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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Folly and Futility of asking “Why?”

I see it all the time: “Why would my mother do this?” “Why does my father say such things?” “Why would my sister think this way?” “Why did I get chosen to be the scapegoat?” Everybody wants to know the reasons behind the behaviour of their Ns, but has anyone stopped to question that desire?

If you are one of those “Why?” people, have you asked yourself how an answer to your question will help you? Think about that for a minute…would that knowledge improve your life in any way? Does constantly asking it, does the torture of wanting an answer, improve your life? And what are you avoiding while you focus on “why? why? why?”

Our culture likes the idea of “closure.” What does “closure” mean to you? The dictionary defines it as “A feeling of finality or resolution, especially after a traumatic experience…” Do you really think you would have closure if you knew why you were chosen to be the scapegoat? Or do you think the knowledge would just bring you more pain and then elicit even more questions?

The first question, then, that has to be answered is “Why do you want to know?”

You want to know because you want to know if you deserved it or not. Why? Because, most likely unbeknownst to you, you have a hidden agenda at work, a hidden agenda based on never having accepted that your NParent is toxic and that there is no real hope that s/he will ever change.

So how does this work? Well, when you accept that something just is, when you truly accept it, you stop having feelings of angst about it. For example, how you ever wondered why something painted red fades to pink and then to almost nothing when exposed to the sun, but other colours hold up well? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t…but does not knowing the answer to that question cause you any sense of anxiety? Of course not—because even if you have wondered about this in the past, you have no emotional investment either in having the answer or not having the answer. It is okay with you not to know.

So, if you truly accepted that narcissists are so ego-centric, so self-centred, that the feelings of others—including their own children—are of no concern to them, if you truly accepted that your NParent will treat you, the scapegoat, like crap no matter what you do, that you can’t fix it because it can’t be fixed, that your NParent will never change…if you truly accepted all of that, you wouldn’t be asking “why” because you would no longer have any emotional investment in their behaviour. You would understand, in the deepest, most profound manner, that their treatment of you is a manifestation of their disorder and is no reflection on you and that understanding would bring you both acceptance and peace.

But you are affected, you do have angst, you have emotional pain surrounding this, which indicates that, as much as you may have intellectually accepted that narcissists behave this way no matter what you do, you have not accepted this on an emotional level.

Why not? Because on some level you still have hope that somehow you can do something to change your N into a real, loving, nurturing, emotionally available parent. Your desire for that parent is so precious to you that you will deny reality and even take on guilt…perceive yourself as the responsible party, believe that you somehow caused her condition…in order to preserve the hope that this person can become the competent parent you were denied.

Because if you caused it, you can fix it. It is as simple as that. If your actions in some way created your parent to be rejecting or enmeshing or manifest whatever hurtful behaviour s/he engages in, then if you can figure out what you did and then you can UNdo it—or at least make amends for it—and then have the parent of your dreams. In the meantime, you can only feel guilty about your failures, failures your NParent will happily point out to you—and anyone else who will listen—at any available opportunity.

You have taken responsibility, in your subconscious mind, for your NParent’s behaviour and obvious negative feelings for you. Normal people do not develop negative feelings for others without a reason, so somewhere along the line you have assumed that you provided your NParent with a legitimate reason to feel negative about you. And now you feel guilt for that unknown (and, in truth, fictional) sin and seek ways to gain absolution for it from a person who has a vested interest in keeping you feeling guilty and perpetually penitent. All this from your belief that not only your NParent is normal and therefore has a legitimate reason for treating you like a criminal, but from your further belief that if you could just name the crime you committed, you have the power to fix it and thereby turn your NParent into the perfect, loving parent you have yearned for—and deserved—all this time.

So why do you want to know why? Because some part of you believes that this knowledge is the magic key. In knowing why, you will be able to “fix” it and then have what you want. If you just knew what you did wrong, you could undo it or fix it or make amends or apologize or do something to make it right so that the loving parent you pine for would emerge from the narcissistic shell.

If you could know for certain that it was not your fault, that you didn’t do anything wrong, then you can fix it by making your NParent realize how unjust s/he is being and how much you have been hurt by their treatment. This little part of you believes that once they understand they are being unfair and they are hurting you, their natural sense of justice and parental love will kick in and they will be sorry and soothe your hurts and change their behaviour and become that loving parent you so deserve.

It makes a lovely fairy tale, but you and I both know it ain’t gonna happen. That niggling little voice of hope is actually part of your Narcissist’s voice in your head, the promise that is never kept, the expectation never realized, the hope that can never be fulfilled. Narcissism is forever. Narcissists cannot be successfully treated because they don’t believe there is anything wrong with them, so they won’t cooperate with therapy…and there is no medication that targets the manifestations of narcissism. They are profoundly, deeply selfish and have no sense of empathy for the feelings of others. Appealing to a narcissist’s empathy or sense of fairness is like appealing to the sense of fairness and empathy of a granite wall: there is nothing there to appeal to, nothing to resonate with you or your feelings.

And there is nothing you could have ever done wrong that justifies the treatment they mete out. Nothing. Nada. Nix. You didn’t do anything to make them this way, they were this way before you were born and will be this way—or worse—until they draw their last breath. Your only mistake was to buy into the fiction that you are somehow responsible for their behaviour—that they are reacting to something you did—and therefore you have a chance to fix the problem: you aren’t and you can’t because it isn’t fixable.

By the same token, their apparent obliviousness to your pain and their lack of fairness, isn’t something that can be remedied because it is as much a part of them as their eye colour. It seems like they don’t care if they hurt you because they don’t…not because there is something wrong with you but because there is something wrong with them…and it is something they do not want to fix.

None of us has the power to change the fundamental nature of another human being. Even if we did, we don’t have the right to do so. Each one of us, narcissists included, has an inherent right to self-determination and to think we have the right to change another person to suit our needs is to think like a narcissist. Narcissists are the people who believe they are exempt from the need to respect the rights of others and  have the right to demand others reshape themselves to serve their idea of what they should be.

So what is the point of asking “Why?”? It is the manifestation of a flea, a flea in which you harbour a subconscious belief that you have the right to change your N to suit your desires and needs, just as s/he has been trying to shape and mould you to fit theirs. You believe that the answer to the question is your best clue, your key, to creating an effective campaign to bring that N to heel so that you can get your needs fulfilled, regardless of what s/he wants.

The real answer isn’t what you want to hear, it isn’t what you want it to be because it won’t give you the clues you need to “fix” your Ns and turn them into the people you want them to be. The answer is simply “Because they are narcissists and that is what narcissists do.”

Nothing more profound, nothing more personal, nothing more insightful…no clues, no keys, just the simple fact that narcissists care only for themselves and that everyone around them—including their GCs—are mere pawns in their selfish games of self-gratification.


  1. I really needed to read this tonight, thank you.

  2. This is really good - thanks. ACON's take on so much responsibility so early that it's a problem to just STOP doing that. The idea that not only is it not our responsibility to change them but that it's not our right is comforting.

  3. My abuser parents are dead and they still have a tight hold on my ankles. I am 62. I am just beginning to understand how narcissistic they were and that I was just their pawn and a battered one at that. Thank you for the post

  4. Perfect!!! Just perfectly sums up a lot for me. Thank you....

  5. Thanks. I'm still switching between asking myself "Why?" and "It's definitely not me!" I just want to stop ruminating about it all, and this article is helping me forward.

    Thanks again.

  6. This past year I've found "closure", if you will, in answering the "Why?" with, "Because she never liked me." and following that up with, "It's OK, I never liked her either.".

  7. I was targeted by an old aquaintance who it turns out has some sort of Cluster B personality disorder. Why was I targeted? I never grasped how deeply selish and controlling my mother is and was. But the mother on Ordinary People describes her well. So I had traits and a brokenness that drew him to me and me to him. Its taken 2 years to really truky grasp what this disorder is. And I realize I transfered a ton of my ossues with her NPD to that friend. But the hardest emotion I have atruggled with, besides utter shame and humiliation, is the emotions and questuons of Why. I can get it under control but talking to this person even a bit, sends me into the hells of Why. It is such a painful place because its often accompanied by extremy detailed descriptions of what happened that any fool could look at and understand at least half the problem. He never looks, sees or apologizes. If anything, he has become cemented in his belief never having done me wrong though he tried to run off with alot of my money. And my Why, how could you just echo into air. I cycle through it... the episodes last about 24 hours then I collapse into defeat and become indifferent. Then I miss him, reach out, same dynamic of games and abuse, I start to spin into my questions and then fall into detached defeat. Only to have it reoeat some time later. I am soooo exhausted by this though usually, he says things that trigger me to defend myself and stand up for myself. He has already 'left' so I am not afraid my words will chase him away. Its long distance so its safe to speak out. But his 'why' businezs really is awful. And yes, its done with hope that he will have some light bulb moment. Instead, the opposite happens. .. he paints himself even cleaner

    I guess fully accepting the con on every level will ultimately stop these why questions ..

  8. Thank you. I've just realised that I was trying to do that exactly, having just come out of the Xmas period with my boarder line- Nmother. Trying so very hard to affect change by being so available to everyone else's needs. A poignant read that held so many answers for my current emotional state.


I don't publish rudeness, so please keep your comments respectful, not only to me, but to those who comment as well. We are not all at the same point in our recovery.

Not clear on what constitutes "rudeness"? You can read this blog post for clarification: