Usually I focus on overtly narcissistic parents with my writing, but today I want to talk about something a bit different- the other parent who isn’t so blatantly abusive.
Many adult children of an overtly narcissistic parent swear that their other parent is wonderful, caring, & gentle. Someone, who for whatever reason, was simply overpowered by their overtly narcissistic partner. They just weren’t strong enough to stop that partner from abusing their child. But that is fine- it wasn’t his/her fault! Sadly, this is very rarely the truth.
Most overtly narcissistic people end up married to covertly narcissistic ones. The difference is covert narcissists aren’t so “in your face” with their behavior. They come across simple & quiet, often martyr like in their ability to tolerate their narcissistic spouse. They don’t wish to be the center of attention, but gain their positive attention by their good behavior. They are extremely good at acting sweet & innocent, & often have their children convinced that they are the real victim of the narcissistic parent instead of the children. They may say things like, “It was so hard for me to watch your mother treat you that way” or “There was nothing I could do to stop him from hitting you kids.”
My mother in-law is a prime example of a covert narcissist. My father in-law always has been the overtly narcissist type, abusing his children when they were growing up. She did nothing to protect herself or her children from his abuse. To this day, my husband feels bad for her that she went through so much suffering at the hands of his father, yet pretty much ignores the fact he & his siblings were abused too. He sees his mother as the real victim. She is well aware of this too. She portrays herself as a sweet, innocent, naive, martyr when the truth is she is nothing of the sort. She was blatantly cruel to me until I stopped speaking to her, making sure I knew I wasn’t good enough for her family. Anyone who was truly as beaten down as she portrays herself wouldn’t have it in them to be so cruel. She would have been more focused on simply surviving instead of hurting others. She also would know how bad it feels to have someone be cruel & wouldn’t want to make others feel that badly.
Think about your parents. You obviously have one overtly narcissistic one, probably your mother, since you are reading my work. What about your other parent, assuming your father? The way I described my mother in-law in the previous paragraph- does that sound somewhat like your father? If so, I wish to encourage you today to stop feeling sorry for him! How about taking some of that empathy you feel for him & feel it for yourself instead! You were the real victim- you were only a child. It was your parents’ job to treat you well & protect you, yet they did neither.
I’m sorry to try to provoke this anger in you, but it needs to be done if you’ve never felt anger before at your father. You need to feel that anger & process it so you can heal. It helps you not only to get the anger out of you, but also to see your father in a more realistic light. If you realize he is a covert narcissist, you can treat him accordingly, such as with healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries are vital with all narcissists, be they overt or covert, as they will use you however they see fit if given half a chance. And, covert narcissists are big fans of emotional incest to get their needs met. Whether their child is a child or an adult, they will not hesitate to use this sinister form of abuse to benefit them.
Any parent who enables someone to abuse their own child disgusts me. Abusing your child is bad enough, but standing back & letting someone else do it to me is even more evil as far as I’m concerned. Especially because the covert narcissists allows it only to avoid the overt narcissist’s wrath. Covert narcissists will do anything to avoid the loud, violent rage of the overt narcissist, & that includes throwing their child under the bus. They will redirect their partner’s rage onto the child & off of them. Or, they will refuse to intervene when the other parent is abusing the child to avoid being yelled at. Either way, it is sickening!