I would like to make it very, very clear that I am not advocating the pathologizing of victims. It is very possible to be schmoozed and fooled into believing a narcissist is Prince or Princess Charming who then, once you are dependent on them financially and otherwise, will show you the fangs behind closed doors. People can unwittingly be caught and trapped into relationships with malignant narcissists. I hope you saw my consistent use of the words "choice" and "will" and other iterations of words which clearly showed I am referring to people who can and are able to walk away from a situation.
I would also like to state that very often there are ways out of a relationship with a narcissist even though it may look like a hopeless trap. It may require stealth, careful planning and lots of time, but a way can be cleared to make it out as long as you're not chained in the basement or have a gun to your head. I have seen more than one trapped adult who appeared to have no options think their way out of what looked like an impossible bind. Difficult does not mean impossible. While it is cruel to pathologize victims, it would also be cruel to say that victims must remain victims.
My father is, again, an example of the kind of person I am describing in this post. He is not financially dependent on my mother. He is amazingly psychologically independent of her as well. He lives a very social and active life apart from her. He is an accomplished and avid fisherman who has built a camaraderie of friendships around this hobby. He plans long fishing trips with great frequency which gives him many blocks of time away from my mother. He remains in his marriage with my mother by choice. He could walk away and she'd only get half of what he owns...and half would be plenty to live on. He isn't even a religious man; so religious compunction is not dictating that he stay married to my mom. There is obviously a symbiosis. He is getting something from this close association with my mother and her evil. While it is rather mysterious and unknowable from outside their relationship (though I could come up with some good guesses)...he is getting something for himself from staying with her. He can only stay with her because he is morally compromised himself. His lack of integrity and moral straightness becomes evident when tested against my mother's overt bad deeds. He excuses, rationalizes and ultimately supports her bad deeds by renaming them. He proves his corruption by his acquiescence to her evil for the sake of his quest for peace at all costs. He consistently chooses easy over right. I have a boat load of evidence to prove he is in this marriage by choice.
When you can walk away but don't...the reason lies inside of you. That is what I'm challenging people to look at in my last post.
Friday, October 26, 2007
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I am very interested in this subject. I have an N mom and an N sister, and both myself and my other sister (11 years apart from one another) moved into separate religious cults (run by religious narcissists) when we moved out of home. Co-incidence? I think not. My own research and study on this matter has led me to believe that we gravitated towards the abusive groups because we wanted the best of both worlds. To be away from our abusive family, but to want the security of having the same group dynamics, which we truly did not know were abusive at the time.
My sister has never woken up and sadly, never will. As for myself, I learned some vital identity-saving tactics at home, so when the sock-puppets at church tried to destroy me and my marriage, I dug myself in for a battle. After many years of trying to work out what was wrong, I finally went for the exit. It has only been three years after my exit that I now understand Narcissism fully.
I think this is a complex subject. I certainly believe we are responsible for our actions as adults, but I would never diminish the influence of a narcissistic family environment on the adult choices to embrace further abuse. I didn't know my family was dysfunctional, I actually thought my mother was a wonderful person despite the pings in my brain when she would do cruel and nasty things. Its only now that I can look at my memories and make sense of them. If you don't have the knowledge to understand about Narcissism, and you have been brought up to accept abuse as normal, its hard to recognise that you even have a problem, let alone what that problem is.
Having said that, throughout the years, the still small voice inside me never went away. I am one of the few in that cult who listened to it and did something about it. Most of the other ex-cult members unfortunately remain stuck in the rut of anger and blaming rather than working out how they got in the mess in the first place.
I advocate wholeheartedly that we understand ourselves and our histories and take responsibility for our actions in order to make right choices for ourselves in the future. That above all else will restore to us the integrity and self-worth which are so vital to our well-being.
So the next question is: How do the adult children de-brainwash themselves from the kind of thinking that draws them back into the web of the N?
It is one thing for an adult, not raised in a dysfunctional N home, to walk away from an N spouse. But the children of an N parent? The grip of the N is very strong in them.
A very big step to "de-brainwash" yourself is finding places like this blog. It is incorrect thinking patterns which have been inculcated into children of narcissists by the narcissists. Therefore, freedom lies in counteracting the messed up thinking that has been transmitted into your brain by the narcissist.
Jordie in commenting on this post mentioned the truth for all of us adult children of narcissists (ACONs). Somewhere deep in our selves is an awareness that something is terribly wrong. We struggle and wrestle with this sense. We have been trained to think that the "something wrong" resides in ourselves. Try as they do, the narcissist parent is not able to completely stamp out our awareness of truth. It is this smidgen of awareness that is our ticket to freedom, if we'll take it.
To say that something is difficult is not to say it is impossible. I was raised by a narcissist. I have found freedom from all narcissists in my life. Was it easy? Hell, no. I wish very much there was a resource available like this blog when I was grappling with an unnamed power and evil in my family. What I provide here are the principles that unraveled my own thinking and demystified the inscrutable. I will not say it is ever easy to de-program, but I'll be damned if I ever suggest it is beyond the power of any individual to do it. There is no grip a narcissist has that can not be broken if a person is dedicated to knowing reality and willing to take their right to live their own life into their own hands. The narcissist's power is in the strength of their lies. The exposure of the lies is the door that leads to our freedom. Some people are afraid to look at the lies. Some people are afraid of freedom. If a person is ruled by these fears they will not take the freedom which is available to all -- even the brain washed.
See archives for August 2006 for two posts on brain washing as it pertains to narcissists. Or use these tiny urls to get there (hoping they work!):
On the subject of brianwashing - I have spent many a night, thinking I was broken. I thought because I came from a brutal NM and battered and abusive family that I was scared for life.
Then recently, I had this realization....I don't have to be perfect. I'm pretty good, I function well and I can survive in the world without them. I think as ACONs we feel screwed if we don't have all our ducks in the row because the slightest imperfection or slip up will be our demise. It's not - it's such a freaky concept for me.
So yeah, it's tough to change one's reality but just starting makes it so much better.
Yes Yes Yes! You nailed my father with this:
"He can only stay with her because he is morally compromised himself. His lack of integrity and moral straightness becomes evident when tested against my mother's overt bad deeds. He excuses, rationalizes and ultimately supports her bad deeds by renaming them."
My dad cannot face what he has done -- he went so far as to tell my therapist that "whatever VR says is a lie." When questioned what he thought my lies were, he replied, "I don't know, but it's all a lie." My therapist said that was one of the worst examples of denial he'd heard in over 50 years of practice. Yikes.
My dad calls my mother's evil her "idiosyncrasies."
How well I understand all of this, too. My stepfather always took my mother's side, he saw it as his duty to protect her.
Mommy often and often stated that you must never judge someone until you have heard his version of the facts. By this, she meant that I was "accusing her" without asking her about her "own version". (The other and of course wrong version, so she claimed, came from my father. The truth is that he almost never speaks about her and never badly, but she never believed me this.)
Well, did stepdaddy ever ask me for "my version" when she accused me? Not once. Instead, he played the role of the knight errand to rescue her from her "unjust and ungrateful" daughter.
So much for staying with the devil. Mommy told me more than once that her second marriage ought to show me how a "happy marriage" works contrarily to the one with my father. This only explained one thing to me: that her first marriage must have failed because contrarily to her second husband, my father had his own mind.
My father was lucky to get a divorce after only twelve years. Good riddance is all I can say.
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