Not long ago, I got a message from a reader which lamented what she saw as a real loss in her life: the absence of close female friendships. She wrote saying that no matter how she tried, inevitably the friendship or acquaintanceship would fall apart, and she’d feel absolutely terrible.
Fighting with a narcissist can be a mind-bending, disorienting, and terrible experience, especially if the conflict marks the end of an intimate relationship. Yes, all conflicts are hard but these are in a category of their own.
When I was a teenager, I had a secret calendar in my closet which was a countdown of the days I had left living under my mean mother’s roof until I went off to college. It was hung way in the back, under clothes, where my mother couldn’t find it since she had a habit of snooping through my drawers and reading my diary.
Our parents are our first teachers; the behaviors they model and the words they use provide us with our first inklings of what the larger world might be like. Beginning in infancy, a child draws information from her primary caretaker’s responses, most usually her mother's.
The private message I got on my public Facebook page was direct: “You are such a narcissist! Unbelievable. I didn’t want to embarrass you by commenting publicly so I am messaging instead. But you have shown your true colors.”
One of the legacies of not having your emotional needs met in childhood—feeling unloved, ignored, dismissed, unsupported, or all of these at once—is difficulty dealing with setback, failure, and emotional pain.
One often neglected theme is the fear of somehow being unmasked or shown up to be fraudulent in some important way that many adult daughters experience; that irrational but powerful fear is a direct consequence of not having their emotional needs met in childhood.