Narcissistic Family Members Distort Your Identity

Growing up with a narcissistic parent you are constantly living with a person who creates his/her pathological reality. This individual is delusional and incapable of having a true relationship with himself or anyone else. A small child growing up with this person he or she calls a parent has a hard road ahead in finally seeing through mother, father, sister or brother’s true nature as a narcissistic personality. There are exceptions I have found where the young child knows very early that something is very wrong with the members of his family. He is on the outs—picked asĀ  a scapegoat or dismissed as not fitting in because he is odd, eccentric or just not good enough. In the world of pathological narcissism delusion begets delusion. Narcissistic family members side with one another against the child who sees reality as it is. In many cases the young child is at the mercy of how his grandiose, unempathic,cruel, manipulative parents and siblings distort his identity. They insist that their view of the world and of reality is the only living definition of reality. Everything outside of the narcissistic zone is peculiar, foreign, eccentric and sick.

Many narcissistic parents or mothers or fathers mold their children into perfect mirrors of themselves. Achieving this will give them bragging rights and better still they will possess living representations of themselves. What could be better for them then to have a living puppet who dances and sings to their tune. Some children in narcissistic families worship their brothers and sisters. They want to be just like them. Unfortunately if your brother or sister is a narcissist, you have not received kindness in return for your love for them. They have turned on you, used you to do their bidding and spat upon your sense of self.

Narcissistic family members always find ways to distort and even destroy your true sense of identity. They do not respect your individuality, your creative gifts, your special brand of intellectual curiosity, your sense of humor. They trample on your tender feelings and humiliate you. They laugh at your displays of emotion, stomping on your feelings of tenderness, your fears, the deepest parts of your loving heart. They make fun of what is most precious to you. You feel like they are trying to destroy you and doing a hell of a job. Their purpose is to distort and even destroy your identity unless you become like them or act as their servants and sycophants.

There are many individuals who grew up in narcissistic families who lived in the desert of delusion for decades before they awakened and recognized that they were “raised” by individuals who didn’t give a damn about their childrens’ individuality and true identities. Finally, many of them begin to stir, open their eyes and realize that this was stolen from them when they were young and was perpetuated by intimidation and severe narcissistic psychopathology within the family.

Those who recognize that they had been forced to disbelieve and reject their inner true selves, make the opposite turn and begin to appreciate how genuine they are. For some it has taken years to see themselves and to love that part of them that is so essential and beautifully genuine and delightful. They are on the road to healing; they are unstoppable. In many cases they reject their families of origin and sever themselves from the pathological narcissistic family gulag.

They live in freedom. They are no longer forced to see through a glass darkly. There is no barrier to perceiving their inner and outer realities. They have a renewed vitality, the flourishing of their creative gifts, the joy of rediscovering their open hearts that are capable of loving deeply and they find an inner peace inside that has been waiting for them to embrace since birth.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

2 thoughts on “Narcissistic Family Members Distort Your Identity”

  1. Comment: From Nansie

    Linda this is right on. I grew up just the way you describe here as the family scapegoat. It’s so hard to put the story into this kind of logic when you are so emotionally tied to it. It feels so complicated inside that I feel I can never do the story justice with words. But I find this to be right on and enjoyed it very much. Posts like this really help me to get some logic and order to it all in my head and make sense of it all. Thank you!!

  2. Nice article. I find that these sorts of parents pass on these personality traits to their children, and it’s like a cycle of abuse.

    The reality is that people showing these behaviours do not have much self-perceived worth and are almost incapable of making themselves happy. They are entirely dependent on the approval of others, particularly their own parents and peers.

    As parents, they may choose to live vicariously through the child most like themselves, and often show favouritism and only empathize with that child – alienating all others. Often these individuals had a similar parent and absorbed those memes.

    As an adult child of such an individual, one has to show unconditional love to this parent without compromising their own worth and integrity. The reality is that you cannot make your parent happy through your actions.

    I have a parent like this, and learned long ago that it was unlikely I would ever get the type of love and approval that I sought. It was a difficult discovery; realizing that my parent was incapable of providing nothing more than conditional love. My parent had not yet learned to love and accept him/herself, and therefore could not extend the same feelings towards me or my siblings.

    After this realization, it was easier not to accept guilt throwing and disapproval from that parent. It’s not much different from a small child throwing a temper tantrum when not getting their own way, and you have to treat that parent as you would the child – calm patience. That doesn’t mean being cold and unfeeling, but just not reacting in a negative way or giving in to every whim. I don’t expect my parent will ever change, and though I hate seeing that person be miserable, it is of his/her own choice.

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