WHO AM I?
what am I supposed to be?
PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Confusion (#2a)
SITE: Identity vs Role Confusion – Stage 5
QUOTE: “May the forces of evil be confused on the way to your house” ~ George Carlin
Childhood CONFUSION (cont.) : PARENTAL sources
1. THEIR Narcissism
• Mother to child: “Put a sweater on, I’m cold”. HUH???
• Bragging about us to others, to make themselves look good – but never complementing us directly – while constantly tearing us down to our face.
We may or may not find out what they’ve been saying behind our back, but it doesn’t help. Are they proud of me or not?? What do others really think? (3 Types of narcissistic parents ➡️)
• EITHER: We’re absolutely convinced one or both parents are withholding – of love, attention, information, protection, affection….. when in fact they don’t have it to give because of their own damage. The smart, intuitive part of us DOES know it- but is too painful to acknowledge, so we blame ourselves!
OR – one parent is the pillar of the community, giving to others of their time, attention, knowledge, camaraderie…. BUT at home is withholding & distant, or blatantly abusive to wife &/or kids. No one will believe you if you tell – you would be a liar or the crazy one!
OR – he or she gives our toys, clothes, gifts…. to others, without any warning or discussion (stealing from us) to be the big-shot, to make themselves feel better & seem important, be admired. They’re feeding off of others because they’re empty inside.
Confusion: My parent is a ‘good’ & beloved person, so why not to me??
2. Hypocrisy – more likely to occur in externally functioning (dysfunctional) families – but not exclusively. Kids know when adults are being dishonest, but this will cause too much cognitive dissonance, so they end up believing the lies, & then have to work very hard to validate & justify their parents’ actions & statements, just to not feel crazy.
We’re all familiar with the preacher / public servant / spiritual teacher type who publicly advocates purity, sobriety, family values…. but privately does the opposite – until they get caught! (More...)
• A favorite manipulation of many parents is “Do as I say, not as I do”. This is very confusing, since kids automatically & relentlessly copy what the adults do, as much as absorb what they’re told.
Ironically, those of us who said “I’ll never BE like them” end up either following the same patterns directly (maybe in a disguised form), OR marrying / working for someone just like them. Among many other reasons ACoAs copy them, it’s our loyalty to family, and an attempt to eliminate confusion
3. Mental & Emotional illness (especially harmful when it’s the mother).
From the very beginning of life these children are trapped with real craziness – someone who never makes any sense, or is only intermittently lucid – so their first relationship is with someone who twists, manipulates, gaslights —> ”false information presented to make a victim doubt their memory, perception & sanity”
• The parent may be psychotic, or ‘just’ severely depressed, drunk / drugged, suicidal…. ending up in the hospital, probably several times, with very little or no explanation given (needed info), with the child not allowed to visit, not knowing if the parent will ever be back….
OR being forced to take care of the debilitated parent at home, along with siblings – for many, many years, subjected all the while to mental confusion & cruelty.
It’s one more way we become deeply ashamed of ourselves (being part of that weird or shameful family). We learn never to rely on or trust others, or on our own intuition & experience.
Am I a child or am I the parent? Am I evil? Am I crazy too???
Early Confusion: Having several caretakers – being sent to live with relatives, having too many sitters, shunted to many foster homes, adopted – but not told, several step-fathers…. Who are my real parents? does anyone truly love me? where do I belong?
NEXT: Confusion #2b