"Perfectionism is probably the most common and also one of the most damaging characteristics of dysfunctional families," wrote John and Linda Friel in their excellent book An Adult Child's Guide to What's Normal. When I read that, I felt like I'd discovered fire. Perfectionism ran rampant in my narcissistic family and I've been its willing slave since childhood.
But why? That's what I want to know.
Click here to read how perfectionism forms an ego feeding frenzy for narcissists AND how it leads to workaholism
She’s cute, sweet and has wrinkles in all the right places. She’s always weeping into her instant decaf, wondering why the shards of her broken family lie in ruins around her. She’s your quintessential granny — with a catch.
She’s also a narcissist...
Fiber optics has nothing on Grandma. She’s the original Gossip Information Superhighway. Her narcissism feeds on gossip. The slightest thing she disapproves of, the merest variance from how she does it better (i.e. not recycling tomato paste cans or having a speck of dust anywhere) gives her fodder for her non-existent self-esteem. (But more about that in Parts 2 and 3! Subscribe for instant notification!)
Unfortunately, gossiping about her son to her daughter (Scapegoat) and about her daughter to her son (Golden Child) destroyed the family. Oh, there were other dynamics at play, but the tale-carrying played a huge role in the Golden Child suddenly going “No Contact” with the Scapegoat.
And that, in itself, is another source of narcissistic supply! How she sobs into her decaf, bewailing her broken family, playing the victim-card to the hilt.
Got a narcissistic granny too? Read all about the endless bullshit here!
Please Note: This situation ended with my "escape" in 2011. I appreciate all of your concerns and kind notes, but I'm out! I'm free! I'm happy and married. Please see About for more details about my NEW life. Thanks!
Welcome to a day in my world. It's 2008. I'm twenty-eight years old and a respected, successful IT Business Analyst. Nevertheless, I still live with my parents...and it's eating me alive.
I want so much to have my own home. A beautiful haven where I can be warm, take hot showers every day, go to bed whenever I want, cook delicious meals and enjoy my life. Best of all, with a home of my own I'd finally feel completely grown up.
But we've talked about it and it's absolutely forbidden. “We haven't worked so hard on you just to throw you to the wolves,” they say. I know they think I'll turn into a whore without them, and can't make wise decisions on my own. And it's destroying my self-esteem. Of course, none of my relatives nor co-workers know I'm forbidden to move out. They just think I'm weird.
Find the weakest, sweetest woman alive. This is imperative or nothing wonderful can come of the system for breaking your woman's psyche I'm about to relate.
Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?
The ideal woman comes from an abusive home. If you're lucky, one or both of her parents will hale from the narcissist camp. She'll come to your arms broken in, broken down...just plain broken. The perfect foil to your dramas. A playground for your brainwashing and mind control. A child woman who was never allowed to fully mature, thanks to her narcissistic mama. A cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof ripe and ready for Stockholm Syndrome.
And best of all, she'll never, and I mean never stand up to you. Now that's a woman you can fall in love with!
Where did ego leave off and care begin? What was narcissism and what was paranoia? It all combined together in a swirling cesspool, holding me hostage, robbing me of life itself.
Mother’s horror at her baby’s brush with death, combined with Dad’s jealousy and seeing a paedophile around every corner. Dad’s constant concern over rape combined with Mother’s reciting Grandma’s cliche, “No good happens after night falls.” Meanwhile, Dad’s paranoia that his daughter would repeat the mistakes of his own lustful youth and his projection of his own teenage horniness onto her, led to a near-hostage situation from 1996-1998 and a raging case of Stockholm Syndrome. And all of it done under the auspices of God. (Poor God!)
I could go on, but you catch my drift.
Neither parent tried to bring balance to the other’s paranoia. Neither put themselves in their daughter’s shoes. No one considered that, come good or ill, her life was her own to live.
Read all about how narcissism leads to handicapping kids through helicopter parenting here!
When I think back on all the thousands of parental criticisms made "for my good" over thirty years, my blood boils. Hundreds, nay, thousands of 'em. It sta, not because I was bad, but because I was 15 and that's the time narcissistic parents start feeling nervous because their kid is growing up and they might, just might, lose control.
I was 14 and shocked by all the criticisms suddenly blind-siding me. They ranged from making me believe I was an (almost) slut to something as vague as, "Shake my hand and commit to 'try harder.'" To this day I wonder how much harder I could try. I already had a 4.0 GPA. And the blind-siding hurt worse than the criticisms themselves.
But no one (except my husband, Michael, and God), and I mean no one, is going to criticize me, lecture me nor shame me anymore.
It's done. Over! I'm damn near 40 years old and frickin' fine the way I am.
In the words of Star Trek's Captain Jean-Luc Picard, "The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!"
Or in the words of comedian Eddie Murphy, "It's my [blog] and if you don't like it, get the frick out." Click here to watch that hysterically funny moment!
To read the full article on Huffington Post, click here!
Your daughter isn't human. This belief is central to driving her bat-crap crazy. Never, and I mean never, acknowledge your shared humanity.
Once you nail that down, the rest is easy. And the Golden Rule need not apply.
Oh, and it helps to keep repeating the famous line from USA Network's Chrisley Knows Best, “There's no normal here.” Chant it. Post it on the bathroom mirror. Set it to music.
Now we can get down to brass tacks.
Start when she's young, very young. Punish the smallest infraction. Let's say she's three-years old and refusing to eat those nasty, disgusting canned peas. You lose this one, baby, you lose the war! If you don't force her to swallow every pea, next she's gonna be stealing cars, doing drugs, you name it. So serve those peas and nothing but those peas to her for every meal until she chokes 'em down.
If she gets mad at you, nip that in the bud! Anger isn't allowed. Comprende?
When schooldays roll around, make sure your girl is the odd man out. The “weird” one. You might arbitrarily order her never to speak to her #BFF ever again. That works great. Forbidding all field trips will get her cross-examined by her peers. Teach her to lie, make excuses, try to please everyone. That way, she'll never learn boundaries nor a backbone with them nor with you.
Undoubtedly, like all girls, her appearance is central to her self-esteem. Of course, it shouldn't be, so make sure she never looks like the other girls. Whatever hairstyle is “in,” give her the opposite. I heard this story once about a girl who wore those ridiculous “mall bangs” in the 90's. As soon as she'd get her gravity-defying bangs curled, teased and sprayed into place, her father would crush 'em flat with this hand. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!
I only have one New Year's Resolution. Just one.
To Learn to Live...Really Live
But it's not quite that simple. In fact, it took 929 words to explain it for the Huffington Post. Click on "Subscribe" in the column at right OR subscribe my RSS feed to be notified the moment the HuffPost publishes the blog!
In the meantime, here's an excerpt to pique your curiosity.
"Last night, my husband spoke the three most terrifying words in the English language.
Yeah. I didn't see it coming either. But there it is.
I'm on the HuffPost!
To read my maiden post, click here! And don't forget to Like, Share, Tweet and Comment!
Get through Thanksgiving more or less unscathed, did you? Ran the gauntlet of the narcissists' curiosity. Turned a blind eye to the derisively raised eyebrows. Skillfully skirted the intrusive questions.
Well good on you! Kudos, high fives and champagne toasts. It's no mean feat to be the “dish of the day” surrounded by hungry narcissists and survive to thrive another day. Mazel tov!
But what now? A month extends before us. A month until we must again run the Narc Gauntlet. And for an unluckily high percentage of my readers, they'll be hosting this year's festivities. Got a minute in your frantic rush to find the perfect gifts, bake the perfect cookies and clean your already-spotless house? Cause we need to talk. Now.
If, like me, you too were raised by narcissists, then the mirror in which you see yourself is warped. It's like having psychological dysmorphia disorder. Or seeing yourself only in carnival fun house mirrors for a lifetime. The “you” you think you know isn't really “you” at all, you know. (Five uses of the same pronoun in one sentence. WOW!)
The real “you” is actually okay. Yes, that's right. You're OKAY!