Being in a home with a narcissist while growing up is challenging in ways you can’t fully understand until you are an adult, and in my case, not until I was in my late 30’s. What’s interesting is that my little brother, six years my junior, figured it out 10-15 years before I did.
When you are a person of the lie, you are simply a fixture… you’re not a person. You exist to validate and placate the narcissist, never rocking the boat, never hurting their fragile ego. If you do, you aren’t berated – you are shunned.
As a little kid, you learn that love is conditional, and you’d better not do anything to upset the apple cart. You do everything you can to placate the narcissist to preserve yourself as best you can.
The narcissist will swing back and forth between flattery and bullying. You are puffed up with compliments to keep you hooked, then the rug is pulled back out. It’s a control tactic, and it’s very very effective on spouses and children. People who feel obligated to make it work.
I sat and stared into space during thousands of hours of conversations. I had learned never to disagree, but my conscience wouldn’t let me agree either. I sat silent so that I wouldn’t have to do either. He would press me “Are we on the same page” to which I would continue staring off into space and I’d mumble something incomprehensible. It’s a very strange thing to have learned, and even stranger that the dynamic worked for as long as it did.
As a little kid, you learn that love is conditional.
A narcissist can never self-reflect. The narcissist is “always right,” “always persecuted,” and “always the good, altruistic hero.” If someone rejects their manipulation or challenges their skewed version of reality, not only are they shunned, but they are a “loser” or “crazy” or a “bad person.” They are badmouthed to everyone else stuck in the lie. I saw this happen with each of my siblings, until finally it was my turn.
I’m actually sad that I was the last. I should have figured it out sooner, and I should have tried harder to protect my younger siblings. I knew the damage it was doing to all the members of the family. I just didn’t know how to fix it, and I didn’t want to be on shun island.
Now that I’m on shun island, I feel free. There is no more control, no more manipulation, no more being part of the lie that is his double life. You can’t use people as pawns and against one another if they all communicate directly with each other (something narcissists try like heck to prevent).
So, I got no idea what I’m doing, but I know I’m free. No matter what happens in the courts, no matter what happens in my job, it doesn’t matter. I’ll never be part of the lie again.