It’s Narcissist Friday!

Adult children of narcissists find themselves with special struggles.  Like adult children of alcoholics, those who grew up in narcissistic families suffer identifiable and treatable obstacles that usually manifest in relationships.  In fact, because of the special circumstances of the family dynamics, these people often find themselves enduring the same kinds of problems repeatedly in adult relationships.  They also find themselves unable to conquer the struggles of their narcissistic family, even though they may be grown and away from home.

One of the common challenges for those with narcissistic parents is the ability to express feelings.  I recently visited with someone who said that when she was in a new relationship she had no opinion on where they should go out to eat.  She simply didn’t care.  Her boyfriend found this very frustrating because he wanted to make her happy.  But she could express no desire for one place over another.

Someone might suggest that this is an inability to make a decision, but that is not the case.  This is a lack of feeling.  And where did it come from?  Well, imagine the little girl who expresses her desire for something only to be told she is bad for wanting it, or to have her desire ignored.  I knew a young woman who expressed to her mother that she liked a certain dress in a store window.  The mother bought the dress for her sister.  She never understood why, but she also never expressed that kind of desire again.

Children of narcissistic parents find that their own feelings are an offense to their parents.  The daughter learns that she can only express happiness when mom is happy and then only for the same reason mom is happy.  If the daughter expresses sadness, she becomes a burden to her narcissistic mother.  Even the baby, who brings so much positive attention when things go well, becomes a burden when sick or tired or upset.

So children of narcissistic parents need to be given the freedom to express their feelings.  They may not do well at first.  They may find it difficult to trust someone else with honest feelings or they may find their new freedom intoxicating and offend others.  Those who care about these folks will want to be patient and understanding.

Sam Vaknin suggests that one of the most common feelings expressed by the victim of a narcissist is rage.  Anger, shock, sadness, pent-up frustration, and more may come together to create powerful emotion.  Children of narcissists should be allowed to express those feelings and then may be helped by moving beyond them.

Bottom line: your feelings are yours and are legitimate.  Don’t let someone tell you how you ought to feel and don’t let that person manipulate your feelings.  If you have suffered a narcissistic home, let yourself feel and express sadness, anger, joy, etc. and don’t be ashamed or afraid.  Those who truly love you will let you be who you are.  (Even God.)

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Filed under Narcissism, Relationship

6 responses to “Feelings

  1. You wrote: “Bottom line: your feelings are yours and are legitimate…Those who truly love you will let you be who you are. (Even God.)”

    This is the most valuable lesson we can teach our children. Even as adults, we need to remind ourselves of this. Narcissists are REALLY good at manipulatingg people into thinking the opposite and making us feel ashamed of our feelings. This leads to all kinds of issues such as depression, low self esteem, and self-mutilation.

    So, if we give and share freely and someone tries to tell us that what we share is wrong, we need to walk away from that person and let God help him or her. Otherwise, we become codependent, trying to help the narcissist see the err in their thinking. But it’s always a vain effort.

    • The narcissist does not see you as a real person, not in the same way he or she is real. So your feelings, unless they line up with those of the narcissist, are invalid and may be seen as an obstacle. If your desire is to keep peace, you will continually sacrifice your feelings and you will lose that which makes you you.

      However, when you are strong enough to express your feelings, you may get the narcissist’s attention. He probably won’t change, but he may stop messing with you as much. Remember that it is not your job to fix him. Your primary goal is to be healthy yourself. Otherwise you have no future and offer little to others. We need you to be you!

      Thanks for the comment. Good words!

  2. Sue

    Thank you Dave, sometimes we just need to have permission from someone to let our emotions out; for too long we have learned not to express these emotions because we were/are told that they are bad.. and it makes us believe we are bad people.

    • It is difficult, isn’t it? especially in the case of narcissistic abuse. The feelings that we hold in are often negative and we think we will be less if we express them, but if we just internalize them they eat us up. David shows us that we can release these negatives feelings to the Lord. He is big enough to bear them and loving enough to accept us in spite of them. Getting them out really does help.

  3. Annie

    I am confused by this article since this is precisely the reason my Narcissist says he doesn’t need to control his impromptu, explosive rages – the rage is is his feeling and he is allowed his feeling no matter what it does to those around him. He also uses this as his justification for punishing others with silent treatments, etc. Am I wrong in thinking this is immature and that he shouldn’t be flinging his rage at any one in his path, especially when the source of it has nothing to do with the person getting hit by the avalanche of anger?

    • UnForsaken

      This is about your right to your feelings, not the N’s feelings, Annie. It’s about acknowledging them to yourself, affirming their existance, then dealing with them because you bravely faced the truth. You are of value, therefore your feelings have value. They may be wrong reactions but you have to See them to know thet. The N is projecting to eliminate how you really feel. He is telling you only his feelings matter, yours have no value, and he is forcing his feelings on you as a huge takeover of your Personhood. When we look at our feelings we are not throwing them around or trying to smother somebody elses. The healthy balance is hard for us because we have empathy, but need to hang on to our own thoughts, not have them stolen from us by an over powering opinion . You Are right… he is immature and so insecure he must make others reflect him, never think anything else. Keep you chin up, take it to God, and He will make your thoughts more like His, not the N’s! A true relationship is about sharing and love, not force.
      A great big hug….. I have been confused by this too. But , you have a good idea of what is going on already. God will show you the way!

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