dysfunctional family

Dear My Co-Dependant Mother

Dear Mother,

You know I will always love you.

You were always there for me. You had to do the job of both father and mother. You took me to school, clothed, fed, cooked…everything.

I’d be dead if it wasn’t for you, thrown on the street by father.

I wish that you stood up to him, that you told him that he was wrong. I know that was hard, probably dangerous for you. I saw when he hit you with the shoe, when I was a young boy. I don’t think I told you though. You both made up quite fast and I didn’t want to spoil it for you.

I know that you couldn’t stand up to him directly…none of us could. I wish that maybe you could have told me that he was wrong though. That way, I wouldn’t have believed that I was always wrong. It took me a long time to realise that I am not worth living, its difficult not to believe this when both your parents say you are wrong all the time, but when one disagrees with another there is hope. I wish you could have given me that hope.

But I understand and I will always love you. Please stop worrying. I’ve learnt that people worry a lot because their mind wants to distract them from some-thing else in their lives. I know how difficult it is for you to face up to what happened in our family- its easier not to think about it, I know. I do the same.

I understand that you want to pretend it all never happened. And that you are happy like that. I just want you to know that I am happy where I am now too- Im sorry for trying to make you see so much, I was just trying to help. But I will never forget all you have done for me and the struggles you faced to hold us all together- it may have been a lie, but it kept us going at least…so it was worth it.

Love you always.

 

 

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Dear My Narcissistic Father

Dear Father,

Firstly, I have to thank you…for you made me the man I am today.

But…I refuse to forsake all my positive aspects to you whilst I burden the negative.

For this is what you desire, the way your mind exists encompasses a “black and white” understanding of the world, a world where my qualities are distinguished by the superior belonging to you, whilst the inferior belongs to the lack of you, or rather… me. A world that I believed for so long and one that made me despise myself.

It is the lack of you that made me the man I am today, along with your presence.

I am grateful for the restaurant dinners once in a while, the fact that I did not have a hungry childhood, that I had warmth, shelter…games to play with. I am grateful for your presence, even though it was mainly just physical.

I am grateful that your constant criticism motivated me to get into university and the  self criticism that persisted produced my degree. Here, I struggle, for it is true that without it would I have become “successful”? My success comes from self doubt, a lack of self worth, a preference to suicide if I was not to succeed, my fear so strong that I lived my life believing I was followed by cameras, watching and criticising my every room, till I was perfect. Yet, without you, it is true, maybe I wouldn’t continue to strive for an unattainable moment of success…as for me, I am incapable of believing anything other than I will never be good enough.

I am grateful also, that you were present but distant. That you were never truly reachable. That any attempt to communicate with you led to criticism, anger or months of silence. It was this that fuelled my curiosity into you. I wondered for years who you are, what made you the way you are, how you were bought up…did you have it tough? Was that what it was? I’m not sure if you knew, but the reason why I used to ask you to walk down the street with me was not because I needed your advice. It was that I wanted to understand you. It was my inquisitiveness of you that led to my interest in psychiatry. It was the question of whether you were Aspergers or Narcissistic, the difficulties of a fit in the box diagnostic approach and the question of whether you are mad or bad or both…this was my childhood dilemma.

I still now, look forward to your invitation to dinner. For it is the brief moment that I can pretend that I am loved by you. Please continue to invite me.

Finally, I am sorry that I will always be angry with you. These are wounds from childhood…the ignored, voiceless, inner child. As a result, it becomes too painful to attend my girlfriend’s family events, because I shed a tear if I see a father play with a ball with his son. She will never understand.

Yes, it is likely that I will always remain angry with you but it has lessened over time. I have come to learn that you are who you are because you too are like me. You did not have a father when you grew up. You did not get to play, but you had it worse. You did not have the nice dinners, the money or the games to sit in your room and play with. You were raised without money. In your anger, you swore to yourself that you would raise your children better and you thought that money is love, for you had no experience of money…nor of love.

I understand this now, for I too now ultimately want to raise my children as a father who loves them, to heal what I didn’t get from you. I wonder what my children will grow up being angry at me for…it may be something that I am unaware of too.

I don’t want to be bitter, father. Or live my life in anger. It is not something that you would notice regardless, but it wouldn’t benefit me…or my future. Building the blocks of self worth on a poor foundation is painstakingly long, with relapses not uncommon, but from believing one is nothing, one can only go upwards. The utmost goal is not that of richness or “success” or other vices to stabilise an insecure ego through narcissistic grandiosity, it is instead that of wholeness and integrity.

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing a Narcissistic Free Merry Christmas

For many of us, christmas is a difficult time. 

Why?

As much as we deny, try to forget, go no contact or leave it all in the past, the houses around us decorated in christmas lights, with the image of the happy children opening their christmas presents gives us no solace from the constant reminder of what we have not had, or what we desperately seek to forget.

We may be facing christmas alone this year. 

Those of us further on in our journey to recovery may have built our new network, who soothe our christmas to feel somewhat normal, a normality which will be cherished, but still bringing about mixed feelings of anger to what we lacked in our past, with new found hope of what we can continue to have in the future.

I wish not to pretend that a christmas wish from myself or from any-one will make this a happier time. Deception is never welcomed by those of us who have experienced what we have.

But let me say this. That we can celebrate what we do have, which is insight into the madness that we now see in its true form, that we no longer are bound to be a part of in darkness. 

We all remain together, our trauma from our past helps us find one another, to help one another and to be there for each other in a way that we have never experienced.

We seek normality and christmas is a reminder of our abnormality, but it is our abnormality that is what makes us who we are and gives us our identity.

Celebrate your christmas as the symbol of your courage to make the difficult journey away from the comfort of ignorance and delusion to that of sound mind in reality

You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. I admire you. 

Merry Christmas 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning from the Narcissist: Our Unconscious Relationship Choice

I was bought up in a  typical household dynamic where one parent is a Narcissist. 

My Father: The Narcissist, self absorbed, no capacity to empathise, manipulative.

Nothing new there.

What is often forgotten or unspoken of, is the other side to the coin…

My Mother: A dependant, anxious, somatiser. Again, completely self absorbed. Almost always the victim, even when she is the predator.

It was a typical narcissistic/co-dependant relationship.

As a child, I was unable to see the true nature of my mother. For what tends to happen is that when the love and affection that a child needs is spread too thin, the child will look for any morsel of love he can get. This is what sets the ground for the idealisation of the father and devaluation of the mother, or vice versa, which sets the child towards the foundation of developing the narcissistic personality themselves.

What can we learn from this typical dynamic we grow into?

For many years, I wondered why my mother would stay with my abusive father. I could not understand why she wouldn’t walk away, nor why, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary, she would believe that my father treated her well.

From a Kleinian understanding of the “splitting” prevalent within personality disorder, it is necessary to understand what my father detested about himself. 

My father hated the idea of being vulnerable or weak. If he was sick, he would tell no-one- it gave too much evidence to his own mortality, that he was in fact just like everyone else…his ego wouldn’t allow such an appropriate human exchange.

He detested the idea of being poor. Despite he himself coming from a poor  background, he spoke fondly of how he rose himself and his family from such harsh realities…without his guidance and wisdom we would all have nothing, or be nothing.

Finally, he resented stupidity. He was a highly educated man, constantly comparing himself to those with lesser qualifications than himself. A man who could never be wrong, or faulted, due to the letters following his name.

What of such interest then, that the woman he “loves” was less intelligent than him, poorer than him and more weak and vulnerable than him. 

Interestingly, I do believe my father does love my mother. But the reason for why they are together, why they complement each other so well in their narcissistic/codependant relationship, is that he needs her to hold parts of himself he resents. 

He needs her to be poor, so he can feel rich.

He needs her to be weak, so he can feel strong. 

He needs her to be stupid, so he can feel intelligent.

I believe insight is everything- so let me challenge you…

What is it that you need the narcissist in your life for, so that you can feel….? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Common Traits Of Those Raised By A Narcissist

narcissist

 

I’ve noticed over time that a lot of us who have been raised by Narcissists have certain traits in common. 

For many of us, these were developed as coping strategies for our survival when we were children. Whilst they may have been useful as a child, some become maladaptive patterns as an adult, restricting our life experiences, leaving our outlook of life to be through the eyes of the narcissist, as we never had much of a chance to develop our own. 

Sometimes I can tell when I meet some-one who has been raised by a narcissist. There is some sort of familiarity or an understanding that we have both been through the same turmoil, signalled through our body language towards each other or us having a similar shared reaction if we are both around a narcissist at the same time.

After gaining awareness into my own childhood and opening up to my friends, I found that a lot of them had also had some life changing contact with a narcissist at some point in their lives. It seems odd, but the victims of the narcissist not only attract narcissists into their lives but also attract other victims. Maybe it is a way of us unconsciously relating to others pain, to try to heal others as we heal ourselves.

The following traits seem common amongst those of us that have been raised by the narcissist. 

1. We have an odd relationship with authority.

Whether it be our bosses at work, our teachers at school or the leader of our group of friends, our relationship with authority tends to be affected.

We find ourselves on guard, unable and unwilling to be ourselves. We struggle to understand how other employees can call their bosses by their first name or go out for drinks with them with such ease.

Instead, we become very good students or employees. Our skills at catering to the narcissistic ego has been taught to us from a young age. We know how to make our boss feel superior, in control and powerful. We are often very successful at working up the ladder.

When we are in a group, we find ourselves being drawn to understand the mind of the leader. This is of no surprise, considering how we have spent years trying to make sense of why the narcissist caused so much confusion within our lives. 

In a way, this is a useful survival strategy. The fact that we are disciplined in the art of pleasing our superiors can work in our favour and when skilled can make our working lives very secure.

On the other hand, our difficulty in developing a more relaxed relationship with authority may leave us in a permanent position of formality, unable to progress the relationship to one with more meaning. 

We struggle to lead others, for we detest so much the feeling of being led. Being stuck in a position of being wary around authority, naturally pleasing, we gradually detest our superiors, feeling suffocated at our difficulties in standing up for ourselves and our own needs, living instead of constant fear of upsetting our master.

2. We find it difficult to say NO.

Being raised by a narcissist would mean that you have spent a of of time doing things you didn’t want to do. You may have had to go out for dinner after you had already eaten, attended family parties despite being ill, studied subjects at school that you had no interest in, embarked on a career that you had no passion for or even married some-one who is a stranger to you, just to appease the narcissistic parent.

Our narcissistic parent may have been in a relationship with a dependant person and if so we would have grown up watching how one person always seemed to give in to the other. The result is that it may seem normal or natural for one person to follow the other and odd as to how a relationship of equality would actually work.

We find it difficult to say NO not just because of fear of offending the other person. It is also that we fear the abandonment, the expectation of silent treatment or other abuse that we would have experienced as children just for stating our views.

In its worst form, we become paranoid that if we are to reject another person, it will result in a rejection by all those who know the narcissist, akin to the feeling of being told off by extended family members as a child for some-thing that wasn’t true or wasn’t our fault, due to the narcissistic parent projecting the blame onto us as he or she was incapable of mustering any responsibility for his or her own actions or behaviour. In my case, I was the scapegoat for being late and the explanation given for my mother’s constant level of stress.

3. We are highly self critical

I spoke in my post on awareness of abuse by narcissists on how, when some-one has little self esteem, they lose the ability to see the world through their own eyes, instead seeing the world through the eyes of the narcissist.

For those of us who were raised by a narcissist, we may never have had the opportunity to develop any self esteem in the first place.

Hence, we spend our lives seeing the world through the narcissist’s eyes, where our values, beliefs, aspirations and accomplishments don’t matter.

As a result, many of us will struggle to feel any sense of happiness on our birthday, or when we pass an exam, or get married or any other accomplishment. We will believe as we have been taught to believe, that our accomplishments were solely due to our narcissistic mother or father, whilst we only are responsible for the negative consequences of being raised in the self image of a narcissist.

4. We have anger that we keep hidden

When I meet some-one who can appear to smile genuinely when they are wronged, I question whether they have been raised by a narcissist, or what abuse they have faced in their youth. We have an uncanny ability to be able to hide our emotions. Having lived in fear of the impact of showing our disgust towards our parents, our mastery in this is of no surprise.

What this leaves us with is a harbouring of intense inner feelings of anger, which we keep stored and pent up, hidden with a smile and forgotten by ourselves through either dissociation into a constant numb like state or otherwise through another form of distraction.

Unfortunately, our anger following years of abuse doesn’t simply disappear. It remains within us and facing up to this part of us is difficult. But, who can blame us for being angry?

Some of us may have found a safe outlet for our anger. Many of us will be extremely creative and may use music or writing to process our intense feelings. We may eventually develop a strong desire to protect others or to have an opportunity to defend and speak up after years of neglecting this part of ourselves- many of us may find solace in a career in law, the police force or medicine.

What can we do now?

One thing us adult children of narcissists know is that we can create a positive out of any negative situation.

We can start by recognising these traits within ourselves.

We can take time to celebrate our birthdays and accomplishments, no matter how small, and learn to believe our accomplishments to be ours.

We can develop seeing the world through our own eyes, rather than seeing the world through the narcissist’s eyes.

We can learn to say NO regularly and monitor our feelings through the process, including the anxiety, fear and paranoia. We can start to recognise that it is completely acceptable and within our rights to say no and that our emotional response is likely related to the reality of the past rather than the present.

We can learn to develop our emotional outlet to be used constructively to help ourselves or others and not allow it to affect us in self destructive ways. We can accept that we are angry about our past and not blame ourselves for this very natural feeling.

Most importantly, we can learn to love and care for ourselves.