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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Children of Narcissist Parents, Toxic Parents

If you are an adult in a toxic relationship with someone who has power over you in some way, it sometimes takes great strength and patience and courage to break away. It can take a long time. 

If you are a child or a teen and it is your parent that is toxic, there is no leaving, not really. A part of their toxic message, toxic parenting, toxic messages about who you are get into your head and lurk there always. In a normal and healthy relationship between parent and child we celebrate how it is that the words of a parent become a child's self talk, voice in their head. But when a child is reared by one or more parents who are toxic in their own various ways, still, the words of the parents continue to play inside of the heads of the children long into adulthood.

We get so much of our identity from our parents, like it or not. We get other things too. We learn how to communicate anger, sadness, frustration, celebration, jealousy, loneliness... We learn how to care for ourselves in times of need, how to self soothe, how to express confusion, how to identify nuances of emotion, how to manage boredom, how to be ill, how to manage our expenses, how to care for another human being, how to manage conflict, how to prioritize, how to manage money, how to move into the world, how to separate, how to attract a partner, how to be in love. 

We learn how it feels to be connected to another person, how to figure out or create our own place in the world, what love looks like, how to explore boundaries between two people, how to express ourselves clearly and fully, how to explore new ideas, how to operate in a sexual relationship, how to be parents, how to experience love, how to manage personal power, how to behave in social situations. 

And we learn how to manage illness and good health, how to become more independent, how to develop skills for coping with difficulty, how to get emotional needs met, how to explore identity, how to sense reality and non-reality, how to explore uniquely personal qualities, how to choose action rather than simply react, how to identify distorted thinking, and so much more. 

If your parents are narcissists or other toxic temperaments, as a child you are essentially captive. You have no choice. And, often, you have no idea how toxic your situation is in comparison to others. You are at the mercy of your parents. 

As a child, when you begin to gain independence, as you begin to question things, your parent started bickering, rejecting, seeking more control, more abusive, etc. As you mature and explore new reactions to the toxic crap like gaslighting or guilt or brainwashing efforts, as you become less and less manipulatable (is that a word? I mean less willing to be manipulated), as you no longer let things slip by unquestioned, as you remove your parent from a pedestal, as you stop feeding the toxic parent's need for adulation or unquestioning adoration you can become more and more the object of anger by the parent.

In my own case, as my eyes opened more and more, every single step I attempted to take into independence was thwarted, criticized, and generally not supported by my toxic parent. He began acting victimized, betrayed, supremely wounded by my independent thought and by my denial of falsehoods. He moved from abuser to victim. Interestingly enough, my other parent did the same thing years later.


This crap, these unhealthy and abusive messages, sticks with you long into adulthood. But there is  healing. There is reparenting. There is learning how to be your own internal parent and internal voice of health. It can happen. You can make it happen. You can be there for yourself. You can move towards a person who is no longer controlled or strongly affected by the internal web of voices.

Any journey toward a healthier you is a journey that takes time and that requires you to face and accomplish certain psychological tasks. Let's look at some possible tasks that may confront a person who is seeking to shrug off the puppet lines and abuse and seeks to move toward personal empowerment and healthy happiness.
  • First, acknowledge that this toxic parent dynamic is limiting you, is controlling you, or is making you feel sick inside. It's old news, but admitting that you have a problem actually empowers you and helps you to figure out where you want to be.
  • Secondly, this acknowledgment of problematic thought patterns helps you to identify those places where your thought patterns are actually bits of brainwashing or programming or gaslighting that are limiting your emotional growth.
  • Third, recognize that there is much to learn. The longer you are on the pathway to better emotional health the more often you will recognize places where you need help or guidance or education. 
  • Fourth, you will have to grieve the life long loss of healthy, loving parents. Honestly, let's acknowledge that this grief will remain with us for much of our lives.
  • Fifth, you will learn the glorious world of emotions that are available to you. You will learn how to experience the fullness of your humanness in a safe environment.
  • And sixth, you will locate and accept help on the healing journey. Clear, fresh eyes to help you to find your way. Connection with other people who are on a journey towards emotional health. People who care and support your efforts.

Remember this one thing, this journey of self-discovery is yours alone; one you must take without the approval or the company of your toxic parent. Each day you are on this journey you will grow a little bit more. Day by day, one day at a time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Authenticity: Towards a Genuinely Healthy Life

Are you going to bed each night with the belief that you are not loved enough knowing that you are not appreciated, or fearful that no one truly accepts you for who you are? 

Is your energy spent attempting to get people to notice and to approve? Do you feel empty and nothing inside unless someone else confirms your value or personal worth? Is it essential to get affection and affirmation from outside of your own head? Do you feel valueless unless someone else validates you?

Are you convinced that you need to do something else to get the love you so desperately desire? To BE someone elseDo you feel invisible in your world? Did anyone look you in the eye today?

Today is the day you are going to change that because there is one person who can and who will be completely on your side from here on out. You may doubt this person at times. You may feel certain that they do not understand. They might go through times when they want to back off from you or when you have a very difficult time believing them. But they will stick with you and will truly never, ever be against you. 

It is YOU. You are capable of being your own best friend, of being the new voice in your head. You are able to look yourself in the eye and say You mean everything to me and I am happy with who you are.

Although you will have days when it is far more difficult to be on your own side... that is fair, but it will get easier to love yourself when you do this single essential thing: become your authentic self.

Being authentically yourself means letting go of who you think that you are supposed to be, who others think you should be, who you think you need to be in order to be OK. Being authentically yourself means that you frequently, perhaps daily, remind yourself of those things that you do not choose for yourself. No matter how strong or loud that other, external voice is, your own voice is your strongest ally. Listen to yourself and give your own voice volume. And being authentically you also means to embrace and love the real you.

For some reason, it is easy to hear the voices of those who call for us to be someone other than who we are. Those reasons of ease might because other voices have practiced longer, they speak louder, or they feel more worthy. Yet STILL, your honest, quiet voice speaking its own truth is still more true. And it will strengthen. Believe it.

You are TRULY good enough, no exceptions.