Thursday, March 31, 2011


This post on "What makes narcissists tick" strongly resonates with me. Kathy basically demands her due for not becoming a narcissist herself despite having been subjected to narcissistic parenting, and ascribes it to a series of choices she made starting as early as age 3. She denies the assertion that narcissism is genetic or otherwise a matter of blind fate.

I entitled my previous post "His Whore" partly because prostitution seemed like a good metaphor for a narcissistic parent using his child's body for his own ulterior motives, but also partly because of what prostitution as a metaphor has always meant for me.

For me, being a "whore" means surrendering my personal integrity in return for remuneration, which, in the case of my narcissistic father, was mostly emotional. Do as he wants, apologize when you don't feel guilty, stifle the feeling of injustice and anger in yourself, and you will be given "love" again.

A prostitute goes through the motions of what is normally reserved for a loving relationship for motives others than giving love to a beloved person, and this is what children of narcissists are expected to do as well. Stifle your authentic emotions, go through the motions of displaying superficial empty signifiers of love and respect, no more, no less.

If we refused, if we dared to say "no" to them, to correct their lies told to impress others, to disobey their meaningless injunctions, to expose them for who they are, we could expect them to withdraw their love or unleash their rage in horrible forms. Or both.

For a child, losing their parent's love is like death. And unleashed narcissistic rage can in reality reach proportions akin to those of torture. The choice in that case is, for a child, really: integrity or death. Or: integrity or torture. It's a horrible choice, but it's still a choice, and a choice that human beings in the history of the world have been called to make.

If we claim - and I do - that narcissistic abuse is an intrinsic evil, then we must make room for the assumption that there is an instinctive, intuitive, inherent part of every human, however small, that somehow knows that what his narcissistic parent is doing and how the narcissistic parent is thinking is wrong, and can make a choice to not be like that.

I could have become a narcissist. Some of that warped thinking was like second nature to me. But at some level I knew it was wrong.

I could have spurned my husband. After all, in my father's worldview, my husband is "beneath me." He's a "redneck" with no pedigree. He doesn't even have a university education! Luckily for me, I'd rebelled against my father's worldview much, much before I met my husband. I refused to believe I was "better" or "special" because of my family, or place of residence, or education, or whatnot. I knew it was wrong to think that way, no matter how good it might make me feel if I believed that nonsense.

Owning responsibility - not guilt, or blame, or fault - for those actions of mine which were done out of fear of my narcissistic father, against my integrity, is strangely liberating for me. It proves we had, and continue to have, CHOICES. As Write About Birth wisely said, "Not turning into a Narc ourselves is a choice we made every day, and continue to, as I am slowly coming to realize." Some people learned love and connection and empathy the easy way, they sucked it through their mothers' milk, they breathed it in the air of their homes. We have to constantly make the choice not to be like our models - until empathy and connection and love become like second nature to us.


  1. You made some interesting points, and triggered some more "aha moments" for me. Refusing to sacrifice my integrity has always been second nature to me – I can temporarily hide it, or choose that minor actions are inferior to preserving integrity as a whole, but I can't give it up completely. That's, apparently, why I was rejected and humiliated and there were few phases of "calm water". Narcs think there is something mentally wrong with you when you won't perform for them; when they can't tame you.

    I don't know if you agree, but my feeling is that (while they're extremely manipulative and they know THAT), they're so out of touch with the rest of the world that they genuinely believe noncompliance with narc antics means a child is mentally ill, or evil, or something of the sort.

  2. And about that dreaded word "special". I think children of Ns who are not Ns themselves may have a tendency to forget about themselves a little too much. The antidote to the narc's brand of being "special" is not thinking you are worthless, or that everyone else is better than you. There's no need to feel like that - the narc did that to us a little too long for us to continue on that road.

    So, here's for you. You ARE special. You ARE valuable. You are unique. No need to hide it, because self-acceptance and self-confidence doesn't make you a narc. We are all special. Every single one of us has a unique contribution to offer to the world, to our families, to society. We're not more special than others, but no less, either. Though the narc certainly makes you feel like that, deep inside.

  3. Yes, they don't forgive integrity. They'll forgive anything else.

    With MY N dad and his N mom, "You're crazy" was conscious manipulation. They used it when you confronted them about something they wanted forgotten. But their unease was visible - they remembered too.

  4. Thank you, you're right. They make you believe you can go from "the best" to "worthless" in a blink of THEIR eye - THEY make you one or the other.

    My N dad still won't say a thing against his own abusive N mom - his being "the best" and so very special and superior depends on HER having said so.

  5. Very moving post. I agree with you that we can, very early in life, choose to not be an N.

    Even though my 2 brothers and I *all* suffered because of our N parents, I clearly remember thinking that I at least *appeared* to feel MORE anger and outrage MORE OFTEN than my brothers...especially compared to my older GCB who's name is exactly like my NF's plus Jr. I'm sooo glad I wasn't named exactly like one of my N parents:D They don't *own* me!!

    Older GCB is now 53 and has totally gone over to the dark side. I'm extremely low contact with him...just having The Hallmark Relationship, ha ha.

    Watching and helping my baby boy, now 25, grow to be a man, was what finally opened my eyes to how helpless and courageous I was as a child growing up with an NF and EM. So sad it took me 3 decades after I left "home" to FULLY GET what they did to me and have compassion on myself.

    As a mom myself, I saw how easy and fun it was to love my son, play with him, and protect him. It came naturally to struggle. I knew what it felt like to be treated like prey in my own childhood home. No way was I going to be cold and indifferent to my son's needs and dreams. Lucky me, I got WAY MORE than I gave him...all those hugs, kisses, giggles, "Look Mom. I can climb, ride bike, tie my shoes...", just endless little daily miracles:D

    So, all that to say, YES, we ACORNS can take credit for busting our butts to be good:D I think our N parents HATE our goodness. It shines the light of truth on how perverted they were and are to their own children.


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