So, in the Youtube video with the same title, I talk a lot of the child in an adult body that I believe a narcissist (regardless of type) is. This post is going a little more in depth than the video about how my own parents parenting skills were in total conflict, and how that affected me.
Anyone who’s ever dealt with a narcissist knows it’s impossible to relate to them in any sort of way. It’s just not possible, because their ego is too big, everything about them is… just impossible. I’m just assuming that you who are reading this have dealt with a narcissist on your own, therefore, you know what I’m talking about.
My mother was a covert narcissist. As with any narcissist, this includes a need for validation, admiration, love, aknowledgement et cetera, so deep that noone can fill it. It’s like a hunger, really – and narcissists aren’t hungry, they are constantly starving.
Now, being a parent holds quite a few keys, I’d say. My mom was a lousy mother in every respect. She couldn’t cook. She didn’t understand the concept of keeping her home at least fairly clean (it doesn’t have to be clinically clean to be quite all right). She kept things endlessly, and opening a wardrobe was a hazard because you’d be drowned in bed linen, bags, clothes, anything, really. The cupboards were over full, any shelf were drowning in old newspapers, the floors were covered in everything and anything, and although I don’t remember it myself, I’ve been told there were paths in the mess.
Now, while none of these things are quite all right, and all of them tell the story of a broken person, I wouldn’t say it is necesserily narcissistic.
But it was part of who she was. That, combined with her inability to care for her children’s needs, her inability to see her own part in how her children fared, her continuous and constant hunger for all those things I mentioned earlier, her way of tying all her children so tightly to herself that none of us could breathe, her inability to keep routines, to create healthy boundaries and framework for herself and others – well, let’s just say she wasn’t your dream mom.
Differently from mom, my dad was a great dad. Or, at least he would have been, had mom not been around. Unfortunately, for both him and myself, she was, and therefore he felt he needed to be her opposite.
My dad became a very strict and rigid parent. What he said was never to be questioned – not ever. He, in his own way, was contradictory. The way he was raised himself did not make him equipped to talk about emotions in a way that was needed for me, and he most certainly didn’t understand depression, anxiety, the shame and guilt any victim of narcissistic abuse is subjected to. But he did set strict, rigid rules and wouldn’t bend a millimeter.
Needless to say, these two opposites were in huge conflict with each other. And as a child, where do you go between these two? How do you cope with the one, when the other one won’t let you? How do you meet the one parent’s expectations when the other one’s draining you of everything you are or could be?
When I was still a child, I thought of my dad as my personal Jesus, my saviour. He was everything to me, and back then, I never thought of myself as suffering. On the contrary – I thought I was having a good childhood.
Like any child with an abusive parent, I adored and worshipped my mom. It wasn’t until I was around thirteen years old that I began to see things more clearly. I began to see my mother for what she was, although I didn’t really understand any of it. I also began seeing my dad in a different light. He treated me differently from his new woman’s children, and he wouldn’t let her have anything to do with how he raised me.
As you can see, hopefully, my childhood was very confusing.
Oh, and speaking of my mom’s ability to be a mother. She took enormous pride in all her university studies. Among other, she’d studied pedagogics, and she was immensely proud to let everyone know that she knew exactly how to raise her children. In her own twisted mind, that made her an even better mother than she (thought she) already was. The #facepalms on this one are tremendeous.
So where did all this leave me as a child, then?
Stuck. Pretty much stuck inbetween two people functioning as magnets, both wanting all of me but for very different reasons. And me, struggling, wiggling, fighting for air, for space, for that sense of Self that never got the chance to be developed, for identity… let’s just say it was extremely tiresome and difficult.
Now, my dad tried his best. I’ll give him that. He didn’t know better, and what he tried to do was to give me routines, stability, a strict framework to function in – and he did all that. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. He was, for whatever reasons, not equipped with the understanding of what I really lacked. But where he came from, in his own family, everyone were taught to accept whatever the situation was – and move on. That is; to ignore whatever you felt about it, move on and live your life.
Which may very well work for a lot of circumstances, but for a child growing up with a narcissistic mother – not so much.
I have to admit that I am sorry for both myself and dad, that mom was the way she was. My dad would have been amazing, had she been out of the picture. I would have been a completely different person. Life would have been so much easier, and my relation to dad would’ve been very different.
But – this is how life turned out for me, and I have to do the best of what I got. Which, ironically enough, is exactly what dad always advocated.
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