Monday, January 9, 2017

5 Damaging Lies We Learn From Narcissistic Parents

5 Damaging Lies We Learn From Narcissistic Parents

"1) Your worth is always dependent on conditional circumstances. As the child of a narcissistic parent or parents, you were taught that you were not inherently worthy, but rather that your worth depended on what you could do for the narcissistic parent and how compliant you were. The emphasis on appearance, status, reputation is at an all-time high in households with a narcissistic parent. Due to the narcissistic parent’s grandiosity, false mask and need to be the best, you were probably part of a family that was ‘presented’ in the best possible light, with abuse taking place behind closed doors."

This can be a great challenge for a scapegoat in the early years of escaping toxic parents. This world view they have imposed on you where life is all about appearances, status and success. One scary thing is as I have talked to people on this blog, even "successful" scapegoats are treated the same as those who end up disabled or in the lowest socio-economic groups. You will always be labeled as "wrong" by this type of parent. I remember how status counted for everything in my family where they saw and labeled people on a chart almost, who has "moved up" and who has "moved down". 

Every aunt, uncle, cousin, co-worker, neighbor and community person was judged on a money, occupation, possessions and conformity scale. It is kind of a sick sad way to view life. The constant competition and backstabbing destroys any real companionship, love or connection. I have realized in my early years of no contact, that this was not a world view I ever liked or subscribed to, and it was okay to break out of it and denounce it and also as well not judge myself by it anymore too.

"2) You need to be perfect and successful, but you should never be rewarded for it or feel ‘enough.’ Narcissists are masters of moving the goal posts so that nothing their victims do is ever enough. As childhood abuse survivors, we are no exception to that rule. Our accomplishments are rarely acknowledged unless they meet an arbitrary criteria for “what looks best to society,” or confirms the narcissistic parent’s own grandiose fantasies. Our abusive parent is never genuinely proud of us unless he or she can claim credit for that particular success. Some narcissistic parents can even envy or look down upon the success of their children, especially if that success enables that child to become independent of their parents, outside of their realm of power and control."

The article goes into how many of these narcissistic parents will sabotage their children's success. This happened to me. They want you kept dependent. Even my "wealthier" sister is on an allowance and has never made her own money or had any degree of financial independence. My brother was dependent often on my mother's money.  Here too gifts and "generosity" given with resentment and judgment will keep narcissistic victims on tetherhooks.

  One thing all narcissists in my life from Mrs. Curses to others, is how they were always moving the goal posts. If any of you have watched the Leah Remini Scientology shows, its like "going up the ladder" to be "clear", there's always one more "lesson" or thing you have not fulfilled. Instead of money narcissists charge pieces of your souls for your constant "auditing" sessions. Narcissists can never be satisfied. In fact one of the quickest ways to know you are dealing with a narcissist is to see if you are in walking on eggshell's land and if you are always made to feel like you are not enough.

 Scapegoats must avoid the "walk on eggshells with"  and "Fix-it" people who demand that we change, and improve to be "acceptable" to them. If you start feeling that way among anyone, know ahead of time the relationship is doomed. I was even able to rewrite the script of my life going no contact. I was more "successful" outside the realm of the narcissists and their false judgments.  Nothing is good enough for narcissists, even the golden children learn that lesson quit clearly, as they mold themselves into the boxes the narcissists has laid out. Many golden children are trapped living lives the narcissist have laid out for them. It becomes a "gilded" cage. Us Scapegoats sometimes can take years to clear our heads out of the internal nagging, demands and more that fill our head. Letting loose of this stuff can pave the way for life enjoyment.

"3) There is always someone better, and you must beat them – starting with your own siblings. Children of narcissistic parents are often turned against their siblings in a competition to vie for the affection and love they always craved but never received. Narcissistic parents are well-known for ‘triangulating’ children against one another as an attempt to unnecessarily compare them, demean them and feed their own sense of power and control over their children."

In hard core narcissistic families, everything is about competition. This is why family gatherings become put-down fests, and brag-fests as all vie for position especially if there is a narcissist lording over it all or several. There is no relaxation or feeling of home or comfort. Everything is a comparison. Also unlike bowling or golf no "handicaps are allowed, everything is "bootstrap" land and the mythical "even playing field". If a sibling wins the Lotto, you're supposed to afford the Jacuzzi and Mercedes too, and will be found lacking.

 Some of these thing can be internalized in scapegoats who fight entering a permanent state of feeling like they will never measure up. Ask yourself who you are trying to measure up to? A sick society? Narcissists? or yourself and God? This is one lie, I had to break out of to feel any sense of peace.  When one "quits" the contest it can be extreme freedom. This is freedom I will never regret.

"4) Contempt is a part of love and ‘normal’ in a relationship. Narcissistic parents can subject their children to periods of idealization when they need them, quickly followed by contempt and terrifying narcissistic rage when they ‘disobey’ and threaten their excessive sense of entitlement (Goulston, 2012). The condescension, contempt and hatred with which a narcissistic parent uses to berate their children is not only immensely hurtful, it retrains the mind into accepting abuse as a new normal (Streep, 2016)."

This pattern of idealization and devaluation teaches us that love is unstable, frightening, and ultimately unpredictable. It causes us to walk on eggshells, fearful that we may displease others. It also desensitizes us and makes us tone-deaf to verbal abuse later on in adulthood (Streep, 2016).

Decent relationships do not require that you perform night and day and worry about earning derision or contempt. In my early years of no contact, I walked from many people that demanded "performance" and "conformity" for acceptance. Even this far in, I am assessing what is a "decent" relationship and realizing what qualities those hold.  Such types are never pleased and if you earn a smile from them, it just sets up a precedent where they are trying to take charge of you. One rule to remember outside legal limits, all adults make their own decisions how to live life, clean their house and how to spend their time, narcissists often cross these boundaries.

"5) Your emotions are not valid. Narcissistic parents, much like narcissistic abusers in relationships, pathologize and invalidate our emotions to the point where we are left voiceless. We are not allowed to feel, so we end up going to extremes: we either become repressed and numb or we become rebel children who ‘feel’ too much, too soon. Our emotions become overwhelming either way, because our grief is not processed in a healthy way, starting from childhood. In adulthood, we gain the opportunity to validate our own emotions and recognize that what we feel, and have felt all along, is entirely valid. We learn how to process our emotions, our trauma, and the grief of being unloved as children and adolescents. We learn that we have opportunities to detach from our abusive parents, whether it be through Low Contact (minimum contact only when necessary) or No Contact at all. "

Many of us even a few years into no contact will realize what it truly meant to have all emotions invalidated. As I wrote about with my cousin, he was taught that my emotions were invalid and were "wrong".  Many narcissistic families will decry any showing of emotions at all. They will call stone cold narcissists, "strong" while telling those with emotions they are "wrong", "bad", or "weak" to cry. Even the people of conscience who have been programmed by narcissists will conform. Relationships within the family ebb away as years pass because there is no real sharing or caring with so much emotional restraint.

I have noted even narcissist trolls who show up to this blog attempt to shame me with telling me to "count my blessings" and trying to censor what I write and talk about. Real emotions to narcissists [even the good ones] are a threat to them and why they seek to close them down. Scapegoats who escape toxic families will recall even positive emotions like laughter, joy and excitement were not allowed either. Many can struggle with repression and feeling safe in expressing their emotions.  The decision to go no contact here, has helped many of us realize our world view, emotions and how we interpreted our experiences were all valid. As time passes in no contact, the feelings of safety to express emotions is one important aspect of healing.

I strongly suggest reading this article in whole at the link, it made many good points.


  1. I'll be reading this stuff you posted. But I wanted to say what gets to me is how normal people, like therapists, will look at me strangely when they notice the little life skills I actually do have. And when my voc rehab worker looks at me like that, like, I do need her help with things.

    It's because I do have an education, so she seems to see me in a higher regard than her regular clients. So the lack of life skills I have, seems to shock her. I hope this makes sense. I mean even simple life skills, I can't remember at this moment, are hard for me.

    1. Maybe tell them up front you have very few life skills. Many things are hard for me. I don't know how to explain this to people that even cleaning is such a multitude of details I get lost. I was learning how to do things like cook a roast and bake bread in my mid 30s, yeah that is really behind. I had an OT in here in 2013 to teach me how to avoid becoming a hoarder. I got rid of a giant box of books and other clutter and have more to get rid of but it seems I am always cleaning things out in here and it's weird I never go shopping but end up with things, so don't ask. I don't know how these people end up with these very neat and organized places or even the steps they take to make this all happen. With Aspies in my case, we are very book smart, but life smart, and rest it's hard. I don't know if you have any Aspie traits but being highly educated but unable to conduct the details of life I relate to it. I know my mind would rather do art work, or write on here, or sleep/rest for the body lol, then do housework and all the little things we are expected to do.

      Has she asked why you have so few life skills? I have wondered in the past if there are people sitting in group homes, who are poor at life details and exceutive function as me but didn't have an IQ high enough [or maybe fear from narc parents too] to keep it all together. My husband says that is silly, and I am over-thinking these things.

      I did tell him one day, I wish I could observe a few random chosen people to see how they conduct their lives. I know most women spend far more hours cleaning then I do. Most people are far more social. I did work long hours so for the ones who do that I at least related in the past. Grooming, well with medical stuff in the morning which must be repeated at night too if I want to leave the apartment it takes me 2 hours to get ready from the time I get up.
      out what to eat. We bought food at Aldis, I boiled eggs and sauted chicken breasts that were seasoned, I got from a food pantry and put a salad together. The time invested in domestic tasks seems immense. We have no kids to clean up after and this place is far from neat

      People seem really busy to me, running around a lot, I never could keep up. This may be one reason they get a lot more done. I think narc parents use up our emotional energy too when we are young so we aren't learning tasks young people should be learning, and social stuff.

    2. In the above being disabled changes the whole formula of course but I remember even when I was "healthier" it seemed to take me longer to get things done then others. Work I was fast, but I overcompensated there. They used to say I was one of the fastest cooks and probably ran my art classes on speed dial, but I was probably giving it my all to make sure I'd pass muster.

    3. Oh if a job was boring or rote, my mind would go into sludge land. I did very bad at jobs like that. If there was no creativity I was dying. At a clothes store they put me out on the floor and I had to do "clothes racks" but most of the time it was a robot standing there for customers. I though the job was useless really.

  2. I have little energy. Exhausted all of the time, it amazes me how people are so busy, and they stay busy all day long. I think too, my mother kept me close buy, and this was akin to a bloodsucker. So I think I spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think of me, if I'm approved. I know I got through a lot of that, but it is a work, not natural. As far as the teeth brushing, I keep toothpaste and toothbrush next to all of our sinks, even the kitchen. Its no easy feat to work up that energy.

    Housework is hard. I look around me, and if everything needs to be done at once, I've already had it! I try to stay on top of things, a little at a time. But lately, this physical job has left me too pooped. I'll have to catch up when its over, but even then only a little at a time. I won't be able to spend entire days at it. Its a good thing that keeping a spotless house has nothing to do with how healthy your marital relationship is, or I'd be screwed.

    As far as my voc rehab worker goes, I try to tell her as little as possible about my lack of life skills. But she has figured it out. I have to ask her questions, and she is amazed that I don't know the answers myself. Like learning that its ok to ask an employer for more tasks, or whatever. Like really? Yes it is ok. In fact, it is expected if you are to show any initiative. And its ok to ask for information to be repeated, and ask questions. But it all feels like hell. The part where they are paying me to work for them, so I don't know how my position in that case works, it only leaves me a doormat. I haven't figured that one out. And I don't look smart when anxiety kicks in, I can barely function then. So this big degree attached to me, might as well be attached to a bug. I might not be able to solve all these problems. Oh, and conflict resolution, that one leaves me in the dust. I can't even handle a conflict but I am to try to resolve it. It all goes down the rabbit hole. Mamma left me broken.

  3. I feel like I spend way more energy than most people trying to deal with negative thoughts - like arguing with myself about whether I just really insulted someone by mistake and feeling terrible about it and trying to figure out what to do about it - whereas someone who had a decent childhood might think, oh, maybe that wasn't the best thing to say, oops, I know they'll understand or well, that wasn't perfect but it wasn't the worst thing or probably not even think tey'd done something wrong becasue probably they hadn't, whereas I'll waste a lot of time and energy flagellating myself about it and freaking out about it. And conflict is really hard for me too. I was emailing with an insurance agent yesterday and he just straight up lied to me about something, givign me a completely nonosensical explanation for why the rates were so high and I knew it was false but I was terrified to confront him. I mean, what do you say? No, that's a lie or that can't be true - how can you proceed from there? I don't know how normal people deal with lies, but I ended up feeling screwed and trapped. In my family, you were never allowed to show that a parent was telling a lie - you just had to act like, oh yeah, sure the sky is green, of course. That kind of thing. I think it's best to let the world see we're broken - I try to do that with people I trust - but with people who aren't trustworthy no - but with those who are trustworthy then things are simpler. Then we all know what the deal is and why it is that I can't choose what to have for breakfast because I'm still fretting about a thing I said yesterday!

    1. I struggle with the same, for me it's worrying. Unless I am close to someone and that is very few, I always worry about "saying the wrong" thing or "doing" the wrong thing. I don't even like getting in conversations anymore beyond hi and bye and the superficial stuff I at least don't screw up too much. What do I talk about with people? So maybe you face that part too. I read on psychology articles people aren't thinking of us as much as we think they are but everytime that intuition of mine kicks in and I ignore it, I've been burned a few times, so yeah this one can get complicated.

      With lying, people lie to me all the time, like your insurance guy, and I understand what you mean. One has to ask if it is worth the fight, and how much boundaries they are crossing. I've gone full tilt before and have confronted lying that can go bad too. Sigh. Being an Aspie a lot of social "grease" and BS looks like lying to me, but then there's a lot of big lies mixed in too.

      I guess I have dealt with this stuff thinking, well the worse has already happened to me. I've lost the whole family, don't have many friends and am training myself not to care anymore about what people think. Small voice inside says "They are going to think badly of you anyway" so this may not be completely good :0

      I try to be nice and polite to nice and neutral people, though I've noticed since my run-ins with so many betrayers [Mrs. Curses, project friends and others] I'm not opening up at all.

      I know it sucks that all this over-analysis is necessary. I see the ease people have with other people who came out of loving families. I don't even know how that is achieved. I worry my status in society is too low to improve things and have other weird thoughts.

      I try to be impervious and think "Don't worry what they think" but its hard isn't it?

  4. I am awful at small talk, I feel like it's where I always stick my foot in it and say something wrong. It's just like this huge open arena and I never know what's going on. I'm not an Aspie but I always feel like I haven't got a clue what's happening in small talk conversations. I'm fine if it's a conversation about something real or even if people are just being silly. Actually now that I think of it, it's normal women who confuse me the most! Children, men and odd women tend to be fine. But yes, to be free of the worry of having done wrong, that would be a whole different life - and it sounds good.

    1. I feel like small talk would go well for me and if I was someone else. LOL I tell myself be open, don't discriminate, don't make assumptions etc trying to be careful on my side too you know. But it seems so complicated doesn't it?

      One woman kind of pinned me down at the food pantry, one of those nice church ladies, whose had a good life and I still ended up talking about too much that was "weird" to her trying to be friendly back but feeling "scared". I liked her enough and she was being nice and polite but I felt so nervous.

      I feel like I have to constantly censor myself because so much about me doesn't "fit in". I have the worse time with "normal women" too especially ones whose lives followed the script. I don't meet too many odd women though remembering seeing some in the past. I wouldn't mind more odd people. :P

      I know I am dealing with some "stuff" I may write about it soon being a visibly disabled woman and financially not being able to dress and look like other people around here. Some are friendly to me but I'm not getting close, I am too different. I find myself thinking what do I talk about? I've become far more closed mouth there's a lot of areas of discussion that are landmines. Even in the self help group I left, they kept talking about European vacations, if that shows how much disconnect there was. I do better with men but being married and in a "conservative" area and middle aged, getting too chummy with men seems frowned upon, it definite is in churches.

      I feel like I am either completely superficial talking about nothing, or if I say anything, I'm saying the wrong thing.

      I was talking to one friend who is long distance, and we said, social relief will come when we are old maybe and able to hang out at the senior center, but then maybe the talk of grandchildren and vacations and house decor will never end there too and we won't know what to say....