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There are some unique symptoms that fit a child of a narcissist. For me personally, whenever I read about the characteristics that an adult child develops over their lifetime, they almost always fit me to a T.
Unfortunately for some of us, these characteristics are so deeply ingrained that as an adult, you will have a hard time separating them from your true personality. It involves a lot of peeling back of your surface layers—which are, in my opinion, all about defense mechanisms—and delving into crisis of faith, one after another, as you figure out who you really are underneath the mechanisms.
I am the youngest of three, and grew up in a well to do suburban home in Minnesota. To keep things semi-anonymous, I’ll just say that my father did some work with computers, worked constantly, but tended to lose his jobs often. My mom was a full time stay at home mother, but between my father being unemployed, she picked up the slack by waitressing and substitute teaching—and she had been suffering from severe chronic migraines since she was in her thirties—plus she raised three kids while my dad worked constantly. My brother, the oldest sibling, was very studious, humorous underneath his serious edge, and loved literature. My older sister and I loved to read constantly; we made up vast imagined worlds in which we escaped everyday life and were obsessed with mythological movies, TV shows, and comic books. Eventually my mom homeschooled my sister and I, since I was so sick all the time while at public schools that it benefited me more to stay home to study.
I was consistently and severely shy, ill, and sad. I remember spending hours in my room reading alone, drawing superheroes and other drawings, making up stories so insistently on paper and in my head to the point where I would would go to bed still writing stories in my head. My world was mostly a fantasy world, and with great purpose—to escape from my real life.
Looking back, it’s easy to understand that I was completely obsessed not just with fantasy worlds, but more specifically personal mythologies and narratives, and everything in between and surrounding such stories. I wanted to know everything about how a person became that personality, why and how, and then eating up their stories and timelines. It’s not unusual when you consider I was the youngest of three, who spent most of my time watching my codependent mother appease my covertly narcissistic, emotionally abusive father—you see, appeasing him was vital to the peace of the home. There was always a fight going on, always tension, always some sort of eternal battle that we all had to internalize—this was our way of surviving. You see, I absolutely and sincerely love how I can read people, understand situations that are occurring because I know I do, that my emotional intelligence and resonance is so strong you would almost think that I’m psychic—but understanding that it came from my learning how to survive in an emotionally abusive household is just a little fucked up.
My next blog will explore a few signs that you might be an adult child of a narcissist as well.