Little Bird: Before Narcissistic Personality Disorder Hurt


Adult children of narcissists live in a reality that is squishy.

We never learned how to trust ourselves or feel that we even have a right to be here and that shit isn’t easy. We don’t get to have a solid sense of security. We get a sense that everything is squishy. Narcissistic personality disorder creates squishy lives all around.

I am trying to get my head around it and I’m trying to remember my past with some positive memories. I have so many bad ones. From what I understand, many children of narcissists only have bad memories.

Not all of mine were bad.

I never understood WHY I went from being the center of my father’s universe to a child that never failed to disappoint him. I wondered what changed. I can’t pinpoint when it happened, but I knew it was around age 7 or 8 that I went from being a princess to being unwanted.

As I read about children of narcissists, I came across a passage that went something like this. Around age 7 or 8, when the child begins to develop a sense of self, the narc parent rejects the child because they are no longer a reflection of the narcissist.

I had my answer. I didn’t do anything wrong. Life just played out the way it plays out. Reading those few sentences werebird-e1388097387605 a revelation to me. It’s when I read that I knew I was finally going to get some answers. They weren’t pretty answers or happy answers, but they were comforting. Putting a name to the pain in my childhood was comforting.

When I was 4 years old, we lived in a small apartment building in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. I was happy then. I would wait in the front yard for my dad to get home from work and when he did, we would do whatever I wanted to do.

I loved taking walks. There is an actual fort in Fort Thomas, Kentucky and we lived just a few blocks from it. I loved walking there. There is a wall along the sidewalk and I would walk on the wall and my dad would hold my hand to keep me from falling off.

On one of these walks, I watched a little bird fly into the windshield of a truck. It bounced off the glass and landed on the sidewalk in front of us. It wasn’t dead, but it was severely wounded.

I was beside myself.

My dad picked it up and we took it home. We lined a box with cotton and I put some bread and water in the box and watched over the poor little dying bird. It was still alive when I went to bed that night.

The next morning, the box was empty. My dad told me that the little bird got better, he took it outside, and the bird flew away.

As an adult, I know what happened to that fucking bird. No way the bird lived. I’m sure it died in the night, or more likely, my dad put it out of it’s misery and chucked the dying bird into the woods behind my house.

Back then, when I was still young enough that he could look at me and see himself, he didn’t want me to hurt. He really didn’t want me to hurt. He was protecting me and it worked. I was secure when I was a very small child. I was safe.

That safety went away just a few short years later.

I’ve spent a lot of time bemoaning my childhood, but the truth is, I do have some fond memories. Some safe memories. I need to remember these memories and take comfort in them.

Besides, I guess it’s POSSIBLE that the little bird got better.



















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  • “Around age 7 or 8, when the child begins to develop a sense of self, the narc parent rejects the child because they are no longer a reflection of the narcissist.”

    Wow…you just hit the nail on the head for me. My mother was SO adept at controlling me and keeping me wanting her “love” and approval that we didn’t start to have serious issues until I was a young adult (early 20s) because it took me that damned long to start to want my own identity. And even then it took another 20 years for her to fully reject me because I didn’t know how to fully let go and I was still conforming in most ways to being what she thought I should be. Actually it’s been a series of rejections and then her pulling me back in because I wanted my mommy to love me.

    I am proud of myself for fully sticking to my boundaries since the end of 2010 even if (especially if?) it means I don’t see or speak to her.

    • I butted heads with my dad throughout my childhood and it was REALLY bad in my teens. It went on well into adulthood until he had his heart episode. Toward the end, I just avoided him as much as possible.

      I’m so glad you’ve found your sense of self!

  • Wow. This is both sad and incredibly liberating. My parents aren’t narcissists, but sometimes they were just assholes. I doubt they meant to be assholes, but they didn’t really like each other. I was probably the only kid in middle school praying my parents would get divorced. They did… but not until I was 20. Their crappy relationship plopped all over my first marriage, and I am sure is the reason I jumped into a terrible relationship and had no idea how to get out of it.

    Fly, little bird. Whether out of the box or out of the shadow of someone who just couldn’t see past themselves. You have incredible value and totally deserve to be here.

  • Thank you for writing about this. I just recently discovered that I am also the adult child of a narcissitic father and am struggling with finding ways to deal with this new reality. I’ve read many clinically written articles about the subject, but it is so nice to hear someone else’s personal experiences.

    • It’s unsettling to learn about this, but there’s an odd comfort as well.

      I’m glad you found this! I plan to keep writing on the subject until my head is right… know…forever.

  • Wow. Just read your comment on the Bloggess and came over here to comment. I didn’t know there was a name for it. I’m an adult child of an alcoholic (my Dad), but I didn’t realize you could be an adult child of a Narcissist. My Mother is a Narcissist. I learned that in therapy 20 yrs ago and in many ways it has freed me. I was always wishing she could just, “read this book”, “try this”, “look at this self-help article”. Knowing that there was nothing I could do that would miraculously make her the Mother of my dreams helped…but there is still a hole inside…especially when I see how other mothers are with their children. I’ve learned to accept it, but I too feel squishy. I’m always doubting myself and hoping I’m doing the right thing. Forget about writing stuff in cards….like the ones they send around at the office when people are ill or have lost a loved one. I’m truly at a loss to know what to say. For years I felt like I didn’t know how to feel. Thanks for your comments.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you found me. I’m sorry you’ve suffered…because it sucks ass.

      I know what you mean..when women talk about the great relationship they have with their dad or their dad would do anything for them I always feels sad…

      For me, it’s nice to not feel alone..that there are people who really understand this..and then I feel selfish because I don’t want anyone else to feel this way.

      • Yes, or when someone tells you, “Oh…I’m SURE your Mother didn’t mean it that WAY.” They just have no idea. None. My Dad was actually pretty good, he did love us unconditionally, but my parents were divorced.

        • Hahaha…everyone LOVED my dad…he was funny and engaging and all the things a narcissist is. When he was on, he could be captivating.

          For short periods of time. He would quickly become grandiose and overbearing. But usually, when friends were around, he was just charming.

          “Oh…no…your dad is a SWEETHEART…I LOVE your dad”.

          There was no point to arguing.

          • I think that’s why it took my 45 years to realize that it wasn’t ME that was crazy! Everyone else loved my parents. Old friends still tell me how great my parents are. It makes me want to puke!!! We didn’t have sibling rivalry so much as rivalry with the rest of the world. I remember getting ready to go to a high school dance and I was told that I looked “Not too shitty.” But when my best friend showed up he fawned all over her like she was the most beautiful girl EVER! Who does that???

            I think that “squishy” is an awesome way to describe our world. Nothing is solid and definite – opinions, feelings, certainly not love or acceptance!

          • I KNOW! People LOVED my dad. My friends thought he was the greatest!! HE’S SO SWEET!
            No. No he is not.

          • OMG Megan….the “Not too shitty.” comment made me laugh. (I guess I’ve come a long way.) My Mother has a twin out there in the universe somewhere! Back in the 80’s I was staying with my Mother for a while and I had a purple silk dress with bright splashes of turquoise, yellow and hot pink, (remember it WAS the 80’s!!) I came out wearing it and she says, “Oh, that dress is really cute”…..wait…..are you ready for it?…..”But it looked like such a rag on the hanger.”

            Another story….I was recently at the Hollywood Bowl with some friends….a Mom and her adult daughter. Mom wanted to pay for a concert t-shirt for her. They went back and forth with Mom finally insisting that she wanted to get her something to remember the night. (Earlier we had been having a conversation about where I grew up, etc. and I touched on the Narcissist thing.) I turned to them and said…”That was a prime example of a normal relationship.” (The Mom wanting to do something nice for her daughter.) I told them, “If it was my Mom, she would have EXPECTED me to have gotten HER something and then complained it was cheap after I bought it.”

          • Wow..

            It is hard and sometimes fascinating to see healthy families interact with each other.

            Not too shitty…reminds me of last week when my therapist asked me to say something nice about myself. The absolute best I could do was ‘I don’t suck’.

      • I feel that way about other peoples great dads too! It makes me so sad.
        I managed to sustain my dads interest for longer because I desperately wanted to please him. I remember having a great childhood and that my dad was great and my mum was no fun and would be the one that would discipline us! It was so unfair for her! Now I realise what was going on and how hard it was for her. It was amazing how long my parents stayed together as my mum is really not the dependant type.

        When I was young I had this cat who was, quite literally, my best friend. He was a dog-cat, if that makes sense. My dad knew how much I loved this cat. I really f**cking loved this cat. When I grew up and moved out of home the cat stayed on the farm with my dad as it was old and he had lived there his whole life. I found out about the death of my cat about a year after the event, through a flippant comment by my step sister. “Oh, yeah and how the cat died”. “… THE cat? My cat? He died? Dad, when did he die?” “Oh yeah. He did. I don’t know. About a year ago, maybe.” About a year ago. My dad did not think to tell me that my beloved childhood pet had died. Or he didn’t want to go through the uncomfortableness of telling me. I don’t think I will ever understand.

By Michelle


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