If I hear this one more time, I’m going to puke: “At some point, you have to stop blaming your parents and start taking responsibility.” Quick! Fetch my Air Sickness Bag!
If you are the victim of narcissistic abuse, you’ve probably heard that line more times than you care to count. And every single time, you feel like screaming, but you’re not sure why. Because it sounds so good. Because it conjures our old friends, Shame and False Guilt, and we’re very comfortable with them.
But let’s look a little deeper. Is there validity in that trite sentence? Do we deserve it? Is it even true?
If you have been on the receiving end of that cliché, you’re probably on your healing path already. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be talking about your parents in the first place! “Right? Of course right!” as Yente the Matchmaker said on Fiddler on the Roof.
Talking about our parents is what narcissism survivors do. If you seem to attract narcissists, if you’ve married narcissists, if you’re friends are narcissists, chances are your parents were narcissists too. Growing up with narcissists makes narcissism feel like Home. Perhaps not a happy, comfortable home, but home nonetheless. That why we all perpetuate our pattern, magnetically attracting narcs and abusers at every turn.
That’s why I and my fellow narcissism survivors talk about our families. A lot. Oddly, it’s not what you think: wa-wa-wa, complain-complain-complain. No! We’re comparing notes. We’re checking to see how other people respond to our stories. Was it abuse? Or was it normal? We need others’ opinions because our normal is narcissistic abuse. We need others’ input to figure out what was okay (or not), what was normal (or not.)
We’re also sharing so others can have that “Aha!” moment because one of the best things about narcissists is how similar they all are. They say the same things. Do the same things. I swear they have a hive mind!
I can talk about “narcissistic lack of empathy” all day long or I can tell you about a little boy whose parents left him to suffer the agony of appendicitis for hours before finally took him to the hospital with the dire threat, “There’d better be something wrong with you or you’ll get a whipping you’ll never forget.” Now, which is more effective?
I can talk about how all narcissists like to think they’re doctors or I can tell you how my husband was diagnosed with terminal lung disease after having part of his lung removed while his mother (in denial) contradicted the doctors and said, “Oh, you just need to exercise.”
I can talk about projection or I can tell you about a skanky narcissistic mother who was so convinced her virgin daughter was a tramp, she dragged her to the gynecologist for a virginity check.
Oh, I’ve only just scratched the surface.
And while we tell our stories, we may be looking for a little empathy, but we’re really not as pathetic, as needy, as “poor me” as you may think. We’re not accustomed to empathy and may even be confused by it! We’re not complainers. We’re overcomers. And one way you overcome is to take all that narcissistic evil out of its nice, cozy darkness and expose it to the light by talking about it.
But here’s the key: Just because we talk about it a lot, does not mean we’re not taking responsibility. It doesn’t mean we’re not healing.
Where did that assumption come from!?! It’s a slap in the face to every person who’s talking about their narcissistic families as an exercise in healing.
Before we began our healing journey, we didn’t talk about them because we didn’t know there was anything to talk about. We hid the abuse out of shame. Kept horrible secrets to ourselves. Talking about the abuse took tremendous courage. When we started it was terrifying. Unless you’ve walked in our shoes, you don’t realize how much we’ve lost by speaking out, how much we’ve suffered and how we spend all day whistling to keep up our courage.
Now that we do talk about them, we’re being blamed for “not taking responsibility.”
What the…!?! Another slap in the face!
Okay, okay, let’s talk about that offensive phrase: “responsibility”
I am not responsible for what a narcissist says or does. We bore that burden all our lives! Everything was our fault. We caused it, we deserved it, blah, blah, blah. That’s what being the scapegoat is all about.
Yes, we made unwise choices. Yes, we entered relationships with narcissists. Yes, we played their game. I’ve even admitted to being complicit in my own abuse.
But we didn’t know any better. Narcissists were all we knew. We were trying to make the best of a bad situation. Desperately attempting to calm them down and keep the peace, usually by taking all the blame.
Would you tell the “Magnificent 13” Turpin children to “take responsibility” for what their parents did to them!? After all, seven of them were “adults.”
Of course not!
So no! I will not be “taking responsibility” for narcissists, their abuse, their words, their brainwashing, their mind control nor anything they said or did anymore. And I will continue to talk about them as inspiration for this blog.
But I am healing. You are healing. That’s what we take responsibility for: our healing. God knows how hard we work at it, day in, day out, twenty-four hours a day, spending thousands on therapy.
If sometimes we stray from the fast lane of healing, go off on a bunny trail and start tilting at a windmill, cut us some slack. Maybe we need to thrust and parry at that particular windmill, like Don Quixote. In time, we’ll realize that the Windmill of Anger will never go away and learn to live with it in a healthy manner that doesn’t cause migraines, depression and physical pain. (Get your doctor to prescribe you 1.25mg of Vitamin D taken once a week. It kept me cheerful all Winter long!)
So don’t tell me to shut up and not talk about my family! Don’t tell me to “take responsibility.” Instead, take a good hard look at yourself. Why are you trying to silence me? Why are you shaming me?
What am I saying that scares you so much? Am I talking about someone like you? Are you afraid you might be a narcissist? The fact that it worries you, is a good sign! A sign you might just have a bad case of fleas, but aren’t a dyed-in-the-wool narcissist.
Or have you not started your healing yet? Are you scared? Scared that if you ever started weeping, you’d never be able to stop? (Been there!)
Healing from narcissism is the hardest and most frightening thing you’ll ever do. You may lose everything, but you’ll gain your birthright as a child of God: peace, joy and freedom. You can’t put a price on those things!
So the next time someone tries to shut you up or shame you, ask them, “Why are attacking me for healing? Why are you trying to shut me up? Why does it it upset you so much?” They might get mad, but at least you’ll get them thinking!