This is a post accompanying the previous post I published earlier on the golden flamingo.
I need to write and share some stuff about my family background. I’m in an inside out mood where I want people to see some more of what’s inside on the deeper layers. I share a lot of personal stuff on summerSHINES but there is nothing more difficult to write about than my family background.
I rarely go back and write about the past, and usually focus on the here and now as a defence mechanism against getting too upset or miserable-as if there’s one thing writing about the past is guaranteed to do, it’s make me feel MISERABLE. But the here and now is shaped by the past, so it’s only fair I go back there sometimes if I am to be fully authentic. I also feel the need to explain my personality….
….It is after all officially disordered. Thank you Dr Cautious [psychiatrist] for this oh-so-complimentary label ;) I am honoured for this ego-boosting accolade nods.
This is my psychological background in a nutshell. Baby summerSHINES is born into a family with two older brothers who dote on her and think shes’s the best thing since sliced bread. SummerSHINES inadvertently ruins her big sister’s life by the mere fact she was born and spoilt rotten (through no fault of her own) by her dad who is a narcissist, becoming his new favourite object.
SummerSHINES also accidentally causes post-natal depression of her mother who already has a predisposition to recurrent bouts of the black dog, and sees her mum battle with the black dog on and off all her mother-daughter relationship lifespan. SummerSHINES’ mother is always reluctant to accept she has depression and anxiety, preferring to sweep it under the rug with the dismissive statement “it’s just my nerves”. ‘Just her nerves’ behaviour permeated all of summerSHINES’s life, so by the time summer turned adult at 18, depression was something she knew a whole lot about (without knowing it was an illness with a name).
I accepted I had clinical depression at the age of 16 and went to the doctors and was prescribed anti-depressants, well before my mother acknowledged she suffered this dreadful illness herself, and had been suffering with it, pretty much FOREVER.
SummerSHINES dad was the narcissist with [undiagnosed] Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is a brief Wikipedia explanation of NPD
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which there is a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others’ feelings. People affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power or success, or about their appearance
He too refused to accept he was unwell and different to anyone (in any other way other than being (as he perceived) FAR BETTER THAN ANY KNOWN PERSON ON THE PLANET). His narcissism permeated his entire being and demeanour. He lived like the cat who not only got the cream but had his own cream producing factory!
NPD has lots of aspects to it, but the most notable aspect to me about my dad was his grandiose self-image.
People with narcissistic personality disorder are characterized by their persistent grandiosity, excessive need for admiration, and a disdain and lack of empathy for others. These individuals often display arrogance, a sense of superiority, and power-seeking behaviours. Narcissistic personality disorder is different from having a strong sense of self-confidence; people with NPD typically value themselves over others to the extent that they disregard the feelings and wishes of others and expect to be treated as superior regardless of their actual status or achievements. In addition, people with NPD may exhibit fragile egos, an inability to tolerate criticism, and a tendency to belittle others in an attempt to validate their own superiority.
This is all him to a T….and being raised by someone like this basically fucked me up a great deal, which is why I have no time for anyone who displays traits of narcissism. here are more traits which he had in abundance…
- Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others
- Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
- Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions
- Needing constant admiration from others
- Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
- Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
- Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs
- Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them
- Pompous and arrogant demeanour
I actually feel quite sick just thinking back to the toxicity of being raised by someone like this. grimace
Usually I am sympathetic to anyone who has a mental health disorder. Anyone will tell you that. I afterall have two of them myself. However my sympathy does NOT extend to people who refuse to accept there is anything wrong with them, and narcissistic personality-typed people are very rarely able to make accurate self-evaluations pf themselves and the fact they are ill in any way, because of their distorted self-beliefs.
The extent to which they are in love with themselves and their very idea of themselves and their STATUS and their APPEARANCE TO OTHERS and their LACK OF EMPATHY TO ANYONE THEY HURT, means that they are often more reluctant than any client group to seek out, and importantly, stick with treatment.
People with NPD don’t tend to be the patient groups with the mental health treatment success stories that we read about in articles or magazines. They don’t change readily because their deep rooted psychological patterns are very resistant to change. If you honestly believe you are perfect and a superior human being, why on earth would you want to take guidance from a therapist pleb? (not saying “pleb” would be my choice of words- but I know for a fact my dad believed therapists were plebs who had degrees but knew nothing and he was above therapeutic intervention.
My dad’s narcissism was sadly though not only something that (unknowingly?) belonged to him, he leaked his narcissism out to cover all of us in it’s toxic residue. We were in the “top one percent” of the population, so he said. (Yes, he LITERALLY said and believed this!!!). We were “special” as a family group, and the rest of the world were plebs. He wore a business suit wherever he went, even after he retired, to differentiate himself from the majority and would frequently ask me if he was handsome. Yep, weird I know. He believed he was irresistible to ALL women and all round perfect! The only people he didn’t think were plebs (beneath him) were people of recognised high status in society in terms of occupations. He liked doctors, senior managers, solicitors and priests- that’s it! He rubbed shoulders with the lower in status at times to elevate his status and create a visible contrast effect. He would make his voice over-the-top posh and would use ridiculously pompous language and speak ABSOLUTE BOLLOCKS, dressed up in pseudo-intelligent packaging. He was head over heels in awe of our family doctor, and also fixated on how much he believed our family doctor admired him back in return. (!) “We speak on the same wavelength” he said. “JBS (doesn’t everyone call their GP by their initials?!) LOVES it when I go into the consulting room”, claimed Dad…”because we can have an intelligent conversation on the same intellectual level. My dad sincerely believed he was the doctor’s favourite patient [!] My dad believed he had special treatment from this doctor of amazingness.
My dad also believed that when I became a psychiatric patient four years ago that I was probably my psychiatrist’s favourite patient LOL! That couldn’t have been further from the truth! I was a pain in the arse patient truth be told-really difficult. I was moody, closed-off, suspicious, paranoid, slitty-eyed, repressed, defensive, tense, anxious, withdrawn, hostile, reserved,- none of the personal qualities I assume she’d be looking for in a “favourite patient!”; not to mention that most mental health clinicians don’t rank their patients into favourites and lesser desirable ones. They are just there to do the job they are paid for, which is to work with and help every individual person as best as they possibly can. Yeah?!
Being raised by someone with these bizarre conceptions about the world and themselves and other people definitely messed me up psychologically. It was not a great example that he set to me. He wanted me to be like him, the apple of his eye. He was a narcissist, who wanted me to be just as narcissistic as he was, because he thought narcissism was normal, healthy and desirable. He sold it to all his children as “self confidence” not arrogance. He thought he was realistic, not grandiose. He thought he was wonderful, and not at all cold and lacking in empathy. He thought he was an amazing dad and we were all amazing. Don’t be fooled though-this was not healthy for us. It was not simply him wanting to encourage us to feel good about ourselves. It was very damaging.
He wanted me for instance to perceive myself as utterly drop dead gorgeous and beautiful and looking like a catwalk super-model. He was proud of having a daughter who turned heads. It looked good on him. He had seedy and equally image driven narcissistic friends that would look me up and down when I became a teenager in admiring ways that made me want to projectile vomit straight in their gawping faces. Everywhere I went his eyes followed, studying every curve of me and pointing out what he thought of my hairstyles, clothing choice, physique, makeup, everything.
He wanted me to look good to make him look good.
He was only proud of me when I looked pretty and feminine and wore sexualised figure hugging clothes.
He was proud of me when I got the grades at school to match his unyielding expectations.
His love was conditional on me performing to his merry ego-bruised narcissistic tune.
I did what he wanted to retain his affection most conditional.
And then there was the depressive mum who pretended she wasn’t depressed and the older sister who hated me and the older brothers who had absorbed a certain amount of narcissism themselves.
I was summerSHINES-the baby member of a most unusual family.
My GREATEST fear is always that I will turn into my parents. Am I the depressive mum in denial? Nope. I am the mum with known depressive tendencies who has psychological help and speaks to my children about how I am poorly and explains everything regularly. Tomorrow I am telly (my first time). Does that make me narcissistic? To want to appear on telly? Nope. Because my wish is not to go on telly and be complimented on my clothes, hair, makeup or physique. I DON’T want that. I want to be appreciated by the viewers who watch it, for facilitating them to feel better about themselves and their own lives and to know how best to deal with their mental health and the relationship of themselves (the mentally unwell struggling person) relative to society and other people. If you want to compliment me for anything, please let it be that.
I want people to hear my story and to relate. I want it to capture people’s attention FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS and for people to feel uplifted and inspired by what I say. It would also be jolly nice if I wasn’t slated for appearing with my family on television talking about something as personal as my battle with mental illness.
I may have been influenced by my bizarre family of origin, but I have not become them. I am my own person. I saw how they messed up their children (including myself) and I am determined to not make those mistake with my own.
That is what healing is. Healing is observing and learning patterns, learning consequences and effects of different behaviours, and learning healthier alternatives.
My whole therapy has been orientated towards the topic of “THIS IS HOW I WAS SCREWED UP BY THIS AWFUL BEGININING I HAD IN LIFE. HOW CAN I POSSIBLY UNDO IT? AND PREVENT MY PSYCHOLOGICAL ISSUES HARMING MY OWN CHILDREN WHO I LOVE TO PIECES?” That’s it-in a nutshell.
Unlike the song in Jungle Book, “I DON’T wanna walk like you, talk like you it’s true-ooh ooohh” !!!
More to follow on the subject of narcissism on later posts. Also an explanation of the previous golden flamingo post (which is kind of about narcissism too, but healthy narcissism aka. self-confidence)….far too busy to explain all this just now but stay tuned :)
Here is your chance to sing a-long with summerSHINES- you know you want to :) Any survivors of narcissistic abuse, substitute the word “wanna” for “don’t wanna.” It’s totes powerful :P