Growing up in a family surrounded by narcissists is chaotic, confusing, anxiety provoking and causes psychological wounding to its non narcissistic members. The narcissistic parent(s) sets the tone for the family. Everything in the external environment revolves around image–how one appears to others. Children are expected to project a facade of perfection and success that is admired and envied by everyone. Viewing these families from a distance, they appear to be loyal and caring toward one another, dedicated to educational and professional success presenting a family facade that is fabricated to be admired.
In private the reality is the opposite. The narcissistic parent (mother and/or father) is the absolute dictator in this home. He or she decides the role that each child will play. Children who are constitutionally stronger and intellectually more gifted are often selected to be the chosen, the golden ones that the parents use as models of perfection that all the other siblings must learn to emulate and admire. Children who are less attractive, are not as intellectually bright or athletically weaker, are put down and openly humiliated as worthless and defective. The narcissistic parent makes it clear by word and behavior which children he/she favors and those who don’t make the grade. These children are often completely ignored as if they didn’t exist or constantly picked on and attacked for being perceived as inferior and weak.
It is very difficult for many adult children of a narcissistic parent and narcissistic siblings to disengage and exit from the family portrait. Many believe that their narcissistic family members will change if the non narcissistic child or sibling makes one more effort to communicate, understand, show more compassion. Narcissists don’t change. Their personality structure is as hard as steel. They are constantly rewarded by displaying overwhelming confidence and drive, creating mountains of monetary and societal success. Current society applauds narcissists who “have it all” despite their ruthless and treacherous acts that dissemble and destroy the lives of many, including family members.
At some point in their psychological development and growing sense of self, members of these narcissistic families have had enough. They draw the line in indelible ink-they will take the abuse no longer. With great resolve and courage, they sever the ties from their narcissistic families. Awaiting them is a renewed life of hope, creativity,vitality,psychological and emotional healing and inner peace.