Nothing is ever good enough, no matter how hard you try with a narcissistic parent. You will never receive their approval or please them.
My narcissist loved leading events
Local events played a very important role in my father’s life. They allowed him to assume a leadership role while speaking directly to the media. Once again, he was in his favorite place – the spotlight. It wasn’t because he was critical or integral to the event. The events all continue today without him. He volunteered because of the benefits to him. This particular event, a large, prestigious annual amateur golf tournament was held at our local country club. My father was chairman in 1985 before the tournament committee began purchasing the chairman a special green jacket. In future years, the committee would purchase one for each person who served as chairman. Then, at the closing ceremony of the tournament, all the past chairmen were invited to sit in a special VIP place on the dais wearing their special jackets. My father wanted desperately to have the jacket. He requested it from the committee multiple times only to be told it wasn’t in the budget.
I now see that I spent so much time trying to get my father’s approval. I would do and say things because I knew he’d like them. But it was never enough. I didn’t realize at the time that I could never get his approval. He never told me he was proud of me or my accomplishments, never said nice job or that dinner was delicious. He only told me the negatives and the criticisms. He was only proud of me through the filter of how it benefited him or reflected well on him. Listen to my most recent podcast with Hope Jay “The Narcissist Slayers” about this topic out this week.
The best gift I ever gave him
Gifts for birthdays and Father’s Day always fell short. There was only a short thank you.
So one year, I thought I would try to find this elusive green jacket in an attempt to make him happy and get his approval. I started searching online and found one in his size and the right color on eBay! I bought it, had it cleaned, and gave it to him.
He acted like he didn’t know what it was, pretending that it was just ok.
This was the absolute best gift I ever gave him, although he never told me so. He wore it every year for the golf tournament. All of a sudden, he fit into what he perceived as a select VIP group, sitting in a special area, wearing a special jacket. During the years he decided he didn’t want me or my children in his life and was giving all of us the Silent Treatment, this very public golf tournament ceremony was a constant. Even the year my family (my husband & kids) housed the winner of the tournament, my father was there – in his green jacket, sitting in the special area – not looking at any of us.
That is until the year I was chairman of the tournament – we were on “ok” terms that year, at least I thought we were. On the last day of the tournament, I had seen my father and spoken to him. At the closing ceremony, he didn’t show up. I’d saved him a seat and everything. He called me about it, 2 ½ months later. That was when I know nothing was ever going to change. He suffered from NPD and wouldn’t acknowledge his illness. He was disordered.
I wrote about this in my book “Wrecking Ball Relationships: How to Identify, Live With or Leave the Narcissist in Your Life.”
“Learning my father was in competition with his daughter was an extremely difficult realization. It shook me deeply and I questioned our entire relationship. Shockingly, six years after that realization, it’s been two relatively peaceful years and he’s still at it. Recently, I spoke at an awards ceremony at a big amateur golf tournament where I was the general chairman. My father never misses this annual ceremony as he’s a past chairman and sits on the dais. This day, he left early. He couldn’t stand seeing me at the podium. Once a narcissist, always a narcissist.”
How it affects the victim
This type of narcissistic parent takes a toll on the child and affects how we build relationships as an adult. I have a coaching client who has this happening with her father now, only it’s intensified by his new spouse. In this case, he is blind to his cruel words and actions towards his adult children. When confronted, he chooses to double down on his bad behavior as it’s reinforced by a flying monkey spouse. It seems like the flying monkey spouse wants to divide him from his children. It’s a very sad situation.
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. For those of you who are looking for a quick fix to this problem, you didn’t get here overnight. You’re going to need to do the work to survive narcissistic abuse.
I help people begin their healing journey after surviving narcissistic abuse. I give you strategies that will help protect your mental and emotional health as well as navigate narcissists or any high-conflict people you may encounter. This is why it’s so critical 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.
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