Children Of Narcissists Ask “Why Am I Me?”

C

Maybe all kids are tormented by that question and not just the children of narcissists, I can only filter it through my experience.

I can remember frantically and desperately asking myself, why am I me?

I have no idea how many years that question tormented me or when I stopped asking it. I suppose it could have been when I started self-medicating around age 13. I smoked a lot of weed when I was young. In the 8th grade, I was called pothead Poston. I hated that nickname. Mostly, because the kid who gave it to me was a dick.

Maybe, I still asked the question after then. Maybe, it went away when I got a job, became preoccupied with moving out of my parent’s house, and paying bills.

The question drove me insane. I knew that I was a person and that I had thoughts and feelings. But, I spent so much time disassociated from myself that I truly had no idea WHO I was.

Why am I me?

Just typing that brings little flutters of anxiety up through my chest. When I think about asking that question, I see myself in my childhood bedroom.

 In my bedroom, there’s a non-working fireplace with a beautiful mantel surrounded by green ceramic tile. My wall paper has dainty little rose clusters on it. I am around 9 years old and wearing my school uniform, the plaid jumper and a white blouse with a Peter Pan collar. I’m in a child’s pose with my face on my knees. My hair is cut in the uneven pixie cut that my mother imposed on me (Think Moe from the 3 Stooges. That would be the haircut I wore throughout the late 60s and early 70s). I am hugging my knees and just screaming that question in my own head.

If I could go back in time, I would gather her up and tell her that I can’t answer her question. I still don’t know why I am me. I don’t know how we become ourselves. I know that much of me was made by my childhood, my parents, and my friends, but I also know that I have a core that is all mine. It always has been. I would tell her that it doesn’t matter why. I would tell her that she just is.

Being a child who had her experiences filtered through a narcissistic father, I learned to doubt everything. Even my own existence.

I am decades away from that little girl. I feel a great deal of compassion for her. She looked so anxious and her stomach hurt so much. I wish that I could comfort her. I’d tell her how gorgeous, quirky and wonderful she is. I’d tell her her that she would see it too if she could just stop being so afraid and ashamed all of the time. I wish that I could take her to a place where she didn’t have to be afraid, a place where shame wasn’t a part of her daily life. I wish that I could free her from the straps that she felt holding her arms down and keeping her authentic self from emerging.

I can’t do that, though. She is always going to be that same little girl. I am closer to death than childhood now. Maybe it would have been better if I had been unbound at a younger age, but I can’t change that. In any case, I am glad that I  feel those straps loosening up, maybe even falling away.

I still might not know why I am me…I just know that I am.

That’s good enough.

 

 

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29 comments

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    • Who am I. I was me even before I was born. As you said there is a core inside us that belongs just to us. That part is the spiritual side of me that becomes larger as we grow. Sometimes we can’t let that part out for the world to see. The world is such big place filled with narcissists who take up so much of the world. But if we can stay true to ourselves and become what we want we will have succeeded in this thing called life

  • Okay…you made me cry with this one. It could be me…just substitute alcohol and cigarettes for the pot and it pretty much is.

    • 🙁 I didn’t mean to make you cry. Randy said that he teared up a bit as well. It’s funny that I even thought about it, though. It was so long ago but such a BIG part of my childhood. It hardly seemed like a valid subject until I started thinking about it and how many hours I spent worrying over it.

  • I think we all feel that way at some point or another. I know I still ask myself this on a regular basis. It’s either that or “why does this HAVE to be me?” Things just are and it’s hard to even find that answer. I look at the child that I once was and try to tell him that because of those experiences (good or bad) it is what has brought you to today: alive, healthy and with a loving family. We should not be defined through others but how we respond to others.

  • I think if you can ask the question, you are worlds ahead of people who just go through life without wondering.

    It won’t help, but it isn’t just children of narcissists that ask this question.

    I am me because of the conditioning I was raised with. Conditioning I am fighting against, but not always winning – no reading or fun if there is something “useful” that needs to be done, be nice and avoid confrontation no matter what it costs you, be special and accomplish something important. Those last two can conflict, by the way.

    There are many of us struggling to become a different version of ourselves. You are not alone.

    • I suspected that many people have questions about who they are or why they are. When I was a kid, I wasn’t really asking why I was who I was as much as I was asking why did I exist in the first place. I knew that I was a person, but I had no idea why I had my own thoughts….it was frustrating.

      Good luck on your journey to find your authentic self. We can do it, right?

  • I used to do a similar thing as a child. I my mantra was a bit different. The words I used were broken and worthless. I would ask why I was this way. Now that I’m past that point, I think I may have also been re-enforcing my belief that I was broken and worthless.

    Those people we were as children will always remain a part of us. If I could go back, I would just hold her and tell her to be strong. I’d tell her it would be worth it.

    • It would be great to be able to do that. I don’t remember thinking that I was broken when I was child. Maybe I did. I just remember not understanding why I even existed and why my thoughts were my thoughts.

  • I never wondered why I am me. How DARE I even think about me? Who I am? What I want? What I think? And God forbid, how I FEEL. Shit, that was the cardinal sin. How DARE I be so selfish as to wonder who I was and how I FELT?? I was ridiculous and insignificant and flawed and not worthy of having my own feelings, much less wondering who I was. I was nothing. I still struggle with that. Today is a bad day. Most days I am a hell of a lot stronger. Today is one of those “if today is the last day of my life, frickin bring it on”. I don’t mean to be that sucking vortex of negativity today but I’m there. But I totally get what you are saying “Hello, can anyone tell me who I am?? And why I am even here? And what was the point??” We are all amazing. Shit, we survived their sickness and still came out the other side as intelligent, funny, caring, insightful, amazing people. 🙂 And THAT they cannot take away. I like what you say about going back and comforting that little girl or boy and telling them they ARE okay. More than okay. Beautiful, handsome, worthy, loving, special and they have a purpose and a destiny. And it’s okay to be them. Them is amazing.

    • I’m sorry you’re having a bad day. 🙁

      I get it, though. I have them all the time. We were always worthy and valid…but we didn’t learn that as children and trying to sort through it as an adult is difficult. But we can..we can! We can do hard things. 🙂

      My thoughts are with you and here’s hoping that tomorrow is better.

      • Thanks Michelle. 🙂 You are amazing and thank you for your kind words. I just need to ride the wave and brush myself off and start again. Sometimes the rollercoaster ride in my head can be a bit of a wild ride. 🙂 Today is just one of those “holy shit, is this ride ever going to end??” rather than the “wheee!!! this is fun!”. I need to find something to laugh at today I think. And I am pretty sure chocolate would solve my problems as well. LOL xo

  • This post is so timely for me. I just had a great weekend with family but something happened last night… A comment was made that just triggered this unbelievable release of sadness and pain that had been held at bay for a long time… Not sure, maybe it just has to cycle through every so often. But I had a full blown meltdown and as my boyfriend was trying to comfort me and tell me about how things weren’t like that anymore and things were better etc. etc. I just kept thinking of 13 Year Old Me… And even if things AREN’T like that anymore and they ARE better it still makes me sad for that person I used to be, and was for so long. I relate to this post so much, it hurts.

    • I don’t think these things go away if they are left unattended. I hope that recognizing it and feeling the pain that went along with it went a long way in allowing you to release it. My thoughts are with you, sister. 🙂

    • Awesome! I didn’t have the presence of mind to even begin to understand or consider this in high school…very cool that you were so self aware at such a young age!

  • Wow, so well written! I can relate to so much of this, from the narcissistic mother (in my case), to the school uniform, to the early mind-altering experiences, except my question was, and is, when can I start fully BEING me. I feel like I have spent my whole life being what other people expected of me.

    Like Aussa, I still go through periods of tremendous sadness, even though I am not that little girl anymore, I guess I am still mourning what she felt way back when. I agree these things don’t go away on their own. It takes work, and actually facing what may have been buried for years. Anyway, thank you for this thought-provoking post!

  • I have never asked “why am i me?” I have asked, a million times, “why am i this way?” If ME is a jigsaw with a thousand pieces, i have 8, maybe 10 pieces. None of them connect. But i am SURE they are part of this puzzle. Some days it seems like a lot, some days it seems like next to nothing. But it IS something.

    My very best therapist diagnosed my mother as a Borderline Personality. My father? could be Narcissistic, could be Schizoid, could be psychopathic. And i am a lot like him, and that scares me. Still of the 2 of them, he was the saner one. i used to take great comfort in believing that i had been exchanged by the gypsies, and that i had nothing to do with these people. ( after all, i didn’t look like anyone in my immediate family or my extended family.) Is that insane? A child’s fantasy? I used to think so, now i see it as a child’s defense of her personality, her me-ness.

    If i could talk to me as a 5 or 6 year old? I guess i would say “these people are crazy, we aren’t. Come on , i’m getting us the hell out of here, whatever it takes. ” and that is the part where I start crying.

    • I do a lot of crying myself. It would be nice if we could go back and rescue that kid, right? But that isn’t going to happen. I wrote that my former child would always be broken and never be okay, but I don’t know that is right. She’s still here..just is a bigger, older and more swollen package..but she’s still me. I don’t know that we’ve lost our chance to be nice and take care of that kid. We have today and tomorrow and all the other tomorrows as well.

By Michelle

Michelle

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