Tag Archives: responsibility
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.
One thing that is very common among those who have experienced narcissistic abuse at the hands of a parent is an extremely overdeveloped sense of responsibility.
Narcissistic parents are extremely demanding of their children. They expect their child to please them, no matter what. The child must take care of the narcissistic mother emotionally (emotional incest). The child must anticipate her narcissistic mother’s every whim, preferably even before she knows she has the whim, & meet it perfectly. If she doesn’t, the mother believes she has every right to rage at her child. This scenario makes the child extremely responsible. Not only for her narcissistic mother, but for anyone in her life.
Thank God for helping me, because I was absolutely terrible in this area. If someone was upset & I knew it, I thought it was my responsibility to make that person happy. If the person had a need or want, it was my responsibility to meet it, even if they could take care of it themselves. This was an awful way to live. So much pressure! I thank God for getting me away from that.
Learning about boundaries is what helped me the most. Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend’s book “Boundaries” literally changed my life. Boundaries show you where you end & others begin, which helps you to know what you are & are not responsible for. Once you know that information, you realize it is truly NOT your responsibility to do certain things. It takes a great deal of the burden off of you.
Leaning on God is a tremendous help too. Ask Him to show you what to do, then wait for the knowledge that you should or should not help that person & how to go about it. He truly will guide you & enable you not to feel guilty if He doesn’t want you to help someone for whatever reason. God does not want you to suffer with feeling you have to fix everyone.
The other day, I went out with an old friend for an afternoon of lunch & shopping. It was a perfectly lovely day full of lots of fun & laughs.
For a normal person, this would be all there is to the story. I, however, am not normal, thanks to C-PTSD.
Driving to my friend’s home was nerve wracking. I was unable to drive much for about 18 months for various reasons, then add in the concussion I endured last February that has warped some of my perception, & I feel like I’m learning to drive all over again. Plus, being out in public makes me anxious, thanks to the agoraphobia. I also don’t do change in my regular routine well. And, the concussion made my already high anxiety levels worse & harder to control. All of these factors made my anxiety level really, really high.
After getting home, my husband asked how the afternoon went, & I told him all about it, including my awful anxiety. He told me he was proud of me for not only doing this but managing to enjoy myself in spite of the anxiety. I should have said “thank you” & gone on with my day, but ohhh noooo. I said, “I just did what anyone can do- I’m just the one stupid enough to have problems doing it.”
I realized two things as soon as I said those words…
- I blame myself for way too much that is beyond my control.
- I really don’t talk nicely to myself. In fact, I’m downright verbally abusive.
These issues need addressing, & I’m sure if I need to address them, other adult children of narcissistic parents do as well. So in this post, we’ll address self blame & the next one, how to talk to oneself.
Growing up with my narcissistic parents, I learned that I was responsible for pretty much everything. When my parents would fight, if I wasn’t in the same room, sometimes they would come into the room where I was so I could stop the fight. Both would talk to me about the other & the problems in their marriage (they still do today & I try to avoid it). If I had any problems with a friend, my mother always told me “to have a friend, you have to be one.” Basically she meant I wasn’t doing enough to make the friendship work. It was all my responsibility & the other person had zero responsibility. I was solely responsible for my grades in school- I wasn’t reminded to do my homework & not helped study once I got out of elementary school.
God showed me that being so overly responsible for pretty much everything led to me believing that if something is wrong, it’s my fault. I feel that I should’ve done something to prevent that, I should fix the damage, etc.
Plus my mother openly blames me for things that are beyond my control. For example, a few years ago, I got the flu 3 times in one winter. It’s never happened before or since. I assume it was because I was so stressed that winter that my immune system was very compromised. My mother, however, said I deserved it because I didn’t get a flu shot. A little over a year ago, I was helping my husband split wood with the wood splitter. A large log slipped from his grip, landing on & breaking my big toe. I tried to move but wasn’t fast enough. My mother said it was my fault for not being more careful.
Such abusive behavior towards me cemented the false belief in me that most things are my fault, even things beyond my control. Yesterday was proof of that.
I realized just how ridiculous this is. Not one thing about my anxiety being so bad was my fault, & I need to not take responsibility for it. So many other things aren’t my fault either that I have taken responsibility for.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it’s time for you to make changes too!
Since this is new territory for me I’m honestly not entirely sure how to go about it. I have some ideas that I believe should work though..
I plan to ask God to help me have a more appropriate sense of responsibility. Call my attention to blaming myself when it’s not my fault. Help me to assign blame to the one who is really responsible.
If I catch myself blaming myself, I think it’s a good idea to ask God if this is truly my fault. Should I accept responsibility for it or not? If not, please help me to shake feeling responsible for it.
And, when my mother (or anyone really) starts blaming me for something I know isn’t my fault, I will refuse to accept that blame. Whether that means standing up to the person or simply telling myself that I’m not to blame or both, I need to do it.
I hope these suggestions help you, Dear Reader. If you have any others, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to write in the comments or email me privately at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com
Growing up with a narcissistic mother, you believe that you are the problem in the toxic relationship. She blames you for everything & takes no responsibility for anything she has done to you. On the off chance she admits to doing something bad to you, she blames you for making her do it.
As an adult, you are told, by her or others, that you are the one who needs to make amends with her, find a way to get along with her, or even that you have “a victim mentality,” which only further embeds the belief in you that the problems with your mother are all your fault. (Isn’t it interesting how no one tells your narcissistic mother she needs to behave herself, work things out with you or that she is abusive?)
I would like to challenge you today to look at this situation differently. As a child, your mother was the adult. This means she was supposedly the more mature & wiser of the two of you. She should have known better than to treat you so poorly. Also, she knew then & still knows that her actions are wrong, otherwise she would behave the same way in public as she does in private.
Keeping those things in mind, please answer this for me- how is it your responsibility to improve the relationship with your mother? In fact, how is it even possible to improve a relationship with a narcissist? And, how is it your fault that your mother has abused you?
I know it is painful when people so thoughtlessly tell you to fix things with your mother instead of offering support & understanding. I’ve been in that position more times than I can count. So when they say something like this, I want you to remember that you aren’t the problem in the relationship, your mother is. Any person who can abuse her own child for that child’s entire life is the problem. Any person who constantly puts her own needs & wants, no matter how trivial, above the welfare of others but especially her own child is the problem. Any person who chooses to treat others as if they aren’t allowed to have their own feelings, needs, opinions, wants is the problem. Any person who refuses to accept responsibility for her hurtful actions & blames others for them is the problem.
Dear Reader, just try to remember these things when someone insensitively tells you that you are the problem or that you need to work things out with your mother. You are not the problem- she is!