A Letter to the Narcissist – No. 44
To My Father,
I’m not sure what people here will make of this or what they’ll think of me by the end, but it is what it is I suppose.
I was born to two parents; a first child. You say I was a wanted child…but you abandoned me at a restaurant because I was crying too loud. I was a few months old. You didn’t want me then. And then you did. You came back. What made you change your mind? Why did you come back?
I don’t remember how old I am, and since this is an honest account I cannot make something up. I was very young. Possibly somewhere between three and four. We are at an ice cream parlor. You tell me to keep a secret and I’ll get as much ice cream as I want. I parrot that Mom told me that “we don’t have secrets, only surprises.” You said the reason Mom thinks that is because she’s not the brightest bulb, and that you hope I am bright enough to understand. All but the extremely dumb-witted have secrets, and only attention whores tell. I, not a stupid attention whore, kept the secret and ate ice cream until I threw up in the parking lot. (That was the last ice cream reward.)
I am in preschool. I learned to read at 2 and a half, but my teachers react to that proclamation with condescending disbelief. They believe I only memorized the words from my favorite books. Imagine my ire. I read the front page of the town’s local newspaper to my preschool class. Those teachers never doubted me again.
I am in kindergarten, and you just came home from narrowly surviving 9/11. You proudly recount your heroic tale of survival-complete with how people were jumping out of the buildings from above, and how the pathetic idiots surrounding you in the smoke cloud were begging for God and their mothers to save them (you said this part with a chuckle). You to this day call that day the luckiest day of your life.
Mom lost yet another baby. How many has it been-two, three, four? I honestly don’t remember. I think that it’s a sign that I’m meant to be an only child. I could live with that. A family friend asks what happened. I calmly explain that another baby died and that I don’t know why she keeps trying when it’s obvious they will just keep dying. I’m only six, and I can see that. (What is it that you always say? Ah, I remember…the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.) My mom heard me. She started sobbing. I don’t think she spoke to me for a week.
I forgot. I forgot the lie you told me to say. I got distracted and forgot and told the truth. I remember the look you gave me. It was positively murderous. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do remember that for weeks or months after (it felt like years), whenever I got in the car, the only song you would play would be Depeche Mode’s “Policy of Truth.” Your sense of humor, I guess. The lyrics were burned into my mind by the end…particularly the part about that if you tell the truth you’ll see your problems multiply.
You’re teaching me to ride a bicycle. You teach me on a concrete parking lot. I fall on the pavement every day, usually more than once. This is no father-daughter bonding activity. You’re frustrated and often screaming. I try my best but still I keep falling. I fall even with training wheels on. My knees look like miniature war zones. I get a scar on my elbow that is still visible now. Eventually I flat-out refuse to ever get on a bicycle again.
My brother needs stitches. He fell off his trike. We go to the emergency room and you order me to be like a marble statue. No tears, no emotion. No embarrassment for you. I stare at the wall, still and silent as an effigy.
I’m 9 years old and I have 3 pet chickens. We brought them back from vacation in the country. We meaning my mother, my brother, and I; you were working and I only asked Mom’s permission to get them. Your glare could freeze lava. But then you smile. I have those chickens for a year and a half. I name them. I spend every day after school playing with and feeding them stuff from the garden. Then one day my mother tells me that you want to kill them and if I don’t let you you two will get into a huge fight. You suggest it might be bad enough to cause a divorce. I am a child; I fear my parents divorcing like medieval peasants feared the plague. So you chop their heads off. You get your revenge for my impudence a year and a half ago. You have Mom cook them and serve them for dinner that night. Why waste perfectly good meat, after all? I watch you and her and my brother and your friends eating my pets. I announce that I’ve decided to become a vegetarian, walk out of the room, and slam my bedroom door. You come after me. You tell me that if I really cared about them I wouldn’t have let you do it. But since I did not there is no excuse for my behavior. You made me go back downstairs and apologize to your friends for my misbehavior. I did. You won…but you lost. Because I never took a bite of that meal, and I did become a vegetarian. It bothered Mom even more than you. Because her guilt consumes her.
My brother needs stitches again. He’s about 9 now, and he fell on the playground. You won’t let us leave the house until my brother stops crying. It’s a good thing my brother’s injuries weren’t too serious, because it took over 15 minutes.
The standardized test scores are back again. I don’t even have to look. I know what they say. 90+ percentile in every subject…except Math. Soon my brother will have 90+ percentile scores in everything. Then you and he can both laugh and call me slow. As always, you show me your own glowing report cards to compare. Maybe my brother will get the money in my college fund…you’re no longer sure if I’m smart enough to attend, let alone get a Master’s Degree like you.
There’s a girl in my class. She’s the ONE person who gets higher grades than me in the entire class. But second-highest grades in the class won’t get me an award at the end of the year. Second-highest won’t get me your praise. And besides denying me the one thing I want more than anything in the world, this pretentious little brat annoys me daily by correcting the factual errors in my FICTIONAL stories. I want her to swallow cyanide. Instead I blame her for cheating. I say I saw her doing it myself. I am a model student, very innocent-looking, and well-behaved. And I’ve been honing my skills since kindergarten (usually by making up more exciting-than-what-really-
The moment of release was brief. Then chaos ensued. A room full of adults were asking me why I did what I did, you included. I calmly told them why. Everyone exchanged these weird looks. The therapist, obviously getting her revenge for that puzzle to the head, sends me to be evaluated for something serious. I knew it’s bad when it ends with “personality disorder.” That means your entire personality is diseased. A cancer. Something that must be cut off and thrown away to save us all. I started crying and apologizing then, but it wasn’t going to cut it. I was going to the psychiatrist.
You came to my room in the middle of that night, alone. I said I wasn’t crazy. You said I was saying the right thing now, but I had to DO the right things to get out of this. Then you spent the entire night teaching me what to say and how to say it in order to get out of that psychiatrist’s office without being diagnosed with anything. It worked. I was free. And I vowed never to do anything that utterly stupid again.
If this is love, I don’t want to be loved. I don’t want to love. People love what you can give them. And when you can’t or won’t, they throw you away like garbage. I will be nobody’s piece of garbage. Nobody’s fool. Neither will you. Neither, I believe, will my brother.
And I can’t decide whether to hate you or thank you for all you’ve taught me.
I realize I broke one of your rules writing this letter. I know you think that thinking about the past is what makes people so unhappy, and that we should always be looking forward, not backward. I realize but I did it anyway.
Because if I don’t do so at least occasionally you’ll own me.
Because I strongly suspect your piece of “wisdom” there was at least half you deflecting blame. If we don’t think about it, we can never point any fingers in your direction. But well-played. Very eloquent and philosophical, Dad.
With perpetually mixed feelings,
32 thoughts on “A Letter to the Narcissist – No. 44”
Apparences cachent tellement de choses. Ton père le savait, ça lui donnait du pouvoir. Merci de nous avoir raconté. ❤️
I like this letter.
Petals somehow reminds me of Bloody Elementary. A younger Bloody.
Heartbreakingly beautiful. That all I can say….
I felt a deep, heavy, sinking feeling within me when i read this letter. It is not fair that a child was subjected to this. It makes me nauseous. It makes me sad. It makes me anxious.
Petals, i am so v sorry for everything u went thru. Having the sweet chickens, that YOU cared for, on the dining table, is revolting. Him bad mouthing ur mom in front of u is disgusting. U learning to ride ur bike on the pavement without knee pads is absolute child abuse. The picture in my mind of a sweet little girl complying to her father, on the bike, is making me cry, as i write this.
Petals, i hope u are nc with this non- person. I will be looking out for ur posts in the future.
Much healing to u, petals. 🌺
Nauseous, sad, anxious, AND actually crying…sit down and get a glass of water before you faint, Jenna! LOL
“Him bad mouthing ur mom in front of u is disgusting.”
Well, in that case he was right. He is more often than not. My mother is rather low on the scale of cognitive function. If the levels of narc intelligence were altered for non-narcs, I’d say she was of Lower Mid-Range intelligence.
“U learning to ride ur bike on the pavement without knee pads is absolute child abuse.”
They use knee pads for learning to ride a bike?! I had never heard of this.
That isn’t sarcasm, you know. I hadn’t until your comment. Yeah, that would have spared my knees a ton of pain, and I wouldn’t be staring at the wrinkled up scar on my elbow right now.
“Petals, i hope u are nc with this non- person.”
Nah, he’s around. He’s good for an interesting discussion about psychology and we have similar tastes in movies.
“Having the sweet chickens, that YOU cared for, on the dining table, is revolting.”
Though come to think of it, I think we might have a score to settle. Because though me becoming a vegetarian inconvenienced him, and was the best I could do at age 10…somehow I just don’t think that quite does it for something like that.
I am deeply triggered by descriptions of any type of child trauma. It induces physical symptoms in me. Becoz i don’t know u, the symptoms are not long lasting, just a few minutes, but nevertheless it is what happens to me.
My dad used to belittle my mom in front of others. I hated it. I think one parent shud not belittle the other parent in front of an innocent child, who does not know what to think.
Petals, within my family and relatives, many of the kids learned to ride bikes w knee pads, elbow pads, and helmets. It is an absolute must!
“He’s good for an interesting discussion about psychology and we have similar tastes in movies.”
It seems u are well on ur way towards healing. This relieves me somewhat.
Pls take care petals and ty for ur reply.
“I am deeply triggered by descriptions of any type of child trauma. It induces physical symptoms in me.”
Here, an empath theme song (aptly titled Feelings): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPnkT1DRZS4
Though…if I had such an affliction, you wouldn’t catch me dead anywhere near places where people tell such stories, let alone actually reading and commenting on them. So why do you? It just seems rather counter-intuitive and masochistic to me.
“It seems u are well on ur way towards healing.”
It might be more accurate to say I am moving forward, towards knowledge and towards what I want.
But from the posts I’ve read from you, you seem stuck in a perpetual rut, unable to move forward. You’re far from alone in this-I know several others like you personally, and internet help forums are filled to bursting with such people.
The support group where I have found, observed, and catalogued so many has rules about “showing respect” and not asking “rude” questions. Good thing this is not the support group.
So you can help put an end to the question in my mind. What stops you from moving forward? Do you know what it is? Or is not knowing what makes it impossible to overcome?
I am just very curious, and human behavior is the most fascinating subject I have ever come across.
The reason for being here is simple: the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Regarding ur letter, i did not know there wud be many descriptors of childhood trauma. Once i started reading, i realized it. I continued to read, in hopes that i will discover, that u are trying to heal frm it. I wanted to comment, to reinforce to u, that what he did was absolutely wrong.
I am glad u r “moving forward, towards knowledge and towards what (you) want”.
I have never been on any other online support grp. Hg’s blog, is my first experience. I knew other support grps existed, but i was not interested. I wanted answers, not sympathy. So, i never even ventured into such support forums.
Yes, i am somewhat stuck in a rut. It is difficult for me on some days to stop thinking of nex, but i making advancements and progess. U may have read my other posts. I do not meet him nor am i intimate w him. I drew the line on that. I allow him to text me though. The reason i had not cut him off completely boils down to a few reasons 1)he never physically, verbally, sexually, or financially abused me, 2)no real devaluation, 3)he is much nicer to me than many non-narcs in my life (eg he never insults me, no name calling, he helps me when i am down, he knows that i am highly sensitive so he is careful), 4)i enjoy interacting w him, usually. He is secretive though, which bugs me. Thus, i have gone nc. I am on day 11.
By being here, i was able to interact w nex much more productively. I knew what wud and wud not wound him, i knew why he wud sometimes deflect, become silent etc. Interacting w him became v manageable.
Thx for the link. When i googled her, i recognized her frm ‘the wizards of waverly place’. Loved the song!
On being raised in an environment with multiple narcissists: this letter highlights a huge difference which *might* explain why some children become empaths while others become Ns.
Petals was coached on how to win. Her dad seems to have told her (or made known somehow) the “rules”. His advice was cruel and horrible, but she didn’t know otherwise. What we see is our “normal” until we are out of that environment.
I was never told any rules, never knew what I did wrong, and walked on eggshells to be perfect. I tried to walk quietly through the house, pretended to be asleep early and stay in bed late: anything to avoid being seen. Once anyone was noticed, they were a target. Blamed for something, issued a punishment for something, being screamed at… and often I had no idea (even after the rage ended) what I’d done at all. “You know what you did” was not uncommon. My sister was never in trouble. Always the golden child. She was deified, especially after she died (car accident age 20). Reading this, I wonder if she was a narcissist and was deflecting blame on me throughout childhood? I have never understood how such a pleaser as myself could always be in trouble. Lord knows, I tried to avoid it.
They are all dead. There is nobody to ask. Not that they would answer honestly.
When mom was alive, she gave me a box with all of my grades (and my sister’s). I was smart! I had no idea: when I was ranked in the 99th percentile, it was because everyone else was dumb. When testing for entry into a new school, the school asked to skip me two grades. I was told that they only said this to flatter my parents and get their money. I saw my grades, and my perfect sister’s, and asked my mother why she couldn’t have “given” me this one thing? My grades were far higher, but sister was prettier, funnier, more persuasive, well-lked, thinner, taller, and “smarter”. Mom said “Your sister WAS smarter. She didn’t have time to put effort into school like you did, because people liked her and she had dates. If she WANTED to make good grades, she would have beaten you in that, too.”
The last relative living when I had children was my grandmother. Every good thing my kids did during her life (including their good looks), was praised highly: “Look at that! Just like your sister.”
The golden child/scapegoat gap seems to have been far greater for you and your sister, and the roles fixed. My brother and I shift between golden and scapegoat repeatedly. It enforced our drive to succeed, and was great triangulation…always having to be wary of the other stealing the position back, as they had many times before. My father could tell you that doing what your parents did…making it impossible for someone to gain your favor, has a high likelihood of making them eventually give up. And that’s when you lose all power over them.
And besides, neither my brother nor I were the desired Elite, but we each have the desired traits the other does not.
“I was never told any rules, never knew what I did wrong”
That reminds me of my childhood best friend. Her father, stepmother, AND biological mother were all Lessers, and she was the permanent scapegoat among her numerous siblings, stepsiblings, and half-siblings. No matter what she did, she was beaten and ignored and hated.
Interestingly, considering what you said about a possible correlation between Narc parenting style and how children turn out…she was an empath (Super Magnet Empath, to be precise). It will all be anecdotal of course, but I’ll think about other ACONS I know of and see if that theory pans out in my life.
There were a couple triggers in this letter from my childhood. One was learning to ride a bike. My dad tried to teach me and i was overly afraid of falling. I can remember how impatient he was and he gave up and got angry. Thats always stuck out in my mind. The other was the pet chickens altho this is way worse and traumatizing. Im so sorry your parents did that to you. Why could they not go and “buy” chicken from the store. This is shocking and so so very wrong! It seems a tad sadistic 🙁 im vegan and altho i dont judge people or tell them not to eat meat subjecting you to eating your pets and they had become your pets omg soooo wrong!!!! This was triggering bc my dad had a sadistic side when it came to animals he lacked zero empathy. He was a hunter and had full deer skinned carcasses hanging like a butchery in our garage where we parked. It reeked of blood. He would also hurt our dog who when we got him had already been abused. I could kill him for doing that. I wouldve liked to shoot him in the ass with a bb gun or neutered him with no freezing. Watch him in fear. What a sick freak!!! 🙁 Ive had to push these things out of my memory in order to have anything to do with him. I dont know if hes a narcissist but i do know he has a sadistic side. Another thing is growing up hed laugh everytime i hurt myself. One time i was on a horse in a wooded area and it tripped over a tree stump and ran. I fell off and hit my head dazed. His friend was there and he laughed as he pretended to care and ask if i was ok. I walked off angry and hurt.
Wth is wrong with people? Some people have no business having children.
Thank you for going back and sharing your childhood experience ❤
“Why could they not go and “buy” chicken from the store.”
It had nothing to do with food-of course chicken could have been obtained from any one of the dozen+ supermarkets in our vicinity. I had not asked my father’s permission to get the chickens, and this was his long-awaited revenge. And my mother has all the backbone of a jellyfish.
Oh, and after reading your description of your father…you’re not sure if he’s a narcissist? Why? Cruelty to animals, laughing at you hurting yourself…he sounds like a textbook case.
Those painful childhood memories….. and the hurt caused by the parents , people who supposed to love and protect their children.
I feel for you Petal .
Come little girl-sit by me.
Your father sounds lovely. When can I meet him? And what is it with Narcs and poultry?-I have a turkey story.
Seriously though-glad you decided to share. Couple things jumped out at me:
“And I cant decide whether to hate you or thank you for all you’ve taught me”
Well I am very clear I hated mine, but I know what you mean by that. As confusing as it might be for others I hate to admit there are parts of me that I think are better for having endured him. Turning out like my mother would have been worse in my mind.
Another line: “Because if I don’t do so at least occasionally you’ll own me”
He does not own you. He has had influence over you and your environment and yes, you share some DNA with him (which is not the case with me so I can only tell you what I believe and not what I know to be true). That you are no longer a child or hostage to him and can decide which of his traits you inherited to work on nurturing, tempering, or attempting to discount altogether. You have choice.
It also doesnt matter what people think because its your story, but you will find much education, support, and understanding here. You have far more company than you ever thought possible.
Lets have some ice cream.
“Your father sounds lovely. When can I meet him?”
Haha. I was almost tempted to go call him and direct him here just so I could reply “Right now.” He’d do it-it would be highly entertaining for him. But having him on this site just wouldn’t work out long-term.
I am very clear I hated mine, but I know what you mean by that. As confusing as it might be for others I hate to admit there are parts of me that I think are better for having endured him. Turning out like my mother would have been worse in my mind.
Absolutely. BTW, have you figured out just what your mother was/is (empath, normal, victim narc)? Because there seem to be some similarities between your mother and mine.
“He does not own you.”
I know that. I just meant he would if I mindlessly obeyed his every whim.
“Lets have some ice cream.”
Ha. No chocolate, please. Vanilla or strawberry only.
I just want to give you the biggest hug!
Hopefully Mr Tudors blog will be of help, we support you!
Ha! I wouldn’t let you. As Kuzco from The Emperor’s New School always said, “No touchy!”
(It was my favorite cartoon as a kid. Oh, and Kuzco was the world’s most obvious and hilarious somatic narcissist. All one needs to do is listen to the theme song to see THAT. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL53V3bMSWI)
These replies are late, I know-RL called.
I aim to amaze.
A wonderful and open letter, Petals.
An honest admission of what made you the way you are today.
I imagine difficult to disclose publicly.
But so very brave and real.
Do you engage with your father on regular basis, Petals?
HG, can a child begin as a Narcissist and switch to an Empath
and back again to a Narcissist in adulthood?
If they were created as a narcissist to begin with?
Or is it only the appearance of empathy.
Part of their narcissistic facade?
Would you be able to do an article on this topic.?
Is your book, ACON close to publication ?
2. See ‘Chained’.
3. No lots to tell.
Thank you HG.
And yes, my father is engaged with regularly. I just got off the phone with him now, actually. He’s the member of my family I have the best relationship with, strange as that might seem. I have nothing in common with my brother at all (though we were close when we were very young), and my mother is utterly insufferable. My father can at least be halfway interesting sometimes.
Thank you Petals for your reply.
I wish you well in your healing.
It’s so sad that a parent tries to exploit their children and teach them how to deceive.
Causing your children to hurt themselves for your own pride, and to punish them for loving, even if it is an animal, is terrorism.Period.
You seem to fear becoming him. I don’t think that will ever fully happen.
If it is any comfort, I have a friend with many of your qualities, and a few more obnoxious ones thrown in. I don’t fear her, because she lets us see the love in her with caring of animals. I call her my “ruthless” friend, but she has been invaluable, she listens to my ranting, but she never lets me devolve into a pity party.
And she used to back me up when my narc tried to change the narrative or sling BS
Your heart is still there.
You now see where the blame should rest.
Leave it there.
Petals, you said I would not appreciate your letter, but I do. I have been through all these mixed feelings for a very long time. It is not easy to find a way, when things are not easy to decide. If you cannot say is it black or is it white? Or is there a grey? Which kind of grey- a dark grey or a light grey? All I see is someone whose parents – especially your father- triangulated a little girl and tried to influence the little girl to choose one of them as a favourite. I see your father as the dominating one and your mother as a victim narcissist- not only as a victim. Why else should she ask you to give your pets for a meal? That is so cruel!
Who brought you into the situation to need a therapy? I believe, but I really do not know, that you were confused as a little girl about all the contradictions and cruelties at home between your parents and against you. You have been a little girl that could not understand what happened at home and you were torn by the situation at home. Both parents cared at first about themselves and their ill relationship and did not care enough for you.
And the second therapist did not understand at all! It was very simple to put the blame on you. Maybe she did not understand or was a narcissist herself. Why did none of the adults support you in that situation and said to the therapist, that you really do not like puzzles? There are so many questions, that you have to solve for yourself.
It is a very hard way to find the truth behind it. It is a very long struggle until you find out, what was wrong and what was right and until you find your own way through that labyrinth.
“Petals, you said I would not appreciate your letter, but I do.”
Really? Well, that’s surprising.
“If you cannot say is it black or is it white? Or is there a grey? Which kind of grey- a dark grey or a light grey?”
I had no idea you recognized the existence of shades of grey. You certainly didn’t come off like you did.
“Why else should she ask you to give your pets for a meal? That is so cruel!”
Well, my father told her to cook and serve them. Not only was cooking beneath him, but if we ate a non-microwave meal my FATHER made…well, the chickens wouldn’t be the only ones who would be dead.
As for my mother’s empath/narc/normal status…it’s TBD for now. What was NarcAngel’s mother?
“Who brought you into the situation to need a therapy?”
Occupational therapy. I walked late, did not jump until 5 years old, despite having nothing noticeably wrong with my legs have to this day not done what others would consider running (I “gallop” at my absolute fastest), have poor coordination (hence the bicycle troubles), nearly illegible handwriting, and generally had a host of physical difficulties.
And then there were some peculiarities such as reacting as if I touched a scalding hot pan when touched.
“Why did none of the adults support you in that situation and said to the therapist, that you really do not like puzzles?”
Because people are unreliable and children are not listened to, of course.
Hmmmm….I thought I was the only one who was served my pets for dinner. It’s gross to find out that is not uncommon.
I love this letter. You capture the experience of being an ACON perfectly! I hear your pain. I hear your strength. But I also hear in every sentence a hidden suspicion that you too are diseased like him. I can only comment on what I see and, it is one lay person’s opinion that you are not. You seem to CARE about right and wrong and you’re able to see the difference and choose with bravery. An N doesn’t do those things. I too fear, almost daily, that I was BORN diseased. That it is in my DNA. But we truly are the choices we make and actions we take, rather than the Narcissistic thoughts that inevitably run through our little ACON heads. We may have to fight a daily battle, but unlike our parent, we can win!
And so you turned out to be a narcissist as well..
Feeling sorry for their past, whishing them hell right now. How can you ever hate a narc when you know his past? How can you love a narc once you know all the evil he’s done?
How not to break your mind over all this? How does one ever find peace and clearity?
This was such a good letter, Petal. I hope it was cathartic for you. I begin to think I’m unique in my suffering with narcissists sometimes but then I read a letter like this and realize just how many have suffered the same atrocities. I’m not unique, I’m just one of many.
This is so painful to read. I have a picture in my mind of a sweet little girl trying to do everything perfectly so she can gain the approval of the parents who are supposed to protect and love her.
I am so sorry for what you’ve been through. That sounds so trite. Sorry doesn’t get you shit but it is all I know to say. You have never been garbage but your father did throw away the best gift he ever received.
He is a toxic piece of shit that should be immediately flushed into the sewer.
“This was such a good letter, Petal.”
Thank you. I do love to write.
“Sorry doesn’t get you shit”
At least you admit that.
I know, these replies are late-RL called.