Roughly eight years ago I made my entrance in a family which I have gotten to know from the inside out. Not only this, but if there's one thing I have ever truly hated in my life, it is this specific family. Though by now I do not really hold a grudge against anyone specifically, I still resent the whole family for their toxic, narcissistic and authoritarian social dynamics.
The impact I have had on the whole family is enormous. My sole presence has triggered a reaction which is difficult to fathom, and has pulled a thread which lead to the unraveling of this family. Imagine hating a family so vigorously that destroying it is the only way for reconciliation. That's where I came from.
As I write this, this unraveling is a process that is still ongoing. Though I'll describe this whole process and the underlying mechanics, I have no doubt about whether sharing this post will hinder this process in any way. If this post makes any impact at all, I suppose this may act as a catalyst.
This post is one in a series describing some of the hard wrought wisdom about life as introduced by this post. As content is inspired by my own life, not everyone may (fully) recognize themselves in these stories, nor is it meant to.
Additionally, I am not a therapist, nor do I have anything to do with the field of psychiatry. I am not bound by confidentiality, and therefore grant myself the freedom to describe these processes which are hidden from public view. I will not name and shame, but any resemblance is intentional.
- My entrance
- The family structure
2.1 Relational dynamics
2.2 Intergenerational dynamics
2.3 A note about therapy
- The escalation
1. My entrance
When I first met this family, everything seemed all good, and fairly normal. I mean, I was young, and doesn't every family look fairly normal when you first meet them? Over time things started changing, and one of the first significant observations I made was about the culture. This mentality is best described by the mantra "all that happens in this house stays in this house". Alongside this a completely different image was presented to the outside world. One in which everything was perfect. There was a mismatch between reality and the way it was presented, I was in a position to witness it both, and this secrecy did not sit right with me.
It was back then that I already suspected some had to deal with a few narcissistic character traits. The most annoying aspect herein is that narcissistic personality traits do not only impact the person having these, but their whole social network, too. As long as you go along well with them they will allow you in their circles, but as soon as you become a threat to them, you will become a pariah.
I soon discovered that narcissistic personality traits do not get along too well with autistic personality traits. When you have a rather literal interpretation of the world around you you're bound to clash with a narcissist eventually.
The narcissistic: "Hey, my world is perfect" The autistic: "No it's not"
Not only was there a complete mismatch between our worldviews, but I was not the type of guy they could brag about to others. I was not the type of guy they would have expected their daughter to come home with, nor did I fit in their worldview. I needed space and loved to wander around, whereas they were protective, and no one was trusted to make a reasonable rational decision on their own. It would be difficult to find two more opposing forces.
You see where this is going? That whole family was - considering I'm reasonably sane myself - bat-shit insane. If they would have had decided from the start that I wasn't welcome there, they would have made it my problem, and they could go on as they did. This didn't happen which I suspect had to do with the social implications of such act. I mean, imagine what people would think about them if they'd do such thing.
Instead they continued this facade. In a direct conversation they'd act as if you're their best friend, all the same while talking trash behind your back. All justified by me being unconforming to their apparent whimsicality. Back then it was all utterly confusing to me, though it taught me to judge people by their actions instead of their words even more than I already did.
2. The family structure
Now lets fast forward quite a while, and dive into the family structure which empowers such acts of narcissism. It's not as if there is a single isolated case of narcissism on the loose there, but instead it's something which traverses several generations. As far as I know there are and have been roughly four generations affected and possibly more, but to confirm that I'll need to speak with some who've been dead for a long time.
The primary family tree in this story is the one through which the narcissism prevails. Although one can certainly find neurological abnormalities in the extended family too, the extended family is primarily being (ab)used as to supply the suck for grandiosity by the narcissists. Within this family you can recognize a typical patriarchal structure where the eldest should be regarded as being the most respected member of the family, and in my view being the one carrying Schrödingers dick. That is, having a one too small to matter, but that being big enough to easily step onto. In any random situation only observation can determine which one prevails at that moment.
Although this tree branches significantly when starting from the patriarch, and therefore the family extensions also start to differ significantly, there are a few main structures which can be observed throughout different generations and regardless of family extensions.
2.1 Relational dynamics
A generally recognizable pattern in the relationships people engage with is that the people they seek as romantic partners are often the opposite of themselves on the grandiosity to depression scale. That is, a grandiose partner needs someone to fuel their grandiosity, whereas a submissive person coming from this environment seeks out a person having grandiosity so they can fuel their grandiosity. It might not be obvious this is a very natural instinct, but it is a general reflection of their upbringing, and how they were regarded. This is a very primitive model about how people subconsciously choose their romantic partners, and is in no way exhaustive.
Now combine this with a subconscious attraction to people whom have similar character traits as the (mostly unavailable) parent figure, and that's where I enter this story. The implication of this dynamic is probably best explained by the reason I believe I got into the family first of all, which has to do with me being unavailable to others. Though this is caused by my autistic tendencies -instead of narcissistic ones- they triggered the same type of recognition; the one of a parent figure being unavailable to someones basic needs. In such situations one would expect such person to be attracted to persons with narcissistic tendencies instead because of they do not know any different. I regard it to be a flaw in the system that I managed to attract a victim of narcissistic abuse, and that by engaging in a relationship, this whole system of abuse is slowly going into self destruct mode. That's truly some weaponized autism out here.
2.2 Intergenerational dynamics
It is important to recognize that trauma itself can propagate through various generations. Research indicated that even fear can be shared with descendants, even though they might never have faced that specific fear themselves, but rather by observing the reactions by their caregivers towards certain situations, and mirroring their behavior. Grandiosity, and it's opposing reaction in the form of depression, can both be propagated this way. In this family that is what has happened for several generations.
Comparable with the way people pick their romantic partners, one can see a similar mechanism between caregivers and their offspring. When a primary caregiver has severe grandiosity, their offspring have either the choice to feed their grandiosity, or not to. The implications however are not as clear cut.
When one chooses to feed this grandiosity, and has a similar personality, they will mirror their caregiver in most possible ways, and this is when the offspring has a pretty big chance of being subjected to feelings of grandiosity, too. This changes significantly when the offspring does not match well enough with regard to personality, but is still expected to feed the grandiosity of their caregiver. The result herein will most probably be person that is mould into submissiveness.
Interestingly enough it seems like the dominating caregiver has the biggest impact on the family, regardless of whether they are the breadwinner or not.
2.3 A note about therapy
I think it is quite important to note here that there is not anyone who's voluntarily been subjected to narcissism during their youth. All are in fact victims of their fate, and I believe that by looking through this lense it's easier to recognize why someone acted the way they did.
Additionally one can see the impact lack of therapy has had on multiple generations. Therapy of a single person four generations ago might have saved four generations from making the same mistakes again and again. Most of this this collective trauma can seemingly be traced back to the second world war, hence my thinking that mental health counselling might be more appropriate than offering aid by helping to rebuild a country. People will find themselves a way to build nice things if they want to, but mental health issues can keep on lingering for decades, if not longer.
3. The escalation
At a certain point I screwed up by getting their daughter pregnant. It was then that the family truly showed whom they were and what they stood for. It had been the ultimate event to throw me out of their family, and justify themselves in doing so. The time afterwards is still one where I have many memory holes, either from the extreme forms of abuse, or from alcohol, drugs or other forms to numb myself. It was that moment that I distanced myself from that family to contemplate what the fuck had even happened over there. I thought that'd be the end of it and moved on.
Though I decided to be done with this drama, this family wasn't, and looking back this is just where the drama began for them.
Some stress is simply too much for a single person to carry, and a natural instinct for people is to connect with like-minded people. And so it happens. The practical implication of this is that one victim met another victim of narcissistic abuse, and they started an affair. It's this affair which ravaged the first household. Whereas the victim of narcissistic abuse found another victim, the narcissist in question moved on to their next (submissive) soon to be victim.
As some divorces can get nasty real quick, so did this one. Essentially it was one against a family, whereas the remainder of the family was twisting the narrative in their favour, and even propagated their wishful thinking as being facts. The direct result has been the alienation of a parent from their children, for these children are taught to believe a certain narrative which was twisted and turned to make the ends meet.
If it wasn't already clear, I absolutely hate Trump and his enablers. There are too many dynamics I have observed in this family that I also recognize in his followers. Dysfunctional patriarchal families with no space for independent thought. Combined with the disinformation campaigns to smear opponents. No seriously, fuck this guy.
Thankfully narratives are fragile, and will need to be changed when contradictory information comes along, and as a result, this narrative has had to be twisted many times over, while at this point the main objective is shielding family members from potentially contradictory information.
And that's where we're at now. I myself am still standing in between those two opposing forces, and try to limit my contact as much as possible with one of them. What has significantly changed however is that I'm not the only one anymore who realizes the wicked ways of that family. More and more members are able to see outside of this entrapment, which one at a time weakens the impact this family has, acting as a catalyst in the dissolvement of these family dynamics.
Herein it is important to stay welcoming to people whom are still heavily influenced by this family, all the while ignoring any threats and insults. A vigorous reaction to these acts as a sign which fits their narrative that you're untrustworthy. There is no good reaction, so the best one is to simply ignore it.
The process to escape this cult like system is a difficult one, in which many of the existing belief systems will need to be challenged, and which will turn the world around for one personally trying to escape this system. It's a painful process, but one which has the power to life one out of this entrapment.
As for myself, after several years I managed to get my son out of their care. To this day they still claim I need to be thankful to them for their care, but I am not. I will never be, for I get to see the fallout of their mental disorder each and every day. I will most likely for the remainder of my life.
And as such I -hoping I do not give myself too much credit- wholeheartedly take responsibility for the implosion of this family.