My Thick Skin Isn’t

Go ahead, throw some criticism at me. I’m experienced, I’ve been growing. I can take that shit! Say what you will! Your opinion of me is not my business!


I’m the child of a narcissist. Of course, criticism is difficult for me.

I’m going to digress here, just for a moment, speaking of narcissism…I got a lovely comment from someone who has been reading my narcissist posts. Like me, she has a narcissistic father. In a comment, she told me that she gave her dad one of her kidneys. He left her a message saying that he wished he hadn’t taken her kidney because he just wasn’t as healthy as he’d hoped he would be.

She gave him a fucking kidney. He still complained.

If this doesn’t clarify what you can expect in the way of love and respect from a narcissistic parent, then nothing will.

End of digression.

This post isn’t about narcissistic fathers though. This post is about dealing with my thin skin. I guess my thin skin has a little to do with narcissism and how I was affected by it, but at this point, the origin doesn’t matter. What matters is I need to learn to thicken my skin.

My skin isn’t transparent and in some ways, my skin is thick enough. In some ways, not at all. You know how little kids will throw themselves on the floor in the doctors office and scream in terror at the very mention of a needle? That’s me whenever someone is coming at me with a criticism. Oh, Don’t. It will hurt so bad. 

Although, as with the needle, criticism’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be.

I submitted an article to The Huffington Post and they published it. I was excited. I don’t know how many people read the article, but some did and I know this because they left comments. Most comments were nice.

Some comments were not.

I mean, they weren’t as bad as a lot of comments I’ve read. Not by a damn sight. I read the comments and the following things went through my brain:

But…but..but….them’s are just jokes. 

Okay you supercilious twat monster…how can you have an opinion on how many times I’ve been married? You know NOTHING about me. 

I didn’t SAY I was an expert.

Okay, of course every situation is different.

Learn how to spell ‘ridiculous’ motherfucker.

I’m vulgar? Fuck you. 

I realized two things reading those comments. One, they bothered me a lot more than I anticipated and two, I processed those feelings quickly. So, some people don’t like what I write? I can deal with that. Kind of.

I wonder if the more I write and the more people read what I write, will things like nasty comments affect what I write?

The answer is, mostly I am not.

I won’t allow what other people think of me to dictate what I say. On the other hand, I will try to consider, a bit more, what I write down. Have I thought it through? Is this really how I feel? Or am I just in the throes of anxiety or annoyance?

Oh, and Randy nags me all the time about my lack of editing. Perhaps I should listen, but that’s an entirely different criticism.

I guess my point (If I ever have a point) is that if I’m going to keep writing and if I’m going to stray from the comfort of my own messy little blog then I’m going to have to toughen up my skin.

I know that we all know that we won’t be liked by everyone. I know that we all know that it’s unreasonable to expect to be liked by everyone. Knowing something and feeling something are sometimes not on speaking terms. I might have to find a way to get my ‘knowing’ and my ‘feeling’ to kiss and make up.

Besides, I can always come back here and count on you guys to help me lick my wounds.

Not literally. Keep your tongues to yourselves.




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  • Been there. Done that. Got the T-Shirt (and speaking of digressions and T-shirts, I’ve got a Dilettante web store with T-shirts for sale — how fucking narcissistic is that?????)

    That anecdote about the kidney, though… that’s a whole new level of evil. Wow.

    I will never get over how humourless people on the Internet have become. Satire is completely lost on some people.

    I believe I had nice words to say, though, so fuck the rest of ’em. Oh, I’m sorry. Was I being vulgar?

    • You DID have nice things to say…and for that I am grateful. As far as narcissism goes? We all have narcissistic tendencies..not that same as people who are consumed by it, though.

      And you have dealt with it…you sent me the link to your one post where the person was a real dick. Amazing how cruel people can be.

  • Even knowing that someone is talking nonsense doesn’t stop the little voice in your ear telling you they might be right. Such is the legacy of dealing with a narcissist long term.
    Even though you rock, a little part of you will probably always doubt that because of that, as I do.

    I struggle with that doubt every single day, but one day I hope I may believe in me enough to enjoy my little successes. I hope you do too.

    • You know…this is helpful. Perhaps if I just ACCEPT that this is part of me, then it will cease to be such a big deal.

      I get what you are saying…and I’m not discounting your doubts..but I think you are an amazing talent! I LOVE to listen to you sing.

      • Thanks, if I’ve been of any help that makes me happy as you’ve helped me through this horrible few years more than you know.
        No matter how far with healing you get, there are always things that drag you back there. Hopefully it lessens the effect when you have more of an understanding of it. Today someone mentioned something in a Narc group post that really ought to have had a trigger alert, but didn’t and took me was right back to a particularly bad event. I wonder sometimes if it’s time I left those kind of groups.

        • You know, maybe you should. That’s why I backed off writing about it for a while. I was dwelling and it stopped making me feel good..only bad. After backing away for a while, I’ve found that I can process this shit and move on (at least a little) and have been thinking about writing a few more posts.

          • I do think you get to a point, I certainly have, where you can process it much better. I bounced back very quickly from the thing that triggered me today. A few months ago it would have stuck with me for days. Reading your posts and talking about it like this I find quite helpful. Some of these groups that take themselves very seriously can be very counter productive, for me anyway.
            I need a little sugar with my medicine, or preferable humour and it’s all terribly serious, which it ought to be I suppose, but that’s too depressing to deal with. I think you probably get exactly what I mean by that.
            As for the groups that want inspirational and positive thinking, they bring out the inner snark, so definitely not for me.

          • I know EXACTLY where you are coming from. I can’t deal with the all serious all the time thing either..which for the short time I saw my therapist, drove her mad. She just didn’t have a sense of humor.

  • I could say a lot of things here, but for the sake of brevity I will simply say this: Dumbasses who leave comments like the ones you described will some day run out of Cheetos and the basement will get cold. Then what? They’ll still be assholes. Cold, hungry assholes. Don’t let them bother you.

    My wife does a You Tube cooking channel. She is a heavy set woman, you should read some of the shit people say to her. Thing is, she can always lose weight but they’ll still be lonely, sad taint stains.

    Keep kickin’ ass!

    • Thank you! I don’t know why people have to be such assholes. I guess they have their own demons to deal with.

      People are such DICKS when it comes to weight. FUCK those motherfuckers. We’re not supposed to all look the same.

  • It always amazes me when people make personal comments–that is, comments directly about the character of the author–on sites like HuffPo and BLUNTMoms. I would never presume I “knew” the author well enough to say something about them (as opposed to about the subject on which they were writing) after reading 500 of their words. Sadly, the world will always have trolls. Also, the number of people who lack a sense of humor really surprises me. And it seems like all of them are on the internet.

    My 11 year old wants to make YouTube videos of himself playing Minecraft and post them. He’s seen thousands of them, and I’m sure he’s seen the troll’s comments, but seeing them when they’re on someone else’s site and seeing them when they’re on YOUR work are very different. So I’m a bit reluctant to let him, although maybe it would be good for him–start building up that skin early. I know I sure as hell don’t have one.

    I had an old boss who used to say, “Fuck the fucking fuckers.” That’s my philosophy. But I know it’s easy to say, and hard to do when the trolls have their sights focused on you.

    And I promise, no licking.

    • Thank you, sweetness.

      Hmmmm…I would have let my son do that at 11..probably. I would have monitored it though, at least enough to discuss any vile things said. My baby boy started a twitter account at 15 and some douche twizzle said something mean to him. My son handled it with grace. I went after the guy with the finesse of a one eyed junk yard dog.

      I find it’s best to just not look at his twitter feed.

      • He’s a “young” 11 (translation: even though I’m his mother, I will admit that he’s a little immature). He’s not allowed to have Twitter or FB, although I think he’d take both if they were offered to him. We’ve told him 13 for all that stuff.

  • So, not long ago I decided that the thing I should do for my hypersensitivity to criticism would be to make and wear a t-shirt that says, “Yell at me. I need the practice.” Haven’t done it yet, though.

    Even zebras and holsteins aren’t all the same. Humans come in an amazing variety of shapes. I agree that we need to celebrate that. Just look at ears, for instance.

    • Hahah….the tshirt idea is great! Although, you could get more than you bargained for.

      And noses…just look at the noses. I have a funny looking one, but I kind of like it.

  • I gave a narcissistic friend (we are no longer on speaking terms) $2000 and she still hasn’t paid me back. With the way the economy is going, I wish I’d given her a kidney instead. . .hrrmm, how much do kidneys go for??

    My parents were both narcissists in different ways, and criticism feels like someone getting under my skin. How dare they think they know me? I have to step back and put on my emotionless thinking cap to evaluate what is true in the criticism and what isn’t. If you figure out how to make thoughts and feelings shake hands, let me know! 🙂

  • The beautiful thing about your skin, besides its sheer beauty, is that it is keeping your innerds from falling all over the floor creating a mess to clean up. While there’s always room for improvement your skin is doing all right so far.

    I used to be pretty thin-skinned, but I have found that it gets easier to accept legitimate criticism now that I’ve had plenty of people pointing out my many flaws and that’s made it easier to recognize unfounded criticism (AKA assholery). Or maybe just getting older has made me not give a shit, so that works either way.

    • I think getting older does help. While the comments DID bother me more than I thought they would, I really did get them in and out pretty fast. The overwhelming feeling wasn’t so much…why don’t they like me? was more..NO wait, you’re not being don’t know me.

      Either way, I didn’t spend too much time obsessing over it. Enough to know that if they get worse, then I’ll have to keep finding ways to shed the bad feelings.

  • I’ve been watching “Kitchen Nightmares” and it makes me feel better about my thin skin. Some people are completely translucent (and obtuse)! Give it a try—you’ll feel like you have armor!

  • Criticism is always hard, no matter who you are. The trick is not to let it stop you from being you. I spent years not writing because my inner critic wouldn’t let me put myself out there at all. I have, at least temporarily, muzzled her.

  • I have been married four times – and divorced four times. Obviously I AM an expert (in how to do it to do it wrong – would you like a guest post on that. I am sure your haters would have a field day with me). Every situation IS different but a lot of them can be improved with your advice and I guarantee the one who wrote that comment is one unhappy ducky. Maybe the next one was trying for riDICKulous? Why is it that men cuss like a sailor but women are vulgar? Fuck them all.

    • Yes…fuck them all…that is a good way of looking at it!

      Personally, I don’t judge a person’s value by how many times they’ve been married..for fuck’s sake, how is that an indicator?

  • There’s a difference between legitimate (or at least honest) criticism and tearing people down because you get off on it. The former can be useful, if irksome, and practitioners of the latter need help. And not from me. I haven’t been associated with Jack’s Free Charm School since the ’80s.
    It can be difficult to remember to not give trolls the attention they crave because personal attacks are… personal. It may help to keep in mind that even if the attack has some merit, it’s accidental because THEY DON’T KNOW YOU.

  • As a kid, I was forced to spend time with my dad’s mother (can’t bring myself to use the g word for her); she was a narcissistic evil bitch and made all our lives a living hell. To this day the memories haunt me.
    I know I am thin skinned-working on that. I’ve also noticed I have problems accepting compliments. Sometimes l doubt the sincerity and most times l don’t like having attention focused on me. Unfortunately, I have poor impulse control and blurt out my observations before engaging my brain, so I sabotage myself there.
    The kidney comment reminded me of the old witch/mother of my father and also made me laugh so hard. Thanks for sharing, it’s comforting to know there are like minded people out there.

    • My dad’s mother was also a horrible HORRIBLE human..fortunately for me, I was not forced to spend a LOT of time with her..I mean, we saw her a lot, but never for extended periods of time. Afternoon visits.

  • I don’t do well with critical comments either, I’m very sensitive; I sulk with self doubt often. Loved your post, it made me laugh, especially the inner dialog as you read comments.. Learn to spell, mother fucker… bwhahaha

  • My worst critics are usually my family, which is kind of where the whole growing up under the alcoholic/narcissistic/asshole dad led all of us. It doesn’t make me change what or how I write because I’ve practiced for so many years not to give a shit what they think any more. I get more upset when I have offended a friend. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it gets me to the bone and that, on a couple of occasions, has made me “think before I type”.

    Negative criticism from strangers on the other hand, yeah, that I have the “Go fuck yourself” skin for.

    I totally get you on this.

  • Your HuffPo article was great. No bullshit, no candy-coating because I love your stuff. It was good and it belonged there. And your skin is much thicker than mine because you’re still at it, and I’ve run away from my blog (at least for now). It’s so much easier to say something negative than positive…which means the positive comments automatically carry more weight than the negative. I for one look forward to reading everything you write.

  • Don’t let anyone’s opinion keep you from writing your truth from your heart. Not everyone is going to get you or agree with you. Some will be incredible assholes. But you don’t write for them — you write for you — and that’s the way it should be!

  • I have a really terrible rule at work: Whenever I write something that is published in the local paper under my boss’ name, someone else has to read the comments. I won’t do it. So when compared to me, you’re doing great– at least you read them! 🙂 Thick skin is hard.

  • When trolls and troglodytes visit your comment boxes, reread all the other, nice, and of course TRUE comments to annihilate the sting of the former. Then remind yourself that they still have to live with themselves while you get to live with you. Ha! Take that, nasty commenters!

  • i fucking love your blog! holy shit how am i JUST finding you!
    thin skinned product of narcissistic parents with a side order of alcoholic mother from hell. what a great post!
    the marriage post actually brought me here! i laughed my ass OFF and related to it!
    i have a great (re)marriage. we’ve been married 4 yrs (we are both 48) and while i see this one sticking believe me if it goes to shit… i’ll be ripping the damn band aid off and peace’n the fuck out! when it just doesn’t work it just doesn’t!

    new fan! will be stalking your blog (in a non creepy way)

    • Thank you!! I’m so glad you could relate! I have a shit ton of narcissism posts…just keep in mind, I’m not an expert or anything..well, other than decades of experience being the daughter of a narcissist..that counts for something. 🙂

  • I’m hypersensitive to criticism too. But mostly in real life. In blogging, I’ve somehow managed to not take it personally… I guess because I read so much of the awful things posted in the comments of other people’s blogs, that I just realize some people go out of their way to say mean things. Just like the father who complained about his daughter’s kidney, people will look for your weakness and tear into you. Who knows why? And you’re right, you have plenty of fans who will proverbially lick your wounds with you.

  • I have to agree with one critic… It is annoying to me to read a list that isn’t really a list but commentary using a list format.

    This really isn’t four points:
    1. Some people will judge you if you have been married multiple times.
    2. F*ck those people.
    3. Not literally.
    4. Unless you really want to. It’s not my business.

    That said, it was an entertaining read and I have thin skin too, I take things waaaaaay too personally and often jump to the defensive when it isn’t called for. Let me know how you plan to thicken up, I could use some pointers.

    • I have no idea. I guess the way I’ve started is by not explaining myself. I also have to keep reminding myself that not everyone will like or appreciate what I do. These are difficult for me to do, but really, there is not much of a choice with the second one, I have no control over what people like or don’t like…and not explaining myself feels somewhat freeing.

  • I’m sorry that you got negative comments (but on the other hand you got to call those…ah…people “supercilious twats” which I would like on a t shirt or maybe a coffee mug.) Either way you are evoking a strong reaction from someone and that is good. If your writing was bland or predictable you wouldn’t get under peoples skin. That being said they should chillax – your slant is obviously humor. Just imagine the kind of nasty comments The Bloggess gets – that is some good company to keep so keep on keeping on. Signed a loyal fan

  • I love your stuff. I just found your blog a little while back and it has been a real treat reading you. Did not know you had an article in HuffPo! Congrats! I’ll save that for my lunch reading tomorrow.
    And sweet chickadee…you gotta get your Dad out of your head. Wish I knew how to tell you to do that (I’m an engineer, not a therapist) but I’m betting every negative comment you read was in his voice.

  • So, this is my random thought about advice: few people want it. People like to figure things out for themselves. My parents were constantly giving people, including me, advice, and then being annoyed when people ignored it. I think it’s an ACON trait, too, because we’re constantly trying to help people. It hurts when people want to go their own way. No one wants criticism…

    • Thank you, Lisa!’s not BAD to get criticism…I mean, the guy who called my writing ‘drivel’ wasn’t constructive or anything…but even constructive criticism is difficult for me, which probably means I would benefit for hearing more of it.

  • I love this post! Fear of people not liking me or finding fault with my work has haunted me for so long, and kept me from doing what I wanted to do. Thankfully after years and years of therapy I decided to say the hell with it and start doing what I wanted to, haters be dammed!! I’m getting much better handling the negative comments, sometimes i can even laugh (that was a JOKE!!!!!) is a common thing i yell back! Congratulations for speaking your mind and thank you for sharing your great work with us!!!!

    • Thank you SO MUCH.

      I chose to not respond to the nastier comments or the pointless ones…I can’t see that it would be good for my head to get drawn into that.

  • See, I still read your blog….I’m just about a month behind!

    I loved your HuffPo piece and related it to it. So much it was scary. I had a piece on a another site over the summer and some people ripped me up. It bothered me. But only for a minute and only because I wasn’t ready for it.

    Now, of course, I know better and if I submit to another site and the hate spews….fuck it. Not everyone will agree with me.

    I love the way you write….don’t change a thing! That is my professional opinion…..

    • Thank you, Sandy…that really means a lot to me! I mostly got over it. I still have a really hard time with criticism…it stings so hard, but I know WHY I do and I try to work from that knowledge and move forward

By Michelle


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