A lot of people suffer from Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and don’t know it. NAS is a kind of chronic PTSD that stems specifically from abuse by a narcissist. I wrote about narcissistic abusers in one of my articles about Johnny Depp’s divorce from Amber Heard. Basically, a narcissistic abuser is one who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Sociopathy. They literally lack the ability to feel anything but concern for their own well-being. It’s literally all about them…and what they can “get” from whoever comes into their lives.
Whether a parent, a spouse, a life partner or date, or a friend…narcissistic abuse is very distinctive from other types of emotional, mental or even physical or sexual abuse. Like I said, narcissists are about what they can get from us. Meaning, emotional and mental “food.” Yes, it’s safe to say that another terminology for narcissists is “energy vampires.”
They know what they’re doing when they hurt you. They know exactly how to go about pushing your most sensitive buttons. This is because they study you. They watch you, and listen to you. Usually it starts with what is known as “love bombing.” This describes one who approaches you with amazing support, great respect, and later, love. The narcissist love bomber will put their best foot forward to get you to trust them. To lean on them, and ultimately to depend on them. They will feel like the only one who understands you. They will seem like the answer to a prayer.
They are especially detrimental when they’re parents, and their victims or “supply” are their own children.
Here is my story of emotional, mental, physical and sexual abuse, by my parents. Many of you might have heard stories on YouTube videos about the narcissistic parents and two or more children. Almost always, there is favoritism. A “golden child,” or favored child, and a “scapegoat,” or “problem child.”
You might have already guessed that I was the problem child…but I have heard of golden children speaking out and breaking away from the narcissistic parent or parents. It’s rare, but it has happened.
I was born a “colicky baby” in 1967. This is according to my mom, who told me this during a therapy session. Our family therapist at the time wanted my mom and I to have sessions together without my father and sister, since our relationship was particularly tumultuous. I was a junior in high school then, and very angry and bitter at my mother. She had been my best friend while I was in junior high, only to betray me in my sophomore year. This is exactly what happened, although for years I was programmed to believe she’d never meant to hurt me, and actually really loved me.
Narcissists do not love their children, not even the “golden” ones. They are all out for themselves. Hard to digest as that is, unfortunately it is the reality. Even worse, narcissists can’t be helped. No psychiatrist or psychologist can do anything for them, although many have tried and still try. It’s a losing battle, and the only way to sanity is to never talk to narcissists, ever. When breaking a relationship with a narcissist, one must be committed to taking care of themselves and whatever other loved ones were affected by the narc. This means never having contact with the narcissist again…under any circumstances.
During that family therapy session, my mom described the colic to me. When I was born and first put into her arms, I got sick all over her. She went on to say that she freaked out because obviously she was terrified as to why her baby was sick. Then she said the nurse told her she should relax and not be so anxious and tense…and maybe I wouldn’t get sick. The nurse then took me out of my mother’s arms and apparently, I got sick on the nurse. My mother, in the therapy session, praised me and thanked me for “getting back” at that “nasty nurse” for having the nerve to say it was “my mom’s fault” that I had gotten sick. I do not remember any of this, as my first memory was at age two.
My mom went on to describe colic, and at one point, the family therapist got up and pulled out a medical book. Apparently, colic is some kind of underdeveloped digestive system that affects the nervous system as well. There wasn’t much that could be done about that in 1967.
When I was brought home, my mom said, I cried nonstop because colic causes the stomach to hurt constantly. She told me she would come into my room, pick me up, try to comfort me, then walk around with me, singing or something. No matter what, however, I wouldn’t stop crying. My mom would ask for advice from professionals and friends who advised her to just leave me in the crib and let me cry. My mom did, but then I cried so much and so constantly that it kept her awake at night. Eventually, she went from leaving me in my crib to coming in and yelling at me to stop crying. My mother put it that way and did express regret about that. But she also said that it was difficult to hear a baby crying constantly and there was nothing anyone could do. I have a vague memory of my mom with hair standing on end, standing over my crib yelling about being “sick and tired,” of something. My mom also told me that my dad worked the graveyard shift at a factory, and was always upset and angry that I couldn’t stop crying while he was trying to sleep during the day.
To add insult to injury, my mom also shared that I was allergic to practically everything. Dust was really bad for me. Mold and mildew played a part as well. My parents had to replace the wallpaper in my room, and get rid of all my toys.
Then my mother told me I was “allergic” to cow’s milk.
My mother never breast-fed me because she was told not to do that. At that time, all mothers were being advised that breast-feeding a baby makes them too “dependent.” It was the baby boomer feminist movement who especially stressed that women shouldn’t bond so much with their children. This might cause difficulty with getting out and working during the day, which was the aim for the “new woman.” My mother had jumped on that feminist bandwagon and became one of its loudest advertisers.
A side note: I have every desire in the world that both women and men be treated as equals—equal pay, all of it. I am pro-choice, and pro-contraception. I feel very strongly that parents and educators should teach young teens about birth control. I want women and men to have equal opportunities in employment. I want the same fair things that have always been discussed with women’s issues and feminism, since I was young, but old enough to understand it.
However, I no longer associate myself with the term “feminism.” Those of you who’ve read my articles on Amber Heard, as well as what’s going on in the world generally? You all know that many feminists these days are advocating a “hostile takeover” by women. The sexism and abuse are being reversed now, and it is women who are persecuting men more, these days. There are still misogynists who hurt and abuse women, no question. However, my hope is that the madness stop, and we TRULY work together as human beings. Respecting each other fully for all of our differences and strengths is the best way to eliminate sexism. No one is truly “less than” another, after all.
The idea, though, of mothers not breast-feeding their children because they want to be more independent? Say what you will about breaking out of a mold, but these are human lives being jeopardized! My life as an infant was full of sickness and stomachaches not because of colic. Because of malnutrition. Because I wasn’t getting the nutrients every newborn desperately needs…Mother’s Milk.
It was a terrible, terrible idea back in those days, to tell mothers not to breast-feed. Thankfully, someone figured it out as years went by. More mothers are breast-feeding these days, and thank goodness for that!
I didn’t mean to get on a social-issues rant, but this is the kind of thing narcissists thrive on. Women choosing themselves over the health of their children…the opposite extreme of what once was a prison-like existence for them. The days when MEN thought only of themselves and job success, and the women took care of the children, however, are long over now…at least as a “popular norm.” Male narcissists who “run” households like that, however, still exist today and cannot be downplayed or ignored any more than female narcissists can be.
I was not told whether the cow’s milk I was fed as a baby was in formula form, or just plain milk in a bottle. My parents’ solution to what obviously was keeping me from being properly nourished, was to get a different kind of milk…just not from my mother’s breasts. They ended up ordering goat’s milk to be specially delivered. All through my life, both my parents joked about how “horrible” goat’s milk smells. But at least it didn’t make me sick, and I was able to be fed as a baby. I am not sure if my mom had any milk left in her breasts at that time; I don’t know when breast milk dries up since I’m not a mother. I wasn’t told when my parents started getting goat’s milk. Goat’s milk is apparently kind of expensive, and my parents were relatively poor then.
My first memory, like I said, was aged two or thereabouts. I was rocking on a rocking horse I got for Christmas. I remember feeling happy, enjoying myself on the rocking horse. However, my mom called me to dinner and I didn’t want to leave the horse. So my dad yelled loudly at me to get to dinner NOW. I was terrified of my parents, especially my dad, from the getgo.
My sister was born in 1969, and according to my mom and dad I was extremely jealous. I don’t remember this much at all. But, they talked almost nonstop about my jealousy with a certain contempt in their voices. Never mind that it’s natural for many older kids being jealous of their newborn younger siblings. To add insult to injury, my mom also said my sister never cried, and was such a good baby. Well, my sister was fortunate enough to not have the colic. Also? My mother breastfed her, which she told me about in the therapy session. Apparently, a doctor she saw encouraged her to do it, and that it was okay.
All the makings of a golden child. Thanks, Mom!
My dad usually was the calm one but he definitely love-bombed me. I was his “favorite” or so he tried to make me think. When my mom took me to task for whatever reason, he would defend me. He’d tell my mom to go easier on me and try to understand what I was doing. Often he said I wasn’t wrong. Then my mom would say something really mean to me. I would cry and then my mom would say to my dad, “See? She’s crying and whining again.” Then my dad would seem to “realize” that his wife was demanding that he agree with her…or there would be a horrible consequence. My mom was prone to fits of depression and high anxiety and my dad often had to sit with her for hours until she came through it.
That said, my dad would turn the tables around and take my mother’s side. He turned to me and to my utter confusion, yelled at me for the same thing he’d been defending me about. Usually I would fall apart, crying or yelling, ”I don’t understand,” or words to that effect. Usually, at that point, my dad sent me to my room. What I hated most about my room was, my toys were not in there, they were in a playroom specifically for toys. I was not allowed any of them…why should I enjoy my punishment? Also, if it was daylight, I couldn’t go outside and play until my parents decided my punishment was over.
When I grew older, the crying became fighting back with words, and standing up for myself. I’d learned to replace my tears with anger. With my dad, the pattern continued. My mom would be upset at whatever I was doing, I’d argue back, and my dad would take my side. Then my mom would say some nasty thing like, “Oh Kate thinks she’s so smart, she is just a bitch!” Yes, she called me that. I said something back like “Don’t call me a bitch!” My dad would then turn on me and say something along the lines that, I “blew it.” I think I was supposed to go totally mute and let my dad do all the fighting. But even when I did that, my mom always “talked him around.” Then he took her side.
There was a lot of shaming in everything I did, from leaving an umbrella on the subway by accident, to basic normal mistakes kids make, like leaving their homework to the last minute, whatnot. The way my parents behaved though, you would think I had been calling them every name but the child of God for years and years. They made such a fuss over disciplining me, they shamed me as if I was a freak. It was all about how I was going to fail and I would never be able to recover from it or whatnot. Or that I was stressing them out too much. I don’t mean to say there wasn’t some demonstrations of love throughout my childhood and teenaged years. There was. A lot. Christmases were amazing. They did show love and hugged both me and my sister a lot. It wasn’t all horrific abuse, but whenever I grew comfortable in that environment, before I knew it, it was full-blown attacks again.
My sister never was taken to task or punished the way I was. One thing my parents lambasted me about as a teenager was the way I talked to them. They could call me names, curse me out, anything…but I had to speak to them with “respect,” at all times. My sister, however? She could lash out at my mom and say whatever she wanted. Just because she didn’t do it as often as I did wasn’t any reason for my mom to do what she did. I remember sitting in the living room with my sister and my mom telling us to clean our rooms at some point that day. My sister sat there and blasted my mom, saying over and over again, “Why do you always want our rooms clean? What’s wrong with it messy? I hate you, you make me SICK!”
My mom was washing the dishes, but I know she heard my sister. She didn’t even bat an eye. Not one eye!
I went into the kitchen and confronted her. Here, in a nutshell, is what she said.
“I know she doesn’t mean it when she says things to me. YOU always mean it. I KNOW you do. SHE doesn’t. So I just ignore her and sooner or later we are getting along again.”
Excuse me, but—WHAT?
I know my sister has a mean streak. I have been on the other side of her anger enough times, especially as an adult, to know she DOES mean what she says in a verbal assault. She means it with all her heart! Then again, unfortunately she ended up being a narcissist like my parents, so there really is no “heart” to speak of.
Getting back to my father, though…something even worse than my mother playing my sister and I against each other, happened to me when young.
I would go on car rides with my dad where he would expect me to talk to him and listen as an adult, even when I was a child of say, seven or eight. When I didn’t understand something he said, he shamed me for being “in my own world” or “all about myself.” I was a kid, but he wanted a friend, not a daughter.
I think he also wanted a “lover” of sorts.
I’m realizing even now that my father love-bombed me with emotional and, earlier on, physical incest. This just gets better and better, doesn’t it??
I have struggled with vague memories I still want to deny: one in particular has me sitting on his lap and him rubbing me against his private parts. Another memory is when he was “playing” with me in the ocean whenever we went to the shore in summertime. He would pick me up and do the same thing he did when I was on his lap.
Then, I was told to take a shower with him at age seven. I did, and I have no memory of what happened. All I know is the next day I was terrified to take a shower with him again. He badgered me to, and demanded to know why I didn’t want to. None of my answers were satisfactory. I said I just want to be by myself. He didn’t accept that. He wanted a different answer. What was I supposed to tell him?
Years later, I still haven’t ever talked about it…except to my sister. She just blew it off every time. Told me to forgive him.
Forgiveness is different than letting someone stay in your life who is obviously a predator.
In high school, my style of dress was different than the expected “look” for teenagers. Looking back, I didn’t look as “outlandish”(according to the norm) as some kids dressed in the 80’s…styles I loved, but they weren’t as “me” as what I myself wore. I didn’t have tattoos or multiple piercings in my ears or body, my hair was its natural color, it wasn’t spiky or cut in different lengths around the head. No, what I did was something no one else had thought of. I wore feathers.
I wore them in my hair, roach clips with feathers hanging off of them, and clipped onto my barrettes. I also clipped them onto a denim vest I wore every day. That vest was always adorned with buttons, usually of people like Matt Dillon, or whatever famous handsome guy I had a crush on at the time. I also wore buttons with sayings such as “Question Authority” and “I am a Shameless Agitator.”
Some people did bully me in high school because obviously the feathers looked “weird” to them. I learned to laugh in their faces and keep going. I was thrilled with my new style and proud of myself for breaking out of the mold of fitting in with the kids who wore all the latest styles as a “hard core rule.” Those who judged other kids who didn’t look “just right.” Ironically? When I came full circle into myself, I obtained more friends than I ever had in any school. People flocked around me! I know why, though: it was because I was more comfortable in my own skin. I had a sense of humor and laughed with people more than when I was younger. It’s true that the happier a person is and comfortable with themselves, at least so I’ve seen, people tend to gravitate towards them.
I also learned that I could be a pretty good listener when my friends were down. People came to me with their problems, felt very comfortable talking to me, since I never judged them. They listened to me, too. We all looked out for each other. Life was good at school, and I looked forward to going every day. My life at home, however, especially in sophomore and junior year, was hell.
My mom hated the feathers with a passion. She said that I was beautiful and should dress like models in magazines. When I told her I felt good with my style of dress, she began to bully me…exactly like the kids at school did. What was once my sanctuary, my home, became like a horrible playground a kid is stuck in with bullies who never left them alone. My dad eventually took my mom’s side and the two of them were relentless. Inevitably, I became more stressed out and joyless, and it bled over into my school life.
Especially offensive to my father were the buttons. “I am a shameless agitator,” and “Question Authority,” were, as he put it, like saying “Fuck you if you don’t like me.” I felt like my father had been possessed or something. Not literally, but nothing whatsoever, made sense about what he said. Those buttons were NOT offensive in any way. No one, therapist or otherwise, hears me tell this story without shaking their head and saying, “Holy shit, your parents were CRAZY!” Or words to that effect.
They’re crazy, yes, but I didn’t know what they actually were. Narcissists, who really didn’t care WHAT they were pushing. So long as it broke your spirit, that was all that mattered.
The concerns I heard about myself from my mom and later my dad was not limited to my dress style. It was also me, my behavior, my personality, whatnot. At parties with relatives, I would talk about my life or whatnot and my dad said I was self-absorbed and dominating conversations. I ‘d play the piano and sing off and on at the parties. Looking back, I might have lacked a few basic social skills; I did talk very fast, and sometimes it sounded frantic, as if I was trying to get out my say before someone interrupted me or changed the subject. That was exactly what my parents did, but when they interrupted me, they criticized me for “wanting center stage.” I never wanted “center stage,” or thought I was more important than those around me. My dad did, however! He was always the life of the party. He actually met my mom while acting in a play at a local Pennsylvania theater. My dad was the lead in the play. He did, yes, have aspirations of being a famous actor, but gave up that dream to raise a family. He resented that, and especially resented me for having been born with talent of my own.
Music was therapy to me. It was a way of feeling safe. Music was something I was actually good at, and people told me so. My sister is a visual artist, which is such a wonderfully quiet form of creativity…she could go anywhere and sketch and not be noticed. With me, my talent was, and is the performing arts, partly inherited from my dad, although he could never sing a note. There was no hiding for me, whenever I wanted to express myself creatively! Not unless I simply wrote stories or poetry. Sometimes I would do that when all else failed.
At one of my uncles’ houses, there was a beautiful upright piano that I always made a beeline for whenever we’d visit there. I didn’t want to sit in a kitchen with my aunts and uncles listening to them talk about politics, sports, and judgmental gossip about people I didn’t know and would probably never meet. The only thing I had in common with any of my relatives was that they all loved music. My two cousins, the sons of my uncle whose house it was, played the guitar and sang folk rock and Irish music. It was a tradition at every party to have a sing along. Of course, when I played the piano and sang with my cousins at sing-alongs, I got lots of gregarious praise, but my parents’ and relatives’ pet peeve with me was my playing the piano at any time. Not waiting for the “sing-along music hour” I just played, randomly, and it made a noise, obviously. I was labeled a show-off by my parents.
Looking back, I am glad my social skills have improved, at least enough not to just sit and play a piano while others are talking. Regardless of whether or not I like their conversations, I have at least learned the value of consideration for others. Still, as a teenager, I didn’t really know what to do. I just felt…lost. Another factor was, when I played the piano at home, my parents interrupted me CONSTANTLY.
“It’s too loud!”
“You’re pounding on that thing!”
“The neighbors are going to complain!”
“You play the same thing and all your songs sound the same!”
Bla, bla, bla. I never had a chance to even delve into creativity at home. Everyone always assumed I wanted attention. Mostly, I just wanted to be left alone to do music! And no one wanted to move the piano into my room. It wouldn’t have helped with the “noise” anyway.
The praise I did get from my aunts and uncles for my ability with the piano and my singing, was definitely validating. This said, I feel that subconsciously I was hoping for that validation from them whenever I would play at their house…whether it was the “appropriate time” or not.
As for “pounding” on the piano…well I don’t know about that, but I did often vent my anger on the keys. I always had the damper pedal down when playing. I certainly never ruined the instrument. To this day I still have that old piano. I had it since I was ten. It is not concert pitch even with a professional tuning, but it’s certainly not that horrible “out of tune” sound with some notes flat and others sharp. They’re generally all the same pitch as they’re supposed to be.
As I look back now, I realize I was made to feel and look like a narcissist by my family. I was not a quiet kid, and as a teenager, I was loud and boisterous. I made sure everyone knew I was going to do great things with my life, and help the world best I could. It was my way of trying to carve a life and a future for myself that didn’t include being put down for whatever “oddity” my family labeled me with.
I since learned not EVER to share my dreams with narcissists! I truly wish I had known back then.
I was determined to become a singer/songwriter in a band. This was, of course another bone of contention because everyone in my family loved my voice, and hoped I would have a great career with it. Just…not anything to do with anything Bruce Springsteen did. That meant, no rock and roll, or I would be “lowering” myself considerably!
My singing voice had originally been reared on classical singing and opera but in 1984, Bruce Springsteen had gotten to me with his epic music and poetic lyrics. They seemed to be about my life, and how I struggled to fit in with this family that always shut me out.
The more I talked and tried to “justify” myself to them, the more they abused me verbally and sometimes physically. At one point, I finally cracked. I tried to compromise myself and do what they said; in the name of survival. I was almost out of high school, I told myself, and once I was free, I’d get my own place and do what I wanted!
I thought life would at least be “easier” if I changed, but no. My parents, even while “praising” me, began to look and speak to me with thinly veiled contempt. They made sure, even nonverbally, that I felt like a fool who’d “realized” they were in charge. Or whatever lie they told themselves. They lorded it over on me.
Finally, when I graduated high school, I moved to Ocean City, NJ, and rented a room there. I got a full-time job at the 99 cents store and was able to support myself. I made damn sure I kept track of my money and was able to live comfortably with no real luxuries. I didn’t need them. I had the ocean and my music!
It was paradise, that time. I not only felt free, but I had relaxed, considerably. I met some amazing people, musicians, and loved listening to their fascinating stories. Many of them were older than me, and had had a lot of interesting experiences in life. Everything was great! The future was so bright, I had to wear shades, just like the song.
Then, I made the mistake of going to visit my parents and sister in July, and…unfortunately I got homesick. My sister talked me into coming back home because she missed me, so I did. I thought, well, I have been on my own, and I have changed considerably. Maybe they’ll see that and treat me more like an adult.
Fat chance of that.
On my return, my parents wasted no time in making me feel like a complete failure. It was very, very devastating, and to this day, I still kick myself for leaving Ocean City instead of staying until the end of the summer.
All through my 20’s I never did much of anything…so angry and depressed. My friends from high school had mostly all moved on with their lives. Love relationships were never all that great either. My first serious relationship was, of course, with a narcissist. It was love at first sight for me, but once we began dating, I quickly learned I didn’t really matter. I was in the way. But I was so smitten with this person who would love bomb me one minute and discard me the next, I stayed and tried to make it work. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and broke off the relationship. Other relationships came afterwards, but that first one had a lasting impression on me for years.
Unfortunately, looking back, I did something I call “mimicking the perpetrator.” I would get moody and shut them out, and get annoyed when they wanted to spend time with me…just like my first “love,” that narcissist who always complained about my “clinginess.”
One more thing about depending on my parents for money. I realized that subconsciously I haven’t had a problem accepting money or even asking for money…because an angry child in myself feels like I deserve it. Like, this is my compensation for all my parents denied me, i.e. support, protection from bullies, and overall, making me feel like I never should have been born. Does this sound like I’m stooping to their level? I don’t like to take from or bleed people financially, but they have offered gregariously, and later guilt tripped me and shamed me for it. I don’t know. I know one thing…I will be doing something, anything, to manage my money better. I don’t want to take any more money from them, so they can lord it over me and make me feel like a loser that never amounted to anything. Spending is a bad habit I got into to cope.
This finally made me go completely no-contact. As of this writing, I have officially been no-contact from my family for twenty-four hours.
Twenty-four hours going on years! More years of a brand new life for me, no looking back, no regrets.
I encourage all who are reading this, particularly those who have suffered from Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome. Whether you are still in a relationship with a narcissist: family, romantic or friendship…I urge you to go no-contact as soon as possible. You don’t need that abuse. No one deserves it. Narcissists, like I said in the beginning, have no concept of love, empathy or compassion.
I am here for anyone who wishes to talk with me privately about anything regarding narcissistic abuse or other mental issues. Please feel free to send me a private message or email. Meanwhile…stay strong, stay truthful, and treat yourself with Love.
You deserve it. Namaste!