No, just no!
Every single thing I ever did – was not good enough.
Every achievement, every award, every certificate or passing praise.
It was never good enough, in private.
In public it was soaked up for all it was worth.
Praise given to me was like an intravenous drip straight into her cold heart. A drip of narcissistic supply. She would light up. Somehow, and I still grapple with this, it was a compliment directly, sincerely and completely about her.
In private any goodness or warmth left by praise or acknowledgement was mercilessly swept aside by degrading comments. I heard wrong. I didn’t hear everything they said. Yeah, but if only they (the complimenter) knew about x, y or z.
I remember I had just played a hard game of netball. We were loosing, tragically. Our coach was a gem. She drew out our strengths and our positives. She commented on what I was doing, and how I was practicing that new skill we had just been learning. Was that all she said? No, she gave me a suggestion about how to get around my opponent. She gave us the confidence, skills and knowledge to face that team, and our losing margin. Did we win? No. But I left that game glowing!
I remember saying aloud, how nice it was that the coach thought that I was working with the new skill. And that being brushed aside with, if that was all you heard you are kidding yourself! So sharply and so coldly.
And yet in the dysfunction of this, I thought this was normal!
I thought it was normal to have your parent expand and take the limelight for any and every compliment. I thought it was normal the way she prodded a bit more with those fake leading questions, or how her voice and behaviour changed around the complimenter.
And I used to like her hearing the compliments.
I realise now that it was because that was the only time I was able to hear them myself – without them being completely tainted.
But most of all, her most common and predictable reaction was to turn it back on herself. That drawing was good because she had always encouraged me. I have a nice friend because she was nice to them, and went out of her way for the friendship. I had a good marks in school because she had told me to study. Or she had always known and always told me that I was talented. I was good at teaching because she had seen it in me, and told me to do teaching. But not in the compliment way. Which is a hard thing for children not born to narcissistic parents to comprehend. It was an attack. Everything was an attack.
So please forgive me when I call bullshit on the spiritual adage that she gave me a wonderful gift. In that, her abuse was so abusive and damaging that I now know how not to live or be or treat people… as in… she, is again being credited with my hard work, diligence and efforts.
If I had of fallen in a heap, had countless dead-end jobs or battled countless addiction – would it have been her great gift? No – it would be my lack of choices or decisions or actions etc.
And yet, when I do succeed, and work 40 hour weeks whilst putting myself through university (because I didn’t qualify for government assistance at that stage)… or when I learn the skills to live with, and manage C-PTSD that my childhood had left me with… the credit is given back to her.
So she wins if I succeed, and I loose if I don’t succeed… right.
She may have been doing the best she could, with the resources she had. Yes, I am aware that narcissists are often abuse victims themselves. But it wasn’t good enough. And no, I do not owe her any credit for my stability right now.
So if we are to go so far as to say that abuse is a “gift”, we need to acknowledge that I was the person who opened it. I was the person who meticulously unpacked in, through years of therapy and professional help. I am the person who decided everyday to push through this, and be a different person. I am the person who has lost thousands of dollars as I protect myself from her. I am the person that lost my childhood, and still have countless sleepless nights due to the trauma I experienced. I am the person who lost almost everyone when I called her out, and stood my ground; when I broke free. I am the person who has woken up with the repercussions of this. I am the one that made the decision to move on from this.
No. She did not leave me a wonderful gift.
I unpacked the crappy, hurtful, abusive, damaging and violent pile of vermin she left me.
And I turned that poison into freedom and fresh air.