The most frustrating thing for children of narcissists is represented in this image.
Imagine finally coming up for air from the constant brainwashing; realising your family system is toxic and entirely constructed to defend the mirage of the narcissists image, only to have your truth questioned by those around you.
One of the questions on the AMA was ‘how can a family look so perfect from the outside, but be so toxic inside?’.
The truth of the toxicity is most fragile in those first few moments when the light begins to dawn on the hideous landscape you’ve been living in. There is a huge amount of self doubt, questioning, denial, minimalising and fear. The sense that things aren’t right but the fear of what it will mean to acknowledge that. The instinct is to hide. Pretend it isn’t real, and squash the emotions trying to bubble up to the surface. The cost of acceptance is so high it’s unfathomable. The potential loss of family, the scope of relearning, the inevitable pain and anger around this new fragile knowledge starts to take hold.
Imagine being in that position and trying to make sense of it. Imagine not knowing what’s real and what isn’t, whether your motivations, desires, pleasures are yours or theirs, how much you’ve missed out on because of their conditioning, rules, control. And then trying to tell someone.
Someone who responds ‘ah but your mum/dad are lovely’. Or ‘yeah but all parents are difficult’, or ‘well, it’s not that bad, they didn’t beat you or anything’.
Can you imagine? The dismissal? The dismissal of your emotion, much like has been done to you historically by your parent? The reinforced message of ‘don’t question us, we are your parents?’ The confirmation that once again you’re overreacting, over emotional, over sensitive.
That’s why it’s so hard to convince people. It’s not tangible. It’s constant messages of not being good enough, not meeting impossible expectations, not being helped, supported, loved unconditionally. The narcissist plays the perfect parent in public, only to make the child pay behind closed doors.
Convincing someone might need lists, of behaviours, of incidents, of conditioning, of criteria the parent meets. You may need to arm yourself, but you may find that someone is so well defended they can’t hear, because they are not ready to breathe yet. That’s on them. Not you.
It is not your job to convince someone of your truth. It is your job to know it.
If someone tells you their parent was difficult, simply respond with ‘I’m sorry, would you like to tell me more?’
Give space to people to find their feet in the new world, free from the fear of judgement or question.
You’ll be giving them a massive gift ❤️