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Worried I'm a Narc Mum in the making

(25 Posts)
WorriedNarcMum Wed 27-Mar-13 16:30:12

Have name changed. This is very difficult to write so please be kind. Having lurked on the relationship boards for some time I am worried that I might have some NPD tendencies.

Over the last few years and especially the last year since DC was born I have realised that both my maternal grandmother and mother had narc tendencies. I don't like armchair psychology and it's easy to fling these terms round but I can see that some of the behaviours fit. I can also see that my father has some enabling tendencies. Certainly my siblings and I have always wondered how my father lets my mother away with so much. She is charming in the slightly selfish way that children are even though she's now in her sixties.

By the way I don't doubt for one second that my mother loves us all. She is not a true narc in the sense of not having feelings for others - in fact she would take a bullet for any of us. If anything she and my grandmother (now dead) worry themselves sick about all of us.

Since having DC I have become frightened that I'm going to be like this too. I can see that I can be selfish and critical and controlling especially towards my lovely, laidback DH (and am worried his loving, calm, laidback temperament makes him prone to being enabling). Seeing it isn't enough though - I don't know how to change it. Both my parents were extremely critical (I'm only really beginning to shrug off the effects of this now at the age of almost 40!) and both had the idea that there was only one way of doing things properly. Sometimes I see myself being like this with DH - but always after the fact, not in the moment. It really upsets me because I love my DH but sometimes I think how can he put up with me when I'm so hard on him? I'll criticise him for something stupid and pathetic and then realise it's the kind of thing my father would have criticised me for e.g. a domestic task like wiping a counter or doing dishes.

So I'm worried I'm going to be like this with my DC. It makes me cry even thinking about it. I know my parents love me but they fucked me up to some degree and I massively underachieved for years (ironically I looked like a high achiever but I never fulfilled my potential until quite recently because of a sort of rebellion against doing well - yes, I was golden child). I don't want to do this to DC or be critical and selfish with DC or DH. I love them both more than I can express. I want them to be happy and know how much I love them, without me smothering them.

My question at the end of that is: how do I break the cycle of behaving like this. I don't want to be the next generation of this. I want to be the good things about my parents and grandmother without passing on the fucked up stuff.

Any practical strategies would be so helpful and please feel free to PM if you don't want to write on here. I can understand that - I'm scared even posting this. But I know I'm not the only person with these concerns and I really believe other people are out there fighting back against their nature or upbringing.

WorriedNarcMum Wed 27-Mar-13 16:30:34

Sorry that was so long blush

WobblyHalo Wed 27-Mar-13 16:56:19

I think the fact that you are recognising it is the first step. I'm sure someone will be around soon that has more experience than me, but i didn't want to read and run.

Perhaps councilling will help?

Good luck x

ArtVandelay Wed 27-Mar-13 17:00:17

I don't worry about being a narc, but I do worry about being a rubbish parent in other ways. I think a lot of people do. That's not a bad thing really, as long as it doesn't overwhelm you or spoil you enjoying your children.

When I'm having a bad phase with my toddler, like he's on a 24/7 whineathon or wakes me up all night I like to look at pictures of him as a baby. Think about all my hopes and fears that I had for him, all the stuff I thought was important and really reflect on my values around parenting. I also really try to put myself in his shoes about things we disagree about. I also think about the relationship I hope we have as he gets older and eventually becomes an adult.

Heavy stuff! But it takes me out of negative cycles that we can get into and motivates me to be better and kinder.

Might this help for you?

WorriedNarcMum Wed 27-Mar-13 17:05:26

Thanks for your replies. Art I think putting yourself in your DS's shoes about differing opinions is really important and definitely something I want to do with DC.

I think I've realised already what counselling would show up. I guess what I'm really looking for is practical strategies for stopping myself being critical. I was thinking about something like making a mark on my hand every time I realise I've criticised DH but recognising it afterwards isn't the same as stopping myself doing it in the first place sad

WobblyHalo Wed 27-Mar-13 17:24:19

The mark thing on your hand is a good starting point. Eventhoug it's after the fact, you will start noticing it more and slowly become aware of it.
Have you spoken to your husband about it?
Maybe he can help you and you make simple star chart for you. I know it sounds rediculous have a star chart at your age but you never know?

WobblyHalo Wed 27-Mar-13 17:26:11

I dont know why I'm missing out whole words. Sorry. I don't speak like this normally, honest. (smile)

WorriedNarcMum Wed 27-Mar-13 17:30:53

Thanks wobbly smile I honestly feel too ashamed to talk to DH about it and I never thought I would say there was anything I couldn't talk to him about. And if I'm honest like the idea that I'll get a grip on myself and he'll kind of not even notice what's changed, just that things are better! At the minute he probably just thinks I am more nitpicky because of tiredness with DC.

terrierist Wed 27-Mar-13 17:33:52

Can you talk to your DH about this, point out the types of behaviours that you're not happy with and tell him you would like his help to work on changing them but that you only recognise them after the event.

Perhaps you could have a phrase he uses when he thinks you may be near to doing or saying something you may later regret - maybe 'lets have a quick hug, worried, before we carry on discussing this'. It could be a way of giving you a moment to take a step back from whatever the issue is and clear your head.

terrierist Wed 27-Mar-13 17:36:31

Sorry - x post, but you shouldn't be ashamed to talk to him - this man loves you and is in the best place to help you.

ArtVandelay Wed 27-Mar-13 17:37:16

DH and I once discussed having a sticker chart when we went through a phase of carping at each other constantly. Although we never actually did it, we did have a lot of laughs saying 'thats not going to win a sticker' etc. So it worked by making us both more aware of our behaviours and lightening the mood.

Can you discuss these issues openly with your DH? Would you be able to accept being told that you are not behaving nicely and stop without a big row? Changing is not always easy, even when you want it.

ArtVandelay Wed 27-Mar-13 17:37:52

X-posted there, sorry

CheeseStrawWars Wed 27-Mar-13 17:40:27

Someone linked to this on here, which you might find helpful - ignore the massive banner at the top, and the content is thought-provoking.

And you don't have to be perfect - maybe start by stopping being quite so critical of yourself, and you can be more forgiving of imperfection in others? smile

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 27-Mar-13 17:52:18

A 'narc' would never be worried about their behaviour. Ergo... you are not a 'narc'. If there is any aspect of your behaviour you'd like to change, all you can ever do is your best remembering to apologise if you get it wrong. Something else a 'narc' would never do... apologise.

ArtVandelay Wed 27-Mar-13 17:53:35

It's really nothing to be ashamed of. Counselling could be useful to find out why you think this is shameful. If you feel ashamed its not surprising that you are critical of others as (im no psychologist, but I've been told by one) that the two emotions have a very close relationship. I agree with the things the other posters have said as well.

fluffyraggies Wed 27-Mar-13 18:17:47

cogito - i'm so glad you said that. I feel similar to the OP (children are teens though) and am watching this thread with interest.

I sometimes feel i'm a complete controlling, manipulative, self centered bitch and i wonder what my DH sees in me. My mother has narc'y tendencies and has always been an obvious manipulator of people. I tend to be much more subtle than her - but i can see similarities. I can see them and i worry about them.

I sometimes get it into my head that perhaps i'm not normal and don't love properly. Weather it's all selfishness. I would die for my kids - their happiness is my priority in life. My DH is the love of my life and i would do anything for him. I would do anything for any of them. And yet, like the OP, i can be selfish and critical and controlling with them. It's been a nagging worry for ages.

WorriedNarcMum Wed 27-Mar-13 22:46:02

Thanks so much for replies I was out this evening so sorry am only back. Terrier I know in my head you're right but I just feel ashamed blush

Art I like the idea of the sticker chart smile DH wouldn't buy into it, simply because he is one of the most mentally balanced people I have ever met. He would see all this agonising on my part as navel gazing and unnecessary.

Cheesestraws thanks for the link will have a look. Really think you're on to something there with the critical thing. I know I'm critical of others but I'm much more critical of myself. I've actually been better the last few years since I started to catch on to this.

Cogito I really wish I could just relax and believe that but I do suspect that unless you're a full blown narc you can actually be a sort of self-aware borderline narc. Certainly I do apologise to DH at times when I've been critical but it doesn't stop me doing the same thing again a couple of days later.

Fluffy I sometimes get it into my head that perhaps i'm not normal and don't love properly. Weather it's all selfishness. I would die for my kids - their happiness is my priority in life. My DH is the love of my life and i would do anything for him. I would do anything for any of them. And yet, like the OP, i can be selfish and critical and controlling with them. It's been a nagging worry for ages. This word for word sad Really wish I could just believe I'm being overly self-critical.

WorriedNarcMum Wed 27-Mar-13 22:59:52

Cheesestraws reading that website. It's amazing. The thing is it's confusing because I know my parents love us - but some of that stuff is really close to the bone, especially the stuff about ill health and DONM. I had a period of poor health a couple of years back, was off work for eight weeks and saw my parents every day. My mum admitted afterwards that she loved this time because she got to see so much of me. And while this was half nice I couldn't help thinking it was one of the scariest times of my life and she didn't really get how ill I was. I didn't love a moment of it all, I just wanted to get better. The self care stuff also rings really true.

NeverMindOhWell Thu 28-Mar-13 05:45:43

Can you show your DH what you've written here? Or at least tell him those things? He sounds like a lovely man and I expect would be compassionate if hr knew how much you disliked your own behaviour at times and how sorry you are. Also, I personally have done the Hoffman Quadrinity Process. Look it up, it is a fabulous course aimed at breaking family patterns of learned behaviour. Not cheap, but if you can save up, forego a holiday, perhaps borrow or use savings itcisxreally worthwhile and (at the risk of sounding like Cheryl Cole) you're worth it!

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 28-Mar-13 07:08:57

"Certainly I do apologise to DH at times when I've been critical but it doesn't stop me doing the same thing again a couple of days later."

That makes you a normal human being, not someone with a personality disorder. Ever heard of 'Pavlov's Dog'? The dog was trained that every time it heard a bell ring it would be presented with a snack. Eventually the dog salivated when it heard a bell, even when there was no snack on offer.

So what you're struggling with is that, presented with a stimulus, you are going down well-worn behavioural paths out of habit (like the dog), rather than exercising some free-will, changing the set-up, thinking before speaking and trying a different approach. The old 'counting to 10' delay tactic can be very effective.

YellowandGreenandRedandBlue Thu 28-Mar-13 07:15:32

Hi, I'm not sure if I've got this right but you're suggesting not going to counselling because you've 'realised already what counselling would show up'?

That is not a very sensible perspective on counselling IMO. You kow the generals but you have oly thought about this inside your head, the head that is also the cause of the behaviour you are concerned about. Externalising thoughts, verbalising them and sharing them with a good counsellor, who listens and sometimes challenges, is very valuable and totally different to just thinking.

You say you find it hard to talk to you DH. Talking to a counsellor may help unblock this.

You also talk a lot about what you do, in a critical way, but little about how you feel.

Much behaviour such as being over critical has a deep emotional root. It is often more successful to address the emotional root rather than trying to 'get a grip on myself'.

I feel like all your posts are very hard on yourself. You must be a nice caring person to worry so much about the impact on others, I just wonder if you turned that compassion to yourself it would be helpful for you.

Thistledew Thu 28-Mar-13 07:21:21

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) may be what you need. It is a form of therapy but focusses on giving you the tools to change negative thought patterns. It usually involves a little exploration of life experiences that have led to the negative patterns, but only as a way of identifying your triggers. It is usually provided over a finite short set of sessions rather than dragging on for years.

I have two members of my family who have been helped by it. Both went to deal with anxiety issues, but one of them, who displayed some narc tendencies was noticeably less critical afterwards as a kind of 'side effect' of tackling the issue she went to deal with.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 28-Mar-13 07:26:53

BTW... psychology aside, can I also suggest that you consider get yourself checked out physically by a GP? Irritability, low moods, wanting to cry, difficulty coping ... can be symptomatic of some really ordinary and highly treatable physical conditions. Are you a healthy weight? Do you have a good diet, get your 5-a-Day, take a multivitamin, get regular exercise & plenty of good quality sleep? Do you drink alcohol or smoke?

buildingmycorestrength Fri 29-Mar-13 08:41:26

Worried I feel for you.

I used to be awful. I'm still bad in some ways but when I was going through a bad time a few years ago (triggered by a major life event) my DH got it in the neck all the time. I was really struggling to keep it together with the kids, and all sorts. I think I was probably at risk of losing my husband eventually.

I don't think I was ever a proper narc because with some small part of my brain I could tell my behaviour wasn't good, and I knew I was the only one who could stop it. I don't think narcs have that insight.

I had therapy, high intensity CBT with a clinical psychologist, which was amazing. It is transformative actually working through the day to day reality of your personality with someone professional. It engages all different. bits of your brain, not just your rational faculties. And it basically helped undo (or at least tame) all the learned unhelpful patterns of my childhood.

Life is much better now. I feel like I'm back in the zone of normal relationship issues and bickering and averagely selfish parenting. smile

Kione Sat 30-Mar-13 07:46:26

I was worried about being like my mother too. But before I had DC, in fact being quite young, early twenties I went to a psicologyst because I thought there was something wrong with me. I also read a book that helped me understand why my mum was behaving like that and I think it really has worked. I still loose my temper but I apologise and explain it to DD. My mum never ever apologised to me.

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