We have our issues, right? I suspect that while our circumstances are wildly different, adult children of narcissists have a lot in common. Maybe, not a secret handshake, but a secret. We hate the abuse we received from our parent, but we sometimes see their behavior in ourselves.
There is a trait that some humans have that grates against me more than most. Grandiose or histrionic behavior feels like sand in the ass crack of my psyche.
My father’s grandiose behavior was completely over the top and transparent. I felt humiliation to be near him when he started telling his fantastical, self-serving lies. I felt guilty by association. He was my father. I came from him. I was stained by his lies and that shit wasn’t washing off.
I wrote about picking up my own narcissistic tendencies and my uneasy alliance with the truth a few years ago. I didn’t give any examples, though.
I have never spoken this story out loud. Not even to Randy.
Pretty sure in the end, the story will seem somewhat tame. Perhaps even understandable, but it’s still a memory that makes me cringe and keeps my belief that I’m a fraud alive and well.
My paternal grandmother was not a pleasant woman. We will leave it at that.
When my older son, Zach was a baby, she had a stroke, fell into a coma, and died. She was 71 years old. I didn’t grieve.
The day after she died, I went to work and with a small group of coworkers gathered around me, I told the most heart wrenching sobbing tale of love and loss. I spoke of a tearful goodbye between my father and his mother. I talked about the declaration of love and acceptance he got from his mother before she shuffled her mortal coil. Not a word of the story was true. None of it. My father did grieve, that part was true. But there was no resolution between him and his mother. There wasn’t even an acknowledgment that a resolution was needed.
Did I tell the story because that is the reality I found enviable? Is that the story that I wanted to be true because it was filled with love and hope? Sure. That is more than likely true. Not the whole truth, though. The truth also included how much I craved the attention I received from my coworkers, some of who were moved to tears, by my story.
I had the stain of my father’s lies.
I shed my need to fabricate events or inflate reality years ago. It wasn’t until I started blogging, however, that I began to crave my own truth as much as I craved that attention all those years ago.
I have learned that it’s not enough to refrain from telling lies. I also need to live my life as honestly as I can.
I really want to say the words “I want to be true to myself” however, my second husband ruined that phrase for me. He used those words in order to be cruel and wreak havoc. Being true to himself included telling every secret I ever had to a lot of my people. Including my maternal grandmother. It was horrifying, yet strangely freeing.
I can’t claim to say I am 100% authentic. I still don’t understand what that means for me. Writing this blog has helped quite a bit. The more I explore my feelings and beliefs and allow my thoughts to exist as much as I can without judging them, the more I see who I am. It’s taken years, but I have finally reached the conclusion that I don’ t suck. Go me!
I almost didn’t write this because citing a specific example of my own dishonest and grandiose behavior makes me squirm. I recall that and I feel ashamed of myself.
But do you know what? I was who I was then. I was broken, scared and confused. I had no idea why I was who I was. I knew that my relationship with my father was horrible, but I didn’t understand how far reaching the damage he inflicted went.
I am ready for forgive myself that behavior. I might as well. I can’t go back and change it. The person who got hurt most by it was me. I am not going to claim I have no amends to make in life, but I don’t owe anyone else an apology for any lie I told decades ago. I just have to forgive myself for that shit.
Adult children of narcissists have their own unique experiences, but there is also a sameness among ACONs. If you see yourself in any of this, consider joining me and letting go of feeling ashamed or bad for behaving in a way that you were conditioned to behave. Or, and no judgment here, if you are still hiding behind lies and craving attention enough to inflate stories to get attention, then consider letting that go. Living honestly is so much easier. It’s exhausting to support lies. Finding your own truth, even if your truth is quiet, is much more pleasant that coasting on falsehoods.
I think that the nature of being human dictates that we all exist behind some shadows. Shadows created by half truths or shared stories that are reconstructed to protect the innocent. Or the guilty. We need to remember that. The very nature of being human is that we all sometimes lie.
Living as honestly as possible feels good. Forgiving ourselves for past lies helps stoke those good feelings. Let’s try giving ourselves a break. Let’s try practicing some self forgiveness.