Helen: In 1998, when I was 38 years old, I tied the knot with the narcissist who would become my husband of 25 years. My knowledge of narcissism started from square one. From the very beginning of our relationship, he was transparent about his identity. His whole family, which he saw very infrequently, was going to give me a heads up about him. He admitted to having exhibited the character flaw of narcissism throughout his life, and he went into considerable detail about it. He repeated to me over and over again the stories about the frog and the fox, as well as the scorpion. He went on to explain to me that he felt the need to stand out from the crowd. In order for him to lead a normal life, he requested that I instruct him on how to do so. To begin, I was an innocent child. He gave off the impression of being positively brimming with vigor and vitality. When I got to the hospital, I had no idea what to anticipate would happen there. Is this, for lack of a better term, an example of a narcissistic “tactic”? If that is the case, what is the name of the thing? It should come as no surprise that I am still in a state of disbelief.
Kelly: My mother was the victim of this practice, which holds that children of narcissistic parents are frequently held responsible for the mistreatment they receive. To tell you the truth, everything you’ve said makes total sense to me. My impression was that my mother had an overly dramatic manner. When she was around her family, she transformed into a completely different person. When I was a kid, I didn’t understand why Mom would always deny it whenever I questioned her about it. I asked her about it. She vilified me more as I gained more experience and perception because I pointed out her lies and deceptions, and the more I pointed them out, the more she vilified me. She told everyone in the family about the rumors she had heard about me, and she did everything she could to damage my reputation, something she has continued to do up until this day. When people stopped defending themselves, that’s when they started telling me that they realized what was going on in my life. When I decided to just “be myself” and let people judge for themselves, that’s when they started doing it. When I let people judge for themselves, that’s when people began telling me that they realized what was going on in my life. The narcissistic tendencies were on full display in the way that she treated me. It’s fascinating to hear what my aunts, who are now 60 years old and still going strong, have to say about the past years, what they’ve seen, and the conclusions they’ve reached as a result of their experiences. It makes it easier for me to deal with my grandmother, who is 87 years old. To the best of my knowledge, they do not experience any form of maturation. The same amount of trouble, if not more.
GK: When I was a kid, my grandmother used to praise me all the time for being able to say exactly what was on my mind. To my mind, the most important factor in determining how I lived my life was how I felt at any given moment, rather than how other people interpreted the actions I took. Permit me to be clear: despite the fact that I have been abused, I have not allowed it to prevent me from pursuing my dreams. In spite of the challenges I’ve faced, even my therapist is impressed by how far I’ve come. My mother is a narcissist, and as a result, I have severed all ties with her as well as with anyone else who poses a threat to my health and happiness. I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter how closely you know someone, you shouldn’t let them into your life under any circumstances. Some of my relatives have referred to me as a “black sheep,” while others have referred to me as a free spirit. I have been called both of these things. I could care less about your categorization of me in any way, shape, or form.
Jen: Only now, at the age of 64, have I come to terms with the fact that my parents were abusive to me when I was a child and pressured me to “settle down” and “marry a lovely person.” They also encouraged me to “marry a lovely person.” Throughout my life, I’ve been married three times to three different people. When I was eight years old, my parents made me participate in a gospel family musical ensemble and forced me to perform in front of an audience. They did this against my will. It was expected of each and every one of us that we would always look and act our very best. As my daughters got older, I came to the realization that I had developed into more of an introvert and that I had not been a very nurturing mother. My heart is broken, and I can only imagine how much pain it has caused them. We owe you a debt of gratitude for providing a better understanding, to millions of people, of how our upbringing and experiences shape how we perceive ourselves in the world. I finally learned to appreciate myself and the people who are in my life thanks to the counseling that I received.