Saturday, May 14, 2011


Adult children of narcissists are not only very sensitive to criticism, or veiled criticism, or perceived criticism, or imagined criticism. We're very sensitive to ideals, real or inferred. And they can be ideals completely foreign to our culture, upbringing, or social circle. They only need to exist in our perception, and we immediately feel judged and thus No Good and thus annihilated if we happen to fall short.

This is because our narcissistic parents have used every single value system they came across, however strange and inappropriate, if it only served one main purpose: to use it as a Procrustean bed on which to mangle and crush their offspring. Strangely enough, these, or any other, ideals were never applied to them. For instance, my father, who has been overweight and had a high blood pressure all his life somehow finds it appropriate to lecture me on the necessity of watching my weight to ensure I don't develop hypertension - this only a few months after the birth of my second child, when I was back at a healthy weight, and have besides had very low blood pressure all my life. He even sent me a diet program via e-mail, to "help".

(This, of course, does not get resolved with solid argumentation along the lines of "I'm at a healthy weight and have low blood pressure, but thanks for your concern"; this failed, so I chose to deal with it by saying, in a strict, motherly tone of voice "If your mother hasn't taught you manners, now your daughter will have to: This is not in any way an appropriate or polite way to communicate with any woman and I will simply NOT tolerate it any more"; THIS worked and his only response was an "oops" facial expression; just a few months ago, I would have thought of this as cruel, but now I'm aware that this is the only way.)

But, although my father's opinions personally have little sway over me, the way of thinking that any ideal out there is out to get me, so to speak, is alive and well. For instance, there are no "Mommy Wars" in my culture. No big debate or even strong opinions about mothers in the work force. I've never had a conversation about this in real life.

But, yet, somehow I spent about a year of my life defending myself on different internet fora against perceived accusations that I wasn't fulfilling the ideals - get this - of BOTH sides. I was obsessed with proving that I was neither "neglecting my poor child" nor "neglecting my career", as my husband is a SAHD and I teach only several hours a week. I had great anxieties over this. 

The time would have been much better spent enjoying my situation, which indeed does provide me with the best of both worlds.

Maybe that's the ultimate ACON issue - we can't enjoy our lives. We can gain independence and awareness and strength, but our ultimate challenge lies in enjoying all this without constantly feeling like we still haven't deserved to.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on finding the right way of dealing with N Dad, that is really helpful.

    I can't agree with your post more. I also have trouble enjoying my life, and when I am happy and feel peaceful I soon get paranoid and feel it will be over soon or I don't deserve it. I do think it gets better with time though. The criticism thing, too.


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