Was your parent raised by a narcissist? Then I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you grew up in an angry home.
It’s taken me almost four years to realize, acknowledge and finally accept that I grew up in an angry home. Oh, on the surface it wasn’t angry. Officially, we were known as A Happy Family. In fact, the members of the family classified themselves as “happy, happy, happy” and even “unemotional.” (Apparently, anger isn’t an emotion. Who knew!)
It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that one family member admitted to me, “Lenora, when no one is home I go down to the furthest corner of the basement and scream my head off. And I have no idea why.”
And they were dead serious. Completely truthful. They honestly could neither identify those screaming emotions as anger nor identify the source.
You know the source. I know the source. They were raised by a narcissist. It’s as simple as that. Their anger is fair and just for they survived over six decades of narcissistic abuse, turning a blind eye and the other cheek, repaying disrespect with unfailing love.
But they’re in denial. Denial about the narcissism, the abuse, the pain. Denial about how badly they feel about themselves because of the abuse. Denial about the anger they refuse to allow themselves to feel because they love their abuser so much and feel sorry for the poor little ol’ victim.
Think about the last time you did something wrong. I mean you actually blew it! Honestly screwed up. That feeling of having betrayed your moral code is a nasty one. Being “bad” hurts like billy-o! It seems to be human nature to take it out on others through irritation, impatience and anger. Scapegoating comes as naturally as breathing.
And that’s what the children of narcissists do too. They’re in pain, but without self-awareness, naturally take it out on others, especially the most defenseless ones: their children.
Until recently, I thought I must’ve been a bad child, really bad teenager and very immoral young adult because I was yelled at quite a bit. Now, my parents always denied yelling at me. But when you elevate your tone and lecture me for a long time, increasing in decibels, that’s “yelling at me.” Savvy!?
Now as an adult, I realize I was yelled at waaaaay too much. Was I naughty sometimes? Yes. Should I have been punished? Yes. But why all the yelling? Why all the lectures? Why all the cult-like browbeating and brainwashing? Why??? Being punished would’ve taught me a lesson and been forgotten. But the yellings-at I’ll never forget.
I didn’t deserve them…and neither did you. They originated in our parents’ anger…but we bore the brunt of it. Unfairly and undeservedly.
As an adult, I’ve realized that I was a very, very good offspring…and so were you. All that “aggressive parenting” had nothing to do with us and everything to do with them and their anger. Lots and lots of anger. Anger they don’t accept, acknowledge, own..or perhaps even realize they have.
Let me give you an example. When my narcissistic grandparent came to stay with us for a few days, my parent (their child) got mad. Angry! Rather than acknowledge that the anger was triggered by the presence of the abusive narcissistic houseguest, my parent blamed it all on the nauseating smell of the narcissist’s fabric-softener infused clothing.
1, 2, 3…God, give me patience!
A few years later, I made the mistake of commenting to that parent, “Y’know, you’re just like your parent.” They snapped, “DON’T YOU EVER SAY THAT AGAIN. I AM NOT LIKE MY PARENT.” The vehemence of their words shocked me.
And they still don’t get it.
They don’t “git it” to the extent that when I wrote an expose of my narcissistic grandparent, based almost exclusively on what my parent had told me about them, my parent sided with the grandparent against me (their only child), demanded I return my inheritance to make it right and went to their attorney.
How clueless can you get!?! But I digress.
I was a good kid. You were a good kid. We were good kids, with a little natural naughtiness around the edges. But by-and-large, you couldn’t ask for better children, teens, young adults, offspring than we were. We are a credit to our parents, whether they know it or not. In fact, we’re better than they have any right to deserve. If anyone had a good excuse to go off the rails, we do because of all we’ve endured. But we didn’t do it! We were good kids and we’re good adults.
We didn’t deserve all that anger! We’re good people and always were.