Digital Abstract

Mental Health: When the Narcissist is Normalized

In this post I use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ because my subjective experience is that of multiple separate people.

The children of pathological narcissists must blind themselves to behaviors that healthy people consider unspeakable.

Food deprivation, the killing of pets, theft, forced sex, gaslighting and other forms of psychological abuse and the threat of psychological annihilation.

The child of a narcissist must have no dreams of his own, and no vision of life without the clinging demands of a parent or parent surrogate who is essentially a two-year old without mercy.

My Mother despised my intelligence and did everything in her power to kill it.

I normalized her contempt and used Dissociative Identity Disorder to save my mind.

My talents became a boy named Peter who only emerged when Mother was gone, or when he was with his Grandmother with whom he felt safe.

A male who must contend with a female pathological narcissist is at a disadvantage in this culture because the assumption is that the male always has power.

This assumption doubles the power of a female narcissist.

My Mother used her advantage as a ‘helpless woman’ to destroy my Father, who ultimately lay down and died.

My Mother’s threat to me was if I wasn’t ‘careful’ I would end up like
my Father.

VR photograph of two male avatars, one who stands in front of a mirror and the other who is emerging from it
People Like Us

We’re still blind to most narcissists but we are now alert to certain clues.

A narcissist is usually charismatic, charming, flattering and warm.

My Mother was a waitress at a greasy spoon.

When she worked she was on stage.

Everyone loved her.

A narcissist looks vulnerable and reserves for herself the right to pass judgment on others. This is not the same as learning another person’s strengths and weaknesses.

The people who loved my Mother were dismissed as undeserving trash.

The suggestion that she might be one of them was the same as asking
for a beating.

A narcissist traffics in envy and in her mind everyone wants what she has.

If the meaning of a word doesn’t suit her she changes the definition.

Vicious beatings are acts of love.

Letting guys rape me is getting me ‘straightened out’.

A narcissist never gets the attention she thinks she deserves.

My Mother often provoked my Father to violence.

One night he loaded us into the car and drove to Reynolds Ave, North Charleston, SC.

Reynold’s Avenue was where the sailors in Charleston went to play.

My Father got out of the car.

I saw my Mother through the open door of a bar.

She was sitting on some guys lap.

My Father dragged her out of the bar by the hair and beat her in the street.

My memory goes blank after this.

The point is that his reaction to her behavior was an excuse for her to call her Mother and beg to come home to New York.

Her family pulled together the money to set us up in an apartment in Queens.

My Mother took us back to Charleston after three months.

A narcissist takes without giving back.

Whatever you give is simply her due.

The narcissist is a rhinestone among rhinestones; a glittering fake.

Today I am a diamond among diamonds, some big and some small.

I still don’t know my worth, but I know I’m real —

— and I’m very glad to be here.

Rob Goldstein 2015-2019

 

 

46 thoughts on “Mental Health: When the Narcissist is Normalized

  1. This is so powerful and resonates with me in parts relating to my own experience of being involved with a narcissist for six years, during which time she tried more than once to solicit physical violence from me among many other things. I’m currently writing about my time with a narcissist and getting six years into some kind of order to impart to others is messing my with PTSD and still raw heartbreak. Thank you so very much for this, for speaking up. Men suffer too. We need to let it be known!

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    1. Thank you for leaving this comment. The weirdest thing about female narcissists is the way they try to incite violence from their partners. For both sexes, narcissism is all about ruining people’s lives while looking like a victim, but for men who find themselves stuck with female narcissists, it can be worse if they lose control.

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      1. Precisely. I grabbed my narcissist ex by the throat once, when so goaded, yet let go and withdrew without further violence, realizing what I was in danger of becoming as a result of relentless provocation. Dangerous ground, for sure!

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      1. I’m not sure anymore. I loved her more than I’ve ever loved any other woman. I miss the illusion (as I now understand it) of intimacy. But then I remind myself that I was lonely with her, which is ultimately why I left her. I’m writing a book about my experiences, but it’s a hard ask and damn painful.

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  2. Oh wow Rob. I don’t even know where to begin with this. You touched home for me with so many of your points. Gratefully, I wasn’t physically abused (by my parents that is), but the psychological terror never fades. I didn’t turn into Peter, but yes, someone else when around her. This for me is so poignant – “My Mother used her advantage as a ‘helpless woman’ to destroy my Father, who ultimately lay down and died.” It resonates so with me because that was the ending for my father who endured. 😦 ❤

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    1. I think we’ll find that there are universal patterns of behaviors and behavioral responses to abuse. That’s why it’s so important for abuse survivors to speak out. Now we both know we’re not alone or unique in our experience.

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      1. Agreed on both counts Rob. Even though we sometimes feel alone, we don’t have to be. We have community – something we didn’t have as children. ❤

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  3. This is just wow, I mean, I don’t have the words, this is so powerful and real, just like you.
    You truly are a gem, Rob, and as I read this I wonder, if only we all knew our self-worth, no matter how torn or tattered, we see who we really are, not what we’re told we are.
    Your words have wings that carry to those who need to hear them. Off to share so those words can fly some more.
    Hope this week gives you peace, love and understanding, dear friend.

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    1. Thank you D. Maybe the crash of my blog was a good thing because it’s forced me to review and tighten old work. I’m glad you were moved by this and given that the world is plagued by one of the most vicious narcissists I’ve ever seen, the information is timely. 🙂

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  4. Gorgeous images, Rob. I especially like that first one.
    This is a powerful post. I’m glad you were able to save it from the gluttonous WordPress gremlins. So much of what you described was my childhood.
    “My Mother used her advantage as a ‘helpless woman’ to destroy my Father, who ultimately lay down and died.”
    Everyone loved her. Yes she was always on stage. No one believed the criminal things she did, and those close enough to know, turned a blind eye.
    Most importantly — I’m very glad you are here too. 🙂 Hugs on the wing.

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  5. Marvelous artwork and yes…as a child one is so defenseless and dependent on those that ‘hurt’ you , mentally or physically or both…so much that it takes a lifetime of suffering to ‘sort’ it in one’s own mind and can almost never fully escape…Even those that dish out the hurt, are often so because of traumas in their own early youth and do not seem to have the savvy to work out and see what harm they in turn are doing, often perpetuating the behaviour in generation upon generation. …stuff of nightmares. Thank you Rob for this post and for you insight.

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      1. Thank you for asking…in fact, thank for being part of the solution. Perhaps the most important part of any blog post is the discussion; the comments. I had been resistant to logging in and reading the comments which I can now see was a way of holding on to the anger. I think on some level, I thought that If I can hold on to the anger I’ll be able to remember how it feels and protect myself…but that’s toxic.

        Thank you for reading my blog and being here…:)

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  6. If talent as a writer includes the ability to move so deeply someone outside the experience, you’re talent cannot be denied.

    However, the issue of talent aside, the fact that any child/children need to find a way to survive such tyranny and pain is totally heartbreaking. It is a testament to your inner strength that you found a way, then and now.

    May your path to discovering your own worthiness, identity and fulfillment be well marked and brightly lit.

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  7. This post paints a great picture of what living with a narcissist is like. My mom is also narcissistic though I am unsure if she is quite as severe on that spectrum as your mother! It is a stifling environment to grow up in. There is no you. You are a shell, an extension of the narcissist. At their disposal to be used however they want to use you on that day. There are secrets, lots of them. Our business is not to be talked about to anyone, other people can not be trusted. Yikes! I can relate so much to your article as it has also been a struggle for me to overcome these internal messages in my adult life. I am getting better all the time though, finally getting to know me at almost 28 years old!

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    1. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. The whole business of dealing with these vampires has left me depressed and drained of energy. It’s validating to know that other people recognize the signs. The hellish thing about narcissist is that they are always, always surrounded by enablers who give them a pass and try to convince you that you’re the problem.

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  8. You brought tears to my eyes.
    “I am a creative process that will not end until my death, if then.” I love that. From what I have read and seen from you, it is indeed true. This is beautiful.
    I have met some narcissists in my life, but nothing like your Mother. I hope you can keep her out of your life. Take care xxx

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    1. The wonder of it is that I finally figured this out. I can’t express the levels of pain and relief I felt as I wrote that post. For the child of a narcissist the biggest taboo is reality. Thank you for reading it and leaving a comment. Your comment told me that I was right.

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  9. “The children of pathological narcissists must blind themselves to behaviors that healthy people consider unspeakable.” This is so true. We have to–our survival depends on it.

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