Saturday, February 12, 2011

The aging narcissistic parent and the role of the "chosen" child

The child of a narcissist is trained to meet the needs of the parent from the day they are born. If the narcissist fathers more than one child, usually one is designated as the "chosen" one, while the other(s) can never do enough to warrant pride, or even love, from the narcissistic parent. Even the "chosen" child is not actually loved by the parent, though the narcissist will do whatever they need to in order to make it appear that the chosen child is loved. The chosen child will be showered with praise in comparison to the other child(ren). The "chosen" child is in a precarious situation: on one hand, they do not get the same level of wrath from the parent as the others do; however, the chosen child is also the brainwashed child that is the parent's servant. The chosen child is so chosen because the child feeds the narcissist's ego and jumps through the thousands of hoops required by the narcissistic parent. In some sense, one could compare the chosen child to a well trained dog. The owner appreciates the dog when the dog does what the owner wants it to. The chosen one will have a hard time letting go of this assigned role as they mature. The burden of serving the narcissistic parent will continue long after the child has left the nest. The chosen child will be faced with countless decisions, burdens, and an enormous feeling of guilt as their narcissistic parent ages.

The aging narcissist faces desolation in the twilight years. They've created a wasteland for themselves. They've pushed everyone close to them out of their lives. They've used everyone they know; those who have given (and given and given) of themselves to the narcissist realize that their work has no reward. This realization creates isolation for the narcissist. There is nobody that wants to continue to serve the narcissist's needs with nothing in return. The narcissist is a black hole that will suck you dry. When you're dry, you're no longer of use to them, and you are tossed aside like trash. The chosen child of the narcissist has a complex role in the aging narcissist's life; they're the last string for the narcissist when his wife has left him and his friends have jumped ship.

The chosen child will grow to a point in which they either realize the parent is a narcissist that is not capable of providing the love and acceptance the child has been seeking their entire lives OR will never wake up and realize the abuse that has been imposed on them. If the child takes the latter route, the child will live a stunted life; they will propagate the abuse they endured onto their own children.

For the child that realizes his parent is, in fact, a narcissist, there are three choices. Choice number one is to continue to cater to the narcissist and allow the guilt the narcissist impels upon them to push them in directions they do not wish to go and to do things they do not wish to do. To do this is to basically give up your life for a worthless cause. Nothing you ever do will ever be enough. They will use you forever and ruin your life. They will tell you nice things to get what they want (admiration, caring, help, etc.), but- to them, you're only as good as the thing you're doing for them at that moment in time (or about to do for them). For them, NOTHING YOU DO IS EVER ENOUGH- nor is it ever GOOD ENOUGH!

Choice number two is to limit the abuse from the parent by setting boundaries with the parent.
 Choice number two is not an easy choice, but none of the choices are easy. If the child chooses to continue a relationship with limits with the parent, the child will be tested and tested to their limits by the parent. The parent will become extremely needy. The parent will call with emergencies at all hours of the day and night, with each emergency more dire than the last. The narcissist senses the child imposing distance, and the narcissist is agitated at the prospect of losing their one, true, lifelong, source of admiration, service, and adulation that was supposed to be guaranteed by the chosen child. The parent begins to feel bitter. Rage and negativity take to an entirely new level. The parent is angry at everything and everyone. None of his "friends" or family members are good enough (even moreso than before; of course, we all knew that they were no-good before, but when you make choice number 2, prepare to hear about them and their no-good deeds constantly). He's got a lot of anger because you're imposing limits on your relationship with him- but his anger about it knows no bounds. He is like a wildfire that will talk about every single person he knows behind their back (more than before). He'll make up lies about them and tell you how they're no-good. But, to their faces, he'll continue to be nice. During the face-to-face contact, the parent is getting his admiration fix. Someone's feeling sorry for him. He's telling them they're great. He's offering them things. All of this is just to ensure that they'll be there for the next favor he needs or for the next visit he needs to feed his ego. The narcissist constantly needs help from everyone around him. This neediness is really a guise; what he really needs is your attention. And- the higher the status of the person giving him their attention, the better. The higher- status listeners (or service providers, helpers) are the ones that don't get shit-talked for awhile. Maybe even a few months. In the end, though, even the high-status people turn out to be pieces of garbage to the narcissist.

Choice number 3: Completely cut ties with the narcissistic parent. This is not an easy thing to do. You've been trained from the time you were born to provide for the parent. You were there to please them. You knew that any wrong movement, twitch, facial expression, would set him off. You've been trained to feel guilt for everything you do. Nothing you do is ever good enough. You feel a sense of doom about the future because your narcissistic parent made promises over and over that were never fulfilled. You carry these perceptions into your adult life, with your children, spouse, with your job. You feel that people are conspiring against you. That they don't really like you, that you're going to lose your job at any time. Cutting ties with the narcissistic parent is the first step to gaining your own life- a life that can actually feel peaceful and fulfilling. You'll have pangs of guilt from time to time. Treat them like cigarette withdrawals. Feel them, realize they are aftershocks of guilt, but do not give into the guilt. The aging narcissist has lost most of his sources of admiration and service. He's still counting on you: you are the one that has been supplying him steadily, constantly, they way you were trained to do so, since you were a child. When you pull the plug on him, you have to realize that he is an adult. No matter what his excuses are for needing you, remember, he is an adult that has created this life for himself. He is the only one who can help himself. While you may be able to help logistically with this and that, if you do, he will never stop asking for more.

Choice number 3 is the best choice for the child of a narcissist. However, be cautioned that when put in this position, the narcissist will become extremely volatile. The parent will be in a new situation where he'll have to face himself. In this position, the narcissist will likely become extremely depressed, think of suicide often (or even commit suicide). He may frantically go in search of a new source of admiration; he may delve even deeper into his addictions. These are not your worries. These are not your problems. These are not your fault. These problems are for HIM to deal with. Is there someone in your life that you force to pay attention to you? Do you have someone that you guilt into doing everything for you? Do you pretend as though you are completely helpless? NO! You don't require the attention that your parent does. You cannot continue to give him all the good parts of yourself while you let it ruin your own life. His problems are HIS problems. Cut ties. If he does commit suicide, prepare yourself mentally before it happens. And if it does happen, realize it was HIS decision. And it was a selfish decision.

The narcissist knows no bounds and will ruin your life if you do not stop him from doing it. The only effective way to stop him from ruining your life is to cut ties with the parent. You will NEVER get anything good out of helping him. Even if you think that it makes you feel good to help him, you're enabling him and you're not being true to yourself. No matter what you think could happen if you cut ties, no matter how bad, you must do it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Language of Narcissists: Body and Verbal

Because narcissists are experts at blending in and appearing caring and thoughtful, it may be difficult to spot one. For some people close to narcissists, such as children who grow up with one as a parent, they may never quite put their finger on what is wrong with the parent- though they know there is something wrong. It is common for children of narcissists to grow up in a house in which they feel they are "walking on eggshells." The narcissistic parent will want to control every aspect of their family members' daily lives.

When you first meet a narcissist they will pretend to be your best friend and will bend over backwards to lavish you with attention, time, and gifts. This is the first phase of the relationship, and they will continue to do these types of things, from time to time, long into the relationship when they need something from you.

Narcissists thrive on attention, adulation, and admiration. In order to get this attention, they construct a persona for their "friends." Their "friends" are anyone that can give them what they want: positive attention.  Those people who refuse to give positive attention to the narcissist will be loathed by the narcissist, though he will not give up on the chance that the non-attentive person may be able to give some positive attention in the future. The narcissist will continue to try and gain the respect of their foe because deep down, the narcissist feels worthless and alone and cannot bear the pain of rejection.

At first, the narcissist may play the weaker member of the relationship, inviting you into their personal bubble under the guise that they need your help; they want you to believe that you are special to them- that you share some understanding above others. They will adopt a slightly submissive posture: shrugged shoulders, smiles, touching, gift-giving. But one thing gives them away- eye contact. They will hold eye contact with you as much as they can. Eye contact does not complement their intention of appearing submissive; eye contact is aggressive and invasive. The narcissist can only pretend up to a point that he his weak or submissive, that he needs you, that you are somehow special to him. Since he truly feels he is superior to you, he will maintain strong and consistent eye contact, even if he really wants you to believe, for a period of time, that he is submissive. His ego will not allow him to ever be truly submissive to anyone, but he wants you to like him.

The narcissist actively seeks out impressionable, younger people to feed his needs for attention. Younger people may be more willing to lend help to the narcissist, receive gifts from the narcissist, and give attention to the narcissist. Younger, or otherwise vulnerable, people need help unlike older, more established people.  This demographic is an easy target for a narcissist, and the narcissist loves a them because he can inflate himself to higher levels without fear of being found out to be less than he claims. The narcissist actively trades goods (i.e., favors, drugs, money, etc.) for attention.

The narcissist will reveal himself verbally. He will portray to you his superiority by degrading others, including members of his family if necessary. He truly holds no allegiances to anyone but himself. He will pretend, though, while he is trash talking others, that you are the one special individual that he is loyal to, because you are either smarter or more physically attractive than all the others. Beware, he will degrade you to others behind your back. He will contradict himself constantly, including talking about others as though they are the best thing since sliced bread to how they are losers, liars, or idiots, all in the same breath.

The narcissist will, as he warms up to you, adopt a domineering posture. He will stand erect, nose in the air, as though he is looking down upon you. He will express his opinions with force and conviction unless he thinks that his opinions will somehow come between him and the positive attention you are displaying upon him. If he needs something from you, he will agree with your opinions, for the most part, with a soft and gentle voice, but will be unable to control his negative thoughts from emerging- they will come out at some point.

The narcissist will have a hard time not talking about himself. Most of the time, he really does not hear anything you have said; he sees your topics of discussion as invitations to talk about himself. Any communication will eventually turn back to him: his life, problems, achievements, grandiosity, etc.

The narcissist also seems to have a crystal clear memory. He will remember stories from 30 years ago in amazingly vivid detail. Do not be fooled- these stories are not memories at all, but persuasive fiction intended to inflate his reputation.

Narcissists view their friends, children, spouse, etc. as extensions of themselves. When it suits them, they will speak highly of these people; for example, when a child has accomplished something, the narcissist will boast about their child's achievement to others. While this may be flattering for the child being boasted about, listen closely. The narcissist will always find a way to relate their achievements back to himself.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Profile of a Narcissist

Those with genuine Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) have a unique outlook on life. Typically, clinical narcissists have a grandiose sense of self-importance, that is, they will have "been-there-done-that" and will exaggerate their accomplishments. For example, if you have a narcissistic parent and you achieve something, they will claim to have also done something quite similar, however, when they did it, it was more difficult and they did a better job. Most of the time, the narcissistic parent has not achieved what they claim to have achieved, but they do want you to believe they did. They will stop at no end to ensure that they are seen as being "better" than you are in most every way.

Narcissists truly believe that they are the center of the universe. Narcissistic parents have fantasies of being brilliant, powerful, and perfect. They believe they are special, and any quirks they may have are "eccentricities," not craziness in their minds. They need to be admired and will do just about anything to buy friends as they yearn for an audience to feed their egos. Their relationships with their "friends" are in place to suit their needs and feed their egos. Their children are extensions of themselves; children of narcissists that do not live up to the parent's expectations are seen as selfish by the parent. The NPD parent will try to guilt the child into behaving or performing in the way the NPD parent needs. Admiration is their drug and they need constant affirmation from those around them.

Narcissists use those around them to feed their needs and they will stop at nothing to get what they want: admiration. Their need for attention is a bottomless pit, and there is nothing you can do for them that will be enough- or good enough. They require those around them to comply with their demands at the snap of a finger.  If you do not comply, the NPD parent will respond by pouting and playing the victim or flying into a rage and threatening you so that you do comply. They do not care about your needs. In fact, if your narcissistic parent asks you to do something for them and you say you cannot do it, it will be almost as if they did not hear you. They will continue to state their needs and ignore yours.

Those with NPD are arrogant and believe the world owes them something; they believe that others are in awe of them or afraid of them. Naricissistic parents will contradict themselves constantly- many times in one sentence. NPD parents are hypersensitive to criticism. If you are a child of an NPD parent, you already know that criticizing your NPD parent is off limits- you have been conditioned during your lifetime with them to comply with their demands.

Living with an NPD parent is difficult to say the least. You have been conditioned to read their facial expressions, the tone of their voice, the way they look at you, and to read between the lines when they are telling you something. You have put your needs aside to deal with their needs and have a deep sense that you are not worth love from another as your NPD parent made it very clear that your needs were second to theirs.

This blog will explore the implications of growing up with a parent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and what lasting effects linger on into the child's adulthood.