Friday, July 1, 2011

An exhaustive list...

... of things narcissistic parents do.

"Because her abusiveness is part of a lifelong campaign of control and because she is careful to rationalize her abuse, it is extremely difficult to explain to other people what is so bad about her. She’s also careful about when and how she engages in her abuses. She’s very secretive, a characteristic of almost all abusers (“Don’t wash our dirty laundry in public!”) and will punish you for telling anyone else what she’s done. The times and locations of her worst abuses are carefully chosen so that no one who might intervene will hear or see her bad behavior, and she will seem like a completely different person in public. She’ll slam you to other people, but will always embed her devaluing nuggets of snide gossip in protestations of concern, love and understanding (“I feel so sorry for poor Cynthia. She always seems to have such a hard time, but I just don’t know what I can do for her!”) As a consequence the children of narcissists universally report that no one believes them (“I have to tell you that she always talks about YOU in the most caring way!). Unfortunately therapists, given the deniable actions of the narcissist and eager to defend a fellow parent, will often jump to the narcissist’s defense as well, reinforcing your sense of isolation and helplessness (“I’m sure she didn’t mean it like that!”)"

Sigh. The "perfect father" campaign was so successful that even I made myself grudgingly believe it much of my life - he boasts about me and praises my accomplishments in front of others, he must love me... right? I knew better than to air dirty laundry in public - in fact, I never spoke to anyone about anything personal at all, and hated talking about family stuff with anyone. As a result, I actually never had close friends - just discussion sparring partners.

Everything is deniable, everything is "not meant in a mean way", everything can be spun so that others find it hard to believe us. Kiki has a heartbreaking post on how her godmother took her mother's side and completely ignored and discounted her truth. The same happened to me with my ILs. Many things narcissists do has also been done by normal, imperfect parents. It's the moments when the mask slips, when you look at the abyss behind, the disgust, the hatred, the enjoyment of hurting you, that makes all the difference and that can't be explained or proven to others.

"While she may never praise you to your face, she will likely crow about your victories to the very sibling who is not doing well. She’ll tell you about the generosity she displayed towards that child, leaving you wondering why you got left out and irrationally angry at the favored child rather than at the narcissist who told you about it. "

I only now understand some of he sillier lies my father told. I'm an only child, so he seems to have used his girlfriend in an attempt to create the twisted golden child/scapegoat dynamic. For instance, when we redid the old summer house in an attempt to make it inhabitable at the beginning of our marriage, struggling with money all the while, of course, but happy and proud of what we'd done, he visited for the first time, after 16 months. He told me, for some reason, right after discounting everything we did with "You shouldn't have wasted money on this summer house" (which was our home at the time, mostly because I knew we wouldn't really let us have the city apartment), that he had just given 7,000 euros to his girlfriend so she could redecorate the apartment she rents out.

When I later mentioned this to her in casual conversation, she was genuinely surprised and shocked. He never gave me any money, she said. The crazy lie had just one function: to make me realize I was now the less beloved one.


  1. I have always been curios if it never occurs to them that lies can be verified. Do they not think we will ask? Then I remind myself how in grained it is to not discuss family matters with anyone. Such a strange world we live in when there is a narcissistic in the family.

  2. My brother does this. Blatant lying to suit himself, keep himself looking squeaky clean or to put his siblings well into the wrong.I think even HE believes his own BS.The golden rule,is NOT to question. I questioned, and was nearly disowned by my whole family. On NC now. Half of them don't even realise it yet, because it has always been me who keeps up contact.That's in the past now.


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