Adult Children Of Narcissists: Gratitude

I’m a prickly person.

Overall, I like to think that I’m a nice person, but I am impatient and have little tolerance for dickish behavior. (I am not excluding my own dickish behavior). 

One thing that I haven’t felt much of is gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, I feel grateful when people do nice things for me or treat me well or support me. I feel endless gratitude in those situations. But trying to find gratitude in every day life or finding the silver lining in shitty situations is not part of me.

Recently, I found myself feeling much gratitude toward the universe because life is treating a person I love well after kicking him in the teeth for such a long time. This person is part of my heart and I love him more than vacation days and coffee and a good night’s sleep. The fact that life is going his way means more to me than I can express and for that, I am feeling much gratitude.

I found this gratitude brings a feeling peace that mostly eludes me and I thought that perhaps I should practice feeling gratitude more often. Perhaps even trying to find gratitude for the times life has been painful.

Being the child of a narcissist has brought about so much pain, misery, and dysfunction in my life. What could I find to be grateful for?

Well, one thing I can be grateful for is that I’ve ‘met’ so many wonderful, caring, quirky, funny, and insanely talented people who grew up children of narcissists. I am grateful that I know them. I am grateful that I’ve read their words and grateful we connected.

One such person, Andrea, left a comment on my blog in the form of a poem. Her words were haunting and beautiful. The poem filled me with peace because of the connection I felt with another human. Also, I sobbed when I read it out loud to Randy, but to be fair, I cry over everything these days.

Andrea was gracious enough to allow me to post her poem here. Without further ado, here is Andrea Barnard and her beautiful poem about being the child of a narcissist.

andrea

I am the child of a narcissist

I do not know myself very well

When I try to put my finger

On the pulse of who I am

I see a million mirrors

All of them reflecting back

Who I think I might be

Who I have been told I am

Who I want to be but cant

Who I try to be

But the fit is never right

It’s always just off

I am an imperfect piece

Trying so hard

To be whole

 

I am the child of a narcissist

Take the time to know me

Please

It will take time

It might take time

But in time

You will meet my many mirrors

And I think you might love them all

They are all me

Despite their differences

And none of them are all me

Despite their differences

If you give it time

I will be a reflection of you

What you want

What I think you want

What I think others want

Please though

Sometimes

Take the time

To reflect back

What you see in me

 

I am the child of a narcissist

If you don’t understand

Research it please

Google gets it

Better than me

I need you to understand

when I don’t understand

The child of a narcissist is a million colours

Sometimes too brilliant for this world

When they come to understand

The self awareness it takes

For the reason why

They feel so person-less

Empty

Carved out

Mirror shade

Ghost town

Broken car

Empty lot

 

I am the child of a narcissist

But if you let me

I will reflect you

always

Just please

Every now and then

Take the time to understand

That I do not know myself

Every now and then

What I am

Will not be what you want

Or need

Or desire

But please, understand

When tomorrow comes

And I am not her any more

That she is just resting

Until the demands of today allow her

To come out again

To play with you

And be the child

that she was never allowed to be

 

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45 comments

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  • That pretty much sums up how I feel every damn day. Sometimes I feel like I have to be the only one that is almost 40 and still feels like that. Thank you for sharing!

  • It scares me how much that poem made complete sense to me. I understand and feel every word of it. Very powerful and very well done.

    -Recovering Alcoholic and Child of an Alcoholic Narcissist

    • It’s just beautiful and spot on. I’m sorry you have to deal with that, it sucks so hard..but it’s good to not be alone and to know that other people out there really ‘get’ who you are.

  • Love the poem! I’m going to have to meditate on this one. I was raised as a non-person in a very dysfunctional family, so I am always questioning myself. I never thought of my mother as a narcissist, but it fits. Thank you for sharing.

    • I did not realize that was the case for me either until a little over a year ago…I had so many questions answered. I suggest just doing some internet research, there are all kinds of clinical articles and blogs out there that might answer some questions for you. I wish you peace. 🙂

    • There are so many different answers to that question. I think the short answer is that you were raised by someone who had no capacity for empathy and truly only cared for themselves. They look to their children for validation and when the child fails, they are punished for it. This leaves a child in a position to always try to please their parent..have difficulty finding a sense of self and can lead to a lifetime of depression and anxiety and often, PTSD.

    • Short description from the Mayo clinic: narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

      • Which is probably why my mother has hardly spoken to me since our fake Labor Day weekend “get-together”. Lets just say I wasn’t fond of her date or how she was so enamored with and forgiving of someone she’s never met in person.
        She’s now tagging me on Facebook as one of “millions of brave survivors” who walked across the bridges downtown on 9/11/01 to escape Manhattan so she can get pats on the back from her friends for having such a strong daughter who waded through the mess of Ground Zero. Which is almost entirely untrue – I crammed myself into the F train near W. 4th St after 2:00pm. Way different connotation if you tell it the right way, no?

  • Holy crap! I just googled it and I had no idea what damage this can do. Congratulations on seeing it, reaching out and congrats to Andrea for her beautiful words. Best wishes to you both.

  • I also have a hard time consciously choosing to be grateful. I always admire those who post their weekly posts about being thankful — but sometimes I have trouble coming up with things to be grateful for. I guess perhaps that is the point — that I should actively look for things to be grateful for, even when I don’t feel very good about my life. I don’t know that I need the pressure of coming up with a blog post every week about it (plus, I’d feel stupid, (“I’m grateful that I was able to get that stain out of the carpet”) – but perhaps I can personally reflect on things I can be grateful for when I’m meditating.

  • Beautiful poem and it really does describe it so well.

    Really unwell again so I’m afraid I’m not feeling terribly grateful for much at the moment, much as I ought to be. So many people are much worse off than I am.
    This being ill lark is so not Rock and Roll!
    🙂

    • Dammit! We were supposed to REALLY be done being sick! And I wouldn’t feel bad about not feeling grateful…if it happens, great..if not, I don’t think it’s something else we should use to beat ourselves up.

      I am sending you all my good thoughts.

  • When I have trouble feeling grateful, I make myself remember that out of all possibilities I was born healthy in California in 1960. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does.
    That’s a powerful poem, full of courage and insight. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Michelle, this…spoke to my heart. I’ve been reading your stuff, pondering about this idea of being a child of a narcissist and just wondering. I see myself as passionless and without identity, I’ve studied psychology, philosophy, theology I think in an attempt to figure me out…and I think the slow dawning (with your snark and grace) is that this is what explains me the most. Such a beautifully haunting and insightful poem, it really nailed some stuff for me. Thanks. Respect REDdog

    • I have had a bad day today. I mean awful…it started out good and ended up being in a traffic jam created by a lunatic who shot and killed a hostage and then shot himself (he didn’t die) I heard the gunshots. It was scary, I didn’t know what was happening and I was stuck in my car..then I had to go back to work and finish out the day. I’m home now and I read this and it lifted my spirits..not at all because you’ve suffered (ha ha) but because I had even a small part in helping you discover something about yourself. That means more to me than I could possibly tell you. THank you for letting me know.

      • That’s terrible for you, I’m sorry to hear that. Yes, you have opened my eyes to a possibility I hadn’t even remotely considered. My Father is a serial under-achiever and yet even in his early 70s still believes he has been hard done by and never been allowed to shine in his God ordained roles of leadership, etc. He was/is the sort of bloke to read my test score of 95% and ask me where the other 5% was. I think this, among other things, might be a sign that he’s always been a narcissist…I think. Anyway, it’ll give me another lead to pursue in my quest an identity of my own. Thanks for putting your stuff out there Much. Cheers Red

    • Red, you’re not alone – when I wasn’t being pissy and stubborn (my mom used to complain that I was such a “Contrary Mary”) I was completely jaded, depressed and apathetic.
      It was a heartbreaking read but entirely spot on. If only my mother would read this and recognize what she caused…

  • Wow. This poem… just wow. It explained so much to me. Not about me but someone I love very much who grew up with a narcissistic father. I forwarded this to him and it blew him away. Said it explained what he’d been feeling his whole life but could never put into words. I think it was incredibly, deeply helpful to him to read it.

    Is Andrea a blogger? If so, I need to find her blog and read more… Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Wow. This is an amazing poem and I think I have to read more about this being a child of a narcissist…..I think it might be me too….hmmmm…off to the internet.

  • This poem really opened my eyes, as has reading your posts about a narcissistic parent. I can now put a name to the behavior of someone I know. I could only use the word broken and watch as her daughter grew up to be just like her and not even realize it. It’s maddening from this side of it so I can only imagine what you and this lovely girl have been and continue to go through.

    Thank you for sharing this, Michelle. I am so glad that you have been able to connect with others who understand. While I’m not happy that you or anyone had to grow up like this, I am thankful that you are willing to share your experience. You are of great help to many, I’m sure.

    • Thank you, Sandy! I am soooo hesitant to say that I can help anyone because I am so much not qualified..but I can connect and I can let people know that they are not alone.

      Dealing with a narcissist is so frustrating and painful. I am so glad that it’s not my life anymore and that all I have to do is keep working on the damage it did in the past. So many people deal with it every day with narcissistic spouses. I can’t imagine the pain.

By Michelle

Michelle

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