The topic of this article has been on my mind for quite a while and I have been finally impelled to properly formulate my thoughts after a recent interaction on Facebook, which reminded me of all the invalidation and abuse by proxy that we, as children of narcissistic parents, have to endure.
Some of the stuff that I am going to say might trigger or even enrage some people. I am prepared to be slammed and invalidated. It’s fine. I am used to that. I am a child of a cluster B mother.
So here is the thing. I do believe that us, children of narcissistic, histrionic and other cluster B parents, are probably the most neglected, disadvantaged and abused group in the society. And I will tell you why.
If you went through some sort of a visible trauma – war, sexual abuse, being severely beaten up, not fed, you lost a parent in an accident or due to a disease – my heart goes out to you. You have suffered but you have a slight advantage. Your trauma is visible. Everyone sees it and most people would recognise it, empathise with you and try to help you. If you were abandoned by your biological mother after birth and grew up in a care home or with foster parents, everyone acknowledges that you are a victim of the unfortunate circumstances of being born to an unfit individual. You are going to struggle with your trauma but the society will acknowledge your trauma and will to a certain extent try to help you. You have to deal with all you have been through but you have a chance to find help because your trauma is visible. You have been visibly abandoned, rejected, not cared for the way you should have been.
But what is the situation of a child born to a narcissistic (or any other cluster B) parent? You were not visibly physically abandoned. You were fed, you had a roof over your head. But the truth is that you were emotionally and psychologically rejected at birth, or lets say you were never acknowledged by the narcissistic parent at all. You as a little human individual never existed. Right from the start, you were replaced by a projection, you were cast into a role, in which you could be of use to the narcissist to generate narcissistic supply. You were supposed to be a certain way, play a certain role, in order to be accepted. Perhaps you had to be so good in order for your narcissistic parent to be able to brag about you but at the same time not too good in order not to overshadow the narcissistic parent. You were only supposed to be good at or interested in things the narcissistic parent wanted you to be good at or interested in. Your needs, wants, feelings and thoughts were never considered, they were not wanted. You were not allowed to have problems. Once the narcissistic parent rolled over you to the extent that you started to visibly struggle, you were assigned a new role of a trouble-maker, a disturbed individual, a faulty child. Now the narcissistic parent was able to generate supply from garnering sympathy from other people (such a poor victim of circumstances having such a messed up child – ingenious, isn’t it?)
Unlike the visibly rejected child left for adoption or the one sexually abused, you never received any help and compassion from anyone. Why? I have written about it in one of my previous articles about victims of emotional abuse. It’s the same for ex-partners of narcissists and psychopaths. Your abuser wears a mask in public and no one trusts you because he or she is such a nice guy/girl. Everyone thinks that you are at least exaggerating, many think that you are making thinks up, are hysterical and unstable. In other words, you are further invalidated and victimised by the wider family and the entire society. How dare you, brat, talk badly about your mother after all she has done for you! I bet it sounds familiar.
For many years, you have lived with this secret hidden shame that you indeed are faulty, not good enough, a bad child. But something in you kept fighting against the narcissistic parent and his or her annihilation of your individuality. But as you started fighting for your boundaries, demanding some sort of decent treatment, the abuse started escalating. The gaslighting intensified and so did the smearing among other family members – of course your narcissistic parent needs to look like a victim so he or she will feed just about anybody his stories about you being a mean ungrateful brat.
Maybe you tried to speak about it to people outside your closest family. What did you hear? Yes, you have to understand, your mother loves you, blah, blah, blah, she is so nice, your father is so funny… Yes, again, it’s you who is faulty. It’s you who has to understand, even if you are only ten years old – ridiculous. You remember, the aunt that told you that nothing wrong was ever going on in your family, that you were just too sensitive?
Maybe, when you grew another bit older, you started putting the pieces together. You have been psychologically and emotionally struggling since childhood. Quite likely you went through a relationship with someone highly toxic that further messed you up. You have struggled with underachievement, insomnia, extreme emotions, anger management. You started reading about psychology. Maybe you started therapy.
And it all started falling into place. You wanted your narcissistic parent to understand what they had done to you. You wanted them to feel regret. Validate your experience. Apologise. You craved for them to hear you. You longed to have a real relationship with them. The relationship that you couldn’t have as a child. You thought that somehow miraculously, if you tell them, they would get it.
And then it happened. The narcissistic parent, now seeing that there is no way for you to continue playing the role that would suit him or her to feed off as a source of narcissistic supply, has now openly rejected you. Cut you off. Discarded you. It’s either their way or no way. Just like with the narcissistic ex. Do you remember that?
The truth is that you had been rejected years ago. You were never accepted to start with. Your real self was discarded by the narcissistic parent with your first breath. You desperately tried to adopt the role the narcissist created for you in order to feel accepted but that was a delusion. They were never there for you. You had to pull through all that all alone and face all the further invalidation and abuse from the society that branded you a difficult brat instead of looking at the source of the problem.
Many of us end up with serious psychological problems. Many can’t afford therapy and some don’t find the right therapist. I have to say that in all the madness, I was lucky, because my therapist gets it in an unbelievable way. Being told for the first time in your life that you were not the villain but the victim, after all this invalidation and societal abuse, feels like a balm. Understanding that you were so incredibly strong, pulling through your childhood, adolescence and early adulthood with no emotional support and nurturing, facing emotional destruction instead, makes you incredibly proud of yourself. But the journey is tough because not everyone is as smart as your therapist and too often when you start talking about your experiences, you encounter some stupid ‘I know it all’ who would again invalidate you.
Anyway. I think it’s been enough. I want all the scapegoats of the world to own their story and speak up. I know there are many of you who’ve been through the same. You are staying quiet either because you are still brainwashed and manipulated into thinking that you indeed were the faulty, trouble-making child.
Or you think that you can’t possible hurt your narcissistic (cluster B) parent by speaking the truth. But my question is – do you think the narcissistic (cluster B) parent ever worried about hurting you? They rejected you, emotionally abandoned you, rolled all over you, put you down in a 100 and 1 ways, psychologically destroyed you and then, when you were barely holding it together, they told everyone that you have always been difficult and unstable. When you wanted them to understand, they discarded you and intensified their smear campaign. Why do you think you need to protect them? Of course, it’s not their fault. They must have been damaged themselves. But maybe if someone pushed them hard, make them face themselves in your name when you were little, they could have at least tried to deal with their issues instead of messing you up for life with their sneaky craziness.
Maybe you are quiet because of all the invalidation and the abuse by proxy you have suffered throughout your life from all the dumb, ignorant people you have ever tried to discuss the problem with – the ‘I know it all’ cow on Facebook that told you that there is no reason for anyone to interfere when a child shows attachment problems.
Yes, you feel resentful towards your extended family and you feel resentful towards the entire society. And you have the right to feel this way. The society has let you down. No one ever helped you. No one ever stood up for you. Instead, they further victimised you by siding with your deranged parent. They should be ashamed of themselves. Not you. You were a child that was not given what every child should be given. Shame on them.
Anyway. I want all of you, my dear scapegoats, to be proud of yourselves. You have done a great job. You survived your childhood. You haven’t lost your mind though you may have been quite close to it. You survived despite never receiving what every child should receive – nurturing, acceptance, mirroring and guidance. You were never allowed to be a child. You managed to pull through your childhood as a captive in the disordered reality of your narcissistic parent.
Now please own your story and speak up. Our scars are invisible. People are stupid. They think that if they haven’t seen or experienced something, it doesn’t exist. It’s very sad. Confirmation bias is a bitch and these people rather than opening up to the new realities will interpret whatever you have to say as evidence that you are crazy. They just love to listen to themselves. They don’t want to listen to anyone else, unless that person confirms their limited beliefs and understandings.
We have to speak for ourselves. I honestly think that when it comes to the ability to empathise with others, feel for other people, we are one of the most evolved groups out there. We intimately know loneliness, rejection, struggle, injustice, unfair punishment… We have experienced it all.
It’s time for us to be heard. It’s time for us to stop protecting the abusers and it’s time for the world to start listening.
The world won’t become a better place until we deal with all sorts of invisible emotional and psychological abuse and exploitation. Give it as a gift to yourself and every future child born to a narcissistic (or cluster B) parent and speak up.
Your article was so well written and so easy to understand. I became a foster child at 6and a half. My foster mother is a narcissist and was verbally physical and psychologically abusive. her natural children are abusive as well. I was sexually abused as well whilst in that family.I am now 57 years old and I still have anxiety issues. I am no longer in contact with that family anymore as when my marriage broke up after 28 years that family believed the x husband who is also a narcissist. I actually came to the realisation that I married my foster mother if you know what I mean.The narcissist mother is the puppet master and still to this day the siblings are unaware of what she is doing. Abuse by proxy and flying monkeys. I consider my self fortunate to be out of all that sickness and they will never evolve and remain hiding from the truth.These people do so much damage and I was set up to fail and when I didn’t fail she had to drag you down so she could feel better about herself. As she was married to a religios minister, it was the best place to hide behind so that she could continue to carry on her narcissism.I am deeply an empathic person however I no longer have any empathy for these types of human beings.In summarising your article yes I was a foster child etc however I was silenced and shut down and never validated.I am a strong person and I have gone through so much, more than most people. I will never stop being who I am nor will I take on board there judgements.Please don’t publish my name.
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Thank you for your comment and for sharing your story. Being a child of a narcissist scars you for life and sets you up to get involved with narcissists in relationships. It’s horrible. I have just been thinking today who would I be if my mother wasn’t a full blown cluster B. Who would I be if I were a cherished, nurtured, loved and supported child? And I agree with the inability to empathise with these types. I am hyper-empathic, so my therapist says, but when it comes to these types, I have become very much ‘I hope your karma gets you’. Stay strong! No one who has not been through this experience has a clue what it is about. Hence all the further invalidation. We need to stick together.
Thank you Tereza for your reply and understanding. I have asked myself the same questions that you asked. Life would of been so different. Yesterday I received a phone call from my foster mother after I have had no contact with her for over 2 years.Selective memory, invalidation to the abuse saying that’s how children were treated back then. I got to say my truth and tell her exactly what she did to me. She tried guilting me and shaming me, bringing up stuff that I did as a child of 15. Wow she is really a sick and mentally disturbed woman. She even was saying how her convicted paedophile son was such a nice person and how much she loves him and that he loves her. This man sexually abused me.I asked her did she want me to tell her what he did to me and her reply was no. Of course it was no as narcissists can not handle the truth they lie to themselves their whole life.I can say I was extremely angry and rattled after this conversation and rang a friend to vent thank god for friends who believe you.Any way I am proud of myself for speaking up and it does not matter that I was not believed, In her subconscious that conversation will remain and that is something that she can not escape.She also asked for forgiveness whilst totally denying the abuse. Work that one out.I like the idea of karma, no one can escape it and maybe when I write my book then that will be her karma whilst being healing for me. I will not stop telling the truth and eventually when I qualify as a counsellor I will be helping people that have suffered abuse. Put the abuse into a positive light and empower people to speak their truth.Thank you for listening.
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Hi, Theresa. I follow you on Quora. I’m wondering why your account has been deactivated. It was great. I’m glad I found you here now.
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Hi and thank you for your comment. I have decided to delete my Quora account. I lost all respect for Quora. I believe the website is essentially controlled by trolls. Everyone can write anything there no matter whether it’s true or not. There is so much non-sense. Especially in the psychology and narcissism-related area. And I decided that I don’t want to be part of it in any way. I am even trying to figure out how to block Quora answers from appearing in my search results. The site is untrustworthy in my opinion, I don’t think the admins know much. I just don’t want to be part of that. But saying that, thank you very much for following me and I am glad you found my blog. Kind regards, Tereza.
Reblogged this on The Damage You Leave Behind and commented:
This is a great essay describing how it feels to endure severe childhood emotional abuse and neglect from a narcissistic parent.
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Thank you for reblogging and my apology for the late response. I needed to take some time away from my blog.
That is brilliant, and so true. I know I have to speak out about what has happened to me, with my parents and siblings and my ex. Now society. It is crazy making. But I am so incredibly strong, and I will be informing people and talking about this, to help educate lay people on emotional abuse, the impact etc etc etc. Thank you. I’m very glad I’ve found your blog!
Oh this made me laugh as I have never felt so understood until reading this. My goodness you have a way of telling it how it is. I can’t thank you enough and yes I will speak out and be fearless in doing so. This topic is so misunderstood out there by so many sycologists. Everyone needs to read your blog. Amazing. I feel so alive now and so empowered. Oh thank you thank you
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