Monday, September 24, 2007

Narcissists Were Nasty Little Kids, Too

Have you ever wondered what the narcissist was like as a child? Do you picture the narcissist as a timid, wounded little soul who was pushed around and abused only to eventually turn into the monster they are now?

How about a different picture.

The adult malignant narcissist you contend with was, in all likelihood, a pox on her siblings and school mates as a child. Think about it. Malignant narcissism is always a case of arrested development; someone who remains stuck at about six years of age emotionally and morally. What you are witnessing today is how the narcissist acted as a six year old. No doubt they have polished up their gig. They have fine-tuned their ways through years of trial and error. They are, in some ways, more sophisticated in their game. Some ways. They still can throw a tantrum like any six year old. They have the advantages that come from being an adult which can, to some extent, blind us to how juvenile their behaviors are. They are a child trapped in an adult body. The nasty little brat is still observable in your adult narcissist. No, they weren't nice to know even when they were kids.

This may be hard to get your head around. Probably because the narcissist has given you a wholly different version of their in which they star as lead victim.

Example. I have a male cousin who is about five years younger than myself. I was around him for significant periods of time when we were growing up. I have a very clear, first-hand experience of what he was like as a child and what his childhood was like. To say he was a difficult child is to greatly understate his problems. He has grown into what I am sure is a full-blown sociopath. Narcissistic sociopath. He was not abused as a child. He abused his family. I saw it with my own eyes. If anything, he was coddled as his parents bent over backwards trying to help this kid to the point where the younger daughter was often neglected. When he tried to kill his sister it was his sister who was sent away. When he pissed off a local drug dealer who was then threatening to kill his family it was the family who had to pick up and move away. When he would leave to go live with his friends and do drugs on long benders he knew he could come home any time to a clean bed and warm meal. And did. To hear him tell the story of his childhood today you would think his parents were the sociopaths. He has completely projected his own behaviors and attributes onto his family and there he stands...the poor little abused child. It is a load of total shit. He was a nightmare from about two years of age. As he reached the beginning of puberty he was already into drugs. Fire setting, animal abuse, torment of his younger sibling, theft...all were in full swing by puberty. Don't believe the narcissist's version of their childhood. It is likely full of projection and complete fabrication.

Narcissists lie. If they are breathing, they are lying. So, for right now, put aside anything they told you about their childhood and start gathering those observable facts that are available to you right now.

Another example. My mother was the eldest of six. Two were her siblings, three of the others were cousins. My mother's aunt died shortly after giving birth to her third child so my grandmother raised her sister's three children as her own. My mother's parents divorced when all the children were still quite young so my grandmother raised them as a single mother. Because she had to work every day to put food on the table my mother was put in charge of the five children who were younger than her. She was close in age to them. To hear my mother tell it, she took her responsibility as a proxy mother to her siblings very seriously. This is why, she claims, that they all grew to greatly resent her. I believed that version of the story for a very long time.

The observable facts are these: when my mother left home to marry she rarely spent time with her two sibling sisters. Her cousins were no where to be seen most of the time. The few interactions I saw between her and her sisters and cousins were obviously very strained. Visits ended badly and were followed by years of more estrangement. My mother held outright antipathy for her eldest cousin. Over the years my mother presented this cousin as the spawn of Satan. She outright called him evil and had nothing to do with him after leaving home except for one visit that I clearly remember when I was around seven years of age. He had invited us to dinner at his home. I remember liking him very much as he gave me and my sister a very thoughtful keepsake gift (that I still have) and spoke kindly to us. I was immediately best of friends with his daughter who was a year or so younger than me and the sweetest little girl I had ever met. I never saw him again until after his sister died in the late 1990s. If my mother ever said his name she would practically spit it out.

Here is what I now believe about this man. He was the closest in age to her of the three cousins. He and she were only a couple years apart in age. I am convinced that he did not sit still for my mother's tyranny. I think he was likely impervious to her ways of terrorizing and manipulating the others. Which would have scared her and enraged her. She has always acted a little afraid of him when she would talk about him. I have lived long enough now to see that my mother hates and fears those she can not control.

I was able to observe a brief interaction between my mother and this male cousin of hers in the late '90s. I will not try to describe it in detail. I will only say that I recognize the signs that this man is extremely intelligent (something my mother acknowledged and mentioned many times, though she chose to see him present him as an evil genius) and not susceptible to my mother's charms. He was gracious to her, but did not succumb to her attempt to manipulate him with a non-apology for their childhood that she thrust upon him during that visit. I saw no evidence that he is some kind of evil bastard. I have lots of evidence that my mother is the evil bastard.

The fact that my mother's siblings removed themselves from my mother's sphere as soon as they could and maintained their distance all these years speaks volumes. I do not believe they resented my mother being a "mother-figure". I think they hated her for good reason...she was an autocratic and cruelly tyrannical ruler. I will believe what the evidence speaks to and disbelieve how my mother characterizes herself and her siblings as they were growing up.

I also know from painful personal experience that my sister was a nasty little kid who manipulated and made miserable those children who had the displeasure of having to be around her. My female cousin, who I refer to as "Lee" in other posts on my blog, was telling me a couple evenings ago how relieved she is that she isn't going to have to be around my sister now that my sister is ousted from my life. (Because my cousin and I now live close to each other, if my sister came to visit me it would be assured that my cousin would also have to endure a visit from her.) I did have one advantage in growing up with sister dearest...I was older than her. To those who were younger than she (like my cousin)...woe betide them. Sister was a liar, manipulative, very boastful and vain, and generally lorded it over anyone younger. Sister especially loved to get those younger than her into trouble with my mother. My poor cousin never failed to be made miserable by the predations of my sister when family holidays brought us all together. This is something my cousin is only beginning to mention now that she is sure that she won't have to see my sister again. She held her tongue back when she thought perhaps she'd have to try to have see my sister on occasion. Family peace and all. My cousin has only had negative experiences with my sister, and the stories are legion. Some are downright hair-raising. Again, with my sister: the young brat grew up into an adult brat.

My examples do not prove that malignant narcissists were nasty children. Logic does. My personal experiences are in line with the logic. I think if you take the time to analyze what you know about the narcissist apart from what they tell you you will find plenty of evidence that they were creepy little kids, too.

Not all brats grow up into adult-sized brats, but you can be assured that grown-up brat was a pint-sized brat in their day.


Anonymous said...

This explains my husband's brother to a tee! Had tons of issues growing up - parents sent him to therapy, never maintained friendships, had a difficult time in college because he couldn't get along with people in his dorm etc. To hear him tell it though he was completely victimized and/or the coolest kid ever - yeah right. You are also right about the parental roles. The parents are still coddling him to this day - maybe because they feel responsible - who knows?!

I have really enjoyed reading your blog - it has helped me deal with this awful person.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

Great message today...thank you! I'm not sure why this is such a hard thing for most of us to do, but we need to pay attention to what we 'see' and not always to what we 'hear.' If we could do that, Smear Campaigns wouldn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of succeeding. (that was another great post, by the way!)

Though the X-husbaNd was abused as a child (his alleged abuse has been corroborated), I am absolutely certain he was a little hellion to raise...Even for the non-abusive parent. That does not justify his abuse, of course. However, he could never see outside himself and understand HIS impact on other people.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I never thought in this directions but I think you might be right. My NMIL told me once that she does not miss her mother (dead) as much as she misses the servant/cook (also dead) she had for 13 years(guessing servant = NS). Isn't that a strange statement? Why compare the 2? She also said that one of her sister (one who she does not get along with) used to steal money from her mom because mom was almost blind (probably projection...I have met the sister..she looks fine to me). Another statement that she made that her dad was always pushing her to learn something new (music, driving etc etc) which I am guessing to divert her into something healthy. Her reasoning of course is that because he thought she was so beautiful (puke!! - they are so full of themselves). From what I have seen, the whole family looks pretty healthy except her...

Anonymous said...

You mention 'family peace'. This issue of 'don't rock the boat' is similar to 'don't talk' I suppose, but its such a powerful thing.

My mother moved all of us to a different country to be away from all of her family, so we all grew up without grandparents/cousins/extended family. Its only now I understand, that her brother and sister hated her as much as everyone else, but nobody has ever mentioned it.

Anonymous said...

My mother has kept her past mostly a secret from us. Basically she thinks that her parents are not really her parents and her family is a bad influence or something. A few times they tried to contact her through my dad, one time because her father was dieing and wanted to talk to her. I only found out about it because my dad told me.

I was told that her mother had alzeimers disease. One day I asked her why didn't she visit her mom and she said that "she wouldn't remember me anyway". For quite awhile I thought people only had one set of grandparents lol. Know almost nothing about my mothers side.

Then my mom doesn't like it when I visit my grandparents and think of my aunts as bad influences not wanting me to be alone with them. She doesn't even trust my dad.

Misguided Angel said...

So interesting. My MIL is a raging narcissist and I heard so many times from my husband and her how awful her brothers were to her. She has nothing to do with them, at least not often. Interestingly, the three brothers are close and are still in contact with each other.

My first experience with the brothers were when my husband and I got engaged. The eldest brother is insanely rich. The MOMENT he and his brothers found out about our engagement, they offered to host the rehearsal dinner the night before. They rented a wonderful private room at an upscale club, hired a guitarist, and paid for absolutely everything. I didn't have to do squat, and I didn't even know them. They were the nicest, most gracious people and NEVER held what they did for us over us. In fact we've hardly heard from them again since we all live so far away. They were very far from the horrible people my MIL made them out to be. Compared to her they were so normal. However, it was she who caused the issues that night, causing fights, being rude to my family and getting so schnockered she was staggering an attempting to go out doors that weren't even there. If my own history with these people says anything, they are nothing like she wants me to believe. Sometimes I think they did what they did because they feel sorry for my husband and her sister and wanted to find a way to have normal family involvement. Whatever the case, I have always appreciated what they did.