Opinion: Narcissistic Parents Believe Their Own Version of Reality

Walter Rhein

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Narcissistic parents are not monsters. However, their behavior can be monstrous. They are hurtful and unfair. Many people wonder how they can act like this.

My father used to invent his version of reality. In his version, his actions were retaliation for perceived attacks.

When my narcissistic father left our family, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt an increase in my responsibilities. I had become the “man of the house.”

My father has a group of enablers. One of these enablers is his sister. His sister is so lazy he can buy her loyalty with a pack of cigarettes.

My narcissistic father’s enablers repeat my father’s version of reality.

When my father still felt it was possible to repair our relationship, he had positive things to say about me. One day, I met my aunt and she complimented me on helping the family now that my dad had left.

At that time, I had an obligation that took me overseas for two months a year. I helped out for 10 months a year.

It has been decades since my father left our family. Our relationship got worse over time. My father is no longer willing to admit that I helped out when he first left.

I hear my father’s words when other people talk. One of these people is my brother. The last time I talked to my brother, he said I was out of the country for six months a year.

I realized that this version of reality came from my father. Over the years, he learned to justify the anger he feels towards me. He does this by creating lies.

He used to recognize that I helped our family. We no longer have a relationship. So, he has changed his tune. He invented a story about how I was never around.

I still have my passport. I can prove that I was never out of the country for more than two months. That doesn’t matter.

My dad will not change his perception of the past. His enablers won’t change their perception either. To them, the only reality is that I was not around for six months of the year.

It is scary to watch people under the control of a narcissistic parent. People do not like being confronted about telling lies. My aunt now denies that she ever complimented me on helping the family.

The idea that I was once a positive influence is no longer the accepted narrative. I have to be the villain.

A narcissistic parent defends his version of history. If you contest a belief he will insist you are wrong. Evidence will not change their mind. Narcissists tie their self-concept to their lies about the past.

If you convince a narcissistic parent he is wrong, he will have to admit he is a bad person. He will refuse to do that.

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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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