If you know the word narcissist and you’ve found that you have some in your life, you may be wondering how the hell did I attract them? As I’ve gotten healthier, I’ve realized the secret to the bunch of narcissists I have in my life. Maybe this applies to you too?
Mine were biological family and the family I married into (and now divorced). But the grooming that I received as a child set me up for my ability to attract them. I was a compliant child, a people pleaser, and raised by a very strict family where being perfect was required, of me, but not of my siblings. So in order to receive love from my parents, I worked hard at being perfect and they trained me from the start that love was conditional. Do as I say or I won’t love you and poof! I became a magnet for narcissists. Yes, it’s that easy because I would jump through hoops for love and didn’t believe that if I didn’t earn your love, then I wouldn’t get it. My self-esteem was not developed in a healthy way, but after many years of working on myself, I can see that now and I am ridding myself of that pattern of abuse. Because I won’t fall for that line anymore.
Feeling co-dependent on someone for love is a narcissist’s dream find. Wearing your heart on your sleeve and trusting others easily, makes you an irresistible magnet for them. Being vulnerable and loving easily makes you a perfect target and the match is made with little effort on their part. Narcissists woo you instinctively with praise and lots of love at first. It’s a dangerous dance that I fell into time and again because I was trusting. I didn’t see beyond the kindness that they showed me and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Now I don’t blame them because I feel sorry for narcissists because they don’t know healthy love. I was willing to give more than my share to remain in their lives. I am easy going and I accept people for who they are and I don’t try to change them. But they changed me into a neurotic worrier who was never stable in the knowledge that they loved me. Does any of this resonate with you?
It was easier to back down and let them have their way which is why I was their dream partner, dream friend, dream sibling, dream child, dream daughter-in-law. I didn’t stand up for myself when I was bullied by their controlling insistence in whatever circumstance it was – attending a party, dressing a certain way, being perfect etc. I just went along with it to keep the peace because it was important to them and I was ok in going with the flow. But after awhile, the ante was raised and it was more perfection needed, more requirements and more, more, more for them to feel good. I tried a few times to exert my independence, but that was met with the silent treatment and then followed by my being told that I was being bad which of course, was my Achilles heel. I never wanted to be seen as bad or mean so I backed down even more and their power grew. A true viscous circle ensued. I scurried to make them happy and put my happiness and my needs below theirs. After awhile, I lost me along the way and became all about what everyone else wanted from me. I am embarrassed to say that to you because it makes me look weak when I thought I was being strong because I loved others for who they were, above myself.
And yet, I will say that with my kids it was way different. I am with them all together healthier and it is by their love that I have healed since the separation and subsequent divorce. I hated the conditional love that I grew up in, so I never raised my kids with that mindset. I never hit them nor expected them to be perfect all the time. I disciplined with respect and a loving heart. With my kids, I was the healthy me, but with the narcissists, I was still under their spell. But my kids never really fell under their spell which I find interesting. They came into this world with more knowledge of love and people than I did and I have learned so much from them. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have the kids I do and it is my prayer that I didn’t screw them up like I had been. Now I see a new me emerging and I am so happy and healthy.
Because innately, I am a loving being who is accepting of others behaviors and love them anyway. But the healthy part of me now, I’ve learned, is that I don’t have to give 110% to only receive a smitten of criticizing love in return. I want a healthy give and take in my love life. I have many friends who role model this healthy way of living and I surround myself with them. It’s amazing to me that my kids haven’t caught the narcissist bug, but they’ve had a healthy upbringing surprisingly. I don’t know how it happened, but I thank God that it did. They see things that I didn’t in my marriage and in my relationships with the Ex’s and my own families. Clearly they announce with observer mode and they are so on the money! It’s frightening to think that it took me so long to clearly understand the dynamic. I mean, I knew I wasn’t happy about the situation with the narcissists, but I couldn’t figure out a way to extricate myself and keep a relationship with them from afar. Because you’re either IN or you’re OUT of the narcissist life because you either fall in line with their expectations or you are a traitor. And I guess I am banned because I’m divorced from their son and I’m on my way to being tossed from my own family because I’m not doing what they want all the time in the way they want me to do it either.
Because as my brother told me, I am annoying because I only connect with people. He likened me to our dad who was happy to make someone else’s day brighter or to reach out on someone’s birthday to say hello. I remember people and to my brother, that’s being less than because I’m not concentrating on keeping up with the Joneses or bragging about my charity work in order for people to see how great I am. I just quietly go about my day, being me and connecting with people by being myself. People naturally flock to me which he hates. They tell me about their lives and share their stories with me and I share mine. He hates that because he distrusts people, which is another trait of the narcissist. They can be disconnected from empathy for others. They are always thinking something distasteful about people and they don’t trust anyone. It’s really sick in a way and sad. But that’s why I was such an easy prey for the narcissists in my life.
I know that now and I am loving them from afar, from a huge distance and the change is awful. As for the exlaws, they broke the connection first so it’s been easier. I’m still in contact with them, but rarely which is great for me. After all, they are my kids’ grandparents and the ex’s family, so I remain kind. But for my family, it’s going to be an epic hardship as I move away slowly from them because they will lose control and they don’t like that. The biological part is the only piece that kept us together this long, the guilt of the biological connection. Because really, I wouldn’t have put up with that treatment if they had been friends. My friends don’t act like they do. But implanted in me was family is family and we love them for all their quirks no matter what. A La Familia, good, bad or ugly. But at age 50, I am realizing that I don’t have to suffer the family narcissism. I am ok to not be there because it’s expected on holidays. I can do my own thing with my kids and I’m starting now this Christmas and it will be hard for me and I will probably shed tears because they will throw a fit of epic proportions. But in this this lifetime, I need to be happy and healthy and loved to role model for my kids.
Thanks for reading. Please share if this helped you. Please write to me if you have anything you’d like to share.