9 comments on “Know Your Role

  1. Stephen,
    I’m going to tweet shirt responses to a few of your entries. Big letters just get swallowed up.
    When our families were in inception with a Narcissistic parent, we were in crisis but didn’t know it. My mother and father faught viciously and we kids were caught kn the middle. How was it for you? The more desperate the situation, the more rigid and long-standing the family roles. Nobody gets out til we get out.
    Vic

    • Hi Vic,

      My situation growing up was just the opposite of yours. My parents NEVER fought. I could count on one hand the number of disagreements they had of which I was aware. Image was everything in my family, and in the perfect family, parents don’t have arguments. I honestly think that my parents were so thorough in their projection of all the family problems onto me that any minor disagreement they might have had would immediately be projected onto me, leaving each of them blameless. If all my parents collective problems were projected onto me, they had no reason to fight, since I was the lone source of all their frustrations.

      As I have mentioned before, from the outside, I had a great life. My parents never fought, I had a roof over my head and ate reasonably well growing up. I had many opportunities that other children didn’t have. This all helped to create the near seamless front of my parents, teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends of my parents, ministers and any other adult that I might be exposed to treating me the exact same way and functioning as NM’s flying monkeys. i.e. “It’s so sad that Stephen’s parents have such a difficult child, they seem like such great parents!”. Anyone who did not tow the company line of mirroring my parents’ perceived perfection was ostracized from the family. It made it extremely hard for me to be able to trust my gut and believe it might not be only my problem. My mother was the queen of going pathetic and eliciting sympathy from her friends and family. She would make comments like “I love Stephen so much and I so wish he would just do something with all the potential he has”. From the outside and to the uninformed, comments like this seem like the comments of a caring mother, when the truth is it shows that I wasn’t fulfilling the role that she demanded I fulfill, and therefore she perceived me as a failure.

      Stephen Bach

      • Stephen,
        Not completely different. Maintaining a ‘normal’ appearance as a picture perfect family that did not fight was extremely important to us.

        Mom and Dad fought completely differently. Dad yelled with great gravity practically every day, at Mom and me. Later, at sister Ashleigh. Mom fought passive-aggressively; invisibly. As kids, we weren’t aware of her fighting. But now I know.
        I think Dad was the son of a violent Narcissist Mother. As a father, he struggled with what she had done to him while raising us.

      • Stephen,
        One big problem I’m having with my Android 🙂 is that it’s really easy to push the wrong key or button. Are iPhones like that I wonder. The letter I just sent you was mailed pre-maturely, without a proper ending.

        This is the B side.

        Since my father never (?) hit me, I grew up thinking that I was never a victim of violence. I had to be an adult to decide for myself that his yelling, with all its consequences on me, was violence in itself. But growing up, it was a great source of distress. I blamed myself for being weak, and, yes, effeminate, for feeling that I’d been abused by merely being yelled at.

        You grew up in an atmosphere of violence. Being found at fault for every mistake the family made is violence. Being shamed and condemned for screaming about how you were treated is violence. Being deprived of your siblings brotherhood is violence. If you were never born, one of your twin brothers might have had to be the scapegoat. They owe you for protecting them for that! It’s because of the hidden, unseen violence in your family that their roles have become so fixed and robotic. The programming, the conditioning, was installed invisably through the fear of violence.

        Congratulations! You’ve escaped the violence.

        The Dragon doesn’t live here anymore.

        Victor E. Dance

      • Hi Vic!

        I definitely agree with you and totally understand where you are coming from with regards to the “if it’s not physical it’s not abuse” mindset. I think this is an area where we boys that are products of a narcissistic upbringing tend to struggle. The culture growing up as a boy 30+ years ago in most families was that we had to “be a man” and “take it”. What this meant was that if I didn’t end up in the emergency room, then abuse didn’t occur. I think the “be a man” paradigm makes it much harder to realize the damage that I had gone through as a boy due to the consistent pattern of emotional abuse I was exposed to while growing up.

        What is odd about the “if it’s not physical it’s not abuse” mindset is that it has been well known for several millennia that withholding attention from someone and only giving them the bare minimum they need to subsist will ultimately drive a person crazy, yet it is a tactic that is employed without impunity in the narcissistic family. This was the same tactic that was used in medieval dungeons. A person would be locked into a dungeon in complete darkness with no hope of ever leaving and only given enough food and water to keep them alive. Eventually their mind would start playing tricks on them and they would lose their sanity. Is this not a similar analogy to what it is like when one grows up in a narcissistic family? We grow up completely starved for basic humane treatment; we create ridiculous rationalizations of obtuse behavior with the hope of a chance of acceptance; only later to find out that our upbringing has had a horrible effect on us that we have carried that with us for way too long?

        You are right about one of my brothers potentially becoming the scapegoat. After I extracted myself from my FOO when I was 18, one of my twin brothers started seeing some scapegoating behavior from NM. Now that I have no contact with NM or my surviving flying monkey brother, I don’t doubt that my brother will start to see some scapegoating behavior from NM. She absolutely is incapable of admitting any complicity in anything that might be wrong in her life, so I don’t doubt it won’t take long. Who knows, it may be a good thing. Maybe if my brother sees some of NM’s scapegoating behavior his eyes will be somewhat opened and he may start to understand what I have been through with NM. I have no hope that will happen, but it would be nice if it would.

        I think we both deserve congratulations for escaping, both physically and eventually mentally. Unfortunately, there are way too many others that never are able to escape.

        Stephen Bach

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