I’ve noticed a common thread among those who have been through narcissistic abuse. We’re the ones people seem to think need to put all of the work & make all of the concessions in relationships.
So many others I’ve spoken to who have been raised by at least one narcissistic parent have heard the same things by at least a few people: “You need to fix things with your mother (or father or both)!” “She (or he or they) won’t be around forever! You need to make things right with your mother (or father or parents)!” “You should see a counselor. Maybe he could help you figure out what you’re doing wrong”
I’ve heard those things & more myself:
- When my first marriage was falling apart, I was told I needed to make it work or I needed to change to fix things.
- When having problems with my in-laws, some people said I needed to make changes so we got along better. Be the bigger person & forgive & forget, etc., don’t take the constant insults personally, & (this may be my personal least favorite one) if I didn’t have anything to hide, it shouldn’t bother me my mother in-law snooped through my purse at every opportunity.
- I mentioned to someone that my husband watches some sports, & when he does, I go into another room, find something else to do or go out. Her response was to scold me, telling me I needed to start watching sports with him in spite of my lifelong intense hatred of sports other than Nascar, drag racing & demolition derbies. Interestingly, she never told my husband he needs to learn to do things I enjoy, like crocheting. I was the one who was supposed to change, according to this person. (Just FYI- although I hate sports, I did start watching Nascar races because my husband was into it, & it turns out I enjoyed it. I’m all for trying something new for the sake of your spouse.)
- When in marriage counseling, we were having money problems. The counselor told me what I needed to do to earn extra money. No suggestions were given to my husband, even though at the time, he was the one in charge of our finances.
Do these scenarios sound familiar to you? If so, doesn’t this get under your skin?! It sure does me!
I’ve wondered why this happens to so many of us. So many people behave exactly the same way! So what’s behind it? I have some theories…
Relating to our narcissistic parents only, some people are truly blessed with great parents. In fact, they can’t even fathom a parent who would mistreat, let alone abuse a child. Narcissistic abuse can be hard to wrap your mind around- I still have trouble with it sometimes & I lived it! Maybe these people have an even harder time doing so because they came from such a loving home.
People who know our narcissistic parents probably believe the lies they are told about us. After all, narcissists are notoriously good actors & liars- it’s hard not to believe their stories, sometimes even after you’ve seen the truth. Chances are, these people are told we’re the problem. If they believe the lies, then naturally they’ll think we need to do all of the work with our relationship with our parents. If we’ve been so bad to them, we need to make it up to them. It’s only fair, right??
They also most likely have seen us serving or catering to our narcissistic parents, & blindly go along with our parents’ attitude that it’s up to us to do for them. This could include fixing any problems in the relationship.
For those who don’t necessarily know our narcissistic parents, they probably pick up on us as the damaged people we are. The people who believe that we’re always wrong & we need to fix things because that is what our narcissistic parents instilled in us when we were very young. Even as we heal, that “vibe” can still be there for a long time, & people pick up on it. In fact, when people treat us as if it’s our job to fix something, we may automatically do so just because it’s such a deeply ingrained habit. This reinforces the belief that fixing things is our responsibility.
Or, if people don’t pick up on that “fixing vibe”, they may see you as a very responsible, mature person & the other person in the relationship as immature or irresponsible. They figure since the immature, irresponsible person won’t do what is necessary to fix things, the mature & responsible one will, so they push that person to do all of the work. The mature one should be the “bigger person” since the other person is incapable (or so they believe) of behaving properly.
I don’t know if these things are completely accurate, as I’ve never read anything on this topic before. They’re just some random thoughts that popped into my mind, & I thought I’d share them since other people have mentioned this being an issue in their lives as well.
Remember though, Dear Reader, it’s not always your job to fix problems! Sure, fix what you can. If you’ve made mistakes or hurt others, do what you can to make things right. But, you do NOT need to do all of the work in relationships, & don’t let anyone pressure you into believing that nonsense! One person cannot make a relationship work- it’s impossible! It takes two people to make a relationship work, no matter the nature of the relationship.