Struggle for Self

My previous excerpt from Elan Golomb’s book, Trapped in the Mirror, hit a nerve when I read it. She captured exactly what I felt and the challenges that lay ahead. Books that we form a connection to make us feel less alone. They create a sense of community. They show us the survivors, kindred spirits and the ways to heal. Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children and Their Struggle for Self is a powerful book which shares information for anyone who has grown up with a narcissistic parent.

In this book, Golomb states that therapy and group memberships can help the adult child to break off from the narcissist. Forming other bonds outside of our parental relationship is crucial for our personal healing. It provides a support system outside of our dysfunctional parental relationships.

Engaging and talking back to the narcissist will always escalate the situation. This is easier said than done. I always felt backed into a corner, both literally and figuratively.  She pushed and pushed and couldn’t stop with her endless tirades and vitriol. My mother thrived on getting a reaction out of others, especially me. It gave her energy. For years I always wanted to try to explain my side. I wanted to calm her sudden outrageous outburst. I would always think, if she could just understand where I’m coming from… She can’t understand. Narcissists can never put themselves in another person’s shoes. A narcissist does not possess empathy. Golomb says that trying to explain your point of view only feeds the narcissist’s ego. The best solution is to always ignore them.  Do not engage, do not respond. Walk away. When you do this, you take their power away. The narcissistic figure relies on your attention (loud arguing, crying, hurt feelings) to feed their precious ego.

Children of narcissists can develop soft spots and weaknesses for parental abuse and criticisms. As adult children, they have spent years believing what parents have said.

Narcissistic parents know our sore spots and weaknesses because they created them.

When I started therapy in early 2013 I felt that therapy was a step in the right direction, but it was not enough. Back then I still had a relationship with my narcissistic mother, even though I wanted distance more than anything else. I felt confused and guilty. The frequent interaction made me feel like I took two steps back, despite the one step forward that I had made that week in therapy.

Finding resources online and material like Trapped in the Mirror was like finding a great friend that understood completely, that accepted me entirely. Personal blogs showed me that adults of narcissistic parents can come out of this okay. I’m very grateful to the various writers and mental health professionals who have shared their knowledge and personal experiences. It opened up a whole new world of understanding.