Probably the hardest part about having been raised by a toxic parent is coming to terms with what is and what is not socially or emotionally “normal” to feel. Read this article any time you need a serious talking-to about your own self-esteem… or whenever you feel at risk of believing that a Narcissist or Enabler is sharing “helpful” advice with you while simultaneously claiming that disrespecting or talking down to you is, ” for your own good”.
Toxic parents not only behave in ways that are fundamentally egocentric and abusive, they pass their own toxic values on to children, life-mates, friends, family, and even — when Enabled — to their grandchildren. If your narcissistic parent or toxic parents are driving you crazy, insisting you are bad for not sharing their values, this “How to Go Gray Rock and Depersonalize Verbal Abuse” self-help article is for you.
Obviously, falling victim or “prey” to a toxic parent’s grandiose fantasies of social success (or falling for covert gaslighting psychological manipulations) can leave even the sanest and empathetic of young adults reeling from having spent their first 18-21 years of life under such an abhorrent personality’s caustic influence.
For that reason, we wanted to share a fast facts reminder about the reality of living with a person who has NPD or a comorbid condition like ASPD along with it, noting that kids who were raised by Cluster B personalities or who were exposed to their narcissistic peer group need validation for their own suspicions and intuition.
Consider this post your sign of sanity — noting that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, and/or Anti-Social Personality Disorder are morally insane… not diseased, deserving of sympathy, or in any way stupid by any true sense of intellectual order. If someone has treated you so poorly that you found your way by key term search or fortunate synchronicity of a social media click, just knowing that you have not lost your mind to think that those who treat others like dog poop on the bottom of their show are abusive can help break free from the “react rather than observe and reflect” cycle of Narcissistic Abuse.
The facts about Narcissists are incredibly easy to state. However, after a lifetime of Enablers and Abusers (themselves) pull word salad maneuvers during conversations and issuing gaslighting proclamations in an authoritarian fashion, sadly many victims have lent credibility to faulty, narcissistic premises.
Narcissistic people do all they can to promote an image of their own grandiosity, greatness, and rightness. They strive continually to brand themselves as the center of the universe, including but not limited to self-promoting their own agenda to toxic shame others while proudly proclaiming themselves to be happy.
Happy people don’t compete with or brutalize others, nor do they delight in “getting away with something”. The hardest truth to accept about Narcissists is that they get more overt and ruthlessly commanding over time.
They are at their meanest by the time they start hitting their 60s to 70s and are typically insufferable for their adult children and romantic partners by the time they hit 80. As such, all generations are affected by the solitary person’s massive toxicity. Conforming children enable while those most like them tend to take after the older Abuser.
As such, staying with one long term only benefits them, never their used and abused Enabler victim(s). If you love yourself and them, it truly is more respectful to LEAVE THEM than to ever hope or try to change ’em.
Consider this your moment of Zen for adult children of toxic parents.
It truly is a “Gray Rock” reminder for Adult Children of Narcissistic People to depersonalize abuse. Setting healthy lifestyle boundaries for yourself and enforcing them respectfully is not being selfish.
It’s being pro-active about self-care in such a way that brings honor to your family ancestors even if they fail to recognize or validate that an adult child’s choice to disengage from interacting closely with a person who abuses them is honoring their toxic parent in a way that is real.
If a toxic parent or one of their willing, Flying Monkey “Enablers” pulls the “Honor thy mother and thy father” schtick on you, tell them thanks for striving to spiritually shame, control, and psychologically manipulate you. The commandment was NOT written as an excuse to overlook, endure, or justify abuse.
Parents who fail to protect their children or encourage them to thrive break the parenting contract nature devised.
For any bloodline to thrive, parents and grandparents must consistently set aside their own needs in order to help younger generations succeed in life. If a parent or grandparent fails to protect offspring from social or physical harm because they are self-indulgent and promoting their own needs over those of the future generation, truly indulging THEM is dishonoring THEM as a “species”.
Social Darwinism matters for a reason.
Families who are forward-thinking tend to raise community minded individuals. They also tend to vote thinking about what their choice in life now are likely to create as issues to deal with (for better or for worse) by at least the next seven to ten generations.
Toxic parents who remain in romances with poor quality role models for children are even more guilty of abusing their own children than the overtly abusive parent. It’s a harsh truth, but one that has gone on for countless generations.
Women growing up in the 21st century are not helped by being encouraged to learn how to trap and depend on a man for psychological, physical, or financial support. Men growing up in the 21st-century benefit in no way, shape, or form by not learning how to care for themselves or a home — or in any way, shape, or form needing a “girl” to do things like fix their food or wash their clothes.
Children raised to believe it’s okay to disrespect other sexes, age brackets, people of different colors, individuals with different religious beliefs, etcetera are socially disadvantaged heading into the 21st century in a way no one living at the turn of the 20th century ever was (historically or legally speaking) before.
Women born in the late 1800s had no right to own or inherit property. They also did not have the right to vote. As such, advice our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers gave to both boys and girls about how to most efficiently succeed in life absolutely helped the WWI and WWII generation succeed but it’s fundamentally crippling any child born in any year past 1919 (roughly) forward.
What’s more, the rampant promotion of Nationalism taught to school children in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and early part of the 1960s has helped older generations thrive in a world that was still hyper-local, slower, and less complex on paper. Due to the advent of the internet and its rise in popularity, promoting nationalism over humanism leads to hate crime and recidivism of the most unhelpful sort.
Introverts benefit GREATLY from the use of social media for camaraderie and emotional support. Toxic elderly and those who are more extraverted and narcissistic love ridiculing people who count Facebook friends as “real people”.
In a world heading to colonize Mars, the habit of allowing toxic thinkers to engender toxic shame in other people for simply not having the same social, emotional, financial, or physical needs as theirs is dumb, plain and simple.
If your toxic parent has managed to launch you into a toxic shame cycle, one where you question your sanity, integrity, and character value yourself while lending credibility to their insistence that in order to succeed in life you must be a cut-throat social competitor who trusts no one and savages everyone with the vim and vigor of a QB leading an offensive attack against an opposing team while striving to win a Superbowl trophy, stop. Stop NOW.
Narcy people are huge fans of insisting there is one right way to live, one right way to be, and for claiming they and ONLY people who agree with them completely are successful or “in the know”.
Divergent questions like those about lifestyle — meaning which way to live your life is right — are not convergent questions with one simple correct answer.
Oddly enough, very few people who made it through college will come away from the experience unwilling to show respect for the opinions or insights of other people. Those who have Cluster B personality disorders are the only ones who seem to acquire degrees for status alone, rather than having attended college and celebrated having had the opportunity to learn and share insight with other people.
Great-Great Grandparents who were born around the time of the Industrial Revolution taught their life lessons to their children. Great Grandparents who were happy to enlist in the WWI conflict were socially influenced by heavy nationalist and American propaganda. The horrors of war brought back an entire generation of traumatized men with massive PTSD, C-PTSD, and narcopathic personality traits trained into them as military men.
These same men were our grandmother and great grandmother’s husbands — the father figures who raised girls in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s to believe that acting like a cold prick to their wives and children was in any way socially or emotionally appropriate. What’s more, mothers and sisters of these same traumatized, toxic personalities were tasked with meeting all the needs of the men who were abusing them.
If they complained or asked for a divorce, then they — as abuse victims themselves — were sold a bill of goods that they were deficient as wives and uncaring as women.
Adult Children of both men and women who lived through the war era have the added joy of having had to forge their own way through the great depression. People who were middle-aged by or before the 1950s (or who came into middle age by or before the 1990s) had zero support from mental health professionals or society. As a result, that generation has lost nearly everything personally and financially themselves while acting as caretakers to terminal thinking parents.
Terminal thinking — or NARCISSISTIC thinking — is both egocentric and short-term in nature. Terminal thinkers fail to consider how their own behavior impacts those around them. Terminal thinkers self-promote rather than strive to create a better world for both themselves and others.
Terminal thinkers demand time, attention, and financial resources from their adult children as elderly people. Terminal thinkers put their own love interests above what is best to expose their children to both in their home environment and specifically from caretakers.
Terminal thinkers insist on doing something the old way, “because that’s the way it is” or “that’s the way [something] has always been done.”
Terminal thinkers think about their own self-indulgent (rather than survival) needs as much or more than the next generation. Terminal thinkers could care less about the legacy they leave for people not yet born. All have an emotional inability to connect with the needs of the 7th Generation due to their own limited ability to process complex thought analysis with empathy.
Empathy, whether absent from a person’s psychological makeup due to having experienced trauma, witnessed trauma (via exposure), or who biologically for whatever reason do not perceive the emotion cause massive damage to the emotional body and psychology of all they encounter. Tolerating abuse from any Cluster B person is incredibly short-sighted — so short sighted in fact, it’s actually an insult to indulge them.
People who are allowed to bully their way through life and who think abusing others is smart end up old and alone. What’s more, most end up old, alone, and at the mercy of caregivers. If the person who spent their lifetime abusing friends, family, co-workers, and strangers find themselves late in life unable to care for themselves, essentially they will be at the mercy of strangers.
Noting many people with ASPD (rather than NPD) and sadistic streaks tend to gravitate toward work in the medical fields, the odds of an elderly toxic parent coming across a person likely to situationally abuse them in their older years is much higher than for a person who uses common sense and simply treats their family nicer.
Be nice to your children and help them thrive during their twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties and what do you get by the time you are 65, 75, or 85? Kids who work with you (rather than acting on your behalf as indentured servants or field staff).
If they work collaboratively rather than competitively with their own spouses, neighbors, friends, family members, and children, they end up healthier, happier and feeling more socially and emotionally successful as independent persons.
People who are happy and financially able to care for themselves are in a much better position to help out an elderly other. But helping a person who is rude, belittles people, acts stubborn and defiant in an effort to do nothing more that control a situation and abuse others by vexing them? That comes at a price to both the caretaker and the Abusive person.
Consider yourself validated as an Adult Child of Toxic Parents who believes there is a better way to live than consistently playing the role of Narcissus while actively manufacturing chaos and dismay for anyone who comes into contact with a person deliberately insisting on acting out their grandiose fantasies.
Such people might think they are entitled to act like royalty to improve their “status, but all their blustering fails to impress. Smart people who are well-educated about how the mind works know that a person like that is typically perceived as nothing more than a petulant Antagonist.
While adult kids might not be able to change the minds of their NPD or toxic parents, what they can do is make the intellectual leap to stop lending credibility to their Abuser’s assertions of their [convergent-thinking based] right to entitlement.
Entitlement-based thinkers are short-term thinkers. While serving themselves and promoting having their own needs met at the expense of others, they promote failure for others… that much is certain.
Be better than that.
Seek out the healers and the mystics and the believers and the helpers. Such folks not only will listen to you respectfully, they will answer in reflective ways that allow actual communication to happen.
Because one thing children of toxic parents all have in common regardless of where they were born or their family’s socioeconomic status…
Narcy people tend to talk a lot but almost consistently fail to actually listen.
Part of going “Gray Rock” as the child of toxic parents is learning how to detach rather than personalize anything they do or say. For better or for worse, the words the toxic parents chooses to use reflect their own toxic thinking patterns.
One can listen with the intent to understand without feeling the need to agree. One can and should also seek to communicate, meaning listen, be heard, and to respectfully acknowledge in a meaningful way what the other person said or meant.
Whether a toxic person or a toxic parent understands something you are saying or chooses to validate you sharing an emotional need or experience has absolutely nothing to do with you as the speaker. If a person consistently strives to invalidate you, thwart you, or cause harm to you psychologically in an attempt to attention-seek or willfully manipulate your behavior. stop listening.
It does not mean you have to stop trying to make progress. It does mean that if you elect to remain in contact with a narcissistic family member like a Narcissistic Mother or Enabling Henchman Father that there simply should be no emotional attachment to your efforts to communicate respectfully being met with reciprocal success.
If all you can hear come out of their mouth is advice that would have been life-saving 100 years ago but it’s contraindicated to follow now, thank them for sharing. Listen respectfully like you are watching a video tape for a history lesson. Be respectful, of course, but follow your own intuition in the absence of truly loving or thoughtful guidance.
Since narcy people place their own needs above all others, they are known for giving people bad advice on purpose simply to make their own life better. Sadly, the practice almost always comes at a younger victim’s expense.
While your toxic mama may have felt or looked like Wonder Woman back in the last half of the 20th century, her 21st-century dance moves are not likely to meet with the same measure of success they once did back when she still had her health, youth, and figure intact.
Young ladies, be warned — stop emulating that.
Get over it.
If you are nice and women who love to cook like you, chances are they might still be willing to teach the most culinary clueless among you how to make a tasty snack. Now go pick your dirty, smelly old yard work clothes off the floor in the garage.
There’s a new “washing machine” virtual reality game you can play. Oxyclean can help far better than an app.
To everyone else?
If you can afford it or have skills to trade, hire a housekeeper and be done with arguing or wasting time feeling bad about yourself for not emulating the life ambitions of people whose greatest accomplishment in life is screwing up their children’s lives and throwing temper tantrums (rather than asking politely) to have their needs met.
No one is failing in the 21st century because the wife of the household is not pregnant, uneducated, and force-feeding people who may not want to eat dinner at six. What we’re suffering from as a collective American society is the toxic shame our parents and grandparents banged into our subconscious with metaphoric hammers that make us feel guilty for self-advocating or seeking out win-win situations.
Go gray rock on your own subconscious… by throwing a spotlight on the dark recesses of the mind.
When and if you feel…
- Obligated for something you had no say in committing to do
- Like a Failure
- confused about what is or is not the next “right” or best thing to do
Ask yourself who is really talking and running the narrative going on behind the scenes, playing 24/7 inside your head. If the voice is Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandma, a brother, a sister, an aunt, an uncle, a guardian or caretaker who raised you, a religious authority figure, or anyone’s but yours, the time is now.
Bottom line, re-read this message anytime you need a breath of fresh intellectual air for perspective. We’re not telling you WHAT to think… we’re simply supporting and validating the assertion that self-reflection and examination of historical belief systems is not only moral to engage in as a habit but also wholeheartedly, unselfishly good.