It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Am I a Narcissist, too? All about fleas

Do you ever find yourself asking this question? Do you worry that, because you grew up in a household with one or more narcissist dominating it, you might have “caught it”? Perhaps you have caught yourself displaying some kind of narcissistic traits and you are suddenly brought up short by the fear that you, too, are a narcissist like your mother or father or other family member.

Let me put your mind at ease: the very fact that you are asking that question, the very fact that it concerns you that you might be a narcissist, pretty much proves that you aren’t. The psyche of the narcissist is so constructed that the simple act of self-reflection is highly unlikely, and rather than engaging in self-doubt, the narcissist will simply find ways to rationalize or justify those behaviours that have you worried you might be one of them.

It doesn’t mean you cannot be displaying narcissist-like behaviours, attitudes and traits, however. We learn at the knee of the narcissist, and we learn such fundamentals as right and wrong, good and bad, honesty and deceit…and if we learned them from a narcissist, our take on them may be a little...well…out of the mainstream. These narcissist-like behaviours, attitudes and traits, when displayed by the non-narcissist, are known as “fleas,” (narcissistic-like behaviour traits displayed by a non-narcissist, generally learned behaviours from having been raised by a narcissist and not knowing what is normal for the situation) and you get them from being around and adopting them from the narcissist, just like you get real fleas from laying down with a flea-ridden dog.

Most of us get our fleas from our narcissistic family members as we grow up, but we can also acquire them later on in life as well. Sometimes we acquire them subconsciously but sometimes, when we see certain behaviours or attitudes working for others, we adopt them consciously, wanting to get the same benefit. It is a kind of “follow the leader” or even “follow the herd” principle at work, and can lead to an attitude change in which something previously viewed as wrong eventually becomes seen as a right or entitlement, like stealing office supplies or spreading rumours about or bullying a co-worker. It is good for our egos because it makes us feel accepted, like one of the gang, and if we can set the standard for others to follow, it feels even better to be the trendsetter to whom others look for direction.

If you are a normal human being with a normal conscience, you are eventually going to feel bad about doing things you know are wrong. This puts you on the horns of a dilemma because the human psyche doesn’t like cognitive dissonance…and feeling guilty just doesn’t feel good. You basically end up with two choices: 1) stop doing what is making you feel guilty (which means you will have to give up the benefits you are getting from it) or 2) find a way to stop feeling guilty about it (which means you will have to rationalize and/or justify what you have been doing). Now, the difference between you and a narcissist is simple: the narcissist never feels guilty and never even considers #1—the narcissist automatically invokes #2. You may also invoke that second option, but your reason for doing so will be very different from the narcissist’s: you will be doing it to quiet your conscience; the narcissist doesn’t have a conscience to quiet, she feels truly justified in whatever she does.

I used to know a woman who took the most outrageous chances at work, chances I would never dream of taking because I just knew I would get fired for it. She often came in late to work, took long lunches, left early, even took whole days off on a whim and even though she was only an admin, acted like she was one of the managers. And you know what? Instead of counselling her to work the hours she was getting paid for, she got promoted! Sure enough, one of the other admins tried to follow the first one’s lead and wound up getting disciplined. When she tried to defend herself with “But Tessa has done that for over a year!” she was told “You are not Tessa.” Who told me this story? Tessa, laughing gleefully at the other woman’s predicament, not a shred of responsibility tainting her amusement. She found it hilarious that the other woman was disciplined for following her example, and in true narcissistic fashion, the incident reinforced her self-perception of being special and above the rules.

This happened years ago, before I knew anything about narcissists, but I remember being surprised and appalled at Tessa’s reaction. Putting my self in her shoes, I would have been chagrined at having set an example for my co-workers that resulted in one of them receiving disciplinary action, I would have felt bad about it and that would have motivated me to be more circumspect. The last thing I would have felt was amused at the other woman's plight!

We can pick up fleas anywhere. I have seen things on FaceBook, people saying really hurtful, mean things about LGBT people, about people of colour, about the poor and disadvantaged, about women, and they are absolutely shameless about it. Some of these people are narcissists, but others have picked up fleas from narcissistic politicians, pastors, or other authority figures they either revere or fear. Taken out of that environment and shown how their words and attitudes actually hurt other living, breathing human beings, some of these people will feel shame for what they said and the hurt they caused. Others will not, and they will rationalize and justify what they said, even blame their victims for their hurt (I have actually seen someone say that feeling hurt by the words of a bully is a choice, that you can choose not to be hurt and therefore what the bullies say and do is OK!): these people are most likely narcissists. Some of them not only have no shame or remorse for their unkind words and thoughts, they advocate violence ranging from beatings to rape to death. Those people are probably narcissists, too, but malignant narcissists who may be comorbid with another personality disorder like Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is “characterized by ‘...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.’”

Fleas are things you usually acquire at home, as a young child, by accepting the values of your narcissistic parent and emulating her/him. It is possible, however, to get them from working with someone like Tessa and copying both her entitled behaviour and adopting her self-serving lack of compassion. We can suppress our guilt and our remorse through justification and rationalization, so if you find yourself acting like an N, you may need to sit down and think about how you really, truly feel about something. If you can’t penetrate the rationalizations and justifications, if you can’t see how something you did or said that caused harm to someone else was wrong, then you just might be a narcissist.

The key, then, is whether or not you are capable of feeling remorse. If you have a conscience, if you have empathy or compassion for other people, if you can feel guilt and remorse for actions you have taken that end up somehow harming someone else, then the odds are strongly against you being a narcissist and just as strongly in favour of you having a case of fleas.

And truthfully, if you even ask the question, you most likely just have fleas.

48 comments:

  1. Another wonderful post. You have a really interesting way of exploring these topics in a way that shows the overlaps with "normal" society. These lines were confusing to me when I first learned about narcissism and it was hard to see the distinctions, since there are so many shades of grey that filter through all people.

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    1. Hopefully you can see it more clearly now. The bottom line is, if you are even asking the question, the answer is most likely "no."

      But a lot of us believe we only get fleas from our FOO and the truth is, we can pick them up anywhere. It uses the same mechanism as "mob mentality." And if we assimilate those fleas slowly and in an environment where nobody challenges them, we very easily become acclimated to them. But when we ask the question, when we self-examine, and they come to light, how we respond to their discovery within ourselves tells the final tale. Either we eradicate the fleas and give up any benefits they might have brought us, or we rationalize and justify their existence...and by that choice alone, we have our answers.

      Thank you for reading and responding

      Hugs,

      Violet

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    2. Dear sweet violet,

      Your article was brilliant and extremely thought provoking.
      I was unaware of narcissism until my daughter told me that she was reading about about me.... The narc..
      Do you have any advice and reading that I could do to attempt to put things right between us because she now hates me like I hate my mother?
      Than k you again for this article. It's brilliant

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  2. Thanks for this post - it brought back a lot of "stuff" for me, which is rarely welcome but usually useful... When I was a young child, my worst fear was that I would somehow become like my father - that I'd be "crazy." Turns out there was a lot more "crazy" in my family than I knew then, but all the same, now I know that craziness is not often a child's worst fear! I examined myself constantly, making sure that I didn't exhibit any of Nfather's behavior- I was probably one of the world's most self-reflecting 5-year-olds! (Well, now I know that I had more company than I knew then!) Of course I have fleas and I'm working hard to get rid of them - but I've read enough now to know that any self-reflecting person cannot be a narcissist - they truly are incapable of that!

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    1. Any "self-reflection" a narcissist does is for the purpose of rationalizing and justifying what s/he is about.

      Many years ago I was married to a malignant narcissist and I caught a glimpse into his inner workings that was just chilling. Of course, I had no idea what a narcissist was back then, but I did know he was emotionally brutal to me and he was sadistic: he did things to hurt me just for the pleasure of seeing me in emotional pain. One afternoon I pointed out to him how wrong it was to entertain himself at the expense of another person's feelings and, in an uncharacteristic moment of clarity, he said he COULDN'T stop doing that. I asked why and paused for a moment and actually thought about it. Then he said "because I have always been that way." I pointed out that he was only 30, that it was not too late for him to change, that the rest of his life didn't have to be like it had been up to that moment. He paused again for moment, then smiled and said "But that would mean I have been wrong all of my life up to this point...and I can't have that." His brief moment of self-reflection told him that if he changed at 30 into a considerate, compassionate human being, his first 30 years would therefore be "wrong" and, since he was never wrong, he must therefore be right and that made it OK to continue on as before. No light bulb, no "aha" moment, no epiphany---nothing except a way to justify himself.

      And that is a narcissist for you--even when looking directly at themselves and their flaws, they cannot see them as normal people do. True self reflection, a self-assessment coupled with compassion and ethics and respect for others, is simply beyond their capacity.

      We may get fleas, Toto, but if his behaviour had been from fleas, he would have been horrified at himself--he wasn't, he was proud. And that is an N for you.

      Hugs,

      Violet

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    2. It's kind (but untrue) to say that it's an "inability" to change, I suppose - it really is a choice - what an incredible story! That someone that young would make such an awful decision - sometimes it's just so hard to look at the maliciousness of this disorder, to realize that all the pain they cause is, indeed, intentional. I know this in my head, but my heart still sometimes says, "No, no, that can't be true. It's too awful." When I was younger, I used to pray that Nfather would wake up one day and really see what he had done - and then I decided that it was probably wrong to pray for a person to feel so much pain. He claimed to believe in God, but I don't think narcissists can really believe in God, since that would put them in a lower position...

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    3. You make a good point, Toto--they certainly can't put anyone above them except, perhaps, as an authority to refer to in argument: "God commands it!" "The Bible says so!"

      While my NexH learned nothing from that conversation, I sure did...I learned that evil occurred in microcosm and that some people not only freely chose it, they revelled in it. Faust was not just a fiction.

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  3. Violet : )

    I am immensely thankful for your very well written and insightful article.
    I am one of those who ask this question very often.
    In fact this topic has for a long time been in the very centre of my thoughts, and your brilliant article helped me to clarify the most essential aspects of the distinction between the disorder and what we call fleas.

    In my view the following part is a most ingenious and concise expression of the essence of narcissism - congratulations!

    "The psyche of the narcissist is so constructed that the simple act of self-reflection is highly unlikely, and rather than engaging in self-doubt, the narcissist will simply find ways to rationalize or justify those behaviours that have you worried you might be one of them."

    (healing wanderer / wanderer acon)

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    1. We all have fleas...it is impossible to grow up without them. What sets us apart from our DoNMs, however, is the willingness to do some self-reflection, to acknowledge we are behaving in ways that could be amended for the benefit of ourselves and others, and then DO it. Having fleas does not make you a narcissist: finding something in yourself that could bear changing for the benefit of others and refusing to change it, finding ways to excuse, rationalize or justify it---THAT is the behaviour of a narcissist.

      As long as you are concerned about how your actions affect others, you need have no concern about being an N--an N is only concerned with how the actions of others affect her!

      Hugs,

      Violet

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  4. Great article!

    As the adult child of a MN mother, I can honestly say that I used to wonder about this A LOT! I was so concerned about some of my twisted thinking that I went to 3 different psychologists to ask them if they thought I had any PD. Thankfully, they all responded with a resounding "No, but you do seem to have a severe case of PTSD." Anyone who was raised with one of these monsters as a parent would understand why...There are times I wonder if the experts were wrong, if I have a PD and they just missed it.

    Reading this post just drives home the point that I can't possibly be a N. I can't remember MN mother, or any other N I've had the displeasure of knowing, to have any genuine concerns about how their behavior is affecting others, and that is a genuine concern of mine. I am highly empathetic with a sensitive conscience, so I would feel terrible if I hurt anyone.

    At this point in my life, I need to worry less about having a PD myself, and just worry more about how to become less of a N magnet.

    ANON

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    1. Ns seem to have a sixth sense about find us, people who were conditioned by another N to be a source of N supply. Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to the question of how to become less of an N magnet because I find myself attracting them as well. So I have focussed my energies on learning how to recognize them and developing the strength to show them the door when I do.

      As long as you don't engage the ones you discover, you should do fine...but they are wily, those Ns, so take your time and heed the red flags your subconscious throws up (my chief failing...giving the other guy too much benefit of the doubt).

      And best of luck to you

      Hugs,

      Violet

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    2. Magnet, indeed. Do you think it's possible that they are just a much higher percentage of our population --NPD & Cluster B's-- than previously estimated? It's likely there is more of a spectrum, and many behaviors -- gaslighting, triangulation, etc. -- have just been accepted as normal albeit discomforting traits of family members. This is perhaps more about a species evolution rather than a tiny subsection of the population. Too many of us are reporting the same story. I Got Fleas!

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  5. SV, my NM is a master at pretended self-reflection. The problem is she fictionalizes even her "soul-searching." It's one of the hardest things to see, because she passes herself off as being self-reflective and open to looking at herself, and yet it's always tweaked and cleaned up and spin-doctored. UGH.

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    1. Oh, how very N that sounds! It is part of the rationalization/justification process, you know, intended primarily to convince themselves, but if they can drag a few of us along as believing allies (dupes), so much the better.

      But as long as you know she does this, as long as you are aware, it is unlikely you'll get caught up in it. It may be more difficult to warn others, though, because if they don't know her for what she is, she may be very convincing. I've learned to let them learn their own lessons because anything else just makes me look mean-spirited. Some people cannot be saved by others, they just have to learn the hard way.

      It is a good thing, however, that you have this figured out. This gives you power that she doesn't know you have...never a bad thing!

      Hugs to you,

      Violet

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  6. One thing that strikes me about what your (then) 30 yr old husband said, about having to think he'd been "wrong all of his life up to this point." This is one of the biggest obstacles to getting a narcissist to change. Because they'd have to reflect back on everything they'd done to people over the years, and feel the one feeling that they absolutely cannot tolerate: shame. Narcissists spend their lives doing everything they can to avoid feeling shame about themselves. It's why they cannot take any criticism. It's why they never apologize, not in any real way. It's why they always put on a false face or front, to impress people. Because they can never accept themselves as ordinary, as imperfect. To be ordinary or imperfect is to be, for them, unlovable. It's why they lie, pad their resumes, make stuff up; it's why they have to take other people down in order to feel superior. No one who is normal gets their kicks from verbally abusing or trying to shame others. No one. If someone spends their time deriding someone else, they are mentally and morally sick.

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    1. I could not have said it better! Thanks, CS!

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    2. I think the issue of shame is central to narcissism. Maybe full blown NPD has something else going on, like something physical in the brain, who knows. But narcissism is often an allergic reaction to feeling shame. I wrote a post awhile back about shame and our ability to tolerate it, that only scratched the surface. Brene Brown's writing takes this on with depth. Shame feels toxic, and it can be, but it's also necessary. It forces us to realize, ina full body way, that we're NOT perfect. And frankly, anyone raised by two narcissistic parents (as I was) is going to have plenty of narc fleas. Before I started understanding narcissism as a systemic disorder in my FOO, I think I was much more vulnerable to indulging my own narcissism, and there are still times when my ego is first one out of the gate in a conflict. I'm working really hard on that. ONe blessing of getting older, watching one's face change, one's body creak a little, is that you have to start letting go of fantasies of being perfect. And for the children who 'learn at the narcissist's knee,' that is a hard and probably lifelong challenge. XX CS

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    3. I seldom feel shame or guilt...because through bitter experience I have learned what behaviours of mine evoke those feelings and I AVOID doing them. This is exactly how shame and guilt are supposed to work: your conscience is your inner "monitor" and it dispenses shame and/or guilt when you violate it.

      When we mature we transition from external monitoring and disciplining to internalizing the morals and ethics of our culture and disciplining ourselves. Only by learning the lesson of refraining from behaviours that make us feel shamed or guilty do we avoid them. The narcissist, however, instead of feeling the feelings and internalizing the message and changing the behaviour, rationalizes/justifies the behaviour or blames it on someone else, thereby avoiding those unpleasant sensations of shame and guilt...and never changing except, perhaps, to get worse.

      We learn at the narcissist's knee--but there is no reason we cannot UNlearn those lessons and move into normality if we want to. But rationalization can sure be tempting at times, can't it?

      Hugs

      V

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    4. And I seen me some master rationalizers, as have you. They double-down on their original lies, to the point of actually believing it. They are superb self-hypnotizers. I've never mastered the art of lying to myself. A small blessing. I try not to do things that make me feel shame--when I do, I know I need to apologize, quickly and sincerely. Shame is a dead giveaway to me that I've done something wrong, been unkind, been unfair. We all can be at times; it's catching and correcting it that's key to being a decent person.

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    5. Ah--the art of lying to oneself--something I have never mastered, either. And believe me, pre-therapy, I tried. It was what was demonstrated to me by my same-sex role model, after all, what I was taught from the cradle, by example, as the "right" way to behave. And I was SUCH a failure at it! Every time I tried, good old reality and truth joined hands to defeat me!

      I had minor successes...denial with respect to people I loved, refusing to see and accept their fatal flaws, such that I continued to be victimized by them. But those fantastic lies my NM could spin and believe? Totally beyond my capacity. Imagine feeling yourself a failure because you cannot effectively lie to yourself??

      You have it right about shame being a dead giveaway--guilt, too. As much as I avoid behaviours I know will bring up the guilt-monster, I am as human as the next guy and occasionally put my foot in it and feelings of shame and guilt are the clue. And an apology is the only remedy. My NM would have choked on her own tongue rather than make an apology--I remember being punished for something my brother did, which later came out that he was the culprit and he got punished for it. I waited and waited for her to come to me and apologize and when she didn't, I screwed up my courage and asked her if she was going to say she was sorry. She looked up from her magazine, raised her eyebrows, and said "Sorry for what?" and when I told her, she laughed saying "Consider that punishment for something you did and I didn't catch you at." She could rationalize ANYTHING, even beating the wrong kid! (I suspect this is the genesis of my staunch anti-death penalty stance...it's too easy to execute the wrong guy.)
      What is amazing about these people is they seem to be able to compartmentalize and believe opposites: on the one hand my NM could be proud of her cleverness in fooling others, like when she stole gifts from my father to me, rewrapped them, and gave them to me as if they were from her but, at the very same time, actually believe that my father made no attempts to contact me, forgot my birthday and Christmas, ignored me...and she actually believe her lies!!

      My NM couldn't even bring herself to make fauxpology. Where another NM might use a false apology as a manipulative tool, mine was more of a sledgehammer: "If you think I am going to apologize, you've got another think coming!" She could make anything someone else's fault, and I mean ANYTHING!

      We are all susceptible to fleas just as we are all susceptible to the mob-mentality...it takes mental diligence to avoid it, and a compassionate, empathetic heart to recognize when we have failed and to feel the shame and/or guilt that propels us to make it right. Something we will never see modelled for us by our NMs, I am afraid.

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    6. Your NM had a more shameless MO than mine. My mother would fake an apology (after about two years) then a year later say she'd only said it to keep the peace. She managed to justify plagiarizing from my published work (in a self-published "book" she wrote about relationships (!)), by saying and I quote, "I didn't realize you expected to be acknowledged." my mother did not realize I expected her to cite my published work, or acknowledge all the ideas I'd given her in conversation (which at one point she TOLD me were the inspiration for her writing). Of course she "forgot' ever saying that, either. But that was only the last straw. The straw that broke my back was her breaking a promise not to drag my sisters into conflicts. Not to triangulate (always the strategy of the worst cowards). She broke that promise, then told me she could not promise she wouldn't break it again. No shit. Parse that one, if you can! How these people can live with themselves is beyond me. That your mother laughed at having punished you, saying "consider it punishment" for what she didn't catch you doing, is mean, sick, not to mention terrible role-modeling. We had no role models in our parents, did we? Both of mine are narcissists--father an openly grandiose one, mother a passive-aggressive covert type. UGH. How many years did I spend in depression trying to sort this out, my feelings, the cognitive dissonance, the lies, the feelings of craziness that my parents couldn't really be the way they were, etc. Unfortunately, waking up to reality means taking the Red Pill, and that world aint pretty until we rebuild it for ourselves. xx CS

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    7. Yow! Your NM has really got cheek!! Mine was about as subtle as a jack hammer, which, while really, really hard to take as it is actually happening, is actually easier to deal with in the long run. No head scratching and wondering about what's going on: blatant favouritism, outright lies right in front of you, admonitions to conceal wrongdoing from Daddy, unkept promises, no boundaries whatsoever--really easy to see, especially if you are analytically minded, as I have always been. I knew before I started school there was something wrong with her and, after meeting more kids my age and learning what their mothers were like, you can bet mine came in dead last in the Mommy Sweepstakes!

      I am sorry to hear you had to deal with TWO N parents growing up! My father was a good father, empathetic and understanding, but he wasn't around much; by the time I was 10 they had their last separation and got divorced and, before NM could reel him back in yet again, he married someone else (that lasted 53 years). I hope you had other, non-N family members to turn to...at least my grandparents were sane!

      As much as some people recoil from the evil that was my NM, sometimes I think my lot was easier than a situation like yours. The dysfunction was so overt, often so OTT, that I was scared to death of her and just stayed away. No discussions between us (I was afraid to reveal something she might use against me later), nothing but orders and obedience. In later years I likened my childhood like being in a concentration camp, where the line between good and evil was pretty clearly drawn, especially for the victims. I am not sure I would have survived more subtle head games like you describe...I was extremely literal as a kid and didn't have much of a sense of humour. I, too, spent a lot of time in depression, but I ultimately learned that I was sorting out the societal expectations which were confusingly different from my experiences (all mothers love their children; what did you do to provoke her to whip you? "Of course you love your mother!! What is wrong with you?") plus a 13 year marriage to a MN that I almost didn't survive.

      Yup--I'm a red pill sort of gal, too, having long ago decided I would rather deal with an ugly reality than a pretty fantasy. Fantasies have a nasty habit of blowing up in one's face with that ugly reality poking through and, being a pragmatist, I just take the reality and run with it.

      So far, so good!

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    8. Much of my mother's behavior was covert abuse--neglect, talking down to me, ignoring or under-responding to things that happened to me. "Forgetting" to congratulate me when I completed my phd. Jesus Christ. SO obvious, yet if you call her out on it you're being "petty." It simply "slipped her mind." She is a GENIUS of passive aggression. It took me many decades to sort out why she had the effect on me that she did. Several years of therapy two decades ago; then just a lot of time learning to trust my perceptions and to believe, in my bones, that such behavior is not about love. It's about envy. Jealousy. Resentment. That I was able to accomplish what I did when neither she nor my father did anything to help me. That despite being completely ignored after high school I managed to find my own way. My father was just MIA until he decided I was worthy enough to brag about (finished grad school). Then my mother started wanting credit for how I turned out. She never gave me one dime for my education, or anything else. They divorced, she got child support, not one penny made it to me. But the family narrative was always that she was "the mother," "she loves you," etc. I was ALWAYS in the wrong. Everyone ALWAYS stood up for her. I was the scapegoat black sheep who they also got to brag about despite not doing anything to help me get where I am. Hearing some anger here? Yeah it's still there. And rightly so! I don't know that it's easier if your mother is overtly cruel, like yours was. I think the trauma is just different, registers differently. We all get to the same place, if we're analytical (as you were, as I was, compulsively so). We still have to learn how to live with the marks they've made in our psyches and souls. I can't tell you what a revelation this last year has been, to find blogs by other ACoNs, to realize that there are universal patterns, that there are many of us, that the myths that "families" automatically love you, despite their crap behavior, really ARE myths after all. That we are NOT the crazy ones our families tried to claim we were. Damaged, yes. Crazy, no. Not by a mile.

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  7. Mine also engaged in the covert stuff...she was primarily an ignoring NM, but she never passed up an opportunity to put me down. I am not sure how the daughters of engulfing NMs survive it...at least with an ignoring NM, if you can find a place to hide out and stay out of sight (and therefore out of mind), you have some space. I was a voracious reader and almost compulsively analytical as well--I was always comparing my life with the lives I observed around me, those in books, on TV, and in the movies. Only in such tales as Oliver Twist did I find my life qualitatively better.

    I used to wonder what was wrong with people who couldn't see my NM as clearly as I did, especially people who insisted that mothers love their children. Did they think daily beatings with a thin leather strap (more like a whip) were expressions of love? Did they not see that I was too thin, dirty, and my hair was a mass of knots? And I was an early skeptic with respect to religion after I was told to honour my NM and if she beat me, it was for my own good or my fault for provoking her (she could be provoked by me not appearing instantly, like a genie from a lamp, when she called me!). If I treated the cat like she treated me, people would have said I was sick in the head and rushed me off to a child psychologist--so why was it ok with them for her to starve and beat and neglect a 7 year old human child?? It consumed a large part of my thinking as a kid.

    I am not surprised that you were (are) angry about how you were treated: I was for many, many years. But I think anger is an appropriate emotion in such a situation, and even healthy. If we aren't angry and indignant at them for their unjust treatment, too many of us turn it inward and become hopeless and depressed. Anger can be a powerful motivator for change...depression just feeds on itself.

    Yes, we are damaged by such an upbringing and anyone who disputes that is simply smothered in denial. But the good news is that we can fix a great deal of that damage and, with the enlightenment of recovery we soon learn that our NParents were the crazy ones, not us! One of the most liberating and healing realizations we can come to, I believe.

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    1. Violet, this made me very sad, that you were beaten and starved as a child. A parent who does that to a child is a monster, IMO. And apparently, there are many of them. I was NEVER physically abused. My physical needs were almost always tended to (until I got kicked out of home shortly beforfe my 18th bday. Then I was on my own). Your mother sounds more than Narc-she sounds BPD, expecting you to appear "like a genie from a lamp." Those of us who became voracious readers as a retreat became highly analytical, I think. I too used to retreat into books, at a young age. Learning about life from books and not my parents; learning about ethics and loving treatment (and its opposite) from literature. For years I felt rage (early twenties); then when I tried to "accept" my mother and father's personalities, it became deep depression (up in my thirties). Then finally, finally, as understanding dawned, then belief, about what they were, gradually, some distance. I've been NC with my NM for three years. I send her pro-forma bday and New Year's cards, but that's it. She does the same, usually making sure they arrive late, so she can tell my sisters that she "reached out" to CS. And through blogging this last year, really starting with CZBZ's blog N-Continuum and then finding others, like yours, and learning I am FAR from alone, I started to find ways to heal. It's constant work. But I feel movement, and increasing freedom. Even as I type this, I'm sure there will be backlash to my not going to family weddings this summer; a few years ago I would've been afraid NOT to show up, despite the horrible strains of being around my mother. Now, nahhh, I'm privileging my own needs, my own feelings. My new motto these days is Volition Only. xx

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    2. I have read up on the Cluster B stuff ad nauseam and I think my NM is a malignant narcissist, co-morbid with AsPD. Back in the old days, before the DSM was so specific on PDs, people like my mother were called "sociopaths." The therapist I saw from the mid-80s to early 90s, called her a "psychopath." But if you spend a lot of time analyzing, and if you know as much about her as I do, NPD co-morbid with AsPD fits the best...at least so far. (Who knows what my ruminations will dredge up next from my repressed memories?)

      I was terrified of her as a child...literally in fear of my life. Little kids who precociously understand the finality of death still are little kids and very likely don't know exactly how far one can go without killing. So her beatings might not, in truth, have been life threatening but I, as a little kid, didn't know that and I was quite honestly fearful that she would one day not stop in time and I would die as a result.

      The starvation was one of those marginal things: she was extremely selfish and so the money she allocated for food for the family was minimal so that she had money for cigarettes, beer, cocktail dresses and the like. Instead of buying sliced lunch meats, she bought "bologna ends" from the deli (that would otherwise be thrown away or diced up into pizza topping or something like that). She only bought bread from the day-old bread store, she made powdered milk (not as nutritious as whole milk in those days--it was non fat) and put it in the milk carton from the store so we wouldn't know the difference. She counted every piece of fruit and we were allowed to have one piece per day. For after school snacks my brother would make himself bread, butter and sugar sandwiches (really!): I don't like extremely sweet stuff, so I just went without. She also dished out our plates at the table, so I got what she wanted me to eat and in the quantities she wanted me to eat them. And I somehow managed to get large helpings of things I despised (like liver) but uncommonly small portions of things I did like (she claimed I was allergic to strawberries --I am not--and when we had strawberry shortcake, I got the cake and whipped cream, SHE took my helping of strawberries, but not until she teased me with them.) As a result, I was a very scrawny child.

      I have baby fine, poker-straight hair, even today. She used to give me those awful home perms that would fry my hair and make it into a frizzy mass that you could not get a comb or brush through. Then SHE would not comb my hair, she would send me to do it--an impossible task for little kid arms--and punish me for not succeeding. I always believed she enjoyed the punishments...and her rages as well. She was very volatile, could go from a towering, terrifying rage to sweet and laughing on the phone with a friend and back to the rage at me all in the matter of a few minutes. I was scared to death of her.

      The good news is, she's dead and has been for 15 years. I have spent a good part of those 15 years using the tools I learned in therapy to analyze it all, piece by piece, and slowly come to terms not only with her, but with the legacy of dysfunction and hate she sowed through the generations. It's sad, but I had to learn that I can't save them if they don't want to be saved, no matter how good I am to them, it doesn't guarantee they will be good to me in return, and if I want to be loved and happy, I have to do that for myself.

      It's been a long journey and it isn't over yet...but at least now I know I going in the right direction and, like you, I am not going alone!!

      Hugs,

      V

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    3. Oh yeah, those home "perms." Isn't it weird how mothers who basically couldn't stand us much of the time gave us those "Toni" or "Bobbie" home perms? Or maybe they enjoyed cranking our hair super tightly around those little rollers and squirting toxic chemicals on our heads!! OK, that was mean. My mother definitely had many decent moments with me, and I do acknowledge that. She is not the malignant monster that your mother was. But that's the thing--I've finally learned that she doesn't have to be THAT kind of monster. She can be a different kind. Monsters come in covert form too. Demian Yumei's blog is great for that. xx CS

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    4. You know what got me about those perms? She KNEW--after the first perm she absolutely KNEW--what that crap would do to my hair. It fried it every single time. She would spend the money or the time to trim my split ends...no, everything wrong with a limp, baby fine hair--so fine that bobby pins and barrettes slid right out of it--would be solved by a perm. No more would I look like some wispy-haired little waif--no, this perm would make me into the tousle-headed little blonde darling that would get her attention for her darling child.

      And it never, ever worked. Even ordinary pincurls made my hair frizz! But every year, just before school started, it would be torture time...first for me, having to sit still and have my hair yanked and scalp burned, then for my poor hair that would end up in a mass of impenetrable knots within days (she called them "rat's nests" and would yank the comb to tear them out). Every fecking year. The woman never learned.

      I agree with you with respect to monsters: they need not be the same...nor does one have to be obviously "worse" than another in order to succeed at their awful work. They only have to be zeroed on on what works for each of their victims...

      Hugs,

      V

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  8. Wow. Thanks for sharing all this. I don't know what to say yet, and am running out the door, but I'll come back later. It sounds like attempted "soul murder" to me. Thank God you had innate intelligence and a compulsion to understand. Not everyone does. talk more later. CS

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    1. Hi Violet, my NM was much more subtle when I was a little girl. Most of the worst of what she'd do would be to ignore me or just act like I didn't exist. I felt chronically "in her way," and frankly, I was. I needed some attention, I was a child. She would shame me when I tried to get her attention. I learned to just play on my own, even with games and toys that should've been played with more than one person. I was just left alone too much of the time. Later, when I began talking back, I became "the problem child." "Don't be fresh." "You're not going to have the last word." These were things my parents said to me all the time. A child! Good grief.

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    2. You have just written a page out of my childhood with only one exception: my NM didn't try to shame me, she just terrorized me.

      Anything I did or anything that happened to me that forced her to step out of her self-centredness and recognize my existence and/or needs she labelled an "attention-getting device." I am not talking about such things as directly demanding her attention but such things as needing fillings, needing glasses, sneezing attacks due to untreated allergies, contracting pneumonia...when I went to the school nurse with a toothache and she found four major cavities, NM told the nurse my complaining was an "attention-getting device!" I was 14 and had never been to the dentist, fluoride treatment for teeth didn't exist yet, and NM blamed ME saying: if you brushed your teeth properly, this wouldn't happen.

      The cherry on top was when I was living in Boston (NM was in California). I had a miscarriage at 5 months and developed an infection which turned to sepsis. I was in isolation in the hospital (before ICUs were common) and was unconscious for the better part of three weeks. NM called near the end of my hospital stay to berate me for "goldbricking" (her exact words). When I tried to tell her I was really sick, I had nearly died of a massive infection, she accused me of using that as an "attention-getting device."

      My NM bellowed and used physical violence to get what she wanted: she terrorized me unless I behaved in such a way that she could forget about my existence. For all that they used different tactics, I would guess your MN and mine were very much alike in their thinking and expectations.

      Hugs to you, CS, I am sorry you had to go through that. Every child should be wanted and cherished and loved, not wished away as a nuisance. How telling it is on them that they were gifted with bright, loving, intelligent little girls but they wanted dolls they could put up on the closet shelf when they were not in the mood to play with them (my NM's very words).

      Hugs and love to you

      Violet

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  9. Jesus Violet. Your miscarriage and septic infection, and your mother called it "goldbricking"?? What a monster. I hope that doesn't offend you, but you're describing a monster. I'm so deeply sorry for what you went through. It just hurts my heart. What is wrong with these mothers? Your mother sounds like a sociopath, and it's a miracle that you became a woman of heart and mind despite that.

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    1. Sorry to be so tardy in getting back to you. I have spent the last 3 weeks getting documentation together for a lawsuit against a no-pay tenant and it's been a 24/7 job! Just finished today and sent it off to the lawyers.

      Funny you should call my NM a "sociopath." When I was in therapy back in the mid-80s, NPD was not well known...so my therapist pronounced my NM a "psychopath." Oddly enough, that was comforting to me! It validated me...that I was not the crazy one, SHE was...and she was extra-super crazy just as I had believed all along.

      My therapist said I had a "strong inner core" which is what allowed me to survive that monster without becoming one myself. I know I had some serious fleas, but as I got clear on exactly how nuts my mother was and how I was not, a lot of that just fell away. If you knew me in the 70s and knew me today, you would never guess I was the same person.

      My father (definitely not an N or an enabler) once told me, after a few years of therapy, that I had "changed." I said I had been going to a therapist weekly for several years and my step-mother said "It shows." That was one of the nicest things she ever said to me!

      She was a monster, right up to the day she died and she wrote a will that just perpetuated it. My father used to tell me that every cloud had a silver lining, and if you just looked hard enough, you'd find it. I think this blog is the silver lining of the black cloud that was my mother.

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  10. Thank you for sharing this. My wife's mother is a narcissist and our marriage is very hard and shaky. I find that my wife reacts to things like hurt and stress in many of the same ways that she has described as things that her mother would do. I of course have my own issues of abandonment and when the two of us have conflict I sometimes react in a fight or flight mode which my wife internalizes and sees me as just being like her mom. It seems like I am in a constant losing situation where she is unhappy I'm unhappy and whatever both of us do the other one doesn't know how to see the good in the other person. Does anyone have any advice on how to work through these? My wife won't see her part in the situation and sees the fault as entirely on me. I feel like instead of her dealing with her grief from having a mother who is a narcissist she has just transfered those expectations over onto me and assumes that I "love" her the way that her mom did, so no matter what I do I can't give her what she needs. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

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    1. The very best thing you can do is see a counselor...not a marriage counselor because that should come after you do some work on your own issues. Your wife could have a bad case of fleas...and she could be a narcissist like her mother. Narcissism is a spectrum disorder, so one can be a "mild" narcissist and one can be a "severe" narcissist...could be both your wife and her mother are narcissists, only the mother is more severe (or overt) than the daughter.

      But what you really should find out first is why you were attracted to such a person to the degree that you married her and what keeps you there. Once you know that, you will start seeing the thing in yourself that respond to things in her, both good and bad.

      I regularly recommend counselling because I have personal experience in just how effective it can be for a motivated person. Figuring out your own problems (you mention an abandonment issue, which is something I am intimately and personally familiar with) will help you find better ways to respond to her provocations. If you did not have an abandonment issue, for example, then you probably would not go into panic mode ("fight or flight") when the two of you have a conflict. My husband and I, for example, seldom have conflict and when we do, it is almost never heated: it is not his nature and I have gotten a handle on my abandonment issues (although I would not be so bold as to say I have totally conquered them). An extended period of good therapy did that for me, and it can do it for you.

      One thing that is essential for you to keep always in mind is that we cannot change other people, we can only change ourselves. And when we put our focus on rescuing others, we take our focus off of fixing ourselves: we essentially use the other person and his/her issues and problems, griefs and heartbreaks as a way to distract ourselves from our own. Ultimately, this does neither of you any favours: better to let her deal with her own issues like the adult she is, and you deal with your own. In the long run, it is healthier for both of you.

      Best of luck to you!

      Hugs,

      Violet

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  11. thanks so much for this.
    i grew up with adoptive parents, one being a severely narcissistic mother. after so many years of abuse and constantly feeling like i'm not "good enough", eventually ending in my own hospitalization, (odd how simply being around so much craziness, can make you crazy too, lol) i finally had to cut any and ALL contact from her (and consequently, the rest of my family after she was finished with her mission in siding them with her). it had gotten so toxic i couldnt even associate with anyone that she knows anymore.
    for awhile i felt guilty and horrible...
    that was five years ago and its starting to heal, but i'm still dealing with how growing up that way affected my own personality. i didnt turn out narcissistic (though, my other adopted sibling did) which is pure luck, but i do have a lot of other emotional and personal issues resulting, mostly anxiety and depression. anyway, i know i'm totally rambling, lol... i just wanted to say thanks for this site and it actually is a huge comfort just being reminded that i'm not alone :)

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    1. I wouldn't say that your not turning out a narcissist was pure luck: there is both a genetic and a nurturance component to narcissism and if you lacked the genetic component, then the nurturance might give you fleas, but it won't turn you into an N.

      You are definitely not alone. I am surprised that your NM passed a home study for adoption...she must be VERY good as disguising her personality disorder. My aunt and uncle were turned down as adoptive parents because they could not pass the home study, and I'm pr etty sure narcissism was the reason why.

      Having a parent (adoptive or otherwise) who is that good at hiding their personality disorder from outsiders can make it doubly tough on the children because they have absolutely nothing they can point to that validates their experience. My mother was loud and unpolished and her lack of sophistication (and pride in it) certainly was a red flag to many. But I also grew up in a time when the rural people were flocking to large cities and rough-edged people like my mother were increasingly common, so she could disappear into that crowd. She was the kind of person who called me "pretentious" for wanting to take French in school. Someone like her can actually give inadvertent clues to better educated observers...I know my school nurse had her number almost immediately...than more cultured abusers. If your NM fooled the adoption home-study people, she was very good at concealment...which had to make it very tough on you.

      Healing actually happens faster and more surely when you have a clued-in therapist helping you. Being away from your NM's toxic influence is only the first part of the equation and we are so often clueless to our own issues that it helps to have someone else holding our hands as we go through them. I could never have overcome my NM's legacy without the help my therapist provided...I strongly recommend finding someone to help you through the land mines.

      Hugs,

      Violet

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  12. This is a wonderful post! I've been working on one (kind of) like this..but no where near as elegant. :)

    Learning about narcissistic personality disorder is relatively new for me (dad is a narc) and I'm working through the issues and gaining some understanding about myself and my childhood. It's both comforting and horrifying.

    I have been beating myself up a LOT over the possibility that I am also a narcissist. I know it's just habits I picked up (how can we not?) And I want to shed them as quickly as possible. 50 years of practice, though, can make that difficult.

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  13. No idea what my mother is .... but the stories ive read here sound very familiar . My mother was physically abusive toward me all my childhood often waking in the night to drag me out of bed by my hair and throw me down the stairs and demand I go and live with my father ! But the next day acted if nothing happened . When confronted my mother would say I was a liar she never touched me , I was an attention seeker liar . My mother was nice as pie to friends and stranger but an evil vile person to me and my father and eventually when we both left my brother bore the brunt of her irrational behavior . I still see her , she tries to call me everyday I often ignore most of her calls. My dear old dad died at the young age of 48 of cancer . To which my mother his ex wife said she could have saved him ! She told him when he was unwell / dying that he used to be such fun and full of life now hes a bore . The sad thing is my dad loved her till the end , there was never anyone else. To me she would question why a boyfriend was interested in me ? He vould fo better . She went to far as to tell my niw husbands mother she doesnt know why hes marrying me she would be a better option . This was said on the eve of my wedding day . Shes said it wont last and other such rubbish. We managed to save for 5 years and pay gor our wedding outright but that did not stop her telling people she paid for it ! We also manged a deposit for our first home and she wasnt interested in coming to see it , saying why whats the point its only a house . Eventually she did come we picked her up and she critized everything ! I dont know what we expected really . Now im pregnant with our first child and in her twisted head this is her baby ... she calls up almost hysterical demanding to be called when labour starts demanding to be at the hospital . She lives 50 miles away .... I dont want her near my baby boy . She has a lot of access to my darling niece and is showered with gifts by my mother and slowly I can see that my mother is doing to her what she did to me giving everything in tge material and then using it to blackmail or get what she wants out of her . For example my mother brings up the fact she brought me and my friend fish and chips when we where 13 and there was no food in HER house . She does this still .... anything she buys for us she thows in our faces and installs a sense of guilt as she adds shes poor and has no money . My brother bless him was duagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago ... he had a grand mal seizure (he lives with mother) she called the ambulence . He has since had an operation and been stable for the past two years thank god . My mother belives she saved his life . On this occasion she did the right thing but she often says to him she should have let him die and he should never of woken from his op .... discuting mother . Shes recently told me im so fat am I sure im not expecting twins , she finds your weaknesses and plays them to her advange.... now heres the thing she had an accident when she was 13 . She was run over by a speeding car which resulted in a coma and brain damage .... she had to start life again learning to walk and talk etc.... is she a N or is she a product of misfortune ?

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    1. Your asking the question "is she a N or is she a product of misfortune ? " tells me you are looking for a way to excuse her and to minimize your feelings, that you are putting her ahead of yourself. Why does it matter if she was an N or a product of misfortune...does it make your pain any less? Try to focus away from her and onto yourself: you have been hurt and whether it was by design or by happenstance, your pain is valid, legitimate, and you have every right to feel it. You don't have to blame or excuse your mother for her part in it, only acknowledge you have this pain and her actions caused it. WHY the parent abuses does not minimize your pain or make their behaviour acceptable. You have been hurt by their actions and you have every right to feel that hurt.

      Reading your mother's behaviours, quite frankly she sounds like a classic N. If her brain is damaged in such a way that she cannot control the occasional outburst or rude comment, she can still recognize at a later time what she said and then apologize. The fact that she does not take responsibility or feel ashamed of herself for her cruel words points, in my mind, more towards narcissism than to brain damage. You know, a narcissist can suffer brain damage just as a normal person can, so it is entirely possible that you are dealing with both.

      Bottom line, she is responsible for what she does and says, even if she suffered brain damage in her accident. She can recognize at some point that she has said or done something that is not acceptable in our society and later apologize for it and try to make amends. That she does not tells me that, to a large degree, she is behaving narcissistically.

      And, frankly, the brain injury your NM suffered may have absolutely nothing to do with her behaviour. If her pre-frontal cortex was not injured, then her behaviour is purely narcissism. If she brings up her brain injury when her bad behaviour is pointed out, she is using it as an excuse. Your NM may indulge her narcissistic tendencies and when called out, blame the brain damage as a way to excuse herself, when the brain injury had nothing at all to do with it.

      In reading your description of your NM I found myself nodding and saying to myself "this sounds like a textbook narcissist." I think it is highly unlikely that the predominant problem here is brain damage because she just too classically fits the criteria for narcissism. But in the final analysis, does it matter? She does and says things that hurt you, she behaves in ways that can be detrimental to the proper development of your child: if she is toxic to an adult with a fully functioning brain and some decent critical thinking ability, imagine her effect on an innocent child whose brain is just developing and who cannot tell that Grandma is setting him up for emotional pain later down the road? It is your mother, your child, your choice, but I have to tell you that if I knew then what I know now, my mother would never have even been told of my children's births, let alone access to their lives.

      You have a choice. The amount of drama your NM brings into your life (including the labour room) is up to you. Just say "no" to her...or fail to respond to her demands. Send her an email with a scanned pic of the baby after he is born, if you think you must tell her, but if you invite her in, if you tell her when you go into labour, expect drama and the whole thing to be about HER, not about you or the baby. YOU are the one in control here, believe it or not, and you exercise that control by the amount of access you permit your NM to have to you and your family.

      And if she hurts your child, does it matter to you WHY she hurt him? No, all that matters is that she is dangerous to your child and she must not be given access to hurt him again, right? Well, you and your feelings are worth no less than your child and his. Think about that...

      Hugs,

      Violet

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  14. Thank you for this post. I've never come across anyone else that might actually believe me so I've spent my earlier years doing my best to not feel sorry for myself. It isn't until probably the last five years or so that I've come to find out what narcissism is and know that I've been affected to the core by it. And, of course, question whether or not I am one too.

    I think the first time I started to realize I had really been abused by my mother was after I had my first child. I held him on my hip as I poured hot water off pasta and he reached into the steam and of course it burned him. It wasn't until his Aunt was over and I was telling her what happened that I realized how callous my reaction to his pain had been. I stated her he had cried to make a big deal out of it and she gave me a terrible look and stated babies don't have the capacity to do such a thing. Right then I realized that I had blamed him and assigned his pain to something that was his problem, not mine. But how could I do that?

    I started to question my ability to mother him properly and my reflection eventually led me to the conclusion that my pain had always been downplayed, ignored, unattended. I started to remember always being told to stop feeling sorry for myself. Stop making a big deal out of it. Nobody cares that you feel that way, stop trying to get attention. Stop manipulating people!

    I started to recall how I was always accused of being a manipulative, greedy, selfish girl and I should be ashamed of myself, had no business trying to look good. I was made to feel bad for making my mom feel bad about herself, always due to something I had accomplished. Something that was better than either I deserved or she didn't ever have it so how could I show off? I remembered how it wasn't important enough to get me a new dress but she always got one. I remembered how my hair was cut short and boy-like while hers was long, flowing, beautiful.

    At this point in my life, today, I know my NM was a heinous representation of what a mother should have been to me. She's been gone 11 years now and after working though equally devastating sadistic abuse at the hands of my dad after she died, I'm finally free. He died two years ago.

    At that time, I was accused of being a narcissist by my step-mom to which my immediate reply was that I live to raise healthy boys, all I want is for their best interest because I know they have nothing to do with how I was treated, but I have a responsibility to be better than that, I refuse to perpetuate the abuse.

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  15. cont... She wasn't prepared for me to defend myself and ended up apologizing but my relationship with her is surface and meaningless to this day. I let her know I had an a mother who consistently caused me to look through the cupboards to find something to feed my brother. She never came to anything I was involved in and refused to bring me something if I forgot it as I dashed out to catch the bus. She refused to drive me anywhere. I had to do everything my own self from working to buy my clothes to avoid the disgusting hand-me-downs she came up with, to paying the rent to avoid the constant drama around how were were going to become homeless. I always fixed it.

    In fact, at one point she didn't report my income and got me busted right along with her, food stamps and housing stopped. I had been paying rent the whole time yet she had housing? Who does that? I went to move out and couldn't take my cat and she charged me rent to leave him behind with her, then turned to my brother to save her. He blamed me for leaving. I blamed her for having my tax returns taken away for several years. She told me to stop feeling sorry for myself. Of course.

    I am doing a pretty good job of pinning down what was wrong with my upbringing and identifying within myself when my initial reactions to my kid's situations are not conducive to good parenting. I'm Healing. Alone but I wholeheartedly love my kids. I broke the abuse cycle, my biggest achievement, and I'm very proud of that. And, yes, the older they get I see them blame, sidestep and shun self-responsibility. But, we talk about it. We don't yell, scream, slam doors, guilt trip each other and disappear for days. We talk about it.

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    1. Therapy with a therapist experienced in helping people who were abused as children will speed the process along. Knowing what happened to you and being able to accurately identify what was wrong with your upbringing is an excellent first step, but it is an intellectual step and not the solution to an emotional injury. We have a decided tendency to try to avoid those painful feelings or get stuck in our anger or pain. A good therapist can help you through those patches and keep your "stuck" periods at a minimum. I know that I tended to intellectualize rather than feel, something my therapist called me on many, many times.

      Congratuations on your progress thus far and I hope you find your way to peace and freedom sooner rather later.

      Hugs,

      Violet

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  16. Thank you so much for this gentle and encouraging article! I'm getting married soon and I sometimes worry maybe I have some of the described tendencies that will just get worse once we live together...

    But knowing that I really want to be good to my wife and be a team makes me feel encouraged. I have a habit of getting touchy with serious subjects, but I'm trying to get past that. Pray that I will do well please!

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    1. I am recently divorced and remarried and I have constant opportunities to compare my first marriage with this one. I did exhibit many behaviors in my first marriage that were a result of my childhood. But that was not the determining factor in the failure of the relationship, because I exhibited them in this relationship too. I am convinced that if you are truly in love, then it will be love that responds to even the worst in each other. My new husband has plenty on his hands as he "helps me unpack my baggage." But he considers it a privilege because he loves the total package like a crazy man. I will pray that your marriage will always be full of love.

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  17. This post is the only thing keeping me alive right now. I broke down yesterday in tears over a simple fight with a friend(I only know it was simple because I had someone else read it) fearing two extremes. He was the narc or I was. I just keep saying this mantra in my head "I don't want to be a monster" I don't want you to think I'm throwing a pitty party but nobody seems to see how scary it is. I can't trust myself

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  18. I did wonder if I would end up like my parents and siblings. I always thought that I must be the one in the wrong but for the life of me I could not figure it out. I had 2 wonderful grandparents, maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather who taught me so much about honesty and respect. Having a crappy home life I tried to spend as much time as possible in their company. they were good honest people and I could relate to them like I never could in my childhood home. I was devastated when Grandad passed away in 1981, he was such an old school with strict but good morals. Then when my nan passed away in 1998 I had the comfort of my dear husband. He is the most understanding and compassionate person I have ever known and the past 23 years have been trying for him but he has stuck by me all the way while I learned how to trust and be loved.

    As a child I endured some horrific punishments at the hand of my father and my mother just fuelled his anger until I was left a blubbering bleeding heap in the back of the wood shed. As I grew older I did at times have a good relationship with them but only when one of the golden children was out of favour. I confided in them as I thought they cared. In my head I thought them capable of caring as I had seen the way they were with my siblings. I now realise the games they were playing and I just learned to bite my tough. If they were cruel and nasty about other people I would try to make them see that there is a little good in everyone, but I know now that mostly it is because of their own jealousy.

    We recently had my parents stay with us and it didn't end well. As we moved away from our home town 4 years ago I thought that my parents may have settled down a little in their old age but I couldn't have been more wrong. From the moment they arrived at our home they started with the nit picking. For 2 weeks they tried every trick in the book, they said some horrible things about me while I was in ear shot and I ignored it; they kept comparing everything I do and have with the siblings and I ignored it; they criticized my husbands work and I ignored it; they criticized what I do and I tried to defend myself but did not fall victim to their putdowns, I let it go....AGAIN. You see I became a foster carer and they don't like it at all, after all haven't they portrayed me as a hateful evil person, so how can they justify my love and kindness towards these darling little kids. They couldn't get to me, I wouldn't let them, until one day they knew their provocations weren't getting them anywhere they started on my 5 year old non-verbal autistic boy. Wrong move!! I will defend these children with my life, because I know what they have been through and my home is a safe place for them. I want them to know love and respect.

    I did get cranky with my family sometimes and find myself arguing with them, trying so hard to have them believe me but nothing I could ever do or say could make them hear a word I said. they would twist every thing I said to the point that I no longer know what the hell had started it all. they would go away quite content and I would be left that snivelling little girl, discarded as trash once again.

    Now when I try to rationalise all that has passed I find myself thinking that I am making this all about me and isn't what they are doing. I have told my husband to just shoot me if I ever show that kind of behaviour. Or I already doing it?

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