Growing up with narcissistic parents, you learn early in life to be invisible. Stay out of everyone’s way. Don’t bother anyone with your “petty” needs or problems. After all, your parents are the important ones, not you. You are there to attend to their needs, not them to yours. They have drilled these so-called facts into your head from birth, so you know them well.
Being invisible is not only a way of life, but a handy survival tool in that type of environment. The less your narcissistic parents notice you, the less likely they’ll use or abuse you. Staying quiet & out of their way can make your childhood somewhat easier.
While being invisible can serve you well while in such a toxic environment, it is no longer necessary once you are out of it. In fact, it won’t help you at all & may hurt you instead.
If you continue to remain invisible, people may not necessarily abuse you, but they also will not be there for you or love you as you need, because they will not notice you. Or, if they do notice you, your needs won’t be very important to them because they don’t appear important to you. Not discussing your needs makes people not even realize you have them.
Dear Reader, if this is you, it’s your time to become visible! Let people know you exist. It is perfectly OK to have needs & wants, & to let those be known among those close to you. In fact, it’s healthy to do so. In normal, healthy relationships, both parties have needs & let each other know what they are with the expectation that when possible, the other person will fulfill them. God has created people to need one another, after all. He obviously knows best, so why not try living life His way?
Narcissists treat their children as if they are mere tools- they take them off the shelf when they need their narcissistic supply or need the child to do something for them, then they put them back when done, & expect the child to stay out of sight & out of mind the rest of the time. (Isn’t this also how your average screwdriver or hammer is treated?)
Many narcissists also tell their children that children are to be seen & not heard, speak when spoken to only or other such hurtful things. They also clearly don’t wish to be bothered with their child’s needs or wants.
These things mean the child grows up learning to behave as if she is invisible. She stays quiet, & stays out of people’s way. People treat her as if she is invisible as well, because they see how she acts. (Your behavior shows others how you expect to be treated.) Their treatment reinforces to her that she needs to be invisible, & the painful cycle continues. It is so frustrating when even total strangers treat you this way. A few years ago, I stopped by a convenience store. When I was done & backing out of my parking space, I looked. No one was behind me so I backed out. Suddenly my car jolted to a stop. Someone in an SUV backed into me. We got out of our vehicles & she immediately began screaming at me for upsetting her by hitting her truck. I couldn’t even get in a word to tell her she had backed into me, not the other way around! Thankfully no damage was done to my car & she said none to her SUV, so we walked away from the incident. Her behavior hurt though. I felt like she thought I was so unimportant I shouldn’t be allowed to say one word.
This invisible thing results in a deep sense of shame about your very existence. You feel as if the fact you exist is a bad thing, & this can destroy your self-esteem. I know this from personal experience- I’ve never had healthy self-esteem. In fact, at 44 years old, I still battle low self-esteem often.
I have been working on becoming visible instead of staying invisible off & on for a few years now. I’ve learned that to do that, you need to start setting some boundaries. Don’t let others call all of the shots, all of the time. For example, I’ve always let others end the phone call first, & now I’m starting to do end it when I feel strong enough. (sad.. such a mundane task shouldn’t be so stressful!) If someone wants to go out with me but I have plans, instead of rearranging my plans, I suggest another time. Basically, I’m finding little, reasonable ways of making myself noticed. The good news is it does get easier & easier, the more I do it. I hope you will try to do the same thing so you no longer feel invisible. You deserve so much better than that!
Good morning, Dear Readers! I hope this post finds you well today!
I had an “ah ha” moment last night. Thought I’d share- maybe it’ll benefit some of you readers, too.
Lately, my hubby’s been in a foul mood. Lots of stress plus he’s really missing our dog. When he’s with me, I realize I’ve been feeling weird, like I have to just stay out of his way, & not bother him with any “trivial” aspect of my life. I’ve been wondering what that’s about, but didn’t think much on the topic. So last night he came home from his parents’ house in a good mood. First time that’s ever happened since we’ve been together (18+ years). I felt much more relaxed & my mood improved.
So while I couldn’t sleep last night & all was quiet, I was thinking about this & wondering what that was all about. I prayed about it & immediately, I got my answer…
Growing up, I felt I had to be “invisible.” Have no needs, emotions, not talk unless talked to, etc. Only time I was allowed to not be was when I was needed by my parents, like when they had a fight & wanted my advice. I had to be even more invisible when they were in bad moods, especially my mother. I had to just stay out of her way. Being invisible wasn’t too bad to me if they were in good moods, but bad moods? I couldn’t be invisible enough!
I’ve taken this behavior into adulthood, into my marriage, without even realizing it. So when my husband has been in a foul mood lately, I’ve automatically reverted into being extra invisible. When his mood improved last night, I could relax some.
I hope this all makes sense- I haven’t been sleeping well lately & am really tired! I also hope & pray this helps other children of narcissistic parents.
Have a wonderful day, Dear Readers, & do something nice for yourself today!!