Opinion: Narcissistic Parents Can Repair Abusive Relationships, But They Won’t

Walter Rhein

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The tragedy of narcissistic parents is they believe they are victims.

[P]eople high in narcissism may see themselves as victims of interpersonal transgressions more often than people not living with the disorder--PsychCentral

Narcissistic parents refuse to recognize their guilt. They think other people have to change. The truth is they need to change.

I only heard my father say the word “sorry” once. He said it after he told my mother he was leaving the family. “I’m sorry you lost interest in me,” he said.

We didn’t understand what he meant. He was the one who had decided to leave. He was the one who had lost interest.

His statement showed he was already working to control the narrative. He was the one who broke up the family. He had already found a way to blame everyone else.

Narcissistic parents are prisoners of a mental trap. They find strength in anger. They find power in unreasonable behavior. It scares them to give up this power.

When my dad left the family, I reflected on our relationship. This is normal and healthy. It is not normal and healthy to accept your narcissistic parent’s interpretation of events.

When I was a child, it was easier to accept my narcissistic father’s interpretation of events. That is the survival mechanism for enduring a narcissistic father.

My father always wanted to be told he was right and be seen as clever.

Some of the things he believed were as complicated as fairy tales. It takes creativity to blame everyone else all the time.

My father needs to admit fault. If he admits fault, he can fix our relationship. In his mind, we are all cruel. In his mind, we are all ungrateful.

My father insisted he never made any mistakes.

He blames everyone else. He’s afraid to examine his behavior.

I have not seen my narcissistic father for decades. The last time I saw him, he looked at me with anger. The expression on his face was hostile.

I realized that he spent years inventing lies about me. In his mind, I was an evil person. The version of me he had invented was real to him.

So many years have passed that I know it’s dangerous to be around him. He believes his fairy tale about me. He refuses to see the truth.

My narcissistic father convinced himself I am the cause of all suffering in his life. He turned me into his villain. His beliefs are not real, but they are real to him.

All he had to do was admit some fault years ago. It was possible to have a healthy relationship. I admit I am wrong all the time. My narcissistic father refuses to admit he is wrong.

When you refuse to admit you’re wrong, the universe punishes you. It is impossible to escape humility. Choosing arrogance condemns narcissistic parents to torment.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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