Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hard Work vs. Easy Work

There are two ways to break the cycle of narcissistic abuse in your family.

You can do the hard work - realize your parents were abusive in some ways, understand how this has affected you, take a long deep hard look at yourself, your thinking, your feelings, your relationships, change, stop defending, start truly loving. It takes years of being bare, exposed, helpless, lost. You're likely to carry some problems and some fleas forever, but you're determined to be open and honest and vulnerable about this.

Or you can do the easy work - realize your parents were abusive in some ways, do things differently because you're better, feel good about yourself as a great parent because you don't even do x to your kids, and your parents did xyz to you. You're still largely narcissistic, although not as abusive as your parents.

Only today did I realize that I didn't have to think of these two "options" in black-and-white terms.

Both actually deserve credit - to differing degrees.

My parents consciously refused to engage in some forms of abuse, manipulation, and parentifying that their parents used liberally. I remember this. I picked up on it. I can now give them some credit for this.

Which doesn't mean they weren't narcissistic enough to majorly screw me up. But I'm still happy I didn't have to be raised by exact carbon copies of my extremely narcissistic grandparents.


  1. Being able to see and deal with the gray is extremely difficult (which is part of why people find religion so comforting -- it provides rules and structure in a world where so much is squishy and unknown).

    And giving yourself a hard but fair critical look is among the hardest thing a person can do. So you should give yourself credit for not being so afraid of what you'd see in the mirror and make changes as you see fit. :)

    1. Any horror movie that includes a mirror has me trembling. I am finally admitting to myself that I really, truly fear and hate myself, and that's progress, I guess.

      Seeing gray is still my greatest challenge.

    2. I HATE looking in mirrors (or getting my picture taken) because I look so much like my mother (well, my mother before the pinched look on her face became permanent -- I at least don't look like I am wearing a bitchy mask -- I mostly look sad or scared, I think).

      It's progress, but it isn't the final verdict of who you truly are. That's just the layers of garbage tossed onto you. You are a good soul beneath their bullshit.

    3. vicariousrising, you saying you have a sad or scared look reminds me of the look on my face. I think my mouth just looks sad naturally in its shape. When I was younger people used to yell out to me, "hey, smile!"

  2. That is an insightful look; I think I was in the latter and then slowly moved onto the hard part because I found these blogs and books. It is a good point. There are some things you can visibly change but that doesn't get at the core which is very inward looking. Really insightful post. xx T Reddy

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  4. Great Post! Yk, I found myself doing the whole "Comparison" thing frequently. "Not as bad as" is NOT the same as "Good enough." I set my "bar" for comparison pretty high, all things considered because the material world in which I was raised was affluent.
    But it was STILL a gilded cage. The dynamics remained the same so ultimately, the accident of my birth into this particular venue didn't matter any more than I did. In reality it would NOT have mattered who or what I was about or what type of surroundings I had been born into. Psychob was who she was: She sang the tune, everyone danced as if we were all synchronized back-up dancers to this "Production" called "It's All About MEEEEE!"
    Yes m'm. And as long as I played my supporting role, I might escape her Rage or more subtle N-wrath. But let me evidence one iota of autonomy and it was all over.
    Yes, there are vestiges of growing up with an NP that will remain with me until my death. That's just the way it is and I'm OK with that-at least I will continue to learn what it means for ME to be human, flawed and "still willin'" anyway. ;)


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