If you were not the Golden Child in your narcissistic family, consider yourself lucky. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
I can hear Scapegoats worldwide mumbling under their breath. And I do admit that being the Golden Child has some perks! As an only child and eldest grandchild, no one knows that better than me! I was the Golden Child by default. There were treats and presents, hugs and cuddles, fawning and praise.
But it came at a price. Sooner or later, you have to pay for the presents. The cuddles come with conditions. And there are strings attached to the treats. I was thirty-one before I realized that I had to pay the piper for my Golden Child status.
His price is absolute control over every facet of your being — mind, body and soul.
Of course, I’d actually been paying the piper for decades. But when I made my bid for freedom, his fees became exorbitant and I began to “see through a glass darkly.” At the time, I was puzzled. Now, I understand it. It’s taken me several years and going No Contact with my family to understand that what I found so puzzling was the sudden revelation of the toll of being a Golden Child.
Don’t Do It!
The first clue that all was not well in the kingdom came in 2001 when I finally got “permission” to move out. My plans to adopt a puppy were to blame. If one of your eyebrows just shot up in a quizzical expression…yeah, I thought it was weird too!
I hadn’t even closed on my new townhome before Dad soberly ordered me to join him at the kitchen table for yet another ominous “talk.” My adrenalin started pumping. What vice did he suspect me of this time!? In a dire tone I was warned that, “Dogs eat their own poo.”
For maybe the third time in my life, I dug in my heels and refused to budge! A dog I’d always wanted and a dog I was going to have…even if she did enjoy a good shitsicle now and then.
A few weeks later, a dog-loving relative I hadn’t seen for over a decade passed word down through his mama to my mama, “Getting a dog will ruin your new house. Don’t do it!”
But the shit really hit the fan when I married in 2012. Correction: It started sprayin’ on the day Michael and I had our first and only date.
“I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.” – Kurt Cobain
At 7:30 p.m., my cell rang. It was Dad…and the anger in his voice was palpable. He ordered me to leave my date with Michael and go home. I obeyed. I always obeyed. In my imagination, I saw him angrily jumping in his car and racing out to drag me away from Michael. Would he have done it? We’ll never know, because I obeyed. I always obeyed. I was scared not to.
When our secret engagement came out five days later, SHTF again. Very polite, very loving, very gracious shit…but shit nonetheless. When Mom wasn’t absorbed in online queries and court record searches trying to dig up dirt about Michael, she was on the phone with me. Asking intrusive questions. Politely planting doubts. Insisting our wedding be kept a secret from everyone except our parents, grandparent and our dear minister and his wife.
She Married Whom!?!
The day of our wedding dawned. And the family showed up an hour early. Early! So we exchanged vows at 8:30 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. as planned.. Now, don’t get me wrong! I’m grateful for that extra thirty minutes of wedded bliss but still…wtf?
Burning rubber as we sped away from our wedding, we had no idea the major shit that was about to hit an industrial sized fan. With the cloak of secrecy lifted, news that Lenora had gotten married…to a man of her own choosing…that no one knew anything about hit the family Richter scale like a 7.2 earthquake.
What follows next may shock. Read at your own risk. Not for the faint-of-heart.
Keep this word in mind: control. A Golden Child is 100% controlled.
Suddenly faced with losing their drug of controlling Lenora, the family lost their freakin’ marbles. It was like they had a bad case of the DTs. Delirium tremens. Losing control of me sent them “helter-skelter in a Summer swelter.”
An uncle I hadn’t seen for over a decade went particularly cattywampus. He left no headstone nor shoestring relative unturned.
The Time: Five in the morning.
The Place: A Lutheran cemetery.
The Plot: Uncle had ordered his aged mother out to the cemetery to search for gravestones bearing the name “Thompson.” It was a wild-eyed attempt to prove my husband a liar. To prove that he’d married me, not for my charms, but for money. So it was that a little ol’ lady, flashlight in hand, consumed by blood-sucking gnats and mosquitoes peered thither and yon searching for gravestones bearing the name of “Thompson.” She found ’em. Lots of ’em. My husband’s relatives may have rested in peace for decades, but they sure don’t anymore!
Next, he placed a frantic call to one of my great-uncles. How I wish I’d been a fly on the wall to hear their conversation! But, of course, I’m not “supposed” to know about that call. “What was he trying to do!?” I guffawed when Mother spilled the beans. “Have my marriage annulled while I honeymooned!?!”
Oh, yeah! I wasn’t honeymooning either, according to Uncle. Nope! I was being abducted!
It came out later that it was all about the money. Of course.
And being asked, “Are you really happy!? How can you be happy getting married after only one date?” got really frickin’ old! Give it a rest already relatives! Yes, I am capable of making my own decisions. Good decisions. Now bugger off!
It’s All About Control
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A friend and fellow narcissism survivor and writer helped me understand that control really is a drug to a narcissist. As she said, a narcissist’s “identity is completely tied up in those they victimise…They are addicted to controlling you and not being able to do so leaves a gaping hole in their lives.”
A narcissist’s drug of choice is their Golden Child.
We give them something to focus on besides themselves, so they can remain numb to the gaping hole inside where their self-esteem should be. We fill that hole. We make them look good. We give them bragging rights. And they love us as long as we continue to make ’em look good and give ’em bragging rights. It’s called love bombing.
When we stop, they either are “so done” with us or they go to their attorney. I’ve experienced it both ways!
But make a bid for freedom and uff-da! That’s when you find out that all those perks and praises came at a high price. They’re not gonna let their drug, their investment, their self-esteem-walking-around-outside-their-body go without a fight. Their drug ain’t goin’ nowhere if they can’t help it. And you suddenly realize that you’ve spent a lifetime wrapped in their chains. They may be golden chains, but they’re chains nonetheless.
Welcome to the less-than-golden world of a Golden Child.
“Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine…”