Growing up with a narcissist means that you were probably denied nurturing, love, empathy, support, and encouragement as well as freedom of self-expression. Unfortunately, these ghosts of childhood past may follow you into adulthood, dictating your unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Sadly, many people who grew up in the shadow of a narcissist may not know they did, and some of the problems facing them can only be solved with this knowledge in mind. Here are some ways to tell if you grew up under the influence of a narcissist.
1. You have a weak sense of self
Narcissists groom their children to magnify their bloated sense of superiority and achievements, making you always feel like you exist to make them look good. Many people who grew up with a narcissist perpetually feel like the support staff to the narcissist CEO. They can never outshine the master, never live in their spotlight, nor advance themselves further than the narcissist.
A healthy parent values their child’s experiences, emotions and goals, and will continuously fan the flames that child’s personality. While they may try to point their children to their passions, they know when to stop and let their kids pursue their dreams.
Narcissists keep their kids from exercising their rights and developing their personalities, leaving them perpetually unsure of what they were born to do or like. If you grew up with a narcissist, chances are they feel responsible for any success you may have, and are not afraid to say so.
2. You feel more like their parent than their child
If your parent is narcissistic, chances are they’ll demand that you serve them. If you spend half of your time managing their moods, supporting them in a way a partner should and putting out the fires they ignite, then you grew up with a narcissist.
A narcissistic parent will not allow you to tend to your own needs or wants either. Whenever you bring this issue up they will play the victim, talk about their overwhelming problems, or go further and threaten to harm themselves if you not heel.
3. You have poor interpersonal boundaries
One of the most significant characteristics of a narcissist is that they are right no matter how wronged you feel by them. They tend to act as if they’re superior and never make mistakes, as compared to other lesser beings. In case you’d decide to confront them about it, they will deny it all and turn the blame on you.
Continually blaming a child for imaginary misdeeds and making them believe that they deserve no apology even when they feel ill-treated will eventually turn them into a doormat. Growing up with a narcissist who never acknowledges the hurt they have caused you tends to blur your boundaries. To establish proper limits in your life, you need to express your feelings and be able to make demands when it is called for.
4. You have strong feelings of self-loathing
The golden rule of the narcissist parent is that they always have a golden child. This child is not lucky either, he or she is the one they choose to live vicariously through, so they label this child as perfect. The narcissist will then pick the black sheep or scapegoat of the family, the one child who causes all the problems this arrangement might spawn.
The narcissistic parent will also use every opportunity to blame this child for the being the cause of the abusive manner the narcissist acts out. This pits the golden child and black sheep against each other, to the benefit of the narcissistic parent, a separation growing from childhood to adulthood.
5. You feel empty
If you grew up with a narcissist in your life, you most probably feel hollow on the inside because the narcissist manipulated you by withholding love and empathy, to force you to do their bidding. Love is what fills a child’s heart, and a parent is one because they possess loads of compassion for their children.
It is due to empathy that a parent and child can sit and have a heart to heart and a child will open up and let their parents into their lives. The child of the narcissist though has no such chance. Talking to their narcissist is akin talking to a brick wall, and the only response they will get is how mentally weak and needy they are. This lack of love and empathy in childhood can make you grow up feeling drained and empty.