narcissist

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 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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.

Unraveling The Chess Board Mind Of The Narcissistic Abuser

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For many years I have tried to understand the mind of the narcissistic abuser.

I admit…their ability to genuinely believe their own lies, to this day, fascinates me.

For do they have insight into the fact that they lied? Certainly, they can remember the events that occurred that favor them, so surely their ability to selectively remember information requires a degree of awareness as to which of their actions would be considered, at least by others, to be immoral?

If they do not have insight and are unaware that they have lied, can they be blamed for lying?

At this point, I stop.

For it is beyond our need to understand whether the abuser should be pardoned for his or her wrong, immoral, hurtful and deceitful actions that have no doubt occurred.

Dwelling down this path may lead the “other” to excuse the abuser’s actions, not because of genuine forgiveness, but rather in desperation to not have to face the painful reality of the abuse that occurred and instead to remain unaware. Such reflection on forgiving the abuser may occur later, only when the “other” has freed his or her enmeshed mind completely from the abuser and regained his or her own self.

Until that time, attempting to explore the abuser’s mind should be solely to help us become aware of the power dynamic for the interests of ourselves, the children and any-one else involved. We must try to understand the part we play in the narcissist’s world to help us to separate fantasy from reality.

We can use the analogy of the chess board and try to understand the mind in three main ways:

Step 1: Identify the fantasy

The narcissistic abuser’s grandiose fantasy of him or herself is the source of all the pain and suffering that the narcissist inflicts on others. It is the “reflection in the mirror”. It is the ego that the narcissist has created and that he or she must defend at all costs to avoid identifying with his or her true self.

It is therefore imperative to question what is the narcissist’s fantasy of him or herself that he or she is so desperate to protect.

It may be higher level of intelligence, wealth, health, beauty, morality, righteousness, leadership within the community, culture or religion. It may be the better ability to father, to mother or to educate others. The fantasy can incorporate a number of different areas.

Interestingly, the grandiose fantasy may even be a lack of a skill, but in comparison to his or her perceived greatness at another skill.

For example:

  • She may express her lack of dress sense in terms of the morality of not being superficial or vein.
  • He may express his lack of availability for his children in terms of his impeccable work ethic which has resulted in a comfortable existence for the family due to his hard work and the sacrifices he as made.
  • She may express her inability to provide for her children in terms of being above materialistic possessions or being some-one of simple means.
  • He may express his lack of friends in terms of being some-one of high morality, intelligence or table manners that others can not match in conversation.

Within the chess board, the King is the narcissist’s grandiose fantasy which the other pieces lay their lives down to defend, often unaware of what they are actually defending.

Note that there can only be one King on the chess board. This is as the nature of the grandiose fantasy means that the Narcissist must be the expert in that field compared to all other pieces on the board. Any-one who comes close to the Narcissist in terms of their chosen area of expertise will, if possible, be devalued, rejected and as a last consequence, thrown off the chess board. The other option would be to take credit for the achievements and skills of others, for example, stating that it was only due to the Narcissist’s teachings that the other has become successful.

Step 2: Identify the Ideology

The core central aim of the narcissist is to keep his or her grandiose fantasy alive. The King on the chess board must survive and the other pieces are there to defend the King’s ego.

But how is the narcissist going to get other people to shield and protect the King’s ego, whilst the narcissist is abusive to those very same people?

One method, as discussed in my previous post, is through psychological manipulation to diminish the person’s self esteem and convert them into the “other”, so that they can only see the world through the eyes of the abuser.

The other method used is in terms of the imposition of an ideology.

The ideology is what the narcissist expresses other’s should do to try and better themselves so that they can try to achieve the grandiose skills or achievements that he or she has.

The ideology is what the narcissist will use to defend morally why the abuse that he or she inflicts was acceptable and appropriate.

The imposition of ideology becomes the mask of abuse.

For example:

  • The narcissist’s fantasy is that he is highly educated. The ideology is that his children should also be educated, to try to better themselves. The defense for abusing children is that it is done to discipline the children to become educated.
  • The narcissist’s fantasy is that she is a slim, beautiful woman who is an excellent mother. Her ideology is that her daughter should control her weight so that she doesn’t impact the beauty that her genetics provided her, to enable her, for her own best interests, to gain a husband. The defense for repeatedly insulting her daughters weight at dinner is to help make her skinnier as the benefit of the child’s future is the good mother’s concern.
  • The narcissist’s fantasy is that he is a man who has slogged hard to earn an income, without the help of his own father. The ideology is that the children should become more independent, like him. The defense for neglecting children or being emotionally or physically abusive is to “toughen them up”.

It is vital to identify the fantasy, the ideology and the defense that the narcissist has created in order to become aware of how abuse is subsequently rationalized and ignored.

Step 3: Identify Your Role

If you are in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, the narcissist will manipulate you to become the “Queen” on the narcissist’s chess board.

Your role will be to shield the narcissist’s fantasy and ideology, at all costs, including the well being of yourself and your children.

Note that the Queen can be the most powerful piece on the chess board, when used effectively. Whilst the King can only move one piece at a time, the Queen can move several.

Yet, the Queen remains loyal to the King.

The Queen is an extremely useful ally for the Narcissistic King. The King will use you as his or her shield in his or her final method of avoiding any blame or responsibility for the abuse that he or she has inflicted upon others.

For example:

  1. The narcissistic father who has a fantasy that he has worked hard his whole life will blame the mother for spoiling the children, and that, to save the mother from abuse from the spoilt children, he was forced get angry and subsequently had to hit the children.
  2. The narcissistic mother who has a fantasy that she is a good mother will tell her children that it is their father’s fault for not being there for her that resulted in her becoming addicted to alcohol and it was the subsequent alcohol that caused her to be abusive.
  3. The narcissistic wife will blame her husband’s perceived lack of education, organisational skills and health issues as to why she was unaware of the various family events that she was neglectfully unable to attend.
  4. The narcissistic father will express to the child that it is the mother that is the liar, the manipulator, the abuser and the cause of all the pain and suffering that the child has been through.

In this way, armed with his or her ability to distort the truth and pretend events never happened, surrounded by perceived inferior others and morality shielded by a manipulated loyal Queen and the imposition of ideology, the King is free to play and live on a fairy tale chess cardboard, never having to accept responsibility for his or her actions.

Whilst it can be extremely painful, by attempting to understand the Narcissistic abuser’s mind we may become more aware of the skewed power dynamic and the role we play on the Narcissistic chess board.