“Fatty, fatty, two by four, couldn’t get through the open door.” That song still rings in my head daily. It’s what my mother, a narcissistic parent, sang to me in my childhood. It’s no surprise by the time I was 18, I had developed an eating disorder, and my weight plummeted down to 89 pounds. The thing was, however, that I wasn’t substantially overweight before I stopped eating. It was about achieving my mother’s view of unattainable perfection.
Being skinny was one of the outrageous standards she put in place for me as I was growing up. For narcissists, as you may know, it’s all about how it looks. Your dreams, desires, beliefs, natural-born talents, and other skills don’t matter. How you plan to make this world a better place doesn’t matter. It’s about how YOU make the NARCISSIST look to others, with your appearance and achievements.
In a healthy family, the parents meet the needs of the kids emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and physically. In a toxic family, the unhealthy parent or parents reverse the roles. You are required to shine the light on the toxic parent. If you don’t? The narcissist uses shame as the sharpest weapon. Then, all hell breaks loose. Love is withheld. The toxic parent sparingly doles out attention. You may receive the silent treatment or be ignored for days or longer. Regardless, it hurts.
Children of narcissists can become stunted emotionally and physically. I remember not wanting to grow up because I didn’t want to leave what I thought was the security of my home. My mother had taught me that she did no wrong and the rest of the world was bad. If I stayed a “mini-me” version of her, life would be safe and tolerable. The family jokingly called these rules her “do-right rules.” (I still don’t think that’s funny. Not one bit).
Children of narcissists struggle with identity, because one day you will likely grow up and leave, yet you are still a little girl or boy inside, struggling with making the narcissistic parent happy. My career choice of being a television news anchor and personality was a decision I knew my mother would accept. Even the man I said yes to marrying was someone whom I knew my mother would approve of.