The Beginnings

It’s Narcissist Friday!


Twenty-five years ago a little boy sat on his bed crying.  No supper again.  Mom was too busy.  “You won’t die,” she said.  “I don’t want to see you until morning,” she said.  So the little boy stayed in his room.  He played with his toys until he fell asleep.

In the morning, his dad was home.  “Mom’s asleep on the couch.  Just leave her alone,” he said.  The boy looked at his mom.  He thought she looked like she was dead.  There was a bottle on the floor near her and she smelled bad.  Then Dad went to work.  The little boy got himself ready for school, packed a lunch, and waited for his ride.  Before he left, he washed up around the kitchen, fed the dog, and put the empty milk bottles out.

When the boy got home from school, his mom was up and dressed.  The smell was gone and so was the bottle.  “We’re going to church tonight,” she said.  “Get your nice clothes on,” she said.  He found his nice clothes where he had carefully hung them last week and put them on.  He combed his hair, brushed his teeth, and went downstairs.  Mom was all dressed up and they went out to the car together.

“We’ll stop to get something to eat on the way,” she said.  They didn’t.  Instead, they went directly to the church where everyone thought the little boy was something very special.  There were a few other kids there, but everyone seemed to be watching him.  The adults would come up to him and tell him that he looked so grown up or so cute.  Everyone told Mom what a well-behaved and handsome young man she had.  “And smart, too!  You should see how well he is doing at school,” she said.

Mom held his hand most of the evening, until a couple of the other kids came to see if he wanted to play.  “Just don’t get your clothes dirty,” she said.  Then she gave him that warning look, the one where her bottom jaw stuck out for a second.

As he left, the boy heard a lady tell his mom what a wonderful little boy she had.  He turned to see her smiling at the lady.  “Oh, thank you,” she said.

The other kids wanted to go outside to play, but the boy held back.  He told them he couldn’t get his clothes dirty.  They laughed at him and called him names, just like the kids at school, but he stayed inside and walked around the church.  Then the others came in from outside.  They all looked at him and one of the boys wiped a handful of mud on his shirt.  “Oh, you naughty boy, you got your shirt all dirty,” the mean boy said as all the kids ran away laughing.

The little boy went directly to the rest room and tried to wash the dirt off his sleeve.  Most of it came off, but it didn’t look very clean.  When he finally came out of the restroom, his mom was there.  She saw the sleeve immediately and became angry.  “Get in the car,” she said.

“I told you not to get dirty!  How could you embarrass me in front of my friends?  How could you do that to me?  You are so stupid, so disobedient!  All those people think you are something special, but we know better don’t we?  I don’t want to hear your lies.  Just shut up until we get home.”

“Put your clothes in the wash.  I suppose I will have to stay up late just to get them clean.  Go to bed!”

No supper again.  Maybe Dad would make a nice breakfast in the morning.  If he is home.

This night the little boy tried hard not to cry.  He had to find a way to stop hurting.  He had to find a place to hide.  A place where no one could touch him, where he could be strong.  He knew, if he tried hard enough, that he could find a way to not be afraid or sad . . . ever again.


Quick—where’s the narcissist in this story?

No, it’s not the mom.  She’s an alcoholic trapped in a loveless marriage surrounded by a culture that demands conformity.  No, this is the sad beginning of the narcissist, the little boy who grew up to be a controlling and judgmental man who uses people to try to make himself feel good.  But he never feels good about himself . . . and he is still afraid and sad.

More next Friday!


Filed under Narcissism

11 responses to “The Beginnings

  1. Kelly

    this is tragic and unfortunately so true. as sad as it is, what’s worse is what this person does to the innocent people who come into their life later on when they have built their alter-personality. I liken it to the Wizard of Oz. The little man behind the curtain is the child arrested at development (narsissist in-training), while everyone else sees the big scary person projected.

  2. Yes, the sadness surrounding the narcissist’s story is real. Many of them were abused emotionally and suffered abandonment, unreasonable expectations, and manipulation as children. The vulnerability and inadequacy they felt is what they try to hide from the rest of us.

    But I have to say that the sad story in no way excuses what the narcissist does to others. Kelly is right (and I know that Paula knows this too). Sometimes the narcissist will even let a little of the pain of his childhood show so that he can use that sympathy to manipulate. Never forget that the way the narcissist compensates for his pain causes pain for others.

    Understanding helps, but this is not an excuse. The narcissistic acts of cruelty and manipulation are still choices.

    And, even if it was an excuse and you could forgive a little easier, you still have to protect yourself from his or her narcissism.

    BTW, Kelly mentioned the Wizard of Oz. Eleanor Payson’s book, “The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists” is a very helpful read.

  3. Rebekah Grace

    This was just phenominal!!!

  4. So, how does one get out if one is a Narcissist? I see a lot of book about how to cope with them, but nothing much on what to do if one is one, or knows one and they have asked for help?

    • I have received this question twice in the last couple of weeks. Let me consider how to answer, and I will do so in a post. However, I will say that narcissism is a subtle addiction. The addict doesn’t usually know that he or she is addicted and rarely comes for help. Everyone else is the problem.

      Yet, if the addict comes for help, there are two primary directions we look. First, we ask the Lord for a miracle, then we get to work. The miracle is always possible; the work is always hard. When I have worked with narcissists, I have found them almost always resistant. To face the truth, that they hurt people in response to their own hurt, is hard.

      Most counselors will admit that they work almost exclusively with victims of narcissists, for the simple reason that these are the people who come in for help. We rarely see narcissists. There are specialized psychiatrists and psychologists who may see more than the rest of us, but the simple truth is that few narcissists see any need for change until they experience serious consequences. Even then, they are heavily invested in blaming others.

      Books directed at helping narcissists change would have either a small audience or a frustrated one. The people who would most likely read them would be the victims and they need other help. So, you are right, the majority of books are about how to cope.

      But there are certainly things a narcissist can do to help the others in his life and relieve some of his own pressures. Those things may well be worth writing about in a blog like this. At least there would be something out there.

  5. I agree. It would be quite helpful. Thanks for considering writing about it.

  6. Still seems to me like that mother in the story is also being narcissistic. What am I not understanding? Yes, she has her own pain, but she is making her choices all about herself.

    • You are right, of course. The mom is “being narcissistic.” But many people become narcissist when they are under stress. It is a survival technique. This is especially true for addicts of almost any kind. And they are accountable for the decisions they make and the hurt they cause.

      But if the mom were able to overcome her addiction (and the dad, don’t forget him, his stresses), she may well leave the narcissism behind, at least for the most part. If narcissism is a survival technique, then it can be let go when the danger is over.

      The little boy, on the other hand, is developing a view of life that will be his no matter what is added or taken away. What is being built in his life is based on the trauma of rejection and confusion and pain he suffered from the people around him. His narcissism will be a lifelong perspective on relationships and self. For him, the danger is inside and will never be over.

      Because of the trauma narcissists suffer so young, some people will struggle with holding them accountable for what they do to others. After all, isn’t it just what they learned? But the particular cruelty and depersonalization they use is a choice. Many people have had traumatic childhood experiences, some far worse than what the narcissist suffered, but not all choose to hurt and use others as a result. Some, in fact, grow up to be kind and gracious and loving.

      Well, I am way past your comment. Just some more thoughts.

  7. trying to cope

    So if you give them love and acceptance, why are they not happy, why the games and making others feel bad?

  8. Pingback: I think it’s time we stop bashing all narcissists. | Lucky Otter's Museum of Narcissism

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