Narcissism (part 2)

Will I ever be good enough

(back to Narcissism)

There you go…living your life with all your talents, nice friends, diplomas, great job, titles, beautiful children, testimonials, handsome husband, rich life, nice house, nice haircut, nice neighbors, … but someone just looked at you in a funny way or said something that felt ackward to you. And as you process it, you get the good old feeling: “See…., I’m not good enough”.

Well, this may happen and if it occurs occasionally, it does not have to be a big deal. You can then check whether it is true what has been said, or find out how you can deal with the feedback or decide which issues you could improve, and so on.

But if “I’m not good enough” is the background music to your life, it could be that there is more to it, because it might be that you were raised by a narcissistic parent.

DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?

  • It actually is never about me when I talk to my parent.
  • Whatever I do, it is never good enough for him/her. There’s is always a ‘but…’
  • I always have to be dóing something to be seen by him/her. Being there is not enough.
  • My life is (almost) never taken into account.
  • I feel that my own family is always subordinate to my relatives. My parent always chooses my sibling(s) over me. It’s always my plans that have to be changed, never someone else’s plans.
  • He/she is only proud of me when I have achieved something or have a remarkable ability.
  • I often feel like I have to compete with my parent.
  • I can never call my parent to account for what he/she says or does, because it is always denied or excused.
  • Frankly, I always dread to visit my parent, because I always have to be cautious and that is draining energy.
  • It just does not make sense to set my boundaries with my parent, because he/she thinks he/she is entitled to ignore them (“…because I’m your mother/father!”).
  • I feel that my parent has no problem with insulting me. Unfortunately it always gets to me and I always need time to recover from it.
  • Frankly, I don’t share much about my life with my parent, because he/she never shows any involvement or compassion. There’s always judgment or a solution, but never any empathy.
  • Listen, my parent is not a bad person, you know, absolutely not, but … (sigh) …

Now we feel that “Narcissism” is a nasty word, it’s a label that we only use for really horrible people, people we experience as an “impossible” and “unpleasant” person. Someone we prefer to avoid.

And to label your own parent like that is of course quite a lot. Because that puts you in a difficult position.

As a child, you love your parent. That is a natural, biological fact. Children are wired that way. Children love their parents and parents love their children. Although, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

But what if it does not (completely) go as “it should be”? What if a parent takes care of a child on the one hand and at the same time damages the child on the other hand? Then what? Then , as being the child of your parent, you still need to remain faithful, even if you’re an adult.  You have to keep your grief and pain hidden, because … it is taboo to be truly honest about your parent, and there you have it. You do not want to malign your parent because … not everything is bad, but … you also want acknowledgment for your pain.

And when you do talk about it, then one of the first responses you get is: “Yes, but … your parent must have had a hard time himself, bladibladibla …” and – bingo – it’s not about you…again.

A response that is quite understandable and not only because of the taboo. For it is good and fair to consider a story from different angles. Especially when it comes to justice. But when it comes to recovery, it is important to pull things apart and consider the separate parts. Because you can only restore those things that you can control. You can not solve your parent’s  traumas. That is your parent’s job. You can only restore your own life.

That’s why it is important to separate things:

  1. Your parent is who he/she is with his/her history (traumas, pain, loss)
  2. Your parent has damaged you because of that history and may still do so

The first point should not be an excuse for the second one, but usually it is the case.

As a daughter of a narcissistic parent, I also had a lot of trouble to talk about it and allow myself to feel what I felt … all because of the taboo. Until I realized what the actual point is:

The point is that at a certain moment the child needed something from father/mother and did not get it. The reason why does not matter at all !!! Whether it was intentional or accidental or due to circumstances … does not matter for now. You are now experiencing pain for something that you did not receive, but needed so badly at that moment.

When you start the recovery, it is all about: giving yourself what you did not get back then. Now it’s your turn. Now it’s about you. Your pain. Your loss. Your grief. Your anger. Your indignation. The injustice done to you.

And that may sound very selfish … well, guess what, it is! Because that is what you need right now! Just like what they say in an airplane before taking off: ‘First put the oxygen mask on yourself! … thén help your child put one on.’ Only if you take care of yourself first, you’ll be able to take care of someone else.

Only when you feel you have spend enough time processing things and have recovered (almost) totally -, you can then choose to take your parent’s reasons, mitigating circumstances and so on in consideration. For that might help you to let go of the stories and to forgive your parent. It might help you to have a mature and equal relationship with your parent. If that is possible from both sides, of course.

Narcissism covers a spectrum, from narcissistic lifestyle on the one hand to the narcissistic personality disorder on the other. So we can all check ourselves on narcissistic traits.

As an experienced expert in this field, I know what it is like to go through the recovery process. When I read Dr. Karyl McBride, a few years ago, I finally had the confirmation that I was not a crazy, nor a stubborn teenager or (young) adult. That I was not out of my mind to distance myself as an adult. That sometimes it is even necessary to be able to recover. That was a huge relief for me.

The WIEBGE acronym stands for “Will I Ever Be Good Enough?”, and signifies certification in Dr. Karyl McBride’s five-step recovery model for treating adult children of narcissistic parents.”

Meanwhile, I’m trained by Dr. Karyl McBride to guide adult children of narcissistic parents in their recovery and I became WIEBGE certified. So if you are ready to recover from your upbringing and you want to be guided and supported in it, check out the therapeutic coaching program “Will I ever be good enough”.


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