Opinion: Narcissistic Parents Can Ruin Your Life If You Don’t Ghost Them

Walter Rhein

Image by Walter Rhein

I found a picture of myself from when I was eighteen years old. It brought back a lot of memories. I had shaved my head to run a marathon.

It is not necessary to shave your head to run a marathon. I shaved my head because I thought it would help me stay cool. When I looked at the picture as an adult, I saw a young man in a lot of distress.

I noticed tension in my eyes. My body carried stress.

Running a marathon was a way to earn a sense of self-worth. There are pictures of me at the finish line. The stress I carried in the other photo was gone.

My narcissistic father did not go to the finish line. He never recognized any achievements. He didn’t even say, “good job” when I got home.

It was like the marathon never happened.

But the marathon changed me.

You have to learn to seek recognition to survive a narcissistic parent. Children need the praise of their parents. If the parents will not praise them, substitutes will do.

I used to get good grades from teachers. Good grades make it possible to develop a sense of self-worth. Employers begin to recruit you. Good grades lead to opportunities for personal freedom.

My narcissistic father tried to ruin these opportunities. Employers would call, and he’d tell them I was worthless.

My father would run me down in the form of jokes. He did this to teachers, romantic partners, and employers. He claimed this was his form of friendly banter.

“Why is a pretty girl like you hanging out with my loser son?”

Then he’d become hurt if I objected to the statement. He claimed he was only “kidding around.” He insisted he didn’t intend to hurt me with his comments, so I had no right to object to them.

The farther I got away from my narcissistic father, the better my life became. When my girlfriends never met him, my relationships were better. When employers never met him, I was hired.

Everything my narcissistic father did was to make my life worse. I did not have a successful life until I ghosted him.

It’s frustrating to think of the years I lost when I still tried to have a relationship with him. I could have been a different person in high school. There are people I wish I had treated better.

I wasted time trying to earn the respect of my narcissistic father. He never had any intention of respecting me. My narcissistic father was committed to sabotaging my life.

It’s important to share stories like this because other people don’t recognize the danger of these relationships.

The stress I carried when I was eighteen was unnatural. There was no reason for me to feel like that. My body knew I was under stress even if my mind didn’t.

I removed my narcissistic father from my life and most of my problems went away. I’m willing to work hard in both my professional and personal relationships.

Today I dedicate myself to relationships where success is possible.

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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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