This is a strange blog…

And you deserve an explanation about what I am doing, before you read it.

This is my journey of discovering myself, as someone who has been raised by narcissists, who also happened to be very devout evangelical Christians.

Why I am studying narcissism...

Recently, I a disagreement with my therapist. I had wanted to talk about narcissism, but he did not see the point. “But you are not a narcissist. Why do you want to talk about your parents? That is in the past!”

The situation is a bit like this. Say you find a great deal on a car. Only one problem: it has been in an accident. Would you like to know what kind of an accident? Or take a house: say it was owned by drug-dealers. Would you like to know whether it was pot or meth they were brewing?

It’s not necessarily that it was mishandled, but the specifics that you would like to know, isn’t it?

We inherit our inner world from our parents. Our most crucial, formative moments happen before the age of six, and we barely remember most of them. And yet those are the times that shape us.

In the famous “Still Face Experiments,” Dr. Edward Tronick was able to show how babies react to the facial expressions of their parent. In a normal, healthy relationship, a child flashes emotions to a parent, and the parent sends healthy signals back: the child develops normally. When a parent purposely makes their face “still” (for the purpose of the experiment) you can visually see the child becoming distressed, trying to draw the parent out, becoming confused, and crying. Given enough time, the child will stop trying. What this experiment was meant to show is that if a child is raised by someone who is not able to connect with them emotionally — if substance abuse is involved, for example — the they have learned deep, and devastating lessons about connecting. Anyone who has fostered children may have a first-hand experience of children who have never learned how to connect to another human being. That was a fundamental lesson which was meant to be learned as a very small child.

I use this as an illustration. We all want to know more about ourselves.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” - Sun Tzu

This blog is about myself, learning more about the fact that the people who raised me had a personality disorder, called Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

What is NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder characterized by a long-term pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy toward other people. People with NPD often spend much time thinking about achieving power and success, or on their appearance. Typically, they also take advantage of the people around them. 

People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are characterized by the personality traits of persistent grandiosity, an excessive need for admiration, and a personal disdain and lack of empathy for other people. As such, the person with NPD usually displays arrogance and a distorted sense of personal superiority, and seeks to establish abusive power and control over others. Self-confidence (a strong sense of self) is a personality trait different from the traits of narcissistic personality disorder; thus, people with NPD typically value themselves over others, to the extent of openly disregarding the wishes and feelings of anyone else, and expect to be treated as superior, regardless of their actual status or achievements. Socially, the person with narcissistic personality disorder usually exhibits a fragile ego (self-concept), intolerance of criticism, and a tendency to belittle other people, in order to validate his or her own superiority. - Wikipedia, "NPD Narcissistic Personality Disorder"

How narcissism has touched me...

Narcissistic parenting leave marks on their children. Not the same marks as being raised by a “still-faced” parent. But marks nonetheless. They are very specific marks: and the more I learn about narcissism, the more I seem to learn about myself.

I am writing this several months into my journey: already, I am realizing that some of the key issues which have held me back all my life were directly related to how I was raised. These include:

1. I feel drawn towards, but am terrified of, strong and emotionally unhealthy male leaders
2. I work hard, over-achieve at things…but when I gain success I self-sabotage, loose interest, dismantle my work, and move on to something else to over-achieve in
3. I have had very negative feelings towards any women in authority. There is a sort of woman that (if she is on my team/workplace) will absolutely dismantle me, piece-by-piece. One such woman played a key role in my ministry burnout in 2015.
4. I have a lot of social anxiety. I fear that people are talking about me, and judging me. This fear is often crippling. I need people to like me, and I will sometimes work far too hard to make people like me
5. I often have a hard time telling people what I really think about things (at least in person…then it call comes out in “passive aggressive” ways, such as blog posts, or even sermons)
6. I “freeze” in conflicts, especially with the types of men that I find myself working under. I become incredibly anxious and trapped in these situations: then lash out in ways that make me feel and look foolish
7. I am working through other very complex issues regarding religion, my experience with the ministry/missions, with sexuality, and what it means to be a human being, and a parent

Narcissism is a very common condition, and many say that it is on the rise. As you read, you may detect it in people you know, even family members. It is especially prevalent where substance abuse is present, or where it was present, even one or two generations previous. And so this journey has been extremely helpful to myself. I hope that you also will find it helpful.

Format of my blog...

As to format: the first part of my journey is literally private journal articles to myself. They read a bit choppy, and I will be the first to admit that some work could be done to make them more user-friendly. They were not written with an audience in mind. Once I get into February 2020, however, the posts are specifically meant to be read by an audience: that is when I launched this blog. Feel free to jump around my topic, skip to the easier-reading posts, or take the long road and start from the beginning.

How not to read this blog...

There are a few misconceptions I can imagine people getting form reading this blog, and I would like to just take a moment to warn against them:

1. This is not gossip

This is an anonymous blog, because I don’t want to start rumours about my parents, or publicly defame them. This point should be fairly obvious.

2. This is not a pity-party

Life is hard for everyone, and I’m sure everyone can share stories about bad things they experienced as a child. “The trick is not to get stuck there,” someone may well say, “just suck it up and move on.” What I went through was hard: and while I don’t claim it is harder than anyone else’s experience, it was real to me. And yes, it is good to get it out. From time to time, I get e-mails or messages from people who are reading, and are heartbroken for that little child that was hurting back then. The child that is still hurting, inside of me. I don’t need pity: but compassion is welcome. And I do not believe that I am getting stuck, because even in the process of writing over this past couple months, I have found tremendous freedom and healing.

If you see yourself in this journey, I would invite you to join me as you have your own process of healing.

3. This is not "nit-picking"

Some of the memories I share...aren't really all that bad. They're the sorts of things that any parent would do. However, I share them because in researching narcissism, something from my research has triggered a memory, and I see the similarities. The point is not always, "my that was traumatic," but, "my, that wasn't very healthy." I am looking for specificity, and some memories shine a light on the specific marks left on my soul. That is why they are significant, even if they seem rather trivial. 

I do not always make this clear in some of my earlier posts, and so this may be helpful to know.

4. This is not a passive-aggressive form of revenge

Forgiveness is a funny thing. I forgive my parents often, deeply, and specifically for the wounds that they inflicted upon myself. No matter how much I forgive, there still seems to be more forgiveness to do. Their wounds run deep. But I really do forgive them. So far as I know, this blog is not some passive-aggressive way of “making them pay,” by writing their sins to the anonymity of the internet, so that they will be hated by some anonymous throng. I really, honestly wish them no ill will. They aren’t supposed to read this: that is the point of an anonymous blog. I have no bone to pick with those strange people. I just want to know what it is that they did to me, so that I can understand myself, fix myself, and move on with my life.

5. This is not a case against my parents…well, not exactly

In the first part of my blog, I am really wrestling with, “are my parents bad people, or not…?” That is still a hard, but important question to ask. The good times were really good. Do they outweigh the bad? Ultimately, I decide that while important, the more important question is, “Were my parents healthy?” The answer to that is, clearly, no. “Was their parenting healthy?” Again, no. And most importantly, “Are my parents healthy now?” Definitely not. In fact, they seem be getting worse with age.

I have decided to cut off contact with my parents for the time being, as I try to process this journey. But that is not because they have sinned against me so grievously in the past, that now they must pay by staying away. Honestly, I would have grounds for that. But the reason I am cutting off contact now is because, a) I need space to think, and see things clearly, and b) they are not safe around myself or my family in the present. Not safe at all. Were they to get help, find healing, and prove themselves to be safe, I would readily consider a reconciliation — even in spite of all that they have done to me in the past. However, I seriously doubt that will ever happen: all of the experts say that NPD is almost always irreversible.

And they are scary individuals.

6. This is not a guilt-trip on healthy parents

I will share a lot of childhood memories, and their lasting effects on myself. There is an important key that you need to know. It is called the “good enough parent” rule.

An unhealthy parent does a harmful action an innumerable amount of times, and never takes responsibility. The child’s subconscious remembers maybe one or two events, and forgets the rest: they are too troubling to hold on to. These become “representative memories.” I will speak of these a lot. Through counselling and therapy, these representative memories speak of key lessons that one’s inner child believed: and by reversing those messages, deep shifts can happen in one’s psyche.

A healthy parent, on the other hand, will make healthy decisions an innumerable amount of times: and really blow it now and then. Nobody’s perfect. These mistakes will really stand out to the parent often causing the parent to take responsibility for their actions, apologize, and ask for forgiveness (without shifting the blame to the child). Children will see the issue as unusual and their subconscious will catalogue it as "resolved" and summarily forget about it. But parents will remember it, and often obsess endlessly about it. “Did I mess up my child? Will they ever forgive me for what I did to them?” Experts say that even if parents only get it right 20% of the time, their children will still remember that 20%, and tend to excuse the 80% as “unusual behaviour.” This is because we are programmed for health, and children are programmed to trust their parents. This “good enough parenting” concept should reassure healthy parents.

I share this because I fear that reading about my representative memories may give parents anxiety that if they mess up just once, their kids will be screwed up for life, and will cut off contact, as I am doing.

Let me just say: if you are anxious about how your sins or faults may have hurt your children, nothing I am saying in this blog will apply to you. My NPD parents have never, ever, to this day, taken responsibility for anything that they have done to us. And as they send me letters trying to reel me back in, their accusations go all the way to accusing me as a baby for rejecting them. “Even at the hospital,” my mom recently wrote, “you would not love me. You refused to need me, but slept on your own that first night.” What kind of a woman is so angry at her baby for sleeping through the night, that she holds on to that “rejection” for 36 years, until she can dump it onto him? These are not healthy people.

A final word,

With these words written, the only thing left to say is a heart-felt “thank you.” Thank you so much for joining me on this adventure. It is not always fun, but I always find it rewarding to write these words, and find this new health. I hope that it helps you as well, as you seek to author a new journey, redeeming your family legacy and charting a new path towards health for your own descendants and yourself.

Where to start?

My first post is, 

"Should I Cancel the Visit? (Journal Entry, July 25)"
...you may just want to start there and read up to the present. However, the blog started picking up momentum around December 2019, and so you may want to start with:
It. Was. Not. Me. (vomiting the shame from my mother) (Nov. 18)
Asking for space 12/21/19

Some of my more important posts are:

Hypnotherapy: "I am not responsible for my mother's emotions"
Memories (a gaslighting e-mail from my mom) Jan 10
Hypnotherapy: Feeling mastered by my dad
Analyzing the Letter from my Mom
The toxic mother hen
Narcissist vs. Normal Person...all is well while walking the same road...
Access denied: reclaiming spaces

Also, my blog has naturally divided into several sub-categories. 

You may be interested in posts on: emotional incest, stockholm syndrome, narcissism and religion, and workplace narcissism. Find some of the key posts for each of these categories below:

Emotional Incest, Covert Narcissism, and Manipulation (With a Controlling Mother)

It. Was. Not. Me. (vomiting the shame from my mother) (Nov. 18)
Hypnotherapy: "I am not responsible for my mother's emotions"
How my mom made me mad... (Dec 10)
More thoughts on Bon Jovi
Why Narcissistic Grandparents are Bad for their Grandchildren
Analyzing the Letter from my Mom
The toxic mother hen
Whatever...there's crazy people everywhere...
Dreams: The needy alligator, and planet "dad"
The Pain in her Eyes
Hotel California: A place of emotional incest
What, do you want a medal or something...?
Babbling like a fool...?
Pictures from the past, part 1: receiving an envelope
Pictures from the past, part 2: bypassing mental “protectors
All her fears into me...?
When little boys hate their mothers...
Diagnosing my parents, Cluster-B

Stockholm Syndrome, Complex PTSD, and Fear (With an Angry Father)

Pedophile or Creep? (Feelings of uneasiness around an unhealthy person)

Narcissism vs. Emotional Health in Religion

Symbolic Dreams

Hypnotherapy: the face of a saint, the feet of a werewolf

Chantelle Neufeld is a registered hypnotherapist. Her services are reasonably priced and available online. To book an appointment, click here.


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