What is the Golden Rule? “Do unto others.” Many others have done unto me. They shared their stories of narcissistic abuse in shocking, no-holds-barred detail so I could relate. So, even when narcissism was new to me and I was deep in denial, I could still absolutely say, “Hold the phone! That happened to me too!”.
Narcissism Meets Normalcy is my way of giving back. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is out-of-bounds. I talk about things no one wants to say aloud. I tell all the secrets, unmask all the shame, spin all my true-life yarns. Go into really disgusting detail about the day-to-day, infinitesimally tiny ways that narcissists abuse us daily, hourly. Because that’s what others did unto me and their stories helped…tremendously.
So many of you have written to say, “Lenora, are you my sister? Did you live in my house? Were you a spider in the corner? Did you grow-up with me?”. That always makes me smile because then I know I’m doing my job correctly. My friend and I have a joke that the spider in the corner is dry-heaving in their web at the crap they see and hear in narcissistic houses. Yeah, inside joke. You had to be there.
But before “narcissism” was a thing to me, there were stories that fascinated me. Stories of abuse. But I didn’t know why. Why would I, of all people, be intrigued by Elisabeth Fritzl being held against her will in Austria by her father? We explored this together in a 2016 article entitled Your Fascinations Betray Narcissistic Abuse.
Then I learned about narcissism and every possible moment was spent Googling specific stories of narcissistic abuse. Dull lists of “Narcissistic Traits” didn’t help much. There was no context for “lack of empathy.” What did it look like? How did it talk?
But then I read stories that gave real-life meaning to “lack of empathy.” The stories triggered memories long buried. Reminded me of weird stuff my narcissists said and did. Stuff you couldn’t make up. We’re very luck, in a way, that narcissists are all so similar. Our stories all cross-reference and validate each other.
Of course, back then, I was deeply in cult withdrawal and denial. Time and time again, I said to myself, “Well, yeah, I experienced the same thing but it’s just a fluke. My parents may’ve done the same thing, said the same thing, but their motivation was completely different and totally pure. They merely bumbled into behaving like narcissists, but all quite innocently and with the best possible intentions.”
No, no, no, no, no and no! There is no possible excuse for behaving and speaking like that. No rationalization can make it okay. No Scripture verse make it valid. It was narcissistic abuse. It’s wrong. Full stop.
Lauren Drain’s book, Banished, is one such story that I found tremendously “What? You too!?” validating. And that’s saying a lot because it’s the tale of how she was banished from a very notorious “church” I will not name here. Oh, you know the one I mean. They picket at fallen soldiers’ funerals. You can’t get much more vile than that!
Her father was a convert-from-outside who moved to Kansas to join the Picketers and, whaddyaknow, is now a powerful elder within the cult. I will not call it a church because it isn’t one.
After she was summarily banished for the grievous iniquity of speaking to a male, Lauren ran into her father at the hospital where she worked as a nurse. She describes the encounter like this:
He looked me straight in the eye, then turned around and walked away.
Were you shocked? I certainly wasn’t.
I vividly remember my father planting himself directly in my path as I walked through our Living Room. I must’ve been, on, somewhere in my twenties. Only, unlike Steve Drain, my dad didn’t have even the decency to look me in the eye.
Instead of making eye contact, he surveyed my OCD ravaged skin, grimaced in disgust, turned on his heel and walked away without ever looking me in the eye, acknowledging my existence or saying a word.
Oh yeah. I know how Lauren feels. I just never met anyone before who had experienced the same thing. Just like that, she gave me an insight into my father who, after living in his house for over three decades, I don’t know at all.
Even more interesting is Lauren’s encounter with her father just after she had been banished when she and her young man, Scott, picked up the last of her belongings from her parents’ home. As luck would have it, her Daddy showed up unexpectedly. In a rage he screamed, “I can’t believe you’d pick this piece of shit over me.”
Suddenly, it all made sense. My father’s face, contorted with rage, looking pointedly in the opposite direction if (horrors!) my husband gave me a kiss in Dad’s presence. Suddenly, my article Dude, I’m Your Daughter, Not Your Wife! makes sense. Lauren validated what I’d suspected all long by quoting her father’s outburst.
Steve Drain was also the kind of father who yanked his daughter out of school when she had an innocent schoolgirl romance with a classmate. He was the kind of father who wouldn’t allow her to enjoy her graduation ceremony. All of it so familiar. Lauren validated Lenora; Lenora validates Lauren.
I cannot believe there are parallels between the Picketers and my family!
This wasn’t supposed to happen. But it did.
Lauren’s observation of her family’s reaction to her banishment also gives me an insight into how mine reacted when I banished myself by going No Contact.
I had worried terribly that, being a loved, adored, cherished Only Child that my decision was horrible, especially for my mother. Thanks to Lauren, I’m rethinking that. Rethinking all of it.
Maybe it wasn’t proper love. Maybe there was a great deal of love-bombing that I mistook for real love. Perhaps when I ceased to be a useful, available Support System and definitely when I got un-brainwashed, maybe the love ceased too. Certainly Lauren’s experience with her own mother would seem to indicate that. A woman can be so brainwashed, so submissive, so intimidated, so mind controlled that she will reject her own child. Was Mom ever my friend? Was she ever my advocate or only the Flying Monkey sent to charm me into passively, peacefully going along with the narcissist’s agenda for me, exploiting her love and kindness to manipulate me?
Will my Real Mother please stand up!? Did I ever know her either!?
Do you have a story to tell? Each story is unique. That’s why it’s so imperative to tell your story. Publicly. Oh, you can change names and details if you wish, but get the details right. Someone out there will bless you for it. They’ll read your story and heave a sigh of relief. “It’s not just me! I’m not crazy! It’s happened to others too and finally, I know why.”