the times before, have been known to do this ‘worrying and ruminating’. While they have sometimes been branded as crazy, delusional, obsessed, obsessive-compulsive, and other things which are considered pejoratives by their peers and the general population, they have also been recognised as geniuses, been applauded and praised for doing it, become legends when their worrying and ruminating has led to great leaps being made in different fields which have benefited all of us.
Just because we aren’t a great mind, doesn’t make the process suddenly negative – or does it? If we don’t invent a computer, an anti-virus, save the world, make loads-a-money from it, get fame and acclaim, then it’s not worth it or worthy? We shouldn’t do it?
It’s a useful thing to do, has positive results, and can change the way you and others relate because you took the time to think things over, through, and found a solution to a recurring issue.
I do realise it can be painful, not useful, not helpful and make things worse… but telling worry not to happen because you forbid it, and punishing rumination for doing what it does, isn’t going to make things better, because then you’ll worry and ruminate over worrying and ruminating.
My worrying and ruminating over confrontations with my Narcissist parents, with other Narcissists, has given me the ability to make sense of nonsense.
How is this useful?
If you’re a ‘normal’, and you were a healthy, happy, successful, beautiful, intelligent, etc, person before you had a relationship with a Narcissists, and are worrying and ruminating over a confrontation (which may be your entire relationship) which you had with a Narcissist, they’ve ruined your life, shattered your self and you don’t know how to put all the smashed pieces back together, you might want to seek out a child of Narcissists if you can find one of us (it can be a bit like contacting the A-team). Most of us can make sense of the most tangled web of nonsense woven by Narcissists. Want an impossible puzzle solved. A Gordian Knot cut or even unraveled (at no extra cost, you’ll be lucky if we charge you at all) – just call 1-800-children-of-Narcissists-to-the-rescue.
A warning – you probably won’t like us when we do it. People do not like the process even if it frees them from worry and endless rumination (until the next time, because humans…). But that’s okay, we don’t need you to like us. It makes us a bit nervous when people like us as ‘being liked’ comes with a steep price to pay (for more info on this please see the next section which I haven’t written yet on People-Pleasing), it is often the precursor to a Narcissist screwing you over – they like you therefore you owe them, you’re their new BFF, you’re an angel and angels must… then you’re the devil. We’re used to being disliked (our Narcissist parents never liked us – and we taught ourselves how to deal with it) and aren’t too sure what genuinely being liked feels like and if we’d like it.
We are good listeners – it’ll creep you out how good we are at listening to what you are saying and hearing what you’re not saying (you may end up thinking we’re psychic even if you’re a devout skeptic). We tend to not have internal conversations while others are talking, we aren’t listening-while-not-listening waiting to speak, we may not speak at all except to prompt you to keep going, reassure you that you are being heard. We aren’t thinking about you the way you think we are, but we are filling our minds with details about you – you wince when you talk about your mother even though what you’re saying is all about how much she cares about you, the tone of your voice changed when you mentioned your best friend, you keep apologising for having feelings, you’ve said you’re too busy to be talking with us 5 times intermittently in the last hour and yet you’re still talking.
We are insightful observers of human behaviour, we spend a lot of time watching people, trying to understand them. We experienced some very bizarre aspects of human behaviour throughout our childhood and we’re trying to figure it out – we may never figure out why people are such hypocrites, even observing ourselves being hypocritical doesn’t explain it fully although it does show us motive and motivation.
We are instinctive lie-detectors – if you’re lying to us or to yourself, are deluding yourself about your side of the story of a confrontation, mean it but don’t really mean it when you claim to want to stop worrying about and ruminating over your Narcissist. We can be gentle and understanding in this kind of circumstance. But we will review our interaction with you, and if something doesn’t add up, is off, doesn’t feel or sound right, is missing – we’ll spot it.
It takes a lot to unsettle us, disturb us – perhaps because we’re already unsettled and disturbed, and have made a little nest in it like tiny birds who nest in thorny bushes.
We are natural rebels who have seen abuse of power from the get-go, we became members of the resistance before we were born, we’re primal warriors with ninja-level evasive skills, we can become a wall which you can’t knock down – that is not a challenge, remember the ninja-level evasive skills. We can bend, break, fall apart and crumble, turn to dust and get blown away by a puff of air.
We know how to let others win so they’ll shut up and go away.
It takes us absolutely ages to get angry – you may even think we don’t have feelings, that we can’t be hurt, can’t be touched. Everything hurts us, we feel very deeply – that’s not your problem, it’s ours, you have your own problems, aches, pains and suffering to deal with, we’re not going to burden you with ours. We are touched by the sight of a weed growing through cement, thriving even though humans have called it weed and keep trying to kill it with bigger and better science.
We are the defenders of the oppressed because we are the oppressed (even though our membership in that club isn’t official, and even when it is… people keep trying to kick us out).
We’ve been there and done that a lot when it comes to the inner labyrinth – we no longer need a piece of string to navigate it, and the minotaur is our friend (he’s a bit afraid of us).
We’re very tolerant, patient, understanding, and surprisingly kind in offbeat ways. We can be loyal to a fault, and will protect those we care about even if it puts us in danger.
You don’t owe us anything and we don’t owe you anything. We know how to go it alone.
And even though we try very hard not to be like our Narcissist parents we learned a lot from them, by osmosis, from being a sounding board, a scapegoat, a witness who couldn’t leave, close their eyes (because of the toothpicks). We can, if we have to (in an emergency) deploy Narcissist tactics. We can make your head spin right off of your neck and we won’t tell you how to put it back on (we know how as we’ve been putting ours back on since we were in pampers). We don’t use that particular strange gift as often as we probably should considering how many people look at us and think – oh, there’s a docile doe I can play mind games with, use and abuse.
4 – Too often please others at your own expense? Your parents used guilt or pressure to make you put their needs first.
I’ll write about that in my next post if that’s okay with you…
are my posts too long for you, do you wish I would make them shorter, make them quicker to read, easier to navigate, put them in numbered form, with soundbites…
blog like the other bloggers who blog about similar things blog…
am I not living up to your expectations?
should I be making more of an effort to please you rather than to please myself?
am I being too selfish?
Over to you…
That was the beep, you can leave your message now.