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Growing Up With The Narcissist…

We have all met a true narcissist once or twice in our lives.  That one person that can make you feel on top of the world one minute and like a pile of dog droppings on the bottom of their shoe the next.  That one person whose approval means everything to you, and you bend over backwards to get it, but never ever receive it.  Many of you have met a narcissist in the workplace, maybe in the form of a cruel boss or a cocky, know-it-all coworker.  Maybe you experienced a narcissist’s cruelty in school or college, or maybe you even had the unfortunate experience of dating or being married to one.  You probably will never forget this person and the damage they did to you mentally and physically and you swore that you would never let a person like that into your life again.

It’s somewhat easy as an adult to cut someone toxic out of our lives.  We can move, switch jobs, transfer schools, change our phone numbers, get restraining orders, and take other steps to remove the people who hurt us from our lives.  But what if you are a child and you have no choice or control on who you live with or who is in your life?  How does it feel to be subjected to the narcissist and their erratic behavior day after day, night after night, with no hope of escape or refuge?

I consider myself an expert on living with a narcissist parent and I’m here to tell you that it is absolute hell to grow up with a narcissist mother.  Growing up with Mom was as if I was living a nightmare that I wasn’t ever going to wake up from and the fact that I came out of my childhood as a functioning adult still amazes me to this day.

Growing up with a narcissist parent means that your needs as a child and as a growing human being will never be fully met or realized.  It means that you don’t know or understand intimacy because you will never experience it.  You can’t trust anyone to protect you or your feelings because the one person that was supposed to fails you every day of your childhood.

Growing up with a narcissist parent means that you accept you are unlovable.  You are told each day of your life how much you are hated, how flawed you are, and how you will never amount to anything.

Growing up with a narcissist parent means that you never realize who you are because you spend every waking hour of your childhood being whoever the narcissist wants you to be.  You are expected to morph into whatever “costume” the narcissist parent demands you wear that day.  Some days, Mom would make me tell people that I was her sister….

Growing up with a narcissist parent means that you begin to pick up narcissistic traits of your own.  You crave the spotlight and being the center of attention for reasons you don’t even understand, but once you are in it, you want to run away as fast as you can.

Growing up with a narcissist parent means that we care for our parent more than we care for us.  You see, we recognize at a very young age that our parents are “emotionally vulnerable”.  We learn what makes them tick, what makes them happy, and what makes them cry.  We try to model perfection in the hopes that they will be happy again and refocus their attention back on us.  We ignore our needs until our parent is emotionally ready to provide for us.

Growing up with a narcissistic parent is hell and for those of us who made it out the other side, the scars left from our childhoods last a lifetime.  If you are an adult dealing with a narcissist, feel blessed that you have options to at least try and remove the toxic person in your life; children don’t have that option.


Growing Up With The Narcissist…

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

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APA Reference
, . (2016). Growing Up With The Narcissist…. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 7 Jun 2016
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