top of page
  • Lynn Catalano

Everything is a Competition to a Narcissist



My father competed with me for everything, it just took me a while to realize it.

Parties, newspaper photos, recognition, silly things. I quit playing golf because of him. I hated playing soccer because of him. He was a master of everything. Always the smartest person in the room. No one knew more than him.


I wrote about this in my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live With or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”


“In the book “The Great Santini” by Pat Conroy and the movie of the same name, the great Santini is the character, Bull Meachum. He only understands competition, whether it’s in his military unit or playing basketball with his son. He must win every time, all the time. He refuses defeat. He rejects the concept of losing completely. So, when his 18-year-old son Ben finally beats him in a game of basketball at home with the family watching, Bull refuses to accept it. He’s belligerent toward his wife, the mother of their children. He tries changing the rules to make Ben play more. He calls Ben names and throws a basketball at his head, over and over.

The game is a metaphor in the movie for Bull losing precious control over his family. He’s ill-equipped to deal with the loss. As a typical narcissist, he has trouble regulating his emotions and demands all the admiration and recognition for himself. Ben stands up to his father’s bullying and challenges him. Then he does the unthinkable, he beats Bull. Who does he think he is?”


Why are narcissists so competitive?


My father ruined all competitions for me. He made school high pressure, high anxiety when he never even completed his Master’s Degree. He didn’t finish. But he made sure his resume said he finished. He told everyone he had a Master’s Degree. But it was incomplete. However, I had to be perfect, all of the time.


People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder are disordered. They view your success as their own failure. They can’t be proud or happy for you. They aren’t capable. Your success upsets them.


He couldn’t stand when I shined


After my mother died, my father competed with me about the silliest things. He’d ask me if I was invited to certain parties because he was. I simply didn’t care. Everything changed when I was honored by my previous employer. I had left my long-term employer on good terms to start a new challenging role elsewhere. I’ve never stated the real reason I left that organization. I had to get away from my father. This organization was in our community and everyone knew him. I needed space from him, that’s why I left. Anyway, the administration was very kind and offered 2 things as I was leaving: 1. Would I join a board of their soon-to-be health system? And 2. They’d like to honor me at the annual gala I’d created 16 years earlier. I was flattered. However, I must have known how my father would react to my good news so I waited to tell him. I waited more than a month. I knew that if I told a stranger on the street my news, they would have responded “Good job.” When I told my father, he replied “ok.” Weird.


My father wasn’t happy for me, he wasn’t proud. He was upset. He was jealous. In his distorted view, all he saw was that I was getting more attention, recognition, respect than he was and I must be punished.


He didn’t attend the dinner where they honored me. You can’t change that. He couldn’t stand to see me in that position. He wasn’t capable of being proud of me. I was so hurt. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get honored every day or all the time. This was important for me. He didn’t care. He told me he’d never support that organization again.



Narcissistic Abuse isn’t like other forms of abuse


Narcissistic abuse is really horrific. The constant emotional terrorism, the desperate need for them to be superior and for you to be subordinate. If they perceive you as superior at any time, prepare to be punished.


If you’ve suffered narcissistic abuse like I have, it helps enormously to talk to someone. But not just anyone. You need to find someone who’s familiar with narcissistic personality disorder. You see, I didn’t get here by accident. I didn't set out to become a narcissistic abuse recovery coach. But after I’d suffered this kind of abuse, I realized that my story and my experience could help so many people who’ve suffered similarly. When someone tells me about their struggles and their story, I’m not just understanding. I really get it. I’ve been there. I’ve felt those same emotions, that same rage, and loss.


Since I’ve been coaching people 1:1, I’ve found that survivors of narcissistic abuse need to experience all 3: clarity, validation and comfort. Narcissistic abuse is unlike other forms of emotional abuse. Narcissistic abuse doesn’t resolve itself. Narcissistic abuse affects your mental, emotional, and physical health. If you don’t address it, it bleeds into every aspect of your life and affects the way you show up in everything.


I’m currently in the midst of leading my first group coaching program. I launched this group program in order to help more people who weren’t able to participate in the 1:1 program. It’s a great success. As a result, I’m launching the second cohort of the group program on July 19, 2023. We will meet once a week for an hour over 3 months for a total of 12 sessions covering the concepts of narcissistic abuse and providing strategies for you. These strategies will help protect your mental and emotional health as well as navigate narcissists or any high-conflict people you may encounter. I’m keeping the cohort small so please message me right away if you’re interested. lynn@lynncatalano.com


Let’s talk. Click here to book a free session with me. Don’t wait another day.

You can find my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships” on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.


54 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page