The term “Narcissist” and how it might be detrimental to healing past the anger stage
However the site got me pondering the matter of narcissism again. I’m struggling with the term narcissist and have been for a while now. My main bone of contention is how it seems so loosely defined that apparently every abuser is a narcissist to the point that the two terms seem to be interchangeable, so why have both? The core of narcissism seems to be a fundamental lack of empathy which in turn informs their abusive and/or neglectful behaviour. Narcissism and abuse/neglect seem to be causally tied together. Also many people I am reading about seem to permanently use the narcissist label to throw blame, hate and vilification towards whoever hurt them.
I am also curious about male narcissism and how things affect sons. My one grandfather might be classifiable as an enabler, but I’m not so sure about the second grandfather and my father. It feels a bit like autism with gender reversal where you only describe half of the spectrum (the male symptoms in autism and the female symptoms in narcissism) and pass it of as the whole thing.
I also read the two pages about and . This is not mentioned at the site but to me it seems like two extreme ends of a spectrum. My mother is certainly leaning more towards the ignoring site. I certainly know about not changing clothes and a generally extremely unkempt appearance. But whenever mother has some sort of issue she becomes engulfing. We need to cater to her because look at her how deeply in pain she is. Having a child with its own personality and childish needs was an issue consistently hence I have no personality, like it is described in the engulfing mother article.
Given these pages are about mothers it’s hard to categorise my father through this. But like my mother he has some sort of weird mixture going on. I feel neither of my parents properly represented in their attitude by either of these articles. Mother might be when we mix it and throw some medication induced histronics in. Father? idk He certainly has the skills to not be present even when he might physically crush you to death and he can be so silent in his silent treatment its deafening. He can also be so silent you don’t know if it’s a silent treatment or just him being withdrawn and not interested at all.
I do understand that it is part of healing to at least in your own mind hold whoever hurt you accountable. It is natural and necessary to be angry, but from what I see on many oages dealing with narcissism, both public and private it looked so scarily much like they held onto that anger. Which means they may not be classifyable as being healed. If you are angry it still gets to you. If the other person is so cartoonishly evil it means you can wallow in self pity, paint yourself as a victim (and not a survivor) and need not do anything about your own self esteem or the potential destructive ways to form relationships your abuser taught you. You self righteously pretend you are inherently better than your abuser because you are the one that got hurt.
Maybe I have something backwards here or I’m reading to much into what I do not know about. It’s not like there is a therapist with whom I could discuss such notions. So I just publish what is going on inside of me here in hopes that I can grow and learn that way.
Why things might not be that simple as to vilify your abuser
The thing is I see how my parents toxic teachings have turned me into a toxic person as well. I replicate their way of not connecting to other people. I’m NOT better than them. I’m different. I try to heal the hurt and be a better person. But as it stands I’m not. Even if I succeed I would not be so full of myself to judge them. I’m not blind. I see they hurt, badly. Maybe just as much as I do. Maybe more, I can’t know how bad it is for them nor do I consider comparing pain levels a very sensible way to approach broken relationships.
The decision everyone needs to make it to either confront their own pain and work through it. That takes strength, it takes years of your life in loneliness and misery, darkness and uncertainty will be your closest companions for a very long time and the longer you allowed this to continue without confronting the darker, the lonelier and the madder will this time be. It might very well kill my parents because they are not strong enough. It is their decision and I can not control what they do. Nor should I judge it. They choose what they inflict on themselves and the only thing I will carefully monitor is my reaction and exposure.
I do not think of myself as the first person in my family to ever have gotten hurt, I always take into account the whole picture. I see my parents, their siblings and the siblings spouses, their parents, their siblings and their siblings spouses, the tales of my great grandparents, my cousins and their spouses and the offspring yadda yadda.
A family history- who we are and how we deal with each other
From what I understand there might be at least three narcissists in my direct blood line. My mother and both my grandmothers. Which made the article about narcissist grandmothers on the above quoted site so very curious to me. There seems to be “only” one individual in the family. It did not mention how you yourself might be guilt tripped by the age card or how multiple narcissists in the family might interact. Still it was a very comprehensive way to understand some of the variety of narcissism out there. Which to me still sounds like it’s congruent with having a personality structure which makes you an abusive and neglectful person.
My father might have no personality given that his mother is a very engulfing narcissist. One engulfing narcissist we lived with for my first decade of live. One house, two separate flats. I remember as a child I would go to the other flat when the pain and neglect in one of them would get to much. Of course it was only the option between pain and neglect and different pain and different neglect but I had some sort of Illusion I could get away from it, become someone else’s piece of clay to shape.
My enabling grandfather also has this thing for brutally enforcing his authority by breaking your will and punish you in a draconian way. He normally is in the background and lets his wife run the show but he is awfully immature about getting his way. As if it’s a life and death situation and he will die if he doesn’t get his way. To the point that my grandmother has interfered and saved both me and my father respectively from his wrath. Having had no male role model in his life certainly did not help my grandfather. It also gave him a terribly weak sense of gender identity, which he passed on to his son. Both of them consider female things rather disgusting to the point you wonder why they even spent time with females at all let alone are married.
Funnily enough my other grandmother lived in a flat above her eldest daughter. So there you could go from one flat to the other when things got to much as well. The brainy ones among you may have figured out that said eldest daughter is my aunt. When I was a child this farm with grandmother, aunt, uncle and four children was a place I really liked. My four cousins ranged from being about a decade older than I am to being slightly younger than I.
The downside was that they are all very selfish people. As a child I was well trained to do other peoples bidding. Hence I automatically moulded myself to be the person the other people wanted to be around. Thus I was very obedient and ungendered around my grandfather, very much the extension of my engulfing grandmother atheism and all, not existent and very much interested into all things war, motorcycles and racing cars around my father and I tried my damnest to please my mother who is impossible to please. On that farm I was a Christian because that’s what you are to please a gang of fundamental Christians. As you can imagine family get togethers have been horribly draining and very complicated for me.
On my relatives farm however there are these four cousins. Selfish too, but the way to please a cousin your age is the be a cousin their age. So there I was moulded to be a child. It was close to who I might have liked to be and occasionally both my cousin and I would have arguments with our respective mothers and I think I felt good having some back up once in a while. They had cats too and I loved their farm. Many things to do, even as a child you can help out and there my every move wasn’t scrutinised and found wanting when my mother had a bad day. My mother was occupied elsewhere and I enjoyed preparing the various fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Family dynamics- how abusive people get along with other abusive people
I know that on the surface all my other family members get along famously. Both grandmothers hardly ever mention their respective estranged brothers. We all pretend the grandfather who cheated on my grandmother is not the same guy as the one we children only occasionally interacted with. It’s not like anyone in this family is accountable for anything.
They all just are very self serving. The other selfish people around them will studiously ignore when things don’t go their way. They have no emotional connection either to themselves or others, they don’t stand up for each other, confess things, forgive or have a shoulder to cry on. They have no relationships. This is how abuse looks like when everyone is an abuser. It’s a very cold and lonely world, where you always have to be strong and where you will always get taken advantage of.
Like with all abusive relationships there are positive sides to it. Mother for example like to knit and preserve jams and such. The other family members enjoy such presents. They all have a very wicked sense of humour that is hit or miss for me. But when it’s a hit, it’s a hit. Also some of them share my love for animals as long as it does not interfere with their self serving unaccountability.
I can clearly see how my fundamentalist grandmothers guilt trips and self hatred shaped my mother into a person hating herself and being never good enough. Not having a husband to help raise three children with did not help my grandmothers temper or sense of worthiness either. Something they have of course passed on to me. Even with no estranged exhusband the mental health issues are there. They made their issues my issues. That’s how you are as a perfect piece of clay. I can see how my engulfing grandmother shaped my father into someone who has no idea how to interact with people at all except how to occasionally lash out unproductively. A thing he has passed on to me.
So where to go from where you come from?
So here I am, a product of genetics and family history. I can’t just go around vilifying my parents or my grand parents. They are who they are and they have to live with that. They have got to make themselves happy. Or not. Either way, it’s on them. And it’s on me to learn to make myself happy. Wisdom dictates I should not expect any productive input from my family in this quest.
I suspect that maybe the heart of all my struggles is not even their lack of empathy. I do not always understand why people feel the way they feel either. The point is I do not need to in order to have them tell me what I can do to make them feel better. Maybe at the core of all this abuse is a fundamental disrespect for humans as beings not in our control and possession. The idea that we are not accountable for the damage we inflict is one I encounter quite frequently.
People seem to think material damage is acceptable “as long as no one sees” it was them. When someone privately mentions their grievances it is seriously socially acceptable to chastise people for taking things to seriously. As if that could simply be switched of. There are so many around it is genuinely depressing.
Personally I’m at crossroads atm. I do not understand why so much selfishness is happening in mainstream culture. Yes my toxic family whatever. But I see so many purposefully looking away, I see tears being considered all sorts of negative things when they are usually very healing and necessary. Our society seems to make psychologically hurt people even sicker (and I do not think many of us are mentally uninjured) and there are so many things people do that I find simply unacceptable. So do I become a lonely crazy person living on my own in the woods hating people? Do I forgive people for walking all over each other regularly and thinking this a perfectly acceptable way to exist? Do I join one of the many causes worth fighting for knowing that this is human nature and a fight I can’t possibly truly win?